ARC Review: The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Angie Pallorino, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddocks
Heroine: Angie Pallorino
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: June 12, 2018
Started On: July 11, 2018
Finished On: July 19, 2018

The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White is the final book in the Angie-Pallorino series. Each installment has carried “individual” stories that can be read as standalones, but I would still recommend that the books be read in order for the reader to get a true grasp of the depth of characterization that has gone into these stories Loreth has crafted.

Loreth is a writer of darker edged suspense, with just enough romance in the mix to appease readers like myself. If Loreth chooses to write pure suspense, I would still buy her books because she is an author who always gets it right, regardless. The darkness in her books calls to a part of me, which perhaps even I do not understand. Loreth’s deep understanding of human nature, and the way she tells it as it is; all that and more are reasons why I would always keep coming back for more.

The Girl in the Moss begins when the body of a woman is uncovered in the moss, in an area where both ex-cop Angie Pallorino and Detective James Maddocks goes to get away from the stress of city life, their jobs, and the countless other issues that has plagued their union from the beginning. When the body is discovered, Angie and Maddocks are the first detectives with experience to arrive at the scene. However, with Angie now no longer being part of the active police force, her resentment which is always at the surface flares up, at which point everything starts heading downhill.

The tables turn when Angie is summoned by the grandmother of Jasmine Gulati, the woman whose body was discovered, with the grandmother willing hire Angie’s services to find out certain aspects related to Jasmine’s disappearance 25 years ago, and the circumstances surrounding Jasmine’s life before the incident had taken place. At first Angie is reluctant, even as intrigued as she is about the elements surrounding Jasmine’s disappearance and death by accidental drowning as the coroner had concluded. But as Angie delves deeper into the case, she puts the final nail in the coffin that drives her boyfriend Maddocks away, and in the pursuit of the truth, uncovers more than she bargained for.

Small town alliances, familial relationships, the unchecked sexual power and hedonistic nature of one woman and how it had played out for her in the end; all of that and more are at the heart of this story. How the brutal sexual assault and violation of a boy with developmental issues at a tender age made him more reclusive, and creates amidst a close-knit society a killer in the gentle giant he is otherwise. It was hard to abhor a character of that nature, even when he had performed such evil, when his troubled past is taken into account.

Explosive secrets that could rip families apart surface, and age old wounds that some didn’t even believe existed, but were festering underneath the daily grind of life open up and along comes Angie, pricking and prodding, doing what she does best. Stubborn to a fault, like a dog with a bone, that is in essence who Angie is. How two different investigations collide, bringing to light the full picture, that alone was reason enough for this book to deserve commendation.

Even with all her faults, Angie still makes for a likable heroine. There are so many facets to her character that makes you want to shake her, and shake her good. Her stubborn and dogged determination does not apply to her work alone, but to her personal life as well. With a past such as hers, colorful to say the least, with memories of the kind that would cripple anyone’s emotional well-being, Angie fights all of it, and fights those who try to get close to her.

Maddocks finally calling it quits made me admire him on a level I cannot explain. Maddocks has always been a larger than life figure in this trilogy, even though the main focus has always been Angie. Loreth’s ability to craft such characters and give them voice has the reader wanting more, definitely more. Maddocks is absolutely that kind of character. Though his role in this last book is almost nonexistent, his presence is somehow felt throughout. That is the kind of brilliance that Loreth brings to the table as a writer.

Reading through my notes for this review has made me appreciate the story all the more. This is a novel that runs through the reader’s mind like a movie that unfolds right in front of you giving deep insight and clarity. It is the kind of story that is rare, and perhaps because of that very reason, all the more coveted. Loreth is an author who deserves more recognition as a writer, whose books deserve to be sensationalized, if that hasn’t happened already. It would be redundant for me to say at this point that I am looking forward to the next book, The Dark Bones set for release in May next year.

The Girl in the Moss is the kind of book that makes choosing the next book to read that much harder. All because you know deep down inside that nothing would ever live up to where your last read took you to. I just wish that there were more books in the series, even though I can sense the need to end the trilogy at this point. The best kind of series are those than an author completes, giving the due closure needed, and at the same time, leaves the reader wanting more.

Recommended for those who love tangible suspense and tension that unfurls and coils around you as you delve deeper, books that you can sink yourself into and forget the rest of the world.

Final Verdict: Just when you think that Loreth wouldn’t be able to surprise you, she brings on plot twists that just leaves you speechless. Excellent plot & fantastic execution. To see the changes Angie has undergone was the icing on the cake.

Favorite Quotes

Maybe it wasn’t just truth. Maybe at the heart of it all, at the heart of all that was human, even in the dark, was love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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ARC Review: My Roommate’s Girl by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookmyroommatesgirl
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Aidan Shannon Shaw
Heroine: Aster
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 12, 2017
Started On: May 04, 2018
Finished On: May 08, 2018

I have been a fan of Julianna Keyes ever since I discovered her from one of those chance reads I took on Netgalley. Julianna has a way of writing that delivers stories that maintain a realistic edge, and at the same fulfill the yearnings of the romance reader for the angst-ridden and sexy reads that make our day. Plus, Julianna always has a unique tangent to her writing, with twists to existing tropes that makes her books so worth your while.

My Roommate’s Girl toting a gorgeous cover, is written in the first person, told from both Aidan Shannon Shaw, the hero’s, and Aster, the heroine’s point of views. Aidan meets Aster through Jerry, his roommate, whose girlfriend turns out to be none other than Aster. From the moment Aidan lays eyes on Aster, he wants to have her for himself, he needs to have her. But there is of course that little pesky problem of the boyfriend who stands in his way. So sets Aidan on the course that would deliver Aster into his arms, as conniving and manipulative as it sounds.

What unfolds next was not by any means predictable. One would think it would be, given where the story was headed, but the way Julianna peeled back the layers to both Aidan and Aster was truly masterful.

Aidan’s character is easier to figure out in a way; the troublesome background, the way it had been easier for him to fall in with a bad crowd and lose his way. Until a judge had seen through his belligerence and decided to give him the chance to clean up, or else. But like a tweet I came across just today, “the devil works hard but peer pressure works harder”, and that is exactly the case with Aidan as well.

Now Aster, she is the true gem of the story. Her character managed to surprise me at every single turn, and that is no mean feat for someone who reads through so many romance novels and can often predict character behavior from a mile away. But damn, Aster certainly managed to shake my preconceived notions and then some. I felt proud of her for identifying with what had happened, and even fighting back just as dirty to get even. But then again, Aster did not take into account how seductive it is to be stripped bare of all the fronts she has put up, and to be seen exactly for who she is; not the image of perfection that she presents to the rest of the world, but a woman with faults and flaws of her own, someone who learnt from her past and aims to never go down that path again.

Like every single hero I have read from Julianna, Aidan is sexy personified. From his dirty blond hair and that raw physique of his, to the way he wants Aster with every fiber of his being; all that and more made him pretty alluring. Even though the only way Aidan knows to get what he wants is to fight dirty, with Aster, he finds that his conscience doesn’t allow him to be half the douche bag he could really be. For him, Aster is the woman that makes it all matter; she makes him want to stand steadfast on the path of the straight and narrow.

I loved Aster just as much. The fact that she had been able to leave a difficult past behind and clean up her act, that spoke volumes when it comes to the strength of her character and the kind of person she is. And she proves to be just that, honest and kind where it matters. I loved the ending, the way it all came together and how everything worked out. There is nothing better than a happily ever after for a couple you root for from the very beginning, even when that beginning might be the furthest thing from perfect.

Recommended for fans of romances that deliver unusual twists and turns that makes the book that much more worth it.

Final Verdict: My Roommate’s Girl delivers a succulent tale that is trademark Julianna Keyes, with characters that are relatable, and a happily ever after that I rooted for from the very beginning!

Favorite Quotes

I kiss her.
I don’t even think about it, I’m just acting on instinct. The hand on her hip slips around to the outside of her arm, up to her shoulder, her neck, fingers curling into her nape. She doesn’t move, doesn’t look away from my mouth, and the soft flutter of her lashes is the last thing I see before my lips touch hers.
She makes a tiny sound when our mouths meet, and I feel a tremor roll through her, like a frisson of energy arcing from her body into mine. I fumble behind me to stick the spoonful of melting ice cream back into the carton, only fifty percent sure I manage the task, a hundred percent sure I don’t care.
I cup her face with both hands, feel her silky hair teasing my fingers, the softness of her mouth, her breasts pressed against my chest. The tip of her tongue touches my bottom lip at the same moment her hand comes up to stroke my cheek, and I leap away like I’ve been electrocuted.

“Aidan,” she moans again.
“What…do…you…need?” I grunt out. Sensation is rocketing up and down my body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, things I’ve never felt before and don’t know what to do with.
When I first saw Aster, first thought of fucking her, I didn’t think it would be like this. I thought she’d be prim and proper, maybe ride me like a dainty cowgirl. I thought I’d dirty her up, scandalize her a bit.
Now I don’t think I could scandalize Aster if I tried. She fucks like it’s the most natural thing in the world, like my hands pulling her hair is the thing she likes most. Like my mouth on her nipples and my cock plowing into her is something she lives for. I want to earn those responses. I want to hear them. I want to taste them.

When I first arrived at Holsom, I was terrified. It was new and strange and even among thousands of students, I felt hopelessly alone. Meeting Jerry helped, but I never truly relaxed. Never felt like I belonged. I thought I might, one day, but even after a year of dating I knew that deep down, he never really knew me because I never really let him.
Aidan knows me. I only let him know me because I thought I’d never see him again, but here we are, out in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t feel alone at all. I feel like he sees me and he’s totally okay with what he sees. Scars and all.

At long last I’m seated, his cock buried inside, taking a moment to adjust to the aching fullness. I grind my forehead into his shoulder, feeling him, feeling everything, and he lets me take my time, no pressure, no hurry.
I shift so my lips find his neck, his racing pulse betraying his laidback demeanor. I flex my thighs and lift up slightly, then slide back down, finding an easy, unhurried rhythm that makes everything inside me go soft and molten.

Aidan drops his hands from my hair and I see him digging his fingers into the sand at his sides, trying to hold on. Trying to wait for me.
That’s what sends me over. The sight of this man, weak but still so strong. Hard, solid, tough, sweet. A study in contradictions.
I come with a soft cry, stifling the sound in the curve of his neck, tasting his sweat on my tongue. My body spasms in long, slow waves for what feels like an eternity, and when the orgasm ebbs away Aidan jerks beneath me, hips pushing into mine as he anchors me with his hands on my waist, holding me in place while he takes what he needs.
My limbs feel like jelly, like there’s no earthly way I can stand, no possible way I’ll be able to hike back. I lift my head and absorb the quiet forest, the pristine lake, the boundless sky. This is the farthest from civilization I’ve ever been, but out here, with just me and Aidan, I’ve never felt closer to home.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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ARC Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookseeingred
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: John Trapper
Heroine: Kerra Bailey
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 15, 2017
Started On: July 02, 2017
Finished On: July 25, 2017

“Two minutes after you knocked on the door of my office, I was fantasizing your mouth taking me.”

Seeing Red, the latest novel by Sandra Brown was amazing in so many ways. From start to finish, Seeing Red delivered a story of the kind that is rare in the genre today. Ms. Brown has always been an author that pushed the boundaries of “convention” that many authors safely stick to when writing their books. So it is not surprising that when a new novel from Ms. Brown hits the stand, I am always eager to get my hands on it.

Seeing Red tells the story of John Trapper, ex ATF agent, whose mundane existence of a life starts to unravel the minute television journalist Kerra Bailey comes seeking him for an interview to do with his father. Trapper had been just 11 years old when his father, Major Franklin Trapper had become a hero in the eyes of the country owing to his daring rescue of victims of a hotel bombing that had shocked the nation. Trapper’s life had changed drastically, so had Kerra’s, and it is only when their lives entwine at this point that everything starts to unravel.

Seeing Red starts off with an introductory chapter that blows one’s mind, and it does not let up from that point onwards. Taking the reader to the days since before the event and then beyond, Seeing Red delivers a story that goes deep into understanding the lengths to which a cult-like society would go to in order to protect an age old secret. From one harrowing experience to another, Ms. Brown does an amazing job of weaving the multiple threads of the story together to deliver a story that was mind blowing in all the good ways.

Trapper, oh dear Trapper; he is the kind of hero that Ms. Brown has perfected along the years of writing romance novels. I have always been a fan of her hard-edged heroes who do not conform to the standards of behavior as is expected by majority of readers of the genre nowadays. This is exactly one reason why I adore Ms. Brown’s books. Because they never fail to deliver a hero that is delicious, sexy as they come, and can talk dirty like the best of them that makes you quiver on the inside.

Trapper has his own vulnerabilities and scars that he hides. However the ingenuity in the buildup of his character lies in the fact that he hasn’t grown bitter throughout what life had dealt him with. Taking second stage in his father’s life from a tender age had definitely left its mark, so had how his career had turned out, all because Trapper had not given up on pursuing what he had felt was right.

When his path crosses that with Kerra’s, for the first time in a long while, he starts to give a damn, which of course makes him irritable and then some. However, Kerra’s unrelenting nature and her way of standing up for herself means that for Trapper walking away was no longer an option. Nor was standing on the sidelines and watching Kerra get hurt in the aftermath of the can of worms that she had opened up with her interview.

The sexual tension between Kerra and Trapper was off the charts, and Ms. Brown delivered on that exceptionally well. On the suspense side, with all the twists and turns that came, the ending and the revelations were explosive enough to make me go “oh my god” every couple of pages. Yes, it was that good!

Definitely and absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Seeing Red is Sandra Brown at her exceptional best. A good Sandra Brown goes a long way towards curing all reading woes.

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not him. I’m not noble, not a gentleman, not a hero, understand?”
“That wasn’t so hard to deduce.”
She thought the putdown would anger him, but he retaliated by gently placing his palm against her cold cheek. He brushed his thumb across her beauty mark.
“I noticed this right off, and the whole time you were sitting there in my shabby office, wearing your city get-up, acting all sassy and know-it-all, you want to know what was going on in my mind?” He ceased the stroking motion of his thumb, stopping it right on the small mole. His mouth lowered to within a hair’s-breadth of hers and he whispered, “Figure it out.”

“Why do you ask? Do you know him?”
“By reputation only. Everything I’ve read about him says he’s secretive. Keeps his business private. Shuns media attention.”
“All true. I had to finagle him.”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “That sounds like really dirty foreplay.”
She laughed, but stopped laughing when he slid his hand under her hair at the nape of her neck and turned them until her back was to the door. Leaning in, his lips skimmed her beauty mark on their way to her ear, where he whispered, “I’d like for you to finagle me.”
She didn’t speak a word, didn’t move, didn’t do anything except give herself over to his body heat and largeness and maleness and sexiness, the blend of which seeped into her like a potent restorative.

He moved his hand up from her nape to cup the back of her head and held it in place while their mouths opened to each other. During the deep and greedy kiss he worked his free hand under her top and into the elastic waistband of the baggy pants. He lightly ground the heel of his hand against her hipbone while his fingers curved around the slope below her waist. He drew her hips forward. She gladly went along with his subtle invitation, and their parts fit together perfectly on the first attempted connection.
He groaned, “Christ, Kerra. Please tell me I’m gonna get to fuck you.”

“You never asked what I was thinking.”
“When?”
“In my office while you were sitting across the desk from me looking all prissy and disapproving. Did you ever figure out what was going through my mind?”
Sounding prissy and disapproving, she said, “I didn’t want to know.”
He grinned. “I was thinking about your beauty mark.”
“That’s it?”
“Disappointed?”
“Surprised. I thought it would be something crude.”
“No. I was focused on your beauty mark, thinking it looked like a speck of dark chocolate and wondering if it would melt against my tongue.” He dabbed his tongue against it now, then a second time. “Hmm. Still there. Guess I’ll just have to keep testing it.”

“I might’ve been thinking about more than just your beauty mark,” he whispered. He shifted closer, covering half of her, and used his nose to nudge aside the collar of the tracksuit jacket so he could nibble her neck, then lowered his head and nuzzled her breast, rubbing his open mouth against the hard tip, taking love bites of it through her t-shirt, pushing at it with his tongue.
“You’d blush to know all the places my wandering mind has taken me. I’ve touched you, tasted you…” He wedged his hand down between them and cupped her sex. “…everywhere.”

“I want to take you like that,” he whispered as he dragged his open mouth down her neck to her collarbone, then lowered his head and rubbed his face against her breasts.
“I haven’t forgotten how you feel inside. I want to be there. In you deep.” His voice was rough and low, his lips aggressive against her raised nipple under her t-shirt. “It may never happen, but the mere thought of any other man being on you, in you…I’d want to kill him.”

Taking her face between his hands, he fused his mouth to hers, pressing his tongue deep, thrilling to the way she hummed her pleasure. He might have gone on forever just kissing her if not for a greater hunger that he must gratify or die.
He worked her top up over her breasts. Her bra was lacy and sheer and only half there to start with. The cups were easily lowered. He took a moment to cradle a breast in each hand. “I freakin’ love that,” he murmured.
“What?”
That they get so hard so fast.
The words were in his mind, but he didn’t say them aloud because by the time he thought them through he was already taking one nipple into his mouth and toying with the other, deriving pleasure from the pleasure he was giving her.

He dipped his head and sucked her nipples in turn, causing her to whimper.
Even during this love play, he didn’t stop pumping into her. He probably had been this hard before, probably as strained and blood-infused and lust-mad and unable to command the instinctual mating movement of his hips.
But if so, he didn’t recall it, because this was the only time that mattered. He wanted this time to be an exorcism and possession at once. Doom and salvation. He wanted it to be both carnal and sacred.
He wanted this to be the fuck Kerra would remember for the rest of her life.

His voice low, Trapper said, “It felt good, Kerra.”
“It did,” she whispered back.
It was simple, but, in its way, profound. He wasn’t one to make romantic declarations, and if she said anything now, it would be more than he would want to hear.
She was perilously close to letting this evolve into something that would leave her heartbroken. She was perilously close to becoming like Marianne. But she wouldn’t take back having made love to him. Not for the world.

He took her hands and stretched her arms above her head. Fitting her palms into his, he linked their fingers and began to stroke her inside. As before, he wanted her to remember this, because it would be engraved on his memory: the feel of her around him, the way she hugged his hips with her thighs, the sexy undulation of her belly against his, the sight of his chest hair dusting the hard tips of her breasts.
The kiss.
He kissed her, and, of all the other mind-blowing sensations, it was that of her mouth so greedily taking his tongue that caused his control to burst. When it did, she arched up and ground against his straining pelvis and brought on another soul-rending orgasm.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBook

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ARC Review: In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookinthebarrenground.png
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Cameron “Crash” O’Halloran
Heroine: Tana Larsson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 16, 2016
Started On: August 03, 2016
Finished On: August 06, 2016

In the Barren ground of the soul
nothing can grow.
For here is bitter and cold where
the sun hangs low.
Where a midnight caribou mutilation
awakens a howl of emptiness with ice
where once there was heart.
And it comes with hunger
for blood in its mouth.
For, in the Barrens of the soul
monsters take toll . . .

Loreth Anne White is an author whose name belongs right up there with the masters of the romantic suspense genre. Label her books as romantic suspense or thrillers, either way, you get a story that is worth your time and money in gold, and In the Barren Ground, her latest procedural romantic suspense novel fits right in.

Set in The Barrens, a vast wilderness in northern Canada bordering the Arctic Circle, the terrain is as unforgiving and harsh as they come. When winter rolls in, few are the numbers of people around, and predators come out to stalk whatever food they can scrounge up from the vast areas of hostile territory.

Constable Tana Larsson takes up a post in the remote fly-in community of Twin Rivers because of mistakes of her past, to escape the memories that haunts her more than she would like it to. Though the isolation of the town makes her question her decision at times, Tana knows deep inside that she needs a place as such to lick her wounds in private, to let herself heal and in the process learn to fit in and accept her new role as a mother to be.

When Tana gets called in to cover a wolf mauling that had cost the lives of two students, the evidence at hand suggests something more sinister at work, a force that looks as if it has been in operation for over a span of years, none of it jiving with what the people of Twin Rivers has believed up till now. Though the folks of the town are less than helpful in their hints that Tana is stirring up bad spirits by going deeper into a case that had already cost the sanity of a law enforcement personnel before her, Tana is determined to piece together the clues that points towards a meticulous and horrific serial killer at work.

With the help of a local bush pilot known as Cameron “Crash” O’Halloran, who elicits the sort of reactions from her that are not at all welcome, Tana enters into a dangerous game with a killer who has pretty much perfected the art of killing and getting away with it. The ritualistic nature of the kill, the patterns of it suggesting a sort of violence that is deep rooted in issues of the kind for which help of any sort might never ever be enough.

Before this, I had the misfortune of reading a procedural romantic suspense novel a year or so earlier, which nearly put me to sleep and made me want to bang my head against the wall. The narration of all the procedural aspect made the book intensely dry and made me want to weep from the effort it took for me to finish the book. So my apprehension when it came to reading this was a given, since In the Barren Ground is also characterized as a procedural romantic suspense novel. My worries were totally unnecessary, as I found myself totally captivated by the story that unfolded, a trait that has always held true when it comes to every single book I have had the fortune of reading when it comes to Loreth’s work. Loreth sports a mind of the kind that delivers dark and edgy, the kind that I absolutely, wholeheartedly revel in.

In the Barren Ground, while procedural, it made me appreciate all the more, the intensive and at times tedious work that officers of the law enforcement have to put in in order to get a case right, and to do it right as well. The evidence gathering, collating, picking up the clues and patterns; all of it and more requires a mind that is keen as well as intelligent, and a heart that believes in justice and doing it right and not taking short cuts, because you never know which piece of evidence would end up becoming the pivotal piece in a case.

I loved Tana‘s character. There is strength and resilience in her, the sort that knows when she needs help and when she can do it alone. I think this is basically the first thriller of the kind that I have read, in which the lead character did not go in half cocked, thinking she could save the day just by turning up. No. She used her God given intelligence which made her see that to face off a killer of the kind who takes pride in the planning, the lure and the hunt should not be taken lightly, because if Tana were to piece it all together, the whole world of the killer comes tumbling down. I loved that about this story and that was definitely one of the highlights.

Crash’s character was an absolute delight. Crash is a man who throws all your assessments of his character sideways, his character as appealing on the inside as on the outside. What drew me to his character was how he could read people, how he understood where they were coming from, the career which he had worked in before honing skills in him that turned out to be pretty useful when all was said and done. Crash has his own agenda which he seeks, his own demons to fight, his own past that is filled with regrets of the kind that could break a guy. But Crash perseveres, and knows which battles to fight and which ones to give up, which made me love him all that more!

The killer in this novel, well, that is the masterpiece when it comes right down to it. Loreth’s imagination takes the reader to places where some might not even want to go. Those who have delicate sensibilities might not like where her stories take them. But for me, Loreth’s stories are the high that I seek whenever I pick up a thriller of the kind. The fact that the identity of the killer totally surprised me, something that has been happening too rarely lately for my sake, was one of the winning aspects of this story! Be prepared for a killer that has multiple facets to the character, a testament of the mastery that Loreth holds over the genre.

The setting itself is one that lends credence to the whole story. Definitely not the kind of place you would want to end up with a killer who enjoys the hunt and is relentless. Loreth’s writing is so evocative, and I always keep repeating this point in my reviews; it just feels as if you are one with the story. As if you are standing at the edge of The Barrens, the cold seeping through, right into your very bones, the chill you feel when you encounter the malicious intents of a killer for whom all reason had been lost, and the subtle, yet strong connection that forges to life between two unlikely protagonists; all that and more, and you feel every single aspect of the story to the deepest recesses of your soul.

This is a story that sends chills running up and down your spine, taking you to the edge of your seat and back. Be prepared to lose sleep and to read through the night. Brace yourself to become engrossed and engaged in a read that would have you turning on every light in your house, because that is how edgy and real the story that unfolds is. Definitely and absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Taunts and haunts you! An irrefutable page turner!

Favorite Quotes

It was 3:48 p.m.
Nearly ten minutes away from pickup time. Only five more days before she was due back at school.  With her friends. Her mom. But as Selena  slid  into  oblivion,  she  realized  she  would  not  make  her  twenty second birthday. Perhaps, she thought in an absurd final moment of consciousness, this basin in which she lay beneath the cliff face was one of those  “dreaming  places” where  she should  never have stopped  to rest, or to empty what she had from those bags . . .

Tana banged on O’Halloran’s door, praying she’d find him in a better  state  than  Jankoski.  The  door  opened  almost  immediately,  startling her.  Warm light spilled out into the night. His dark-blond hair stood on end. He wore a tight, long-sleeve tee.  Tattoos poked out from the base of his sleeves. His jeans slung low  on his hips. He grinned, and it put dimples into his rugged, weather-browned cheeks, amusement into his light-green eyes. He reminded her of a scarred and cocky junkyard dog. An edginess crackled through her. Because he intimidated her. Just a little.

“You know why they call this place Headless Man?”
“I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”
“Two prospectors were found a few miles southeast from here, in the twenties, sitting  with their backs leaned up against  a cliff face, just like  we’re doing.  Fully dressed.  Boots on,  packs and  picks and  guns at their sides. Only trouble—no heads. Just gone. Just the two torsos propped  there like they were having a good old chat. Still had  diamonds in their bags.”
She turned to him. “They ever find the heads?”
“Nope.”
“How’d the heads been removed?”
“Ripped. Clean off. Bodies all intact, just those heads torn off their stumps.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo

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ARC Review: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-booktoohottohandle
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarksons, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Jasper Ellis
Heroine: Rita Clarkson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 17, 2016
Started On: May 06, 2016
Finished On: May 08, 2016

28 year old Rita Clarkson manages to get her siblings Aaron, Belmont and Peggy to agree to go on a road trip on the quest to fulfill the dying wish of their recently deceased mother Miriam, who had been a well renowned chef, a legacy that Rita had managed to burn down to the ground.

Though the siblings had never been close, everyone agrees to go along and that is how they end up with their car broken down in the town of Hurley in New Mexico. To their rescue rides the most handsome man that Rita might have ever laid her eyes on, 33 year old Jasper Ellis, who from the very beginning makes her heart go pitter-patter.

Labeled as the town tramp, Jasper has good reason to not want to go physical the minute he lays eyes on Rita. While Jasper has no qualms about letting Rita know that he is attracted to her and wants to know her in every possible way there is, Rita is the type of woman who does not believe in happily ever afters and does not think much of the concept of dating.

However, Rita is forced to revise her initial assumptions and beliefs when it comes to dating and Jasper, as she finds out what lies beneath the gorgeous surface; a heart and soul seeking redemption and acceptance as he is, not just as the town’s good time guy but as someone worth much more.

The romance between Jasper and Rita takes place amidst the developing stories of the siblings. Belmont who has the whole silent, stoic thing going for him while Aaron is the one with the political ambitions and Peggy the youngest who at first comes off as the airheaded variety of character but as you read along you realize that she is one of the most astute characters in the story.

Rita has her own past from which she is trying to flee, but the walls seem to close in on her the more she tries to do so. In Jasper she finds a man who is willing to help her through it all, even when she does not realize that she needs the help that Jasper is willing to offer.

Jasper’s reluctance to take things up a notch in the physical aspect when it comes to Rita is something he does consciously, exerting effort to do so. Not because he wants to play hard to get or because he is not attracted to Rita. It is in fact because of his vivid attraction to Rita on all levels that he wants the opportunity to take it slow, for it to be different, and I for one liked it.

I loved the emotional wallop this book carried with it. Unlike most of Tessa’s recent novels I’ve read, this one is not just about dirty talking heroes pinning their heroines on every flat surface they can find. Of course there is that too! But there is so much more than just hot sex in this story. In one sense, I’m glad that Jasper kept backing off from the heat because if otherwise the story would’ve lacked the substance it managed to deliver. 

The cast of characters that Tessa has crafted for this series is one I can’t get enough of. Belmont of course has already become my favorite while Penny’s story is one that I’m hankering to read, even now. While Belmont already comes off as the deep one, the connection that he shares with Sage is one that would intrigue any reader. Penny has become as fascinating in one way because beneath the surfaces of all that gaiety lies a heart that bleeds, and I for one am dying to know why. 

I liked how Tessa was patient enough to let Jasper and especially Rita work their way towards one another. Both deeply flawed in ways that makes each of them unable to trust their own selves to do right by their lives. Jasper with good reason of course, but failing to see how far along he has come until Rita manages to show it to him. For Rita, the hurt had been more raw and recent, which had needed someone patient and with foresight like Jasper to heal her gaping wounds. 

A road trip to fulfill a mother’s dying wish that turned the world into the Clarksons’ oyster. This series has so much potential that I for one cannot wait for more!

Final Verdict: Beautifully plotted, all the way. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

He’d be a rougher ride than a bull.
He might as well have whispered that promise out loud because it surrounded him like an aura. Men like Jasper were supposed to be reserved for naughty Internet memes, but here he was. Her own private, moving GIF, only he didn’t loop back to the beginning after three seconds. No, he just kept coming, like he might never stop kissing her once he started. Like he might do a shit ton more than just kiss with that mouth.

“Jasper, I shouldn’t have—”
“That is why you came, isn’t it?” Talking dirty to a woman was just like riding a bike. Jasper rubbed a hand over his stubbled jaw and gave Rita a deliberate, head-to-toe once-over, watching her thighs flex under his notice. His cock gloried in the sight, hardening in his briefs. Right, beautiful. I’ll fit myself between them with enough force to show you who’s taking the lead. “You’re an up-against-the-wall kind of girl, aren’t you?”
“All girls are up-against-the-wall girls,” she whispered

It took her fingers stroking down his forearm to cover the hand cradling her pussy for him to regain awareness of the intimate touch. Oh, and he remembered with a goddamn vengeance. She put pressure on his hand, moaning into his mouth with the universal language for More, keep going. With their tongues tangling together, lips slanting for frantic tastes, he had no choice. He yanked down her panties and slid his middle finger between her wet folds—so wet he tore his mouth away so he could curse.
“God. I would mouth-fuck this little sweetheart for days.”

“Do it,” she moaned, propping her bent legs higher on his hips, using them as leverage to lift off the swing. “I need you. Hard like before.”
“Hard like before, yes. But this time you’ll look me in the eye while I’m ringing your bell. You understand me?” Jasper pressed her back down into the swing, bearing down with his lower body, grinding her into the wood until she whimpered. “And at some point tonight, I’m going to make love to you. The kind of sex that takes an hour of slow rocking and pumping. The kind where we wrap our fingers together, then twine them around the headboard. And I whisper things in your ear I can’t say in the light. Promise me.”

“God, Rita. I can feel that little lace edge of your thong rubbing up and down my cock.” He gave her a full minute of nonstop bucking, stopping only when her pussy locked up, a telltale sign she was near the edge. She wailed and dug her nails into his shoulders when he paused, but she settled when he started a slow bump and grind. “Yeah, beautiful. Fucking is that much sweeter when you’ve driven a man to the point where he wants to jack off in his own kitchen, isn’t it?” He dropped his forehead onto her shoulder and groaned. “I’m not finishing you down here. You’re going to leave your scent in my bed, you understand me?”
“Yes,” she moaned, curling around Jasper as he advanced toward the stairs, still impaled on his dick.

“Jasper,” she whispered, sounding out of breath. “I don’t—”
“Please, just don’t act surprised. I won’t be able to stand it.” His mouth fell to hers, kissing, kissing, like a man mouthing a furious prayer. “You can’t be surprised when the last few days have given me life. Act upset or happy or storm out. But I can’t handle surprised, like maybe you didn’t even consider me for a second.”
“I’ve considered you,” she sobbed. “Of course I have. Just stop talking like that for a second, stop stealing my breath when I’m trying to catch it.”
“No.” He pressed their foreheads together. “I don’t want you to catch it. I want it to stay lost and I want to be the man who steals it. All day, every day. Forever. Stay with me right here.”

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ARC Review: Project Virgin by Megan Crane

Format: E-bookprojectvirgin
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Hero: Damon Patrick
Heroine: Scottie Grey
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 21, 2016
Started On: April 29, 2016
Finished On: May 01, 2016

Damon Patrick is a seventh year associate at the historic law firm Granger and Knox, a renowned litigator and San Francisco’s favorite sex symbol. 26 year old Scottie Grey is a first year associate who is barely out of law school, who just booted her fiancé out the door for being the lying and cheating man he had turned out to be.

When Damon notices the missing engagement ring on Scottie’s finger which is followed by the lengthiest conversation they have had to-date regarding non-work related stuff, Scottie to her horror realizes that she had started to have very strong reactions towards Damon which does not bode well at all. The topic of her status of virginity somehow comes up, which is how Damon eventually “volunteers” to help her get rid of the pesky matter, once and for all.

Told in first person from Scottie’s point of view, Megan Crane I believe has done justice to the story with a novella of this length. Damon definitely lives up to the description that I started off this review with – he is definitely a sex symbol if ever there was one.

This book made me reassess every not-so-positive thought I might have had about kissing scenes when it comes to a lot of books. The act itself can barely get a passing glance from some authors, while others quite ineffectively launches into a description of tongue tangling and tongues doing other stuff which sometimes does not come off as such an erotic act. However Megan Crane has made me a believer of just how erotic the act of kissing itself can be in books with how Damon chooses to kiss Scottie, possibly out of her senses and beyond. I am a definite believer in Damon and his prowess in kissing and otherwise. Wowza!

Because the book is told in Scottie’s point of view alone, it is at times difficult to assess what Damon might or might not be feeling. For a man who has no problem in getting any woman he wants (I believe I would not turn him down if he were to turn up on my doorstep – and I digress), there is little novelty perhaps left when it comes to the harem of women that parades in and out of his life.

I guess what affected Damon most was the fact that Scottie had waited all along, believing in giving herself to the one that she wanted to share the rest of her life with – even though that man had turned out to be the douche-bag of the century. At first it feels as if Damon remains unaffected by the scorching and burn-through-the-ereader chemistry that he and Scottie had going between them. But little by little the chips fall away & reveal that he is as stunned and affected by what is happening between them. 

The way that Megan makes the reader see how moved Damon is by the experience and beyond, when everything else suggests otherwise, that was the part of the story that I couldn’t get enough of! Loved, loved, loved the emotions that this little delicious number invoked.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: In Project Virgin, Megan Crane tells a delicious tale not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

“I  think  I’ll walk home,”  I  said after a  stretch of time  that could have  been  years.  It felt  like  decades, hot  and  dark  blue, and  I  wondered who  I’d be  grieving  tonight when  I cleared my  head  and slept alone.  Alexander or  Damon?   “I  could use  the  air.”
He  shifted then, and smiled, and  I  felt as if everything  had  changed.   As if  the world had been shoved out of its usual orbit, even if  I  couldn’t see  any  difference.   I  felt that restlessness, edgy  and needy, like  a  dull  kind  agony  right beneath my  skin.
“Or,”  he  said quietly, but with all  that electric  confidence  that pooled  deep  in my belly and pulsed hard between my legs, “you could let me give you what you want.”

“Which one of us knows what he’s doing?” Damon asked, his voice dark and hot and close to my ear. “You or me?”
“I don’t know to answer that. You refused to confirm if the rumors I heard about you were true.”
A rumble of very male laughter. Then the scrape of his teeth against the side of my jaw. He’d nipped me. He’d nipped me. My entire body seemed to switch on, straight into a white hot, humming blaze of fire.
“They’re true.”

The position was as ridiculous as I’d feared. My ass was in the air, my hair was tumbling everywhere, and I had to concentrate to lower myself toward him without simply collapsing and writhing against him the way I wanted.
But his mouth. His mouth. He tilted his head back and it was right there. It was temptation and sin. I could smell him—a hint of something spicy and a certain underlying maleness that was all him. I could feel the heat coming off of his skin.
My own mouth watered.
Between my legs, a sweet fire bloomed into a volcano.
Then I lowered myself down and fit my mouth to his.

He bent to capture my mouth with his, and everything exploded.
Holy shit.
I’d been kissed before. Some years, that was all Alexander and I had done.
I’d kissed a lot, and artfully. But never in my life had I ever been kissed like this.
Damon didn’t play. He took.
He was like a hurricane, taking me over and shaking me down, and I loved it. He ate at my mouth. He plundered me, until I was lost in the heat of it, the slide of his tongue and the clamor of my heart.

Damon pulled his mouth away from mine, but he left his hand where it was, his palm moving to gently abrade my nipple. The sensation was a wild tumult, a line of fire that shot straight from my breast to my clit and set me ablaze, and I couldn’t seem to do a thing in the world but arch into him.
He laughed, then let go, claiming my mouth again as he did.
The music in the club swelled around us, the high notes chasing each other through the insistent bass, and it was as if it was inside me, too. I was lost there, the music a delirious throb within me, Damon around me and beneath me, and his mouth moving against mine.

Higher he went, then higher still, until he cupped my pussy with his big, hard hand.
I trembled. Hard.
The club raged around us, right there on the other side of the balcony that shielded us, but I wouldn’t have cared if we were in the center of the dance floor and lit up by a set of spotlights.
“Please…” I whispered.
As if he’d been waiting for that, Damon smiled.

“You’re perfect,” he growled against my mouth, and then he claimed my mouth again as he drove two fingers deep into me.
I’d come before of course, me and my hand or a toy at the ready, but this was something else. This was different. This was a tearing apart. An awakening. I convulsed against him, going stiff as my hips tried to pound themselves against his hand, my head thrown back and my wild cries swallowed up by the loud club around us.
Damon laughed, a sound of rich male delight.
Then he claimed my mouth with his.
And he did it all over again.

He kissed me hard. Deep.
He made a noise I couldn’t interpret and then he was lifting me, positioning me on my back on the bed and then climbing over me.
We both groaned when he came down on top of me, pressing his whole body against mine. I let my legs fall open to cradle him against me, that hard cock of his separated from my aching pussy by two scant layers of thin fabric. For a moment we only stared at each other, making a lie of my commentary on plumbers and possessiveness as we lay there stripped bare in the dark.
I thought we both knew it.

“Have you done this a lot?” Even I could hear the wonder in my voice, and his dark blue eyes crinkled in the corners as he gazed down at me.
“Sex, yes,” he said, dropping his face down to put his mouth against my neck again. “Virgins, no.”
“Have you—”
“Scottie.” A drag of his teeth against my sensitized skin. “Quiet.”
Once again, I obeyed him.
And everything fell away.

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ARC Review: Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard

Format: E-booklakeofdreams.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Richard Chance
Heroine: Theadora Marlow
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 02, 2016
Started On: March 22, 2016
Finished On: March 22, 2016

I have been undergoing a vicious dry spell in my reading the last couple of months. Every single book that I have picked up to read (some even from my favorite authors) have proved to be lackluster in some way and I eventually put them on hold. There were times I kept wondering whether romance genre altogether had lost its appeal to me. Maybe I had come to my saturation point where my beloved genre was concerned – all very alarming conclusions of course for someone who seldom goes on to read other genres.

Then I picked up Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard, up for grabs on Netgalley. Linda Howard has been a legendary writer back in the day. Her recent novels have lacked the punch that is the usual accompaniment of her novels. I actually believed this to be a full length novel and one that has not been previously published – I was wrong on both accounts. But the story that Lake of Dreams delivered is the reason why Linda Howard rose to stardom in the first place.

Theadora Marlow, a house painter who seems to lead a reasonably normal life is being plagued with dreams of the erotic variety. The man who visits her in the dreams takes her, possesses her in ways that she would never have thought possible, and yet at the end, always leaves her aching and crying for more when she eventually wakes up. Thea becomes affected to the point where she cannot concentrate on much, going to sleep itself becoming one of the hardest chores of her life.

To get away from it all, Thea makes her way to her family’s summer vacation cabin, hoping to let loose and relax without anyone intruding on her. However, as soon as she turns up, Richard Chance comes calling, the embodiment of the very man who has been visiting her dreams, some of it ending with a less than favorable impression of the man, leaving her bewildered and scared at the same time.

The short story that unfolded proved to be the balm that my frayed soul required, the water to my parched throat, the book that answered every single of my needs when it comes to reading romances. This was the Linda Howard that I remember, that I want to remember and keep in my memories and recall them from time to time. Earthy heroes, feisty heroines and a love so affecting that one can never be removed from it, if at all. 

I could not help but sigh as I turned the last page – because that is what a good book does to a soul that is starved for one.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: The beauty that is a well written romance is enough to tide one over a lifetime. 

Favorite Quotes

He took her that way, pulled to the edge of the bed and with only her lower body bared, and the mosquito netting between them. He took her with anger, and with tenderness. He took her with a passion that seared her, with a completeness that marked her forever as his. And, in the end, she did cry out. That triumph was his, after all. But her cries weren’t of pain, but of pleasure and fulfillment, and a glory she hadn’t known existed.

Before she could ask why, now that she was perfectly comfortable in his arms, he withdrew his arm from beneath her legs and let her lower body slide downward. Though he took care not to let her nightgown get caught between them, the friction of her body moving over his could scarcely have been more enticing. She caught her breath, her breasts and thighs tingling with heat even as she sought his boot tops with her feet and let her weight come to rest on them. Nor was he unaffected; there was no mistaking the firm swelling in his groin.

The taste of him was like coming home, their mouths fitting together without any awkwardness or uncertainty. A growl of hunger rumbled in his throat, and his entire body tensed as he took her mouth with his tongue. With the ease of long familiarity he thrust his hand under her T-shirt and closed it over her breast, working his fingers beneath the lace of the bra cup so his hand was on her bare skin, her nipple beading against his palm. Thea shuddered under his touch, a paroxysm of mingled desire and relief, as if she had been holding herself tightly against the pain of his absence and could only now relax.

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