Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Hero: Shane Maddox
Heroine: Katharine Burke
Date of Publication: October 29, 2013
Started On: May 20, 2016
Finished On: May 22, 2016
It had been a while since an author has taken command of all my senses when I read a story, which is why I found myself going on a reading binge on everything and anything that I could find by Julianna Keyes. At the cost of repeating myself, that is because her books opened up a whole new world of possibilities in a genre which I sometimes fear has grown stagnant with too many books with too little quality to measure them by.
Just Once by Julianna Keyes has to be my “least” favorite from the bunch of books I have read from Julianna up till now. But even then, it is a book that delivered on most fronts, which is why I loved it even with its shortcomings.
Written in the first person from the heroine Katharine Burke’s point of view, Just Once tells the story of how Kate finds herself feeling amiss, becoming disillusioned with her life, even though as a travel writer, Kate has done things and being to places most people can only dream of. Perhaps it was Kate’s desire to get back to her roots that finds her traveling to the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado, where she had spent three summers as a teenager, a place she had never forgotten even though it had been ten years since.
As the new kitchen/cabin manager, Kate hopes that backbreaking physical labor plus the serenity that comes with being surrounded by nature would rewire her brain and remove that desolate feeling that had been hounding her of late. Kate’s encounter with Shane Maddox, the ruggedly handsome and stubborn ranch foreman becomes her biggest challenge in working on the ranch, not to mention the wild and hedonistic desire that he invokes in her being a bit problematic as well. However, when Kate realizes that Shane also shares the same desire as her, at least when it comes to the bedroom, an agreed upon one night stand turns into two and before they know it, both Kate and Shane are embroiled in a passionate affair that neither saw coming.
While both Shane and Kate didn’t reel me in as the protagonists of other novels I have read from Julianna, I still loved the premise and the whole setup of the story. There’s a lot of hard labor that goes into every aspect of keeping an establishment such as a ranch guesthouse up and running. Just Once lets the reader get a bit of insight into what life is like on the other side of the equation, the one which we seldom give any thought to when we are enjoying a vacation or a timeout from the daily grind of life.
Two characters whose unfinished story that caught my eye would be that of Brandon and Hailey. I keep wondering whether Julianna would ever write down their story because there seems to be a wealth of angst to be explored in their union, if ever there is to be one.
Just like the rest of the novels by Julianna that I have read and loved, Just Once also comes bearing enough angst, spiced up sex and with a hero who cannot get enough, just like the heroine. Which is the utmost of reasons why I will always keep coming back for more where Julianna is concerned.
Final Verdict: Julianna pens down yet another sinful tale of love that strikes when you least expect it.
“But I promise to make you come,” he whispers. “And come and come and come. Until you can’t take any more.”
“And then I’ll make you come again.”
“And when you can’t walk tomorrow, it won’t be because of your leg.”
I slide up the bed and he releases one hand so I can brace myself against the wall. I give him everything, thighs wide, meeting and accepting each brutal thrust. Sweat gathers on his brow, and his mouth mashes against mine, teeth clashing, tongues mating, until finally—finally—the pressure that’s been building for weeks finds the outlet it’s been looking for. Everything in me converges in that one place, clamping down tightly and refusing to release until Shane lets go too, until he goes rigid above me, eyes locked on mine, and we both give in. I moan into his mouth as I come, and he swallows my cry and answers with a strangled sound of his own, hips pulsing against mine, dragging every last ounce of pleasure from our exhausted bodies.
I lower a trembling hand between my legs, trying to touch myself, to finish what Shane has started, but he whispers soothing words in my ear and takes my hand away, returning it to the mattress. “I’ve got you,” he says, breath tickling my neck.
“I can’t take any more,” I moan. “What are you doing to me?”
He pounds into me harder and harder, stroking over that spot again and again until everything in me converges in one place, then finally dips his fingers between my legs, rubbing roughly and grunting, “Come,” in my ear.
I’ve been called stubborn most of my life, but not now. My body’s not listening to me anyway. It’s found a new master, and his name is Shane. I come. I come harder than I’ve ever come in my life.
My head drops back. “Oh God.”
“He can’t help you now.” Shane turns his attention to my other nipple, biting down harder than expected and making me jerk in his arms. “Remember,” he warns, not removing his mouth. “Only say no if you mean it.”
“You make me forget,” I whisper.
Shane looks up and pulls me forward to straddle his waist, raising his lips to mine. “Me too.”
Finally—finally—he kisses me.
He thrusts impossibly hard, answering the request, shouting his release as he comes inside me. I feel a sudden wet heat between my legs and clutch him tightly, unable or unwilling to let go. When he shudders one last time, we’re both breathing hard. I can feel his heart beating against my chest, the echoing thud of mine, his sweat-damp hair on my temple.
Eventually he eases out, and as my body struggles to release him, I realize he was wrong that day on the hike when he told me I wasn’t used to fucking. The truth is, I wasn’t used to making love.