Review: Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverrevealed
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4
Publisher: Onyx
Hero: Butch O’Neal
Heroine: Marissa
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 20, 2007
Started On: August 21, 2016
Finished On: August 22, 2016

“You are the male I want to mate with. That’s who you are.”

Lover Revealed is the fourth book in the mind blowing Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. It tells the story of Butch O’Neal, who is drawn into the realms of the lives of the Brotherhood during the first book of the series. Butch who had been a homicide detective had gotten fired for police brutality and since then become part of the Brotherhood’s fight against the Lessening Society that lives to kill vampires. Butch also has a crush of the size of Mount Everest on Marissa; stating his feelings towards Marissa, a daughter of the aristocratic lineage is putting it mildly. However, having got the impression that Marissa really does not want much to do with him has made Butch decide to make peace with it, which does not mean that he still does not want her in a big way.

When Butch’s life is changed in a way he never thought possible, well, no one thought possible, Butch becomes a weapon against the fight being waged between Lessers and the vampires. While Marissa finds herself chafing more and more at the restrictions that are imposed on her as an unmated vampire of the purest of blood, everything comes to a breaking point eventually which finds Marissa going towards the one man who has always made her feel more than living life in the status of a porcelain doll to be coveted and never touched. In Butch’s arms, Marissa finds herself experiencing what never thought possible, but on her terms.

Which brings me to why I was not so enamored by either Butch of Marissa in the story. I found Marissa to be a bit too unsure of her needs and wants when it comes to Butch. I understood the baggage that she carries with her, having being considered sort of an outcast by her own brethren, not to mention her asshat of a brother who made her believe herself to be less of a woman all because. Wrath was also partly to blame in my opinion, but of course Beth and the way she treated the whole thing later on went a long way towards making things better. However, that did not redeem Wrath’s role in it to my satisfaction.

I liked Butch. I wanted to love him. Perhaps a small corner of my heart does. But the way Butch tried to change and conform into something or rather everything that Marissa wanted from him was a bit hard to take in. Yes, I know that Butch having the vampire blood coursing through him makes it so, makes him react so. But the way he wanted to put his very life on the line for a woman who oscillates between wanting to be with him to being unsure of it in the next second was just irksome. 

Butch’s conformation in the bedroom was also partly the problem. A robust man with heady sexual appetites having to handle Marissa with kid gloves because she’s the beautiful, perfect and serene aristocrat was a bit too much. I understood that Marissa comes from a line of people where no one talks about the wilder side of sex etc. but the whole thing just irked me in a way. There is also the way Marissa let Butch be hurt into thinking that he was defective in some way as to not being able to give her pleasure, even when he had shown her otherwise in previous encounters was something that did not win any points in her favor.

That brings me to my reaction to the series thus far. By the fourth book in the series one would think that the King having ascended to the throne would have at least started on some programs to bring together his race and actually work towards making a difference in steering their kind to lives better lived. Lives that would reverse the dwindling numbers and give them a fighting chance with the lessers. I know that this story takes place just six months down the line, but I would have thought that at least some plans would have materialized somewhere along the way towards it. Apart from fire fighting in the sense in their war against the lessers, that also with no concrete plan to change their modus operandi apart from going out every night to hunt and kill, there seems to be a lack of coordinated effort in the Brotherhood which does not seem to bode well for the future.

All through the book, my fascination was focused on Rehvenge as a character. Now there is a vampire whose story I want to climb into.

Though with everything that did not work for me in the story, it is still a crucial addition to the series that adds value to the novels that are yet to come.

Final Verdict: Compelling enough to keep the pages turning. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Who are you, then?”
“No one you’d ever know. Even if I were a vampire, our paths would never cross. I’m a blue-collar kind of guy.” At her look of confusion, he said, “Lower-class.”

His tone was factual, as if he were reciting his height or weight.
“I don’t think of you as lower-class, Butch.”
“Like I said, you don’t really know me.”
“When I lie this close to you, when I smell your scent, when I hear your voice, I know everything that matters.” She looked down the length of him. “You are the male I want to mate with. That’s who you are.”

Her hips tilted up sharply. “Butch…”
“That’s it. Come for me.”
“I can’t… I can’t…” She shook her head back and forth, getting trapped between what her body wanted and what her mind was having trouble assimilating. She was going to lose the momentum unless he did something fast.
Without even thinking or knowing why it would help, he buried his face in her throat and bit her, right over her jugular. That was what did it. She cried out his name and started convulsing, her hips jerking, her body flexing all along her spine. With profound joy, he helped her ride the orgasm’s pulses and he talked to her the whole time—although God only knew what he was saying.

He bit her palm. “Tell me you want this. Tell me you want me.”
“I…” Her body undulated on the bed.
“Tell me you want me.” He nailed her harder with his teeth. Shit, he wasn’t sure why he needed to hear it from her so badly, but he did. “Say it.”
“I want you,” she gasped.
From out of nowhere, a dangerous, greedy lust slapped hold of him and his control shattered. With a dark sound that came from his gut, he clamped his hands on the insides of her thighs, split her wide and literally dove between her legs.

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Review: Ritual Sins by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookritualsins
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Onyx
Hero: Luke Bardell
Heroine: Rachel Connery
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 1997
Started On: December 4, 2010
Finished On: December 5, 2010

Ritual Sins was recommended to me on Goodreads by my good friend Ruby. As I read through this one, there is one thing that I can say with absolute certainty; none can blame Ms. Stuart for spinning your usual run-of-the-mill romantic suspense. Ms. Stuart always pushes the boundaries with her stories which either makes you want to hurl the book at the wall or put it at the top of your favorite keeper pile. For me, this book hit somewhere in between, though the story that unfolded pulled me in right from the very beginning.

Ritual Sins begins when 29 year old Rachel Connery decides to visit Santa Dolores, home base of the Foundation of Being in New Mexico, a compound devoted to meditation and enlightenment, combined with a hospice center to care for the dying. Rachel is a tortured heroine if there ever was one. Growing up with a mother who had never really cared about her and flitted from one man to another which had rendered her only child wary of the opposite sex, Stella Connery had cared for no one except her own self. Rachel had suffered sexual molestation at the hands of her third stepfather, the touching which had started when she had been 9 years old which had escalated into rape when she had been 12 had rendered Rachel frigid, unable to touch or be touched by any person, be it in kindness or anything else. Armed with her MBA from Havard, Rachel had worked hard in soul sucking jobs to earn enough money to just one day up and leave to Spain where for a period of 3 months she had found her solace, only to return back to the States to find out that her mother as the trustee to Rachel’s trust fund had drained her of every penny, 12.5 million dollars of which she leaves to Luke Ballard, founder of the Foundation of Being before finally succumbing to death after being diagnosed with breast cancer and leaving nothing behind for her only child but suffering, betrayal, anger and pain. Now the only thing that keeps Rachel going is her quest for revenge, the thirst to bring down Luke and his Foundation crumbling down which grows stronger everyday.

Ex-convict Luke Bardell grew up in a small town where his grandparents had tried to convince his mother to get an abortion, a father who had been an evangelist traveling from one town to the other who had never really wanted a child in the first place and had been killed for his wayward way with womenfolk by a jealous husband which had finally propelled his mother to marry Jackson Bardell, the worst mistake of her life for which she had paid in full by committing suicide when Luke had been around 8 years old, leaving him at the mercy of Jackson’s drunken fists until the day Luke had grown old enough to defend himself. When Luke had killed a man in a barroom brawl, Luke had been found guilty of manslaughter and had done time in jail for 3 years after which he had been released on parole during which time Luke had started the Foundation. With an uncanny charisma and charm, Luke has the ability to use his skills to draw people into his manipulative web of serenity and solace, and when Stella Connery dies at the Foundation, Luke knows deep down in his gut that Stella’s skinny, pale and sour faced daughter would prove to be the downfall of the Foundation, unless Luke can make her pay with the ultimate surrender of her heart, body and soul.

I liked:

  1. The unique story that unfolded as I swept through the pages. As I said at the beginning of my review, none can blame Ms. Stuart for spinning your average romantic suspense. This story is by not any means an easy read. Luke is a manipulator of the highest degree, who doesn’t feel any qualms about using people for his own needs regardless of the consequences. Learning about Luke and Rachel’s disturbing childhoods wasn’t easy, but it makes for a compelling read, one you can’t help but go on reading with a twisted kind of fascination. Even with all his faults, Luke still makes for a hero worthy of a sigh or two, even as he goes out of his way to charm and seduce Rachel to give up her heart, body and soul to him for nothing in return.
  2. Rachel Connery. She is a tortured heroine if there ever was one. She has so much pain, anguish and fear locked up inside of her that she is one simmering ball of misery waiting to explode. Ms. Stuart certainly paints a realistic picture of how someone who has been raped by her own stepfather countless times  can be frozen into state of abject misery throughout the years, not knowing how to reach out to anyone and never letting yourself become vulnerable enough to be hurt like that ever again. It was painful seeing Rachel being “forced” to give in, to embrace her sensual nature and when she did let go, it was a mighty fine feeling that overcame me as I rooted for her freedom from the very shackles of fear that keeps her in a prison of hell till that very moment.
  3. The complex multifaceted characters that liven up this read. There is not one character that I would have wished to do away with in this story. Each one of them lends something essential to the story making it one compelling story to sink into.

I did not like: Umm.. there’s nothing that I can say outright that I disliked in this novel. But Luke’s character was a bit tough to like during the first couple of chapters though the guy oozes charm like nothing else. But in the end, knowing where he came from, learning about the wealth of pain and suffering that had shaped him up made it all worth in the end. I still can’t say that I flat-out loved Luke, but I can definitely say that I wouldn’t shut the door in his face if he were to turn up at my house. *grin*

Favorite Quotes

She just looked at him. She really had extraordinary eyes, he thought, keeping his own face expressionless, slightly bored. It was those eyes of hers that were his downfall. He could resist her anger, he could resist her body and her sarcastic tongue. But those deep brown eyes, so full of pain and fury, need and defiance, did him in.

She didn’t know he was watching her. She stood in the rain, naked, her face tipped back, letting the water stream over her cheekbones, her eyes, her mouth. She lifted her arms to the stormy skies, and as if answering her supplication, the clouds opened up and drenched her, drenched him as he watched her.
She turned then, and stared at him through the curtain of rain.. There was knowledge and acceptance in her face. And need.
He crossed the clearing, caught her in his arms, and pushed her up against the side of van, kissing her with such rough abandon that he didn’t know if he hated her or loved her. She put her arms around his neck, and when he unfastened his jeans to free himself she was ready, wrapping her long legs around him as he pushed into her, impaling her on his rigid flesh, holding her against the cold wet sliding of the van as the rain fell around them.

Recommended for: Fans of Anne Stuart.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble



Review: Night Fall by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booknightfall2
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Onyx
Hero: Richard Tiernan
Heroine: Cassidy Roarke
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 1, 1995
Started On: December 3, 2010
Finished On: December 4, 2010

Anne Stuart definitely knows what she is doing with her bad-ass heroes who walk a fine line between inciting intense dislike or adoration despite of their broody and almost irredeemable nature in her readers. Night Fall caught my interest whilst going through her list of published  books and the fact that this story had won the RT Reviewer’s Choice award for the Contemporary Romantic Suspense category in 1995 convinced me to push this one towards the top of my TBR pile and I have to say that this is one romantic suspense novel that all lovers of this genre ought to read.

Richard Tiernan is certainly not your average hero in a romantic suspense novel. Yes he is handsome, compelling, charming and draws women towards him like iron towards magnet but what makes him a bit more sinister and edgier than your average alpha hero is the fact that Richard is a man who has been convicted for stabbing his beautifully angelic and pregnant wife Diana Scott Tiernan to death and the murder of his two beautiful children; 5 year old Amy and 3 year old Seth who to this day have never been found. It hadn’t taken much for a jury to find him guilty when Richard had done nothing to allay their suspicions. The fact that Diana had been about to leave him and had in fact filed papers to deny Richard access to their children had provided the motive that was needed for the conviction and his sentence had put him on death row to be killed by lethal injection until Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Sean O’Rourke posts his bail to use Richard’s story to pen his final masterpiece.

27 year old Cassidy Roarke had worked damn hard to make a safe and predictable and albeit a boring life for herself in Baltimore. Growing up with her father Sean who practically storms through life with his fierce bull-like nature and her mother Alice who had just been like Sean had definitely left its mark on Cassidy. Cassidy with her hour-glass figure, red hair and green eyes with her fierce protective nature knows that she will always fall short in her father’s eyes and that she would never be able to rise up and meet his expectations. Though she knows that putting herself in reach of Sean’s manipulative nature wouldn’t end up in a pleasant way, Cassidy is no match for her father’s wheedling and the news that he is sick propels Cassidy to travel to New York to see her father, her curiosity on why Sean had felt the need to manipulate her enough to require her presence being the deal breaker in her decision to go up to see her father.

When she arrives, she is hardly prepared to find a convicted murderer residing at Sean’s home, and Richard is exactly who Cassidy meets when she steps into her father’s apartment. The need to flee, to protect herself from the compelling man that stands before her rages an internal battle with her reluctant fascination for a man she is better off not knowing anything about. But Cassidy can’t help herself as Richard is determined that Cassidy fulfill the role that he has chosen for her, regardless of how much Cassidy might have to sacrifice of herself in the end. Ownership of Cassidy’s heart, body and soul is what Richard wants within the short time period he has left, and he uses all his acquired skill in drawing a hopelessly ensnared Cassidy into his trap until it is all too late when Cassidy’s well-honed survival instincts do kick in. What Richard doesn’t count on is for him to fall into a trap of his own making, for him to come to care enough to want to see the dawn of another day because of Cassidy.

I Liked:

  1. The compelling story telling done by Ms. Stuart on this one. From the prologue itself, this story drew me in, trapping me within the complexity of the story as it unfolded and made me read till late into the night so that I could find out what had really happened that fateful night when Diana Scott Tiernan had been stabbed to death in her own home. Kudos to Ms. Stuart for the amazing story she has told in this one!
  2. Richard Tiernan. His character is one that draws the reader right from the very beginning. It’s not only Cassidy that he lures in with his manipulative lies to ruthlessly achieve what he wants but the reader as well since I could not for the world stop thinking about Richard, his death sentence and the aura of danger, mystery and desolateness that surrounds him. My wary fascination with him turned into entirely something else halfway through the novel as his seductive and compelling nature made it hard for me to do anything else but love him for who he is and when the cracks finally begin to show in his well suited armor around his heart and emotions, I felt like holding him and never letting him go. Richard Tiernan is one fine man definitely worth your time! ^_^
  3. Cassidy Roarke. Her innocence coupled with her undeniable intelligence and her fierce loyalty towards those whom she loves makes her a very compelling heroine, exactly what someone like Richard who has lost himself in a shroud of darkness from which he sees no light really needs. Cassidy’s finely honed fight or flee nature always comes to light around Richard as he tempts her beyond anything or anyone she has ever known which makes for an interesting read in itself.
  4. The hideously creepy villain who comes to light towards the end of the story. The guy just gives me the creeps and the heebie jeebies if you know what I mean! It’s not that I “like” him but I like what his character brings to the story which makes for a very compelling read.

I did not like: Nothing much but *sigh* again, the abruptness of how it ended kinda punched me in the face with this one as well. Though I know better than not to expect long and overdrawn epilogues from Ms. Stuart, it kinda still stings when the story is over long before you want it to be, like cold water up your ass before you have fully woken up in the morning!

Favorite Quotes

She was literally backed into a corner, backed by her own nervousness, and he’d advanced on her. She raised her chin, looking at him with completely false calm, and waited for him to move out of the way.
He didn’t. Not for an agonizingly long time. He let his gaze fall, travel down the length of her, from her wild mane of hair, down to the front of her plain white nightgown to the tips of her bare feet. There was nothing even remotely suggestive about the cotton nightgown or the baggy sweater she’d pulled over it, nothing erotic about bare feet. His eyes slid down her body, and she was burning up.

He was angry. Angry that she’d reached him again. He stalked her, intent on testing her, seeing how far he could push her. And instead she’d pushed back, crawling inside his skin, so that it was his hands that were trembling, his body that was shaking.
She smelled like sex and lies. She smelled like love and truth. He threaded his hands through her thick mane of flame-colored hair, reveling in the texture and slanted his mouth across hers. He’d never liked kissing so much before.

She was unprepared for the sudden change in him. He’d been holding himself very taut, and suddenly the tension seemed to leave his body. He sank to his knees in front of her, his arms around her waist, his head pressed against her belly, and he was trembling. She reached down, in wonder, to cradle his head against her, and she felt the heat of tears against her skin, and her heart broke.

When she slept she dreamed. They would kill him, and they would make her watch, and she cried, reaching out for him. When she awoke she was sprawled across him, the room was still in the complete darkness of early morning, and he was buried deep inside her. She opened her eyes to look down at him, and the orgasm that shook her was powerful, instantaneous, and shared.
He closed his eyes, his strong teeth bared in a grimace, and she watched him. And she knew she owned him, as much as he owned her.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of contemporary romantic suspense.
  2. Fans of Anne Stuart and her dark, edgy heroes.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble