ARC Review: Beneath the Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake
Hero: NA
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: June 01, 2021
Started On: March 13, 2021
Finished On: March 15, 2021

Beneath the Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White is another spellbinding novel from the master storyteller who has the uncanny ability to push just the right set of buttons to keep the pages turning. I continue to be in awe of everything that Ms. White publishes, and it is a foregone conclusion at this point that she will continue to take readers where their comfort zones are pushed in the years to come.

The year is 1997, when 14 year old Leena Rai is found brutally beaten to death with indications of rough intercourse having happened prior to the murder. Investigators in the small town of British Columbia where the story takes place, are hard pressed to solve the case quickly. The investigation speedily concludes with the confession from Clayton Jay Pelley, the school’s guidance counselor.

When Clayton breaks his silence 25 years after he is incarcerated in a podcast series focusing on true crime, retired detective Rachel Walczak who was lead on the case is haunted and taunted by the fact that in their haste to bring a conclusion to the investigation, they may have overlooked many aspects of the case that did not particularly make sense even at the time. But in a small and tight knit community such as theirs, it is a challenge to overlook the ties that bind them, and see each individual as they truly are – where monsters may breed without one acknowledging the fact.

From beginning to end, this story is profound in the way it is told, taking readers between the year of the murder and how it had impacted the lives of all that were affected, to present time when the deep lingering effects of what had taken place still continue to fester in the wounds unhealed.

In the murder victim, we find the typical outcast in a high school setting where teenagers can be brutal in the way they form groups and bully those that do not fit in. A daughter of Indian immigrants, Leena had never had it easy, with a strict father and a mother who had followed wherever her husband led her. Patriarchal households in South Asian settings can be extremely difficult for daughters, especially when you move to a country that upholds more modern values and norms clashing with the traditional ones. Leena is the daughter that is torn between wanting freedom and popularity, between wanting to feel needed and acceptance, and ultimately the one who finds consolation and comfort in a place that she rightfully should not have.

In the alleged perpetrator, Ms. White has forged to life one of the most thought provoking characters she has written of late. A man who society would find it easy to blame and cast aside, whose own demons haunt and taunt him to a point where he was willing to give up everything to control his baser urges. It is difficult to remain detached from his character as Ms. White explores the psychology involved and takes readers on a journey where most may not be willing to be pushed. But I for one reveled in it and admire Ms. White for writing his character as it was told; raw and unadulterated in a way that refuses to give you any reprieve from who he is.

The most shocking elements of the story of course, lies in the “mundane” details of the lives of those in the community as the tale undfolds, traversing through the course of individual and collective lives that had been changed by the events that had unfolded that fateful night two and a half decades back. Rachel, in her bid to find the truth at long last, finds that often, a high price must be paid in the pursuit of it, secrets that many would go to extreme lengths to keep buried for eternity.

I also found myself astounded by and questioned how someone with such a violent streak within them managed to hide in plain sight for so long – after all, the character’s actions at certain points in life must have pointed to that villainous and extremely unhinged aspects within. I guess we would never know. But then again, that is what is so gripping about Ms. White’s work – you can never accuse her of taking on tried tropes and leaving you with the feeling that you have been cheated out on.

I continue to be amazed by how well Ms. White writes, how unique each of her books are, how powerful her characters and villains alike are, how difficult it to cast one character in the role of purely being a hero and the other a villain, and how unforgettable her stories are. Ms. White truly humbles me by pointing out time and yet again that life does not happen in black and white, but in the shades of grey within.

I marvel at the fact that she dares broach sensitive topics and does them justice, her innate ability to dig deep into the psyche of her characters from multiple perspectives. It is truly remarkable the diversity behind her books and I at times do not think that I am even worthy of reviewing such splendor that lies within the pages.

Definitely recommended for readers of all variety of fiction – if you like thrillers with in-depth characterization, Ms. White is a must read!

Final Verdict: Beneath the Devil’s Bridge is magnificent in the way it unfolds, crisp writing & page-turning suspense lending clarity to the shades of grey that rules our lives.

Favorite Quotes

We spend most of our lives afraid of our own Shadow. He told me that. He said a Shadow lives deep inside every one of us. So deep we don’t even know it’s there. Sometimes, with a quick sideways glance, we catch a glimpse of it. But it frightens us, and we quickly look away. This is what fuels the Shadow—our inability to look. Our inability to examine this thing that is in fact our raw selves. This is what gives the Shadow its power. It makes us lie. About what we want, about who we are. It fires our passions, our darkest desires. – Leena Rai

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: Beautiful Sinner by Sara Cate

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Callum Moore
Heroine: Cadence
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 26, 2020
Started On: February 12, 2021
Finished On: February 13, 2021

Our love is not a sin; it’s salvation.

Loosely tied to the novel Beautiful Monster, Beautiful Sinner by Sara Cate is an absolute gem of a romance of the forbidden variety. 44 year old Callum Moore is a priest in an Irish town, who is left blindsided by his encounter with the 24 year old Cadence, a young American who happens to come to stay at the Ennis Bed & Breakfast that is owned by Callum’s sister.

Cadence comes to the B&B with a group of youngsters touring Europe, the guy she is with whom she considers to be her boyfriend when he is anything but. Waking up the next morning to find that they had all left her behind, and that her “boyfriend” had taken her passport, credit cards, and any valuables she might have had along with him, needless to say Cadence feels like the worst screw up ever.

Having to wait two weeks for everything to be resolved, it is Cadence’s sister that tells her that this could be a good thing, that being alone is perhaps what is right for Cadence to sort out her priorities and just enjoy her ownself. But the mere thought of being alone sends Cadence into a state of panic, especially when she finds herself attracted to none other than the priest of the town, the man who looks upon her so disapprovingly from afar.

Callum is a man who found his calling towards his late twenties, firm in his belief standing true to it all. Cadence presents the first real temptation to ever cross his path since he took his vow of celibacy and that presents problems of the kind that he never thought he would have to deal with. It certainly does not help matters when Cadence proves herself to be made of stronger and sterner stuff than he gives her credit for.

It is only logical that two opposites such as Callum and Cadence, the former being a stickler for what is right and the latter being someone who is free with her affections in a way that does not create a favorable impression of her, would totally clash. And clash they do at first, until they both come to see more in each other and that perhaps in each other lies their future, rocky as the road maybe in the journey towards their ultimate destination.

There is an interesting psychology to Cadence, which Ms. Cate reveals layer by layer. The picture that emerges is of a child who never had a mother figure, who held the roles and responsibilities of acting like the adult in the family even when she was merely a child herself, and later on lost her way somewhere in the middle. Her fear of being left alone makes sense when all of that is put together, the resulting effect being someone who is too free with her love and affection when it comes to those unworthy of it. It takes a whole lot of soul searching and pain for Cadence to understand the same and it was a rewarding journey for the reader as well when she finally achieved the insurmountable.

I find that Ms. Cate has a unique way of writing hugely flawed characters that gives reader deeper insight into what they are, which makes for really intriguing reading. It is easier to judge a character at the surface level; Callum being the priest and the person who gave up his whole life to serve God as the righteous one and see Cadence as just the opposite. Almost always, there are reasons behind why we act the way we do. No one is born a sinner, nor are we saints. We are human, and how we are brought up, the psychology of those around us, the values we are instilled with, all of that and more charts the course of our lives for the most part. Deviating from all of that takes courage, and that is what I found in Cadence as her character grew out of what was holding her back in a big way.

Callum is a super sexy hero – no two ways about it. There is of course, the forbidden lure to him, but at the same time it is the way Ms. Cate has created him, giving him that rough edge with an inner core that is gentle at the same time. Callum is a man who chose his path because he believed it was his calling, but when Cadence comes and puts it all into disarray, he is flummoxed and resistant at first, but there is no stopping the heart from wanting what it wants, especially the forbidden fruit.

Callum also has a take charge attitude in bed that leaves the reader wanting more, and I loved every sizzling second of it. When Callum gives in, he does so spectacularly, and I am pretty certain that no reader would have been left unmoved by what he represents at that point.

The epilogue three years down the line clinched the deal for me with this book, to witness Callum and Cadence living their happily ever after, having reached their destination after all that heartache and angst. Callum teaches Cadence that she is worth everything, and Cadence in return understands that their love is worth it. Nothing puts a bigger smile on the reader’s face than that!

Recommended for fans of forbidden romances featuring two protagonists who are the direct opposite of each other. Ms. Cate has outdone herself with this number!

Final Verdict: Beautiful Sinner is one of those books that as a reader you can never get enough of. Callum makes you yearn for your own forbidden romance and Cadence leaves you with the understanding that your deepest flaws could well become your biggest strength!

Favorite Quotes

With my fingers still at the base of her spine, I lean down until my mouth hovers just above her shoulder. Her hands wrap around my body now, and I know she wants more. I can feel her desire radiating off her skin, and I feel terrible that I won’t be able to give her what she wants. But I’m taking this anyway, this one kiss.
With my lips parted, I press my mouth against the crook of her neck. She lets out a sweet little gasp, and I pull her body closer. Maybe I want her to feel what she’s doing to me or maybe I just want the friction against my aching hard-on, but either way, I know what I’m doing is fucked-up.

“So you’ll let those assholes fuck you instead? Is that what you want to be, Cadence?”
“Unlike you, Callum, I make my own decisions. I say what I do with my body.”
“Not anymore,” he snaps as he crashes his mouth against mine.
“You can’t,” I manage to gasp out before his tongue is in my mouth, and I become water, dripping through his fingers. I catch a glimpse of the white square at the collar of his neck just before I open myself to him, and my fighting hands turn into passionate grabs for his shirt and skin.

Her head hangs back, her lips open and her eyes clenched shut. Her cheeks are tinged pink, and my God, the sounds she’s making. I could record them and listen to them every second for the rest of my life. It’s exquisite.
Too fucking beautiful to feel bad about.
“Don’t stop,” she moans, and I pick up speed. I feel like an animal, overcome with lust and greed. The filthy fucking thoughts in my head are anything but righteous.

Slamming my fingers inside her one last time, I grip her tightly and feel her body explode with her orgasm. Every muscle tightens, and her thighs close on my hand, squeezing them in a vice grip as she stops breathing altogether. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in all my life.

In just a few long strides, he’s standing right in front of me, and I barely have a moment to register anything before his lips are on mine. The kiss is ravenous and desperate. It’s vindication. It’s everything we’ve been hiding and torturing ourselves with for so long.
His lips devour me, trailing down to my neck, my shoulder. His moans are hungry and soon they turn into words. “I’m sorry,” he mutters over and over as he worships my body with his mouth
.

I feel the head of him against my core, and I hold my breath, my eyes not leaving his. He enters me with a force that makes me gasp and want to scream. Once he’s buried inside of me, we melt together. My legs wrap around him and his spine curls around me, his head buried in my neck. For a moment we stay still, enjoying this first bonding our bodies, like it’s some ancient ritual.
He groans into my skin, and I know the Callum that holds back and plays it safe is gone. The Callum I know, the one who takes and commands and doesn’t apologize is about to take over, and my body p
ulses in anticipation.

He does it again and again, keeping his eyes on me the whole time. I don’t bother keeping it quiet anymore. When he pulls my leg over his shoulder, I almost fall apart. My moans of pleasure vibrate across the walls of this church set to the perfect rhythm of his heavy grunts.
His hands grab my hips as he rockets his body against me, building speed and momentum. My back slides against the floor, and he yanks me back, slamming himself even deeper.

My hands grip the bed sheets as I wait for him to take over. I’ve already memorized his rhythm.
With a tight hold of my hips, he fucks me hard until I’m practically lifted off the bed and coming with the force. Just as my climax hits, he lifts my body so I’m flush against him and he pinches my clit until I’m splintered in two, undone with ecstasy.

“Come all over my hand,” I whisper in her ear, and her jaw hangs open like she’s fighting for breath. I’m striking hard now, slipping in a second digit as she writhes. My heavy dick grinds against her just as the conversation outside stops. Any moment, someone will round that corner and see me finger banging my young American employee. The secret will be out, and we won’t have to hide anymore.
But then again, I know it’s this filthy thing we’re doing that makes her seize up in my hands, biting back her cries as she soaks my hand. I love the way her thighs clench together as she comes, a vice grip on my wrist like she never wants me to pull it away. We’re both high on the forbiddenness of it.

As I stand up, I stare down at her, and I unbutton my pants, dropping them to the floor. With my hands under her legs, I yank her body to the edge of the bed and enter her in one fluid motion.
She barely has the chance to come down from her last climax before she’s writhing again. Watching her beautiful body on the bed, her legs wrapped around me, my chest aches. I love her so fucking mu
ch it hurts.

Grabbing her hand, I pull her up, and without pulling out, I lift her body in my arms. She has a drunk, ecstasy-laced smile as I carry her to the bathroom counter. With the large mirror behind her, I see myself as I fuck her.
For the first time in a long time, the reflection doesn’t repulse me. It feels right.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Damian Caballero
Heroine: Skye Sedgewick
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 04, 2015
Started On: January 28, 2021
Finished On: January 29, 2021

With The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar, my second book by Ms. Attar, I am finding out that her books are no walk in the park when it comes to engaging your emotions and the full frontal assault that she wages on them with her stories. That is how I want my stories to be, but alas, not every writer is as talented, or goes seeking darkness of the variety that Ms. Attar brings to readers with this number.

The story begins when 24 year old Skye Sedgewick is kidnapped and held in captivity by a man who seems to be willing to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the vengeance he seeks to achieve. Damian Caballero’s character is fascinating from the onset, his ruthlessness one that should rightfully turn you off, but I ended up liking it all way too much given the lover of darker themed romances that I am.

Damian is hauntingly familiar to Skye, bringing forth memories that she had long buried in her past. However, life has other plans in place for these two even when the truth comes to light, and the hatred that defines Damien’s very existence proves to be the detrimental factor in the relationship that burgeons to life between the captive and captor.

This book was so overwhelming in many ways, but I loved every single minute of it and would not change a single word in it for anything. The main concept that Ms. Attar explores in this novel is that broken hearts and blackened souls, they can heal. It is not easy as some books and movies make it seem; it is a difficult and heartbreaking process in itself. There are no easy answers to be had when your past is filled with unforgivable acts of violence brought on by the thoughtless actions of those who live life as they damn well please, sparing little thought for anyone else.

I am glad that both the protagonists were strong in their own unique ways, which helped make the story as outstanding a read as this was. At first, I hated Skye for not understanding where Damian was coming from, but later on I realized that I was being wholly unfair to Skye because she had been caught in the middle of a war of not her own making nor choosing.

The story is as realistic in terms of human emotions, what it can mean, what it can make you do, the time it takes to heal fractured hearts and souls, what love in its truest form can mean, and I loved the fact that both Damian and Skye grew individually and together to reach their happily ever after.

Highly recommended for fans of Ms. Attar and those who yearn for a breathtaking tale of love that is all encompassing.

Final Verdict: Ms. Attar deserves all the stars for this one. There is no stopping fate when two halves of one soul are determined to be together, and that is in essence what The Paper Swan is about!

Favorite Quotes

I took one step back for each one he took forward, until I was jammed up between him and the wall.
God, he was intense. And deliberate. And he could say things with his eyes that made my knees tremble. One side of his face was bruised and distorted from where I’d hit him. He grasped both my wrists in one hand and pinned them above me. Every part of me felt flush with the heat emanating from his body, even though that was the only point of contact. He hooked a finger in the ‘V’ of my blouse, tracing the dangerously low cleavage. His touch was so soft, it was barely discernible.
“Skye?” He seemed hypnotized by the rapid rise and fall of my chest.
I swallowed.
“Don’t play with scorpions unless you intend to get stung.” He yanked the neckline apart.

Damian grabbed my hands and pinned them behind my back. His lips found mine and he latched on with a hunger that left me breathless. He was an ocean of want and need. All the raging, submerged currents that he’d kept at bay unleashed themselves on me. I tried to keep afloat, clutching at him, but I didn’t stand a chance. My hurt, my anger, my tears were tossed aside by something deeper, something vast and true and powerful and endless.
It was a kiss that had sneaked in through an open window, a kiss that lay folded in a paper giraffe, in the silences between 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, in the pits of mini mangoes and here, now, at last, it was set free. And the rightness of it, the feeling of longing and belonging, made me want to hold on to it forever. I wanted Damian to keep kissing me, keep kissing, keep kissing, until every other kiss had been erased, until this was the only ki
ss.

“My turn,” he said, flipping me over.
It was oddly tentative, his lips on that most private part of me. And I realized that this was where it was different for Damian. He might have fucked a lot of women, but he’d never made love before, never thought about giving the same pleasure he received. And his baby steps—his hot breath, his tongue, his mouth—nudged me towards the sweetest release. When he slipped his fingers inside, first one, then another, I thought I was going to lose it.
“Damian.” I grasped his shoulders. I wanted him inside. “Stop.”
He paused, taking in my flushed face, the rise and fall of my chest, my taut nipples, begging for his touch.
“If you can’t take, don’t give,” he said, sucking on my hot little button like I’d sucked on his thumb.

The fucking tease. His fingers continued their maddening dance, and just when I thought I was about to explode, his cock slid into me, full and hard. It was pure possession, unbridled and complete. The pleasure came, swift and explosive. I clung to him, unable to suppress the cry of delight as wave after wave of electric fire scorched through me. He held still, one hand cupping the back of my head, the other on the curve of my hip as I came in tight spasms around him.
“Again,” he said, when I lay replete and breathless under him. “With me this time.”

“Take me. Take me now,” I whispered.
I exalted in his possession, writhing as our bodies found a tempo that bound us together. We were pressed against each other, flesh-to-flesh, so close that I could feel Damian’s heart pounding through his chest. He was rotating his pelvis clockwise then counterclockwise, then quick, shallow thrusts. I pulled on a fistful of his hair and kissed him, open mouthed, wild with need. He bucked, grabbed my ass with both hands, and drove deep into me. My thoughts fragmented; I gasped in sweet agony as fiery sensations ripped through me. Damian clutched my body, a tormented groan escaping him as he gave in to his release.

The roughened pad of Damian’s thumb found my clit and he flicked it, on, off, on, off, like a switch that allowed me sharp, spiky peaks of pleasure, and then took it away. Each time I moaned, his mouth fell open, as if we were connected by some invisible thread. Damian was focused on my face, my body, like he was recording every moment, every movement. His strokes pushed me closer and closer to the edge. I rocked against the hard length of him, driving him just as crazy, reaching, reaching, reaching, until we exploded in spirals of liquid fire.

“It’s very simple. You want the deposits to stop. I want you and Sierra,” he said. “Marry me, Skye.”
“Marry you?” I blinked. It was the last thing I’d been expecting. Proposals were supposed to be epic—grand moments that swept you off your feet, not negotiated like some business transaction. “You’re out of your mind.”
“Am I?” He swept one arm around the small of my back and pulled me in. “Tell me you haven’t missed me. Tell me you haven’t stayed up nights thinking of how good we are together. Because right at this moment, all I want to do is push you up against the wall and take you so hard that I can’t tell where I end and where you begin. I ache where you’re supposed to be, Skye, and I’m not going to stop until you’re mine. So we can draw this out or we can quit wasting more time. Either way, we’re going to end up right here. Me about to fuck you.”

The bed shifted when he slipped in beside me. One arm slid around my shoulder, cradling me to his chest. His skin was warm and smooth under my cheek. God, I’d missed the way he felt, his scent, his touch, the steady beat of his heart.
“Sleep.” He kissed the top of my forehead, stroking my hair like it was made of the finest gold.
I must have registered surprise because he chuckled. I had been expecting a fiery reunion.
“Just this,” he said. “This feels so, so good.”
The last time we’d been together, when Sierra interrupted us, he had been like a raging bull coming out of the pen, and although I could feel his undeniable arousal, I could also feel something else. Damian was content. For the first time, no one was closing in on us, no one was tearing us apart. We had found our way back to each other. We were finally free to be.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” he growled, tossing me on my back. “Because now, I have to do this.” He filled me in one hard, powerful thrust. My body protested, but I was so lubed up, so hungry for him, that the pain gave way to a hot, aching fullness.
“There’s been no one here.” He knew. He fucking knew. He picked up the tempo, carrying me with him. “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you. So fucking much.” His breath was hot and labored.
It started at the base of my spine, electric tendrils reaching out from my pelvis, building, building, to a white-hot explosion that buzzed through me in waves of sharp ecstasy. I clutched Damian as it rolled through me and felt him stiffen as it hit him. Our bodies were momentarily fused, the same current flowing through both of us. I held on as Damian convulsed into me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

Review: Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Flint Hopkins
Heroine: Ellen Rodgers
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 27, 2018
Started On: December 26, 2020
Finished On: January 02, 2021

Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann is the kind of romance that reaffirms the romance reader’s belief in the genre amidst too many lackluster reads pushing different agendas that are the popular norm of the times we live in. It is the kind of story that echoes in your heart long after you are done, memories of how you felt when you were deeply engrossed in the story, the kind you cherish months and years later, the reason why it lands in your favorites folder, to be revisited somewhere down the line.

32 year old Ellen Rodgers is a music therapist who signs a new lease for an office space, and her landlord turns out to be Flint Hopkins, who is a lawyer, who requires absolute silence to get his work done. From the get go, sparks fly between the two, reluctant as Flint maybe to acknowledge the fact. He wants to cancel the lease and get back his peace of mind, not just from the music or the “noise” that comes from his tenant’s floor, but from the way Ellen has a habit of ruffling his feathers, touching him, and making him want, testing his very resolve.

Ellen is more stubborn than Flint gives her credit for, and things become “messier” when Flint’s son Harrison finds an affinity with none other than Flint’s enemy number one. In the end, every single second spent in each other’s company drives them inexorably closer to that tipping point from which there is no turning back. But it is no smooth sailing for these two when each carries enough baggage and heartache to last them a lifetime. It takes a lot from both of them to find equal footing on their journey towards happily ever after and every excruciating minute I would say, was worth it.

I loved, loved, loved my first book by Jewel E. Ann to pieces. This book had everything going for it; main protagonists who are both lovable in all the ways that matter. Flint *fans self*, is the kind of hero that makes readers swoon with effortless ease. He steps into the story and your eyes just start shooting hearts all over the page. He has the kind of confidence that turns heads, the looks to go with it, and a demeanor that may keep most at bay, but not Ellen.

I loved the broken pieces within Flint that needed healing. He needed to forgive himself more than anything else, the guilt that keeps eating him from inside out being the biggest factor that keeps him from moving on, ten years since the fateful event of his wife’s death. He is a man grieving and at the same time stuck in a moment in the past, and he has no intention of budging from where he is for anyone.

Ellen is the antithesis to what Flint is in many ways, but the sorrow that fills every crevice of her broken heart is no less significance. A failed marriage has left its mark deeply ingrained, and she cannot help but want Flint with everything she is, even when she should know better. Touching Flint is Ellen’s way of reaffirming the essential bits and pieces to her, and Flint certainly does not make it easy when every delectable inch of his is laid bare for her taking.

I also loved the secondary characters in the novel that gave the story the wholesome edge it needed from at times the darkness that loomed in the story. There is so much angst interwoven that it sometimes felt like there was a football field lodged in my throat – but I reveled in it, loved it, and craved the feelings that were coursing through me with every fiber of my existence. There was guilt and yearning. There were broken hearts and fractured souls. But amidst it all, there was love and healing that went hand in hand which made this story stand out!

Recommended for fans of unforgettable romances featuring heroes that makes your hearts beat just a tad faster and heroines who make you smile through happy tears!

Final Verdict: Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann takes the reader on an incredible journey that demands nothing less than total surrender. There is nary a word nor character that I would change in this book!

Favorite Quotes

I jerk the button and zipper to his jeans, humming against his mouth. He shoves my shirt off my shoulders and yanks my bra down, palming my breasts as my hand slides down the inside of his briefs.
A low growl vibrates his chest. When was the last time I unraveled a guy with the touch of my hand? I don’t remember and that’s just sad.

“Let’s go.” She slides out of the booth.
I toss cash onto the table and follow her out the door, feeling guilty for the lack of any conversation over the past hour. “I’m sorry for not saying much—”
She whips around and grabs the lapels to my jacket, pulling me around the corner to the alley. She kisses me. Her hands take mine, and she guides them to her waist. “Touch me,” she whispers over my mouth.
“Where?” I take a step forward until her back presses to the side of the brick building.
“Anywhere …” Her breath is labored and desperate as she licks and sucks the skin between my ear and the collar of my jacket. “Everywhere … just … touch me.”

If I lean in three inches, our lips will meet. I like his lips, and the way he’s looking at mine leads me to believe the feeling is mutual.
“Thank you for bringing him home.”
He smells like herbs, like I imagine a chef might smell. I’m hungry. I’d settle for him, but I don’t think he’s on the menu tonight. I don’t know if he’ll ever be on the menu. He’s that dessert on the dessert tray that no one ever gets to eat because it’s just a display.

“Flint …”
“Shhh …” I nip at the skin right below the perfect curve of her ass, warning her to be quiet. She smells like the forbidden and tastes like my newest addiction. My hands work her skirt up her torso and over her head. With a firm yank it releases her arms, taking her shirt with it. I discard them behind me as well.
She turns. I take a step up, putting my face level with her perky tits. Glancing up to meet her drunken gaze and parted lips, I grin, unfastening her bra and tossing it over my shoulder.
Fucking perfect.

“I may have planned on sex … but I sure as hell never planned on you.” I ease her to her feet, and she sits on the bed, unfastening my pants with way more patience than I have at the moment. My hands take over, discarding the rest of our clothes before claiming her mouth again, pressing my body against the soft, warm curves of hers.
She tastes like forgiveness and feels like freedom. And she sounds like a prayer, humming against my mouth—not a moan, an actual tune that I don’t recognize.

I hop off the counter and take the pan to the drawer under my stove top. “Ouch!” I drop the pan in the drawer with a clunk and straighten my back, my hand reaching for the back of my leg, just below my butt cheek. There’s a stinging welt.
Flint holds the end of the twisted damp towel in his hand like a whip.
“Oh my gosh! Did you seriously just whip me with a towel?” I say in a loud whisper. “There’s a welt. You marked me.”
“Your skirt is too short. When you bent over to put that pan in the drawer, I could see black lace.”
“So you whipped me?”
He stalks toward me until I’m forced to crane my neck to maintain eye contact. “No,” he whispers. “I whipped you because you’re a fucking tease.”

“Which finger or fingers of yours should I be jealous of tonight?” he says in a low, deep voice.
I hide my gasp, but it’s there. Apparently shockingly crude remarks are the theme of the night. I can play this game. Making a quick glance over my shoulder for young ears coming, I turn back and hold up my index and middle finger. “These two up front…” I add my ring finger “…this one in the back.”
And there it is … Flint Hopkins expressionless and speechless. It’s an oddly beautiful sight.

For the rest of the night we pay homage to each other—physically, emotionally, spiritually. I refuse to stop until my mouth and hands have touched him everywhere and his have possessed every inch of me. I memorize the look he gets at the exact moment he loses himself to me. His back arches. My hand splays over his taut stomach muscles; my fingers curl into his tight flesh like I’m claiming him—Every. Single. Piece.
It’s sensual.
It’s vulnerable.
It’s beautiful.
It’s mine. I want that look to be mine and only mine forever.

“Ms. Rodgers.” He takes two short steps before the door closes behind him and he pins me to the wall.
We turn into a flurry of hands ripping at clothes, deep kisses, playful bites, and soft moans.
Between labored breaths, I stab my hands through his hair as he licks and bites his way down my neck. “You didn’t bring lunch, did you?”
“Elle …” He hums in pleasure as his lips feather across the swell of my breasts. “You are lunch.” Flint drops to his knees, taking my leggings and panties down with him.
My head thumps against the wall as my eyes roll back into my head.

Alex steps toward me, giving me that look of adoration that he used to give me, as he lifts his arm up, touching my cheek with his cold, prosthetic fingers.
I stiffen as Flint’s hand wraps around Alex’s forearm, pulling it away from my face. “But just to be clear … if any man were going to put something inside of Ellen and lay claim to her … it would be me.”
Just to be clear … I just fell in love with Flint Hopkins again.

“I haven’t been with anyone but you since the day you walked into my life.” I lift her up onto the vanity.
“Flint—”
“Shhh …” I kiss her while wedging myself between her legs.
She sucks in a quick breath as I push into her. My hand finds her breast as I find a rhythm.
“Race you to the finish,” I whisper in her ear.
Elle’s lips press to my neck, pulling into a grin. I show her how much I love her. How much I’ve missed her. How much I crave every inch of her. And then I beat her to the finish, pulling her across the line just after me.

“Crying’s not necessary—oh, Elle.” He pulls me in for a hug as I blink out the first round of tears and sob at the same time.
I knew it would hit me hard when it came time to say the words.
“There’s s-so m-much I want to s-say.”
He hugs me tightly, kissing my forehead. “Then say it.”
I shake my head, fighting back more sobs. “It’s st-stupid.”
“It’s not stupid. Just say it.”
I take a few seconds to reel in the burst of emotions so I can get all the words out before falling apart again. “I love you, so don’t die in a plane crash. Don’t change your mind. Don’t sleep with another woman. Don’t think about me getting fat or getting stretch marks. Don’t ruin your relationship with Harry to be with me. But be with me. Gah! I know that sounds impossible. But …”
He kisses me. And kisses me. And kisses me until I could faint. “Heaven and Earth,” he whispers over my tear-stained face.

He slides down my leggings and panties. I suck in a breath as a shiver jolts up the entire length of my body from his fingertips ghosting along the back of my bare legs.
His touch has had this effect on me since the first time his hand touched mine. At the time I thought it was this craving for any touch after feeling starved of that kind of affection for so long. I was wrong.
It’s Flint.
It’s his touch.
It’s me.
It’s how he reacts to my touch.
It’s us.

“Flint …” I curl my fingers into his back as this builds into something stronger and erratic. Our breaths quicken.
“Elle …” His grip on my hips tightens, and he slams me onto him as his hips rock up into me. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”
Our mouths crash together again seconds before we fall apart. I love being in Flint’s world. It’s tragic. It’s complicated. It’s filled with obstacles. But …
It’s passionate.
It’s addictive.
It’s the deepest kind of love.
It’s everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Review: In the Deep by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake
Hero: NA
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: October 27, 2020
Started On: November 21, 2020
Finished On: November 25, 2020

Loreth Anne White’s books are sometimes quite hard to review because she is so good at what she does; taking readers on a mind-twisting, stomach churning, nail biting journey that is difficult to put into words once you are done. In the Deep fits this category and takes readers into the life of the Hartley Heiress, Ellie Tyler, whose marriage and life falls apart with the tragic death of her daughter.

While her husband moves on and starts a new life, Ellie is stuck in a rut, trying to erase the feelings of guilt and inadequacy in booze and drugs, until she decides to get her act together. That is when she meets property developer Martin Cresswell-Smith, who basically sweeps her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship that leaves her reeling and a little bit stunned, and the marriage that follows, along with following her husband to Jarrawarra Bay, located in New South Wales on the south coast of Australia to start anew; things should have been fun and exciting but reality turns out to be anything but.

From that point forward, things start heading downhill once again, as Ellie finds herself struggling with the onslaught of rapid changes Martin undergoes propelling her into the arms of darkness. When Martin turns up dead, Ellie of course becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of Senior Constable Laurel “Lozza” Bianchi, not a inconceivable when Ellie expresses relief at the news of the demise of her husband.

When the big reveal happened as the story escalated and Loreth takes us back and forth the past and the present, I was blown away, even though I did have my spidey sense going on alert when this particular character came to light. After all, books like In the Deep tends to make you suspicious of every single character you come across, and even goes as far as to make you doubtful of your own motives behind your feelings of bias perhaps, towards a particular character. But alas, nothing is ever so simple when it comes to Loreth’s writing and that is where her ingenuity lies.

Ellie’s character is one that makes you sympathize and empathize with her, not just because of the tragic events of her past. But you can see how Ellie is a woman starved for warmth and love, and that her father compensates for the lack by throwing money at the problem than giving her the time and affection she rightfully deserves. At the same time, I was left feeling uneasy by who Ellie is.

The way the lead detective voices out her observations towards the end echoed my sentiments on the character that Ellie is. She is a victim, yes. The altogether too perfect a victim perhaps. There is an edge to her that leaves you feeling unsettled, as if you have been cheated in some ways or manipulated with a subtlety that only bothers you at a subconscious level.

That is how good Loreth is with characterization, which is why I ended up having a deep intellectual discussion with a colleague of mine about her character having finished the story. I talked my colleague’s ear off, expressed my fears and doubts when it came to Ellie’s character, and also ended up professing my undying fascination with Loreth’s work. Even though I finished reading this book last November and just got around to writing the review, I do not think I will ever fully be able to reconcile with what happened in the story, mainly centered around the way Ellie’s character morphs and changes throughout.

I spent many a restless night while I was reading this book, disturbed by dreams of a subconscious that wouldn’t let me dream in peace. What is more sinister than a perpetrator who actually shows their true colors when they lose out on furthering their agenda, is the one who is a chameleon of sorts that is nuanced in the art of subtleties. I found that quite insidious and more menacing.

Needless to say, In the Deep is a novel that is highly readable and enjoyable, recommended for those who love a good suspense novel. Loreth’s prowess is unbeatable!

Final Verdict: Loreth does it again, with masterful writing that keeps the reader on the edge, guessing, but to no avail. Taut and suspenseful, this will linger on in the subconscious for a long time to come.

Favorite Quotes

Women are the harshest critics of each other. I suspect this is because the flaws we see in other women are flaws we hate to acknowledge in ourselves. Being critical, lashing out at other females, is a way of attacking those traits within ourselves that we detest most.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Review: Unconditional by Q.B. Tyler

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Cal Michael Grayson
Heroine: Madeline Elizabeth
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 14, 2019
Started On: August 06, 2020
Finished On: August 14, 2020

Unconditional by Q.B. Tyler is my first ever book by the author, and definitely would not be my last. With an age difference of 16 years between the hero and heroine, not to mention the fact that hero is the guardian of the heroine from a tender age, this story is filled with all kinds of forbidden deliciousness that it is hard to put down once you get started. That is if you are a reader like myself who loves tropes of the nature.

The story begins ten years prior to present day, when 23 year old Cal Michael Grayson, a newly minted cop finds himself in a setting of domestic violence that reeks of horrors untold. Soon after, seven year old Madeline Elizabeth comes under his care, the years following which is fulfilling in a way that Cal would never have thought possible.

However, change comes calling when 13 year old Madeline starts to see Cal in a whole different light, chastising herself all the while for the way she feels. There is nothing happening between her and Cal at this point, except for her own sexual awakening, which had been purely due to her own intuitiveness and curiosity playing its role, and Cal had starred prominently as the lead in each and every single one of her fantasies. Things hit a point of no return when Madeline is 17 years old, with just a couple of weeks away from hitting 18.

While Cal would not admit to his changing feelings towards Madeline even at gun point, as always, he is in a fix when it comes to denying Madeline what she wants. Cal is a mass of confusion, want, and self derision when it comes to his feelings towards Madeline and it is not easy to walk away when desire and love for her tugs at his very soul.

Of course there are those in Cal and Madeline’s lives that frown upon the connection between them. After all, it is hard for those observing what is unfolding to understand the true nature of feelings two people have for each other. Obviously the hero being 16 years older, and the fact that he is her legal guardian for that matter makes things doubly difficult. But there was a sensitivity with which Ms. Tyler handled it all which makes for swell reading and I reveled in every single feeling that coursed through me as I read along.

Cal makes it really easy to fall in love with him. After all he is kind, gentle, and wants what is best for Madeline, even if it means cutting his own heart open and letting himself bleed. He would lay down his very life for Madeline and there is no easy way to reconcile with his burgeoning feelings of the amorous variety when it comes to her, his Madeline. But of course, Madeline does not make it easy for him to walk away just like that, and it is she that makes sure that Cal sees her feelings for what they are – feelings of the till death do us part kind which has no beginning and no end.

I found Unconditional to be just purrfect. I believe in the fact that love often finds us at the most inopportune moments, that we have no power over whom we love (though we do have power over what we decide to do with that love), and society would always judge us no matter what – there is just no pleasing everyone. Ms. Tyler does an amazing job of bringing out the emotions, characterization, and the oh dear Lord, hot as sin sex scenes that just fired up the pages.

Loved the epilogue, which was sheer perfection, much needed after all that was said and done. Recommended for fans of taboo themed romances. This one is pretty much it when considering the circumstances.

Final Verdict: Unconditional by Q. B. Tyler conceptualizes the word in every sense as the story is told; the love that unfolds between Madeline and Cal is as beautiful because it is unconditional.

Favorite Quotes

“You should get up,” he tells me, and despite the foot and a half and eighty pounds of muscle he has on me, he doesn’t move me from his lap.
Push him, Maddie.
I press my hands to his chest gently and shake my head back and forth. “But…that’s not what you want.”
“Madeline, up,” he growls and I curl my fingers into his shirt and dig into his chest as I move back slightly so that my sex is right against his dick.
I try to ignore the racing in my heart as my pulsing clit has totally taken control, and before I can stop myself, I’ve rubbed against his cock.
“Maddie, please…” His voice is pained and I was fully planning to stop—maybe, but when I open my eyes, Cal’s are closed and I can tell he’s gritting his teeth.
“Just…do this for me. Please.” I beg as the fire between my legs becomes greater with each stroke.

“Open them.” I assume he means my eyes and when I do, his gaze locks with mine instantly. His hands move to my hips, gripping them as I move back and forth.
“Fuck. That feels good.”
“Does…it?” He chokes out, and I nod.
“I’m going to come.”
He clears his throat, and when I meet his eyes, they’re filled with lust. “Tell me when.”
I nod and his hands move up my hips and rest under the t-shirt I’m wearing. He strokes the skin just above my belly button as my hips begin moving more erratically as I chase the orgasm that was just out of reach. “I’m going to come, oh fuck!” He wraps his hands around my waist again, moving my body faster against his cock. “I want to wait for you.” I whimper as my toes begin to curl.
“No. Come, Madeline. Come for me, right now.”

“Stop fighting it, Cal. Let go.” I grab him by the back of the neck and pull him closer to me and lean up slightly, letting him know what I plan to do and then our lips touch.
Not in an awkward way like most first kisses are. Not in a slow passionate way like when you kiss your lover after not kissing them in so long. But in a rushed, frenzied way that is aggressive and hard and rough. He bites and I bite back. His tongue sweeps between my lips, and I meet him with rabid urgency. I’m so desperate for his taste on my tongue, I explore every inch of his mouth. It’s sloppy and wet and loud and, quite frankly, the hottest fucking kiss of my life.
He presses my arms above my head, holding them there, and laces our fingers together as his tongue penetrates my mouth in a way I wish his cock was doing to my pussy. He bucks against me with wild reckless abandon, fighting for the orgasm he’s spent God knows how long fighting and then he does. Long and hard.

“Cal,” I moan as his lips find my neck, sucking at the skin and I relish at the idea of having a hickey. My usually flawless skin purple and blue with indents of his teeth in the flesh.
“I won’t mark you here.” His voice is low in his throat and it makes my whole body tingle. “Maybe somewhere less visible.”
“Like…between my legs?” I can feel my cheeks heating with embarrassment or maybe arousal?
“Shit, like exactly there.”
I take deep breaths, trying to slow my breathing as I think about him leaving a hickey. On my fucking pussy. I’ve died and gone to heaven…
Or maybe hell.

“Touch your pussy,” he demands, his eyes are dark and feral, like he’s preparing to rip me apart with his teeth.
“What?”
“Slip your fingers under your leggings. Don’t take them off and don’t show me your pussy. But just finger yourself for me…and I’ll taste you from your fingers.”
My eyes widen and my heart skips a beat in my chest before it returns to the steady thrumming between my legs. “You’re serious?”
He nods and moves to sit against the headboard. “Come here.”
I do as I’m told and he pulls me so that my back is flush against his chest, my ass pressed right up against his cock. His legs are spread and I’m settled between them feeling his cock jump every few minutes. His lips find my ear before he bites down gently. “Pretend it’s me.”
“I always pretend it’s you.”

“You rubbing against my dick until we come is pretty high up on the list of things we shouldn’t be fucking doing.” I can hear the hesitation in his voice but I also hear the lust.
The want.
I can see the war behind his eyes over what to do, so I push him just a little harder.
“Shhh.” I begin to rub against him and I can feel the juices from my orgasm getting all over the inside of my leggings. The seam of the fabric grazes my clit with every swipe and I wonder if I’m going to come again. “You’re so hard. God, Cal. Is it all for me?” I wrap my arms around his neck as I begin to move faster against him. His hands find my hips and begin to control the speed, pushing and pulling me harder on him.
“Yes.” He hisses. “It’s for you.”

“Say my name again.” My voice is so gruff, I don’t even recognize it but the shiver that moves through Maddie alerts me that she does.
“Cal,” she yelps as I bite down on her flesh. I run my tongue over the skin, doing my best to soothe the sting of my teeth. Her hands find the back of my head and she pulls at the hair as she cocks her head more allowing me further access. I love how she opens herself up to me; whatever I want from her she gives me so blindly. She feeds the beast, and if I was a better man, I’d tell her to stop. Tell her to run. But I won’t. Because the beast in me is only responding to the one in her.
The one that’s been unleashed already and doesn’t seem to want to let me go without a fight.

She’s a blank canvas I want to paint with my cum. I want to rain my seed all over her perfect tits, her smooth ass, her gorgeous face. I want to worship her…but I also want to defile her.
I want to use her body, fuck every single one of her holes until she’s so full of my cum it drips out of her. I want to fuck her like she’s a slut. Bend her over every surface in our house and take her so brutally she won’t be able to sit down for a week. I want to hate fuck her for making me feel this way. For turning me into this sick bastard that’s having these thoughts about the girl I raised. And then, when all of that’s done, when I’m done fucking the life out of her, I want to bring her back. Run my lips over every inch of her marked skin, whispering my love and devotion to her in between each kiss as I rock gently into her. Make love to her, teach her the love language that our bodies already know by heart.

“I had plans to lay you out and make love to your pussy with my fingers and my tongue and make you come over and over until you were loose and languid and drunk on me and then I’d take your virginity slowly, making love to you until your body couldn’t take it. But now…” I stare down to where we’re connected, where my dick is an inch inside of her. “I want to take you like a fucking animal. Rut into you like a beast and rip your precious body apart and put you back together a new fucking woman.” I push slightly harder and I watch as the wind leaves her in a gush. “My. Fucking. Woman.”
The word leaves her lips like a prayer and my dick is the holy word. “Yes.”
And then in the shower, her legs and arms wrapped around me like ivy, I press my cock fully into Madeline Shaw, the most important person in my world for the past ten years, just as a scream so sexual and passionate leaves her lips that I almost shoot my seed inside of her.

“Come on my cock, baby. Touch your pretty clit until your cunt creams all over me.”
“Oh, God keep talking.” She moans and I feel her hand moving between us.
“You know what’s going to happen the second we get out of this shower? I’m going to bend you over and lick you from your pussy to your asshole and then back. Settling on your sweet folds until you come so hard you black out.”
“Oh my God!”

She is still riding the high of her last orgasm, with a sensitive clit, so I know it won’t take her long to come again.
“Me too.” She speaks, though it’s muffled as her mouth is full of my cock. I press my lips to her again, my tongue taking a new speed as it rapidly fucks her while I rub her clit in clockwise motions. “Oh God, wait wait wait!” She stops and I smile knowing she’s close.
“I’m there, put your mouth on my dick, Madeline.” I see that she visibly shivers above me when she hears me use her full name.
“Yes, Daddy.” Oh, for the love of fuck.
She puts me back in her mouth and I thrust upwards, exploding down her throat instantly, that one word pushing me over the edge.

“We’ll see each other, baby.” His hand touches my face and traces his fingers from my forehead to my chin. “I won’t be able to stay away from you but for so long.”
I lean down and rub my nose against his. “I’m holding you to that.” I plant a kiss on his lips. “Do you have time to fuck me before you go to work?”
A growl rumbles in his chest and then I’m on my back with my legs wrapped around his waist. I’m wearing one of his t-shirts and a pair of panties that he rips from me instantly. “You call me.” He grits out. “Day or night.” He grips my face and stares down at me, his eyes boring into mine. “You need me, you call me. I’ll come.” He narrows his eyes to emphasize his point. His gaze is hard and demanding, almost daring me to disobey him.
I mean it, Madeline.

I bite my lip at his words and pull him closer, his lips hovering just over mine. “Please,” I whimper and then our lips crash in a dizzying kiss. His tongue rubs against mine and his hands spread my legs so he can stand between them before he lifts me up and I wrap my legs around his waist. “Cal,” I whimper.
“Fuck…” He opens my coat and steps between them, finding the seam of my leggings between my legs making me grateful that I changed out of my leotard before I left. He digs one finger into the seam, pressing against my sex and I moan, only to let out a yelp when he rips them at the center, making a hole in my crotch.
“Cal!”
“Hold on, baby.” He growls as he lowers his sweatpants. He opens the hole wider and moves my panties to the side and before I can protest, he’s inside of me.
Outside.
On the dark road of route fifty-eight.

“Cal!” I throw my head back as he fucks me deeper, harder and faster.
“You’re so perfect, Jesus Christ, Madeline.”
My full name sets my body on fire. My eyes snap open and I quirk an eyebrow at him. He must sense where I’m going because he lets his head fall back and a growl leaves his lips. “Say it, baby.” He grabs the back of my head and presses our foreheads together. “Say it.”
“Daddy,” I breathe out.
“Fuck.”
“Daddy, please.”
“Please what, baby. Tell me what you need and Daddy will take care of it. Whatever it is.”
“I need you to come, Daddy…” I press my lips to his neck before flicking my tongue out and running it along his pulse point. I nibble on his ear. “Come inside me.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Becoming His Mistress by A. E. Murphy

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ezra Conti
Heroine: Rose Sinclair
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 11, 2019
Started On: July 19, 2020
Finished On: July 25, 2020

Becoming His Mistress by A. E. Murphy is one of those books that hits every single spot when it comes to my craving for a wholesome romance reading experience. Ms. Murphy takes on a trope that few authors dare write because it would not be well received in the romance community. Most of us would like to ignore the romances featuring cheating and/or adultery themes – some go as far as to say that books which take on this would be a definite no for them. However, I am someone who loves it when authors push those boundaries and give us books that are realistic and provide for an immersive experience in the process. Becoming His Mistress was definitely all that and more.

When 23 year old Rose Sinclair chooses to work for 37 year old Ezra Conti, it is because she believes that she can make a difference. That she brings that quality which makes her the perfect personal assistant. Ezra who is happily married and has a daughter is known as someone who has eyes only for his wife. Even as women attempt to get him to notice them, he is a man who is promised to his one and only and that is how he lives his life. Rose knows that she would have no such problems when it comes to Ezra because he is not her type, and married men would never be her thing.

Ezra is unconvinced that Rose would be the best fit for him, until she convinces him to give her a chance. Six months later, their arrangement is one that works in every single sense. While Rose starts to see Ezra in a whole new light she knows that nothing would come of it and she has no intention of following whatever nonsensical feelings that she has for him every now and then. Furthermore, Ezra has never behaved in an untoward fashion and she is content to be part of his life as things stand, that is until with one searing kiss from Ezra one night, everything changes and leaves them both at an impasse on how to go from there.

While Rose maybe strong enough to walk away from the first kiss, she is not strong enough to withstand the continued onslaught on her senses from the man that Ezra is. Against her best intentions, she gives in, and thus begins the headiest couple of weeks of her life, until the consequences of their actions comes calling. There are no easy answers to the problems that Ezra and Rosie face, and while Rosie loves Ezra wholeheartedly, she loves herself enough to understand that she should not come second to anyone, not even for the love of her life. There is a lot of heartache and pain that these two go through before the ultimate happily ever after.

I am so glad that I stumbled across this book because this was unlike anythingI have read in recent times. Love is not always found in the most convenient of places. Those who have fallen for and given their hearts to people who were not in a place to return that love or maybe act on it would understand this more than those who have never faced such temptation in life. Love is often found where you least look for it and expect it to be found. That is I guess ultimately the best and worst thing about life. The unexpectedness of love, how your feelings can suddenly change towards someone you may have never considered as a potential lover or life partner; all of these factor in when it comes to Becoming His Mistress.

Falling in love with a married man is not something any woman would want to for themselves. And I believe this would be the same the other way around. No woman (except for polyamorous couples I suppose), likes being the third wheel in a relationship; being the other woman. But it happens, a lot more often than we would like to admit. There are many reasons behind it as well, but this is not the time and place to explore the whys and hows. While cheating may never be condoned, it still speaks of the vulnerability of us as humans. The fragility of our emotions. That inherent need in us to feel, belong, and be desired. None of those have easy explanations. That is partly why perhaps this book spoke to me on so many levels as it did with many readers.

I believe that I enjoyed this novel so much because Ms. Murphy did not try to provide miraculous solutions to the challenges that came Ezra and Rosie’s way. The story was realistic even towards the very end, with frank discussions and even fights that stemmed from emotions that could not be smothered just because one may want to cease feeling a certain way. Ezra’s guilt which arose from having fallen in love with another woman plays a huge role in the story, perhaps one reason why the love between Ezra and Rosie did not feel cheap and frivolous in the end. The fact that Ms. Murphy pulled this off without vilifying anyone, that in itself I think is amazing!

Recommended for open minded readers who love sexy, tender, and endearing romances. Thank you Ms. Murphy, for being bold enough to write this.

Final Verdict: Becoming His Mistress is a one of a kind read; there are no words that can adequately describe the feelings that Ms. Murphy manages to invoke with this phenomenal story as it unfolds.

Favorite Quotes

His gray eyes linger on mine and I jump when he pushes a strand of my black hair behind my ear, a tender touch, so sweet and soft. It leaves a burning trail across my skin. “You could never look stupid.”
“I can see every fleck of color in your eyes,” I breathe, leaning closer and trying to count the shards of darker gray that cut through the ring of lighter gray.
He holds his breath and nibbles slightly on his lower lip as I stare into his eyes like a weirdo.
“What are you doing?” he asks, and I put my finger to his soft lips. He pulls it away and absentmindedly kisses the palm. “Wait… are you counting?”
I inhale sharply and immediately stop. “No. Not at all. I don’t count. Who does that?”
“You were counting.”
“Was not.”
“Was too.”
“I wasn’t.” I so was.

“I’m sorry I didn’t kiss you back,” I say quietly, and he pushes my hair back.
“I’m sorry I kissed you at all,” he replies just as quietly, and I know in my heart he means because of how he upset me and not because he didn’t want to kiss me. The look in his eyes is showing me that he still does. I wonder if the look in mine is begging him to kiss me again. I might not say no this time. “Try to sleep.”
I press my forehead to his cheek and close my eyes on his command. He tickles my arm and shoulder as I concentrate on the beating of his heart.
It lulls me to sleep, my forbidden lullaby.

“Please don’t, there are only so many times I can say no,” I whisper.
“Before what?” His own voice is intensely quiet, his eyes on my mouth. “Before what, Rose?”
My breath catches in my throat. “Before I say yes.”
He pulls my face to his, meeting me in the middle and our bodies and lips collide.
I squeak through my closed mouth, startled by the sudden assault, but he pushes me against the door and devours my mouth. His tongue tastes my own when I gasp, and I can’t pull away. My brain is a mass of the desire he projected on me and my body is pulsing with it.

His hands drag across my curves, scraping around my back and hips, grasping at my flesh and holding me tight so I can’t escape.
I’m wet. So damn wet.
He groans again, pressing his erection into my navel while still kissing me, claiming me like I never have been before.
I’ve never felt so out of control before.
When he clicks the lock on the handle of the door all bets are off and I lose all sense of myself. I lose all sense of time and what I came here to say to begin with.
I forget his life and mine. I forget my morals and his. All I can think about is having him in a way I’ve been telling myself I don’t want him for far too long.

He looks up at me again, and while kissing me softly and tenderly, he reaches for my hair, unwinding the knot so it spills down my back in a thick wave. I groan when he teases it free and starts to remove my shirt until it’s on the floor by his.
I lean back on my hands, feeling thoroughly worshipped when he dives and kisses my ribs, hands looking for the zip of my skirt but losing that battle because of how scrunched it is.
I stand and find it at the back, undoing it and letting it fall to my ankles.
There’s no going back now.
I’ve never wanted anything more than I want this.
I stand in front of him in lacy white underwear and stockings attached to a garter belt.
“Fuck,” he breathes, looking down at me, taking time to explore my flesh with his hands. I’ve never felt sexier and more beautiful than I do right now, seeing it mirrored in his eyes. “Keep your heels on.”

Pulling me to the edge of the desk, he lines himself up with me perfectly as my fingers find my clit and start to roll it in fast circles.
“No,” he whispers, pulling my hand away and replacing it with his thumb. “You touch yourself when you’re alone and thinking of me. When you’re with me, it’s my job to touch you and get you off.”
Oh my God.
He starts to sink inside and groans. I ache from his width, but it feels so good.
His thumb rolls my clit, using my own juices to make it slick.
He watches himself vanish into my body. I’ve never felt more connected to somebody than I do now.

“Kiss me,” I beg, my voice hoarse and wanting.
He obliges, fucking my mouth with his tongue as I battle to stay in control of my body.
“Not yet,” I breathe, feeling that familiar burning… except this feels more like a tsunami of crackling lava in my womb. My body feels weightless as he hammers into me, holding my body tight to him now. His thumb is no longer teasing my clit, yet I feel the tingles still, building and spiraling. There’s just something about close sex, having a body against yours as he fills you up perfectly.
I throw my head back with a moan so loud he yanks me back to his mouth and kisses me until it passes. It takes forever and my body shudders with each powerful wave of my orgasm.

“We’re not doing anything,” he replies, his tone hushed too. The way his breath fans across my sensitive flesh has me gripping the counter for support. “Nothing at all.”
His solid length presses against my ass, trapped by the fabric of his boxers. He tugs them down and I feel his skin against mine.
“Nothing,” he grits as I close my legs around it, squeezing it between the apex of my thighs.
He starts thrusting, finding grip between my pussy lips. My wetness makes him slide back and forth with ease, so he removes his hand and massages my breasts instead. He hits my clit every time and I almost scream with the ecstasy of it.
Why does sex feel this good with him? Why do we connect like this?

“Look at me.”
My eyes open slowly and find his in the mirror. His large hands massage my swaying breasts and pinch my nipples.
“What are we doing?” he asks me breathlessly, his eyes dangerous, his lips terse.
“Nothing,” I reply, crying out when a wave of pleasure hits me. I want to come so hard.
He cups my throat and pulls me back against his body. It’s a good thing my balance isn’t terrible, though to be honest he’s doing most of the work, including holding me steady.
“Exactly. Nothing.”

“Tits,” he croaks, getting closer to the edge every second. “I want to come on your gorgeous fucking tits.”
“You sure? I was totally gonna let you come in my mouth.”
His eyes fly down to mine, wide and full of longing. I don’t get a chance to take a breath before he’s pushing past my lips again and coming on my tongue with an animalistic growl. I take him all, every ounce of him, salty, sweet, different. But that’s just him, he’s different.

I kiss him deep and slow as I raise my hips and guide his cock to my entrance.
“To oblivion, hmm?” he asks, smiling until I slowly sink onto him, taking as much of him as I can. His smile vanishes at this point only to be replaced with such an intense look of complete wonder and awe. “Nobody has ever felt like you.”
I rock my hips, kissing his neck and biting his ear as his hands explore and rub every inch of my body that he can reach.
I don’t take my time because we don’t have time. I fuck him faster than I ever have, feeling it build in my womb.
We come, me first and then him, as always. He always waits until I’m done before he lets himself get there. One of the many things I adore about him.

He turns suddenly, sending water crashing over the bath and onto the tiles. His damp lips from the steam of the hot water touch mine and I almost slip under when he hooks a hand around my back and lifts me to give him easier access to my sex.
I gasp when he thrusts inside. My hands grip whatever is available to keep me out of the water. He pulls out just as suddenly so I can turn over and I rest my arms on the sloped back of the bath as he powers into me from behind. Every thrust sends more water out of the bath. He becomes feral, losing control in a way he never has before, driving into me like an animal and not like a man.

“I want you forever. I want to fuck you every single day. I want to taste your sweet lips. I want to fill your womb with my seed and create a life tied to both of us.” He thrusts with each statement, grinding his pelvis against my clit, kissing my neck and whispers the words against my skin. “You’re everything I ever want and need.”
“I love you,” I breathe. “I want to be the only woman you ever need.”
“You are.”
“Then fuck me, prove it, mark me.” I bite into his neck and suck so hard I just know there’s going to be a ring of red there when I lift my head. He cries out and pummels me with his hips, fucking me so furiously the door bangs with each thrust.

I cling to him, claw at him, grip him as I kiss him, devouring him until my lips feel sore but then I just press harder.
There’s a fire between us that flows through us both, burning for each other as we tear at clothes until there’s nothing separating us but our will. Mine is fighting for the winning team, he holds back until I hop up on the table and part my thighs. When he eases into me, all bets are off and he fucks me as hard as he did in his office that first time.
We both moan, groan, hiss, grasp, sigh…
It’s incredible as always.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pitch73
Hero: Jack Warden
Heroine: Rodel Harris Emerson
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 31, 2017
Started On: April 20, 2020
Finished On: April 21, 2020

“Have you ever sat across from someone, fully clothed, and felt them slowly unbutton your heart?”

The quote above sums up perfectly what this entire book did for me, my heart, and my soul. Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar is a book unlike any other. From start to finish, this book wraps around you, cocoons you within the folds of its pages, devastates you, makes you smile through the tears that are always on the verge of spilling from your eyes, and by the end, you feel like you have experienced something you possibly never could have by reading a book. Inspired by true events and released in 2017, this is one book that will continue to transcend time and age beautifully.

Leylah Attar is a new to me author, but she has definitely carved a place for herself in my favorite go-to authors list with just this novel, which speaks for itself. Ms. Attar writes with the kind of prose that is gut wrenching, because you can tell that they aren’t just merely words lining up to make up a sentence. There is more to it than that, there is life to those words and they make you feel in a way no book has made me feel in a long, long, long time.

24 year old Rodel Harris Emerson’s life entwines with that of Jack Warden’s through tragedy, a senseless one that takes away Rodel’s sister and Jack’s beautiful daughter. When Rodel turns up in Tanzania a month later, trying to piece together the life her sister had lived across the world from her, Rodel finds out there are things about her sister’s life that she would like to know more about, which is how she ends up seeking the help of the one man who could help her, i.e. Jack.

Jack is a man waiting for death in the wake of the loss that mars his life. Lily had been everything to him, and I do not say that lightly. In Jack’s words, he would die a thousand deaths to save her; over and over and over again. Jack’s mind and heart are riddled with survivor’s guilt, and he is unable to look beyond that in order to emerge from the haze of deep abiding sorrow that cripples his world and narrows it down to just that alone.

Jack’s antagonism towards Rodel is a palpable thing at first, but as Jack’s kinder nature fights its way back through the thick fog that surrounds him, there is a connection between the two that breaks through everything that holds Jack back from rejoining the living. Albeit reluctantly, Jack is drawn into helping Rodel carry out the last of her sister’s mission in assisting those in need; the relocation of albino kids to a safe sanctuary.

As Jack and Rodel’s love explodes amidst the exotic setting of Tanzania which Ms. Attar describes and depicts as vividly as she does their love, there was no part of me that remained disengaged from the story. I cried my way through some of the most poetic and tragic of the scenes, where Jack, who believes his heart is no longer capable of loving, expresses how he feels about Rodel in ways that I think has ruined me for other book boyfriends. I don’t say this lightly either. There is just something about Jack in the way he commands every single scene which he is in, so effortlessly.

There is no way to write this review without it sounding extremely gushy, because if I had to change one thing about the book, there is nothing that I would. This book was sheer perfection from start to finish, and I dare you to not cry your way through some of the scenes in the book.

One of the most fabulous aspects of the book was the epilogue itself; it had me reminiscing about the book long after I was done. To be honest, I still am. I was pretty sure that no other book would live up to what Mists of the Serengeti had taken me through, and my prediction has proved me right thus far this year.

There are books that take a piece of you with them when you are done. Mists of the Serengeti fits that bill because of so many reasons. There is Jack of course, who owned my heart from the first chapter onward. The way he cares for his daughter, the relationship he has with her, the pain that is palpable when it comes to his loss; all of that and more are reasons I loved and loved his character and more.

Jack’s pain is a living being which made me miss Lily dearly throughout the story. And there is the way he resists and yet finds himself spellbound by the connection that forges to life between him and Rodel. The fact that he is honest about what he can offer, and yet finds it excruciating to let go when the time comes; those were the aspects that added the angst factor needed when it came right down to it.

Rodel is an extraordinary heroine and I loved her to bits, just as much as I did Jack. There is a gentleness to her that is hard not to fall in love with and the way she is determined to live her life and get as much as possible out of the time she has with Jack and what he is willing to offer won points with me. The strength of her character lies in the fact that she loves herself enough to walk away when all is said and done, because there is no point in pining for someone who is not ready to move on from what holds them back.

The period of separation between the two, the healing that both characters undergo, each in a different way, Jack more so than Rodel; all of that was so realistically done that I could not have asked for a better ending.

If ever there is a book that romance readers should read (that is if you haven’t already), this is it. Grab a copy and indulge. I guarantee that you would not walk away unchanged from the experience.

Final Verdict: Mists of the Serengeti is that book which casts a magic spell and holds you spellbound throughout. It is that book which you will hug close to your soul and walk away a changed person from the sheer experience of it all.

Favorite Quotes

Kissing Jack was like kissing a slumbering lion. He barely moved, but I could sense the raw power behind his restraint. And deeper still, lurked something wild and dangerous, something that could obliterate me if unleashed. But I wanted it, because it was magnificent, because it swirled over the loss and pain running through his veins, because it was the part of him that was alive. It made me want to thread my fingers through his thick, tawny hair even though I knew it was a bad, bad idea.

Once in Africa, I kissed a king . . .
I got up, smoothed my dress, and walked away, leaving Jack kneeling by the calf.
“Rodel,” he said, just as I was about to step outside.
Rodelle. Another thing I would always remember—the way he said my name, elle-vating it beyond the ordinary.
He was between me and the exit before I could turn around. He swung me into the circle of his arms and kissed me—not softly or tentatively, like I had kissed him, but hungry and demanding, crushing my body to his. His mouth moved wildly over mine, his tongue exploring the recesses of my mouth, as if I had stolen a piece of him, and he wanted it back. I tasted the whole universe in Jack’s kiss—the blue heat of spinning stars, the birth of distant suns, atoms buzzing and colliding and fusing.

He clasped my hand under the blanket and threaded his fingers through mine. He’d held my hand once before, but this felt different, possessive—like he was staking his claim. A curious swooping pulled at my insides. We both knew there was a line we couldn’t cross, but it didn’t stop Jack’s arm from going around me or my head from leaning on his shoulder.
For a few hours that night, Jack and I sat out on the porch, with the scent of wild jasmine in the air, and nothing but the squeaking of the swing, and the buzzing of night insects breaking up the silence.

“Rodel?”
“Yes?”
“If you dig your nails into the mattress any harder, you’re going to rip a hole through it.”
“I . . . I’m not—”
“Let go.” He propped himself up on his elbow and loosened my grip. “What are you so afraid of?” His eyes searched mine. “This?” He swept me into his arms and held me snugly. “See? It’s not so bad,” he said, as his warmth seeped into my body—so male, so bracing.
“They’re just arms.” His fingers trailed slowly up and down my arm. “And legs.” He traced the curve of my thigh. “And this spot right here, that I’ve been dying to taste since I washed your hair.” He kissed a spot under my ear lobe. “I crave you, Rodel. In the most innocent ways. I lie awake in my bed at night, thinking of you down the hallway, wanting nothing more than to hold you. I want to stroke your hair until you fall asleep. I want to give you forehead kisses when you’re down. That’s all I allow myself. I don’t go any further.”

Everything shattered as he took my mouth with savage intensity. One large hand gripped my waist, drawing me to him as if he couldn’t stand the distance anymore. Blood pounded in my brain as his hand glided under my top and fondled my breast, turning its pink tip marble hard. His body was rough and insistent on top of mine, our breaths uneven, limbs entwined.
“Touch me.” He pulled his T-shirt over his head, heat rippling off his skin. My pulse raced to my fingertips, as I traced the corded muscles on his chest, the light mat of hair in the groove between his pecs. When I slipped my hands into his boxers, he reclaimed my mouth, surging into my palms with a groan.
“Tell me you want this.” He slid down my stomach, to the swell of my hips. “Show me.”

“I’m going to make you come, Rodel.” He said that part in my ear, partially covering my body with his because I was shivering. “I want to know what you sound like when you orgasm.”

“Jack . . .” I half-turned to face him.
He knew what I wanted before I said it. He crushed my mouth hungrily, his tongue seeking mine, demanding it. My lips parted on a ragged sigh as he buried his face in the hollow of my neck, intensifying the rhythm of his fingers. Pleasure radiated outward, like jolts of liquid fire. I clutched the tendons in the back of Jack’s neck. He was a biter, grazing my neck with just enough force to command all of my attention, and then letting go, like a lion playing with his prey. I slid my fingers through the thick tufts of his hair, pulling him back, and then we were kissing again, leaving soul sonnets deep inside each other’s mouths. That was when he sent me over the edge, sliding his thigh between my legs, shifting his lean, hard frame over me. It was a simple act, but I shattered into a million glowing stars.

“I want you, Jack.” My body rose instinctively to meet his. The thick, hard length of him on my thigh was both electrifying and intimidating. “But you should know . . . I . . . I haven’t done this before. You’re my first.”
He stilled and sucked in a long, ragged breath. “This . . .” He took in another soul-deep breath. “You haven’t—”
“It’s okay,” I whispered. “Look at me. Look at me, Jack. I want you to be my first.”
And my last. And all the times in between. But I can’t have that. So I’ll take this. What we have right here. Right now.

I thought his touch was the only cure for my crazy, heated senses, but I found myself being pulled beyond the circle of his arms, to a place where souls go to kiss—lipless and formless and free. I knew that whenever I thought of love, it would have a face, a name, a voice. And I would hear its heart beating from inside a tent in the wilds of Africa.

“I was talking about a trip to the crater, not—”
“Not this?” I tossed off my wet top in a passionate challenge.
My invitation pushed him over the edge. Something intense flared through him—instant, electric, as if I had just unleashed him.
Shit. I’m in for it now. My pulse pounded with a dizzy cocktail of desire, rimmed in gritty bits of trepidation. He gazed at me intently, cranking up the anticipation until it was almost unbearable.
“Take it off,” he said, his command thick with longing.
My fingers faltered as I slid off one strap, and then the other. He didn’t wait for me to unclasp my bra. He was done waiting. His tongue flicked my nipple through the wet fabric before he latched on, sucking it into his mouth, rasping the edges with his teeth.

It had been different in the dark, but in the gray, muted daylight, my insecurities kicked in. It wasn’t as if I’d been naked in front of many men before. A hand under my blouse, a feel up my skirt, but never so exposed. And certainly not with someone who looked like Jack. My hands moved instinctively across my breasts and stomach.
“Don’t.” He clamped my wrists above me as his hooded eyes roved over my naked body. My flesh trembled, my toes curled, but when I opened my eyes and caught the expression on his face, everything melted. He was looking at me like I was stardust and light.
“Jesus.” His eyes darkened with stark sensuality. “You are so fucking beautiful.”

Jack was not a quiet lover. He voiced his pleasure with thick, throaty sounds. He threw my leg over his shoulder and nipped my inner thigh before plunging his tongue into me. I held onto his wild, thick hair as involuntary tremors of arousal shot through me. He seemed to sense the awakening flames because his movements intensified, carrying me to the peaks of pleasure.
“Yes.” He lifted my hips off the floor, bringing me in full, carnal contact with his mouth. “Fuck, yes.”

“Kiss me,” he said, smoky and raw.
I touched my lips to his, my focus still on the point where our bodies were melded.
“A real kiss,” he growled, grazing my bottom lip with his teeth. “Like this.” His mouth swooped down to capture mine until my senses were spinning. My breath escaped through softly parted lips. “Give me your tongue.” His words were a spell I had fallen under. I shivered as the velvet warmth of his tongue tangled with mine, losing myself to the mastery of his kiss.
That was when he thrust deep into me—one hard, firm push that made me gasp and break free of his lips. I clutched his shoulders, my nails leaving crescent shaped indents as the pain tore through me.

“Remember this.” He brushed the hair off my neck and breathed a kiss there. “When you’re curled up with your books on a rainy afternoon in England, remember how you painted my world with your colors. Remember your rainbow halo.”
“I will.” A hot ache grew in my throat. He was already saying goodbye. “I’ll remember. For the rest of my life.”

“My date ditched me,” he replied, taking the kiddie stool across from me, and sitting the doll on his lap. He was saying one thing, but his eyes were saying another.
You’re okay.
You made it.
God, let me just look at you.
And so we sat there, staring at each other across an upside-down cardboard box, as the kids milled about around us. He unclasped my fingers from the little teapot I was holding and pretended to fill two miniature cups with it. I picked up mine, he picked up his, and we clinked them in a silent toast.
We pretend-ate and pretend-drank. The air thrummed between us, heavy with words we couldn’t wrap our tongues around.

“Kiss me hard, then let me go,” I said, when the touch of his hand became suddenly unbearable in its tenderness.
I felt the movement of his breath before our lips touched. My heart throbbed at the sweet, savage sensation of his mouth. It was like running without air—breathless and beautiful. I clung to him for a soul-bursting moment, before wrenching myself away and stumbling toward the building. I paused for a beat as the sliding doors opened.
Turn around, Rodel, a part of me screamed.
Don’t look back, the other part countered.
I turned. Because I couldn’t help it. Because Jack honked.

God. The feel of her body opening up to me, molding around me like a warm, wet glove. Her tongue in my mouth. The way her hands clutched me. The way her leg wrapped around my hip. I bit her shoulder as the animal in me rose. And then it was all primal passion, nothing but the sound of her soft moans. My release should have been quick, but I held on, not wanting it to end. Being inside of her was like a drug. Being inside of her was pure euphoria. I captured the gasp that escaped her as her body stiffened. She was coming again.
“Yes,” I growled as she writhed under me. “Fuck, yes.” And then I gave in to the explosion of fiery sensations that overtook me, rocking me to the core.

“You’re so hot when you go all book-nerd on me.” Her nightshirt was riding high on her thighs, her lips were pouty, and she was cradling the book as if it were a hurt child. “Do you know—” I flipped her over so she was on all fours, her nose lodged in the folds of the novel “—I have sex with you a lot. In my head. Just like this.” I squeezed her sweet ass and rubbed my throbbing shaft over her panties. “Read to me, Rodel. Read to me while I ride you.” I pushed the fabric of her panties aside and slipped my finger inside of her. She let out a muffled groan.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Review: Release by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Bookrelease
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ramsey Stewart
Heroine: Althea Floye Hull
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 04, 2020
Started On: February 28, 2020
Finished On: March 01, 2020

Release by Aly Martinez caught my eye when I was surfing through Amazon, as I usually tend to do when I am on lookout for new books to read. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but I have to admit that it was the cover that drew me to take a look at the blurb.

I love myself a romance featuring an ex-convict, be it hero or heroine, and this one had a lot of other tropes going for it which tend to fall into my favorite zone, and I was sold, despite it being a totally new to me author. Being my very first read from Ms. Martinez, I was pleasantly surprise and wooed in a way that will definitely have me coming back for more where she is concerned.

Release begins with 29 year old Althea Floye Hull (Thea) waiting outside of the prison gates to welcome the release of Ramsey Stewart, the boy whom she had met on the fateful day of her mother’s death, the yin to her yang, her best friend, and the boy who had grown into the man who became the love of her life.

30 year old Ramsey is anything but pleased to see Thea waiting for him to welcome his release. The visceral reaction that he has to her is something he wishes he could do away with, but memories of Thea and what could have been is a luxury he did not allow himself during the 13 years spent in prison. Even though he is ready to experience a woman’s touch and start living life again, Ramsey has made a vow that it would be on his terms, and those definitely do not allow for Thea’s involvement at any point in time.

However, Thea is as equally determined to stick by Ramsey’s side, to show him that they belong together and that they always will. Bit by bit, Thea’s stubbornness and persistence pays off, until the point at which the truth of the night which determined the fate of Ramsey comes to haunt them, with the power to break the fragile bonds that had been forged between the two since his release. It would take Thea a lot more than her desire and love for all that is Ramsey to move forward, which also means Ramsey having to fight his own demons to be worthy of their love for each other.

I loved Release and all that it presented to me as the reader. The past interwoven with the present gave that in-depth characterization to the story which I absolutely adored. Both Thea and Ramsey come from broken homes of its own variety. While Thea’s home may not be described as a typical broken home, it had been one of neglect following the death of her mother. In Ramsey’s case, abandonment and abuse plays its role, and it is by a twist of fate that Ramsey finds Thea on the day of her mother’s passing, which basically saves Thea’s life in more ways than one.

The friendship between the two, the love that had been forged along the way, a love that had changed and evolved into one with adult needs and wants behind it as time had gone by; all of that and more is explored in a way that makes for splendid reading. The surprising twist along the way may in all probability be figured out by most readers at some point in time, but nevertheless the impact it brings to the story and the angst factor it gives was something that I immersed my senses within, and enjoyed thoroughly.

Recommended for those who love romances featuring ex-convict heroes within the friends to lovers trope. My only wish now is to know whether Ms. Martinez is ever planning on writing Nora’s book – I have a feeling that it will be well worth the wait, with a “surprising” hero in the mix!

Final Verdict: Release is the kind of stupendous romance that your entire being welcomes; Thea and Ramsey demands nothing less!

Favorite Quotes

His entire body stiffened at the contact, but his hand kneaded like it’d found its way home. “Fuck,” he groaned, plucking at my nipple through the fabric of my thin bra.
Throwing my head back to rest on his shoulder, I sagged against him.
His arm hooked around my hips, holding me up as he continued his delicious assault on my breast.
“I don’t want you,” he snarled, but his teeth nipped at my neck.
I thrust a hand between us and gave his hard length a pointed rub. “You’re a liar.”

“Last chance,” she murmured.
She could have stood there, holding my gaze, until we both wasted away into the Earth and I never would have said the word stop.
Her smile grew, and then brazen and beautiful as only Thea could be, she dropped her pants to the floor.
Oh, fuck me. Her pussy was bare. Oh, fucking fuck me.
A growl rumbled in my chest.
Do not be rough.
Do not be rough.
Do not be…
I charged forward, our bodies colliding only a split second before our mouths. Her hands went straight into the back of my hair while our tongues tangled in a fiery reunion.

“You’re mine, Ramsey. You can try to fight me. You can hate me. You can lie to yourself for the rest of your life.” She raked her fingernails down my abs before diving into the front of my boxers and wrapping her palm around my shaft. “But wherever you are, however long you are there, you are always mine.” She punctuated it with a hard pull that weakened my knees.
This. Fucking. Woman.
It had been eighteen years since I first saw her at the base of that tree.
And she was right. She had owned me every day since. Maybe that was why I’d never been able to convince her to leave. She wasn’t my Sparrow to free.
I was hers.

Purchase Links: Amazon

outstandingread

Review: Angel of Darkness by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Bookangelofdarkness
Read with: Paperback/Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Angelo Cesare Rossetti
Heroine: Kelda Wyatt
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 24, 1999
Started On: February 14, 2020
Finished On: February 16, 2020

Angel of Darkness is Lynne Graham at her best. It has everything going for it; lust of the kind that sets the pages sizzling and your senses humming, a hero who is equal shades ruthless and possessive that you cannot help but want him, a heroine who is tempestuous and headstrong just enough to drive the hero a tad crazy, and a love so worthwhile that it reaffirms the belief that long-term romance readers like myself hold true to our hearts – that there is no other genre worth reading except romance when it comes right down to it.

Top model Kelda Wyatt is shell-shocked to hear that her mother Daisy is getting back with Tomaso, her step father; whose marriage to Daisy had been short-lived. What sort of terrifies Kelda out of the icy coldness that is her signature mark is the thought of coming face to face with her step brother Angelo Cesare Rossetti, in whose arms she had faced every single vulnerability an eighteen year old girl could have at the cusp of womanhood.

Years later, with Daisy’s marriage looming overhead, Kelda is looking forward to a photo shoot in Tuscany only to find out that it had been Angelo who had engineered the whole setup, just so that she wouldn’t be around to interfere with their parents’ relationship a second time around. Angelo also has a secondary goal; seduce Kelda and walk away from it as he does countless of other women.

What starts out with Kelda in a rage over being forced into Angelo’s company ends with her going up in smoke in his arms. Their attraction to one another demands nothing less but total submission where Angelo and Kelda are both concerned, and their scorching passion heats up, takes things to a level that neither was expecting of their coming together.

A series of misunderstandings lending that healthy dose of angst to the story, prolongs the eventual coming together of Angelo and Kelda, which was the best part of the story. Angelo’s qualms about being tied to a woman who is so possessive, someone who rouses the same desire in him is something he needs to take a step back from – his childhood had made him wary of women whom he thinks to be an unfaithful breed.

Kelda is not equipped to handle nor understand a man like Angelo at his fiercest. But try she does, and her helpless surrender in his arms brings the two closer than either of them would give credit for.

In the end, it was this heady sense of passion that explodes into everlasting love. I somehow have a feeling that their happily ever after would be just as scandalous, just as consuming as the story was in its entirety.

Recommended for everyone who loves a wholly passionate love story, for those who may want to start on a Lynne Graham novel, and fans of Harlequin category romances!

PS: I also love the original cover of the book than its current one. The former shows a scene from the book, and you can practically smell the sunshine warming the leaves upon which the couple lies, while lost in their unrelenting desire for each other.

Final Verdict: Full of tempestuous passion and blazing desire; Angel of Darkness is a delight in the way it overtakes your senses.

Favorite Quotes

‘I told you to shut up.’ His brown fingers moved caressingly over her taut cheekbone and then he leant down, deftly winding his other hand into her hair and let the tip of his tongue slowly and smoothly trace the tremulous line of her lower lip.
Her breath escaped with a tiny gasp and her heart thudded like that of a wild bird in a cage. She wanted his mouth so badly she burned, every sense pitched to an unbearable high as he toyed expertly with the sensitive fullness he had discovered. Her eyes slid shut, her long throat arching as she bent back her head instinctively.
Angelo set her back from him and fired the engine of the car. Her lashes swept up on glazed green eyes, her whole body throbbing with an intensity that was pure pain.
A blunt forefinger raked down the slender length of her thigh. ‘I know,’ Angelo breathed thickly.

‘Let go, Angelo,’ she said breathlessly.
‘I think I will.’ His stunning eyes skimmed with hungry sensuality over her and then he drew her close with con¬trolled power and took her mouth with slow, drugging intensity.
She was a good strong swimmer but she drowned in Angelo’s arms. Six years melted away and she was back, back where her body told her she belonged, back where the world contracted into the crazy thunder of her heart and the mad race of the hot blood in her veins.

He pulled her hands away and lifted his mouth from hers and then he just looked at her, a feverish flush of colour accentuating his striking cheekbones, his breathing pattern audibly fractured.
Her breasts were small, high and perfectly formed. Her nipples were shamelessly distended rose-pink buds. Angelo released his breath in a long, sighing groan as though he was afraid to touch her. She knelt there in front of him, quivering all over, every heated inch of her flesh ready to take fire.
The silence was electric. A voracious hunger vibrated like a physical aura between them. ‘If I touch you… do you vanish?’ Angelo whispered unsteadily.
‘Do you?’

‘You are mine,’
Angelo told her, lowering her into the grass with raw determination. ‘Tell me that, before I bury myself in that exquisite body…’
Her lashes lifted. She focused on blazing golden eyes and melted to the consistency of honey all in one go. ‘Yours,’ she framed in a whisper of sound torn from the
very depths of her.
‘Always,’ Angelo attached with savage emphasis.

He kicked her bedroom door wide, kicked it shut again and dropped her down on the bed. ‘Angelo’
‘Shut up.’ He came down on top of her in one lithe movement, pinning her flat with his superior weight. She was in the act of struggling to raise a punitive knee when he brought his mouth down hard on hers.
Still in a fury, she dug her hands like claws into his luxuriant hair and then the passion flooded her in a roaring tidal wave. It came out of nowhere, attacked and took her prisoner. A passion so instantaneous it wiped out everything that had gone before it. Electrified by the raw, devouring heat of his mouth, she was possessed by an excitement so intense that she felt dizzy and disorientated.

‘I’m hurting you,’ he whispered, not quite steadily. The pain had gone as quickly as it had come but her untried body had yet to adjust to that most intimate invasion. ‘No.’ The denial was jerky, swift. ‘You’re so small,’ he breathed, sinking his hands be-neath her slender hips, lithely shifting between her thighs with a stifled groan of pleasure and splintering control.
She felt possessed then, utterly and completely. He moved on her, slowly, deliberately until all she could focus on was the extraordinary response of her own body.
All control was gone.

Angelo reached for her in one powerful movement. Deftly angling his body to one side so that he would not hurt her, he took her mouth in a devouring kiss that she felt right down to her toes and back up again. She reacted like a woman possessed. With one hand she hit out at him in blind rage, but the other hand inexplicably dived into the springy depths of his hair, holding him to her. He kissed her breathless. Great rolling waves of excitement overwhelmed her. The hand that had balled into a fist uncurled and slid under his sweater instead and exulted in the satin-smooth skin of his back before sliding across his taut flat stomach to rake into the furrow of silky hair that disappeared beneath his belt.

He followed the sweet trail of the champagne down over her quivering stomach and she made a sudden grab at his hair. ‘No!’
But his hands were on her thighs and he had already discovered just how weak she really was. She was tender and damp.
‘Evidently I wasn’t the only one seething with silent lust over dinner,’ Angelo murmured huskily, letting the tip of his tongue track the clenched muscles on her inner thigh until she trembled and shook and completely forgot that she was supposed to be fighting him off.

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