Review: Raziel by Kristina Douglas

Format: E-bookraziel
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: The Fallen, #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Raziel
Heroine: Allegra Watson
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 25, 2011
Started On: December 1, 2014
Finished On: December 10, 2014

Kristina Douglas is Anne Stuart writing paranormal fantasy genre. And whichever genre that Anne Stuart chooses to write, and if there is romance in it, its definitely a reason to pick it up. I’ve been meaning to give this series a go and finally managed to do so and ended up getting wowed beyond my wildest imaginations.

The Fallen series is focused on the concept of the fallen angels that is believed by Jews and Christians. Though I found reading about fallen angels which is not something we believe in Islam a bit unsettling at the beginning, I just set aside my misgivings and gave up to the heady ride Kristina Douglas delivered with Raziel, the debut book in the series.

Allegra Watson (Allie), a biblical murder mystery writer finds herself meeting her death, escorted by the most beautiful male specimen that she has laid her eyes on to her intended destination. Raziel and the other fallen angels lead a seemingly endless life, a life includes ferrying souls to either Hell or Paradise at the behest of Uriel, the archangel. Though Raziel has never had any problems with any of the people that he has transported for centuries, he finds that when the time of reckoning comes, he is unable to send Allegra on her way.

Allie finds herself in the most bizarre of circumstances with Raziel, a man who infuriates her, astounds her and electrifies her with the need that pulses through her every time he is around. Bound to each other by something that neither of them wants to acknowledge, Allie’s arrival to Sheol, the hidden world in which the fallen reside is not a welcome one for many. With danger looming closer than ever, Allie finds herself entirely captivated by Raziel and what he does to  her heart, mind, body and soul. With surprising twists to the story, Ms. Douglas manages to deliver a story that is unputdownable at best!

The power that Anne Stuart holds over her readers is legendary. With contemporary romances and romantic suspense, she continues to push the comfort zone of many a reader and publisher too if her writing history is anything to judge that fact by and under the pseudonym of Kristina Douglas, Anne Stuart practically eviscerates every preconceived notion of how the fantasy genre ought to be written. She smashes through the walls and leaves utter destruction of the kind you love to indulge in and I as a reader couldn’t have asked for more!

Allie whose name Allegra Watson made me snicker a bit to myself (Allegra = an antihistamine + Watson = a personal care store in Malaysia), fits the mold of heroines that Anne Stuart is famous for writing. Definitely not of the doormat variety, Allie continues to push at Raziel’s carefully laid out world of black and white, splashing it with beautiful, bold and vivid colors while Raziel continues to fool himself into thinking he is man enough to resist her charms. Snarky with a heart of gold, Allie was a heroine I definitely fell in love with and rooted for in the biggest way possible.

Raziel is one of the oldest of the fallen angels and pretty set in his ways. Raziel had sworn off women and the concept of finding a mate to share his life with because of the pain it brings to the heart to lose the one you love. While the fallen are subjected to live their life for eternity, their mates aren’t magically given the same “gift” and thus Raziel’s conviction that he is better off with just relying on his hand for company. But with the arrival of Allie into his life, Raziel knows in his heart that his days as a loner are numbered and that before she is through, she would end up blowing his heart into smithereens if he is not careful.

Raziel as a hero is beyond sexy, the kind of man that Anne Stuart so boldly brings to life time and yet again. Given the fact that this is fantasy, Anne’s creation goes a step further and delivers a mouthwatering version of the alpha male, Raziel is practically good enough to eat! His wings, oh man, those are a sight to behold and yes, you have to read the book to understand the full impact of Raziel.

This book is written in first person, from both Raziel and Allie’s points of view. The fact that I forgot to even complain about it when I initially wrote the review explains the fact that Ms. Douglas found a way to make the first person PoV work. By providing the points of view of both the hero and heroine. I actually never felt any of the frustrations that I usually feel with books written in first person and perhaps that is why I forgot to write it down when I first drafted the review.

I loved the ending provided, a look into their lives 5 years on, and a torturous peek towards what’s coming. There’s a sadness to the story, an inevitability to their shared lives and yet the happiness that radiates from it outshines it all. And that my friends is what superb storytelling is all about. Combining witty banter, heady sexual tension with highly erotic and sensuous delivery and enough fantasy and gore to feed the appetite, Raziel is a book that is a definite must read! I went a bit crazy with the quotes, forgive me. Not! Haha!

Final Verdict: Bold & unapologetic, sweeps you off your feet, big time!

Favorite Quotes

Kicking him in the shin and running like hell seemed an excellent plan, but I was barefoot and my body wasn’t feeling cooperative. As angry and desperate as I was, I still seemed to want him to touch me, even when I knew he had nothing good in mind. Angels didn’t have sex, did they? They didn’t even have sexual organs, according to the movie Dogma. I found myself glancing at his crotch, then quickly pulled my gaze away. What the hell was I doing checking out an angel’s package when I was about to die?

Her smile was faint, lovely, one of the most erotic things about her. “Now,” she whispered.
He didn’t hesitate. His fangs slid down and sank into her neck, finding the sweet spot he knew so well. The blood was thick, rich in his mouth, and he felt the spasms begin to take over, felt her own helpless response as his wings unfurled. He rolled onto his side, taking her with him, his teeth never leaving the gently throbbing vein, his cock deep inside her as his wings clamped around them both, locking them together as he gave himself over to the only kind of death he’d ever know.

“Were you sent here to torment me?” he whispered, sliding his arm around my waist, pulling me against him. “Did he know exactly what I needed, what I couldn’t fight?”
He? Who? But before I could ask the question, he kissed me again, and I was lost, needing to get closer to him, needing his skin beneath my fingers. His tongue was in my mouth, and I welcomed it, reaching between us and pulling his shirt apart so I could touch his skin, his hot, smooth skin. His heart was racing, and I wanted to put my mouth against it, wanted to taste his flat nipples, wanted my mouth all over him.

He started to pull out, and I clutched at him, suddenly terrified he would leave me.
But he was already pushing back into me, deeper than the first thrust, slick and sure, deeper, thicker, harder, and when he pulled back I let out a cry, desperate.
This time he slammed into me, all the way in, pushing me hard up against the wall, and my body suddenly shattered. I let out a muffled scream, burying it against his shoulder, against the smell of clean cotton and warm skin, and another wave hit me, and then another, until I was sure I couldn’t take any more.

I lay perfectly still beneath as he took care of me, my eyes closed, just wishing he’d go away and leave me. He was going to, sooner or later, and he might as well get it over with.
“I’m not going away,” he said.
“Stop reading my mind!” I cried, my voice catching on a sob. I didn’t tend to become emotional after sex, but this was an anomaly on every front.
He cursed under his breath. And then he simply moved over me, between my legs, and before I realized what he was doing he’d pushed inside me again, fully hard, and I let out a little yelp of shock as I shifted to accommodate him.

He lifted his head to look down at me, and I stared up into his strange eyes, mesmerized. I no longer wanted to hide, to look away. He was invading my soul again, just as he had earlier, only this time he was invading my body at the same time, and I wanted more.
“There’s a limit to what you can take, Allie,” he whispered in my ear, reading me again. “I don’t want to hurt you.” And he began to move, a slow, sweet slide, and I found I could make noise after all, a deep, longing moan, as I slid my arms around his back and held him close, feeling his muscles bunch and release against my hands, wanting the feel of him, the taste of him, all around me.

He reached behind him and took my arms, slamming them down on the mattress as he rose up, pumping into me. The second climax hit me, and then I couldn’t stop. I needed nothing more than the steady movement of him inside me to bring me to a place I hadn’t believed existed, and I threw myself out into the stars as his hands pressed down on mine and the iridescent darkness closed around us once more.
I could feel him inside me, coming, and I arched back, wanting his mouth on me, wanting his teeth on me. Please, I thought, and I felt his mouth against my neck and the first sharp bite of his teeth.
And I was complete.

“I can’t,” I said in sudden fear. “I really can’t.” And I tried to get off the bed.
He caught me at the edge, pulling me back underneath him so that I was facedown on the bed, my mouth against the linen sheets that smelled of lavender and spice and something even more elemental. “Yes you can,” he said with simple truth, and he slid his arm under my stomach, pulling me up to my hands and knees.

He pounded into me, a heavy dark rhythm that was like drumbeats from the heart of Africa. The drums of the gods. And I couldn’t stop the shudders rushing through me, mini-climaxes that were building, and his hand went between my legs, his fingers touching me, and I screamed, putting my head down, my face into the sheets as I gave in to the wildness and power, the animal need washing through me. I gave myself to him with complete trust, no longer thinking, no longer doubting. He would keep me safe, he would stop when I had more than I could handle, he would know.

His cock inside me seemed to swell, and I cradled his head against me, running my fingers through his thick, curling hair, whispering to him, soft words, love words.
And then he pulled away, rising up, and I could see my blood on his mouth, see the glitter in his eyes. He stared down at me, not moving, and I felt his climax deep inside me, giving me back what he had taken from me, and I joined him, flinging myself into the darkness with only him to guide me.

“Are you always going to be able to read my thoughts?” I asked with a trace of asperity.
“I can try not to. When you’re feeling strong emotion, it will come to me, and it will go both ways. In day-to-day life, I can shield you.”
“And in bed? I’m assuming we’re going to do this again?” I held my breath, waiting for the answer. Was he still fighting it? Should I still fight it?
It was a long moment before he spoke, an endless one. “As often as possible,” he said.
I knew his thoughts, knew what he wanted. Now. Again. “Yes,” I said. “Yes.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | eBookMall | ARe | iTunes

fantasticread

ARC Review: Sempre by J.M. Darhower

Format: E-booksempre
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Forever Series, #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Carmine Marcello DeMarco
Heroine: Haven Isadora
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 29, 2012
Started On: February 22, 2014
Finished On: February 26, 2014

Sempre is book 1 in the Forever Series by J. M. Darhower. The story begins when Haven Isadora is just seven years old, present at a “child auction” of sorts where no act of violence seems to be taboo for the people who hold several young girls captive. The opening act of this book is horrific in the sense that it opens up the world of modern day child slavery and the unspeakable acts these children are forced to perform in order to survive.

Story continues 10 years down the line, when Haven is “rescued” from the clutches that holds her a captive by a Dr. Vincent DeMarco who whisks her away to his home which marks the beginning of the sort of life that Haven has never dared to dream of for someone like herself. And when she comes across Vincent’s youngest son Carmine, the connection that forges between these two is instant and electrifying.

Carmine is the epitome of bad boy hero, angry and sullen at the world with a ton of attitude. Carmine exists by doing everything else but what is expected of him, partying and sleeping around just for the heck of it. Though Haven stirs his interest, Carmine finds it hard to tone down his abrasiveness which has been a part of him for so long. But as time goes on and a bond is forged between these two unlikely souls, there is no stopping the love that unfurls in their hearts.

Both Haven and Carmine have no idea what life has in store for them. With Carmine more or less destined to follow in his father’s footsteps by being “obliged” to belong to the Mafia family, it is a tough future that awaits both of them. Vincent was the hero in my eyes, the man who tries so hard to keep his children away from a life that is filled with treachery and one in which the soul is never ever free from the darkness that taints it once you become one of the Family.

Having never watched or read much on stories involving the Mafia though I had picked up bits and pieces on the lives they lead along the way, I don’t think I actually had any clue as to just how much power the head of the Family holds on the rest of the members. There is a “code of ethics” that the Family lives by, once crossed one has to face the dire consequences or die trying to flee from whats coming. Vincent was the truly enigmatic character in this novel that actually stirred my interest, the mix of Jekyll and Hyde in him making him one of the most contrasting characters I have come across of late. Vincent tries to do right by his children, though its far from easy. While one side of Vincent finds it as easy as breathing to give free reign to the ruthless killer in him, there is the other side that heals and saves lives, the one part of his life that gives him solace and peace to the soul, be it even for a little while. The fact that Vincent could look beyond the anger, hurt and pain of his past to take Haven under his care was something that deeply moved me.

While Haven’s character impressed me with her ability and strength to overcome the countless horrors she had been subjected to while growing up, Haven herself doesn’t know her true power in the hierarchy of the Family, a secret if found would be worth shedding the blood of the many the Family wouldn’t hesitate to take out. I liked Carmine’s character well enough, but I found his emotions to be all over the place, sometimes rightfully so. But in the maturity aspect, Haven wins hands down, not surprising given spoilt life Carmine had led till then. However, Carmine does turn himself around for the woman he loves more than his own life, a love that turns out to be the pivotal reason behind the basis of the next book in the series.

Though I am not wowed enough to pick up the second book, nevertheless, Sempre did provide me with an entertaining read, albeit a trifle bit of a long one, some pages of which I skipped as I reached towards the end of the book. Perhaps I am right in avoiding young adult romances, the few I have read haven’t really impressed me all that much. But if you are a lover of new adult romances with the interesting facet of being part of the Mafia thrown in, then I would recommend that you pick this up. It just might be what you’re looking for.

Final Verdict: An intriguing mix of romance & the politics that govern the lives of those indebted to the Mafia.

Favorite Quotes

Yanking her to him, he eagerly kissed her without another thought.
It was passionate and messy, seventeen years worth of kisses rolled into one stolen embrace. Haven kissed him back, her lips parting as they moved with his. Running her hand along the back of his head, she laced her fingers in the hair by his neck as she trembled, but whether from nerves or excitement, Carmine wasn’t sure.

Love was the fluttering in her tummy whenever Carmine was near, the twinkle in his eyes when he laughed, the heat in her body from his words. Love was happy. Love was safe. Love was green.
Love was him—the beautifully flawed boy who made her glow. He stared at her, those words hanging in the air between them.

“I didn’t hear you come out of your room.”
“You aren’t the only one who knows how to be quiet, Ninja.”
She replaced the book on the shelf. “Hmm, well, maybe we should get you a bell.”
“Hey, at least I don’t almost give you heart attacks. You used to startle the hell out of me. I thought for sure you’d need to give me CPR a few times.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Don’t be so sure. You make my heart race every time you come near me.”
He strolled over to where she stood and leaned down to kiss her. He nipped at her bottom lip as he pulled back, pressing his palm against her chest. “How’s the heart?”
“Feels like it’s going to explode.”

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

favorableread

Requested Review: The Marriage Trap by Jennifer Probst

Format: E-bookthemarriagetrap.jpg
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad/iPhone
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Marriage to a Billionaire, #2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Michael Conte
Heroine: Maggie Ryan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 2, 2012
Started On: January 24, 2013
Finished On: February 2, 2013

On the surface, both Maggie Ryan and Michael Conte seems to  have everything going for them. Maggie is a successful photographer of male models and someone who is in absolute control of every aspect of her life. Though the fact that sometimes she yearns for the kind of love that her best friend Alexa has found with her brother Nicholas; the kind of love that would make her belong in every sense, well, Maggie ain’t going to focus on that.

Michael is a billionaire whose success is legendary. But coming from an Italian family means familial customs do take precedence over certain modern principles and that is how Michael finds himself scrambling to come up with a woman who would pose as his wife for a short duration of time. Michael doesn’t want the hassle of emotions or any untoward demands to cloud the arrangement. And Maggie seems like the perfect choice until Michael realizes that he should have known better and that with Maggie nothing would ever be as simple as he thinks it to be.

So amidst the charade these two set out on, Maggie finds a side of herself that she thought she had suppressed far too well for it to exist after all this time. She finds herself a slave to the scorching desire that had drawn her to Michael in the first place. Michael had known from the very first encounter with Maggie that she was the kind of woman who could get under his skin and really tempt him to look beyond the aspect of just appeasing his physical needs. And that is exactly what happens when these two fight, kiss and make up in true lovers-who-can’t-get-enough-of-each-other fashion.

Though The Marriage Trap started out with the feel of characters who seemingly lead these perfect lives, its far from that. True, materialistically neither Michael nor Maggie needs much from the other. But emotionally they are both vulnerable in their own way, complementing the other in ways that neither would have thought possible. Maggie’s childhood consists of memories of being passed off from one nanny to the other. There is this gaping hole in her heart that she refuses to acknowledge though sometimes the emptiness inside of her is enough to make her question what she really wants.

Michael, though he comes from one of the most loving close-knit families, the sacrifices that he has made along the way to step up to the plate and be everything he is expected to be had changed a part of himself that he had not been able to get back. And with Maggie he finds himself willing to take the chance again to be free deep inside of his heart, to reach out and grab the happiness that he yearns for.

Maggie turns out to be what Michael needs in his life, for him to open his eyes and realize that while he had been playing the role as the head of the family and big brother, all his sisters had grown up and were more than capable of making their own choices. For a man like Michael who is used to taking charge, that is not an easy conclusion to come to. Likewise Maggie finds herself continuously challenged by the man who is her pretend husband, someone who shows her all the reasons why surrendering all of herself to him could be the best thing to happen to her ever.

Filled with spine tingling moments of the sensuous variety, The Marriage Trap is a good read that is recommended for those who love romances of this variety.

Favorite Quotes

With one final plunge, Maggie shattered.
She screamed his name, and heard his hoarse shout right behind her. The world broke around her in jagged pieces, and she rode out the pleasure to the very end. When she collapsed on top of him, and his arms came around her, one word echoed over and over in her mind, her heart, her soul.
Home.
Then she closed her eyes and slept.

She moaned. He caught it and pressed a bit deeper, and Maggie opened her mouth and gave in.
He plundered and commanded in complete thrusts, reminding her of how he’d claim her body if she gave him a chance. She tried to surface and gain control of the kiss, but her mind crumbled and her body sang. He murmured her name, and her legs got shaky as she held on to him for dear life and kissed him back.

He moved. Each motion claimed her for himself, told her of his emotions and need for her to belong to him. The last of the fight eased from her body and she matched him thrust for thrust, her heels digging into his back as they climbed higher and higher. She exploded beneath him and he let himself go. The unbearable pleasure wrecked him, overtook him, and threw him over the edge. When the storm finally passed, Michael realized his life would never be the same.
And he didn’t want it to be.

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

goodread

Review: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

Format: E-bookakingdomofdreams
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Westmoreland Dynasty, Book 1
Hero: Royce Westmoreland
Heroine: Jennifer Merrick
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 1989
Started On: August 8, 2011
Finished On: August 10, 2011

Judith McNaught’s historical romances are timeless. Timeless I say because no matter how many times one re-reads her stories, it never gets old and there is always something new about the story that captures your attention and holds it until you have turned the very last page. I think this is my 3rd or 4th time re-reading A Kingdom of Dreams and yet again Royce Westmoreland didn’t fail to invoke numerous sighing sessions as I read along and made me want a fierce warrior like him who loves just as passionately when at last he finally does fall for the woman who claims his heart, body and soul.

29 year old Royce Westmoreland aka The Black Wolf is Scotland’s most hated, and most feared enemy. Military life is all Royce has ever known and Royce’s latest command received from the King Henry himself has him gearing up to face the Merrick’s clan of Scotland, the name itself making vengeance boil deep inside of him.

17 year old Jennifer Merrick is the daughter of Lord Merrick, the head of the Merrick clan. From a tender age, impulsiveness and recklessness combined with a desperate yearning to make her father love her, as he loved his stepsons, were responsible for a lot of grievances in her life. Though as the eldest daughter the leadership of her clan should rightfully pass onto her, Lord Merrick thinks naught of women and their capabilities beyond that of rearing children – a fact that hurts Jennifer more deeply than she ever lets on.

When Jennifer and Brenna are captured by the Black Wolf’s army, Jennifer’s sole focus lies in identifying ways through which she and Brenna can make her escape. Royce doesn’t expect that two women could create so much trouble in his camp and in his life when the fiesty Jennifer and her meek sister are brought along which Royce is hoping would end the battle they are all gearing for without bloodshed.

Jennifer valiantly tries and manages to escape captivity only to be caught yet again and though Jennifer knows that true to Merrick’s nature, the only thing she should feel for Royce with his unusual silver eyes is contempt and loathing at best, she is no match for the yearnings that stir into life in the arms of Royce, her enemy. Neither Jennifer nor Royce is prepared for the desire that each feels for the other and for the headiness of a passion so fierce to obliterate everything else from their minds.

Royce convinces himself that lust is the only thing that he feels for a woman who infuriates him and humbles him at the same time. And when his need to possess Jennifer makes him claim her virginity, even then Royce is more than happy to label it away as a mere case of lust for his beautiful and defiant captive.

Jennifer’s heart bleeds for the fact that in Royce’s embrace she feels no shame even though she knows that consorting with the enemy would only earn more hatred from her clansmen. When once again Jennifer escapes Royce’s clutches making him the laughingstock of both England and Scotland, Royce is livid with rage and that is the only thing that drives him to accept orders by his king to tie himself to Jennifer in holy matrimony.

Thus begins a battle of wills that dies a slow death as the passion that exists between Royce and Jennifer burns hotter than ever, cementing a connection between two souls who are so meant for each other. But love and a happily ever after is not an easy one for either of them to achieve as treachery and deceit from Jennifer’s family nearly drives them apart for good until Jennifer comes to realize that her destiny lies entwined with that of Royce and that there is no turning back from the love of a man who makes her feel treasured and safe at the same time.

A Kingdom of Dreams is a romance that provokes the reader into indulging in a dream or two of her own as Royce completely sweeps you off your feet and shows you the reason why romance heroes are worth swooning over. Royce is a fierce man, a battle hardened warrior who has seen so much death and destruction throughout his career that he longs for normalcy and a life that he can call his own. His tenderness when it comes to Jennifer and the way he feels stirrings of righteous indignation on Jennifer’s behalf upon hearing how she has been treated by her own clansmen and family made me fall that much harder in love with him. A true romantic would not be able to read this without falling for Royce, a fact that I am reassured of as I manage to fall for him over and over again every single time I read this book.

Jennifer is a heroine who is worthy of someone like Royce. Loyal, loving, kind and generous, Jennifer’s soul yearns for the day that all of whom she loves would love her back, a day that she would be accepted for who she is, impulsiveness and all. Though at times it feels as if Jennifer is being a trifle bit too hard on Royce, she makes up for it so beautifully towards the end that I fell for the sheer charm she brings into the story.

Filled with a lively and riveting bunch of side characters of which Aunt Elinor definitely deserves a mention, A Kingdom of Dreams is a must read if you are a true fan of romance.

Favorite Quotes

Royce flung her arm aside, and Jenny stayed where she stood, paralyzed with remorse and anguish as she gazed at the beautiful animal she’d inadvertently killed. As if in a dream, she watched England’s fiercest warrior kneel on one knee beside his dead horse, slowly stroking the animal’s glossy black coat, and speaking words she could not quite hear in a voice that was raw.

Her head lifted, and Royce froze in surprise and reluctant admiration for the amazing sight he beheld. Standing there like a wild enraged gypsy, her hair tumbling all about her like golden flames and her huge blue eyes alive with hatred and unshed tears, she slowly raised her hand… a hand which was holding a dagger which she’d obviously managed to snatch from his boot as he spanked her.
And in that unlikely moment, as she held his dagger poised high, ready to strike, Royce Westmoreland thought she was the most magnificent creature he’d ever beheld; a wild, beautiful, enraged angel of retribution, her chest rising and falling with fury as she courageously confronted an enemy who towered over her. He’d hurt her and humiliated her, Royce realized, but he hadn’t broken that indomitable spirit of hers.

His wry tone made Jenny burst out laughing, and Royce found himself captivated by the infectious joy, the beauty, of it. He’d never heard the music of her laughter before, nor seen it glowing in her magnificent eyes. Seated on a pile of lush furs, laughing up at him, Jennifer Merrick was unforgettable. He realized it as clearly as he realized that if he walked over and sat down beside her, there was every chance he was going to find her irresistible as well.

As he spoke, his hand curved round her head, pressing inexorably downward, inch by slow inch, until his warm breath was mingling with hers, and then his gaze lifted, locking with hers. Insistent, knowing gray eyes captured frightened, beguiling blue ones, imprisoning them as he brought her lips down against his. A jolt slammed through Jenny’s entire nervous system, her eyes closed, and his lips began to move on hers, thoroughly and possessively exploring each tender curve and trembling contour.

Perched upon that log, Royce thought she looked incredibly desirable—a charming wood nymph with long curly hair, clad in a boy’s tunic and hose. A wood nymph? Next she would have him composing sonnets to her beauty—and wouldn’t that delight her sire, not to mention enliven the gossip at court in two countries! “Was that question too difficult for you?” he said, his voice sharp with self-annoyance. “Shall I try to frame an easier one?”

Jennifer’s eyes lit with fondness. “Brenna will always find something good to say about me, no matter how shocking my mistakes or outrageous my conduct. She said I ‘sparkled like the sun and moon and stars.’ ” A bubble of laughter escaped Jenny and she regarded Royce with eyes aglow with merriment. “Which of course I did—sparkle, I mean.”
His voice harsh with feelings he could neither understand nor contain, Royce looked at her and said tightly, “Some women need no jewels to make them sparkle. You are one of them.”

Failing to catch sight of the giant, Tom quickly turned his gaze back for a longer study of the entire, famous man, and this time he took in the entire picture before him—a picture that made his mouth drop open in shock and disbelief: The Black Wolf, the most fierce warrior in all England—in the world—was sitting atop his mighty warhorse, with a girl cradled in his arms—holding her as tenderly as a babe!

Lifting his head, Royce stared down into her slumberous blue eyes, and Jenny saw the look of pure satisfaction mingled with puzzlement on his face—”Why is it when you yield, I feel like the one who has been conquered?”
“Why is it,” Royce murmured, gazing into her intoxicating eyes, “that every time you surrender willingly, like this, you make me feel like a king who has conquered. Yet when I conquer you against your will, you make me feel like a defeated beggar?”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository

outstandingread

Review: Mercy by Julie Garwood

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Buchanan Series, Book 2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Theodore Buchanan
Heroine: Dr. Michelle “Mike” Renard
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 23, 2003
Started On: March 11, 2011
Finished On: March 12, 2011

My first taste of Julie Garwood came in the form of her historical romance The Gift, which I received as a birthday present from my sister. Instantly hooked onto her style of writing, I remember trying to frantically get my hands on each and every published book by Ms. Garwood. My first encounter with her contemporary romances came from this very book which in the end turned out to be my favorite contemporary romance from her till now. For me, Mercy has got it all, an unforgettably sexy as sin hero in Theo Buchanan, an endearingly lovable heroine in Michelle Renard and edge-of-the-seat adventure in the form of a crime ring who are ruthless and greedy enough to kill anyone who stands in their way.

32 year old Theo Buchanan comes from a family of 5 brothers and 2 sisters from Boston. A federal attorney who has just wrapped up a case involving organized crime for the Justice Department, Theo is on the verge of collapsing from an appendicitis that would rupture any minute when he comes into contact with Dr. Michelle Renard who herself is attending the gala in New Orleans.

Born in Bowen, Louisiana, Michelle is the only girl in her family of 2 elder brothers and is the apple of her father’s eye. Michelle had grown up, never having an active mother figure in her life and had been discovered for her high IQ when she had entered 3rd grade in school. Her father Big Daddy Jake Renard had done everything he could to make Michelle’s dreams of being a doctor come true and it is Michelle’s work at the Brethen Hospital in New Orleans that brings her to the very irresistible Theo Buchanan whom she operates on.

From the first moment Theo lays eyes on the beautiful Michelle, whose passion for her work and to make a difference with her talent as a surgeon shines through, Theo aches to go back to the period of time in his life when he had been an idealistic graduate in law who had wanted to make all the difference in the world in his profession. Guilt from the death of his wife 4 years back which haunts him has Theo turning to work for solace until he just cannot take it any longer.

Convincing himself that he is making a trip to Bowen, Louisiana to  take up on Big Daddy’s offer to fish and do some relaxing, Theo makes his way to Michelle just 3 weeks after surgery to come into the midst of a random act of vandalism of Michelle’s clinic which sets all of Theo’s senses on red alert. Unbeknown to the Renard family, it is the inheritance left by a distant family relative together with a material which contains evidence that could put her husband and his friends who call themselves members of the Sowing Club behind bars for life that puts Michelle and whoever tries to help her in danger.

Theo’s journey into small town life turns out to be exactly what the doctor ordered for someone on the verge of burning out as he discovers that in Michelle and the combination of the charming Southern life he finds in Louisiana, he has at last found where he belongs.

There are so many things I love about this story even reading it the second time round. Theo Buchanan *insert major sighing session here* is such a dreamy and larger-than-life hero who is so comfortable in his own skin, confident to the point of being sexily arrogant (if there ever is such a thing) which just makes him such an easy hero to fall  in love with. The way he seduced Michelle who is a little bit naive when it comes to men and the games men and women play in a relationship was just so sweet and endearing and hot at the same time. The man oozes sensuality into the story just by stepping into the pages and he just dazzled me right from the very beginning.

Michelle is a lovable heroine who is an amazing surgeon who at heart is a small town girl who refuses to leave her hometown to embrace the  big city life. The prologue which shows so much of her childhood is a sweet and poignant one that nearly brought tears to my eyes and makes it one of the most beautifully done prologues in any of the stories I have come across.

Michelle’s father, Big Daddy and the people of Bowen, Louisiana charmed me through every aspect of the story as they worked as a team to bring Theo and Michelle together, to show Theo that he belongs right at home with the rest of them. The strong and silent John Paul, older brother of Michelle makes for an intriguing character, whose story I would love to read someday.

Though I have stopped following the Buchanan’s series after the very disappointing edition which features the very sexy and tough FBI agent Noah Clayborne, after revisiting Mercy, I would dearly love to know if Ms. Garwood has any intention of following through on a story for John Paul. He would certainly make for a very yummy, broody hero which we girls in the world of romance tend to swoon over.

Mercy is a novel that is very highly recommended for fans of Julie Garwood and fans of romantic suspense.

I will finish off my review with one of the sweetest moments in the story which takes place right after Theo and Michelle first make love, moments that just took my breathe away.

She pulled the sheet up as she rolled onto her back and closed her eyes. She was falling into a deep sleep when Theo nudged her.
“Michelle?”
“Hmm?”
“I found your best feature.”
“What is it?” she asked in a sleepy whisper.
He tugged the sheet down and put his hand on her breast. If she hadn’t been so tired, she would have asked him to explain why men had such an obsession with breasts, but then she suddenly realized just where his hand pressed and tears sprang into her eyes. How could she not love this man?
He had placed his hand over her heart.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo 

amazingread

Review: Heart of Fire by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookheartoffire
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Ben Lewis
Heroine: Jillian Sherwood
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 1, 1997
Started On: December 18, 2010
Finished On: December 18, 2010

Jillian Sherwood, daughter of the archaeologist known as Cyrus “Crackpot” Sherwood grows up with the love for archaeology and lost civilizations instilled into her long back when she had been just a young child fascinated by the stories of long-lost civilizations she had learnt of whilst sitting in the warm security of her father’s arms. When her father had died when Jillian had been 14 years old in the Amazon jungle on the expedition which would have proved once and for all that Cyrus didn’t have his head up in the clouds as all his colleagues and the rest of the archaeological community believed him to be, Jillian follows in his footsteps to become an archaeologist herself, something which becomes twice as hard for her because her father’s reputation lingers even long after his death.

The final straw comes when Jillian is overlooked as a possible candidate for the Ouosalla dig in East Africa, the biggest new archaeological find in decades funded by her employer Frost Archaeological Foundation. Even though Jillian is more than qualified to attend, she is not even considered because of her father’s reputation, which brings forth the burning desire in Jillian to actually delve into her father’s fascination with the Anzar theory of the Amazon being named for a band of warrior women who had lived deep within the jungle, this fascination of his which had played the main role in Cyrus being labeled as a “misguided” fool.

When Jillian’s half brother Rick Sherwood learns of the probable treasure, the “Empress of the Heart”, a big fat red diamond that supposedly exists in the lost city of Anzar civilization, its not long before Rick teams up with the unsavory Steven Kates who agrees to fund their expedition to find the city of Anzar. Because only Jillian knows the secret of the coded message left in her father’s books, they have no choice but to take Jillian along. It is in Brazil that Jillian first comes across the six foot tall, potentially lethal Ben Lewis who is to be their guide in the rough trek through the Amazon jungle and its river for the next two months or so.

From the moment Jillian lays eyes on the rough around the edges Ben, she instinctively goes on the protective mode knowing that here was a man who would be lethal to her heart, body and soul if she were even to give in an inch. Ben is more than surprised and a little bit aggravated as well to find his unexplainable fascination with a woman who does not even remotely fit in with the usual type of women he carouses around with. And though Ben tries to tell his wayward libido otherwise, his body clamors to possess Jillian as his own and brand her his. His practiced seduction techniques certainly do not seem to work on the cool and collected Jillian, who makes it her self appointed mission to not give into Ben’s caresses which leaves her senses begging for more of where that came from.

I liked:

  1. Ben Lewis. Its tough not to like a man who oozes sexuality from just his mere presence in the story. *fans self*
  2. Jillian Sherwood. Linda Howard knows exactly what we want from her characters and she certainly doesn’t disappoint us with Jillian. Independent to a fault, vulnerable and loyal and a stubbornness that makes Ben grit his teeth every now and then, Jillian and her acrid sense of humor certainly makes for an enjoyable heroine.
  3. The witty banter between Jillian and Ben. My God, I laughed out loud several times during the story, especially the parts where things never seem to go as Ben plans them with Jillian. She constantly manages to surprise and infuriate him with the lack of interest she shows towards his advances, a fact that just continues to aggravate and arouse Ben more and more throughout the story.
  4. The explosive passion between Ben and Jillian. One reason why Ms. Howard’s books always rate a re-read is the fact that she delivers in spades in the romance, adventure as well as the sensuality department in her stories. The scene where Ben claims Jillian in the middle of a thunderstorm amidst the downpour in the jungle made my senses all go on red alert! *mmmm..*

Dislikes: Umm.. nothing much but I felt that I didn’t get to learn more about Ben and his past which I yearned for throughout the story. Though the lack of his past didn’t in anyway diminish the full force of his personality, I would have loved knowing more about him than just his hyperactive libido which makes its presence known right from the very beginning. *wink*

Recommended for: Fans of Linda Howard and fans of jungle trek themed romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

greatread

 

Review: Now You See Her by Linda Howard

Format: E-booknowyouseeher
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Richard Worth
Heroine: Paris Samille Sweeney (Sweeney)
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 29, 2003
Started On: October 30, 2010
Finished On: October 31, 2010

I needed a book to maintain the high I was riding after finishing up the last book I reviewed which happens to be Naked Edge, the 4th book in the delectable I-Team series. And I am so very glad that I picked this one up knowing that Linda Howard never fails to deliver. This is one book that I seem to have missed when I first started on my Linda Howard fest when I discovered her as an author after reading the emotionally gut wrenching story Sarah’s Child by the author. As always, the hero is to die for, his character described in such a manner that it is impossible not to give a part of yourself to him before the story is through. The heroine is not the type to stand back and just let the hero tread all over her, but rather she gives as good as she gets which made this book the winner it is for me.

The Hero: Richard Worth is a self-made millionaire who is described as a Wall Street whiz which made him the rich man he is. Growing up dirt poor in a farm in West Virginia, Richard’s father had died when he had been 3 years old. Now 39 years old, Richard had grown up with his grandfather and mother, both of whom had worked every day of their lives to provide for themselves. From a very young age Richard’s grandfather had instilled in him the need to work and earn your keep which makes Richard the man he is. Joining the army because he had been unable to afford a college education had made him discover that he had a knack for military life. And when Richard had found that he had knack for the stock market which was more lucrative and since money was all he had wanted to make Richard had never looked back. Its been 15 years since Richard has left the army and life had seemed to be going well when he had married Candra his wife of 10 years. Discovering his wife’s infidelity had broken the luster from his marriage and the final straw had come 9 years into their marriage, an act of ultimate betrayal by Candra which pushes Richard to end their farce of a marriage and apply for a divorce. Richard is a man who draws women to him effortlessly but remains faithful to his wife because Richard has always been the sort of man one can truly depend and rely upon.

The Heroine: Paris Samille Sweeney (Sweeney) or sweetie as Richard calls her is a woman who is so immersed in her work as an artist that she rarely takes notice of the opposite sex. Born in Italy, Sweeney comes from parents who found no time for their children but rather pursued their careers, her mother as an artist and her father as a filmmaker. Sweeney shies away from the opposite sex because her experiences with her promiscuous mother whilst growing up had made her wary of turning out to be exactly like her. Now 31 years old, Sweeney is described to have a trim figure, almost medium in height with blue eyes and curly brown hair which she keeps below shoulder length in an effort to control its unruliness. Sweeney had been living in the small town of Clayton in New York when that fateful day in August she had seen the ghost of 10 year old Samuel Beresford who had died of leukemia a month back. Afraid that people would assume that she has lost it, Sweeney wants to move somewhere that is warmer when Candra Worth, owner of the gallery where Sweeney sells her work convinces her to move to New York. The story continues a year after that fateful day when everything changes for Sweeney, someone who equals sameness and normalness to security.

Storyline: Sweeney’s entire world changes the day she starts seeing ghosts. The experiences leave her with a bone deep cold that refuses to leave her. Her work as an artist also changes from the trademark delicacy of her landscapes and still studies to paintings more boisterous and colorful in nature which leaves Sweeney with a feeling of hopelessness as she tries to prevent the changes from overtaking her life completely. Never one to take bullshit from anyone, the final straw comes when Sweeney is invited to Candra’s gallery to do a portrait for an important client of hers, a client who is a strong political figure that grates on Sweeney’s nerves right from the first moment. And when Sweeney’s body decides to take notice of Richard Worth all of a sudden, Sweeney is decidedly at a loss on how to control the sudden and swift change within her towards a man who was in a bitter contest of finalizing his divorce from Sweeney’s friend and mentor for the past year. Sweeney’s actual capabilities come to light when she sleep paints the murder of a person whom she is overtly fond of, the truth which she finds out only a little bit too late. When Sweeney finds herself face to face with another sleep painting attempt of hers, Sweeney is determined that she would finish the painting before its too late to warn whoever it is of her impending death.

First Encounter: There are references to Sweeney and Richard meeting one another on several occasions, most of which Sweeney doesn’t even remember because she has a tendency to desexualize herself and immerse herself in the wonderful world of vibrant colors that her life is. But the day that Sweeney’s body decides to take notice of and wants to claim Richard Worth as her own is the moment that Richard has been waiting for since he has always found Sweeney attractive.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in New York.

Awareness between the hero and heroine: With the first heady kiss between the two there is no turning back though Sweeney refuses to sleep with Richard till his divorce is final which propels him to use his ruthless determination in obtaining his freedom from the woman who he has come to hate, an action which sets in motion a set of events that leads to Candra’s murder. The bone deep cold that takes hold of Sweeney whenever she sleep paints only seems to go away in Richard’s fiery embrace which definitely makes this one heady read!

The turning point: From the moment Sweeney’s hormones become aware of Richard as a man there is no turning back for either of them. Richard is captivated by Sweeney who is the total opposite of Candra and for the first time Richard finds a woman with whom he can be himself with which is an attraction in itself. Sweeney though she tries her damnedest to return her life back to the dull and lonely version it was before finds herself no match to Richard’s quiet determination to win Sweeney over. With each kiss and embrace between the two the inevitable conclusion of which is a combustive joining of their hearts and souls is exactly what Linda Howard delivers – in spades.

Ending: Though the killer is not really a mystery as the story proceeds, nevertheless its an interesting one which brings to light the tangled web Candra decides to weave in order to dig herself out of the hole she has landed herself in. The ending is a fitting one which brings out the killer once and for all, nervous at the thought of Sweeney completing her portrait to point the homicide detectives in the right direction.

Likes: As always Linda Howard creates the best alpha heroes in her stories. Richard has a quiet unassuming strength about him that  totally captivated me and made me wish all his attention were focused on me. Silly I know, but I tend to get silly and all swoony around heroes like Richard. I also loved Sweeney and how she overcomes the fear of the change that takes place in her, how she finally accepts the fact that she has changed for better or worse and tries to make the best use of her talents to help others. Her less than perfect character perfectly complemented Richard in every way which made this book a winner for me.

Dislikes: I found myself a little bit put off by the fact that the Epilogue was just a couple of lines which sheds some light on why Sweeney is the way she is. I wanted a longer epilogue detailing the changes that had come about in both Richard and Sweeney’s lives a year on and glimpses of the perfectness of the world they had created together.*pouts a little*

Recommended for: Those who like romantic suspense with a tangy bit of paranormal in it.

Favorite Quotes

His hand on the back of her head, he settled her against him once more. His mouth lightly brushed her temple, and over to her eyelid. “After next week, when you get cold, I’ll be able to warm you from inside out.”
Oh, God, he managed it now. Her heart leaped, and her pulse rate jumped to double time.
“You’re doing just fine as it is,” she gasped.
“The way you shake and shudder, I won’t even have to do any work. All I’ll have to do is set you in place, then lie back and enjoy the ride.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

outstandingread