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

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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 

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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

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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

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Review: Marked by Moonlight by Sharie Kohler

Format: E-bookmarkedbymoonlight
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Moon Chasers, Book 1
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Gideon March
Heroine: Claire Elizabeth Morgan
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 26, 2007
Started On: October 17, 2010
Finished On: October 17, 2010

When I finished Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas, I started out by choosing A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole from my humongous to-be-read pile. Even way before I started on the book I was thinking that I had previously read the book, mistakenly mixing up this title with the one I had chosen to read.

Marked by Moonlight by Sharie Kohler was a book I stumbled across during the time when I first discovered the exciting world of e-books. Back then I used to read about one book per day, maybe even more than that and tended to forget the book soon afterwards though some stories linger in my mind as worthy of a revisit sometime later. Not being much of a fan of paranormal romance, even then I remember that I had immensely connected with this story. When I realized that A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole wasn’t exactly what I had been looking for, I quickly posted what I remembered from the book on a couple of forums to find out whether anyone else remembered reading a book such as the one whose synopsis I vaguely recalled. I hit jackpot this morning when one of the readers of a forum remembered this book and I quickly loaded the book onto my Kindle and never looked back for the past couple of hours.

Marked by Moonlight is the first book in The Moon Chasers series by the author, the 3rd book of which is currently in my TBR pile. This book is the story of lycan hunter Gideon March who joins NODEAL, National Organization for Defense Against Evolving and Ancient Lycanthropes whose code was to destroy them at any cost. Gideon had been only 16 years old he had witnessed the brutal slaying of his father at his beloved mother’s hands who had been bitten by a lycan. She  had nearly destroyed Gideon and his younger sister Kit until they had been saved right in the nick of time by now Gideon’s boss and mentor and board director of the Houston Area division of NODEAL Cooper McPherson. Gideon had made it his life to seek out and destroy as many lycans as possible, the streak of vengeance burning deep within him refusing to die out anytime soon – that is until Gideon comes across prim and timid as they come schoolteacher Claire Elizabeth Morgan who literally turns his life upside down in more ways than one.

Growing up with a brute of a father who had controlled both Claire and her sweet mother with the threat of retribution by his fists hanging over their heads, it is no wonder that Claire carried the aftereffects of being submissive to ward off the violence in her life when she had been growing up. Now 31 years old, Claire is a high school teacher who has a soft spot for troubled kids, always going that extra mile to help them make a better future for themselves.

It is when Lenny Alvarez who has been under Claire’s special guidance throughout the year when she had finally broken through the layer of deep resentment that surrounded troubled kids such as him, goes AWOL that Claire dares to venture into Lenny’s neighborhood to ensure that Lenny would show up for his SAT’s on Monday. Claire doesn’t know what hits her when she follows Lenny into a dark alley and ends up being knocked down by a huge dog (which is what Claire wants to believe at first) and bitten in the process.

When she finds her savior Gideon March who is sexy as sin in her bedroom claiming that she had been bitten by a lycan and would herself go into a feeding frenzy the next full moon, Claire refuses to believe what she considers is a mad man’s mantra though Claire finds herself unbelievably drawn to the delicious temptation that Gideon’s body invites.

Gideon doesn’t know why he doesn’t pull the trigger and finish what was inevitable in coming, but somehow Claire with her new found confidence and feisty nature seems to answer a need deep within himself that he is unable to ignore. But helping someone who wants to keep her head buried in the sand proves to be a test on the reserves of patience that Gideon has in store. For the first time since Gideon started hunting Lycans, he goes against every code that has been ingrained into him and even lies to Cooper to buy himself time in order to find the alpha of the pack that had turned Claire and kill him/her before Claire has fed in order to revert the cycle.

When Claire finally does acknowledge the changes that are taking place in her body, precious time has passed and though she refuses to give up hope time seems to be a commodity that seems to be running out on them as Claire and Gideon battle the fierce attraction that blazes out of control between them which refuses to be denied as they go on the hunt. Help comes from unexpected sources and before the end is through, Claire would have to battle with the warring nature deep inside of her to come out victorious in the end.

I basically loved everything about this novel from its pretty cover to its great characters which made this a pretty great read, more so the second time round. I loved Gideon who basically oozed sex appeal at every turn and made my toes curl with his protective streak when it comes to Claire. I also loved Claire, the way she transforms from a mousy nobody into a sexy siren overnight, the lycan bite of course lending her the courage she needed in spades to embrace the person she really is. Loved the story that unfolded though some reviewers scoff at the idea of being able to reverse the effect of a Lycan bite and turn back into a human. I say its Ms. Kohler’s world of werewolves and shifters and she can do anything she damn well pleases with her other worldly creatures.

Recommended for those who love a romance with a sexy as sin hero who literally singes your eyebrows off with his smoldering sensuality and a plucky heroine who completes Mr. Sexy in every way.

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

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Review: Angel Creek by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookangelcreek
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Western Ladies, Book 2
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Lucas Cochran
Heroine: Dee Swann
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 1, 1998
Started On: October 9, 2010
Finished On: October 14, 2010

Surprisingly, this is one book by Linda Howard that I do not remember ever reading. I do however remember reading the first book in the Western Ladies series, A Lady of the West which I have the mind to re-read again sometime.

This story takes place in the town of Proper in Colorado. Lucas Cochran upon the death of his father is the new owner of the Big Double C ranch which he has high hopes and big dreams of turning into an empire one day. One of the things that stands in his way and one of his many contentions with his father when he had been alive had been the issue of buying the land through which Angel Creek the most abundant source of water that ran through the surrounding mountains into the valleys. Lucas, a hard man who does not budge once he has made a decision has mapped out his life to the extent that he has decided on the woman whom he would marry, Olivia Milican, the daughter of the town’s only banker  in order to take his life along the path he had chosen. What Lucas hadn’t counted on is the desire to claim and posses that unfurls and rages out of control as soon as he meets the Dee Swann, the feisty owner of the land through which Angel Creek runs.

Dee, whose parents had moved to Prosper when she had been a fourteen year old school girl had only known of Lucas in passing. Eight years older than Dee, Lucas had already been a grown man and had left Prosper shortly after she and her family had arrived and settled down. Life had thrown its fair share of tragedies at Dee when Dee’s mother who had been a school teacher had died when she had been at the age of sixteen closely followed by the death of her father when she had barely turned eighteen. At first the sheer aloneness which she had found herself in had frightened her to no end. But Dee, a passionate and strong woman had quickly learnt to safeguard what’s hers and take care of herself by growing a garden of vegetables which saw her through the year. Men turning up with offers to buy out her land wasn’t something new for Dee, but the strong tug she feels towards blue-eyed Lucas Cochran is something she had never ever felt before.

With two people who are as strong-minded as these two, coming together is an explosion that is waiting to happen which Linda Howard as always handles superbly. I swear, Linda Howard writes the hottest love scenes, sometimes much racier than the most explicit erotica, racier in the sense that you feel more whilst reading these scenes than you feel when reading erotica that is done not so tastefully.

Dee falls head over heels in love from the moment Lucas claims her as his though Lucas takes a bit of time to identify that what he feels for Dee is not something that he would find with just any woman. But Angel Creek and the deep abiding love that Dee feels for the land that surrounds her and brings her peace unlike anything else is a source of contention amongst the two until another party who showed his interest in the land suddenly decides to take matters into his own hands when drought threatens to take away everything he has built from scratch.

With rage and fear coursing through Lucas at Dee nearly been snatched away from his life because of the dreaded land, Lucas presumes to know what would keep Dee safe above everything else which nearly drives them apart in the end. There are two side stories that go hand in hand with Lucas and Dee’s story, both equally interesting in their own rights. And as usual, being the sucker for epilogues that I am, I loved reading about how all the couples fared in the end knowing that each found true love and happiness with their life partners in the end. There’s nothing more a true romance reader could ever hope for!

There were several things I loved about Dee. She is headstrong, not your meek average heroine who would grate on your nerves. Rather, she is the sort of woman who knows what she wants and works hard to achieve what it is that she desires. When true love does strike, Dee doesn’t strive to change who she is so that she can fit into Lucas’s plans. Rather she takes whatever time she has with the man she loves, consequences be damned! Lucas sometimes made want to hit him a time or two on the head, but he is a man who is in love and lust with the woman who is made for him. And I am always a sucker for a hard man who can treat a woman gently enough and goes crazy enough to lose their iron clad control. So all in all, a great read though I took my own sweet time in finishing up. You all can blame my busy work schedule for that!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookShades of twilight
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Webb Tallant
Heroine: Roanna Davenport
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 1, 1997
Started On: September 14, 2010
Finished On: September 16, 2010

As Catherine Coulter says on the cover of the book, Linda Howard is definitely an author who makes all our senses come alive with her cleverly spun romances. All my senses were on red alert from the start till I read the very last line of the book. No author does alpha heroes better than Linda Howard and that my fellow readers, is a fact.

Shades of Twilight is a story that is focused on  the Southern, rich and generations old Davenports family. The story kicks off when Roanna Davenport is just a mere 7 years old, Jessamine (Jessie) 13 years old and Webb Tallant 7 years older than Roanna who are all 1st or 2nd cousins. Roanna’s parents along with Aunt Janet who had been Jessie’s mother are killed in a car crash rendering their grandmother, the strong head of the household Lucinda mourning the loss of two of her children in one day. The Davenports resided in a mansion like house called as  the Davencourt, which Lucinda ruled and managed over. Though Webb is not a Davenport, he comes from Lucinda’s side of the family and she loves him and sees the strength in him that would make him the best choice to lead Davencourt in the years to come.

Whilst grandma Lucinda adored the beautiful Jessie where Roanna never did learn how to be graceful and always had a way of finding trouble where ever it may be, Roanna was afraid for the most part that the death of her parents would mean that she would be sent away. But in the end, grandma Lucinda overrides the discussion by stating that both Jessie and Roanna would live at the Davencourt. Even from that very tender age, Roanna hero worships Webb and the ground he walks on. Webb always had time for her, played with her and in general made her feel better than anyone else in the family.

But Roanna knows that as destiny has decided, Webb would take control of the Davencourt and from the way his eyes possessively roamed over Jessie, he would claim her as well. Spoiled to the core and illegitimate, Jessie had always resented Roanna for the fact that Webb always seemed to stand up for her and protect Roanna from Jessie’s bullying. The only place where Roanna feels any comfort is with the horses that the Davenports breed and there she blossoms and blooms like a flower starving for sunlight.

When Roanna turned 15, Webb and Jessie had married leaving Roanna heartbroken. Two years pass by and everyone at Davencourt knows that the marriage is far from a happy one. With Webb thrust into the cutthroat world of business whilst at the same time attaining his masters, he had little time for the tantrums that seemed to be a daily part of Jessie’s life upon her discovery that she is not able to control Webb like she does with other people who surround her life. And when she starts her illicit little affair with her own birth father, Jessie can barely keep her glee to herself. Meeting her father at hours for a time during the day, it is on one such day that Roanna follows Jessie and comes upon Jessie and her mystery lover whilst going at it like a bunch of animals. Angered beyond belief and hurt on behalf of Webb, Roanna makes her way home vowing never to tell Webb what she had witnessed.

That night, things take a turn when Webb who always badgers Roanna about how little food she intakes, offers her comfort in his arms. An innocent embrace slowly spirals out of control when Webb who has never seen Roanna as anything else other than a sister finds himself fiercely aroused, and a kiss initiated by Roanna has both of them nearly out of control when Jessie walks in on them and starts shrieking the house down. Jessie eventually manipulates the turn of evens to make it sound as if Roanna had deliberately tried to set up the scene in the kitchen so that Jessie would walk in on them, and the loathing and anger that Roanna sees in Webb’s eyes breaks her heart to pieces.

The mother of all arguments that Webb and Jessie has that night ends when Webb walks out fed up of Jessie and their marriage. And it is Roanna who walks into their room later to find her murdered, with her head bashed in. The whole family is quick to blame Roanna who the police rule out from the very beginning. In the end, Webb is their number 1 suspect, though his airtight alibi doesn’t allow the police much room for conviction. That night, everything changes in their family. Webb who had always been the darling golden boy of the family comes under accusations and the one time he needs his family, except his mother and another aunt, all his family turn their backs on him. Roanna does try to offer him comfort, only to be rebuffed in front of everyone else, which finally shatters her completely. Finally, with the investigation over with, Webb walks out on the family, never looking back.

Ten years later, Lucinda begs Roanna to bring Webb back home. Lucinda needs to make her peace with Webb, and hand over the reins of the  business to him as cancer is slowly taking her over. The ten years had left its toll on Roanna  as well. Gone was the coltish, exuberant girl brimming with energy and mischief. In her place was a cool, remote young woman who never hurried, never lost her temper, seldom smiled and much less laughed out loud. n her mind, she had been worthless and unlovable as she had been when Webb had rejected her apology and the comfort she had offered at Jessie’s funeral. So she had destroyed herself and built a new person who doesn’t feel much, and goes through the daily routine of life like an automated machine. The act of convincing Webb to come back to Davencourt stirs the only emotion that she had felt in 10 long years and Roanna knows that she would never fall out of love with the man who had captured her heart so completely when she was a mere child.

Webb, who has made something of himself in Arizona is shocked by the classy woman who stands in front of him. Vivid erotic encounters featuring him and Roanna had kept much of his dreams occupied and Webb’s control finally breaks and he makes it a condition that Roanna have sex with him for his return to Davenport, an act that he deeply regrets next morning when he discovers that he wants Roanna to come to him on her own terms rather than him forcing her.

Webb’s return to Davencourt is hardly met with applause from the rest of the family who sometime or the other have slowly moved into Davencourt and were leeching off Lucinda. It is upon his return that Webb learns just how close Roanna had come to losing her life and the thought that he would not have known about it leaves him weak with fear. A love that had unfurled as that of a love of a brother towards sister had changed into something else on that fateful night when all their lives had taken an unimaginable turn. And Webb was determined that he would make Roanna his, and prove to her that she belonged with him, as he surely belonged to her.

Amidst his return, the killer who had laid dormant all those years return with a vengeance, to finish off what was started that fateful night 10 years back. A novel that portrays the secrets and lies that a family holds and takes with them to their deathbeds, a story of intense love and passion that withstands  the test of time and distance, this story just took my breath away, even the second time round.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: Amazon Lily by Theresa Weir

Format: E-bookamazonlily
Read with: Amazon Kindle & Mobipocket Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Asher Adams
Heroine: Corey McKinney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication:  October 1, 1988
Started On: July 17, 2010
Finished On: July 19, 2010

This is another book that was recommended on the Amazon discussion forum having similar story lines to that of Wild Orchids by Karen Robards. Though the book lacked the adventure part that I was looking for, this book was a wonderful romance, one filled with heart pounding tension and enough love to clutch at your heartstrings.

Corey a girl from small town Pleasant Grove, Illinois,  makes her way to the Amazon jungle on a mission. The congregation of Corey’s church was considering funding a reserve called San Revs which was located deep in the Amazon jungle. But before the funding could be approved, the church elders had insisted upon sending a representative to South America to personally meet with the reserve’s owner, George Dupree, and bring back a thorough report. Corey had fast talked her way into the job at hand with her degree in social work and her year of practical nursing to back her credentials.

When the bush pilot Mike Jones, who is supposed to pick her up gets late, Corey finds herself with Asher Adams, a man so virile that from the first glance itself that Corey knows that he is not the type of man you mess around with. Asher makes no secret of the fact that he hates the damn do-gooders  who come looking for adventure or  to ogle at the “savages” that inhabit the deep recesses of the jungle. Asher is a man who has toughened up to life in more ways than one. Brought up in a foster home with his brother Luke, Asher had always been labeled as the bad seed, the one who always got into a shitload of trouble.

But when his brother Luke, who could compete for a position up amongst the angels for all his humanitarian work goes missing in the Amazon, Asher leaves everything behind and goes on the hunt for his brother who has been everything to him in his life. Three years on though he doesn’t give up on his search, Asher suffers from bouts of Malarial fever, a testament to just how much the living jungle can take from a human life.

Corey, having led a suitably staid and boring life and expected to get married to her best friend Todd has never encountered anyone like Asher in her life. His larger than life presence with the fascinating  tattoo on his shoulder that blatantly shouted out “Born to raise hell”, Asher never fails to invoke the most extreme emotions in Corey. The sizzling white hot attraction that takes Corey unawares and battles with every step of the way, whilst Asher who tries to label all that he feels for the delectable woman by his side as lust is something worth sinking into.

With time and understanding, Corey finds herself strangely drawn to the rough around the edges Asher who would rather act tough than own up to the fact that deep inside is a heart of gold, incapable of watching someone suffer. Though Asher would not admit to it, Corey knows that he is a humanitarian through and through and the analogy doesn’t sit well with Asher when Corey blurts it out.

The night that Corey gets drunk on an aphrodisiac potion and tries to seduce Asher is one of the best parts of the book. All in all, loved every minute of the book, especially how it ended with the Asher and Corey going their separate ways before finally coming together which made this book one of the best reads!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: The Touch of Fire by Linda Howard

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle & Microsoft Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Western Ladies, Book 3
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Rafe McCay
Heroine: Doctor Annie Parker
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 1992
Started On: July 5, 2010
Finished On: July 6, 2010

I am almost done with my re-read phase of novels by Linda Howard. Her novels are so interesting that I just can’t seem to be able to set aside the book once I start reading. This novel is no exception to that and I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the tale of how Rafe McCay and Dr. Annie Parker found ultimate happiness with one another.

Rafe has been on the run for his life for the past four years. Framed for a murder which he didn’t commit, Rafe is a man who has an army of bounty hunters on his trail with a handsome bounty of 10,000 dollars on his head. Though at first Rafe had tried to clear up his name, the murders of the two men who tried to help him has long convinced Rafe that his life would always be spent on the run.

One such bounty hunter, Trahera gets too close for comfort and Rafe is shot hindering his plans though he manages to slow Trahera down by shooting him in the leg. Ten days after Rafe gets shot, delirious with high fever and an infected wound, Rafe comes across the boom town Silver Mesa where blessedly he finds the home of Dr. T. A. Parker.

Annie whose father was a doctor is a woman who is determined that she would practice medicine even if it meant she had to live in towns like the one she was currently residing in. Born during a time when females were merely tolerated and much less when she dares to encroach on territories determined to be for the men, Annie is thrown for a loop when she finds Rafe residing in her home with the smell of infection wafting off of him.

From the moment Annie touches Rafe, though she tries to keep her thoughts professional and her touch brisk, Annie can’t help the jolt of sensation that slithers through her being by the merest touch. Rafe can’t believe it when the lady standing before him proclaims to be the doctor he was looking for and when though her touch soothes him and stirs a fire of longing in him at the same time, Rafe just attributes it towards the fever which is making him delirious.

When Annie proclaims that Rafe is not fit to do anything but rest for at least 3 days, Rafe kidnaps Annie at gun point and makes her leave with him and travels high up into the mountains where he would be able to recuperate without the fear of being caught. Though he knows Annie is frightened out of her wits to be forced to travel in the cold, Rafe admires the strength that keeps Annie from whining and complaining about her fate.

Thrust into the company of the man with the cold silver eyes who makes Annie burns for things she has no clue of, it is a battle that Annie loses when Rafe sets out to seduce the delectable doctor in his arms. Annie knows that she would never again love another man as she has come to love Rafe and surrenders her body and soul to the man who makes her senses sing from pleasure.

But danger is constantly lurking in the shadows and when finally Trahera stumbles upon their hideout by chance, Rafe knows its time to move on and return Annie to where he kidnapped her from. But Annie knows that she would never be able to return to the life as she knew it and Rafe knowing that her safety had also been compromised now decides to take Annie along with him.

Annie and Rafe’s journey through the unforgiving lands is one filled with taut sensuality and danger at every turn. The mystery of how Rafe is on the run for his life is a riveting one and with a hero and heroine you root for right from the start, this is an unbeatable book of romance and adventure.

I always love a good epilogue in any book I read and my favorite part of the book would have to be the epilogue which describes the happily ever after that Rafe and Annie finds with each other.

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

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Review: Kill Me Twice by Roxanne St. Claire

Format: E-bookn167206
Read with: Stanza
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: The Bullet Catchers, Book 1
Publisher: Pocket Books

Hero: Alex Romero
Heroine: Jasmine Adams
Date of Publication: September 7, 2005
Started On: November 12, 2009
Finished On: November 16, 2009

I found about Roxanne St. Claire whilst browsing through books on Amazon.com. I was surprised to see that her Bullet Catchers series has been quite well received by readers, in fact all her books in this series has got a reader rating of at least 4 or 4.5 stars. So I decided to check out this series that has got such a good reaction from readers of romantic suspense and I would have to say that Roxanne St. Claire does spin a good tale.

This introductory book in the series stars Alex Romero as the bullet catcher with side characters Max who is the lead in the next book of this series and Dan. With Lucy Sharpe as  the owner of this elite team of body guards who serve ultra-rich clients, Alex is handed an assignment which he considers to be in league with baby sitting when he has to protect Jessica Adams, a famous news reporter in Miami who reportedly has a stalker after her.

Alex turns up at Jessica’s place and is surprised to find himself with Jasmine, Jessica’s identical twin sister, from whom Jessica has asked to cover for her whilst Jessica pursues a hot lead in a story which will propel her career to the national fronts. Jasmine or rather Jazz, being fiercely independent resents the presence of Alex at first, but quickly comes to realize that Jessica may in fact be in danger and with everyone of Jessica’s acquaintances acting weirder by the moment.

The story is good, the romance between Alex and Jazz sizzles and the twists in the novel surprised me at the end and although I finished this book in 4 days time due to lack of available time to read it, this is the kinda book you can read in one sitting.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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