Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighlander.PNG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #3
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Lt. Col. William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie
Heroine: Philomena St. Vincent
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 02, 2016
Started On: August 17, 2019
Finished On: August 20, 2019

The Highlander, the 3rd book in the Victorian Rebels series turned out to be my first sampling of Kerrigan Byrne’s stories. Discovering a new author that speaks to you on so many levels is rare and so very treasured, and I intend to go through the back-list of her books in its entirety to sample each and every one of her published works over time.

The hero, 40 year old William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie (Liam), comes from a place of violence. The fact that his childhood had been a difficult one would be an understatement. With an abusive father who had cared naught for the physical and emotional well-being of his children, legal and otherwise, Liam had been the big brother who had taken most of the physical brunt to protect his younger siblings. But that had not been enough to prevent them from witnessing the horrors of a childhood better left in the darker fringes of one’s memories.

The main story begins 20 years later, with the opening chapter focusing on the heroine, Lady Philomena St. Vincent (Mena), Viscountess Benchley, who has been institutionalized by none other than her husband and his family. Mena who grew up with a father who thought the world of his daughter and brought her up to be an intellectual, kind and generous soul, the horrors of her marriage that are revealed in stages to the reader is something that is as old as time itself.

The mental asylum, which was a norm in the past for husbands to commit their wives to just to get rid of them, is the mother load of horrors. Tortured in ways that really leaves a mark on the reader, some may find those particular scenes to be too disturbing for them to continue with the story. However, that particular aspect of the book does not set the tone for the rest of the book as the author brings to readers the stunning and vivid portrayal of a love that was so worth delving into.

When Mena is rescued and her well meaning and newfound friends sends her away to Scotland to evade the clutches of her husband, it is to the keep of Liam she is sent, where the very first moment she lays eyes on the strong, deeply masculine, and beautiful man that he is, something long forgotten stirs to life inside of her. Liam too is shaken by the very physical and visceral reaction he has towards Mena from the onset, but even though both of them might think to avoid each other hoping that the yearning for the other is a fluke on their part, things of course do not work out that way.

Liam’s haunted eyes that bespeaks of horrors and regrets of his life draws Mena to him like a moth to flame. Mena’s gentle strength and wit that had remained unbroken by the violence she had experienced in her adult life speaks to Liam on a level that he cannot comprehend. However, old enemies stirring in the darkness, tempting and beseeching to turn on Liam might prove to be the undoing of what blossoms to life between him and Mena, if her husband’s search for her does not bear fruit first.

I enjoyed my very first novel by the Kerrigan Byrne. Mena was glorious. Beautiful, kind, and soft, with just the right touch of authority to her which made her appealing on so many levels. I rooted for her with every fiber of my being, wanted the best for her because she deserved nothing less.

Liam’s soul is a broken one, even though he does not let it on. Betrayed and widowed, there is a wealth of unspoken pain in his heart. His inability to get through to his own children is a source of continued frustration for him, that is until Mena comes into his life and shows him what that entails. Drawn to each other by the kind of tangible connection that leaves the reader breathless, Byrne does a marvelous job of crafting both characters and bringing them to life.

The sexual tension that is interwoven into the very fabric of the story was just as enticing, and Byrne definitely delivers without leaving the reader hanging. Absolutely loved this gem of a novel and would recommend it for readers who love historical romances with characters that speaks to you. These are two very broken characters who meet and find their way to a happily ever after. Don’t let the barbarity depicted in the first couple of chapters deter you from reading. I believe we have to take the bad with the good to achieve a balanced nuance in order to deliver a story worth sinking into.

The epilogue was super cute and healing in so many ways. Perhaps, Byrne may write a novella depicting two secondary characters who definitely deserve their story to be told somewhere down the line. A reader could always hope!

Final Verdict: There is a rawness to Byrne’s story that speaks to me. A ruthlessness to her heroes that does things to this wanton heart of mine. The Highlander is marvelous in every sense.

Favorite Quotes

Then she saw him.
Her mouth became dry as the desert, and a tremor that had nothing to do with the cold rippled through her.
Though he wore a soiled kilt and loose linen shirt beneath his drenched cloak, he sat astride a black Shire steed with the bearing of a king. Dark waves of hair hung long and heavy with moisture down his back, and menace rolled off the mountains of his shoulders in palpable waves.
Whoever he was, he was their undeniable leader. She saw it in the way they looked to him, in the deference they used when speaking. If not by birth, then by physical laws of nature, surely. As the largest, the strongest, and the most fearsome of them all, he towered above the brawny men as he scowled through the window at her.

“Och, lass.” Liam beat her to it. “These roses are a jealous flower.” Cupping her hand with his, he pressed a thumb into her palm to secure it before plucking the thorn out quickly, to cause her the least amount of distress.
A tiny drop of blood welled from her fingertip.
Liam had no other handkerchief to offer her, and didn’t want to use the one on the ground, so he did the only other thing he could think of, and slid her finger into his mouth. Closing his lips around the insignificant wound, he watched her reaction with rare pleasure.
She froze, her eyes growing round as two glowing moons.
His body’s reaction was just as astonishing, and just as instantaneous.

Liam sprang toward her, grasping her wrists and pulling her back down to him. He sank his fingers into her luxurious hair, loosening the intricate coiffure there, and pinned her head between his two strong palms as he took her wicked mouth with his own.
It was in the joining of their lips that Liam found what he’d come to the chapel seeking. He kissed Mena with a reverence he’d never felt in the entirety of his life. Driven by a hunger that welled from the darkest, most heretical depths of his soul, he knew he’d finally found something worthy of his worship.

He swallowed her shocked gasp and plundered her with his tongue as though she were a lifelong conquest. Digging his fingers into her ribs to keep from taking what she did not offer him, he deepened the kiss, using his tongue to convey what he could not find the words to say.
She wasn’t the only one who was afraid. Liam was terrified.
Of losing her.
Of loving her.
And at this moment, he was in mortal danger of both.

“Kiss me, Mena,” he moaned against her mouth, his hot, sweet breath fanning over the moisture on her lips. “Touch me. Teach me to keep the demon at bay.”
She could only see the whites of his eyes in the dim light, circling the obsidian of his pupil and iris in such a way that truly seemed demonic.
With trembling fingers, she reached up to softly test the shape of his masculine jaw. Bristle scraped against her fingertips as they explored the raw, hard features that she’d always wanted to study, but didn’t even allow herself to look at for too long, lest she be lost.

Then his hand was there, clever fingers slipping into the wet cleft and touching a place no one had ever before paid attention to. He somehow ignited frenzy into her blood with infuriatingly slow strokes. A curious heat unfolded in her core and quickly caught into a blaze of sensation.
Mena writhed helplessly against him, riding his strong thigh as more heat created more friction, which in turn built the flames even higher. What sort of pagan magic was this? How could hands so rough and raw create such smooth, silken sensations against her most tender skin?

“I can’t,” she cried, feeling her knees melt.
His lips left her with a wet, wicked sound. “Ye will,” he breathed against her most intimate flesh.
“I’m going to fall,” she warned weakly, her hips undulating toward his mouth with mortifying wantonness.
“Fall apart in my arms, lass,” he soothed, his hands caressing around to fill his palms with the flesh of her backside, making a cradle of her hips. “I’ll not let ye go.”

“Can ye take more of me?” he panted.
Mena’s eyes flew open. How could there possibly be more? He withdrew yet again, gazing down at her with dilated eyes as he surged forward. He touched a place inside her she’d not known existed, and Mena tossed her head from one side to the other, letting out a high cry of ecstasy.
“Yes,” he whispered fervently. “I knew ye would take all of me, Mena.” He drove forward again. And again.

When another climax blinded her with pure bliss, she locked her legs around his pistoning hips, pulling him impossibly deeper. Shivering pleasure assaulted her in wave after unrelenting wave.
He roared her name to the sky as her pulsing body gripped and stroked at the swelling length of him. Hot spurts of his release spilled inside her. His great body locked with spasms as he crushed her to him and joined her in that place where right and wrong no longer mattered.

Then they said nothing at all when he pulled her above him and split her legs over his lean, sinuous hips. They’d communicated only in gasps and sighs as she’d ridden him with sensual rolls of her body. He’d palmed her breasts in his warm hands and said wicked things in his people’s native tongue while she pleasured herself upon his sleek and magnificent body. Then, when he could stand it no more, he’d dug his strong fingers into the flesh of her hips and driven upward until he’d bowed with such shocking pleasure, Mena had thought his back would break.

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

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Review: The Maid’s Spanish Secret by Dani Collins

Format: E-Bookthemaidsspanishsecret
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rico Montero
Heroine: Poppy Harris
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 16, 2019
Started On: August 13, 2019
Finished On: August 14, 2019

Hankering to read a category romance, because it has been ages, I decided to opt for The Maid’s Spanish Secret by a new to me author, Dani Collins. The story begins as the hero, Spanish aristocrat, Rico Montero comes to find that he has a daughter with none other than Poppy Harris, the woman with whom he had had a one time passionate encounter, which he still remembers at odd moments.

The knowledge of the existence of his daughter snaps Rico out of the funk he is in, given the death of his wife under most unfavorable circumstances. Rico turns up on Poppy’s doorstep, the home which she shares with her grandmother and throws her for a loop, big time. Rico is the last man she would have expected to see, given all the hopes and dreams that she had spun out of that unforgettable encounter having being smashed to smithereens under the weight of the knowledge that Rico had chosen to marry another.

Rico’s demands that he be part of his daughter’s life is what propels Poppy to give in. Not to mention, the reckless abandonment that Poppy had felt in his arms then comes blazing to life the minute he re-enters her life, stoking the flames of her very dormant desires up till that point. Each passionate encounter with Rico leaves her wanting more, begging for more, but for Poppy, without Rico’s heart to claim as hers, it would never ever be enough, the concept of love being something Rico struggles with.

I greatly enjoyed this harlequin romance, and felt so grateful for the escape it provided me with. It is hard to find authors whose books in these category romances that I can enjoy without feeling like something is missing as is the case with most Harlequin titles of today. This titles makes me hopeful and pushes me into thinking that I should sample more authors like Dani Collins, if what she brings to her stories is replicated in some form or the other across the vast expanse of the Harlequin romance titles.

I loved Poppy, no questions asked. She is so refreshing as a heroine because she lacks the artifice that is usually part and parcel of many heroines who are featured in romances like these, especially of this particular trope where the heroine has a secret baby. Poppy’s uniqueness lies in her ability to let her feelings be known. She communicates with her significant other, even when it leaves her vulnerable, emotional and otherwise.

We as readers, have sort of come to accept that the lack of communication between the main protagonists is the reason behind the heavy angst in romances. Perhaps rightfully so as well. While love is one of the most potent of emotions that a human being can experience, it is also one that renders us immensely vulnerable. Our pride often does not let us follow our hearts for fear of it being trampled upon. But Dani Collins has done the unthinkable and created angst where I would have originally thought would render a romance to be a tad boring.

Rico was wonderful too. I enjoyed immersing myself in his sensually charged self, and delving deep into his character which sheds so much light on why he tends to shy away from the deeper emotions. Bound by duty, having always lived his life by strict rules, Poppy had been the one time he had thrown caution to the wind and indulged. The fact that he has a hard time getting a read on his own emotions, knowing what they mean; that struggle was very real for Rico and I enjoyed watching him get to that point where he felt comfortable in the acceptance of his feelings for Poppy.

All in all, this was a delightful read in so many ways because Rafe and Poppy gets under your skin and into your heart before you know it. Thank you so much dear Dani, for giving me a new author to be hopeful about when it comes to short, emotionally and sensually charged reads that leaves you with a happy glow, inside and out.

Recommended, for fans of Harlequin romances and those looking for a short read that packs an emotional punch.

Final Verdict: The Maid’s Spanish Secret has all the right ingredients which makes for a superb read. Dani Collins certainly knows how to deliver sensuality, romance, and the emotions that makes you fall hard!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you?” He refused to give her what she wanted until she answered.
Her skin grew too tight for the anticipation that swelled within her. Beneath the layers of her thick jacket, her breasts grew heavy. Her thighs ceased to feel the cold through the denim of her jeans.
“Yes,” she admitting on a throb of longing.
He made a noise of satisfaction and stepped so his feet were outside her own. His hot mouth sealed across her lips.
A sob of delight broke in her throat as his hard lips raked across hers, making real all the erotic fantasies she’d replayed in the long nights since leaving Spain. Her arms went up around his neck and he swept her closer still. So close she could hardly breathe.

She tried to open his shirt, but, like the first time, had none of his skill. His buttons were small and tight. Impossible. He brought his hand up and brushed hers away then swept his hand in a sharp yank that tore off buttons and ripped holes.
She gasped. “You didn’t have to do that!”
“I did,” he assured her, catching her hand and bringing it to his hot chest. “I’ve waited a long time for your touch.”

His legs were pinning hers, though, keeping her beneath him in a sensual vice where she couldn’t escape the pleasure he was bestowing on her. She finally clasped the sides of his head and dragged his mouth up to hers again. She pushed her tongue between his lips, flagrant and uninhibited.
Take me, she begged with her kiss.

“Poppy.” His voice reverberated from somewhere in his chest, ringing inside hers. “Open your eyes.”
She didn’t want him to read how anguished she was. How her soul was right there, seeking his as her body yearned for the impalement of his flesh. It was too much.
“Let me see you.”
She opened her eyes and time slowed.
“Take me into you,” he commanded, biting at her chin, using his powerful thighs to spread hers apart.

Did you ever touch yourself and imagine it was me?” He dropped one hand and drew his fingertip through her swollen folds, looking down again as he languidly caressed her. “Did you want to feel my hand here?”
She was immediately disoriented, glad for the hard wall at her back as she rose into his touch and draped her arm across his shoulders, seeking balance.
“Tell me,” he commanded between kisses. “Tell me or I’ll stop.”
“Yes,” she gasped.

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

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Review: Medicine Man by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookmedicineman.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Hero: Simon Blackwood
Heroine: Willow Audrey Taylor
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 27, 2018
Started On: July 07, 2019
Finished On: July 22, 2019

Medicine Man by Saffron A. Kent is by no means, an ordinary tale. It is unique in the way it is told, the way the story unfolds, and the way that the characters demand nothing less, but all that you have to give. It is classic Saffron Kent, as I have come to find, having gone through her entire back-list of books available. Can you hear my soul weeping because there are no more books I can get my hands on when it comes to her?

Medicine Man begins with 18 year old Willow Audrey Taylor, institutionalized at the Heartstone Psychiatric Hospital for four weeks, where she meets Dr. Simon Blackwood, the son of the founder of the hospital. From the moment Willow meets the 33 year old Simon, who should rightfully be a man out of bounds for a patient at the facility, not to mention the 15 year age gap, there is no denying the way she yearns and wishes to make him take notice of her existence.

Simon might act like he does not care, but as the story delves deeper into the lives of Simon and Willow, the picture that emerges is one that is as heady as it is angst-ridden. The taboo factor alone is enough to drive up the reader’s emotions, and the artful way in which Saffron brings in the heat is enough to take the reader from zero to hundred in just the blink of an eye. The connection that is between Simon and Willow is almost a physically palpable one, and it is hard not to be affected by everything, and I mean, every single thing that happens between the two.

Simon is the proverbial definition of a fixer and a lonely one at that. Perhaps that is one of the residual effects of being one. No one else notices just how much you too are in need of reciprocation of the TLC you give out in abundance. Simon carries a lot of pent of up emotions within him, anger too if you ask me, mostly owing to his childhood and the trauma of having watched his mother struggle with mental illness all her life. Simon has no intention of being roped into the same situation, which is where he would end up if he were to give into his feelings for Willow. However, life has a way of throwing one for a loop, and that is exactly what happens when Simon, against all his misgivings, against all reason and rhyme, takes that plunge into the unknown.

Willow’s story is just as tragic, having being diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of fourteen. Willow had always known that there was something different about her, something a little bit off. Trying to hide all of that, putting all of her effort into being “normal”, or acting as such takes its toll. And for someone like Willow, the toll it can take is hundred times worse in comparison to someone who does not suffer from a mental illness. That is exactly what happens when all of her pretending culminates in her being sent to the psychiatric facility, where she is counting the days until it is time for her to walk away – which she intends to do, until Simon walks into her life.

For a reader like myself, authors like Saffron are rare gems in the world of romance. I say this because the romance genre is increasingly filled with books that are intended to be “politically correct” in every single aspect. Good old fashioned romance and angst seems to have taken a long hike, and is often seen as a mirage on a hot and dusty desert.

Finding an author like Saffron therefore, someone who is not afraid of taking the story where it leads her to is refreshing. To read about the men she writes, far from perfect, and oft times abrasive and ruthless is a novelty. Getting to the end is a heartbreaking journey, yet when they do get there, it serves to be the reason why romance readers by large stick to reading nothing but romances – the happily ever after that brims with hope and all the good things in life.

Saffron takes on mental illnesses as a pivotal theme in most of her books. That is with reason too I believe. It is not easy to read about these issues, because for one, I think more than half of the world battles with mental illness in one form or the other. Diagnosed or otherwise, for most, some days are good, others bad, and the rest are those where you feel hopelessness of battling the disease weigh you down in such a huge way that there seems to be no way out. I am one of the few lucky ones I believe, because I have managed to stay off medication after two bouts of coming down with depression, and lifestyle changes have definitely helped. But there are days when I feel the darkness roll in and every day is a day I battle with my anxiety in one form or the other.

To read about something so intrinsically a part of my life since seven years and counting, I identified with many aspects explored in the book. The struggles,  difficulties, and the triumphs. I know what it is like to celebrate those little victories people outside of the illness cannot fathom. Globally, we seem to be moving towards a point where mental illness is more or less accepted by a larger segment of the population than ever before. When I first struggled with mine, I did not have many people to turn to. And that I believe is one of the biggest obstacles to fighting the effects of the disease; having very few who understands, who empathizes, and who can be there for you through it all.

Medicine Man is a beautiful novel in those aspects and more. Perhaps, some might find the whole premise off putting. But we do find love in the most unexpected of places. It is not unheard of for one to fall in love with their therapist. Unprofessional as it may seem, there are many instances where we are drawn towards what is “forbidden” and “taboo”, and Medicine Man, like many of Saffron’s works, explores what is inherently believed to be those areas of life where we should steer clear from. But fall in love both Simon and Willow does, and therein lies the beauty of the world. Just as you can find cruelty in the most unexpected of places, so can beauty struggle to emerge, and that is what Medicine Man is all about.

Recommended to those who love taboo tropes, a hero who can make you weak in the knees, and a heroine who has just enough spunk to see through to a happily ever after that makes you want more and sigh with satisfaction, both at the same time.

Final Verdict: In Medicine Man, Saffron weaves a tale of a love that should never have seen light of day, with mastery and vivid beauty that is solely her trademark. A love so beautiful, fragile, and strong all at the same time.

Favorite Quotes

“Willow.”
He flattens my cheeks with his hands, asserting all his stupid authority over me. Too bad it only makes me hornier and I have to clench my thighs against the shivers running through my lower body.
“What?” I somehow manage to squeak.
“Shut the fuck up.”
I gasp; how dare he?
But it gets swallowed up by his mouth.
I freeze. It’s happening.
He’s kissing me.

Simon…” I whimper when he lets me come up for air.
“Don’t talk,” he orders and resumes kissing me.
Jesus.
His authority will kill me. I’m so fucking wet right now. I moan with how swollen I am. I’m almost tempted to let go of him and rub my pussy. Shamelessly masturbate as he cures me.

“I play with myself, then. I touch my clit and put my finger inside me. But j-just one finger.”
I feel him grazing the column of my throat with his nose as he grinds his erection into my core.
“Yeah? Why just one?” he growls.
His question coats me in embarrassment and I shut my eyes, biting my lip and shaking my head. Simon doesn’t let me escape though. His hand in my hair moves to my chin and he forces me to look at him.
“Why?” he asks, again.
Swallowing, I tell him, a flush covering every inch of my body. “B-because I don’t want to stretch it out. I want to keep it tight and small for you.”

“God. Simon… this is…” I moan as I begin to move as well, my wet, sticky hands coming off his dick and gripping the side of his shirt.
We both rock against each other, my cunt stretched around his cock so tightly. I whimper, my eyes clenching shut. I wish I could keep them open and see it. I wish I could watch as he thrusts his hips in a rhythm, pumping, the head of his dick hitting my clit.
My pussy is clenching, fluttering with every slide. It’s juicing up, probably preparing itself for that massive shaft that keeps working it. My pussy is hungry. I’m hungry.

I want to scream. I want to shout. But my detonation has to be silent because we can’t get caught.
In the midst of my world getting flipped, Simon lets go of my tender, swollen flesh, and comes up to his feet.
I don’t have time to catch my breath or stop shaking when I’m heaved up again, my spine sliding up on the wall, and Simon’s breathing over my mouth, smelling like the rain.
Smelling like me.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers thickly, and then I feel like someone has stabbed me with a knife, and I stop breathing.
I think I’ve died.
And I’m not happy about it. Not at all.

“Then why were you with them in the first place?”
He growls when I circle my palms over his chest. God, he’s sweaty and hot and his muscles bunch up under my touch. It’s like I control them. His heart is booming, and I can feel it. It’s like I control it too.
“Biology,” he clips as I trace my fingers up and down, trying to memorize him.
I sink my hands in his dark chest hair. “This isn’t biology?”
“This is fucking madness.”
This time I definitely feel the shakes roaring through his body. His restraint is turning me on.
Fuck pain. Fuck everything. I want him to move.

“Does my princess like it?” he rasps in my ear, his hand grabbing the back of my neck in a possessive hold while his lips place soft kisses in my hair.
I buck again at the word princess. If he decides to make a habit of calling me that, I might never come down from this high. I might always be falling. Flying.
I look at him with foggy eyes. “Yes.”
“Yeah. I can feel it. I can feel your pussy loving it. She’s fucking strangling me.”

Hours later, when I go to his office and see the closed blinds and hear the two clicks of the door closing and locking, I don’t feel the same satisfaction as I felt days ago.
“Simon, listen—”
“Don’t say no,” he rasps.
There’s so much anguish packed in those three words that my tears start falling. Like I’m the rain and he’s the cloud that makes me flow.
Does he really think I’ll ever say no to him? If he does, then he really doesn’t know the things I feel for him. The things I’ll do for him. The depths I’ll go to and fall in, for him.
Simon Blackwood doesn’t know anything, then.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookguiltypleasures
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hero: Anthony Courtland
Heroine: Daphne Wade
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 27, 2004
Started On: June 26, 2019
Finished On: July 06, 2019

Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Gurhke is testament enough as to why I adore her books. In the debut book to her Guilty series, Ms. Gurhke certainly does not disappoint readers with her take on a plain Jane heroine with a hero who is a self-assured duke, oblivious to the upheavals that is forthcoming, all to reach that sweet and soul satisfying destination called the happily ever after.

24 year old Daphne Wade has been in the employment of Anthony Courtland, Duke of Tremore for five months and counting. The 29 year old Duke had been Daphne’s saviour even had he not realized it at that point in time when he had taken her under his employment. Left bereft in the wake of the death of her father, Daphne had nowhere to go but turn up on the Duke’s doorstep, hoping against hope that Anthony would not mind hiring her services as an artifact restorer instead of her father.

Daphne’s secret vice since then, has become observing Anthony in every setting she could find him, engrossed in the work that is more than just a hobby for the Duke. Little does Anthony know that the timid and unassuming woman under his employment as he sees her, has fallen for him, and fallen hard.

Things change abruptly on the night that Daphne overhears how Anthony views her as a woman, something that hurts her significantly enough to make her give a month’s notice to quit and leave. Anthony has absolutely no idea as to why Daphne does something that is so out of character for her. However, Anthony is determined that he would persuade Daphne to stay with him and see it through to the end of the one year project, just as much as Daphne is determined to leave when the time is up.

So begins a clash of wills and a time during which Anthony begins to discover a woman who makes his head spin with desire and his heart do the unwanted. Anthony is a man deeply scarred from his childhood, not in the usual fashion, but something that readers would have to discover for themselves to understand where he is coming from.

There is such heady desire in the sense of discovery that unfolds between Daphne and Anthony, and to see Daphne emerge from her shell through Anthony’s eyes was one of the best aspects of the story. When a hero realizes that he had been underestimating the heroine all the while, and finds that he is head over heels in lust at the very sight of her; there is nothing more enjoyable to a romance reader than that. I absolutely reveled in the feels of the story, of that whole journey of especially Anthony coming to terms with how he feels about Daphne.

There is a sweet ache in the agony of wanting someone and pushing them away at the same time. Because humans by design are programmed for self preservation, and we at times tend to do that at any cost, sometimes at the cost of losing our chance at happiness with someone who is deserving of us. Anthony’s tale is as such, he could have easily taken the easy way out, but then the heart wants what it wants, even if Anthony takes a while to accept that truth.

The ending to this story was such a beautiful one. I believe that was what did it for me in this novel. The beguiling courtship of Daphne by Anthony towards the end, and how everything just came together was devastating to the heart, all in a good way.

Definitely recommended for all romantics out there, especially the ones who root for the heroines who are usually overlooked; beauty even though it lies in the eye of the beholder, sometimes takes a while to get there.

Final Verdict: Laura Lee Guhrke is an author who knows how to deliver a romance that packs a punch; a hero who makes you swoon, a heroine that makes your heart ache, and a love that is all encompassing.

Favorite Quotes

“It is so hot in summer that the air shimmers over the horizon in waves, so hot it’s hard to breathe. The heat makes your skin feel stretched so tight over your bones that it hurts.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her wet cheeks with the tips of her fingers as if in remembrance of the hot desert sun. “And all you feel is your own sweat turning the dust on your face to caked mud. Your mouth is dry, and you keep licking your lips over and over, but it doesn’t help. They are so chapped and dry.”
Anthony lowered his gaze to her mouth, watching as she ran the tips of her fingers back and forth over her moist, parted lips. Though they may have been chapped in the desert, there was nothing but softness to them now. Lust hit him with such unexpected force that he could not move.

The skin of her cheek felt warm and satiny beneath his fingers. How? he wondered. How did a woman who had lived in deserts all her life have skin as soft and fine as this? He touched his fingers to her lips as she had done. How could her lips be so velvety as this?
She was looking at him, her eyes wide with shock, but in their depths, there was also something else, something that reflected what he was feeling. Yes, desire was in her eyes and in the rapid wisp of her breath against his fingers. It was in the way she stood so still, tense and poised like a deer about to flee. If he slid his hand down, he would feel her heart pounding as hard as his own.

His hand touched her cheek, he brought his mouth closer to hers, and she felt a queer, weightless sensation in her stomach as if she had just dived off a cliff. His lips pressed to hers.
Pleasure unfolded inside her like a butterfly opening its wings to fly. Never in her imagination had she experienced anything so piercing and sweet as this.

He tore his lips from hers and trailed kisses along her jaw as his hand shaped and caressed her breast. Her soft curves burned him wherever her body was pressed against his. Her hips moved, arching against his weight, and shudders of pleasure fissured through his body.
All he wanted was to pull her down onto this hard, dusty floor and feel her hips move like that beneath him, feel those long legs wrap around his body. He wanted her to say his name, over and over while he made love to her.

“I tried to stay away,” he said, pressing quick kisses to her lips, her cheek, her forehead, her chin. “Because if I came back to say good-bye, I would not be able to stop myself from doing this. Daphne, you have been like a shadow beside me for six long weeks, and everywhere I went, I could see you. I am not made of stone. I am just a man, and God help me, I cannot stop wanting you. Do not torture me anymore.” His tongue ran across the crease of her lips. “Kiss me back.”
Her lips parted beneath his, and she closed her eyes, groaning into his mouth. So long. He had been away so long, and she had forgotten how it felt to have his mouth on hers.

“Say my name,” he breathed against her skin. “Say it, Daphne. Say it.”
He touched her with his thumb, and that tiny movement unlocked something inside her, released all the repressions and restraints she had imposed on herself ever since she had first met him. With the force of a river breaking through a dam, pure, indescribable pleasure rushed through her, and she could no longer stop herself from giving him what he wanted. “Anthony,” she cried, “oh, please, oh, yes, yes.”

“Daphne,” he said, sliding his hands behind her shoulders, pulling her to a sitting position. She slid to the edge of the table, and the feel of her, moist and inviting against the tip of his penis drove away any thought but the need to possess her. With one hard thrust, he entered her.
She cried out, and he knew he had hurt her. He stilled, but she wrapped her arms around his neck and tightened her legs around his hips, pulling him deeper into her, and he lost any semblance of sanity.

Final Verdict: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBooks

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Review: The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Booktheunrequited
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher:  CreateSpace
Hero: Thomas Abram
Heroine: Layla Robinson
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: July 13, 2017
Started On: June 19, 2019
Finished On: June 24, 2019

“You know, Layla, falling in love isn’t bad or wrong or even hard. It’s actually really simple, even if there’s no reciprocation. It’s the falling out that’s hard, but no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. It’s what keeps the love going. Without it, love just dies out, and then it’s up to you. Do you bury it, or do you carry the dead body around? It’s a hard decision to make, but you have to do it.”

First of all, let me start by saying, dear Saffron, I am forever grateful to you for writing The Unrequited. You have literally swung up to the position reserved for the authors that I hold in the highest esteem. That is all!

I quite don’t remember how The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent landed in my hands. I believe it was through one of my countless search attempts for new books on Amazon, especially after the lackluster book that I had just finished reading. The Unrequited gave me everything I wanted and more, and as a romance reader for life, there is nothing that makes me happier.

Being my first book by the author, I waded into the book cautiously at first. I shouldn’t have even bothered, because I felt right at home from the very start. With the heroine Layla Robinson who hides in her heart unrequited love for a man that had gone unnoticed by everyone else for years, that hopelessness now accompanied with the guilt of being “responsible” for sending him away, Layla is not at all prepared to meet her newest professor in poetry, Thomas Abrams who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away.

Thomas is a man hardened under the emotional assault of a life that had gone awry. Married with a son to his name, Thomas is not the kind of man who should rightfully entice Layla. But then Layla is someone who is adapt at finding men who are emotionally unavailable, or so she tells herself as she unwittingly pursues the heady and wanton feelings of desire and want that sparks to life between them.

There is cheating involved in this novel, there is no escaping that. Saffron does not try to justify it either, but rather, she tells the story as is, leaving the reader to make whatever judgements that they may. Because in real life, our emotions, actions, hesitancy, and  inner fears all bring us to the inevitable conclusion that things are not as black and white as we may like them to be. Or deem them to be. The people who always sit on their high horses and judge the rest for being human, are those whose desires and passions have never been tested, or lead a life that is more hedonistic than most, who hate themselves for it and takes it out on other people.

Thomas is an intense man, a poet, who has lost his muse in the wayward direction his life had taken. He struggles with his burgeoning desire for Layla, going above and beyond to push her away. However, Layla seems to be made of sterner stuff than most, and she comes back time and yet again, and revels in the “punishment” that he doles out for her “misbehavior”.

This was a novel that took my very soul on a journey it has not forgotten four months down the line when I sit down to write my review. Sometimes the hardest reviews you write are for the books that steals the very essence of you, taunts you, haunts you, and makes you revel in the emotional upheaval it gives you.

Thomas, my God, Thomas – he just assaulted all my senses and has not left since. He invaded my emotions and took over my whole being in all his arrogance, wiping out basically every other hero I have read and fallen in love with – hot damn! To see Thomas lose his ironclad control was one of the best parts of this story. At the risk of repeating myself, Thomas is a fascinating man. The way Saffron brings him to life; the rough and hard edges to him, the tender and vulnerable side to him, and the passionate poet within brings remarkable beauty to the story.

I loved how Saffron pushes the boundaries of what constitutes as acceptable romance stories. The aspect of cheating in this story may put a lot of readers off, but for me, this was as realistic as it gets. How Layla comes and basically smashes into Thomas’ life, how both of them are so caught up in this web of desire and want, how all of it is tied together with deeper feelings of tenderness and love, which both of them deny at first, and are forced to face towards the end. I loved how the story did not take readers on other tangents that would have reduced the whirlpool factor when it comes to Layla and Thomas. I dislike it intensely when authors create situations to prolong the inevitable, but what is the point?

There is obsession and desire, and then there is Thomas and his need for Layla and vice versa. While the story is mostly written in the perspective of Layla in the first person, Thomas’ view of how things are unfolding, his painful past and the present give insightful clues to readers along the journey. In Layla, Thomas finds the kind of woman who would give him her all, no questions asked. She matches him, word for word, kiss for kiss, and answers to the needs of his soul.

I love how effortlessly Saffron seems to bring out the best and the worst in her characters, how she so expertly wields the words she uses, often as if she is spinning poetry of her own. The interview on Huffington Post on this book perhaps explains that vibe, because according to her, the story does take its premise from a poetry class she attended.

The tightly wound sexual tension in this book is so darn good. The premise of this book alone lends a sharp agony that twists and turns inside of you, and ain’t that the best feeling? Even with the whole world stacked against the two, there is a part of you that remains hopeful that everything would work out somehow.

There is deep pain in the throes of unrequited love. It is a rather heavy burden for one to carry. But carry it, a lot of us do. Because often, we do not get to choose who we fall in love with. The only thing that we can control is how we act upon it.

The epilogue that was published separately from the story was so welcome after all the emotional wrangling that I went through to read this book – which I am sure all readers who have gone through this story would have appreciated. The endless quotes section of the review perhaps hints at how much I loved The Unrequited.

This is no light and easy read – if you are looking for one, this is definitely not the book you should be choosing. But if what you want is a book that would literally consume you in every single sense, this is the book you definitely should be reading.

Recommended for anyone who loves taboo tropes and boundaries pushed. This is for the readers who have at one point or another in life held unrequited love in their hearts for someone. This is that book!

Final Verdict: The Unrequited delivers perfection at every page you turn. It will dominate your every waking thought because Thomas is the man who is going to eviscerate your heart before you are done.

Favorite Quotes

I’ve got goosebumps under the sleeves of my sweater, followed by flashes of heat. I touch the spine of his book, going up and down the length with my finger. The smooth texture of it causes something heavy to swirl inside my chest. It causes me to bite my lip. As if he’s attuned to my actions, his gaze falls on me. We stay connected a beat before we both look away. For that one beat, I saw his eyes flare, and the blue was so prominent, it took my breath away.

“How did you like the class today, Miss Robinson?”
Busted. I wasn’t paying attention—he knows it, I know it, but still I keep up the charade. “Great, as usual.”
“Is that right?”
I nod, keeping my gaze on the desk.
“Remember what I said, Layla?” His powerful, rich voice creates a buzz inside my body. “Lying might land you in trouble.”
I lift up my eyes to look at him. The buzz escalates into a restless trembling and words slip out of my mouth in a thick whisper. “I’m not afraid of a little trouble.”

I palm his hand that cups my cheek. The dusting of hair over his knuckles grazes my skin. It teases my senses, liquefying them, heating them up. I want to suck on his fingers. I want to taste them after he touches me, taste his flesh after it comes in contact with mine.
I’m assaulted by images of him—his fingers—inside me. Inside my needy core. Petting it, soothing it, stroking it. I picture them curling, hooking inside my channel to coax out my juices and then feeding them to me.
The desire is so strong, so alive that I can’t stop myself from nuzzling in his hand. He grows even hazier, covered by a certain mist, sparkling.
Fuck it. I’m doing it. I’m tasting his skin. Just one lick, I promise myself. It won’t hurt anyone.
I turn my face and peek my tongue out. I make contact with the juncture where his fingers meet the palm. The touch is barely existent. It barely registers in this vast, vast universe, but his taste bursts in my mouth—the strongest, most provocative flavor of salt and chocolate.

Abruptly, he fists my curls and stops me. I look at him fearfully, ready to apologize—not for the kiss, but for being the kisser. His gaze reflects passion, stark, raving need, and I shiver, despite wearing layers and sweating with his heat. “Are you trying to kiss me, Layla?” he rasps, flexing his fingers on my makeshift ponytail. He couldn’t tell? Blush rises to the surface and I know I’m glowing like a neon sign. Swallowing, I nod. “Yes.” He inches closer to me, still not touching—as impossible as that is—but infinitely closer. “You want to kiss me, Miss Robinson, you do it right.”

I rotate my hips, searching for that magical friction against the ridged planes of his body. Then I feel it—his erection against my upper tummy. It’s huge. Hard. A heated rod. It’s alive, and when I move against it, I feel it throb. A tortured moan rips out of his chest.
Thomas tears his mouth away from me and even my soul mourns the loss. We stare at each other, gasping for breath. I’m still clung around him and his cock is still nestled between our aroused bodies. I adjust my thigh around his hip, and it throbs with the small movement.
“Don’t fucking move,” he tells me, emphasizing it with a tug on my hair.

“I can do whatever I want with you and you’ll let me. Isn’t that right, Layla?” He licks his lips as if savoring his own words. “I can tell you to jump and you’ll ask how high. I can tell you to strip and you’ll strip as if your clothes are on fire.”
“Yes,” I moan.
He rewards me by grinding his muscular thigh and my cunt pulses. My lust-addled brain commands me to move, to chase the friction, and I do it. I slide up and down his maddening leg, digging my nails into his scalp as the pleasure mounts.
I feel the angry and rhythmic jerk of his cock on my stomach and I love it. I love the fact that I’ve shed all my inhibitions and am reduced to this, a lust-drunk puppet. I love that it gives Thomas pleasure. He isn’t sad anymore, or vulnerable.
Yes, I love all that.

“You want me to make you a grown-up, Miss Robinson?” His eyes smolder, and I’m glad I’ve got my arms around him or I would’ve dropped to the floor in a puddle. Something is so…weirdly erotic in that sentence.
I don’t have time to analyze it because he begins moving his hips, giving me that sweet friction, and Jesus fucking Christ, it’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced. The pressure is making my wounded pussy bleed cum.

“Fuck.” His agonized whisper brings my attention to his bowed head. I loosen my fingers from where I’ve been strangling the beautiful strands of his hair. “Your pussy is so tight, tighter than I ever imagined it to be, and I’ve imagined a lot.”
My breath evaporates as he looks up. He is aroused, flushed and sweating, yet he appears godlike. How’s that possible when he’s the one on his knees? He’s a beautiful, sexy god who has my sticky juices painted on his mouth and chin. It glistens in the yellow light like liquid fire.
“I’m not proud of it. I don’t want to think about it, but you tempt me, Layla, so fucking much. You make me feel crazy.”

“You think I hate you?” A short laugh escapes him, resembling the bark of an animal. “I don’t hate you, Layla,” he grits out. It sounds exactly like he hates me.
“So you like me?” I squeak.
My naïve question seems to have angered him more. His face is red, the vein on his neck bulging out. It’s scary.
“God, you make me so fucking mad.” He shakes his head. “Do you think this is a joke? Huh? Do you think we’re in high school? Do you think I’m going to kiss you and make out with you and take you to the movies or something? Is that what you think, Layla?”
“N-No.”
“Then what do you think is going on here?”
“I don’t…I don’t know.”

“You don’t get it, do you? I’m not a nice man, Layla,” he warns.
“I don’t believe that.” I fist his shirt tightly. “You’re just lonely, like me. Lonely and brokenhearted.” I let go of his shirt and caress his heated, chiseled jaw and cheeks. “You can touch me, Thomas. I won’t regret it, I promise.”
He shudders under my touch, as if coming apart. This is the most vulnerable I’ve seen him. But then he steels himself, goes rigid. I’m afraid he’ll push me back and send me away, but he hauls my body flush with his.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” He breathes over my lips.
“When you regret this—and I know you will—just remember that you asked for it.”

He walks closer to me; putting his hand on my cheek, he tips my face up and makes me stare at his gaze. I see desire lurking there and my heart skips a beat.
He wants me. So fucking much.
As if to prove it, he leans down and resumes kissing me. This time it’s even hungrier and more urgent, if that’s possible. I lean into his clothed body, my skin brushing over the warm fabric. It makes me wet and horny and so powerless that I’m exposed and he’s not. It makes me feel like a slut. His slut. Horny and shameless.

I arch under him, making his cock throb between us, and he clenches his teeth. He grabs a chunk of my hair in his fists and stares down at me. There’s anger and satisfaction in his eyes. “You can’t stay still, can you? You can’t stop tempting me for one fucking second.”
“No, I can’t,” I admit. “I don’t know how.”
“You’re always hungry, Layla. Always starving.” He rocks into me, drags his weighty arousal against my stomach, and blows a breath into the nape of my neck. “Why’s that? Huh? Why are you such a cock-hungry girl?”
I moan at his dirty words. God, he’s such a poet, speaking filthy poetry to me.

“Do you like that?” he asks.
I swallow and moan, “Yes.”
“I’ve thought about you like this,” he says in the thinnest of whispers. “Under me, naked and desperate. You moan when I touch you like this but I tell you to be quiet. I tell you to keep it in because I want to hear something else.” He presses his thumb and I bob under the pressure. His erection jostles, reminding me that I’m stuffed full of him.
“Do you know what I want to hear, Layla?” The pressure on my clit increases and I can’t keep the moan inside.
“Thomas… Oh God.”
“Shh. Tell me, do you know?” When I shake my head, he clarifies, “The poem you wrote for me.”

My desire ups with every slide and I forget about the pain. I wrap my legs around his waist and bring him closer. Thomas speeds up his thrusts until he’s slamming into me, grunting like a man possessed.
“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God,” I chant as his hips smash into mine, as his balls slap against my ass. I am sobbing with every jab.
Thomas has gone speechless as he stares down at me, at my rebounding breasts. He is feeding off my moans, my pleasure, my restlessness like a demon. My desperation spurs him on as I meet him stroke for stroke.

Thomas drops his head on my shoulder, his thrusts erratic. It’s a mad race to his own climax, the jerky movements, the rotation of his hips—and then it all stops. Orgasming, he throws his head back, exposing his neck.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than this, than him. I’ve never heard anything more melodic than his animalistic grunts.

Thomas brings his hand over to my cheek and tries to wipe the salty water away, but I’m filled to the brim with emotions. God, I hurt so much right now. For Thomas. For myself.
“So you see,” he whispers over my lips, ghosting the wet, soft flesh over my plump, salty ones. “You can fall out of love if you’re in love with someone like me.”
As he hauls me even closer and fuses his lips with mine, I can only think of one thing. If I ever fell in love with Thomas Abrams, I’d never fall out of it.

“Caleb wouldn’t do that, would he?” He adjusts the waistband of the useless material so that it cuts into the soft flesh just above my knees. “He’d stop if you asked him to, but who am I, Layla? What’s my name?”
“Thomas,” I answer, quivering as he circles his hot hands along the back of my thighs. My frozen insides begin to melt under his touch. The cold has no meaning, no power over me.
“Yeah.” He rumbles, as if pleased. My breaths shake with the pleasure in his voice. “I won’t stop even if you beg me to. I’ll make you strip in the cold, put you on your knees on the ground and fuck you till I fill you up.”

“You’re so fucking wet.” He bites the juncture of my neck and shoulders, then soothes the sting with his tongue. “Ask to suck my cock.” Another whisper followed by another bite on the neck and a lick of his tongue. He is running his finger up and down my pussy before sliding under the fabric to play with my wet hole, but he never makes contact with my tight bud. He doesn’t give me relief.
“Come on, Layla. Beg me.” The need in his voice supersedes the need in me, and I’ll do anything for him. I’ll forget about my own pleasure and suck his cock, just so I can feel him pulsing on my tongue.

“This is what happens, Layla.” His speech is both slurred and cutting at the same time. “This is what happens when you do something I specifically told you not to. This is what happens when you strut in here in your short skirt and purple fucking coat and give me those big, violet eyes.”
He is panting, keeping up the punishing pace that feels anything but punishing. It feels…intimate, out of control, desperate, and I love it. Every inch of my body loves it. My thighs shake as he predicted they would. My breasts dangle heavy and full, and my tattoo burns bright on my stomach.
“You make me do this.” He rolls his hips, making my eyes water with the pressure. “You make me abuse your mouth.”

“Remember when I told you I’ll set you on fire and won’t even look back?” He strokes my sweaty hair and whispers in my ear, “That’s how I’ll do it, while fucking your ass. I’ll pour the gasoline, light the match, and watch you burn, Layla—and trust me, you’re going to love it. I’m going to ruin you for every other man out there and you’re going to love every second of it.”
God. God. I think I’m dead. I’m in heaven and hell. In another stratosphere. I’m everywhere. He has shattered me with his dark promises, broken me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be pieced back together. “Not today though.” He moves away, one hand on the nape of my neck, keeping me down.
“No. Today I’m going to show you something else. Today I’m going to show you how I burn.”

“Rub your clit. I want you to get yourself off.”
All thoughts evaporate at his commanding voice and I do as he says. I flick my clit and play with my puffy nipples.
“This is what I think about,” he bites. “It doesn’t even matter if you’re around. This. Bursting every door down so I can get to your pussy. All I can think about is fucking you, Layla. All the time. Every time. You’re in my fucking blood, and I’ll tear apart anyone who dares to fucking touch you.”
That’s when I come. My body strains, goes rigid as I come at his confession—a confession that seems to be torn out of his very soul.

I tip up my chin and open my legs, ready for him. Thomas clenches his jaw and in one stroke, jams his cock inside me. I nearly come off the desk, my nails skating along the hard wood. Gasping, I go back down and grab the edge to brace myself, because in the next second, I’m in danger of flying off and crashing to the ground.
His slams are punishing. Brutal. Borderline violent. My teeth chatter with every stroke. My breasts heave and rebound. His grip on my thighs is going to leave marks, I know it, but most of all, it’s the obvious pain of his hip bone hitting the desk that jars me. He is punishing himself as much as he’s punishing me.

He frames my face with his hands so I have nowhere to look but him. “Do you hear those sounds, Layla?” he whispers thickly. “That’s me talking to your pussy.” Then he changes angles, holds himself inside me, rotating his hips, bucking up and down, hitting me in just the right spot. In turn, I hear the sloppy gurgling of my core, a slightly different tone than the previous sounds, wetter and angrier.
“And that’s your pussy telling me she likes it, saying she loves to feel me inside her.” He stops grinding at that and starts ramming with a savage force that doesn’t let either of us breathe. Sweat drips from his forehead, plopping onto mine. “That’s all the talking we need to do. That’s all the fucking talking we ever need to do.”

“Why aren’t you in New York?”
“Because I have to tell you something.”
“Wh-What?”
“You’re beautiful, you know that?” he says, instead of answering my question. Somehow his voice shivers too, a rumbly sort of vibration that I feel in my tattoo. He lets go of the door frame and crowds me, forcing me to take a step back.
He brings his other hand to cup my cheek. His fingers tremble over my skin and I put my hand over them to give them stability. “Thomas, please, tell me what’s going on.”
His Adam’s apple jumps up and down. “No, that’s…that’s not right. You’re not beautiful. I think you’re the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen.” He licks his lips, his eyes flitting back and forth. “No, not a…not a thing. You’re more than that, Layla. You’re…the poem I can never write. Yeah, you’re the piece of poetry I can never hope to finish, no matter how hard I try.”

He keeps sliding his cock in, and I swear I hear the muscles stretching, peeling away from each other. Oh God. Tears form as I breathe through my nose, trembling with pain.
This was a bad idea. Bad. Bad. Bad.
“Shh…” Thomas caresses my spine with his other arm, trying to soothe my skittish body. “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. I’ll take care of you.”
“Is it…all in?” I whimper.
“No, baby, not yet.” He whooshes out a long breath. His strong thighs vibrate against the back of mine, telling the tale of his control and exertion.
That slip of his tongue, that casually thrown in endearment makes me open my eyes and look at him. Every hollow and crevice of his body stands taut and highlighted. He appears to be made of stone. My fire-breather. My stone god.

He falls over me as his cock pushes out hot cum. I sigh under his delicious weight and we lie in the puddle of our orgasms. His shuddering chest bumps with my back, his arm thrown over my shoulder. I smell his skin, nuzzle my face in the coarse hair of his forearm. His sighs scatter the hair on my neck.
For the first time in a long time, I feel sleepy on my bed. I don’t need the hard surface of the bathtub. My eyes are on the verge of falling shut when I hear him whisper, almost distractedly, “You bring them back…my words.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-Bookfixherup.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hot & Bothered, #1
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Travis Ford
Heroine: Georgette Castle
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 11, 2019
Started On: June 12, 2019
Finished On: June 19, 2019

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey is the first installment in her Hot and Hammered series. I had been on tenterhooks ever since I knew of its impending release towards the mid of this year. The cover and the blurb seemed to hint at a slight deviation from what Ms. Bailey normally writes – this sounded like chic lit, with of course a healthy dose of smexiness thrown into the mix. Because one cannot read a Tessa Bailey novel without encountering some panty-melting scenes that scorches through the pages of your book and/or e-reader.

Georgette Castle (Georgie) as she is known, is the youngest child of the family, having always felt undermined in many ways. The love of her life, Travis Ford, turns out to be none other than her brother’s best friend, and the town’s baseball phenomenon. Travis had gone onto live the high life that comes from being a hotshot baseball player, until he is forced into early retirement at 28 years, from an injury that no one had seen coming.

Giving up is basically what Travis does and no one seems to get through to the despondency that surrounds him and the way he tries to drown out everything that he wants to avoid, which includes facing his past, present, and future, all at the same time. Finally, it is Georgie who intervenes, basically forcing him to toughen up, let go, and move on.

In the process, the famous playboy that Travis had been up till the abrupt termination of his career, finds himself in one of the most complex situations of his life; falling in love with his best friend’s virgin sister. The slide into lust and then love is a journey that Travis had been unprepared for, even if that ship had sailed for Georgie a long time ago.

As with what happens in most first books in a series, this too was used to outline the rest of the characters that would probably end up getting stories of their own somewhere along the way. One of the characters, Rosie, who is already married to her high school sweetheart, is the type of couple that Tessa loves to write about; intense, living in a world of their own kind that she has already done a fair deal of already if you ask me.

I guess one of the biggest problems I had with the story were my heightened expectations being unmet. I thought the book would have a slow build-up (to drive us readers crazy of course), with a healthy dose of smut thrown into the mix. The smut of course did materialize; after all, this is a Tessa Bailey who is renowned for her flair in delivery of dirty talk and scenes that live up to that talk. But the minute Travis started going all “baby girl” on Goergie, I cringed – I guess I have never quite got the hang of enjoying that particular form of endearment, in bed or out of it, especially when it seems to come out of nowhere.

The rest of my problems with the story stemmed from the fact that the plot sounded so cliched – it felt like a novel that had bits and pieces from every other story I have read and enjoyed from the author. Like the grand grovelling scene that is thrown into every book; perhaps in a bid to up the angst factor. You don’t need a grand grovelling scene in every book – some books deserve them more than others. We readers would be happy with an epilogue with the right touch, if the story does not really deserve one.

The secondary character Rosie whom I mentioned earlier, reminded me of books like Too Beautiful to Break, the main protagonists of which basically made readers salivate with the need to read their story. I have a feeling I might skip the second installment in the series set to come out in January of next year, which turns out to be their story. Sometimes I feel like none of these books live up to my lofty expectations anymore, but I certainly wish they would!

I could not fully understand Georgie’s brother Stephen and his wife either. They just seemed strange and Stephen’s need to go above and beyond and play doormat to his wife was kind of unnerving if you ask me. I also felt like the issues Georgie had been having with her family were just resolved too easily. There just seemed to be more to it than what actually materialized.

The only thing I enjoyed? With the exception of Travis using an irksome form of endearment, the sex scenes were pretty good. But neither Travis nor Georgie inspired much emotion from me otherwise.

Recommended for fans of Tessa Bailey.

Final Verdict: Fix Her Up is a novel that needs a lot of fixing. The story fell short of my expectations, leaving me with a hollow feeling.

Favorite Quotes

“We wouldn’t actually be . . . you know.” She shifted. “Doing it. Obviously.”
Travis scoffed. “You’d be the first to want to date Travis Ford without the perks.”
Her eyelids fell to half-mast. “It didn’t sound like you were offering them.”
He moved into her personal space, his voice emerging harsh. “I’m not.”
“Fine,” she said, so low he almost didn’t hear. “I wouldn’t know how to take full advantage of them anyway.”
Virgin. Alarm bells went off, but he stayed right where he was, listening to their rapid breaths. Reminding himself she was his best friend’s little sister didn’t help when she was this near, close enough to touch. To taste. He could no more move away from the approach of Georgie’s lips than he could take on a thousand-man army. If he didn’t kiss her, someone else would claim that first kiss. No. No, he didn’t want that. Fuck. That.
Their mouths met.
Parted for two surprised beats.
And melded back together.

Travis broke the kiss, his harsh pants leaving condensation on her mouth. “Let’s slow down some, baby girl. We didn’t, uh . . . fuck.” He sunk his teeth into his bottom lip and eyed her mouth, shaking his head. “I think there’s supposed to be more buildup to what we just did.”
“You think?” Sweet Lord, his body heat was like being wrapped in warmed cashmere in front of a roaring fire. “You’re supposed to be the expert.”
He puffed a humorless laugh. “Not on kissing.”

When his flesh slapped down between her cheeks, Georgie’s mouth fell open, her hands twisting in the comforter. Hot air puffed from his mouth into the cradle of her neck, followed by a long groan as his hips began to roll. The movements started off as seeking, testing drives, but they didn’t stay that way for long. Soon enough, Travis’s hands sank into the bedclothes right alongside hers, his erection tunneling up and back through the split of her backside in rough grinds. Every drive of his hips was accompanied by a guttural sound that became Georgie’s reason for living on the spot. She opened her thighs wide as she could and offered herself up like a sacrifice.
And Travis accepted it. Unapologetically.

“Pool house or garage, Georgie?”
There was no question as to why Travis was seeking a private location, and it made her blood burn hotter. Although, since she was upside down, a lot of that hot blood raced to her head and made her dizzy. So be it. She’d just voiced her opinion at a family gathering and now Travis wanted to kiss her. If that wasn’t cause for a head rush, she didn’t know what was. “I, um—pool house, I guess?”
They crossed the threshold of the tiny changing hut a few seconds later. The door smacked shut behind them and they were enclosed in darkness. And move over, Mark and Reese, because she’d never been so poised to combust in her life.

“Fuck, Georgie,” he growled. “Open your thighs for more. You’re getting more.”
Georgie’s back arched, her right knee extended out from the couch, giving him extra room to bear down, to angle his hips, and they descended into what felt like madness. Georgie whined and lifted her hips to meet his drives, her inner walls beginning a slow, tight milking of his cock. Travis almost couldn’t even look at her, worried the unchained sexuality breaking free beneath him might ruin everything, might make him come before her. In the end, though, keeping his eyes off her, keeping his skin off her, proved impossible. He was coming. Soon. Now. It was happening.

Their mouths met and gorged, Georgie’s hands slapping down on his ass to yank him deeper, urge him faster, and he didn’t have to think, didn’t have any option but to dip his head. Drop his panting mouth over her bouncing tits. Suction his mouth around her right nipple with a groan as come blazed a path up his throbbing dick, filling Georgie up as he continued to pump like a fiend.
“Shit. Too soon. No, no . . . baby—”
Her body went still, before quaking violently underneath him in climax—thank God—her pussy squeezing so tight, he shouted his victory into the crook of her neck, yanking her legs up and fucking into the storm for everything he was worth.

“Up,” Travis shouted, jerking Georgie to her feet. He ripped the shirt over her head, desperate hands shoving the sports bra up to her neck. Their panting mouths met and molded as he fell onto the bench, ripping a condom from his sagging pocket and rolling it down his arousal. He grabbed Georgie’s bottom and urged her onto his lap, shooting forward to take one of her nipples into his mouth. “Fuck me. Ride me.” His right hand came down and delivered a mean slap to her backside. “Do it now.”

“I don’t know if I can . . .” She broke off in a whimper when Travis began kneading her bottom, coaxing her into a slick, erotic rhythm, her sex riding up and down his length. God, it felt so good, the give and take of soaked flesh, their shallow breaths mingling with the pelting rain, his chest hair abrading her nipples. But her mind wouldn’t turn off the way it did when Travis was on top. She wanted him to hold the reins. “I don’t think I can . . . like this.”
“The hell you can’t.” Travis sat up straight, yanking her hips closer. He took her face in his hands, breathing heavy against her mouth. “You might be on top, but I’m still in charge, aren’t I?” He kissed her long and hard while those words sunk in. “If I wanted to flip you onto your back on this bench and break you off, I wouldn’t ask permission.”

Georgie pressed her naked breasts to Travis’s heaving chest, letting her mouth linger a breath away from his. Lapping at him once. “I want to make you come so hard.”
“Motherfuck.” Travis’s grip returned to her backside, supporting it as he lunged to his feet—and he proceeded to bounce her like a puppet with no strings on his rigid arousal. Sweat slid down one side of his face, their lower bodies slapping together while the rain hammered home on top of the dugout. “You make me so fucking crazy. I can’t take it. My God.”

Without warning, her hips were jerked high onto Travis’s thighs, his erection huge where it prodded the split of her backside. “Look at what it did.” He yanked Georgie’s hips higher in his lap, swiping her earlobe with a flick of his tongue. “Look at what you did. You’re not the least bit sorry about it, either, are you? If you are, it’s not stopping you from pressing back on that dick you tortured. Rubbing on it like a hungry little cat.”
“Sorry,” Georgie breathed, ceasing the movements she hadn’t even been aware of. The apology was only halfway out of her mouth when Travis wrapped her hair in a skilled fist, easing her head back. All the way back until their eyes locked. “I didn’t say to stop.”

“You know why I haven’t put my dick inside you from behind yet?”
She let out a shaking breath against the leather, her heart hammering. “Why?”
Travis rammed himself home and Georgie’s scream filled the limousine. “Because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to control myself once I got you on hands and knees. With your ass smacking off my belly, I worried I’d cross that line into disrespectful—and some part of me still thought of you as my friend’s little sister.” He made a choked sound, falling on top of her, thrusting with a groan. “Not anymore. You’re all mine now. I’ll take you how I want.”

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Review: Outfox by Sandra Brown

Format: E-Bookoutfox
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Drex Easton
Heroine: Talia Shafer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 06, 2019
Started On: August 09, 2019
Finished On: August 13, 2019

Outfox by Sandra Brown tells the story of Drex Easton, an FBI agent who is determined to find a killer who has eluded the authorities for years. Drex’s hunt is a personal one, which makes him relentless, willing to bend the rules if they fit the purpose, all to hunt down a serial predator who has bested the system for far too long.

Drex’s hunt finally brings him to a man known as Jasper Ford, married to a Talia Shafer, which in itself is a deviation from the norm. But from the moment Drex meets Jasper, his hunting instincts go full throttle, being finally able to put a face to the man who had killed eight women or perhaps more, if the stealth under which this particular killer operates is anything to judge his kills by.

Drex’s encounter with Jasper is further complicated by the fact that his newly wedded wife, Talia Shafer, gets under his skin from the onset. So much so that his partners and loyal friends caution him against doing something that could derail an already delicately balanced operation. Things reach a climactic point when Jasper once again disappears, driving Drex to take measures into his own hands.

From the beginning, Outfox is a novel that throws the reader off course by a huge margin. One can guess as much as they want to, but apart from a few circumstances, I for one ended up being completely wrong on my hunches (when I am usually right), which made this a stellar read in my opinion.

In short, I loved Outfox and what it delivered. While I will continue to bemoan the fact that Ms. Brown only releases one novel per year now, the fact that what she does release into the market is always stupendous goes a long way towards easing those particular woes.

How Ms. Brown still manages to take my breathe away with every hero and heroine that she brings to life in her books is a factor that continues to confound me, even when I should know better. Her heroes are intriguing to a point where they are sexy without even trying.

There is vibe that her heroes give without even putting much effort into it. Ms. Brown does not have to go on describing each perfectly crafted muscle on the hero’s body to get the reader to sit up and take notice. He just has to walk into the scene and you are a goner. No matter how many books I have continued to read from Ms. Brown, I am still a sucker for her heroes and I would not have it any other way. In true Sandra Brown style, Drex threw every preconceived notion I had of him out of the window, even as the pages dwindled to reach the very last couple of paragraphs in the story.

When it comes to heroines, Ms. Brown creates women of class, seemingly out of thin air. It is in the way they carry themselves, with dignity and beauty to their character which is not just skin deep. There are many factors which makes a heroine stand out, and Ms. Brown does a perfect job of bringing together just the right ingredients to make Drex and Talia inevitable.

The suspense factor was really done well in the story. Outfox is an apt title for the story because somehow, you never quite figure out what is going to happen next. That takes mastery over storytelling that Ms. Brown has damn near perfected over years of publication. And I for one hope that she never stops crafting these gems. Jasper is a villain who was ingenious in the way he works the system, cunning in a way that makes the heart beat just a tad faster. It was not only Talia who felt uneasy during the scenes where Jasper is featured prominently. He is the sort of character who makes your skin crawl, without even trying.

Outfox is a novel recommended for those who love superbly crafted and tightly plotted thrillers. With just the right amount of romance in the mix to appease readers like myself, Ms. Brown seems to have outdone herself, yet again!

Final Verdict: Just when you think you have got everything figured out, Ms. Brown throws you for a loop until the reader is left running around in circles chasing their own tail. Ms. Brown only gets better with time and Outfox is a testament to just that.

Favorite Quotes

“Talia.” He bent his head lower and nuzzled her just below her ear. “This isn’t only doing my job.” He caught the lobe of her ear between his teeth.
She stirred and whimpered his name. He followed the soft expulsion of breath to its source, her parted lips, and covered them with his. Her mouth was hot and wet and receptive when he pressed his tongue inside.
Unlike when he’d kissed her before, this time she didn’t turn her head aside and angle away. Instead she leaned into the kiss, not just with her mouth but with her body.

When he didn’t think he could withstand any more, one hand didn’t slide off at the tip. It stayed. Fingers dripping lather made teasing rotations around the crest, over it, again, as though testing its tautness, and then something wicked was done to the slit.
Through clenched teeth, he strangled out, “When.”

He turned around and hauled her against him. He tried to pause and register all the incredible sensations that holding her wet and naked against him induced, but his brain was functioning on a more primitive tier.
He gathered up a handful of her hair and pulled her head back, tilting her face up to his. He looked into her eyes, then covered her mouth with his. It was a ravenous kiss. He couldn’t get enough of her, and she was as hungry.

He levered himself up and above her—and was shocked to see tears sliding down her temples into her hair. She reached for him, grabbing at him until their mouths were melded and he had pushed into her.
But he went only far enough to secure himself just inside. There he waited, wanting to commit to memory this moment of feeling her around him for the first time. Then he continued pressing into her until he was solidly imbedded.
She hugged him to her tightly, and it was fantastic, but he had to move or he was going to die. He buried his face in her hair. “If I get too rough, slow me, stop me. I want…I want…Oh, God…”
The mating instinct took over. In spite of his best intentions, his strokes became faster and stronger. A slight shift in his position enabled him to reach deeper, and he did. God, did he.

She opened her thighs and guided him in. He hissed swear words as she slowly sank down onto him and began rocking. He grunted with pleasure. “And I thought the first time was good.” He angled himself up in order to reach her breasts. His mouth was hot and avid, and left her nipples wet with loving.
When he lay back, he gripped her hips between his hands and coaxed her, coached her, cajoled her in the raunchiest language. Several minutes later, on short puffs of breath, he said, “Have at it. That’s what I said. But, sweetheart…God a’mighty.”

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