Review: The Shadows by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheshadows.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Trez, iAm
Heroine: Selena, Maichen
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 31, 2015
Started On: February 17, 2018
Finished On: February 27, 2018

If you must know, I couldn’t stop the reading frenzy that hit me from a certain point onwards after I picked up the Black Dagger Brotherhood series from where I left off. So following the culmination of Wrath’s story, The King, I moved onto the 13th book, The Shadows, telling the tale of the brothers iAm and Trez, who live amongst the Brothers.

Shadows are a tribe of vampires who live in seclusion, mostly keeping to themselves. Known as the s’Hisbe, they are ruled and governed by a different set of laws, their state of affairs overseen by their Queen. With a social strata that defines everyone’s place in life in the community, the s’Hisbe views acts of intimacy as sacred, outlawing even acts of self pleasure. Firmly rooted in the knowledge of astrology, s’Hisbe believes that their lives are dictated by the alignment of the stars defining their fates and futures.

As firstborn to his parents, Trez “belongs” to the Queen of s’Hisbe, as the fated mate of her daughter. Trez’s parents had sold him off for a better place in the social circles, and had never looked back. Trez had fought his way out of the imprisoned life he had been subjected to, which had been hard won, and he has no intention of going back. However, the clock continues to tick, signalling the arrival of the day of reckoning, the brief reprieve of time that s’Hisbe’s executioner s’Ex had given him having come to an end.

Trez’s way of dealing with the fate of his life that looms closer than ever is to sleep with any and every woman that comes his way. Though iAm his younger brother, his voice of reason cautions him against it, tries to intervene many a time, Trez does not believe that there would ever come a time when he would willingly give up whoring around. Then comes into his life Selena the Chosen, whose mere presence startles into life something deep inside of him, that yearns to belong and for Selena to belong to him. But alas, Selena’s time on Earth is limited, which means that for both Selena and Trez, time is essentially running out in more ways than one.

What follows is a heart wrenching story of a love that races against time, the ending when it came, one that I hoped would be otherwise. But realistically speaking, I think Ward provided a magnificent story when it came to Trez, iAm, Serena, and Trez’s betrothed, whom we encounter when iAm turns up on s’Hibe’s territory intending to what he always does. Help his brother Trez. In the process, iAm, the brother who had never wanted a woman before in his life, finds the one woman who makes him forget every possible rule by which he has lived his life up till now, as if the stars were in perfect alignment and agreement that the woman in his arms belonged solely to him.

Trez and Selena’s story was heartbreaking. There are no words that would describe the immense pain behind the loss, and the final act of saying goodbye is one that was etched into my mind days after I was done reading. The scene was that powerful. Though I was not that enamored with the Selena and Trez pairing when it initially happened, I came to love them both, perhaps owing to the fact that Ward allows readers to see different sides of their characters in this story.

Even then, to be honest, I was more taken with iAm and the story of how the woman he meets at the s’Hisbe territory changes his life drastically. I found the fact that his lifeling abstinence meant that it was all the more sexier, and more meaningful when iAm decided to give himself to someone, a study of contrasts once again when it came to Trez and himself.

The truth when it came out was not so much of a shock, and I believe most readers would have figured out the same. Nevertheless, the end of an era, ushered in with the final act that required s’Ex was one that was stunning and breathtaking at the same time. If iAm had not been in the picture, I would have wanted for s’Ex to be the “hero” of the story, but alas, that is a story for another time. Which I hope comes soon. A girl can always hope!

The story of Layla the Chosen, pregnant with Qhuinn and her children, and her association with Xcor, my second favorite hero from the series also continues and reaches a turning point, the point which perhaps signals that their story is up next.

Recommended! Ward certainly never disappoints when it comes to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Final Verdict: Delving deep into the psyche of one of the most fascinating and elusive tribes in the Vampire world, Ward takes readers on a journey they would never forget, no matter who triumphs or loses out in the end.

Favorite Quotes

“Selena, I’m serious.” He fumbled to stop her before she got to stroking. “I want to honor you—”
“You’re wasting time.”
With that she got on her knees and took over. As she was a tall female, her mouth was at the perfect height, and God save them both, she put it to use, extending her pink tongue to lick at the head of him. The velvet rasp left him shaking all over, and before he went the way of the robes and hit the fucking floor, he leaned forward and braced both hands on the nearest thing he could reach.
The bureau. Or it could have been the hood of a car. Santa’s sleigh. A refrigerator.
Warm and wet, she drew him in, the suction and all the slick wiping out the world, bringing him instantly to the brink.

Freedom.
As Selena sat on her knees in front of Trez, with his taste in her mouth and his scent all over her skin, she reveled in the sense of sexual freedom that had overtaken her. The liberation seemed entirely at odds with the death sentence that she lived under, and yet her lack of time was what spared her any awkwardness or self-conscious worry. She was flying above the constraints that had long pinned her to the ground, her training as an ehros letting her soar on the currents of sex that ran, thick as tangible ropes, between their bodies.

“I’m going to fuck you now,” he gritted out in her ear.
“Oh, God, please—”
Selena shouted loudly as he jabbed into her, stretching the inside of her nearly to the breaking point. The pain was the perfect bite—and then he started to pump. There was no slow-and-steady windup; hard, pistoning power made her see stars until she lost the strength to hold her upper body off the bed. Collapsing face-first into sheets that smelled of him, she struggled for breath and loved the suffocation as each thrust shoved her face-first into the pillows.

He was hard and hot, velvety and thick, and she slid a grip around his shaft, pumping him. The more she stroked, the crazier the kiss got, until his pelvis was jerking up against her, and his chest was thrashing, and she was breathing as hard as he was.
When he orgasmed, he barked out her name and shoved the handkerchief onto himself—and she was so turned on, so giddy with the feel of his mouth on hers and the pump, pump, pump of her palm against his sex, that she felt a welling between her own thighs, an answer to what she was doing—which was so much less than what they both really wanted.

Her own release was a surprise, but she welcomed it, absorbing the sharp grabs of pleasure, making them stronger by squeezing her thighs together and rocking. Meanwhile, she continued her stroking rhythm, squeezing at his head, working his length.
“We very carefully get rid of this.” Grasping the hem, he pulled the black wisp up over her waist … over her breasts. “Fuuuuuuuuuck.”
As he tossed the silk to the floor, he just stared at what he had revealed. “Oh, that’s what I want.”

With his palms stroking up and down her thighs, he dropped his head to one of her nipples, sucking her in, nursing at her, his dark head contrasting with her paler skin. Letting her head fall back, she gave him the access he wanted, spreading her knees even further.
The sound he made was all male animal, and the hold he sank into her hips was rough as he jerked her forward.
“Gimme,” he demanded. There was a quick zip! as he released himself, and then that growl was back. “All night. Thought about this all night.”

“Do you want my panties off?” she asked between heaving breaths.
“No, I’m going to fuck you with them on.”
And he did. He grabbed her perfect ass and hopped her off the ground and around his waist. Reaching in from behind, he stroked at her, feeling how ready she was, how hot she was, how desperate she was.
He wanted to spend all night there. Instead, he shoved the silk aside, and—

“Oh, God, Selena,” he hissed.
Slick and hot, tight and vital, the penetration rocked him and kept him standing at the same time. As he began to move, he held on to her ass and rocked her back and forth. Her hair was in his face; her scent was in his nose; she was an overwhelming tide that made him want to drown.
Faster. Harder.

iAm felt like he was suspended in time as maichen’s face was revealed inch by inch. Her lips were full and deep red, her skin smooth and slightly darker than his, her cheeks wide and high—
He stopped being able to form a thought as her eyes were uncovered.
Deeply set and with heavy lashes, they were a brilliant peridot green. But then again, she was in high emotion and that was a sign of it, something that the stares of Shadows did.
Maybe his were that way, too.

And then there was her hair. Tightly waved, it flowed from the crown of her head and covered her shoulders and beyond. It was so long that he couldn’t see where it ended.
She was, quite simply, the most extraordinary thing he had ever seen.

iAm went for her, lunging forward, grabbing onto the nape of her neck, bending her backward, holding her in his arms and putting his mouth to her flesh. He had never taken from a female this way, and he didn’t immediately strike. He was overcome by the scent of her, by the soft skin under his lips as he extended his tongue and licked up her vein.
He intended to nuzzle at her further, but as her hands took hold of his shoulders and she arched into him, he couldn’t wait any longer. He hissed and penetrated her skin.
At the bite, she cried out, but instead of pushing him away, she pulled him even closer.
Her blood was a blast in his mouth, tasting of dark wine and promising an intoxication that started to take hold the instant he swallowed.

When he swept his hand over her sex, she moaned and pulled harder on what he was providing her—and he wanted her to drain him dry. But not the other way around. Forcing himself to release her vein, he licked the puncture wounds closed and then found himself drawing his lips downward, crossing over the graceful wing of her collarbone. Heading for her breasts, he gripped the top of her robing with his fangs and ripped it apart, the fabric giving way until—

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” he gasped.
Bared to her lover’s eyes, maichen had expected to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Only her female bathers had ever seen what iAm was looking at.
Instead?
She kicked the robing free from her hands and brought her palms up to cup her breasts. “Yours,” she heard herself say. Then she moved down and touched her exposed sex. “Yours.”
His upper lip curled back and he let out a growl that was both reverent and a little evil.

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Review: The King by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheking.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Wrath, son of Wrath
Heroine: Beth Rendall
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 01, 2014
Started On: February 05, 2018
Finished On: February 17, 2018

We have come a long way since the beginning of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The King is the 12th novel in this magnificent series of books that JR Ward has written, and it brings us back to where we started, with the characters having taken on the roles that were required of them. We get to take a closer look at Wrath, the King of the Vampire race, who assumed his responsibilities in the debut book of the series, Dark Lover. Wrath is the last pure blooded vampire on the planet, and even though he chafes at the duties of being the King to the race, it is a “prison” from which there is no respite for him.

Wrath’s frustration and dissatisfaction at being “hogtied” to the throne is one that runs deep. Just how deep, realizes Beth, his shellan i.e. mate for life, only after Wrath lets loose when his formidable temper gets the best of him. Known and revered as the Blind King, and for good reason, Wrath has been constantly battling to keep a throne he had never meant to ascend in the first place. But the same genetics that had demanded he be King, had also rendered him unfit to fight in the field alongside with his Brothers. Furthermore, there is no way that the Brothers would let their King back in the field, no matter how much he might want to.

Wrath’s personal life isn’t going exactly in the blissfully wedded direction either. With his mind solidly made up on not fathering any children, the clash with his shellan is not the kind that one can just brush under the carpet, especially with Beth’s needing seemingly on the way. To add to the pressure, The Band of Bastards from the Old Country is out to get Wrath one way or the other, even if they had lost in their initital attempts to assassinate him.

Everything comes to a head at junctures where one just has to plow through the worst to get to the other side. There is always so much going on in a JR Ward book that it is near impossible to just focus on one aspect of the book thinking it would give a holistic view of the book. The storylines concerning other characters that were prominent in Lover at Last continue even in The King, most of them coming to a turning point where things were looking rather gloomy for everyone concerned.

By the time the story was done, except for one aspect of a continuing storyline that has been running for a long time in the books, the one concerning John’s true identity, everything else seems to have worked out. Wrath managed to thwart yet another attempt at dethroning him, and used the opportunity to make that one move which shocked the vampire aristocrats to boot.

I loved how Wrath transformed in this novel, finally, and at last, embracing his role as the King of the race wholeheartedly. There is no running from fate and destiny, especially leaving a role such as that of a King, particularly at a time when the race was in near tatters, clearly at a point where leadership was needed the most.

I also loved how insightful the story of Wrath’s parents proved to be. Unlike what Wrath thought of his father’s reign to be like, the traitors were around him just the same, just as insidious in their bid to dethrone him and take over the reins in their hunger for power. Another character trait Wrath seems to have inherited from his father? That take-charge attitude of his, in bed and out of it.

There was one rather unusual character that piqued my interest in this story; s’Ex, the executioner of the s’Hisbe sect of the vampires. He is a character I want a story for. Pretty please, JR Ward?

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Wrath!

Final Verdict: With The King, JR Ward brings readers full circle with the characters we fell in love with at the very beginning. Wrath’s story the second time around was just as indomitable as the vampire himself.

Favorite Quotes

The kiss that came at her was brutal and she wanted it that way, Wrath’s tongue thrusting into her as he shoved her backward through the open doorway of their secret hideaway.
Slam!
Best sound in the world. Well, okay, second-best—number one being what her man made when he came inside of her. At the mere thought of it, her core opened even further.

“Oh, fuck,” he said into her mouth as one of his hands slipped in between her thighs. “I want this—yeah . . . are you wet for me, leelan.”
Not a question. Because he knew the answer, didn’t he.
“I can smell you,” he groaned against her ear as he ran his fangs up her throat.

“The most beautiful thing in the world—except for your taste.”

“I’m sorry,” he bit out as he grabbed her behind the neck and mounted her.
As she opened her thighs wide for him, she knew exactly why he was apologizing. “Don’t be—Jesus!”
The blazing possession was exactly what she wanted—and so was the rough ride he gave her, his heavy weight crushing her, her bare ass squeaking against the floor as he pounded into her, her legs straining to link around so he could go even deeper. It was total domination, his great body pistoning in an erotic pump that got ever faster and more intense.
But as good as it was, she knew how to take things to the next level. “Aren’t you thirsty yet?” she drawled.
Total. Molecular. Stoppage.
Like he’d been hit with an ice ray. Or maybe a truck.
As he lifted his head, his eyes lit up so brightly, she knew if she looked on the floor next to her, she’d see her own shadow.

Get off of her, he ordered his body. Get the fuck off of—
The undulation beneath him took a moment to register. And then he realized it was her. She was . . . moving against him, and not as in she wanted to get free. Her eyes, once alarmed, were now glazing over, her lips parting as she arched into him.
She wanted him. Fucking hell, her scent was flaring into his nose, her blood running fast and hot as his own.

“Selena,” he groaned. “I’m sorry. . . .” “For what,” she said roughly.
“This.”
He struck her throat, fangs sinking deep, blood rushing onto his tongue, down his throat. And as he nursed at her, his body pumped against the wadded duvet, desperately trying to find her core through the layers of sheeting, his cock throbbing, the friction making everything worse.

“Fucking hell,” he gritted as his eyes traveled from the crown of her head to her tight nipples . . . past the flat plane of her belly, to her sex and her legs.
His dark hand was a contrast to the paleness of her skin as he drew a lazy stroke from her collarbone to one of her breasts. Capturing the weight in his palm, she groaned and undulated, her knees bending up . . . and falling open.
His towel dropped away from his body, exposing his hairless beauty and his formidable sex.

“Take me,” she ordered him. “Teach me.”

Beth yelled out his name as he entered her, her nails tearing into his shoulders, her breasts shoving up against his chest. He came immediately, his balls tightening up and then releasing—and he wasn’t prepared for the response from her. As she orgasmed along with him, her sex milked him, pulling at his length, all but yanking at him—
He came again. So violently, he bit into his own tongue.
Pumping against her, pumping into her, he went hard and wild—until his body took a short pause to recover. And that was when he felt the difference he’d made in her: She, too, was at a brief rest, the tension in her body uncoiling as if her very molecules were taking a deep breath.

Instead, he braced his upper weight on one hand and gripped his glistening cock with the other. Stroking himself, he groaned as if he were getting ready to come again.
The second orgasm shot out of him and he directed it all over her sex—and he didn’t stop there. After he’d covered her core, he moved up, shifting himself so that he came on her stomach, her rib cage, her breasts, her neck, her face. He seemed to have an endless supply of releases, and as the hot jets hit her oversensitized skin, she found herself orgasming along with him, sweeping her hands up and down her body, feeling the hot mess he was coating her with, cupping her own breasts.

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

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Review: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloveratlast
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Blaylock / Qhuinn
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 26, 2016
Started On: January 24, 2018
Finished On: February 05, 2018

Lover at Last, the 11th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is the much awaited story of Qhuinn, son of Lohstrong and Blaylock, son of Rocke. It is an apt title for the book, considering the fact that readers have been waiting for their story for a long time. But I understand the need for the time that Ward took when it came to these two characters. They needed it. Especially Qhuinn, who needed to come to terms with, and accept who he was before he could give himself over to the love of his life.

Qhuinn and Blaylock’s story has been a continuing thread throughout the series, though I cannot remember quite from which installment onwards. Qhuinn with his mismatched eyes had been the ban of his glymera (vampire aristocrat) family’s existence. Discarded and disowned, there is a wealth of pain and rejection in Qhuinn’s heart that needs to be worked through for him to feel whole. The only solace in his life had come in the form of Blaylock, his best friend, whose family had also welcomed him with open arms.

Those who have been faithfully following the series without skipping any books in between would know that Blaylock had accepted his love for Qhuinn a long time ago. Having never voiced that out, and with the continued efforts by Qhuinn to show Blaylock that they would never be together (by Qhuinn’s sexual conquests and rejection of Blaylock), Blaylock does the one thing any healthy individual should rightfully do under the circumstances; he cut his losses and moved on. That had been the turning point for Qhuinn in his attempt to clean up his act, reasons which he was quite not ready to give voice to.

Now with Layla the Chosen pregnant with his young, Qhuinn should be happy by all means. His need to belong to a family that would accept him, a family that he could call his own had been a pivotal reason behind Qhuinn agreeing to become a father. But, the way he yearns for Blaylock is a need that refuses to be denied; if anything his feelings surge to the surface with a ferocity and volatility that stuns him at times, making a fool of himself in the process.

Believing that he is actually helping Blaylock get back at his “lover”, Qhuinn offers his body to Blaylock, to use as he wishes to. This sets these two characters on a journey of sensual discovery of the kind that they had both never had before. Love of course, plays its role, an emotion neither of them confesses to the other. Even with Qhuinn working through his issues one at a time, it takes more than that to push through the final hurdle to get to the other side; the side of acceptance and loving wholeheartedly without reservations.

Lover at Last has multiple secondary stories running through it; they of course do not reach their ultimate conclusion. Ward is a superb storyteller because she has the ability to juggle these storylines well, most often without “encroaching” on the territory of the main story that is happening. It is in Lover at Last that she lays the foundation for the story of the Shadows, Trez and iAm from the s’Hisbe territory. She also brings to an enticing crossroads, the story of Xcor and Layla, Xcor being my second favorite hero in the series, coming a very close second to Zsadist.

It is also in Lover at Last that Ward shows readers tantalizing glimpses of the connection between Assail, an aristocrat vampire who is involved in the drug trade and how he comes across Sola, the human female who would finally bring him to his knees. Plus, there are many changes that are taking place in the world of the vampires itself, laws undergoing changes, the old ways being replaced by the new, with Wrath testing the boundaries of how far he can take reforms without upending the whole table.

Lover at Last was a splendid addition to the series, and I, who usually do not indulge in gay romances found myself totally enamored by how Ward brought the sex scenes between Blaylock and Qhuinn alive with such fervor. Hot enough to singe your fingers, Blaylock is a force to be reckoned with once that staid and laid back nature of his takes a backseat, something that delights and turns on Qhuinn to levels he never thought was possible for someone like him.

The ending was beautiful, Qhuinn finally finding the acceptance that had been missing from his life all along, finding his home exactly where it had always been, ready to welcome him with open arms, something he had refused to see, all because there was just too much wayward emotions he didn’t do well with.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Lover at Last is scrumptious; there are no two ways about it. Qhuinn and Blaylock sets the pages afire, bringing forth a ton of emotions and wrangles every bit of it from the reader that made this a stupendous read!

Favorite Quotes

Lifting his mouth, he pulled Blay down to his own, and when those velvet lips were in range, he kissed them with a desperation that was returned. All at once, the pent-up past was released in a fury, and as he tasted blood, he didn’t know whose fangs had scored what.
Who the fuck cared.
On a hard yank, he laid Blay down and then he rolled over on top of the other male, spreading those thighs and pushing himself between them until his hard cock came up against Blay’s….
They both groaned.

Qhuinn came hard, his balls going tight, his erection kicking between them, his come going everywhere.
Didn’t slow him down in the slightest.
With a quick jerk, he broke away from the mouth he could have spent the next hundred years working, and shoved himself down Blay’s chest. The muscles he came across were nothing like the human guys’ he’d fucked—this was a vampire, a fighter, a soldier who had trained heavily and worked his flesh into a condition that was not just useful, but downright deadly. And holy hell was that a turn-on—but more than that, though, this was Blay; it was finally, after all these years…
Blay.

Without warning, he was flipped over with a rough hand, his body handled like it didn’t weigh a damned thing. Then an arm shot under his pelvis and popped him up onto his knees. There was a brief lull, during which all he heard was heavy breathing behind him, the panting getting faster, and harder—
He heard Qhuinn orgasm and knew exactly what that was for.
Even though his whole body went weak with anticipation, he knew he had to get good and braced as a heavy hand landed on his shoulder and—
The penetration was a branding iron, brutal and hot, going right to the core of him. And he cursed on an explosive exhale—not because it hurt, although it did in the best possible sense. Not even because this was something he had wanted forever, although he had.
No, it was because he had the strangest sense he was being marked—and for some reason, that made him—

“Shit,” he said roughly. “The lamp—”
Qhuinn wasn’t interested in home furnishings, apparently. The male just yanked Blay’s head around and started kissing him, that pierced tongue penetrating his mouth, licking and sucking…like he couldn’t get enough.
Dizzy. He got downright dizzy from it all. In every fantasy he’d ever had, he’d always pictured Qhuinn as a ferocious lover, but this was…on another level.
So it was from a distance that he heard himself say in a guttural voice, “Bite me…again….”
A great growl from above threaded into his ears, and then another hiss ripped through the darkness as Qhuinn shifted positions, his massive weight torquing so that those sharp fangs could sink in deep on the side of the throat.

Blay’s head was going up and down over his hips, his fist holding the base of Qhuinn’s cock, his other hand working his balls. But then, like he’d been waiting for eye contact, the guy pulled up to the top, popped the head free, and licked his lips.
“Wouldn’t want you making a mess in this nice room,” Blay drawled.
And then he extended the tip of his tongue to flick Qhuinn’s PA, the pink flesh teasing at the gunmetal gray hoop and ball—
“Fuck, I’m coming right now,” Qhuinn barked, a tremendous release boiling up.
“I’m—”
He was powerless to stop things, any more than someone who’d jumped off a cliff could decide, like ten yards into the free fall, to pull back.
Except he didn’t want to put the brakes on.
And he didn’t.

“Did you like what you saw last night?” That clammed her up. And as the silence persisted, he smiled a little. “So you admit you were watching.”
“You goddamn knew I was,” she spat.
“So, answer the question. Did you like what you saw,” he said in a voice that was husky even to his own ears.
Oh, yes, he thought as he inhaled deeply. She did.
“Never mind,” he purred. “You don’t need to put it in words. I already know your answer—”
She slapped him so fast and so hard, his head actually kicked back on his spine.
His first instinct was to bare his fangs and bite her, to punish her, to tantalize himself—because there was no better spice to pleasure than a little pain. Or a lot of it.
He righted his head and lowered his lids. “That felt good. Do you want to do it again?”
As another bloom emanated from her, he laughed down deep in his chest, and thought, yes, indeed, this reaction from her had just ensured that that human man was going to keep living. Or at least die by the hands of another.
She wanted himself. And no other.

As he turned around, he found Blay stretched out and attending to himself, his hand stroking up and down between his legs. His fangs were still elongated from the feeding, and his eyes were glowing from under heavy lids, and holy fuck was he hot…
Qhuinn ditched his shitkickers. His leathers. His shirt.
Blay orgasmed before he even started for the bed, the male arching up and moaning as his head shot back on the thin pillow, and his hips jerked.
Like Qhuinn buck-ass naked was too much to handle.
Best. Compliment. Ever.

Qhuinn felt himself get positioned with rough hands—before he knew it, he was up on his knees, his face in the mattress, his breath hammering out of his mouth. It was all so foreign, letting someone else take charge—and he felt vulnerable, too, even through the wanting—
“Oh fuck!” he bellowed as the possession was struck, the sensations of pain and pleasure, stretching and accommodation, mixing into a cocktail that made him come so hard he saw stars.
And then Blay started moving.

Even as she sat alone in this car out in the middle of nowhere, his presence was tangible, her memories of him so strong, she could swear he was within reach. And the yearning…dearest Virgin Scribe, the yearning she felt was nothing she could share with any of those whom she loved.
It was such a cruel fate to have a reaction like this to one who was—
Layla jerked back in the seat, a shout breaching her lips and resonating through the interior of the car.
At first, she was unsure whether what had materialized in the beams was in fact real: Xcor appeared to be standing with his boots planted on the road ahead, his huge, leather-clad body seeming to absorb the twin beams of light as a black hole would. “No,” she barked. “No!”

“No,” she hissed, as he came ever closer.
His face was exactly as she had remembered: perfectly symmetrical, with high cheekbones, narrowed eyes, and a permanent frown between his straight brows. His upper lip was twisted up, such that he appeared to be snarling, and his body…his body moved like a great animal’s, his shoulders shifting with barely restrained power, his heavy thighs carrying him forward with the promise of brutal strength.
And yet…she was not afraid.

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Review: Salem’s Daughter by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-booksalemsdaughter.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Jean Pierre La Crosse
Heroine: Bristol Adams
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 03, 1981
Started On: January 13, 2018
Finished On: January 17, 2018

Salem’s Daughter by Maggie Osborne is one of the most complex stories that I have read from her. Not that the rest of her books aren’t complex and multi-layered, but this one stood out from the rest because Osborne delves into the Salem’s witch trials and brings that into her story with a twist that made for at times difficult reading, not because it was boring or didn’t fit into the story, but rather because it depicted humanity at our worst. That is never easy to read about, but I do believe that writing about these things, propagating this is a must in order to create the much needed awareness on identifying said behavior and taking action where needed.

Salem’s Daughter starts at a juncture which brings vividly to life the depravity behind religious zealots and how they can twist and turn everything to make everyone a sinner that needs repenting. Bristol Adams finds herself on the wrong side of the Puritans when for once she commits the “ultimate” sin of talking to a male, requiring a public whipping. Bristol beseeches her father, who has never done wrong by her before, to save her from the humiliation and the pain. But then her father is a proud man if ever there was one, and to heap rejection upon the humiliation, he decides to send her off to England to stay with an aunt for a couple of months.

Bristol does try to use her female wiles on her affianced to marry her then and there, but then he is not a man to be persuaded beyond what he wants to give Bristol, a life where they could both live comfortably. So sets Bristol on the journey that would carry her to England with bitter anger in her heart, on a ship where the lecherous intents of ship’s crew is all far too real. The only man standing between her and them is the formidable captain of the ship, Jean Pierre La Crosse, with whom she has a run in before the ship sets sail. What she saw then didn’t appeal to her much, although she does not realize that the feelings that he stirs to life in her does not happen with just anyone.

The voyage itself proves to be a harrowingly eventful one, and it is in the aftermath that Bristol and La Crosse finally give into the heady and stormy passion between them. La Crosse makes no promises about what he is or where they are going relationship wise, but Bristol has no inkling of the misery and heartache that is headed her way when they part their ways.

However, fate has other plans in store for them and it is not long before Bristol comes face to face with her “competition” when it comes to La Crosse; his fiancée. It is heartbreak upon heartbreak for Bristol watching La Crosse marry someone who would eventually destroy him. But it is not long before Bristol is caught in the crossfire and the hardest days of her life come upon her. Taken captive by a pimp with a notoriety of letting his fists show his anger, Bristol ends up losing the most precious thing in her life.

Even though that cruel fate brings her to La Crosse once again, a message from home means she is to return, only to find her whole village caught up in vilifying and turning on each other, all because of hate preaching by those concerned. Bristol does try and give her most valiant effort to make a difference, but there is no working against a tide that is fervent and resilient, and in the end, Bristol nearly gives her life to the cause until things come to their eventual conclusion.

The summary outlined does not do justice to the story that Osborne tells in this book. For one, there is Bristol, who starts out as this pompous woman-child, who naively believes that her beauty and charms would make her life easy. That she would get everything she wanted. The fact that she is full of herself is revealed during the first couple of chapters, until she starts experiencing the harsh realities that life has to offer, starting from her journey to England.

Through the course of the story, Bristol transforms into this woman worthy of the love of a strong man, a man who would shelter her from the deepest and darkest of storms and carry her safely ashore. Even if that were not to be the case, Bristol turns out to be a woman who has the strength and fortitude of a thousand men of worth. At times, she has to be strong for both La Crosse and herself, but that never steered her away from what was important.

Some might find the concept of cheating involved in the book abhorrent, or turn them away from the real story that develops. It requires someone who is a bit open-minded to understand and empathize with the difficulties life throws both La Crosse and Bristol’s way. If I were to be caught up in a relationship as such, I myself do not know how much strength of perseverance I would have. So in Bristol, Osborne has once again created one of her formidable heroines; her heroines always stand out, and for good reason.

La Crosse is a hero who is caught between his duty and what his heart wants and desires. He does try, I would say he tries harder than the average male would, to stand true to the the course that he had set out on. But one only has to read between the lines and sometimes just read the lines to understand the kind of hellish existence La Crosse’s life becomes in the end.

When all was said and done, only issue I had was with how La Crosse and Bristol spent so much time apart before the eventual ending of the story. Perhaps this was felt mostly owing to the lack of an epilogue to make readers happy. La Crosse and Bristol’s happily ever after was hard won. Readers deserved to see them happy and together, having sweated and cried through all the turbulent times their relationship brought.

Recommended for those who love romances that deliver your less than usual stories.

Final Verdict: Salem’s Daughter is an intense read, one that you might never completely recover from. Osborne weaves her magic and spins a tale that takes you through the kind of emotional wrangling that leaves its mark forever. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

La Crosse halted, standing over the bed, his naked body catching fingers of moonlight. He sucked in his breath and stared. “Mon Dieu!” His voice emerged in a hoarse whisper. His hungry eyes devoured Bristol’s lush body bathed in moonlit tints of ivory shadow. “Mon Dieu! Even bloody and soiled you are a beautiful woman!”

A choked sob tore from Bristol’s throat, and her breath came in shallow, rapid gulps. “Don’t. Don’t,” she pleaded. But his dark head brushed her chin, moving. A skilled tongue caressed her breasts, tantalizing, coaxing, calling forth a responding heat from her trembling limbs. To Bristol’s horror, she felt her nipples harden, rising pink and ripe to his lips.
A frightening weakness flowed through every muscle in her suddenly flaming body. His naked chest brushed her stomach, moist and strong and burning where he touched. Beneath his stroking fingers, her breasts tingled, and a bewildering sense of urgency began in her thighs and swelled, sweeping her breath away.

Suddenly her arms were free, and they dropped to circle his neck. Her lips opened to his with the urgency he’d created; her frantic body strained against hard flesh with the plunging need he’d drawn from every trembling nerve. Blind yearning filled the very fiber of her aching body. Bristol’s sensual nature exploded into life, wakened by his skilled touch with all the intensity of a long-dormant instinct craving expression.

“Aye,” Bristol screamed, her mindless hips rising to match his rhythm. “Oh, aye,” she groaned. Her tangled hair fell back and her eyes closed, and tortured breath rushed past her parted lips.
Her fingers tightened on La Crosses rippling shoulders, and some buried part of her mind recognized that he paced himself, moving in deep rhythmic strokes, adjusting to her own instinctive cadence. And then faster and faster and harder and more urgent. Until an expanding universe spun behind Bristol’s lids, pouring color and sensation, rocking and glowing. And then her universe narrowed and cracked into a mind-sweeping explosion.

She lifted her eyes to the slumbering form in the bed, seeing a glow of moonlight on La Crosse’s shoulder. Because of him, she now recognized that moment with Caleb in the settler’s cabin had been a mockery. There was more—so much more—than Caleb could give. But she’d lain with Caleb in love. At least for a while she’d thought it was love.
The man in the rumpled moon-washed bed represented no tender feelings—only blind desire. And yet it was he who had awakened a deep sensuality, he who had shown her the woman she could be. Bristol’s face paled, and she battled a misting of tears.

“Do you really believe any of us are brave in our secret hearts? No, little girl, it is not so!” He stroked her hand lightly.
“A man who believes himself without fear, who boasts of bravery and courage—that is a foolish man. He courts unnecessary risk and endangers others as well as himself. The truly courageous is one who admits to fear, then overcomes it.”

They slowed and stopped, and Bristol’s breath caught in her throat. His arm tightened on her waist, and he drew her trembling body against his lean, hard chest. A weakness spread through her limbs, and his burning eyes seemed to fill the night sky. Then his hungry mouth crushed her head back in a bruising, searching kiss. His tongue forced past her lips, and his throbbing erection seared against her body, urgent, demanding. And a familiar fire raced through her flesh, tingling along the nerves, burning in the secret hidden places.

His eyes traced the curve of her lips. “I think of you always,” he said softly. He didn’t move to touch her, but Bristol felt his leg against hers, sending waves of electricity through her body.
“Please, we can’t… we must forget…” Disconcerted, she looked at the scar her fingers had tenderly mapped, the lips her own had clung to, “I…”
His voice was low and intense.
“I want you every waking minute. I think of you lying sweet in your bed, and I must fight not to smash your door and take you.” His eyes flickered with passion and his face was hard as granite, but his voice remained soft. “Take you and make you call my name.”

The door was open. It swung in, and she stood framed in the doorway, her eyes wide and helpless.
Jean Pierre lay against a mound of pillows, still dressed in shirt and breeches. One candle burned near his bed, and he held a wineglass in his hand. Smoky eyes met hers.
“I’ve been hoping,” he said softly. Putting down the glass, he opened his arms. “Come to me. Come to me, my love.”
Bristol felt faint; her legs refused to move. She held to the door for support, staring at him. Instantly Jean Pierre was at her side, sweeping her into powerful arms. His lips crushed hers in a savage kiss of need and passion denied too long.

“I love you Bristol,” he said in a low voice. “You are the one shining truth in my life, the island of sanity I cling to.” A short, bitter laugh escaped his lips. “I, who have never clung to any person, to any thing.” His hand caressed her hair, the silky strands rising under his fingers. “I cling to you. I think of you when all around is black; I see the softness in your eyes, and I know there is still beauty and meaning in the midst of the chaos.”

She smelled the freshness of his hair, buried her hands in the dark curls tied at his neck. She laid her cheek against the crisp hair covering his chest, so different from the rest. And his hands moved over her satiny body with joy and astonishment, with the wonder of love. Seeing her as if for the first time, as she saw him.
Then he moved over her, slowly, unhurried, and he brushed long hair from her cheek.
“I love you,” he said. Intensity quivered in his hard face, his eyes, his voice. “I love you, little one.”

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

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Review: Father Mine by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookfathermine.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #6.5
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Zsadist
Heroine: Bella Soang
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 07, 2008
Started On: January 03, 2018
Finished On: January 04, 2018

Father Mine, a novella set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a story that I somehow seem to have missed out on when I first started reading the series in a frenzy. Anyone who has read my reviews on the books in the series would know that Zsadist is by far, my most favorite hero, and it is with excellent reason.

In Father Mine, the focus is on the continued struggle Zsadist has in terms of his past. A past that is as horrific as they come, where he had been taken as a blood slave, kidnapped at a tender age, and all sorts of atrocities subjected to him by the female that had kept him captive.

Zsadist comes with a wealth of pain in his heart, a soul that had numbed down in order to protect himself, an anger that had been destructive in its force and zeal that had simmered down upon mating with Bella. Even that had not been the easy journey that most romance stories would have made out of it. No. Zsadist had to work for every inch of peace he carved for himself, and the pregnancy along the way had just been another curveball that life had thrown his way.

It is in Father Mine that Zsadist’s past once again rears its ugly head in the form of nightmares that are all too realistic for him. Even though Bella knows that Zsadist’s inability to connect with their precious daughter Nalla comes from elements of his past, she has no idea of the depth of the horror that still has the ability to lock him down and get the best of him.

I believe that Father Mine and its conclusion was a much needed one in terms of Zsadist and Bella’s relationship. JR Ward’s love for Zsadist’s character shines through whenever she writes about him. Not that she doesn’t give it her all when it comes to other characters. But there is something special about the way she takes care of Zsadist, which is perhaps one of the reasons why a large percentage of readers fall, and fall hard for Zsadist and remain Zsadist loyalists throughout the series.

Bella’s insecurities as a woman who has given birth, whose physical and mental health had been subjected to a whole lot of ordeal in the process is also taken into context. The way Zsadist erased every single one of her doubts was just the icing on the cake when it came to this novella.

Loved, loved, loved this novella. An excellent installment in terms of Bella and Zsadist’s story to give their story the ultimate conclusion. Because just like real life doesn’t serve you with a happily ever after on silver platter, this made their love, pain, and struggles all the more believable and their happily ever after that much more worth it.

Recommended for fans of Zsadist!

Final Verdict: Sheer perfection is Father Mine in every single sense. Nothing more, nothing less.

Favorite Quotes

He moved her hand up and down on his shaft. “I’m desperate to touch you again. All over.” She came closer to him, moving through the sheets. “You are?”
“How could I not be? You’re the most perfect female I’ve ever seen.”
“Even after—”
He shot forward and pressed his lips to hers. “Especially after.” He pulled back so she could read his eyes. “You are just as beautiful as the first time I saw you in the gym all those nights and days ago. You stopped my heart then—just froze it in my chest. And you stop it now.”

“Feel me,” he groaned, arching into her. “Feel me and know—Oh, God.”
She felt him, all right. Wrapped both her hands around him and stroked him up and down, riding his hard length.

“Is this good for you?” she whispered.
All he could do was nod and moan. With her gripping him like that, surrounding him with her palms, working him, his brain had pretty much shorted out.
“Bella . . .” He reached for her with his bandaged hands, then stopped. “Damn gauze—”
“I’ll take it off for you.” She pressed her lips to his. “And then you can put your hands wherever you like—”

“Fuck.”
He came. Right then and there. But instead of feeling let down, Bella just laughed in the deep, throaty way of a female who knows she’s about to get sex from her male.

“You sure you’re going to be okay with this?”
If it meant she could be with him as his shellan?

“Nalla will be fine. She’s just next door if she needs me, and she’s started to sleep through big hunks of the day so . . . yes, I feel all right about it.”
“You’re . . . sure?” Bella looked up at him.
“Yes. Absolutely sure—” Z threw down his shirt, dematerialized right at her, and took her down on the bed, all but tackling her. His bonding scent went crazy as his mouth ground into hers and his hard, heavy weight pushed her down into the mattress. His hands were rough with her nightgown, ripping it as he wrenched the two sides apart. As her breasts were bared, he growled deep and low.

“Shut up and get inside of me,” she barked, grabbing the back of his neck and pulling him down to her lips.
He roared and punched into her core, the penetration a bomb that went off in her body, sparks shooting through her, igniting her blood. She gripped his ass hard as his hips jackhammered until he followed where she was, coming in a massive, full-torso contraction.
The instant it passed he threw his head back, bared his fangs, and hissed like a great cat. Arching back into the pillow, she put her face to the side, giving him her throat so that he—
As Zsadist struck hard and deep, she orgasmed again, and while he drew on her vein the sex pounded on. He was even better than she’d remembered, his muscles and bones churning on top of her, his skin so smooth, his bonding scent blanketing her in that special dark spice.

When he moved down to her stomach she started to get hot and restless again, and he smiled up at her. “Have you missed my kisses, darling mate? The ones I like to give you between your thighs?”
“Yes,” she choked out while anticipation shivered through her. Given the erotic little grin on his face and the evil cast to his yellow stare, he was once again a male with plans and a wide-open schedule.
He rose up on his knees.
“Open your legs for me. I like to watch you—Oh . . . shit . . . yeah.” He rubbed at his mouth like he was warming the thing up. “That’s what I’m talking about.”

“Nalla?” he whispered as he bent down.
His daughter pursed her little lips and held on even stronger.
“I can’t believe that grip of hers.” He let his forefinger brush lightly on his daughter’s wrist. “Soft . . . oh, my God, she’s so soft—”
Nalla’s eyes flipped open. And as he looked into a stare the exact golden color of his own, his heart stopped.
“Hi . . .”
Nalla blinked and waved his finger and transformed him: Everything stopped as she moved not just his hand, but his heart.

“You’re like your mahmen,” he whispered. “You make the world go away for me. . . .”

She was on her way into the nursery when Z came through the door. She couldn’t help beaming at him.
“Your cast is off.”
“Mmm-hmmm . . . come here, female.” He walked over to her, wrapped his arms around her, and bent her backward so she had to grab onto his arms to stay upright. He kissed her long and slow, rubbing his lower body and his huge erection into the juncture of her thighs.
“I missed you,” he purred against her throat.
“You just had me only two hour—”
His tongue in her mouth silenced her, as did his hands, which ended up on her butt. He carried her over to one of the windowsills, propped her up on the molding, unzipped himself, and—
“Oh . . . God,” she groaned with a smile.

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

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Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofdesire.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #12
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Raphael de Chartres
Heroine: Iris Daniels
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 17, 2017
Started On: December 11, 2017
Finished On: December 16, 2017

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt is the much awaited final installment in the Maiden Lane series, books that have consistently managed to captivate, woo, and stupendously deliver on all fronts where the romance genre is concerned. Hoyt writes with a flair that is rarely found in the genre; with heart, wit, and a sensuality that takes your breathe away. Why I fell in love with her books is owing to all that and more, and though I was sad to be saying goodbye to the series, I knew in my heart that it was time.

Duke of Desire brings to readers the story of Iris Daniels, Lady Jordan whom we encounter in the previous book in the series, alongside with Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore. Raphael is a man on a mission to hunt down the members of the Lords of Chaos, a despicable secret society whose members consisted of aristocrats who enjoyed preying on the most vulnerable – on the rape and destruction of women and children.

When Iris finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the diabolical intentions of the members of the Lords of Chaos, it is Raphael who steps into rescue her, though it does not seem like that at first from where she is standing. However, as circumstances push them together, Raphael finds himself at odds with his lifelong mission that had set him on the course of pursuing the members of the group. In Iris, he finds a a flicker of light at the end of that long and dark tunnel that glows brighter every passing minute he spends in her company, enticing him to cast the demons that hounds him aside and be free to love her as he yearns to.

Iris having being married before, wants more from marriage the second time around. Being “forced” into “wedded bliss” with Raphael hardly seems like the road to achieving that particular dream she has for her future. But bit by bit, Iris comes to the realization that with Raphael, she just might find everything her heart yearns and desires for, if only she is willing to peel back the layers that makes the complex man that Raphael is, and help him confront his painful past.

For me, Duke of Desire was a story that didn’t quite reach its potential. I felt that there was so much more that Hoyt could have done with the storyline, but missed out on, which made the story a bit lackluster in certain areas.

Raphael however, was a gem of a hero who I wanted to hold close and even cry about at times. His past is one that proved to be graphically all too real at certain points (which was necessary in my opinion), and horrifyingly so close to the truth if you look at the depravity that is human nature all too often. To have suffered what Raphael did, at such a tender age, alongside with the conflicting array of emotions he has for his abuser (which was all too understandable), I found that Raphael’s character was one I fell for without a shred of doubt.

For me, it was Iris’s character that I found lacking. While I loved her for her gentle and giving nature, there was something missing in her, a characteristic that is strongly inherent in almost all of Hoyt’s heroines. I also found the ending of the Lords of Chaos to be a bit anticlimactic after the continued theme in a couple of books towards the end of the series. However, even with all the tidbits that did not work for me, I did enjoy the story and ended it with the hope that Hoyt would continue to write amazing stories that readers like us covet so much.

Final Verdict: Hoyt bids adios to her Maiden Lane series by bringing forth one of the most broken and yet formidable heroes in the series, the Duke of Dyemore. Loved him to bits and then some.

Favorite Quotes

She took his hand in hers and ran the cloth over the veins that roped the back. His fingers were long and strong, and they dwarfed hers, the nails square and pale. She carefully washed each one and then cupped his hand in hers to wash his palm. It was an intimate act. A … caring act. One a mother might perform for a child.
Or a woman might perform for her lover.
Iris caught her breath and straightened to rinse the cloth.
When she turned back her gaze caught his.
He was watching her, his crystal eyes half-lidded, his twisted lips parted.
She felt something inside her clench.

Iris cleared her throat and rubbed in small circles on his upper chest, moving downward, toward one of those nipples. They were just little bits of flesh, weren’t they? A deeper color, certainly, than the surrounding skin, and creped, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Her breath caught as she swept over his nipple with the cloth. Did he feel that? Did it feel any different from the rest of his skin? Did he feel as she did when cloth brushed over her bare nipples?
She dared to peek from under her lowered eyelashes.
His nostrils were flared, his eyes mere slits.

She stretched on tiptoe and pressed the sketchbook to his chest, holding it there with the flat of her palm. “Tell me the truth, Raphael. Now. Tonight. No more evasions and lies. What is it you feel for me? Is it affection—or merely indifference?”
He finally moved then, snatching the sketchbook from her hand and tossing it to a chair.
He wrapped one arm around her waist and fisted her hair with the other hand, bending over her until she had to grasp those broad shoulders or fall. “Believe me, Wife, the last thing I feel for you is indifference.”
Then his mouth was on hers, devouring her, his hot tongue demanding that she part her lips and let him into her depths.

His hips began to move, thrusting gently, shoving his cock in and out of her mouth.
She glanced up and saw his head tilted back, the tendons of his neck drawn taut, and suddenly his hand was in her hair, pulling, trying to make her move away.
But she didn’t want to. She had such power now and she was drunk on his taste and scent. She sucked strongly, moving her hands up and down that gorgeous shaft, feeling as he thrust his cock against her tongue.
He groaned as if he were in pain and his hips shuddered.
And she tasted hot, bitter liquid in her mouth.
Semen. His semen.

He guided her down so that she was pressed against him, his knee right in her softness, her lips spread on him.
Her eyes widened.
“Rock,” he said, watching her.
She grasped his thigh and slowly rubbed against him, her breasts trembling.
“Do you like it?” he asked, looking quite sinister.
“Yes.” She licked her lips. “Yes, I do.”
“You look like you like it,” he murmured low.

“Have you ever pleasured yourself?” he asked.
And she opened her eyes wide in shock. She never … To discuss aloud such things!
His eyes were knowing, as if he’d seen her, lying in her virginal bed long ago, fingering herself.
“Show me,” he growled. “Show me what you do.”
She swallowed and trailed her right hand down, burrowing her middle finger into where she was hot and wet.
Oh! She couldn’t catch her breath. Doing this in front of him as he eyed her dispassionately. As he ordered her to display herself for him. She was on the point, so close, so close, her finger working faster and faster as her scent rose in the air between them.
Her mouth opened wide and her hips stuttered against him, sweet heat flowing through her, infusing her limbs, making her light-headed.
He caught her and drew her against him, pressing kisses into her mouth as he murmured, “So beautiful. So beautiful.”

He licked, flicking her nipple with his tongue on one side and his fingers on the other, and at the same time he ground down on her, shoving her chemise into her pussy, rubbing against her clitoris, until the silk was sodden with her wetness. Until she could hear the soft, slick sounds he made, his body on hers, him pleasuring her, while he would not let her move.
He wasn’t gentle. But then perhaps he didn’t know how to be gentle, and the thought made something inside her weep, even as he drove her up that peak. Maybe this was all he knew: flesh and liquid heat.
Maybe that was all she would ever have from him.
She wasn’t certain it was enough.

She arched beneath him, her hips shoving up, trying to get more of that hand, more of that gaze. He lowered his head and covered her mouth, thrusting between her lips as he slid a finger into her softness.
She trembled beneath him, moaning as he kissed her so deeply she thought she might lose her senses.
He was rubbing his thumb over her clitoris now, fast and hard, and he broke the kiss to murmur in a voice dark as hellfire, “Wet my hand. Show me your desire. Show me all that you are. Let me look at your sweet cunt, swollen and rosy for me. I want to make you weep. I want all your pleasure, Iris, all your pain, everything you are. You are the light in my black night. Come for me.”

Oh God, she wanted him to fill her.
She pressed her palm to the side of his face.
He turned his head and kissed her palm … and at the same time thrust inside her.
She gasped at the sudden invasion. At feeling his cock inside her at long last. At the stretch and the fullness and the glory.
He thrust again and was fully seated, as far inside her as it was possible to be. Her legs were stretched open to accommodate his hips, and he was pressed deeply, intimately into her.
He pushed up on his arms and held himself there as he pulled his cock nearly all the way from her body and then drove back in again.
She opened her mouth, panting, holding his crystal-gray gaze. His hips were working now, driving into her at a hard pace, filling her again and again.
She’d never …
It had never been like this before.
So intense. So intimate. So devastating.

She moaned, long and low, wanting to arch, to thrash, to scream. Instead she opened her mouth and bit his shoulder, tasting salt.
Tasting want.
Then she gasped. “Please.”
“What do you want?” he whispered in her ear, an incubus, dark and alive and in her. “Tell me. What do you need?”
“I …” Her mouth opened, wordless.
“Tell me,” his smoky voice curled around her.
“You.”
He chuckled, dark and low.
“This?” He thrust short and hard into her, the impact sending jolts of pleasure through her body. “Yes, that,” he murmured to himself as if pleased, and did it again.
And again.

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

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Review: Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverreborn
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #10
Publisher: Penguin
Hero: Tohrment, son of Hharm
Heroine: No’One / Autumn
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 27, 2012
Started On: November 30, 2017
Finished On: December 11, 2017

Lover Reborn, the tenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series brings to readers the much awaited story of Tohrment. Tohrment is the vampire who was bonded & married when the series initially began, the vampire who lost it all when his pregnant wife was killed by none other than a lesser, the mortal enemies of the vampire race. To say that Tohrment feels the loss keenly would be an understatement, so much so that he flees the Brotherhood compound and disappears for a long while, until he is “forced” to return. How he returns and why would be giving away spoilers for fans of the series who are yet to read this installment.

Even though Tohrment returns to the fold of the living, his soul is tormented by thoughts of none other than Wellsie, his beloved shellan, with whom he wants to be, even if it means going unto the Fade himself. However, fate has other plans in store for him when Tohrment begins to take notice of No’One, mother of Xhexania (Xhex), John’s shellan. Tohrment’s past is one that is entwined with that of the painful one of No’One’s.

No’One carries a name that fits the life she has led since her abduction at the hands of a symphath, who had violated her in too many ways to count, rendering her as a persona non grata in the glymera society, furthermore leaving her with a child she had never asked for, nor wanted. Tohrment’s role in ensuring her wellbeing at that rough and tough point in her life is something No’One has never forgotten.

No’One tries hard to not draw attention to herself. Wearing loose clothing with a hood over her head, No’One keeps to herself, does a lot of physical labor which makes the doggen feel helpless to boot, but its a way of life No’One doesn’t seem to want to be willing to give up, until Lassiter seeks her help to bring Tohrment truly back to the land of the living.

At first, the newly forged association between Tohrment and No’One is an odd one. Tohrment doesn’t have any needs beyond ensuring that his dead shellan and unborn child crosses over to the Fade, and in order to do so, Tohrment has to do the hardest thing he has ever had to do – let them go. No’One assures herself and Tohrment with the fact that she has no interest in HIS kind – the male sex in its entirety, which is what allows both Tohrment and No’One to get close enough to each other for the bonds to forge, the attraction to simmer and spill forth like a river gushing ferociously after being denied its passage for so long.

Lover Reborn is a story that has plenty of angst going for it, not only through the story of Tohrment and No’One, but because John and Xhex face the first real test of the limits of their relationship. Being bonded to someone like Xhex is tough business, with both the male and female being similarly aggressive in a manner that leaves very little room for compromising. While I understood Xhex and where she was coming from, it hurt me more to see what John was going through. But, I believe that Ward handled that particular difficult period of their relationship with great sensitivity, and I couldn’t have asked for more in that regard.

Meanwhile, in Tohrment and No’One’s relationship, Tohrment is determined that he keep his distance, even when he is helplessly drawn to No’One in a way he never thought would be possible. But resist he does, until the very end, whereby the explosive nature of his need for No’One foinds its outlet in the most delicious way possible. But Tohrment is a vampire determined in many ways, and his determination to keep clinging onto the memory of his wife is one that starts driving a wedge between No’One and Tohrment, not because No’One complains about any of it, but because Tohrment is torn up about his conflicting and wayward emotions when it comes to both females.

I sometimes felt that No’One is left holding up the short end of the stick when it comes to Tohrment. But then again, with bonding of the kind that the vampires forge, I believe it is pretty difficult to react in any way but. For Tohrmnet, Wellsie had been THE one, and the woman he had thought he would spend the rest of his life with. His fear of losing her, which had in the end become a reality, had been too much for him to take, which is again understandable. No’One playing second fiddle to the preserved and pristine memory of a dead woman was her way of letting Tohrment come to terms with everything. Had No’One being any other way, I guess the relationship would have failed even before it began.

No’One has the kind of patience, empathy, and forgiveness that few can aspire to have. Perhaps it had been forged through the life of continued “penance” that she had lived, never asking for anything for herself, but going along the path of life without wanting much out of it.

One of the sweetest things about this story was the relationship that buds to life between Xhex and No’One, daughter and mother, who for the first time get that opportunity to be together. Xhex who hides her inner vulnerability with the hard shell of the sharply honed fighter that she is, never thought that there would come a day when she and her mother would have a relationship, much less one where she could actually feel loved and wanted. That for me, was one of the most riveting parts of this story.

The end was an angst ridden one for Tohrment and No’One, and I am glad that Ward did justice to both their characters and gave readers an ending worth all the “torment”.

Lover Reborn is also the novel in which Ward makes Xcor’s character a prominent one. I fell in love with him in this story, and it is a love that has only grown in leaps and bounds as the series progressed and ultimately reached his story. The Band of Bastards, whose leader is Xcor, commits the most unforgivable of crimes against the King, for which the punishment is to be death. If that doesn’t get the reader juices flowing to find out what happens next, what would?

Splendid storytelling as always. Forever glad that I decided to give this series a try because I have yet to be disappointed.

Final Verdict: Lover Reborn, just like every single Black Dagger Brotherhood book, is a feast on all your senses. JR Ward definitely knows what she’s doing.

Favorite Quotes

When she came a second time, she had to retract her mouth from his flesh and call out his name. And as he pulsed deep within her, she stopped moving and absorbed the sensation of the kicking and jerking, so familiar, and yet so fresh.
Jesus … what an expression he had … his eyes squeezed shut, his teeth bared, the muscles in his neck straining, all while a streak of delicious red left the puncture marks she had yet to lick closed.
When his lids finally opened, she stared hard at the blissed-out haze in those blue eyes of his. His love for her wasn’t just emotional; there was an undeniable physical component to it. That was the way bonded males worked.

He met her halfway, falling into a jog as soon as he saw her pick up the pace, and they slammed into each other.
Hard to know whose mouth found whose, or whose arms were cinched tighter, or who was the desperate one.
But then, in this they were equals.
Breaking the kiss, she groaned, “My cabin.”
The second after he nodded, she was out of there and so was he … and they re-formed outside her place.
No waiting to go inside.
He fucked her standing up, against her door, in the cold.

When John finally stopped and lifted his head, they were in the far corner, nearly into the living room. Oh, what a picture. Her mate’s face was flushed, his mouth glossy and puffy, his fangs so long he couldn’t close his jaw—and she was likewise wrung out, her breathing ragged, her sex throbbing with its own heartbeat.
He was still erect.
Too bad she barely had the energy to blink—because he deserved one heck of a payback.…
Except he seemed to know exactly what she was thinking. Rising up between her open legs, he gripped himself and began to stroke.
With a moan, she arched and rolled her hips. “Come all over me,” she said through gritted teeth.
John worked himself, his palm locked around his thick shaft, a clicking sound rising up as he pumped. His massive thighs split wide as he shoved his knees farther apart for balance, the muscles in his forearm standing out in harsh relief as he went harder and faster. And then he was barking something in a soundless way, his body going rigid as hot jets splashed all over her sex.
Just the thought of herself wet and messy was almost enough to make her come again. But the sight of him making it happen? Sent her right over the edge once more…

Dearest Virgin Scribe, he was enormous.
As No’One stood in the lee of the great warrior who had come upon her, she felt the heat coming off his massive body sure as if she were in front of a raging fire. And yet… she was not burned. And she was not afraid. She was warmed in someplace so deep, so buried within her, that she did not immediately recognize it as part of her internal makeup.
All she knew for sure was that he was going to take her vein within moments and she was going to let him—not because the angel had requested it of her, and not because she had vowed to, and not to make up for something in the past.
She… wanted him to.

“Ease yourself, warrior,” she told him.
“Oh, Jesus…”
“Now.”
As she commanded him, a thrall appeared to come over him: Below his waist, under the sheeting, one of his knees came up toward his body, his thighs splitting wide as his grip secured that vital place that defined him as uniquely male.
What happened next defied description. He worked himself against the balled sheeting, rolling his hips, pushing down, his body gathering momentum—
Oh, the sounds: from the rasp of his breath to his moans to the squeak from under the table.
This was the male animal in the throes of passion.
And there was no going back.
For either of them.

“Take from me,” he commanded, his jaw locking, his chin lifting, his throat becoming even more exposed.
As she brought her head down, she shook from head to foot, and she struck with no grace whatsoever—
This time, the moan came from her.
His taste was like nothing she could recall, a screaming roar in her mouth, over her tongue, down her throat. His blood was so much purer and stronger than that which she had had, and oh, the power of him. It was as if the potency of his warrior’s body poured into hers, transforming her into something so much more than she had ever been before.
“Take more,” he urged in a rough voice. “Take everything.…”

The first touch of her sex was nothing but a passover that had her crying out for more. The second was a slower shift. The third was a—
She shot her hand down and covered his, pushing him against her heat.
His moan was unexpected, suggesting that the feel of her might have made him orgasm himself—yes, she could tell by the way his body spasmed that he had found another release, his hips jerking beneath the blankets in a way that made her think of penetration.
Repeated, vigorous penetration.

And then his hands were upon her. Through the linen shift, his palms burned as they stroked her breasts and continued lower. Parting her thighs even farther for him, she pulled up the sheath and got what she wanted, his touch going to her core, massaging her, bringing her to that knife edge of release—but no farther.
“I want to kiss you,” he growled against her mouth. “But I can’t wait.”
She thought he was kissing her?
Before she could respond, he lifted his hips from her and worked with rough urgency at the front of his leathers.
And then something hot and blunt was bumping … nudging … slipping against her.
No’One arched up and called his name—and that was when he took her: As her voice echoed to the high ceiling, his body claimed hers, pushing inside, making its way, hard yet satin soft.

Abruptly, he slowed down and snagged the tie that secured the plait of her hair, ripping it off and freeing the lengths. Shaking the thick waves out of their confines, he drew them over her shoulder and his own, blanketing them both.
Something about that undoing led to his own undoing: Two pumps later and his body pitched off its ledge, the release taking over everything until he cursed on an explosive breath.
Careening through the pleasure, he squeezed her hard and put his face into all that blond, breathing in, smelling the delicate shampoo that she used. Shit, the scent of her cranked him even higher, until his orgasm abruptly became the rough-and-tumble kind, racking his body, throwing his balance out of whack, rendering him temporarily blind.

They landed in the warm water as one, soft, invisible arms gathering them into a temperate cushion, and insulating them from gravity’s heavyhanded pull, sparing them both any kind of hard landing.
As his head went under, he found her mouth and claimed it, kissing her under the surface as he planted his feet and pushed up so that they found the air. …
In the process, his cock found her core again.
She was right there with him, linking those legs of hers around his hips once more, echoing his rhythm, kissing him back. And it was good. It was … right.

As she strained against him, pumping herself faster and faster, her frustration made her wild.
She bit him.
In the shoulder.
Scored him. With her nails.
The combination should have had him stopping and demanding more civilized behavior. Instead, with his blood flowing onto her, he let out a roar so mighty there was a crash in the room, as if it had rattled something off the wall.
Then he orgasmed. And thank the sweet Virgin Scribe for his release. As he jabbed into her and his erection kicked violently, she finally caught that elusive ride herself, her body rocking with him, the headboard banging.

Coming out of the bath, he found her still on the bed. She had curled away toward the windows and was lying on her side with the sheets drawn around herself.
He saw her naked.
Utterly. Fucking. Naked.
The image made his body get instantly hard, his sex punching out from his hips. And as if she sensed his arousal, she moaned in an erotic purr and undulated. Reaching behind herself, she pulled back what covered her and moved her upper leg forward, exposing her glistening sex.
“Oh, hell,” he groaned.

“Jesus,” he groaned. “How’m I supposed to leave you?”
“Don’t,” she said.
No asking twice on that one. He took her from behind again, lifting her hips, gripping them, and tilting her pelvis so he could get in deep. He ended up with a forearm around her midsection and his weight balanced on his other hand, working her, pounding her until their bodies slapped together and the bed made that noise again. He came on a curse, his orgasm exploding out of him as if he hadn’t had sex in months.
And still he was hungry for her. Especially as she found her own release.

Xhex grabbed the doorknob, twisted hard enough to break the thing off, and shoved her way—
Holy. Shit.
John was by himself on his bed, lying on top of twisted sheets, his naked body gleaming in the light that bled in from the bathroom. One hand was between his legs, his big fist locked on his thick cock … the other was gripping the headboard for leverage as he worked himself, his teeth bared, the muscles in his shoulders and neck standing out in stark relief as he strained.
Shiiiiit. His lower abdomen was slick from other orgasms, and yet he seemed starved for release.
Fevered eyes met hers as his hand stilled. Go, he mouthed. Please …
She quickly stepped inside and shut the door. This was not something anyone else needed to see.
Please! he demanded.
Please, indeed, she thought to herself, her own body responding, her own blood starting to pump.

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