Review: The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthedrownedgirls.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Angie Pallorino, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddock
Heroine: Angie Pallorino
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2017
Started On: March 03, 2018
Finished On: April 21, 2018

Loreth Anne White’s voice in the romantic suspense genre is one that resonates with readers like myself who need that dark edge to their reads. This makes Loreth’s books heavy reads, and mind you, they can get quite heavy because they delve into the darkest and most forbidden aspects of humanity itself. But for all that and more, Loreth’s books are unbeatable, and I would never have it any other way.

If I am not mistaken, this is the very first series of books that Loreth has written, interconnected in terms of stories and characters with one another. Entitled “Angie Pallorino” after the lead female detective in the series, The Drowned Girls as the debut novel deals with crimes of the kind that would make a woman look twice over her shoulder in paranoia, lock their doors and double and triple check to see whether they are actually locked, and worry about the whereabouts of loved ones, especially if they deviate from the normal hours they keep.

Angie Pallorino works on sex crimes at the Victoria Metro Police Department. Angie comes with issues that are layered with issues, and she is one of the most complex female leads I have ever come across. Angie has a way of dealing with the darkness inside of her, the voices that won’t quit, that feeling that has always hounded her that the life she has been living wasn’t really hers. Did I mention that she was complex? Yes, Angie is the definition of the word itself.

Usher in Sergeant James Maddocks, the newest recruitment to the Department, who is actually hired for the job that that Angie herself has been eyeing for quite some time. Coupled with the fact that the guy Angie randomly hooks up with at her pickup bar the previous night, the man she had labeled as “Mr. Big Dick”, and made her react in a way that was totally unlike her when it comes to her anonymous hookups turns out to be the one and the same? Needless to say, the tension and sparks between the two were very much a part of the unfolding story.

When a Jane Doe is discovered by a tour guide, with signs of mutilation of her sex organs, with a cross carved into her forehead, the tingles running up and down Angie’s spine tells her that this was no ordinary criminal that had done the deed. That it in fact looked like the perpetrator that Angie and her now deceased partner had been after for serial rape cases that had landed on their case pile, a lead that had gone cold for two years, now surfacing once again, and in a way that does not bode well at all.

When a second dead body surfaces, also bearing similar marks on her body, thus begins the investigation to find the person behind the heinous crimes. With the newly elected mayor reportedly having promised to make the city “great again”, the department is under enormous pressure to deliver, and to deliver fast and without bumbling it up in the need to rush.

What unfolded was way more than I bargained for, even knowing that Loreth is capable of taking a story in a direction that readers usually wouldn’t see coming. There are multiple threads running through the story the entire time, and in hindsight I wondered if that could have been the reason as to why one of the most crucial aspects of the story didn’t get much time – i.e. the villain and how he came to be who he was.

The discovery of his premises, the fate of his father when he was young, and the theories that had been floating around about what had made the monster out of a child who had seemingly looked happy in his childhood pictures was one that I wanted to read about. I feel that when authors write about evil personas such as the villain, they do so after a ton of research, and its not easy to craft a character as such without investing a lot of time on them. The villain in his own right, in novels like this, becomes part of the main protagonists in the story that unfolds. But, given the direction that the story took, taking readers onto sex crimes on an international scale, I suppose the villain that brought so much horror to the minds of the readers was a little overlooked in the end.

But, that does not by any means indicate that the story was lacking. The furthest thing from that in fact. I was fascinated with the multitude of connections, the painstaking work involved in terms of investigations, the interviews, the tedious work of corroborating witness statements etc. that goes into crime solving – not just solving a crime but making the charges stick.

However, in the end, it was Angie’s actions that came to the forefront; her “rash” actions that had saved the lives of two very important people in her life, or two people who could become the most important in her life, that changed the ending.

Loreth has an ability to bring to life a scene in a way that makes you feel like you are walking right through it. Every single aspect of the scene from the chilly, foggy, and wet weather of the region in which the story takes place, to the creepy characters you encounter along the way; all that and more are more or less alive, in front of you, like a myriad of images that goes through your mind as you read along. That is one of the aspects to Loreth’s books that makes them so darn difficult to put down and makes you crave for more.

Detective James Maddocks aka Mr. Big Dick (I like the sound of that way too much), is the type of hero that makes you swoon, even without realizing it. There is a way about him that just soothes those jagged edges to you, makes you simmer down a little, sit up and take notice of a man whose tamped down sexuality makes it all the more prominent perhaps. James and his life story takes a backseat to the baggage that Angie brings to the table. Angie is the one whose past comes roaring to life, making her question every single thing that has been part of her life narrative as long as she could remember. Her volatile temperament certainly does not help, and if it were a man less patient than Maddocks, they would just walk away and wash their hands off of her.

But then there are the moments in which Angie shows that side of hers that is vulnerable, hurting, and in need of someone that understands where she comes from. This is in fact the place from which she takes on the offensive; in her mind, lashing and fighting out is way better than letting people know exactly where to prick and prod if they intend to hurt her. Plus, the crimes that she works on? They are the kind that would probably make you go home and drown your sorrows in alcohol or worse when it gets to be too much. Or in Angie’s case, her outlet comes in the form of random sexual encounters with strangers, the high she gets out of being in control of the setting, when in reality her life is spiraling out of control and there is nothing much she can do about it.

If this is your very first read from Loreth, worry not. She has a couple of standalone romantic suspense titles that are absolutely to die for. I for one, can’t wait to find out what Loreth has in store for Angie and Maddocks in the next couple of books.

Final Verdict: Involuted and engrossing, The Drowned Girls is an eye opening tale of human depravity at its most obscene perhaps, because it speaks to parts of your conscience that everyone tries to hide from. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

We all lie.
We all guard secrets—sometimes terrible ones—a side to us so dark, so shameful, that we quickly avert our own eyes from the shadow we might glimpse in the mirror.
Instead we lock our dark halves deep in the basement of our souls. And on the surface of our lives, we work industriously to shape the public story of our selves.

There is none righteous, no, not one. —Romans 3:10

Angie shut out the voice, opened her thighs wider, and sank deeper onto his dick. She rocked her hips faster, filling herself, making herself hurt. She was close, so close, and he could feel it. He bucked under her, wilder, wilder, thrusting his cock up into her. She tried to pull back, to deny him full pleasure, but suddenly she froze, her entire body going rigid, as if in rigor. Her breath caught in her chest, and she held still a moment, red lights pulsing, bass beating. And suddenly, she came, her vision blurring, a cry suffocating in her throat as her muscles contracted and released in hot, rolling waves. She collapsed onto him, her breasts against his rough chest hair. He was still hard inside her as aftershocks continued to ripple around his erection.

He called after her. “You got a name there, warrior princess?”
She paused, hand on doorknob, and the devil on her shoulder whispered, Yes, you can control this. You can stop anytime you want to . . . Besides, she was only human. She could have a life. It wasn’t as though it was forbidden to have a relationship. As long as she held the reins, all the control.
“Angie,” she said.
Silence.
“You?” she asked.
He smiled slowly, one side of his mouth curving slightly higher than the other. “I’ve got your number.” He paused. “Angie.”

Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will bear silent witness against him. —Locard’s exchange principle

. . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. —Romans 3:23

The rules twisted down into a hot vortex of total oblivion as her mouth, her hunger, her aggression met his, tongues tangling, mating, rough, taking. He fisted her hair, tilting her head farther back, as his other hand slid down her spine. He cupped her buttocks and yanked her hard against him. His shirt was completely plastered to his body, and she could feel every inch of his muscular contours under the wet fabric. She could feel the long hardness of his big, gorgeous dick straining against his zipper as he pressed against her pelvis. Heat pooled molten between her thighs. Dizziness swirled, and her knees began to buckle out from under her. She wanted him. All of him. Inside. Deep and fast and hard and rough. Out here. Right now.

Naked, Angie sat on the edge of the bed, Maddocks standing between her legs while she undid his pants, a lust building, boiling, deep inside her. She slid his pants down his hips and that gorgeous dick swelled free. She caressed him, taking him into her mouth, holding his hips as she worked him with her lips, her tongue. His hands clamped down hard on her shoulders, his fingers digging deeper and deeper into her skin as she stimulated him to the point that he groaned, fisting her hair. He stopped her suddenly, pulling her off his wet erection by moving her head back. His gaze, dark, dangerous, locked with hers, and he shoved her backward and hard onto the covers.

He moved slowly at first, achingly slowly, and a tension of another kind built inside her as she wiggled to free her hands again but couldn’t. And her eyes flared wide. She was struggling to breathe.
He gave a powerful thrust, and he was inside her, up to the hilt. She gasped, and he moved his hips harder, driving himself yet deeper. Her eyes watered as he began to fuck her, his heavy, muscled build pumping her deep into the bedding, her hands trapped high above her head.

“Please, Maddocks,” she whispered. “Please.” He swallowed, his muscles beginning to shake against his battle to suddenly control himself, sweat slicking over his skin, and suddenly he gasped, and came powerfully, uncontrollably, inside her, his fingers digging into her flesh as his body took charge, shuddering him inside her. Tears filled her eyes as Maddocks, spent, lowered himself slowly down onto her, then rolled onto his side, withdrawing from inside her.
“Angie?” he whispered, his eyes refocusing.
Tears leaked out from the corners of her eyes, onto his covers. And she still ached with desire, and she felt shame, defeat, guilt. He stroked her cheek and moved a damp tangle of hair off her face. “Did I hurt you? What is it?”
She shook her head, unable to voice it, unable to tell him what was going on, unable to understand herself. And she was filled with embarrassment.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “So sorry.”

His vision swirled as he thrust and entered her hot wetness. She sighed softly as if with relief. Maddocks moved slowly, tentatively at first, rocking into her, and she met each of his thrusts with soft, sure movements of her hips—a pace as old as time, a rhythm that matched the waves upon which his boat rocked. And inside him a blinding pressure began to build. He could feel her growing hotter, hungrier, beginning to move faster. He thrust harder, faster. She wrapped her legs around him, hooking her ankles behind him, taking him tight into her arms, as if she couldn’t get him deep enough, as if she wanted to absorb and consume him wholly.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthechosen.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Xcor
Heroine: Layla
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 04, 2017
Started On: February 28, 2018
Finished On: March 03, 2018

At long last, JR Ward presents readers with the story of Xcor, the leader of the Band of Bastards, the traitor who tried to assassinate Wrath, the King of the Vampire race to take the throne for himself. However, along the course of his desire for the throne, Xcor’s destiny takes a turn; his meeting with Layla, the Chosen. Their story is one that has kept me enamored throughout, waiting on tenterhooks for any and every glimpse of the formidable warrior and Layla, the equally gentle and when it needs be, and fierce in her own right, Layla. And I am pretty certain that I would have not been the only one.

At the same time, what took place seems to have pissed off a few of the die-hard fans, especially in light of the turn that Vishous took when it came to his relationship with Jane. I will get to that later, but right now, I just want to soak in the thousand and one feels that still courses through me whenever I think about Xcor and Layla, together at last. Nothing is going to take away the warm fuzzies owing to that happy fact and its going to stay that way!

The Chosen kicks off a couple of weeks from when The Beast finishes, with Xcor in captivity under the watch of the Brothers, and Tohr itching to take his life as was promised by Wrath that it would be rightfully his for the taking when the time came. But Xcor had come to them incapacitated and in a coma from the blow to his head, and days pass before events finally come to a point where Layla confesses to Qhuinn, the father of her twins that it was Xcor and their parting that was putting a huge damper on Layla’s emotions, enough to plunge her into deep depression.

Qhuinn’s reaction was by far, one of the “assholiest” reactions I have come across in the series towards any turn of events. Filled to the brim with casting stones on Layla and her behavior, and I am like, yeah, nice one to talk Qhuinn, plus the fact that Qhuinn let his anger get the better of him, going into a fit of rage that could have done serious harm to the mother of his kids and the twins themselves was unforgivable. I can understand becoming unhinged to a point because from Qhuinn’s viewpoint, Layla had been with the enemy, possibly putting herself in danger, and in the process the twins.

But, the total lack of disregard to Layla as a person in her own right, and not just a womb to carry their children, that was what rankled. I expected better from Qhuinn, someone who had never had family to belong to, an outcast on his own right, and while Layla was cut from different cloth, she had had the same kind of loneliness hound her for a long time. Layla and Qhuinn’s bond had been forged out of that loneliness, and the decision Qhuinn had taken to service Layla in her needing had been one he had taken knowing the ramifications of what it would bring – that theirs would always remain a bond strengthened through the birth of their children.

Right about the same time, which coincides with the anniversary of Wellsie’s brutal death at the hand of lessers, which has Tohr itching to get his hands on Xcor to teach him a thing or two, or to take his frustrations out on something other than his mere existence and the unfairness in life when it came to taking his Wellsie away from him, Xcor finally wakes up.

Tohr and Wellsie’s story is another point of contention with me when it comes to couples in the series. I actually thought that Tohr having gone through all that he did during his and Autumn’s story, where they both had grief that had to be dealt with before they could be together, would have actually made him better able to deal with a lot of things. But with the issue of Trez and his beloved Selena fresh on his mind, Tohr is ready to slide back into a place of darkness once again.

I guess I would never fully be able to understand the bonded male and their connection to their mates. But, I always feel like Autumn holds the short end of the stick when it comes to Tohr and his love. She does not seem to come even as the second, but sort of like a mere afterthought and that rankles in so many ways. But then again, Autumn is a big girl, tough in a way that she is able to see right through Tohr, to understand him on a level that I suppose I never would be able to. But I hope that one day, Ward writes about them in a way that makes better sense out of their relationship – perhaps time and unconditional love from Autumn would change the direction of Tohr’s tormented mind that takes a turn for the worse when things get too much for him.

In the end, Xcor’s “savior” comes in the form of the Brother that is the least likely to give into the sentimental stuff, i.e. Vishous. Though Vishous believes he does it more out of that calculating mentality of his which always lets him plan ahead and keep a cooler head than the rest of the Brothers, it is also partly owing to the strange feelings that have of late taken over Vishous in terms of his relationship with Dr. Jane.

The missing elements between him and Jane, that feeling of being left adrift while the rest seem to be anchored in a way he has never been; all this and more leads Vishous down a path that most readers would have found problems with. But I understood it. Vishous is highly intelligent, is the son of a deity, and his emotions aren’t that of the average Vampire, or even a Brother. Plus, growing up at the merciless hands of the Bloodletter and his mummy issues has left Vishous in a place that is far different from the rest and it is an often dangerous trajectory that his wisdom takes him on and I believe that plays a huge role in his decision making as well.

While people often say there is no excuse for cheating, sometimes it is not owing to one, but rather because of the place one finds themselves at – as hard as it might be for most to fathom. There is no excuse to be had for any type for bad behavior that reflects badly on the other person, or hurts other people, but there you have it. It is often part and parcel of human nature, and I guess we would encounter cheating spouses/partners till the end of times.

For me, the best part of the story hands down, was how Layla and Xcor finally got together. Their union was that much more precious because Xcor waited all that time, first because he didn’t believe himself to be worthy of someone like Layla, and secondly because she was pregnant throughout a huge part of their “courtship” – as strange as the application of that word might be in their context. So when they finally did get together; a whole lot of fireworks, gentleness, and then the strength that is Xcor unleashed on the woman who holds his heart and soul in her hands. I loved every single moment of it.

I loved Wrath for having the foresight of the leader that he has turned into. He could have asked any of the Brothers to take down Xcor, and could have been shitty towards Layla because she had consorted with the enemy. But Wrath is the King, elected or otherwise, for a reason. He has to lead people, and often the issues that come up are not going to be easy to wade through. For that, one requires level headed thinking.

Xcor was a traitor – there are no two ways about it. Even though he is my second favorite character in the series, I am honest enough to admit that. But Wrath being who he is, decided to get down to business and talk it out with him, a chance he gives Xcor only because of Layla and the entangled web their lives had become. Imagine the consequences of the hatred that would have been born out of the tragedy had Wrath given into his baser instincts and ordered that Xcor be tortured and killed? Now that would have taken centuries to right and led to infighting, which would not have solved anything. The vampires have enough enemies on the outside, so it is prudent that you do not go around making new enemies of the people who are closest to you. Period.

Throe and his inner psychology was also a bit more closely revealed in this book, through Xcor’s reasoning on how he came to be. How Xcor’s own mother had abhorred him and only put up with him because Xcor’s father promised to seek her out if she harms him, until the day she receives the news that Xcor’s father had no need for Xcor as an heir and that his mahmen was finally free of him.

The fact that she left him in the wilderness, chained like a dog, without any means to defend himself; that speaks volumes of the kind of mother she was. Xcor had survived, against all odds, and even went through the training at the Bloodletter’s camp, believing the Bloodletter when he had lied to Xcor about being his father.

In Xcor’s grief over Throe and what he had become, Xcor believes that the same humiliation that Throe had been subjected to at Xcor’s hands had rendered him psychologically to take a different path – a more destructive path in the future where his ambitions had found an outlet with the dark arts and the havoc that could potentially cause the Brothers in their fight to keep the race and their King safe from harm.

Ultimately, the story leaves one with a lot of questions regarding Throe and his ambitions; whether the Omega has any hand in it is one of the most prominent ones. There is also the fact that Lassiter is the new “Scribe Virgin” – there has got to be a new title for the position because calling someone as virile as Lassiter a “virgin” just seems all wrong somehow.

Interesting times ahead (not that there is any period of time that lapses into boredom when you are reading about the Black Dagger Brotherhood), but the way Ward keeps the twists and turns coming? That is number one reason why I would pick up a BDB book over any other, any day.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: The Chosen is a book that has been anticipated for a long while; the story of the Chosen Layla and Xcor. Their love is fiery and gentle at the same time, a love like no other that I fell for in every single sense. There is a beauty to Xcor’s character that can only be found in the the deeply scarred and wounded.

Favorite Quotes

When he finally broke the contact, he smoothed his palm down her hair. “May I enter your bedroom, female?”
His eyes were so beautiful, shining and hot, the deep navy blue nearly black from the lust he had for her. And to her, his face was handsome, everything that was strong and masculine and powerful, the defect in his upper lip not anything she noticed or dwelled on. In fact, it was the whole of him that appealed to her, his power and his vulnerability, his savage nature and the polite effort he was making, the warrior in him and the protector who came out for her.
“Yes,” she whispered.

Except when his pelvis came back down to hers, he still had his sweatpants on.
His arousal had been freed, however. And her eyes fluttered shut as his blunt head brushed against her.
“I’m trying to go slowly,” he said through gritted teeth.
“You don’t have to.”
With that, she shoved her hands down, found his thick, hard length, and brought it to her in just the right place. Digging a heel into the duvet, she moved herself up—
He slid into her and the fit was perfection. It was home and it was the whole galaxy at once, and she was so overwhelmed, tears speared into her eyes—because she knew he was equally affected: Xcor orgasmed the second he was fully inside of her, his warrior’s body beginning to empty into her—and yet he recoiled, his head jerking back, alarm marking his face even as his body continued to release.

“Layla,” he begged.
One by one, she sucked at his fingers, loosening his hold on his erection, making him so weak that his hands fell away from his sex not because he willed them as such, but because he lacked the strength in his arms to do aught else.
Freed from constraint, his cock jutted straight out from his hips, the water from the shower making the proud length glisten. Fates, he wanted her to do what she was about to, craved the feel of her lips on his head, his shaft, wanted the suction and the—
“Fuck,” he groaned as her mouth captured him.

Xcor lunged at her, moving so fast he wasn’t aware of making the decision to get on her. And he was rough, shoving her hand out of the way and sealing his mouth on her sex, taking what he wanted, what she had teased him with.
Now she was the one throwing hands out, looking to keep herself in some semblance of physical order. But he was having none of that. He yanked her down flat on the tile, slapped his palms on the inside of her thighs, and butterflied her open, going in deep with his tongue, consuming her.
She came hard against his face, her hands spearing into his damp hair, pulling at it until it hurt. Not that he gave a shit. All he cared about was getting into her, making her say his name, marking her with his lips and tongue.

He pulled out at the last minute, rising above her, his shoulders blocking the spray of the shower. Grabbing his erection, he was even more brutal with himself than he had been with her, yanking at his sex, making himself come.
So that he covered her.
It was the marking of a bonded male, a practice done so that any other male in her presence would be fully warned that if he approached her, he had best beware.
She was another’s.
Not as property. But as something far too precious for others to toy with.

Sitting himself next to her, he took a piece of toast off the stack and began the buttering process.
“I can do that,” she muttered. “I should like to serve you.”
Then drop your pants, she thought as she eyed the huge thighs that strained the seams of the black nylon sweats he was wearing. And then there was the way the bottom of the sleeve of his T-shirt struggled to hold the thick circumference of his bicep. And the shadow of beard growth that darkened his jaw.
Sinking her nails into her knees, she looked at his mouth. “Xcor.”
“Hmm?” he asked as he moved a mathematically precise layer of butter over the toast with a knife.
“Enough with the food.”
“I’m almost finished here.”
And I’m totally finished over here, she thought.

“Honey,” he murmured. “I think it would be rather good indeed.” Layla looked at the honey pot. “I believe you’re right.” Reaching forward, she picked the thing up and arched her back. “Honey is good on a lot of things.”
Swirling the dipper, she took the thing out and held it over her breast, and as the honey spooled and fell, her nipple caught the sweetness. The tickle made her bite her lip, and then more of the amber glow dripped onto her skin, a river of it easing down to her abdomen.
“Xcor …?”
“Yes—”
When he glanced over at her, he did a double take—and dropped the toast on the tray. Which was a relief because, really, if she couldn’t win a competition with carbohydrates for his attention she was seriously in trouble.
His navy blue eyes were instantly hot and very, very locked on the way the honey slowly, tantalizingly hit her breast drop by drop and meandered down, down … down.
“I wonder,” she said in a husky voice, “whether honey is sweeter than me?”

With rough hands, he freed his sex and then he was inside of her, pumping while he kissed her, their bodies finding a rhythm that was so rough the sofa itself rocked and banged against the wall.
Harder, faster, deeper, until they couldn’t keep their mouths together anymore. Reaching up, she held onto his surging shoulders, the muscles under his smooth skin like an ocean that was storming—
Pleasure broke like a lightning strike, but also made her whole—and then he found his own release, pouring himself into her.
And Xcor didn’t stop.
Or slow down.

In spite of his injuries, he pulled her into his lap and wrapped his arms around her. And then he was kissing her collarbone. And her throat … and her lips.
That now-familiar heat rose again, and when he eased her up and over his hips, she split her thighs to straddle him and was glad the partition was up for their privacy.
Shifting around awkwardly, she took one side of her leggings down and moved her panties out of the way as he pulled up the hem of his hospital gown.
“I’ll be careful,” she said as he grimaced from pain.
“I won’t feel anything but you.”
Xcor stood his erection with his hand and she slowly slid herself onto it.
“My love,” he breathed as his head fell back and his eyes closed. “Oh, you make me whole.”

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

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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.

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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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