Review: Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Bookreturntochristmas_2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: John Larsen
Heroine: Madison Simcoe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 13, 2019
Started On: December 24, 2019
Finished On: December 26, 2019

Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart released in 2019 had me jumping up and down in excitement at the very idea of the new release. Because Anne Stuart is THAT author for me. Return to Christmas tells the story of 27 year old Madison Simcoe and 29 year old John Larsen, in delivering upon the theme of Christmas miracles and love that stands the test of time itself.

It is the year 2020, and Madison who is feeling a bit desolate, a whole lot of disillusioned and a bit lonely decides to cheer herself up by going to the Macy’s Department Store to engage in a little bit of retail therapy. When she gets to Macy’s Madison gets more than what she bargained for when she finds herself transported to the year 1947, and having to rely on the maddening man she encounters, who sets her senses humming.

John would like nothing better than to ignore Madison’s sudden appearance into his life and the way she gets under his skin. An ex-military man, John is hounded by his own demons that are hard to shake off, and it is his ingenuity as a designer that allows him the freedom and leeway to mostly come and go as he pleases within the store.

With Madison in the picture, John finds himself inexorably drawn to her, even when he tells himself that a woman who keeps concocting far-fetched stories about how she came to be is not worth all the trouble. Interestingly enough, the more Madison tries to leave, the harder it is, as whatever it is that had transported her back in time wasn’t done messing with her fate.

Return to Christmas was not exactly what I envisioned for the story to be, but nevertheless I enjoyed most of it and not so much the rest. It is my theory that anything written by Anne Stuart is 100 times better than the any other book that you may alternatively get your hands on, and this one too proved that in spades.

I liked John and Maddie well enough, but I cannot say that I was enamored by them, nor connected with either of them at a deeper level. Madison spent a lot of her time inside her own thoughts which prevented me from understanding where she was coming from at a deeper level. Yes, she was feeling lonesome and feeling an ache she couldn’t define, but beyond that, it was hard to get a read on her character.

John is mellower than Anne Stuart’s usual hero material, which is fine. One doesn’t need to be ruthless to come off as commanding, sexy, and all of those things that makes you hum with pleasure as you read along. I felt that John was a bit under developed as a character. Why? Because I wanted to know more about his past, his likes and dislikes, what made him tick (apart from Madison of course), and I wanted to read about his stint in the military and the damage it had done to him on the inside. That would have made me relate to him more than I did.

I also found it a tad weird that two adults just lived inside a department store throughout the novel. I quite don’t know how I feel about that. The one thing that I did love though, was the epilogue. That was the ultimate ending if you ask me, classic Anne Stuart, leaving the reader sniffling with happy tears.

Final Verdict: Return to Christmas is a novel that delivers on the premise of Christmas miracles, and hope in a world that has little of that to offer, and how love knows not the bounds of time and reason.

Favorite Quotes

She stirred again, and her breathing changed. She was coming awake, and she was probably going to be ticked off and embarrassed by where she was, and he steeled himself. Her eyes blinked open, still wet with tears, and she tilted her head back, looking up at him out of those sensational eyes, her mouth still tremulous, and he did what any red-blooded American male would do.
He kissed her.

“So let me tell you what we’re going to do,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m going to undress you. Sweetheart,” he added deliberately, punctuating the word with a bump of his hips against her, and arousal spiked through her—she was back in that restless, anxious longing and uncontrolled, confused need. “And I’m going to dump our clothes on the floor and walk all over them if I want. I’m going to touch you, taste you, anywhere I damned please. You can be on top, but you’re going to be beneath me, in front of me, standing, sitting, any position we can think of. I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to do, but you’re going to want to do everything.” His voice was soft, his words terrifyingly erotic, and she closed her eyes, lost in it, lost in him. “Yes?”
It was a question she couldn’t answer, swept away by the crazy sensations racketing through her body. Danger, Will Robinson! She wanted to run, she wanted…she wanted…
“Yes,” she said.

“Condom,” she gasped, wanting to grab his hips and pull him in, to fill this terrible emptiness inside her. He hesitated, just for a moment, and then pushed in, so big, so hard that she almost felt choked, drowning in sensation.
He rested for a moment, inside her, around her, and her skin felt like it would burst into flames. “I don’t have one,” he whispered in her ear. “I didn’t want to be tempted. Didn’t work.”

“Don’t,” she gasped, as stray shudders raced through her body, and his frame reacted to each and every one.
His muscles suddenly bunched beneath her hands, his entire body rigid. “Don’t what? Don’t do this without protection?” He no longer sounded coolly amused—at least she’d pushed him past that point, and he started to pull out, the walls of her sex clinging to him, trying to hold him. “Or don’t do it at all?”
“Don’t stop.”
He thrust back into her, and she gasped as sensations racketed around her body, again, and again, and again, each push reaching deeper, filling her, drowning her in nothing but sex, sweet and sinful, again and again, building to another climax.

She didn’t know who was the more shocked when she licked at the solid column of flesh rising from his body, and then she didn’t think at all, letting her mind dissolve as she leaned down and took him into her mouth, sucking him in deep, and it was wonderful, the feel of him surging into her, pulsing as she drew him in deeper. This was hers—she owned him, she owned this, and she wanted more, she wanted to wrap her tongue around him until he exploded inside her, and she wanted to swallow. She wanted to take everything, but he was too big, her mouth too small, and she almost choked in frustration, his hoarse reaction, his hands in her hair, helping guide her, were almost too much as she tried to take more, all of him.

When he lifted her, turned her, she moved easily, up to her knees as he pushed into her from the back, and the sensation was astonishing as he pushed against something that made her entire body shake, and she still needed more, she needed him to drive away her last fears, she needed him to take her so completely that he held nothing back, wiping them both clean.
“Harder,” she whispered. “Please. Harder.”
The last of his control disappeared, and he slammed into her, so hard that she almost fell forward, but she held on, taking him with powerful, almost feline pleasure, just as she wanted, harder, faster, turning into a cloud of sensation and nothing more, pushing, pumping, almost brutal, and when she came he erupted inside her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookthelonerslady
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lyssa
Heroine: John Thorne
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane is one of those quickie reads, perfect when you need something to distract you and tide you over for maybe an hour or two.

I first discovered Ms. Kane when I stumbled across her title Preacher Man, which I of course adored to bits. As most readers, the only thing more I could wish for is for Ms. Kane to write a novel that is full length, so that readers can experience the magic she can weave with her tales, when the tension is drawn tight and the delivery is just right.

Lyssa and her best friend Mason are headed to Catskills to visit his father. Playing pretend girlfriend for the duration of the stay is no biggie when Lyssa makes use of the same “privileges” to ward off unwanted male attention. Mason paints his father as someone who is not one with the times, too set in his ways to understand what it means to be him.

Lyssa is prepared for the worst when she lays eyes on the 42 year old John Thorne, who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away. He is the embodiment of everything she had never known that she wanted, and seeing him in close proximity makes the pretense of being Mason’s girlfriend all that more difficult. Given that the story is just 60 pages, of course the coming together happens just like that, and by that I mean, Ms. Kane somehow made it work. Color me amazed!

I loved the sexual tension, the delivery on it, John and the sarcasm edged thoughts of his that made me laugh out loud. Loved Lyssa, who saw in John the man who would create the perfect blend of storms with her, to ride them out together.

Recommended for those who love quick and hot reads. This one delivers on all fronts!

Final Verdict: The Loner’s Lady is packaged with delicious smexiness and enough emotions to ground you in a way that is hard to put down.

Favorite Quotes

I coax her into a kiss, intending to swallow her screams. I’ve never been much for kissing anyone. But as soon as my tongue is inside her mouth and she’s giving me access to explore, I’m eating at her mouth like a hungry animal. I’ll never be able to live without kissing Lyssa again.

On the next rough invasion of my body, I dig my fingernails into his shoulders and hold on tight, sensing an oncoming storm. That’s exactly what I get.
John falls on me with a desperate sound, releasing hot, rasping breaths into my neck with each slap of his hard sex entering my wet one. He grunts and sweats on top of me, pushing filthy words through his teeth. Words that thrill me because I know they’re borne of pure lust. For me and my body.

My scream of ecstasy cuts him off. Cuts everything off, save the incredible clenching of my flesh, the flood of bliss and completion. I squeeze John’s hips between my thighs and spout nonsense that he seems to understand, because his mouth finds mine and kisses me through the upheaval.
And then he throws back his head and roars like he’s king of the jungle.
His beautiful face, surrounded by his mane of hair, blocks out the sun and if I had any breath left to catch, it would have caught at the sight of him. He’s the ultimate male and I’ve been claimed by him.

“Ready to play rough, wife?”
Without waiting for an answer, I enter her with a swift thrust, reveling in her gratified sob of my name. “Do we ever play any other way?” she gasps, her body already shaking against mine.
I fall forward and our mouths meet over her shoulder in a desperate kiss. “Play hard, love hard,” I grit, canting my hips back and surging forward.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Bookwheretheblamelies
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Zach Copeland
Heroine: Josie Stratton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 13, 2019
Started On: November 25, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan is the kind of book that leaves you speechless, aching, and yet satisfied in all the ways that matter. It is the sort of story that flashes through your mind at odd moments because for one reason or the other, your brain is still processing the information and the messaging embedded deep within.

Where the Blame Lies begins with the heroine Josie Stratton, at nineteen years of age is abducted, imprisoned, raped, abused, and starved for ten months, where she had remained chained to a wall until she had broken free from the abandoned warehouse where she had been held. Josie’s nightmare had culminated in the suicide of her abductor.

Years later, Detective Zach Copeland of the Criminal Investigative Section (CIS) gets called to a case that bears eerie similarities with that of Josie’s. Zach had been just a rookie officer back when Josie had broken free, but he had never forgotten the strength and determination carved on Josie’s face, as she had pleaded and screamed at the officers to find her baby.

A second victim with the similar markings on her body brings Zach to Josie’s doorstep, where he finds a seemingly put together and a more beautifully poised version of the woman he had never truly forgotten. The spark between the two is immediate and altogether powerful enough for the readers to feel that pulse as understated as it is.

Chasing the clues to piece together the truth and digging through to the possibility that it had been a case of mistaken identity when police had closed in on the perpetrator back then makes of heightened suspense, while also delivering an emotional roller-coaster of a ride to readers. Mia Sheridan’s prose is poetry to the heart and mind, even when she is writing about stuff that gives you nightmares.

The story weaves the past and the present together in a way that leaves a deep impact on the reader. It helps in understanding the nuances of the dependency that Josie had had on her abductor through those harrowing months when she had no means of escape. Josie had lost her innocence at the hands of her abductor, and the child that had been born through the depths of her suffering is something the reader would not forget easily. Even at the deepest moments of her desperation that had tested the very limits of her endurance, Josie had never given up, and that is exactly why you fall like a ton of bricks for her and root for her through the most harrowing of circumstances.

When everything clicks into place, the resolution towards the end is just as painful to watch as it unfolds. The feelings of trepidation lingered through the last couple of chapters, always fearing for Josie, and my heart’s rhythm never fully adjusted to the tension that is interwoven so superbly throughout.

I loved everything about Where the Blame Lies, if you had not got that already having read to this point of the review. I was transfixed and mesmerized with the way Mia Sheridan took on a plot that had so much depth, depravity, and hope as well, which was its saving grace.

She wowed me with her deep characterization that not every author has the ability to pull off. There is so much tragedy and heartbreak in this story, violence and the gory details of what it truly means to be abducted and abused for over a long period of time. That is exactly why Where the Blame Lies is a story that I would not be forgetting anytime soon.

Josie for all that she had gone through, not just at the hands of her abductor, is all sweetness and light. There is no bitterness to her, even when she had hit rock bottom in her life. She is the kind of heroine that you fall for so effortlessly, which is why Zach’s love for her is so easily understood.

Zach, my God Zach, he was just perfect in every way. There is a beauty to his character that just meshes with the resilience of Josie’s and I could not have asked for a better partner for Josie, no matter what. His protectiveness endeared him to me on so many levels.

The ending reminded me a bit of Cry No More by Linda Howard, one of my top favorite re-reads. The pain that Josie must have felt, the utter heartbreak; I wished I could reach in and hug her close and comfort her, all the while knowing that she had to come to terms with what life had thrown her way by herself. That beautiful and yet painful act is exactly why I fell in love with the story, even through all the heartache ingrained in it.

The utter ingenuity of the story lies with how the villain was crafted. I miss novels of this kind where you feel as part of the story, where you often find yourself understanding where the villain was coming from, even through all that despicable acts of violence.

Where the Blame Lies is a novel that makes you think really hard about life, the abuse that the most vulnerable often face, and how that alters a person fundamentally. But at the same time, you also question how some people stay sane and kind even with all that they go through, while others turn out to be vengeful, evil and all of those things that makes your skin crawl.

Recommended for fans of beautifully moving stories that leaves its mark on you. You need not be a romance reader to find a calling deep within when it comes to this one. My first Mia Sheridan certainly delivered beyond my expectations.

So excited for the follow-up of this novel, Where the Truth Lives, to be released in April 2020, which Mia just announced on her Instagram page. Definitely marking my calendar for this one!

Final Verdict: Where the Blame Lies leaves the reader questioning so many things; it makes you think and ponder long after you turn the last page. That’s when you know an author has nailed it, and nailed it well and good!

Favorite Quotes

The song changed, something slow and crooning filling the air around them, mixing with the blood beginning to whoosh in Zach’s ears. Josie’s eyes moved to his lips and she licked her own. Zach’s heart began pounding in his chest, muscles tensed, waiting.
And then as quick as that, her mouth was on his, and she was pressing herself more fully against him. He let out a deep groan of need, their tongues meeting, tangling, as she angled her head so he could explore her mouth.

She pulled herself up, her hands shaking as she unzipped his pants, fumbling as she reached inside and grasped his erection. He was hard, ready. He wants me too. The knot inside unclenched slightly. She kicked off her shoes and then stood unsteadily, keeping eye contact as she removed her jeans and her underwear. She climbed back on him and took him in her grasp again, using the smooth head of his penis to stimulate herself, throwing her head back and moaning at the exquisite pleasure.

She gripped him harder and he gasped out, sitting up straighter, the lust in his eyes deepening. She used his erection to drag some of the moisture from her opening up to the tight bundle of nerves and circled that spot until she almost came.
“Josie, God, I, ah—”
She smiled, lining his straining cock at her opening and spearing herself almost violently. He let out a masculine sound of pleasure, his head falling back as she began to ride him, slowly at first and then faster, faster, his erection almost slipping from her body before she slammed back onto him.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Booktheduke
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #4
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Collin Talmage
Heroine: Imogen Pritchard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 07, 2017
Started On: November 11, 2019
Finished On: November 25, 2019

The Duke is the 4th book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne, telling the story of Collin Talmage (Cole), Duke of Trenwyth, who is the English Empire’s golden son until fate decides otherwise and takes everything that he holds dear to him. When Imogen Pritchard who works at the Bare Kitten, paying off debts incurred by her deadbeat father meets Cole for the first time, she is spellbound by the beautiful male specimen that he is, and the haunted look in his spellbinding eyes.

That fateful night turns out to be when Imogen loses her virginity to a man whose tender and fierce loving makes her glad that it was him. When dawn comes and they part, even though Imogen might long for a fairy tale ending, her pragmatic self knows that any future between her and the Duke is near impossible, given the vast differences in their societal hierarchy.

A year passes on and when the Duke returns, a mere shell of the man he was, that is when fate decides that even this time around, Imogen and Cole are not meant to be. Two years later, Imogen is a widow, living next door to the Cole, who for some reason cannot stand the sight of the woman whom he believes to be a gold digger, who got the best out of one of his dearest friends.

Circumstances bring these two together again, without Cole being aware of the fact that Imogen is in fact the woman he has been searching for in vain the past two years. Sparks fly as these two battle out their attraction and frustration with one another, which was enjoyable. In the midst of it all, a killer lurks, biding time until the victim that the killer has been after all along can be finally claimed.

I did not end up liking The Duke as much as I thought I would. The beginning was everything I could have hoped for, but towards the middle of the story, there seemed to emerge a deep disconnect between Collin and Imogen which led to my dissatisfaction. Kerrigan took an unusual route to their happily ever after, which was good because it managed to surprise me.

I also felt a bit weirded out by the fact that Imogen’s mother and sister who are very much alive and living with her, never emerged in the story. I believe that also prevented me as a reader from envisioning a more wholesome character for Imogen.

Cole was classic Kerrigan in so many ways. With the mere description of his thigh alone, Kerrigan had me all but salivating over Cole. And Lord, can the man kiss? Sigh! But I believe I would have loved it more had his past being more a tangible part of the story. I would have liked it more had there been more details about his family, the war, his trauma etc. being part of the story, which I believe would have made up for the time during which they were both separated.

An epilogue would also have gone a long way towards making the story more wholesome. I felt that the serial killer angle in the story culminated rather hastily towards the end, which detracted from the enjoyment factor.

However, even with all that did not work for me in the story I still enjoyed The Duke, and Kerrigan is an author I intend to pursue and read because she writes heroes unlike any other and equally strong heroines who revel in the darkness that is such a huge part of the man that they love and adore.

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

Final Verdict: The Duke aka Cole makes you quiver in all the right places. Exploring a serial killer villain in the midst, The Duke was fascinating for the most part!

Favorite Quotes

“Those closest to me call me Cole,” he informed her mouth.
“But … I am not close to you.”
Tightening his arm around her once more, he grasped her hip with his other hand, and pulled her up his startlingly long and muscled thigh with a slow, languid move, until she straddled him as high as his leg would allow. Even through her skirts and petticoats, the movement created an unfamiliar friction against her sex that elicited an alarming but not unpleasant pressure. He didn’t stop until the curve of her bottom settled against his lap. She was aware of a surprisingly insistent cylindrical shape pressed against her. She’d worked at the Bare Kitten long enough to know exactly what it was.
“Far be it from me to contradict a lady, but I beg to differ. You and I are very close, indeed.”

When Trenwyth adjusted his position, his leg rubbed against her so intimately, a stab of sensation caused her to gasp and clench her feminine muscles.
His thigh instantly tensed beneath her and, for a moment, Imogen was terrified that she’d offended him.
Until he did it again.
She had to reach out a hand to the table to steady herself against an assault of wicked pleasure.
His sex hardened against her backside once more, and he leaned up to gather her close. “I have a distinct feeling that you’re quick tinder to set ablaze, aren’t you?” His words slurred a little, but his movements were steady as one hand drifted down her waist and the other up her thigh, angling to meet in the middle.

Imogen thought she’d been kissed before, but she’d been utterly mistaken. His siege of her mouth went on and on until she lost her breath and didn’t care. Her thoughts scattered like a flock of panicked birds chased out of their roost. Even inebriated, his skill with his mouth pushed her beyond her wits. He tasted of Scotch and sin, and Imogen wondered if intoxication was as contagious as a fever, because she felt quite funny.
Just when she thought there was no other place for him to lick, he would begin to suck and nip. To sample and savor. First her bottom lip, then the top before gently capturing her tongue. She thought she’d go mad from the busy sensations.

“Cole?” she whimpered, clutching at him, almost afraid of whatever it was that locked every muscle from her sternum down into uncontrolled pulses.
“Yes,” he growled into her mouth. “Fucking come for me. That’s it.”
The gathering storm broke upon her with scream-provoking intensity. Tears sprang to her eyes as she curled around him, her thighs clenching his as though she rode a powerful steed rather than wave after wave of unimaginable pleasure. Convinced there was magic in his hands, she opened her mouth to tell him so, but all that escaped her was a low cry. Or maybe nothing. She couldn’t tell. Or remember. Or care.

In one graceful move he lifted her, rotated them both, and tossed her onto her back. His body was so big on top of her, pressing her legs almost uncomfortably wide. She wanted to tell him to wait, to give her a moment, but he distracted her with another deep, long kiss.
He released unintelligible words into her mouth, and Imogen knew them to be harsh and filthy. His eyes had glazed over completely now, as though his wits had deserted him, leaving her with nothing but this beast of lust and need.
He lifted himself, arched his neck, and on a smooth, brutal thrust, he was inside her, ripping through the feeble barrier of her virginity as though it didn’t exist, and separating muscles unused to intrusion. The sound he made was more roar than growl, and drowned out her whimper of protestation.

His head dipped low, his body curled around her. So small. So slight. And yet so warm.
Her tremulous breath brushed at his face, her features frozen. Paralyzed. Though her small, pink tongue slipped over her lower lip, leaving a delicious gleam of moisture there.
Fuck, suddenly he wanted to—
Surging up to her toes, she slammed her lips against his with such force their teeth almost clattered together.

He licked at the seam of her mouth, more of a warning than an inquiry, before he claimed it with his tongue. In truth, he half expected her to bite him.
But she didn’t.
The moment a dark groan manifested in his throat, she came alive in his arms, clinging to his shoulders for stability.

Imogen clung to him as he, quite literally, kissed the wits right out of her.
His every muscle was drawn drum-tight as he rhythmically surged against her in harmony to the plunge and retraction of his tongue. He made a sound so foreign to her; Imogen could only identify it as a violent sort of appreciation.
Her throat produced a husky answer that seemed to both thrill and comfort him.

He murmured urgent things against her mouth, low, animal praise that was admittedly harsh and vulgar against the softness of her lips.
But his hand. His hand remained gentle as he spread the plump petals concealing her sex and saturated his finger in the desire he found there.
Their combined exhale was a desperate, throaty invocation. Cole bent farther over her, hungrily latching to the throat she exposed as her head rolled back on her shoulders when his fingers slipped and stroked around the soft folds of her core.

He hit his knees behind her, his left arm stealing around her middle to pull her in, bringing her bare bottom to fit neatly against the front of him. A hot, hard length pressed against the cleft of her ass, impeded only by the thin cloth of his trousers. His grip was iron against her middle; his breath volcanic against the back of her neck.
Then he bit her.
Imogen opened her mouth to cry out, but he’d already begun to lick and lave at the shoulder he’d marked, and her sound of pain escaped as a husky sigh of submission.
It was all he needed to hear.

“Wait—” Her voice sounded too thin. Too low. Too husky to be her own.
“Don’t stop me,” he commanded, though a ribbon of desperation threaded through the order.
So she didn’t.
And he didn’t.
He drove inside her with rough power and searing heat. It was like he penetrated her with lightning, striking at her with his hips and injecting an indefinable current that locked every muscle into futile spasms of blistering pleasure.

Suddenly he was there. Her covers were gone and he replaced them, clutching her to him as he took her offered mouth with ferocious gentility. Clinging to him, she relished the heat building inside of her, answering the scorching flames he licked into her mouth with a demanding tongue. She tasted love on him, love and fear and earnest need.
Desire fanned through her, at once tensing and releasing her muscles. She turned into a puddle beneath him, her legs falling open, her body making way for his weight.
“Good sweet God,” he groaned. “I’m going to taste you everywhere.”

“Cole,” she begged, desperately grasping for his hair. “Please.”
Another pleased groan caused her feminine muscles to clench against the sensual promise in the sound, and she surged against his mouth. He latched on to her then, his clever tongue flicking and laving, creating sensations of overwhelming delight.
She cried hoarse relief to the canopy as wave after wave of crippling ecstasy crashed over her. Her breath came in sobs and inarticulate words. It felt like bliss flowed from his tongue into her body, bowing it with paralyzing spasms until the fingers she’d used to hold him to her now clutched at him to pull away before she expired from ecstasy.

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

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Review: His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookhiseverykiss
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #2
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Dylan Moore
Heroine: Grace Anne Lawrence
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 28, 2004
Started On: November 03, 2019
Finished On: November 09, 2019

His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke is the 2nd book in the Guilty series. First published in 2004, His Every Kiss tells the story of renowned musician and composer Dylan Moore, who struggles to make music ever since a terrible incident leaves him bereft of his ability to compose, battling insomnia and all other ugliness that becomes part and parcel of life for him from that point on wards.

When Grace Anne Lawrence comes across Dylan at a point in his life when he is feeling his lowest, it is because of Grace that Dylan steps back from the precipice that he had been ready to fling himself off of. Because for the first time in months, in the presence of Grace, Dylan is able to focus on the music that is such an integral part of himself, which he had lost.

When Grace disappears leaving him behind, the story continues five years on. Dylan whose search had not found where Grace had disappeared to, at times believes that she had been a figment of her imagination when he had been at his lowest. When Dylan runs into Grace again, he is determined that this time around, he would hold onto her even if it means working hard to gain that right to be with her.

Grace is wary of Dylan for many reasons, one of them being the fact that she is a woman once burnt and twice shy. There is nothing more that Grace wants than to return home, a home she knows would no longer welcome her because of the shame she had brought unto her family when she left them in pursuit of her passions. Grace is done with men who are creative, who needs her as a muse, who sees her only as a means to an end. In Dylan, that is all Grace sees and nothing more.

Dylan, without being privy to any of what makes Grace so reluctant to give into him, pursues her with a dogged determination that Grace sidesteps with every intention of rejecting his every offer. That is until Dylan comes face to face with the result of one of his many dalliances in the past in the form of Isabel, his daughter.

Grace gives in and comes into Dylan’s life in as Isabel’s governess, and amidst all of it, Dylan is relentless in his need to possess the woman who calms his mind and soul to a point that he is finally at peace from what hounds him day and night. However, it would take more than Dylan’s considerable charms and wit to convince Grace to give in and love him for the rest of both their lives.

His Every Kiss, I must be honest, kind of fell short of my expectations. The beginning of the story hinted at something that could have delivered a richly nuanced story, exploring an illness that affects so many people across the globe. An illness that particularly has no cure and has driven many to a point of madness, the only avenue left being adjusting to a sickness that one would in all probability have to suffer through for the rest of their lives.

I loved Dylan as a character, and felt terribly sympathetic towards him because I could empathize with what he was going through. Grace has a backstory that kind of broke my heart at certain points, but the aloofness with which she treats Dylan for the most part of the story never really won any brownie points for her with me. I wished she had been more welcoming, more understanding, and more emotionally connected to Dylan which would have made their union more believable towards the end.

The one character that annoyed me endlessly was Isabel. I don’t think I have come across a more tiresome child in a novel, who at times made me want to clench my jaw, and hard. I really wanted to love Dylan and Grace’s story, but alas, I must say that there was something integral missing between the two of them for their connection to be believable and tangible for me as a reader.

Recommended for fans of Laura Lee Guhrke.

Final Verdict: With every kiss he lays on Grace, Dylan speaks of a need that goes beyond words. If not for the lack of emotional connection between them, His Every Kiss could have been a marvelous read!

Favorite Quotes

He bent his head, and before she could think, she was parting her lips to take his kiss. A lush, open-mouthed kiss it was, one that sent shimmers of pleasure through her entire body, pleasure so startling she cried out against his mouth.
He caressed her tongue with his own, deepening the kiss. As if her body had a will of its own, Grace gripped the edges of his cloak in her fists, rose on her toes, and met his kiss with the shameful eagerness of a strumpet. So long since she had felt this way. So long since she’d felt this craving for a man’s kiss, his touch, his body. She felt so keenly alive at this moment.

She was wet, and so soft. He pulled back and she arched toward his hand, wanting more and ready to receive it. He bit his lip, feeling the painful bruise of his teeth as he fought to keep himself in check just a bit longer.
“This is what you want, isn’t it?” He dipped into her and out again, stroking the folds of her opening, spreading moisture with the mere flex of his hand.
“Yes,” she gasped, frantic, her face buried against his shoulder, her panting breaths hot on his skin. “Yes, yes. Oh, yes. Ohhh.”
Her hips jerked, and she climaxed with a long, low moan of feminine ecstacy, her thighs clenching around his hand again and again as she said his name.

His hands tightened their grip and he pulled, impaling her on his shaft. Driving out the ghost of the man she had known before. Mine , he claimed her. Mine .
Arms and legs wrapped around him, she followed his rhythm, crying out at her peak, tightening around him again and again as he held her buttocks in his hands and thrust deep within her, all his own passion finally unleashed in a rough, frantic cadence.

“Your hair, Grace,” he said, his gaze lowered to the muslin ribbon that held her braid together. “Let me see it loose.”
She was melting beneath that dark, heated gaze. Her fingers fumbled with the end of her braid, where the ribbon lay against her bare breast. She untied the strip of muslin and began to unravel the plait of hair.
Dylan moved to stretch out and lowered his weight onto his elbows as he watched her fan her hair out loose around her shoulders.
“That,” he said unsteadily, “is a sight I’ve dreamed about a hundred times. God, I wish it was daylight, and I could see all the colors in your hair. Come here.”

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Review: Her Best Friend’s Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Format: E-Bookherbestfriendsbaby
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Maitland Maternity, #9
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Morgan Tate
Heroine: Mary Jane Potter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 23, 2001
Started On: October 21, 2019
Finished On: October 26, 2019

Her Best Friend’s Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson is a novel that explores the concept of surrogacy, friendships, and crossing lines, which makes this for an emotional read. 22 year old Mary Jane Potter is carrying her best friend Arielle’s baby, the woman who had been a big sister, mother substitute, and her closest friend in the entire world.

When 31 year old Morgan Tate, husband to Arielle arrives on her doorstep late one night and gives her the devastating news of her best friend’s passing, that is the night when lines are crossed bringing these two together. Highly emotional and in need of human warmth and touch at such a time of deep grief, Morgan and Mary give into physical desire, complicating their relationship from then on.

While Morgan is adamant that a repeat of what happened that night is not possible, however as Morgan and Mary spends more time together and discover aspects of each other’s character they are both drawn to, the tug of attraction between them strengthens to a point where it is impossible to ignore. However, both of them do try valiantly for strength for as long as they can, until of course they give in.

It is not easy to accept that you have fallen hard for the husband of your best friend, a woman that you had put on a pedestal for the whole of your life. Morgan’s behavior is impeccable, the strength to his character and discipline evident for all to see, when he tries to do the right thing even at the cost of his own happiness.

There were many things that I loved about the book. Primarily Morgan who was such a sweetheart in every single way that counts. Not to mention Mary Jane, who infuses the story with a vitality that tugs at your very heartstrings. Vicki Lewis Thompson’s take on the concept of surrogacy and identifying the toll it could take on the surrogate mother was superbly done. Especially when it comes to someone like Mary Jane who would make a wonderful mother in her own right.

One thing that drew me to Mary Jane was her total and unabashed honesty which helped Morgan to move forward and accept things as they turned out to be. The fact that both Morgan and Mary Jane acted like mature adults rather than going the road of miscommunication with each other and creating needless problems between them as a result was welcome. Morgan being pulled from an otherwise lackluster life was one of the best bits about the story and the sexual tension and delivery on that front was done just right, totally deserving of what was blossoming to life between him and Mary Jane.

At first, I thought that the story line would not work because Mary Jane and Morgan get together too soon in the story. I was proven wrong because that was an elementally human response to the sudden loss of someone whom they had both loved and held dear in their own way. There was no ickiness factor because of what happened, and for that alone, I would say Vicki is a genius in writing about complex human emotions.

Recommended for fans of Silhouette romances and those who love stories that brim with hope in the best way possible.

Final Verdict: A story that brims with love, heart, and all the good stuff in between. Vicki Lewis Thompson definitely knows how to deliver a deeply and emotionally satisfying story.

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not trying to make you feel better, damn it.” He could tell from her expression she didn’t believe him, and that’s when he finally lost it and kissed her.
Oh, God. She tasted like…the richest hot fudge sundae he’d ever had. He sort of went crazy—kissing her, and kissing her, and kissing her some more. He was afraid he also used his tongue quite liberally as he continued to enjoy her full, sexy, incredibly sweet mouth. His hands found their way to her bottom and pulled her in tight, and boy, oh, boy, did she fit.
She filled his arms in a way they’d never been filled before. He’d never held such energy, such excitement, such heat.

There’s nothing logical about the way I’m feeling right now.”
“Exactly.”
With a groan he pulled her into his arms. And heaven help her, she let him do it. Worse, she dug her fingers into his hair and coaxed his head down. She wasn’t going to be able to blame any of this insanity on him.
“I’m wild about caramel, too,” he murmured. Then he settled in to prove it.
During their first kiss in her kitchen she’d felt as if someone had pulled the pin on a grenade. This time it was as if someone had detonated a bomb.

He lifted his head. “We should go into your—”
“Stairs are nice.” She finished with his shirt and started on his belt buckle.
“But you need—”
“You.” She unzipped his jeans.
“A bed.”
“Later.” In an inspired move she slipped her hands inside the waistband of his briefs and slid to a sitting position, pulling his jeans and briefs down as she went. The maneuver gave her perfect placement.
“Mary Jane.”
She wrapped both hands around his solid penis. No wonder he’d felt so wonderful deep inside her that first night. She caressed him lovingly, and then she leaned over to kiss the straining tip.

Suspended halfway between sleep and wakefulness, drifting in a sensual haze, she closed her eyes. Lying on the bed limp and relaxed as a rag doll, she allowed Morgan to do as he would with her. He seemed to know exactly what to do with her, and he apparently required no participation from her to achieve his ends. He might even think she was still asleep and her body was automatically responding to his touch.
What a wild sensation, to be coaxed and kissed awake in every sense of the word. He cupped her belly with both hands, caressing her lightly as he continued his assault right where it counted the most. She was in heaven.

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Review: Undeclared by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-Bookundeclared
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Burnham College, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kellan McVey
Heroine: Andrea Walsh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 27, 2017
Started On: October 19, 2019
Finished On: October 20, 2019

Undeclared, book 2 in the Burnham College series by Julianna Keyes, released in 2017 is a book that I have been meaning to read since its publication. Julianna is an author I definitely look forward to for many reasons; she has written some of the best contemporary romances that I have read in recent years.

Undeclared tells the story of Kellan McVey and Andrea Walsh (Andie), in the first person POV, from Kellan’s perspective. Kellan who returns to his hometown for a bit, to run into Andie, the girl with whom he had been friends/neighbors since they were five years old, Andie who had loved him for years, and Kellan who had left it unacknowledged all along, even when they had both slept with each other that summer before Kellan had upped and left for college, leaving Andie behind.

Returning to college after the break, only to find that Andie too is now a student, throws Kellan for a loop. Kellan who believes himself to have grown up over the past couple of years, having faced the fright of his life just recently, even though he continues to remain uncommitted to a future, much less a relationship of any sorts.

A series of events leads up to the point where Kellan and Andie gets together again, Kellan savoring each moment that he gets to have with Andie, and if he were to acknowledge the truth, he had never truly gotten over the summer fling they had had, before he left for the greener pastures of life away from his hometown.

While I found Undeclared to be an okay read, it did not move me as much as it did Undecided. One of the major factors being perhaps that the entire story is told from the hero’s point of view which meant that while it was a novelty for me, I was not really impressed.

A romance being told solely from the man’s point of view tends to lack emotional depth and description, because the way I see it, the nuances of emotions tends to escape most men, especially of Kellan’s nature. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Kellan as a character. He was okay in many ways, though I don’t think I was that enamored by him on any scale. Perhaps the more sensitive male protagonists would be able to assess and relate emotions/feelings better, but Kellan being who he was, did not really manage to do that for the story in my opinion.

For that reason I believe, the novel lacked that something vital which makes readers fall in love with the characters and ultimately the story. The inability to see what Andie was feeling and thinking made it impossible to relate to her as a character as well. The fact that I could not really gauge her feelings for Kellan made it difficult for me to be excited about them being together. It is not just two people coming together that makes a romance novel; it is all about how much readers can relate to the characters and understand them which spikes up our emotions as we read.

However, being a Julianna Keyes novel also accounts for a lot, and if nothing else, the book did have me looking forward to reading at that point in time, which I take to be an achievement in itself.

Recommended for fans of sports-themed, new adult romances in college settings. Also those who have a hankering to read a book told from the hero’s viewpoint.

Final Verdict: Undeclared is unlike any other book I have read from Julianna Keyes; she explores what it is like when a romance is told from the male perspective alone, which was a novel experience in itself.

Favorite Quotes

More than two years after our last kiss, I kiss Andi again. For ten long seconds I just press my lips to hers, her mouth soft and stubborn all at once. I can’t remember the last time I did this when I wasn’t drunk and horny and willing to get off with anyone who was equally willing.
Finally Andi exhales, a ragged breath I hear and feel, and she fists her hands in the hem of my T-shirt and tugs. I know what that means. Andi wasn’t a girl who said things like “Do me” or “Fuck me” or “Yeah, baby.” Her actions spoke for her and this one says all of the above. Relief courses through me, then adrenaline, then hormones. Arousal as sharp and heady as I’ve ever felt it.

I push in slowly, feeling her body cede to mine. I’m vaguely aware of the sweat at my temples and the trembling in my weak muscles, but I nudge my hips forward until there’s nowhere left to go, Andi’s legs bent and splayed wide to accommodate me.
I hear her soft sigh as I bottom out and for a long time I don’t do anything. I can’t do anything. This is what I’ve looked for in far too many places and failed to find. It’s what I’m terrified I’ll never find again.

When I’m buried as deep as I can go, I just stay there, my arms trembling as I hold myself up, not sure I have the strength to move. After a minute Andi nudges my chin so she can kiss me, tongues twining lazily. At some point I realize I’m moving, slow, deep strokes that feel like they’re going nowhere and everywhere all at once. I can’t recall the last time I had sex where it wasn’t just about getting off. Maybe never.

My block is dark and quiet, the only sounds our rapid breathing and the quick shuffle of our sneakers on damp pavement. I snatch the keys from my pocket, twist open the front door, and stumble when Andi fairly shoves me inside. I smile and whirl around to pin her to the door with my hips and my hands, though it’s totally unnecessary since she’s already got her fingers in my hair, rising onto her toes to kiss me.
My cock grows impossibly harder.
This might have been worth the wait.

Before I can dwell on it Andi tangles her fingers in my hair and tugs me back, gazing down, lips parted. If I ever woke up in a jungle, this is exactly the woman I imagine would find me. I grope around for the condom, my clumsy fingers eventually finding and rolling it on. I hold my cock in one hand and her ass in the other, guiding her as she lowers herself into my lap. The strong muscles in her thighs quiver as she hovers over me, the too-sensitive head of my cock stroking over her entrance. She bites her bottom lip, hair tangled around her shoulders, and the visual sears itself into my brain.

“Kell,” she gasps.
“What?” I gasp back.
“I… She struggles to inhale. “I don’t have…” Another breath. “A journal…” Her eyes sink shut as she starts to come. “But if I did…” She shudders. “This would be page one.”

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