Review: To Love a Dark Lord by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booktoloveadarklord
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Avon Books
Hero: James Michael Patrick
Heroine: Emma Mary Catherine Langolet
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 28, 1994
Started On: September 9, 2013
Finished On: September 10, 2013

So what happens when I finish an Anne Stuart novel and wonder what to read next? Like a junkie with an addict, I WANT the next fix from Anne Stuart which plagues me until I give in. I must be thankful for the fact that there are so many books by her that I have still yet to read. Though I have mostly focused on her contemporary romances to-date, that changed with Never Kiss A Rake that was published this year, that I reviewed previously. Since To Love A Dark Lord is a romance that is loved by many, I thought I would get my next dose of Anne Stuart by plunging into the first ever romance that Anne Stuart attempted to write featuring a dark hero.

James Michael Patrick, the Earl of Killoran is a man who is haunted by too many nightmares, that he has retreated into his own shell, a man who many thinks is beyond redemption or saving. James himself knows that he is as such and he does what he does for reasons that he alone understands. Though lately life has become one bore fest after another and little has provided amusement for him except for hiding his pain behind consumption of spirits, when James stumbles onto Emma who accidentally stabs her lustful uncle to death, life as James knows it changes. Taking the blame for her uncle’s death is something James does on a whim, for the mere amusement the deed brings him.

When Emma is rescued by the sinfully handsome man who doesn’t spare her a backward glance before striding out of her life just like he swooped in to save her from her imminent death, Emma doesn’t know what to do with all the freedom that beckons her after a life spent in enforced solitude from which it had felt that there would be no escape from. Coming to the understanding that her savior wants her to forget him gives her the blow necessary to take her fate into her own hands, which inevitably brings her into the hands of none other than James himself, this time rescuing her to his own intents and purpose to serve as the pawn that would draw out his long time enemy, to enact the revenge that he has been waiting for a long time.

Emma though an inexperienced virginal heroine makes for a swell character. Her gutsy determination in the face of everything that is totally alien to her is to be admired. The fact that Emma understands the pain that is buried deep inside of James was the one factor that had me falling head over heels in love with her. Emma, though she doesn’t know her place in James’s heart or life, nevertheless does everything she possibly can to be there for him, without asking for anything back from him in return.

James of course, turned out to be the type of hero that I absolutely love to read about. There is a certain elegance to the heroes that Anne Stuart creates, even with that coldness that resides inside of them, that aloofness that drives readers crazy to find that one redeemable aspect about him that serves to be the pivotal aspect of the story. And with James, her very first hero with dark elements certainly did not disappoint.

As many reviewers have already pointed out, there is such a wealth of pain inside of James that it is hard not to want to reach out to him and wrap him in your embrace so that you might absorb some of that pain into your own self. James might never wish to think of himself as the knight without all that shining armor who strides to Emma’s rescue time and yet again. But something about Emma calls to him on a baser level, something he fights with every fiber in his being to prevent himself from succumbing to the lure that she presents. If not for the fact that Emma understands all this and more when it comes to James, and is just as helplessly drawn to him as he is to her, James would not have managed to find the sort of love he finally does in Emma’s embrace.

When you read an Anne Stuart, you always tend to have this emotional whirlpool viciously rolling around inside of you. And that tends to expand with the kind of angst that only a dark hero can deliver and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect read that balanced out the darkness, the angst and later on a love that held me enthralled and going back to read the epilogue tucked in at the end time and yet again. I don’t remember how many times I read the epilogue which was short, yet brought to light the life of James and Emma 9 years down the line. If the story hadn’t already been embedded deep into my heart, the epilogue certainly would have sealed the deal for me.

I would be remiss in my review if I were not to mention the secondary romance that takes place in To Love a Dark Lord. The romance that buds to life between the 23 year old Nathaniel Hepburn, a distant cousin of sorts of James whom he takes under his wings in order to teach him a thing or two about depravity, who ends up falling in love with the very unusual and extremely beautiful Lady Barbara Fitzhugh. Theirs was a romance that moved me to tears, Barbara’s story one that I wished I had gotten to read in a full length novel just dedicated to her and Nathan.

Recommended for those who love their heroes dark and a bit twisted. And definitely for fans of Anne Stuart.

Final Verdict: If you are fan of Anne Stuart, this is an absolute must-not-miss!

Favorite Quotes

The house was still and quiet. And somewhere, faintly overhead, he heard the sound of music. Emma was playing again, something soft and lilting and unexpectedly sad. A moment passed before he recognized it. It was an old Irish lullaby, one he’d heard from his nurse thirty years ago.
And James Michael Patrick, the fourth Earl of Killoran, the man without weakness, honor, or decency, closed his eyes in quiet desperation.

It wasn’t one kiss, it wasn’t twenty, it was a long series of unending kisses, leading one into another, so that she barely had time to begin to regain her sanity when he stripped it away once more. He kissed her eyelids, the side of her mouth, the beating pulse at the base of her neck. He kissed her nose and her chin, he bit her earlobe, and then he covered her mouth once more, kissing her with a devastating thoroughness that had her damp and trembling in his arms.

He kissed her temple, her cheekbone, her angular nose. And then in the shadowy night his mouth sought hers.
It was light and darkness, sin and forgiveness, hell and redemption. She put her arms around his waist, pulling him closer, closer still. She could feel the warmth of his strong back through the fine linen shirt; she could taste brandy on his mouth. His hand was between them, against her breast, and she hated the layers of cloth that separated them.

She started past him, and he kept his focus inward, thinking of nothing at all. He would have made it if her chemise hadn’t brushed against his hand. If she hadn’t paused one dangerous second too long.
He caught her, no longer caring what he was doing. She cupped his face, reaching up to kiss his mouth, and it was the last straw. He ripped at her clothes, ripped at his, a maddened beast, shoving her down on the hardwood floor, covering her with his strong body.

He reached down and caught her thighs, lifting them up around him. It was too late now. He’d fought it, and her, and now he was the one who had lost. He’d given in to a need so powerful it overwhelmed all others, and all he could do was revel in the feel of her hot, tight body around his, the furious pounding of her heart against his bare chest, her fingers digging into his back, scratching at him, tearing at him, as he thrust into her again and again, searching for a part of him he’d lost long, long ago.

He understood her choked, breathy little cry, so different from the studied sounds she usually made. He knew her restlessness, her heat, and her need. He knew how to love her. And when the first explosion hit her, it was so powerful, so unexpected, that she screamed, clutching at him, and his formidable control vanished, and he pushed deep, holding her, filling her, giving to her instead of taking.

He thought he could prolong it, but he was helpless against the tide of need that swept over him. He needed her, needed to take her in this bed, this house, this land. He needed to thrust deep and fill her with his seed. He needed to claim her, and claim his heritage. He’d fought it for too long.
He lifted himself above her, staring down at her as the bed rocked beneath his powerful, rhythmic thrusts. Her eyes were open as well, looking up at him, and then her eyes fluttered closed as her body convulsed around him, and he came as well, rigid in her arms, no longer fighting it, and her, and his own lonely heart.

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Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Format: E-booklordofscoundrels
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scoundrels, Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Sebastian Leslie Guy De Ath Ballister
Heroine: Jessica Trent
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 30, 1995
Started On: June 15, 2011
Finished On: June 16, 2011

Lord of Scoundrels is a historical romance that has earned its fair share of awards in the world of romance. Being at the very top of the AAR list of 100 romances is no small feat and I went in with high expectations when I started out with this book. True to the awards the book has received, I was totally enchanted and captivated with the story that unfolded and hopelessly and madly in love with both Sebastian and Jessica before halfway through, and enjoyed the third book in the Scoundrels series as much as I imagined I would.

Lord of Scoundrels tells the tale of Sebastian Leslie Guy De Ath Ballister, the son of the Earl of Blackmoor and his second wife. A man who is more besotted with his property than anything else, the Earl holds little regard for his young wife and even less so towards the ugly son that she bears him.

From a young age, Sebastian is a bewildered child because he doesn’t have the remotest clue as to why his father goes out of his way to avoid him. And the only source of warmth and compassion in his life leaves him at the tender age of 8 when his mother runs away with her lover, leaving a scared little boy with a resentful father. Its not long before Sebastian is sent away to boarding school where he learns to toughen up and where he learns to give back as good as he gets and earns the respect of his notorious peers. Needless to say between the merciless teasing and fights with fellow students and the continuous flogging sessions received at school, Sebastian has any figment of love, tenderness or hope beaten out of him long before he turns into an adult.

Twenty five years later, Sebastian is filthy rich and a man powerful in his own right who is still feared by the members of the respectable society towards which Sebastian feels nothing more than contempt. But when beautiful and feisty Jessica Trent invades his life and starts creeping under his skin, Sebastian tries the only trick he is left with; drive her away by being his most notorious self whilst inside his heart and very soul cries out for Jessica in a way he had long since forgotten.

Jessica is no wimpy female who finds her own fascination with Sebastian troublesome to say the least. Animal attraction she can supposedly handle, but marriage and the prospect of falling in love with the most hard headed male she has come across wasnt exactly what Jessica was looking for.

In Jessica Sebastian finds that for the first time in his life that he needs someone else to complete him and knows that if she ever were to leave him he would just wither and die away. You would think that once the man realizes that he would make things easier for his newly wedded wife. But pride and his vow never to let anyone close enough to hurt him has Sebastian trying to drive away Jessica albeit unsuccessfuly and the antics that follow make for quite an engrossing tale.

You can’t read Lord of Scoundrels without falling in love with both Sebastian and Jessica as they together make an explosive combination that just keeps you turning the pages, wishing that the story would just go on and on. I seriously loved the spunky and fiesty Jessica because she was insightful enough to know Sebastian inside out and strong enough to fight him fair snd square where their love is concerned. I especially loved the witty bantering between Sebastian and Jessica whose way with the words cannot help but invoke huge-ass grins all over. And Jessica’s attempts at seducing her husband and the resultant effect on her overly self-controlled husband is definitely one of the highlights in a story that definitely deserves and has more than earned its fair share of millions of fans all over the world.

Highly recommended for fans of romances.

Favorite Quotes

The trouble was Jessica could not feel at all sensible. A magnetic current was racing along her nerve endings. It slithered and swirled through her system, to make an odd, tingling heat in the pit of her belly, and it melted her brain to soup.
She wanted to kick off her shoes and trail her stockinged toes up and down the black, costly boot. She wanted to slide her fingers under his starched shirt cuff and trace the veins and muscles of his wrist and feel his pulse beating under her thumb. Most of all, she wanted to press her lips to his hard, dissolute mouth and kiss him senseless.

Bewildered and heated at once, he moved his big hands unsteadily over her back and shaped his trembling fingers to her deliciously dainty waist. He had never before held anything like her – so sweetly slim and supple and curved to delicate perfection. His chest tightened and ached and he wanted to weep. Sognavo di te. I’ve dreamed of you…
He stood helpless in the driving rain, unable to rule his needy mouth, his restless hands, while, within, his heart beat out the mortifying truth. Ho bisogno di te. I need you.

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


Review: Avenging Angel by Glenna McReynolds

Format: Paperback
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Loveswept, #653
Publisher: Loveswept
Hero: Dylan Jones
Heroine: Johanna Lane
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 1993
Started On: May 5, 2011
Finished On: May 5, 2011

Winner of 1993 Rita Award for Short Contemporary, Avenging Angel by Glenna McReynolds aka Tara Janzen tells the story of an undercover law enforcement hero who is hellbent on reaching the woman he loves, to save her from the clutches of a man who wants nothing else except her death certificate in his hands. Though the cover is ridiculous, the story inside is a good one with a brooding hero who has a tender core deep inside and a spunky heroine who gives as good as she gets in the run for their lives that is the basis of this novel.

Dylan Jones is a man who has been working undercover for far too long. His life is and the real man inside of him is buried under a ton of lies and fabricated history that Dylan is almost weary and at the point of giving up. Six months back, Dylan had culminated 4 years of undercover work by slipping into Austin Bridgeman’s underground empire as a bodyguard whereupon he meets a bombshell package of brains, legs, virtue and sophistication that is Johanna Lane. Though it has always been Dylan’s rule never to get involved with anyone related to his assignment, he can’t help but be protective of the woman that he wants with every fiber of his being.

The daughter of the most renowned trial lawyer in the state of Illinois, Johanna follows in her father’s footsteps and is an attorney herself who works for Austin as his most private legal counsel. She had left Chicago and her job 4 months back because of what Austin had become in the past couple of years. Privy to information that no one else knows, this is what lands Johanna in danger and it is an injured Dylan that races through thousands of miles to abduct Johanna in order to save her.

It is an enraged Johanna that finds herself a captive of the sexy avenging angel who outsmarts a pack of men who look like they mean business when they storm her apartment. But trust doesn’t come easily and at first Johanna would love nothing more than to escape the clutches of the man who holds her captive even though it may be for her safety. But when Johanna discovers who Dylan truly is, a man she has a shared past with and a man she had desired in spite of every cell in her brain screaming for her not to, Johanna at long last gives in as she starts to fall for the man that she has dreamed about for far too long.

Avenging Angel is short novel, but still manages to pack into it a pretty decent story though there were a couple of things I would have loved to know more about. At the beginning of the story there is a mention of how Dylan had failed the previous 2 times he had broken cover to come to someone’s rescue. But there is no detail of any of it later in the story which would have served to make Dylan’s character a bit more interesting. Though I thought that Johanna would end up annoying the crap out of me, she later turned out to be a pretty good heroine who adamantly refuses to leave Dylan to the wolves when push comes to shove. Dylan makes for a dreamy hero with his tenderness that comes out to play around Johanna and the scenes of passion between the two are pretty well done. Now I am mighty curious to read the Crazy series by Tara Janzen because I know that she can write a mean romantic suspense if she puts her mind to it. Recommended for fans of short contemporary romantic suspense.

Favorite Quotes

The mercury had pushed ninety-two that day, but he was wearing an overcoat, a lined overcoat stained with dirt … or blood. A torn black T-shirt molded his torso, soft black jeans clung to his hips and legs.
He was bruised on one side of his face and cut on the other. He was muscular and lean, hard, stripped down to the basics of strength, He was feral.

Dark eyes opened to the barest slit, his gaze fixed on her mouth, unwavering. He looked like he wanted to eat her for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then start all over again. She felt the heat of his excitement running through his body. His skin was warm, nearly hot to the touch. His breath was uneven, his body pressed against hers in the most carnal of ways.
Her anger, so righteous only seconds before, was having an unbelievably difficult time not getting scorched to cinders by his slow, intense perusal.

Her need for him, to be a part of him, went beyond her power to reason. There was no reason to want him as badly as she did.
She did want him, though, with all her heart. She wanted to soothe him and cherish him. She wanted to kiss him with all the tenderness he was showering on her. She wanted to give him pleasure in being alive.

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