Review: Rocky Road by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Matthew Connelly
Heroine: Jeannie MacPherson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1985
Started On: November 14, 2021
Finished On: November 20, 2021

Rocky Road by Anne Stuart is a novel that was first published in 1985 from Harlequin. Republished recently on major e-book platforms, from the queen of romance who can seldom do wrong, comes the story of 40 year old Matthew Connelly, head of the detective squad of the Chicago police force and 33 year old Jeannie MacPherson, who is running from her own demons of a totally different variety.

When Jeannie tries the neighborly tactic of trying to welcome Matthew to Muscatoon Island where she has been residing in for the past two years, Jeannie is met with resistance of the kind that speaks of a man wanting to be left alone. Posing as a painter, but recovering from both physical and emotional wounds from the last case that Matthew was working on, he is determined that he would keep to himself through his recovery, even if Jeannie tempts him otherwise.

How these two tangle is quite invigorating at times, but ultimately, the story turned out to be a frustrating one for me. I always felt as if Jeannie was the one who was doing all the chasing and wooing when it comes to Matthew. Matthew is one of the most reluctant heroes I have come across of late and he made me grit my teeth from frustration because of his obstinate nature and with his emotions under control at every turn.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a controlled hero – to a point. A controlled hero is no fun unless the heroine has the effect of unraveling him and smashing through that iron clad will. But Matthew seems to be made of sterner stuff than most, and while I am all for heroines who choose to assert themselves and go after what they want, I found her ploys to get noticed by Matthew, while hilarious, to be a tad desperate at times.

Perhaps I would have been more appeased, had she cut her losses and removed herself from the situation that she found herself in and let Matthew come to her, when all was said and done. If he felt so deeply about her, that is something he could do as well in my opinion. Even the last scene does not really give the reader any sense of happiness if you ask me, because even towards the very end, the push and pull factor is controlled by none other than Matthew. In my opinion, Jeannie just settled for what Matthew was willing throw her way, because she was lost from the minute he limped into her life.

I would also have loved to learn more about Matthew’s past – the last case he worked on seemed to have done a number on him in every sense. I always felt as if Ms. Stuart had a purpose behind including tantalizing bits and pieces of the case, which perhaps could have been part of the larger plot, giving the story an edgier ending.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart who are looking to read her older books as refurbished titles.

Final Verdict: Rocky is the road that Jeannie travels when it comes to winning the affections of Matthew; there is no stone that she would leave unturned to win over her beloved!

Favorite Quotes

He moved then, swiftly, gracefully, so fast that she couldn’t avoid him. “You forgot to kiss me good-bye,” he said, and pulled her into his arms, his mouth coming down on hers before she had a chance to duck.
One of his strong hands held the nape of her neck in a viselike grip, the other arm slid around her waist and pulled her up against him as he kissed her, a long, slow, erotic insult of a kiss. She’d opened her mouth to protest and he’d taken possession of it, with a deliberate, sexual kiss that brought her blood racing to her loins and flames of fury racing to her brain.

For a moment she forgot everything, forgot her doubts, her better judgment, her sense of self-preservation, and she twined her arms around his neck to kiss him back.
She was lost in the wonder of his mouth. In the dimness of the rocking cabin there was only the scent of his skin, the feel of his mouth, and the warm, wet, seeking pleasure of the mouth on hers. She wanted to get closer, closer to him; she wanted to climb inside his skin and kiss him from the inside out; she wanted to rip off her clothes and climb on top of him, to blot out the storm and her fears and her doubts and her loneliness that she never admitted existed. She wanted nothing but Matthew Connelly, and the demanding mouth on hers, the strong hands that were threading underneath her sweater to slide up her hot skin told her that he wanted her, too.

“Should I let you go?” His words came out on the breath of a sigh, and he was warm and strong and so very near.
“Yes,” she whispered, and raised her mouth to his, no longer able to fight it.
He wrapped her in his arms, pulling her into the haven of his body, and she went gladly, mindlessly, sinking against him with a sigh of pure delight. There was no question that this was dangerous and very wrong, no question that she was a fool. And no question that it no longer mattered. She kissed him, reaching up to him, and it was long and slow and deep, and finished the last shreds of common sense left to her. His tongue was hot and rough and wet in her mouth, bold and demanding, allowing her no pretensions. She couldn’t be kissed like that, return a kiss like that, and still pretend they weren’t headed directly for bed.

He was with her, the force of his thrusts pounding her into the bed, and the ancient springs creaked in protest, a protest they both ignored as she reached for him, with her arms, her hips, her heart and soul, dissolving against him in a damp tangle of arms and limbs and love.

“You aren’t going to get warm standing there glaring at me,” he observed.
Jeannie counted to ten mentally, then managed a smile as chilly as her icy flesh. “What do you suggest I do about it?” she demanded.
“You could come over here and get warm.”
She stared at him in amazement. “You think you could warm me Up?”
“Oh, I think between the two of us we could manage quite a conflagration,” he said, and the rough silk of his voice began to melt the ice around her heart. “Come here, Jeannie.”
Pride and common sense would have kept her rooted to her spot in the sand, but pride and common sense were at the bottom of the ocean.

She clung to him like a piece of rockweed clinging to a rocky shore, wrapping her arms and her body around him like tendril of kelp. Slowly the heat began to penetrate through her wet clothes, her salty skin, into her very bones, and then she was shivering with something other than cold, and he was shivering, too.
“I feel as if I’m kissing a mermaid,” he whispered against her ear.
She laughed against the solid warmth of his chest, a rusty, shaken sound. “You have been. Actually, I’m a siren, here to drown unsuspecting sailors.”

“But what if you can?” she said in a desperate whisper. “What if you can simply put it all behind you, forget about it?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do all summer, and so far I haven’t had much success.”
“But what if you could?” she persisted.
He looked down at her, lying against the pillows, her russet-colored hair black in the moonlight. “Then I’ll find you,” he said softly.
“And I’m expected to settle for that? A vague possibility?” Her voice wasn’t angry, only resigned and very, very sad.
“It’s all I can offer.”

She arched against him, the warmth in her turning into a fire. Her hands reached up to cradle his face, and she kissed him, long and deep, telling him without words how much she’d missed him, how much she loved him, how much she hated herself for hurting him. He answered her, his tongue a strong, driving force within the receptive warmth of her mouth, telling her he would never leave her again.
Slowly, carefully she let her hands slide down his arms, past his ribs, down the hard flatness of his stomach to touch him, hold him. His answering groan was reward enough, as he pressed himself into her willing hands, and she gentled and stroked him. His response was to delve deeper into her mysteries, the warm dampness of her telling him how much she needed him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Review: The Naked Fisherman by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fisherman #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Fisher Mann
Heroine: Therese Capshaw
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 30, 2021
Started On: October 30, 2021
Finished On: November 01, 2021

The Naked Fisherman by Jewel E. Ann is the first book in the Fisherman duet series. The story begins with 18 year old Therese Capshaw (Reese) travels to see her mom for the first time in five years. Having been incarcerated for growing marijuana, Reese’s mom spends five years in a women’s correctional facility, while her dies three three years into her mom’s jail term, which means Reese had gone under the care of her paternal grandparents, who had ensured that she grow up with the right Christian values by sending her to a private Christian academy in Texas.

When she arrives, Reese finds out that her mom is leaving her in the care of her landlord for just a month’s time, the landlord who turns out to be none other than 28 year old Fisher Mann. From the get-go, Fisher teases her, all because she is easy game with her naivety born out spending her most formative teenage years at the Christian academy.

Reese is enthralled, shocked, aroused, and at the same time uncomfortable by what Fisher makes her feel. The way he treats her as a child who knows nothing one minute, and the next turns on his charms with a gusto makes her feel scorched and leaves her helpless in her response to him.

Given that this is a two book series, The Naked Fisherman ends on a cliffhanger and unless you already gave up on reading this one halfway through, you would definitely want to know how all of it ends. Which is what happened to me.

Jewel E. Ann has a way of writing her stories that draws the reader in, regardless of the trope she takes on. With an age gap of ten years between the hero and heroine, Fisher is a man who is a bit of a commitment-phobe, enjoying his life to the fullest. It is a tad difficult to gauge his feelings (developing or otherwise), when it comes to Reese because the story is told solely from Reese’s point of view in the first person.

I felt quite conflicted for the most part of the story – perhaps that is by design. Rather than feeling the sexual tension, I felt like Fisher was being inappropriate because he was taking advantage of Reese’s innocence in a way. The fact that Reese feels uncomfortable about it is telling. It is not Reese’s fault that she ended up with a conservative set of grandparents, who molded her to their way of thinking. I also felt like this book looks down on religion as a concept, making it sound as if being conservative and/or religious is the bane of everyone’s existence.

I have seen some reader reviews taking on quite the judgmental tone when it comes to Reese and her understanding and viewpoints at first towards LGBTQ. Religious values for the most part guide us towards what is right and wrong. As society has evolved and moved away from religion, the ethics and legal framework that rules society has taken cues from the evolving expectations of humans, which of course has meant the acceptance of LGBTQ and the worldwide campaign to inculcate everyone with these values.

What I find funny is that while the same groups of people talk about acceptance and advocates against judging the other for their chosen paths, the same comes out with their guns blazing to condemn anyone who holds different values close to their heart. Live and let live is only a phrase that is applicable for those who are on the path of the majority accepted norms now, and anyone who believes otherwise, either because of their religion or any other philosophies that guides their lives, are considered to be rigid, judgemental, and not fit for modern society.

Fisher certainly leads Reese on, turning hot and cold when it suites him, giving not just Reese a whiplash before all is said and done. The whole deal with not taking Reese’s virginity, and Fisher acting “noble” by stating that Reese’s husband would thank him for it was kind of off putting as well. If Fisher did not want to be responsible for taking Reese’s virginity, all well and good. But entire scenes focused on this aspect got a bit tiresome for me.

Reese’s inner conflict when it comes to being with Fisher is something I could identify with. You do not lose sight of how you are brought up, the values instilled in you, just because you meet the kind of man that takes your breath away. Your conscience would still speak up, and it is up to that person to decide how they want to move forward from that point onward. Calling Reese dumb, pathetic, or worse because of that just shows how judgmental society has become in a bid to accept the popular norms.

For those who are fans of Jewel E. Ann, the reviews are mixed, so I recommend to read this at your own risk.

Final Verdict: The Naked Fisherman is a story that invoked a lot of mixed feelings in me, from religious conservatism to being less than comfortable with the Fisher’s attitudes and actions towards Reese at certain points!

Favorite Quotes

“Why are you running from me?” He was right at my back.
I forced myself to turn toward him, and it took superhero strength. He stepped toward me.
I stepped back.
We did this dance until a wall stopped my retreat.
He pressed his hands to the wall above my head, and my heart rate spiked a thousand percent. The air exchange in my lungs sounded like that of someone finishing a marathon.
Was I reading him wrong?
It wouldn’t have been the first time I got it wrong and felt like a fool. But that moment felt different.
The look in his eyes wasn’t the same.
The part of his lips.
The increased intensity of his own chest rising and falling.

“A-are you g-going to kiss me?”
His lips pulled into a hint of amusement. “I was thinking about it.” Fisher’s patience killed me, completely slayed me. It was as if he had to solve the world’s problems in his head before he kissed me.
But I didn’t want to be a problem of the world. I wanted to be the girl—the woman—he kissed on a Monday night for no good reason. Not everything in life needed an explanation. Couldn’t we steal a few seconds, a kiss, without accountability?
“Will you be done thinking about it anytime soo—”
Fisher kissed me.

“Did you get a lot of work done today?” He gripped my waist, and my hands flew to his shoulders because I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Then he lifted me onto the counter and stepped into the space between my spread legs.
Just like the previous night, everything in my body kicked into overdrive. “I …” Swallowing hard, I gave him a nervous smile. “I sorted and filed today.”
“That’s good.” He brushed my hair away from my shoulders and dipped his face into my neck.
I stiffened feeling the warmth of his breath spread along my skin. My hands slid from his shoulders to his hair, searching for control. If I didn’t want him to kiss my neck, I could have yanked him away.
But I did.

A sharp, audible gasp left my parted lips just as he sucked my earlobe into his mouth and released it a second later by dragging his teeth along it. All the weird things happened at once.
Heat in my cheeks worked its way down to everywhere.
Pressure built between my legs.
I swear it felt like I’d peed a little, but I knew better.
Heaviness in my breasts.
Even my nipples felt different—sensitive as they pressed against the fabric of my bra.
Copious amounts of saliva required constant swallowing to keep from drooling. I was afraid to be touched anymore yet needed to be touched. It was so foreign and impossible to articulate even to myself.

“Come here.”
After a few seconds of hesitation, I crawled onto the bed close to him.
“Straddle my legs.”
Biting my quivering lower lip, I straddled his jean-clad legs. The level of intimacy made it nearly impossible to breathe.
“Higher.”
I scooted higher.
He sat up, shrugging off his shirt, and I jumped as his hands found my hips, his fingers grazing my butt. Our noses nearly touched.
“I’m going to kiss you. And touch you.” His voice was just a whisper, a warm breath over my lips. “And you’re going to do whatever you need to do to feel … good. And if you get scared, I want you to close your eyes and know that I’ve got you. You’re not too young or too anything. You are you. And I just think that you’re … beautiful.”

We kissed, unhurried, almost lazily.
My hands navigated his chest and back, every muscle, every bend in the terrain of his body. Fisher feathered his calloused hands over my bare skin, sending goose bumps spreading across it.
Our kiss deepened, a soft moan breaking the silence. It took me a few seconds to realize it was me, not him. Fisher’s fingers slid up my inner thighs. I stiffened, eyes wide. He blinked a few times and slowly kissed me again. When I closed my eyes, I let go … finding trust in the man who “had me.” His fingers teased the leg of my panties. My right hand found his hair as my left hand clawed his back.

“Fisher … m-move …”
“Move what?” he asked with so much control I thought I might die of my own impatience.
“E-everything. Just … move.”
His strong hands claimed my hips again, only this time, they gripped me a little harder, and he moved me over him.
He did it for me, and it felt so addictive I couldn’t formulate a coherent thought.
He did it for him, and his breaths grew more labored, his kisses more desperate.
I wanted nothing more than to know what it would feel like for him to be inside of me. “Fisher … I … I think I want you to take off your jeans.”
He reclined back onto my pillow and grinned as I leaned forward, resting my hands on his chest, my hair falling around my face and his.
“You don’t … not yet.” His eyelids grew heavy as his pelvis lifted from the bed.

“I’m going to kill Rory for leaving you with me.” He took a step forward and grabbed the back of my hair, clenching it in his hand and forcing my head to the side as he sucked and licked my neck.
“F-Fisher …” I clawed his biceps to steady myself. He wasn’t kissing my red lips and smearing my lipstick. I gave him a little credit for that, but he still seemed to be teetering on the verge of control as his other hand slid up the front of my shirt.
I gasped when his rough hand palmed my bare breast. He groaned, his thumb circling my nipple.
“Oh my God—gosh …” I stumbled over using the Lord’s name in vain.

Fisher grabbed my face and kissed me, our tongues mingling as my nipples brushed his chest. And I needed more. My fingers teased his abs just above the waist of his jeans, and he moaned into the kiss. Then my brave and completely inexperienced fingers moved lower, tracing the outline of his erection, and his hips thrust forward into my touch as he moaned a little louder … kissed me a little harder … and lifted me onto the edge of the pool table.
It was wrong. I thought. I maybe even knew. But I didn’t want to take responsibility … not yet. The feeling … the drug he became … was too strong.

“So … you won’t take my virginity.” It felt weird having that conversation because he’d said something so eerily similar to me. “What will you take from me?”
With a contemplative expression that seemed to border on the painful side, he whispered, “Let’s start with your clothes.”
I wondered … I wondered so hard when he made the decision to draw a line. He knew as well as I did that Rory wouldn’t be okay with anything we had done together. It wasn’t just me pushing lines and bending rules to serve my own needs and desires; Fisher did it too.
I just didn’t know why. He could have had Angie or Teagan or a million other women meeting his sexual needs.
Why me?

“I’m going to fucking devour you,” he said just before his mouth covered my bare flesh.
Just before his tongue parted me.
Just before he hummed.
I was …
Terrified to have his mouth there.
Elated because it felt so good. Too good. Sinfully good.

My hands ghosted down his back. His hands gripped my butt.
Thrust.
Thrust.
Thrust.
I spread my legs wider, allowing him to push into me a fraction more.
Thrust.
Thrust.
Thrust.
Each move a little harder.
Each breath a little more ragged, just like his next words.
“I.” Thrust.
“Want.” Thrust.
“Inside of you.” Thrust. Thrust. Thrust.
“So fucking bad.”

With a smug expression, he eyed me like he used to do, but I didn’t fall for it. “It’s almost too easy.”
“What’s too—”
He kissed me. Hard. Harder than he had ever kissed me. And I fought him, but I lost because I did want him to kiss me. It’s all I wanted. But it didn’t mean I was going to give myself to him. No matter how much I wanted his kiss, it didn’t change what had happened between us.
My hand dropping the empty bottle to the floor so my fingers could dive into his hair didn’t change anything either.
His hands grabbed my ass and lifted me off my feet. Fisher kissed me and carried me up the stairs like a drunk man on a mission.
Through the door.
Down the hallway.
Onto his bed.

He grabbed my face and kissed me a little softer than just seconds earlier. Dragging his lips across my face, dotting it with kisses, he whispered in my ear, “Your husband can thank me.”
Those words stopped my heart. The warm blood in my veins ran cold, sending an icy jolt along my spine.
Fisher lifted my hips and positioned me over him, pushing into me an inch, maybe not even.
Tears filled my eyes as I stilled, not letting him move my hips any farther. And I saw it in his eyes.
The pain.
The love.
The conflict.
More than anything, I saw all the reasons I fell for Fisher Mann. He knew we weren’t at the right place to make us work, but he was willing to give me the one thing I thought I wanted. He wanted to give me all he had to give, even though he knew it wouldn’t be enough.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: Once Touched, Never Forgotten by Natasha Tate

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Stephen Whitfield
Heroine: Colette Huntington
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 01, 2011
Started On: November 19, 2020
Finished On: November 21, 2020

Once Touched, Never Forgotten by Natasha Tate tells the story of super executive Stephen Whitfield and pastry chef Colette Huntington, who embark on an affair lasting a period of five months, which leaves Colette in love and pregnant with Stephen’s child. Both of them had entered the affair with eyes wide open, with zero expectations from one another except for the good times in bed. Or so they both told themselves until Colette disappears, ending their affair and leaving Stephen reeling in its wake.

Five years later, their paths cross again, and this time, the secret that Colette holds close to her heart is revealed, which ties them together in a way that Stephen is unwilling to overlook. Demanding that Colette be his, once again it is treacherous waters these two traverse, as emotions run high and love overlooked leads to heartbreak.

I seriously wanted to like the story that unfolded. The writing was good, easing the reader into the story in a way that makes you feel totally at ease. At the same time, the sexual tension was off the charts hot, with Ms. Tate’s ability to take the story from zero to hundred, just like that.

What I had problems with was Colette as a character. I understood that she was only looking out for herself at first, when she resisted Stephen at every turn. Then it was her unborn baby that she wanted to protect from being treated as a responsibility if Stephen were to be put in that untenable position, given what she knows of him and the very scant little discussions they have had on commitment and love up till that point.

At the same time, I felt that Stephen had more heart to him than Colette was willing to give him credit for and was more sensitive than Colette when it comes right down to it. Both come up from screwed up backgrounds, which of course means that each carries a shit ton of baggage when all is said and done. While Stephen understands the psychology behind Colette and what drives her to reject him time and yet again, Colette never attempts to do the same for him, which is where it rankled.

I felt like Colette never did fight for Stephen and the love she supposedly felt for him, being to hung up on her past. Instead, Stephen is the one who does all the chasing, pursuing, and convincing – which means as a reader I felt cheated because I want both protagonists to be in it wholeheartedly, to understand what each other did wrong for there to really be an equal partnership based on love and trust for the long term.

Recommended for fans of Natasha Tate and those who love combustible category romances. Stephen definitely does heat up the pages!

Final Verdict: Affairs embarked on with the best of intentions often leads to emotional disaster – Once Touched, Never Forgotten is all about that and more as Stephen and Colette finds their way back to each other again!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you know I still dream about your hair?”
The low rasp of his voice, soft as velvet, made her tremble. He must have detected the subtle shiver along her flesh because his grip tightened against her shoulders and he dragged her closer. As much as she wanted to pull free, another part of her responded to the demanding strength of his touch, to the command underscoring his nearness.
Lifting her hands to push him away, she froze when her fingertips touched the warm thickness of his wrists. Her thumbs pressed against the channel of tendons at the base of his palms while her fingertips involuntarily recalled the hard landscape of bones and flesh in his forearm. She heard his swift intake of breath, watched his chest expand and rise, and her hands refused to abandon his smooth, hair-dusted skin. Time stretched, grew taut, while the silence beat between them.

Before she had a chance to prepare herself, his warm palms cupped her face and tilted her mouth toward his. Her startled inhale did nothing to deter him, and his dark head dipped toward hers with unerring accuracy. Her fingers flew to his forearms even as the muscled wall of his chest bumped her breasts, pressing her against the closed door while his mouth covered hers. The fiery, voracious, delicious assault of his lips stunned her. Consumed her.

He stared at her mouth, that lush, kissable mouth, while one hand moved inexorably up along the silk spine of her dress and to the back of her arched neck. He wanted to taste every centimeter of her defiant, trembling softness, to explore the fine, delicate curve of her upper lip, to nip at the lush, petal-smooth swell of it until she moaned beneath him.
Just thinking of how she’d respond, he felt the hairs along his arms lift, priming him for the battle he fully intended to win.
She stared at him, her hazel eyes huge and alarmed within her flushed face, while her hands shoved blindly at his shoulders. “Stephen—”
He caught her protest with his mouth, every last sense focused on the exquisite fit of her lips beneath his.

His expression was intense as he walked around the desk and then held her against the back of one of his armchairs. His hands, pressed tight against the base of her spine, were steely against her softness, the iron muscles of his thighs pressing heated awareness along her flesh despite the layers of clothing between them.
Low against her pelvis, she felt the hot, insistent pressure of his arousal, undeniable in its masculine quest for satisfaction. “Stephen,” she gasped.
“Kiss me,” he growled, his hips grinding against hers while a treacherous dampness gathered between her legs. “Kiss me and I’ll consider a compromise.”

Slowly, he drew her feet wide, planting them beside his spread thighs. He moved to her knees next, his warm hands pressing them open beneath his intense gaze. His nostrils flared and his eyes darkened with arousal as his attention dipped.
Exposed, open, and flooded with a damp, yearning heat, she swallowed against the searing touch of his gaze upon her shadowed flesh. A sweet, shocked tremor of embarrassment and desire leaked through her chest, making it difficult to breathe. She knotted her hands against the supple leather of his chair, gripping the edge of the armrests while he stared at her. She remembered how he’d looked at her every time they’d made love, as if there were no one in his world but her. She could read his arousal in the huge, hard bulge between his legs, in the darkened crests of his cheeks and glittering eyes. And for the first time in over five years she felt beautiful. Wanted.

And still he plied her flesh, his tongue invading her with devastating softness. The savage sensation of losing control, of quivering atop a chasm of release so acute, had Colette fighting for control at the same time as he urged her surrender. Her heart thrashed within her ribs, she could no longer keep her eyes open, and her knees pulled high as she rocked and rocked and rocked against his mouth. Exquisite pleasure twisted high as he consumed her, until the steady slide of tongue and lip and heat became too much, too intense, too … too everything. She catapulted into careening spasms of rapture, contractions cresting in wave after wave as she shuddered and groaned.

Thoughts failed her as she reached the summit, her body trembling and spasming with each delicious stroke. An aching combination of desperation and love filled her heart to brimming as Stephen gripped her hips, drawing out the pulsing pleasure of her inner muscles. Clenching him deep inside, she leaned to balance against the granite plane of his stomach while he found his own bucking release. Watching the play of emotions in his face, knowing that she’d brought him the same intense pleasure he’d brought her, made her want to weep.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Harlequin

Review: Scandalous by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookscandalous
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Sinners of Saint, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trent Rexroth
Heroine: Edie Van Der Zee
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 21, 2017
Started On: April 03, 2020
Finished On: April 05, 2020

Scandalous by L.J. Shen is the 3rd book in the Sinners of Saint series. Having not read the two books prior to this one in the series, I just jumped right in because a lot of reviews seemed to hint that the hero was the kind that I love the best; ruthless, a tad cruel at times, and nevertheless endearing in a way that is hard to explain.

The one thing that I can say is that Scandalous can be read as a standalone; for the most part, I did not feel as if I had lost out on anything by starting straightaway with the 3rd book in the series. Scandalous tells the story of how 33 year old Trent Rexroth meets his match in 18 year old Edie Van Der Zee, the last woman on earth whom he would have chosen for the role, if he had a choice in the matter.

The story begins with the most unlikely of scenes, where Edie snatches a purse off a woman on the street, only to find that it is from Trent’s mother. Days later, she finds herself forced to work for her father (whom she hates and for good reason), who is in a partnership with Trent and his friends.

Trent’s only weakness lies in his love for his daughter Luna, whose refusal to articulate and give voice to her thoughts drives him to desperation. The therapy sessions seem to help, but it is in Edie’s presence that Luna comes alive for the first time in a long while, which basically seals the deal where Trent and Edie are concerned.

Even though Edie plays a dangerous game with her father which involves Trent, and Trent would like nothing better than to be able to keep his hands off of Edie, none of that matters when these two share the same breathing space. The heat between them is not the kind anyone walks away from, and before they both know it, they are both in too deep with each other.

While I liked the overall premise of Scandalous, which includes the forbidden factor and the huge age gap, I truly could not understand why Trent is referred to as The Mute in the story. It was apparently because he rarely speaks. I must have been reading a totally different book, because to me, he appeared to be perfectly fine in the speaking department.

I did like Edie and felt for her rough life with parents who neither of them deserved to be one. Edie’s penchant for stealing is explained as the story hits its climax, the secret which she keeps from basically everyone in her life, which is the shock factor of the story.

I also felt that there was just too much happening in the story to really focus on how the relationship between Trent and Edie evolves and builds to form something meaningful out of the foundation of wanting Luna’s happiness in common. I know that there was ample enough sex happening, and apart from Luna being the basis for Trent lowering his guard and letting Edie into his life, I couldn’t see much going for them to hold them together. Even the sex scenes were mostly focused on portraying just how good Trent is between the sheets or anywhere for that matter. I for one would have loved to see just once, how Trent is driven crazy by his want and need for Edie than the other way around.

I also did not find myself all that enamored with Trent. He was gushed about as an anti-hero by a lot of readers, but what I found was an asshole (who has friends who are a bunch of assholes), who are mean and rude to everyone else except when it comes to each other and their women. I wished for a hero who had his own issues to deal with, who actually showed through his actions that Luna meant more to him than just taking her to therapy sessions and then scratching his sexual itch with the therapist after hours. To me, that just did not sit all that well for some reason.

Recommended for fans of LJ Shen and fans of the Sinners of Saint series.

Final Verdict: Trent and Edie’s love is forged out of something easy to understand and stays that way for reasons best left unknown; after all, the heart wants what it wants, regardless.

Favorite Quotes

“How can it feel this good?” she nearly protested, reaching with her hand to touch me again. I moved away quickly, still playing with her tit.
“Because it’s different when you’re in the hands of a man.”
“Show me.”
I didn’t answer.
“Please,” she purred, and this time she managed to glide her bikini-ed groin over my training shorts. Fuck, I wasn’t sure if it was the ocean or her, but something there was damp.
That’s when I lost it.

“It means”—his teeth dragged along my neck—“that what we are to each other is potential sacrifices. As long as you know I will throw you under the train if you mess with my plans, I’m good.”
I swallowed. “I’m good, too.”
“Let’s have some fun then.”
And that was all the preparation he gave me before shoving his hand inside my panties. His strong, warm fingers stroked my folds gently, as if soothing them, preparing for whatever he was going to give me.
“One last warning,” he said, his hot tongue making its first appearance, licking a trail of tantalizing desire up the side of my neck, making me shiver violently. “I fuck rough.” He shoved one finger into me and I arched my back, gasping from the sudden penetration. “Deep-throating is a requirement, not an option”—he shoved a second finger into me—“and I’m about to fucking ruin you for any other man. So when the time comes and no one else can compare to me, just remember—you asked for it.”

The orgasm was slamming into me like whiplash. Again and again. It took me a few moments to realize I was experiencing multiple orgasms for the first time in my life. They were all equally intense, and I was beginning to wonder what it was about Trent that made me feel like I was burning from the inside out. Bane was good in bed. He was great, actually.
But he didn’t set me ablaze only to turn his back on me once the tongues of fire consumed me.
He didn’t ignite in me the need to do and say crazy things.

“I liked it when you bit my nipple hard,” she said. I ignored her, pulling my fingers out and coating her pussy with her arousal.
“You make me feel deranged with need,” she whimpered, just as I slapped her pussy for the first time. It made her body stutter and stir, and she let out a little yelp I stifled by shoving my wet fingers into her mouth.
“Shhh,” I said. “You said you like it. Show me how much.”

“Harder.”
“No.”
“Trent.”
“No.”
“I need it.”
“You’ve had enough for one day, Edie. Your cum is all over my dick. I can eat you out if you want another orgasm.” Was I bargaining with her mid-fuck? That was a first. And a last. This chick wasn’t running the show, no matter how hard I wanted her tight pink pussy to milk my cock.
“If you won’t, Bane will.” I heard the smile in her voice but couldn’t see it. Fuck it. She’d asked for it.
Thwack!
We came together like a storm.

“Did you just give me a nickname?” I smirked, feeling the muscles of my tight hole tightening around his finger. It hurt a little, but mostly felt weird. Not weird bad, either. But the kind you needed to get used to in order to enjoy. The way he worked his fingers over mine…that was the real treat.
“Better than Gidget.” He bit my chin.
“I like Gidget.”
“You like Little Tide more.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re about to.” He slammed his finger deeper into my ass and I yelped, clinging to his broad shoulders. His lips met my ear and he bit my earlobe, smiling.
I exploded on our fingers.

There was no excuse for what I was doing. For me walking into that room and closing the door behind us. For me striding over to her with chaos dancing in my chest, watching her as she lifted her eyes from the toy, reading everything that was inside of mine.
I could say it was because she’d protected my daughter, but that wouldn’t be true.
I could say it was because I saw her layers as she held that toy soldier in her small hand, but that would be bullshit, too.
I did it because I had to. Because fuck the consequences and Jordan Van Der Zee and everything standing between us. For the first time in five years, I put my lips on another person’s and kissed her. Hard.

“I won’t beg.”
“You won’t beg,” he repeated, pushing his whole cock through my panties, penetrating me. The fabric of my underwear stretched along my inner thighs painfully, and I threw my head back, wincing.
I wanted more.
I wanted it harder.
I wanted everything.
I moaned, slipping my fingers into his denim and underwear and clutching his ass as I opened my legs wider for him. “What are we doing?”
“Exactly what I promised myself I’d never do again. Fucking without a condom.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase

Format: E-Bookmrimpossible
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Carsington Brothers, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rupert Carsington
Heroine: Daphne Pembroke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 01, 2005
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: January 09, 2020

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase is the second book in her Carsington Brothers series. Set in Egypt in 1821, Mr. Impossible tells the story of 29 year old widowed Daphne Pembroke, whose brilliance in deciphering hieroglyphs outshines that of many in the field. When her brother gets kidnapped and the only person she is forced to depend on is the very vexing Rupert Carsington, she is at her wits end to say the least.

Rupert finds himself in Egypt when he is sort of “exiled” to Egypt by his father, as a means for Rupert to mend his ways. With his penchant for getting into trouble easily, Daphne finds herself increasingly agitated with Rupert when all he does is annoy her in ways that leaves her hot and bothered.

Hunting through the pyramids, riding out a sandstorm together, evading killers hot on their trails, it is the adventure of a lifetime for Daphne where she is forced to rethink all that she had judged Rupert to be when they had first met. Daphne finds her annoyance replaced by fascination which in turn makes her fall, and fall hard for a man whom she believes would probably have no use for a woman like herself. Daphne’s awakening in Rupert’s arms, and the equal fascination with which Rupert views the effect she has on him was a delight!

While I enjoyed the story, I cannot say that I was enamored by the tale to the point where I fell in love with all of it. It would not be stretching it to say that I was all sorts of excited when I began reading Mr. Impossible, because my only read from Loretta Chase had been amazing; i.e. Lord of Scoundrels.

For one, I was kind of put off by how Daphne came off at first; haughty and mighty proud of her intelligence. The way she saw Rupert as an idiot and made no pretense of how she felt about that that irked me. I love humbleness in a heroine and that was a bad starting point for me when it came to Daphne.

I know that a lot of how Daphne projected herself as came from the fact that she had had a disappointing marriage which had basically eviscerated her hopes of finding a partner who would see her as an intellectual equal amongst other things.

Furthermore, her husband had bungled up and made a mess of dealing with the sensual creature that she is. But that dislike which developed at that starting point, prevented me from being too drawn towards her in the end.

Rupert was wonderful in many ways, but then again, I cannot say I was enamored with his character to the point where I fell in love with him. He was sexy, highly intelligent, and man enough to accept the woman that is Daphne in every single way. That to me was reason enough to root for the man, even though secretly I hold the belief that he could have done better.

Recommended for fans of Loretta Chase.

Final Verdict: Mr. Impossible has plenty of adventure and sizzle that made the novel an enjoyable escape!

Favorite Quotes

He tilted his head a little to one side, studying her “Ah, well, so much for slow sieges,” he said. He leant in, and she was too slow to duck or draw back, and so his mouth fell upon hers, and the bottom dropped out of the world.
She lifted her hand—to push him away as she must. As she ought. But his mouth moved boldly over hers, firm and sure, and she clung instead, her fingers curling round his upper arm. It was as hard as the stone figure blocking her retreat, yet warm and alive, its heat electric. Her fingers tingled, and the current shot under the skin. Every particle of her being reacted, as though galvanized.

Deep-buried longings clawed their way out of hiding. They tangled about her heart and coiled and twisted in her belly. She couldn’t name them. This wanted a new language, or no language at all. Meaning narrowed to the taste of-his mouth and his skin and to the scent of him, dark and dangerous and so familiar that she ached, as though it were a cherished memory or a reawakened grief.

A long moment passed.
Then she pushed his hands away, twisted sharply about, and raised herself up to glare at him.
He grinned at her. She gazed at him for a time, green eyes fierce. Finally, she opened her mouth, and he thought, Here comes the tongue-lashing.
She let out a huff of vexation…
… and her soft mouth came down on his.
She tasted like gunpowder.
Rupert grasped her waist and held on. It was like being shot from a cannon or thrown from a precipice. She had only to bring her mouth to his, and the world flew apart, and he rocketed to places he didn’t recognize.

A storm swirled into his mind, and he couldn’t remember anymore what ought to be done. Mindlessly he tore at his own trousers. The fabric fell away, and his rod sprang free. He caught her under the thigh, lifting her leg up. She wrapped her leg about his waist, and he thrust into her. She cried out, “Oh. Oh, my God.”
He would have echoed her, but he was long past words.

He pushed her skirts up further and loosened the waist of his full trousers. She trembled when the garments slid away, leaving them skin to skin. She wrapped her arms about his shoulders and pressed her mouth against his neck to keep from crying out when his hands moved up her thighs. She drank in his scent, hot and male and his alone. At the first intimate touch she screamed silently. If she could have done, she’d have cried out her pleasure, her torment, and impossible, contradictory demands. More. No. Stop. Don’t stop. There. No, there. Oh, don’t. Oh, yes, please.
Laughter bubbled inside her along with a sorrow all but unbearable.
Madness.
Wonderful madness.

They scarcely moved at all. Awareness became all the more intense. He was aware each time her muscles tensed about him and eased, and of the very slight motion of her hip that sent waves of pleasure coursing through him. He was aware of her hands, gliding over him, and making long trails of sparks over his skin.
He opened his eyes and looked at her, and they smiled at each other in silent, wicked amusement, the devil in him recognizing the devil in her. And so they lay, watching each other, making secret love, while from outside came the familiar sounds of footsteps on the deck, voices calling out as they prepared to land.

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

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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.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

Format: E-Bookneanderthalseekshuman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Knitting in the City, #1
Publisher: Cipher-Naught
Hero: Quinn Sullivan
Heroine: Janie Morris
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 08, 2016
Started On: October 14, 2019
Finished On: October 19, 2019

“If I were a function, you would be my asymptote. I always tend toward you.”

Neanderthal Seeks Human is my first read by Penny Reid. This book was available for free on Amazon during one of those free deal days by the author, I am guessing to promote Knitting in the City series of which this is the debut book.

Told in the first person, through the POV of the heroine Janie Morris for the most part, the story begins with Janie getting fired from her job, losing her boyfriend and apartment in a single day, and Sir Handsome McHotpants escorting her out of the building.

Janie believes herself to be an outlier of the human species; where  she is not greatly affected by desire and the need to connect on a primal level. That is until Sir Handsome McHotpants aka Quinn Sullivan makes his interest in her known, which is an aberration in itself if you ask Janie.

With her bunch of friends who make up the knitting group so to speak, Janie embarks on uncharted waters for her, in pursuing something that is out of this world for someone like her. Quinn, who is one of the finest of the male specimens to ever walk into her life, Janie is uncertain about many aspects of the burgeoning “relationship” between them. There is drama of the kind that makes for hilarity and of course brings forth the conflict in the main story line.

While Neanderthal Seeks Human was a great story in many ways, I felt cheated on two aspects. Mainly, the lack of POV included from Quinn, the hero. He is of course a character cast well amidst all of my complaints, but the fact that the readers do not get to see how he views the world and Janie as one of the lead characters was a sore point, especially when it is difficult to read him through other people, when Janie has so many misconceptions about what it is that she has with him.

The second thing was the lack of delivery on ALL that sexual tension and build up. Perhaps that is Penny Reid’s signature in her novels, I wouldn’t know. But I dislike it when authors build up and ratchet up the heat so much and then just leave you hanging. Books like this makes me feel so cheated. Its like having a lot of foreplay which leads to extremely bad sex.

In all honesty, that is how I felt. And when the author mentions the whole on the table sex that is about to happen at work and just leaves it at that, I was like, now that’s the author being just plain mean! I know, I know, somethings are best left to one’s imagination and all that, but if you do build up the heat to a certain point, you have to deliver – no excuses in my opinion.

I liked Janie well enough, though I wouldn’t say that I fell in love with her as the lead female character. Since Quinn’s POV is hardly accounted for, it is pretty evident that it is Janie who is with issues. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that hero does not have his own past, but the constant going back and forth the heroine does in the story, while understandable at certain points, was definitely irritating when I hit my saturation point for all of it.

The one positive aspect of the book for me were Janie’s friends. They are the kind of steadfast peeps that everyone should have. Made me realize just how alone I have become in that regard. I guess growing up has its own disadvantages whereby everyone starts to lead their own lives and making time for friends also becomes a bit difficult.

But there is something that I always believe in; that we would make time for what and who in our lives we consider as important. But the thought of starting over, getting a bunch of friends to hang out together just makes me weary in the extreme. But it is nice to read and bask in the glow of friendships as the ones that materialize in this book, which I am sure is a continued thread in the rest of the books in the series.

Recommended for those who love rom-com books – this one is good on that score, where I laughed out loud so many times, the dedication at the beginning of the book being one of the best, if not THE best that I have encountered ever.

Final Verdict: Neanderthal Seeks Human is a novel packaged with intelligent writing, laughter, and good times. It sizzles with sexual tension of the kind that leaves the reader in a state of inebriated desire.

Favorite Quotes

Cell phones, like the other social media constructs of our time, encourage the collecting of so-called friends and contacts similar to how my grandmother used to collect teacups and put them on display in her china cabinet.
Only now, the teacups are people, and the china cabinet is Facebook.

I parted my lips and he responded with a low growl, his arms sliding completely around me as he claimed my mouth. His hand moved up my back and fisted in my hair; he pulled my bun out of its twist sending rascally curls in every direction. He looped a length of it around his hand and held me in place as he explored my mouth. The kiss turned hungry, and my hands, trapped between us, could only grip the front of his shirt.

I frowned at him, but before I could process his response, he bent and kissed me for the third time that night. This one was different; not the slow, savoring sweetness of our first kiss and most definitely not a quick caress of lips like our last. This one was hungry, immediate, and demanding.
He fisted his hand in my hair and backed me into the door of my building, trapping me in place. It was the kind of kiss that drove away all coherent thoughts; like a bloodthirsty wolf chasing a bunny rabbit. My body responded in a way that I didn’t know possible, my back arching, wanting to press every inch of myself against his taut form, with the painfully delightful ache in my lower stomach winding its way around my limbs.

On impulse I leaned down and brushed my lips against his, intending to give my sleepy beauty a small peck. However, before I could withdraw, Quinn’s hands held me in place; his giant palms on my cheeks, his long fingers stroking my neck.
He deepened the kiss even as he sat upright and leaned over me so that I was slightly reclined, the back of my head against his knee; my fingers curled around his forearms to steady myself. His tongue was warm and soft and worshipful as it gently, maddeningly gently, caressed my own. I was being tasted and savored like one licks ice cream or a gourmet dessert. The effect was inebriating.

“Quinn.” I whispered his name. I don’t know why I was whispering, but I suspected that my vocal chords were incapable of cooperating. “Quinn.”
Abruptly, he wrapped the long fingers of one hand around the back of my neck, cupping it, and before I could think or react, he dragged his mouth over mine and ransacked me. He was fervent and wet and hot, and the warmth in my stomach fluttered and twisted until the pressure between my thighs was unbearable. I pressed my knees together again and clenched.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Dark Light of Day by T.M. Frazier

Format: E-Bookthedarklightofday
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: King, #0
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Jacob Francis Dunn
Heroine: Abby Marie Ford
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 02, 2016
Started On: October 04, 2019
Finished On: October 06, 2019

The Dark Light of Day by T.M Frazier landed in by TBR pile from my never ending search for books that deliver dark romances. The Dark Light of Day is definitely that, delivering the kind of depravity that humans are all too capable of, leaving scars that run deep, which lasts for consecutive lifetimes.

The Dark Light of Day delivers the story of 22 year old Jacob Francis Dunn (Jake) whose mother had taken her own life and his father hates him since. Jake makes his own way in life and when he meets Abby Marie Ford (Bee) whose life had taken a turn for the worse when her grandmother is killed, thus begins the story of these two whose tale is tragic as they come.

Bee’s grandmother had been the only person who had cared about her, had shown her even an ounce of love, which was a far cry from her abuse filled childhood. One would think that a girl would be able to catch a break, but then turns out it is not smooth sailing for these two who are each broken in their own ways.

If I were to describe what happens in the story, I guess I would be spoiling it for the ones who haven’t read this book yet. I quite do not know how I feel about the book, even months after I finished reading it. What Bee goes through in the story is atrocious on so many levels and at the same time showcases her strength in overcoming nightmares of epic proportions.

What I do not understand is how Jake acted when the abominable deed had happened, how he turns his back on Abbie and leaves her to fend on her own. Perhaps the only role in which he made a positive impact on Bee was to teach her that there was pleasure to be found in consensual sex. Apart from that, I really could not understand his contribution to the whole story.

Jake did show Bee that all men aren’t vile creatures out to get the most vulnerable of us. But then again, it wasn’t just the men in her life that had taken advantage and abused her within an inch of her life. Her mother had been the vilest of them, scarring her childhood beyond recognition. Mothers like her deserve their own special place in hell and beyond.

While I may never be able to wrap my head around how the story progressed and took off, I still believe this is a page-turner in its own right. I just wish for a better and more well rounded ending.

Recommended for those who love strong heroines; Bee is what the word defines.

Final Verdict: The Dark Light of Day is a story that definitely makes an impact; a tale of inner strength, victories, and triumphs of the broken.

Favorite Quotes

“You are so fucking beautiful,” he said again. He covered my mouth with his, stroking my lips with his tongue, urging me to open for him. When I did, he tasted my tongue in long slow strokes before breaking our kiss to lavish his attentions on the nipple he hadn’t yet tasted.
“You know I’ve never done this before,” I whispered. Since I’d never just come out and said it, it felt foreign to me. I guess I was technically a virgin, although I never really felt like one.
I may never have had sex, but I’d lost my innocence a long time ago.

“You see, Abby, a respectable man would probably not want to take your virginity. Some guys, the kind with manners or morals, would even be turned off at the thought of being your first, but like I’ve tried to tell you–” He leaned in closer, and his lips brushed against my neck when he whispered in my ear. “I’m not like those men.” He pressed firmly on my clit. The pressure that had been building exploded in a blinding white hot release, sending shock waves from my toes to my neck, my insides pulsed and clenched as I rode out the new waves of sensation that just kept coming.
I didn’t know how much time had passed when I could again open my eyes. “That was…”
“Nothing yet,” Jake finished for me.

My legs shot out from beneath me as I felt the pressure start to take me under. Jake held my gaze as the white hotness returned, this time even bigger than before, rolling in on waves that never seemed to end until the flames ignited in one powerful explosion. I pulsed around Jake until he pushed deep into me one last time. I felt his ass clench under my hands. He hardened even more, if that was even possible, and twitched inside me. Then, he held my gaze and cried out my name as he spilled himself into me.
Before that very moment, I had thought the sight of Jake on his bike was the sexiest thing I’d ever seen. That was no longer true. From that day forward, nothing could compare to the sight of Jake coming.
And nothing ever would.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Accidental Girlfriend by Emma Hart

Format: E-Booktheaccidentalgirlfriend
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Mason Jackson
Heroine: Lauren Green
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 25, 2019
Started On: June 25, 2019
Finished On: June 26, 2019

The Accidental Girlfriend by Emma Hart is my very first novel by the author. I was looking for something lighthearted after the emotionally devastating and yet wholesome book I had read just prior to this, and I believe I found exactly what I was looking for in this book.

The main protagonists, Lauren Green and Mason Jackson, meet under unusual circumstances. Maybe not so unusual when you consider the age of social media where everything is posted online for everyone to see. Lauren, who is in a dating funk, makes the mistake of putting an online ad offering her services as a fake date, believing that no one would be that desperate. Turns out she was wrong. Which is how she ends up as Mason’s fake girlfriend for his ten-year high school reunion.

While both strive to be “objective” about their “union”, there is no hiding that attraction between the two. As Mason and Lauren are “forced” to spend time together, both find qualities in the other that might just make for a long lasting relationship, if only they are willing to give it a chance.

The Accidental Girlfriend is a novel that was enjoyable without much huss or fuss. There was a lot of snark in the novel, sometimes leading me to believe that there was too much of it. This is a very grown up take on love and the feelings that blossom alongside with it. There was zero angst and drama to it; just two consenting adults who were not looking for anything serious, finding their soulmates along the way. I felt that the heroine had too much snark to her, so much so that sometimes it was difficult to figure out where she was coming from, which detracted a lot from my enjoyment factor.

I believe that that is in essence what led to the lack of emotional depth to the characters, especially the heroine. She was just too busy throwing around sarcastic quips and making fantastic comebacks for every and any conversation she had to contribute to, which made it a trifle bit exhausting for me. I wanted to see her, the real Lauren, the one who quits taking on sarcasm as a defence mechanism and shows her vulnerabilities, especially to the one person who accepted her as she was.

Mason on the other hand, seemed fairly well put together. He was not embittered by the six years he had “wasted” on his previous girlfriend, the cheating aspect to which he just seemed indifferent to at best. Which was a trifle bit odd as well. However, Mason was kind, sexy, and patient, and perhaps what Lauren needed because Mason for some reason, sees the softness inside of her, something which I failed to because it was difficult to understand her on a deeper level.

Overall, I would say this was an okay read, a bit of flat-liner when you need one.

Final Verdict: If you like snark and lots of it, The Accidental Girlfriend is for you. Emma Hart has a lot where that came from to deliver when it comes to Mason and Lauren.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath

Format: E-bookwhenadukelovesawoman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Sins for All Seasons, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Antony Coventry
Heroine: Gillian Trewlove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 21, 2018
Started On: December 13, 2018
Finished On: December 15, 2018

I picked up a Lorraine Heath to read after ages, the last time I read a book of hers I cannot even remember. But what I definitely can recall with vivid clarity is just how emotional her books are, how much angst they carry, and how much I enjoyed them even as I cried over the obstacles between the hero and heroine in achieving their happiness.

It is 1841 and winter in London when Ettie Trewlove receives a bundle on her doorstep, another by-blow left for her to take in, babies born in sin by aristocrats that she has been in the habit of taking in and giving a home to. Even though she can ill afford to take in another, her heart is unable to leave the child to her fates, and so Gillian Trewlove grows up knowing a mother’s love, but never having actually known her own parents, always believing that she was only worthy of being left on a doorstep on a cold wintry night.

It is mid-August in 1871 when Antony Coventry, the ninth Duke of Thornley finds himself having the mother of bad days. With his bride having left him at the altar, Thorne finds himself being set upon by a bunch of ruffians, who would have killed him, if it had not been for the woman who finds him and comes to his rescue.

Gillian is the owner of a tavern in Whitechapel, and while she has a low tolerance for misdeeds in her tavern, she abhors violence of the kind that can do someone grievous harm. So when Gillian rescues a man who is definitely in need of help in the alley next to her tavern, she does not know that it is a Duke she is bringing into her life, nor how much things were going to change in her life from there onwards.

As Gillian slowly nurses Thorne back to health, he comes to the realization that Gillian is unlike any woman he has ever come across before. Thorne had assumed responsibility of the Dukedom when his father had passed away as Thorne had hit 15 years of age. Thorne had never known much affection or love in his life, not even from his mother, embittered by the actions of his father who had never stopped his philandering ways.

With the Dukedom had come responsibilities Thorne’s way, which had included a marriage that had been arranged the minute his bride-to-be had been born. What Thorne or the bride had wanted hadn’t factored in, and Thorne had been determined to do right by what was required of him, even if it means going against what he really wants.

Gillian knows her limitations as a bastard child, who practically has no place in society’s hierarchy. Especially not one that would make her desirable as a bride for anyone, much less a Duke. But the heart has a mind of its own, and it is as Gillian strives to help Thorne find his missing bride that their connection deepens. Each finding aspects about the other that fascinates and lures them closer together.

However, obligations and societal rules do not stop pressing upon one just because the heart yearns for something else. In the end, it is up to Gillian and Thorne to decide whether they want society to dictate their happiness, or chart their own course towards what is waiting for them, if only they are willing to make the sacrifices required.

I was so excited to be reading a Lorraine Heath after so long. I guess it was partly the excitement that made me expect more out of the story than it offered, which perhaps detracted a bit from the enjoyment factor. I was looking for the Lorraine Heath’s voice that I remember even after all this time, the dormant emotions that she is so good at rousing from readers.

I liked the slow build up of the romance between Thorne and Gillian. But I expected more from Thorne in a way, and while I found him sexy enough, I believed he should have stood up for himself more. But then understanding the rigid strictures of society that he had grown up in, it is also understandable where he comes from. Gillian comes off as the stronger character between the two, and because of the fact, it works between them.

I loved Gillian. She is strong, has a big heart, and wants to do right by Thorne, even if it means having her own heart broken along the way. That kind of sacrifice can only come from someone who loves in the truest sense. As I mentioned earlier, Thorne is a bit laid back in his nature, almost beta if you ask me when you consider the kind of hero he is. I guess that is one reason why the story lacked the angst I looked for. But I was glad when all was said and done, that Gillian turned out to be the kind of heroine who was deserving of the kind of gentle love that Thorne bestows upon her.

Recommended for fans of historical romances & fans of Lorraine Heath.

Final Verdict: Thorne and Gillian makes for a wholesome couple, and it is their journey towards happily ever after that I enjoyed much.

Favorite Quotes

Then he was standing before her, and for all her imaginings of this moment—all the times in her mind that she’d been calm, witty, and oh so very clever—the actual reality hit her as a bit disappointing when she heard herself ask, “What are you doing here?”
Both corners of that glorious mouth that had haunted her sleep hitched up. Slowly, ever so slowly he reached into a pocket inside his jacket, withdrew gold-rimmed spectacles, and perched them on that sharp aquiline nose of his. How could he suddenly appear even more masculine than before? “I wanted a better look at you.”

His mouth slid off hers, trailed along her chin, creating a myriad of sensations that heated her to the core. She had this odd need for him to place his mouth elsewhere, on her breasts, her stomach, lower. Dear God, but she felt wanton, yet she seemed incapable of pushing him away as he nibbled along her throat, his tongue lapping at the sensitive skin, before he moved on to the next area. He reached her collarbone and his mouth lingered, suckling gently before journeying back up to her chin and retreating.

Tearing his mouth from hers, he shoved himself down a few inches, plumped up her breast with one hand and offered it to his questing mouth as though it were the finest morsel ever served. As his lips came securely around the turgid nipple, he suckled, and she very nearly came off the bed as pain and pleasure warred for dominance, and pleasure won, sending armies of sensation throughout her. She pressed her honeyed canal against him, tilting up her hips, bowing her back in a way that allowed her to rub her intimate core along the length of his hard shaft.
If the way he jerked was any indication, now he was the one close to coming off the bed.

As the world exploded around her, as she flew apart and came back together, she knew memories would not be enough to sustain her, but they would be all she had and she would cherish and hoard them. She became aware of his frantic pumping, his harsh breathing, his stifling moans—
Then he pushed himself free of her, burying his face between her breasts as he shook with spasms, spilling his seed in his hand in an effort to protect her from anyone ever learning of her sins.

His fingers danced over the outer portion of her thigh, up and down, up and down, until he moved to the tender and sensitive inner edge, his fingers no longer frolicking but slowing to a meander until they reached the haven that was already moist and aching for him. “You’re so wet,” he rasped.
Moving her hand down, she rubbed the swollen length of him. “You’re so hard.”
“Aching with need, actually, need that will go unsatisfied until later. But you, princess, you need not wait.”

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

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