Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthedukewiththedragontattoo
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical
Series: Victorian Rebels, #6
Publisher: St. Martin
Hero: The Rook
Heroine: Lorelai Weatherstoke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 28, 2018
Started On: March 30, 2020
Finished On: April 01, 2020

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the sixth book in the delectable Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne. It is also a much awaited story in the series, because the male protagonist is a character who has captivated the imagination of fans as someone totally ruthless and well deserving of his own happily ever after. Needless to say, I was super excited to pick up The Rook’s story at long last.

34 year old Lorelai Weatherstoke is about to take the plunge into “un”-holy matrimony as her hateful brother wants her to, when her savior comes in the form of the man who walked out on her 20 years back, promising that he would be back for her. But the eyes of the young adult he had been at that point in time had been gentler, warmer, and kinder. The ones that stare at her now remain placid, as if he feels nothing, sees nothing.

Taken “captive” aboard his ship, Lorelai is somewhat pacified to be accompanied by her sister in law who cautions her against trusting The Rook. While Lorelai’s heart tells her that beneath all that ruthlessness lies the man she fell in love with, her other senses tells her to flee and surrender in equal doses. Meanwhile, The Rook, not knowing what he wants out of the situation, sets in motion the sequence of events that finally allows him to uncover the secrets of his past that has eluded him since forever, to finally be able to surrender to the love that had found him even amidst all that stood in between them.

While I have loved most of the books in the Victorian Rebels series, because lets face it, Ms. Byrne is one helluva romance writer, I just did not find myself all that enamored with the main protagonists of this installment. Ms. Bryne’s stories are a favorite for a reason – they deliver ruthless heroes who are just a tad shy of being irredeemable, whose love for the heroine is an all encompassing one, rendering them possessive in a way that just melts you on the inside. At the same time, the heroines are able to accept the heroes as they are, with perhaps the hero turning a bit mellow in the hands of the woman who deserves their commitment and love.

I had a couple of issues with Lorelai to begin with. When Lorelai first encounters The Rook and and takes him under her care, even with all the dangers around her, she stood her ground wherever and whenever it was possible, which scored her points from me. She was in an untenable situation and she had the courage which I kind of felt was a missing element when the story picked up twenty years later. I just felt that Lorelai did not particularly seem as enamored with The Rook as he was with her as well. I know that it was hard to see where the hero was coming from at times, but who else would otherwise just turn up out of the blue when you are about walk into a nightmare of a marriage, and rescue you if not for love?

The fact that Lorelai seemed to have a problem with the VERY timely demise of her brother, the very brother who had tormented and tortured not only her, but the sister in law as well, when he would have basically murdered Lorelai if he could have gotten away with it, I just did not get her reaction. Given the time period in which the story takes place, I just had a difficult time understanding Lorelai from that perspective.

Perhaps she was too much of a bleeding heart even with all that she had gone through in life, unlike heroines from other books who seemed to take these things in stride, when it was a deserving hit to say the least. I for one smiled when the brother’s life ended with such dramatic flair – I would have clapped had it not meant I would have had to leave the book aside and also end up looking like a crazy fool. Maybe I am just too bloodthirsty as a reader!

The next thing that bugged me was perhaps largely to do with my expectations. I expected The Rook to be more ruthless than he actually was portrayed in his own story. I expected a darker story for him given all that he has gone through. When a romance ends up disappointing you in terms of the hero and the heroine and the connection between them, I guess that in a large way detracts you from the enjoyment factor you are looking for in the story. I can see though, that I am in the minority viewpoint when it comes to this one.

However, I really loved the ingenious plotting behind The Rook’s character; while I wanted dark and ruthless for him, what Ms. Byrne delivered was a twist that I could never have seen coming, not in a million years. I also enjoyed the connection between Veronica (Lorelai’s sister in law) and Moncrieff, the Earl of Crosthwaite (friend of The Rook’s). I think I was more taken in with the zing factor that Moncrieff brought to the novel than who actually should have.

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

Final Verdict: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo adds a mesmerizing twist to the developing arc in the series, making one want to read the next installment just as soon as they are done with this one!

Favorite Quotes

He wanted to savor all of her. Every soft, delicate, hidden part. Behind her ears, the supple curve of her bare shoulder, the taut peaks of her breasts, her quivering belly.
His tongue slid past her lips, enticed by the wicked fantasy he’d conjured. He lapped and nibbled at her in a warm mimicry of what he thirsted for.
An intimate taste of her.

Reaching down, he parted her legs so he could get closer, cursing every single layer of her skirt, her undergarments, and even the air that took up the space between them. He drove his hips against the silk of her skirts, sex against sex, frustrated by the barrier, but aroused by her soft hiss of breath and the tremble he felt roll through her limbs.
The first of many, he vowed.
“Can you feel a whisper of what I can give you?” he asked, rolling against her again, knowing he abraded the sweet little nub with each flex of his hips.
“Y-yes … but I…” Her fingers became claws on his shoulders, as though she feared falling.
I’ll not let you go.

A finger found its way inside of her, and she jerked, but he crawled up her body, soothing her with a gentle, probing kiss. His strokes became wicked, then torturous. Quickening in pace and rhythm until she surged in trembling, taut thrusts. Riding his fingers as she imagined one rode a horse, hips moving in time with the animal, urging it onward.
He slid another finger inside her, and she sobbed at the pressure of it. The pleasure of it. It threatened to annihilate her. To rush toward her with the speed and inevitability of a rogue wave, and there was nothing to be done but brace for the onslaught.

He crawled up her body, licking his glossy lips like a satisfied cat, his eyes glittering like volcanic shards of dark intent.
Her muscles, replete and heavy, melted beneath him.
“Did you mean it?” he asked tightly. “Can you take all of me?”
Sighing, she wrapped her arms around his wide torso with more urgency than even she had expected, her heart contracting with a thousand different forms of love. “Every part of you.”

The strain in his muscles as he held her aloft did more to stoke her desire than any poetry ever could. She released a rush of wet need on a tortured moan, and a tempestuous sound from him told her that he knew exactly what he’d elicited within her.
Lorelai let out an unbidden cry as he impaled her in one sleek thrust, setting her blood on absolute fire. He gave her only a moment to adjust, to dimly wish she were naked against all of his marvelous skin.

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

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Review: The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthescotbedshiswife
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical
Series: Victorian Rebels, #5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Gavin St. James
Heroine: Samantha Masters
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 03, 2017
Started On: March 04, 2020
Finished On: March 22, 2020

The Scot Beds His Wife is the fifth book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne. It tells the story of Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne and Samantha Masters, who arrives in Scotland from America, fleeing possible prosecution from having killed her significant other.

Samantha assumes the identity of Alison Ross, who holds the rights to the property that Gavin wants to make his, what he sees to be his finally link to freedom. With Samantha standing between him and what he covets the most in this world, he strikes up a bargain with her which includes a marriage of convenience.

When Samantha arrives in Scotland and meets the notorious Gavin St. James, she is not at all prepared for the way that he sets her senses ablaze with a fleeting touch and that searing glance of his. Even though Samantha is determined that she would not fall under his spell, as danger comes seeking her out, there is no other option but to give in. And  give in she does, not only because she must, but she wants to. Because the delicious torment it is being pleasured by the wicked Earl demands nothing less.

As Samantha and Gavin begins to find their footing in a marriage that neither had thought would be everlasting, secrets that could tear them apart comes to the surface, especially the ones Samantha keeps close to her heart. To find their way out, each must be willing to put their heart on their line and gamble with what is most precious to the other, their love for one another.

Gavin’s backstory is one that made me want to weep copious amounts of tears because there is no other way to react to what he had gone through as a child and his journey to adulthood. Gavin’s relationship with his elder brother is of the most complicated variety; there is no easy way out of being in love with the bride of your own flesh and blood. But it is beneath the surface one must look to understand the story within. The details of Gavin’s past interwoven with the present was enough to make my heart bleed raw from the pain, and the result had been for Gavin to believe that everlasting love was not for the likes of him, ever.

Samantha’s past is just as harrowing, especially once she had committed to becoming the wife and a member of the ill-famed Masters Gang in the US. Samantha’s fate had pretty much been sealed when her hand in marriage was planned to someone old enough to be her father. When her gang of brothers had turned up at her home at that point in time, Samantha had taken the lifeline that had been hers for the taking and run with it, only to realise that she had jumped from the frying pan into the roiling fire.

What surprised me the most (in a good way), was how much I actually enjoyed Gavin’s story when I initially saw him as a character who was too mellow for my liking. As fans of Ms. Bryne’s work would know, her heroes tend to be unabashedly masculine, alpha, and tantalizing in a way that takes command of all your senses. I though Gavin to be a bit less so, perhaps because of his laid back nature in the previous stories when he made an appearance. There were also reasons behind him appearing as such, which I am no privy to, having read his story. I am glad that Gavin proved himself to be more, so much more than what I initially thought him to be.

Gavin and Samantha are two contrasting characters, who, each in their own way, are looking for that undefinable something that humanity as a whole yearns for; that sense of belonging that comes from finding deep and abiding love with your equal in every sense. Ms. Byrne has done a splendid job of bringing those contrasts between Samantha and Gavin together in a way that makes for a breathtaking read.

To sum up, The Scot Beds His Wife is the story of the least fierce hero of the Mackenzie clan. The brother whose beautiful mother paid dearly in her marriage to the brute that had be their father. The brother who had borne the brunt of his father’s wrath because he had not been cruel, and there had been a gentleness to his soul that had made his father want to beat it out of him. A smuggler, a hedonist, son, and a brother who never wanted to carry the weight of the family name.

Samantha is the gunslinger and widower who comes to Gavin’s land to take away what he covets the most, what he thought would finally bring him the respite and escape he so craves; respite from the rage that swirls inside of him and the need to destroy that wars constantly with his soul. Samantha who assumes the identity of someone else, is carrying a secret that could devastate them both, who never thought she would fall for the highlander who claimed he would be partially faithful to her.

Recommended for those who love the Victorian Rebels series, who loves passionate historical romances set in the beautiful highlands, and those who love an unconventional heroine in their stories!

As always, quotes I have selected from Ms. Bryne’s books overwhelms the senses, every single time you revisit them, even months later.

Final Verdict: The Scot Beds His Wife tells the tale of two people who never thought they needed love and find it in the most unlikeliest of places through a marriage of convenience. Beautifully told as only Kerrigan Byrne can!

Favorite Quotes

“Give it here,” she demanded.
“Give it here…?” He drew out the last syllable.
“Please,” she muttered, galled to the core that she was even having such a ridiculous interaction.
“Gladly.” The beauty of his smile stunned her blind, which must have been how he was able to cup the back of her hand with his, in order to set her handbag in her open palm.
The tiny striations of her lace gloves became her only feeble defense against the feel of his coarse flesh against hers. The weight of her returned handbag drove her knuckles deeper against his palm.
A rough exhalation drew her notice. Nothing about his haughty, nonchalant expression had changed.
And yet … everything had.
The rim of his nostrils flared with quickening breath. His lids became heavier, drawing to half-mast. His sinfully full lower lip drew tight against his teeth before he consciously seemed to relax it.

With a stunned gasp, she turned her head, tearing her lips from his.
In the time it took for her to form the indignant words “What the fuck do you think—” Gavin’s decision was made, and it no longer paralyzed him.
His fingers released her wrist and anchored in her hair, where they’d previously itched to be. His next kiss was so fierce, it drove her head against his palm, and the back of his hand against the tree.
Her lips were already parted, and he pressed them wider.
This wasn’t a kiss, but a claiming.

He controlled his thrusts with absolute precision, his long fingers working together to create a wash of pulsating bliss that seemed to rise from somewhere deep, deep inside her, until suddenly every muscle in her body tensed and arched. It broke through her like a tidal wave, brimming over her veins and washing her flesh in a crescendo of effervescence. The peaks of the pulsing waves lingered, the valleys only a momentary respite before she was barraged again.
Samantha kept her neck arched, her eyes fixed on the sky above and, even through the heavy storm clouds …
She saw the stars.

The hands on his shoulders slid up his neck, then seized his jaw and pulled his lips the rest of the way to meet hers.
She made a sound he’d never heard from a woman before. There was nothing coy or teasing in it. Nothing seductive or husky or practiced in the least.
It was pure. Honest. Need.
And he was lost.
Maybe he’d been losing himself slowly since the moment she’d barged into the Highlands, guns blazing, eyes snapping, and tongue lashing.

Inside her body, where he still remained. Hard. And hot. And pulsing.
What?
Five breaths. Five breaths was all it took him to recover.
A hum of masculine satisfaction rumbled deep in his throat before he threaded his fingers through hers and slowly guided them above her head as he finally began to move.
Her eyes flew open and she gasped at the sight. Even though she’d seen him dozens of times, his beauty still had the power to startle her if she wasn’t prepared.
Hadn’t he just…? How was he still…? Oh God, that felt good …
“The only Mackenzie trait I’m glad of, lass,” he said by way of arrogant explanation. “We spend ourselves more than once.”
Jesus Jehosephat Christ.

“Don’t think that just because we’re married, you get to tell me what I can and canna do. Didn’t you notice that your brother left the word ‘obey’ out of the wedding vows?”
Lord, but he loved it when her azure eyes flashed with temper.
“Och.” He chuckled, scratching at his morning shadow-beard. “More than a slight oversight on his part. Tell ye what, if ye prove to me that ye can ride, then ye can go.”
“Fine.” She shot him a triumphant smirk. “I think that bay mare would do nicely.”
“I find it charming, lass…” He let his thought trail away as he sidled closer to her, a wicked intent heating his blood and already pulsing in his loins.
“Find what charming?” She shied away, but not fast enough.
“That ye thought I meant for ye to ride a horse.”

“I can ride,” she declared. “I’ll ride you witless, Gavin St. James.”
Just when he’d thought he couldn’t get any harder—she had to go and prove him wrong.
“By all fucking means,” he growled. Seizing both her mouth and her lean hips, he controlled their roll, levering her above him even as he sucked her tongue deep into his mouth.
Bunching her skirts in his fists, he burrowed his hands beneath them, sliding his fingers over the silken flesh of her thighs until he found the soft hair between. Cleaving her folds apart, he found the slippery cove of her body already wet and ready for him.

Lord, but with just a few kisses, her husband set her skin on fire, and released a wet flood of preparation all at once.
A fucking miracle of biblical proportions, that was sex with Gavin St. James.
In a sinuous motion of both unparalleled grace and strength, he stretched his magnificent body onto his back, all the while lifting her hips and dragging her up his torso and past his shoulders.
“What are you—”
His wicked mouth answered her, but not with words.

He drilled into her, the hard planes of his hips pounding against her as a fresh storm of pleasure began to build deeper within her loins. She shivered and convulsed, gritting her teeth together to keep herself from screaming. She enjoyed the wicked, brutal sounds their bodies made, the growling breaths that exploded from him.
He pushed her to her elbows, his hands both rough and reverent. He took her like a stallion mounted his mare. This was not their usual encounter, she realized.
This was a claiming.
He was a hunter, a predator. And now, she’d become his mate.

He took her mouth with his own, slanting his lips over hers, licking the salt of her tears from the seam with his velvety tongue.
She opened for him, accepted his possession, his love, and all the emotion he poured from his lips into hers. No longer was he the leisurely lover, the infamous rake. This time, his kiss conveyed a desperation she’d never felt from him before. A passion she’d not known him to be afflicted with.
Her response to it was instant and fierce. She threaded her fingers into his lush hair and turned her hands into fists, imprisoning him to the onslaught of her answering ardor. A lifetime of loneliness flared between them, fusing them to each other, offering what neither of them had ever been able to claim.
Belonging. He was hers. She was his. And neither of them would be alone again.

She was so lost in his mouth, that she hadn’t realized he’d pushed her onto the seat and pulled up her skirts until he was moving against her. Thrusting inside of her.
Her body was ready for his intrusion, wet and warm, open and needy.
His possession brought her to life, warming the blood from ice in her veins. Lifting the weight of guilt and sorrow, turning it into a taut and frantic lust.

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

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Review: Savaged by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Booksavaged
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas/Jak
Heroine: Harper Ward
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 27, 2019
Started On: February 03, 2020
Finished On: February 25, 2020

The blurb was what got to me when I picked up Savaged by Mia Sheridan as my next read. Savaged tells the story of Harper Ward, local wilderness guide/psychologist in Helena Springs.

When she is summoned by Agent Mark Gallagher to assist him in a case where a man with seemingly no past had materialized out of the wilderness that surrounds the area, a man who is suspected to be connected to two murders in the vicinity, she does not expect her life to take a 180 degree turn overnight.

When Harper meets Jak, she is moved in a way that is unfamiliar to her. There is something about the stillness to his character, the haunting in his eyes, the loneliness that is wrapped around him that tugs at her heartstrings.

One thing leads to another and Harper finds herself working with Jak in piecing together parts of her past that had never made sense up to the point where she had landed in foster care. There is surreal quality and edge to the story that hums through the words as Mia Sheridan works her magic and summons the truth of how Harper and Jak are connected on a level that would be hard to comprehend for the average person.

Savaged was a story that was profound in many ways; the human psychology that Ms. Sheridan so cleverly weaves through the story, giving insights into what the minds of the depraved are like, in stark contrast to the the minds of survivors of the said depravity is a variance that you find so vividly striking in her novels.

I loved a lot of aspects of the story, most the main protagonists Harper and Jak. The latter took every bit of my heart and then some; the lonely and lost boy who was subjected to so much abuse, who survived in spite of everything that he had to go through, that gentleness inside of him and the ferocity that burns within him; all of that and more claimed all of me in a way that I cannot describe.

Jak’s effect on my heart was similar to how Harper felt when she met him. From that point on wards, there was no looking back where Jak was concerned. The way Ms. Sheridan tends to so effortlessly weave together the past and present, creating that wholesome edge to her characters is one reason why her books stand out from the rest. Jak’s past is one that would make anyone cry; the atrocities he was subjected to and the abject loneliness that had been part of his existence.

Harper’s past, though not as detailed, paints a similar picture. A girl who had lost her sense of security and the love of her parents one fateful night which had resulted in life as she had known it disappearing forever. The loneliness that she feels is one that is harder to explain, but loneliness it is, and when Jak fills in those pieces of her making her whole for the first time in a long while, it is no wonder that she falls for him like a ton of bricks.

What did not work me stemmed from the fact that the story seemed to lose its momentum from point to point, and dragged a little towards the end. I wanted an ending that would explode through the pages, a conclusion that would give closure of the kind my mind and heart craved after reading through the first half of the book. The gaps in between did not settle well with me, and I found myself skipping parts of the book towards the end.

Even with all of those aspects that did not work, Ms. Sheridan being the brilliant writer that she is, managed to keep me engaged with her characters in a way that refused to let me go.

Recommended for fans of strong heroes and heroines who are lost in a life steeped with loneliness until their significant other comes calling. This is that novel!

Final Verdict: Savaged is classic Mia Sheridan in the way she explores the depth of emotions and cuts through to the soul of her characters. There is an edge to the story that does not let up till the end.

Favorite Quotes

Jak caught her, his arms wrapping around her waist as she wept. “You’re not alone,” he whispered. The whimper died on her lips as she opened her eyes to his face directly in front of hers, his mouth mere inches from her own. Her heart stuttered, swelled. For a suspended moment, their quickened breaths mingled in the air between them. She blinked in surprise, her body stilling. He glanced at her lips, his gaze heating and his arms squeezing her just a little tighter. Kiss me, she thought. Oh please, kiss me.

For a second, they were both still, then he let out a small sound, a combination between a grunt and a groan as he opened his mouth very slightly and rubbed it over hers. Despite the completely unpracticed nature of the kiss, sparks shot through her veins, her blood heating. She didn’t want to take control of the kiss. The waiting, the discovery of what he would do instinctively, was more arousing than anything she’d ever experienced.

He nuzzled her with his nose and his mouth, inhaling, learning her scent so it became a part of him, and she jerked when his nose rubbed the spot below her mound.
She smelled like life, like sweet water, like fertile earth, and perfectly ripened berries that would take away the pain of hunger. Her woman scent was the beginning of everything and the place where he wanted to draw his final breath. She was meant for him, he knew that now. No other woman. Only her.

The night deepened, wrapping around them so it felt as if no one else existed. Only them. “This. Here,” he breathed, looking at her with deep intensity, their bodies connected, their hearts entwined.
“What?” she asked on a breath, the moment slowing, though everything physical about her was rushing, quickening.
“This fills my soul. You . . . you fill my soul.”

His eyes narrowed and the air changed very suddenly, her awareness spiking, breath stalling. He was going to strike. Going to test the truthfulness of her words with action. Do it,she whispered in her mind and his nose moved, very slightly as though he’d caught the scent of her acquiescence. Her need. They stared at each other, and she was trembling now, her entire body charged, her heart pumping blood through her veins, faster, faster. “I want wild,” she repeated. She wasn’t afraid. She would willingly surrender to him because she had faith in his goodness.

When he ran a finger through her wet folds, she thought she might come right then and there. She was panting, she realized, like an animal, like a woman being taken by the man she loved. This was mating. Elemental, ungoverned by any civilized laws or strictures. It was ordained by nature, by miracles, by the tides and the moon and the blood pumping in unison through their veins. Their bodies sang to each other, the same tune, melody and harmony, the notes pulsing, suspended around them.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Heart of Stone by Diana Palmer

Format: E-Bookheartofstone
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Long, Tall Texans, #35
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Boone Sinclair
Heroine: Keely Welsh
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication: September 01, 2007
Started On: February 10, 2020
Finished On: February 14, 2020

Diana Palmer is an author I read often when I first discovered the treasure that Harlequin romances presented when I initially stumbled upon them.

I was fascinated by the cruelty of heroes that she tended to create so effortlessly, the ton of angst in her stories, and the grovelling that the hero often had to do to finally win the affections of the heroine.

Since I have been seeing a lot of Diana Palmer on my Amazon recommendations page recently, I decided to give one of her titles a go, and hopefully recreate the magic that I had once basked under when it came to Diana Palmer. Alas, my expectations were never met, and I even wondered how I managed to finish the story as disappointing as it was.

19 year old Keely Welsh has been in love with 30 year old Boone Sinclair since she had been thirteen years old. Coveting him from afar, Keely is best friends with Boone’s sister and younger brother. Even though Keely knows in her heart that Boone would never be interested in someone like her (he goes out of his way to ignore everything that is about her), she remains single, on the fringes, in an unrequited love affair of her own making.

A turn of events brings Keely to a point where she enters into a pretend relationship with Boone’s younger brother, which sets the ball rolling where Boone is concerned. Keely’s life is shaped by a mother who couldn’t care less about their situation, and a father who is of the less than savory type. A mother who tends to sleep around has left its mark on Keely in more ways than one. It is not hard to understand why Keely stays the way she is.

When all of it comes to a heady conclusion, of course Keely and Boone do end up together, but I quite don’t get how they ended up so. There was very little romance and sexual tension between the two, and there were too many characters coming and going in the midst, that you are left clueless as to who is who if you haven’t been following this “series” in order.

Boone and Keely also spends so much time apart from each other in the story, that I don’t quite know how they found their ideal footing to embark on a relationship of any kind. There was very little exploration of the characters together for the reader to draw them to either of them.

I remember Diana Palmer’s books to be dramatic, angst-ridden, with often possessive and cruel heroes in the mix and delicate heroines with a backbone, which was sadly not the case with this one.

Recommended for die-hard fans of Diana Palmer novels.

Final Verdict: Heart of Stone fell short of every expectation that I had, delivering a lackluster read with too many aspects that didn’t work for me.

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

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Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-Bookloveherorloseher
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Hot & Hammered, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Dominic Vega
Heroine: Rosie Vega
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 14, 2020
Started On: January 24, 2020
Finished On: January 27, 2020

Tessa Bailey is an author who definitely knows what she is doing when it comes to writing romances. She has written a lot of books since the publication of her first romance somewhere in 2013, and most of what I have read from her, I have loved.

When she first started out, she wrote heroes of the kind that can overwhelm your senses; to test this theory, I recently re-read Staking His Claim and felt just the same – wasn’t a fluke of my imagination by any means. Some of her books in recent times however, I have felt disconnected from the characters and felt that she wasn’t bringing in her true self to the novels. I know that writing romances can be quite problematic in the current times we live in – if we are to stay true to the notions of modern society, romance tends to lose its allure, and if we don’t, well, there are many readers who like myself live for books as such.

Even though the books that fall into the latter category are far and few in between, I still haven’t given up on Tessa Bailey because she is an author who can drive her game up a notch or two if she wanted to. Plus, her books do fill in that need for good sexual tension and delivery which is sorely lacking in some novels. So I will tide myself over up till she once again takes up a hero who is broody, reluctant, and sexy as they come – the Tessa Bailey signature when she first started writing.

Love Her or Lose Her is the second book in the Hot & Hammered series, a romantic comedy series by the author. Telling the story of Rosie and Dominic Vega, married couple and high school sweethearts, the story revolves around a marriage falling apart at the seams, resulting from Dominic having checked out of the relationship emotionally a long time back.

Working as a Cosmetics Consultant, Rosie is sick and tired of having to come home to a house seeped in deep silences of words left unspoken, of a relationship that exists on the physical realm alone. Though Dominic might not talk to her about any of the things that goes inside of his mind, the way he could still make Rosie falter in her steps from deep want for the physical release that he could give her is something that Rosie does not want any longer. So she walks out on their marriage, giving Dominic that jarring jolt to wake up and smell the emotional black hole that their marriage had become.

If attending extreme couple counseling sessions is going to bring Rosie back to him, Dominic is willing to try that, even though he might cringe at the very thought of exposing himself emotionally to that level. However, as Rosie and Dominic go through the uncharted waters of counseling and delve deeper into their relationship, each discovers part of the reasons why their actions may have been perceived differently by the other, giving them a fighting chance at making a last bid attempt atsalvaging their marriage.

There was so much going in this story, that I reveled in most of it. The sexual heat between Dominic and Rosie for instance; there is no one else who can do dirty talk and delivery on sizzling sexual tension better than Tessa Bailey, and it shows. Even with a couple who have been married for a long while, she still manages to bring that sizzle factor which sets your senses humming and some, and delivered just right on all the tension when Dominic unleashes who he is; when Rosie is all ready for it, of course.

However, I had a couple of issues with the story that I would like to highlight, which is mainly centered around Rosie’s character. A marriage or any relationship for that matter takes two people; both are responsible for the connection fostered and maintaining it, and we are all human and definitely not infallible. As result, we all tend to make mistakes and let things slide, especially when a relationship dives deep into the years and you have adjusted to one another. Taking each other for granted, the lengthy silences, the i-can’t-be-bothered-enough-to-try-or-care attitude; all of that starts to happen as a result.

Dominic checked out of the relationship, especially on the emotional front, upon his return from war. What I didn’t understand was why Rosie had not tried harder to get him to talk. From everything that happened in the story, it is evident that Dominic basically lives for Rosie. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her, and I believe had she given any indication earlier on, he would have done something about it, especially when he understood the seriousness of the matter.

Dominic does not do anything out of spite or anger, not even once, throughout the story and the history of their relationship. Which is why I found it especially hard that there was no mention of how Rosie tried to get him to connect with her on an emotional level, when the change had happened upon his return from war.

It is pretty common knowledge that PTSD is an issue faced by soldiers once they have been deployed for duty; I wonder if Rosie had ever heard of it and even tried to get him to see a therapist because he had changed. Because there is no mention of it, I am assuming Rosie lived under a rock for the most of her life.

Second thing was how it was mostly about Rosie; it was ALL about Rosie’s needs and wants that Dominic had not been able to fulfill. Dominic, the silent caretaker type of character that he is, meanwhile is killing himself over how he has been failing Rosie ever since his return from deployment. Dominic’s thoughts centers around what he had learnt from his childhood, as to what a man’s duty is to his wife, even if they weren’t a particularly loving couple. He believes his duty to his wife is to provide for her, and provide well.

That it had hit him hard when he had measured himself against everyone who had been deployed with him, and their plans of grandeur when they returned home; it was understandable why Dominic had retreated into his mind and decided that he would provide for Rosie, or die trying. In his mind, he was only worthy of Rosie to the extent that he can fulfill her dreams and needs – perhaps one reason why he couldn’t bring himself to talk about dreams they had both held dear at one point in time.

For Dominic, there was no question that Rosie always came first. But when it came to Rosie, I didn’t quite get that vibe from her. But I did love the fact that the story touched deeply on the concept that even if you don’t need another person to pull you up, make you stronger, and get you to achieve your dreams, the unflinching support given by those whom you love, it matters in the short and long run. It gives you that confidence that you can take on the world, and also the comfort that if things headed south tomorrow, that you would have someone who would be there to help you pick up the pieces and comfort you in a way no one else can. That was a concept that Tessa Bailey explored in this story that I adored.

I just wish that there was more exploration of Dominic’s character; I would have loved to see Dominic’s parents – and Rosie’s realizations on where he was coming from. That would have added a more believable tangent to the story in terms of building Rosie’s understanding of Dominic’s deep convictions when it comes to a marriage.

I just found that the relationship was more skewed towards Rosie than it was a balanced one between her and Dominic. Nevertheless, Rosie coming through at the last minute made up for some of it, and that is why I enjoyed the story in the end.

Recommended for those who love Tessa Bailey, fans of the Hot & Hammered series, and those who love a story focusing on a long-term marriage, delving into its ups and downs.

Final Verdict: In Love Her or Lose Her, Tessa Bailey plunges into what makes or breaks a long-term relationship, analyzing what it is like, and the tremendous effort it takes to achieve that balance between love, support, and dependency.

Favorite Quotes

“We took it as far as we could without going all the way.” Her eyelashes fluttered. “And we finally decided just the tip didn’t count, didn’t we?”
Dominic lunged forward off the chair, dropping to his knees, carrying Rosie with him. No sooner had her back landed on the floor of their kitchen did Dominic nudge his wife’s panties to one side and sink the head of his erection inside her pussy. Not driving it the entire damn way made him crazed, but the tight pressure of her entrance around his tip was incredible. Perfect.

“Go get the key before I find a dark corner of this club, hike up that dress, and do something illegal.” His right hand dropped from her backside, his fingertips brushing the back of her bare thigh. “After seeing how those hips move, you better believe I’d risk getting arrested to be nine inches deep next time you dance.”

Her hips wouldn’t stay still, and a low, carnal twist started in the lowest part of her belly and wrapped around her limbs like tentacles. She threw her head back over the edge of the table and felt herself soaring over the city, unstoppable and strong—and when Dominic’s lips closed around her clit and applied just the right amount of suction, the buildings splintered in front of her eyes, light fragmenting in every direction. Of their own accord, her thighs wrapped around his head and she screamed.

“Tell me you’ll come home tonight. To our home.” He caught her chin in his hands, tilting her face up and waiting for her dazed eyes to focus on him. To see him. “Give me that, Rosie. Say you’ll come home and I’ll fuck you harder than I ever have in our lives. Your screams will still be echoing in this kitchen when you open for business.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookthekissthief
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Wolfe Keaton
Heroine: Francesca Rossi
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 06, 2019
Started On: January 08, 2020
Finished On: January 24, 2020

The Kiss Thief is my very first novel by L.J. Shen, the story being one that has popped up on various recommendation lists for ruthless heroes. I am a die-hard fan of anti-heroes, the ruthless and ones disliked by most readers, and loved by the few. Hunting those books down in the world of romance today has become a challenge and yet I persevere. The Kiss Thief was one of the rewards that came my way, thanks to aforementioned perseverance.

When 19 year old Francesca Rossi, the only child of Arthur Rossi, head of The Outfit (organised crime if you will), makes her official introduction to Chicagoan society, the only thing on her mind is to get Angelo, the perfect husband in the eyes of her parents, to kiss her as if he means it, kiss her as the woman he was going to make his wife and enjoy doing it.

That is also the night that 30 year old Wolfe Keaton, a US Senator, makes his presence known to Francesca, and steals the kiss that was meant for Angelo, and in the process upends her entire world. Forced into marrying Wolfe, Francesca at first has no intention of cooperating with a man whose high handed manner irks her to no end, not to mention the derailment of plans to fulfill her dreams of being married to the man she had grown up with and had given her heart to over the years.

However, the force that is Wolfe Keaton is one to be reckoned with, and before Francesca knows it, she enters a world where she learns firsthand what it means to fall in love and lose your heart to someone as ruthless as her husband.

There are scenes in this book that is definitely not for the faint-hearted, which is one reason why I loved the story and the turns it took to bring to us a happily ever after worth rooting for. My dislike for books that fill every nook and cranny of romance genre today lies in the fact that there is nothing worthy of fantasizing about the “ruthless and dangerous hero” that turns putty at the heroine’s hand from the minute they meet.

All the build-up that the author does in painting the hero as someone who has committed unthinkable acts in his life who suddenly, with the least amount of resistance, loses every essence of his character that makes him vitally himself is just tiring. How does that even translate into realistic human behavior? I can understand a character who subtly changes over the years, maybe months into a relationship, but the first time he lays eyes on the heroine, he just does a 180 degree turn on his character? That is foolhardy and as unrealistic as they come in my opinion.

The Kiss Thief certainly did not do that. L.J. Shen has crafted a hero worthy of salivating over and then some in Wolfe Keaton, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. From his ruthlessness that serves him well in every single manner, to his inner core of strength and vulnerability when it comes to his wife as he learns to love all over again were facets of the story that fascinated me. I loved the fact that Wolfe was able to give his wife the one thing that was denied from her as she grew up and how in his embrace she found the freedom to be herself and let go.

Francesca was lovely in many ways; she was certainly brought up to fulfill a certain role, but she is a quick learner if ever there was one and able to adapt to situations and the punches as they rolled. I loved her for quick wit, her ability to keep up with Wolfe, and the way she brought him to his very knees towards the end.

Recommended for those who love a hero who is ruthless and loves just as ferociously.

Final Verdict: With a couple of surprising twists and turns, The Kiss Thief delivered a highly combustible read from the get-go!

Favorite Quotes

I grabbed the edges of his suit, pulling him closer. I’d imagined our kiss countless times before, but I’d never expected it to feel like this. Like home. Like oxygen. Like forever. His full lips fluttered over mine, sending hot air into my mouth, and he explored, and nipped, and bit my lower lip before claiming my mouth with his, slanting his head sideways and dipping down for a ferocious caress. He opened his mouth, his tongue peeking out and swiping mine. I returned the favor. He drew me close, devouring me slowly and passionately, pressing his hand to the small of my back and groaning into my mouth like I was water in the desert. I moaned into his lips and licked every corner of his mouth with zero expertise, feeling embarrassed, aroused, and more importantly, free.

Slowly, and despite my better judgment, I crawled into my future husband’s lap. I knew that by doing that, I was raising a white flag. Surrendering to him. Seeking his protection, both from my father and from my own internal turmoil. I flew directly into my cage, asking him to lock me inside. Because the beautiful lie was far more desirable than the awful truth. The cage was warm and safe. No harm could find me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, burying my head in his steel chest and holding my breath to prevent the next sob.
He stiffened, his body rigid with our sudden proximity.
I thought about what Ms. Sterling said about killing him with kindness. Defeating him with love.
Break. Crack. Feel me. Accept me.

Wolfe Keaton was a kiss thief, but it wasn’t only a kiss that he stole. He stole my heart, too. Ripped it from my chest and put it in his pocket. I did what he promised me I would do, and willingly—I spread my legs and begged him, once again, this time meaning every word. “Because you were right. You said I’d come to your bed willingly—and I am. So, take me.”
He kissed me dirty, biting down on my tender lower lip, that was still sore from the accident. “Still not the entire truth, but this’ll do.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Requested Review: Wallflower by Krista Gold

Format: E-Bookwallflower
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Series: The Gardener, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Emilio
Heroine: Tessa Calliope George
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 06, 2018
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: December 27, 2019

Wallflower by Krista Gold is an erotic thriller that had me guessing until towards the very end. Given how much I love a good mystery, and combining eroticism of the kind that set my senses abuzz, Wallflower was one of the best reads for me in 2019.

Wallflower begins when 22 year old Tessa Calliope George is left reeling in the wake of the death of her mother, trying to piece her life back together. Tessa’s mother had found her fame late in life, and living off of it somehow is at odds with what Tessa wants in life, what she wants, something that she herself cannot grasp in its entirety.

Then enters Emilio into her life, devastatingly handsome and able to woo her into submission from day one. The deep and intense need that he invokes in Tessa is one that refuses to be denied and Tessa plunges headlong into what is the most erotic experience of her pretty much virginal life up till then.

When Tessa receives a job offer which allows her to delve into her mother’s life, she starts to piece together a side of her mother that she had not being privy to, bringing forth the story of a woman who had been lonely and looking for her other half, and had found it too, before she had met her untimely death.

As Tessa digs more extensively into her mother’s past, the revelations that emerge makes the reader take a step back, reevaluate, and reassess everything they have read before. The way your head reels trying to connect the dots together was one of the best bits about reading this book and why I enjoyed Wallflower so much.

Having read this full length novel in one day is telling, because I rarely have the patience or the time now to read an entire book in 24 hours time. But that was what happened with Wallflower because it was that intense and that much of a page-turner.

I would like to thank Krista Gold for requesting a review of this book, without which I may never have otherwise come across the title. It is hidden gems like Wallflower that makes it worthwhile to dig through stories from authors who you have never come across before.

This psychological erotic thriller has so many twists and turns and an ending that is impossible to discern which is pretty much why the story has amazed me on so my fronts. There is raw talent seeping through the words and it is almost as if you are watching a real life story unfold right in front of you.

From the emotional tumult of a newly founding relationship, to the sexy and carnal scenes of passion, followed through by the intriguing mystery woven together so intricately that everything fits seamlessly, I enjoyed every single aspect of the book!

Recommended for anyone who loves a good thriller with erotic scenes of passion that smolders.

Final Verdict: Wallflower is a novel that digs deep into the emotional ties that bind complemented with the erotic flair with which Krista Gold delivers so splendidly.

Favorite Quotes

Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is moving with a singular purpose, down to my swimsuit bottoms, and then under the silky scrap of fabric, and – there. I close my eyes as I find the sweetly throbbing nub.
Emilio’s face is as clear as a bell in my mind’s eye, and I focus on it as my hand begins to move.
The feeling is intense. I am throbbing, and my fingers find the throb and work it, slowly at first, then with increasing urgency, until they are moving and teasing in rapid circles, and I am thrusting my sex hard against my cupped palm.
Emilio, I think. Oh god. Emilio. The sweet ache in my belly swells and expands until I feel I might burst.

He takes a step towards me and I can’t help it – I let out a gasp. Emilio stops, and catches his lip between his teeth, and I feel a flare of desire low in my belly. He groans softly, and the flare travels lower, down into my sex where it settles, pulsing like a second heartbeat.
I can’t look away from Emilio’s face.
“Tessa”, he says, and his voice is a low growl, and his green eyes are dark. My name in his mouth is the most erotic thing I have ever heard. I am rooted to the spot on my trembling legs, I couldn’t move if I wanted to.

I stare into his eyes, completely in his thrall. I can’t concentrate on anything other than this moment, this look…and then he whispers very softly, “I’m going to kiss you here”, and the pad of his other thumb parts my skirt like a curtain, pushes up and into my panties.
Holy shit. The shock is electric, and I cry out. I am all sensation, I am pure pleasure, and every bit of my attention is there, on that thumb, which is moving in slow, slow circles. There is a deep heat in the pit of my belly, and that sweet pulse is beating faster now, a hummingbird-heart.
“God, Tessa”, he breathes, still looking into my eyes. “You’re so wet.”

“Oh God”, I pant. “Emilio”. It’s all I can manage. My breath is coming faster and faster, and I know what he’s going to do. I can’t bear the suspense, and he knows it. He’s making me wait, and I want to scream in frustration, but then oh god, oh sweet Jesus, his mouth is there, and I jump, electrified, as he touches his tongue to my throbbing sex.
My body is white fire, my every nerve is lit and crackling. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. I don’t want this to end, but I can’t hold off my climax, I don’t know how.

I feel his hardness nudging at my thigh, and I breathe into his ear, “Now, Emilio. Please”, I beg. I arch up into him, and he complies – I gasp as he nudges at my entrance, and then, with a sigh of pleasure, he slides into me. There’s a brief moment of resistance, a sweet stab of pain, and then he is fully inside me, thick and solid and hot, and nothing has ever felt more right.
Slowly, slowly, he slides out of me, almost all the way, and I moan – but then he thrusts into me again, the whole hard length of him, so I feel the shock of his penetration, so deep, so full. I can’t contain myself, and an involuntary Aah! escapes my lips.
“God, Tessa”, he says, and his voice is shaky.

Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is reaching out to touch him, coming to rest on his thigh. Neither of us are breathing, and the air is suddenly thick with tension and anticipation.
Emilio makes a sound low in his throat, and that’s all it takes; suddenly, I am wet.
Before I can respond, Emilio has moved toward me, lightning quick, and his hands are in my hair, and he is crushing his mouth on mine, and I can’t even remember how to draw a breath, and it’s erotic, oh my god, it’s so unbelievably erotic. I never knew my body could be made to feel this way – like an electric storm, like it was made solely for pleasure. I never knew I could burn like this, or want someone so badly, so much.

God, I want him. I need him inside me. I need him now.
Instinctively, I’m releasing my seatbelt, reaching for Emilio’s buckle, wrestling with his zip. It’s not even a conscious thought, but pure animal instinct: I need this more than I need the air in my lungs.
We are both breathing hard, and I can feel that sweet pressure building inside me.
And then he springs free of the zipper, and I’m staring at his magnificent cock, which is already hard, already waiting. For me, I think with wonder, and then I’m lowering my head, and taking him into my mouth.

“God, Tessa”. Emilio’s voice is tight suddenly. “The things I want to do to you.”
Without warning, he runs a finger the length of my cleft, and I buck in ecstasy at his touch, crying out. Those little shivers of pleasure are back, crawling along every nerve ending, lighting me up.
I can’t form a coherent thought; the sensations in my body are too intense. All I can do is moan softly, squirm under him, wet with want and with need.

He leans in so that his lips are hovering right by my ear, and I can feel the warmth of his breath on my neck.
“I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you all night”, he murmurs, and his voice makes every hair on my body rise. “Do you know how fuckable you look in that dress, Tessa George?”
He leans closer so that his lips are actually touching my ear. “The answer is very,” he says, and a shiver races along every nerve in my body. “Very. Fuckable. Indeed.”

I am powerless to stop my climax building. I am panting against the wall, my legs trembling uncontrollably. “Now, Emilio”, “I beg him. “Fuck me. Please, fuck me now.”
Emilio’s eyes flash darkly, and then in one swift move, he lifts me so that I am pinned against the wall my legs wrapped around his waist. “Now”, I tell him again, and he pulls at my skirts. I lean back a little to give him access, and then I can feel his throbbing cock nudging at my entrance. I cry out – a sharp, animal cry of want and need, and then he is smothering my cries with his mouth as he impales me deliciously in one long movement. He stills for a second, long enough for me to savour how he feels inside me: thick, and full, twitching with desire.

“Now”, I pant, unable to manage anything else. “Quickly. Now.”
Emilio reads my urgency. In one smooth move, he lifts himself up on his elbows, and then he slides into me, filling me, stretching me. God, he fits perfectly. He lies still for a moment, and I let myself feel everything – the hardness of his hips, the pulsing of my bitten nipple, the urgent humming of my sex.
And then he is moving, knowing instinctively that I need it hard and fast, and god, does he deliver. He pounds into me, and everything is forgotten but the sensations of my body, my physical ecstasy.

“What do you want, Tessa? Tell me what you want.” His breath on my neck, that slow golden spiralling in my body. God, I want him. God, I need him.

Emilio’s breath is ragged. Slowly, slowly, I use my right hand to part myself, slip one finger into my wet darkness. Watching him watch me, feeling the first silvery tingles as I move my fingers, I feel more powerful than I have ever felt before. I understand now why Emilio likes to tease the way he does. The power, the heady feeling – it’s incredible.
A smile plays over my lips as I watch naked desire travel over his face. He stops stroking his cock, and I see that the tip is swollen and glistening.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: 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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