Review: Disturbing His Peace by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-bookdisturbinghispeace
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy, #3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Greer Burns
Heroine: Danika Silva
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 24, 2018
Started On: December 18, 2018
Finished On: December 19, 2018

Disturbing His Peace by Tessa Bailey is the final book in The Academy series. From the moment Lieutenant Greer Burns entered the scene in the first book, I was a goner. He is the kind of character that I love to fall in love with. The broody and controlled heroes who when they unravel, do so so spectacularly that you cannot help but lose a chunk of yourself to them. Needless to say, I was impatient for Greer’s story (as I believe most readers would have been), and to finally read it and reaffirm the faith I have in Tessa Bailey’s ability to create stupendous stories that makes you laugh, turns you on so much, and delivers such emotionally grappling reads, is why I love her books so damn much.

Lieutenant Greer Burns is a man who is defined by his job. A hard-ass to the recruits, a man who is as by the book as they come, for whom the law exists only in black and white, and one would think that Greer to be so straitlaced that he would be boring. He is the farthest thing from that however, and it comes to light when the cracks appear on his demeanor with each encounter that takes place between him and recruit Danika Silva. There are tantalizing bits and pieces indicative of how Greer’s feelings are when it comes to Danika throughout the other books, something he tries his best to hide from.

Danika herself, even though she is drawn to all the intensity that is Greer, denies her feelings because she does not have a very favorable opinion of him. But all of that changes when she turns to Greer for help and discovers that there is more to Greer than that gruff and seemingly uncaring exterior of his. Help from Greer however comes at a price, which means that Danika is “forced” to spend more time with Greer, which of course leads to very interesting encounters between the two.

It should be no surprise that Disturbing His Peace turned out to be my favourite from the series. Greer is intense; no two ways about it. He is known as lieutenant hard- ass for a reason. He takes his job all too seriously believing that putting oneself out there makes one more vulnerable. After all, his childhood and abandonment issues has taught him that and more. The secret he harbors inside of his heart is one that he keeps even from his brother. And even though his brother found his happiness, Greer is certain that he himself is meant to spend his days by his lonesome self without subjecting himself to heartache and pain along the way, which is certain to come the minute he gives his heart to another. He lives by a strict code of ethics and rules, and nothing has deterred him from his chosen path until Danika shows up in his life.

Danika changes everything. She tests the limits of his self control unlike any other. Her opinion of him matters more than it should and for the very first time Greer finds himself in uncharted waters, navigating through the unknown for a woman who stops his very breathe. As much as Greer might tell himself that he does not need anyone, the course his life had been taking of late tells its own tale. Danika’s presence is one that takes away the unease and makes him content, if that were an emotion he was familiar with.

That takes me to the more serious matters such as how fantastically hot and out of the charts hot Greer is. Did I mention that he is hot? Yes, he is. There were moments that I had to remind myself to breathe because I kept forgetting how to, all because Greer was that intense. There is something about a controlled hero that lets loose. Every sexual encounter between Greer and Danika, from the shower scene to the round in the patrol car was insanely hot. And of course, Greer does dirty talking so very well that it is hard not to swoon during certain heated moments.

Danika was the kind of woman Greer needed. Definitely. She is snarky, has a big heart, and doesn’t know when taking on too much responsibility for her family becomes unhealthy. It is the way Greer looks out for her in the midst of everything that happens that lets the reader know that it is just much more than scorching hot sex that is between the two. The cuddle scene that happens on the couch, especially when there is so much tangible sexual tension between the two thick enough to slash through with a knife; that was cute and wholesome in a way that just made me fall that much more in love with Greer and Danika.

Definitely recommended. Fans of Tessa Bailey certainly would not be disappointed.

Final Verdict: Greer is sheer perfection presented to readers; a tightly controlled hot mess unraveling in a way that makes your insides heat up and your heart melt! Tessa Bailey’s magic knows no bounds.

Favorite Quotes

I allow my mouth to brush those curls at her ears, the sensation dropping my voice to a scrape of sound. “I’m talking about fucking you, baby. You know I am.” My tongue must have a mind of its own, because it licks along the rim of her ear, my memory collecting the whimper she makes and locking it away in a safe. “Tucked back in the showers, your legs open for my thrusts, blood running down my back from where your nails are digging in. Bet that would warm you right the hell up.”

Resolving to walk slowly toward the pizza place, I open the door—
“Oh my God,” I gasp, my walloping heart sending me back a step. “What . . .”
Greer is standing in the hallway, watching me with shadows in his eyes.
Rain drips off the folded edges of his NYPD beanie and fingertips. He’s so still I almost think my imagination is putting
him there, but then he speaks in a clipped tone.
“Cancel it.”
My . . . date? Oh yeah. He’s talking about my date, and there’s no denying the indignation that fires to life inside of me.
I don’t care if I’m attracted to this man. He doesn’t just get to show up and order me around. On a Saturday night, no less.
We’re not in the academy gym right now—we’re on the threshold of my house.
Then why am I so excited?

“Yes or no. Do you want to be convinced?” Finally, just a hint of his lips brush mine, and the answering, down-low clench
is so intense, I almost hit the deck. “Understand this. I’m going to do it my way, Danika. And I’m only figuring out what
this way is now—with you—because I think you love it. Need it.” A single blunt finger lifts and traces my right hip, moving
up my rib cage and detouring toward my breasts, raking over each hard nipple slowly. “Think you’d love some rough goddamn
convincing, wouldn’t you, baby? Yes or no?”
This new need he stirred to life isn’t my secret. He’s known. “Yes.”

“Move your knees apart,” I growl, pushing my middle finger inside her, pumping it a few times, as she follows the order. Then
a few more times, because I can’t believe the tightness waiting for me. “This has been mine for months, hasn’t it?”
Her choked cry, the tilt of her hips, is the only answer I need.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t know, baby, or I wouldn’t have been able to help myself. All those times you showed up early would
have been spent in my office, riding my cock.”

Something about my question upsets him. His eyebrows draw together, his grip tightening anew on my wrist. “Get back in your
goddamn seat.”
“No.” Whew. I must be out of my mind. Anyone with working brain cells can see he’s about to get tough with me. Reject me.
Hurt my feelings out of necessity. But something tells me I’ll never get another chance to see under his exterior if I don’t
rip it down right now. So before he can open his mouth and deliver whatever lie he’s thinking, I kiss him.
And we go up in flames.

I decide to stop exploring it when she flicks her hips back, grinds back down. Does it again. Does it again. Until my fucking
thighs and hands are shaking, my mouth open and growling at her neck. Every ounce of my focus goes into hunting a condom down
in my pocket and covering myself, before reaching down between our bodies and guiding my cock to her heat. “Wet girl. Nice
wet girl.”
She arches her back and spreads her legs, allowing me to slip myself inside her inch by inch . . . and as she sinks down,
I barely recognize the sensation because nothing that came before her compares. Made for me. I’m made just for her. All of
the above.
“Oh God,” we both moan at the same time.

On my shoulder, she shakes her head no. “Greer, oh, I’m going to—” She breaks off on a closed mouth scream, her thighs trembling
around my hand. “Greer.”
I think I can hold it together long enough to give her another orgasm, but as soon as her pussy cinches around my dick like
a belt, I know resisting the rush of pleasure is a pipe dream. “Goddammit, baby. Ripping it right out of me, aren’t you?”
There’s a scraping feeling deep in my belly, then I’m shouting into her hair as the most phenomenal relief grips me. I’m coming
inside her. Finally. Finally. It hurts, but it’s happening . . . and then it doesn’t hurt anymore, because the worst of the
lust is leaving me, shooting up the stalk of my flesh. “You’re killing me. Don’t stop. Move. Move. Don’t stop.”
My body continues to ram up, up into her snug, clenching cunt until my fucking vision goes black. Mine. The word echoes in my head, but my teeth snap down on my lower lip to keep from saying it out loud.

I slide between Greer and the coffee table, intending to park myself beside him on the couch, but he snags me by the waist
and draws me down on his lap. There are a few charged seconds where neither one of us moves, but the pace of our breathing
goes haywire. I struggle not to moan when he plants his open mouth against my ear and hums, the vibration going straight through
me. “I figured we could find out what all this cuddle talk is about.”
“Is there a lot of talk?” I wheeze the question, and I don’t even blame myself. Who could think straight with the hot muscular
flex of his thighs under their butt?

I lay my head down on his shoulder and take a deep inhale of his skin. No-nonsense soap, sweat, spearmint gum. It doesn’t
feel like our first time cuddling in terms of how our bodies curve together. But the beating of his heart against my shoulder,
the steady rise and fall of his bare chest, is so new. Up close, I can see all the individual hairs on his chest, the dark
whorls of them that grow concentrated at his belly button and vanish below my hip. His erection is tucked between the cheeks
of my ass, but he seems determined to pet every inch of me, and I’m totally content to let him. He’s so warm.
A yawn catches me off guard, but I shake myself to keep my eyelids from drooping. “What’s your verdict on cuddling?”
His sigh shifts my hair around. “I think I’m fucked.”

“Get that tiny fucking thong off,” I growl, even though there’s no way I can wait that long. No, as soon as I drag my dick
out of her mouth, I’m yanking those panties sideways and thrusting into her soaked pussy. She screams in my ear, her nails
sinking like razors into my back. My heart stutters at the possibility that I hurt her with my aggression, but I’m reassured
when her knees dig into my sides. Like a rider spurring on a horse. Only I’m the one riding her. And I do it hard. “When you
got into a cab and rattled off my address in your little, pink shirt dress, you knew this is what you were going to get, didn’t
you? A hard cock between your thighs. Didn’t you, baby?”
“Yes. Oh my God. Yes.”

Stop moving,” I rasp, my stomach tightening. “I’m too goddamn close.”
“It’s okay,” she whimpers, definitely pulling me deep again and grinding her hips up, her heels finding a home at the small
of my back. “I never miss my pill. Please.”
Relief blinds me like two headlights, along with the impulse to fuck her until the pain is gone. “I’m clean.”
“Me, too.” She sobs, those nails burying in the flesh of my ass. “Greer.”
“Hold on to me.”
In the end, I can’t tell who is holding on to whom. Our bodies are flush, sweaty and racing to the finish. I bury my face
in the crook of her neck with a guttural groan, my hips pump hard, fast, almost angrily. I’ve never moved in such perfect
rhythm with anyone. Not even myself. I’m better with her. We’re better together.

His low growl makes me shudder. “My girl.” That open palm zings against my backside. “Mine.” The next strike is harder, and
he massages the spot afterward, his touch gentle, and the contradiction is so perfectly Greer, I hear myself asking for more.
More Greer. “Show me some pussy,” he rasps. “Before you go strutting what belongs to me around, give your man a nice look.”
Lord. Oh Lord. My vision is a blur now, but my muscles are still functioning for the most part. Keeping my cheek pressed to
the table, I loosen my back and angle my hips. And that most sensitive part of me gets the next slap. Whap. I’m so shocked,
I release a cut-off scream that gets louder when his huge erection rams home inside of me. Pleasure explodes in my middle.
My orgasm is an earthquake, sending cracks down the center of my foundation. Beneath me, the table vibrates, thanks to my
juddering body.

“I’m fucking yours, you know that?” He drops hot, panting kisses beneath my ear. “I just want to be yours, Danika.”
“You are.” I clench my teeth and sail over the edge again. “Greer.”
“God, baby. Fuck.”
I’m hurtling so fast and hard into pleasure, I’m barely aware of his mouth leaving my neck, but when I hear him shout a broken
curse, when I feel heat inside me and that final, rough thrust, something primal comes alive inside me. Something I think
Greer woke up.
Damn right I satisfy my man.
I love it. I love me with him. Us together.

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

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Review: Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-bookindecentexposure
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Jack Garrett
Heroine: Katie McCoy
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 30, 2018
Started On: August 27, 2018
Finished On: December 18, 2018

Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey is the second book in The Academy trilogy. When I was done with Disorderly Conduct, I knew right away then that I wanted to lose myself in the third installment in the series. But since I have a level of OCD of my own when it comes to reading books in order in a series, I decided to go with the flow and read Indecent Exposure first.

Jack Garrett is the kind of hero that is hard not to notice, even when he is lurking in the background. It was Jack’s voice as described in Disorderly Conduct that stuck with me when I picked this number to read. Apart from that, Jack is known as the one out of the trio (Charlie, Jack and, Danika), who is not serious about his training at the police academy.

Jack had grown up at a brothel where his mother had worked to make ends meet. That had exposed Jack way too early in his life to the realities and the ugly side of sex and what it could mean. A man who could practically charm the panties off of any woman he chooses to, it surprises Jack when his obvious interest in Katie McCoy goes unreciprocated at first. But the truth is, none of the ladies he pursuits or does the pursuing of him, ever realizes that deep down inside, Jack loathes the way he feels when the act is said and done.

Katie is in New York to have fun. To loosen up. An Olympic gold medalist in the air rifle competition, and a special weapons instructor, Katie turns out to be the new arms instructor for the recruits undergoing training. Jack’s interest in Katie doesn’t even begin to show signs of abating, even with the notion that he would be skirting dangerous waters by wanting to get it on with an instructor. 

Jack has a problem with alcohol. He drowns out the blackness that is inside of him, owing to a secret that he has never confided in with anyone, something that eats at him day in and day out. Katie on the other hand, is someone who avoids watering holes altogether. She has her reasons for it, and knowing that Jack imbibes in alcohol should have been a deal breaker from the very start.

But just like Jack tries to give up his acquired habit of drinking too much because he wants to be worthy of Katie, the desire to be with Jack is is something Katie cannot ignore as well. But giving up a lifelong habit is easier said than done, and it is the struggle that both Jack and Katie go through together to come through that makes this story delightful.

When I first began reading Indecent Exposure, I am sorry to say that I was not that enamored with Jack nor Katie. But as I went deeper into the story, I started seeing fascinating tidbits into both characters that made me fall in love. That is the kind of author Tessa Bailey is. Which is one reason why I never give up on a book from her, knowing that, one way or the other, she tends to deliver the kind of emotional story that I would always fall in love with.

Even though Jack’s character did not impress me all that much in the first book, I loved what I saw inside of him when it came to his story. He has a tortured soul. I mean who wouldn’t have issues when you grow up in a brothel, watching your mother put up with men of all kinds just so she could provide for you? Returning that favor is Jack’s sole aim when it comes to getting through the training at the police academy.

While Charlie and Danika are invested and fully committed and go out of their way to excel when it comes to the training, Jack is half-assing his way through – just so that he can provide for and take care of his mother.

I would have loved to see Jack’s mother a bit more than I did in the story. It would have been good to see the kind of relationship that Jack has with her, and how it has shaped his outlook on life. That is something I did enjoy when it came to Disorderly Conduct, because both characters had issues that had stemmed from the environment within which they had grown up. We all do, some definitely more than others.

Katie’s character was certainly one that I enjoyed. She has an innocence that belies the formidable woman she is career-wise. There is a sweetness to her that remains unchanged at the very core, a sensitivity to her character that fits in well with Jack. She has keen insight into people, and is fair and honest, which is one of the reasons why she is not hesitant when it comes to seeing Jack’s talents for what they are, and giving Jack a chance to prove himself, in the process gain the respect of fellow trainees and supervisors.

While Jack’s struggle in terms of dealing with his reliance on alcohol is dealt with sensitivity, there are also no fairy tale solutions to his struggle, which is what I believe made this story that much more realistic. It is something Jack has to work at, continually more or less, because he believes in Katie and himself, because he believes that Katie deserves the best, and he wants nothing but to be the best there is when it comes to her.

Hopping onto see my favorite duo next. Greer baby, here I come!

Recommended for fans of Tessa Bailey and those who love a sinfully good romance! With the mistress of finely tuned dirty talk, you can never go wrong!

Final Verdict: Jack and Katie has the ability to sucker-punch you with the ferocity of emotions they invoke. Add in the blazing hot sex, and Tessa Bailey has definitely got herself a winner

Favorite Quotes

[Katie] His rough exhalation shakes out into my mouth when our lower bodies meld on a single grind, his eyebrows slashing down as though he’s in pain.
“One more, Katie. One more, one more, one—”
I yank him back down, cutting him off with my waiting kiss and his hands, they become these sweeping sources of hot want,dragging down my sides, clutching my hips and pulling me up onto my toes, sliding me side to side against his large arousal.

[Katie] One big hand invades my hair, the other slides down my back like it owns me. And very slowly, he rocks me, rocks me on the ridge behind his fly.
The flesh between my legs clenches—a hot, insistent squeeze—and it’s like Jack knows I’ve just been hit by a massive lust tidal wave. While his mouth continues to devastate me, his eyes open and lock with mine . . . and he rolls his hips. Rolls them twice, three times, dragging his bulge up and back underneath my quickening heat.
I tear our mouths apart with a gasp. “Wow.”

[Katie] His tongue leaves me, though, and I lose myself completely, locking my heels and trying to keep his mouth in that perfect place where I need it. Need it so bad. When Jack lays a kiss on my stomach and whispers my name, I loosen my muscles. Justin time for him to ease a finger into my dampness. Pumping it. And again, the storm whips. I’m looking up at the ceiling,but I don’t see it. His knuckle twists on top of my clit, his finger jiggling inside me. My pleasure is blinding me. I’m shaking.There are tears or sweat or both sliding down my temples and I don’t care. My body has a mind of its own, arching and clenching,my voice begging.

[Katie] I pull him down on top of me, just as my body wins the battle, reeling in the orgasm that ironically, sends me out to sea.A current carries me, rippling over and through my body, my eyes full of nothing but exhilarating blue. Above me, Jack grits out my name and joins me, bringing the violence of the water, his muscles jerking, his throat gasping for oxygen. My arms and legs wrap around him tight, forcing him to share his spasms with me, forcing him to accept mine. Afterwards, we lay there,too spent to move for what feels like hours.

[Jack] When I realize Katie is looking up at me, that’s when I begin to lose it. Her lips stretch as she sinks down to my root, keeping those blue eyes on me the whole time. She’s excited. There’s a light in her gaze, like she can’t believe what we’re doing.Can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. As if . . . it’s her first suck-off. Jesus Christ. Am I a pervert for wanting to flip our positions and fuck her mouth hard now? Just like last night, when I hit this point of no return, all I want to do is claim her. Make her mine.

[Jack] “Jack!” She grinds back against my mouth, thighs shaking out of control and come shoots up my cock so fast, I groan and flick my tongue along Katie’s convulsing flesh, refusing to stop until she’s wrung out. My stomach constricts so hard with the climax,I must be dying. My body moves without any kind of mental command, writhing and bucking, trying to get rid of the liquid lust that seems to be never-ending.

[Katie] “I know you had a physical before the academy, which means you’re all clear. Have you used protection every time since then?”
“Yes. I’ve never, Katie. Never without.”
Our foreheads bump when I nod. “So tell me you’re clean, like I know you are.”
His breath races in and out. “I can’t let us do this. You’re—”
“I’m on the pill.” With lust lacing in my blood like lightning, I bring his erection between my legs, dragging it through my wet heat. “Yes or no, Jack?”
There’s no earthly description for the sensation of a man’s muscles shaking, the heat of his hands hovering above my ass,his flesh thickening in my hand. It’s the epitome of anticipation. An aphrodisiac. “Yes, I’m clean for you, but—”
He breaks off with a growl when I tuck the head of him inside me. A plump, pulsing inch that stretches me and zaps eagerness to my nerve endings. “Have me.” I raise my knee, resting it on Jack’s hip. The movement allows him to slip deeper, just a touch, but I might as well have pushed him in all the way, his reaction is so intense.

[Jack] “Drop your legs,” I order in a desperate voice. “I’ve got you.”
Confusion wrinkles her brow, but she follows my order, leaving her feet dangling down near my straining calves. A split second later, when I thrust up between her thighs, a scream leaves her mouth, the advantages of the position clearly hitting her. “Oh my God, Jack. M-more. Please, more.”
Easier said than done, shout my balls, but my mind, my heart is obsessed with the pleasure on her face. My experience isn’t something to be ashamed of in that moment, but something to be celebrated.

[Jack] “Mine,” I groan into the top of her head. “Mine?”
“Yes.”
“Mine to come inside?”
“Y-yes.” The single, incredible word splinters into husky cries, her pussy clamping around my dick. And I lose it. I bend my knees and fuck up into her in a rough push, smacking her ass against the wet wall and circling my hips, grinding into her spasming flesh, marking it as mine. The battle ends when she screams Jack, her fingernails raking down my back and burying in the flesh of my ass. My orgasm is painful in its intensity, rocking me
from the soles of my feet to the top of my head. I press my mouth against the damp marble wall and shout through the ringing
of my insides, the emptying of my lust.

[Katie] Silence thrums around us. “Are you worried about what I’ll do when you leave? Is that what this is about?”
A tank crashes in my stomach, because I hadn’t considered the obvious. But there’s no pretending when our heartbeats are pressed together. “Yes.”
“Me, too.” He tilts my chin up. “You’re the one who held up a mirror. You’re the one who brought me to the meeting.” Regret mixes with determination on his face. “But I’d be worried about slipping even if you weren’t leaving. Fixing this problem of mine? That’s on me. You’re not responsible, Katie, understand?”

[Katie] A kiss on my nape, following by a rough bite. “It’s coming, honey.”
No sooner does that bathroom door slam shut, leaving us alone once again in the restroom, than Jack drives himself inside me so hard I’m elevated several inches off the ground. I scream. I scream without attempting to subdue the wild sound, but it’s swallowed in the loud, fast-paced music and the sharp slap of Jack’s thighs against my bottom. My orgasm is blinding, tightening and loosening bolts beneath my belly button, shaking my limbs and filling my eyes with startled tears.

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

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Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

Format: E-bookthesmallestpart.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Noah Andelin
Heroine: Mercedez Lopez
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 13, 2018
Started On: December 15, 2018
Finished On: December 16, 2018

The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon is the kind of book that fits my favorite trope in the romance genre. It is a story of best friends who become lovers, but then again, it is as simple as that. The Smallest Part is an epic journey filled with a lot of heartache and pain that brings the two together, and makes you more grateful for the fact towards the end. It is the story of the girl who gives up the love of her life, because her best friend was in love with him too. I do not recall how I came across this title now. Not that it matters, because this was gut wrenching in every single way that matters.

Mercedez Lopez and Noah Andelin are best of friends. Mercedes is the one who sees Noah, and befriends him when they were just kids. Two years later, into their lives comes beautiful Cora, the one whom everyone wanted to take care of, because she was a fragility unto herself, a tragedy waiting to happen.

Fast forward through the years, Cora is the one who marries Noah, when Mercedez herself had been in love with Noah ever since she could remember. Not that she would ever profess to it. In fact, she lies when Cora asks her about it. But Mercedez gives him up, all because Cora had professed to wanting him. Everything comes to a standstill when Cora, now mother of a one year old daughter dies a tragic death, leaving everyone else reeling from the impact of the suddenness of it all.

So begins life without Cora, Noah and Mercedez picking up the pieces, learning to be whole again. It is Mercedez that is the pillar of strength to Noah when he needs it, it is she who coddles and gives the much needed reality check when Noah needs it. She is also Gia’s godmother, a godsend in every way to his daughter, until Noah is able to start making sense of the grievous loss that had once again come calling to his life.

When things start changing between Noah and Mercedez, it is Mercedez who tries to put on the brakes, to salvage the friendship that means everything to her, so that the one relationship that she completely depends on to keep whole would never fail on her. But somethings are inevitable, no matter which course in life you choose to take, and Noah and Mercedez are just that; inevitable and two halves of one whole that will time and yet again make their way back towards one another.

I cannot begin to describe how much this story meant to me. In a way, it made me think of one of my favorite books of all time; Guilty Needs by Shiloh Walker. Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard also follows a similar theme, and if you ask me, books like these, that takes on a sensitive trope as such and does it justice are too far and few in between. But perhaps it is for that reason that when you do find a book as such, it is hard to put down because you are reeling from the impact of the characters that break you in ways you never thought possible.

The Smallest Part is a story that has so much depth, such vivid characterization, that it is difficult to describe the profoundness you find in the story. I do not believe that I would be able to write any review that does this book justice, but all I can say is that this is the sort of book every romance reader ought to read, because this is the reason why we spend so much time searching for that one particular book that would hit all the spots and make the countless hours of searching worthwhile.

Amy Harmon does a masterful job in bringing to life the characters in the story. Without vilifying any of the main protagonists, she manages to convey the dynamics that had driven three individuals whose lives would always and forever remain entwined. Noah and Mercedes were definitely meant to be from the start, but then Mercedes steps aside, because she is the sort of person whose love is as pure as it comes – the kind of love that wants the best for the person you love, because that is what love in its truest sense is all about.

Moving between the past and the present, Harmon takes readers through the all together human emotions of jealousy, competitiveness, sorrow, and happiness that had driven the dynamics between the trio. She also takes on subjects such as deep chronic depression that could potentially end in suicide, how it impacts the lives of those left behind. How we as humans, tend to put the people we love up on pedestals once they are no longer with us, and in the end shortchange ourselves because we refuse to acknowledge what they were really like and how we were impacted by their actions when they were with us.

Mercedes is a force of life to be reckoned with. Strong in mind and spirit, beautiful inside and out, loyal, honest, & unafraid of hard work; she is the glue that forges and fosters the bond between the three. She is Noah’s rock and guiding force, the woman who always has his back, no matter what. There is not an ounce of malice in Mercedes, and that is what makes you realize that she is the real deal.

On the other hand Cora is weaker in character, never having properly moved on from her father’s suicide. Cora has an inability to love her own self, and looks for reassurance from those she surrounds herself with to keep the demons at bay. Where Mercedes is loyal, Cora is not. Where Mercedes gives it her all, Cora has only bits and pieces to offer.

Noah is the kind of character who is truly deserving of every bit of love that Mercedez has to give. His life had not been any less tragic than that of Cora’s, but there is a light that shines in him that tends to put others at ease. There is a strength of character to him that makes him so very easy to fall in love with. His steadfastness when it came to Cora and Mercedez, that is what I loved most about him. 

I loved how the story had the ability to spirit me away, make me resent the need for sleep, and the time away from reading that life demanded. It has been a while since I felt as such about a story and I am grateful for having discovered this gem.

Recommended for anyone who loves a good story. You need not be a romance lover to enjoy the roller-coaster ride of emotions this book will take you on.

Final Verdict: Harmon’s ability to weave the past & present together & juggle a myriad of characters, while ripping my insides to shreds & making me whole again; why this story will live on in my heart for a long while.

Favorite Quotes

Noah played a song on his guitar. It was the silly tune he’d written to ask Cora to marry him. Mercedes had never had the heart to tell him it was terrible. But as she listened to his quiet voice and the awkward strumming of his long fingers, not quite holding the chord, she realized how wrong she’d been. It was a song about all the little things he loved about her, all the parts that made up the whole. He’d rhymed words like button and glutton, like boring and snoring, and when he’d played it for Cora the first time, before he popped the question, she’d hardly been able to keep a straight face.
But between the silly verses and his bashful delivery, there was love and devotion, there was commitment and promise, and there was hope. It wasn’t terrible at all. It was perfect, and it was painful. It was all Mercedes could do not to cover her ears until it was over.

Without asking, without warning, he leaned in and kissed her.
His lips were soft, his breath sweet, and the tips of his fingers were light on her cheeks. But it wasn’t a kiss between friends. It wasn’t a kiss goodbye. It was a desperate hello. Her heart grew and grew, filling her chest with both terror and triumph. But she didn’t push him back or pull away. In the darkness, she returned the press of his lips, and when he deepened the kiss, she opened her mouth to him without hesitation.

Here I am, her thoughts screamed. Here you are. Here we are. This is us.
But she did not know this Noah.
She did not know this side of him, the way his breath caught when she stood naked before him, curved and full-bodied, warm-skinned and round-hipped. The way he moved his hands around her thighs and lifted her, pulling her legs around his waist, one arm beneath her, one arm behind her, cradling her head from the cool tiles at her back. The way he gasped when he entered her, like he’d never been with a woman before. The way he moved against her, lost in the rhythm and the gathering storm.

For a long time, Noah just kissed her. He kept his weight above her, kept his hands in her hair, kept his mouth on hers. Kissing is a thousand times more intimate than sex. He knew some people would disagree, but the first thing that goes when a marriage is coming apart is not the sex. It’s the kissing.

“Noah, please. Noah,” she begged, her hips rising, her hands escaping his hold to clutch and coax. He capitulated slowly, mouth to mouth as he sank into her, and was so overcome with emotion, he had to pause. He was Atlas, holding the weight of the world on his shoulders, suspended above her, reveling in the exquisite agony of servitude.

He pressed his lips to the corners of her eyes and sipped at the salt on her cheeks, tasting the feelings she tried so hard to keep from him. He didn’t ask her why she cried. He didn’t beg her to stop. He understood her pain, and he knew he was hurting her. Tenderly, gently, carefully . . . hurting her. For a moment she was with him, lost in the sweetness of surrender, sobbing his name against his lips. He rocked against her, lazy and slow, a porch swing on a summer evening, just the two of them with nowhere to go.

“If I kiss you, will I lose you?” he whispered, and she groaned, inexplicably angry.
“Why are you asking me? Why don’t you just take what you want? Why don’t you just kiss me? Why do I have to give you permission and guarantees and sign a freaking form before you—” Her rant was swept aside by the brush of his lips. He was gentle and tentative, holding her face in his hands, pulling her shuddering breath into his throat, and giving it back to her. For several heartbeats, his mouth moved with hers, no urgency, no pressure, no pain.

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

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Review: And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-bookandthenhekissedher
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Bachelors, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Harrison Robert Marlowe
Heroine: Emmaline Dove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 13, 2009
Started On: December 10, 2018
Finished On: December 12, 2018

Laura Lee Gurhke is a name that you come across many times over if you read historical romances. In my bid to read a good historical romance (because there are times when you just want more of the magic that comes from only the said genre), I decided to take the plunge and read the first book in the Girl Bachelors series entitled And Then He Kissed Her by the author.

The heroine Emmaline Dove (Emma), who turns thirty years old, has been working for Harrison Robert Marlowe (Viscount Marlowe) for five years when the story begins. Harry is a publisher, and Emma is determined to get her book on the correct conduct for girl-bachelors like herself published through her employer. If only he would give her book the time of day and consider it worthy of publication.

When Harry turns her down for the umpteenth time, and Emma discovers that Harry has never in fact read one of her manuscripts on the many occasions that he had turned them down, it is the last straw. She quits, believing that if she wanted to make things happen, it is she who should get to it. So she goes forth in the world to become a success in her own right, proving to Harry many times over that determination would get one to places.

There is nothing more tedious to Harry than sifting through a book on correct decorum and behavior. So Harry finds himself without Emma’s quiet efficiency to run pretty much everything in his life. Harry finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he realizes that for some reason, Emma’s writings are making waves in society as he never thought possible. After many a hurdle, forges a new relationship between the two, where Emma and Harry meets as equals, where he considers her opinions and thoughts, where she gets to be heard. Through it all, Harry discovers to his utter fascination that he wants Emma unlike he has wanted any woman in a long time.

Harry, who has sworn of marriage after the disaster of his first, is all sorts of improper for a woman like Emma, whose entire childhood and adult life has always been about doing what is proper. Her rigid upbringing plays its role, and Emma is afraid to look beyond and make reality of the woman she actually wants herself to be. Passionate, daring, and adventurous. In Marlowe, she finds that she can be all that and more with him, but years of indoctrination is hard to shake off. But shake it off she does, in the most spectacular fashion, leaving both Emma and Marlowe breathless with every encounter between them.

The best part of this story was the slow awakening of Emma, to realize who she truly is, and accept the parts of herself that contradicts all the proper behavior and decorum that had been drummed into her since childhood. Harry was a tad insensitive at times, but once you get the frustration on his part to get through to Emma, it becomes understandable as well. Harry is the catalyst that pushes Emma to see beyond who she believes she should be. He teaches her the pleasures of life, and Emma blossoms so beautifully beneath his tender ministrations, in bed and out of it.

While Harry took his own sweet time in coming to certain realizations, he did step up and do the “proper” thing by Emma when all was said and done. I loved Emma, because she is the sort of character whom you cannot resist. There is just something about heroines called Emma. They make for rather proper and at times the most fun heroines when everything unravels. Brings to mind Sandra Marton’s The Bedroom Business. Such a wickedly fun book such as this one.

Recommended for those that love a good historical romance. There is romance, there is angst – the best of both in my opinion.

Final Verdict: Delightfully sweet with scrumptious love scenes that brought my vivid imagination to life.

Favorite Quotes

Before she could descend on her own, he put his hands on her waist, thinking to be chivalrous and lift her down. But the moment he touched her, he forget that intent and his thoughts became much less noble. His forearms brushed the sides of her hips, and another wave of desire shimmered through his body. He’d been right. She was wearing a petticoat or two, maybe, and a corset, definitely, but no padding. He slid his hands down an inch or two, grasping her hips, and his thumbs brushed the base of her spine. There might not be much to Miss Dove, but what she had was genuine.
His hands tightened, and he leaned closer, breathing deeply of talcum powder and fresh cotton, pristine, maidenly scents he’d never dreamt could be erotic until now. If he moved one inch closer, he’d be kissing—
“My lord?”
Good God, what was he doing?

Before she could guess his intent and stop him with some ridiculous rule of etiquette, he grasped her wrist, lifted her hand, and opened his mouth. His lips closed around her fingers and the remaining half of the truffle.
She gasped, but though she tried to pull her hand away, he wouldn’t let her. She glanced at the door, then back at him as he slowly pulled the candy from her fingers with his mouth.
He saw her lips quiver and heard her breathing quicken. He perceived the change in her body, a purely feminine reaction of passion tempered by modesty. By innocence. Harry’s body began to burn.

He slid his hand to her cheek, and she gave a gasp of shock. “What are you doing?” she whispered.
He bent his head and paused with his lips an inch from hers. “Committing a serious breach of etiquette,” he murmured.
And then he kissed her.
The moment his mouth touched her own, Emma forgot where they were, forgot what was proper, forgot everything she had ever been taught about right and wrong. There, in the half-light and shadows of a dusty bookshop, she forgot that kissing was only for married people and that she was a spinster of thirty. With this man’s warm palm cupping her face and his lips pressed to hers, joy unfurled inside her, beautiful, painful joy. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. It was like nothing she could ever have imagined.
It was like springtime.

She brought her hands between them to touch his chest. His silk waistcoat felt smooth against her palms. Beneath it, his muscles were hard and warm. Emma slid her palms across his chest beneath his jacket to his shoulders, savoring the strength of a man’s body for the very first time, knowing somehow that for this moment, all that strength was hers to command. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed closer, wanting that strength to enfold her.
Her move seemed to ignite something inside him. He made a rough sound against her mouth, and his free arm wrapped around her waist. He lifted her onto her toes, pulled her fully against him. His free hand curled around the back of her neck. He deepened the kiss, and his tongue entered her mouth. Emma made a wordless sound of shock, but then she touched her tongue to his, and waves of pleasure shimmered through her. For the first time, she understood what carnality truly was.

He lifted his head and captured her mouth with his, smothering the echo of his name against her lips. His hand tightened at her breast, he groaned into her mouth, and he deepened the kiss. He touched her nipple again, sliding his fingers back and forth across it within the tight confines of her underclothes, and her body shuddered in response. She felt as if she had no ability to govern her own body, for his touch was causing her to move in the strangest way, arching into his hands in little twitches that she could not stop. She could hear herself making soft, queer noises against his mouth, smothered, primitive sounds, and she felt as if she were drowning in a sensuous haze. What he was doing was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and she wanted it to go on and on and on forever.

“Stop talking about my undergarments,” she whispered, the rosy blush in her face spreading down over her face and neck. “It isn’t…” She wet her lips. “It isn’t decorous.”
“Decorous?” He laughed softly. “Emma, when he’s taking off a woman’s clothes, a man doesn’t feel decorous. Neither does she if he’s doing it right. Besides, we’re just talking, making conversation.” He nuzzled her ear. “Having social intercourse, you might say.”
She made a choked sound.

She fingered the sash. “Don’t I get to undress you, too?” she whispered.
Do you want to?”
She nodded, staring at his chest. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
He spread his arms wide. “Go on, then. Tonight’s all about what you want.” He grinned. “I’ll teach you all the things I want some other time.”

Emma untied the sash, then grasped the facings of his dressing gown. She slid the heavy silk back from his shoulders and it fell behind him to the floor. She stepped back a little and stared at his chest, but after a few moments he couldn’t stand it. “Touch me, Emma,” he said hoarsely. “Touch me.”

Harry inhaled a sharp breath and tilted his head back as she began to explore him. She ran her hands over his chest and across his shoulders, down his arms and back up again, over his ribs and down his abdomen. Her fingertips caressed his ribs and she leaned in, pressing a kiss to his collarbone. She laughed softly, blowing warm breath against his skin. “You’re beautiful.”
Something hot and tight twisted in his chest, something that had nothing to do with the lust in his body. Something in the naive wonder of her voice that hit him deep down and lifted him way up and made him feel as if he were king of the earth.

“Emma, Emma, let it happen,” he coaxed, his lips brushing her curls. “Just feel it and let it happen.”
He kissed her and licked her, and after a moment or two, she gave a little sigh as something in her seemed to relax. She began to move her hips, and he took his cue from her, pleasuring her at the pace her body demanded, faster and faster, until she was trembling all over and arching into him, until she was moving with frantic little jerks and soft, primitive cries were coming from her throat. Until she made that sweet, long wail of feminine ecstasy and her body collapsed.

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

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Review: Dangerous by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-bookdangerous.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #1
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Adam de Courtney
Heroine: Euphemia Marlington
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 26, 2018
Started On: November 18, 2018
Finished On: November 27, 2018

Dangerous by Minerva Spencer is her debut novel, the first book in The Outcasts series. I read the second book Barbarous first, right after which, I just HAD to get myself a copy of Dangerous to indulge in. And indulge I did, in one of the finest historical romances that I have read this year!

The Duke of Carlisle is desperate in his bid to get his daughter Euphemia Marlington (Mia) married off to avoid further scandal to their family. Mia’s return home had not been the joyous affair most would think would happen when one’s daughter, who was captured by corsairs, and then later taken into the harem of the Sultan for a long time, for whom she had borne a son has returned home after so many years. Now 33 years old, Mia has only one goal in mind. The sooner she is married, the sooner she can return to her son Jibril, something she keeps secret from even her father and own brother.

It is the Duke’s desperation that drives him to extend an invitation to Adam de Courtney, the Marquess of Exley, to a dinner and ball at the Duke’s residence, for the sole purpose of finding Mia a suitable husband. Adam’s two past marriages leaving him a widower had earned him the nickname The Murdering Marquess, and Adam’s reclusive nature from society is what sets the gossip mill stirring, what makes society want to avoid him in return. However, Adam’s interest in details surrounding the return of Mia is piqued enough to turn up, and to his surprise finds himself beguiled by a woman who he did not think would possess such a charm.

Against his better judgement, Adam proposes marriage, and Mia accepts, at first because she believes Adam would be the person who would unknowingly help her further her goals in getting back to her son. Adam’s condition is that she give him an heir, something he had failed at when it came to his past two marriages.

So begins the charming and sensual tale of two people who are drawn to each other in spite of themselves. Mia with her secrets that she hugs close to her, and Adam keeping the scars left behind from his first marriage that had practically ruined him for anyone else. But Mia seduces more than his body, she takes everything he has to give, and Adam finds that he cannot quite get enough of his newly wedded wife

As their relationship progresses, Mia too finds herself drawn towards the enigmatic man she married. A man who tries to put up a cold front, but shows how fiery and deep his passions run when it comes to her. If it had been just Mia alone, she would have been content to stay with Adam and forget the very reason upon which she had based her decision to take Adam as her husband. But when her past comes calling and gives her a very brutal wake up call, Mia must do everything in her power to leave the man she loves behind in order to bring her son back to safety.

I must say that I enjoyed Dangerous far more than I did Barbarous. I loved the intensity of emotions between Mia and Adam. Mia is someone who is passionate by nature, society’s worst nightmare perhaps, because she is someone who speaks her mind. Her captivity at the Sultan’s palace had also meant that she is far more experienced in the arts of sexual pleasure, something that Adam does not begrudge her for and enjoys. Mia is a refreshing character in many ways. I loved her because she is feisty, independent, and is not afraid to speak her mind. All of that and more endeared her to me in ways I cannot explain. Her love for Adam is one that runs deep, a love that is pure on many levels, because he is the first man to move her enough  to give her heart to.

To fall in love with Adam is so easy. He might show the uncaring facade, put up his daughters at his country estate and plan never to bring them into society, and after all, his past two wives ending up dead does earn him the sort of notoriety that is hard to shake off. But deep inside Adam is a man of immense passion, integrity, and honesty, a man who wants to do right by those whom he love and is responsible for. His skills with swords is one that was hot – I cannot explain why, you would just have to read the story to find out.

I loved the ending. It gave glimpses into the lives of Mia and Adam and their happiy ever after that I could have gone on reading more about. But I am hoping that Jibril is going to end up getting his own story somewhere down the line, and that readers like myself who fell in love with Adam and Mia would get to see the couple in action then as well. I would be remiss if I were not to mention how much I enjoyed Adam and Martin’s relationship that developed towards the latter part of the story. I think I read somewhere that it is going to be Martin’s story up next. Can’t wait!

Recommended, because Minerva writes with a style and wit that draws you in, and does scenes of passion so beautifully well that you cannot help but feel the heat.

Final Verdict: Captivating from start to finish, Minerva’s scrumptious debut novel demands the reader to pick up the next in the series right after! Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes

He went only as deep as his aching head before stopping. A bead of sweat broke from his temple and trickled down his jaw as he stared down into her slitted green eyes. His control strained at its tether like a rabid dog on a leash. Once he began moving, there would be no finesse.
She smiled lazily, tilted her hips, and took him inside her.
“Ah, God.” The words burst from him like a plea for mercy.
Any vestige of control disappeared, and his best intentions with it. He used her with a savagery he knew would shame him later but he was beyond caring.

His vision went black and his body exploded. He crushed her hips in a punishing grip and held her still as he filled her and claimed her.
Mine.
He exhaled raggedly and rolled over, not wanting to crush her. Her legs tangled with his and she turned with him, a girlish giggle breaking from her when they tumbled onto their sides, still connected at the hips, their faces inches from each other.
Adam looked into her flushed, joyous face and his heart beat a deafening tattoo in his ears.

He came into her slowly and both of them made low sounds of satisfaction as he filled her. “My God, you feel good,” he whispered, his cheek pressed against hers, his breath hot on her ear. “I need to take you.”
She answered by tilting her hips to take him even deeper and then squeezing the length of him until he moaned.
“That was very naughty,” he gasped, drawing almost all the way out of her and then stroking into her hard and fast. The power of his thrust drove her up the bed and he rode her so hard she barely had the breath to cry out when the first climax overtook her.

As her flush deepened one small hand crept between her thighs and found the place that gave her so much pleasure. Adam didn’t think he’d ever been harder in his entire life as he watched her work herself while riding him.
Her other hand moved to her breast and stroked her erect nipples. Her back arched and her eyes closed and that was enough. He grabbed her hips and drove himself home.
She fixed him with an unfocused gaze as he pounded into her. “Come with me, Adam.”
Her words were the last straw and he convulsed against her with the sheer force of his orgasm, yelling out God-knows-what as he spent himself.

“You’ve reached the end of the road,” he said, backing her up against the ornately carved wood. She bent close, rather than trying to get away, flicking her tongue over one of his nipples.
“Witch,” he hissed, his eyes closing.
Her skilled tongue worked his nipples, alternating painful little nips with soothing sucking while his erection pulsed between them.
“You are so beautiful,” she murmured, her sharp teeth catching him and pulling, the pain exquisite. “Ever since the day you kissed me at my father’s house, I become wet whenever I think of making love to you.”

She laid her hands against his chest, looking up at him in a way that did disconcerting things to his stomach. “Will you bathe with me, my lord?”
He released into his gaze all the hunger and lust he had been controlling since their truncated lovemaking earlier in the day. Her face flushed and her lids lowered as he pushed against her, forcing her to take a step back, and then another as he relentlessly advanced on her, not stopping until he’d pinned her against the hard stone wall of the bathing chamber.
“Unbutton me,” he told her, his voice harsh with need. Her deft hands worked fast to free him.
He pulled up the skirt of her traveling costume, his hand moving to what he knew would be waiting for him. She wore no drawers. He shook with desire as he delved into her curls and found the part of her that transformed her into something that was his alone.

While she was still shuddering with pleasure he grasped her bottom, lifted her against the wall, and slid into her, holding very still once he was seated. He braced himself, his feet spread shoulder-width apart, gaining control of himself. She moved restlessly above him, her hips grinding, wanting more.
He pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were hooded, her mouth slack and willful.
“So greedy.” He snuggled her tighter to his body as he worked himself deeper. “You’ve hardly finished one orgasm and you already want another. You’ll not come again until you’ve earned it,” he whispered, punctuating his words with a quick thrust of his hips.

“Turn around and put your hands on the wall.”
She complied without speaking. He trapped her hands with his and pulled her arms taut, roughly shoving apart her legs before stepping between her thighs. He entered her with a thrust so violent he lifted her off her feet. She moaned and pushed back against him and the last vestiges of his sanity burned away.
“You will never leave me again,” he gritted the words into the back of her fiery head as he filled her. “Do you hear me?” He slammed into her. “You are mine,” he said from between jaws clenched so hard it hurt. She arched against him in answer.

“Unbutton me, Mia.” His voice was husky against her taut bud.
She opened his breeches and grabbed him. Colorful blasts exploded behind his eyelids and rendered him speechless as she took him into her body in one long, hard slide.
He held her hips loosely as she rode him, looking down to where their bodies were joined. She knew what he wanted and pulled all the way off him before lowering herself, allowing him the breathtaking view of his shaft disappearing into her body. He thrust with all his might and she cried out, her hands gripping his shoulders while she convulsed around him.
His orgasm left him blind and he shuddered and pulled her against his heaving chest, stilling her body while his heart pounded so hard he thought it might explode.

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

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Review: The Sister Swap by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookthesisterswap_susannapier.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Hunter Lewis
Heroine: Anne Tremaine
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January, 1996
Started On: October 24, 2018
Finished On: October 26, 2018

After the recent rounds of lackluster reads from Susan Napier, The Sister Swap turned out to be a godsend in the way it sent my senses humming. This is the Susan Napier that I fell in love with when I first read her work, and this is the voice that I seek every time I pick up one of her titles to read.

Anne Tremaine has a big heart, which means that she always puts her family first. When her sister Kaitlin requests from Anne to swap places with her, Anne enters into a deceptive existence, seizing the opportunity, given her thirst for knowledge and want for a college education. With her nephew Ivan in tow, Anne foresees no dangers of her secret coming out, that is until she meets her neighbor aka Professor Hunter Lewis.

Hunter does not want distractions, which includes neighbors who play trashy music loudly enough to disturb his peace. A writer who requires his quiet, Hunter is further disconcerted by the fact that he literally cannot figure out Anne as a woman. Just when Hunter believes that he knows everything there is to her, she surprises him in a way that intrigues him. Hunter does not like it, not one bit at all, which is why his temper gets the best of him where Anne is concerned.

Anne cannot believe that she is stuck with a surly and churlish neighbor the likes of Hunter. But when circumstances bring them together time and yet again, Anne finds that she is rather fascinated by the conundrum that Hunter presents to her as a man. He excites her, arouses her, and irritates her in equal doses. There is no denying that for an innocent like Anne, Hunter at full throttle was definitely going to end up being a disaster. Hunter gets a dose of what its like to be confronted by a woman who is all that he wants, but his fear that stems from the past acts as a deterrent.

I so loved The Sister Swap and what it entailed. I cannot quite figure out why the book has received bad ratings. Because Susan Napier is at her most charming and hilarious form in this novel, presenting to readers two characters that cannot stand each other and at the same time want each other so very badly.

Hunter’s character was riveting. He is equal doses passionate and likes control in his life, especially given the circumstances upon which he had become a widower a couple of years back. He has no intention of letting the feels catch him once again, but for the love of him, he cannot stop the avalanche of need that seems to take over his body when it comes to Anne.

I loved watching Hunter unravel, piece by piece. I reveled in the fact that he could not help himself when it comes to Anne. I enjoyed watching him succumb, watching him lose that patience of his, that intellectual part of him being taken over by the passionate man he is deep inside, until he gives in, and oh so headily.

I loved Anne, for the warmth of her character, the spark of her intelligence, that wit and sarcastic humor that sets the pace between the two of them, and the love she shows to Hunter in abandon, even when he tries to steer clear of emotions that could bring him down.

The ending was equal parts hilarious and endearing. Anne certainly knows what she is doing when it comes to Hunter. I closed the book with a huge ass grin on my face, already envisioning a Hunter trying to keep up with his charming and sexy wife, who stirs him in every single way that matters, with a bunch of small Hunters and Annes’ in the mix, with more on the way. I could literally picture that, given the earthy nature of both characters. The way Hunter gets seduced by Anne’s long and plaited hair was one of the highlights of the story.

Loved, loved, loved! Recommend this wholeheartedly for the fun and sizzle!

Final Verdict: A super grumpy hero who is reluctant to fall in love, a heroine who holds a secret that she would take to her grave with or die trying; but when these two meet, there is no denying the sparks that fly.

Favorite Quotes

‘I’m sorry.’ His quiet sincerity took her off guard and she turned, just as he moved to pick up the tea-towel on the bench beyond her. Trapped against the cupboards, Anne could feel every inch of him from chest to knee…every impressive inch! ‘Anne?’ He picked up her plait, which had flopped on to the bench, winding it around his hand as she maintained her silent resistance, forcing her to look at him. ‘I’m sorry.’
She meant to say something flippant, something smart, something sophisticated. Instead she could only stand there, transfixed by the dark compassion in the heavy-lidded gaze, aware of simmering heat that had nothing whatsoever to do with the sultry, late-summer night.
And then he kissed her.

His fist tightened on her plait, pulling her head back, and she instinctively went up on tiptoe to meet his descending mouth. It was hard, hot, and faintly hostile. Instead of frightening her, his restrained aggression was fiercely exciting. He wasn’t asking for a response, he was demanding it, and Anne gave with greedy generosity. When he bit at her soft lips they parted instantly and he plunged inside, making a rough sound of triumph that vibrated on her tongue. He tasted deliciously warm and spicy, and as he sank recklessly deeper she pressed her palms flat against his chest to steady herself and was entranced by the straining tension in his body, the rapid, erratic pounding of his heart.

She pushed her hands eagerly up under his shirt to stroke his silky, hot, hair-roughened chest. She touched his flat, masculine nipples and was startled to feel them react sharply, hardening under her clumsy caress. Intoxicated by a rush of feverish curiosity, she pulled her mouth away from his and pushed the soft fabric up out of her way, revealing the thick muscles bunching and shifting with every convulsive breath.
‘Anne…’
She was too enraptured by her discovery to notice the husky note of warning in his voice as his hand stilled on her breast.
‘Why, you’re just like me,’ she murmured wonderingly, touching a finger lightly to one rigid nipple where it peeped out of its thick nest of hair and watching it stiffen further.
He shuddered and swore savagely under his breath and she looked up at his face, fascinated by the mixture of smouldering resentment and carnal desire that she saw there.

Anne lifted her knee, not even feeling the shoe slip off her foot and bounce into the gutter as she pressed the inside of her thigh against his lean flank, like a rider trying to sense the next move of a powerful, unruly stallion.
He made a thick, greedy sound and immediately slid his hand into the crook of her raised knee, tugging it higher on his hip so that he could settle more securely between her legs, trailing his hand up the back of her thigh to cup the curve of her buttock, its smooth roundness tautened by her wanton pose.

He opened his mouth against her and she went utterly weak, not even noticing the rough hand glide smoothly under her hanging blouse and unclip the plastic fastening at her back. As her breasts tumbled free he made a rough sound of greedy satisfaction and sank back down with her on to the firmly sprung couch, holding her across his lap and nuzzling the flimsy fabric aside with his mouth before lapping at the soft, shyly trembling peaks with long, lazy strokes, gliding them with his clever tongue until they were rigid and glistening. He admired his erotic creations with little crowns of biting kisses, then cupped her again in his strong fingers, guiding each stiff nipple in turn into the scalding moistness of his mouth, drawing them deeper as he suckled hotly, with a fierce, lusty enjoyment that drove her into a frenzy of delight.

Anne was lost in a world of languid bliss, unaware of the passage of time as Hunter teased her skirt slowly up her legs, deliberately taking his time in order to savour her uninhibitedly sensual response to each fleeting caress, his warm fingers stroking, delving, sliding, enticing, his mouth always moving, tasting, exploring her with a thoroughness that would have shocked her had she not been blinded by the shattering glory of her first physical experience of love.
She wasn’t aware of the skilful disrobing that accompanied his wildly erotic explorations until she opened her pleasure-dazed eyes and suddenly found herself nude in her lover’s arms, unbearably excited by the feel of his rough clothing against her singing skin, the slide of smooth cotton against her bare back as he shifted her to accommodate his needs. He had released her hair from its faded hoop of elastic and fanned it out to frame the lush, pearly curves of her body, winding his hands in its gleaming luxuriance, teasing it over her gloriously sensitised breasts, tantalising her with its feathery friction.
When she teased him throatily about his fetish and protested at the inequity of their dress, Hunter laughed smokily and touched her where she was most vulnerable, stroking her with excruciating delicacy until she melted with a drenching cry, praising her for the splendour of her response.
‘So soft, and hot and silky wet… Don’t lose the rhythm, darling, stay with me… that’s right… a little harder… a little faster… No, darling, don’t fight it…’

Am I the first man to do this to you, Anne?’
He withdrew once more, and again she couldn’t stop herself from panicking, digging her short, practical nails into his tight buttocks until he eased forward, this time a little faster and more roughly, beginning to establish a rhythm that was both exhilarating and frustrating.
‘Am I, Anne?’
This time as he pulled back Hunter deliberately hesitated and, as he expected, his answer arrived in a wild rush as she wound herself around him.
‘Yes, yes! Although if I’d known it was going to be this good I wouldn’t have waited so long!’ She slid her fingers through the hair on his chest and stroked the fine pelt, following the silky line down his belly to push into the thickening where his body joined with hers—Anne and Hunter, Hunter and Anne—if only it could go on forever.

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ARC Review: Barbarous by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-bookBarbarous.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #2
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Hugh Redvers
Heroine: Daphne Davenport
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 30, 2018
Started On: September 29, 2018
Finished On: October 02, 2018

Minerva Spencer is a Canadian author, who writes Regency Era romance. With two of her published works out, both in the series entitled The Outcasts, I came across her work when acclaimed historical romance author Elizabeth Hoyt recommended her books in one her tweets. I have loved almost everything that I have read from Hoyt and believe her to be a sensational author. So when she recommends an author whose books have spoken to HER, well, needless to say, I needed no further urging.

I did not read this series in order and read Barbarous first. In doing so, I did not feel like I had missed out on understanding the characters or felt that any of the story line was missing. So it is safe to say that this can be read as a standalone.

Barbarous begins when Hugh Redvers returns from the “dead” fifteen years after he was presumed to be so. A handsome daredevil who had stolen bits and pieces of Lady Daphne Davenport even when she had been an impressionable child when Hugh had been banished by his uncle, the older and mature version of him, scarred as he is, is a sight to behold.

Daphne’s first impression of Hugh upon his return is explained in a manner that does justice to what his character brings to the story. “Daphne knew she was gawking, but she couldn’t stop. His sun-bronzed skin and golden hair were an exotic surprise against the pallid gray of the spring sky. But it was the black eye-patch that covered his left eye and the savage scar that disappeared beneath it that were truly arresting. He lacked only a battered tricorn and cutlass between his teeth to be every maiden’s fantasy of a handsome pirate. Was he lost on his way to a masquerade ball?

Daphne’s biggest fear upon Hugh’s sudden return is that he would find out her “deception” and the fact that she had robbed him of his rightful inheritance. Daphne’s marriage to Hugh’s uncle is one that Hugh cannot wrap his head around, and he knows that he no right to be entertaining such wicked thoughts about his “aunt” – spread for him to feast upon, in all her wanton glory.

Daphne knows that she is not the type of woman that would excite a man like Hugh. But the manner in which Hugh slowly seduces her is reason enough to drive her ever slowly out of her mind. Even if she is determined to stay unmoved, there is no helping the fact that her body responds to the proximity and wicked looks that Hugh throws her way. However, for Daphne and Hugh to have their happily ever after, the need to face their past and reconcile with it is a must, before the dangers closing in from all sides could destroy what they have, even before their entwined life could begin.

Before I start gushing about this book, I just have to put this out there. I have the utmost respect for Canadian authors. The few Canadian authors, whose books I read, have wowed me in ways I cannot even comprehend. Some of them are the reason I continue to read the genre even when most tales in the genre today have grown pale in comparison to what my reader tastes are like. In Minerva Spencer, I believe I have found one more author that I will continue to watch out for, because she has a flair for bringing all the elements together that makes a romance work, which makes reading no hardship at all.

Barbarous was amazing in its prose and delivery – no two ways about it. I loved how both Daphne and Hugh’s characters were crafted. Daphne is the ultimate bookworm, a bit lost inside her head, and has a heart that is warmth itself. Her difficult past, the way she had found a sanctuary in being married to her deceased husband, and the twins that had been borne out of horrible circumstances, but whom she would give her very own life for; all this and more define Daphne. The way she responds to Hugh, that innocence of hers, her curiosity, and the way she loves and accepts Hugh wholeheartedly, for all that and more, I loved her character.

When it comes to Hugh, he is a man who strides into the story, giving it a vitality that I am hard pressed to explain. He is like a warm beating heart, pulsating with life, giving energy to the rest of the elements that makes up the story. His kindness above everything else, made me fall like a ton of bricks for him. His wicked, wicked nature when it came to the slow seduction of Daphne made me want to hoot and give out a catcall, especially when he strip teased for her. A hero doing the teasing in that manner is something I have seldom come across in romance novels, especially when it comes to the historical genre. His possessiveness was just the right touch, the balm that soothes the heart and soul of someone like Daphne who considers herself to not have anything much to offer a man like Hugh.

The cast of secondary characters definitely brings added color to the story, with every character multi-faceted in a way that lends credence to the unfolding story. Even the “villain” had his own story to share, which makes one think along the lines of how under similar circumstances, good and bad can thrive and persist, even beyond human comprehension.

If scrumptious love scenes, an interesting cast of characters, and excitement of the kind that would keep you turning the pages is what you want, Minerva Spencer is the author for you. I cannot wait for the next couple of books (which I am hoping the author is working on) to be out!

Final Verdict: In Barbarous, Minerva Spencer delivers a delectable tale of a larger than life hero who returns home to find himself scandalously in lust with his uncle’s widow. To say that sparks fly would be an understatement. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Tendrils of her luxuriant hair had come loose as she played. Some spiraled wildly, glinting pale gold in the light, some lay damply against the exposed skin of her throat. Each time Hugh turned a page, he bent lower than necessary, breathing her in, inhaling her. She smelled clean, unper-fumed with anything but the vague scent of soap. Never had Hugh realized just how heady another human’s natural scent could be.
By the time the final notes came to a crashing conclusion, Hugh ached with the effort of holding his body in check. The cavernous music room was silent but felt crowded and small, the atmosphere heavy with a maelstrom of emotions he had no interest in examining.
Her arms trembled with the mere physicality of the past moments and a slight shudder passed through her, as if she’d just come out of a trance. She followed his hand—which rested on the piano—up to his face and blinked, surprised to find she wasn’t alone.
Hugh gazed into her heavily lidded eyes and was astounded by the violence of his need to touch her—embrace her. Instead, he took a small step back, even that much a struggle.
“You are magnificent,” he said, his voice hoarse.

His handsome features were taut and intense, but no longer angry. “Daphne—” He stopped and shook his head. Daphne stared into his emerald eye, mesmerized by the gold shards that glinted in the green, like slivers of sunlight through a forest canopy. His fingers tightened and his disconcerting gaze traveled from her eyes to her mouth and then back.
He gave a low groan of frustration. “Oh, bloody hell,” he muttered, just before his mouth crushed hers.
Daphne closed her eyes.
Finally
. The word echoed so loudly inside her head that, for a moment, she feared she’d spoken out loud.
If she had, Hugh did not appear to notice.

Daphne shuddered and grabbed onto his body to steady herself as his gentle sucking set off colorful explosions behind her eyelids. The tautly bunched muscles of his upper body were hard and hot beneath the smooth wool of his coat and her hands traveled the broad expanse of his shoulders toward his neck, lightly grazing his cravat before she pushed her fingers into his thick, surprisingly wiry curls.
He growled and inched even closer, releasing her lip and then pushing at the seam of her mouth with his tongue, as if he was trying to . . . enter her.
Daphne inhaled sharply and the room shifted beneath her feet as he took her face in both hands and tilted her, stroking into her . . . tasting her . . . licking her.

He traced the gentle curves with the tip of his tongue, teasing the thin silk barrier that molded to her lithe body. As he’d suspected—a million years ago at the wretched dinner—her nipples were less than an inch below the tissue-thin fabric of her gown.
Daphne shifted and arched as he suckled her through the silk, bringing the tip to tantalizing hardness before moving to the other, working her until the noises coming from deep in her throat were so hungry he had to see her.
He held her at arm’s length, staring into her sleepy eyes. “You are so beautiful,” he said, his hands moving to the damp, stretched fabric that barely covered her.

She lightly dragged the very tip over his lips, as if drawing his features, leaving a searing trail of heat as she kissed and licked and nipped her way up his scar, pulling his head lower and feathering the torn, tender skin with the lightest of kisses. Before Hugh knew what she was doing she’d untied the ends of the strap that held the patch over his eye.
He moved to grab it, but she flung it away and then clutched his face in both hands and pulled him lower.
“I want all of you.”
He hadn’t believed he could become any harder; he’d been wrong.

He circled his hand over her, stroking her pelvis from side to side until her hips pressed against his palm on the next sweep over her sex.
Hugh smiled at the familiar gesture of need and cupped her in his hand before dipping a finger between her swollen lips. She reacted with a convulsive thrust and he probed deeper, working her with a gentle but persistent rhythm, each stroke a little deeper, a little harder. She swelled around him and her hot wetness told him when she could take more. A second finger joined the first and her hips responded eagerly, thrusting in time to the motion of his hand.
“God, you’re so wet. So sweet and tight,” he whispered, the words causing her body to shake.
Hugh felt as though he’d barely begun when she contracted, her hips bucking hard, as if she couldn’t get him deep enough.

Holding her gaze, he withdrew almost all the way and then filled her with a single slick thrust. Her eyelids fluttered and her body tightened around his and a groan tore out of his chest.
“Touch me, Daphne. Stroke me while I stroke you.” Again he pulled all the way out and drove himself home, harder this time. Her hands began to roam his body, exploring his torso, his chest, his buttocks. He moved faster and pumped harder, driving into her with powerful, deep thrusts, holding nothing back.

She met him stroke for brutal stroke, until his body was about to fly apart. He was afraid he could no longer wait when she contracted around him.
“Yes, Daphne, yes. Come for me.” He punctuated his words with one savage thrust after another. She sank her teeth into his chest, her crisis coming fast and hard and triggering his own petite mort.
Hugh threw back his head and yelled something mindless as he drove himself home and spent deep inside her.

The sculpted muscles of his back and shoulders bunched with controlled power as his blond head moved rhythmically, his skilled tongue and fingers working their magic. Daphne gave herself up to pure pleasure and rode the crest of the wave that had been a long time coming. A wave that built and built until it crashed, taking her with it and pummeling her body over and over, until she was weak, breathless, and limp.
“Hugh,” she whispered, her hands slipping from his hair, where they’d somehow become tangled.

“I—I want . . .” Daphne had no recollection of what she’d meant to say.
He laughed wickedly. “You want . . . this?” He entered her in one slick, endless thrust, driving her in to the mattress with the force of his action.
Daphne groaned, her head falling back, her eyes closing. It was . . . too much, too intense, too—
And then he began to pound her with merciless, measured thrusts, each invasion deeper than the last.
“Your body is heaven,” he gasped, halting his savage thrusting and instead pushing slowly into her, inch by inch by inch. “Take all of me, darling.”
She wrapped her legs around him, tilted her pelvis, and tightened.
“My God, Daphne!” He shuddered violently enough to shake the four-poster bed, lifting her higher, his fingers digging into her hips while he drove into her, his body taut and slick with the strength of his need.

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