Review: The Land Where Sinners Atone by V.F. Mason

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Zachary King
Heroine: Phoenix Hale
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 14, 2020
Started On: February 14, 2021
Finished On: February 19, 2021

“Sex is phenomenal. Love though? Love is scary as fuck.” – Zachary

The Land Where Sinners Atone by V.F. Mason is another dark, anti-hero romance from the author whose books answers the need in me to read stories featuring heroes that most would not even think are worthy of redemption. But I love them more so for the fact. I am no fan of overly sweet romances – I like the darkness, that raw edge, and the tension that courses through you, until you are on tenterhooks unable to turn away from the disaster that is imminent. And for that reason alone, I would always continue to read titles from Ms. Mason, as long as she continues to deliver the variety of heroes that speaks to my heart.

The Land Where Sinners Atone tells the tale of 32 year old Zachary King, his family being one of the most influential families in the world, who seeks revenge and vengeance on 29 year old Phoenix Hale, when she is accused of killing the beloved wife of Zachary. With Zachary out in full force to make her pay, the news that the DA cuts her a deal is the last straw for him.

It is punishment enough for Phoenix that nothing in her life would ever be the same again. Her career, the husband who promised to love and cherish her for all eternity, her friends and colleagues, all of them leave her in the dust, and there is no will left in Phoenix to fight to keep them, especially when she has to fight for the survival of someone more precious than all of them put together. But the long arms of the rich who seek vengeance reaches behind the prison walls, and it is heartbreaking what happens to Phoenix to finally break her.

At 32 years old, new evidence that comes to light sets Phoenix free, setting Zachary on her path once again, this time seeking her help to find the actual perpetrator. Zachary makes no apologies for what he did to Phoenix, and his sheer audacity in asking for her help sets Phoenix on the edge, not to mention the fact that he raises her ire in ways she would rather not define.

Ms. Mason weaves a tight plot for the most part, which entwines snippets of the past which shows how Phoenix strikes an odd friendship with a boy three years her senior, and how throughout the years that friendship is conducted via letters and emails. Phoenix at one point wants more, but that had been the first time fate had intervened, forcing her to choose a different path which led her to become an ex-convict who wants the man who put her behind bars in a way she never would have thought possible.

When the truth comes to light of what they mean to each other, of the secret that Zachary hides, and of the true intent and nature of the killer, it is a harrowing couple of chapters until we reach the finish line and turn the pages to the epilogue with bated breathe, praying with everything you are, hoping with every fiber of your being, that everything turns out to be alright.

For the most part, I loved the story that Ms. Mason delivered with this number. Zachary is the kind of hero that takes your breath away from just his sheer presence alone. There is a forcefulness to him, a ruthlessness that is enshrined in his DNA that speaks of violence if ever there is a need for it, and yet at the same time, a gentle side to him that really shakes you up in the midst. Phoenix is not the only one who is flummoxed by the many facets to his character, and as the reader I was feeling it every step of the way.

I think what detracted from my enjoyment of the story somewhat was the fact that I felt the story steered off course towards the end, and I think that it could have been much better had it been otherwise. Zachary too was perhaps not ultimately dark enough for my tastes, because lets face it, Ms. Mason has delivered much darker heroes in her stories such as Psychopath’s Prey, which was my first and most unforgettable book by her.

At the same time, I absolutely adored the bits and pieces on the entwined pasts interwoven into the story up to a point, giving the tale the lighter edge it needed. But even then, I wanted that connection to have come to light differently perhaps, while at the same time I could appreciate that the story’s fast pace meant that things were just happening and that there was no right or wrong time for it to happen. The heat between Zachary and Phoenix is off the charts hot, with their first coming together hot enough to singe the reader.

I fell in love with Phoenix from the very start – she basically makes the story what it is, her character carrying the kind of strength that makes you root for her, admire her, and want the best for her. Her psychology in terms of how she fared from a young age to her chosen career path, and her sheer brilliance at it – all of that and more makes her a heroine who is worthy of all my love and then some!

As usual, stories that depict the psychology of the depraved, the ones who lose their way because of childhood trauma left unaddressed, that is a message that resonates loudly as the story emerges from darkness towards light. We might think it is best for a child who has undergone severe trauma to ignore what happened to them, but the festering wound beneath manifests in different ways in different people. Not all of them turn out to be empathetic soul. Some of them, their souls are left too tainted for them to see the light in anyone else.

Recommended for fans of dark romances featuring anti-heroes and for fans of Ms. Mason’s work.

Final Verdict: Zachary and Phoenix’s coming together is as explosive as the need for vengeance that courses through Zachary, who sets out to destroy everything Phoenix holds dear. Adrenaline rush guaranteed!

Favorite Quotes

I pull her into me, our chests pressing against each other, but before she can dart away from me, I thread my fingers in her hair and arch her head back then whisper against her mouth, “Because of this, right?” And with that, I slam my mouth on hers, connecting us in a kiss.
One single kiss.
Yet it forever shifts the balance in our relationship and opens up possibilities I thought I’d never want again.

The minute our tongues brush against each other, we moan and goose bumps break on my skin. He deepens the kiss, tilting me back until I’m angling my head to meet every glide of his tongue, the hot, passionate kiss vanishing all traces of guilt away and replacing them with a need so strong I can’t stop tightening my thighs around him. My nails scratch the back of his head as I open my lips wider to deepen the kiss even more… if it’s possible.

One minute, he holds me prisoner, and the next, I yelp when he sends me landing flat on my back across the counter, his body covering mine. Once again, his mouth lands on me, but this time the kiss is different.
Any gentleness is gone. Instead, the kiss is passionate and all-consuming, sending waves and waves of goose bumps breaking on my skin while his hard-on digs into my core, sliding up and down, giving me a brief hint of what it can do to me. Fusing our mouths, I hope he’ll end our misery and give us both what we want
so much.

Zach steps back, straightening up, takes out a condom from the back of his pants, and lowers the zipper on his jeans before tearing the foil packet open. He easily wraps his hard-on in it. My eyes widen for a second at the thick, long, angry flesh leaking precum at the tip, and then his hands are back on my hips, pulling me closer until I wrap my legs around him and his erection digs against my core. He rubs it all over my center and leans forward, licking away the tears on my cheeks, one by one, then swallows a piercing moan tearing out of my mouth when he thrusts into me, shifting me on the counter a little and stretching me so much I wonder if I’ll survive it.

My hands slide down his back, raking my nails over it, wanting to bring him pain, the same kind of agony mixed with pleasure he evokes in me while my pussy gets tighter and tighter around him, welcoming every drive of his hips until it all finally becomes too much. I arch my neck back, screaming when it finally hits me. A hot flash spreads all over my body, hammering me with pleasure over and over again, almost making me drown in it for how strong it is—it’s nothing like I’ve experienced before.
He thrusts a few more times and then groans into my ear, biting on my earlobe. He spills inside the condom and grips my ass cheeks so hard a moan slips past my lips.

“Zach, please,” I whisper. However, he is relentless and removes his fingers, replacing them with his tongue again, giving my core an open-mouthed kiss that should be forbidden for how much it makes me feel.
Digging my nails into the back of his head, I place my foot on his shoulder and close my eyes, starting to slowly roll my hips back and forth, finding the friction with him moving rhythm
ically inside me.

“Zach,” I beg and warn at the same time, wanting to finally reach the blissful oblivion without a care in the world.
“I know, darling. But you’ll come on my dick and not on my tongue. Because…” He enters me with just the tip, my pussy clenching around it. He groans above me. “Exactly that. I want the walls of your pussy to squeeze around me so much you won’t ever think this is a mistake. Because no one in this world can make you feel the way I do.” Before I can protest to that, he drives into me with one, swift move. I cry out as the headboard of the bed hits the wall and my body instantly clamps around him.

I’m hot, so hot, as his cock stretches me with each thrust, as if claiming its territory even if both of us know it’s temporary.
I palm his head, searching for his eyes, and when I find them, I connect our mouths with an incoherent murmur, and we lose ourselves in the kiss. His movements speed up, the pace pushing me to the brink, then closer and closer until finally it hits me so hard I still before throwing my head back and crying out, my core spasming all over him, sucking him inside and not wanting to let go.

Desire is a weakness wrapped in all-consuming emotion with the power to rule your every single thought. And although you know you will burst into flames if you’re not careful enough, nothing in this world can stop you when it calls your name, demanding surrender and acceptance.

“You are so beautiful. How can a man resist such a beauty?” His grip on my hips tightens, his fingers digging into my skin as his voice drops a few octaves. “Others can look, but no one is allowed to touch you. Do you understand?” The possessiveness lacing his tone and the flash of anger in his eyes snap me out of the haze he created around me, and with a gasp, I move to the side, wanting to escape him when realization of the situation settles in on me. “Especially Sebastian Hale.”
Unbelievable.
Putting my hands above his, I tug on them, trying to snatch them away from me, but they stay glued on me until I huff in frustration. “Stop this. Don’t act like—”
“Like who?” he asks, biting my neck and earning himself a groan from me. “Like a man who is obsessed with every breath you take?”
“Like you have rights to this body or me.”

Licking the nipple and coating it in my saliva, I tug on it a little, biting her harshly before instantly soothing it with more licks, all while my palm slides lower and lower until it reaches the hem of her panties. Without warning, I tear them away from her, the flimsy silk barely giving any resistance. “Zach!” she whispers through her moan, but I pay no attention to that, moving to the other breast where I repeat the action while my hand cups her dripping-for-me pussy. The heel of my palm digs into her clit while my fingers rub the walls of her pussy, spreading her juices all over them.

“What do you want, Phoenix?” he asks me again, his fingers threading in my hair and tilting my head back so I can look at him, and I know he sees a challenge in them.
I’m done telling him what I want, since he doesn’t listen anyway.
I’m going to take what I wan
t.

Holding his stare with mine, I circle his neck, bringing him closer to me until my lips touch his ear, and I whisper to him, “Make love to me, Zach.” His fingers bruise my hips when he settles between them and slams into me, making me cry out. My scream reverberates around the room, and my nails scratch his back.
His hard cock stretches my pussy that clenches around him, awakening every nerve in my body as he pushes deeper and deeper and then moves back, only to thrust into me again, rooting inside me over and over again as my body welcomes every jerk of his hips.

This man.
The man who I hate and love so much it borders on insanity, but I don’t mind as long as he shares this madness with me.
My pussy clamps over him tighter and tighter until he hikes my legs over his hip higher and starts to give me faster thrusts, one after another. I feel the hot flash travel all over me before it hits me full force, sending me flying over the edge with thousands of sensations breaking goose bumps on my skin.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Maximilian Javier Gunner Zamora
Heroine: Lola Faith Carlyle
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 01, 2002
Started On: February 6, 2021
Finished On: February 12, 2021

Rachel Gibson is an author who delivers stories that are rife with humor, filled with tons of sexual heat, and love of the kind that leaves a lasting impression on you. It has been a long time since I indulged in a book by Ms. Gibson, and while I have forgotten just exactly how this landed in my TBR pile, I have not forgotten just how much I enjoyed this number and the emotions that coursed through me as I read along.

30 year old Lola Faith Carlyle is in a bit of a fix, with her naked pictures ending up on the internet, thanks to her ex-fiance’ who does so to bail himself out of financial difficulties. An ex-model who graced billboards and the cover of many a magazine, Lola is someone who dealt with severe anorexia at the height of her career. Having started her own mail order lingerie line two years ago, Lola takes a mental-health vacation to flee from the mess that had come out of the publication of her photos.

36 year old Lieutenant Commander Maximilian Javier Gunner Zamora could not be more different from Lola if he tried. Officially listed as retired from US Navy, Max owns a security consulting firm which takes him on missions paid for by the US government in ways that leaves them the luxury of plausible deniability if ever shit were to hit the fan, Max is someone who leads a life on the edge. The latest mission that Max is on goes awry and he is on the run for his life when he encounters none other than Lola, and is forced to take her hostage.

At first, the animosity between Lola and Max reeks from the pages. Max is no fan of delicate women and Lola has an aversion to everything that Max represents. But as these two face off and also work through their differences to make it out alive in one piece, the attraction that simmered below the surface from the get-go bursts forth and there is no stopping the tidal wave of desire that overtakes them both.

Max is wary of the way he reacts to Lola, being someone who hates weakness of any kind, be it towards imbibing in alcohol or women who makes a man lose his mind. But in Lola, for the first time, Max finds someone who might bring him to his knees and reform the adventure seeking soul inside of him that lives for his next mission. Max is a commitment-phobe if ever there was one, while Lola seeks to find someone worthy of investing and giving her all, and Max is definitely not it.

I loved the coming together of Lola and Max. Even through their distrust towards each other at the beginning, the reluctant conversations between the two were revealing of where they were both coming from. I enjoyed this facet of the story rather than Ms. Gibson developing their characters via narrative writing. I also loved the fact that Max tries to polish his language around Lola, just because. Max has an innate need to claim Lola for his own in a way that is all consuming, and that is one of the reasons behind the angst factor in the novel which I adored.

The only reason why this did not earn 5-stars was due to the lack of an epilogue. I loved the fact that Lola was willing to meet Max halfway when it came right down to it. Love often comes with making difficult choices, which may in the short and long run mean living with and loving someone who time and yet again puts their life on the line. Asking a man to give up what they love is just as unfair as a woman being forced to give up on doing what they love, all because their partners cannot handle the total package.

What makes Ms. Gibson’s books such fun is the fact that she writes heroes who are alpha to their very core, a bit chauvinistic, and all male where they are concerned; this makes it extra entertaining when they fall so hard for the woman who changes everything!

Recommended for fans of contemporary romances that makes you laugh and squeal in delight. Ms. Gibson always hits the mark just right!

Final Verdict: Lola Carlyle Reveals All is a highly delightful romance of two opposites who clash and love just as fiercely. There is nothing left to do towards the end, but surrender heart, body, and soul!

Favorite Quotes

“I want to go home, Max.”
He stared down into her face and brushed his warm palm up her spine. “I’ll make sure you get home,” he said. Then, for the second time in less than twenty-four hours, he lowered his mouth to hers.
“How?” she asked against the soft brush of his lips.
“I’ll think of something.” Then he kissed her.
This time there was no question of his intent. The firm press of his lips to hers made his intentions perfectly clear. He wasn’t helping her breathe, and he wasn’t asking permission. His finger plowed through the sides of her hair, brushing it back from her face and lifting it from her shoulders. He held her face in his palms, tilted her head back, and took advantage of her parted lips. His tongue swept into her mouth, warm and slick, instantly po
ssessive and consuming.

The yacht rode the waves of the ocean, pitching the deck starboard before righting once again. Max spread his feet wide and let the natural rise and fall of the yacht grind his hard penis against her. The erotic rhythm drew a deep groan from his chest and left her aching for more.
He slid his moist mouth to the side of her throat, and Lola leaned her head to one side to give him better access. The tip of his tongue touched her ear, then he whispered her name, a warm caress filled with rough longing.

“Do you want to know what I thought about you that first night?”
“Honey, I think that flare gun pointed at my chest said it all.” He wrapped his hand around her lower calf and tugged. Before she knew how it happened, she was on her back and he was over her, his hands planted on the ground on each side of her head. “And despite you having tried to kill me, I want you more than I’ve ever wanted any other woman.” He lowered his face to hers. “But I think you know that,” he said right before he kisse
d her.

The languid kiss seduced and teased until her every thought narrowed and focused on the liquid warmth of his mouth. Heat flushed her breasts and stomach and pooled between her thighs. She ran her hand up the taut flesh of his arms, over his shoulder, to the side of his neck. She slipped her fingers through his short fine hair and he groaned into her mouth.
Max pulled back from the kiss and looked up into her face. His harsh breath caressed her cheek as his blue eyes burned into her. The way Max stared at her, all dark intensity, made her feel beautiful and desired and a
live with anticipation.

He sucked in his breath. “You’re not a screamer, are you?”
Not tonight she wasn’t. “I’ll control myself.”
That seemed to be what he needed to hear, and he cupped her between her legs. “Jesus,” he groaned, “you’re already wet.” His fingers slid beneath the crotch of her panties, and he parted and touched her slick flesh. She whispered his name, then turned her face into his shoulder. The tips of his fingers brushed her where she was most sensitive, and she bit the hard muscle at the top of his arm.
“Lola.”
“Hmm?” She kissed the spot she’d bitten.
“Nothing. Just Lola.” With each stroke of his fingers, he fed her intense desire and shut out everything but her need to feel him inside of her.

With unsteady hands, she brought his face to hers. Their gazes met and held as he began his entry. He pushed the broad head of his hot penis inside of her, then his hips rocked back and forth. A slow and easy rhythm, giving her time to stretch and adjust before he grasped her thighs, and with one final thrust, he buried himself fully. Lola gasped and grabbed hold of his shoulders. He filled her completely, the heat of him burning her up inside. A moan she could not control poured from her throat and she wrapped one leg around his waist.
Max sucked in a breath and held it. Beneath her hands his muscles had turned to stone. “Lola,” he whispered against her cheek. “God, you feel incredible. So hot.” He pulled halfway out, then lunged forward. “So good.”

“Lola, open your eyes and look at me.”
She managed his request, but barely. Her whole world was focused on where his body joined hers and the intense rush of sensation that had taken over and was forcing her to meet each plunge of his hips.
“I want you to look at me. I want to see your eyes when I make you come,” he said, then he got his wish as the first wave of orgasm took hold and pulled her into its fury. Her body arched and she clung to him as his body drove her into the vortex of hot, mind-numbing pleasure. She opened her mouth, and he kissed her, swallowing her long moan, taking everything she had, then demanding more.

He took her jaw between his fingers, tilted her face up, and lowered his mouth to hers. He pressed kiss upon hot kiss on her lips, then his moist tongue invaded her mouth and spread fire through her blood and warmed the pit of her stomach. She combed her fingers through the sides of his hair and held the back of his head. Standing within the partially refurbished parlor of his home, Lola felt the instant he lost control. The kiss turned hotter, wetter, feeding. He kissed her as if she alone were responsible for the breath in his lungs.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books | BookDepo

Review: Dirty Sexy Inked by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Dirty Sexy, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Mason Kincaid
Heroine: Katrina Sands
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 05, 2016
Started On: January 30, 2021
Finished On: January 31, 2021

Earlier this year, I signed up on Passionflix, an application the likes of Netflix which is all about bringing the romance books that we love and adore to life as movies and series. I was following the movie series Gabriel’s Inferno, and that is how I ended up with Passionflix on my iPad and gorging on the few movies available on the application, one of which turned out to be based on the first book of the Dirty Sexy series, Dirty Sexy Saint. Needless to say, the movie intrigued me enough to want to read Dirty Sexy Inked, the second book in the series, even though there were hints that a movie based on the the story too would be forthcoming.

I have never read a book from Carly Phillips before, or if I have, I do not recall ever reading one. So Dirty Sexy Inked turned out to be from an author whose voice combined with Erika Wilde (another new to me author) made me feel right at home as the words flowed around me, taking on my most favorite trope when it comes to romance, i.e. the friends to lovers trope.

Mason Kincaid and Katrina Sands have been friends since they were fourteen years old. The story begins where the first book ends, with Mason’s brother Clay and the love of his life Samantha deciding to get married. It is as Mason and Katrina embark on the journey which takes them to Vegas for Clay’s wedding which changes things at such a rapid pace in their relationship, leaving them both reeling in more ways than one.

Katrina does not recall a time she has not been in love Mason, even though Mason himself remains clueless to the fact. Mason is a man-whore if ever there was one, preferring his sex straight up, without the commitment. Even though Katrina holds hope in her heart that one day Mason would wise up and see her as more than just his best friend, every single time he sidles up to a woman and takes her for the ride of their lives, that hope dies just a little.

So when the opportunity presents itself in Vegas and Mason and Katrina collide in a haze of lust and mutual need for one another, they both agree on one thing – that what happens in Vegas would stay in Vegas. However, things get a bit more complicated than that, with Mason’s inability to reconcile with the mind-blowing sex he has with Katrina and their agreement that it would be a one time thing, warring with his need to claim her for himself.

It takes a lot of soul searching for Mason to come to terms with why he is the way he is and for him to finally accept that his heart belongs with his one and only, but a shadow from their past nearly proves to be their undoing before things turn out for the better.

I loved Dirty Sexy Inked. Both Mason and Katrina are the type of characters that you root for and fall in love with and I found my heart yearning for them to move past the misunderstandings and finally be together. But at the same time, I did revel in the angst factor resulting from the said misunderstandings. I know. I am a total mess when it comes to being a romance reader, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Katrina and Mason both have baggage from their childhood which they carry through to adulthood. Katrina’s trauma is all too real and Mason, no matter how much he tries to shy away from the fact, is more affected by his abandonment issues than he lets on. In each other, they find the understanding, solace, love, and kink of the kind that answers each other’s needs and it was soul-stirring to read about how they both get there.

Recommended for fans of the authors and the series. If you are a romance reader who loves this trope, you won’t be disappointed. And the best part? You can totally read this as a standalone.

Final Verdict: Dirty Sexy Inked is an uncomplicated friends to lovers romance that is sinfully sexy and sweet in the best possible way.

Favorite Quotes

The moment their lips touched, a jolt of blistering heat shot straight to Mason’s dick and the word friendsno longer applied. Because a friend wouldn’t take possession of this woman’s hot, sweet mouth and kiss her hard enough to bruise. A friend wouldn’t wrap those long, blonde strands of hair around his hand so he controlled the slant of her mouth beneath his and the depth of the kiss. And Jesus Christ, a friend definitely wouldn’t slide a hand down his rigid stomach, curl her fingers around his stiff cock, and squeeze him tight.

“Tell me you want this,” he demanded gruffly. He needed to hear her say the words.
“I want this,” she begged enthusiastically as she tipped her hips up, seeking the fullness of his shaft. “Fuck me. Please.”
He slid his free hand around to her bare breast and flicked his finger against her taut nipple, making her gasp and her entire body jolt from the sting. Oh, yeah, she liked that. A lot.
“How do you want it, Kitty-Kat?” he rasped.
Her lips parted and her lashes fluttered shut, as if by doing so she’d be able to hide from his penetrating stare. “I need it hard,” she murmured. “Rough. Deep.”

He groaned and shuddered as his mouth continued to consume hers, even as his mind railed against the thoughts tumbling through his head. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He wasn’t supposed to feel so desperate and wild, and knew this driving hunger was unlike anything he’d ever felt with any other woman before. It was all Katrina. She destroyed his self-control, made him feel so crazed with the primitive urge to mark her and brand her as his so no other man would ever touch her.
Mine. She’s all fucking mine.

Jesus . . .” he rasped. His legs started to tremble as she pulled him to the back of her throat once more and swallowed around him. “Need you so fucking bad . . . Your mouth is so hot, so greedy . . . I’m going to come so fucking hard . . .”
He drew quick, shallow breaths, and then his shaft pulsed against her tongue, his hips jerking erratically as he climaxed with a raw shout of pleasure that gave her an equal amount of satisfaction. When he was completely spent, he dropped his head against the wall and released her hair, allowing her to finally move.

“Feel that, baby?” he asked as he rolled his hips, grinding his cock against her drenched folds and coating himself with all the slick moisture from the last orgasm he’d given her. “I already came once in your mouth, and I’m already so fucking hard for you again.”
She bit her bottom lip as he continued to rock against her core, the pressure and friction making her body come alive all over again. With each intentional stroke, the ache between her thighs became an unrelenting throb, and she gyrated her hips against his erection, giving him a dirty, filthy lap dance that had him clenching his jaw and his chest rising and falling with harsh breaths.
A dark, dominating growl rumbled in his chest, and his fingers dug harder, deeper, into the soft flesh of her ass. “That’s it, Kitty-Kat. Rub your soaked pussy all over my dick. Make yourself come on my cock.”

Before she had a chance to fully recover, he’d rolled on a condom, and then his hands were gripping her waist and lifting her up on her knees so that he could position the head of his cock at her opening. Then he pulled her down on his shaft, plunging so hard and deep she cried out at the initial shock of it.
She was impaled to the hilt, and he didn’t move. When she opened her eyes and looked into his, she realized he was giving her a moment to adjust before he let loose, and there was no doubt in her mind that she was in for a rough ride. She could feel the tension in his body from holding back and the pulse of his cock inside her, could see the muscle in his cheek tick as he slowly slid his hands down to her hips.

His mouth came back to her ear, his voice dark and possessive. “You ready to come apart for me, baby?”
“Yes,” she pleaded.
He exhaled a harsh breath and pumped his fingers in and out of her, hard and deep, while his thumb worked her clit in fast, relentless circles. So many sensations rocketed through her, and she tightened her fingers around the ones he’d laced with hers above her head, needing an anchor as her body shook from the force of her climax.

He grabbed a handful of her silky hair and pulled her head farther back, until his mouth was against her ear. “Choose, or I’ll decide for you,” he demanded sharply, and snapped the wooden stick against her thigh.
She jumped from the unexpected smack as a squeak of surprise escaped her throat. “Your hand,” she replied quickly.
Releasing her hair, he moved back in front of her and put the ruler aside since he wouldn’t be needing it. “Pull your skirt up, all the way to your waist. Show me what belongs to me.”

Guiding the tip of his cock along her wet crevice, he found her opening and pushed the head inside just a few inches. A needy sound escaped her, and she shamelessly rocked back against him, seeking more of his length.
Giving them what they both desperately needed, he grasped her hips and slammed into her in one driving thrust, burying his shaft balls deep inside of her. She swallowed back a cry as he filled her, and he groaned at the way her body tightened around his cock as he tunneled in and out of her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books | BookDepo

Review: The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Damian Caballero
Heroine: Skye Sedgewick
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 04, 2015
Started On: January 28, 2021
Finished On: January 29, 2021

With The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar, my second book by Ms. Attar, I am finding out that her books are no walk in the park when it comes to engaging your emotions and the full frontal assault that she wages on them with her stories. That is how I want my stories to be, but alas, not every writer is as talented, or goes seeking darkness of the variety that Ms. Attar brings to readers with this number.

The story begins when 24 year old Skye Sedgewick is kidnapped and held in captivity by a man who seems to be willing to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the vengeance he seeks to achieve. Damian Caballero’s character is fascinating from the onset, his ruthlessness one that should rightfully turn you off, but I ended up liking it all way too much given the lover of darker themed romances that I am.

Damian is hauntingly familiar to Skye, bringing forth memories that she had long buried in her past. However, life has other plans in place for these two even when the truth comes to light, and the hatred that defines Damien’s very existence proves to be the detrimental factor in the relationship that burgeons to life between the captive and captor.

This book was so overwhelming in many ways, but I loved every single minute of it and would not change a single word in it for anything. The main concept that Ms. Attar explores in this novel is that broken hearts and blackened souls, they can heal. It is not easy as some books and movies make it seem; it is a difficult and heartbreaking process in itself. There are no easy answers to be had when your past is filled with unforgivable acts of violence brought on by the thoughtless actions of those who live life as they damn well please, sparing little thought for anyone else.

I am glad that both the protagonists were strong in their own unique ways, which helped make the story as outstanding a read as this was. At first, I hated Skye for not understanding where Damian was coming from, but later on I realized that I was being wholly unfair to Skye because she had been caught in the middle of a war of not her own making nor choosing.

The story is as realistic in terms of human emotions, what it can mean, what it can make you do, the time it takes to heal fractured hearts and souls, what love in its truest form can mean, and I loved the fact that both Damian and Skye grew individually and together to reach their happily ever after.

Highly recommended for fans of Ms. Attar and those who yearn for a breathtaking tale of love that is all encompassing.

Final Verdict: Ms. Attar deserves all the stars for this one. There is no stopping fate when two halves of one soul are determined to be together, and that is in essence what The Paper Swan is about!

Favorite Quotes

I took one step back for each one he took forward, until I was jammed up between him and the wall.
God, he was intense. And deliberate. And he could say things with his eyes that made my knees tremble. One side of his face was bruised and distorted from where I’d hit him. He grasped both my wrists in one hand and pinned them above me. Every part of me felt flush with the heat emanating from his body, even though that was the only point of contact. He hooked a finger in the ‘V’ of my blouse, tracing the dangerously low cleavage. His touch was so soft, it was barely discernible.
“Skye?” He seemed hypnotized by the rapid rise and fall of my chest.
I swallowed.
“Don’t play with scorpions unless you intend to get stung.” He yanked the neckline apart.

Damian grabbed my hands and pinned them behind my back. His lips found mine and he latched on with a hunger that left me breathless. He was an ocean of want and need. All the raging, submerged currents that he’d kept at bay unleashed themselves on me. I tried to keep afloat, clutching at him, but I didn’t stand a chance. My hurt, my anger, my tears were tossed aside by something deeper, something vast and true and powerful and endless.
It was a kiss that had sneaked in through an open window, a kiss that lay folded in a paper giraffe, in the silences between 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, in the pits of mini mangoes and here, now, at last, it was set free. And the rightness of it, the feeling of longing and belonging, made me want to hold on to it forever. I wanted Damian to keep kissing me, keep kissing, keep kissing, until every other kiss had been erased, until this was the only ki
ss.

“My turn,” he said, flipping me over.
It was oddly tentative, his lips on that most private part of me. And I realized that this was where it was different for Damian. He might have fucked a lot of women, but he’d never made love before, never thought about giving the same pleasure he received. And his baby steps—his hot breath, his tongue, his mouth—nudged me towards the sweetest release. When he slipped his fingers inside, first one, then another, I thought I was going to lose it.
“Damian.” I grasped his shoulders. I wanted him inside. “Stop.”
He paused, taking in my flushed face, the rise and fall of my chest, my taut nipples, begging for his touch.
“If you can’t take, don’t give,” he said, sucking on my hot little button like I’d sucked on his thumb.

The fucking tease. His fingers continued their maddening dance, and just when I thought I was about to explode, his cock slid into me, full and hard. It was pure possession, unbridled and complete. The pleasure came, swift and explosive. I clung to him, unable to suppress the cry of delight as wave after wave of electric fire scorched through me. He held still, one hand cupping the back of my head, the other on the curve of my hip as I came in tight spasms around him.
“Again,” he said, when I lay replete and breathless under him. “With me this time.”

“Take me. Take me now,” I whispered.
I exalted in his possession, writhing as our bodies found a tempo that bound us together. We were pressed against each other, flesh-to-flesh, so close that I could feel Damian’s heart pounding through his chest. He was rotating his pelvis clockwise then counterclockwise, then quick, shallow thrusts. I pulled on a fistful of his hair and kissed him, open mouthed, wild with need. He bucked, grabbed my ass with both hands, and drove deep into me. My thoughts fragmented; I gasped in sweet agony as fiery sensations ripped through me. Damian clutched my body, a tormented groan escaping him as he gave in to his release.

The roughened pad of Damian’s thumb found my clit and he flicked it, on, off, on, off, like a switch that allowed me sharp, spiky peaks of pleasure, and then took it away. Each time I moaned, his mouth fell open, as if we were connected by some invisible thread. Damian was focused on my face, my body, like he was recording every moment, every movement. His strokes pushed me closer and closer to the edge. I rocked against the hard length of him, driving him just as crazy, reaching, reaching, reaching, until we exploded in spirals of liquid fire.

“It’s very simple. You want the deposits to stop. I want you and Sierra,” he said. “Marry me, Skye.”
“Marry you?” I blinked. It was the last thing I’d been expecting. Proposals were supposed to be epic—grand moments that swept you off your feet, not negotiated like some business transaction. “You’re out of your mind.”
“Am I?” He swept one arm around the small of my back and pulled me in. “Tell me you haven’t missed me. Tell me you haven’t stayed up nights thinking of how good we are together. Because right at this moment, all I want to do is push you up against the wall and take you so hard that I can’t tell where I end and where you begin. I ache where you’re supposed to be, Skye, and I’m not going to stop until you’re mine. So we can draw this out or we can quit wasting more time. Either way, we’re going to end up right here. Me about to fuck you.”

The bed shifted when he slipped in beside me. One arm slid around my shoulder, cradling me to his chest. His skin was warm and smooth under my cheek. God, I’d missed the way he felt, his scent, his touch, the steady beat of his heart.
“Sleep.” He kissed the top of my forehead, stroking my hair like it was made of the finest gold.
I must have registered surprise because he chuckled. I had been expecting a fiery reunion.
“Just this,” he said. “This feels so, so good.”
The last time we’d been together, when Sierra interrupted us, he had been like a raging bull coming out of the pen, and although I could feel his undeniable arousal, I could also feel something else. Damian was content. For the first time, no one was closing in on us, no one was tearing us apart. We had found our way back to each other. We were finally free to be.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” he growled, tossing me on my back. “Because now, I have to do this.” He filled me in one hard, powerful thrust. My body protested, but I was so lubed up, so hungry for him, that the pain gave way to a hot, aching fullness.
“There’s been no one here.” He knew. He fucking knew. He picked up the tempo, carrying me with him. “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you. So fucking much.” His breath was hot and labored.
It started at the base of my spine, electric tendrils reaching out from my pelvis, building, building, to a white-hot explosion that buzzed through me in waves of sharp ecstasy. I clutched Damian as it rolled through me and felt him stiffen as it hit him. Our bodies were momentarily fused, the same current flowing through both of us. I held on as Damian convulsed into me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

Review: His Valet by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Stephen Chatham
Heroine: Joseph Edward Leather
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Started On: January 23, 2021
Finished On: January 28, 2021

His Valet is the second installment in the Victorian Decadence series by S.M. LaViolette. The story brings together 27 year old Joseph Edward Leather (Jo), who has been employed as a valet to 42 year old Stephen Chatham for quite sometime, and falls in love with her employer along the way, a man who wouldn’t look twice at her for all intents and purposes.

Jo is someone who has been working since the tender age of seven years. Her father had taught her to be nothing but exemplary in her servitude. Devotion is all that has been ingrained into her, not to mention the fact that she has spent her entire life pretending to be a man, the only way of life she has ever known. Even if it meant foregoing own sense of self-dignity, that is what Jo’s father drilled into her and her brother, and that is the code of ethics by which she lives.

Jo does not ever dream of a conventional happily ever after nor marriage for her. The only thing that she yearns for with every fiber of her being is to be with Stephen and when the opportunity presents itself, indulge she does for the five nights she pretends to be someone else.

When the truth comes out, Jo knows that the price she would have to pay would be immense, and even then, she is ill-prepared for the white hot anger that rules every decision Stephen makes thereon. Stephen, who has been burnt once and is twice shy, loathes deception of any kind. In Jo, Stephen sees only what he wants to see, and therein lies the battle which he must wage and win over himself, if Stephen and Jo were to have any chance in having a future together.

I loved the story line and the main protagonists better than I did those in the debut book of the series. Stephen is a compelling character and with Jo, he finds the answer to his every desire, the whys of which he doesn’t want to look into too closely lest it takes him in a direction that is far too uncomfortable for him to ponder on.

Jo’s character is the one that shines bright in the story, and I believe it is as Ms. LaViolette intended it to be. Her character makes one question their conceptions about the gender which they identify with, and it is something that I have never really thought much about. But Jo’s predicament is all too well understood, given how she was brought up and the fact that she has never had the freedom to understand enough to choose who she wanted to be.

It is with the enigmatic Mr. Smith that Jo truly finds the freedom to explore her mind and conscience, and to understand herself enough to be comfortable in her own skin and most of all, to love her own self. And it is those terms upon which Stephen must try to reconcile his own feelings with, if ever these two were to have their own version of a happily ever after.

The second lead game was strong in this novel; which is often felt when you are watching Korean dramas that strongly rely on love triangles to bring the angst factor forward. For me, the fact that I fell hard for Mr. Smith and my heart wept for him spells trouble with a capital T. It means that I am in a shit load of trouble even before Ms. LaViolette has released Smith’s own story, which I do not think I would ever be ready for. The fact that most fans of this series would want to get their hands on his novel is a foregone conclusion, and a Goodreads discussion on the author’s page proved me right.

Ms. LaViolette mentions that she is actually 3/4 through with his story and had to stop, because she too is learning that Smith is a difficult character who views sex and love to be completely separate and views love to be rarer than the practice of fidelity to someone. He is neither an easy person to love nor a nice person and his past even shocked Ms. LaViolette as she wrote the book.

So here I am hoping that one day soon, Ms. LaViolette gets the courage to start where she left it off and give us the story of the character that all our hearts collectively yearn for. I know it wouldn’t be an easy read by any means, but it would totally be worth it.

When all was said and done, Jo and Stephen did leave me with one burning question at the end – how would they fare as they go through the different phases of life together in their relationship; would either of them want more than the other can give? Would it always be enough, for her to be his valet and he her master in a way? I don’t think there are any easy answers to any of these questions.

Recommended for fans of Ms. LaViolette and fans of dark erotic romances in a historical setting.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking is not a phrase you would usually apply to an erotic romance, but in His Valet, Ms. LaViolette has outdone herself in giving readers characters that leaves the strongest impression on you!

Favorite Quotes

His lips curved into a smile she never thought she’d see directed toward her. “Lift your skirts higher for me.”
Her hands responded to his order just as they always did, and his gaze dropped to her thighs. He’d somehow managed to take off her other slipper without her being aware of it.
“I want to leave your stockings on,” he told her as she lifted her hem, exposing her shaved sex.
Heat flared in his eyes, dark, smoky and explosive—just like the savage, uncontrollable peat fires Jo had once seen when she’d been a girl. “God, yes. You are exactly the way I like,” he murmured. “So smooth, soft, sleek.”

“Should I ease in slowly, or do you want me to get it over with?” “Get it—” The marble phallus had not prepared her for the sensation of his thick, hot, and remarkably long organ sliding into her body. “My God you’re tight,” he whispered against her ear when he paused. “Is it terribly painful? Should I give you more? Or wait?” More?! She’d thought he was already all the way in. He was bloody huge and Jo was afraid she might scream if she opened her mouth so she clenched her jaws tight and whispered, “More.”

“Not yet,” he hissed between clenched teeth, his hips pounding without mercy. “Not yet, not yet, not—fuck!” He threw back his head and roared, driving into Gillian so hard that her head bumped Jo’s belly.
“Now,” he ordered, hilted in the other woman. “Come now.”
Jo’s back spasmed and arched, until it felt like it would snap, and she hurtled over the edge into oblivion.

“Hello, Stephen.”
Stephen slammed the armoire door and strode toward her without speaking, pulled off her hat, tossing it aside, and crushed her mouth with his, as if he’d not seen her in a year, instead of only a night.
She gave as hard as she got and they were both breathless when he finally pulled away.
“Hello, Josephine.”

“Do you like it, Josephine?” he asked in a voice that was rough with restraint.
Jo pressed herself against him, the action pushing him deeper, causing a dull pain to radiate from where they were joined. She felt the change in his body, the subtle loosening of control, like a rope that had been cut and was beginning to fray faster and faster.
“Fuck,” he said, groaning. His arm slid around her waist and his fingers fanned over her belly, holding her body against his while he invaded her inch by inch by inch. Just the thought of what they were doing—so filthy and primitive and wrong—made every muscle clench.
“Josephine,” he whispered, shuddering.

Stephen whispered in her ear, his voice harsh. “I can’t restrain myself much longer, Josephine. Do you want it?”
“Yes, Stephen. . . please.”
Stephen must have made some sign because Julian left her body and stepped back, his cock jutting heavy and slick in front of him, his expression tense with the effort of holding back his orgasm. It was Jo’s turn to smile and then she closed her eyes and opened her body to the man she loved, heart and soul.
Stephen’s pounding became savage, his hips pumping mercilessly now. “I’m going to come in you, Josephine. I’m going to—” he gave loud, guttural cry as he thrust deep and froze, holding her in an unbreakable embrace while his cock spasmed and flooded her with his seed.

When his mouth slanted over hers, her hands did what they’d been wanting to do for weeks and slid around his smooth, muscular torso. He groaned and pulled her against him, his arm like an iron strap around her waist.
His mouth was silken and tasted like liquor and smoke from his strangely fragrant cigars. His kisses were as firm and hot and powerful as he was.

He grazed her breast with his teeth and she whimpered as he slid a hand down the front of her trousers, beneath the waistband, and then stopped on her mound, groaning. “Oh, God, I love a shaved cunt,” he whispered into her breast before dropping into a crouch and grabbing both sides of her placket and then ripping her trousers right down the middle.
Jo gasped. “Oh, no, but—”
“Hush,” he muttered, yanking the string that held up her drawers. “I’ll buy you another dozen pairs. Good Lord your body is beautiful.” He dropped to his haunches and spread her lower lips with his thumbs and plunged his tongue into her, his moan vibrating through her body.

“Stockings stay on while I fuck you, I think,” he said, panting as he knelt between her spread thighs, staring down at her with black eyes that were heavy with need. “This is an emergency, darling, and I’m going to ejaculate with shocking haste. But the next time will be up to my usual standards.”
Jo laughed breathlessly and spread wide for him as he placed his beautiful cock at her soaking entrance and slammed into her, pulling her tight to his body as he entered. He held her full for a moment, his eyes locked with hers, his chest rising and falling as if he were being chased.
“How do you want it? Hard, hard, or hard?” he asked.
Jo couldn’t help laughing. “What was that third one agai—”
He began to fuck her with furious, violent thrusts, his teeth gritted and his jaw clenched as he pounded into her, angling his hips for the deepest penetration. He worked her so savagely she knew there would be bruises.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: This Time Tomorrow by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Phenomenal Fate, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Elias
Heroine: Roksana
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 22, 2020
Started On: January 22, 2021
Finished On: January 22, 2021

This Time Tomorrow, book 2 in the Phenomenal Fate series by Tessa Bailey brings to readers the story of heiress to vampire slayer throne, Roksana and Elias, the vampire who gives her performance anxiety when it comes to the line of work she was born into. Elias and Roksana’s paths cross a couple years prior to the main events that unfold in the story, changing the course of both their lives forever.

Roksana carries with her the responsibility of killing Elias, and has been hesitating for the past couple of years, each time she comes across Elias telling herself that next time would be it and that he would not escape her need for vengeance. It also does not help that the attraction that surged to life between them that fateful night in Vegas continues to haunt and taunt them both, each left with only shattered dreams of what could have been.

Little does Roksana know the role she unwittingly played in forcing Elias’s allegiance to the life he leads now, and as things escalate and reach a point of no return, Roksana is forced to face the truth about where she comes from and what it means for her life in going forward.

Tessa Bailey, with her penchant for writing broody and silent heroes who have PhD’s in dirty talking, has once again created a hero of the same ilk in Elias and I could not have asked for more where he is concerned. He is roughness and tenderness combined, forceful behind his need for all that is Roksana, and determined till the very end to protect her at any cost.

Roksana’s life is one riddled with pain left unacknowledged. Growing up with a mother who wanted nothing more from her than to walk in her footsteps, Roksana never had the chance to grow out on her own and forge her own path. Tenderness, warmth, and love are foreign concepts for her, and the last place she seeks to find what has been missing in her life is in the arms of Elias, whose very thought makes her go weak at the knees.

I loved both Roksana and Elias – the way they come together, the attraction between them that is so strong that it almost feels like the bond between them is tugging at you as well; all of that and more made me fall like a ton of bricks for them. While I did enjoy the first installment in the series more, This Time Tomorrow does not make for a shabby read at all.

Recommended for those who are eager to read Elias and Roksana’s story soon after Reborn Yesterday. Tessa Bailey does not disappoint.

Final Verdict: In This Time Tomorrow, Ms. Bailey delivers enough heat, heart, and hostilities stirring amidst, which make for great storytelling!

Favorite Quotes

He expected her to stop in front of him, to pass on her phone number, but even after their short acquaintance, he should have known better than predict this girl’s behavior.
Because she simply kept coming closer, closer until he realized she wouldn’t be slowing down. Fuck yes. Come to me, baby. Elias caught her up against his body, plastered her tight to his frame several inches above the ground, breathing against her mouth for a bracing moment, before diving into a kiss that rocked the very foundation of his existence.
Jesus. Jesus.
She tasted like chocolate, like sin, like salvation. There was a lack of experience that made him protective and triumphant at the same time. Mine. The tongue pressing to his and stroking it hesitantly, then with more confidence, belonged to him. The arms twining around his neck, the tremble skittering through her, the hair in his fists—his, his, his.
This was insane. It was fucking insane.

Attraction.
That was the one area she knew they connected. Not that he ever came close to acting on it. Nor would she let him! No, they hadn’t so much as held hands since that kiss in Vegas. A kiss which he didn’t remember but would be branded on her memory forever.
“Keep the credit card, Roksana,” he rasped.
“I don’t need—”
He moved in a fit of speed, reversing their positions and flattening her back against the stairwell door, rattling the hinges. Stunned by the unexpected, electric contact—contact she’d been craving for years—she could only swallow a sob as Elias gripped her knee and jerked it up, his breath pelting her mouth as he slid the credit card back into her garter. “Keep. It.”

Their mouths were dangerously close. Hers panting, his hard. Predatory.
Roksana’s loins pulled taut, tickling a part deep inside of her. So deep and intimate, her thighs shot up reflexively to anchor the sensation. It didn’t work, though. No, it didn’t, because Elias caught her by the knees, settled her around his waist and pressed his hips into the cradle of hers. One forward pressing step forced a gasp out of her mouth, right against his lips.
Elias is hard for me.
He’s really, really hard. For me.
She was in nothing but a drenched T-shirt that had ridden up to her belly button, sandwiched between a wall and muscles so tense, she braced for a snap.
“The way you fit me…” Elias said hoarsely, “…is obscene.”

“Roksana,” he warned, surging forward to grind her into the wall, his lips peeled back in a pained snarl. “You need to be careful with me.”
“Don’t you know by now that warnings only entice me, vampire?” she breathed.
Something akin to affection sparked in his eyes, before it was swallowed up once again by lust. Regret. “Remind me what I’ve done. Now.”
“Or what?”
He laid the flat of his tongue against her pulse and dragged it slowly up to her jaw, grazing her there with his teeth. “Or I’m going to unzip these jeans and finally fuck you.”

The second Elias’s lips opened over hers, pressure bloomed in her throat. There was a part of her that wondered if she’d exaggerated their connection in Vegas. Exaggerated the perfection of their kiss. But when their tongues brushed and they melted into one another like chocolate in a saucepan, the truth became wildly obvious. Her memory hadn’t been doing Elias’s kiss sufficient justice. He was infinitely better.
This was not a kiss for the sake of kissing. It was memorization. Seeking. Trying to find what she liked, locating it, giving her so much that she could barely stand the pleasure.

Without warning, he punched his hips forward roughly, baring his teeth against her ear. “Do you know what your little entrance downstairs did to my cock, Roksana? I almost yanked up this fucking dress, pushed you face down over the poker table and hit your pussy from the back.” He kissed her neck sweetly, his manner at odds with his coarse language. “Now pull it up around your waist and get it out of my goddamn way.”

Knowing the moment drew close, Roksana’s sex constricted and she lost her ability to breathe. All she could do was turn her head to one side and beg incoherently for the act she didn’t understand, had no experience with, but somehow was essential. “Need it, need it.”
Elias flattened his tongue on her pulse, his body never ceasing in its deliberate invasion of hers, his hips pumping madly as his fangs settled over her neck, pressing tight, but holding back from breaking the skin. “My hunger for you goes so far beyond blood, Roksana. But it flows in the same endless way. You hear me?” Eyes a bright, burnished gold, he kissed her pulse reverently. “Mine.”

His hardness prodded her, right at the precipice of where she needed him, but stopped short of thrusting home. “I was rough last time,” he said, voice deep and dark, his chest coming to rest on her back, his lips moving against her ear. “Did you like that?”
“Yes,” she panted, rubbing her bottom brazenly in his lap. “Yes, I loved it.”
He dragged the head of his sex up and down, teasing her clit with it until she gave a closed-mouth scream. “If that’s how I took your virginity, Roksana…” His teeth grazed her neck. “How hard do you think I’m going to hit it the second time?”
“Hard,” she whimpered.
A vibration passed through his strong body. “I can’t help it, baby.”

“Yes, like that.” He pushed his face hard into her neck, fangs bared. “What you said to me before…God, Roksana, I’m trying to keep myself in check—”
“Don’t. Don’t.” She squeezed her intimate muscles rhythmically, tempting him, desperate to make him lose control and show her his true nature. “I want it. I can take it. I hate that there’s anything I don’t know about you. Break me with it.”
The visceral snap of his tether made her almost giddy.
Relief and excitement and hunger gave her everything she needed to weather the sudden storm of Elias. This was him, nothing held back, stripped down to his basest form and she soaked in every nuance.

“I don’t want to go anywhere with you,” she hissed. “I want to be alone.”
“Maybe that’s what you want.” Elias walked them into the farthest stall, drawing her forward off his shoulder, pinning her hard to the wall. “But you need my cock.” He rammed his hips up between her thighs and it felt so good, she slapped him across the face. The hard contact from her palm only put a savage smile on his face. “More?”
Lust blanketing her senses and robbing her of reason, she slung her legs around him, squeezing his hips with her knees. “More.”

And when Elias buried his fangs in her neck, his hunger propelled her higher. She threw herself into the eye of the storm and let it batter her.
Elias followed, undergoing his own perfect torment, his desire forming a hot pool inside her body, his hips moving in a broken pattern, his gratified male moans filling her ears. When she became aware of their surroundings again, she was boneless between Elias and the wall, her lungs struggling to fill themselves while he kissed her temple.
“My love is solid. It doesn’t bend,” he said fervently. “Don’t forget again.”

He trailed his open mouth along her bare shoulder. “I’ll chance it.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she hummed, twining her fingers in the hair at his nape, tiptoeing forward to lock her curves to his front. They both looked down as her tits plumped against his pecs, their moans joining together like an erotic refrain, Elias’s hands finding her ass, yanking her up and forward to secure them tightly together. “Move your body with mine,” she whispered, her eyelids fluttering. “Slow and easy.”
Elias rolled his hips, using his grip on her ass to work their lower bodies together and was rewarded by Roksana’s eyes going blank, her head falling back. He did it again, again, again, never speeding up or slowing down, his erection protruding from the V of his unzipped fly to grind against the mound between her thighs. “It’s a damn good thing we kept this wedding reception private.”

His mate was shaking as she impaled herself down to the root of his cock, her hands slapping down on his chest, fingers snaring in his chest hair. “Oh my God. It feels so good it hurts. It hurts.” Eyes glassy, she put her tongue out, showing him the traces of red, bucking her hips once—hard—and the flames in the fireplace doubled in size, the lamps in the cabin blazing bright and fizzling to uselessness. “Elias,” she sobbed, her hips racing up and back, her sweet tits driving him insane with delicious little bounces. “Elias, you’re everything. Everything.”
“Just to you.” His thumbs stoked her clit in turn, using her wetness to lubricate the sensitive bud, and the faster he rubbed, the quicker those hips pistoned. “Always to you. My mate. My woman. My only.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Review: Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Dell
Hero: Vashon Blackwell
Heroine: Aurora Dayne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1991
Started On: January 20, 2021
Finished On: January 22, 2021

Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney brings to readers the story of 19 year old Aurora Dayne who is set to travel to Jamaica with her modest belongings in tow, which includes a unique bejeweled locket, the sole legacy from her dead father. Little does she know that the journey she embarks upon puts her at the mercy of none other than 34 year old Vashon, a ruthless privateer with an agenda for vengeance that has carried him thus far, who is in pursuit of the very locket that she holds.

When these two opposites meet, sparks of course, fly. When a series of events ensures that Aurora is Vashon’s prisoner, the clash of wills begins in earnest, Aurora on her mission to reform a man who is driven by hatred and consumed by the memories of his past riddled with darkness.

I really wanted to love the two main protagonists of the story. Vashon was something fierce and determined, with a ruthless edge to him that I crave in my heroes. While Aurora, though innocent and sheltered for the most part, had the sort of fire in within her that refused to take everything he dished lying down. I was set to enjoy them both, but alas.

What annoyed me to no end was how Aurora wanted to reform Vashon. She continuously bickered about his actions, is always shocked by the violence that surrounds him, even when he does what he must to protect what is his. In my opinion, any redeeming qualities that comes forth should come of one’s own volition – it should never be forced upon the character at any point in time. Aurora nagging about Vashon continuing on his path of vengeance wasn’t how I wanted the changes to come about.

Or here is a wild thought; how about just accepting someone for who they are? Vashon does not try to change Aurora, maybe because she is so perfect? I hardly think so. There are plenty of romances that work with heroes who embrace their darkness and whatever redeeming qualities they have, whatever softness they show, are partial to the heroine for whom they would risk everything and lay down their very life for. And that is enough, if you want your characters to stay true to who they are, because some characters have reached a tipping point that makes it difficult for them to become mushy cuddle bears.

The saddest part is that this story had so much potential and could have ended up being so much more. As things stood, I skipped chunks of paragraphs and went for the end. An epilogue would also have been much appreciated.

Recommended for fans of Meagan McKinney.

Final Verdict: In Till Dawn Tames the Night, Ms. McKinney brings to life a heroine who would stop at nothing to reform the hero, be it nag her way towards the redemption of his character.

Favorite Quotes

He was so close she could feel his breath warm and enticing on her cheek. As her fingers uncurled against his chest, she rediscovered the pleasure of caressing him. She explored his front, textured with hair and rigid with muscle, and she never imagined mere flesh could be so hard and implacable. Beneath her hand she felt his heart drumming against his ribs, and she was amazed to find it quicken as he drew her to him. Her own heart beat wildly as his arm encircled her waist. At last the moment seemed to come when they would meet, and even the ship seemed to steady for their encounter.

She looked up at him. She didn’t really want to know his despicable rules, but since she was under his domination until they arrived in Grand Talimen, it was inevitable she would learn them. Resentfully she nodded her head.
“Rule number one,” he said in a husky voice, “is all ship’s spoils belong to me . . . and to me alone.”
He lifted her hair and as if his lips were a brand, she felt him place one fiery kiss upon her nape. Her hair was still damp from its washing, and he seemed particularly entranced by the way the delicate curls clung to her hairline. She closed her eyes, unable to bear what he was doing. His kiss only reminded her again of that wretched dream, and she trembled just from the thought of the power he had over her.

He moved to leave the bed, but before he went, he woodenly placed a kiss upon her tear-stained cheek. Desperate to make him stay, she summoned a womanly guile she never knew she possessed. She waited for his lips to leave her cheek and just when they did, she turned her head and her lips met with his.
Their kiss was sublime. Never in her most wishful dreams did she believe a kiss could be like this: a man’s heart and soul distilled into one soft motion of his lips. He made her want him with a desire that surpassed the physical, that grew and grew until she was almost made wild by it. Losing her self-consciousness, she slid her hand between them and let her palm mold to the grid of warm muscle over his torso. Her other hand reached up and caressed his beard-roughened cheek. Their kiss deepened.

She put her hand in the water. Another fish, a brilliant cobalt-colored one, flitted up and bumped her palm. Frightened, she snatched it back, then giggled at her folly. She turned to Vashon, but she wasn’t prepared for the expression on his face. He was staring at her so intensely, he fairly took her breath away.
“Vashon—” she began, but he didn’t let her finish. He lowered her legs until her feet touched the sandy bottom and her dress clung wetly to her hips. Then he pulled her to him and kissed her like a sinner seeking salvation, the doomed begging for redemption. In her mind she thought about fighting, but it would be useless. The way he so violently held her to him, he’d refuse to let her go.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBooks | Apple Books | AbeBooks

Review: HIM by L. L. Ash

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Blake Hamel
Heroine: Bay
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 14, 2020
Started On: January 19, 2021
Finished On: January 19, 202121

HIM by L. L. Ash is a recommendation I came across in my quest to read romances that feature huge age gaps and follows tropes similar to that of Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas & some of my other favorite reads that I have read along those lines.

The story starts with the heroine Bay moving into her best friend Georgia’s home, who lives with her 35 year old father Blake Hamel. Blake agrees to the deal because he has missed out on a lot when it comes to Georgia’s life, with the nasty split between him and his ex having driven a wedge where he wanted none when it comes to his daughter.

Even though Bay does not want to be a burden to anyone and does more than her fair share of everything around the house, she cannot help but feel like she is not wanted, especially with the way Blake tries to avoid her at first. Blake for his part, is in sheer agony from wanting something he shouldn’t, from having illicit thoughts featuring him with none other than his daughter’s best friend.

But once Georgia moves out in a stint to exert her independence and walk the path as approved by her mother, that serves to be the tipping point in the relationship which comes to light between Bay and Blake. Even though Blake tries to resist, he is no match for the more tender variety of emotions that Bay invokes in him, and before they both know it, both of them are too emotionally vested in each other for it to be easy to walk away from.

I loved both Bay and Blake and the story that unfolded, even though there existed much potential which could have been explored to deepen the impact on readers. I liked the fact that Ms. Ash knew how to maneuver around the subject with sensitivity that did not leave the reader with a sour aftertaste when all was said and done.

Recommended for fans of romances featuring protagonists with huge age gaps and taboo tropes.

Final Verdict: Ms. Ash does a splendid job in bringing to life the love between Bay and Blake, with just enough characterization & sensitivity in the mix to do the trope justice.

Favorite Quotes

My hand reached down and fingers folded around his length as he hissed in pleasure.
“I need you,” I whispered into his ear again just as I met my slit with his cock, dropping onto him as we both groaned at the meeting.
“Fucking hell,” he moaned as I hit bottom, balls to my ass as we got used to the thickness and tightness of him inside me.
His eyes lifted again, meeting mine with a fire burning hot like blue flames.

His cock was at my entrance in moments, and with his tongue still in my mouth, I pulled his hips until he was inside me, filling me almost to bursting.
“Fuck me,” I breathed between kisses.
So he did.
He hiked up one of my knees in his hands, planted his on either side of my hips, and thrust into me so hard the entire bed jostled, hitting the wall with a bang and a squeak. It was
pure heaven.

“I need you to go faster, babe,” he said breathlessly.
I sat back instead, pressing my hands onto his thighs behind me as I arched my back to give my body a little more support as I increased in speed. His hand grazed up my belly and clutched a breast, squeezing and pulling on the nipple as pangs of sharp pleasure spiked through me with each movement of our hips.
“You’re so fucking beautiful,” he breathed just before he groaned and lifted his hips even more until my knees left the bed and I fell forward onto his chest.

My eyes closed again as I moved so slowly, grinding more than rocking. Evidently it wasn’t enough for him. He sat up, legs crossed as I sat back onto his thighs. Our lips met in consuming heat as his hands pulled me closer onto him, then up and down at the pace he wanted as my legs wrapped around his waist. I was happy with the help since my body was limp already with my first release, but I could feel a second orgasm burning through me like a shooting star.
He snarled and bucked just as my mind exited my body again in waves of bliss, but they crashed back together as my back hit the ground, warm cum landing flat on my chest as he reached his release above
me.

“This is mine,” I told him in a whisper. “This is my choice.”
His eyes met mine just as I sank down on him, skin to skin. Blake’s face tightened in a mixture of tortured pleasure, a hummed moan breathing over my lips as his eyes squeezed shut.
“You don’t know what it’s like, Bay,” he breathed as I rode him.
Coherent mind was long gone by that point. All I wanted was harder, faster, hotter.
“If you got pregnant and you had to be with me because of it…”
I pressed my hand over his lips, grinding hard before giving him my simple finality.
“I wouldn’t marry you just because I got pregnant, Blake,” I whispered. “And it’s too late anyway. Whether you want it or not, I’m going to marry you. Do you understand that? You’re mine. Every single part of you, you’re mine.”

His fingers bit into my flesh as he growled, finishing inside me just as I reached my tipping point, heat suffusing through my belly and breasts, I came. He was cursing again, his head digging into the pillow as my nails made little angry crescents in his shoulders until the intensity passed, settling me into weightless afterglow.
I sat there, still on him as he was still in me, us both panting and sweating and holding tightly onto each other. Then his eyes met mine, and I could immediately see that something had changed; shifted. Determination stared back at me instead of confused uncertainty.
Yes, he was mine.

“You know,” he whispered, his fingers brushing across my lower back until he had a handful of my butt in each hand. “Ever since I got this thing, I’ve wanted to take the woman I loved on this ride.”
“But you didn’t know me,” I whispered back, my breath hitching as his lips teased mine, just brushing faintly against me but not giving up any kisses.
“No, but I was preparing for you. I just didn’t know it was you yet.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Flint Hopkins
Heroine: Ellen Rodgers
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 27, 2018
Started On: December 26, 2020
Finished On: January 02, 2021

Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann is the kind of romance that reaffirms the romance reader’s belief in the genre amidst too many lackluster reads pushing different agendas that are the popular norm of the times we live in. It is the kind of story that echoes in your heart long after you are done, memories of how you felt when you were deeply engrossed in the story, the kind you cherish months and years later, the reason why it lands in your favorites folder, to be revisited somewhere down the line.

32 year old Ellen Rodgers is a music therapist who signs a new lease for an office space, and her landlord turns out to be Flint Hopkins, who is a lawyer, who requires absolute silence to get his work done. From the get go, sparks fly between the two, reluctant as Flint maybe to acknowledge the fact. He wants to cancel the lease and get back his peace of mind, not just from the music or the “noise” that comes from his tenant’s floor, but from the way Ellen has a habit of ruffling his feathers, touching him, and making him want, testing his very resolve.

Ellen is more stubborn than Flint gives her credit for, and things become “messier” when Flint’s son Harrison finds an affinity with none other than Flint’s enemy number one. In the end, every single second spent in each other’s company drives them inexorably closer to that tipping point from which there is no turning back. But it is no smooth sailing for these two when each carries enough baggage and heartache to last them a lifetime. It takes a lot from both of them to find equal footing on their journey towards happily ever after and every excruciating minute I would say, was worth it.

I loved, loved, loved my first book by Jewel E. Ann to pieces. This book had everything going for it; main protagonists who are both lovable in all the ways that matter. Flint *fans self*, is the kind of hero that makes readers swoon with effortless ease. He steps into the story and your eyes just start shooting hearts all over the page. He has the kind of confidence that turns heads, the looks to go with it, and a demeanor that may keep most at bay, but not Ellen.

I loved the broken pieces within Flint that needed healing. He needed to forgive himself more than anything else, the guilt that keeps eating him from inside out being the biggest factor that keeps him from moving on, ten years since the fateful event of his wife’s death. He is a man grieving and at the same time stuck in a moment in the past, and he has no intention of budging from where he is for anyone.

Ellen is the antithesis to what Flint is in many ways, but the sorrow that fills every crevice of her broken heart is no less significance. A failed marriage has left its mark deeply ingrained, and she cannot help but want Flint with everything she is, even when she should know better. Touching Flint is Ellen’s way of reaffirming the essential bits and pieces to her, and Flint certainly does not make it easy when every delectable inch of his is laid bare for her taking.

I also loved the secondary characters in the novel that gave the story the wholesome edge it needed from at times the darkness that loomed in the story. There is so much angst interwoven that it sometimes felt like there was a football field lodged in my throat – but I reveled in it, loved it, and craved the feelings that were coursing through me with every fiber of my existence. There was guilt and yearning. There were broken hearts and fractured souls. But amidst it all, there was love and healing that went hand in hand which made this story stand out!

Recommended for fans of unforgettable romances featuring heroes that makes your hearts beat just a tad faster and heroines who make you smile through happy tears!

Final Verdict: Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann takes the reader on an incredible journey that demands nothing less than total surrender. There is nary a word nor character that I would change in this book!

Favorite Quotes

I jerk the button and zipper to his jeans, humming against his mouth. He shoves my shirt off my shoulders and yanks my bra down, palming my breasts as my hand slides down the inside of his briefs.
A low growl vibrates his chest. When was the last time I unraveled a guy with the touch of my hand? I don’t remember and that’s just sad.

“Let’s go.” She slides out of the booth.
I toss cash onto the table and follow her out the door, feeling guilty for the lack of any conversation over the past hour. “I’m sorry for not saying much—”
She whips around and grabs the lapels to my jacket, pulling me around the corner to the alley. She kisses me. Her hands take mine, and she guides them to her waist. “Touch me,” she whispers over my mouth.
“Where?” I take a step forward until her back presses to the side of the brick building.
“Anywhere …” Her breath is labored and desperate as she licks and sucks the skin between my ear and the collar of my jacket. “Everywhere … just … touch me.”

If I lean in three inches, our lips will meet. I like his lips, and the way he’s looking at mine leads me to believe the feeling is mutual.
“Thank you for bringing him home.”
He smells like herbs, like I imagine a chef might smell. I’m hungry. I’d settle for him, but I don’t think he’s on the menu tonight. I don’t know if he’ll ever be on the menu. He’s that dessert on the dessert tray that no one ever gets to eat because it’s just a display.

“Flint …”
“Shhh …” I nip at the skin right below the perfect curve of her ass, warning her to be quiet. She smells like the forbidden and tastes like my newest addiction. My hands work her skirt up her torso and over her head. With a firm yank it releases her arms, taking her shirt with it. I discard them behind me as well.
She turns. I take a step up, putting my face level with her perky tits. Glancing up to meet her drunken gaze and parted lips, I grin, unfastening her bra and tossing it over my shoulder.
Fucking perfect.

“I may have planned on sex … but I sure as hell never planned on you.” I ease her to her feet, and she sits on the bed, unfastening my pants with way more patience than I have at the moment. My hands take over, discarding the rest of our clothes before claiming her mouth again, pressing my body against the soft, warm curves of hers.
She tastes like forgiveness and feels like freedom. And she sounds like a prayer, humming against my mouth—not a moan, an actual tune that I don’t recognize.

I hop off the counter and take the pan to the drawer under my stove top. “Ouch!” I drop the pan in the drawer with a clunk and straighten my back, my hand reaching for the back of my leg, just below my butt cheek. There’s a stinging welt.
Flint holds the end of the twisted damp towel in his hand like a whip.
“Oh my gosh! Did you seriously just whip me with a towel?” I say in a loud whisper. “There’s a welt. You marked me.”
“Your skirt is too short. When you bent over to put that pan in the drawer, I could see black lace.”
“So you whipped me?”
He stalks toward me until I’m forced to crane my neck to maintain eye contact. “No,” he whispers. “I whipped you because you’re a fucking tease.”

“Which finger or fingers of yours should I be jealous of tonight?” he says in a low, deep voice.
I hide my gasp, but it’s there. Apparently shockingly crude remarks are the theme of the night. I can play this game. Making a quick glance over my shoulder for young ears coming, I turn back and hold up my index and middle finger. “These two up front…” I add my ring finger “…this one in the back.”
And there it is … Flint Hopkins expressionless and speechless. It’s an oddly beautiful sight.

For the rest of the night we pay homage to each other—physically, emotionally, spiritually. I refuse to stop until my mouth and hands have touched him everywhere and his have possessed every inch of me. I memorize the look he gets at the exact moment he loses himself to me. His back arches. My hand splays over his taut stomach muscles; my fingers curl into his tight flesh like I’m claiming him—Every. Single. Piece.
It’s sensual.
It’s vulnerable.
It’s beautiful.
It’s mine. I want that look to be mine and only mine forever.

“Ms. Rodgers.” He takes two short steps before the door closes behind him and he pins me to the wall.
We turn into a flurry of hands ripping at clothes, deep kisses, playful bites, and soft moans.
Between labored breaths, I stab my hands through his hair as he licks and bites his way down my neck. “You didn’t bring lunch, did you?”
“Elle …” He hums in pleasure as his lips feather across the swell of my breasts. “You are lunch.” Flint drops to his knees, taking my leggings and panties down with him.
My head thumps against the wall as my eyes roll back into my head.

Alex steps toward me, giving me that look of adoration that he used to give me, as he lifts his arm up, touching my cheek with his cold, prosthetic fingers.
I stiffen as Flint’s hand wraps around Alex’s forearm, pulling it away from my face. “But just to be clear … if any man were going to put something inside of Ellen and lay claim to her … it would be me.”
Just to be clear … I just fell in love with Flint Hopkins again.

“I haven’t been with anyone but you since the day you walked into my life.” I lift her up onto the vanity.
“Flint—”
“Shhh …” I kiss her while wedging myself between her legs.
She sucks in a quick breath as I push into her. My hand finds her breast as I find a rhythm.
“Race you to the finish,” I whisper in her ear.
Elle’s lips press to my neck, pulling into a grin. I show her how much I love her. How much I’ve missed her. How much I crave every inch of her. And then I beat her to the finish, pulling her across the line just after me.

“Crying’s not necessary—oh, Elle.” He pulls me in for a hug as I blink out the first round of tears and sob at the same time.
I knew it would hit me hard when it came time to say the words.
“There’s s-so m-much I want to s-say.”
He hugs me tightly, kissing my forehead. “Then say it.”
I shake my head, fighting back more sobs. “It’s st-stupid.”
“It’s not stupid. Just say it.”
I take a few seconds to reel in the burst of emotions so I can get all the words out before falling apart again. “I love you, so don’t die in a plane crash. Don’t change your mind. Don’t sleep with another woman. Don’t think about me getting fat or getting stretch marks. Don’t ruin your relationship with Harry to be with me. But be with me. Gah! I know that sounds impossible. But …”
He kisses me. And kisses me. And kisses me until I could faint. “Heaven and Earth,” he whispers over my tear-stained face.

He slides down my leggings and panties. I suck in a breath as a shiver jolts up the entire length of my body from his fingertips ghosting along the back of my bare legs.
His touch has had this effect on me since the first time his hand touched mine. At the time I thought it was this craving for any touch after feeling starved of that kind of affection for so long. I was wrong.
It’s Flint.
It’s his touch.
It’s me.
It’s how he reacts to my touch.
It’s us.

“Flint …” I curl my fingers into his back as this builds into something stronger and erratic. Our breaths quicken.
“Elle …” His grip on my hips tightens, and he slams me onto him as his hips rock up into me. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”
Our mouths crash together again seconds before we fall apart. I love being in Flint’s world. It’s tragic. It’s complicated. It’s filled with obstacles. But …
It’s passionate.
It’s addictive.
It’s the deepest kind of love.
It’s everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Review: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil You Know, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: Cassius Gerard Ramsay
Heroine: Cecelia Teague
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 29, 2020
Started On: December 11, 2020
Finished On: December 26, 2020

The second installment in the Devil You Know series; All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne turned out to be anticlimactic in many ways. This series which focuses on three women who meet and forge an unlikely friendship and bond at boarding school, which continues to be a huge part of their lives even after, often reads like a cliched manuscript for a women’s rights advocacy group.

Cecelia Teague spends her most formative years undergoing emotional and at times physical abuse at the hands of her father until she is rescued and given all of those things which she never would have thought possible. However, the one constant in her life remains – loneliness, which has never truly left since those dark days long in her past.

Cecelia’s path crosses that of Cassius Gerard Ramsay, when one of her friends gets married to Ramsay’s half brother. Ramsay is a stickler for due process, understandable given his profession as the Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. Furthermore, Ramsay is a man who believes abstinence is key to a life that is not ruled by vices. However, in Cecelia he finds a woman who tests his resolve for the first time in seven long years.

Even so, fate does not treat these two ever so kindly at first, with Cecelia forced to assume responsibility for something that Ramsay loathes with his very existence. When danger comes calling and in pursuit of Cecelia and those whom she holds dearest, Ramsay does not waste any time in taking her to safety until they are able to get to the bottom of it.

As these two battle out their mutual attraction to one another, the truth that emerges from the past maybe a much heavier price to pay than either of them bargained for. But reconcile they must, and acceptance is key to a shared future, if Ramsay and Cecelia are ever so inclined.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, this book turned out to be such a let-down in many ways. I found the story bogged down with tedious detail and cliched in many ways that I often left comments expressing my dissatisfaction with the undertones in the story. I am all for strong heroines who go out of their way to fight for and carve out their rightful place in society. But I do dislike stories that rather than impart important messaging along those lines with subtlety, goes to include preachy dialogue that just falls flat, given the time period, circumstances, and characters in question.

My biggest disappointment was how Ramsay turned out to be. He was such a formidable character from the very first installment in the series. His presence alone had a vibe that I liked, something that sent delicious shivers running up and down my spine. But alas, his character seemed to deflate like a balloon that loses air in small degrees, as Ms. Byrne attempted to make Cecelia stand strong and true to her values.

I agree that Ramsay was an ass ofttimes and held such strong opinions of his own regarding women’s place in society and how his life should be. In a way I don’t blame him given the job title which he holds, which comes with a lot of moral and ethical responsibilities attached to it. It is not just his own self and actions that would be under scrutiny but those whom he considers his family and friends as well.

So Cecelia in her high handedness refusing to see that was part of the problem for me, while Ramsay’s stubbornness also was unacceptable. But then in truth, that is what humans are like, and I would have expected them to find a way to be together because their love was worth it. As women, we don’t have to push feminism and women’s right to the extent that we are unwilling to bend and compromise for what is important in life. Love requires compromise, a future built on mutual trust and other values requires compromise – show me a successful marriage and/or relationship that does not include compromise as the number one keyword for their success and I will reconsider my opinion.

So Ramsay’s character, needless to say, was butchered in a way that was unacceptable in my opinion. He was initially the very definition of compelling. I keep wondering as to whatever happened to Ms. Byrne’s will to write ruthless heroes that made my senses go haywire. I wonder what happened to the writer who was willing to go where her characters took her, even when they were often difficult roads to travel on. But we as readers appreciated that darkness to her characters which few authors tend to risk writing. I wanted so much more for Ramsay and Cecelia – a plot that just sank in the middle was not it.

Recommended for die-hard fans of Kerrigan Byrne and fans of the series! I am not entirely certain that I would be reading the next installment, given the reviews that show that readers were more or less let down once again!

Final Verdict: What a sore disappointment this turned out to be, me with my high hopes smashed to smithereens by the overly preachy and cliched overtones on feminism & women’s rights interwoven into the story.

Favorite Quotes

“I like your names,” she whispered, swaying forward. “Ramsay. And Cassius.”
He hated his name. He hated it every day. “I like yers.”
She blinked. “Would you say it?”
“Miss Teague?”
“No, might you call me Cecelia?”
“Cecelia.” He drew out the syllables, letting his tongue linger over them. Learn them.
She closed her eyes, seeming to savor the word with the same vigor as the truffles. “Again?”
An invisible restraint shackled his bones, this one not of cold hard iron, but of velvet. It tugged him toward her. Drew her name out of his chest like a poem, and then a prayer.
“Cecelia.”
Her lips parted.
And he was l
ost.

She didn’t reach for him, nor did she do anything else wanton or wicked. She just accepted his mouth with a sweet sigh, tilting her head to receive more of him.
He lifted his hands to her face, intent upon gently holding her still so he could extricate himself from a kiss that shouldn’t be.
His thumbs drew up the line of her jaw and over her cheek, finding no angles, no hard lines. Somehow, he was cupping her face. Tilting it back. Drawing her in rather than pushing her away.
The roaring of his blood in his ears became a growl and then a purr.

He skimmed the seam of her lips with his tongue in a warm caress as his hand covered hers on his jaw. He laced their fingers in a motion that sent shivers rocketing through her entire frame like the waves of a sea gale. One crashing over the other with no sign of a break.

Her greedy hands danced over him, taking advantage of their position. She raked her fingers through a soft wealth of golden hair over his chest, finding the flat, masculine nipples that pebbled beneath her touch.
He made a noise that wasn’t entirely human and allowed her to slide down his body until she stood again so he could gather her hands in his own.
No, she thought, pulling her hands from his grasp. No, you don’t get to control this.
She wanted him like he was now. Free and wild, uninhibited and mindless. She wanted the man to give way to the animal beneath. If almost every one of their interactions had been a battle, this one would be different in a very unmistakable way.
This was a battle she’d win.

She gazed up over the cords of his stomach and the mounds of his chest into gilded lightning glinting down at her from eyes that no longer held a hint of winter. His skin was flushed with arousal. His lids at half-mast.
He bared his teeth in a show of dominance, though his hand was gentle as it urged her mouth toward the column of his sex.
He thought he was still in control.
How adorable.

She employed the strength of her jaw, sucking him in, taking him as deep against her throat as she could. Her tongue flattened to make room for him, rubbing at the underside of his rod as she pumped faster.
“Nay,” he gritted out. “Ye canna.”
Yes, she thought. I can. You’re mine. This is mine. This wicked intimacy they would always share regardless of the outcome of their current nightmare. At least she’d owned him with her mouth. And he was the man whose lips she would never forget.

Cecelia finally opened her eyes, glorying in the sight of him locked within his own skin and strength. Helpless and vulnerable inside her mouth. Arching with a pleasure that looked very much like pain.
This was the beast. This untethered, unselfconscious thing.
This beast was hers. This beast wanted to lay claim to her, as well.

“How can I not look?” he asked her as though she’d gone mad. His growl had deepened another impossible degree, to that of a Gregorian monk at prayer. “I didna know such perfection existed.”
In that moment Cecelia didn’t care if anything subsequent proved to be folly, she merely realized she was falling for this strong giant brute, with all the subtle grace of a landslide. Plunging artlessly into love with him even though every logical thought told her she should not.
Logic didn’t belong in this mysterious Scottish forest.
Only this. Only them.

“Oh, don’t make me say it,” she pleaded.
A dark chuckle overtook him as he lowered his great body to nuzzle into her hair. “Ye confound me, woman,” he purred into her ear. “Tell me what ye want, and I’ll give it to ye.”
“I want you.” Cecelia turned her head, sifting her fingers through his hair as she returned her breath against his ear. “And you can have me, Ramsay,” she offered gently, reaching in between their bodies to stroke his hard length over his trousers. “In whatever way you want me. I can take it. I can take you. All of you.”

There was a moment of fright. A single, breathless knowledge that once he’d claimed her this night, neither of them be the same. His weight was both a comfort and a burden, and she did the only thing she could think of to release a sudden rush of anxiety.
She bit the muscle between his neck and his shoulder.
He snarled and drove forward, pressing inside.

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