Review: Lovewrecked by Karina Halle

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Tai Wakefield
Heroine: Daisy Lewis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 25, 2020
Started On: May 27, 2020
Finished On: May 28, 2020

Lovewrecked is my very first read from Karina Halle. It seemed to be the perfect fit at that point in time, as the country was slowly emerging from the first and God willing only lock-down that will be imposed owing to the pandemic, and I was feeling a bit antsy, in need of something that would provide the sort of escape I was looking for. Seeing this on Amazon, promising a sizzling enemies to lovers story, I thought to myself, why not, and the rest as they say is history.

Lovewrecked tells the story of how 34 year old Tai Wakefield meets 28 year old Daisy Lewis, when the latter travels to New Zealand for her elder sister’s nuptials. Having lost her job and her boyfriend who was supposed to help her get through the wedding which she wasn’t all that much looking forward to attending, needless to say Daisy is not in the best form when she meets the formidable grump that is Tai.

From the onset, Tai’s grumpy nature makes Daisy want to ruffle his feathers in an attempt to see how far she can go. There is a lightheartedness to her character that I found a bit annoying at times, but then there is a reason behind why she is the way she is, which Ms. Halle unveils as the story moves further along.

As the story moves forward, Tai and Daisy along with her sister and husband find themselves shipwrecked and with no rescue in sight, the group of four are forced to spend time together in a way that no other situation would have imposed upon them. It is then that we see the other side of Daisy, where readers get an insight into where her seemingly frivolous and carefree attitude comes from, and the simmering tension between Daisy and her sister, which all goes back to their childhood.

I would not go as far as to say that I loved Daisy when all was said and done. Even though for the most part, I did find appealing qualities about her towards the end, I was not overly enthusiastic about her because of her annoying habit of skimming everything on the surface as things seemed to happen. I also found it a tad abrupt, the way she came to terms with her past, her wants, and needs towards the end, which just seemed to align with what was burgeoning to life between herself and Tai.

Tai on the other hand, was the kind of grumpy hero that I live for. Gorgeous, and sinfully sexy, Tai is a man with a past that makes him weary of long term commitment, especially when it comes to someone like Daisy who would never feel at peace living the kind of life that Tai has built for himself in a remote corner of the world. Tai makes it his life’s mission to keep emotional entanglements at bay, and yet it is Daisy’s persistence when it comes to him that chips away at the armor around his heart.

Overall, Lovewrecked did provide the kind of read that Karina Halle promises readers at the beginning. It was fun and lighthearted for the most part, with the secondary characters adding value to the story and characterization without deflecting attention from the main protagonists. The epilogue was also cute and served the story well towards leaving the reader with a good feeling overall.

Though promised as an enemies to lovers story, I found very little of that in the romance that buds to life between Tai and Daisy. Perhaps that was one reason why this depraved heart of mine wished for Tai’s character to have given the story more angst than it did, because I did expect the story to take a different turn than it did. But then most books do end up doing that. However, with all that, I still enjoyed Lovewrecked and would definitely look up Ms. Halle’s titles in the future.

Recommended for those who enjoy a feel good contemporary romance with a sexy grump of a hero who who continually has the habit of making your toes curl.

Final Verdict: Pure escapism, with just the needed touch of emotional depth is guaranteed with Karina Halle’s Lovewrecked!

Favorite Quotes

“Fine. Fine, you saw me get off,” I grumble. “You happy now?”
“Very.”
I cock my brow, the words taking a moment to rest on my tongue before I spit them out. “Did it make you hard?”
Yeah. I said it.
A bold look flashes in his eyes, more intense than the darkest coffee. “What do you think?”
I think yes.
“Are you still hard?”
I don’t know where the hell I’m getting the gumption to ask him these questions, but fuck it. It’s only fair now.
The look in his eyes intensifies and I watch his throat as he swallows.
“Why don’t you find out,” he manages to say, his words measured.

Before I even know what’s happening, I lean forward, my body operating on instinct only.
And I kiss him.
I can’t help it.
All these weeks of wanting to do this, wanting to know what his lips feel like against mine, it was inevitable that I’d lose control.
He stiffens at first, hesitating, then I feel the muscles in his back relax as he kisses me back.
And…shit.
I mean…wow.
He’s a good kisser.

“Tai,” I whisper, sticking my finger into the jar.
I stand right in front of him, holding my finger out, the honey dripping on the end.
He blinks at it. “Where did you get that?”
“Open your mouth.”
His eyes meet mine and for a moment I think he’s going to be a real hard-head and refuse.
Then he does as he’s told.
Opens his mouth.
That gorgeous, sensual mouth.
Wraps his lips around my finger, and gives it one, long deep pull that I feel all the way to my toes. His eyes never leave mine, if anything they intensify as his tongue rolls over the sides of my skin.
A moan vibrates through him, and I think it might be the sexiest sound I’ve ever heard.

I can see the fight in his eyes. The want to say no, the urge to say yes.
His urges win.
So do mine.
In a flash he whips me around so I’m pressed up hard against the palm tree, the rough bark digging into the back of my head.
He’s kissing me roughly, with impatience, teeth, lips, tongue all in a frenzy, creating a hurricane that will gladly consume us.

The pressure inside me goes over the threshold.
My skin flushes like I’m on fire and then…
I’m falling.
Sinking against the palm tree.
Falling into his hand.
Letting go.
Coming hard.

“Tai,” she whines, sounding breathless, impatient.
“It’s Captain Wakefield,” I tell her, grinning.
“Captain Wakefield. What are you waiting for?”
Nothing.
I suck in my breath and with one swift, hard thrust I plunge my cock deep inside of her.
“Fuck!” Daisy yelps, and I realize I may have been a bit rough.
I’m about to apologize when she cries out, “Keep going.”
That I can do. I slowly pull out and then spear her again, my cock sinking into the hilt as my fingers make bruises on her hips.

With my finger slipping and sliding all over her swollen clit, I stroke that sensitive bundle of nerves until she’s tense and ready to explode. Then, as she yells out my name and begins to shake and shudder, clenching around my cock, I let go.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” I growl, thrusting in harder and deeper, faster, like I’m trying to impale her right into the sand. Everything inside me tenses from my balls to my chest and then I’m being walloped by a tsunami, the orgasm ripping me apart and dragging me out to sea.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fostering Love, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Shane Anderson
Heroine: Katherine Evans
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 07, 2016
Started On: May 21, 2020
Finished On: May 21, 2020

Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn is the debut book in her Fostering Love series. While Ms. Jacquelyn is a totally new to me author, the blurb which hinted at unrequited love, a widowed hero, and a ton of angst was what sold me and I didn’t look back. I needed a story that was spectacular enough to “wean” me off the continuous high I had experienced while reading one Susan Napier book after the other throughout April and May. Unbreak My Heart turned out to be just perfect for the cause.

Unbreak My Heart brings together the two main protagonists, Shane Anderson and Katherine Evans (Kate), who are both 29 years old. While Kate and Shane had been best of friends from a certain point of their childhood on wards, the minute Shane had set eyes on Kate’s closest friend Rachel, Kate had ceased to exist for him. Ignoring the hurt in Kate’s eyes had been his modus operandi, and it had helped that being enlisted in the military, Shane was hardly ever around afterwards.

Kate’s life had pretty much revolved around that of Rachel’s and her family when Shane was not around. With Shane away for long periods of time, Kate spends most of her time helping Rachel bring up their four kids, up till the point where tragedy comes calling and changes everything. With Rachel gone, a year on, the hurt is still raw for Shane and on the eve of Rachel’s death anniversary, their vulnerability leads to sex of the most spectacular kind, which ends with Kate becoming pregnant.

Shane’s fractious relationship with Kate does not undergo a magical transformation when he receives the unwelcome news of Kate’s pregnancy. If anything, his feelings related to Kate becomes more chaotic than ever, the draw he feels towards her something which he resists at every single turn. There are moments in which Shane gives in, is tender and loving, and yet what is more devastating is what follows soon after; the constant need in Shane to blame Kate and assume the worst when it comes to her.

Through a sequence of events that was heartbreaking and heart warming at the same time, (I seriously do not know how Ms. Jacquelyn managed to do that) she delivers a tale that is nothing short of mesmerizing. I could not put the book down unless it was for the basic necessities, because it had been that long since I had come across a novel that features a hero like Shane – who at best would be deemed irredeemable by many readers. But Shane is the kind of hero that I love the best, perhaps because I am a glutton for punishment.

Needless to say, I loved Unbreak My Heart to bits and then some. I found Kate to be amazing. The love that she feels for Shane is an all encompassing and enduring one at that. There is a profound statement in the story that jumped right at me – that love can overlook many things, and I believe that to be true. When we talk about accepting people for who they are, shortcomings and all, because lets face it, none of us are perfect at the end of the day, love is in reality all about overlooking those bits and pieces and seeing the bigger picture.

Kate might be seen to be a doormat heroine by some, because she puts up with a lot of shit from Shane at first. But given the shared past between them, during which Shane and Kate had seldom spent time together from the point where he had decided to ignore her in the pursuit of Rachel, the trouble starts brewing when they are forced to endure each other’s company. Kate’s feelings had never wavered when it comes to Shane, but for Shane, discovering Kate along those lines and the way he falls so hard for her amidst all that reluctance on his part was something worth all that heartache and pain.

There were times I felt like dousing Shane with a bucket of cold water for good measure, just so that he could see reality for what it was. I also loved the strong cast of secondary characters that lent an extra richness to the developing story and made it more wholesome with their presence, which also ended up being the reason behind Shane finally being able to get his head out of his ass and really see things from a different perspective.

One would wonder how Kate was able to forgive everything when all was said and done. I guess the simple and complicated answer to that would be love, in its purest of forms. Kate is just pure in heart in a way that a lot of us may not be able to understand. No matter what she goes through, there is no malice nor hatred in her heart, which is a rare thing indeed.

When one comes to understand Shane and baggage he carries from his experience through the foster care system, it is easier to see where he is coming from. It is evident that Shane is scared shitless of the way Kate makes him feel which is evident as the story reaches its climax. One can see why it is so, because Kate is not someone who deserves love of the half-assed variety; she deserves it all.

I know that Unbreak My Heart would not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you are anything like me and love irredeemable heroes paired with heroines who make them fall and fall hard, this is for you. If you want a romance that is politically correct, with rainbows and sunshine, with a unicorn or two thrown in for good measure, then it is safe to say that this is not the book for you.

Recommended for those who love emotional and angst-ridden reads that makes you feel all the feels! Unbreak My Heart does that in spades! Thank you Ms. Jacquelyn, for writing Shane’s character as he was.

Final Verdict: Unbreak My Heart delivers the reality of the pain that stems from unrequited love and the courage it takes to love in the truest and purest sense. I wouldn’t change a word in this book for the world!

Favorite Quotes

“When you cry, your lips swell up,” he whispered, making my eyes finally pop open in surprise.
He was so much closer than I’d realized that my breath caught in my throat as he stared at my lips.
Then his mouth was on mine.
“Pushing, always fucking pushing,” he mumbled against my mouth before sucking my bottom lip between his and biting down hard enough to make me whimper.
He tugged at my lip with his teeth, and I felt my body heat in response.
“What are you doing?” I asked as his eyebrows furrowed.
“Fuck if I know.”

“Harder,” he ordered, groaning as he grabbed the back of my head and pressed my mouth to his throat. “Do it hard.”
I followed his instructions, biting and sucking on his neck like it was my job, and his hands shook as one held me against him and the other slid down the side of my throat and ripped the strap of my bra and cami down my shoulder. He tasted salty, and the stubble under his chin rasped across my tongue.
“Jesus,” Shane groaned as he leaned back on his knees and gazed at my breast that had popped free. “Your nipples are pierced.”

“So bare and slick,” Shane whispered darkly, bending over my body until his chest rested against my back. “And what is this?”
His fingers found my hood piercing, and I froze as I waited to see what he’d do. I felt one finger playing softly with the piercing as my breath grew ragged, and I was so focused on that sensation that I didn’t feel him positioning behind me until he was thrusting inside.
I think I may have screamed as he came to a stop halfway inside, but my ears were ringing so loudly that I wasn’t sure. Not that I would have cared either way.

Her breathing was little off, kind of heavy and shuddery at the same time, and the feel of it on my shoulder was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“Is that all you—” Kate started to ask.
My mouth was on hers before the last word was spoken, and I made an embarrassing desperate noise when her lips parted and she let me inside.
She tasted like ginger, probably from the cookies she had brought with her that morning, and for some reason it ratcheted up my desire until I was practically shaking.

“Shit,” she moaned, bending her knees so she could press down on my fingers inside her. “It’s not enough.”
“It’s enough.”
“No, I’m so close. God. It’s not—”
I bit down on her nipple then, careful of how sensitive she seemed to be, and she came, gasping and shuddering as my hand between her legs became drenched in her.
I pulled my hand from her slowly, running my fingers over everything I could reach, then lifted it and put those two fingers in my mouth.
She tasted different than I remembered. Maybe even better.

“Your body is insane, Kate,” he told me as he rolled over until he was leaning over me. “I look at you, and I don’t see the fucking ratty clothes you wear. I see the way your breasts bounce when I pull on your nipples. I see the way you clench your jaw when you come, and the way your red lips get swollen from sucking my dick.”
My mouth dropped open, and I looked at him in shock.
“You were my wife’s best friend. My dead wife. Do you get that? I look at you and I don’t see Katie who drove me nuts when we were kids, or Katie who was Rachel’s best friend. I see Kate, the woman who can take me hard then fucking begs for more. That’s not okay. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?”

“It’s okay, I’ve got you,” he breathed, lifting both of my legs until they were bent and pressing against his chest and he was hitting my G-spot again. “There you go.”
“Please,” I begged hoarsely.
“Harder?” He pulled back and thrust in desperately as he kissed me hard.
“Yes. Yes. Like that.”
“Jesus Christ, you’re sexy,” he mumbled into my mouth. “You’re almost there, Kate. Take it. Fuck!”
I detonated, and he followed closely behind me with a deep groan.

I cut her words off with my mouth as we reached the back door of Miles’s truck. Thank God the windows were tinted, and I knew that Mike and Miles would studiously avoid looking where we were standing…but it wouldn’t have mattered if they hadn’t.
She whimpered and gripped my head in her hands as I swept my tongue into her mouth, and I couldn’t resist grabbing her ass and hoisting her up until she was braced against the truck with her legs wrapped around me.
I didn’t know what I was doing. Things between us were getting so complicated. Too complicated.
But I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving without the taste of her in my mouth.

“Take it off,” he ordered gruffly, the tendons in his neck growing taught. “All the way, Kate.”
I closed my eyes as I pulled the shirt over my head and only opened them again when I heard him let out a harsh breath.
“Fuck,” he groaned, his eyes dilated until they were almost black. “Do you know what we’d be doing if I was there right now?”
I nodded mutely as I watched him watching me.
“You’re so fucking incredible, Kate. Jesus, those breasts—” I laughed a little as he whimpered, then slid the shirt back over my head, hiding my body from view.

He slid his tongue into my mouth as I began to shake, and I kissed him back until I finally couldn’t concentrate on both his mouth and his hand at the same time.
“Harder,” I ordered, clenching my teeth so hard it was a wonder I didn’t shatter them.
“Goddamn,” he groaned, sucking on my shoulder as I got closer and closer to the edge.
My hands were frantic as I tried to touch all of his torso at once, the nails of one hand digging into the forearm between us as it flexed over and over. His fingers were curled up inside me, and every time he jerked his hand up, his palm rubbed over my swollen clit.
I came hard, my mouth at his throat as I tried not to make any noise.

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

Review: Reasons of the Heart by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ross Tarrant
Heroine: Francesca Lewis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1988
Started On: May 16, 2020
Finished On: May 21, 2020

Published in 1988, Reasons of the Heart is one of the earlier works of Susan Napier. The story begins with Francesca Lewis turning up at a cabin that was owned by her recently deceased grandfather, the cabin supposed to be a sanctuary of sorts for her to recuperate and get back on her feet. Determined to change the direction and focus of her life afterwards, Francesca however is not at all ready to run into 30 year old Ross Tarrant, her nemesis from the past.

Francesca’s painful memories come tumbling forth when she finds that she has to share the cabin with none other than Ross. Right from the start, these two rub each other the wrong way, the sparks fly, and Francesca in her bid to keep Ross at a distance, judges him by what she knew of him in the past. There is a delicious sizzle in the air whenever these two are in the same room, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of it.

Even though Francesca is determined to keep Ross at arm’s length, with every turn, Ross continues to surprise her, and the insults they exchange on a daily basis quickly become the highlight of her day, exasperating and arousing her in equal doses up till the point where Ross makes her see just how right they are for each other. However, for someone like Francesca who has never known what love is like, what being fully loved and accepted for herself is like, there is much growing up for her to do before she can come to terms with her love for the man who has never stopped making her feel all too much.

I loved Reasons of the Heart. There were so many intriguing aspects to the novel that I felt mesmerized and at times gleeful about the direction in which the story was headed. I do enjoy witty banter between the two main protagonists and Ms. Napier certainly delivers on that front, and is not shy on following up on the heated chemistry that is between the two.

Francesca was a complex female lead and she could be termed as a difficult character at first. Francesca running scared every single time that she felt vulnerable and/or found herself to be lacking should have gotten old real quick. But the way Ms. Napier peeled back the layers of her character, exposed her childhood and what it had meant to grow up with two grandparents who had perhaps never wanted her makes for interesting reading. Where she had paid for her mother’s choices all through her life and never really gotten to understand who she is deep inside; all of that and more made her a riveting character.

I also loved Ross to bits! He is that perfect mix of cocky, sinfully sexy, handsome, and endearing. Ross was also endlessly patient when it came to Francesca and her hangups about love and life in general. At the same time, Francesca does teach Ross a few things while she is at it, and I loved Francesca for being brave enough to face her fears while at the same time bringing Ross to his knees in the very best possible way.

I wished for an epilogue so very much when I finished this story. There was much angst in the story that I reveled in, which should have been followed through by an epilogue that would have given readers a sense of “closure” when all was said and done.

Recommended for fans of complex character driven category romances.

Final Verdict: Complex characterization, the right touch of angst, and sensuality of the kind that drives one to distraction is what Ms. Napier delivers to readers with Reasons of the Heart.

Favorite Quotes

‘I can see, Princess, that you’re not going to rest until I’ve made the obligatory attack on your virtue, so…’ He reached over and swept her across the jumbled pile and into his arms.
His mouth was a shock of warmth against hers, his large hands spreading across her shoulder blades to ensure that any resistance on her part merely rubbed their bodies suggestively together.

‘You’re flushed…’ His finger ran down to the pulse in the soft hollow of her throat. ‘…Your skin is damp, your temperature and pulse rate have increased… An invitation doesn’t have to be verbal to be explicit.’ His lids drooped, masking the intention in his eyes. ‘And if you’re so hot…’ he pulled the front of her robe apart with a single, swift movement, his hands crowding in to capture her breasts, encircling the little, stiff peaks that thrust against the soft bodice of her modest nightdress ‘.. .why aren’t these still sweetly soft?’
He bent his head and kissed the objects of his taunt with maddening precision before scooping up his blankets and backing out the door with a final salute of laughter at her furious confusion.
‘Night-night, Princess. Safe dreams…’

He broke the kiss and they stared into each other’s eyes. There was a gleam of male recognition in his that stopped her breath. Then his hands were cupping her face and his mouth fastened over hers again, gentle, teasing, yet deep and satisfying too. When she trembled, his mouth tensed and hardened, gathering her in even further, stunning her with the tremors she felt in his own body, as if it was part of hers.
‘You taste good, Frankie,’ he murmured in thick amazement, his trembling fingers finding and stroking her breasts in a way that made her kiss him back with untutored enthusiasm. He groaned.
‘Touch me, Frankie, the way I’m touching you.’

At what point had the snide insult become an endearment? Fran wondered as she put a hand flat on his chest to stop herself falling forward into the blue void of his eyes. His chest rose quick and hard against her hand, her fingers sliding through the patch of hair revealed by the opened neck of his shirt.
‘I… I can’t…’ absently, concentrating on the vibrations under her fingertips.
‘You can…’ The words formed against her lips, his tongue stroking its velvety roughness against their parted warmth, then plunging inside with a suddenness that made her head reel. The muscles of his arms bulged as his hands clenched convulsively against the wire at the inward sway of her body against the open trap of his.

She pushed a thigh between his, and he caught and held it against the centre of his body, letting her feel the rigid proof of his arousal. Yet still he didn’t put his arms around her. With a hot surge of mingled power and frustration Fran pushed her rounded breasts against his chest, crushing the taut peaks with a shudder of masochistic pleasure, her mouth widening beneath the silken search of his tongue. Both hands were now clinging to his waist, sliding up under the sweatshirt to find the damp, ridging muscles of his back. Suddenly he tore his mouth away. ‘Stay.’

‘You know… what I do up there in the air,’ he murmured in a voice that had the texture of cut velvet, ‘the “high” it gives me, is the next best thing to sex. Perhaps this afternoon was a subconscious attempt to sublimate my real need… to do this…’ He slowly eased over until he was braced above Fran’s supine body, his hips lowering to grind softly against her thighs until they parted to allow him to lie between, the rough denim weave of his jeans catching against the soft wool-blend of her slacks.
‘…and I needed you up there, with me, to share the exhilaration, the agony and the ecstasy of subliminal sex. God, Frankie, how much longer are you going to make us wait? Tell me, tell me you want me to touch you, and taste you, and feed your appetite with mine…’
With a cry of need that echoed his own, Fran arched against him.

Her wide-eyed delight provoked her lover to even greater pleasures and, when at last his strong, gentle fingers lingered, breath-soft on the delicate flesh between her quivering thighs, Fran was stormed by a violent, racking shudder that almost spilled him from his position of dominance. His hand wrapped around her hips, holding her still.
‘No…wait, Francesca…’ He sucked in his breath. ‘…slow down…’
‘I…can’t…’ She twisted helplessly, unable to control her body’s demand as he groaned against her.
‘I don’t think I can either…’ He thrust her legs apart with a possessive strength that sent a stab of pain to the core of her pleasure.

Purchase Links: AbeBooks

Review: Secret Seduction by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ryan Liam Flint
Heroine: Nina Joan Dowling
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 2000
Started On: May 07, 2020
Finished On: May 11, 2020

Originally published in the year 2000 from Harlequin Presents, Secret Seduction by Susan Napier is another hit for me when it comes to stories by the indomitable Ms. Napier. This being one of her later titles, probably a couple of years prior to the publication of her last book, Secret Seduction stands testament to how category romances can often be hidden gems that sweeps you off your feet when it comes to the world of romance.

The story begins with a ferocious thunderstorm rolling into Shearwater Island, where 26 year old Nina Joan Dowling resides. A painter by vocation, Nina has no recollection of her past and rather likes the solitude she finds amongst like-minded loners like herself who guards the privacy afforded by residing on the island on a permanent basis. The quiet and solitude that she had been enjoying is however short-lived when the storm brings a stranger to her life, a man whom she rescues from the storm.

33 year old Ryan Liam Flint comes to the island seeking answers. Finding out that the task ahead of him was not going to go exactly as he planned, Ryan plays it by the ear, pretending that he has been struck by a temporary bout of amnesia. Nina being the suspicious soul that she is, especially given the sense of unease that she feels when Ryan is around, coupled with how he invokes from her emotions that she had not felt in a long while, needless to say, it is choppy waters that these two travel through for the most part.

Nina is stubborn to a fault, and I would have to say off putting at first or rather through most of the book up till the point more details emerge as to what had taken place, how she had suffered through a tragic loss and couldn’t seem to recover properly. The past that Nina has no memory of is everything to Ryan, what keeps him determined when it comes to winning and wooing back the love of his life.

I was fascinated by how Ms. Napier brought the story around, and was caught utterly by surprise when it came to the flashbacks of the past delivering a tale I could not have predicted at all. I yearned to read more details on their shared past, the heat and energy between two people who were such complete opposites of one another, drawn to the other in a way that makes denying the connection an impossibility.

I loved the angst, the heartache, and Ryan who served to be the kind of patient, sexy, endearing, and yet alpha in the best possible of ways hero, who complements Nina in a way that no one else ever would. Getting Nina on the same page however, is another matter altogether and when the memories come tumbling forth, it was gut wrenching not to say the least.

I loved the last chapter that served sort of as an epilogue. It gives that sense of closure to readers who made it through the emotional read that this proved to be, leaving behind that soft glow of happiness when all is said and done.

Definitely recommended for those who love emotional and beautifully rendered category romances. Ms. Napier is definitely one of a kind in the genre.

Final Verdict: Secret Seduction delivers a story that is raw and powerful in many ways, of a hero who would do anything to prove to the love of his life, the beauty that is the love they have for one another.

Favorite Quotes

‘Nina?’ he muttered. He inhaled deeply and his frown was replaced by a sensuous smile of sleepy satisfaction as he identified the unique personal fragrance that spilled across the pillow. ‘Nina…’
Eyes still closed, his head dipped and his mouth homed unerringly in on hers, parting her lips in a leisurely kiss that caused a delicious chaos in her startled senses. He made a soft sound of lazy enjoyment as his open mouth moved enticingly back and forth over the succulent plumpness of her lower lip, taking tiny, nibbling bites along the ripe curve before sucking it into his mouth, creating an erotic, rhythmic tugging that made her toes curl inside her socks.

‘For goodness’ sake, it’s ridiculous!’ she said hotly. ‘What makes you think he’ll be any good at doing repairs? I doubt if he even knows which end of a hammer is which.’
Ryan’s head tilted, his hair gleaming blue-black in the sun. ‘What makes you say that?’
She spun around and grabbed up his hands, turning them over to display the palms. ‘Well, look! You’re obviously not used to manual labour. No-one who works with tools has hands this soft,’ she jeered, drawing her fingers across his smooth skin. ‘And your fingernails have been manicured.’
He looked down at her, standing between his splayed—knees, a willing captive to her strong artist’s grip. ‘I thought women liked a man to have nice hands,’ he murmured smokily. ‘You have such silken skin yourselves it seems a shame to risk damaging it with rough handling.’

He didn’t even look around the tiny flat as he took off his jacket and loosened his silk tie, his eyes moving over her flushed face and primly attired figure, lingering on the crisply concealing blouse and the lush curve of her hips encased in the tight skirt that ended halfway up her thighs. His nostrils flared as he eased his collar open and saw her gaze follow the movement, her lips parting at the glimpse of the bronzed hollow of his throat.
‘Do you have anything to drink?’
His blunt demand cloaked the crackling sexual tension with a thin veneer of sociability. Nina’s fingers tracked the side seams of her skirt, smoothing it over her hips in an unconsciously seductive gesture.

‘Did you know you never close your eyes when you have an orgasm, Nina? Not until you’ve seen me climax, too. Are you remembering how incredibly arousing it is to watch each other in the throes of an orgasm? And when we made love in front of the fire, you always wanted it to be slow and easy so that it would last a long, long time.
Sometimes we even used to have fires in the middle of summer just for the sake of pleasuring ourselves with prolonged bouts of hot, sweaty sex interspersed with refreshing romps in the pool.

The only warning she had was a faint fan of cool air across her back, and then a big body crowded into the stall behind her, joining her under the wide stream of water, a thick arm snaking around her waist and pulling her back against a nude, hairy male body, already powerfully aroused. Sharp teeth sank into her wet shoulder and a strong hand came around to knead her breasts as his thick shaft settled along the cleft in her bottom. She wriggled her hips and the hand on her breast contracted.
‘I knew you’d come,’ she whispered.
‘We’re both going to come, babe.

‘Open your legs,’ he whispered roughly into her mouth, his hands circling around her soapy navel, massaging ever lower, pressings down over the inside of her thighs until they parted for him, allowing his soap-slick fingers to crowd into the steamy space and play over the secret folds in her skin, exploring her readiness and finding the sweet kernel of budded desire.
Her fingers clawed into his flanks at the drenching burst of pleasure that pulsed hotly against his fingers. ‘Oh, Ryan…’
‘Yeah, babe, I know.

She uttered a tiny choking cry as she approached a pinnacle of sensation only to have the prize snatched from her grasp when Ryan suddenly withdrew and spun her around so that it was now her spine flat to the wall, her thighs urged up around his waist by his rough hands as he bluntly surged back into her welcoming body, grunting in triumph at the slick parting of her folds, shuddering as she instantly contracted around his pulsing hardness.
‘I love to see you watching me when you come apart. I want to watch you, too….’

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | eBooks

Review: Winter of Dreams by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jordan Pendragon
Heroine: Olivia Marlow
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1993
Started On: May 04, 2020
Finished On: May 06, 2020

Winter of Dreams is another hit from the backlist of novels written by Susan Napier, most of which I went through during lock down and the period that followed. While a few of the titles from her backlist were misses, even then, I enjoyed reading them for the unique stories that I can always count on Ms. Napier to deliver.

26 year old Olivia Marlow is an artist who has lost her creative flow, having received a scathing review from an anonymous art critic who had earned a reputation for doing just that. Having taken ill following the scandal that ensued, Olivia is not at all ready to get back into the game and face the world. A bout of illness bringing her spirits further down, it is not until her sister forces her hand to come out and face the world again that she makes the attempt required.

When Olivia meets the 37 year old Jordan Pendragon, she wrongfully assumes that what her sister had told her about Jordan to be true. That proves to be the point which provided a lot of mirth filled scenes to the story as it developed, that is up till the point that Jordan puts those assumptions to rest by kissing her senseless.

While Olivia tries to hide from how she feels about Jordan, there is also the fact that Jordan himself holds a secret that could devastate Olivia all over again and destroy what is blossoming to life between two people who are so obviously meant for one another.

I found Winter of Dreams to be delightful in so many ways. Sexy and sinfully sensual (which is classic Ms. Napier), with a larger than life hero and a heroine who is gun-shy, who is helplessly ensnared by the web of heady desire that encapsulates them both from the onset.

Though at first the story started out a tad slow, it took off just like that and I found myself soaking in the heady sensations that coursed through me as the story progressed. I liked how Jordan and Olivia took their time to get to know each other and how that was actually reflected in the story. I loved the changes that came over Olivia as time went by, how she blossomed and bloomed into realizing her own potential and the strengths of her own character.

I have to admit however, that I loved Jordan perhaps a tad more in comparison to Olivia. I found him to be a contrasting mix of kindness, gentleness, and firmness that went well with the setting and proved to be exactly what Olivia needed in the end.

Recommended for fans of category romances, Susan Napier, and romances that stand the test of time.

Final Verdict: In Winter of Dreams, Ms. Napier brings to life a hero whose beauty lies in the remarkable facets to his character; the happily ever after that followed was a foregone conclusion.

Favorite Quotes

Olivia let the rush of fire in her blood consume the last vestige of reason. Her mouth opened helplessly under his and he consolidated his victory, roughly staking his claim inside her as one big, calloused hand splayed across the base of her spine, lifting her forward into the broad saddle of his hips. He stepped back and turned, backing her against the smooth wall, widening his stance so that he could fit her between his powerful thighs, holding her there until she was vividly aware of his heavy arousal.

His restraint became unbearably erotic as he moved rhythmically and persistently against her until she began to arch and blindly move in an echoing rhythm. He shuddered and moaned his thick approval against her swollen mouth, his rigid body suddenly quivering with a new and dangerous tension. Dazedly Olivia realised what was happening. He was making love to her through her clothes. He wasn’t just teasing now, and he wasn’t going to stop. Though they were both fully dressed, he was driving them relentlessly towards sexual fulfillment.

He straddled her completely, supporting his weight on his braced arms so that he didn’t crush her, grinding his hips softly into hers, enticing her with his erotic actions and whispered words of reckless invitation. He ravished her body with his hot, slow kisses as he ravished her mind with his wicked encouragement.
‘Come on, baby, that’s right, let go…’ he murmured as he felt her go under, dragged out of her depth by the swift cross-currents of desire, floundering briefly until she finally stopped fighting and began to flow with the inevitable tide. ‘Touch me… feel me… let me see all that passion you keep hidden inside…’

He said other things, graphically erotic things that made her blush in the dark as he stripped off the only impediments to their merging flesh, calling her ‘baby’ in a thick, harsh, voice that was almost a snarl. She didn’t care if he was using the appellation because he couldn’t remember who she was-she hardly recognised herself, and he made her feel anything but babyish. She had never realised a man could be so violently aroused that he trembled, pleaded, surrendered to a woman as if she were the stronger sex. She discovered she liked him savage and greedy and a little out of control.

Purchase Links: AbeBooks

Review: The Cruellest Lie by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Morgan Stone
Heroine: Claudia Lawson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1994
Started On: April 14, 2020
Finished On: April 16, 2020

I can always count on Susan Napier to deliver reads worth salivating over. With fears of the pandemic raging across the world at an all time high during the period of lockdown imposed on us, I had to distract my mind with books by authors that I could count on. Which meant rummaging through the back-list of books by authors like Susan Napier and indulging in them to my heart’s content.

The Cruellest Lie tells the story of a very pregnant 26 year old Claudia Lawson who meets an angry and hostile Morgan Stone at the start of the story. What begins as a misunderstanding on the part of Morgan culminates in an incident that marks both Claudia and Morgan, one similar emotion tying them together as two years pass by since and they meet again; regret over what took place and the words left unsaid.

Two years later, when Morgan comes back into Claudia’s life, she does everything possible to evade him, but her job demands that she play nice and get along with him, at least until the project that he wants her to work on is completed. However, as Claudia spends more time with Morgan, contrary to her previously held opinion about him, she comes to understand that behind her nervousness when it comes to Morgan lies the fact that she finds him undeniably attractive and is drawn to him on a level that she never has been to anyone ever before.

However, what remained unsaid about the incident that took place back then stands between them and the pursuit of something longer term than what transpires between them, and it will take a lot from both Morgan and Claudia to face the inevitable truth when it comes to their feelings for each other.

I loved many aspects about The Cruellest Lie. I understood the complexity of the emotions that drove Claudia to blame Morgan solely for what had taken place at that point in time and the growing up she had done within the two years time she comes in contact with Morgan again. I also understood why Claudia chose to try and ignore what was happening between them, because let’s face it, none of us like being vulnerable to a significant someone unless we know that they would be willing to catch us if we fall flat on our asses.

Morgan Stone was undeniably delectable. Ms. Napier has a way with her heroes that gets to me every single time and this one was no exception.With her flair for writing such vividly sensual scenes of passion which does not have to be explicit but gets you there every single time, there is a reason why Ms. Napier’s books stands the test of time. She writes strong heroines at a point in time when feminism as a concept was just beginning to see the light of day in most parts of the world. And she ties them up with equally strong and dominant heroes that makes your heart go pitter-patter. The ending was classic Ms. Napier; humorous and endearing, which clinched the deal for me.

Recommended for those who love Ms. Napier’s voice and those who love a good dose of Harlequin romance every now and then.

Final Verdict: The Cruellest Lie is another hit when it comes to Ms. Napier’s remarkable style of penning romances you can absolutely count on.

Favorite Quotes

‘Isn’t this what you’re afraid of, Duchess?’
His parted mouth came down on hers, damming the cry of protest in her arched throat, sending a dazzling bolt of fearful excitement shearing through her consciousness. After the first instant of quivering shock it was like being enveloped in a slither of hot, wet silk that bound her, stroked her, wrapping around her senses, entangling her in inescapably erotic knots.
The world went black as she closed her eyes, shutting out the deliciously terrifying sight of Morgan’s blue eyes a breath away from hers, blazing with a carnal intensity that was matched by the sensual movements of his mouth. It was a mistake. Now there was nothing to distract her from the pure intoxication of her tactile senses.

She murmured, struggling to surface from her sensual stupor, and he soothed her by at last seeking one of the rigid peaks sheltering behind the seams of her bra, taking it between his teeth and biting, firmly. Wanton desire exploded violently in the pleasure centres of her brain, obliterating her returning reason. Her head fell back in erotic shock as in the same moment he shifted the hand under her skirt gently between their bodies and touched the secret V that sheltered her femininity. It was a light, sliding touch, one fingertip barely intruding between the silky compression of her inner thighs, clamped together between his powerful knees, but combined with the stinging tug on her nipple the explicit delicacy of that warm fingertip curling against the clinging film of her panties was every bit as shattering as his full possession would have been.

His hand finally stilled against her, the handkerchief tucked into the exposed hollow between her breasts where the tiny white bow that concealed the front catch of her bra just peeked above the first fastened button. She felt a tiny tug and that button, too, fell open. Her eyes flew to his face. He was waiting for her, his smile blazing with sensuous challenge as he flicked open another button, and another.
‘Now you can plead ravishment.’

‘Am I pleasing to you, Claudia?’ he murmured, making no attempt similarly to hide the blatancy of his desire. ‘I hope so, because you’re very, very appealing to me … especially like that, your lovely full breasts peeping at me through your fingers and the soft rounded thigh drawn up to shelter the hot dewy silk I’m aching to feel around me .. .’ He shuddered lightly, throwing his head back as his whole body flexed with the acuteness of his need. He was proud of his passion, engendering a similar pride in Claudia as he looked down at her and asked bluntly, ‘Can you ease that ache for me, Claudia? Will you touch me and taste me and pleasure me in the way that I need to be to feel completed?’

‘You forgive me for my unreasonable jealousy…?’ If she had been in her right mind she would have been delighted to hear him beg but as it was the words could no longer satisfy her. She welcomed the completeness of his possession. ‘Yes … yes .. .’
‘You’re mine,’ he rasped, the muscles in his arms cording with agonised tension as he supported himself over her writhing body, driving her harder, deeper into a sustained frenzy. ‘Say yes, dammit, tell me you want to do this with me every day of your life.’
‘Yes, yes, yes…!’ she sobbed, and the explosive reaction that was her reward tumbled her into sweet oblivion.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

Review: Sweet Agony Charlotte Stein

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mischief
Hero: Cyrian Harcroft
Heroine: Molly Parker
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 1992
Started On: April 11, 2020
Finished On: April 15, 2020

My deep abiding desire to read something different, something that would sweep me off my feet (because these days it is really, really, really hard to find a book that does this to you), is the reason I ended up reading my very first book by Charlotte Stein. Reading Sweet Agony made me wonder why I had not come across a book by Ms. Stein prior to this. Maybe I have and never thought much of it or thought it wasn’t for me (which seems highly unlikely). Either way, I am glad I came across this delectable, delicious, and angst ridden (in the best way possible) read that I would forever hold close to my heart.

Sweet Agony begins when 22 year old Molly Parker answers an advert seeking a housekeeper and finds herself hired after the most invigorating job interview that I have ever come across in a book, and all that without Molly even laying eyes on the man who hires her, aka 34 year old Cyrian Harcroft.

Cyrian is the quintessential definition of a loner, preferring to hole himself up in a house that is as forbidding and closed off to the world as he is. However, from the onset, there is something about Molly that sets a fire blazing inside him as he does in her, and there is no stopping the tidal wave of lust, love, tenderness, and other emotions that comes gushing forth between the two.

With every word that Cyrian speaks or writes to Molly, to her it is as if someone is reading out the verses of a book of poetry written specifically for her. And even though Molly knows that it is the height of impropriety to lust after her boss, she does just that, even when she knows that Cyrian is not for the likes of her.

One thing leads to another and Ms. Stein delivers so spectacularly on the build up of the sexual tension that wraps around you so tight. It is almost as if you cannot breath through certain parts of the book; yes, Ms. Stein’s play with the words is nothing short of mesmerizing.

In Cyrian’s words towards the end, they are soulmates, no question about it. Both having undergone difficult childhoods in their own ways, it is only Molly who is able to bring Cyrian out of his inward shell, the one in which he believes himself to be unworthy of love.

The best thing about Sweet Agony for me were the main protagonists, specifically Cyrian. He is a hero to die for, the demanding and tender side to his character unbound layer by layer to reveal his true self as seen through Molly’s eyes. He is sexy in a way that is indescribable, a hero worth swooning over in the years to come.

I will never get over how he just sat down and started reading dirty passages from the book he was supposedly writing, and not even by the mereest flicker of an expression did he show how it affected him. That was in part one of the most glorious aspects of this book and I fell completely and head over heels in love with Cyrian without even trying.

Molly was just as wonderful, having that right touch and balance to her character which helped her gain insight into what Cyrian was about and what he needed. The fact that Cyrian thinks he is unworthy, when he already is what Molly needs and more, was the icing on the cake as the novel reached its ultimate conclusion.

The only reason that Sweet Agony did not get the five stars that the story truly deserves was because of the lack of an epilogue which was sorely felt. Having gone through that roller-coaster of a ride with Cyrian and Molly, readers deserve an epilogue, maybe something five or ten years down the line, just to show us how they were faring. In my mind, Cyrian is still that forbidding man he is to everyone else except for Molly, for whom his face lights up with the merest gaze.

I would also have loved to know more about Cyrian and Molly’s pasts – even though I know the story had enough tidbits to serve as such, just enough to make that emotional connection needed for readers to thoroughly enjoy the story.

Highly recommended, especially for those who love an erotic tale that is akin to poetry written for your soul.

Final Verdict: Sweet Agony by Charlotte Stein is beautifully crafted poetic eroticism done right. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

I know as soon as he sits down that I am in trouble. He crosses one leg over the other, in a way I would describe as louche if I could stand to. At the very least I have to admit it shows off how long his limbs are, and how much more muscular than they had initially seemed. At first glance, he always appears rail-thin.
But then you see something flex and tighten in his thigh, and all is lost.
There is no going back, after this. Whatever pretence I made of not fancying him dissolves, the moment he sits there and just looks at me. Then, just when I think it can’t get any more intense, he reaches inside his dressing gown.
And draws out a bloody book.

And then he strikes me, and I lose my mind.
It’s nothing like what I expected. Some part of me thought it would just be painful, and that people were lying when they talked about how exciting it is. But I see now that I am an idiot. The cane paints a searing stripe across my flesh, and when it does I try to climb up the nearest wall. The breath I was about to take sticks in my throat. Everything stops.
Swiftly followed by a sensation so intense I can hardly stand it. It seems to flood my body, filling me to the brim. I feel incapable of containing it, and even when I manage to cram it in there is more, hot on its heels. He doesn’t wait for me to take it in. He just does it again, this time so sharply it brings tears to my eyes. I come very close to sobbing, but, good God, I know why I hold it in.
If I let it out he may stop.

Then I feel a great wave of pleasure. I don’t even know why. His scorn should be the last thing I should want, yet somehow it only seems to take things higher. I think I hear him hiss in anger and I almost fall to my knees. I’m so bad, I think, so wicked, so completely lost to my own insatiable lust.
And that’s when it happens.
My cunt tightens around my still working fingers, so hard it almost brings everything to a standstill. So hard I have to say it out loud, no matter what the consequences. He might hate me for making it all so overt, but I don’t care. I’m coming I’m coming oh God you make me come so good, I tell him, as pleasure shudders through me. Glorious, golden pleasure, of the kind I could never regret.
Until it’s over.

‘God, you greedy little slut,’ he says, those words alone enough to get me. However, it’s the admiration in his voice that really finishes the job. I hear it and I just respond without even thinking about it.
‘Oh, fuck, yes, say that again,’ I tell him.
But I’m glad I do. He apparently feels the same way too.
‘I should get you by the hair,’ he says.
‘Yes, yes, yes, you should, yes, please.’

As he eases his fingers beneath the material – so skin-to-skin it scorches me – and slides one elegant finger through my soaking slit. All these rude things, I think, all these rude things and with someone right there. Though that makes no difference. In fact, if anything it gets worse when the man suddenly leaves, because that’s when Cyrian decides to murmur the worst thing in the world to me.
‘Do you think he is leaving so he can come with the thought of you being fingered still fresh in his mind?’ he asks, as though he’s suddenly become a completely different person. Gone is that sense of defeat I saw all over his face. He seems barely bothered by our closeness. His lips are so close to my cheek he could be kissing me.

I forget about giving him space, about being restrained.
I just buck and rub myself against his hand until I come, and come, and come. And I’m glad I do, too. I would have felt a hundred times more stupid if I’d carried on pretending I could be a celibate nun with no feelings, when he says what he does in the aftermath. He turns back to his paper as I sit there slumped and panting, pink-faced and unable to speak. And then, just as regret starts to rise in me, just as I wonder if I somehow forced him into that or caused him intense agony by responding at all, he says this:
‘You might not mind never doing anything sexual again. But I bloody well do.’

He is mere centimetres from me. It would take almost no effort to stick out my tongue and get a taste. And it would feel good to him, too, God knows it would. He’s never had someone lick him there, which seems like a crying shame to me in this moment.
But I want to resist. Despite the heat and the hand in my hair near dragging me closer, despite the sense that he would like me to, I want to resist. I want to show him that he can trust me always to respect his boundaries, and be as patient as he needs, and am I glad I do.
If I had licked he might have pulled back, instead of doing what he does:
He groans my name like some sinful prayer as he fills my open mouth.

And then he speaks, and I wonder why I ever did.
‘I have no boundaries now. You burned them all. I have no walls around myself; you have reduced each one to rubble. You have undone me in every conceivable way and yet still you hesitate, and I adore you for it. Sometimes I wish I did not; God knows it would be easier for me. But if an easy life must be paid for with the absence of you then I find the price too steep to so much as contemplate. I am your creature now, wholly and completely – so do with me what you will. I shall not turn you away,’ he says, so low and calm you could almost imagine it meant nothing.

I hear him gasp that he’s going to come and feel the flood of it in my mouth, and then my whole body simply seizes up. It lights a spark that was already on the verge of burning, and I go up like a bonfire. I groan and buck just as he’s doing, nearly choking on the liquid ribbons spilling over my tongue but loving every second of it.
Loving every second of him giving in. Giving it all up to me, in one great glorious burst that leaves us both gasping and flailing and only really understanding in the aftermath. I come around from an orgasm so intense it almost knocks me out, to find myself sprawled halfway over him. My body is all over his body, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
In fact, when I start to sit up he stops me.
And his arm goes over mine.

And then his eyes drift closed.
Ahhhh, yes, the way his eyes drift closed. It reminds me of everything I’ve been able to feel since he first took that cane to my backside, so simple I took it for granted. I found it easy, but I see in this one look how hard it has been for him. I understand in a way I never fully did before, always assuming that he not only couldn’t but didn’t really want to. Not completely, not wholly – maybe not even on the train or in his bed.
But I get it now.
All this time, and he was just longing for this. Everything was theory, nothing was lived. None of it known the way he clearly knows it now, so blissful that his face fills with warm contentment.

He fills me so completely I can spark sensation through my belly just by tightening around him – and apparently it’s the same for him.
I do it and he jerks as though slapped.
‘Stop, no,’ he says, and oh, it’s the best to hear him do it. It’s the best because he doesn’t mean it in the bad way. He means it in the good way, the I’m-going-to-come way and the second I register that, I just can’t help clenching again. It almost happens on its own, like an involuntary spasm.
And it has the greatest effect. He punches the hay by the side of my head, his gasp so loud and heated it sends me insane. I buck as soon as I hear it, and after that things just snowball. He grabs my arse and takes me hard, pounding relentlessly until I can hardly stand it.

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

Review: Prisoner by Annika Martin, Skye Warren

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Criminals & Captives, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Grayson Kane
Heroine: Abigail Winslow
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 22, 2014
Started On: April 09, 2020
Finished On: April 10, 2020

Even in chains, he seems vibrant, wild and free, a force of nature—it makes me feel like I’m the one in prison.

Prisoner is the debut book in the Criminals & Captives series by two very talented authors Annika Martin and Skye Warren. While I have never read a novel by Skye Warren prior to this, I have enjoyed the work of Ms. Martin who also writes as Carolyn Crane. Behind the Mask is one of my favorite books by Ms. Crane and I have on occasion “pestered” her about continuing the series. I seriously hope that she does, because she has left the series at a point where die-hard fans like ourselves need the next book in the series.

Prisoner begins with the heroine Abigail Winslow being assigned a project to work at the The Kingman Correctional Facility and comes across Grayson Kane, who changes her life in more ways than one. Grayson who is in for a crime he did not commit, executes the perfect getaway plan which finds Abigail being taken hostage and held against her will.

Grayson is the kind of hero that commands all your attention and nothing less. When Grayson first walks into the story, or rather strolls into it, you can practically feel the energy that rolls off him, the take charge vibe that would make the story unforgettable in its way. It is powerful how just the mere introduction of a character makes you shiver in all the right ways, telling you that he is going to wreak havoc on your emotions before he is done.

Abigail finds herself in uncharted waters when it comes to the effect Grayson has on her. Even though she tries her hardest to get away from Grayson and escape captivity, what holds her to him is far stronger than anything either of them can deny. While life would be much easier for both if their deeper feelings were not to be involved, neither Grayson nor Abigail can find it in themselves to walk away before they are thoroughly immersed in each other’s psyche, heart, and soul.

If I were to sum up what Prisoner was like in one word, I would choose “unconventional”. Prisoner is a book that stands out in many ways because I went searching for something that would push the boundaries of the norm we are all used to as romance readers and that is exactly what I got. I loved Grayson to bits, because he is unapologetically ruthless in a way that is all him. I wouldn’t have loved his character half as much if he had turned putty the minute he found Abigail and fell for her.

I also loved Abigail equally and as much. Her spirit and fire burns in a different way, but it is equally strong when it comes to the clash of wills between Grayson and her, which I am happy to report that both of them win, and so fabulously too. I loved how Abigail could make Grayson feel all those things that he never thought was possible and that in Grayson Abigail found what she had been searching for all her life.

Like I mentioned earlier, as soon as you meet Grayson, you know that he is going to shake you up. He might be a captive, but he is a man who makes his own rules within the four walls of the prison he is in. The minute he mouthed Ms. Winslow and left Abigail flustered in his wake, I knew that Grayson would be a character that would be devastating to my heart and senses. And I was so glad to be proven right in this regard.

There is violence in this story, so be warned. There are also elements that may not be well received by certain readers. But this is Grayson and Abigail’s story and I for one am so glad that the authors stayed true to their voice, both individual and collective, and let their love unfold in the truest way possible for them.

Definitely and absolutely recommended for those who love a ruthless hero, a heroine who ignites that fire within, and a story that leaves you breathless from want.

Final Verdict: There is nothing that anyone can say otherwise when it comes to Prisoner that would change my mind about its absolute remarkableness: a story steeped in darkness sucking in the light, designed to turn the pages!

Favorite Quotes

“We’re going to meet my friend in a secluded area.”
She gives me that look again. The flare of surprise—and a little bit of something else too.
“Why, Ms. Winslow, please. Mind out of the gutter.” I smile and sit back. The smile is there to put her at ease. Stone’ll want her dead. It’s going to be a problem.
Another pair of cop cars heads over the hill. “You just drive nice, okay?”
“Nicely,” she snaps.
“What?”
“Drive nicely, that’s how you say it. Not drive nice.”
Oh God. Nicely. Correcting my grammar even at gunpoint. I’m so fucking hot for her, I think I might burst into flames.

I bite the finger of the hand over my mouth. He swears and shifts his hand, squeezing my jaw shut. I grab at his hair, pulling, but the feeling between my legs is building; my mind is melting.
He won’t stop stroking me, won’t take his hand off my mouth, and before I know it, I’m holding on to his hair instead of pulling it.

He continues his circling motion as I writhe under him, pushing into his hand. He tightens his seal over my mouth, stroking slowly. I can’t stop arching into him, pulling his head into my breast by his hair, wanting, needing.
And suddenly I shatter with feeling. Sharp, bright, intense. It goes all through me in waves, this beauty, this wildness. I’m breathing hard and he is, too, and nothing matters except that feeling, pulsing on and on. His fingers stop as the intensity fades, leaving me boneless, because it was wonderful. Too wonderful. Too wild. An orgasm. I’m aware that I’m crying. I feel bewildered.
He shouldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t have liked it.

He parts my lips and slips inside. There’s a moment of hesitation. Do I let him? A rough sound of impatience vibrates from his lips to mine. His hand tightens on the back of my neck. He’s not asking; he’s taking. He takes my air and breathes it back into me. He takes control of me, and I can finally give in.
I can finally let go.
He rubs his tongue against mine, raising goose bumps along my arms. I never want him to stop, and as if he hears my deepest desires, he tightens his hold on me. One hand fisted in my hair. The other on my hip, pulling me closer.

Her hands tighten, and I shudder with pain and pleasure and a sudden reluctance. I want to jackhammer inside her and I want to draw a line in the sand that will keep me from her.
I want to hurt her and I want to protect her. Break her and shield her.
Determination fills her eyes, and my dick gets that much harder. “Why do you want me to slow down?” she taunts. “A little desperate from all that time in prison? A little dry?”
“Fuck,” I say, teeth clenched tight because her hands are moving even faster. “Yeah.” She’s racing me to the finish line, and she’s winning.

“What are you doing here?”
“What does it look like?”
“I’ve had hours to tell everything I know—what your friend looks like. The license plate.”
“Did you?”
“They didn’t question me yet, but—”
“Didn’t think so.”
“But you didn’t know that!”
He gives me this look, calm and sure. It’s as if I’ve been out there buffeted by wild ocean waves, and he’s a strong, solid rock outcrop. He’s sharp in places too—maybe touching him will rip me open. I don’t know how to feel.
“Why?” I whisper.
He kneels, putting himself at my level, and something like concern flickers in his eyes. “Because I had to get you out of here.” He closes his hand around my upper arm and pulls me up. “I’ll always come for you. You’re mine.”

Her lips part. Her lids lower. She’s going to drop right out of awareness, asleep and pulsing around my dick. I tighten my grip on her hips, and I slam into her hard enough to wake her up again. Her eyes open wide as she whimpers. Her eyes roll back, but it’s not the drug this time.
It’s pleasure.
I’ve found the place inside her that makes her body jerk and her thighs quake. She can’t even help it. I plunge my dick inside her, again and again, finding that spot, battering it.
There, there, there. Her mouth opens around a choked cry. I don’t think she could form words if she wanted to. She can’t ask me to stop, and that’s just as well, because I’m not going to.

He doesn’t ask why I changed my mind. Maybe he doesn’t care. He just pulls a condom from the drawer and slips it on. He flips me over, drags my hips up, and pushes a pillow underneath.
That’s the only warning I have before the hot, blunt head of his cock breaches me from behind.
My body opens to him, wet and soft and willing. My mind understands him, why he is the way he is. But it’s my heart that aches for him, wanting whatever shards of love he can give me, jagged, even knowing I’ll get cut in the process.

I put down the binder and back her up against the wall. Her eyes widen.
She knows what’s coming.
She wasn’t expecting this, and her shock just feeds my lust. My dick is pressing against my jeans. My dick has a lot of ego. It thinks it can burst through denim and shove up into her skirt and thrust right into her slick, warm cunt. It has the right idea.
I run my finger along her cheek. “I like it when you talk classification,” I murmur.

She licks her lips, and I realize she’s not going to answer at all. Instead her hands go to my jeans, unzipping and pulling me out. I shudder at the feel of her soft, small hands. God, those hands. I could come just like this. A few solid strokes.
She leans forward, and I hold my breath. Her lips press together. She kisses the tip of my cock. Kisses it. Like she’s fucking courting it or something. I almost come.

“Security council,” she says on an exhale, and I thrust inside her at the same time, forcing the words out. And I don’t let up. I don’t give her any time to adjust. All I have for her are bruising thrusts as I ride her from behind. I hold on to her hips, those lovely hips, and force my dick through her swollen flesh.
Her muscles clench around me. She cries out. God, yes, she’s coming in a wet, messy gush. I want her to make a mess all over the library, all over the pages and pages. I want her to smear the ink.
“Again,” I demand, fucking her harder, faster.

“What do you need, baby?”
She makes a sound like a tortured animal. I nip at her clit with the front edge of my teeth. She had to know this was coming, but she still cries out in surprise.
She likes me to nip her, to bite her, to hurt her a little—to make her feel. Her mom ignored and neglected her, but I’m the opposite; I can never get enough of her, and she knows it. Her cries echo through the room, through the open window, through the neighborhood of wrecked, unruly buildings.

My balls draw up. I’m seconds away from coming. I won’t be able to hold back, so I make the most of it. I grasp her hips and she wraps her legs around me. Then I lift and rock her hips in both my hands, jacking myself off with her cunt in the coldest, rudest way possible.
She’s spasming around me. Her cunt is milking my dick. Her arms are clawing me, holding me tight. Even her mouth has latched on to the skin at my neck, sucking me—and I’m not even sure she knows it. She’s a feral thing in my arms, drawing me into her pleasure, drowning me in it. I shout as my cock releases into her, mixing with her wetness. I grasp her ass even tighter and use her body to wring the last drops of come and pleasure from my body.

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Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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