ARC Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookseeingred
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: John Trapper
Heroine: Kerra Bailey
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 15, 2017
Started On: July 02, 2017
Finished On: July 25, 2017

“Two minutes after you knocked on the door of my office, I was fantasizing your mouth taking me.”

Seeing Red, the latest novel by Sandra Brown was amazing in so many ways. From start to finish, Seeing Red delivered a story of the kind that is rare in the genre today. Ms. Brown has always been an author that pushed the boundaries of “convention” that many authors safely stick to when writing their books. So it is not surprising that when a new novel from Ms. Brown hits the stand, I am always eager to get my hands on it.

Seeing Red tells the story of John Trapper, ex ATF agent, whose mundane existence of a life starts to unravel the minute television journalist Kerra Bailey comes seeking him for an interview to do with his father. Trapper had been just 11 years old when his father, Major Franklin Trapper had become a hero in the eyes of the country owing to his daring rescue of victims of a hotel bombing that had shocked the nation. Trapper’s life had changed drastically, so had Kerra’s, and it is only when their lives entwine at this point that everything starts to unravel.

Seeing Red starts off with an introductory chapter that blows one’s mind, and it does not let up from that point onwards. Taking the reader to the days since before the event and then beyond, Seeing Red delivers a story that goes deep into understanding the lengths to which a cult-like society would go to in order to protect an age old secret. From one harrowing experience to another, Ms. Brown does an amazing job of weaving the multiple threads of the story together to deliver a story that was mind blowing in all the good ways.

Trapper, oh dear Trapper; he is the kind of hero that Ms. Brown has perfected along the years of writing romance novels. I have always been a fan of her hard-edged heroes who do not conform to the standards of behavior as is expected by majority of readers of the genre nowadays. This is exactly one reason why I adore Ms. Brown’s books. Because they never fail to deliver a hero that is delicious, sexy as they come, and can talk dirty like the best of them that makes you quiver on the inside.

Trapper has his own vulnerabilities and scars that he hides. However the ingenuity in the buildup of his character lies in the fact that he hasn’t grown bitter throughout what life had dealt him with. Taking second stage in his father’s life from a tender age had definitely left its mark, so had how his career had turned out, all because Trapper had not given up on pursuing what he had felt was right.

When his path crosses that with Kerra’s, for the first time in a long while, he starts to give a damn, which of course makes him irritable and then some. However, Kerra’s unrelenting nature and her way of standing up for herself means that for Trapper walking away was no longer an option. Nor was standing on the sidelines and watching Kerra get hurt in the aftermath of the can of worms that she had opened up with her interview.

The sexual tension between Kerra and Trapper was off the charts, and Ms. Brown delivered on that exceptionally well. On the suspense side, with all the twists and turns that came, the ending and the revelations were explosive enough to make me go “oh my god” every couple of pages. Yes, it was that good!

Definitely and absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Seeing Red is Sandra Brown at her exceptional best. A good Sandra Brown goes a long way towards curing all reading woes.

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not him. I’m not noble, not a gentleman, not a hero, understand?”
“That wasn’t so hard to deduce.”
She thought the putdown would anger him, but he retaliated by gently placing his palm against her cold cheek. He brushed his thumb across her beauty mark.
“I noticed this right off, and the whole time you were sitting there in my shabby office, wearing your city get-up, acting all sassy and know-it-all, you want to know what was going on in my mind?” He ceased the stroking motion of his thumb, stopping it right on the small mole. His mouth lowered to within a hair’s-breadth of hers and he whispered, “Figure it out.”

“Why do you ask? Do you know him?”
“By reputation only. Everything I’ve read about him says he’s secretive. Keeps his business private. Shuns media attention.”
“All true. I had to finagle him.”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “That sounds like really dirty foreplay.”
She laughed, but stopped laughing when he slid his hand under her hair at the nape of her neck and turned them until her back was to the door. Leaning in, his lips skimmed her beauty mark on their way to her ear, where he whispered, “I’d like for you to finagle me.”
She didn’t speak a word, didn’t move, didn’t do anything except give herself over to his body heat and largeness and maleness and sexiness, the blend of which seeped into her like a potent restorative.

He moved his hand up from her nape to cup the back of her head and held it in place while their mouths opened to each other. During the deep and greedy kiss he worked his free hand under her top and into the elastic waistband of the baggy pants. He lightly ground the heel of his hand against her hipbone while his fingers curved around the slope below her waist. He drew her hips forward. She gladly went along with his subtle invitation, and their parts fit together perfectly on the first attempted connection.
He groaned, “Christ, Kerra. Please tell me I’m gonna get to fuck you.”

“You never asked what I was thinking.”
“When?”
“In my office while you were sitting across the desk from me looking all prissy and disapproving. Did you ever figure out what was going through my mind?”
Sounding prissy and disapproving, she said, “I didn’t want to know.”
He grinned. “I was thinking about your beauty mark.”
“That’s it?”
“Disappointed?”
“Surprised. I thought it would be something crude.”
“No. I was focused on your beauty mark, thinking it looked like a speck of dark chocolate and wondering if it would melt against my tongue.” He dabbed his tongue against it now, then a second time. “Hmm. Still there. Guess I’ll just have to keep testing it.”

“I might’ve been thinking about more than just your beauty mark,” he whispered. He shifted closer, covering half of her, and used his nose to nudge aside the collar of the tracksuit jacket so he could nibble her neck, then lowered his head and nuzzled her breast, rubbing his open mouth against the hard tip, taking love bites of it through her t-shirt, pushing at it with his tongue.
“You’d blush to know all the places my wandering mind has taken me. I’ve touched you, tasted you…” He wedged his hand down between them and cupped her sex. “…everywhere.”

“I want to take you like that,” he whispered as he dragged his open mouth down her neck to her collarbone, then lowered his head and rubbed his face against her breasts.
“I haven’t forgotten how you feel inside. I want to be there. In you deep.” His voice was rough and low, his lips aggressive against her raised nipple under her t-shirt. “It may never happen, but the mere thought of any other man being on you, in you…I’d want to kill him.”

Taking her face between his hands, he fused his mouth to hers, pressing his tongue deep, thrilling to the way she hummed her pleasure. He might have gone on forever just kissing her if not for a greater hunger that he must gratify or die.
He worked her top up over her breasts. Her bra was lacy and sheer and only half there to start with. The cups were easily lowered. He took a moment to cradle a breast in each hand. “I freakin’ love that,” he murmured.
“What?”
That they get so hard so fast.
The words were in his mind, but he didn’t say them aloud because by the time he thought them through he was already taking one nipple into his mouth and toying with the other, deriving pleasure from the pleasure he was giving her.

He dipped his head and sucked her nipples in turn, causing her to whimper.
Even during this love play, he didn’t stop pumping into her. He probably had been this hard before, probably as strained and blood-infused and lust-mad and unable to command the instinctual mating movement of his hips.
But if so, he didn’t recall it, because this was the only time that mattered. He wanted this time to be an exorcism and possession at once. Doom and salvation. He wanted it to be both carnal and sacred.
He wanted this to be the fuck Kerra would remember for the rest of her life.

His voice low, Trapper said, “It felt good, Kerra.”
“It did,” she whispered back.
It was simple, but, in its way, profound. He wasn’t one to make romantic declarations, and if she said anything now, it would be more than he would want to hear.
She was perilously close to letting this evolve into something that would leave her heartbroken. She was perilously close to becoming like Marianne. But she wouldn’t take back having made love to him. Not for the world.

He took her hands and stretched her arms above her head. Fitting her palms into his, he linked their fingers and began to stroke her inside. As before, he wanted her to remember this, because it would be engraved on his memory: the feel of her around him, the way she hugged his hips with her thighs, the sexy undulation of her belly against his, the sight of his chest hair dusting the hard tips of her breasts.
The kiss.
He kissed her, and, of all the other mind-blowing sensations, it was that of her mouth so greedily taking his tongue that caused his control to burst. When it did, she arched up and ground against his straining pelvis and brought on another soul-rending orgasm.

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

fantasticread

Review: Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverunbound
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #5
Publisher: Signet Book
Hero: Vishous
Heroine: Jane Whitcomb
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 25, 2007
Started On: September 13, 2016
Finished On: September 15, 2016

The fifth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series brings to us the story of Vishous, the bisexual vampire hero who is the son of the vicious Bloodletter, a vampire known for his utter brutality, strength, and barbarism. Vishous as a member of the Brotherhood, is highly intelligent, has a penchant for BDSM, and hunting Lessers is the one thing that he lives for. Vishous is also the Brother that is “cursed” with visions of the future.

When a series of events brings the Scribe Virgin to him bearing news of the most shocking variety demanding that he give himself up to be the Primale of the Chosen, Vishous reels from the bombshell that she drops on him. Being the Primale means that he become mated to one of Scribe Virgin’s choosing, his daughters who would grow up to become members of the Chosen themselves serving members of the Brotherhood, the sons who will go onto become members of the Brotherhood themselves.

That Vishous does not take the news well would be an understatement, and this is how Vishous ends up getting injuries of the life threatening variety and up on the operating table of Dr. Jane Whitcomb at the St. Francis Medical Center. What happens when Vishous wakes up with that streak of possessiveness for his mate running through his veins is what sets the ball rolling when it comes to Jane and Vishous.

Vishous has a past that is dark, as dark as that of Zsadist’s. Vishous is a hero that was adorable, someone who is sinfully sexy, commanding, and with a deep streak of vulnerability at his very core that even he is not fully aware of. His deep and complex feelings for his fellow Brother Butch and his wife Marissa aside, facing his past is something easier said than done, as years of abuse at the hands of his father has left its deep seated mark on him.

Though almost everyone who has read through the series had remarked upon the ending of the story, I was still taken aback by how it all ended. Perhaps Ward’s foresight into where she wanted to take the series was one of the key reasons behind Jane’s character ending up as she did. Having read stories further down the series since then and before writing this review has left me with that impression more than anything else, and it actually does make sense to me now as to why Ward gave that sort of an ending to the story. Jane’s character was just as lovable as that of Vishous, and I don’t think anyone could have asked for a more perfect fit for someone like Vishous than her.

As with all the books in the series, Lover Unbound is also not just the story of how Vishous and Jane get together. Rather, so many things happen in the continuing threads of stories within the main one. The fight with the Lessers that takes on different and more dangerous turns, the lives of the Brotherhood themselves changing within the context of what is happening around them, how the old ways are slowly becoming replaced with the new, and delicious tidbits about characters whose stories are to follow.

J.R. Ward is an amazing writer. Every single story I have read from the series attests to this fact.  I can’t wait to experience what she has in store for her readers further down the line in the series.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: With surprising twists and turns, it is Ward’s unpredictability that serves to be the strength of the series.

Favorite Quotes

With no warning at all she was tackled from behind, pushed face-first into the wall and held in place by a rock-hard body twice the size of her own. Her gasp was first one of shock, then one of sex as she felt V grind into her ass.
“I tried to tell you no,” he growled as his hand buried itself in her hair and locked on, pulling her head back. As she cried out she ran wet between her legs. “Tried to be nice.”
“Oh… God—”
“Praying’s not going to help. Too late for that, Jane.” There was regret in his voice—as well as erotic inevitability. “I gave you a chance to have it on your terms. Now we’ll do this on mine.”
She wanted this, She wanted him. “Please—”
“Shh.” He cranked her head to the side with a twist of his wrist, exposing her throat. “When I want you to beg, I’ll tell you.”

“Ask me what’s next, Jane.” He licked up her throat again, then clamped what she knew was a fang onto her earlobe. There was a delicious lick of pain, followed by another rush of heat between her legs.
“What’s… next?” she breathed.
“I’m going to get on my knees.” His head went down and he nipped her collarbone. “Say to me now, ‘And then what, V.'”
She nearly sobbed, so aroused her legs started to fail her. “And then what?”
He tugged on her hair. “You forgot the last part.”
What was the last part—what was the last… “V.”
“No, you start over. From the beginning.” He pushed his arousal into her, a hard ridge that clearly wanted in her now. “Start over, and do it right this time.”
From out of nowhere an orgasm came bearing down on her, the momentum carried forward by the rasp of his voice in her—
“Oh, no, you don’t.” He backed off from her body. “You don’t come now. When I say you can, you will. Not before.”

There was no prelude, no easing into what he did to her. It was his mouth. Her core. Two sets of lips meeting. His fingers dug into her cheeks and kept her in place as he went to work, and she totally lost track of what was his tongue or his goateed chin or his mouth. She could feel herself being penetrated between lapping drags, hear the sounds of flesh on flesh, knew the mastery he had over her.
“Come for me,” he demanded against her core. “Right now.”
The orgasm arrived in a devastating blast that had her bucking against the sink until one of her hands slipped off. She was saved from falling only because V’s arm shot out and gave her something to grab onto.

It was like nothing she’d ever known. It was sex to the millionth power.
And then she felt his gloved palm grip her shoulder. As he pulled her upright, he kept riding her hard, in and out, in and out. His hand moved up her throat, locked onto her chin, and tilted her head back.
“Mine,” he growled, pounding into her.
And then he bit her.

“You’re hard.”
“I am.”
She arched on the bed, the undulation riding up her torso from her hips to her breasts. “You going to do anything about it?”
He bared his fangs and hissed. “If you’ll let me.”
She moved one of her legs to the side, and his corneas nearly started bleeding. She was glistening at her core, and not from the shower.
“Does this look like a no to you?” she said.
He ripped off his bottoms and was on her in a heartbeat, kissing her deep and long, lifting his hips, positioning himself, sinking in. She was so much better like this, in reality, not a dream state. As she came for him once, twice… more… his heart broke.

“Watch me take you,” she said, running one of her hands up to her neck. When her fingers coasted over the remnants of his bite mark, V’s lips pulled back from the ball gag and his fangs elongated, digging into the red latex as he growled.
She kept touching herself where he’d bitten her while she rose on her knees and stood up his arousal. She sat on him good and hard, and he orgasmed as soon as he entered her, kicking deep inside, flooding her. He was still fully erect afterward, even as he stopped twitching.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

Great Read!(1)

 

ARC Review: Wildfire by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookwildfire
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fire, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Malcolm Gunnison
Heroine: Sophie Jordan MacDonald
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 14, 2017
Started On: January 28, 2017
Finished On: February 09, 2017

Wildfire is the 3rd book in the explosive Fire series, a spin-off from the delectable Ice series by Anne Stuart. Readable as a standalone, Wildfire tells the story of the Committee operative Sophie Jordan MacDonald who had made the blunder of falling for the charm that her target had exuded in spades, and marrying the monster with whom she had suffered for the past 3 years. Knowing that no one from her former life as an operative would be coming to rescue her as she had bungled up the mission in a major way, Sophie is counting the days until she can escape, that is until Malcolm Gunnison walks into her life and throws everything into a spin.

Malcolm’s mission is one that is straightforward. But the minute Malcolm crosses paths with his target’s wife, the whole operation changes its focus. Malcolm who is not given to feelings of the tender kind finds himself strangely fascinated by a woman he knows he should be able to walk away from. The fact that Sophie’s husband outlines his plans when it comes to her does not help matters. In fact, it pushes Malcolm and Sophie together in a way that makes the sparks literally fly.

Though Wildfire would not be my favorite book in the series thus far, it still carries the trademark Anne Stuart style in delivering a story that heats up and delivers from the onset. The one thing that irked me was the continued references towards how Sophie had been a rookie who should not have been sent into the mission that had changed her life so drastically. The repetitiveness of that particular statement almost throughout the book was a bit off putting to say the least.

Nevertheless, with Malcolm, Anne Stuart once again presents her readers with a hero as ruthless and delicious as they come. There is no turning away from the mastery he wields in the bedroom – well the bedroom comes later, but hey, you get what I mean. If you have ever read an Anne Stuart book, it is how she delivers bad boys of the kind that makes you want that keeps you coming back for more. That and the wit and charm she puts so effortlessly into her books. And she does not disappoint when it comes to Wildfire.

I loved Sophie as well. Her vulnerability and her strength was a combination that made me fall and root for her. The ending when it came was classic Anne Stuart as well. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Final Verdict: Wild is the fire that rages between two operatives who have no intention of falling in love. Deliciously sensuous in the way that only Anne Stuart does it!

Favorite Quotes

“Touch me and I’ll kill you.”
“You and what army?” Before she knew what was happening, he’d crossed that last bit of space, slid his arm around her back, and yanked her against his hard body. “Don’t be a hypocrite. We both want it, and it helps the mission. Man up, Jordan.”
It was a shock, hearing her maiden name for the first time in years. She could feel him, his hard cock unmistakable beneath his jeans, pressing against her stomach. “I don’t think that’s exactly what you’re expecting me to do.”

He was right. She’d wanted this from the moment she first saw him, whether she wanted to admit it or not, and his tongue in her mouth was the first claim—her response, the first acceptance.
His body pressed hers against the wall, and she felt him reach between them, unfastening his jeans, and she panicked for a moment, lashing out at him. He caught her wrists, holding them tightly together, and began to pull up her skirt. She wanted to shove him away, she wanted . . . she wanted . . .

He shoved into her, and she gasped, shocked at the unexpected size of him, the thick cock deep inside her, so good . . . so good . . . and she tightened her arms and legs around him as spasms of pleasure washed over her. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe, she just wanted to feel. She needed this to last forever, and she rode him, his hands on her hips, sliding her up and down on his cock. She threw her head back, wanting to scream, and he sank his head against her neck, his teeth against her shoulder, the sting of his bite sending her over the edge.

Another wave hit her, and this time she did cry out, a wordless sound of rich pleasure, and he pulled away from the wall, turning around, still holding her as he moved, in and out, his thickness a wicked torment, harder, deeper, until he was suddenly rigid in her arms, in her body, his breath rasping as he poured himself into her, punctuated by each jerk of his hips, and she let go, let go of everything, drowning in sensation, in him, in Mal.

“Move back,” he said hoarsely. “Please.” Her face was very still. She hadn’t touched him yet, but he could feel her long, cool fingers so close to him that he wanted to groan. “Why?”
“I want to suck your breasts.”
“It doesn’t turn me on,” she said in her cold little voice.
“Maybe you haven’t had the right person do it.”

He took her other breast in his strong hand, squeezing her just to the point of pain but no further, and she bucked again, letting out a tiny moan.
He lifted his head. “In case you ever find yourself in a position to make love to a woman,” he murmured, “you need to remember that breasts are different with everyone. A lot of women need gentle coaxing, almost worshipful attention. But more women than you’d imagine need a little roughness.” He pinched her breast, and he saw the reaction in her face, the dazed expression in her brown eyes. They’d been soft before, except when she was staring at him in rage, but now they were positively unfocused in reaction to what he was doing. “You’re one of the ones who need a little roughness.”

“Come in my mouth,” she whispered.
He no longer had a choice. His body bucked, and she held onto his hips, taking him in, everything, her fingernails digging into his skin, and as he exploded he thought he felt an answering orgasm ripple through her body as she straddled him.
She drew back, away from him, sprawling on the floor in what should have been graceless exhaustion but instead looked like pure sexual abandon. He’d climaxed, come hard in her mouth, but he wanted more from her, he wanted her every way he could have her, and this time it was for nobody’s pleasure but theirs.

She began to shiver, and he thought that if she dared to make any sound, she would have told him she couldn’t take any more, but he knew she could. That ripple of reaction was hardly strong enough to take her over the edge, give her the release she needed, and he kept up his steady pace, into her, deep, so deep, and he heard an almost imperceptible sound from the back of her throat. It made his cock swell even more inside her, and he slid his hand under them, finding her slick clitoris, circling it. She was shaking so hard he felt the need to hold her together, keep her safe, pushing, pushing, until she froze, a low, keening sound coming so quietly from within her, a sound more powerful than a full-throated scream, and he went over the edge with her.

She was beginning to stir, getting restless, and he knew she was going to pull away, and he wouldn’t be able to stop her, not without drawing attention to them. With strong but gentle hands he turned her in her arms, pushing her hair back off her face, and put his mouth on hers, kissing her with extraordinary sweetness. He swallowed her strangled sob, and she kissed him back, sliding her arms around him and pulling him close, so close, their sweat-slick bodies growing chill in the night air, and he wanted to say something, tell her something, but he couldn’t imagine what. So he simply kissed her, until she pulled away from him, disappearing silently into the darkness.

She wrapped her legs around his slim hips, her fingers tight on his shoulders as he moved inside her, steady, deep, and she wanted more, needed more. This was like nothing she’d ever felt before, it was sex, it was fucking, it was making love. Her heart seemed to flow through her body, into his, a total joining that beckoned her, frightened her, almost destroyed her. He was so big it hurt, a sweet pleasure-pain that simply moved her deeper into this dark, magic, scary place where there was no Sophie, no Mal, just them, sliding together in the murky light, and she felt another orgasm building inside her, deep and powerful, and she knew if she climaxed her heart would explode, and she didn’t care, didn’t care at all.

He reached down, caught her hand, and pulled it away from him, shoving her onto her back. He was going to leave her there, wet and wanting, he was going to turn his back on her and walk away . . .
The hell he was. He shoved her legs apart, moving between them, and thrust his cock into her so hard she cried out, not in pain but in fierce satisfaction. She was everything he wanted—she was nothing but trouble.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

Great Read!(1)

Review: To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktotastetemptation
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Samuel Hartley
Heroine: Emeline Gordon
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 1, 2008
Started On: July 23, 2016
Finished On: August 15, 2016

Though the cover on this book leaves much to be desired, the first book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers is one that delivers on all fronts. After a failed attempt at picking up a historical romance from another author, I just couldn’t wait to erase that memory from my mind, which had me returning to Hoyt, an author that has never failed me up till this point. A tall order, I know. She might even have replaced classical favorites like Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood themselves, all because of the way Hoyt crafts her stories that leaves me begging for more.

Legend of the Four Soldiers is centered around four soldiers who returns from war and a terrible incident that marks them forever. Battling with PTSD and worse, these are the stories of the happily ever afters these four soldiers find for themselves. In the midst of each story, true to Hoyt’s trademark, there is an element of mystery happening which makes the book that much more of a page-turner. Each soldier chooses a different path to travel to their ultimate destinations, and in doing so Hoyt once again finds a common theme between the enchanting fairy tale that she begins each chapter with and the actual story that unfolds. That is just one more reason why Hoyt has carved a notch for herself in a genre that is redundantly often overdone with stories that are taxing to read. 

Mr. Samuel Hartley the hero is not from London society, rather he is a businessman from Boston, one of the soldiers that comes seeking Lady Emeline Gordon on the pretense of hiring her services for his sister. But Samuel in reality is seeking the truth of what happened in Spinner’s Falls, to find out who it is that had betrayed their regiment in such an abominable manner. Emeline meanwhile comes off as snobbish and standoffish from the first moment Samuel seeks her out. Perhaps the reason being that Samuel triggers feelings inside of her that she had forcibly buried, never to resurrect, ever since the death of her husband. The scars that have been leftover from the death runs deep, something readers only come to know as the story progresses towards its pivotal moments.

Samuel comes off as someone rather average at first, a harmless soul if ever there was one. Hoyt created a mesmerizing character out of Samuel by revealing his true self as a man who is driven by desire of the kind he cannot control, an alpha man to boot, not willing to take no from the woman who holds his desires captive. Emeline would give just about anything to turn away from Samuel, but she finds herself in a vicious cycle of need that refuses to be denied, a need that sees her getting into one clandestine position after another with Samuel. 

Though the story was a tad slow at the beginning, once things started heating up, I could barely breathe from the anticipation that was coursing through me. I always love the fact that Hoyt never shortchanges readers on the scenes of passion that she so artfully crafts into her novels. They are gems to be treasured. Every single one of them. The way the passion between Samuel and Emeline exploded onto the pages was just as beautifully done. It was dirty, raw, explicit, momentous and beautifully wondrous at the same time. Every scene brings forth the tightly reined in passions of two people who are so well suited for each other, but one or the other is too blind to see it, or refuses to in this case. The number of quotes included in this review attests to what I am talking about.

Samuel’s stubbornly unyielding attempts at winning Emeline over mesmerized me just as much as the scenes of passion did, knowing that to win the heart of someone such as Emeline so well entrenched within the customs of the elite of society would find it hard to break out of the safe existence she had carved out for herself.

Absolutely breathtaking, the fairy tale as well as the story of the love that unfurls between Emeline and Samuel! No two ways about it. Recommended!

Final Verdict: A feast for all your senses; heart, mind, body & soul!

Favorite Quotes

She inhaled deeply and sat back, her face entirely hidden by shadows now. “What difference does it make to you if I do find your affairs to be of interest, Mr. Hartley?”
He smiled wryly. “Touché, my lady. I’m sure a sophisticated gentleman of your society would deny it to his death if he was moved by your interest, but I am made of simpler stuff.”
“Are you?” The words were whispered in the dark.
He nodded slowly. “So I tell you: I am moved by your interest. I am moved by you.”
“You are frank.”
“Can you admit the same?”

“Yes, that’s what I want. A civilized man. An Englishman who knows the rules of society, an aristocrat to help me with my son and my lands. We are perfectly suited, Jasper and I. We are as alike as two peas in a pod.”
She saw the hurt in his eyes. It was very subtle, few other people, perhaps no other person, would understand it, but she saw and comprehended. She was hurting him.
So she drove the knife home. “We will be married soon, and I will be very, very happy—”
“Goddamn you,” he growled, and then he kissed her.

She was panting, almost crying, her mouth working under his, their teeth scraping against each other inelegantly. There was no finesse, no pretty caress in their kiss. This was a display of lust and anger.
She could smell his skin. He wore no powder or pomades or perfume, it was purely him, and she was driven mad by his scent. She wanted to tear the coat from his shoulders, rip off his shirt and neckcloth and bury her nose in his naked neck.

“Samuel,” she moaned.
“Hush,” he muttered.
He was urging her legs apart, and one part of her mind was thinking that his position relative to hers did not put her in the most attractive angle. Then she forgot any doubts, for he was running his thumb along her crease.
“You’re wet,” he said, his voice deep and dark with male satisfaction.
She lifted her head from the wall and almost pulled away at that. How dare he take her for granted?
But he tilted her hips and then…
Oh, God! And then he licked her.

He swore suddenly, and then he caught her against himself, her bare back pressed to his waistcoat as his cock buried itself in her and began to spurt. It was an odd angle—and erotic—her feet on tiptoe, her legs wide apart, her breasts and belly bare and displayed, impaled on his cock. She heard him groan and reveled in his loss of control. He worked insistently at her bud, splaying his hand possessively over her cunny as he came inside her.
And then she did scream. Waves of almost painful pleasure coursed through her as she convulsed on his cock. He placed his hand over her mouth to muffle the sound, and she bit him, relishing the taste of his skin on her tongue.
Behind her, he caught his breath. “Little cat.”

“I may not be fully aware of all the niceties of your society, but I think that you won’t want that.”
Her mouth had fallen open during this arrogant speech, but now as he turned away, she found her voice. “How dare you presume—”
He caught her by the shoulders, making her indignant sentence end on a squeak. He bent his head and spoke fiercely into her ear. “I dare because you welcomed me into your body not a quarter of an hour ago. Your body rained your pleasure all over my cock, and I want that again.”
He covered her mouth. But this time his kiss wasn’t gentle or soft. It spoke of a man’s desire. He thrust his tongue into her mouth and angled his head so that his lips all but enveloped hers, and her silly body arched into him. She wanted this. She craved this. Intellect and reason fled her brain.

He lifted his head, but his gaze remained on her breasts. “I’ve been thinking of this all day—your nipples, bare to me and what I would do with them. I could hardly walk for the cockstand in my breeches.” His eyes flicked to hers, and she saw that his expression was almost angry. “That’s what you do to me—turn me into a mindless, hungering cock.”
She squirmed at the words, so crude and explicit.
His nostrils flared at her movement and she froze. “Hold them for me. Offer your breasts to me so I can suck them until you come.”

“Will this do?” he grunted.
She didn’t answer, lost in a sea of bliss.
He slammed into her and held still. “Will this do, my lady?”
Her eyes flew open and she glared at him. “Yes!” She clutched at his buttocks, trying to get him to move again. “Yes! Yes! Yes! Just move, damn you!”
And he complied, either chuckling or growling low in his throat; it was impossible to tell, because her eyes had fallen closed again.

She sobbed, helpless and angry, and more angry that she let her innermost feelings show. “Stop.”
He shook his head slowly, pressing into her again, his hard body causing hers to flower open, vulnerable to all the sensations he was making her feel. His eyelids dropped for a second as if he, too, were overwhelmed by what he did. Then he raised them and looked into her eyes. “No.”

He withdrew a fraction of his length, but she felt the friction as his cock pulled against her oversensitive flesh. Then he was bearing down again, grinding, grinding, grinding against her exposed clitoris, and she couldn’t stand it anymore.
She came apart, all the secrets, doubts, worries, and hopes that she had kept tightly bound to herself flying outward, free and unharnessed, exposed to the chill morning air and to him.
To him.
And she looked up in time to see him grit his teeth and tremble, undone as much as she, as he released his seed within her.

But he withdrew his hand from her suddenly, catching her about the waist and lifting and shoving so that her rump balanced precariously on a barrel. Then he was between her legs, and she opened her eyes to watch him frantically rip at his breeches.
“God!” It was a groan. He freed himself and thrust into her, huge and hot, in the same movement. “God!”
She sank her nails into the cloth covering his shoulders and hung on for dear life, wrapping her legs high over his hips. He jerked rapidly in her, thrusting again and again and again. Her orgasm had not fully crested and now it began anew on a higher, sweeter, almost painful note.

She tore at his coat, ripping it off his upper arm, and filled her mouth with clean linen and his shoulder. Her eyes closed in bliss as she bit him. She clung to him while his cock took his pleasure of her. He rode her hard, rode her until she wanted to scream, rode her until he grabbed the back of her head and kissed her, his mouth wide and gasping as he came, his great body shaking. She could feel the heat of his seed flooding within her. And she knew, even as she crested the wave herself, she knew.
This must be the last time.

He muttered something and released her nipple, catching her hips. He pumped into her in quick, powerful thrusts, grunting with each plunge, his cock hard and hot and long within her. His movements, his obvious desperation, prolonged her pleasure, and when she felt his warmth flood her, she was still in bliss. She fell against his heaving chest, his hand tangling in her hair, his breath rasping against her damp temple. She heard his whisper in her ear.”
“I love you.”

He wouldn’t forget her, his warm lady, even if he lived for six decades more. He knew that now, sitting by her cold fire. She would be with him all the days of his life. As he walked the streets of Boston, as he conducted his business or chatted with acquaintances, she would be the ghost beside him. She would sit with him as he ate, she would lie beside him as he slept. And he knew that when his time on this earth was at an end, his last thought as he entered the void would be of her.
The scent of lemon balm would haunt him forever.
So he sat a little longer, watching her sleep. All the days of the rest of his life stretched before him, and he needed to store up these few seconds with her.
They would have to last him a lifetime.

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Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverawakened.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3
Publisher: Signet Book
Hero: Zsadist
Heroine: Bella Soang
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 1, 2006
Started On: August 02, 2016
Finished On: August 08, 2016

“I was dead until you found me, though I breathed. I was sightless, though I could see. And then you came… and I was awakened.”

Let me just take a moment before I begin my review to thank J. R. Ward for telling Zsadists’s story as it is, without pretensions and bringing to us a character that is so very flawed, yet the best of the Brotherhood. Yes, the best. Fact that Ms. Ward could have dragged Zsadist’s story on as a secondary tale in the series up till readers were ready to go into a tizzy with wanting, something many authors tend to do when they identify with a character readers absolutely want to read about; the fact that Ms. Ward saw it fit to deliver this story as the 3rd installment in the series is something that at least I am eternally grateful for.

Zsadist’s story is by no means an easy tale to tell. Having been taken on as a blood slave by a woman that had kept him practically chained in the bed for her pleasure and violated him in every single way possible to do that to a person, well, needless to say Zsadist comes from dark stock. The only woman who had been able to shake him out of the deep and dark aura that surrounds him had been Bella, even be it for a brief moment, a daughter of a family considered quite high in rank in vampire lineage, something which makes Zsadist more wary.

Zsadist keeps himself apart from the rest of the members of the Brotherhood. He doesn’t feed as they, doesn’t take pleasure in sex as they do; he considers himself dirty, something to be left on the sides of the streets for stray dogs to come and pick on. But his twin brother Phury refuses to let him be so, but even his attempts to reach out to Zsadist gets him that far.

It is upon Bella’s abduction by a Lesser who had wanted her for himself that forces Zsadist to step out of his comfort zone and face all of his fears, one by one. Zsadist is relentless in his hunt for Bella, and once he finds her, he is the one who nurses her back, even if it kills him to see his body react in that “ugly” manner towards her femaleness. For anyone made out of lesser stuff than Bella, making Zsadist come around would have been an impossible feat.

I have rarely come across novels that feature sexually abused heroes. Heroines, yes, multiple times. Heroes, I can practically count the books in one hand. And one who has been violated to Zsadist’s extent? Never. Amazing is how Ms. Ward handled the whole situation so beautifully. Giving Zsadist the time to adjust, to face his nightmares, to learn that his responses towards Bella are inherent in him as a male warrior would for his mate for life. Bella’s utter patience when it comes to Zsadist, even when it kills her at times, the attempts Zsadist makes numerous times to push her away, Bella does hold on strong.

It was indeed an interesting facet of the novel to see Bella come into her needing in this novel, the first of its variety that has been described since the series began. Needing is the time when female vampires go into their fertile period, the need for them to mate so incredibly painful that there is no male in scenting distant to be unaffected by it. Zsadist had practically decided by that point in time that he would not be able to bed Bella and consider himself unsullied. What a glorious and healing experience did Bella’s needing turn out to be for Zsadist! And what an erotic experience for Bella, not to mention the readers! Not that it was easy for Zsadist to give in, but the nature of his beast didn’t give up until Zsadist experienced what pleasure is like, why mates would kill for their women and why bonding is such an integral part of vampire biology.

To say that I loved Zsadist’s story would be a grave understatement. I loved, adored and reveled in how Zsadist made me feel. There is nothing, absolutely nothing I would have changed in his story. Ms. Ward definitely pulled all the punches when she wrote Zsadist’s book, and it shows. Having read around 5 books in the series so far, I believe that a hero that could topple Zsadist from the position he is in my heart would be an impossible feat. I am looking forward to Rehvenge’s book however. And I believe I am not alone in feeling this way.

I recommend Zsadist’s story even if you are not a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The fact that Zsadist wanted to become a better version of himself before claiming Bella in the end just made me love him more! The little epilogue tucked at the end, the first of its kind I believe in this series, was more than enough to make this heart of mine melt. Just read the first three books. Trust me, it’s more than worth it!

Final Verdict: Raw and powerful, Zsadist’s novel is a stunning masterpiece by J. R. Ward!

Favorite Quotes

“Zsadist?”
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Relax your mouth for me.”
Careful not to crowd him, she propped herself up on her forearms and got in close again. His lips were shockingly soft except for where the upper one was scarred. To make sure he knew the imperfection didn’t matter to her, she deliberately attended to that place, returning there again and again.
And then it happened: He kissed her back. It was just the slightest movement of his mouth, but she felt it all the way to her core.

But then he frowned and looked at her. “Wait, I’m supposed to kiss you on the mouth first, aren’t I? I mean, males start at the top and work their way down, don’t they?”
What an odd question… like he’d never done this at all?
Before she could reply he began to move back, so she sat up and captured his face in her hands.
“You can do whatever you like to me.”
His eyes flashed and he held his position for a split second.
Then he lunged at her, taking her down onto the bed.

His lips parted, and his tongue led the way as he dipped down. His mouth was warm on her flesh, so very tentative, kissing, then sucking her nipple inside. He tugged, then ran a languid circle around her, then drew her in again… and all the while his hands stroked her waist and her hips and legs.
How ironic that he’d worried he wouldn’t be gentle. Far from brutal, he was positively reverent as he suckled, his lashes down against his cheek as he savored her, his face worshipful and rapt.
“Christ,” he murmured, moving to her other breast. “I had no idea it would be like this.”

“Bella, I don’t think I can stop. There’s this… roar in my head telling me to keep my mouth on you. How can I make this… okay for you?”
“Make me… finish me,” she said hoarsely.
He blinked as if she’d surprised him. “How do I make you come?”
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. Only faster.”
He was a quick study as he figured out what made her go wild, and he was ruthless once he discovered how to give her an orgasm. He drove her hard, watching her as she shattered apart once, twice… many time. It was as if he fed from her pleasure and was insatiable.

“Make love to me,” she said.
He moaned and started to move like a great wave on top of her, that thick, hard part of him stroking the inside of her.
“Oh, shit…” He dropped his head into her neck. His rhythm intensified, his breath shooting out of him, rushing into her ear. “Bella… shit, I’m scared… but I can’t… stop…”
With a groan he propped himself up on his arms and let his hips swing freely, each thrust nailing against her, pushing her farther up on the bed. She grabbed for his wrists to hold her body in place under the onslaught. As he pounded, she could feel herself getting near the edge again, and the faster he went, the closer she got.
Her orgasm slammed into her core, then raced throughout her body, the force stretching her out so she was infinitely long and infinitely wide.

As if he sensed what she needed, he twisted his body around so he could stay inside of her while giving her access to his throat.
“Feed,” he said hoarsely, his body moving into her and pulling back. “Take what you need.”
She bit him without hesitation, piercing right through the slave band, going deep into his skin. As his taste hit her tongue, she heard a roar leave him. And then the strength and the power of him washed over her, through her.

He closed his eyes, so exhausted he could barely breathe. He was flat on his back, legs splayed out, arms lying wherever. He’d been in that position since he’d rolled off Bella maybe an hour ago.
He felt like it had been a year since he’d come back into the room the night before. His neck and wrists burned from the number of times she’d fed from him, and the thing between his leg was sore. The air around them was saturated with the bonding scent, and the sheets were with with a combination of his blood and the other thing she needed from him.
He wouldn’t have traded a moment of it.

Bella eased up and slid the it inside of her. As beat as he was, he groaned in ecstasy. The feel of her was something he couldn’t he enough of, and he knew it wasn’t because of her needing.
She rode him, planting her hands on his pecs and finding a rhythm with her hips because he couldn’t thrust anymore with his. He felt himself gearing up for another explosion, especially as he watched her breasts sway with her movement.
“You are so beautiful,” he said in a hoarse voice.
She paused to bend down and kiss him again, her dark hair falling around him, a gentle shelter. When she straightened, he marveled at the sight of her. She was glowing with health and vitality from everything he had given her, a resplendent female who he…
Loved. Yes, loved.

“Go to hell, Zsadist. Go there right-“
He moved fast as a lightning strike, taking her down hard to the bed, tackling her with his weight.
“I am in hell,” he hissed, pushing his hips into her. He swiveled them against her core, that massive erection pushing into the soft place he’d just had with his mouth. With a curse, he pulled back, unzipped his leathers…
and thrust into her, stretching her so wide it almost hurt. She cried out at the invasion, but tilted her hips up so he could go in even farther.

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Review: Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofsin
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #10
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Valentine Napier
Heroine: Bridget Crumb
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 31, 2016
Started On: July 07, 2016
Finished On: July 08, 2016

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt, brings to readers the much awaited story of the anti-hero Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, who has graced many a story before as a very memorable secondary character. Valentine is the man who walks a fine line between good and bad, mostly moving in the circles of the latter, his main bargaining chip being information about the elite of the ton.

Valentine was featured rather prominently in Darling Beast and Dearest Rogue, only to “disappear” in Sweetest Scoundrel. Bridget Crumb, Valentine’s newest housekeeper who is ever efficient, seeks employment at the Duke’s residence for reasons of her own. Bridget comes on a mission to save her birth mother from blackmail at the hands of the Duke, a man she sees as darkness itself. Even though Bridget cannot find any redeeming qualities about the Duke in her search for the documents she seeks, she is nevertheless intrigued on a level that has her questioning her sentiments.

When the Duke finally makes an appearance, Bridget is thrown by the way Valentine goes out of his way to rattle her, to get a reaction out of her. And when Valentine requires the help of Bridget to get through one of the darkest times of his life, Valentine finds himself enamored by the anomaly that Bridget presents. A woman who seems so practical and proper in every single way on the outside, with a fire that burns and wants to soar on the inside.

As Bridget gets to know Valentine and his past, she realizes that there is no defending herself against the onslaught of emotions that catches her, tumbling her headlong into love with a man deemed dangerous by mostly everyone. For Valentine, who finds the concept of love abhorrent, any ounce of such an emotion brutally stripped from him by those who should have loved and nurtured such emotions in him, it is a rising tide against which he struggles, the need to call Bridget his own when Valentine is furthest thing from a sentimental soul.

Duke of Sin is a story that has a lot going for it. An anti-hero of the kind that actually could be cruel but goes and does things that are totally out of character for someone like him. I fell in love with Valentine the night he lay struggling for his life, his darkest nightmares colored by the evil that had been his childhood coming to light. I cried for the little boy that had been treated in a manner that would have taken a darker soul to a place from which he would never have returned. The fact that there was still good left in Valentine, as hard it might have been to see at times, a good that people hardly saw because he always does things for his own benefit, was reason enough to root for him.

Bridget is a woman who holds her own ground when it comes to a man who is used to getting his own way. I loved Bridget for understanding the soul starved for love that was Valentine’s, for being insightful enough to see that beneath all that beauty and harsh cruelty lay a heart that was capable of great love. Though Valentine might never end up being the gentlest of souls, and I would not want that for him either way, I loved Bridget for being woman enough to take him as he is, without hesitations when it came right down to it.

Recommended for fans of anti-heroes who love a scorching tale of romance and love. Hoyt provides all that and more in every single one of her books!

Final Verdict: In Valentine, Hoyt creates a hero of the kind we all fall for, regardless!

Favorite Quotes

He moved swiftly, like a striking snake. Once. Twice. Thrice.
So fast his hand was blurred.
Blood spurted from the footman’s side, but his eyes were still open.
Slowly he looked down at the mortal wounds.
And almost lazily Val slit his throat.
The thing that had been Cal thumped to the carpet.
Bridget gasped, her hands covering her mouth. Oh, God!
Val turned, still naked, still impossibly beautiful. Only the gore spattered on his belly, chest, and arm, marred his perfection.
He walked toward her and she couldn’t help it. She backed away from him.
He smiled.
Sweetly. Like a boy. The dagger still in his left hand. And caught her arm with his right hand.
“This is who I am, Séraphine. Naked, with blade and blood. I am vengeance. I am hate. I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.”
And he laid his lips over hers and pushed his hot tongue into her mouth and kissed her until she couldn’t breathe and it was only later that she found the bloodstains on her dress.

He bit at her collarbone, licked down across a breast and suckled frankly on a nipple, drawing strongly and suddenly.
She grasped for his head, off-balance as if she were falling, even though she lay on a solid bed. His hair was silky beneath her hands, curling around her fingers.
But then he pulled away, tonguing under her breasts, each one, and down her belly, pausing to mouth her navel, and then thrusting her legs apart, climbing nimbly between, and thumbing wide her labia.
She gasped. “I… wait—”
But he’d already laid his mouth against her flesh, licking her there roughly as if he did indeed intend to devour her.
She’d never… that is…
She screamed, thrusting her hand into her mouth to muffle the sound as she came hard and fast.

Oh, God.
He was doing something, moving, but she’d lost her bones and could only half open her eyes.
She looked up in time to see him kneeling upright, his eyes gleaming, as he ripped open his falls. His penis was dark red and angrily erect, standing to his navel. He caught her hips and pulled her until she was on his lap, then he bent and, without ceremony, thrust himself within her.
“Now,” he rasped, no grace, no drawl, no civility at all. “Come again for me now.”
And he pulled her on and off his cock, rotating his hips all the while, his eyes on her, watching, waiting, as if she were the last drop of water in a desert.

But he batted her hand away, replacing her fingers with his thumb, pressing down hard.
And she arched, screaming, the lightning blazing from her center, sparking through her limbs, flying out her fingertips.
She was incandescent.
He fell atop her, heavy and male, pulling her legs up around his narrow hips, and ground down into her, once, twice.
His cock jerked within her and she could feel every muscle in his body tense. He groaned into her ear like a man dying and then fell senseless and limp.
And as she followed him into exhausted slumber she heard his single word:
Mine.

She moaned, all warm, damp woman in his hands, breasts in his face, thighs over his legs, astride him like a female dragoon, and he wanted to inhale her. To drink her in and keep her.
Possibly forever.
He wanted to lick her cunt again, make her cream for him, make her scream and writhe, but the angle was wrong and he made a vow: no more baths before bed—they were just too much for his frayed nerves. Instead he drew hard upon her sweet little nipple and plunged his hand between her thighs.
She was wet. Oh, sweet, wonderful woman! She was wet already, slippery and soft and ready for him.

He worked the falls of his breeches with his other hand and freed his grotesquely engorged cock, weeping, pleading for surcease.
Raised her arse a little, placed himself at that hot, wet paradise, and thrust.
She opened her eyes as he pulled his face away, watching her.
He thrust again. The way was tight. Narrow. She was wet, but she hadn’t yet come tonight.
Her mouth opened, a strand of hair caught on her shining lips.
God.
He thrust again. Hard. And was home.
Burning fire surrounded him. He’d never be cold again.

He watched as she went up in flames.
Burning like an archangel, glorious, frightening, awesome.
And when he caught fire as well, when he emptied his loins into her furnace, in groaning, exquisite jerks, all he could think was this:
His Séraphine thought that deep inside him was a golden core—a good man who could be redeemed.
She was wrong.
And when she plumbed his depths and discovered instead a frozen hollow, she would do what she must.
She would leave him.

He braced himself over her, his golden curls falling into darkened glittering azure eyes, lines imprinted on his pale beautiful face, and gazed down at her with awful, terrible foreboding. “Death.”
She was falling apart under his assault, sparks flying behind her eyes, warm honey in her limbs, but she forced herself to meet his gaze, to keep her eyes open even as her mouth went slack with pleasure. “Life.”
His hips faltered, and his head rolled on his shoulders as if he’d been hit, as if he were in great pain, his lips drawn back from his teeth. He groaned, continuing to thrust, but more slowly, less gracefully, a man in his death throes.
And as she watched, he opened his eyes and gasped, “Séraphine.”
She answered as naturally as breathing, “Valentine,” and felt his hot seed fill her.

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Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofmidnight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield
Heroine: Artemis Greaves
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 15, 2013
Started On: June 27, 2016
Finished On: June 28, 2016

Duke of Midnight is the 6th book in the Maiden Lane series and by far my most favorite. Towards the end of Lord of Darkness, the 5th book, once again Elizabeth Hoyt makes a startling revelation, perhaps the most astonishing one at that since the series began. The identity of the 3rd Ghost of St. Giles, this time someone who is more driven by his own personal vengeance against those that had done him and his family wrong, a member of the nobility, not to mention a member of the Parliament itself; Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield.

Readers who have had their run ins with Maximus in previous books in the series would have been hard pressed not to be intrigued by all that he is. Projecting a cold and formidable front, the Duke of Wakefield is someone who seems to be as straitlaced as they come, his utter dislike or perhaps even hatred for gin and makers of gin something that is known all over the country. While Maximus works hard to push through relevant laws that could tackle with gin making, something which he believes most passionately is the core reason behind the decay of society, at night, Maximus dons the mask and costume of the Ghost and traipses through the worst of slums in London, in the hopes of finding clues that would lead him to the villain he has been pretty much searching for a major part of his adult life.

Artemis Greaves is a character that came into prominence through the introduction of her beautiful cousin Lady Penelope Chadwicke into series, for whom Artemis is companion to. Lady Penelope is someone who wants nothing but the best for herself. Thus, determined to have Maximus as her husband, Penelope embarks upon the quest with much fervor, which does earn her the attention of Maximus in his usual cool, aloof and calculated manner. There is no joy in a transaction which Maximus believes suites him rather well. There is no fire that burns in him to possess Lady Penelope, unlike Artemis her companion who makes him want to go into hiding with her by his side and forget the whole world.

Artemis gets under his skin without Maximus knowing of it, their interludes during the quiet hours of the morning on his estate grounds something that pricks and prods at him until his emotions are tangled up in need for none but Artemis. But Artemis is one with her own agenda to push forward. Someone who is ready to do anything for the freedom of the one man for whom she would lay down her whole life for, even if it means enlisting, bribing or even coercing the help of the powerful Duke himself to do so.

There are multiple reasons why Duke of Midnight ended up being my favorite of the series. For anyone who knows of my reading tastes, I am someone who is drawn to dark characters, a bit ruthless and driven by needs that they cannot control when it comes to the heroine in question, no matter how hard they may try. Maximus was that hero for me from the Maiden Lane series. Brought up to take his rightful role as the Duke, the responsibilities of being one are thrust upon him at a tender age when both his parents get killed. Maximus has to grow up overnight without having time to properly grow into the duties required of him. Thus makes Maximus a hard man, a man who is principled, a man who often times comes off as cold, aloof and removed from the rest of the world, an image that serves him well most times.

Maximus is also the only Ghost of St. Giles who actively continues his training for the role, having turned part of his home into a training facility where he subjects himself to grueling hours of training so that he is one lethal machine of brawn, intelligence and strong will, focused on getting to the truth behind the murders of his beloved parents and making those responsible pay.

That strong ironclad will of Maximus was something that I admired and bemoaned over in equal doses. There is something quite alluring about a man who knows his own mind, well, for that matter I love a woman who knows her own mind as well – but with Maximus, him being my favorite hero in the series, I am allowed to be a little biased. The fact that his attraction and want for Artemis clouds all his senses does not make him give up on what he has planned for his life, but rather, he wants Artemis on his terms, as hard headed and stubborn it makes him. But the beauty of it when it comes to heroes who are strong minded comes in their submission to the greater force of love for the heroine, which is an aspect I enjoyed in Duke of Midnight. The moments of jealousy which overtakes Maximus during the heady encounters with Artemis, the ones that makes him go all “mine” with sheer possessiveness – those were the moments I reveled in.

Artemis is a heroine who shone equally bright in the story. With a future that looked bleak, with nothing to her name but the goodwill of an uncle who took her in, Artemis’s determination to work against the odds nevertheless, to prove the innocence of her brother was something that resonated deep within me. Even her burgeoning feelings for the Duke is something Artemis is willing to sacrifice in order to see to it that her beloved brother is removed from Bedlam, where he is rotting away into an existence that would prove to be the death of him, sooner rather than later.

I believe that Artemis is the best fit for someone with such powerful emotions and desires as Maximus. She is able to get through to him in a way that no one else can, her ability to read him so effectively being a quality of utmost importance given how easily he can don on a mask that would show to to the rest of the world that nothing touches him, when in fact things deeply do. Artemis dares him to show to her that side of his that few would ever see – the one without the artifice that society dictates he wears whenever he goes out and about. That for me, was the beauty behind the union between Artemis and Maximus when all was said and done.

Loved it all, which is why I would recommend this book with the whole of my heart!

Final Verdict: Earthy & evocative, with just the right touch of erotic; scorches the pages & moves the heart.

Favorite Quotes

A shrill whistle rent the air. Percy, who had been trotting along beside them, lifted his head alertly before racing to Wakefield’s side. Bon Bon scrambled on short little legs to keep up with his new friend.
Artemis watched the dogs go and found herself staring at the duke. He was looking in her direction, and even at this distance he was commanding, almost as if he were demanding something of her.
She felt light-headed.
Then Penelope tapped him on the arm and he turned to the other woman to smile and make some comment.
Artemis shivered despite the bright sunshine.

Something quickened in him, rising, hardening, reaching eagerly for the challenge. She was no soft society lady. She might disguise herself thus, but he knew better: she was a goddess, wild and free and dangerous.
And a most suitable opponent.
He picked up Lady Penelope’s gloves and, unsmiling, saluted Miss Greaves with them. She bowed to him, equally grave.
Maximus turned to the house, thinking. He had no idea how he would do it yet, but he meant to best her. He’d show her that he was the master, and when she’d admitted his victory… well, then he’d have her. And he’d hold her, by God. His huntress.
His goddess.

Ridiculously, he thought he could feel his heart beat faster. Despite their antagonism, despite her threats to his equilibrium, he wanted to see her, and right now he wouldn’t examine why.
In another few steps he made the clearing with the pond and looked about. He could see the dogs milling a quarter way around the pond—even Bon Bon was there—but he couldn’t yet see her on the path.
And then he did see her and arousal went straight to his cock.
Artemis Greaves was in the pond, as graceful as a naiad, her skirts bound up at her waist, standing thigh deep in the sparkling water.
How dare she.

Maximus glanced away so she couldn’t examine too closely the expression on his face. “Who was he?”
“Thomas Stone. The son of the town’s doctor.”
He sneered. “Beneath you.”
Her gaze hardened. “As you so kindly pointed out, my father was notorious for his flights of fancy. Too, I had no dowry to speak of. I couldn’t very well be choosy. Besides”—her tone softened—“Thomas was quite sweet. He used to bring me daisies and violets.”
He stared, incredulous. What sort of imbecile brought such common flowers to a goddess? Were it him, he’d shower her with hothouse lilies, peonies overflowing with perfumed bloom, roses in every shade.
Bah, violets.

“What”—he turned and seized both her arms—“has gotten into you?”
“He’s dying,” she whispered furiously, trembling within his grasp. “I didn’t receive the letter until almost noon—because Penelope didn’t think it important enough to give it to me earlier. Apollo is lying in that hellhole dying.”
His jaw set as he searched her face. “I can have a carriage readied for you to return to London within the hour. If the roads are—”
She slapped him, quick and hard.
His head turned slightly with the blow, but other than that his only reaction was the narrowing of his eyes.
Her chest was heaving as if she were running. “No! You must go to London. You must get him out. You must save my brother because if you don’t, I swear upon everything I hold holy that I’ll ruin both you and your illustrious name. I’ll—”
“Little bitch,” he breathed, his face turned fiery red, and he slammed his mouth against hers.

“You come to a bachelor’s rooms—bedroom—well after dark all by yourself to give him a trinket you could just as easily hand him in the morning.” His voice was mocking. He wanted to break her suddenly. To make her feel the rage he did at the situation they had been placed in. Were it not for her history—and his—he might’ve courted this woman. Might’ve made her his wife. “Have you no care for your reputation?”
She stepped toward him until she was so close he fancied he breathed the same air as she and when she tilted her face up to look at him he saw that she wasn’t nearly as calm as he’d imagined.
“No,” she murmured, her voice a siren’s song, “none at all.”
“Then I’ll be damned if I will,” he muttered and kissed her.

He pulled back, his chest heaving, and looked at her angrily. “Don’t start something you mean to stop.”
She met his gaze squarely. “I don’t mean to stop.”
His eyes narrowed. “I cannot give you marriage.”
She’d known. She’d never thought he could—she would’ve sworn so had she been asked a minute earlier—but his blunt words were an arrow of pain piercing her heart nonetheless. She bared her teeth in a smile. “Have I asked you to?”
“No.”
“And I never shall,” she vowed.

She shivered.
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten when your fichu slipped from your dress,” he murmured. “Strange, for I’ve seen more immodest décolletages at every ball I’ve ever attended, yet I’ve been entirely unable to remove the thought of your breasts from my mind.” His gaze flicked up to hers, dark and enigmatic. “Your breasts and other parts of you. Perhaps it’s the very fact that you usually cover yourself so modestly in public that makes the unveiling that more anticipated. Or perhaps”—he bent and whispered in her ear—“it’s you. Merely you.”

He slid his thumb between her folds and found that nub at the top, pressing down as he watched her face. She arched involuntarily, the sensation singing through her limbs.
A muscle ticked on his jaw, his face stern and ruthless, as he pressed again, his finger finding her entrance and slipping in.
She bit her lip, staring back at him, refusing to break their gaze, wanting him to continue.
“God,” he whispered. His nostrils flared suddenly, and seemingly against his will, he kissed her.

She held her breath.
His eyes flicked open to look at her. “Be brave.”
She raised an eyebrow, waiting.
He grinned.
There was a pinch, a growing pressure. She tensed. It hurt. He was so big and she felt suddenly small and fragile. Was this truly meant to be?
He leaned down and brushed his lips against her nose. “Sweet Diana.”
Then he shoved hard.
She inhaled. It burned, but that didn’t matter. She was called Artemis, and a huntress could withstand pain.

“Diana,” he whispered. “My Diana.”
She touched the corner of his lips, and he opened, taking her thumb into his mouth, biting tenderly on her flesh.
She felt his belly rubbing against hers, the wet slide of his hard flesh in hers, the brush of his chest against her nipples, and she liked it. There was no pain now, only a feeling of closeness. Of animal intimacy. Perhaps she’d been wrong: perhaps this was the moment a woman was nearest to the wild animal: when she was without constraints or thought, no society telling her what she must do and what she must not. Free from civilization.
They were bound together in this primitive act.

She opened her eyes to find him watching her like a predator. Calculating, waiting.
He held her gaze, and she saw a faint smirk curl one corner of his mouth. The rug was suddenly gone from her lap, and then she felt the slide of her skirts up her legs.
“Do you remember that morning?” he asked, his voice impossibly deep. “You emerged from the pond like a goddess triumphant. You’d flaunted your ankles the day before”—he brushed warm fingers over her left ankle, making her shiver—“but that morning I saw the tender curve of your inner thigh, the sweet bend of your knee, the shy sweep of your calf. You revealed them as coyly as a siren singing a man to his ecstatic death—and you didn’t even know it, did you? By the time you reached the shore I was hard as iron.”

His thumbs rubbed slow circles on her hipbones as if to gentle her or maybe to keep her relaxed. Although if that were his purpose, it wasn’t working. She still held his gaze in defiance, but her breath was quickening as if she were climbing a staircase.
Abruptly he looked down.
He stilled, simply staring at her. He made no movement, but there was a wild possessiveness in his eyes that made something inside her stretch and purr in response. He wanted her. Wanted this part of her. She was suddenly jealous of any other woman he’d ever looked at like this. He hadn’t the right—they hadn’t the right. This look, his expression, this moment was only between them and no one else.
They were a universe of two.

His movements were sharp and abrupt as he drove himself into her again and again. He was nothing like the sophisticated aristocrat he was in front of others. One corner of his mouth twisted in a sneer, his eyes a glaring furnace. He used her body for his own pleasure, for his own need, working her up and down on his cock. He was little more than an animal now.
And she gloried in it. She—she—had driven him to this. Had made a man who captured kings and foreign diplomats with the surety of his eloquence quite simply lose his mind.
He pushed up with all his might, shoved to the hilt within her, and froze, head thrown back in an agony of pleasure.
She leaned forward and delicately licked the salt sweat from his lips as his seed flooded her.

He lay on top of her, his upper body braced on his arms but his hips and legs weighing her down. Trapping and holding her.
“You’re mine,” he said, laying his cheek against hers. “Mine and no one else’s.”
“Maximus,” she warned.
“Yield, Diana,” he whispered, parting her legs. She could feel the thick heat of his cock pressed hard on her bottom. “Yield, warrior maiden.”
“I’m not a maiden. You took that.”
“And I would again,” he growled. “I’d steal you away and keep you in a castle far from here. Far from any other man. I’d guard you jealously and every night come to your bed and put my cock into your cunny and fuck you until dawn.”

“Do you want that, Diana?” he muttered into her ear, his breath humid on her skin. “Do you want to be mine and only mine, away from this cursed world, in a place inhabited by just we two?”
“Oh, yes,” she said, her voice fierce.
He levered himself up. “I’d go a-hunting in the day and kill a fine stag. I’d bring it back to our hidden castle and dress it and cook it over a fire and then I’d sit you on my lap and feed you, morsel by morsel. All your sustenance would be by my hand and mine alone.”
She laughed then, for she knew he didn’t truly want such a biddable doll. She squirmed and turned in a sudden movement so that she lay facing him.
“No, I’d hunt with you by your side,” she said as she reached up to pull his face down to hers. “I am your equal, my lord. Your equal and mate.”
“So you are,” he breathed, and bit her lip.

 “Diana,” he murmured in her ear, licking. “Diana, you are everything I’ve ever wanted and shall never have.”
Tears pricked at her eyes and she opened her mouth to sob.
“That’s it,” he said. “Weep for me. Bear my pain. Take my come. For I can give you nothing else.”
And he thrust into her in hard, sharp punches, each movement striking against that place within her. She gritted her teeth and bowed her head into the pillow. It was too much. Too little. A continual assault against her senses.

He opened his eyes. “Never leave me.”
She shook her head, breaking free from his rein and rising like the huntress she was. She let his poor cock slip to the very mouth of her before slamming herself back down. She rode him. Her thighs were strong and lithe, her brows drawn down in resolute purpose, and her lips were parted wide in something very like wonder.
It was the last that made him move. Dear God, if he couldn’t have anything “else, if she was determined to hollow him out and leave him a husk, then he would remember this:
Artemis riding him like the goddess of the hunt.

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