ARC Review: Cold Malice by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldmalice.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #8
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Steve McKenzie
Heroine: Theresa Jane Hines
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 12, 2017
Started On: September 07, 2017
Finished On: September 13, 2017

The Cold Justice series is well into its 8th book, with Toni Anderson hitting the mark with each single installment in the series. That is what I call well researched books that keeps the pages turning and the readers coming back for more. And I have definitely been coming back for more.

Cold Malice, just like every other book in this series, takes on a prominent issue in current society. The rise of white supremacist movements in countries like the United States, putting into peril years of painstaking work into building more inclusive societies. Toni’s insight and the way she handles sensitive issues of this nature continues to amaze me in every single one of her books and Cold Malice was no exception.

Theresa Jane (Tess) is the one surviving daughter of the infamous Hines family, notorious for its extremist right wing philosophies that had turned deadly. With her younger brother Cole, Tess had found refuge in the kind woman that had adopted them, and had grown up trying to run from a past that seems to be catching up with her in a way that leaves her cold on the inside.

When Assistant Special Agent in Charge Steve McKenzie (Mac) comes back into Tess’s life, it is as if a ghost from her past has come calling, a ghost that she had clearly thought and believed to be dead in the events that had taken place that fateful night when the lives of the Hines family had met its ultimate deadly conclusion. A string of hate crimes is what brings Mac to the scene, an FBI agent who had slowly risen through the ranks to prove himself capable and beyond the trashy background from which he had emerged. For Mac, his career comes first and foremost, and if Tess still reminds him of that little girl he had failed to protect all those years ago, he would just have to deal with it.

With Mac in charge of the investigating team, it is one harrowing experience after another that pits Tess and Mac together, each having to rely on the other to get through. Trust comes hard for both of them, especially Tess who has always had to isolate herself from the rest of the world lest the truth of her background emerge and harm her prospects for a life of normalcy that she strives so hard for. For Mac, even though he is 99% certain that Tess has not one prejudiced bone in her body, it is that 1% that makes it hard for him to trust her on a level that he should, given the way he reacts to her at every molecular level of his being.

A killer with an agenda that targets the awakening of the slumbering beast, Mac finds himself running a race against time in trying to put everything together. In the midst of it all lies the searing passion that he shares with a woman he may never have forgotten, a woman who stirs his very soul and makes him think of a future other than that of one filled with ambition to further his career.

I loved Cold Malice, just like I have loved reading every other book Toni has written. Toni’s books come bearing interesting tidbits of information about what law enforcement itself is like at its heart, how painstaking it is to go through tons of evidence, especially in light of the world of information exchange that we inhabit today. Furthermore, the concept of “ghost skins” that I came across in this book was one that fascinated me. Extremist movements such as the white supremacists, going through the ranks of government service, embedding themselves deep within the system, until the time comes for them to rise and act on their twisted agendas. It is a concept that makes shivers run up and down my spine, the kind of meticulous and painstaking planning and patience that it would take for a group of people filled with so much hatred for anything that they do not agree with.

The tidbit on child marriages still being allowed in most parts of the US, more so than most people think also gave me a pause. We are all quick to judge when the lesser developed countries have archaic laws that allows these marriages to take place, that violates a girl in so many ways that it does not even bear thinking. Yet, the country that sits at the position of the leader of the free world itself has festering within, the kind of policies and laws that should have been done away with a long time ago, to protect the rights of every child. Perhaps it is a significant fact that even though the US ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995, it failed to implement the terms of CRC at home, owing to contentious politics within.

I loved both Mac and Tess. As a hero, Mac is a specimen worth salivating over. There is a vulnerability to him that he hides, and he hides it well. A failed marriage that has left its mark, a childhood that drives him to be the person he is. Labeled a sex god by Tess, he is very well worthy of the term as he takes the straitlaced Tess and teaches her how fun, and oh so good sex with the right person can be. Tess is a mass of contradictions unto herself. Yearning for the kind of closeness and love that she believes are possible only in Disney fairy tales, she never thinks for a moment that the man from her past that she had fallen in love as a child would be the person who would change it all. I felt every single scar on Tess’s soul deep within. It is amazing how Toni can craft characters that are deep and multifaceted as Tess. I loved her

Cold Malice is a novel done well, delivering a story that would stay with the reader for a long while. The subject matter alone is reason enough.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: There is no running from a past hellbent on playing catch up. Toni delivers an unputdownable read in Cold Malice!

Favorite Quotes

Instead of backing away, he lifted her up until both her legs wrapped around his waist and he positioned himself against her entrance. Then he held both her hands against the door and stared deep into her eyes as he pushed slowly inside. Her head went back as she cried out and her back arched.
She went blind as pleasure rushed through her.
He dropped her hands and grabbed her ass. She gripped his shoulders as he eased farther inside. Sweat beaded on his brow and ran down his temple. She tasted it on her tongue.

After a few seconds, she deliberately clenched her muscles around him again and he growled his approval. He started moving then, pumping in and out of her in long, deep strokes.
Dear Lord. It felt like Heaven. She whimpered at the pleasure that was flooding her senses. Every muscle in her body was trembling with need to race to that sharp edge of completion, but she wanted it to last, too. She wanted to go slow. And fast. And everywhere in-between. Mac changed his stance and she felt him inside her, touching a place that made her insane with want.
“Oh, God.” Her nails raked his shoulders as her body clenched around him. She wanted to be the girl from her fantasies, the one who asked for and got what she wanted. “More.”
“Is this what you wanted?” He drove into her over and over, holding onto her and thrusting deep at the same time.
“Yes.” She gasped. “This is what I want. You inside me. It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”

When her eyes closed he took over, gripping her hips, grinding her against him, gathering a handful of her hair in his fist and rearing up, trying to get even deeper inside. And he was the one in charge, in control, right up to the moment she put a twist into the way she rode him and he was gone. She cried out as his world turned black.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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ARC Review: Cold Secrets by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldsecrets
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #7
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas Randall
Heroine: Ashley Chen
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 31, 2017
Started On: January 10, 2017
Finished On: January 27, 2017

The 7th book in the Cold Justice series brings to readers a story that drives home the point that Toni Anderson is an author who delivers on all fronts where the romantic suspense genre is concerned. Every single book in this delectable series has been a hit for me, the subject matter that Ms. Anderson takes on in each of the stories being ones that are often difficult to write about with a measure of objectivity and impartiality. In Cold Secrets, Ms. Anderson delves into the world of sex trafficking, especially that of children who gets the short end of the stick where the fastest growing industry in the criminal world is concerned.

It all begins with the hunt for a little girl, where FBI Agent Lucas Randall finds himself going undercover as a john, the girl who is believed to have been kidnapped by an international ring of sex traffickers. The operation goes horribly wrong, with Lucas barely managing save his own life. Thus begins the hunt for a group of people who always seem to be one step ahead of the team of FBI agents allocated for the task, which is how computer expert and FBI agent Ashley Chen finds herself crossing paths with Lucas.

From the moment these two meet, there is an awareness that is almost palpable in the air. Ashley is someone who holds herself aloof and centers her life around work. She believes that the mistakes that she has made owing to wanting “normalcy” has cost her too much in her life and therefore has no intention of saying yes to the answering heat that flares to life deep inside of herself where Lucas is concerned. At first, Lucas is a bit skeptical of the talent and determination that drives Ashley. While Ashley herself is determined that this would be the case that would prove her worth to the establishment, she finds herself drawn deeper into a case that could hit far too close to the lies that has practically defined her past to a point.

Cold Secrets brings forth a multi-layered story, where as each layer is revealed makes the reader go a-ha!, just like that. I believe that that is part of the ingenuity that makes Ms. Anderson the master she is in weaving stories of the kind. The issue of sex trafficking as well as that of pedophilia is handled, both with the kind of sensitivity that won my wholehearted approval. Neither of these issues are easy to talk about, probe into, dissect and discuss. But I believe that in Cold Secrets, Ms. Anderson has definitely done a praiseworthy job of including the pertinent details without getting bogged down in the unnecessary when it comes to the story.

Being the geek I am, I especially loved the tidbits about the technological aspects that Ms. Anderson included in the story. Well researched is how I would conclude all the facets explored in the novel. Considering the fact that Ashley is someone who works on computers and has dreams of becoming part of the cyber-crime security expert team, there is a bit of jargon that needs to be handled in a way that does not bore the less tech savvy members of the readers community. I loved it all. The statistics, the intricate working mechanisms behind the DarkNet, and the role the Tor browser plays in all of it; all of that were intellectually stimulating to this brain of mine.

Another aspect that is part of the Cold Justice series is the way it delves into issues that relates to how the lines between liberty and privacy and the grey areas that agents often have to work around in order to nab criminals whose nefarious tendencies are protected by the letter of the law that they manipulate by using an army of highly paid lawyers. The fact that this requires painstaking work on the part of law enforcement officials, requiring them to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s is one that is at times frustrating, but then again, that is what the justice system is all about. I love how these stories sheds light onto all these aspects without getting procedural about the whole thing. That is one of the many reasons that I would always keep coming back for more where Toni Anderson is concerned.

Another facet of the story that I adored were Lucas and Ashley, both of whom I loved. Lucas is just so darn sexy and admirable in the way that he knows how to “handle” someone as prickly and difficult as Ashley, and I mean that in the best way possible. Lucas is light where Ashley is darkness in comparison. Lucas is open and frank in his interest when it comes to Ashley, but with her, it is a fact that she is constantly warring with herself to not make the same sort of mistake that could be costly as her past had taught her. Even with all that, the sizzling attraction that at times you could cut through with a knife makes it impossible to turn away from and that is exactly what happens to Ashley when it comes to Lucas. The sexual tension was done perfectly well, the scenes of passion just as much! The ending when it came, I could not have asked for anything better.

A job well done, Ms. Anderson!

Final Verdict: Ms. Anderson wows readers yet again by taking on Chinese organized crime & spinning a tale that hits all the marks!

Favorite Quotes

Yesterday, she’d kissed him. It was only fair to return the favor.
He dipped his head, captured her lips and she opened her mouth with a groan. It was like diving into sin and temptation. Heat and pleasure flared between them and made the frigidity of the night, the damp dirtiness of the alley, and the grim reality of the case, all disappear.
Her body rose to meet his and he dove deeper, tangling his tongue with hers, feeling the fervor of her response. He didn’t let go of her wrists, but his other hand tugged her silky shirt out of her pants so he could reach inside and cup those perfect breasts.
Lace scraped his palm and made him instantly rock hard.

“I like you, Ashley, or haven’t you figured that out yet?”
Fear entered her gaze and she turned her cheek away from his touch. “Please don’t.”
“Please don’t what?” he asked. “Like you? You think I kiss every woman I come across in the street?”
Ashley sent him a disdainful glare. “If either of us had had a condom you’d have gotten your reward for that kiss, and you know it.”
He was so close he could still smell traces of her arousal and it twisted his good sense. “I had my reward, sweetheart. Watching you lose it isn’t something I’m going to forget anytime soon.”

“Don’t be naive, Lucas. You don’t have to like someone to fuck them,” she snapped.
Her attempt to push him away didn’t surprise him, but it did make him angry. “You’re right. I wouldn’t have to like you to fuck you, but God help me, I do.” He leaned closer. “And after feeling you come all over my fingers I really want to fuck you. So keep that in mind next time you follow me down a back alley at midnight.”

His hands urged her on, harder, faster. And even though there were no spaces left to fill she still wanted more of him; she wanted to swallow him whole. He sank his fingers into her long hair, rearing up until he could graze her neck with strong white teeth. Still he demanded more, forcing her to keep chasing that edge again, but with him this time. He nudged her knees wider
apart and she sank even further down his length and cried out. He lay back on the bed and his fingers found her nipple and clit, pinching them both at exactly the same time and making her shatter. Her cries echoed off the walls.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: Her Dad’s Friend by Penny Wylder’s

Format: E-bookherdadsfriend
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Paul
Heroine: Rachael Holt
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 13, 2016
Started On: August 20, 2016
Finished On: August 21, 2016

“Not a single consequence occurs to me as I type out five little words. I want to fuck you.”

Her Dad’s Friend was my first experience of books by Penny Wylder and I believe that I liked what I read well enough to give other books by her a whirl. A taboo topic definitely, Her Dad’s Friend has the heroine Rachael Holt in love with none other than Paul, her father’s best friend since the beginning. Written in first person from Rachael’s point of view, the story is short, yet has enough emotional depth to it to make it one worth delving into if you are looking for something short and low on intensity. I needed this after reading so many Hoyt novels that had wrung me dry. So it worked well for me when I picked it up when I did.

From the bits and pieces that are revealed along the way emerges the picture where Paul has been a big part of Rachael’s life since she was a child. Rachael having fallen in love with Paul since she knew what that entailed, had been left with question marks in the wake of Paul shutting down his business and leaving town two years back. So on the eve of her 21st birthday, in a drunken stupor, Rachael does the stupidest thing she has done ever – drunk text Paul to reveal the depth of her need for him.

What follows is sexy in a way that makes your toes curl and your senses hum. Just the right touch of sensitivity is in place so that the story does not come off as a turn off. Of course, Paul being as hot as sin, having the patience and knowledge to show Rachael what being in bed with a mature man is like also helped take things a long way. But like many readers who have sampled this book, I also found that the issues that should have arisen from the taboo nature of their relationship were resolved far too quickly. Perhaps owing to the fact that both Paul and Rachael pretty much were in love with one another and willing to do whatever it takes to take that love somewhere gave it the justification needed. So in the end, I reconciled with that fact and loved the story for what it was.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Penny Wylder takes a taboo trope & gives readers a well balanced tale of love and sinfully dirty sex!

Favorite Quotes

“Sorry,” I say, squeezing past him. “I need to get a glass.”
When he tries to maneuver out of my way, stepping behind me, I press my backside against his groin, pinning him against the fridge.
“Rachael,” he says, voice low and cautious. “We can’t.” There’s no conviction behind his words.
He puts his hands on my hips as if to push me away, but makes no attempt at stopping me as I arch my back and begin rolling my hips, cradling his growing cock in the cleft of my ass.
He groans and leans forward to press his lips against my neck. “We shouldn’t,” he says this time.
Can’t and shouldn’t are two very different things.

“Your skin is so soft.” His low voice is just above a whisper. He kisses the corner of my mouth. “And you taste so good.” The way his lips just barely graze mine sends chills through me. We’re hardly touching and yet I feel him in every part of me. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how wet you got the night of your birthday. You smelled so sweet on my fingers. I’m dying to taste you.”
His words and the slow, sensuality of his voice opens a faucet inside of me and soaks my panties. It’s as if his words are a spell and he’s conjuring it out of me. I can’t take it anymore. Reaching up, I grab the sides of his face and push my lips against him. His mouth is so much bigger than mine and he’s forceful and demanding when he kisses me back. Though I’m no delicate flower, I feel dwarfed beneath him. Knowing that he can take whatever he wants from me, fold me in any which way he chooses, has me all kinds of wet.

The heady scent of sex fills the room, pushing me to the brink. My second orgasm rips through me with hurricane force. As my muscles start to contract around his width, Paul lets out a primal roar and unleashes his warm seed inside of me. We stay that way, locked together for several minutes as we come down. We’re breathing heavily. He’s draped over my back, kissing my spine, and then we collapse. He cradles me in a spooning position. I’m glad he can’t see the ridiculous smile I feel stretching my face.
He strokes my hair with his fingers, untangling the sweaty strands. “That was amazing,” he says.
I turn over to face him. His eyes are hooded, face groggy. “It was more than amazing.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: Cold Hearted by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldhearted
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #6
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Darsh Singh
Heroine: Erin Mairead Donovan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 31, 2016
Started On: April 29, 2016
Finished On: May 04, 2016

Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series has been an amazing ride so far. With each book, Toni manages to bring to the table a diverse cast of characters and stories that tugs at your heartstrings, while at the same time they deliver on themes that makes you sit up and take notice. Cold Hearted, the sixth book in the series checks in all those boxes and then some.

Detective Erin Mairead Donovan is persona non grata when it comes to Forbes Pines, a highbrow college town in St. Lawrence County. Erin earned her way into the town’s list of people to be hated with a vengeance when she had been pivotal in the conviction of one of the star students in the college for a string of rapes that had rocked the town.

When a double homicide turns up one victim with eerily similar methods of restraint used by the serial rapist, it shakes Erin to the core and makes her question everything that had been done during the prior investigation. Things get more heated when FBI Agent Darsh Singh turns up to assist in the investigation, who just happens to be the one explosive “mistake” in Erin’s life that had rocked her to the very soul.

With a killer on the loose, someone who is cunning enough to know the ins and outs of the justice system and able to manipulate everything to suite his needs, it is a ticking time bomb that Darsh and Erin have to diffuse, on top of their wild attraction for one another that just seems to burn hotter and fiercer the more they try to ignore the fact.

When Cold Hearted ended up in my inbox, it had come at an opportune time. As I kept turning the pages deep into the night, I realized that Toni had managed to defeat all my fears that had come to light when I had just stopped finding much joy in the books that I had picked up in the last couple of months. It had reached the point where I had been afraid that maybe the romance genre as a whole had ceased to be exciting for me. But Toni made me sit up and recall why I love reading romances, especially romantic suspense in the first place! So from the bottom of my heart Toni, thank you!

People might judge those who read romances all the time, but that does not change the fact that some of the stories that are crafted under the genre are exceptionally well written and well researched and teaches you a thing or two before you are done. Toni’s stories have a way of doing that for me – without fail. Which is why I will always keep coming back for more; because Toni’s stories work in ways most books fail.

I loved Erin and Darsh. Erin is all modern woman. Strong, resilient and stubborn to a fault – it takes a strong man to take on a woman like her. I fell head over heels in love with Erin the minute I came across the following bit in the book. At that exact moment I thought to myself, Erin is my kind of girl!

It might have been a sin in the eyes of the church, but the part of her that wanted to feel ashamed was quickly buried under a mountain of resilience and hard-won independence.
It was none of his damn business.

Darsh makes for the perfect match in that regard. He has his demons to fight. Neither is he perfect in what he is or does. He is charming, hot as a slice of sinfully good chocolate cake that you just want to consume a whole and wonderfully big hearted. He has his own demons to fight, but then who doesn’t? Neither Erin nor Darsh are picture perfect, nor are they meant to be. They work as a whole because they are human – and that is what makes these stories the emotionally well crafted tales they are.

Darsh’s past makes him susceptible in just the same way as you and I would be when it comes to emotional ground. But he was more ready than Erin to take that leap into the unknown, Erin who was more of a mess than she would let herself acknowledge. I’m glad that she found someone like Darsh who was willing to go that extra mile to believe in both of them, until she caught up, or rather was willing to catch up and be with him. 

As I mentioned earlier, Toni’s stories are great reads not just because of the romance and suspense element and the likable characters that they deliver. They are great reads because they are books that tickles your brain cells and makes you think harder and longer about aspects of society that you might not otherwise. 

We all talk about the justice system, how it most of the time fails society at large and how it’s just a matter of how good your lawyer is in spinning a good tale, which seems to be all that matters in the end. Toni was brilliant in the way she laid the story out. In this aspect, the way the villain is crafted was the masterpiece in my opinion.

Though he was the monster no woman should ever cross, the basis of his monstrosity is one that at least I can agree with. How screwed up society can be, how the system can fail you over and over again – these are things that happens in front of us all the time, things that we don’t take much notice of because it is not happening to us or someone we love.

Toni’s stories are great because they deliver the subtle and the not so subtle messages of failures in law enforcement, the justice system – the system as a whole and how people can actually make a difference, if they are willing to wade into the muck and try. For that alone, I would pick anything that Toni sees fit to write.

I recommend each and every single book in the Cold Justice series that has been written. Oh who am I kidding. I recommend every single story by Toni that I’ve read to-date. Because she is one hell of a writer, and she delivers a significantly different story every single time. 

Final Verdict: Here is a genius who gets each book down to pat every single time! Compels readers to keep the pages turning deep into the night, when we all should know better.

Favorite Quotes

Erin smiled and Darsh stared like a fool. He kept forgetting how incredibly pretty she was when she wasn’t spitting mad at him.
“I’m sure she’d appreciate that.” She stood, leaning a hip against the table, crossing her arms, revealing cleavage, badge and sidearm. His skin got tight. His neck hot. “She also tends to be swayed by pretty faces.”
He stilled. Raised his chin. “You think I have a pretty face?”
“No.” Erin gave him a smirk that told him she knew exactly what he was thinking before she gathered up her notes. “But she does.” With that she left the room with an arrogant swagger to her hips.

He wrenched at the sleeves of her shirt until it fell to the floor. She reached behind her for the clasp on her bra and he dragged it from her body and tossed it to the floor. And there she was, half-naked in his arms.
“We’re taking this very, very slowly.”
“No.” She sank her fingers into his hair and kissed him open-mouthed, before breaking away. “I don’t want slow. I want it hard and fast against the wall. Right.” She nipped his lower lip. “Now.”

He wanted to hold back. Wanted to treat her with reverence, but he was beyond slowing down. Her gaze met his. Urged him on. “Do it.”
Part of him wanted to curse her for reducing him to a rutting animal, but the expression on her face wasn’t sordid or dirty. It was lust and want and desire.
He held her steady and rammed into her, over and over, feeling her arousal build again, hearing her cries of passion as she crashed over the edge and his climax exploded and blew out his brains even as she pulsed and spasmed around him.

“You’re so beautiful,” she told him.
“That’s my line.” He rolled them so she was on top. Ran his hands down her sides and then up over her breasts, cupping their soft weight in his palms. She loved how he made her feel, like she really was beautiful. Slowly he started moving beneath her, small thrusts driving her insane with the need to take more. Stretching her, filling her, making her toes curl with pleasure but not enough to push her over the edge. The callouses on his fingers grazed her skin in a way that made her back arch. So good. She’d forgotten. She’d forgotten the long, winding path that could lead to the perfect climax.

“I can’t wait much longer,” he gritted out.
“What are you waiting for?” she gasped. It felt so good. So good.
His eyes heated. “You.”
He hit the spot that made her cry out again in panicked pleasure. Suddenly she was flooded by sensation, each nerve bursting like a firework through her body as white light exploded behind her eyes. His shout of completion chased her as she catapulted through some alternative dimension before landing right back in his arms.

He didn’t stop moving, just walked into the shower and grabbed the woman who’d filled his head with lust from the moment they’d met. He pressed her against the cool glass.
After a moment’s hesitation she kissed him, open-mouthed and sensual. Then she ran soap-slick hands over his back and shoulders. His body couldn’t get enough of her. His brain was struggling too. He lifted her up and her legs went around him and he slid home.

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

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ARC Review: Undecided by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookundecided
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Crosbie Lucas
Heroine: Nora Kincaid
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 04, 2016
Started On: March 25, 2016
Finished On: April 01, 2016

Nora Kincaid gets the wake up call she needs to get her act together, when shit hits the fan on her adventurous and party-going lifestyle that she had adapted to during her first year at college. Trying to make the change that would prevent her scholarship being taken away or worse, Nora decides to remove herself from temptations path and make changes in her life which includes moving to a new apartment that advertises seeking a roommate with the same qualities that she is interested in. She turns up only to find that the tenant seeking a roommate to is none other than her one-time drunken closet hookup and campus stud Kellan McVey.

While Nora definitely has second thoughts about saying yes, especially given her dislike towards Kellan’s best friend Crosbie Lucas, uber-jock and renowned campus party boy, the decision is made and she moves in. Things get interesting when Nora gets to spend more time with Crosbie and begins to see a side of him that he seldom shows to the rest of the world, a side that has her falling for him in a big way.

While the title of the book might make one think that this book delves into the love triangle sort of story, it does not. Crosbie and Nora are the couple that begins their journey on uncharted waters for both of them. Nora who has never had the opportunity to call someone her own, finds that in Crosbie, a guy who is sensitive, kind and sexy all in one. Which spells a lot of trouble especially given the secret that she harbors in her heart, forever scared that it might come out and ruin the very thing that has become precious to her along the way.

I loved Crosbie for a lot of reasons. He is considerate, a bit shy with a touch of cocky as well. Crosbie does not understand his worth, is unable to see what he can be and what he is to other people. In that sense, he is just like Nora, the girl who believes that she cannot do it all. That it is either the road to Hell or Heaven when it comes to her and that there is no in between.

The best thing about Crosbie’s character for me was his sense of humor. It was such a turn on and very endearing in a guy like him. The fact that Nora and Crosbie could have fun with each other even during the most sensual moments in the story is a reason why this book was such a hit with me.

Having only sampled Julianna’s book Time Served before, I had no inkling of what to expect from Undecided except the fact that this too would deliver a steamy book to indulge in. Because Undecided was so different from Time Served in a lot of ways, this book being a bit less of everything, however I think it worked for the story that Julianna was aiming for in Undecided. There are times when you need the angst-ridden stories to take you to the very peak of your emotions and then there are those times that you require something a bit mellow in contrast to tide you over. Undecided was that for me.

Final Verdict: Sweet & sexy, with just the right touch of angst. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“I have wanted to touch these for a long time.”
I laugh, surprised. “What?” I suppose I shouldn’t be so shocked: he’s a guy, these are boobs. It’s like peanut butter and jelly.
He reaches around and I feel his fingers slide under the bra’s lace band, undoing the hooks. “That first day,” he whispers against my hair, “when you showed up with that tight little sweater with the buttons on the front? I think about that a lot.”

He keeps his eyes open, locked on mine, as he unbuttons his own jeans and frees his erection. It’s too dark for me to fully appreciate it, but I see his arm move and know he’s stroking himself. He’d done this last time, too, and I never even got to touch.
“Let me,” I whisper against his lips. My hand replaces his we both groan. He’s thick and hot and hard, everything I want and need.

“Nora,” he murmurs, cupping my face and kissing me. Our chests press together and even through my shirt I can feel the heat of his skin, the rapid thud of his heart. He kisses me deeply, wetly, like it means something, and though I wanted to fuck him, my body has other ideas. Instead I shift and slide slowly, the movement slick with friction and heady arousal, reaching places I didn’t even know existed.

“I wish we had more time,” he mutters, tongue trailing over my neck, teeth nipping lightly. “And a door with a lock he didn’t have the keys to.”
“I know. I know.” I can’t think much beyond the hand he’s sliding under my panties, coasting over the skin of my ass and lower, down between my legs, finding the wetness that waits.
“Oh fuck.”
I echo the sentiment when one of his thick fingers pushes inside. It feels like only seconds before I’m clinging to his neck, my short nails digging into the muscles of his back as I switch between begging for more and swearing I can’t wait any longer.

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

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Review: Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy

Format: E-bookfightingredemption
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ryan Kendall
Heroine: Finlay Louise Tanner
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 02, 2013
Started On: February 15, 2016
Finished On: February 15, 2016

Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy is a book that came to my notice because it was featured quite prominently in the list of Goodreads Reader Choice award for 2014. I have this tendency to keep delaying reading certain books; God knows why. Finally, this February, I took the plunge and started reading, and I have to say even though I wasn’t as wowed like most readers who have voted for this book have proclaimed to be, I could definitely see where the appeal lies.

Fighting Redemption begins in a way that makes the reader believes that the ultimate worst has happened. But trust me, that is so not the case. From the moment Ryan Kendall returns home, having spent six years in the Australian Army, one look is all it takes for him to know deep in his heart that he needs Finlay Tanner like the very air he breathes.

Fin and Ryan’s story is one that goes way back into their entwined childhood. Ryan getting the short end of the stick when it had come to his childhood. Ryan had always held the dream of getting away from everything and forging his own path. But it comes at the cost of leaving Fin behind, the only woman who has ever mattered and who ever will.

While I could get the whole pain of his childhood that made Ryan the way he is, determined to leave it all behind even when he knew he would never be able to let go of Fin, I always have a problem with heroes and heroines who are willing to go the whole nine yards and beyond with the self sacrificial behavior. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I do get where most of them come from. But putting both their selves in pain that could have been avoided otherwise, and in the meantime ending up with the wrong people because of that and regretting it for a lifetime, those are things that makes me wonder whether the two of them even deserves to be together.

The pain of the separation and the angst of it all might add to the story. But just like certain tropes like heroines getting pregnant and not letting the hero know gets on some readers’ nerves, I guess this particular tidbit in romance novels raises my ire.

While I was not all that moved by how Ryan continued to oscillate between letting Fin be and wanting her for himself, I could certainly see why the story is highly readable in all aspects of it. My problem lay with how I felt watching Fin just give and give until she pretty much had nothing left to give, while Ryan continued to play yo-yo with her feelings.

In my view, Ryan seemed to love the army more – which was perhaps the reason why I had such a hard time loving him like most readers did. Fin was courageous, the kind of woman we call as strong, because they stand up for themselves even when the going is tough and do what needs to be done. For me, Fin was the reason I kept going. Fin in the end made the story!

Recommended for those who love strong heroines and military heroes.

Final Verdict: A soldier’s fight with forgiveness for himself; tugs at the heart!

Favorite Quotes

“Maybe you don’t, but I don’t get it. He was violent towards you.”
She huffed, her exasperation clear. “He wasn’t. We had an argument. You punched him.”
Ryan nodded, drawing in a deep breath of satisfaction. “I did, and I won’t apologise. Not for that, because I’d do it again.”
She stood in front of the armchair Jake vacated earlier that evening and sank into it. “We’re just going around in circles,” she muttered wearily.
He looked at her, drowning in the desolate green depths of her eyes. “I want you, Fin,” he finally admitted. “So damn much I can’t sleep from it. I lie in bed at night and I dream of my lips on yours, my mouth tasting every inch you. I want to fuck you until I go blind from it and even then I don’t think it would ever be enough.”

“Are you happy now?” she hissed as she grabbed a pair of jeans from the shelves.
His eyes on her ass, he muttered, “What?”
She threw the jeans at him and he caught them when they hit him square in the chest. “This. Us. Yes, okay? I want you. Is that what you want to hear? That I dream of you too?” she choked out. “Your hands on me, inside of me, and I ache too.”
Ryan took a step towards her.
“Don’t.” She snatched the jeans out of his hands and tugged them on.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured.
Fin turned, rummaging for a top. She pulled one off a hanger and tugged it on furiously. “You’re sorry. I’m sorry. Everybody’s sorry. Well it’s just one sad, fucking sorry situation, isn’t it?”

“Don’t say his name. Tonight you’re mine. If Ian wanted you as much as he fucking claims he does, he’d be here right now where I am, dragging out every last minute he could get with you.” Ryan’s hands slid down the small of her back and underneath the elastic of her panties until his hands gripped her ass. “He’d be the one touching you.” He leaned in and bit her earlobe sharply before licking it better and she shivered. “He’d be the one tasting you,” he breathed in her ear. “But he’s not here. I am. I’m the one touching you. I’m the one holding you, because you’ve never been his.”

She shook her head and wrapped her legs around his hips, squeezing him. “Fuck me, Ryan.”
Ryan drew back and looking into her eyes, slammed in again. “Nothing, Fin …” he breathed.
“Nothing?”
“Nothing…” he slammed in again “…has ever felt more beautiful than you do right now.”
Christ. He didn’t just love her, he fucking adored her. He’d give his life for her if he had to.

“I forced you to have sex with me,” she whispered.
He froze.
Straightening his back, he looked down at her, his eyes searching her face. “Is that what you think?”
Fin nodded mutely.
“That’s so far from the truth I can’t believe you’d even think it. I have a thick skin, baby,” he told her, his wide shoulders crowding her back against the cool tiles, “but you’re under it. You’re buried in there so deep it’s like I was born with you in my soul.” His eyes slowly ignited as he slid soapy hands over her hips. “When I’m near you I’m consumed by you—your smile, your eyes, your heart. Even though we’ve never been together, you’ve always been mine, and even if I never get to keep you, you’ll still be mine.”

He pulled away. “Turn around.”
She turned blindly, giving him her back.
“Brace your hands against the wall and lean forward.”
“Ryan?”
“You can trust me, Fin.”
Fin nodded. She’d never trusted anyone more than she did Ryan. When she did as he asked, he grabbed her hips, yanking her back further. One hand fell away, and then he was there and pushing inside her. A moan broke free and she didn’t even know if it was him or her.
With both hands back on her hips, he slid all the way in. “Oh fuck,” he breathed. “My beautiful Fin.”

Ducking his head, Ryan took her lips hard, his tongue thrusting inside her mouth and tasting her wildly. Tearing away, he looked at her for a long moment, his chest rising and falling heavily against her own. “I want to say I love you too, but it doesn’t seem enough.”
With a shaky hand, she brushed away the silky strands of hair that caressed his forehead. “Say it anyway,” she whispered.
“I love you, Fin. I’ve always loved you. Right from the moment you walked up those steps at school, you tripped your way right into my heart. I won’t ever stop. I’ll love you longer than the stars that live in the sky.”

“If you keep looking at me like that, we won’t be going anywhere except inside where I can fuck you hard enough to block out the entire world.”
Fin’s mouth went dry. The soft streetlight cast Ryan half in shadow, adding a dark intensity to the hard planes of his face. His wide shoulders and the tanned muscles roping his arms and chest were illuminated flawlessly. Her eyes fell to the waistband of his jeans, and her hands, now on his hips, eased the hem up slightly on his fitted shirt, baring a small sliver of skin. She skimmed her hand across his warm, taut stomach, letting her hand slide around his torso and glide up and over his back.
Fin looked up at him from beneath her lashes as Ryan shuddered beneath her touch. “I want you.”
He exhaled audibly, dipping his head and sweeping her lips up in his, their pressure hard and wild as her heart thumped madly. She dug her fingers into his bare skin and he groaned. “I want you too. All the damn time.”

Oh God, what this man made her feel. Even as her legs trembled, aching from their straddled position over his hips, Fin felt she could keep moving like that forever.
Ryan scraped his teeth over her skin, biting the tender skin before pulling free. Both hands now on her hips, he slammed inside her, her body jolting with the force as pleasure shattered her apart.
“Fuck,” she heard him mutter as her body clenched around him. Her eyes fluttered open to find him watching her intently. His lips were parted, his cheeks flushed, and when he came, all his muscles pulled tight as he ground his body inside her, growling her name wildly.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Eye of the Beholder by Emma Jay

Format: E-bookeyeofthebeholder
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Grayson Adams
Heroine: Sarah Dusenberry
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 07, 2011
Started On: January 08, 2016
Finished On: January 08, 2016

Eye of the Beholder is an erotic romance written in a historical setting. Sarah Dusenberry is 21, and her mother is desperate that she find someone suitable to be married off to. Sarah’s average looks and her strong willed nature makes her a less an ideal candidate for the gents of the ton when it comes to choosing a bride, which is the reason why Sarah spends her time at the balls glued to the wall, as if on the outside, looking in.

Grayson Adams, the youngest son of the Baron of Cricksham, is a man who leads a double life. A man who has made a fortune in painting and selling erotic art, Grayson has been feeling out of sorts of late, as if in need of a new muse that would get his creative juices flowing. A well placed advertisement gets Sarah on his doorstep, a woman who has intrigued him even before she turns up willing to be the model that he is looking for.

Fact that Sarah is a virgin makes it difficult for Grayson to act on his desires where she is concerned. But Sarah has no such qualms when it comes to the man whose touch sets of such wanton and wicked desires in her. As these two become entangled with want for each other which is strengthened by other feelings which none of them wants to put a name to, Grayson’s deception could end up being the obstacle that could break the two apart even before they can get started.

Eye of the Beholder has an interesting premise, which could have been really good if it had been a full length novel. I wish that Emma Jay would write full length novels like Two-Step Temptation which I loved so. I have always said in my reviews of her books that Emma Jay has the ability to draw a lot of emotions from the reader apart from the excellent portrayal of eroticism she strives for in her stories.

While the overall story worked for me, Eye of the Beholder had certain elements that didn’t, because it seemed a tad unrealistic for Sarah, a virgin brought up in a society that shuns wicked behavior of the sort to give up all her inhibitions, just like that, even though she had been seeking adventure for a long time. It was hard for me to understand where she was coming from because for someone who has never been exposed to pleasures of the flesh, she certainly was ready to give up all that societal indoctrination for the man who sends her senses humming. In a contemporary setting, yes, it might have worked, but with a virgin heroine in a historical setting, I just remained a bit unnerved by that.

All that aside, Eye of the Beholder provided me with the kind of read that I wanted when I picked it up. Something short that would wet my appetite for more!

Recommended for those that love erotic romances in a historical setting.

Final Verdict: Short and succulent enough to sink your teeth into.

Favorite Quotes

“Is your curiosity quite satisfied?” he asked, managing not to sound breathless after his orgasm, tucking away his cock as she wiped herself clean.
She lifted those dark eyes to him. “More curious than ever, I’m afraid. I can cancel my plans for tomorrow, return and you can show me more.”
“I can show you no more,” he said sharply. “You are a virgin, which is how you will leave me, each and every time.”
“But I want to know.”
“Then find a husband.” He tossed his own cloth aside and strode toward the door.

She didn’t have a chance to respond before he cupped his hand around the back of her head and covered her mouth with his. His lips were dry and warm before his tongue swept over her lower lip, sending sparks all along her body. He angled her head and his tongue probed her mouth for a moment before he straightened, his thumb still caressing her jaw. His ragged breathing dusted across her skin and for a moment she feared he’d walk away, but then his mouth was on hers again, harder, demanding, and his hands were on her skin, bringing her body closer so that the tips of her breasts rasped against the rough linen of his shirt.

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

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