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

greatread

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

favorableread

Requested ARC Review: Cold in the Shadows by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldintheshadows
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Patrick Killion
Heroine: Audrey Lockhart
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 24, 2015
Started On: October 30, 2015
Finished On: November 05, 2015

CIA agent Patrick Killion is on a mission sanctioned by the President himself, well, sanctioned to the extent where the President would have room for plausible deniability if shit were to hit the fan. Killion has been meticulous in his hunt, edging slowly towards the persons responsible for devastation that had rippled through his country when their Vice President had been murdered. All clues point towards the frog scientist Audrey Lockhart, who seems to project all the characteristics of someone well versed in the art of deceiving anyone who might be looking at her too closely. Or so Killion believes until he learns otherwise.

Audrey’s life as she had known it and the work she had been doing at the Amazon Research Institute at the Colombian rainforest comes to a screeching halt when she is attacked, leaving her life hanging by a mere thread. Killion tries to look on objectively at the “criminal” that he nurses back to health in the time period that follows, until he learns that Audrey is innocent by the time which he wants to, no needs to put as much distance between her and himself. Once the realization dawns that someone has been very clever at leaving tantalizing clues that points directly towards an innocent woman, Killion swears that he would do everything that he possibly can to restore whatever semblance of normalcy that he can to Audrey’s life, a woman who seems to have gotten under his skin in between being a patient on sickbed and running for their lives afterwards.

With the sort of humor that I haven’t encountered in any of her books before, Toni delivers a read that bears all the trademarks of a wonderful one. Killion races against whatever forces are working against him, while Audrey herself won’t stay put without willingly painting a target on her back to lure the very people who had gone to such lengths to frame her and do away with her. The plot twists served to be what made the story stand out and I believe that Toni has done an amazing job out of creating Killion’s story.

I immensely enjoyed everything about Cold in the Shadows. The suspense part was well done. I love a novel that can surprise me, all in a good way, and Cold in the Shadows did that and more. I loved this book that much more for delivering the angst factor, something that is missing in most books these days. The reluctance on Killion’s part to be in a relationship together with his strong determination not to make himself vulnerable to his enemies is as much a part of himself as his charm and considerable good looks. But with the very first encounter and onwards, Audrey changes all that, and breaks down the walls that he had perfected in a lifetime, with every moment they spend together.

Killion the name has always held a fascination for me, ever since after reading the legendary Anne Stuart’s novel Ice Storm, a book that I positively adored. The Killion in the Cold Justice series has proved to be as alluring in his own right, a character that has intrigued me ever since I encountered him in the novels prior to this in the series. Killion has always been in the background, biding his time for his own story, and what a story this has proven to be. Sexy, smart, ruthless and protective. The man is THE package even though he infuriates you as much as he makes you want him. And that I believe is the genius behind his creation. Killion’s wicked sense of humor got to me – big time! There is just something about a man who can give as good as he gets verbally, and that was a huge turn-on for me when it came to Killion’s character.

I loved Audrey for her simplicity, the fact she wasn’t one prone to theatrics, that she was brave enough to walk away and leave it up to Killion to decide where their “relationship” was headed towards. That, in my opinion, takes guts of the kind that few of us have. Beautiful, brainy and bold; loved the fact that she was insightful enough to weather the storm that was Killion. No wonder it took someone special like Audrey to penetrate that thick skin of Killion’s. The man in my opinion deserves nothing but the best and I believe Audrey was just that.

If you are a fan of romantic suspense and haven’t been reading Toni Anderson, you haven’t been reading right. Please go rectify that, as soon as possible. Thank you.

Final Verdict: Cold in the Shadows is the best book in the series yet – and I’m hoping, it can only get better. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Hey”—he hung onto the doorframe, clearly reluctant to leave—“what kind of costumes do frogs wear on Halloween?”
“You really think there’s a frog joke I haven’t heard? Jumpsuits. Ha ha.”
His eyes got a wicked gleam in them. “What did one lesbian frog say to the other?”
She shook her head. “Lesbian frog?” The guy was incorrigible. “Fine. I don’t know, what did one lesbian frog say to the other?”
His smile was pure devilry. “They’re right. We do taste like chicken.”
Oh. My. God.

Then something changed.
The air sizzled, the oxygen evaporated and it was suddenly difficult to breathe. What had started slow and languorous, exploded. He angled his mouth over hers, and started kissing her like he was starving, striving to get as close as physically possible. Her blood heated. The needy ache grew until she just wanted him inside her, right now, as fast as humanly possible. No foreplay, no teasing.

“I don’t want you to hate me.” His voice sounded rough in his throat.
“I won’t hate you—not for this anyway.” She gave a half snort, half laugh.
That made him pause for a second. He ran his hand up her body and his thumb found the center of her nipple with unerring accuracy. He scraped his nail over the sensitive flesh and her sex contracted, hard and sharp. “Might spoil you for every other man, Aud.”
God—that ego. “It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
His mouth dipped to hers. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

She leaned over to pluck a condom off the side table, ripped it open, and slipped it carefully in place.
“Keep your hands at your sides,” she told him.
He eyed her balefully in the darkness. “But I want to touch you.”
“I want to fuck you first,” she said.
She heard his sharp intake of breath. “Audrey,” he admonished.
“Don’t make this into something it isn’t.”

She increased the pace, and he rose up to meet her, his breathing changing, getting shallower and faster. She added a twist and felt him tense beneath her.
Then his grip on her changed as he gritted out. “You’re not there, yet, Aud.”
“I already came, remember?”
“Fuck that.”

She lost all control of the rhythm she’d established, she just held on as he pounded into her, destroying her from every different angle until her body convulsed and exploded around him.
“Hold on,” he warned.
He turned them so they were on the edge of the mattress and her legs were spread wide and he was driving into her, but she was coming again, over and over in endless waves that crashed through her so hard she screamed as she felt him climax inside her, sending even more waves of pleasure through her body.

He pushed inside her slick heat and wondered how the hell people stopped doing this? Why do anything else? She shifted beneath him, taking him deeper and at an angle that blew his fucking mind. Then she wrapped her legs around him, crying out, and all he could do was drive deeper and deeper until his world went white and the earth shattered and he roared out a sound as a corner of his brain realized that walking away from Audrey Lockhart was going to be the most difficult thing he’d ever done.

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

[xrr rating = 4.5/5]

Caliber SEAL: AMAZING READ!

Review: Love Bites by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-booklovebites
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trevor d’Laine
Heroine: Kay Erickson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 27, 2014
Started On: October 24, 2015
Finished On: October 28, 2015

My fascination to do with Maggie Osborne is something that I would never deny. From the moment I picked up her novel Silver Lining, there was no looking back for me. To me, Maggie Osborne is synonymous with novels that takes you to places where authors normally don’t. Her unusual heroines with their inner core of strength, and very real faults; they make for the kind of characters that you root for, from the very bottom of your heart. Every review I have done of a book by Maggie Osborne has always ended with me bemoaning about the fact that she stopped writing. So imagine my delighted surprise when I found that this book was released on Smashwords late September of last year!

Love Bites is Maggie Osborne’s first foray into romance of the paranormal variety if I am not mistaken. Because I have not read her complete set of novels, I might have missed out on other genres that she ventured into way before. That being said, Trevor d’Laine is the vampire in this novel, a vampire with his own talk show, delivered at night of course. His advertisement for a live-in assistant, a Renfield to his vampire, is what brings Kay Erickson to his doorstep and into his life.

Trevor is determined that he would never ever fall in love again. Years of loneliness that has passed since the bleakness that is his past makes him wary of taking that step. And there is that secret that he carries around in his heart, of why he became a vampire in the first place that would never make him want to take a step to reverse all of it. But all that changes when Kay begins to get under his skin in a way he didn’t think it was possible, and makes him lose perspective on what he has believed to be true ever since he turned into a vampire.

Kay lives in a bubble of her own making until meeting Trevor changes everything. Every single thing she has believed about life, love and lust takes a hike upon meeting Trevor. And that proves to be a game changer for someone as steady, dependable and perhaps a bit boring like Kay, but someone who yearns for adventure, love and passion of the kind that would blow her mind. In Trevor she finds all those things, but the danger that becomes all too real when it comes to the mission they embark upon makes the situation doubly precarious.

While I liked Love Bites, I can’t say that I fully loved the story or could accept where it eventually led me to. Perhaps it has got something to do with Maggie Osborne’s take on the vampire lifestyle. Vampires are made out to be characters who cannot stay true to what they are, because there are so many drawbacks to their lives, the soul deep loneliness and inability to love for one? I just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just stay the way they were and still be able to love, feel and whatnot.

The other thing was the gravity of the sacrifice Trevor makes to be with Kay. Obviously with all the “negativity” with which Maggie Osborne paints the life of a vampire, Kay didn’t or wouldn’t have wanted to become one. Why become one when the love that made you want to take that step withers away after centuries of being together? Revealing Trevor’s sacrifice would mean giving away a huge spoiler, but let me just say this – I cannot help but question whether or not Trevor would regret the sacrifice he made somewhere down the line. I just cannot help but sigh a little bit with regret over what could have been if otherwise.

I would say Love Bites has a “happy ending” depending on the way you look at it. Well, it was a happy ending in one sense. But in another, it just seemed an uneven happy ending to me! While Trevor was an absolute darling, I couldn’t bring myself to love Kay wholeheartedly. But Maggie Osborne’s writing? Absolutely magical in places where it mattered.

Recommended for fans of vampire romances. This one definitely has a unique take to it!

Final Verdict: Maggie Osborne’s take on vampirism. Definitely worth a look!

Favorite Quotes

Kay’s heart stopped as she stared up at him. He no longer reminded her of an impish boy wearing plastic teeth. This was a man. An aroused man staring at her throat, listening to her blood accelerate in her veins. His shoulders swelled, and his expression was sexy and dangerous and wildly exciting.
A great thrill of weakness spread through her limbs and she couldn’t catch her breath. As if her body had become heavier, her hips sank in the water and her toes found the bottom of the pool. She stood on shaking legs, breathless and unable to move, and gazed helplessly into his glowing eyes.
The desire she saw there set a match to her trembling body and lit her on fire.

The cool touch of his hands on her burning skin, the feel of his hard full thrust straining the thin material of her swimming suit, the mesmerizing smolder in his flaming eyes, the touch of his hand stroking her breast, all combined to render her frantic and helpless. Dizzy erotic hungers whirled in her mind, scalded her thoughts.
Gasping for breath, blood pounding, all she could think about was the desire that knifed through her like a hot blade. She wanted him to rip aside her swimsuit and plunge inside of her, wanted him to sink his teeth into her bared throat and take from her whatever he needed. She wanted… oh God, she wanted!

He yearned to taste her life, her soul, to drink her into him. He craved the rapture of fulfillment that her blood could give. Swept by passion, he saw only the thin tissue of rosy skin between him and the rich red blood that roared in his ears.
As he approached climax, his mouth opened instinctively and his teeth extended a final distance, a reflex beyond his control. His body shook with an urgent need for release, driven by an almost desperate need to suck and drink.
As his body erupted, Trevor veered away from her bared throat and he buried his teeth in the pillow beside her head. Trembling violently, he collapsed on top of her, pushing the torn pillow aside. Her arms stole around him, and she held him tightly until both of them stopped shaking.

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

favorableread

Review: Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane

Format: E-bookbehindthemask
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: The Associates, #4
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Hugo Martinez
Heroine: Zelda
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 18, 2015
Started On: October 01, 2015
Finished On: October 12, 2015

Ever since I saw a tweet from Carolyn Crane about the release of the 4th installment in The Associates series, I’d been hankering to read it. Behind the Mask is written using one of my favorite tropes, a hero who is dark and edgy, living in isolation and the heroine who comes along, understands him for all that he is & shakes up his life while she is at it. Carolyn Crane is not an author who writes fluffy romances, well at least the books in this series aren’t for the fainthearted. There is only so much of the lighthearted variety of romances that I can take. With the romance genre becoming increasingly filled with fluffy reads, an author like Carolyn Crane who can still stand firm in delivering a read of the sort is a heaven-send for a reader like myself.

Zelda the heroine is actually the silent founding partner of The Associates. A forensic botanist who had served in the CIA, Zelda had retired from the field given how her last mission had gone awry. She returns to the field by her own volition, given that it is her twin sister who would take the fall if otherwise. But things don’t go exactly according to plan and Zelda finds herself confronted with the image of the very man she had spent a better part of her career at CIA tracking down – the infamous Kabakas; a near mythical assassin whose prowess had been legendary.

Hugo Martinez lives up on the crumbling mountaintop villa with the beautiful blood red savinca flowers around his property, with the young boy Paolo that he’d rescued on a mission for companionship. Hugo is a hard man, driven to lead the life he lives after he had been “forced” into retirement. But Hugo is prepared to protect his precious mountaintop villa and surrounding village at any cost, even if it means the infamous Kabakas has to make a comeback.

Taking Zelda as the “captive” who would cook for them might not have been one of his brightest ideas, but then again, the way his soul recognized Zelda from the very first moment is one that he cannot turn away from. Zelda has her mission’s agenda which needs to be fulfilled, but the very thought of turning traitor to Hugo makes her want to hurt someone. The slow awakening of Zelda and Hugo’s awareness for one another, the events that propel Hugo to claim her – those were aspects of the novel that I absolutely could not get enough of.

Romance writing has become such a competitive genre that authors seldom write on those tropes that actually made readers like myself fall in love with the genre in the first place. Everyone wants something modern, something relevant to the current times, something with an edge to be the book they come out with. But there is nothing wrong with using a trope that droves of readers love and adding a twist to it that would make it relevant in today’s circles. In my opinion, the best of romances are those that are able to withstand the test of time. And I wish there were more authors who actually wrote romances as such.

Behind the Mask was a novel that I immensely enjoyed; if you can’t tell that already from the gushy bits and pieces you’ve already read from the review, I’m just putting it out there – I loved Behind the Mask! Carolyn Crane is an author who writes well. Her books are highly readable, her heroes are of the dark and tortured variety and her heroines are ones who can take all that darkness and then some. Hugo and Zelda’s journey towards the happily ever after was filled with dark and horrific moments that most readers might like to forget – but that is in essence what gives this book the edge that makes it the awesome read it is!

I loved, loved, loved Hugo. He is so lovingly crafted that it’s almost as if I could feel the proverbial key strokes that created and wrote him down for this book. Fanciful, I know. Yet, that’s how Hugo’s character came off to me. Beautiful. Lonely. Lost. Hungry. Lethal. And even all those words barely does him justice.

When Zelda was first introduced in the book, I thought that I wouldn’t like her overly much. I like strong heroines, but not the kind that tends to overshadow the hero in her attempt to appear as his equal or more. I was totally wrong in my line of thinking because Zelda turned out to be just perfect. In her vulnerabilities, the way she couldn’t help but be affected by Hugo, the way she actually wanted to and needed to make a difference in Hugo’s life. All that spoke to me on a level that had me rooting for her in a big way.

I simply love the fact that Carolyn’s books are dark. The dark of the variety that I adore. Loved the moments of cocooned intimacy between Hugo and Zelda, the time that gave them the opportunity to be drawn towards one another. Hugo’s bewilderment about feeling so deeply about her was adorable. The way he couldn’t keep his hands off of her just outright hot. And as the reader, I just couldn’t get enough.

To finish up, Dax seems like a fine piece of work to contend with. Can’t wait to see what Carolyn puts his dark and tormented soul through to give him a happily ever after!

Final Verdict: Beautifully savage in its rendition. Spoke right to my heart!

Favorite Quotes

“You’re okay,” she whispered, dipping two fingers into the cool salve. Gently she slicked it onto the pinkest, most inflamed-looking skin.
Much to her surprise, he allowed it. Maybe the pain outweighed everything else. He turned back to the fire, breath ragged, as she stroked the salve across his tormented flesh.
She’d thought of Kabakas as many things over the years, but never as a suffering being. Never as an old friend. So human, so compelling.
So fucking beautiful.

“Shhhh,” he said.
She gasped as he pushed his fingers inside her now, thumb stroking her taut nub. He would not take her; he would make her feel good. It was all he wanted now—just that.
He stroked her to a rhythm that matched her soft breath. He could always feel when a woman’s body became his, control switching over, pleasure building.
Mercilessly he drew his rough fingers through her tender folds. She felt like molten silk, and his touch was a tide, pulling her out to sea.

He grumbled about it being a long day, but seeing Paolo play in front of the fire, being a boy in a way that Hugo never had, it made him want to hold him, to care for him.
It was Paolo he wanted to hold, yes, but maybe, just a little bit, it was Hugo’s younger self.
Hugo left, holding his boy to his breaking heart. All these years. It would’ve been so easy to play with him.
So easy to call him by his name.

“He pumped into her slowly, breathing her secrets with his cock. “I’m here,” he whispered as he shoved into her, devouring her. She squeezed her pussy as he thrust, trying to make herself feel extra tight, trying to take over. But he wouldn’t go on autopilot. He wouldn’t get lost. He would stay with her. Keep her there, present and gasping.
“Corazón,” he groaned. He kissed her all over her face and neck as he fucked her.
He fucked her like he cared. Like he was fucking her instead of just fucking. Like a waterfall of dangerous feeling crashing right through her.

“Your hands. At the end.” She grabbed the back of his head and pulled him into a kiss.
Desire surged through him. He’d never wanted anybody more. He flattened her against the wall and kissed her, probing at the seam of her lips with his tongue, knife flat between them.
“Say it again,” she said.
“Zelda,” he grated out. “Zelda.”
He would say it forever, because she was no longer Liza. She was a warrior, his equal, and his enemy.
He kissed the side of her neck and pressed his killer’s body into her.
“Yes,” she said.
And he was lost.

This man, he was so beautiful. Her quarry for so long. “Kabakas,” she gasped, feeling the rising swell of pleasure.
With a wild, tortured look carved onto his harsh features, he pressed his thumbs into her windpipe, cutting off speech, breath. She tried to suck in a breath but it wouldn’t come. She coughed and fought, instinct taking over at last. He tightened his hold on her as he fucked her and choked her, thrusting on and on. The edges of her vision went hazy as she began to come. The orgasm swept through her like fire, filling her head with stars and shattering her mind. She was plummeting, spinning, dissolving into pure pleasure and darkness—perfectly blameless, perfectly free.

“Hugo—”
“Quiet, or I will gag you again. All day I have imagined taking you, making you come over and over and over.” Her blood raced as he pushed her head to the other side, working symmetrically. “When you sucked in my fingers, I imagined them inside you.”
He turned off the water and pulled her up by her hair.
She opened her eyes to see him behind her in the mirror, holding her wet hair, focused down on her with a level of intensity that felt frighteningly primal.
“And I imagined that I would make you come screaming. After that I would take you.” His words came out in gusts. “I can wait no longer.” The furrow between his eyes looked deeper, his cheekbones more sharp-cut, more ruthless somehow. Her killer, her lover.

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

awesomeread

ARC Review: Cold Fear by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldfear
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #4
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lincoln Frazer
Heroine: Isadora Campbell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 26, 2015
Started On: May 12, 2015
Finished On: May 16, 2015

Toni Anderson seems to have hit the mark yet again with her latest installment in the Cold Justice series that I’ve been hooked on ever since it came out. Toni has a writing style that seems effortless in the ease with which she draws you in, and creates characters that tends to leave their mark on you. The fourth book in the series served all that and more and I cannot say enough good things about it!

A homicide practically in the middle of nowhere grabs the attention of ASAC Lincoln Frazer, the head of BAU at FBI, for reasons that sends chills of foreboding down his spine, hoping against hope that he be proved wrong. While a girl killed in some seemingly random murder might not be Frazer’s usual cup of tea, it is the news that something more sinister might be at play that propels him to drop everything and head out to the scene of crime, to contain, control and find a killer who most probably has been killing for more than half his life.

Dr. Isadora Campbell (Izzy) serves as an ER doctor and is the guardian of her seventeen year old sister Kit who seems to test and try her patience at the turn of every corner. When it is Kit’s best friend that turns up dead, and the site of the murder is an all too familiar place for her for comfort, Izzy finds herself battling more than a guilty conscience when the sexy and all too commanding special agent Frazer walks into her life.

While Frazer has his work cut out for him to find a killer who seems to escalate way too fast for anybody’s comfort, it is his inability to compartmentalize as effortlessly as he has done in previous cases that makes Frazer flustered more than anything else. Thinking himself above emotions such as love and the need for things such as long term relationships, Frazer fools himself into believing that he can just walk away from Izzy when all’s said and done. And in the meantime, the clock seems to tick, ever more so closer towards the inevitable, and the secret that Izzy guards close to her heart might be the key to unraveling the entire case as well as the one thing that could break whatever fragile connection that has forged into life between Izzy and Frazer.

If you, as myself, have been a follower of the series from its beginning, you’d completely understand the fascination one might develop for Frazer. The man screams issues buried deep inside from that rigid control of his to the complete command and utter authority he holds over everyone else and if there’s anything that fascinates me in romances more than a hero who is anal about keeping people at a distance, I would be kidding myself. Frazer’s dark soul is one that reaches out to you, wraps its wispy tentacles deep around your heart and pulls with a force that does you in. Frazer certainly lived up to his image, but the icy wall around his heart which had been cracking under emotional pressure from previous books crumbles when he falls for Izzy, hard and fast. All sorts of deliciousness follows wherever Frazer goes in the story. And I enjoyed and soaked up every little bit of it.

While Toni does a remarkable job of creating heroes that you definitely drool over and then some, she also has this ability to carve out heroines that gets to you. Characterization is one of the most important aspects of writing any sort of novel, more so in a romance, and Toni has done a fabulous job out of creating Izzy, not to mention the great cast of secondary characters that gave the story the vitality it seemed to exude at the turn of each page. I definitely loved Izzy as much as I fell for Frazer. She is the sort of independent and intelligent soul who truly matches a person like Frazer in every single way and I loved her all the more for it!

Cold Fear is a novel that seeps with the charms and hazards of small town life. It is also one of the creepiest novels I’ve read by Toni Anderson. Creepy because I could practically feel the chills run up and down my spine, my heart jumped at the sound of every single creak and sway of the trees outside and I ‘blame’ Toni for all that because she practically transported me to the scenes of the story, each of them something I seemed to have absolutely lived through by the time I was done.

Toni keeps the reader guessing until towards the very end when everything just unravels at a pace where you can’t do anything else but hold your breathe and send out fervent prayers that those that matter from everyone involved would make it out alive and that they’d live to see another day. The kind of writing that gets deep into the psych of killers of the nature described in the book is nothing short of fascinating, and I loved every minute of the creepy utterly stalked vibes I got out of reading this jewel of a novel. The only thing I wished for? The fulfillment of the against the wall sex fantasy that I wished had materialized, especially when the man in question is Frazer, someone who prizes his control over everything else. Here’s hoping Killion’s story is up next!

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Soul chillingly good! Ms. Anderson nails it. Every. Single. Time!

Favorite Quotes

She walked into the cottage with every nerve in her body feeling like it was raw and exposed. Holding his gaze, she closed the door softly behind her. “I could make you something to eat—”
“I don’t want anything to eat, Dr. Campbell. Unless it’s you.”
Oh, God. She ached. Between her legs. Under her ribcage. In all the small places around her body that hadn’t felt a man’s touch in so long she couldn’t even remember. Time to make a decision and either be honest about this or get the hell out.
“Then I’m thinking this is probably a booty call, ASAC Frazer.” Her eyes met his. “But before we get naked, I do need to know your first name.”

She didn’t push him away.
Instead she opened her mouth and kissed him back, pulling him toward her by his lapels. It was all the permission he needed and he turned them around and walked her backward down the corridor. Her fingers began to undo his shirt buttons and the desire he’d been fighting since he’d first seen her standing on that windswept beach, oblivious to the effect she had on men, burst free.

“You feel amazing,” she said.
Christ, how could she talk? He couldn’t form a single coherent word let alone an entire sentence. She rode him slow and then she rode him fast and he held onto his control by a whisper as her fingers bit into his chest and her face turned toward the ceiling and inner muscles contracted around him, driving him to the very edge.

She wrapped her legs around his waist, digging her heels into his ass as she started to climax again. He held onto her hips as she writhed and twisted, smooth muscles and soft skin feeling like silk against his fingers.
His own release snapped at the base of his spine as her inner muscles milked him until finally his hips were bucking into her and he flew off that cliff, spinning over the edge into blinding light that made pleasure screech along every neuron.
Holy crap.

He wasn’t bulky, which was why he looked so good in a suit. But he was muscled and lean, golden hair sprinkled sparingly over his chest. He shucked his pants and hung them over the back of the chair—ever the federal agent. His legs were solid and strong, an impressive erection tenting the front of his boxers in a way that made her insides clench. The image of him, pinning her to the wall and fucking her blind flashed through her brain.
“What were you thinking about?” he asked carefully.
She smiled. “Sex. Against the wall.”
“Put it on the wish list.”
“Wish list?”
“Your wish list. Today we’re working on my wish list.”

“Please,” she begged. “I want you inside me.”
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
“The narcotics just kicked in. You’re hurting me by not being inside me.”
“So now you’re high? No.”
“Not high. Happy.” She gripped his shoulders. “Trust me, the only pain I’m feeling is unsatisfied lust for your exceptional body.”
He planted his hands either side of her head. “Unsatisfied?” he queried.
“Unsatisfied-ish,” she qualified before pulling him down for a kiss, and tasting herself on his lips.
He pulled back, and one side of his mouth quirked. “Exceptional, huh?”
She traced his features with a fingertip. “Magnificent.”

With no warning he slid inside her, curling his body protectively over her back, but giving her none of his weight.
It felt amazing. She felt wrapped up in him, filled by him, mesmerized by his strong body, his clean fresh scent, his healing heat.
Then he held her hips again, moving slowly, gently, but going deep, touching her just there and that feeling of wonder spiraled tighter and tighter inside her, contracting down until all that mattered was the friction of his flesh dragging against hers. His hand slipped down between her folds to touch her and she was spinning again, out of control, extraterrestrial, outer space, flying and cartwheeling all the way to Mars. He joined her, shuddered and cried out.

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

awesomeread

Requested Review: Wildsmith by J. J. Sachs

Format: E-bookwildsmith.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Series: Untitled, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Jason Wildsmith
Heroine: Lucy Albright
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 18, 2014
Started On: December 21, 2014
Finished On: December 21, 2014

Wildsmith by J.J. Sachs is a novel that took me completely by surprise, in a wonderful way. Lucy Albright is having a hard time with her boyfriend Kieran James, the best looking guy in the university, who should have been able to knock her socks off and then some. But time and yet again, Lucy finds herself frustrated, left hanging too many times to count and on the verge of screaming herself hoarse from the sheer frustration of it all.

When Lucy’s new professor Doctor Jason Wildsmith revvs her engines in more ways than one, Lucy is at first wary though excitement tinges along with it. The intensity that is Wildsmith is one that Lucy is hardpressed to ignore and finally, Lucy decides to give in and test the waters where Wildsmith is concerned.

What follows is one of the most erotic and mind melting variety of sex scenes with a touch of BDSM that made me go yowza in several places. Wildsmith and the control that he exerts on himself and the sex scenese fraught with tension plus the mindless pleasure that he gives Lucy is one that is addictive; even to the reader. Wildsmith, the name itself conjurs something wild, his bad boy past and the educated mind of his with his “reformed” self one that is damn near IRRESISTIBLE!

The ending when it came was one that made me want to howl. I so wanted the story to be done in one book, but the fact that this is the debut book in a series meant that I had to go through the agonizing end and weep over what both Lucy and Wildsmith has to go through to hopefully come out stronger and united when the series is through.

The one thing I did love about the ending though was the fact that Lucy gained enough self confidence to take charge of her sexuality. And though I did love Lucy’s dominant side towards the end, I do wonder how that is going to work with Wildsmith. Somehow I have a hard time conjuring up two dominants together. Even then I couldn’t help but mourn for Wildsmithm, the man who has entered my heart and I don’t think that there is going to be any other for either Lucy or me!

Definitely recommended! I am definitely going stir crazy with curiosity over how J.J. Sachs is going to turn around the story now!

Final Verdict: Erotica that sizzles through the nerve endings; Wildsmith makes the heart pound.

Favorite Quotes

She had gone less than ten yards when he heard the sound of running feet. A hand fell on her shoulder, whirling her round. Arms wrapped around her, and Wildsmith’s mouth fell on hers. With a hunger she hadn’t known she possessed, she answered his kiss.

And still he went on. All restraint gone, he allowed her legs to fall open and grabbed her hips. Hair falling across his eyes, growling with his own pleasure, he pounded his cock into her, pulling on her hips to make sure she took every last millimetre.
She cried out again as a fresh wave of orgasm shattered her, almost weeping as he fucked her with rough, animal wildness.

“Open your eyes, Lucy. I want you to watch this in the mirror.”
She obeyed, instantly.
“You will learn to control yourself,” Wildsmith continued. “Now I am going to fuck you. If you make a single sound, or move, until I give you permission, I will stop and this session will be over.”
How can he be so fucking cruel?
The thought was blown away in a hurricane as Wildsmith gripped her hips and pushed into her.

Fearing to move in case he stopped completely, she could only bite her lip in frustration as he entered her millimetre by frustrating millimetre. Breathing ragged, she fixed her eyes on the image in the mirror to distract herself. The reflection she saw there just made her need worse: Wildsmith rising above her naked body, hair hanging over his face; candlelight gleaming on his skin; jeans hanging open. Her own eyes were fierce and wild; the collar still around her neck making her look like an animal.

Her orgasm was instantaneous; the howl that wrenched from her throat as she arched her back and lifted her head, primal. Her body shuddered and shuddered again, as Wildsmith’s driving shaft finally brought release. Lucy could no longer tell pain and pleasure apart. Every part of her was caught up in a blossoming explosion that ripped through her, touching off fresh, bigger and deeper explosions. It was as if Wildsmith had spent the previous hour setting explosive charges throughout her body and was now triggering a series of ever-greater detonations with the relentless thrusting of his cock.

Purchase Links: Amazon

greatread