Review: The Shadows by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheshadows.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Trez, iAm
Heroine: Selena, Maichen
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 31, 2015
Started On: February 17, 2018
Finished On: February 27, 2018

If you must know, I couldn’t stop the reading frenzy that hit me from a certain point onwards after I picked up the Black Dagger Brotherhood series from where I left off. So following the culmination of Wrath’s story, The King, I moved onto the 13th book, The Shadows, telling the tale of the brothers iAm and Trez, who live amongst the Brothers.

Shadows are a tribe of vampires who live in seclusion, mostly keeping to themselves. Known as the s’Hisbe, they are ruled and governed by a different set of laws, their state of affairs overseen by their Queen. With a social strata that defines everyone’s place in life in the community, the s’Hisbe views acts of intimacy as sacred, outlawing even acts of self pleasure. Firmly rooted in the knowledge of astrology, s’Hisbe believes that their lives are dictated by the alignment of the stars defining their fates and futures.

As firstborn to his parents, Trez “belongs” to the Queen of s’Hisbe, as the fated mate of her daughter. Trez’s parents had sold him off for a better place in the social circles, and had never looked back. Trez had fought his way out of the imprisoned life he had been subjected to, which had been hard won, and he has no intention of going back. However, the clock continues to tick, signalling the arrival of the day of reckoning, the brief reprieve of time that s’Hisbe’s executioner s’Ex had given him having come to an end.

Trez’s way of dealing with the fate of his life that looms closer than ever is to sleep with any and every woman that comes his way. Though iAm his younger brother, his voice of reason cautions him against it, tries to intervene many a time, Trez does not believe that there would ever come a time when he would willingly give up whoring around. Then comes into his life Selena the Chosen, whose mere presence startles into life something deep inside of him, that yearns to belong and for Selena to belong to him. But alas, Selena’s time on Earth is limited, which means that for both Selena and Trez, time is essentially running out in more ways than one.

What follows is a heart wrenching story of a love that races against time, the ending when it came, one that I hoped would be otherwise. But realistically speaking, I think Ward provided a magnificent story when it came to Trez, iAm, Serena, and Trez’s betrothed, whom we encounter when iAm turns up on s’Hibe’s territory intending to what he always does. Help his brother Trez. In the process, iAm, the brother who had never wanted a woman before in his life, finds the one woman who makes him forget every possible rule by which he has lived his life up till now, as if the stars were in perfect alignment and agreement that the woman in his arms belonged solely to him.

Trez and Selena’s story was heartbreaking. There are no words that would describe the immense pain behind the loss, and the final act of saying goodbye is one that was etched into my mind days after I was done reading. The scene was that powerful. Though I was not that enamored with the Selena and Trez pairing when it initially happened, I came to love them both, perhaps owing to the fact that Ward allows readers to see different sides of their characters in this story.

Even then, to be honest, I was more taken with iAm and the story of how the woman he meets at the s’Hisbe territory changes his life drastically. I found the fact that his lifeling abstinence meant that it was all the more sexier, and more meaningful when iAm decided to give himself to someone, a study of contrasts once again when it came to Trez and himself.

The truth when it came out was not so much of a shock, and I believe most readers would have figured out the same. Nevertheless, the end of an era, ushered in with the final act that required s’Ex was one that was stunning and breathtaking at the same time. If iAm had not been in the picture, I would have wanted for s’Ex to be the “hero” of the story, but alas, that is a story for another time. Which I hope comes soon. A girl can always hope!

The story of Layla the Chosen, pregnant with Qhuinn and her children, and her association with Xcor, my second favorite hero from the series also continues and reaches a turning point, the point which perhaps signals that their story is up next.

Recommended! Ward certainly never disappoints when it comes to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Final Verdict: Delving deep into the psyche of one of the most fascinating and elusive tribes in the Vampire world, Ward takes readers on a journey they would never forget, no matter who triumphs or loses out in the end.

Favorite Quotes

“Selena, I’m serious.” He fumbled to stop her before she got to stroking. “I want to honor you—”
“You’re wasting time.”
With that she got on her knees and took over. As she was a tall female, her mouth was at the perfect height, and God save them both, she put it to use, extending her pink tongue to lick at the head of him. The velvet rasp left him shaking all over, and before he went the way of the robes and hit the fucking floor, he leaned forward and braced both hands on the nearest thing he could reach.
The bureau. Or it could have been the hood of a car. Santa’s sleigh. A refrigerator.
Warm and wet, she drew him in, the suction and all the slick wiping out the world, bringing him instantly to the brink.

Freedom.
As Selena sat on her knees in front of Trez, with his taste in her mouth and his scent all over her skin, she reveled in the sense of sexual freedom that had overtaken her. The liberation seemed entirely at odds with the death sentence that she lived under, and yet her lack of time was what spared her any awkwardness or self-conscious worry. She was flying above the constraints that had long pinned her to the ground, her training as an ehros letting her soar on the currents of sex that ran, thick as tangible ropes, between their bodies.

“I’m going to fuck you now,” he gritted out in her ear.
“Oh, God, please—”
Selena shouted loudly as he jabbed into her, stretching the inside of her nearly to the breaking point. The pain was the perfect bite—and then he started to pump. There was no slow-and-steady windup; hard, pistoning power made her see stars until she lost the strength to hold her upper body off the bed. Collapsing face-first into sheets that smelled of him, she struggled for breath and loved the suffocation as each thrust shoved her face-first into the pillows.

He was hard and hot, velvety and thick, and she slid a grip around his shaft, pumping him. The more she stroked, the crazier the kiss got, until his pelvis was jerking up against her, and his chest was thrashing, and she was breathing as hard as he was.
When he orgasmed, he barked out her name and shoved the handkerchief onto himself—and she was so turned on, so giddy with the feel of his mouth on hers and the pump, pump, pump of her palm against his sex, that she felt a welling between her own thighs, an answer to what she was doing—which was so much less than what they both really wanted.

Her own release was a surprise, but she welcomed it, absorbing the sharp grabs of pleasure, making them stronger by squeezing her thighs together and rocking. Meanwhile, she continued her stroking rhythm, squeezing at his head, working his length.
“We very carefully get rid of this.” Grasping the hem, he pulled the black wisp up over her waist … over her breasts. “Fuuuuuuuuuck.”
As he tossed the silk to the floor, he just stared at what he had revealed. “Oh, that’s what I want.”

With his palms stroking up and down her thighs, he dropped his head to one of her nipples, sucking her in, nursing at her, his dark head contrasting with her paler skin. Letting her head fall back, she gave him the access he wanted, spreading her knees even further.
The sound he made was all male animal, and the hold he sank into her hips was rough as he jerked her forward.
“Gimme,” he demanded. There was a quick zip! as he released himself, and then that growl was back. “All night. Thought about this all night.”

“Do you want my panties off?” she asked between heaving breaths.
“No, I’m going to fuck you with them on.”
And he did. He grabbed her perfect ass and hopped her off the ground and around his waist. Reaching in from behind, he stroked at her, feeling how ready she was, how hot she was, how desperate she was.
He wanted to spend all night there. Instead, he shoved the silk aside, and—

“Oh, God, Selena,” he hissed.
Slick and hot, tight and vital, the penetration rocked him and kept him standing at the same time. As he began to move, he held on to her ass and rocked her back and forth. Her hair was in his face; her scent was in his nose; she was an overwhelming tide that made him want to drown.
Faster. Harder.

iAm felt like he was suspended in time as maichen’s face was revealed inch by inch. Her lips were full and deep red, her skin smooth and slightly darker than his, her cheeks wide and high—
He stopped being able to form a thought as her eyes were uncovered.
Deeply set and with heavy lashes, they were a brilliant peridot green. But then again, she was in high emotion and that was a sign of it, something that the stares of Shadows did.
Maybe his were that way, too.

And then there was her hair. Tightly waved, it flowed from the crown of her head and covered her shoulders and beyond. It was so long that he couldn’t see where it ended.
She was, quite simply, the most extraordinary thing he had ever seen.

iAm went for her, lunging forward, grabbing onto the nape of her neck, bending her backward, holding her in his arms and putting his mouth to her flesh. He had never taken from a female this way, and he didn’t immediately strike. He was overcome by the scent of her, by the soft skin under his lips as he extended his tongue and licked up her vein.
He intended to nuzzle at her further, but as her hands took hold of his shoulders and she arched into him, he couldn’t wait any longer. He hissed and penetrated her skin.
At the bite, she cried out, but instead of pushing him away, she pulled him even closer.
Her blood was a blast in his mouth, tasting of dark wine and promising an intoxication that started to take hold the instant he swallowed.

When he swept his hand over her sex, she moaned and pulled harder on what he was providing her—and he wanted her to drain him dry. But not the other way around. Forcing himself to release her vein, he licked the puncture wounds closed and then found himself drawing his lips downward, crossing over the graceful wing of her collarbone. Heading for her breasts, he gripped the top of her robing with his fangs and ripped it apart, the fabric giving way until—

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” he gasped.
Bared to her lover’s eyes, maichen had expected to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Only her female bathers had ever seen what iAm was looking at.
Instead?
She kicked the robing free from her hands and brought her palms up to cup her breasts. “Yours,” she heard herself say. Then she moved down and touched her exposed sex. “Yours.”
His upper lip curled back and he let out a growl that was both reverent and a little evil.

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Review: The King by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheking.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Wrath, son of Wrath
Heroine: Beth Rendall
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 01, 2014
Started On: February 05, 2018
Finished On: February 17, 2018

We have come a long way since the beginning of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The King is the 12th novel in this magnificent series of books that JR Ward has written, and it brings us back to where we started, with the characters having taken on the roles that were required of them. We get to take a closer look at Wrath, the King of the Vampire race, who assumed his responsibilities in the debut book of the series, Dark Lover. Wrath is the last pure blooded vampire on the planet, and even though he chafes at the duties of being the King to the race, it is a “prison” from which there is no respite for him.

Wrath’s frustration and dissatisfaction at being “hogtied” to the throne is one that runs deep. Just how deep, realizes Beth, his shellan i.e. mate for life, only after Wrath lets loose when his formidable temper gets the best of him. Known and revered as the Blind King, and for good reason, Wrath has been constantly battling to keep a throne he had never meant to ascend in the first place. But the same genetics that had demanded he be King, had also rendered him unfit to fight in the field alongside with his Brothers. Furthermore, there is no way that the Brothers would let their King back in the field, no matter how much he might want to.

Wrath’s personal life isn’t going exactly in the blissfully wedded direction either. With his mind solidly made up on not fathering any children, the clash with his shellan is not the kind that one can just brush under the carpet, especially with Beth’s needing seemingly on the way. To add to the pressure, The Band of Bastards from the Old Country is out to get Wrath one way or the other, even if they had lost in their initital attempts to assassinate him.

Everything comes to a head at junctures where one just has to plow through the worst to get to the other side. There is always so much going on in a JR Ward book that it is near impossible to just focus on one aspect of the book thinking it would give a holistic view of the book. The storylines concerning other characters that were prominent in Lover at Last continue even in The King, most of them coming to a turning point where things were looking rather gloomy for everyone concerned.

By the time the story was done, except for one aspect of a continuing storyline that has been running for a long time in the books, the one concerning John’s true identity, everything else seems to have worked out. Wrath managed to thwart yet another attempt at dethroning him, and used the opportunity to make that one move which shocked the vampire aristocrats to boot.

I loved how Wrath transformed in this novel, finally, and at last, embracing his role as the King of the race wholeheartedly. There is no running from fate and destiny, especially leaving a role such as that of a King, particularly at a time when the race was in near tatters, clearly at a point where leadership was needed the most.

I also loved how insightful the story of Wrath’s parents proved to be. Unlike what Wrath thought of his father’s reign to be like, the traitors were around him just the same, just as insidious in their bid to dethrone him and take over the reins in their hunger for power. Another character trait Wrath seems to have inherited from his father? That take-charge attitude of his, in bed and out of it.

There was one rather unusual character that piqued my interest in this story; s’Ex, the executioner of the s’Hisbe sect of the vampires. He is a character I want a story for. Pretty please, JR Ward?

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Wrath!

Final Verdict: With The King, JR Ward brings readers full circle with the characters we fell in love with at the very beginning. Wrath’s story the second time around was just as indomitable as the vampire himself.

Favorite Quotes

The kiss that came at her was brutal and she wanted it that way, Wrath’s tongue thrusting into her as he shoved her backward through the open doorway of their secret hideaway.
Slam!
Best sound in the world. Well, okay, second-best—number one being what her man made when he came inside of her. At the mere thought of it, her core opened even further.

“Oh, fuck,” he said into her mouth as one of his hands slipped in between her thighs. “I want this—yeah . . . are you wet for me, leelan.”
Not a question. Because he knew the answer, didn’t he.
“I can smell you,” he groaned against her ear as he ran his fangs up her throat.

“The most beautiful thing in the world—except for your taste.”

“I’m sorry,” he bit out as he grabbed her behind the neck and mounted her.
As she opened her thighs wide for him, she knew exactly why he was apologizing. “Don’t be—Jesus!”
The blazing possession was exactly what she wanted—and so was the rough ride he gave her, his heavy weight crushing her, her bare ass squeaking against the floor as he pounded into her, her legs straining to link around so he could go even deeper. It was total domination, his great body pistoning in an erotic pump that got ever faster and more intense.
But as good as it was, she knew how to take things to the next level. “Aren’t you thirsty yet?” she drawled.
Total. Molecular. Stoppage.
Like he’d been hit with an ice ray. Or maybe a truck.
As he lifted his head, his eyes lit up so brightly, she knew if she looked on the floor next to her, she’d see her own shadow.

Get off of her, he ordered his body. Get the fuck off of—
The undulation beneath him took a moment to register. And then he realized it was her. She was . . . moving against him, and not as in she wanted to get free. Her eyes, once alarmed, were now glazing over, her lips parting as she arched into him.
She wanted him. Fucking hell, her scent was flaring into his nose, her blood running fast and hot as his own.

“Selena,” he groaned. “I’m sorry. . . .” “For what,” she said roughly.
“This.”
He struck her throat, fangs sinking deep, blood rushing onto his tongue, down his throat. And as he nursed at her, his body pumped against the wadded duvet, desperately trying to find her core through the layers of sheeting, his cock throbbing, the friction making everything worse.

“Fucking hell,” he gritted as his eyes traveled from the crown of her head to her tight nipples . . . past the flat plane of her belly, to her sex and her legs.
His dark hand was a contrast to the paleness of her skin as he drew a lazy stroke from her collarbone to one of her breasts. Capturing the weight in his palm, she groaned and undulated, her knees bending up . . . and falling open.
His towel dropped away from his body, exposing his hairless beauty and his formidable sex.

“Take me,” she ordered him. “Teach me.”

Beth yelled out his name as he entered her, her nails tearing into his shoulders, her breasts shoving up against his chest. He came immediately, his balls tightening up and then releasing—and he wasn’t prepared for the response from her. As she orgasmed along with him, her sex milked him, pulling at his length, all but yanking at him—
He came again. So violently, he bit into his own tongue.
Pumping against her, pumping into her, he went hard and wild—until his body took a short pause to recover. And that was when he felt the difference he’d made in her: She, too, was at a brief rest, the tension in her body uncoiling as if her very molecules were taking a deep breath.

Instead, he braced his upper weight on one hand and gripped his glistening cock with the other. Stroking himself, he groaned as if he were getting ready to come again.
The second orgasm shot out of him and he directed it all over her sex—and he didn’t stop there. After he’d covered her core, he moved up, shifting himself so that he came on her stomach, her rib cage, her breasts, her neck, her face. He seemed to have an endless supply of releases, and as the hot jets hit her oversensitized skin, she found herself orgasming along with him, sweeping her hands up and down her body, feeling the hot mess he was coating her with, cupping her own breasts.

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

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Review: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloveratlast
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Blaylock / Qhuinn
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 26, 2016
Started On: January 24, 2018
Finished On: February 05, 2018

Lover at Last, the 11th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is the much awaited story of Qhuinn, son of Lohstrong and Blaylock, son of Rocke. It is an apt title for the book, considering the fact that readers have been waiting for their story for a long time. But I understand the need for the time that Ward took when it came to these two characters. They needed it. Especially Qhuinn, who needed to come to terms with, and accept who he was before he could give himself over to the love of his life.

Qhuinn and Blaylock’s story has been a continuing thread throughout the series, though I cannot remember quite from which installment onwards. Qhuinn with his mismatched eyes had been the ban of his glymera (vampire aristocrat) family’s existence. Discarded and disowned, there is a wealth of pain and rejection in Qhuinn’s heart that needs to be worked through for him to feel whole. The only solace in his life had come in the form of Blaylock, his best friend, whose family had also welcomed him with open arms.

Those who have been faithfully following the series without skipping any books in between would know that Blaylock had accepted his love for Qhuinn a long time ago. Having never voiced that out, and with the continued efforts by Qhuinn to show Blaylock that they would never be together (by Qhuinn’s sexual conquests and rejection of Blaylock), Blaylock does the one thing any healthy individual should rightfully do under the circumstances; he cut his losses and moved on. That had been the turning point for Qhuinn in his attempt to clean up his act, reasons which he was quite not ready to give voice to.

Now with Layla the Chosen pregnant with his young, Qhuinn should be happy by all means. His need to belong to a family that would accept him, a family that he could call his own had been a pivotal reason behind Qhuinn agreeing to become a father. But, the way he yearns for Blaylock is a need that refuses to be denied; if anything his feelings surge to the surface with a ferocity and volatility that stuns him at times, making a fool of himself in the process.

Believing that he is actually helping Blaylock get back at his “lover”, Qhuinn offers his body to Blaylock, to use as he wishes to. This sets these two characters on a journey of sensual discovery of the kind that they had both never had before. Love of course, plays its role, an emotion neither of them confesses to the other. Even with Qhuinn working through his issues one at a time, it takes more than that to push through the final hurdle to get to the other side; the side of acceptance and loving wholeheartedly without reservations.

Lover at Last has multiple secondary stories running through it; they of course do not reach their ultimate conclusion. Ward is a superb storyteller because she has the ability to juggle these storylines well, most often without “encroaching” on the territory of the main story that is happening. It is in Lover at Last that she lays the foundation for the story of the Shadows, Trez and iAm from the s’Hisbe territory. She also brings to an enticing crossroads, the story of Xcor and Layla, Xcor being my second favorite hero in the series, coming a very close second to Zsadist.

It is also in Lover at Last that Ward shows readers tantalizing glimpses of the connection between Assail, an aristocrat vampire who is involved in the drug trade and how he comes across Sola, the human female who would finally bring him to his knees. Plus, there are many changes that are taking place in the world of the vampires itself, laws undergoing changes, the old ways being replaced by the new, with Wrath testing the boundaries of how far he can take reforms without upending the whole table.

Lover at Last was a splendid addition to the series, and I, who usually do not indulge in gay romances found myself totally enamored by how Ward brought the sex scenes between Blaylock and Qhuinn alive with such fervor. Hot enough to singe your fingers, Blaylock is a force to be reckoned with once that staid and laid back nature of his takes a backseat, something that delights and turns on Qhuinn to levels he never thought was possible for someone like him.

The ending was beautiful, Qhuinn finally finding the acceptance that had been missing from his life all along, finding his home exactly where it had always been, ready to welcome him with open arms, something he had refused to see, all because there was just too much wayward emotions he didn’t do well with.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Lover at Last is scrumptious; there are no two ways about it. Qhuinn and Blaylock sets the pages afire, bringing forth a ton of emotions and wrangles every bit of it from the reader that made this a stupendous read!

Favorite Quotes

Lifting his mouth, he pulled Blay down to his own, and when those velvet lips were in range, he kissed them with a desperation that was returned. All at once, the pent-up past was released in a fury, and as he tasted blood, he didn’t know whose fangs had scored what.
Who the fuck cared.
On a hard yank, he laid Blay down and then he rolled over on top of the other male, spreading those thighs and pushing himself between them until his hard cock came up against Blay’s….
They both groaned.

Qhuinn came hard, his balls going tight, his erection kicking between them, his come going everywhere.
Didn’t slow him down in the slightest.
With a quick jerk, he broke away from the mouth he could have spent the next hundred years working, and shoved himself down Blay’s chest. The muscles he came across were nothing like the human guys’ he’d fucked—this was a vampire, a fighter, a soldier who had trained heavily and worked his flesh into a condition that was not just useful, but downright deadly. And holy hell was that a turn-on—but more than that, though, this was Blay; it was finally, after all these years…
Blay.

Without warning, he was flipped over with a rough hand, his body handled like it didn’t weigh a damned thing. Then an arm shot under his pelvis and popped him up onto his knees. There was a brief lull, during which all he heard was heavy breathing behind him, the panting getting faster, and harder—
He heard Qhuinn orgasm and knew exactly what that was for.
Even though his whole body went weak with anticipation, he knew he had to get good and braced as a heavy hand landed on his shoulder and—
The penetration was a branding iron, brutal and hot, going right to the core of him. And he cursed on an explosive exhale—not because it hurt, although it did in the best possible sense. Not even because this was something he had wanted forever, although he had.
No, it was because he had the strangest sense he was being marked—and for some reason, that made him—

“Shit,” he said roughly. “The lamp—”
Qhuinn wasn’t interested in home furnishings, apparently. The male just yanked Blay’s head around and started kissing him, that pierced tongue penetrating his mouth, licking and sucking…like he couldn’t get enough.
Dizzy. He got downright dizzy from it all. In every fantasy he’d ever had, he’d always pictured Qhuinn as a ferocious lover, but this was…on another level.
So it was from a distance that he heard himself say in a guttural voice, “Bite me…again….”
A great growl from above threaded into his ears, and then another hiss ripped through the darkness as Qhuinn shifted positions, his massive weight torquing so that those sharp fangs could sink in deep on the side of the throat.

Blay’s head was going up and down over his hips, his fist holding the base of Qhuinn’s cock, his other hand working his balls. But then, like he’d been waiting for eye contact, the guy pulled up to the top, popped the head free, and licked his lips.
“Wouldn’t want you making a mess in this nice room,” Blay drawled.
And then he extended the tip of his tongue to flick Qhuinn’s PA, the pink flesh teasing at the gunmetal gray hoop and ball—
“Fuck, I’m coming right now,” Qhuinn barked, a tremendous release boiling up.
“I’m—”
He was powerless to stop things, any more than someone who’d jumped off a cliff could decide, like ten yards into the free fall, to pull back.
Except he didn’t want to put the brakes on.
And he didn’t.

“Did you like what you saw last night?” That clammed her up. And as the silence persisted, he smiled a little. “So you admit you were watching.”
“You goddamn knew I was,” she spat.
“So, answer the question. Did you like what you saw,” he said in a voice that was husky even to his own ears.
Oh, yes, he thought as he inhaled deeply. She did.
“Never mind,” he purred. “You don’t need to put it in words. I already know your answer—”
She slapped him so fast and so hard, his head actually kicked back on his spine.
His first instinct was to bare his fangs and bite her, to punish her, to tantalize himself—because there was no better spice to pleasure than a little pain. Or a lot of it.
He righted his head and lowered his lids. “That felt good. Do you want to do it again?”
As another bloom emanated from her, he laughed down deep in his chest, and thought, yes, indeed, this reaction from her had just ensured that that human man was going to keep living. Or at least die by the hands of another.
She wanted himself. And no other.

As he turned around, he found Blay stretched out and attending to himself, his hand stroking up and down between his legs. His fangs were still elongated from the feeding, and his eyes were glowing from under heavy lids, and holy fuck was he hot…
Qhuinn ditched his shitkickers. His leathers. His shirt.
Blay orgasmed before he even started for the bed, the male arching up and moaning as his head shot back on the thin pillow, and his hips jerked.
Like Qhuinn buck-ass naked was too much to handle.
Best. Compliment. Ever.

Qhuinn felt himself get positioned with rough hands—before he knew it, he was up on his knees, his face in the mattress, his breath hammering out of his mouth. It was all so foreign, letting someone else take charge—and he felt vulnerable, too, even through the wanting—
“Oh fuck!” he bellowed as the possession was struck, the sensations of pain and pleasure, stretching and accommodation, mixing into a cocktail that made him come so hard he saw stars.
And then Blay started moving.

Even as she sat alone in this car out in the middle of nowhere, his presence was tangible, her memories of him so strong, she could swear he was within reach. And the yearning…dearest Virgin Scribe, the yearning she felt was nothing she could share with any of those whom she loved.
It was such a cruel fate to have a reaction like this to one who was—
Layla jerked back in the seat, a shout breaching her lips and resonating through the interior of the car.
At first, she was unsure whether what had materialized in the beams was in fact real: Xcor appeared to be standing with his boots planted on the road ahead, his huge, leather-clad body seeming to absorb the twin beams of light as a black hole would. “No,” she barked. “No!”

“No,” she hissed, as he came ever closer.
His face was exactly as she had remembered: perfectly symmetrical, with high cheekbones, narrowed eyes, and a permanent frown between his straight brows. His upper lip was twisted up, such that he appeared to be snarling, and his body…his body moved like a great animal’s, his shoulders shifting with barely restrained power, his heavy thighs carrying him forward with the promise of brutal strength.
And yet…she was not afraid.

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Review: Salem’s Daughter by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-booksalemsdaughter.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Jean Pierre La Crosse
Heroine: Bristol Adams
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 03, 1981
Started On: January 13, 2018
Finished On: January 17, 2018

Salem’s Daughter by Maggie Osborne is one of the most complex stories that I have read from her. Not that the rest of her books aren’t complex and multi-layered, but this one stood out from the rest because Osborne delves into the Salem’s witch trials and brings that into her story with a twist that made for at times difficult reading, not because it was boring or didn’t fit into the story, but rather because it depicted humanity at our worst. That is never easy to read about, but I do believe that writing about these things, propagating this is a must in order to create the much needed awareness on identifying said behavior and taking action where needed.

Salem’s Daughter starts at a juncture which brings vividly to life the depravity behind religious zealots and how they can twist and turn everything to make everyone a sinner that needs repenting. Bristol Adams finds herself on the wrong side of the Puritans when for once she commits the “ultimate” sin of talking to a male, requiring a public whipping. Bristol beseeches her father, who has never done wrong by her before, to save her from the humiliation and the pain. But then her father is a proud man if ever there was one, and to heap rejection upon the humiliation, he decides to send her off to England to stay with an aunt for a couple of months.

Bristol does try to use her female wiles on her affianced to marry her then and there, but then he is not a man to be persuaded beyond what he wants to give Bristol, a life where they could both live comfortably. So sets Bristol on the journey that would carry her to England with bitter anger in her heart, on a ship where the lecherous intents of ship’s crew is all far too real. The only man standing between her and them is the formidable captain of the ship, Jean Pierre La Crosse, with whom she has a run in before the ship sets sail. What she saw then didn’t appeal to her much, although she does not realize that the feelings that he stirs to life in her does not happen with just anyone.

The voyage itself proves to be a harrowingly eventful one, and it is in the aftermath that Bristol and La Crosse finally give into the heady and stormy passion between them. La Crosse makes no promises about what he is or where they are going relationship wise, but Bristol has no inkling of the misery and heartache that is headed her way when they part their ways.

However, fate has other plans in store for them and it is not long before Bristol comes face to face with her “competition” when it comes to La Crosse; his fiancée. It is heartbreak upon heartbreak for Bristol watching La Crosse marry someone who would eventually destroy him. But it is not long before Bristol is caught in the crossfire and the hardest days of her life come upon her. Taken captive by a pimp with a notoriety of letting his fists show his anger, Bristol ends up losing the most precious thing in her life.

Even though that cruel fate brings her to La Crosse once again, a message from home means she is to return, only to find her whole village caught up in vilifying and turning on each other, all because of hate preaching by those concerned. Bristol does try and give her most valiant effort to make a difference, but there is no working against a tide that is fervent and resilient, and in the end, Bristol nearly gives her life to the cause until things come to their eventual conclusion.

The summary outlined does not do justice to the story that Osborne tells in this book. For one, there is Bristol, who starts out as this pompous woman-child, who naively believes that her beauty and charms would make her life easy. That she would get everything she wanted. The fact that she is full of herself is revealed during the first couple of chapters, until she starts experiencing the harsh realities that life has to offer, starting from her journey to England.

Through the course of the story, Bristol transforms into this woman worthy of the love of a strong man, a man who would shelter her from the deepest and darkest of storms and carry her safely ashore. Even if that were not to be the case, Bristol turns out to be a woman who has the strength and fortitude of a thousand men of worth. At times, she has to be strong for both La Crosse and herself, but that never steered her away from what was important.

Some might find the concept of cheating involved in the book abhorrent, or turn them away from the real story that develops. It requires someone who is a bit open-minded to understand and empathize with the difficulties life throws both La Crosse and Bristol’s way. If I were to be caught up in a relationship as such, I myself do not know how much strength of perseverance I would have. So in Bristol, Osborne has once again created one of her formidable heroines; her heroines always stand out, and for good reason.

La Crosse is a hero who is caught between his duty and what his heart wants and desires. He does try, I would say he tries harder than the average male would, to stand true to the the course that he had set out on. But one only has to read between the lines and sometimes just read the lines to understand the kind of hellish existence La Crosse’s life becomes in the end.

When all was said and done, only issue I had was with how La Crosse and Bristol spent so much time apart before the eventual ending of the story. Perhaps this was felt mostly owing to the lack of an epilogue to make readers happy. La Crosse and Bristol’s happily ever after was hard won. Readers deserved to see them happy and together, having sweated and cried through all the turbulent times their relationship brought.

Recommended for those who love romances that deliver your less than usual stories.

Final Verdict: Salem’s Daughter is an intense read, one that you might never completely recover from. Osborne weaves her magic and spins a tale that takes you through the kind of emotional wrangling that leaves its mark forever. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

La Crosse halted, standing over the bed, his naked body catching fingers of moonlight. He sucked in his breath and stared. “Mon Dieu!” His voice emerged in a hoarse whisper. His hungry eyes devoured Bristol’s lush body bathed in moonlit tints of ivory shadow. “Mon Dieu! Even bloody and soiled you are a beautiful woman!”

A choked sob tore from Bristol’s throat, and her breath came in shallow, rapid gulps. “Don’t. Don’t,” she pleaded. But his dark head brushed her chin, moving. A skilled tongue caressed her breasts, tantalizing, coaxing, calling forth a responding heat from her trembling limbs. To Bristol’s horror, she felt her nipples harden, rising pink and ripe to his lips.
A frightening weakness flowed through every muscle in her suddenly flaming body. His naked chest brushed her stomach, moist and strong and burning where he touched. Beneath his stroking fingers, her breasts tingled, and a bewildering sense of urgency began in her thighs and swelled, sweeping her breath away.

Suddenly her arms were free, and they dropped to circle his neck. Her lips opened to his with the urgency he’d created; her frantic body strained against hard flesh with the plunging need he’d drawn from every trembling nerve. Blind yearning filled the very fiber of her aching body. Bristol’s sensual nature exploded into life, wakened by his skilled touch with all the intensity of a long-dormant instinct craving expression.

“Aye,” Bristol screamed, her mindless hips rising to match his rhythm. “Oh, aye,” she groaned. Her tangled hair fell back and her eyes closed, and tortured breath rushed past her parted lips.
Her fingers tightened on La Crosses rippling shoulders, and some buried part of her mind recognized that he paced himself, moving in deep rhythmic strokes, adjusting to her own instinctive cadence. And then faster and faster and harder and more urgent. Until an expanding universe spun behind Bristol’s lids, pouring color and sensation, rocking and glowing. And then her universe narrowed and cracked into a mind-sweeping explosion.

She lifted her eyes to the slumbering form in the bed, seeing a glow of moonlight on La Crosse’s shoulder. Because of him, she now recognized that moment with Caleb in the settler’s cabin had been a mockery. There was more—so much more—than Caleb could give. But she’d lain with Caleb in love. At least for a while she’d thought it was love.
The man in the rumpled moon-washed bed represented no tender feelings—only blind desire. And yet it was he who had awakened a deep sensuality, he who had shown her the woman she could be. Bristol’s face paled, and she battled a misting of tears.

“Do you really believe any of us are brave in our secret hearts? No, little girl, it is not so!” He stroked her hand lightly.
“A man who believes himself without fear, who boasts of bravery and courage—that is a foolish man. He courts unnecessary risk and endangers others as well as himself. The truly courageous is one who admits to fear, then overcomes it.”

They slowed and stopped, and Bristol’s breath caught in her throat. His arm tightened on her waist, and he drew her trembling body against his lean, hard chest. A weakness spread through her limbs, and his burning eyes seemed to fill the night sky. Then his hungry mouth crushed her head back in a bruising, searching kiss. His tongue forced past her lips, and his throbbing erection seared against her body, urgent, demanding. And a familiar fire raced through her flesh, tingling along the nerves, burning in the secret hidden places.

His eyes traced the curve of her lips. “I think of you always,” he said softly. He didn’t move to touch her, but Bristol felt his leg against hers, sending waves of electricity through her body.
“Please, we can’t… we must forget…” Disconcerted, she looked at the scar her fingers had tenderly mapped, the lips her own had clung to, “I…”
His voice was low and intense.
“I want you every waking minute. I think of you lying sweet in your bed, and I must fight not to smash your door and take you.” His eyes flickered with passion and his face was hard as granite, but his voice remained soft. “Take you and make you call my name.”

The door was open. It swung in, and she stood framed in the doorway, her eyes wide and helpless.
Jean Pierre lay against a mound of pillows, still dressed in shirt and breeches. One candle burned near his bed, and he held a wineglass in his hand. Smoky eyes met hers.
“I’ve been hoping,” he said softly. Putting down the glass, he opened his arms. “Come to me. Come to me, my love.”
Bristol felt faint; her legs refused to move. She held to the door for support, staring at him. Instantly Jean Pierre was at her side, sweeping her into powerful arms. His lips crushed hers in a savage kiss of need and passion denied too long.

“I love you Bristol,” he said in a low voice. “You are the one shining truth in my life, the island of sanity I cling to.” A short, bitter laugh escaped his lips. “I, who have never clung to any person, to any thing.” His hand caressed her hair, the silky strands rising under his fingers. “I cling to you. I think of you when all around is black; I see the softness in your eyes, and I know there is still beauty and meaning in the midst of the chaos.”

She smelled the freshness of his hair, buried her hands in the dark curls tied at his neck. She laid her cheek against the crisp hair covering his chest, so different from the rest. And his hands moved over her satiny body with joy and astonishment, with the wonder of love. Seeing her as if for the first time, as she saw him.
Then he moved over her, slowly, unhurried, and he brushed long hair from her cheek.
“I love you,” he said. Intensity quivered in his hard face, his eyes, his voice. “I love you, little one.”

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Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverunleashed.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Manny Manello
Heroine: Payne
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 01, 2011
Started On: February 23, 2017
Finished On: June 04, 2017

Lover Unleashed by JR Ward is the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and brings to readers the story of Payne, born to the Scribe Virgin, and thus the twin of Vishous. The revelation that his twin is alive comes in an earlier book, one that shocked me to boot. I cannot even imagine the depth of feelings that must have coursed through Vishous himself when the fact was made known to him.

Payne is a heroine who is powerful in a way that only one born out of such a union can be. Like Vishous, Payne’s beauty is such that it has the ability to take away the breath of those who come across her. Her beauty is one that mesmerizes people for the lack of a better word. What is more stunning is the immense power that she holds in her hands, which comes to light with the divulgence of the unthinkable she had done to the man who had sired her.

It is also Lover Unleashed that brings a new band of “enemies” to the turf of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of fighters from the vampire race who are just as vicious in their manner when it comes to the war with the Lessers. Yet, they do not identify themselves as a Brotherhood. Xcor, the group’s leader is a vampire to contend with and then some, a bastard born to the Bloodletter himself, walking on a path to avenge the death of his father, a murder that he had never forgotten nor forgiven.

Payne’s appearance in the Brotherhood company comes through a tragic event that unfolds, leading Dr. Jane Whitcomb, the shellren of Vishous to seek the services of chief of surgery at the hospital where she had worked prior to her “death”. Manny is brought in to the Brotherhood compound on the premise of helping Payne where Jane’s medical abilities fall short. While bringing in people, especially humans who are none the wiser to the existence of the vampires as a race is a big no, Wrath, the King makes an exception owing to the extenuating circumstances and his involvement in what leads to the circumstances.

Manny’s appearance in Payne’s life brings forth a connection neither would have thought possible. For Manny, the possessiveness that streaks through him as his gaze lands on Payne in her hospital bed is one that shocks him to the core, almost as if his very DNA recognizes Payne as his and his alone. While Vishous and the rest of the Brotherhood might have other ideas where Manny is concerned, Payne is as drawn to him which brings forth complications that aren’t as black and white to resolve.

Alongside Payne and Manny’s developing story, it becomes a testing period for Vishous and Jane’s relationship as well, which was something I loved in the story. Vishous is someone who has a penchant for sex of the darker variety, an aspect of himself that he had “given up” on when he had embraced his love for all that is Jane. However, with dark memories rising up from his past, Vishous is at a loss as to how to deal with them, and the friction between him and Jane is one that was painful to read about, but a much needed one in my opinion.

Someone like Vishous, who had undergone so much, and carries such a powerful weapon on his own self, a man with such a dark past – that doesn’t just find a cure overnight because they have fallen in love. Even if love of the kind that vampires have is an all consuming one, I believe that JR Ward did immense justice to both Vishous and Jane’s characters by bringing to light this side of their relationship, and the role that Butch plays in all of it to help them.

It is often difficult to review books so well written, especially of a series of the caliber of Black Dagger Brotherhood, because so many things keep happening at the same time, which makes these books the stellar reads they are. The stories continuously keep evolving in a way that leaves readers on the edge, and I believe the same must happen to JR Ward herself when it comes to the places her immensely complex characters take her.

I loved so many things about Manny and Payne’s relationship, together with the way Vishous and Jane faced their own troubles and made things work – because their love is worth all that and more. All throughout the story, there was one thing that kept circling in my mind – the fact that Manny is over the top hot. The way Payne and Manny want each other was is out of this world hot, burning up my eyeballs and then some, and I enjoyed every single aspect of it.

The friendship and love that exists between Butch and Vishous is one that was tested as well, with Butch having to step outside of his comfort zone to help his Brother for whom he would practically lay down his own life for. There is an understanding between them that is hard to put in words, but materializes so beautifully under Ward’s craftsmanship.

When all is said and done, Lover Unleashed delivers a story that is well rounded in every way. Each book in the series continues to amaze me in a way I would never have thought possible. I know that I should not be surprised any longer when it comes to JR Ward and this series, and yet the fact that she continually does so is reason number one that I would keep coming back for more.

Wholeheartedly recommended for fans of the series and those that love well rounded tales of the paranormal romance genre that delivers scorching and such well done scenes of passion!

Final Verdict: Lover Unleashed, the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is just as astounding as the rest. JR Ward is an author not to be missed for this very reason!

Favorite Quotes

Pushing into the examination room, he—
Oh . . . dear God.
Oh . . . Lord above.
The patient on the table was lying still as water and . . . she was probably the most beautiful anything he’d ever seen: Hair was jet-black and braided into a thick rope that hung free next to her head. Skin was a golden brown, as if she were of Italian descent and had recently been in the sun. Eyes . . . her eyes were like diamonds, both colorless and brilliant, with nothing but a dark rim around the iris.
“Manny?”
Jane’s voice was right behind him, but he felt as if she were miles away. In fact, the whole world was somewhere else, nothing existing except for the stare of his patient as she looked up at him from out of her immobilized head.
It finally happened, he thought as he burrowed under his shirt and took hold of his heavy cross. All his life he’d wondered why he’d never fallen in love, and now he knew: He’d been waiting for this moment, this woman, this time.
The female is mine, he thought.

“Teach me,” she said darkly, her lips parting, her hips rolling under his own. “Take me.”
Her hand moved between the two of them and found his erection, rubbing at it, making him moan.
“I am empty without you,” she said. “Fill me. Now.”
With an invitation like that, he didn’t give anything else a second thought. Fumbling around, he shoved his scrubs down his thighs and then. . .
“Oh, fuck,” he groaned as his hard cock slipped up her slick core.

With his tremendous strength, V repositioned her in the blink of an eye, pivoting her around and shoving the sheets out of the way so he could lift her hips up and over his torso. Her thighs were split over his face and—
“Vishous,” she said around his erection.
His mouth was slick and warm and right on target, fusing with her sex, latching on and sucking before his tongue snaked out and licked inside of her. Her brain didn’t so much turn off as explode, and with nothing left to think with, she was blissfully lost in what was happening and not what had gone before. She had a feeling V was the same. . . . He was all about the stroking, lapping at her and sucking on her, his hands digging into her thighs as he moaned her name against her core.

“Fuck, I need you,” he cursed.
On another quick burst of power, Vishous lifted her as if she didn’t weigh more than the sheet did, and the shift was not a surprise. He always preferred to come inside her, deep inside of her, and he spread her legs before settling her on top of his hips, his blunt head nudging into her . . . and slamming home.
The invasion was not just about sex, but him staking his claim, and she loved it. This was the way it should be.
Falling forward and bracing herself against his shoulders, she stared into his eyes as they moved together, the rhythm pounding until they came at the same time, both of them going rigid as he jerked inside of her and her sex milked him. And then V flipped her onto her back and shot down her body, going back to where he’d been, his mouth fusing on her, his palms locking on her thighs as he ate at her.
As she came hard, there was no break or pause. He surged forward, stretching up both her legs and swording in, entering her on a solid stroke and taking over.

The brush of her lips was nothing but velvet, except the anticipation of what was to come had him hyper-focusing so everything was magnified. He knew precisely where she was—
The scrape was viciously soft as she nuzzled him.
Then her hand snaked around to his nape and clamped on, holding him in place so hard, he realized she could snap his neck if she wanted.
“Oh, God,” he moaned, giving himself over completely. “Oh—fuck!”
The strike was strong and sure, two points going in deep, the sweet pain robbing him of sight and sound until all he knew was the sucking draw at his vein.
That and the massive orgasm that rolled through his balls and pumped out the head of his cock, his hips jacking up against her as his erection kicked and jerked . . . and kept going.

“Do this thing you want to me, healer,” she moaned. “Whatever it is. I know you are holding back.”
A growl came out of him and he moved so fast that the only thing that could have stopped him was her saying no. And that word was evidently not in her vocabulary.
In a flash, he was between her thighs, his hands spreading her wider, her sex laid open and weeping in the face of his male urge to dominate and mate.
He gave in. Fuck him, but he let himself go and kissed her core. And there was nothing gradual or gentle about it; he dived in with his mouth, sucking at her and tonguing her as she cried out and scratched at his forearms.

Vampire . . . he thought. Beautiful vampire.
Mine.
As that thought coalesced in his mind, he acted on autopilot, shifting his head to the side, offering his jugular to her—
He didn’t have to ask twice. In a great surge, Payne sprang up, all but launching her whole body onto him, her hand shoving into his hair and tightening on his nape. As she held him in her grip, he was utterly immobilized, hers for the taking . . . prey for her predator. And now that she had him, she moved slowly, her fangs dropping to his skin and dragging up the column of his throat, making him stiffen in anticipation of the puncturing and the sucking. . . .
“Fuck!” he barked when she bit him. “Oh . . . yeah . . .”

“I want more of you,” Payne murmured as she nuzzled him.
Well, he was still hard as stone even though he’d—
“I want you in my mouth.”
Manny’s head kicked back and he groaned as his cock twitched like it was taking a jog down there. But as much as he wanted her, he wasn’t sure she knew what she was in for. Even the thought of her lips on his—
Payne’s head went down into his lap before he could find the breath to speak, and there was no preamble; she sucked him right down, pulling him in and holding him in her wet, warm mouth.
“Fuck! Payne!”

Snaking a hand around the back of her neck, he drew her lips close to his throat. “Take me.”
The sound she made had him orgasming inside of her—it was too fucking hot for him to hold back. And as his cock spasmed, her fangs struck deep into his vein.
The sex went wild. She moved against him, her tight core fisting him up and milking him as he came again . . . and then he started to pump his hips hard. The drinking and the crazy rhythm swept them both away into a heady pounding of bodies that he knew they were each going to feel in the morning: There was nothing civilized to this; it was male and female distilled down to the most primal core.
And it was the very best of anything he had ever had.

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

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Review: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booklovermine
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #8
Publisher: Signet
Hero: John Matthew
Heroine: Xhexania
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 1, 2010
Started On: November 02, 2016
Finished On: November 06, 2016

Having finished Lover Avenged, I quickly set out to read Lover Mine, the story where John Matthew and Xhexania (Xhex) finally come together. With the way Ward had left things when Lover Avenged ended, with Xhex having being taken hostage by Lash, none other than Omega’s number one and the leader of the Lesser’s, I couldn’t wait to find out what wonders Ward would bring forth, especially when it came to John’s character.

John’s beginnings is one that sets him apart from the rest of the members of the Brotherhood. Revealing more would be spoiling it for those who have never read the series. His past when it comes to light, reveals the extent of his involvement, not only in Wrath the King’s life when he was child, but also Xhex herself, when she was born as a half breed vampire with a Sympath side that she hides from the rest of the world.

John’s second chance at life had come at a cost. It had meant that his journey to becoming part of the Brotherhood had once again being a test of his steadfastness, will, and strength. Bearing many similarities to the way his life had been forged in the past; through sweat, tears, and blood. John’s sense of loneliness is one that goes deep into his past, his need to belong and be loved an integral part of him that had being tested sorely when Tohrment had disappeared on him.

John’s attraction and deep connection with Xhex is exactly the reason why John and Xhex fit so perfectly together. While one might think John is the one that brings baggage to their relationship, Xhex redefines the whole concept itself by the past hurts and scars that she has from the pain she carries in her heart. Tough on the outside, a warrior to boot, and dominant in her own right, Xhex and John should not have fit together so perfectly – but for more than one reason, they do. That is perhaps the basis of why their relationship is amazing on so many levels, because Ward has brought together two people who should not have worked, and yet they do, and beautifully so, against all odds.

I am a fan of strong heroines, but for me, there is strong, and then there is the constant need for a heroine to outdo all the males in her vicinity and prove her capabilities beyond the male in her life that grates on my nerves. How Ward managed to allay all my fears that I might not like Xhex if she came on too strong was one more reason for me to adore their relationship. Because for me, Xhex gives as good as she gets. When she does give into John and his love which has both its tender and violently possessive edge to it (all in a good way, of course), it brought forth so much emotion in me that I felt that all the pain that John and Xhex had undergone before had been totally worth it!

One of the other aspects of the story that stood out was Qhuinn and Blay’s side story- I even noted down at one point that their mini story that was developing was way more interesting than it should be – but then again, that is exactly what you get when you pick up one of the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels. You sink your teeth into a story so juicy that you are rooting for a million things that is happening in the book, even the notorious villain himself.

That brings me to Lash and why I found his character fascinating on a level that had me at one point even “rooting” for the Lessers. I put rooting here very lightly because I found Lash to be a worthy opponent in the age old fight between the Vampires and the Lessers, i.e. in reality the fight between Scribe Virgin and Omega. A well done villain in my opinion, makes the reader question why they turned out the way they did.

In my opinion, Lash never stood a chance when it came to the larger scheme of things. Firstly his genetics had basically set in stone what his future would turn out to be like. Secondly, being brought up as part of the Glymera (the elite and rich of the Vampire society) had perhaps meant that his “evil” side had been given room to nurture and grow in a way that we continually see even when it comes to the human race. It was those fleeting moments of regret that coursed through Lash that grabbed me the most, thinking to myself that perhaps, had Lash being given the chance, he might have defied his genetics and turned out to be someone worthy of saving.

One of the major disappointments for me when the story ended has to do with how Lash’s character met his ultimate demise. I would have thought that Ward would continue to give him enough “armor” to take the fight between the Lessers and the Vampires to the next level. But then again, given Omega’s character itself, I would say that perhaps Lash’s end when it came, was quite fitting in a way. But I definitely wanted to see more of him in the series because he brought an edge that wasn’t there before when all was said and done.

When I turned the last page of the novel, I kept wondering to myself, when would John’s real identity emerge, and what a game changing revelation would that be in the larger context of things – given how history ties him to a lot of significant events that had taken place and shaped the lives of the Brotherhood as they are now.

Highly recommended! This series in its entirety is one that needs to be read by everyone who is a fan of urban fantasy and paranormal romances.

Final Verdict: Beautifully put together in way that makes for compelling reading. Mesmerizing is the way Ward manages to make mincemeat out of 700 plus pages of a novel, never letting the reader off the hook until the very last page is turned.

Favorite Quotes

“Better yet,” Blay drawled, “why don’t you just kiss me–” Blay was whipped around and shoved hard against the dresser, the chest of drawers slamming against the wall with a thunder. As cologne bottles rattled and a brush hit the floor, Qhuinn forced his lips down hard on Blay’s, his fingers biting into Blay’s throat.
It didn’t matter, though. Hard and desperate was all he wanted from the guy. And Qhuinn was clearly on board, his tongue shooting out, taking . . . owning.

Typical of her, she was the one who put him to her sex. Xhex covered one of his hands with her own and got him right where they both wanted him to be.
Hot. Silky. Slick.
The orgasm at the head of his erection broke free the instant his fingers slipped through and came flush against the entry he was dying to breach: There was absolutely no holding the release back and she laughed in a throaty way as he jetted his marking on her legs.
“You like the way I feel,” she murmured.

“Come in me,” she groaned, as she pulled at his shoulders. John lifted his head and moved up her body, his arousal nudging against her inner thighs, getting closer.
She kissed him hard, grinding her mouth against his as she shoved her hand down between them and guided him where she needed him-His massive body torqued at the contact as she bit out, “Oh, God . . .” The blunt head of him parted her and he slid in nice and slow, filling her, stretching her. She arched so he could go all the way in and shifted her palms down his smooth back to the dip at the end of his spine . . . and even lower so that she could sink her nails into his ass.

His face was an erotic mask of the features she had seen so often, his lips drawn back off his long, white fangs, his brows down tight, his eyes blazing, his jaw clenched so hard that his cheeks had hollows in them. With every thrust, his pecs and his abdominals popped, the sweat on his skin gleaming in the dim light. The sight of him was the chaser to what he felt like deep in her, the sucker punch that came on the heels of the body shot, knocking her out completely.
“Take my vein,” she growled at him. “Take it– now.”

“Listen, John Matthew.” She took his chin in her hand. “You’re not turning me into one of those females who goes gaga over her lover. Not happening. I’m not hardwired for that.”
Her voice was stern and she meant every word–except the instant he rolled his hips and that huge arousal pushed into her, she purred. Purred.
The sound was utterly foreign and she’d have sucked it back down her throat if she could have. Instead, she just let out another of those decidedly non-tough-guy moans.

Her leathers were on the floor a split second later. Then with a quick hop, she jumped up and locked her thighs around his waist. Reaching down, she positioned him against her sex and squeezed her heels into his ass, making the penetration so very real. As his arousal sank deep, she took all of him, the sliding push enough to make her orgasm wildly.
Riding her release, her fangs shot out into her mouth, and John broke the kiss to tilt his head and flash his vein.
The puncture was sweet. The strength that came from him meteoric.

With a silent curse, he grabbed onto her thighs and squeezed, her muscles shifting under his hold, and he didn’t stop there. He drew his hands farther up, to the juncture where her legs met her torso, that electric crease drawing him to where they were joined.
His thumb slipped into the carnal heart of her and found the top of her sex, rubbing it in circles-In the dim light from the bathroom, he watched her arch back, her fangs cranking down on her lower lip in an effort to keep herself from crying out. He wanted to tell her to let her roar free, but he didn’t have time to pity her discretion–he came hard, his lids squeezing shut as he shuddered beneath her.

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Review: Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverenshrined
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #6
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Phury
Heroine: Cormia
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 03, 2008
Started On: October 05, 2016
Finished On: October 16, 2016

For someone who used to write down so many reviews per month, my lack in keeping up has become so bad that I am actually writing down a review for a book that I finished reading more than a year ago. This review might contain spoilers for those who have not read the series or even the book, so be warned.

Lover Enshrined, the 6th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a novel that stands out in many ways. It is the novel that brings to life the story of the Primale of the Vampire species, i.e. Phury, who takes on the role of being the designated vampire male who would mate and impregnate all the Chosen to bring about the next generation of Vampires. However, Phury breaks from tradition by bringing Cormia, the first female of the Chosen he was supposed to mate with back to the Brotherhood compound instead of completing the mating ritual, which is where Phury’s story begins.

Phury has never had it easy in his life, his battles forever being about people that he loved, his sacrifices when one actually reads through the series and ponders about it, which are immense in nature. His twin brother Zsadist, who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child had haunted Phury for the better part of his life, the quest to hunt for his brother and bring him back being what had driven him then. His return had meant Phury never did get over “paying” for something that had never been his fault to begin with. But guilt has a way of taking root inside even the best of us, and Phury’s character is one afflicted with a lot of it that brings about a self-sacrificial edge to him.

If things couldn’t get any worse, Phury falls for the very woman that had brought Zsadist immense happiness – perhaps one more way of ensuring that his suffering is a continued one. Phury also battles with the addiction of smoking – the Vampire world’s equivalent of being a drug addict owing to the voice inside his head which never quits. All that combined makes Phury a character that one wants to delve deep inside of, and I found him to be one who was truly fascinating in his own worth.

Cormia, for whom there would never have been a choice of refusing the Primale and her designated role in life had it been anyone else but Phury, finds the change of pace from what life would have been to what an amazing mass of contradictions it had become mind boggling at first. Throughout the first couple of months of living on the compound, Cormia finds herself slowly gravitating towards the male that had been thrust upon her without choice, and suddenly finds that she wants Phury for herself, and that sharing him as what was dictated by the rules was not exactly what she wants for her and the Primale.

What deviates the focus from the main protagonists of the story is the fact that there is so much else happening in Lover Enshrined, which is in one way what makes the Black Dagger Brotherhood series the stupendous one that it is. As a reader who was rooting for Phury in a large way, I found myself wanting more of their story in the book than Ward actually delivered. But then again, I understood the need that propelled the various threads of stories that emerged in the book, much needed to keep the series rolling in different and equally fascinating directions that never fails to amaze me.

Rehvenge’s role in the book, together with John Matthew and Xhex’s were quite alluring in their own rights. As I was reading through Lover Enshrined, I knew that I wanted their stories to be the next in the series – after all, JR Ward makes a compelling case for each of the main characters and even the side ones that she brings to light in the series.

Omega’s role – the main source of evil in the series was equally fascinating for me. Having never received the gift of giving life, Omega’s role had always been one where he is always a step behind the Scribe Virgin, his sister, who had been granted the ability by the Maker. But Omega’s deeply ambitious plan that comes to light in the story is one that could prove to be a game changer, all because it was cunning enough, and long term enough for the destabilization of the Vampire race from bottoms up. That I believe is what a good villain does to a story – shake things up to a point where your mind cannot comprehend the way out of the mess that is happening right in front of you.

The most deeply emotional scenes of the book for me included the scene where Tohrment came back and the reunion that happens between him and John Matthew. That was a scene truly worth all the emotions that coursed through me at that point. JR Ward also managed to surprise me beautifully towards the end when Zsadist sang for Phury. I was at times disappointed and frustrated with Zsadist for not being more “grateful” towards his brother. But then again, given the extent of scarring emotionally and physically of Zsadist’s character, I would say that the ending Ward delivered was what made up for all of it and gives the reader deep insight how Zsadist views the bond between himself and his twin Phury.

One more thing that I liked was the fact that Ward never made light of Phury’s addiction, even with the highly evolved physiology of vampires that makes them fast healers. Ward made Phury suffer every excruciating inch of going through the detoxing process, which I believe finally gave Phury that freedom to start living. Truly living.

Final Verdict: For fans of complex plots and fast paced novels that are equipped with rich dialog, character development, infused with burn-the-pages variety of hot sex! JR Ward definitely has no equivalent!

Favorite Quotes

“Kneel,” he said in a dark voice.
As Cormia sank down onto her knees, the brush fell out of her hand. Without a word, the Primale leaned into her, his huge arms going around her. He didn’t draw her to him. He undid her hair, all of it, the chignon and then the braid.
He growled as he fanned her hair out around her shoulders, and she became aware that his body was trembling. Without warning, he grabbed the back of her neck and pulled her into his throat.
“Take from me,” he demanded.

Holy mother of Words . . . His blood was a fire, first in her mouth then down in her gut, an alll-powerful wave that filled her out from the inside, giving her a strength she’d never known before.
“Harder,” he bit out. “Suck me. . . .”
She ran her arms under his and sank her nails into his back and took great pulls from his vein. She grew dizzy — no, wait, he was pushing her backward, taking her down onto the floor. She didn’t care what he did to her or where they ended up, because his taste was all-consuming as she consumed him. All she knew was the fountain of his life at her lips and down her throat and in her belly, and that was all she needed to know.

“Sit up on the table,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Please.”
She did as he asked and crossed her legs . . . and, holy hell, didn’t that robe of hers fall open, splitting wide up to her thigh. When she tried to close the gap, he whispered, “Leave it.”
Her hands stilled, then shifted back and flattened on the table to support her upper weight. “Is this all right?”
“Don’t. Move.”
Phury took his time as he drew her, the chalk becoming his hands going over her body, lingering on her neck and the swell of her breasts and the curve of her hip and the long, smooth expanse of her legs. He made love to her as he transferred her image onto the blackboard, the sound of the chalk a rasping noise.
Or maybe that was his breath.

“Take from me,” she said.
His eyes flared and he prowled up her body, kissing her stomach and pausing at one of her nipples, giving it lapping attention. And then his fangs were over her throat. “Are you sure?”
“Yes— oh, GOD!”
His strike was hard and deep, and it happened so fast . . . just as she ’d imagined it would. He was a Brother in need of what sustained them all, and she was nothing fragile to be broken. She gave and he took and another surge of that wild tension began to build in her again.
She shifted on the table, spreading her legs. “Take me. Whilst you do this . . . be in me.”

“Take your robe off.”
“Why?”
“Because if I do it, I’m going to shred it.”
Her chin lifted and her lids dropped, so that even though she had to look up to meet his eyes, she was still staring down her nose at him. “Why do I need to disrobe?”
With every territorial bone in his body, he growled, “I’m going to mark you.”

She slammed the spigot to the left and threw open the door. As the rush of water was cut off short, she confronted the Primale.
He was naked. Erect. Fully fanged.
The roar he let out was that of a lion, and as the sound reverberated off all the marble in the bathroom, she got even wetter between her legs.
He came at her, and she didn’t fight him as he grabbed her around the waist and popped her off her feet. He wasn’t gentle, but she didn’t want gentle—and to make sure he knew it she bit him in the shoulder as they came into the bedroom.
He roared again and dumped her on her bed, her body bouncing once. Twice.

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