Review: Forgotten by Maggie Shayne

Format: E-bookforgotten
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Series: Shayne’s Supernaturals, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ashville Allan Coye
Heroine: Josephine Belinda Bradshaw
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 21, 2012
Started On: August 6, 2015
Finished On: August 8, 2015

I love romances that involve two people who think they are ill suited for one another. I know that that’s not just me. There’s so much fun that happens before they do realize that their ultimate partner lies in one another. Add to that a twist paranormal, as in the heroine being a psychic, well that’s just the icing on the cake for me.

It’s being a long time since I read and re-read Linda Howard’s Dream Man. Ever since, I’ve always looked out for any other stories that would bring forth as much emotion as that particular tale did for me. Forgotten by Maggie Shayne filled that need somewhat, and for that and more, I enjoyed the story that unfolded, so very much.

Ashville Allan Coye (Ash), is lying on a hospital bed, pretending that an accident he’d met with had resulted in him landing with a bout of amnesia, when Josephine Belinda Bradshaw (Joey) walks into his hospital room and announces that she’s his somewhat newly wedded wife.

Ash had been pursuing the story behind The Syracuse Slasher when the accident happened and when Joey walks in and drops the obviously false news of his marital status, Ash is hard pressed to find out what it is exactly that this woman who drives a Harley and is as far removed from every condition he has jotted down for the future missus to meet is up to.

Joey’s psychic abilities are more of a pain to her than something she rejoices in. For one thing, it gets her labeled as a crackpot or worse. For another, her ability at times is not the most cooperative, especially when she wants to help people who could be in mortal danger. With Ash, Joey is determined to stick by his side and hopefully save him from becoming another victim of The Syracuse Slasher together with a different agenda of her own that involves her own family.

Ash and Joey’s connection to one another stems from the sizzling attraction that flares between them from the get go. Ash who deals with issues stemming from growing up with a drunken whore of a mother, his inability to trust a woman to do right by him makes him question his attraction towards Joey. Joey has her own issues to deal with, her lack of trust when it comes to the opposite sex, given the philandering ways of her father. Or so she believes it to be.

Amidst increasing danger to both their selves, Ash and Joey find in each other, a partner they’d be willing to spend their life with, if only the ramifications of coming clean with the whole charade on both sides would give them a fighting chance at what they have between them. Added to the mix, is a killer whose mad enough to go on a rampage, just to feed the delusion that keeps the hunger for the kills at bay.

Maggie Shayne does a splendid job of bringing to life Ash & Joey, two characters whom you fall in love with & root for from the onset. Ash is the journalist, who sees everything in provable facts and figures. And Joey is the woman who shakes up everything he believes in, even what he had perceived as would be the best fit for him when it comes to a life partner.

With a couple of twists thrown in for good measure, Maggie Shayne delivers a story worth sinking into. Loved it.

Final Verdict: Romance, heat & murder. What more can this twisted mind of mine ask for?

Favorite Quotes

To change the subject, she waved a hand to indicate the room they were in, a sparse area with cement floors and white walls littered with exercise equipment “This is my torture chamber, as you can see. There’s a bathroom through here, and that other door leads to the basement”
His gaze lingered on the weight bench and narrowed. “You pump iron?”
“You disapprove?”
“It’s unfeminine.”
“The results aren’t.”
He looked her over thoroughly, his gaze traveling a deliberately slow path over her. For the first time in her life, Joey felt uncomfortable in skintight pants and a skimpy bustier. “I’ll let you know,” he quipped.”

His tongue swept into her mouth like a loving caress, touching her in a probing search as if he were an explorer, the first to enter there. She felt as if he were tasting her, and liking what he found as his tongue dipped and danced around her mouth. She began to shake.
It shocked her. She tried to analyze it. She wasn’t shivering with cold, or with fear. Her arms curled tighter around his neck. Her body pressed harder against his, and her fingers threaded into his hair. This was good. Whatever this was, it was incredibly good. When he withdrew his tongue, she thrust her own into his mouth. But hers was hungrier, more demanding, and she felt him shudder in response.

He stood utterly still for a moment fighting the demon that drove him to turn her around, to look at her, to touch her. It was a hard battle, harder because it was one he didn’t want to win. But he stiffened his resolve and reached past her for the T-shirt. As she gripped the bed for support, he pulled it over her head, holding it in place while she inserted one arm, then the other. And it really was accidental that the backs of his fingers brushed over her breasts as he pulled the shirt down over her body.
He felt her shudder, though. He lifted her hair out of the shirt’s collar, and then he held it aside and lowered his lips to the back of her neck. He didn’t think about doing it, wasn’t even aware he was going to until his lips brushed over her nape. He heard the breath escape from her in a rush, and he felt something akin to pain squeeze his chest.

“Ah, God, Joey.” It was a whisper, hoarse, as if he were in some kind of pain. His hand drifted downward, over her chin, her throat. His fingertips skimmed her breast, then his palm closed over it.
She closed her eyes and let her head fall back in reaction to his touch. His hand slid over the curve of her waist, around to the small of her back, and he drew her to him. Free hand driving into her hair, he brought her face level again, and then he kissed her.

His head angled. His lips slid over her face, and he nibbled at her jaw, then moved lower, the damp warmth of his mouth bathing her neck and the hollow below her ear. Her heart raced, drowning out the sounds of traffic below. Her senses filled with him, with wanting him, needing him.
He bent her backward and took one breast into his mouth. Her hands on his shoulders tightened, and she felt the shudder that ran through him. He suckled her, making her gasp for breaths that wouldn’t seem to come.

He pushed her, and he pulled her. Played with her as if she were a puppet on a string, driving her to the edge of madness only to let her hang there, begging for fulfillment in the language of her body. She writhed beneath him, longing for it, mindless in her need.
Then he gave her what she craved, quickening his pace, deepening his invasion into her body, driving into her as she felt his need grow to equal her own.
And then she exploded.

She blinked at him, her eyes wide and wonder filled. “I’m so afraid of this,” she whispered.
“Of wanting me?” He slipped his hands beneath her shirt and ran his palms over the warm, smooth curve of her back.
“Of… of needing you.”
He closed his eyes at the impact of her words. “I know.”
“It’s overpowering. It’s getting worse all the time, and I—”
“And I can’t do anything to stop it,” he finished for her. “I’m not sure I want to stop it.”

He picked her up, hands on the backs of her parted thighs, carefully avoiding the bandaged wound. He lowered her over his arousal. Her tightness was like a hand, gripping, squeezing. He held her hips and moved her up and down over him. She clung to him, feeding on his mouth as if she were starved for it. Her breasts, their nipples pebble hard, brushed over his chest, driving him insane.

He kissed her jaw, her throat Her head tipped back as he bit and suckled her neck. He pushed her back still farther, and she arched to give him access to her breasts. Those dark peaks strained toward him, silently begging for attention. He laved them with his tongue, going at one after the other like a man possessed. Her body moved faster, harder, taking him more deeply into her with each thrust. He bit her nipples, tugged at them, sucked them mercilessly, until she was trembling and biting her lip to keep quiet.

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

greatread

Review: Special Gifts by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookspecialgifts
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Sam Oliver
Heroine: Elizabeth Hardy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 1, 1990
Started On: May 9, 2014
Finished On: May 16, 2014

I tend to get overly dramatic every time I finish a book from my pile of books to be read by Anne Stuart. Even the romances that she has written way earlier tends to hold a magic that hasn’t died out even today. The depression that I feel because there are a handful of books left in this treasure of mine tends to grow exponentially as well. I came across Special Gifts while browsing through Goodreads or rather stalking through book shelves of readers who share a similar penchant for books by Anne Stuart and I certainly was not disappointed.

29 year old Elizabeth Hardy moves to Colorado for one reason. To lick her wounds in private and resign herself to the fate of a lonesome life for the rest of her days. But one thing that prevents her from not seeking the company of other people, mainly that of Police Detective Phil Grayson is because of her visions, the visions that render her as cold as ice from deep within; visions of horror, evilness and blood red murders. It is one such vision that propels Phil to contact his ex-Army Intelligence buddy Colonel Sam Oliver who turns Elizabeth’s world upside down in more than one way.

A killer known as the Colorado Slasher incites fear in the heart of the people and a coldness inside of Elizabeth the likes of which she has never experienced before. While Oliver with his cynical beliefs about people like her makes her want to scream in frustration, it is the hot fire of attraction that sizzles her nerve endings and warms her from deep within that disturbs her more than anything else.

While the public and law enforcement at large may treat the “Colorado Slasher” as the average serial killer, what propels Phil to contact Oliver is the fear that the killings are related to something way beyond that. Oliver who has had his emotions washed out of him a long time back finds himself in a dilemma when his body doesn’t pay heed to what his mind tells him when it comes to Elizabeth; that tangling with the likes of her is not for hardened and world weary men like him.

Anne Stuart does a swell job out of the attraction and the romance that buds into life between Elizabeth and Oliver. Though certain aspects of the suspense aspect didn’t make much of a sense to me, perhaps because I was more interested in finding out when Elizabeth and Oliver would reach that point of no return; I still loved this book and the story it had to offer. Elizabeth might want to be a recluse but her heart yearns for the impossible; for Oliver to sweep her away true to her visions of the two of them together.

Oliver resists at first, as of course most stubborn headed men do so, and finally give in, oh so deliciously when the time arrives. Oliver has this take charge attitude that is so very sexy and I found myself totally hooked to his character. His reluctant feelings for Elizabeth certainly made this a delicious read to savor. And oh boy, the shared vision of Elizabeth in her red dress with Oliver wearing nothing more than a sexy pair of jeans, taking them both to heights of pleasure unexplored before certainly made for a very enticing picture. And Anne Stuart unlike some authors who leave readers hanging on that aspect definitely delivers on that score!

Recommended.

Final Verdict: Elizabeth, Oliver and danger. Certainly a combination you ought not miss!

Favorite Quotes

His heart was racing when he stormed into the bedroom. In the darkness he could see the huddled bundle of humanity in the middle of his bed, and for a moment he, who didn’t know the meaning of fear, was terrified to move. She was covered with the quilt from head to toe, and he knew that if he pulled that cover aside he’d be looking into her lifeless brown eyes, her cut throat a second red smile beneath her mouth.
He moved slowly, kneeling on the bed, and began to pull at the quilt. She didn’t move, didn’t make a sound, as he uncovered her still, pale, lifeless face. And then her eyes fluttered open, focusing on his face, and she smiled at him.

She made it as far as the door. She’d forgotten he could move so fast. One moment he was lying stretched out on his huge bed, covered with the flowing red material, a few seconds later he’d caught her by the front door. Caught her with his large, strong hands, imprisoning her arms. Caught her with his big body, pressing her smaller, frailer one up against the heavy door. Caught her with his mouth on hers, hot and wet and demanding.

She brought her hands up between them to push him away, but once again her fingers touched his bare skin, his smoothly muscled chest, and she was lost. She tipped her head to one side, to give him better access, and let him kiss her.
He lifted his head and stared down at her in the darkness of the hallway, his eyes glittering and strangely savage. “Kiss me back, damn it,” he said harshly, setting his mouth back on hers. And she did, opening her mouth to his, sliding her arms up and around his neck, pulling him down to her.

This was no gentle wooing. This was demand, pure and simple. And to his mingled surprise and satisfaction it was a demand she answered, sliding her arms around his waist and softening her mouth for his searing kiss.
She was all soft and shivery in his arms. The more he kissed her, the more he wanted. He wanted to drown in her mouth; he wanted to devour her; he wanted everything to disappear but the wet, hungry texture of his mouth and hers.

He didn’t know where to start. He didn’t know if he could touch her without terrifying her; he didn’t know if he could take that white cotton nightgown with its row of tiny buttons off her without tearing it from her. He didn’t know if he could stroke her, arouse her, bring her pleasure, before the raging demands of his own body overwhelmed him and he buried himself in her. For the first time in his life, his woman’s pleasure mattered more than his. He just wasn’t sure if his body realized it.

The skirt was up to her hips, and his fullness pressed against her, ready to explode.
“Wait,” he groaned against her mouth. “You’re not…”
“Yes,” she said, pulling him against the cradle of her thighs, until he rested against her, throbbing, waiting. “Yes, I am,” she whispered.
With a muffled moan he slid into her, hard and full and deep, and for a moment he thought he might explode with the wonder of it.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Abe Books | B&N

greatread

Review: Bound by Marriage by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookboundbymarriage
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Silhouette Desire
Hero: Gabriel Dumont
Heroine: Jess Randall
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 2005
Started On: August 7, 2013
Finished On: August 9, 2013

I have been so engrossed with reading the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh that I have never even wondered whether Nalini has strayed into writing any other genres in the world of romance. So while I was doing some random searching on the Internet, imagine my surprise when this little number came up, and that too with the uber interesting marriage of convenience trope that can really make for superb reads!

Bound by Marriage takes place in New Zealand and is told from both the hero and heroine’s point of views in the third person. While wealthy rancher Gabriel Dumont and Jess Randall enter into a marriage of convenience knowing fully well what they both are getting into, neither of them factors in the searing passion that lights up the sheets between them and of course plays havoc with the general order of things or how they both perceive their joint lives would turn out to be.

Jess never thought that her heart would be capable of loving anyone else, much less a man like Gabriel who is so withdrawn that he opens up to her only when they are in bed together, him drawing out responses from her that she would never have thought possible. But even then the times that Gabriel does let her see that tender side of his, although it is very rarely with the situations that continue to develop and put further strains on their already fragile bond, Jess finds herself inexorably drawn towards the man she calls as her husband.

I seriously thought that I would have a hard time liking Gabriel by the time the book was half way through. Yes, he is that stubborn and set in his ways that if it weren’t for his emotions that are as much in turmoil as that of Jess’s I wouldn’t have thought that he felt anything for the woman he had married. But lo and behold, I should have trusted Nalini a bit more and waited for the bombshell when it hit and yes, I was blown away with the compassion and love that filled my heart for the little boy Gabriel had been when he had lost vital pieces of his heart in a way that they would never be regained.

For some readers, Jess might seem to be putting up with much more than they would have liked. But I think Gabriel needed someone just as equally stubborn as him, willing to give until those impenetrable shields of his that he wears around himself like an armor were all but shattered around him. I loved the ending, the glimpse into the man Gabriel later turns into, not completely tamed, no never that, but a man who is at least a little bit at peace with his past and smiling in the arms of the woman who loves him like there is no tomorrow.

Final Verdict: Sensual & heart wrenching; Silhouette Desire at its best!

Favorite Quotes

Gabriel’s hand was rough against her skin, the hand of a man who worked the land. But on her neck, his lips were almost velvet soft—a seductive contrast. She lost her breath as he closed his teeth over a pulse point, then released with exquisite deliberation, scraping those same strong teeth along the sensitive flesh.

“I’m damn glad you’re a rider, Jess,” he almost growled as he filled her, going so deep that she could feel his heartbeat in her body.
Not aware enough to understand what he was referring to, she squeezed intimate muscles around him in a reaction as old as time itself. Throwing back his head, he tightened his hold on her and began to move. His rhythm was fast, his strokes deep. She screamed and screamed as he pushed her over the edge in a tempest of hot breaths and powerful thrusts.
And when she fell, it was as a marked woman. Gabriel Dumont’s woman.

And then she heard the zipper being lowered.
Even that warning wasn’t enough. She screamed as he pushed into her. Hard. Fast. Deep. Her body accepted him, welcomed his driving thrusts, but he was merciless in the intensity of what he asked of her, pushing her so far that she lost all traces of civilization and surrendered to her most primal heart.

“So I did,” he murmured, reclaiming her lips even as his hand pushed aside the gusset of her panties to thrust two fingers deep into a body more than primed by the slow seduction. Pleasure erupted inside her almost instantaneously. Pulling away from the ravaging fury of his mouth, she threw back her head and rode his fingers, feeling herself clench and unclench with vicious strength.

Gabe’s arm came around her waist and his teeth scraped lightly over the sensitive skin of her neck. “Now, Jess. Now!”
She fractured under the command, everything female in her glorying in the wildness of that harsh masculine voice. At the last second, their eyes met in the mirror and Jess knew they’d crossed a line. The question was, what lay on the other side?

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

[xrr rating = 4.5/5]

Caliber SEAL: AMAZING READ!

Score Sheet Review: Uncaged by Lucy Gordon

Format: Paperback
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Silhouette Desire, #864
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Detective Inspector Daniel Keller
Heroine: Megan Elizabeth Anderson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 28, 1994
Started On: April 4, 2012
Finished On: April 6, 2012

CATEGORY SCORE GRADE
The hero 80 A
The heroine 75 B
Story line 80 A
Emotional Intensity 70 B
Suck me in Factor 70 B
Heat & Sensuality  75 B
Conflicts 80 A
Writing Style 75 B
Quotable Factor 60 B
Ending 75 B
Overall Grade 74 B

Score Sheet Summary

Uncaged by Lucy Gordon is a novel that has a promising and different premise that sucked me right in. Rather than the hero who has been wronged, it is the heroine Megan Elizabeth Anderson who finds herself accused of a murder that she did not commit and jailed for a period of 3 years until a technicality overlooked during the investigation sets her free. During the time that she had lost from her life, it had been the thoughts of her son Tommy and her burning hatred for the man who had been relentless in his belief that she was the murderess and set about to proving it without any thought or feeling that had been the focal point of her thoughts and dreams.

What makes Uncaged different is that it is the hero Detective Inspector Daniel Keller who makes the biggest mistake in his career when he wrongfully convicts and sends an innocent woman to jail. Daniel’s life had been far from perfect when the case had come to his attention and he had heeded advice from well meaning friends to take a break and grieve as he deserved to before trying to bury himself in work.

Thus circumstances, guilt and a whole lot of other conflicting emotions brings Daniel to Megan’s door, Megan who wants nothing more than to make Daniel as miserable as she is feeling. But as mistrust and other hostile feelings give away from both ends, there comes to light a desire for each other that surpasses any other emotion that they both have known, a desire that blinds them both into accepting the reprieve and emotional high that only they both can give each other.

Daniel is a hero who awakens so many emotions deep inside of you. You feel for his suffering, his anguish and empathize with what he was going through when he had made the worst mistake of his life. His guilt is an almost tangible one, that never ending grief in his eyes one that reaches out to you from the very start. Megan is quite the heroine who belongs in my list of unusual heroines. She is bold, vivacious and has a temper that fires up quite easily and she is a beauty that drove and continues to drive men crazy. Both Megan and Daniel have suffered so much in the past and the way they are able to see beyond their own suffering to empathize with the other was what made this book unforgettable.

Though the execution of the story could have been better, nevertheless I enjoyed the story and would recommend this read to those who love romances based around female convicts.

Favorite Quotes

With a low growl from his very depths, he pulled her against him and smothered her mouth with his own. There was madness in the passion that swept over him, engulfing him in its pounding urgency. Everything about this situation was insane. He knew that, but he was helpless in the grasp of sensstions that he’d never experienced before.

Through the roaring of her senses she managed to murmur, “Daniel…”
“Yes,” he said hoarsely.
“We shouldn’t do this…I know we shouldn’t….”
“Then tell me to stop.” She looked up at him helplessly, and with a groan he covered her mouth again. “Tell me to stop,” he repeated in a voice that was half command, half plea.
“I can’t…you know I can’t…”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks

[xrr rating=3.75/5]

Caliber Seal: GOOD READ!

Review: Rafferty’s Angel by Caroline Cross

Format: Paperback
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Silhouette Desire, #851
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Chase Rafferty
Heroine: Margaret Rose McKenna
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 1, 1994
Started On: January 4, 2012
Finished On: January 4, 2012

Reading wise, the year 2012 didn’t start off so great for me. I picked up 2 books which have received rave and glowing reviews from several reviewers & readers, but somehow I found myself not really getting into the story that was developing. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or lets face it, I may very well be the odd one out when it comes to the said books. That being said, Caroline Cross’s Rafferty’s Angel was a recommendation I got off of a giveaway I held here on my blog and I have been awaiting this one’s arrival ever since I ordered a used copy from Abe Books. So  last evening I found myself engrossed in the story that unfolded, a book that delivered exactly what I was craving for which made me a very happy and satisfied reader all around.

Former DEA Agent Chase Rafferty is a man who is haunted by what took place 2 years ago. The fact that the widow of the man whom he had killed had come forward to provide the testimony that had freed him in the eyes of the law continues to haunt and taunt him. Chase had grown up without ever knowing an ounce of kindness from his military bred father and his life as a DEA agent later on makes him a cynical man, one who is befuddled and confused by the way Maggie comes forth to the rescue of the one man whom she should hate with every fiber of her being.

2 years pass on by and Maggie lives in her hometown of Mission in Eastern Oregon with her two children. Once again, Maggie finds herself playing the rescuer, this time to a Chase that seems to have lost all hope, a man whose tormented soul beckons Maggie to bestow upon him her soothing touch, a man she undeniably has a strong connection towards no matter how much she may try to think otherwise.

Its a slow and a moving journey that Maggie and Chase takes together towards the discovery that in each other lies their better halves and their entwined future, if only Chase is willing to let go of the demons that continue to hound him every step of the way. The sizzling sexual tension that is so much a part of Maggie and Chase’s relationship proved to be an oh! so delicious one, one that had all my nerves rejoicing in the way that Chase loses his control when it comes to Maggie.

Maggie is one of the most endearing heroines I have come across. She has this soothing quality that is hard to explain, heck she even worked her charm over me throughout the story. I was lulled into this place where the world was a beautiful riot of colors, one where loneliness and pain is a foreign concept. That doesn’t mean that this story is all fluff, candies and rainbows. Hardly that, but Caroline Cross’s writing came across to me as a thing of beauty, one that I fell hopelessly in love with and won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

For fans of tortured and cynical heroes, Chase Rafferty is the man for you! He is sexy as sin and has a way about him that would draw you into his character and make you want to shoo away all those nightmares that seems to linger on even after such a long time. 

Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Yet as bad as she felt, it was nothing compared to the stark despair she saw in Rafferty’s eyes. It was so total, and went so deep, that it made her forget her own hurt to see it. It was the look of a man who’d given up deep inside where it mattered most, and for Maggie, who was a survivor to her very toes, it was profoundly disturbing.

Maggie lifted her head.
Chase lowered his.
Like the inevitable meeting of sea with shore, their mouths came together.

And then those dusky lashes fluttered up, revealing a lambent gleam of jungle green.
His hands circled her waist and she slowly flexed his hips, a wholly male sound of satisfaction escaping him when her eyes fluttered shut and she gasped.
And then a small, secret, feminine smile appeared on her lips and Chase’s control snapped like a power line in a high wind.
Wrapping her in his arms, he began to pump into her in a slow, relentless rhythm that was both too much and not enough.

“Oh, baby, I can’t wait….”
“Don’t. I want you, Chase….” She slid her fingers up the strong channel of his spine to lock in the soft heavy gold of his hair and urged him down until his mouth, hot and wet, latched hungrily on one distended nipple. He hooked his fingers in the fragile lace barrier of her panties and tore them away, then yanked at the fastening of his jeans.
This time there was no slow slide of discovery. There was one endless agonizing second of delay as he made use of one of the packets she’d purchased, and then he was gripping her hips and plunging inside her, the pair of them bowing together as the ache of anticipation became a white-hot pulse of pleasure.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Abe Books

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

Caliber Seal: AMAZING READ!

Review: Cullen’s Bride by Fiona Brand

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Silhouette Intimate Moments, #914
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Cullen Logan
Heroine: Rachel Sinclair
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 1, 1999
Started On: December 20, 2011
Finished On: December 21, 2011

Fiona Brand is an author whose name gets associated with that of Linda Howard. I have always heard that she has a similar writing style to that of one of my favorite authors of the romance genre and that is one reason why I picked up Cullen’s Bride to sample her writing. And of course a lot of raving reviews of the book by my Goodreads friends had me buying my very first Fiona Brand and indulging in it as soon as I could.

27 year old Rachel Sinclair returns back to the small town of Riverbend after a divorce that had completely shattered with plans to turn her life around. Now the owner of a hair salon, Rachel doesn’t expect much trouble from her sleepy hometown until she experiences otherwise. To her rescue comes 33 year old Cullen Logan, Riverbend’s one time bad boy and outlaw turned military man and still an outcast in his hometown.

The attraction that flares up between Rachel and Cullen is an immediate and a strong one at that, one that Fiona weaves so cleverly throughout the story. Rachel might have grown up with 4 overprotective half brothers who had tried to shield her from the reality that is life. But Rachel is a grown up woman, a woman who is determined in her efforts to live her own life on her own terms. Even when all her survival instincts tells her to flee in the opposite direction whenever she is around Cullen, her heart and other emotions that would like nothing better than to be claimed by the big, tough and a little bit rough around the edges former bad boy wants nothing more than to embrace him heart, body and soul.

Cullen is haunted by the very thought of sullying up the beautiful and dainty Rachel with his touch, his distrust for himself something he has lived with for a long time. But the need that takes a hold of him whenever he runs into Rachel is one that grows in its intensity from one encounter to the next until its very explosive against-the-wall culmination that changes both Cullen and Rachel’s lives forever.

I love it when a book is filled with sexual tension that just grows exponentially until I can barely remember to breathe while reading. And Cullen’s Bride turned out to be a book that delivered extremely well on that aspect from the very sexy Cullen Logan who just seems to fill up the pages with his mere presence. He is what you would call a tortured and tormented hero whose childhood had been nothing but disappointment and his rebellious attitude as a teenager that had stemmed from his frustration with just how meaningless his life had been. The military had been the one place where Cullen had fit in and it had molded him into a more dangerous version of the man he had been, one that is more alluring because even with that iron-clad control of his, nothing can change the fact that underneath all that civilized demeanor lies a man who is wild in his passions for the right woman.

I loved Rachel from the very start. From the way she pets and strokes the huge bear of a man who sends all her emotions into a tailspin to the way she stands up for what she wants and believes in and because Rachel knows when to advance and retreat in her mission to win the love of the one man who is reluctant to do just that made me fall for her big time! She matches Cullen in every way and is exactly what he wants and needs, even protecting him from the unjust voices in her hometown from making him feel unwelcome.

Tying up this story of need, red-hot desire with a reluctant hero and a determined heroine is a tad of suspense that just makes it a well rounded tale of romance very hard to put down. The one thing that the Kindle version of this book could have used though was a good editor; seriously some out of this world editing errors throughout the book that kept hindering with my enjoyment of the story.

If you love a hot, tortured hero who just makes your toes curl, Cullen’s Bride is the book for you. I seriously dare you not to dream that you are Rachel the minute the heat is on! 

Favorite Quotes

She pushed the hair away, then began uncoiling and recoiling the silky mass with an unconscious, natural grace. Against the crude background of the alley, she was startlingly feminine and delicate, and with every movement of her arms and hair, her scent wove around Cullen—flowers and freshness and the subtle earthy warmth of woman It sank into him and hardened him with a primitive fierceness he hadn’t experienced since his early teens.

“I’m no Prince Charming,” he admitted flatly. “I’m big and hard, and so hungry it feels like I haven’t had a woman in years. I wouldn’t court you, Rachel, I’d just take you.”

She’d braced herself for a hard, plundering, ravaging assault, but the sweetness of his caress was butterfly-soft, and so beguiling that she ached for him to deepen the pressure. Her hands lifted and settled on the incredible warmth of his chest as she parted her lips and tilted her head to grant him easier access. She was as guilty of misjudging Cullen as everyone else was—he looked every inch an outlaw, but he was kissing her like an angel. A fallen, dangerously beautiful angel.

The passionate fury in every line of her body made Cullen go still. The sudden vision of Rachel locked beneath him, her legs wrapped around his waist, that wild gaze linked passionately with his as he pushed himself inside her, flooded his loins with a throbbing, painful heat. A groan rolled through him, and he broke out in a sweat. Sweet hell
He wanted her. Here. Now.
And God help them both, but she wanted him, too.

Rachel arched, deliberately parting herself more widely over him, inviting him deeper into her body. She heard his intake of air, felt the raw tremor that shook him. Sweat sprang out on his skin, making him glow copper in the half-light. His lips drew back, baring his teeth as he fought for the control she was intent on denying him; then, with a rough sound somewhere between a groan and a purr, his hips jackhammered, and he thrust himself all the way in.
Time stopped. Rachel registered the wild dilation in Cullen’s eyes, her own sense of unreality. She was backed up against a wall, her arms and legs wrapped around Cullen, and he was so deep inside her that her muscles quivered in reaction to his alien heat and hardness.

Rachel’s kiss reached inside him and twined around what passed for his soul. and when she took her mouth from his, she had it all. He knew he loved her with everything he was. Everything that he could be. There would never be another woman for him.
And he could never tell her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBaord | Kobo | Harlequin

[xrr rating=4.25/5]

Caliber Seal: AWESOME READ!

Review: Now You See Him… by Anne Stuart

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Silhouette Intimate Moments, #429
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: James Mackintosh Bond
Heroine: Frances Neeley
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 1992
Started On: June 29, 2011
Finished On: June 29, 2011

Its being quite some time since I immersed myself in the magic that Anne Stuart alone can create with her ruthlessly determined and controlled heroes. Now You See Him is one of her much earlier books and a Harlequin romance at that but nevertheless still managed to pack a wealth of emotion into the 200+ pages of the story.

Now You See Him kicks off in quite an unusual way with the heroine Frances Neeley waiting for her to-be lover Patrick Dugan to come home after attending some demonstration in his cause for freedom for Ireland. However, the night does not end amidst a bed of roses but rather in a severe bloodbath as Patrick turns out to be a murderer, a liar and a terrorist for whom Francey had just been a means to an end.

Francey retires to the tiny island of St. Anne’s in the Carribbean to lick her wounds in private and to let the sun, sea and the beach work its magic on her raw, open wounds. When her cousin Daniel Traverse who owns the villa Belle Reste in which Francey is recuperating sends along seemingly harmless Michael Dowde recovering from a near fatal auto accident, Francey almost lets her guard down in thinking that no harm would come to her from Michael even when her instincts scream at her otherwise.

Michael’s mission while he gets back his strength is a simple one. Find out whether Francey is as innocent as she claims to be or eliminate her if else. But what he doesn’t count on is for someone as unremarkable as Francey with her brown hair, brown eyes and heart shaped face to get under his skin right from the initial onset.

When danger comes calling from the terrorist cell which Michael has been trying to hunt down for so long, he does the only thing that the 37 years of his life of living on the edge has taught him; protect Francey with everything he is even though he knows that the threat on his heart from the woman he is on the run with is a very likely possibility. For the first time in his life, Michael who weaves a web of deceit so great to protect Francey and his cover finds himself itching to possess the purity that is Francey, make her his and starts thinking foolish thoughts of a shared future which he has no right thinking.

Francey doesn’t fare any better when she is drawn towards the enigmatic Michael with his erotic looking hands, who fires up her desires unlike anything she has ever experienced. Though her heart warns her to stay away from a man whom she knows is not telling her the truth, Francey knows she would lay down her very life for this man with the many facets, who turns up at the most unexpected moments and who haunts her every waking thought and dreams when he is not around.

Now You See Him though a short novel doesn’t pull any punches nor takes any short cut in the adventure or the romance aspect of the story. Michael who goes by so many names is a man with a dangerous past, who knows that Francey would be far better off without him in the picture. However, he is as much a slave to the desire that unfolds between these two polar opposites, the strength of the growing feelings pulling them together regardless of danger or the consequences.

Michael is a hero who made my heart go aflutter, who made my senses go alive and who made me yearn and crave for his happily ever after. And I loved Francey because she identified with the real man behind all the facades to find Michael a man worthy of her trust and affections. Though many a reader may not like Michael as a hero and the story that unfolded, for me, Now You See Him is just the perfect sort of read to indulge and immerse myself in to escape reality.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart’s ICE series and for those who like their heroes a bit ruthless with an edge.

Favorite Quotes

Her tan had faded, she’d lost weight, and the bruises marked her body in the dim light. Stripping off his own clothes, he lay down next to her, drawing her unresisting body into his arms. “I don’t even know what they did to you,” he whispered against her skin, kissing the bruise on her shoulder. “I can see the marks where they hurt you, but I don’t know how badly. I don’t know if you’re ready for this.” He looked down at her, pushing her hair out of her face. “I only know I can’t wait…”

And then it wasn’t slow at all. It was fast and hard and furious, the bed pounding beneath them, her hands clawing at his back, her mouth full of anguished entreaties, and he wanted to give her more, more, give her everything she asked, everything she didn’t ask. He wanted to give her his life, his soul, to pour everything into her and exist only in that moment.

Purchase Links: Amazon

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

Caliber Seal: AMAZING READ!