Review: The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehunter
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Christopher Argent
Heroine: Millicent Karolina Lapinski
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 02, 2016
Started On: September 01, 2019
Finished On: September 26, 2019

“Death is inevitable. To fear it is to waste energy.”

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne is book 2 in her fabulous Victorian Rebel series, where she writes about rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards who steal your heart and leave you wanting more. The Hunter explores the story of Christopher Argent who is an assassin, whose very nature makes him the perfect killer for hire. That is until Christopher’s services is procured to assassinate London’s darling and the stunningly beautiful actress Millicent Karolina Lapinski (Millie).

Christopher who is always able to detach himself from the lives he has taken thus far is unable to do so when he meets Millie, and in the process puts her and her son’s life in danger. With Millie Christopher for the first time learns the meaning of unthrottled desire. In Millie Christopher sees a woman who drives him crazy with need, and with whom his senses come alive as if he has been waiting for her touch all his life.

Christopher’s darkness lies deeply engraved in him, making him one of the most fascinating heroes I have read of late. I enjoyed The Hunter more than I did the first and third book in the series, the latter of which I read first. The lack of an epilogue is perhaps one of the main reasons why the rating did not go higher. Having gone through the roller-coaster ride of emotions that this book takes readers on, I believe we need an epilogue to let go of Christopher’s story with a heart that believes he got the best of what the world has to offer in terms of love of the kind that perseveres, no matter what.

Christopher’s character is perhaps one of the most emotionally complex characters that the series has offered thus far; his birth in the belly of the beast that is Newgate Prison and the unconscionable violence and tragedy that had been so much part of his life and shaped him into adulthood, marking him for life. I was traumatized by the sheer scale of violence that Christopher was subjected to, much of it with just enough details for the reader to form a full picture.

I found the delve into his psyche the most fascinating aspect of the story. Millie’s son Jakub was just adorable and I believe that he really did make a difference in the way Christopher sees himself. Millie was also such a darling character. She was a match for Christopher in every sense. A fierce lioness where needed and a gentle lover who knows just the right touch; when to press forward and when to give in, which is crucial in dealing with a man like Christopher whose life up till that point had taught him that he was a man unfit for loving and being loved.

Seeing Dorian and Farah was such a nice touch to the story as well, both of them easing into the new roles of their lives as husband and wife made me really happy.

I am so glad for having stumbled across these titles because at the cost of repeating myself, they come with the kind of darkness that I as a reader revel in. Heroes whose darkness is embraced by the heroine rather than embarking on an agenda of reform for the hero which is just plain annoying and unrealistic when it comes to characters who have gone through so much as Christopher did.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of dark historical romances. This one is all kinds of delicious!

Final Verdict: Christopher is the kind of hero that makes a romance stand out. The Hunter is a novel that takes readers through tumultuous emotions of the kind that delivers!

Favorite Quotes

“It won’t hurt, I promise,” he whispered as his fingers gently reached the nape of her neck, and then her jaw, and paused there.
It already hurt. She ached, ached in places generally best left ignored. Millie’s breath had now been reduced to little more than needy pants. “If you don’t kiss me, I’ll die,” she confessed.
He froze.
Vibrating with frustrated arousal she surged against him, lifting to her toes and grinding her lips against his.
The kiss was as hungry as it was sudden. While his eyes may have been cold, his mouth was hot and tasted of wine and male. She kissed him with abandon, enjoying the way his entire body jolted and went instantly rigid.

His fingers tightened again against her throat, just a little, and she gasped. Then moaned as a thrill of fear titillated down her nerves and settled as a pool of moisture between her thighs.
“Again,” she demanded, her arms winding around his neck, her body rubbing against his like a cat demanding to be stroked.
His curse was lost in the cavern of her mouth, and she knew in that moment that they both needed to see whatever this was between them to fruition.

Her scent filled his nostrils and held him prisoner. Soap, sweat, and something that reminded him of late summer berries. Everything about her enticed him, and the clenching of the muscles beneath his stomach pulled a sound from his throat so desperate, it could have been a plea.
In that moment, he could feel that she lost her fear.
And he lost his mind.

“I wonder…” Her husky voice vibrated through him, sending shivers of yearning down his spine that arced to his turgid sex with agonizing need. “I wonder, Mr. Argent, if you take instruction as deftly as you give it.”
Christopher froze beneath her, his entire being focused on the growing heat between her parted legs, creeping closer to his aching arousal with the graceful arch of her body as she continued to sit back.
“Never,” he breathed. He obeyed no one.
“Not even if I ordered you to claim my lips with yours?”

“Kiss me,” she commanded, rolling her hips back until she was pressed intimately against him, her voice containing a growing desperation that might not entirely pertain to the carnal heat building between them. “Kiss me like you did the night we met. Like a man who captured my gaze across a glowing room and seduced me with a waltz. Touch me as though we are back in that dark corner beneath the stairs of the Sapphire Room and you are Bentley Drummle, nothing more than a harmless, charming businessman.”
“Millie,” Christopher warned, confused by the almost frantic need in her eyes. By the fear and strain that seemed to underscore her passion.
“Kiss me like you never meant to kill me.”

Despite his words, his dreamlike exploration didn’t last. She may have initiated this kiss, but she was a fool if she thought she’d control it. Not only that, but she hadn’t been prepared for it, for the pure blistering intensity of it. His lips were hard, yet full. His movements raw and unapologetically carnal. He kissed her with a wicked mouth, one that issued threats and vulgarities and brutal, albeit sometimes endearing, honesty. He kissed like a man unused to kissing. No artfully applied maneuvers or sensual variations. He kissed like a man about to—to fuck. Like he wanted to pour himself into her, or perhaps crawl inside of her. This was a dominant kiss. A shameless kiss. The kiss of a man who knew his sins and granted himself absolution.
This was the kiss of a killer.

His rough chin scratched at the soft valley between her breasts, and she stiffened when she realized his mouth was drifting lower, leaving her upper half completely exposed.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“Your scent on my body, on my hands, drove me mad with hunger,” he said against the plane of her quivering belly. “Once I bathed I wanted it back. I want to taste you until you say my name.”
Dear sweet Lord, she couldn’t let him do that. It was too wicked. God, who was this man? Where was her terse assassin? Where was the man who bent her over and took her with her clothes left on? The one who’d pleasured her in the ballroom earlier and then pushed her away and disappeared? Who knew that in his dreams he was so utterly sexual? That he could set her blood to burning and mortify her at the same time?

Her sob touched him as deeply as he penetrated her. Soft hips spread beneath him in sweet feminine submission.
“Come for me,” he demanded on long, almost punishing thrusts. “Say my name … One … more … time.”
“Christopher.” His name was ripped from deep in her throat. “Please.” A plea or a prayer, he couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter. She whimpered, then screamed. Her body clenched around his cock, bore down on him with a throbbing pressure so intense, he couldn’t fight it.
He closed his eyes, battling the ecstasy building in his abdomen and preparing to burst from him. He clung to the moment, held as long as he could.

His possession was unbelievably slow as he sank inside of her, filling her with a heat she’d not known existed. For a moment they stayed like that as his cock stretched her slick channel and throbbed inside her welcoming body. They both stared, stunned by the incomprehensible intensity of the moment. It was like a thousand bolts of lightning converged within them, between them, and they somehow had joined more than just their bodies.
But fused their souls, as well.

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

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Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighwayman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Dougan Mackenzie
Heroine: Farah Leigh Blackwell
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 01, 2015
Started On: August 30, 2019
Finished On: September 01, 2019

Having read and enjoyed The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne, I decided to start from the beginning of the Victorian Rebels series as each of the installments in the series seemed like books I would enjoy, being a sucker for a romance that is darker than is the norm.

The Highwayman is where it all begins, the story of Dougan Mackenzie aka Dorian Everett Blackwell aka the Blackheart of Ben More, and his obsession with Farah Leigh Blackwell, the eight year old girl who had become the sole friend Dougan had made as a boy of eleven years, abandoned to the merciless care at a children’s home.

Two blissful years were all that Dougan had with Farah, until fate intervenes and they are torn apart from each other. Cruelty that is life lands Dougan in prison, and the story continues seventeen years later when Dougan makes his return as the notorious criminal of London.

A proposition to keep Farah safe ends with Dougan tying the knot with her, and thus begins a battle of wits between the two. Dougan harboring the secret of who he is, while Farah believes that she had lost the boy that she had loved and waited for all those years. Dougan’s scars are not just skin deep but rather years of abuse within the bowels of prison had left its mark deep inside of him.

Winning Dougan over is something Farah relishes, as kiss by kiss Dougan unravels, his wife driving him insane with need; the need to touch and be touched, even when he believes he is unworthy of it. Farah proves to be a match for him in every single sense; able to stand his brooding, his passion, his possessiveness and the deep craving he has for the woman he had claimed as his so long ago.

Kerrigan writes dangerous heroes so well that the reader is transported to a time where excitement and danger lurks at every page you turn. Relatable characters make it so easy to fall in love, and the ruthlessness that is part of Kerrigan’s heroes is what makes this heart of mine fall for them, in every single way that matters.

What was most poetic for me in this story was the powerful writing in the scenes that so vividly depicted the inner struggles of Dougan’s soul which warred magnificently with his need for Farah. When that ironclad control of his broke, that was the moment that my heart rejoiced and I couldn’t have asked for more!

Recommended for those who love darkly mesmerizing historical romances.

Final Verdict: The Highwayman sizzles through your veins like the potent force that is Dougan, and lays siege to your heart with the beautiful character that is Farah. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

“Tell me.”
“I will. As soon as you resume washing.”
“I—I’m finished,” she lied. “I’m clean.”
Flames licked at the ice in his blue eye. “You missed a spot.”
An answering heat bloomed deep inside her. Low in her belly, no, lower—in her womb. Farah wanted to hate him. He held her captive. Manipulated her emotions. Used this wicked compulsion to gratify his own perversions.
And yet …
As the soap slid through sparse curls and into the cleft between her thighs, ribbons of unexpected sensation stirred from her most intimate flesh and unfurled across the expanse of her skin. Her mouth dropped open, but she caught the moan before it escaped.
Their gazes collided, the flames in his eyes darkened as his pupils dilated.
He knew.

Farah added a bit of the cream-filled cornucopia to her bite of cake. The wine fed a ribbon of recklessness and she stretched her lips wide over her dessert, overflowing her mouth with a mélange of sweet decadence.
Blackwell’s unblinking eye honed in on her mouth as it struggled to contain the overload of fluffy whipped cream.
The skin around his lips whitened.
Farah searched for her napkin. Right, she’d thrown it at him, because he’d deserved it, and the ill-mannered villain never gave it back to her.
Shrugging, she swiped at the corner of her lips with a finger and lapped at the cream with her tongue.
The wine glass shattered in his grip.

“There’s no amount of preparation for what we’re about to do.” He strode past her, barely giving her an assessing glance, and claimed the seat by her bed as though he owned it. Which he did, of course. Shadows gathered near him as they were wont to do, despite the candles she’d so carefully placed. Cold menace and a dangerous, unstable element rolled off him and reached for her like the mist that blanketed the Highland shores of a morning, shrouding the dangers of the ancient volcanic rock and the shapes of predators.
For a predator he was, that had never been clearer than in this moment.
“Now,” he said in that deep, chilly voice, examining the fine leather of his fitted gloves. “Take off your dress.”

It had been almost twenty years since anyone had touched him in a way not meant to cause pain. To humiliate, incapacitate, and control. It had been just as long since he’d used his hands for a purpose other than defense, violence, or domination.
Farah’s skin. Her flawless, unmarked skin. Free of scars, branded by no one, and belonging to him.
At last.
How could any man bring himself to desecrate such unblemished skin with his touch?
How did he stop himself from doing just that?

Dorian had never in his life felt as much anticipation or found as much pleasure as she had for her cake and cream. Not his wealth, not his luxury, not in the victory over his many enemies. Not until this moment, when the round, tight curve of her hips and ass were presented to him like the spoils of war.
And yet he could not claim it, for the battle was not over. It raged within him. There were blood, casualties, losses of ground and gaining of the upper hand. It was violent. The outcome unsure.
So he sat.
And watched.

Bracing her heels on the bed frame, she took a deep breath and parted her knees.
As the silent seconds ticked by, Farah opened her eyes and stared up at the canopy. Her husband truly was pitiless. Barbaric. Unforgivably cruel. He left her like this, an artless innocent bared for the first time without comfort or care. Gathering her annoyance like a cloak, she summoned the courage to look down at him.
What she saw froze her and melted her all at once.
Between the valley of her breasts and the V of her thighs, Farah saw Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, quake. Not just a shiver, or even a tremble. But great, shoulder-heaving shudders that affected his breath.

If Dorian was a lesser man, unused to patience, torment, and agony, he would have released his seed then and there. But he grappled his orgasm back down, thinking of her hands on his repulsive flesh, letting the fear throw ice into the flames.
Then she parted the inner cleft, dipped inside, and let out a moan that could have aroused Eros, himself. Her finger came away glistening as she pulled it back toward the nub that seemed to demand more attention than anywhere else. When she swiped the moisture across it, her muscles all tensed, and she threw her head back onto the counterpane, letting loose a sound so visceral Dorian’s will snapped.
And he lunged.

“What is it, Dorian?”
“Don’t call me that,” he admonished gently. “Not here.”
“What shall I call you, then?” she asked, puzzled that the intimacy of his first name could be forbidden from the intimacy of their marriage bed.
“Husband.” The word caressed her cheek. “Call me husband.”
Farah felt a tender smile touch the corner of her lips. “What is it, then—husband?”
“Your mouth,” he confessed with all the reverence of a saint and the torment of a martyr. “I’ve dreamed of this mouth.” He lifted a hand to her face, his breath hitching as he traced her lower lip with his glove. “I’ve imagined that word on your lips more times than you realize.”

She tasted like heaven. Like desire and release. Like want and fulfillment. Like woman. His woman. The predator in him was going to dine until he’d had his fill.
And he had a lifetime of hunger to satiate.
The frantic need to struggle against her bindings had leached away from Farah the moment her husband’s mouth had closed over her fingers.
When he’d issued his vulgar threat in her ear, arousal had raced through her with crippling strength. Now his wide shoulders overflowed the space between her parted thighs, and his mouth was doing things that made her bite her lip so hard she tasted blood.
His tongue split her in one long lick. He growled against her, and Farah whimpered in reply, unable to stop herself.

“God, the taste of you. I’m drunk with it.” He moaned, his eyes alight with accusation as he held himself above her, still fully clothed but for the arousal now pressing against the slit of her body. “What have you done to me?”
What had she done to him? “I—I—”
His glove covered her mouth again, stopping words she never would have found.
“I never wanted to hurt you,” he whispered against her ear. “I’m sorry.”
Farah didn’t have time to contemplate just which of his many offenses he was apologizing for before he surged inside her, breaching her virginity.
His glove muffled her cry of pain as Dorian branded her with hot, hard flesh, searing all the way to her womb, or so it seemed.

Farah had thought her part over, that he’d coaxed from her body all the pleasure it had to give. But, to her ultimate surprise, a tight, aching heat bloomed low in her belly, starting in her womb and reaching for the shaft of branding heat plunging and retracting from inside her.
Her lips parted of their own accord, and a small sound of delighted surprise escaped.
Blackwell’s eyes sharpened. Questioned.
Farah’s body answered without thought. A lift of her hips, a press of her thighs, and a soft moan of encouragement.
It was all he needed.

Beneath the dark wool, that long ridge of his manhood flexed and strained, and her body answered as she imagined it always would.
Last night, her husband had put his wicked mouth on her, causing her unimaginable pleasure. Could she have the same effect on him? What if she pressed her mouth against that hard length? What would he do?
She turned her head, running her cheek along the slightly abrading fabric, feeling the heat of the flesh beneath.
“Farah,” He growled a warning.
“Yes?” she breathed, her chest suddenly tight, filled to the brim with anticipation, her body releasing a slick rush of desire.

“You’re mine!” he snarled against her surrendering mouth. “Only mine.”
He might have been able to stop if she hadn’t kissed him back.
Even while grappling with this new beast of fire she’d provoked, she didn’t know the danger she toyed with. Didn’t know the consequences of her actions.
Dorian fought with the strength of a drowning man, but in the end, the beast won out. He’d always known it would.

He breached her body with one brutal thrust. Claimed her with the second. Branded her with his third. She cried out only a little. Her feminine muscles bearing down against his invasion for only a moment before drawing him in.
Mine. He drove forward.
Only mine. He seized the soft flesh of her ass, spreading it for his view. Watching his cock spear into her with deep, devastating thrusts.

He bent over her, the width of his shoulders engulfing the slimness of hers. “I’m like this all the bloody time around you. I hate it. Do you know that? I have no control. I just want to fuck and fuck and fuck until nothing matters anymore. Until we can no longer move our limbs or lift our heads to eat.” He flexed his still-hard cock inside of her. “This is supposed to go away after I come. But it doesn’t. Not with you, wife. My passion is this insatiable perversion.”

The curses he released as she closed her lips over the thick head of his shaft were not all entirely in the Queen’s English. At least, Farah didn’t think so, and she was pretty certain she’d heard them all.
He tasted like salt and sin.
The jerk of his hips as he bowed against her pressed him as far into her mouth as she could take, and still she didn’t hold the half of him.
“Farah,” he groaned. “Oh. Fuck.”

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

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Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighlander.PNG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #3
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Lt. Col. William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie
Heroine: Philomena St. Vincent
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 02, 2016
Started On: August 17, 2019
Finished On: August 20, 2019

The Highlander, the 3rd book in the Victorian Rebels series turned out to be my first sampling of Kerrigan Byrne’s stories. Discovering a new author that speaks to you on so many levels is rare and so very treasured, and I intend to go through the back-list of her books in its entirety to sample each and every one of her published works over time.

The hero, 40 year old William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie (Liam), comes from a place of violence. The fact that his childhood had been a difficult one would be an understatement. With an abusive father who had cared naught for the physical and emotional well-being of his children, legal and otherwise, Liam had been the big brother who had taken most of the physical brunt to protect his younger siblings. But that had not been enough to prevent them from witnessing the horrors of a childhood better left in the darker fringes of one’s memories.

The main story begins 20 years later, with the opening chapter focusing on the heroine, Lady Philomena St. Vincent (Mena), Viscountess Benchley, who has been institutionalized by none other than her husband and his family. Mena who grew up with a father who thought the world of his daughter and brought her up to be an intellectual, kind and generous soul, the horrors of her marriage that are revealed in stages to the reader is something that is as old as time itself.

The mental asylum, which was a norm in the past for husbands to commit their wives to just to get rid of them, is the mother load of horrors. Tortured in ways that really leaves a mark on the reader, some may find those particular scenes to be too disturbing for them to continue with the story. However, that particular aspect of the book does not set the tone for the rest of the book as the author brings to readers the stunning and vivid portrayal of a love that was so worth delving into.

When Mena is rescued and her well meaning and newfound friends sends her away to Scotland to evade the clutches of her husband, it is to the keep of Liam she is sent, where the very first moment she lays eyes on the strong, deeply masculine, and beautiful man that he is, something long forgotten stirs to life inside of her. Liam too is shaken by the very physical and visceral reaction he has towards Mena from the onset, but even though both of them might think to avoid each other hoping that the yearning for the other is a fluke on their part, things of course do not work out that way.

Liam’s haunted eyes that bespeaks of horrors and regrets of his life draws Mena to him like a moth to flame. Mena’s gentle strength and wit that had remained unbroken by the violence she had experienced in her adult life speaks to Liam on a level that he cannot comprehend. However, old enemies stirring in the darkness, tempting and beseeching to turn on Liam might prove to be the undoing of what blossoms to life between him and Mena, if her husband’s search for her does not bear fruit first.

I enjoyed my very first novel by the Kerrigan Byrne. Mena was glorious. Beautiful, kind, and soft, with just the right touch of authority to her which made her appealing on so many levels. I rooted for her with every fiber of my being, wanted the best for her because she deserved nothing less.

Liam’s soul is a broken one, even though he does not let it on. Betrayed and widowed, there is a wealth of unspoken pain in his heart. His inability to get through to his own children is a source of continued frustration for him, that is until Mena comes into his life and shows him what that entails. Drawn to each other by the kind of tangible connection that leaves the reader breathless, Byrne does a marvelous job of crafting both characters and bringing them to life.

The sexual tension that is interwoven into the very fabric of the story was just as enticing, and Byrne definitely delivers without leaving the reader hanging. Absolutely loved this gem of a novel and would recommend it for readers who love historical romances with characters that speaks to you. These are two very broken characters who meet and find their way to a happily ever after. Don’t let the barbarity depicted in the first couple of chapters deter you from reading. I believe we have to take the bad with the good to achieve a balanced nuance in order to deliver a story worth sinking into.

The epilogue was super cute and healing in so many ways. Perhaps, Byrne may write a novella depicting two secondary characters who definitely deserve their story to be told somewhere down the line. A reader could always hope!

Final Verdict: There is a rawness to Byrne’s story that speaks to me. A ruthlessness to her heroes that does things to this wanton heart of mine. The Highlander is marvelous in every sense.

Favorite Quotes

Then she saw him.
Her mouth became dry as the desert, and a tremor that had nothing to do with the cold rippled through her.
Though he wore a soiled kilt and loose linen shirt beneath his drenched cloak, he sat astride a black Shire steed with the bearing of a king. Dark waves of hair hung long and heavy with moisture down his back, and menace rolled off the mountains of his shoulders in palpable waves.
Whoever he was, he was their undeniable leader. She saw it in the way they looked to him, in the deference they used when speaking. If not by birth, then by physical laws of nature, surely. As the largest, the strongest, and the most fearsome of them all, he towered above the brawny men as he scowled through the window at her.

“Och, lass.” Liam beat her to it. “These roses are a jealous flower.” Cupping her hand with his, he pressed a thumb into her palm to secure it before plucking the thorn out quickly, to cause her the least amount of distress.
A tiny drop of blood welled from her fingertip.
Liam had no other handkerchief to offer her, and didn’t want to use the one on the ground, so he did the only other thing he could think of, and slid her finger into his mouth. Closing his lips around the insignificant wound, he watched her reaction with rare pleasure.
She froze, her eyes growing round as two glowing moons.
His body’s reaction was just as astonishing, and just as instantaneous.

Liam sprang toward her, grasping her wrists and pulling her back down to him. He sank his fingers into her luxurious hair, loosening the intricate coiffure there, and pinned her head between his two strong palms as he took her wicked mouth with his own.
It was in the joining of their lips that Liam found what he’d come to the chapel seeking. He kissed Mena with a reverence he’d never felt in the entirety of his life. Driven by a hunger that welled from the darkest, most heretical depths of his soul, he knew he’d finally found something worthy of his worship.

He swallowed her shocked gasp and plundered her with his tongue as though she were a lifelong conquest. Digging his fingers into her ribs to keep from taking what she did not offer him, he deepened the kiss, using his tongue to convey what he could not find the words to say.
She wasn’t the only one who was afraid. Liam was terrified.
Of losing her.
Of loving her.
And at this moment, he was in mortal danger of both.

“Kiss me, Mena,” he moaned against her mouth, his hot, sweet breath fanning over the moisture on her lips. “Touch me. Teach me to keep the demon at bay.”
She could only see the whites of his eyes in the dim light, circling the obsidian of his pupil and iris in such a way that truly seemed demonic.
With trembling fingers, she reached up to softly test the shape of his masculine jaw. Bristle scraped against her fingertips as they explored the raw, hard features that she’d always wanted to study, but didn’t even allow herself to look at for too long, lest she be lost.

Then his hand was there, clever fingers slipping into the wet cleft and touching a place no one had ever before paid attention to. He somehow ignited frenzy into her blood with infuriatingly slow strokes. A curious heat unfolded in her core and quickly caught into a blaze of sensation.
Mena writhed helplessly against him, riding his strong thigh as more heat created more friction, which in turn built the flames even higher. What sort of pagan magic was this? How could hands so rough and raw create such smooth, silken sensations against her most tender skin?

“I can’t,” she cried, feeling her knees melt.
His lips left her with a wet, wicked sound. “Ye will,” he breathed against her most intimate flesh.
“I’m going to fall,” she warned weakly, her hips undulating toward his mouth with mortifying wantonness.
“Fall apart in my arms, lass,” he soothed, his hands caressing around to fill his palms with the flesh of her backside, making a cradle of her hips. “I’ll not let ye go.”

“Can ye take more of me?” he panted.
Mena’s eyes flew open. How could there possibly be more? He withdrew yet again, gazing down at her with dilated eyes as he surged forward. He touched a place inside her she’d not known existed, and Mena tossed her head from one side to the other, letting out a high cry of ecstasy.
“Yes,” he whispered fervently. “I knew ye would take all of me, Mena.” He drove forward again. And again.

When another climax blinded her with pure bliss, she locked her legs around his pistoning hips, pulling him impossibly deeper. Shivering pleasure assaulted her in wave after unrelenting wave.
He roared her name to the sky as her pulsing body gripped and stroked at the swelling length of him. Hot spurts of his release spilled inside her. His great body locked with spasms as he crushed her to him and joined her in that place where right and wrong no longer mattered.

Then they said nothing at all when he pulled her above him and split her legs over his lean, sinuous hips. They’d communicated only in gasps and sighs as she’d ridden him with sensual rolls of her body. He’d palmed her breasts in his warm hands and said wicked things in his people’s native tongue while she pleasured herself upon his sleek and magnificent body. Then, when he could stand it no more, he’d dug his strong fingers into the flesh of her hips and driven upward until he’d bowed with such shocking pleasure, Mena had thought his back would break.

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

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Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Format: E-bookeleanorandpark
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: Park
Heroine: Eleanor
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 26, 2013
Started On: September 07, 2016
Finished On: September 08, 2016

Rainbow Rowell is an author who is completely in a league of her own in the way she makes her characters and stories come alive with so much emotion that it practically hurts you – but in a good way. Eleanor and Park is no exception to this rule, and though the ending was a bit hasty for my tastes after the grueling bouts of angst that Rowell puts readers through, this is a story that has stayed with me long after I was done with it.

Eleanor is the new girl, who with a style that does not fit in with the rest, makes Park want to get away from it all. But even then, with all his misgivings about her, he does slide over in the bus and gives Eleanor the seat next to him to sit. Thus Eleanor and Park finds themselves going through the motions of friendship which grows into something tender, stronger and wilder by the turn of each page, all right before your eyes. Their love unfurls in a setting that is as simple and ordinary as they come. At the back of a school bus that ferries them back and forth day in and day out.

While Park has a relatively good life, Eleanor’s is one that is filled with horrors of the kind we would all rather not even think about. The fact that her mother does try to protect her does not mean much in the face of what is as inevitable as night turning to day, and one cannot help but be appalled, scared and wanting to grab Eleanor right out of the pages and provide her with a safe haven.

Like most readers I believe, I loved the bits where Park started to communicate with Eleanor in subtle ways at first, which developed into something that was so wonderful that it made my heart ache. I could not put this down from the minute I started reading, and I would not have had it any other way. Eleanor and Park is a story that is meant to be read in one sitting, a story that is meant to be devoured, if nothing else, just to feel the thousand and one emotions that courses right through you from start to finish.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: A love that leaves you aching and wanting; Eleanor & Park is a novel not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

“I read it again twice last night. You can take it tonight.”
“Yeah? Thanks.”
He was still holding the end of her scarf, rubbing the silk idly between his thumb and fingers. She watched his hand.
If he were to look up at her now, he’d know exactly how stupid she was. She could feel her face go soft and gummy. If Park were to look up at her now, he’d know everything.
He didn’t look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.
Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.
And Eleanor disintegrated.

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…”—her voice nearly disappeared—“think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”

There’s only one of him, she thought, and he’s right here.
He knows I’ll like a song before I’ve heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me.
There’s only one of him.

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Review: Burn For Me by Shiloh Walker

Format: E-bookburnforme_2
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Secrets & Shadows, #0.5
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Tate Bell
Heroine: Ali Holmes
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014
Started On: November 20, 2014
Finished On: November 21, 2014

If you’ve read my review of Break for Me, you’d already know that I bought the rest of the novellas in the Secrets & Shadows series, because I was that much intrigued to read the stories of all the Bell children. Burn for Me is the story of the eldest, Tate Bell, the only boy from the three kids.

The three novellas focus on the main story of their mother’s unsolved case of disappearance and the affect that it had had on all their lives. Tate is haunted by the vivid memories of the night in question and the anger that is deep inside of him is one that is eating away at his soul. It tampers with life in ways that he would rather not acknowledge. It definitely has a dampening effect on his sort of love life with Ali Holmes, the only person with whom he had felt whole with throughout the years.

Ali knows that there is no future to be had with a man like Tate. Three years of a friends-with-benefits relationship finally takes its toll and it is when Ali decides to take the plunge and cut off ties with Tate that sets the ball rolling towards Tate facing his demons and realizing the impact his version of the truth had had on him and his family.

I was pretty excited to read Burn for Me. The scorching hot start definitely was a plus point, but I found that excitement sizzling down till the latter part of the book where the emotional punch of the storyline pretty much kicked me in the gut. I didn’t find myself enamored with the love affair between Tate and Ali. Perhaps because theirs was an affair that had started prior to the story that has the reader missing out on the fun and excitement that goes along with relationships at their beginning. Or because I just found myself at odds with the way Tate calls Ali “Ali-girl”.

What pulled me in towards the end of the story was not the romance between Tate and Ali, but rather the emotional intensity of what takes place between Tate and his father. I was almost moved to tears by the emotions the last couple of pages brought to life. The pain and suffering of not knowing for fifteen odd years has left its mark on each member of the Bell family. And Tate having carried around the sort of anger that can totally annihilate a person and still finding the strength to move past that was one that was moving in itself. For me, Tate’s father made the story. His love for his son is one that touched my heart in all the ways that matter.

Recommended for fans of Shiloh Walker and those who like short stories that don’t leave you hanging.

Final Verdict: Walker delivers the story of a father’s enduring love that knows no bounds.

Favorite Quotes

Tangling her hands in his hair, she arched and whimpered as he shifted his angle, moving so that the head of his cock stroked the bundled bed of nerves buried deep inside her and that small adjustment had her panting. Heat blistered her and pleasure consumed her.
“Tate!”
He surged against her, harder. Faster.
She climaxed around him, muffling her sob against his shoulder.
His mouth covered hers, swallowing down that ragged, breathless sound.
Then he stiffened, coming inside her.

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

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ARC Review: Break For Me by Shiloh Walker

Format: E-bookbreakforme
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Secrets & Shadows, 0.6
Publisher: St. Martins
Hero: Dean West
Heroine: Jensen Bell
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 22, 2014
Started On: September 9, 2014
Finished On: September 10, 2014

Ladies & gentlemen. The Shiloh Walker that I know and love is back. Back with a bang that completely blew me away. The second novella in the Shadows & Secrets series rocked my world and then some and I was so happy that I literally could’ve stood on the bed and jumped up and down in glee if not for the fact that it was way past midnight and the rest of the world was asleep regardless of the groundbreaking story I had just read.

I requested for this on Netgalley on a whim. It has been quite sometime since a Shiloh Walker novel has worked for me and though I was hesitant to take the chance, the remnants of what I used to love about her books coming across on her novels every now and then made me think what the heck and here I am, way past the review deadline and I could practically kick myself for delaying getting to this one.

The three novellas in the Shadows & Secrets series focuses on three siblings, each having been marked in their own way by the disappearance of their mother years back. I didn’t even know that this series had a continuing storyline when I picked it up and thus I would say that this totally can be read as a standalone. This installment focuses on Jensen Bell, a cop and a woman who wears attitude unlike any other according to the District Attorney Dean West.

The attraction that is between Dean and Jensen is a forcefully banked one by both parties, Jensen because she doesn’t want to make herself vulnerable to anyone and Dean because he is unsure whether his advances in that manner would be welcome. And then on a night that Jensen would like to forget the past, the inevitable happens and Dean finds himself practically eviscerated by the passion that burns between them. *pants a bit upon recalling the scenes*.

I’d say Shiloh Walker has hit jackpot with this series and I don’t say this lightly. There’s a hero that made me want to practically jump his bones every time his name came up in the story and then there’s the lovable heroine that I rooted for, felt for and empathized with in over just 90 plus pages. The mystery aspect was chilling and engrossing at the same time and I couldn’t have asked for more of an explosive culmination to the story in either aspect. And that ladies and gentlemen is why I say the author who won me over with just a single novel i.e. ‘Her Best friend’s Lover’ is back – with a bang.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Made me buy the rest of the novellas in the series. Yep, that good!

Favorite Quotes

His skin was warm against hers, the light stubble scraping against her palms. Because that light touch wasn’t enough, she kept one palm on his face and then drove the other hand into his hair, tangled it in his dreads. The texture was coarse against her hand and she shuddered at the thought of feeling him, all of him.
“I don’t want it to fade,” she whispered as she rose onto her toes and pressed her mouth to his.

Dean groaned as her tongue danced across his lips and then pushed inside, without even waiting to see how he’d react.
Fuck, there was no question of reaction.
He’d only been waiting half a lifetime, it seemed.
Maybe his entire life.
Sliding one hand down to her hip, he yanked her against him. The feel of her, all slight angles and delicate curves, was every bit as perfect as he’d imagined.

Stop,” he muttered. “I can’t…”
He pressed down with his hips and she shuddered as it ground him against her clit, but worse, his cock jerked again and she broke around him, drawing her legs up to clutch him closer.
She couldn’t stop it. It was like everything inside her had been waiting for just this moment. Just this. Just him.

She had no time to breathe, no time to think before his mouth came down on hers and even as her climax started to ebb, another built as he started to ride her, his movements harsh, hungry, all attempt at control gone.
Her name was a ragged snarl on his lips as he came, but she barely noticed.
She was already falling, for the third time.
And his arms were there, locked around her and he plummeted with her.

“I can’t be around you without getting a fucking erection, Jensen, and it’s only gotten worse since I slept with you.”
His hands cupped her face and she braced herself, her breath catching.
But there was no breath-stealing kiss.
It was gentle, sweet … and her heart ached when he lifted his head.
“You undo me,” he whispered. “You completely undo me.”

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Review: Emerald Rain by Maggie Osborne

Format: Paperbackemeraldrain
Read with: NA
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: March Addison
Heroine: Eulalie Pritchard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 5, 1991
Started On: December 30, 2013
Finished On: January 5, 2014

Emerald Rain by Maggie Osborne is one of those romances that reaffirms my belief in the reason why romance would always be my preferred genre to read. I had almost but not quite, forgotten just how good a Maggie Osborne romance could be and why I had actually spent a small fortune in acquiring these out of print titles of hers for my collection. Even those novels that can be considered lackluster when it comes to Maggie Osborne are titles that still gives you a read to remember. This being otherwise I would say made a wonderful start to my reading for the year 2014!

24 year old Eulalie Pritchard (Lalie) makes her way to Brazil to follow her fiance’ to Hiberalta, a journey that would take her through the perilous Amazon jungle and the river that runs through it. Lalie lives by the strict rules of English society, her prim and properness a facet to her character that irritates March Addison from the first moment he lays eyes on her. The son of Earl of Addison, March has carved a name for himself in the Amazon as a renowned businessman in the booming rubber industry in Brazil and Lalie believes that nothing of the gentleman she had encountered 10 years back lives inside of him now.

Lalie expects the rough around the edges March to ferry her up to Hiberalta as quickly as possible and March in return expects fluff of her kind to depart from the country within a week. Both Lalie and March have surprises in store for the other as a trip that takes 3-5 months to complete bares everyone aboard down to their very basics. Living primitively does the one thing that wouldn’t be obvious while living in polite society, and that is to bring to light all the characteristics, good and the bad that drives a person. And that is exactly what happens when March takes Lalie on board despite all the misgivings he has when it comes to the most infuriating, beautiful and enticing woman he has ever come across all his life.

Lalie is determined if nothing else to live, to never be labeled as the woman who never lived a full life. Her infatuation with her fiance is seemingly what drives Lalie to seek the trip on her own but as the days fade into weeks, just like the rules of propriety that Lalie was determined to stick to at the beginning of the trip are stripped away one by one, feelings of the most wanton and unexpected variety seems to fill her heart, body and soul where March is concerned.

As swift as the currents in the Amazon that propels their vessel forward, so does the desire that explodes to surface where March and Lalie are concerned, a desire that is as primitive as the Indians that live amidst the jungle that surrounds the waters. Maggie Osborne always does a remarkable job in creating her heroes and March Addison is another exemplary specimen. One can almost imagine the sinewiness to his musculature, his sensual lips and the totally alpha male vibe that just seems to cling to him. His strength of character is one of the many things that made him an appealing hero and his honor one that made me fall irrevocably in love with him.

Lalie’s character makes me remember a friend of mine whose sheer determination carries her through a lot of hurdles in her life. Lalie who has had a privileged upbringing, is in short, a dreamer. Having seen her fiance through the eyes of infatuation, Lalie had missed out on the crucial aspects of his character to which she is brutally made aware of as the time of reckoning draws closer. While her heart, mind, body and soul yearns for the touch of the man who should be all sorts of wrong for her, Lalie is determined that she keep her word where her fiance is concerned. There were many a times that I literally burst out in laughter due to Lalie’s sometimes innocent and yet honest to God nature that she tries to hide behind all the rules of propriety. Lalie has the sort of hidden sensuality that would drive any red blooded man insane with wanting and that is the kind of wanting that leaves March reeling from the sheer force of it all.

The sexual tension wrought in the novel is top notch, one that made me sigh, squirm and want to prolong the read as much as possible. And one reason I love Osborne novels so much is that she is not afraid to deliver on the said tension when the time comes. And believe me, all that sexual tension Osborne puts the reader through was worth every nail biting moment of it and I was sighing all throughout every beautiful second of it.

Highly recommended!

Final Verdict: Sensuous and a whole lot of adventurous; Maggie Osborne delivers a tale as steamy as the Amazon itself. Not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

A moaning sound came from her parted lips. Her breasts were thrust against his chest as her head fell backward and her eyes closed. Her fingers dug into his shoulders and her legs wrapped around his, pulling him more tightly against her until his erection throbbed between them, a rigid strength pressing against her soft, yielding body.

“Lalie,” he whispered. He slid one hand to the small of her back and held her pressed against him, his other hand moved slowly to cup her breast, teasing the hard nipple. Her breath was as rapid and choked as his when she met his eyes with a look filled with helpless urgency.

With tormenting slowness, exercising a patience and tenderness he had not known he possessed, he moved his month and tongue over her throat, teasing upward toward the swollen promise of her lips. His hand slid up her back go cup her small head.
“Oh my god March… March..”
Her words emerged part sob, part plea, and her body tightened around his.

Then she raised her face to his clenched jaw, his hard mouth, and finally defenseless, she surrendered to the dark eyes burning down into hers. Their stared locked and held. Her breast rose and trembled on a dry, scorching breath. A yearning sound almost like a sob caught in her throat.
And she wanted.

Her body moved against his; her hands rose and she buried her fingers in his thick hair as her mouth opened beneath his to receive his plundering tongue. Gasping, almost sobbing with the bliss and relief of finally knowing his kiss, Lalie clung to him, pulled him closer, closer, as if she could absorb him, as if by holding him tightly she could make this feverish moment last forever.

“On those nights when sleep won’t come, I’ll lie in my bed and remember the softness of your breast, the sweet curve of your waist. I’ll remember the lagoon, the sunshine on your eyelids. I’ll remember the taste of your skin and the scent of your hair… and I’ll wonder.”

“I’ll make love to other women, Lalie, but they won’t be you. I’ll feel that loss and wonder. All my life I will remember you and regret that I didn’t have you. All my life I will wonder at the feel and touch and scent of you. I will wonder if you would have cried my name. I will wonder if I would have given you pleasure. I will wonder and mourn my loss.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks

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