Review: Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Bookreturntochristmas_2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: John Larsen
Heroine: Madison Simcoe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 13, 2019
Started On: December 24, 2019
Finished On: December 26, 2019

Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart released in 2019 had me jumping up and down in excitement at the very idea of the new release. Because Anne Stuart is THAT author for me. Return to Christmas tells the story of 27 year old Madison Simcoe and 29 year old John Larsen, in delivering upon the theme of Christmas miracles and love that stands the test of time itself.

It is the year 2020, and Madison who is feeling a bit desolate, a whole lot of disillusioned and a bit lonely decides to cheer herself up by going to the Macy’s Department Store to engage in a little bit of retail therapy. When she gets to Macy’s Madison gets more than what she bargained for when she finds herself transported to the year 1947, and having to rely on the maddening man she encounters, who sets her senses humming.

John would like nothing better than to ignore Madison’s sudden appearance into his life and the way she gets under his skin. An ex-military man, John is hounded by his own demons that are hard to shake off, and it is his ingenuity as a designer that allows him the freedom and leeway to mostly come and go as he pleases within the store.

With Madison in the picture, John finds himself inexorably drawn to her, even when he tells himself that a woman who keeps concocting far-fetched stories about how she came to be is not worth all the trouble. Interestingly enough, the more Madison tries to leave, the harder it is, as whatever it is that had transported her back in time wasn’t done messing with her fate.

Return to Christmas was not exactly what I envisioned for the story to be, but nevertheless I enjoyed most of it and not so much the rest. It is my theory that anything written by Anne Stuart is 100 times better than the any other book that you may alternatively get your hands on, and this one too proved that in spades.

I liked John and Maddie well enough, but I cannot say that I was enamored by them, nor connected with either of them at a deeper level. Madison spent a lot of her time inside her own thoughts which prevented me from understanding where she was coming from at a deeper level. Yes, she was feeling lonesome and feeling an ache she couldn’t define, but beyond that, it was hard to get a read on her character.

John is mellower than Anne Stuart’s usual hero material, which is fine. One doesn’t need to be ruthless to come off as commanding, sexy, and all of those things that makes you hum with pleasure as you read along. I felt that John was a bit under developed as a character. Why? Because I wanted to know more about his past, his likes and dislikes, what made him tick (apart from Madison of course), and I wanted to read about his stint in the military and the damage it had done to him on the inside. That would have made me relate to him more than I did.

I also found it a tad weird that two adults just lived inside a department store throughout the novel. I quite don’t know how I feel about that. The one thing that I did love though, was the epilogue. That was the ultimate ending if you ask me, classic Anne Stuart, leaving the reader sniffling with happy tears.

Final Verdict: Return to Christmas is a novel that delivers on the premise of Christmas miracles and hope in a world that has little of that to offer, and how love knows not the bounds of time and reason.

Favorite Quotes

She stirred again, and her breathing changed. She was coming awake, and she was probably going to be ticked off and embarrassed by where she was, and he steeled himself. Her eyes blinked open, still wet with tears, and she tilted her head back, looking up at him out of those sensational eyes, her mouth still tremulous, and he did what any red-blooded American male would do.
He kissed her.

“So let me tell you what we’re going to do,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m going to undress you. Sweetheart,” he added deliberately, punctuating the word with a bump of his hips against her, and arousal spiked through her—she was back in that restless, anxious longing and uncontrolled, confused need. “And I’m going to dump our clothes on the floor and walk all over them if I want. I’m going to touch you, taste you, anywhere I damned please. You can be on top, but you’re going to be beneath me, in front of me, standing, sitting, any position we can think of. I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to do, but you’re going to want to do everything.” His voice was soft, his words terrifyingly erotic, and she closed her eyes, lost in it, lost in him. “Yes?”
It was a question she couldn’t answer, swept away by the crazy sensations racketing through her body. Danger, Will Robinson! She wanted to run, she wanted…she wanted…
“Yes,” she said.

“Condom,” she gasped, wanting to grab his hips and pull him in, to fill this terrible emptiness inside her. He hesitated, just for a moment, and then pushed in, so big, so hard that she almost felt choked, drowning in sensation.
He rested for a moment, inside her, around her, and her skin felt like it would burst into flames. “I don’t have one,” he whispered in her ear. “I didn’t want to be tempted. Didn’t work.”

“Don’t,” she gasped, as stray shudders raced through her body, and his frame reacted to each and every one.
His muscles suddenly bunched beneath her hands, his entire body rigid. “Don’t what? Don’t do this without protection?” He no longer sounded coolly amused—at least she’d pushed him past that point, and he started to pull out, the walls of her sex clinging to him, trying to hold him. “Or don’t do it at all?”
“Don’t stop.”
He thrust back into her, and she gasped as sensations racketed around her body, again, and again, and again, each push reaching deeper, filling her, drowning her in nothing but sex, sweet and sinful, again and again, building to another climax.

She didn’t know who was the more shocked when she licked at the solid column of flesh rising from his body, and then she didn’t think at all, letting her mind dissolve as she leaned down and took him into her mouth, sucking him in deep, and it was wonderful, the feel of him surging into her, pulsing as she drew him in deeper. This was hers—she owned him, she owned this, and she wanted more, she wanted to wrap her tongue around him until he exploded inside her, and she wanted to swallow. She wanted to take everything, but he was too big, her mouth too small, and she almost choked in frustration, his hoarse reaction, his hands in her hair, helping guide her, were almost too much as she tried to take more, all of him.

When he lifted her, turned her, she moved easily, up to her knees as he pushed into her from the back, and the sensation was astonishing as he pushed against something that made her entire body shake, and she still needed more, she needed him to drive away her last fears, she needed him to take her so completely that he held nothing back, wiping them both clean.
“Harder,” she whispered. “Please. Harder.”
The last of his control disappeared, and he slammed into her, so hard that she almost fell forward, but she held on, taking him with powerful, almost feline pleasure, just as she wanted, harder, faster, turning into a cloud of sensation and nothing more, pushing, pumping, almost brutal, and when she came he erupted inside her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo


Review: The Right Man by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booktherightman
Read with: Kindle/iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Gowns of White, #3
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jake Wyczynski
Heroine: Susan Abbott
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 1999
Started On: November 23, 2014
Finished On: November 24, 2014

My craving for an Anne Stuart found me with The Right Man, a novel penned by Ms. Stuart for the 50th anniversary of Harlequin. Told in three parts, The Right Man has a time travel factor to it and tells the story of Susan Abott who begins to question her impending marriage to her fiance Edward with the arrival of Jake Wyczynski, who comes bearing gifts from her godmother.

Susan has always been a dutiful daughter, one who hadn’t cared much for the passions that seems to rule people. But with the arrival of Jake on her doorstep, Susan starts experiencing twinges of doubts where her decision to marry Edward is concerned and for the very first time finds herself captivated by heady desire for a man that slowly begins to overrule her senses. However, Susan believes herself to be made of sterner stuff, that is until she finds herself occupying the role of her deceased aunt Tallulah, who had died 50 years back on her wedding day.

50 years in the past, Susan meets Jack McGowan, the man who makes her heart pound with desire, the man for whom she would give up everything, if only he were able to love her back. Tallulah’s life is a nightmare, with her father and stepmother “forcing” her to marry a man of immense wealth just so they can continue to live within the means they think should be their due. With the clock ticking, Susan has to find a way to give Tallulah a happy ending and at the same time find a way to return back to her life, something she seemingly wants less and less as the time spent with Jack makes her yearn to stay back.

The Right Man is a story that had a trifle bit of an oddity to it in the time travel factor, and yet told beautifully. Juggling three individual stories that I yearned to read as standalone novels, Anne Stuart managed to pull it off in the manner that only an author of her caliber can. I had a hard time separating Jack and Jake in my mind and I’m just going to say that I loved them both equally and fell for both of them hard and fast. They were both exactly when Tallulah and Susan had needed. And I couldn’t have loved them any more even if I tried. 

Susan & Tallulah are easy enough to separate in my mind. Though there’s a fifty year time span between the two, their situations had been eerily similar in a manner that lent the story an ethereal feel to it. Though I didn’t care much for the time travel aspect of the story and firmly believe that the story would’ve worked wonderfully well even without that and that Susan would have eventually seen the error of her decision to marry a man so unsuitable for her, Anne Stuart still managed to blow my mind with the ending she gave to the story. I could have sighed for an eternity over the beautiful ending and it still wouldn’t have been enough.


Final Verdict: Magical!

Favorite Quotes

He pulled her closer against him, so that her body was plastered up against his nearly nude one, so that she could feel how hard he was, how much he wanted her. She tasted of fresh strawberries and coffee, and he wanted more, he wanted to taste every part of her, he wanted to strip off her clothes and drag her over to that narrow, sagging bed.

She stopped thinking. She slid her arms around his waist, plastering her body against his, and she made a soft, moaning sound of surrender in the back of her throat. She’d been so cold, and now she was blazing hot, her body on fire, tasting his tongue in her mouth, feeling the strength of his hard body against hers, his hand closing over her breast, his leg nudging between her thighs.

“You want to hit me again?” he taunted.
“Yes!” She moved toward him, like a fool, not realizing his intention. He caught her upraised hand and pulled her into his arms, her body slamming up against his. This time when he kissed her she kissed him back, surrendering with a quiet moan of longing and despair.

Her instincts had been right— Jack McGowan sat sprawled on the sofa, sound asleep. With a towheaded baby nestled comfortably against his shoulder.
He was snoring softly, which didn’t seem to disturb the sleeping baby one bit. He’d loosened his tie, his hair was ruffled and he was in need of a shave. He was the best thing she’d ever seen in her life.

He slid his fingers through her short- cropped hair, tilting her face up to his. And then he kissed her, taking his time— a slow, languorous touch of mouth against mouth, tongue against tongue, building in increments of heat and desire until he found she was trembling and he was, too.
He didn’t ask. He simply pulled her up tight against his body and took her to the bed. And she let him.

He didn’t remember how he managed to strip his pants off, but he did so in record time. He was blind with need, wild with it, wild with wanting her, and the calm, sane part of him had vanished into some dark, dangerous place, where all that mattered was Susan, reaching for him, opening for him, taking him deep inside her as she wrapped her body around his and held him tight.

It was dark and gloriously sinful and utterly right, and she moved in the darkness, the breeze cooling her fevered skin as she slid over his body and took him deep within her, rocking and surging until she shattered around him, helpless in her powerful response, and he turned her beneath him and finished it. She hid her face against his chest, licking his skin, whispering dark and wicked secrets, and he kissed her eyelids and her throat, kissed the small of her back and behind her knees, and nothing mattered but that the night would never end.

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


Requested Review: Soul Survivor by Misty Evans

Format: E-booksoulsurvivor
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Lost Worlds, Book 1
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Rife St. Cloud
Heroine: Keva Moon Water
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 20, 2011
Started On: July 30, 2011
Finished On: July 30, 2011

FBI Special Agent Rife St. Cloud is on vacation back in Wolf River, Oregon his hometown when a ritualistic killer leaves behind 6 dead women, all Native American with matching tattoos carved right above their left breast. Someone who has extensive knowledge in native languages and religion and having worked as a profiler for the past 5 years, the symbols carved into the dead women stirs unease deep in his gut until one of the women stirs back into life leaving him with more questions than answers.

Keva Moon Water is an immortal, someone who has walked the Earth for thousand years, waiting for the soul of the love of her life who had died from her hands to be reincarnated. Kai is the warrior who was sent to kill her if she didn’t marry Kai’s half-brother and had fallen in love with her instead. But Keva underestimates their mutual enemy’s dark obsession with her, someone whose willing to travel across time to finally claim what he has always considered his to do with as he pleases.

Though Keva longs to embrace the man who stands in front of her, her beloved Kai whom she has been waiting to see for a thousand years, the doubt that clouds Rife’s eyes whenever the subject comes up has Keva reeling back in pain. But even Rife who lets his life be led by logic and evidence cannot deny the flood of need that Keva opens up deep inside of him and neither can he deny the memories that keep taunting him to take a step beyond the realms of reality as he knows it and believe in the impossible for once in his life.

Soul Survivor is a story that spans a time period of thousand years and takes the reader on a journey of love that has withstood the test of time, heartache, loneliness and pain. It tells of a man’s obsession with possessing ultimate power in his hands for his own purposes and how ultimately good wins over evil, not without a few sacrifices along the way.

Rife McCloud is a strong and determined hero, definitely the type warriors are made out of, and Rife in the form of Kai, the warrior that lays claim on Keva the High Chieftess of the Salt Coast Clan just about took my breathe away. In Keva Rife finds a woman whose strength rivals and matches his, whose determination and courage to do what’s right leaves him in awe. The passion and need for each other that is so much a part of both of them is never too far, always prodding them along to reach new heights, to embrace a love that has traveled so far in its need to be embraced by two people who so very much need it.

A story that cleverly combines and weaves together the past and present, with two people courageous enough to face the impossible, Soul Survivor is a novel highly recommended for fans of time-travel romances with a twist.

Favorite Quotes

She drew a finger through her blood and then through his, mixing them. “Our souls are bound forever, warrior.”
Primal power raced through him and he ripped the bonds around his wrists free from the spruce. His muscled arms encircled her, forcing her to the ground underneath him. As she opened her legs to him, he drove inside her. She cried out, but it was with pleasure and passion.

Review: Son of the Morning by Linda Howard

Format: E-booksonofthemorning
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hero: Black Niall of Scotland
Heroine: Grace St. John
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 4, 2009
Started On: June 18, 2010
Finished On: June 19, 2010

This is one of the books that I skipped when I went through my initial Linda Howard reading phase around 2 to 3 years back. This story is a mix of contemporary romance, mystery and suspense together with the aspect of time traveling thrown into the mix.

Grace St. John is a scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts. Grace is happily married to her husband Ford an archaeologist and living together with her brother Bryant who himself shares the same profession as her husband. The most recent stack of documents that land in Grace’s hands has her running for her life before the night is through. Witnessing the murder of her husband and brother within seconds of the other, Grace knows that her boss Parrish would stop at nothing to get his hands on her and the papers.

Overnight the scholarly Grace has to learn to keep her wits about her and transform herself into a person she barely recognizes. Grace doesn’t want to give into the gut wrenching pain that is barely kept at bay and it is the vow of vengeance and revenge on Parrish that keeps her going. Grace knows that the answer to everything lies in the bundle of papers that she had blessedly enough had the mind to take away with her and so starts her quest for answers whilst being a part of the underground community.

Before long, she is dreaming of the larger than life Scot warrior described in the papers known as the Black Niall of Scotland entrusted with guarding the lost Celtic treasure which is fabled to  hold unlimited power. Her shared dreams with Niall border on the verge of reality and Grace fears that she is being unfaithful to her dead husband Ford as the nights shared with Niall is the only time she feels alive.

Back in 13th century, Niall has his own share of problems always fighting and slaying those who dare to encroach on his territory. And the vague sense of a woman watching him from time to time and his unbearable hunger to claim her is keeping Niall on edge, more so than usual.

Once Grace discovers why Parrish and his Foundation of Evil wants their hands on the papers which holds the location of the elusive treasure, Grace knows that she alone cannot fight Parrish and finish off the foundation. To do what she must, Grace follows steps noted down in the papers on how to travel through time and finds herself in the midst of a battle and within seconds she is captured along with Niall.

Thus begins a journey of discovery of love that knows not the bounds of time, a man who would die protecting what is his and a woman who would travel to the beginning of time itself to belong to her warrior whose searing touch is unlike any she has known.

I kind of had mixed feelings about the novel whilst reading. A large chunk of the book passes by without Niall and Grace setting eyes on each other. Their only form of communication though both of them have no clue is through their vivid dreams of one another. Niall is a man to contend with whose presence makes the story come alive. Mind you, Grace is no whimpering heroine herself. What she accomplishes within a short period of time after the death of those whom she loves, I was in awe of her and was rooting for her all the way through.

Fans of Linda Howard ought to try this one out. Cos this surely is quite different from her usual stories.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo



Short & Sweet Review: Blackwolf’s Redemption by Sandra Marton

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle & Microsoft Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #2917
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jesse Blackwolf
Heroine: Sienna Cummings
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1, 2010
Started On: April 5, 2010
Finished On: April 7, 2010

Storyline: The story takes place in Montana US.  Sienna Cummings, an anthropologist on her way to earning her PHD visits the Blackwolf Canyon to watch the summer solstice and ends up traveling back in time to 1975, when Jesse Blackwolf was alive and owned the land. Jesse grew up to the tales of superstition that surrounds the Blackwolf Canyon though he doesn’t believe in such nonsense any longer. So he too is in time to view the summer solstice when with a round of green thunder, Sienna is hurtled into his life to forever change it.

The first meet: Sienna and Jesse first meet on top of the ledge of the Blackwolf Canyon when Sienna is hurtled back in time while watching the summer solstice.

Time period: The beginning and end of the story takes place in 2010 whilst the major part of the story takes place in the year 1975. Sienna a woman from the present where men and women have equal rights is hurtled into a time period when women were very much treated as the inferior sex, beings that aren’t able to think for themselves or capable of having any opinions for themselves. This irks Sienna more than anything and brings out the fiery spirit in her many a time in the novel.

Awareness between the two characters: This book has one of the best sexual tension sizzling thing going on between the hero and heroine. Ms. Marton always knows how to stir up the reader by creating screaming tension between two characters which is proved by this latest novel by her. Jesse though a loner and would prefer to remain that way has no protection against the intense attraction that sizzles between him and Sienna from the first contact. Hardened by the Vietnam war, with an ex-wife who left him because he is too cold and withdrawn, Jesse is not looking for anything to make his life complicated. Sienna is bewildered by what has happened much less by the passion that catches her unawares every time Jesse touches her or merely looks at her with smoldering heat in his eyes. (sigh!!)

The turning point: The point of no return for these two come when Jesse is unable to let Sienna leave and find her way back to wherever she came from.

How the relationship grows: Though Sienna and Jesse are both reluctant to start any sort of relationship between the two, when Jesse offers Sienna a job as his secretary until Sienna can get back on her own two feet, these two travel to San Fransisco on a business trip and it is there that these two finally succumb to the intense & fiery passion between the two and learn to love one another in the process.

Ending: The ending of the story was a  bit abrupt for me which is the case why this story got a B+ instead of an A-. I felt sort of cheated out when the story ended so abruptly without an epilogue even which would have made the story a much much better one!

Likes: The yummy Jesse Blackwolf. Makes for a truly dreamy hero. Made me wish the story were lengthier than it is.

Dislikes: During the first part of the novel Sienna acts like a total wacko at times growing hot one moment and icy cold the next which irked me. And oh, yes the very abrupt ending. Otherwise no dislikes.

Recommended for: Those who love Ms. Marton’s fiery hot stories. And anyone who just loves a good dose of passionate romance!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo



Review: Remembrance by Jude Deveraux

Format: Paperbackremembrance
Read With: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Atria Books
Series: Standalone
Hero: Tavey/Talis/Tariz
Heroine: Catherine/Callie/Hayden Lane
Date of Publication: October 1, 1997
Started On: October 7, 2009
Finished On: October 10, 2009

I am not much of a fan of Jude Deveraux, but the novels that I have attempted to read of hers has been interesting. A Knight in Shining Armour is one of my all time favorite romances. Apart from that I attempted to read one novel of hers, the title of which I have forgotten, which didn’t end pretty well. Remembrance is one story that I have always wanted to read, ever since my sis discussed with me about this novel, which she remembered to be a wonderful romance, which is saying a lot since she doesn’t read romance novels that much. And after reading this book, I have got to say that this book is a pretty wonderful read.

The story picks up with Hayden Lane, who is an author about to reach her forties, unmarried, who writes romance books. Remembrance starts off in first person and most of the story is narrated in second person although it does end again in first person. Hayden Lane, starts to visualize a character (Jamie), for a book of hers, which makes her lose interest in the real world, and inevitably makes her fiance’ walk out on her. Hayden, for the life of her, can’t even feel a twinge of disappointment because he left, but rather this gives her all the time in the world to absorb Jamie into her mind and soul. After her editor starts worrying about her, Hayden finally realizes that she is in deep trouble when she refuses to share what she has written about Jamie with her publisher, starts on her quest to find out what is wrong with her. Endless therapy sessions later, (which points out she wants to sleep with her father!), the self humorous dialog is quite funny and made me laugh out loud several times, Hayden visits a psychic, who points out that Hayden is so unsatisfied with this life because she has loved so deeply in her past lives, and that a curse prevents her from finding that special someone in this life.

Hayden, being someone who can’t just sit by until two lifetimes pass by for her to find her true love again, takes matters into her own hands, and gets hypnotized which starts off the story of a love that is so deep and intense that I felt like crying at times. Hayden time travels all the way to when her life began in the Edwardian times, where Callie and Tallis, born at the same hour, are two halves of one soul, that is quite beautifully described by the author.

All in all, at the end, it is a happy ending for Hayden when she meets Tariz at the end of the story. I was enraptured by the story of Tallis and Callie, as I am sure rest of the readers of this book were. This might end up as one of the books that I re-read time & time again, because Callie and Tallis’s story is one that you can read more than once and still fall in love with over & over again!

Purchase Links: Amazon