Review: Devil to Pay by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Devlin Connell
Heroine: Cressida Kerr Cross
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1992
Started On: April 10, 2020
Finished On: April 11, 2020

Devil to Pay by Susan Napier is one of those books that stands the test of time. First published in 1992, reading this book 28 years later is an experience that is worth your time if you love romances that are interwoven with humor, characters that make you fall in love, and delivers sexual tension and love of the kind that makes your heart hum with pleasure.

Cressida Kerr Cross (Cressy) is a photojournalist who is on her way to Whitianga, a nature reserve in New Zealand, in pursuit of a certain breed of insects, the subject matter being one that fascinates her to no end. However, her plans are derailed when she falls sick and finds herself at the residence of 39 year old Devlin Connell (Devil) of whom Cressy is equal doses wary of and drawn towards.

When Devlin finds an almost naked Cressy inside his home, he is more suspicious than anything else. Wanting a quiet life, Devlin is someone who does not like fanfare and has a deep rooted distrust, especially when it comes to reporters. One thing leads to another and before long, both Devlin and Cressy finds that their wariness towards each other cannot hide the fact that they are drawn to one another on an intrinsic level that is undeniable.

I loved both Devlin and Cressy; Devlin never having taken the tumble towards love and Cressy with an innate need to love and be loved, a hunger that has remained unappeased for far too long. When her life intersects with that of Devlin’s there is no turning back for either of them and I reveled in the heady emotions that coursed through me as I indulged in this mesmerizing romance.

Through a mix of angst-ridden and often hilarious situations bringing to light the side of Susan Napier as an author that I love and adore, Devil to Pay offers readers a delightful journey towards the happily ever after that is waiting for Devlin and Cressy. I absolutely adored this scrumptious read and would recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone who loves a romance of the good old variety.

Final Verdict: Devil to Pay is Susan Napier at her funniest and best. Loved the clumsiness, sexiness, emotional depth, and everything else in between!

Favorite Quotes

You’re as red as the sheets,’ he said, lowering his head slowly, holding her captive with his eyes as he asked roughly, ‘If I said it in English would you burst into flames for me…?’
‘Devlin…’ She should stop him, she should want to stop him! She should push him away, not spread her hands caressingly against his shirt front… What was the matter with her?
‘This room is perfect for you. A room of clashing colour and outrageous passion,’ he whispered, a breath away from her mouth.

‘Devil!’
‘That’s what they call me,’ he said, swallowing her sigh. He bit her mouth open with raw tenderness. It was even sweeter inside than he remembered, and sinfully evocative of a deeper intimacy. He thrust into her, sheathing his tongue again and again in the hot wet silk, taking shameless advantage of her submission, all his former fine resolve overridden by far more primitive instincts—that of the hunter astride his weaker prey, the miner greedily staking his claim, the male animal exploring his territorial limits.

‘Look in the mirror, Cressy,’ he invited roughly, and she lifted lustrous brown eyes and was transfixed by the shocking sight of their naked abandon, the pale feminine body with its soft curves dominating the hard, brown muscularity of the blatantly masculine one sprawled across the crimson bed.
‘See how lovely you are,’ Devlin praised her, his words caressing her as his hands lifted to push her tangled ginger mane back over her shoulders, fully exposing her body to her own view. He couldn’t see their reflection but he could see her response to it and he found it intensely arousing.

‘We look so right together, don’t we? We fit so well.’ He undulated his hips so that she felt him, thick with desire, press against the open heart of her. ‘I want you to make love to me like this one day…mistress of all you survey, proudly astride your kingdom. Never feel afraid or ashamed of the sexuality between us, Cressy, because it’s a rare and beautiful thing…’

Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Turner, #2
Publisher: HQN Books
Hero: Mark Turner
Heroine: Jessica Farleigh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 27, 2011
Started On: April 06, 2020
Finished On: April 09, 2020

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan is book 2 in the Turner series, the debut book of which I skipped and jumped straight to this one. Unclaimed can definitely be read as a standalone, as I could follow the unravelling story just fine.

It has been a while since I have read a Courtney Milan. Though her books receive rave reviews from readers now and again, I have found her books a bit bland for my tastes at times, steeped in too much bantering back and forth between the main protagonists, perhaps in a bid to show the intelligence behind her characters. But seeing a glowing review of Unclaimed on Instagram made me want to see what the fuss was about; after all, who doesn’t love a hero who is a stickler for principles and presents a cold-hearted front to the rest of the world, while inside he is teeming and burning with fire and desire to be unleashed on the right woman? I have read a couple of books of the type, the last one I read being Laura Lee Gurhke’s Secret Desires of a Gentleman which I absolutely adored. So of course, I had to see what the fuss was about.

28 year old Sir Mark Turner finds himself in the intriguing company of Mrs. Jessica Farleigh, who presents herself as a widower. While Jessica is a courtesan who wants out of the business, having grown wary of the life of servitude that she had been forced into, seducing Mark is her way out.

Mark, being the author of A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity has a reputation that precedes him, where people put him on a pedestal and likens him to a saint who is exempt from desire and sins altogether. However, Mark is the farthest thing from that, and it is one of the aspects of his life that troubles him, which is the reason why he retires to the country for a while, trying to regain his balance from all that is required of him.

When Jessica turns up in his life, Mark finds himself sorely tempted by the woman who is an enigma on many levels. While her intentions are obvious enough, her body language tells a tale of its own, which makes Mark wonder and dig deeper where she is concerned.

While the romance between Mark and Jessica turned out okay for me, the most intriguing aspect of the novel for me were the brothers themselves; the Duke, Mark, and then Smite if I am recalling his name correctly. The bond between the brothers and the premise upon which Courtney has created their characters was fascinating. I found each of them unique in their own way, with a bond that holds strong – that was how I felt during the sneak peeks into their characters, seen through the eyes of Mark.

I found the heroine to be just okay. Apart from Jessica being a coutesean who had been forced into the situation by an act of youthful indiscretion on her part, the rest of her was just average in my opinion. What she went through with her last paramour and how she had come to detest the touch of a man on her body, how she awakens to the touch of true desire; all of that failed to move me in a way that was significant.

Mark’s character was also pretty much the same – he is a beta hero which was rightfully pointed out in a review I came across. While the entire populace tries to label him as a saint, untouched by worldly desires, Mark reiterates over and over that he in fact he is not one. And he proves the same, even though he sticks to his principles and stays true to the course of not hurting a woman and leaving her in the lurch.

I found his thoughts on marriage profound – chastity and fidelty in a marriage depending on being married to a person who is worthy of it perhaps? Or moreover, someone who is your everything, someone who desires you, wants you, is captivated by you, and you return those feelings just the same. Having common interests and values is important, and at the same time, Mark’s views on settling for someone just because, struck a chord deep inside of me. I am guessing it would for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship and have had those questions of what-if once in a while.

While I enjoyed those thought provoking bits and pieces in the novel, I skipped some huge chunks of the story towards the end, just because I wanted to find out how it all ended. Recommended for those who love Courtney Milan’s voice in the genre.

Final Verdict: Unclaimed is a story that seeks to see the world through the eyes of a male protagonist who holds virtue to a higher degree than most, and the woman who is made for him who has defied all those conventions.

Favorite Quotes

“Mrs. Farleigh.” His words were choked. “You have no idea how long I have waited for someone to recognize that. I’m not an innocent. I’ve never been innocent. And yet I’m treated as if I were some sort of divine being, untouched by lust.”
She swallowed.
“It cheapens what I’ve accomplished,” Mark said, “to imagine me a saint. To believe I am untempted, that I pass through this life without feeling lust or want or desire. I said it in the first chapter of my book, and yet nobody seems to believe me. Chastity is hard.”
“I hadn’t thought—”
“I want. I lust. I desire.” He scrubbed his hand through sandy blond hair at that, shaking his head. “No. You’re right. You don’t deserve euphemisms. I want you. I lust after you. I desire you.”

She reached down to touch his erection. It was heavy in her hand, the head wet already. He hissed, his hands clutching her arms, as she stroked down his length.
She slid up onto her knees. One of his hands clasped her waist. He was the one to adjust his member into place, the one to set his hands on her hips. He was the one to apply just the slightest pressure. This wasn’t possible.
It was possible.
And then, it simply was.
His hands clenched around her arms. His breath came in explosive little gasps. His body entered hers—not in possession, but in desire.

It felt fragile, that kiss. As if this, too, would break. As if the future could rise up and choke the life from even this mutual desire. But he pressed her against the wall, and there was nothing delicate about his want. She couldn’t envision the future, but she comprehended this now—the hard ridge of his lust against her belly, the demands of his mouth, her own lust rising, hard and fast. She brought one leg up to draw him in. “Hold me,” she explained, guiding his hands to her hips. It took a few moments for him to get the idea—a few seconds until he slid inside her once more.
Each thrust speared through her uncertainty, each kiss grounded her. His hands held her up. When she came, it shattered her anxiety, splintering dark fears away.
His orgasm followed, fierce and relentless.

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

Review: Scandalous by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookscandalous
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Sinners of Saint, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trent Rexroth
Heroine: Edie Van Der Zee
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 21, 2017
Started On: April 03, 2020
Finished On: April 05, 2020

Scandalous by L.J. Shen is the 3rd book in the Sinners of Saint series. Having not read the two books prior to this one in the series, I just jumped right in because a lot of reviews seemed to hint that the hero was the kind that I love the best; ruthless, a tad cruel at times, and nevertheless endearing in a way that is hard to explain.

The one thing that I can say is that Scandalous can be read as a standalone; for the most part, I did not feel as if I had lost out on anything by starting straightaway with the 3rd book in the series. Scandalous tells the story of how 33 year old Trent Rexroth meets his match in 18 year old Edie Van Der Zee, the last woman on earth whom he would have chosen for the role, if he had a choice in the matter.

The story begins with the most unlikely of scenes, where Edie snatches a purse off a woman on the street, only to find that it is from Trent’s mother. Days later, she finds herself forced to work for her father (whom she hates and for good reason), who is in a partnership with Trent and his friends.

Trent’s only weakness lies in his love for his daughter Luna, whose refusal to articulate and give voice to her thoughts drives him to desperation. The therapy sessions seem to help, but it is in Edie’s presence that Luna comes alive for the first time in a long while, which basically seals the deal where Trent and Edie are concerned.

Even though Edie plays a dangerous game with her father which involves Trent, and Trent would like nothing better than to be able to keep his hands off of Edie, none of that matters when these two share the same breathing space. The heat between them is not the kind anyone walks away from, and before they both know it, they are both in too deep with each other.

While I liked the overall premise of Scandalous, which includes the forbidden factor and the huge age gap, I truly could not understand why Trent is referred to as The Mute in the story. It was apparently because he rarely speaks. I must have been reading a totally different book, because to me, he appeared to be perfectly fine in the speaking department.

I did like Edie and felt for her rough life with parents who neither of them deserved to be one. Edie’s penchant for stealing is explained as the story hits its climax, the secret which she keeps from basically everyone in her life, which is the shock factor of the story.

I also felt that there was just too much happening in the story to really focus on how the relationship between Trent and Edie evolves and builds to form something meaningful out of the foundation of wanting Luna’s happiness in common. I know that there was ample enough sex happening, and apart from Luna being the basis for Trent lowering his guard and letting Edie into his life, I couldn’t see much going for them to hold them together. Even the sex scenes were mostly focused on portraying just how good Trent is between the sheets or anywhere for that matter. I for one would have loved to see just once, how Trent is driven crazy by his want and need for Edie than the other way around.

I also did not find myself all that enamored with Trent. He was gushed about as an anti-hero by a lot of readers, but what I found was an asshole (who has friends who are a bunch of assholes), who are mean and rude to everyone else except when it comes to each other and their women. I wished for a hero who had his own issues to deal with, who actually showed through his actions that Luna meant more to him than just taking her to therapy sessions and then scratching his sexual itch with the therapist after hours. To me, that just did not sit all that well for some reason.

Recommended for fans of LJ Shen and fans of the Sinners of Saint series.

Final Verdict: Trent and Edie’s love is forged out of something easy to understand and stays that way for reasons best left unknown; after all, the heart wants what it wants, regardless.

Favorite Quotes

“How can it feel this good?” she nearly protested, reaching with her hand to touch me again. I moved away quickly, still playing with her tit.
“Because it’s different when you’re in the hands of a man.”
“Show me.”
I didn’t answer.
“Please,” she purred, and this time she managed to glide her bikini-ed groin over my training shorts. Fuck, I wasn’t sure if it was the ocean or her, but something there was damp.
That’s when I lost it.

“It means”—his teeth dragged along my neck—“that what we are to each other is potential sacrifices. As long as you know I will throw you under the train if you mess with my plans, I’m good.”
I swallowed. “I’m good, too.”
“Let’s have some fun then.”
And that was all the preparation he gave me before shoving his hand inside my panties. His strong, warm fingers stroked my folds gently, as if soothing them, preparing for whatever he was going to give me.
“One last warning,” he said, his hot tongue making its first appearance, licking a trail of tantalizing desire up the side of my neck, making me shiver violently. “I fuck rough.” He shoved one finger into me and I arched my back, gasping from the sudden penetration. “Deep-throating is a requirement, not an option”—he shoved a second finger into me—“and I’m about to fucking ruin you for any other man. So when the time comes and no one else can compare to me, just remember—you asked for it.”

The orgasm was slamming into me like whiplash. Again and again. It took me a few moments to realize I was experiencing multiple orgasms for the first time in my life. They were all equally intense, and I was beginning to wonder what it was about Trent that made me feel like I was burning from the inside out. Bane was good in bed. He was great, actually.
But he didn’t set me ablaze only to turn his back on me once the tongues of fire consumed me.
He didn’t ignite in me the need to do and say crazy things.

“I liked it when you bit my nipple hard,” she said. I ignored her, pulling my fingers out and coating her pussy with her arousal.
“You make me feel deranged with need,” she whimpered, just as I slapped her pussy for the first time. It made her body stutter and stir, and she let out a little yelp I stifled by shoving my wet fingers into her mouth.
“Shhh,” I said. “You said you like it. Show me how much.”

“Harder.”
“No.”
“Trent.”
“No.”
“I need it.”
“You’ve had enough for one day, Edie. Your cum is all over my dick. I can eat you out if you want another orgasm.” Was I bargaining with her mid-fuck? That was a first. And a last. This chick wasn’t running the show, no matter how hard I wanted her tight pink pussy to milk my cock.
“If you won’t, Bane will.” I heard the smile in her voice but couldn’t see it. Fuck it. She’d asked for it.
Thwack!
We came together like a storm.

“Did you just give me a nickname?” I smirked, feeling the muscles of my tight hole tightening around his finger. It hurt a little, but mostly felt weird. Not weird bad, either. But the kind you needed to get used to in order to enjoy. The way he worked his fingers over mine…that was the real treat.
“Better than Gidget.” He bit my chin.
“I like Gidget.”
“You like Little Tide more.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re about to.” He slammed his finger deeper into my ass and I yelped, clinging to his broad shoulders. His lips met my ear and he bit my earlobe, smiling.
I exploded on our fingers.

There was no excuse for what I was doing. For me walking into that room and closing the door behind us. For me striding over to her with chaos dancing in my chest, watching her as she lifted her eyes from the toy, reading everything that was inside of mine.
I could say it was because she’d protected my daughter, but that wouldn’t be true.
I could say it was because I saw her layers as she held that toy soldier in her small hand, but that would be bullshit, too.
I did it because I had to. Because fuck the consequences and Jordan Van Der Zee and everything standing between us. For the first time in five years, I put my lips on another person’s and kissed her. Hard.

“I won’t beg.”
“You won’t beg,” he repeated, pushing his whole cock through my panties, penetrating me. The fabric of my underwear stretched along my inner thighs painfully, and I threw my head back, wincing.
I wanted more.
I wanted it harder.
I wanted everything.
I moaned, slipping my fingers into his denim and underwear and clutching his ass as I opened my legs wider for him. “What are we doing?”
“Exactly what I promised myself I’d never do again. Fucking without a condom.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthedukewiththedragontattoo
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical
Series: Victorian Rebels, #6
Publisher: St. Martin
Hero: The Rook
Heroine: Lorelai Weatherstoke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 28, 2018
Started On: March 30, 2020
Finished On: April 01, 2020

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the sixth book in the delectable Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne. It is also a much awaited story in the series, because the male protagonist is a character who has captivated the imagination of fans as someone totally ruthless and well deserving of his own happily ever after. Needless to say, I was super excited to pick up The Rook’s story at long last.

34 year old Lorelai Weatherstoke is about to take the plunge into “un”-holy matrimony as her hateful brother wants her to, when her savior comes in the form of the man who walked out on her 20 years back, promising that he would be back for her. But the eyes of the young adult he had been at that point in time had been gentler, warmer, and kinder. The ones that stare at her now remain placid, as if he feels nothing, sees nothing.

Taken “captive” aboard his ship, Lorelai is somewhat pacified to be accompanied by her sister in law who cautions her against trusting The Rook. While Lorelai’s heart tells her that beneath all that ruthlessness lies the man she fell in love with, her other senses tells her to flee and surrender in equal doses. Meanwhile, The Rook, not knowing what he wants out of the situation, sets in motion the sequence of events that finally allows him to uncover the secrets of his past that has eluded him since forever, to finally be able to surrender to the love that had found him even amidst all that stood in between them.

While I have loved most of the books in the Victorian Rebels series, because lets face it, Ms. Byrne is one helluva romance writer, I just did not find myself all that enamored with the main protagonists of this installment. Ms. Bryne’s stories are a favorite for a reason – they deliver ruthless heroes who are just a tad shy of being irredeemable, whose love for the heroine is an all encompassing one, rendering them possessive in a way that just melts you on the inside. At the same time, the heroines are able to accept the heroes as they are, with perhaps the hero turning a bit mellow in the hands of the woman who deserves their commitment and love.

I had a couple of issues with Lorelai to begin with. When Lorelai first encounters The Rook and and takes him under her care, even with all the dangers around her, she stood her ground wherever and whenever it was possible, which scored her points from me. She was in an untenable situation and she had the courage which I kind of felt was a missing element when the story picked up twenty years later. I just felt that Lorelai did not particularly seem as enamored with The Rook as he was with her as well. I know that it was hard to see where the hero was coming from at times, but who else would otherwise just turn up out of the blue when you are about walk into a nightmare of a marriage, and rescue you if not for love?

The fact that Lorelai seemed to have a problem with the VERY timely demise of her brother, the very brother who had tormented and tortured not only her, but the sister in law as well, when he would have basically murdered Lorelai if he could have gotten away with it, I just did not get her reaction. Given the time period in which the story takes place, I just had a difficult time understanding Lorelai from that perspective.

Perhaps she was too much of a bleeding heart even with all that she had gone through in life, unlike heroines from other books who seemed to take these things in stride, when it was a deserving hit to say the least. I for one smiled when the brother’s life ended with such dramatic flair – I would have clapped had it not meant I would have had to leave the book aside and also end up looking like a crazy fool. Maybe I am just too bloodthirsty as a reader!

The next thing that bugged me was perhaps largely to do with my expectations. I expected The Rook to be more ruthless than he actually was portrayed in his own story. I expected a darker story for him given all that he has gone through. When a romance ends up disappointing you in terms of the hero and the heroine and the connection between them, I guess that in a large way detracts you from the enjoyment factor you are looking for in the story. I can see though, that I am in the minority viewpoint when it comes to this one.

However, I really loved the ingenious plotting behind The Rook’s character; while I wanted dark and ruthless for him, what Ms. Byrne delivered was a twist that I could never have seen coming, not in a million years. I also enjoyed the connection between Veronica (Lorelai’s sister in law) and Moncrieff, the Earl of Crosthwaite (friend of The Rook’s). I think I was more taken in with the zing factor that Moncrieff brought to the novel than who actually should have.

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

Final Verdict: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo adds a mesmerizing twist to the developing arc in the series, making one want to read the next installment just as soon as they are done with this one!

Favorite Quotes

He wanted to savor all of her. Every soft, delicate, hidden part. Behind her ears, the supple curve of her bare shoulder, the taut peaks of her breasts, her quivering belly.
His tongue slid past her lips, enticed by the wicked fantasy he’d conjured. He lapped and nibbled at her in a warm mimicry of what he thirsted for.
An intimate taste of her.

Reaching down, he parted her legs so he could get closer, cursing every single layer of her skirt, her undergarments, and even the air that took up the space between them. He drove his hips against the silk of her skirts, sex against sex, frustrated by the barrier, but aroused by her soft hiss of breath and the tremble he felt roll through her limbs.
The first of many, he vowed.
“Can you feel a whisper of what I can give you?” he asked, rolling against her again, knowing he abraded the sweet little nub with each flex of his hips.
“Y-yes … but I…” Her fingers became claws on his shoulders, as though she feared falling.
I’ll not let you go.

A finger found its way inside of her, and she jerked, but he crawled up her body, soothing her with a gentle, probing kiss. His strokes became wicked, then torturous. Quickening in pace and rhythm until she surged in trembling, taut thrusts. Riding his fingers as she imagined one rode a horse, hips moving in time with the animal, urging it onward.
He slid another finger inside her, and she sobbed at the pressure of it. The pleasure of it. It threatened to annihilate her. To rush toward her with the speed and inevitability of a rogue wave, and there was nothing to be done but brace for the onslaught.

He crawled up her body, licking his glossy lips like a satisfied cat, his eyes glittering like volcanic shards of dark intent.
Her muscles, replete and heavy, melted beneath him.
“Did you mean it?” he asked tightly. “Can you take all of me?”
Sighing, she wrapped her arms around his wide torso with more urgency than even she had expected, her heart contracting with a thousand different forms of love. “Every part of you.”

The strain in his muscles as he held her aloft did more to stoke her desire than any poetry ever could. She released a rush of wet need on a tortured moan, and a tempestuous sound from him told her that he knew exactly what he’d elicited within her.
Lorelai let out an unbidden cry as he impaled her in one sleek thrust, setting her blood on absolute fire. He gave her only a moment to adjust, to dimly wish she were naked against all of his marvelous skin.

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

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Review: Outmatched by Kristen Callihan, Samantha Young

Format: E-Bookoutmatched
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Rhys Morgan
Heroine: Parker Brown
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 19, 2019
Started On: March 26, 2020
Finished On: April 01, 2020

Outmatched by Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young caught my eye on Kindle Unlimited, a source from which I have found some pretty great reads since I signed up recently.

I have never read anything from Kristen Callihan prior to this, and yet even though I am not much of a fan of sports themed romances, I found myself intrigued by the blurb. Matters were also helped along, having read Samantha Young’s Before Jamaica Lane, and knowing what to expect from Ms. Young in terms of the romance and sizzle factor.

30 year old Parker Brown is in a fix when she needs to find a fake boyfriend owing to pressure from work. Having just completed her PhD in Dynamic Modeling, Parker is excited to be working for a company working in renewable energy, that is of course minus the company’s main investor’s chauvinistic attitudes. However, Parker is determined to play the part as needed, wanting to prove to herself that she can stand on her own without the need to rely on her family.

Signing onto a dating app and finding the perfect fake boyfriend should have been the answer to all her problems. However, when 34 year Rhys Morgan, brother of the intended turns up for the date instead, Parker is at a loss as to how to manage the force to be reckoned with that Rhys is. Rubbing each other the wrong way is how things start off between the two, but for one reason or the other, Rhys sticks with the date, and before he knows it, he is in too deep with Parker, with reality of their burgeoning feelings towards each other blurring the lines of the fake boyfriend agenda.

At 28 years, Rhys had become a WBC heavyweight champion, a legend of his time, who for mainly unknown reasons to the public had quit boxing. Rhys struggles with forgiveness when it comes to his father, who had left a shitshow in his hands with a mountain of debt looming, and the gym which had been their family’s lifeline as long as he could remember now at risk. Rhys is determined that he would do whatever it takes to save his family’s “legacy” even though what he is coerced into doing does not give him much pleasure and is tied to a painful knot from the past.

While I expected something a little bit different, Outmatched served to be a read that I enjoyed immensely. The witty banter between Parker and Rhys was a factor that had me smiling through the most part, and I even laughed out loud during a couple of scenes which turned out to be particularly hilarious. Both Rhys and Parker are the kind of characters you root for, and I soaked up everything about them, from the snark, to the sexiness, to the angst, to the happily ever after.

I admit that I expected a novel that was sexier than what Outmatched delivered; perhaps I had my expectations built upon what Ms. Young’s novel delivered in spades. I also expected a grumpier hero than Rhys; I blame the blurb for that one. However, even though I would have loved a tad more grumpiness to Rhys, I ended up enjoying how Rhys turned out to be, all too sexy with a heart of gold that I adored. In hindsight, who in their right minds would be able to stay grumpy with someone like Parker Brown in their life? I certainly wouldn’t!

Recommended for those who loves emotional stories with depth and humor, with a dash of sexy in the mix. You will adore Rhys and Parker within the first couple of chapters!

Final Verdict: Outmatched features a hero set on doing the right thing and a heroine who guides him towards what the heart wants; a splendid read that I enjoyed immensely!

Favorite Quotes

“That wasn’t a kiss, sweetheart.”
Hot color licked over her cheeks. “It was so.”
“It was a little peck on the lips. I barely felt it.” I eyed her in mock suspicion. “Is that how you kiss guys you’re with? Because, if so—” I broke off, shaking my head sadly.
She growled. “Look here, you. The men I’ve kissed have been perfectly satisfied.”

His lips trailed away from my mouth, whispering hotly across my skin, as he lightly tasted his way down my throat. I whispered his name, tilting my hips, needing to feel more of him, and trembled as his hand glided up my inner thigh.
My eyes flew open as his lips followed a path down my chest, while his fingers slipped beneath my underwear. Two thick fingers suddenly pushed inside me, and I whimpered and arched my back into his touch. His grip on my hip turned bruising, and I heard him murmur hoarsely, “So tight.”

Rhys drank his fill as I laid out on the bed for him. I bit my lip, my nipples tightening as anticipation rippled through me.
“Fuck,” Rhys choked out. “Fuck, Parker, how can anyone be so beautiful?”
His tender words caused a burn of emotion in my throat and suddenly, I was no longer concerned about comparing myself to the other women Rhys had been with.
This was so much more than that.
For both of us.
I just knew it.

“Let go.” I thrust again, pausing, working her. “Give it to me, Parker.”
Her hands grasped my shoulders. She came with a spectacular wail, her body milking my dick so hard I saw stars. It set me off. I lost all sense of time, of anything but moving inside Parker, kissing her soft mouth.
I groaned into her mouth as I came. Everything drained out of me, and in that moment, I didn’t know my own name. Only hers.
I was hers.

Once those doors closed, he started grinding into me, kissing me until I could barely breathe with the anticipation. My whole body was on fire.
“You wet?” He kissed my neck below my ear.
“You know it,” I gasped, clutching at him as he thrust against me again. “Rhys!”
“You want me to fuck you, you gotta say it, Tinker Bell.”
Trembling with need, I turned my head and whispered in his ear, “I want you to fuck me, Rhys.”

Words formed on my lips, words I’d never said to anyone. But it was too much. Too good. I dipped my head and kissed her deep, hungry. Always hungry for her. And she moaned into it as I moved. My hands slid into her hair as I thrust slow and sure. She was utterly precious to me, utterly beautiful.
For the first time in my life, I was making love. And it was so damn perfect. I never wanted it to end. Never wanted to let her go.
And when I finally found my voice, I could only say one thing.
“Parker.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthescotbedshiswife
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical
Series: Victorian Rebels, #5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Gavin St. James
Heroine: Samantha Masters
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 03, 2017
Started On: March 04, 2020
Finished On: March 22, 2020

The Scot Beds His Wife is the fifth book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne. It tells the story of Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne and Samantha Masters, who arrives in Scotland from America, fleeing possible prosecution from having killed her significant other.

Samantha assumes the identity of Alison Ross, who holds the rights to the property that Gavin wants to make his, what he sees to be his finally link to freedom. With Samantha standing between him and what he covets the most in this world, he strikes up a bargain with her which includes a marriage of convenience.

When Samantha arrives in Scotland and meets the notorious Gavin St. James, she is not at all prepared for the way that he sets her senses ablaze with a fleeting touch and that searing glance of his. Even though Samantha is determined that she would not fall under his spell, as danger comes seeking her out, there is no other option but to give in. And  give in she does, not only because she must, but she wants to. Because the delicious torment it is being pleasured by the wicked Earl demands nothing less.

As Samantha and Gavin begins to find their footing in a marriage that neither had thought would be everlasting, secrets that could tear them apart comes to the surface, especially the ones Samantha keeps close to her heart. To find their way out, each must be willing to put their heart on their line and gamble with what is most precious to the other, their love for one another.

Gavin’s backstory is one that made me want to weep copious amounts of tears because there is no other way to react to what he had gone through as a child and his journey to adulthood. Gavin’s relationship with his elder brother is of the most complicated variety; there is no easy way out of being in love with the bride of your own flesh and blood. But it is beneath the surface one must look to understand the story within. The details of Gavin’s past interwoven with the present was enough to make my heart bleed raw from the pain, and the result had been for Gavin to believe that everlasting love was not for the likes of him, ever.

Samantha’s past is just as harrowing, especially once she had committed to becoming the wife and a member of the ill-famed Masters Gang in the US. Samantha’s fate had pretty much been sealed when her hand in marriage was planned to someone old enough to be her father. When her gang of brothers had turned up at her home at that point in time, Samantha had taken the lifeline that had been hers for the taking and run with it, only to realise that she had jumped from the frying pan into the roiling fire.

What surprised me the most (in a good way), was how much I actually enjoyed Gavin’s story when I initially saw him as a character who was too mellow for my liking. As fans of Ms. Bryne’s work would know, her heroes tend to be unabashedly masculine, alpha, and tantalizing in a way that takes command of all your senses. I though Gavin to be a bit less so, perhaps because of his laid back nature in the previous stories when he made an appearance. There were also reasons behind him appearing as such, which I am no privy to, having read his story. I am glad that Gavin proved himself to be more, so much more than what I initially thought him to be.

Gavin and Samantha are two contrasting characters, who, each in their own way, are looking for that undefinable something that humanity as a whole yearns for; that sense of belonging that comes from finding deep and abiding love with your equal in every sense. Ms. Byrne has done a splendid job of bringing those contrasts between Samantha and Gavin together in a way that makes for a breathtaking read.

To sum up, The Scot Beds His Wife is the story of the least fierce hero of the Mackenzie clan. The brother whose beautiful mother paid dearly in her marriage to the brute that had be their father. The brother who had borne the brunt of his father’s wrath because he had not been cruel, and there had been a gentleness to his soul that had made his father want to beat it out of him. A smuggler, a hedonist, son, and a brother who never wanted to carry the weight of the family name.

Samantha is the gunslinger and widower who comes to Gavin’s land to take away what he covets the most, what he thought would finally bring him the respite and escape he so craves; respite from the rage that swirls inside of him and the need to destroy that wars constantly with his soul. Samantha who assumes the identity of someone else, is carrying a secret that could devastate them both, who never thought she would fall for the highlander who claimed he would be partially faithful to her.

Recommended for those who love the Victorian Rebels series, who loves passionate historical romances set in the beautiful highlands, and those who love an unconventional heroine in their stories!

As always, quotes I have selected from Ms. Bryne’s books overwhelms the senses, every single time you revisit them, even months later.

Final Verdict: The Scot Beds His Wife tells the tale of two people who never thought they needed love and find it in the most unlikeliest of places through a marriage of convenience. Beautifully told as only Kerrigan Byrne can!

Favorite Quotes

“Give it here,” she demanded.
“Give it here…?” He drew out the last syllable.
“Please,” she muttered, galled to the core that she was even having such a ridiculous interaction.
“Gladly.” The beauty of his smile stunned her blind, which must have been how he was able to cup the back of her hand with his, in order to set her handbag in her open palm.
The tiny striations of her lace gloves became her only feeble defense against the feel of his coarse flesh against hers. The weight of her returned handbag drove her knuckles deeper against his palm.
A rough exhalation drew her notice. Nothing about his haughty, nonchalant expression had changed.
And yet … everything had.
The rim of his nostrils flared with quickening breath. His lids became heavier, drawing to half-mast. His sinfully full lower lip drew tight against his teeth before he consciously seemed to relax it.

With a stunned gasp, she turned her head, tearing her lips from his.
In the time it took for her to form the indignant words “What the fuck do you think—” Gavin’s decision was made, and it no longer paralyzed him.
His fingers released her wrist and anchored in her hair, where they’d previously itched to be. His next kiss was so fierce, it drove her head against his palm, and the back of his hand against the tree.
Her lips were already parted, and he pressed them wider.
This wasn’t a kiss, but a claiming.

He controlled his thrusts with absolute precision, his long fingers working together to create a wash of pulsating bliss that seemed to rise from somewhere deep, deep inside her, until suddenly every muscle in her body tensed and arched. It broke through her like a tidal wave, brimming over her veins and washing her flesh in a crescendo of effervescence. The peaks of the pulsing waves lingered, the valleys only a momentary respite before she was barraged again.
Samantha kept her neck arched, her eyes fixed on the sky above and, even through the heavy storm clouds …
She saw the stars.

The hands on his shoulders slid up his neck, then seized his jaw and pulled his lips the rest of the way to meet hers.
She made a sound he’d never heard from a woman before. There was nothing coy or teasing in it. Nothing seductive or husky or practiced in the least.
It was pure. Honest. Need.
And he was lost.
Maybe he’d been losing himself slowly since the moment she’d barged into the Highlands, guns blazing, eyes snapping, and tongue lashing.

Inside her body, where he still remained. Hard. And hot. And pulsing.
What?
Five breaths. Five breaths was all it took him to recover.
A hum of masculine satisfaction rumbled deep in his throat before he threaded his fingers through hers and slowly guided them above her head as he finally began to move.
Her eyes flew open and she gasped at the sight. Even though she’d seen him dozens of times, his beauty still had the power to startle her if she wasn’t prepared.
Hadn’t he just…? How was he still…? Oh God, that felt good …
“The only Mackenzie trait I’m glad of, lass,” he said by way of arrogant explanation. “We spend ourselves more than once.”
Jesus Jehosephat Christ.

“Don’t think that just because we’re married, you get to tell me what I can and canna do. Didn’t you notice that your brother left the word ‘obey’ out of the wedding vows?”
Lord, but he loved it when her azure eyes flashed with temper.
“Och.” He chuckled, scratching at his morning shadow-beard. “More than a slight oversight on his part. Tell ye what, if ye prove to me that ye can ride, then ye can go.”
“Fine.” She shot him a triumphant smirk. “I think that bay mare would do nicely.”
“I find it charming, lass…” He let his thought trail away as he sidled closer to her, a wicked intent heating his blood and already pulsing in his loins.
“Find what charming?” She shied away, but not fast enough.
“That ye thought I meant for ye to ride a horse.”

“I can ride,” she declared. “I’ll ride you witless, Gavin St. James.”
Just when he’d thought he couldn’t get any harder—she had to go and prove him wrong.
“By all fucking means,” he growled. Seizing both her mouth and her lean hips, he controlled their roll, levering her above him even as he sucked her tongue deep into his mouth.
Bunching her skirts in his fists, he burrowed his hands beneath them, sliding his fingers over the silken flesh of her thighs until he found the soft hair between. Cleaving her folds apart, he found the slippery cove of her body already wet and ready for him.

Lord, but with just a few kisses, her husband set her skin on fire, and released a wet flood of preparation all at once.
A fucking miracle of biblical proportions, that was sex with Gavin St. James.
In a sinuous motion of both unparalleled grace and strength, he stretched his magnificent body onto his back, all the while lifting her hips and dragging her up his torso and past his shoulders.
“What are you—”
His wicked mouth answered her, but not with words.

He drilled into her, the hard planes of his hips pounding against her as a fresh storm of pleasure began to build deeper within her loins. She shivered and convulsed, gritting her teeth together to keep herself from screaming. She enjoyed the wicked, brutal sounds their bodies made, the growling breaths that exploded from him.
He pushed her to her elbows, his hands both rough and reverent. He took her like a stallion mounted his mare. This was not their usual encounter, she realized.
This was a claiming.
He was a hunter, a predator. And now, she’d become his mate.

He took her mouth with his own, slanting his lips over hers, licking the salt of her tears from the seam with his velvety tongue.
She opened for him, accepted his possession, his love, and all the emotion he poured from his lips into hers. No longer was he the leisurely lover, the infamous rake. This time, his kiss conveyed a desperation she’d never felt from him before. A passion she’d not known him to be afflicted with.
Her response to it was instant and fierce. She threaded her fingers into his lush hair and turned her hands into fists, imprisoning him to the onslaught of her answering ardor. A lifetime of loneliness flared between them, fusing them to each other, offering what neither of them had ever been able to claim.
Belonging. He was hers. She was his. And neither of them would be alone again.

She was so lost in his mouth, that she hadn’t realized he’d pushed her onto the seat and pulled up her skirts until he was moving against her. Thrusting inside of her.
Her body was ready for his intrusion, wet and warm, open and needy.
His possession brought her to life, warming the blood from ice in her veins. Lifting the weight of guilt and sorrow, turning it into a taut and frantic lust.

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

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Review: Release by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Bookrelease
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ramsey Stewart
Heroine: Althea Floye Hull
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 04, 2020
Started On: February 28, 2020
Finished On: March 01, 2020

Release by Aly Martinez caught my eye when I was surfing through Amazon, as I usually tend to do when I am on lookout for new books to read. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but I have to admit that it was the cover that drew me to take a look at the blurb.

I love myself a romance featuring an ex-convict, be it hero or heroine, and this one had a lot of other tropes going for it which tend to fall into my favorite zone, and I was sold, despite it being a totally new to me author. Being my very first read from Ms. Martinez, I was pleasantly surprise and wooed in a way that will definitely have me coming back for more where she is concerned.

Release begins with 29 year old Althea Floye Hull (Thea) waiting outside of the prison gates to welcome the release of Ramsey Stewart, the boy whom she had met on the fateful day of her mother’s death, the yin to her yang, her best friend, and the boy who had grown into the man who became the love of her life.

30 year old Ramsey is anything but pleased to see Thea waiting for him to welcome his release. The visceral reaction that he has to her is something he wishes he could do away with, but memories of Thea and what could have been is a luxury he did not allow himself during the 13 years spent in prison. Even though he is ready to experience a woman’s touch and start living life again, Ramsey has made a vow that it would be on his terms, and those definitely do not allow for Thea’s involvement at any point in time.

However, Thea is as equally determined to stick by Ramsey’s side, to show him that they belong together and that they always will. Bit by bit, Thea’s stubbornness and persistence pays off, until the point at which the truth of the night which determined the fate of Ramsey comes to haunt them, with the power to break the fragile bonds that had been forged between the two since his release. It would take Thea a lot more than her desire and love for all that is Ramsey to move forward, which also means Ramsey having to fight his own demons to be worthy of their love for each other.

I loved Release and all that it presented to me as the reader. The past interwoven with the present gave that in-depth characterization to the story which I absolutely adored. Both Thea and Ramsey come from broken homes of its own variety. While Thea’s home may not be described as a typical broken home, it had been one of neglect following the death of her mother. In Ramsey’s case, abandonment and abuse plays its role, and it is by a twist of fate that Ramsey finds Thea on the day of her mother’s passing, which basically saves Thea’s life in more ways than one.

The friendship between the two, the love that had been forged along the way, a love that had changed and evolved into one with adult needs and wants behind it as time had gone by; all of that and more is explored in a way that makes for splendid reading. The surprising twist along the way may in all probability be figured out by most readers at some point in time, but nevertheless the impact it brings to the story and the angst factor it gives was something that I immersed my senses within, and enjoyed thoroughly.

Recommended for those who love romances featuring ex-convict heroes within the friends to lovers trope. My only wish now is to know whether Ms. Martinez is ever planning on writing Nora’s book – I have a feeling that it will be well worth the wait, with a “surprising” hero in the mix!

Final Verdict: Release is the kind of stupendous romance that your entire being welcomes; Thea and Ramsey demands nothing less!

Favorite Quotes

His entire body stiffened at the contact, but his hand kneaded like it’d found its way home. “Fuck,” he groaned, plucking at my nipple through the fabric of my thin bra.
Throwing my head back to rest on his shoulder, I sagged against him.
His arm hooked around my hips, holding me up as he continued his delicious assault on my breast.
“I don’t want you,” he snarled, but his teeth nipped at my neck.
I thrust a hand between us and gave his hard length a pointed rub. “You’re a liar.”

“Last chance,” she murmured.
She could have stood there, holding my gaze, until we both wasted away into the Earth and I never would have said the word stop.
Her smile grew, and then brazen and beautiful as only Thea could be, she dropped her pants to the floor.
Oh, fuck me. Her pussy was bare. Oh, fucking fuck me.
A growl rumbled in my chest.
Do not be rough.
Do not be rough.
Do not be…
I charged forward, our bodies colliding only a split second before our mouths. Her hands went straight into the back of my hair while our tongues tangled in a fiery reunion.

“You’re mine, Ramsey. You can try to fight me. You can hate me. You can lie to yourself for the rest of your life.” She raked her fingernails down my abs before diving into the front of my boxers and wrapping her palm around my shaft. “But wherever you are, however long you are there, you are always mine.” She punctuated it with a hard pull that weakened my knees.
This. Fucking. Woman.
It had been eighteen years since I first saw her at the base of that tree.
And she was right. She had owned me every day since. Maybe that was why I’d never been able to convince her to leave. She wasn’t my Sparrow to free.
I was hers.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Fake It ‘Til You Break It by Meagan Brandy

Format: E-Bookfakeittillyoubreakit
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Nico Sykes
Heroine: Demi Davenport
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 04, 2020
Started On: February 27, 2020
Finished On: February 28, 2020

“You keep kneeing me and I’m gonna do one of two things. One being lifting you up and putting you beside me so you can’t anymore, or two, plant your ass in my lap, which will either embarrass or entice you. Your call, Davenport.”

Fake It ‘Til You Break It is the first time I tried out a book by Meagan Brandy. It is a New Adult romance, and while I would not classify myself as someone who enjoys them so much, I am hard pressed in finding good material to read if I am to pursue heroes of the variety that I enjoy reading about, aka the ones who are known as alpha-holes.

New Adult romances are often “childish” in my opinion – I get a headache from all the senseless sleeping around, drinking and partying; part of the signature transition into adulthood when it comes to the Western world perhaps. I feel the same when I watch Korean drama centered around the same theme – I need adults behaving like adults when it comes right down to it. Thankfully, the few New Adult romances that I have dared to read have all proven their mettle in terms of delivering strong characters that I could root for without cringing to death while I am at it.

Fake It ‘Til You Break It begins during the senior year of high school for both Demi Davenport (Demi) and Nico Sykes (Nico). Lab partners are squared off at the Chemistry class attended by both, where Demi ends up with her nemesis of sorts, Nico. Demi is pretty certain that she would be paired off with Alex Hammons, the guy she has been crushing on for a while now, and never in her worst nightmares would she have expected to end up with Nico, the guy who has been ignoring her very existence for a long time.

While Demi is studious and gets good grades, you guessed it right, Nico is the direct opposite; sinfully handsome, a member of the football squad, pursued by females all over. Thrown together owing to their teacher’s whims, Demi has no choice but to make “nice” with Nico, while he is determined to press all her hot buttons and then some.

A pretend relationship is forged between the two (reasons for which you will have to read to find out), which begins the ball rolling in the story. Where Nico makes her burn and burn good with want and desire for him, Demi is not entirely certain whether what is between them is real or not.

Like all high school drama, this one had the hormones surging beneath the surface. But Demi being the girl that she is, made the story in my opinion. Demi is strong, loyal to a fault, and not easily swayed by the theatrics of high school drama. However, Demi too struggles with her mother at home, someone who barely functions as a parent, and leaves her be for the most part, as long as Demi does what she wants whenever she asserts that pressure on her.

Nico has a totally different situation at home, which Demi finds out much later, even though they are neighbors. Nico’s life is one that is too easily pictured with a mother who has lost herself to a man who doesn’t value her at any level.

The secret to the goodness in the story lies in the psychology that is interwoven into the relationships that exists between the main protagonists and the secondary characters. That was brilliantly done in my opinion, bringing forth a tale worth sinking your teeth into.

I loved Demi. She was all sorts of wonderful in the way she maintains her dignity while walking in and out of situations like we can all only aspire to be. When it came to Nico however, I felt that he somehow didn’t live up to his image at certain points. I wanted a Nico who would step up more and take a proactive step towards the girl he has wanted all along and never thought himself to be good enough for.

Human psychology is warped enough for us to tell ourselves that we are not worthy of the one we may covet and love from afar. It is also the reason why we as humans tend to never take that step and continue to regret that indecision for the rest of our lives.

Demi and Nico are direct contrasts as you will find out. While Demi is the good girl, that does not make her a saint in any sense, and while she maybe subservient to the emotional blackmail of her mother, that does not make a doormat – which is the reason why I rooted wholeheartedly for Demi.

The sexual tension in the book was well done, but the delivery was just enough so that the reader would not end up throwing their e-readers against the wall. I loved the angst factor (perhaps another reason why I tend to give New Adult novels a chance even with all the misgivings I have). The life that Nico leads, the tension between him and his father; the psychology behind all of this which is very real, lends this to be a page turner in my opinion.

When it came to the love factor, Demi was all in – there was no hesitation on her part to stand up for herself and Nico where concerned. But Nico was harder to read even when his point of view was a huge part of the story. Perhaps one reason why I brought down the rating from 5 is because of that as well; I wanted Nico to lose control over Demi, to show that when it came right down to it, Demi was all that he wanted. Demi stood up for him way too many times in the story and I never saw that reciprocated.

Loved the ending and the wholesome edge that provided after the roller-coaster of emotions that was part and parcel of the latter half of the novel. Recommended for those who love angst-ridden new adult romances; this one definitely delivers!

Final Verdict: Meagan Brandy delivers a slow-burn page turner in Fake It ‘Til You Break It, the kind that makes you read it all in one setting!

Favorite Quotes

My hips jolt forward, a deep groan leaving me as heat spreads through my veins.
Her head falls all the way back and her lips part, her chest rising above the steam as she gasps into the air.
I imagine the sounds escaping as her hand trails lower, slipping under the tiny white scrap of material covering her breasts. She massages herself, her core lifting in the water as she fights for her release.
Come on, baby.
Demi’s legs stiffen, shooting down into the water as her chin falls to her chest, and I swear I can feel her fuckin’ trembling from here.

My stomach warms, and I feel the tension surrounding him, but the longer he stares, the more his features smooth. Still, he doesn’t give me much.
Sliding his shoulder against the wall, he moves closer until I’m only a foot’s space away. His hand slips into my hair, his focus now on my lips.
I keep my arms locked at my sides, my toes curling in my flats, fingers digging into my skirt as he leans in.
Waiting.
But he doesn’t kiss me.
As soon as the disappointment stirs in my gut, the warmth of his lips press down against the throbbing pulse of my neck, creating a deeper kind of heat, and my eyes close.
He has to feel it, right?

He steps closer, tugging me to the edge so he’s pressed against me, nothing but both our workout shorts between us.
My eyes cling to his, a rapid, throbbing, unbearable ache taking over my body.
And I can’t help myself, not when his hard-on is resting on me with a subtleness that should be forbidden.
I grind into him.
A tiny bit at first, almost enough to be considered a shift of my body, but then his forehead tightens.
A sign of slipping control?
I do it again, harder, longer, with a deeper sway, and a small whimper escapes from my own actions.
Nico’s response is a reckless growl.

I moan instantly, and when he pushes his dick against me, shifting his hips the smallest bit, I gasp into his mouth.
As if expecting it, Nico is ready, his tongue delving inside my mouth, his hand coming up to force me impossibly close and leaving no room for air to breathe, nothing but him to fill my lungs.
My legs lift, sliding across his thighs, before wrapping across his back and locking.
He groans, ripping his mouth from mine as he gives a strong squeeze to my thighs. “I’ve been dying to feel these around me again.”

“Tell me I am,” I rasp.
When his brows dip, I continue.
“Your baby.” My eyes hit his. “For reals, not for fakes. For keeps, not for now.”
The heavy thump of his heart beats against my hand, and I flatten my palm there, not wanting to miss the way it’s climbing.
“Pixie.” He leans in, brushing his lips over mine. “You are. You’ve been,” he stresses. “Even when you had no fuckin’ clue… you were my baby.”
He kisses me, and the overbearing weight on my shoulders lifts.
His.
That’s what I am.

I run the tips of my fingers up and down, slowly moving the rest of the stretchy material to the side, until I’m ghosting right over her clit.
She gives a slow blink. “What are you waiting for?” she whispers with a dare.
My touch falls on her, pressing harder the lower my fingers slip, and a small smirk finds her lips, her eyes closing at the same time.
I drop my mouth to hers, but she doesn’t kiss me.
Demi pulls my lip between her teeth, biting lightly, an airy “yes” escaping as she releases me.

Her features soften and she pulls her body in, pressing her chest tight against mine. She eyes me, then drops her lips to mine, kissing me with deep, erotic strokes of her tongue. She shifts her lower half, aligning the head of my dick with her entrance.

She releases my lips, opening her eyes to look at me as she pushes her ass into my hands, and the tip is suddenly wrapped in her wet, warm flesh.
“You on birth control?”
Her grip tightens and she nods. “We’re good.”
Fuck, yes.
“It might hurt more like this,” I tell her, sliding my lips across hers. “You’re wide open for me, baby.”
She pushes more and at first I keep my grip, when her pupils expand, I let up, let her body slide down my shaft until her pussy has swallowed me whole.
She gulps, tugging me close, her pussy clenching around me as I grow even harder inside her.

I flex inside her and her eyes widen with need. “How bad do you need to come, D?”
I pull back, until only my tip is left inside her, and then slowly drive back in.
She whimpers, her nails finding my ass, a sexy little warning glare filling her eyes. “I’m pretty sure I can come just feeling you like this, but if you want to earn it, you better move, ‘cause I’m ready. Ready for you. For this.” She licks her lips, a heavy need blanketing her features as she rasps, “Give me all of you, Neek. Now.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Savaged by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Booksavaged
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas/Jak
Heroine: Harper Ward
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 27, 2019
Started On: February 03, 2020
Finished On: February 25, 2020

The blurb was what got to me when I picked up Savaged by Mia Sheridan as my next read. Savaged tells the story of Harper Ward, local wilderness guide/psychologist in Helena Springs.

When she is summoned by Agent Mark Gallagher to assist him in a case where a man with seemingly no past had materialized out of the wilderness that surrounds the area, a man who is suspected to be connected to two murders in the vicinity, she does not expect her life to take a 180 degree turn overnight.

When Harper meets Jak, she is moved in a way that is unfamiliar to her. There is something about the stillness to his character, the haunting in his eyes, the loneliness that is wrapped around him that tugs at her heartstrings.

One thing leads to another and Harper finds herself working with Jak in piecing together parts of her past that had never made sense up to the point where she had landed in foster care. There is surreal quality and edge to the story that hums through the words as Mia Sheridan works her magic and summons the truth of how Harper and Jak are connected on a level that would be hard to comprehend for the average person.

Savaged was a story that was profound in many ways; the human psychology that Ms. Sheridan so cleverly weaves through the story, giving insights into what the minds of the depraved are like, in stark contrast to the the minds of survivors of the said depravity is a variance that you find so vividly striking in her novels.

I loved a lot of aspects of the story, most the main protagonists Harper and Jak. The latter took every bit of my heart and then some; the lonely and lost boy who was subjected to so much abuse, who survived in spite of everything that he had to go through, that gentleness inside of him and the ferocity that burns within him; all of that and more claimed all of me in a way that I cannot describe.

Jak’s effect on my heart was similar to how Harper felt when she met him. From that point on wards, there was no looking back where Jak was concerned. The way Ms. Sheridan tends to so effortlessly weave together the past and present, creating that wholesome edge to her characters is one reason why her books stand out from the rest. Jak’s past is one that would make anyone cry; the atrocities he was subjected to and the abject loneliness that had been part of his existence.

Harper’s past, though not as detailed, paints a similar picture. A girl who had lost her sense of security and the love of her parents one fateful night which had resulted in life as she had known it disappearing forever. The loneliness that she feels is one that is harder to explain, but loneliness it is, and when Jak fills in those pieces of her making her whole for the first time in a long while, it is no wonder that she falls for him like a ton of bricks.

What did not work me stemmed from the fact that the story seemed to lose its momentum from point to point, and dragged a little towards the end. I wanted an ending that would explode through the pages, a conclusion that would give closure of the kind my mind and heart craved after reading through the first half of the book. The gaps in between did not settle well with me, and I found myself skipping parts of the book towards the end.

Even with all of those aspects that did not work, Ms. Sheridan being the brilliant writer that she is, managed to keep me engaged with her characters in a way that refused to let me go.

Recommended for fans of strong heroes and heroines who are lost in a life steeped with loneliness until their significant other comes calling. This is that novel!

Final Verdict: Savaged is classic Mia Sheridan in the way she explores the depth of emotions and cuts through to the soul of her characters. There is an edge to the story that does not let up till the end.

Favorite Quotes

Jak caught her, his arms wrapping around her waist as she wept. “You’re not alone,” he whispered. The whimper died on her lips as she opened her eyes to his face directly in front of hers, his mouth mere inches from her own. Her heart stuttered, swelled. For a suspended moment, their quickened breaths mingled in the air between them. She blinked in surprise, her body stilling. He glanced at her lips, his gaze heating and his arms squeezing her just a little tighter. Kiss me, she thought. Oh please, kiss me.

For a second, they were both still, then he let out a small sound, a combination between a grunt and a groan as he opened his mouth very slightly and rubbed it over hers. Despite the completely unpracticed nature of the kiss, sparks shot through her veins, her blood heating. She didn’t want to take control of the kiss. The waiting, the discovery of what he would do instinctively, was more arousing than anything she’d ever experienced.

He nuzzled her with his nose and his mouth, inhaling, learning her scent so it became a part of him, and she jerked when his nose rubbed the spot below her mound.
She smelled like life, like sweet water, like fertile earth, and perfectly ripened berries that would take away the pain of hunger. Her woman scent was the beginning of everything and the place where he wanted to draw his final breath. She was meant for him, he knew that now. No other woman. Only her.

The night deepened, wrapping around them so it felt as if no one else existed. Only them. “This. Here,” he breathed, looking at her with deep intensity, their bodies connected, their hearts entwined.
“What?” she asked on a breath, the moment slowing, though everything physical about her was rushing, quickening.
“This fills my soul. You . . . you fill my soul.”

His eyes narrowed and the air changed very suddenly, her awareness spiking, breath stalling. He was going to strike. Going to test the truthfulness of her words with action. Do it,she whispered in her mind and his nose moved, very slightly as though he’d caught the scent of her acquiescence. Her need. They stared at each other, and she was trembling now, her entire body charged, her heart pumping blood through her veins, faster, faster. “I want wild,” she repeated. She wasn’t afraid. She would willingly surrender to him because she had faith in his goodness.

When he ran a finger through her wet folds, she thought she might come right then and there. She was panting, she realized, like an animal, like a woman being taken by the man she loved. This was mating. Elemental, ungoverned by any civilized laws or strictures. It was ordained by nature, by miracles, by the tides and the moon and the blood pumping in unison through their veins. Their bodies sang to each other, the same tune, melody and harmony, the notes pulsing, suspended around them.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: His Outlaw Valentine by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookhisoutlawvalentine
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ryan
Heroine: Jessie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 17, 2020
Started On: February 21, 2020
Finished On: February 24, 2020

His Outlaw Valentine by Jessa Kane has me wondering (more so than usual) as to why Ms. Kane doesn’t write a more lengthy stories for all intents and purposes.

Ms. Kane has definitely got the talent it takes to write one, and if she were to explore the emotional tangents of the characters that she creates, and combine it with the explosive, erotic, and dirty variety of sex that is an integral part of her novellas, those books would in all probability sell like hot cakes.

His Outlaw Valentine tells the story of Jessie and Ryan, who become neighbors when Jessie was 13 years old. Jessie comes from a broken family, something that had stirred Ryan’s protective instincts and his unrequited love for her since then and had bloomed and strengthened throughout the years.

Jessie does not believe in happily ever afters; after all no one can blame her based on what she had gone through in her childhood, not to mention the way she is emotionally blackmailed by her mother even now. All of this is “monitored” closely by Ryan , for he is done being the safe haven that Jessie has relied on all through her adult life. Ryan is determined that it is time Jessie finally takes notice of him as a man, and becomes his, once and for all.

His Outlaw Valentine is a novella that had such great promise and it being of the friends and lovers trope, which is THE most favorite trope of mine in the genre, makes it all the sadder given how it eventually turned out. The story took a turn for the worse with Ryan turning super weird (I get obsessive heroes but this was on a totally different scale), and there just was an ickiness factor to certain actions of Ryan’s that had me taking a step back from. Don’t get me wrong; I am all for eroticism and dirty talk but I seriously was put off by Ryan’s actions at certain points.

What saddens me the most is the fact that this could have turned out to be a great story, if only Ms. Kane would be willing to explore her characters further, add some angst, and deliver a bit lengthier story which would allow her to probe different tangents and deliver a wonderful story in every aspect.

Recommended for those who have a penchant for weird heroes and quickies that explore the sexual tangent of relationships more so than emotional.

Final Verdict: His Outlaw Valentine had a lot of potential which somehow failed to materialize. I know in my heart that this could have been so much better!

Favorite Quotes

Ryan’s arm hooks around my lower back and he lifts me onto the kitchen table, his big body crowding between my thighs. “Tell you what.” He slides my butt closer and his erection presses to my core. Snugly. Like he owns it. Oh my God, this is happening. I’m getting physical with not just a man, but Ryan. “Put on that red dress and have dinner with me. Once you get through it and the world doesn’t explode, I’ll take you in the back bedroom and fuck you so good you scream the roof off this place.”

“Are there any neighbors close by to hear me scream your name?”
“Jessie,” he says harshly. “Stop.”
“When you force yourself through my virginity…” I push out my lower lip. “Do you think you’ll feel it tear?”
Ryan makes a ragged sound and lunges toward me, his mouth stamping down on mine, twisting my lips open and plunging his tongue deep inside. His hands climb the backs of my thighs and reach up beneath my dress, grasping my buttocks. I wail his name into his mouth over the punishing nature of his grip, but it thrills me. Makes me hot and wet between my legs.

“Good girl,” I croon in her ear, my own release beginning to crest. “You made the only choice.” I continue to massage her clit until she’s boneless beneath me, then I reach back with both hands and yank her knees up higher around my waist and…and fuck…oh fuck. I can’t slow down. My hips slam down between her thighs over and over. My balls hurt so goddamn bad and I’m so close.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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