Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-Bookcredence
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kaleb Ver der Berg
Heroine: Tiernan de Haas
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 13, 2020
Started On: January 14, 2020
Finished On: January 19, 2020

Credence by Penelope Douglas was one of the most awaited stories for me by the time 2019 hurtled towards its inevitable end. Released on January 13th, Credence was welcomed with such hope and excitement in my heart, because Penelope is an author who knows how to write a damn good story.

Credence begins at the point where the heroine Tiernan de Haas faces the shocking and untimely death of her parents. Loneliness has always been part of Tiernan’s life, growing up with two people who had loved each other to the point that Tiernan had always been an afterthought. Their death leaves its mark on her, as had life up till that point, until her step-uncle Jake Ver der Berg invites her to live with them.

Deep in the mountains of Colorado lives the Ver der Berg’s, their lives being very much different from what had been the norm for Tiernan. Jake and his two sons Noah and Kaleb take Tiernan under their wing, and from the onset there is a weird dynamics between the three that proved to be a major conflict for me in the way the story unfolded.

I am someone who enjoys authors that push the boundaries and explores taboo tropes in their books. Penelope is an author who does this so brilliantly in most of her books, and that is one reason that I was so excited when I read the blurb of Credence prior to its release. She is also one helluva writer, which is probably the one reason why I stuck it out when so many things just felt wrong for me with Credence.

A lot of readers who felt positively about Credence have been raving about how out of the norm this book is, how it surprises you, and how you should read it without any preconceived notions to guide you. I didn’t have any of those notions when I started reading, because I am someone who usually make up my own mind about books that I read rather than letting the “popular” view dictate mine.

I agree with one thing when it comes to the popular view of Credence; the story was definitely surprising in more ways than one, and definitely not in a good way for me for the most part. I think in Credence, I have found a major turnoff for me when it comes to romance, one that had remained undiscovered up till this point; when the heroine is too loose with her affections when it comes to a father and his biological sons.

It is her step-uncle who is the first in line, and while neither of them professes to anything long-term, the ease with which Tiernan was able to turn herself on and off for the three of them was just jarring for me. Each unto their own of course, but for me, I think I just felt like the Ver der Berg themselves had so many issues to just turn up the testosterone levels on a girl who was barely shy of eighteen, who had not had much love in her life from those who should have loved, sheltered, and protected her.

The psychology of Tiernan was something that bothered me; because it is evident that she has many unresolved issues from the way her parents had neglected her throughout  her life. She had always had whatever riches that money could buy, had had every comfort and luxury the rich can provide, but she never did experience unconditional love, the reason why I felt uncomfortable by the whole vibe of Tiernan being taken advantage of by the three of them. Plus, the way the three of them kept reiterating over and over how she was theirs from that point on was kind of creepy too!

I think one of the biggest reasons why I disliked how Tiernan behaved (apart from my conservative beliefs I suppose), is that her sleeping around added no value to the story. There was no tangible emotional connection to any of the characters that would have made me go crazy over the story, there was no development to her character apart from her losing her virginity and hitting jackpot with three men who could get her off just like that. I couldn’t find anything special that differentiated the guy she ended up with, which was also another bummer in the story. Maybe that is how it is in the modern world. I wouldn’t know.

The way she just fell in love, suddenly, just like that, with the least developed character in the story made zero sense. I am at least thankful for the fact that Jake had enough sense for all of them to step back when he did. I would have preferred had she gotten together with him in reality. Because they actually have conversations with each other that don’t always lead to sex and innuendos being exchanged, and he was mature enough to understand where Tiernan was coming from. Had Jake not stepped back at the point he did, I would probably have turned off my Kindle and banged my head on a wall for the bad porno I was subjecting myself to.

I did enjoy the first half of the book, or should I say the first third of the book where Penelope introduced Tiernan and delivered a gut wrenching beginning to the story. My excitement mounted at that point and plummeted to a quick and painful death thereon after. I just wish that there had been more character development, less getting it off without emotional connections, and more fleshing out of the character who ended up being the “hero” of the story.

That brings me to my other big peeve in the story. The “hero” who not so much as made an emotional connection with Tiernan, much less the readers, ended up being one of the most pivotal characters towards the end. Had there being a back story of how he turned out that way, how his emotions had developed when it came to Tiernan, and what had made him change to a point where he could communicate his feelings with her was an aspect that was deeply missed from the story.

Recommended for those who love anything and everything by Penelope Douglas.

Final Verdict: Credence is one of those books loved & gushed over by many and disappointed the few like myself. I wished for a story that would sweep me off my feet and instead feel bereft of the tangible emotions I wanted to feel from the story.

Favorite Quotes

“Do you feel this?” he growls over my lips as he pushes me into the sink. The thick, hard ridge of his cock nudges my ass, and I groan. “This is what you’re doing to me, Tiernan. It’s not right. Instead of pile-driving the hot tits and ass I came home with, I’m sitting down here, trying to talk myself out of going into your room and giving the teenage piece of ass living in my house a really long kiss goodnight.”
My clit throbs, and I shift on my feet, feeling the slickness between my legs.
“And do I take off my panties for that?” I breathe out.

His taste fills my body, and I slide my hand up, taking the back of his neck and holding him to me. I’m so hungry. So hungry, and I can’t breathe. My blood races under my skin, and it feels so good, but God, I need more.
I need more.
I start to move my mouth and kiss him back, slipping my tongue past his lips little by little, moaning and tasting him until I don’t think I’ll ever get enough.

The nerves under my skin fire, and I feel her heat wrap me up as I push her thighs up higher and drive into her. “Tiernan…”
I kiss her deep, licking her sweat, reveling in the heat inside the cab, and tasting my life all those years ago when I would’ve died happy doing this to someone for the rest of my life.
I look down at Tiernan, her body taking everything I’m giving, and I swear I want to swallow her whole. I’d forgotten what this felt like.
To actually want to make someone happy.

“What do you want?” I ask.
He opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.
And then he lowers his voice, barely a whisper. “I want you to like this.”
I do.
But before I have a chance to respond, he drops me to my feet, twists me around, and pins me to the wall. I gasp as he spreads my legs and thrusts inside of me again, pushing my body up on my tiptoes as he holds my thigh wide with one hand. With the other, he reaches around and slips his hand inside my panties.
“I want you happy, Tiernan,” he says low and husky in my ear. “I want my sons happy.”
He fucks me up against the wall, thrusting faster and faster as I turn my head to meet his lips.
“And I want you to know that no matter where you go,” he tells me between kisses, “you’ll always be ours. We’re your home.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase

Format: E-Bookmrimpossible
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Carsington Brothers, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rupert Carsington
Heroine: Daphne Pembroke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 01, 2005
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: January 09, 2020

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase is the second book in her Carsington Brothers series. Set in Egypt in 1821, Mr. Impossible tells the story of 29 year old widowed Daphne Pembroke, whose brilliance in deciphering hieroglyphs outshines that of many in the field. When her brother gets kidnapped and the only person she is forced to depend on is the very vexing Rupert Carsington, she is at her wits end to say the least.

Rupert finds himself in Egypt when he is sort of “exiled” to Egypt by his father, as a means for Rupert to mend his ways. With his penchant for getting into trouble easily, Daphne finds herself increasingly agitated with Rupert when all he does is annoy her in ways that leaves her hot and bothered.

Hunting through the pyramids, riding out a sandstorm together, evading killers hot on their trails, it is the adventure of a lifetime for Daphne where she is forced to rethink all that she had judged Rupert to be when they had first met. Daphne finds her annoyance replaced by fascination which in turn makes her fall, and fall hard for a man whom she believes would probably have no use for a woman like herself. Daphne’s awakening in Rupert’s arms, and the equal fascination with which Rupert views the effect she has on him was a delight!

While I enjoyed the story, I cannot say that I was enamored by the tale to the point where I fell in love with all of it. It would not be stretching it to say that I was all sorts of excited when I began reading Mr. Impossible, because my only read from Loretta Chase had been amazing; i.e. Lord of Scoundrels.

For one, I was kind of put off by how Daphne came off at first; haughty and mighty proud of her intelligence. The way she saw Rupert as an idiot and made no pretense of how she felt about that that irked me. I love humbleness in a heroine and that was a bad starting point for me when it came to Daphne.

I know that a lot of how Daphne projected herself as came from the fact that she had had a disappointing marriage which had basically eviscerated her hopes of finding a partner who would see her as an intellectual equal amongst other things.

Furthermore, her husband had bungled up and made a mess of dealing with the sensual creature that she is. But that dislike which developed at that starting point, prevented me from being too drawn towards her in the end.

Rupert was wonderful in many ways, but then again, I cannot say I was enamored with his character to the point where I fell in love with him. He was sexy, highly intelligent, and man enough to accept the woman that is Daphne in every single way. That to me was reason enough to root for the man, even though secretly I hold the belief that he could have done better.

Recommended for fans of Loretta Chase.

Final Verdict: Mr. Impossible has plenty of adventure and sizzle that made the novel an enjoyable escape!

Favorite Quotes

He tilted his head a little to one side, studying her “Ah, well, so much for slow sieges,” he said. He leant in, and she was too slow to duck or draw back, and so his mouth fell upon hers, and the bottom dropped out of the world.
She lifted her hand—to push him away as she must. As she ought. But his mouth moved boldly over hers, firm and sure, and she clung instead, her fingers curling round his upper arm. It was as hard as the stone figure blocking her retreat, yet warm and alive, its heat electric. Her fingers tingled, and the current shot under the skin. Every particle of her being reacted, as though galvanized.

Deep-buried longings clawed their way out of hiding. They tangled about her heart and coiled and twisted in her belly. She couldn’t name them. This wanted a new language, or no language at all. Meaning narrowed to the taste of-his mouth and his skin and to the scent of him, dark and dangerous and so familiar that she ached, as though it were a cherished memory or a reawakened grief.

A long moment passed.
Then she pushed his hands away, twisted sharply about, and raised herself up to glare at him.
He grinned at her. She gazed at him for a time, green eyes fierce. Finally, she opened her mouth, and he thought, Here comes the tongue-lashing.
She let out a huff of vexation…
… and her soft mouth came down on his.
She tasted like gunpowder.
Rupert grasped her waist and held on. It was like being shot from a cannon or thrown from a precipice. She had only to bring her mouth to his, and the world flew apart, and he rocketed to places he didn’t recognize.

A storm swirled into his mind, and he couldn’t remember anymore what ought to be done. Mindlessly he tore at his own trousers. The fabric fell away, and his rod sprang free. He caught her under the thigh, lifting her leg up. She wrapped her leg about his waist, and he thrust into her. She cried out, “Oh. Oh, my God.”
He would have echoed her, but he was long past words.

He pushed her skirts up further and loosened the waist of his full trousers. She trembled when the garments slid away, leaving them skin to skin. She wrapped her arms about his shoulders and pressed her mouth against his neck to keep from crying out when his hands moved up her thighs. She drank in his scent, hot and male and his alone. At the first intimate touch she screamed silently. If she could have done, she’d have cried out her pleasure, her torment, and impossible, contradictory demands. More. No. Stop. Don’t stop. There. No, there. Oh, don’t. Oh, yes, please.
Laughter bubbled inside her along with a sorrow all but unbearable.
Madness.
Wonderful madness.

They scarcely moved at all. Awareness became all the more intense. He was aware each time her muscles tensed about him and eased, and of the very slight motion of her hip that sent waves of pleasure coursing through him. He was aware of her hands, gliding over him, and making long trails of sparks over his skin.
He opened his eyes and looked at her, and they smiled at each other in silent, wicked amusement, the devil in him recognizing the devil in her. And so they lay, watching each other, making secret love, while from outside came the familiar sounds of footsteps on the deck, voices calling out as they prepared to land.

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

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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

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Review: The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookthelonerslady
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lyssa
Heroine: John Thorne
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane is one of those quickie reads, perfect when you need something to distract you and tide you over for maybe an hour or two.

I first discovered Ms. Kane when I stumbled across her title Preacher Man, which I of course adored to bits. As most readers, the only thing more I could wish for is for Ms. Kane to write a novel that is full length, so that readers can experience the magic she can weave with her tales, when the tension is drawn tight and the delivery is just right.

Lyssa and her best friend Mason are headed to Catskills to visit his father. Playing pretend girlfriend for the duration of the stay is no biggie when Lyssa makes use of the same “privileges” to ward off unwanted male attention. Mason paints his father as someone who is not one with the times, too set in his ways to understand what it means to be him.

Lyssa is prepared for the worst when she lays eyes on the 42 year old John Thorne, who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away. He is the embodiment of everything she had never known that she wanted, and seeing him in close proximity makes the pretense of being Mason’s girlfriend all that more difficult. Given that the story is just 60 pages, of course the coming together happens just like that, and by that I mean, Ms. Kane somehow made it work. Color me amazed!

I loved the sexual tension, the delivery on it, John and the sarcasm edged thoughts of his that made me laugh out loud. Loved Lyssa, who saw in John the man who would create the perfect blend of storms with her, to ride them out together.

Recommended for those who love quick and hot reads. This one delivers on all fronts!

Final Verdict: The Loner’s Lady is packaged with delicious smexiness and enough emotions to ground you in a way that is hard to put down.

Favorite Quotes

I coax her into a kiss, intending to swallow her screams. I’ve never been much for kissing anyone. But as soon as my tongue is inside her mouth and she’s giving me access to explore, I’m eating at her mouth like a hungry animal. I’ll never be able to live without kissing Lyssa again.

On the next rough invasion of my body, I dig my fingernails into his shoulders and hold on tight, sensing an oncoming storm. That’s exactly what I get.
John falls on me with a desperate sound, releasing hot, rasping breaths into my neck with each slap of his hard sex entering my wet one. He grunts and sweats on top of me, pushing filthy words through his teeth. Words that thrill me because I know they’re borne of pure lust. For me and my body.

My scream of ecstasy cuts him off. Cuts everything off, save the incredible clenching of my flesh, the flood of bliss and completion. I squeeze John’s hips between my thighs and spout nonsense that he seems to understand, because his mouth finds mine and kisses me through the upheaval.
And then he throws back his head and roars like he’s king of the jungle.
His beautiful face, surrounded by his mane of hair, blocks out the sun and if I had any breath left to catch, it would have caught at the sight of him. He’s the ultimate male and I’ve been claimed by him.

“Ready to play rough, wife?”
Without waiting for an answer, I enter her with a swift thrust, reveling in her gratified sob of my name. “Do we ever play any other way?” she gasps, her body already shaking against mine.
I fall forward and our mouths meet over her shoulder in a desperate kiss. “Play hard, love hard,” I grit, canting my hips back and surging forward.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Bookwheretheblamelies
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Zach Copeland
Heroine: Josie Stratton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 13, 2019
Started On: November 25, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan is the kind of book that leaves you speechless, aching, and yet satisfied in all the ways that matter. It is the sort of story that flashes through your mind at odd moments because for one reason or the other, your brain is still processing the information and the messaging embedded deep within.

Where the Blame Lies begins with the heroine Josie Stratton, at nineteen years of age is abducted, imprisoned, raped, abused, and starved for ten months, where she had remained chained to a wall until she had broken free from the abandoned warehouse where she had been held. Josie’s nightmare had culminated in the suicide of her abductor.

Years later, Detective Zach Copeland of the Criminal Investigative Section (CIS) gets called to a case that bears eerie similarities with that of Josie’s. Zach had been just a rookie officer back when Josie had broken free, but he had never forgotten the strength and determination carved on Josie’s face, as she had pleaded and screamed at the officers to find her baby.

A second victim with the similar markings on her body brings Zach to Josie’s doorstep, where he finds a seemingly put together and a more beautifully poised version of the woman he had never truly forgotten. The spark between the two is immediate and altogether powerful enough for the readers to feel that pulse as understated as it is.

Chasing the clues to piece together the truth and digging through to the possibility that it had been a case of mistaken identity when police had closed in on the perpetrator back then makes of heightened suspense, while also delivering an emotional roller-coaster of a ride to readers. Mia Sheridan’s prose is poetry to the heart and mind, even when she is writing about stuff that gives you nightmares.

The story weaves the past and the present together in a way that leaves a deep impact on the reader. It helps in understanding the nuances of the dependency that Josie had had on her abductor through those harrowing months when she had no means of escape. Josie had lost her innocence at the hands of her abductor, and the child that had been born through the depths of her suffering is something the reader would not forget easily. Even at the deepest moments of her desperation that had tested the very limits of her endurance, Josie had never given up, and that is exactly why you fall like a ton of bricks for her and root for her through the most harrowing of circumstances.

When everything clicks into place, the resolution towards the end is just as painful to watch as it unfolds. The feelings of trepidation lingered through the last couple of chapters, always fearing for Josie, and my heart’s rhythm never fully adjusted to the tension that is interwoven so superbly throughout.

I loved everything about Where the Blame Lies, if you had not got that already having read to this point of the review. I was transfixed and mesmerized with the way Mia Sheridan took on a plot that had so much depth, depravity, and hope as well, which was its saving grace.

She wowed me with her deep characterization that not every author has the ability to pull off. There is so much tragedy and heartbreak in this story, violence and the gory details of what it truly means to be abducted and abused for over a long period of time. That is exactly why Where the Blame Lies is a story that I would not be forgetting anytime soon.

Josie for all that she had gone through, not just at the hands of her abductor, is all sweetness and light. There is no bitterness to her, even when she had hit rock bottom in her life. She is the kind of heroine that you fall for so effortlessly, which is why Zach’s love for her is so easily understood.

Zach, my God Zach, he was just perfect in every way. There is a beauty to his character that just meshes with the resilience of Josie’s and I could not have asked for a better partner for Josie, no matter what. His protectiveness endeared him to me on so many levels.

The ending reminded me a bit of Cry No More by Linda Howard, one of my top favorite re-reads. The pain that Josie must have felt, the utter heartbreak; I wished I could reach in and hug her close and comfort her, all the while knowing that she had to come to terms with what life had thrown her way by herself. That beautiful and yet painful act is exactly why I fell in love with the story, even through all the heartache ingrained in it.

The utter ingenuity of the story lies with how the villain was crafted. I miss novels of this kind where you feel as part of the story, where you often find yourself understanding where the villain was coming from, even through all that despicable acts of violence.

Where the Blame Lies is a novel that makes you think really hard about life, the abuse that the most vulnerable often face, and how that alters a person fundamentally. But at the same time, you also question how some people stay sane and kind even with all that they go through, while others turn out to be vengeful, evil and all of those things that makes your skin crawl.

Recommended for fans of beautifully moving stories that leaves its mark on you. You need not be a romance reader to find a calling deep within when it comes to this one. My first Mia Sheridan certainly delivered beyond my expectations.

So excited for the follow-up of this novel, Where the Truth Lives, to be released in April 2020, which Mia just announced on her Instagram page. Definitely marking my calendar for this one!

Final Verdict: Where the Blame Lies leaves the reader questioning so many things; it makes you think and ponder long after you turn the last page. That’s when you know an author has nailed it, and nailed it well and good!

Favorite Quotes

The song changed, something slow and crooning filling the air around them, mixing with the blood beginning to whoosh in Zach’s ears. Josie’s eyes moved to his lips and she licked her own. Zach’s heart began pounding in his chest, muscles tensed, waiting.
And then as quick as that, her mouth was on his, and she was pressing herself more fully against him. He let out a deep groan of need, their tongues meeting, tangling, as she angled her head so he could explore her mouth.

She pulled herself up, her hands shaking as she unzipped his pants, fumbling as she reached inside and grasped his erection. He was hard, ready. He wants me too. The knot inside unclenched slightly. She kicked off her shoes and then stood unsteadily, keeping eye contact as she removed her jeans and her underwear. She climbed back on him and took him in her grasp again, using the smooth head of his penis to stimulate herself, throwing her head back and moaning at the exquisite pleasure.

She gripped him harder and he gasped out, sitting up straighter, the lust in his eyes deepening. She used his erection to drag some of the moisture from her opening up to the tight bundle of nerves and circled that spot until she almost came.
“Josie, God, I, ah—”
She smiled, lining his straining cock at her opening and spearing herself almost violently. He let out a masculine sound of pleasure, his head falling back as she began to ride him, slowly at first and then faster, faster, his erection almost slipping from her body before she slammed back onto him.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Booktheduke
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #4
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Collin Talmage
Heroine: Imogen Pritchard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 07, 2017
Started On: November 11, 2019
Finished On: November 25, 2019

The Duke is the 4th book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne, telling the story of Collin Talmage (Cole), Duke of Trenwyth, who is the English Empire’s golden son until fate decides otherwise and takes everything that he holds dear to him. When Imogen Pritchard who works at the Bare Kitten, paying off debts incurred by her deadbeat father meets Cole for the first time, she is spellbound by the beautiful male specimen that he is, and the haunted look in his spellbinding eyes.

That fateful night turns out to be when Imogen loses her virginity to a man whose tender and fierce loving makes her glad that it was him. When dawn comes and they part, even though Imogen might long for a fairy tale ending, her pragmatic self knows that any future between her and the Duke is near impossible, given the vast differences in their societal hierarchy.

A year passes on and when the Duke returns, a mere shell of the man he was, that is when fate decides that even this time around, Imogen and Cole are not meant to be. Two years later, Imogen is a widow, living next door to the Cole, who for some reason cannot stand the sight of the woman whom he believes to be a gold digger, who got the best out of one of his dearest friends.

Circumstances bring these two together again, without Cole being aware of the fact that Imogen is in fact the woman he has been searching for in vain the past two years. Sparks fly as these two battle out their attraction and frustration with one another, which was enjoyable. In the midst of it all, a killer lurks, biding time until the victim that the killer has been after all along can be finally claimed.

I did not end up liking The Duke as much as I thought I would. The beginning was everything I could have hoped for, but towards the middle of the story, there seemed to emerge a deep disconnect between Collin and Imogen which led to my dissatisfaction. Kerrigan took an unusual route to their happily ever after, which was good because it managed to surprise me.

I also felt a bit weirded out by the fact that Imogen’s mother and sister who are very much alive and living with her, never emerged in the story. I believe that also prevented me as a reader from envisioning a more wholesome character for Imogen.

Cole was classic Kerrigan in so many ways. With the mere description of his thigh alone, Kerrigan had me all but salivating over Cole. And Lord, can the man kiss? Sigh! But I believe I would have loved it more had his past being more a tangible part of the story. I would have liked it more had there been more details about his family, the war, his trauma etc. being part of the story, which I believe would have made up for the time during which they were both separated.

An epilogue would also have gone a long way towards making the story more wholesome. I felt that the serial killer angle in the story culminated rather hastily towards the end, which detracted from the enjoyment factor.

However, even with all that did not work for me in the story I still enjoyed The Duke, and Kerrigan is an author I intend to pursue and read because she writes heroes unlike any other and equally strong heroines who revel in the darkness that is such a huge part of the man that they love and adore.

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

Final Verdict: The Duke aka Cole makes you quiver in all the right places. Exploring a serial killer villain in the midst, The Duke was fascinating for the most part!

Favorite Quotes

“Those closest to me call me Cole,” he informed her mouth.
“But … I am not close to you.”
Tightening his arm around her once more, he grasped her hip with his other hand, and pulled her up his startlingly long and muscled thigh with a slow, languid move, until she straddled him as high as his leg would allow. Even through her skirts and petticoats, the movement created an unfamiliar friction against her sex that elicited an alarming but not unpleasant pressure. He didn’t stop until the curve of her bottom settled against his lap. She was aware of a surprisingly insistent cylindrical shape pressed against her. She’d worked at the Bare Kitten long enough to know exactly what it was.
“Far be it from me to contradict a lady, but I beg to differ. You and I are very close, indeed.”

When Trenwyth adjusted his position, his leg rubbed against her so intimately, a stab of sensation caused her to gasp and clench her feminine muscles.
His thigh instantly tensed beneath her and, for a moment, Imogen was terrified that she’d offended him.
Until he did it again.
She had to reach out a hand to the table to steady herself against an assault of wicked pleasure.
His sex hardened against her backside once more, and he leaned up to gather her close. “I have a distinct feeling that you’re quick tinder to set ablaze, aren’t you?” His words slurred a little, but his movements were steady as one hand drifted down her waist and the other up her thigh, angling to meet in the middle.

Imogen thought she’d been kissed before, but she’d been utterly mistaken. His siege of her mouth went on and on until she lost her breath and didn’t care. Her thoughts scattered like a flock of panicked birds chased out of their roost. Even inebriated, his skill with his mouth pushed her beyond her wits. He tasted of Scotch and sin, and Imogen wondered if intoxication was as contagious as a fever, because she felt quite funny.
Just when she thought there was no other place for him to lick, he would begin to suck and nip. To sample and savor. First her bottom lip, then the top before gently capturing her tongue. She thought she’d go mad from the busy sensations.

“Cole?” she whimpered, clutching at him, almost afraid of whatever it was that locked every muscle from her sternum down into uncontrolled pulses.
“Yes,” he growled into her mouth. “Fucking come for me. That’s it.”
The gathering storm broke upon her with scream-provoking intensity. Tears sprang to her eyes as she curled around him, her thighs clenching his as though she rode a powerful steed rather than wave after wave of unimaginable pleasure. Convinced there was magic in his hands, she opened her mouth to tell him so, but all that escaped her was a low cry. Or maybe nothing. She couldn’t tell. Or remember. Or care.

In one graceful move he lifted her, rotated them both, and tossed her onto her back. His body was so big on top of her, pressing her legs almost uncomfortably wide. She wanted to tell him to wait, to give her a moment, but he distracted her with another deep, long kiss.
He released unintelligible words into her mouth, and Imogen knew them to be harsh and filthy. His eyes had glazed over completely now, as though his wits had deserted him, leaving her with nothing but this beast of lust and need.
He lifted himself, arched his neck, and on a smooth, brutal thrust, he was inside her, ripping through the feeble barrier of her virginity as though it didn’t exist, and separating muscles unused to intrusion. The sound he made was more roar than growl, and drowned out her whimper of protestation.

His head dipped low, his body curled around her. So small. So slight. And yet so warm.
Her tremulous breath brushed at his face, her features frozen. Paralyzed. Though her small, pink tongue slipped over her lower lip, leaving a delicious gleam of moisture there.
Fuck, suddenly he wanted to—
Surging up to her toes, she slammed her lips against his with such force their teeth almost clattered together.

He licked at the seam of her mouth, more of a warning than an inquiry, before he claimed it with his tongue. In truth, he half expected her to bite him.
But she didn’t.
The moment a dark groan manifested in his throat, she came alive in his arms, clinging to his shoulders for stability.

Imogen clung to him as he, quite literally, kissed the wits right out of her.
His every muscle was drawn drum-tight as he rhythmically surged against her in harmony to the plunge and retraction of his tongue. He made a sound so foreign to her; Imogen could only identify it as a violent sort of appreciation.
Her throat produced a husky answer that seemed to both thrill and comfort him.

He murmured urgent things against her mouth, low, animal praise that was admittedly harsh and vulgar against the softness of her lips.
But his hand. His hand remained gentle as he spread the plump petals concealing her sex and saturated his finger in the desire he found there.
Their combined exhale was a desperate, throaty invocation. Cole bent farther over her, hungrily latching to the throat she exposed as her head rolled back on her shoulders when his fingers slipped and stroked around the soft folds of her core.

He hit his knees behind her, his left arm stealing around her middle to pull her in, bringing her bare bottom to fit neatly against the front of him. A hot, hard length pressed against the cleft of her ass, impeded only by the thin cloth of his trousers. His grip was iron against her middle; his breath volcanic against the back of her neck.
Then he bit her.
Imogen opened her mouth to cry out, but he’d already begun to lick and lave at the shoulder he’d marked, and her sound of pain escaped as a husky sigh of submission.
It was all he needed to hear.

“Wait—” Her voice sounded too thin. Too low. Too husky to be her own.
“Don’t stop me,” he commanded, though a ribbon of desperation threaded through the order.
So she didn’t.
And he didn’t.
He drove inside her with rough power and searing heat. It was like he penetrated her with lightning, striking at her with his hips and injecting an indefinable current that locked every muscle into futile spasms of blistering pleasure.

Suddenly he was there. Her covers were gone and he replaced them, clutching her to him as he took her offered mouth with ferocious gentility. Clinging to him, she relished the heat building inside of her, answering the scorching flames he licked into her mouth with a demanding tongue. She tasted love on him, love and fear and earnest need.
Desire fanned through her, at once tensing and releasing her muscles. She turned into a puddle beneath him, her legs falling open, her body making way for his weight.
“Good sweet God,” he groaned. “I’m going to taste you everywhere.”

“Cole,” she begged, desperately grasping for his hair. “Please.”
Another pleased groan caused her feminine muscles to clench against the sensual promise in the sound, and she surged against his mouth. He latched on to her then, his clever tongue flicking and laving, creating sensations of overwhelming delight.
She cried hoarse relief to the canopy as wave after wave of crippling ecstasy crashed over her. Her breath came in sobs and inarticulate words. It felt like bliss flowed from his tongue into her body, bowing it with paralyzing spasms until the fingers she’d used to hold him to her now clutched at him to pull away before she expired from ecstasy.

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

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Review: His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookhiseverykiss
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #2
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Dylan Moore
Heroine: Grace Anne Lawrence
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 28, 2004
Started On: November 03, 2019
Finished On: November 09, 2019

His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke is the 2nd book in the Guilty series. First published in 2004, His Every Kiss tells the story of renowned musician and composer Dylan Moore, who struggles to make music ever since a terrible incident leaves him bereft of his ability to compose, battling insomnia and all other ugliness that becomes part and parcel of life for him from that point on wards.

When Grace Anne Lawrence comes across Dylan at a point in his life when he is feeling his lowest, it is because of Grace that Dylan steps back from the precipice that he had been ready to fling himself off of. Because for the first time in months, in the presence of Grace, Dylan is able to focus on the music that is such an integral part of himself, which he had lost.

When Grace disappears leaving him behind, the story continues five years on. Dylan whose search had not found where Grace had disappeared to, at times believes that she had been a figment of her imagination when he had been at his lowest. When Dylan runs into Grace again, he is determined that this time around, he would hold onto her even if it means working hard to gain that right to be with her.

Grace is wary of Dylan for many reasons, one of them being the fact that she is a woman once burnt and twice shy. There is nothing more that Grace wants than to return home, a home she knows would no longer welcome her because of the shame she had brought unto her family when she left them in pursuit of her passions. Grace is done with men who are creative, who needs her as a muse, who sees her only as a means to an end. In Dylan, that is all Grace sees and nothing more.

Dylan, without being privy to any of what makes Grace so reluctant to give into him, pursues her with a dogged determination that Grace sidesteps with every intention of rejecting his every offer. That is until Dylan comes face to face with the result of one of his many dalliances in the past in the form of Isabel, his daughter.

Grace gives in and comes into Dylan’s life in as Isabel’s governess, and amidst all of it, Dylan is relentless in his need to possess the woman who calms his mind and soul to a point that he is finally at peace from what hounds him day and night. However, it would take more than Dylan’s considerable charms and wit to convince Grace to give in and love him for the rest of both their lives.

His Every Kiss, I must be honest, kind of fell short of my expectations. The beginning of the story hinted at something that could have delivered a richly nuanced story, exploring an illness that affects so many people across the globe. An illness that particularly has no cure and has driven many to a point of madness, the only avenue left being adjusting to a sickness that one would in all probability have to suffer through for the rest of their lives.

I loved Dylan as a character, and felt terribly sympathetic towards him because I could empathize with what he was going through. Grace has a backstory that kind of broke my heart at certain points, but the aloofness with which she treats Dylan for the most part of the story never really won any brownie points for her with me. I wished she had been more welcoming, more understanding, and more emotionally connected to Dylan which would have made their union more believable towards the end.

The one character that annoyed me endlessly was Isabel. I don’t think I have come across a more tiresome child in a novel, who at times made me want to clench my jaw, and hard. I really wanted to love Dylan and Grace’s story, but alas, I must say that there was something integral missing between the two of them for their connection to be believable and tangible for me as a reader.

Recommended for fans of Laura Lee Guhrke.

Final Verdict: With every kiss he lays on Grace, Dylan speaks of a need that goes beyond words. If not for the lack of emotional connection between them, His Every Kiss could have been a marvelous read!

Favorite Quotes

He bent his head, and before she could think, she was parting her lips to take his kiss. A lush, open-mouthed kiss it was, one that sent shimmers of pleasure through her entire body, pleasure so startling she cried out against his mouth.
He caressed her tongue with his own, deepening the kiss. As if her body had a will of its own, Grace gripped the edges of his cloak in her fists, rose on her toes, and met his kiss with the shameful eagerness of a strumpet. So long since she had felt this way. So long since she’d felt this craving for a man’s kiss, his touch, his body. She felt so keenly alive at this moment.

She was wet, and so soft. He pulled back and she arched toward his hand, wanting more and ready to receive it. He bit his lip, feeling the painful bruise of his teeth as he fought to keep himself in check just a bit longer.
“This is what you want, isn’t it?” He dipped into her and out again, stroking the folds of her opening, spreading moisture with the mere flex of his hand.
“Yes,” she gasped, frantic, her face buried against his shoulder, her panting breaths hot on his skin. “Yes, yes. Oh, yes. Ohhh.”
Her hips jerked, and she climaxed with a long, low moan of feminine ecstacy, her thighs clenching around his hand again and again as she said his name.

His hands tightened their grip and he pulled, impaling her on his shaft. Driving out the ghost of the man she had known before. Mine , he claimed her. Mine .
Arms and legs wrapped around him, she followed his rhythm, crying out at her peak, tightening around him again and again as he held her buttocks in his hands and thrust deep within her, all his own passion finally unleashed in a rough, frantic cadence.

“Your hair, Grace,” he said, his gaze lowered to the muslin ribbon that held her braid together. “Let me see it loose.”
She was melting beneath that dark, heated gaze. Her fingers fumbled with the end of her braid, where the ribbon lay against her bare breast. She untied the strip of muslin and began to unravel the plait of hair.
Dylan moved to stretch out and lowered his weight onto his elbows as he watched her fan her hair out loose around her shoulders.
“That,” he said unsteadily, “is a sight I’ve dreamed about a hundred times. God, I wish it was daylight, and I could see all the colors in your hair. Come here.”

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

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