Review: Break the Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbreakthenight_new.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: John Ripley Damien
Heroine: Elizabeth Stride
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 1993
Started On: June 16, 2018
Finished On: June 18, 2018

Break the Night by Anne Stuart is another one of her masterpieces in her long list of books (which I am forever grateful for), that more or less belong in the same category. Taking on the events surrounding the killer Jack the Ripper as a premise, Anne Stuart weaves a tale that left me wanting more on every single aspect of the story that unfolded.

Elizabeth Stride (Lizzie) is an artist trying to survive the LA scene. A creator of masks, Lizzie is caught in a nightmarish circumstance when a serial killer takes on her masks as part of the killer’s signature. Known as the Venice Ripper, Lizzie’s only saving grace comes from the fact that members of the public remain unaware of the use of Lizzie’s masks in the killer’s grotesque pastime.

However, Lizzie’s “anonymity” when it comes to the Venice Ripper becomes a thing of the past when news reporter John Ripley Damien i.e. J. R. Damien takes it upon himself to release the details about the masks in one of his articles featuring the Venice Ripper. Damien’s interest in the killer comes at a cost to both his personal and professional life. Renowned for his skill and talent as a reporter, Damien’s life takes a turn for the worse when he starts blaming himself for failing to see the line that exists between professional reporting standards and what is not. What could have been and what actually did happen.

Damien is haunted by dreams of a past that is filled with bloodshed, nightmares that seem hauntingly too real, when those dreams coincide with murders that happen in the present. Damien believes that stopping the killer is a job that is his duty, perhaps his past life had made it his responsibility to be the savior. But Damien knows that avenging the killer would come at a cost, a payment that he might have to make by giving his own life up in the process.

All of that is fine with Damien until Lizzie shows up in his life. Damien is none too shocked when an outraged Lizzie turns up on his doorstep, calling him out for publishing her details in relation with the Venice Ripper. While Damien tries to project an aura of indifference to all that is Lizzie, deep inside he knows that he is in deep trouble when it comes to her. The farthest thing from his usual style of women, Lizzie is what Damien would call a homebody, and for the very first time in Damien’s life, he wants to embrace the dreams of togetherness forever that he can see in Lizzie’s eyes.

However, there is a killer who is relentless, who is closing in on them as the passion between Damien and Lizzie ignites and burns with a ferocity that leaves them both stunned. And it will take everything Damien has got, all his wits about him to protect the most precious person in existence for him from a killer whose blood-lust has reached uncontrollable levels, taking on the task of the “cleanser of sinful souls” in the world.

I loved Break the Night. It is hard to believe that this was a story published more than ten years ago. Standing true to the test of time, as is the case with all Anne Stuart novels, both Damien and Lizzie are lovable and enticing characters. There is a vulnerability to Lizzie that is hard not to fall for, and a heart that yearns to open up to Damien and take him for all that he is – darkness and light together.

Damien is another topnotch example of heroes that Anne Stuart brings to life so effortlessly. Tall, lean, and darkly handsome in a way that makes a woman sit up and take notice, Damien’s demons run deep into his psyche, starting from a childhood that had been less than idyllic under most circumstances. However, it is Damien’s ties to a past that has long come and gone that is most intriguing, his often misplaced “blame” of self that takes place, because he is that kind of man.

Every Anne Stuart I pick up gives me a meaty read to sink my teeth into, delivers sexy and sinful heroes, pieces of whom I carry with me always; these are just some of the reasons why I would always keep coming back for more.

Recommended for fans of romantic suspense novels with a bit of creepy ethereality in the mix.

Final Verdict: Break the Night is the sort of novel that would rightfully leave you with the heebie-jeebies. Entwining long gone past events with the present, this is a story that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.

Favorite Quotes

“Damn it!” He hauled her upright, fury fighting with the panic that had suffused his body and winning. She simply stared up at him, her face wet with rain, and then it was too late. He pulled her into his arms, shoving her against the brick wall behind her and kissed her.
Her reaction was immediate. She slid her arms around his waist, clinging to him as if her life depended on it, and kissed him back. She tasted of rain and fresh coffee; she tasted of love and hope and despair.

For a moment, neither of them moved. And then he reached up to touch her, his hands cupping her shoulders, drawing her down, bringing her mouth to his. He kissed her slowly, gently, his mouth soft and damp and questing against her lips. He nibbled at her, tasting her. It was a kiss of such startling sweetness that she felt tears spring to her eyes, as a gnawing, yearning warmth started in the pit of her stomach and grew, spiraling outward, downward, filling her with such heat and longing that she began to tremble herself, and she wanted to move closer, to sink against him, into him, to press against him and dissolve.

“I’m yours, am I? Always?” he said, and there was no missing his bleak, self-mocking grin. “Lord, Lizzie, I only wish it were that simple.”
She let her eyelids flutter closed as she absorbed the feel of him against her. She could feel the sudden increase in tension, the hissing intake of breath. “Damn you, Lizzie,” he muttered under his breath.
She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Only if you want me.”
The feel of him against her hips left no doubt in her mind, despite the torment in his eyes. He pulled himself away from her, heading into the living room like a man facing his executioner, and Lizzie almost smiled.

She had beautiful breasts, small and perfectly formed. He leaned over and put his mouth on her, drawing the nipple deep and hard against his tongue, and her body jerked in reaction. Her hands were clutching the rumpled sheet beneath them, and he pulled one away, bringing it to the front of his jeans, holding it there, feeling the exquisite agony of a desire so strong he didn’t know how long he could make it last.
He could feel the darkness closing around him, could feel the blood beating in his ears. His hands were rough as they stripped off her jeans, but if she protested he was beyond hearing, lost in some black, dangerous place of his own.

“No,” she said fiercely. “Don’t. I don’t want you to touch me… ”
He wasn’t going to listen to her, and neither was her body. Despite her hurt and anger, she was aroused, and he was deft, determined, as he reached between and caught her clitoris between his fingers, somehow knowing how to touch her in just the right way, and she climaxed, fighting it, her body tightening and rippling around his aching hardness, as a helpless little cry filled the darkness.

He hauled her up into his arms, roughly, before she realized what he was doing, wrapping her legs around his waist. He looked dark, remote, not t he man she thought she knew, as he shoved her up against the wall, his face almost brutal in the firelight.
He pushed into her, hard, filling her, and she braced herself, welcoming him, no longer worrying about pain, only needing him, more of him, all of him, but this time her body didn’t resist him, this time she was ready. Her face was crushed against his shoulder as she felt him thrust into her, and she cradled his head, holding on, wanting nothing but his release, his pleasure to fill her.

It was darkness, madness, blood and death. With each thrust of his body she went a little farther, a little deeper, lost in some world where nothing remained but the inexplicable, powerful feelings surging through her body, the sound of his breathing in her ear, the beating of his heart against hers, the slick sweat on his skin as he surged into her, again and again and again, deep and hard and eternal.

His body was lean and wiry and golden in the firelight, a runner’s body. She slid her hands up his chest, placing her mouth against his neck as she pushed him down on the mattress. He tasted of soap, of skin, of something dark and wonderful. She moved her mouth downward, over his flat belly, kissing, biting, tasting. And then she took him in her mouth, the full, silky length of him, consuming him, consumed by him, lost in an act she had never performed, not in this lifetime, and never with love.

His hands caught her shoulders, his long fingers caressing, and she could hear the strangled sound of his breathing, taste the salty sweetness of his desire, feel the blood course through his body. The night closed down around them, and there was nothing to fear, only the two of them, and she wanted this, she wanted him.
She spread her legs for him, closing her eyes as his hands cupped her hips, and waited for the thrust that would fill her.
A moment later, her eyes shot open when he set his mouth between her legs, using his tongue, his teeth, his lips, to bring her to the precipice, and she knew her first fear. And then there was no room for fear and she leapt over the edge, her body dissolving into an endless convulsion that stole her breath, her heartbeat, her mind and soul.

He rolled over on his back, taking her with him, looking up at her as she moved over his body, the two of them slick with sweat as the firelight cast eerie shadows across their skin. He reached out and caught her hips, but let her set the pace, his face drawn taut with the effort of control.
She felt smooth, sleek and powerful. “Don’t fight it,” she whispered in the darkness. “Give yourself to me. Now, Damien.”
His eyes shut tight. “Now,” he said. “Now.” And he thrust up into her, hard, filling her with his warmth, his wetness, his love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: One More Valentine by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookonemorevalentine_new.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: James Sheridan Rafferty
Heroine: Helen Emerson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 01, 1993
Started On: June 12, 2018
Finished On: June 16, 2018

As a romance reader who has an undying and unabashed love for all that is Anne Stuart’s books and her heroes, I have this wish that I would never run out of her books to read. That is one reason why I try to exercise caution and space out books from her and save them for the days when I NEED to read an Anne Stuart. When all the mushy reads with heroes who capitulate too easily get too much for me, I pick up an Anne Stuart, knowing that it would chase away those blues that only she can.

One More Valentine is a bizarre read in many ways. It deals with a hero who has been dead for sixty four years, who gets the chance to “live” for 48 hours every year. This time period coincides with the Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of the massacre that had killed James Sheridan Rafferty.

Assistant Prosecutor, Helen Emerson dreads the arrival of the Valentine’s Day every year. Single and in love with the old building which houses her apartment, Helen is a woman who stands out from the rest, not because she is a beauty of the kind that makes heads turn. She has strange dreams that she cannot make much sense out of, and a love for an era that had come and gone even before she was born into this world.

When Rafferty turns up on her doorstep, Helen wrongly assumes that he is from the defendant’s team on a case she is trying. Soon enough though, she learns that Rafferty is not exactly what he portrays himself to be. Thrown together by circumstance more than anything else, Rafferty is not altogether too happy with the idea of wasting his 48 hours “alive” babysitting Helen, a woman who disturbs his peace in more ways than one.

Helen is the direct opposite of the type of women that Rafferty usually goes for – the uncomplicated variety with whom he can have fun and leave when his brief sojourn on Earth is up for the year. Yet, he is drawn to Helen and irrevocably so, and in the span of the 48 hour period, Rafferty learns that there is no running from destiny that is determined to play catch up.

Helen is an innocent in a lot of ways, and the carnal desire that Rafferty invokes in her so effortlessly should be reason to scare her away, but in Rafferty, Helen finds the kind of man that she could definitely fall for, and fall hard. With danger courting her very existence, an old enemy of Rafferty’s out to wreak havoc and vengeance, Rafferty has no choice but to stick by Helen’s side, even if it means making himself vulnerable in return.

I loved the story, as strange as the premise and plot line seemed to be. There is no denying that Anne Stuart is a master storyteller, no matter what trope she chooses to write. In Rafferty, she brings the sort of hero who seems brusque and out of touch when it comes to courting a woman who is considered to be marriage material. And Rafferty steers clear of Helen’s kind for a reason. But there is no stopping the tide of desire that catches them both, tugging, cajoling, and enticing until there is no choice, but to give in.

I loved both Helen and Rafferty in equal doses. Helen gives as good as she gets, one reason why Rafferty has such a hard time turning away from her, though he tries his hardest to do so. The streak of independence that is a core characteristic of Helen infuriates and entices him in equal doses. I fell head over heels with the ending. When Anne Stuart decides to deliver a good ending, she does it spectacularly well, with just the right touch and flair.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: One More Valentine is the kind of novel that should be read on a rainy day, cozied up in bed, with a cup of hot steaming tea right next to you. The feels; they just explode with this little number!

Favorite Quotes

And maybe one brief kiss wouldn’t make things worse. He could brush his lips against her forehead, against the thick, sweet-smelling hair, and she might not even notice. It wouldn’t do any harm. Even if he threaded a hand through the thick hair at the back of her neck, tilting her face up to his, it wouldn’t cause irreparable damage. Even if she looked up at him, her eyes wide and solemn and waiting, her mouth pale and damp and slightly parted. He didn’t have to kiss her, did he?
Yes, he did.

He pulled her into the hallway, slamming the door on the bright winter sunshine, cocooning them in warmth and darkness. Pushing her up against the wall, he slid his hands under the heavy fur coat, around her body and pulled her tight against him, against his own hard, aching body, wanting to scare her away, wanting to take her, wanting a thousand conflicting things.
She stared up at him, wordlessly. And since he made no move to kiss her, she reached up on her tiptoes and put her mouth against his, sweet and shy and very brave. “Come on, tiger,” she whispered against his mouth. “What are you afraid of?”
“You, Helen. Just you.”

“I thought you were a ghost,” she said, her voice deliberately taunting. “Or a zombie.”
“Damn it.” He moved his hand from her mouth, cupping the back of her neck beneath the heavy fall of hair and kissed her then, his mouth hard against hers.
She closed her eyes, sinking back against the wall, reveling in the feel of him, of his hard, taut body, of his hungry mouth, pushing her lips apart, tasting, devouring, as if a man obsessed. She wanted to kiss him back, but he was too forceful, allowing her no choice but to accept, passively, when she wanted more and more and more.
When he broke the kiss he was breathing heavily, and she could feel him against the soft cradle of her hips, feel how much he must want her. He couldn’t turn her down this time, could he? She’d waited so long for someone she really wanted. She was tired of waiting.
“Helen,” he said, his voice nothing more than a rasp of longing.
She cupped his face with her hands, his dear, tormented face. “I want you, Rafferty. I’ve been waiting all my life for you. Don’t turn me away.”

“Trying to scare me off, Rafferty?” she whispered, stilling her reaction, keeping her hands from covering herself. “You can’t do it.”
“Can’t I?” he muttered. And he pulled the dress down over her narrow hips, so that it fell at her ankles, and she was standing there in the hallway, dressed only in a pair of serviceable white cotton panties and white silk stockings rolled to her knees.
He scooped her up then, wrapping her around his body, her legs around his hips, her arms around his shoulders, pressing her against the wall as he kissed her again, his mouth hot and wet and seeking, his long fingers cupping her hips, squeezing, pressing her against him, and she could feel his heat and hardness at the very center of her.

She began to work on the pearl buttons of his white shirt, unfastening them slowly, one by one, until she reached the belt of his trousers. And then she leaned forward and put her mouth against his chest, against the hair-roughened flesh.
He sucked in his breath, and for a moment she wondered if she’d been too bold. And then his hands cupped her head, gently, as she tasted him, her tongue tracing tiny patterns on his flat stomach, as her hands reached for his thin leather belt.
He pulled her up then, into his arms, and somehow they made it over to the sofa as his mouth met hers. He pushed her back on the cushions, kneeling over her, still fully dressed, and his hands cupped her breasts, the first time she’d felt a man touch her, and his thumbs danced across the tight peaks, sending a shaft of desire streaking through her, arching her hips against his imprisoning legs. His mouth followed, wet and hungry, suckling her, and she moaned, a soft sound of pleasure and frustration.

“Show me,” she said, overriding his concern. “We only have a few more hours. Show me what to do.”
He groaned, and his last attempt at restraint vanished as he reached between her legs to the heated, aching center of her. She arched against his hand, whimpering softly with pleasure, and in the darkness he smiled, murmuring to her, telling her how sweet and responsive she was, how soft and sleek and damp and hot she was, and how much he needed, wanted her.
“Slowly, love,” he whispered as he positioned her above him, throbbing and ready. “Very slowly. Make it last. God, Helen…” the words were a jumble of pleasure as she followed his lead, sinking slowly, filling herself with his strength.

When she was ready to shake apart, reaching for something beyond her grasp, he simply rolled her over on the bed, covering her, surging against her with a slow, steady pace that made her want to scream, to pound at his shoulders and weep.
And suddenly his control was gone as well, and he thrust into her, again and again, in a frenzy of need that brought forth her own wild response, and when he went rigid in her arms, his body arched against hers, his voice lost in a strangled cry, she was with him, shattering around him, tossed into the maelstrom of a love that knew no boundaries of time and space, life and death.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

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Review: Blue Sage by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbluesage2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Charles Tanner, Jr
Heroine: Eleanor Johnson Lundquist
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 01, 1995
Started On: June 10, 2018
Finished On: June 12, 2018

Charles Tanner, Jr. is returning to his hometown. It would be an understatement to say that he is not looking forward to the “homecoming”. If Tanner were to have his way, he would never have made the journey, but then for the man who had been the father figure he never had, he would return to his place of origin, even if it means facing the demons left behind by his father.

Tanner’s father is a legend for all the wrong reasons. Known as a vet who had gone on a killing spree murdering sixteen and wounding one before turning the gun on himself, Tanner knows that he is going to end up stirring some bad memories for a lot of families who had lost loved ones.

What Tanner doesn’t expect to happen is to come across the all too beguiling Eleanor Johnson Lundquist, the almost 31 year old widow, and the lone survivor among the victims of the massacre at the hands of Tanner’s father. Tanner catches Eleanor during one of those rare moments in which she lets her uninhibited self roam freely; something that is not too easy given her revered status in the close-knit community that is Morey’s Falls.

With the anniversary of that fateful day coming, Tanner’s arrival undoubtedly stirs someone to once again force members of the town to relive the nightmares. With everyone on the edge, it is all too easy to paint Tanner as the bad guy. But within Eleanor, there is an altogether a different kind of storm brewing. For the very first time in her 30 plus years, Eleanor feels the stirrings of lust and desire, to take and be taken, and scandalously enough, by none other than Tanner himself.

As Eleanor and Tanner spends more time together amidst Tanner’s pursuit for the truth, they discover elements and facets to each other’s characters which otherwise would have remained uncovered. Each layer as it is peeled back, exposes a side that appeals to the other more. Tanner who has a habit of leaving, the itch that possesses him to go roaming and not stay put, finds himself with an inexplicable need for the very first time in his life to stay.

Blue Sage was a pleasant surprise because of the depth of the story that Anne Stuart delivered. Harlequin titles are not often known for the depth in their stories, but mostly quick reads that gives you a much needed escape. But somehow, Anne Stuart even then, managed to deliver books that were close to perfection with her ability to present to readers characters that seem polar opposites of one another, and yet form this bond around an almost indiscernible connection that springs to life from the get-go.

I loved both Tanner and Eleanor. Tanner with his lean whipcord physique, who believes that his pursuit of the truth comes from an innate responsibility towards the only man he looks up to, when it comes from a need within himself as well, to understand the man who had sired him, and a community that had failed all of them with their inability to see an unstable character for what he was, until it was too late.

I actually did think that there would be more to Tanner’s father’s story, but it didn’t turn out that way. Nevertheless, the whole aspect of a reemerging menace from within the community, with history repeating itself was a captivating aspect of the story.

I loved Eleanor as well. That inner vulnerability, core of strength, and the fact that she does identify with the fact that she is drowning on the pedestal that Morey’s Falls has put her on, to the way she blossoms under the touch of Tanner; the sensual awakening that is slow, hard and fast at the same time, were all parts of her story that I adored.

I loved the scene in the moonlight, up in the hills, with just Tanner and Eleanor – that was as elemental as it could get, and it somehow seemed fitting when it came to both of them.

The ending definitely made me teary-eyed. Tanner’s need to walk-about which hits his restless spirit and how it all played out was apt. Recommended for fans of contemporary romances with suspense in the mix.

Final Verdict: Blue Sage is magical and uncanny in equal doses; Anne Stuart waves her magic wand and creates characters that leaps off the pages, taking you for a ride you would never forget anytime soon!

Favorite Quotes

Lock your door, Ellie,” he ordered. “And I’ll keep away from Pete’s Fireside Cafe.”
She looked up at him. The shadows were all around them, the smell of the approaching storm thick in the air, and a sudden, waiting stillness caught at her.

He was so close, and so locked away from her. His blue eyes were hooded, unreadable, and his mouth looked hard and unyielding.
It wasn’t. Before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled her into his arms, out on the back porch in plain view of anyone who cared to

look. His hand cupped the back of her neck, holding her in place as his mouth came down on hers.

He lifted his head, his mouth leaving hers, and his eyes glittered in the shadowy half-light. “You kiss like a virgin,” he said, his voice softly mocking.
She kept herself from flinching. “I wasn’t kissing you,” she pointed out with an attempt to sound matter-of-fact. All she sounded was shaky. “You were kissing me.”
“Then let me do it properly,” he whispered, and the sound played across her spine like a thousand tiny leaves. “Open your mouth.”
She could no more deny him than she could have stopped her heart from beating.

It was beguiling, the innocence and enthusiasm in her untutored mouth. He kissed her slowly, lingeringly, giving her time to get used to the contours of his mouth, the dampness and texture, before using his tongue. He loved her little start of surprise at his intrusion, the acquiescence, the growing boldness as her tongue touched his.
Her hands tightened on his waist, digging in slightly, and if his mouth hadn’t been busy he would have smiled. Instead he encouraged her, teasing

her, his mouth sliding wetly over hers, lips nibbling, touching, biting, tongues dancing against each other.

It was unseasonably warm for a late-June night. Tanner’s pack was lying on the ground, his sleeping bag unzipped and spread out on the grass. She’d let Shaitan get a little closer, just close enough to read his expression. If it wasn’t welcoming, she could leave.
His dark-blond hair was wet and slicked back away from his face. His mouth was a narrow line, thin and unsmiling, and his cold blue eyes were in shadow. Ellie could feel the dampness in her hands as they held the reins, feel the trembling in her knees. Somewhere in the distance an old owl hooted, and overhead a million stars warred with the bright moonlight to flood the field with light.

Ellie didn’t move. Fear was supposed to be a cold, hard lump in the chest. Her fear was a blaze of fire burning deep inside, much lower down. She didn’t say a word, and neither did he. He merely stood there, his strong hand stroking Shaitan’s neck. And then he moved closer, and his hand left the horse, reaching to catch her bare ankle in his long fingers.
His flesh was hot, hers was cool. He slid his hand up her calf, up to the ruffled hem of her lacy nightdress. Before she realized his intent he’d pushed the material away, exposing her bad knee. His mouth followed his hand, tracing the line of scars that stretched along her leg.

She heard a quick, shocked intake of breath, and vaguely realized it was her own. And then his hands were reaching up, encircling her waist, and he was lifting her down, down from Shaitan’s high back, her body sliding against his, her skirts bunching up around her thighs, his warm, bare shoulders damp beneath her trembling hands.
She began to shiver in anticipation of some distant, unapproachable delight, and she felt Tanner, slippery with sweat, tremble in her arms. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t know what for. For the moon, still shining down on the entwined lovers? For the stars, glittering in the sky beside their sister moon? Or cry for herself, lost and seeking, shivering and reaching and aching and longing?

Her head thrashed back and forth in mute negation of something she couldn’t begin to understand. She wanted to tell him to stop, it was useless, it was more than she could bear. He thrust all the way into her, holding her with the pressure of his hips, and his hands caught her head, holding her still.
“Not without you,” he muttered obscurely. And setting his mouth on hers, he reached down between their sweat-slick bodies and touched her.
Her body arched, convulsed around his. Her mind, her emotions shattered, like the thousand stars of the Montana night, and she was gone, lost, floating, and Tanner was with her, his strangled cry swallowed in their last, desperate kiss, his body rigid in her arms.

“Ellie,” he said hoarsely, lifting his head, trying to pull away, to regain the last tiny shreds of self-control. He couldn’t do this to her.
She put her hand up to his face. It was shaking, and there was blood on her fingertips. She pulled his head down to hers, and her mouth was waiting. And her choice was life, not death.

He tore at her clothes and she helped him, raising her hips so he could slide down her jeans and underwear and throw them across the room, lifting her head so he could pull off the bloody shirt and send it flying after her other clothes. Her own hands were just as eager, just as desperate, fumbling with the zipper on his jeans, digging into his shoulders as she pulled him over her, on top of her, into her, wrapping her legs around him and holding him tight.
No sooner had he slid into that delicious warmth when more shudders of reaction began to wash over her. He held himself still, reveling in her helpless

response, and then he thrust deep, joining her in a white-hot blaze of heat that burned the past to ashes.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

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Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookonceuponamaidenlane.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #12.5
Publisher: Forever Yours
Hero: Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell
Heroine: Mary Whitsun
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: June 02, 2018
Finished On: June 03, 2018

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt, a novella set in the Maiden Lane series is readable as a standalone. However, for the diehard fans of the series like myself, the story of Mary Whitsun, a character that we have witnessed growing into her womanhood is definitely one too good to pass up on.

Set in 1747, London, Mary is out and about on her full day off for the week, browsing in a bookshop when she encounters Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell. The chance meeting changes Mary’s life forever in ways she has never expected, and before she knows it, she is taken into a residence of confluence and finesse, as a family’s long lost daughter and finds herself to be betrothed to none other than Viscount Blackwell himself.

Mary has a lot of adjustments to make when it comes to settling into her new life. The most unsettling aspect of it perhaps being the way her body responds to Henry. Building castles in the air is not for the likes of Mary, but she does get drawn into the web of desire, sensuality, and want that is Henry in his entirety. But ofttimes, fate has a cruel way of taking away from you what you want the most, unless you are willing to make a sacrifice that could either make or break you.

I loved Once Upon a Maiden Lane, undoubtedly so. After being a trifle bit disappointed with certain aspects of the last book in the series, Duke of Desire, I was totally enamored by the charged sexual tension deliciously entwined with the rest of the story as it happened along.

I loved both Mary and Henry, and couldn’t have asked for more. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Once Upon a Maiden Lane is a succulent little morsel of a delight. Loved, loved, loved!

Favorite Quotes

He examined her as if he could see through the silk of her bodice, through the whalebone of her stays, to all her vulnerable places underneath.
She felt her nipples tighten almost painfully as he watched her, and she wondered wildly: did he know what his examination did to her?
Did he know that her center was melting because of his eyes?
Holding his blue gaze was an almost-unbearable torture.
Just a corner of his mouth curled up as he stared into her eyes, and she had her answer.
Oh, he knew all right.
The realization should’ve sent her running from the room in embarrassment. It didn’t.
Instead she raised her chin in challenge.
The curl of his lips widened into a true smile.

She’d never been kissed before.
This…this was…a revelation. His mouth was hot on hers, his chest firm. She could smell him. A lemon scent, perhaps from his hair, and a hint of tea.
She felt her controls slipping. Felt him urge her on—toward what she wasn’t sure. She mustn’t. She mustn’t.
But part of her wanted what he offered.
Freedom. Sensuality. Bliss.
His tongue ran along her bottom lip. She tentatively opened her mouth, answering him, gasping in sudden wild heat when she felt his tongue touch hers.
Only to have him abruptly let her go and step back.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, his voice husky. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

He stepped closer so that his chest almost, almost touched the tips of her breasts, and she was forced to tilt back her head to keep her eyes locked with his. He bent and murmured in her ear softly. Intimately. “Only a small time to learn your likes and dislikes. Your favorite foods. The thing that disgusts you the most.” He paced around her, and she was reminded of how he’d stalked her in the sitting room. His voice came from over her left shoulder. “What authors you like to read. What you look like when you laugh from your belly. How your tears fall. If you like to stroll in the morning or if you’d rather laze abed. If the sound of an orchestra makes your heart sing or leaves you unmoved. How to make you smile and how to make you sob.”
His breath was hot in her right ear, and Mary shivered, closing her eyes to keep herself calm.
“I want to learn all of you. I want you to know me in return. When I next kiss you, I want you to welcome my lips like a lover instead of a stranger.”
She inhaled sharply. This was like a waking dream, for this man, this fascinating, handsome aristocrat to speak to her so bluntly.
So passionately.
“Do you want that as well?” He was in front of her now.
“Yes,” she said, opening her eyes to meet his gaze boldly. “Yes, I do.”

He took possession of her lips without any sort of hesitation, parting them and running his tongue along the inner edge of her bottom lip.
Mary stifled a moan as pleasure burst through her body.
She’d wondered if what she’d felt with that first kiss might just be an oddity. Something that couldn’t be replicated.
But it hadn’t.
It was he—Henry.
He slid his tongue into her mouth, moving forcefully even as he angled his face against hers, his arms pulling her close against his chest.
She felt taken. Captured. As if he commanded her at the moment.
As if he could do anything to her.

He lifted his lips from hers and looked into her eyes.
“That’s it,” he said, unsmiling. It was as if he were searching for something. “You’re so beautiful like this. So open and wanton, all your defenses down. I want to keep you like this forever, hanging on the edge of my hand, weeping over my fingers, desperate and undone. Mary, my Mary. Darling. Let go for me and only me. Let go for me now.”
And she did, her soul, her body flying apart.
She let go and fell, her limbs shaking, gasping for air. It was awful. It was bliss. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before.
And when she opened her eyes she saw his eyes locked on hers.
His beautiful, witty mouth was twisted, and his gaze was somehow tender. “Darling Mary, you destroy me.”

She clutched at him. At his buttocks and his shoulder. Moving her hips up to meet his descent. Spreading her legs even wider.
Feeling the jolt when he rubbed her just there.
Sweat slicked his back, hot and real, and he moved faster now, his hips thumping into hers.
She felt the tension build, felt his penis thrust in and out of her, felt her body coil tight.
He hitched his hips and made a swiveling motion on her and stars exploded behind her eyelids, white and sudden, hot and bright, shattering her.
She gasped into his mouth as he kept kissing her, his tongue claiming her, his lips rough and hard.
Until he jerked his mouth from hers and gasped, his head arching back, his eyes squeezed shut. She could feel heat pulsing into her even as he cried out her name.
She watched him, wanting to remember this moment forever.
She. She had brought him this pleasure.

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

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Review: Heartless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookheartless.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #5
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: Brandon George Rohan
Heroine: Emma Rose Magdalene Cadbury
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 15, 2018
Started On: May 30, 2018
Finished On: June 02, 2018

At last, Heartless, the 5th book in the House of Rohan series by Anne Stuart is out,  a book that has been long awaited by fans. The fourth book, Shameless was published in 2011, with Anne Stuart promising fans that she would get around to writing Brandon George Rohan (Brandon) and Emma Rose Magdalene Cadbury (Emma)’s story. It has been four years since I discovered this delectable series by Anne Stuart and indulged to my heart’s content. Before the arrival of Heartless, I decided to do a re-read marathon of the entire series, which actually made Heartless all that more meaningful to me.

Heartless starts after a period of three years having passed since the Shameless. With Brandon living in the Scottish Highlands, recovering and recuperating from the mess his life had become after the war, Brandon is summoned home by his brother Benedick upon the birth of his and Melisande’s second child. Brandon is reluctant to make his way back to England, but it was finally time.

Taking a look at Emma’s life, it sure had changed considerably since then. Someone who had been the youngest madam in England had turned her life around to the point where she was now about replace Mr. Fenrush as the head of surgery at the Temple Hospital where she pursues her passion. Her triumphs in her professional life had not come easy, especially pursuing a career in the medicinal world as a woman at the time. But Emma has an innate talent that wins her peers over, except for Mr. Fenrush, whose anger towards her often seems more malicious than just professional jealousy on his part.

Emma and Brandon’s story is one that begins way before Heartless does. Which is perhaps why readers have been waiting with bated breathe for their story. Emma had been one of the volunteers at the hospital at the time during which Brandon had been admitted, suffering from war injuries. It is at the hospital that Emma and Brandon forge a bond, that for Emma had been something beyond her wildest dreams, especially for a woman such as herself considered as soiled in the eyes of the society. For Brandon (whose thoughts on their shared time together are revealed much later), Emma had been the lifeline which had held him together, and he had entertained unrealistic dreams of them being together, even knowing that Emma wasn’t probably the wisest choice as a life partner.

When Emma and Brandon’s worlds collide once again at the christening ceremony of Alexandra Emma Brandon Rohan, Emma is hopeful and at the same disappointed that Brandon doesn’t seem to remember her. And it is a game that Emma continues to and is willing to play, as long as it does not put her emotions in peril. However, even with the obstacle of Brandon’s pompous elder brother trying to force a bride on him standing in the way, there seems to be no obstruction strong enough to prevent Emma and Brandon from coming together, except of course for Emma herself.

Heartless was I suppose what you would call mellow, at least mellower than the rest of the books in the series. I understood the need for it. Both Emma and Brandon are broken in a way that no other characters we have come across in previous books have been, not even Brandon’s grandmother whom we encounter in Ruthless. Imagine being ripped off of your virginity in the cruelest way, being forced to sell your body by someone you had trusted, and not having a choice about any of it. Imagine going dead inside, having never sought pleasure in the act of sex, never understanding the pleasure to be had.

It is Emma’s character that requires care in this story. It is usually the male lead who almost always has issues that are seemingly insurmountable. But in the case of Emma and Brandon, it is Emma’s character that needed the TLC factor, and Brandon, having undergone what he had owing to his attempts to drown out certain aspects of the war he had witnessed in drugs and liquor, has the patience and endurance for the slow seduction required of Emma.

Emma’s avoidance of everything to do with Brandon does come with a price. It is an avoidance that is borne out of the need to protect herself, and that tactic applied to an escalating danger to her life ends up nearly costing her life. The period of separation that takes place was one that provided the emotional angst factor in spades, and Brandon never giving up on Emma was something I approved of and loved wholeheartedly. If ever there are two people who deserve to have their happily ever after, it is Emma and Brandon, and knowing that they did achieve it? Makes me smile from ear to ear.

Recommended for fans of the series. Brandon and Emma’s story was beautiful and soothing in a way that deviates from the norm that is Anne Stuart.

Final Verdict: Heartless might be a little late to the party, but it brings along a ton of angst, feel good emotions, and a whole lot of love. Emotionally heavier in comparison to the rest of the books in the series, Brandon has just the right amount of tenderness, steely determination, and sensuality to seduce Emma, for life.

Favorite Quotes

“Hullo, Charles,” Melisande said, and Emma knew her friend well enough to recognize the lack of enthusiasm in her voice. “I hope your wife and daughters are well?”
“As always. Elinor and the girls are in London, alas. Too many social commitments to allow them to escape.”
“And you were afraid our sister and her wretched husband might be in attendance,” Rohan interjected dryly. “You needn’t have worried. Miranda is once again expecting—I think she and the Scorpion are planning to repopulate the entire Lake District—so your wife’s delicate sensibilities wouldn’t have been offended.”

“You’re right,” he said slowly. “The only man who’s going to get in your bed is going to have to love you, and I’m afraid that’s a part of me that never healed.”
It felt like a blow. Why should the word “love” even be mentioned between them? “You’re stronger than I am,” she said calmly enough. “You could take what you wanted. I’m a professional, remember? I know when a man wants me.”
His smile was wry. “Oh, I want you very much. I doubt there’s a man who sees you who doesn’t want you, with the possible exception of my brother Benedick. Even a stuffy old prude like Charles wouldn’t be immune. But you’ve been hurt, you’re weak and trembling, and I don’t make a habit of taking advantage of frightened little girls.”
“I’m not. . .” she started to protest, when he bent down and brushed the softest, sweetest kiss against her mouth, gone almost before it had begun, so quickly that she could do nothing more than stare at him in astonishment.
“You are,” he said softly. “Good night, Emma.”
She stood outside her door, bemused, as he faded into the shadows. She put a hand to her lips, expecting some monumental change. They were no different—soft, slightly open. He’d kissed her, and life would never be the same.

She knew it was hogwash, just as she knew he didn’t belong in the rough wards of St. Martin’s Military Hospital. He had the voice of a gentleman, and she had yet to meet anyone who could falsify those tones. She had kissed him anyway, the soft brush of her mouth against his—harmless, innocent. Until the last night, when the kiss became something quite different.
He’d grown stronger, he’d been sitting up in bed, and she’d moved her chair closer, night by night. For some reason she continued to hold his hand—the human touch kept him tethered to this earth, she thought, never realizing it kept her tethered to him. Until the last night, or early morning, when she rose to leave him, and leaned over to give him her chaste, affectionate kiss.
Instead he’d caught her arm, tugging her off balance, and deftly managed to slip his hand behind her head to hold her in place while he deepened the kiss, pushing her mouth open with his, using his tongue.
She’d been too shocked to react, had simply let his kiss her, long and slow and hard, so thoroughly she felt. . . she felt. . .
His grip loosened, and she stumbled back from him, her hand to her mouth. “Harpy. . .” he’d said, laughter and concern in his voice, but she whirled and ran, through the crowded ward without a backward glance.

Why did you kiss me?”
He jumped. That was the very last thing he expected—he’d assumed she’d ignore the incident, skittish as she was, and he wasn’t prepared for her flat question.
He knew he hadn’t shown it though—he was an even better master of his reactions than she was. “That’s an inordinately silly question. I wanted to. There’s something about your mouth, I think. Why? You didn’t seem to mind.”
Her face had whitened, which he found extremely odd “You didn’t give me a chance to mind,” she mumbled, taking another hasty drink. He was going to have to tell Noonan about it. In the north they usually got by on gallons of hot, strong tea, but given that he allowed himself no other liquids, Emma’s drink might be a worthy addition to Noonan’s limited cooking repertoire.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “Should I have kissed you longer? Harder? Deeper?”

She rose suddenly, setting down her empty cup, and there was just the faintest bit of chocolate on the corner of her lip. “I really need to go back upstairs,” she said hurriedly. “I feel unwell. That is, if I’m to leave tomorrow I should probably rest. . .”
She’d been backing away from him, with good sense, since he’d risen as well and was moving toward her. He caught up with her just before she reached the door and casually pulled her away from it, backing her into the corner of the room away from the windows. Near a divan.
“I’ll let you go,” he said softly. “In a minute.” And he set his mouth against hers, his tongue licking out to taste that tiny bit of chocolate.
She shuddered, but it wasn’t in disgust. Her hands had come up to his shoulders, but they’d moved beneath his jacket, clutching the soft cloth that covered his shoulders, and the sound she made was one of soft, unexpected pleasure.

Words began spilling from his mouth then, when he’d been so determined to be silent. “Yes,” and “fuck” and “more” and “yes” as he moved faster, his own body beginning to shake with the power of his overwhelming lust. He couldn’t, wouldn’t say the word “love” but he could push into her, with dirty words whispered in her ear that made her tighten around him. He was fighting a losing battle with self-control, and he wanted to lose it, but she wasn’t quite ready, though he knew from her breathing, from a thousand other physical signs that she was near. “Don’t,” he said, his mind blank, “give it,” he muttered, and the battle was lost. “Now,” he groaned, feeling his seed boil up from his balls and spurt into her, and the last word he spoke, as he pulled free and collapsed beside her, was even worse.
“Harpy,” he said, and fell into an exhausted sleep.

If they’d been on that bed it wouldn’t have been he who was weeping. Emma and beds had an obvious connotation—in fact, the idea of any bed made him think of Emma. Any flat surface. Up against a wall. In a chair—he hadn’t done it in a chair for years. . .
He slammed a door on his thoughts. “Did I ever bed you in this house?”
She turned, and he couldn’t read her expression. “I assure you, until last night I had been blissfully celibate for eight years.”
He froze. “That’s not possible!”
She turned, calm and controlled, raising an eyebrow. “How so?”“You . . . that is . . . you . . .” he hadn’t been at a loss for words since he’d be a callow youth, and he simply stared at her in disbelief.
“I retired from the day to day tasks of a bordello and concentrated on the business side. Once a whore, always a whore, but in fact my hard-learned skills have not been put to the test for a very long time. I hope I proved satisfactory, my lord. I would hate to receive money for inferior performance.”

“You’re my harpy. You always say awful things. Do you want to leave?” He would let her, of course. He would let her out of his life if he had to, if she had to. He would die, but he would do it. For her.
“I want to stay,” she whispered.
The buttons on the night dress unfastened easily—the fussy thing wasn’t without merit. He could feel the tremor in her body and he knew she had to be handled carefully, not with the brute passion of the night before.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said.
She was holding very still as his hands moved lower and lower, the tiny pearl buttons releasing with just a flick of his shaking fingers. The gown parted to show her moon-silvered flesh, and he caught his breath. “I could wish you weren’t so perfect.”
“The ugliness is all on the inside,” she said.
“There’s no ugliness in you anywhere. There’s only pain.”

She heard her own scream with shock, and she quickly slammed her hands over her mouth, as a fierce, hard response rocketed through her, strange and untenable. “Don’t—” she gasped, but he was past listening, and then she was past protesting as she felt a sharp energy begin to build, to suffuse her body with something that surely was wrong. She was past fighting it, past worrying about it, and when she felt him slide two long fingers into her as he licked and sucked and bit, then she was gone, unable to stifle her response as it took over her body, leaving no room for herself there.
It was like being thrown over a cliff, sailing through dark, powerful winds and ending in a storm-tossed sea, and she could do nothing but hold onto him like the life raft he seemed to be, the only thing solid and safe in her mad, swirling world. Every muscle in her body had seemed to lock, as those waves crashed over her again and again. She couldn’t stop it, she couldn’t control it, and then she no longer wanted to, giving herself over to the wash of feelings. She hadn’t even realized he’d moved up, over her, until she managed to open groggy eyes to stare at him, at the triumph, the satisfaction on his face, things she could rail at, except for that shocking streak of tenderness in his eyes.

But when he pushed back in it was even more wonderful, and her hips rose to meet his, the walls of her sex tightening around him as her hands clutched his biceps. This was possession, but a different kind, a glorious one that she could hold in her heart. He took her, claimed her, but she took him as well, into her body, into her heart, into her soul, where he would always stay, no matter what happened. She finally let go, giving herself to him, to the rampant, building pleasure, to the joy of love that had cracked her guarded heart, as he thrust, each push a promise he couldn’t keep, but it no longer mattered. Deep and harder and harder and she wanted more, craved more.
“Yes,” she whispered fiercely. “Again. Again. More.”
The darkness that was closing around her split with lightning, and suddenly everything ceased to exist, only man and woman, elemental, eternal, as she seemed to burst apart in a shower of pure sensation. She could feel him with her, her love, her soul, joining her, flooding her, and she took everything in savage satisfaction and a guttural sob of triumph.”

Emma appeared dumbfounded, a rare occurence for his beautiful bride. “No,” she said. “That is … I didn’t say yes… I still think we should…”
Brandon took care of her protests in the most efficient way possible, and when she was too breathless to speak he glanced at Ellis. “Well, for the time being you’re my butler, and you will leave and see that no one disturbs you for the next hour.”
“Hour?” Emma said, sounding alarmed.
“Make that two.” He focused all his attention on Emma. “And take the damned dog.”
When they were finally alone, he turned back to her, and she was wiping tears from her cheeks. “Damn these things,” she muttered. “I only started crying five weeks ago and now I can’t seem to stop.”
“That’s all right, Harpy,” he murmured. “I’ll always be here to dry them. Accept it- there’s no way you can win against the assembled might of the Wicked Rohans. You’ll marry me and live happily ever after.”
“No one ever does,” she said.
“You will,” he said firmly. “I promise you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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ARC Review: The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthelullabygirl.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Series: Angie Pallorino, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddocks
Heroine: Angela Pallorino
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: May 14, 2018
Finished On: May 20, 2018

The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White is the second book in the Angie Pallorino series, books centered around the lead female detective, aka Angela Pallorino (Angie). These are not standalone books, so if you want to immerse yourself in the ‘dark’ escape that this series provides, you will have to read the books in order. I say dark escape because Loreth’s books delve into the darker side of suspense with just enough romance going for it to suit readers like myself.

The Lullaby Girl begins two weeks or so after The Drowned Girls end, rather eventfully I must add. With Angie taking down a serial rapist turned killer (Spencer Adams) working her now life partner (of sorts), Sergeant James Maddocks, Angie’s life had considerably turned upside down since the hunt for Spencer had started. Angie, who had then being working sex crimes, had been partnered with James, the man she had tied to a motel bed and drowned herself in him on her way to oblivion – Angie’s method of escape from the voices that hound her.

Since then, Angie and Maddocks had managed to bust wide open a case that has all the elements that makes society gasp in indignation and fear. A rapist & killer who mutilated his victims, who had found easy pickings aboard a ‘pleasure vessel’ known as Amanda Rose, which had also exposed dirty politicians that had benefited from the operations.

While Angie had been placed on leave until the investigation into the culmination of the Spencer Adams angle in the case had ended, Maddocks meanwhile had continued the probe into the human trafficking of young girls and how far the tentacles of the case reaches.

Angie had in the meantime, started inquiries into her childhood, the lies which had pretty much defined her existence having come out into the open during the strenuous hours spent on the case. It is as Angie digs her heels into finding out more, that two detectives seek her out on a cold case of a DNA match with Angie’s, bringing home the possibility that Angie must have family somewhere that could possibly have been looking for her all these years.

With her position as a detective in the department at peril and placed in the social media division, Angie has no choice but to go along for the ride, if only for the ‘benefits’ being on the job would bring in the line of her own investigations. But resent the punishment, she definitely does.

So finds Angie going along with the investigations into her past, while Maddocks pursues the leads on his case, which takes on Russian organized crime amidst international human trafficking angle which brings takes the case to a whole new level. But it is when these two separate and distinct investigations collide that things take a turn which brings the whole house of cards tumbling down.

The Lullaby Girls proved to be just as engrossing a read as it’s predecessor. Angie’s character was just as thorny, perhaps more so owing to the different upheavals that her life has been subjected to along the way. Angie doesn’t see the destructive path she is on, though it is hard not to empathize with what she’s going through as well. She has had her whole world turned upside down, and to come to know that she had had a life that was vastly different from what she remembers to be her childhood, enables her to understand her affinity with crime solving and sex crimes in particular.

The inability to see the “difficult” side of her character prevents Angie from seeing the punishment she is given at the department for what it is; that it had been owing to her actions and behavior along with her strained relationships with her partners, and her lack of ability to follow orders while keeping a level head about it.

This of course makes Angie lash out, and lash out she does, which makes things pretty difficult for Maddocks. Because for Angie, there is nothing more vulnerable than letting someone into her life to a point where he would have the ability to destroy her whole world, if it ever comes to that. Angie likes control, well let’s be honest, who doesn’t. But then again, Angie’s need for control makes it almost impossible for her to see the damage she is doing to her own life, the relationships she forges with everyone around her, and her inability to connect with people long enough to forge meaningful relationships with them.

And then there is Maddocks. Whose own life has clearly not been a walk in the park. The case which forces him to return to his old haunts brings back the memories of a failed marriage, his idealistic views on what his life should have been like, his frayed relationship with his daughter, and most of all, his tendency to be attracted to the broken that needs fixing, which explains Angie and his need for her in his life.

Like I said in my review of the first book, if it were any other man but Maddocks, he would have washed his hands off of Angie and walked away a long while back. But there are reasons which makes Maddocks stay, reasons which I as the reader see for myself when I keep wading through the complexity that is Angie. There is that damaged side to her character which is hard not to empathize with, and there is that wonderful person she could be if there wasn’t so much darkness clouding her life, a person that peeks through from within the layers every once in a while that makes Maddocks’ patience worth it.

Angie coming full circle with her past and uncovering the roots of her beginnings was something to behold. I enjoyed every single minute of it, rooted for Angie with every fiber of my being, and held my breathe every single time things started heading south. But life holds little meaning, if it ain’t for the struggles which you triumph through.

Recommended for fans of thrillers and suspense novels that keeps you at the edge, because a book that doesn’t make you sweat for the characters you root for, ain’t a book worth reading.

Final Verdict: The Lullaby Girl delves deeper into the psyche of Angie and brings to the forefront the horrors of sex-trafficking, taking on the world of transnational organized crime, delivering a story as informative & unsettling as they come.

Favorite Quotes

People don’t understand the toll that job can take on a police officer or his family. They don’t know how we all have to tiptoe around the ugly side of the job, the mood swings, the depression, the drinking.

He caressed the line of her jaw with his thumb. And something fierce and angry erupted inside her—a desperation to burn down her own insecurities, to kill the pain, to blind herself to the fear of what her own memories might reveal, the realities that she might have to face about what had happened to her in childhood. She grabbed his tie and yanked him closer. Drawing his head down, she reached herself up and pressed her mouth hungrily to his. His lips were cold from outside. He hesitated a nanosecond before suddenly cupping her buttocks and jerking her hips tightly up against his pelvis. His mouth bore down on hers, forcing her lips open. He slid his tongue inside, met hers. Lust blinded Angie as she felt his erection stiffening against her belly.

His eyes, intense, held hers as he allowed her to pin his wrists above his head against the floor. Angie straddled his hips and slid the crotch of her skimpy panties aside. Widening her knees, parting her thighs, she sank down onto the hot, hard length of him. With a bliss-filled sigh she spread her thighs farther, making him go deep, deeper. And she began to rock her hips, creating friction deep inside the core of her body. Her breaths came fast, faster. She rocked harder. She became slick around his erection. Her body began to tingle. A hot, raw anger exploded, ripping through her gut, driving her wilder. She closed her eyes, put her head back, mouth open wide, panting, her skin going damp. And she rode him hard and fast and half-clothed, forcing her mind back, mentally reliving that very first night she’d spent with him at the Foxy Motel. She gasped suddenly, froze, then cried out as muscle contractions slammed through her in rolling waves, taking control of her body.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdearestivie.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: “Silas” Montasilas, son of Mordachy the Younger
Heroine: Ivie Hannaford
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 13, 2018
Started On: May 08, 2018
Finished On: May 10, 2018

Dearest Ivie is a novella set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, that fits in between the titles The Chosen and The Thief. What makes Dearest Ivie so notable is the fact that it steers away from the lives of the King, the Brothers, and their shellans. It takes readers away from all that and delves into the lives of ordinary civilian vampire population. If you are thinking that a story as such wouldn’t be half as interesting, you would be wrong. And let me tell you why.

Dearest Ivie, as the name goes, tells the story of Ivie Hannaford, a nurse who works with Havers, and is sort of hopeless when it comes to romance and dating. Probably to do with the fact that Ivie is the sort of person who tends to say what is on her mind and that is a character trait not be received well by most. I found Ivie’s character endearing and hilarious in equal doses and I loved her all the more for it. Sarcastic wit always gets to me, and Ivie had that in spades, especially in a story that needed it owing to the angst factor well delivered when it came to Silas, the hero.

Silas turns up in Ivie’s life rather unexpectedly, but is no less potent in the feelings that he invokes in her from the start. A bit elusive and secretive, Silas however takes Ivie’s breath away. Ivie comes from a huge family, her father Hirah, the six-five, bearded and tattooed hulk of a man who was one of the most lovable characters I have come across in the series. I fell in love with him from the very first moment he stepped into the story and that was it. Ivie is what you would call someone from the middle class or lower class perhaps, but Silas belongs to the glymera, the aristocracy, and comes from one of the founding families of the race.

However, it is not Silas that has issues with their different stations in life, but Ivie, who has a bit of reverse snobbery going for her, until Silas sets things straight – I totally loved him in that moment, for calling out Ivie on her behavior. But what was really tragic was how Silas keeps a secret from Ivie, a secret of the kind that might just be too much heartbreak for Ivie when all is said and done.

Like I mentioned earlier, Dearest Ivie was such a gem of a read. It had everything going for it. Snark and wit, a lovable heroine who knows what it means to be steadfast and loyal in the face of extreme challenges in life, a hero who is sexy, beautiful, and above all, kind-hearted and Ivie’s other half in every sense. How Ward managed to convey all that in a simple novella, I would never know. But then again, she is the genius storyteller and I am just the reader who cannot get enough of her books.

When I turned the last page, I wished to read more novels on vampire civilians – if the men are even half as sexy as Silas and the women are just as quirky and adorable as Ivie, I would consider it a novel/la that would make my day.

Recommended; even if you have never read a Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, this is totally awesome and can be read as a standalone!

Final Verdict: Dearest Ivie is one of the sweetest books I have read from a series that certainly does not do sweet. In the midst of all the danger and darkness that is Black Dagger Brotherhood, Dearest Ivie stands out for the laugh out loud humor & the beautiful characters. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

Opening her door, she leaned out into the carpeted corridor…and there he was, coming down to her, his smile as big as hers, his body just the same, his face just the same.
His scent just the same.
No suit this time, and that was good. Instead, he had on a black cashmere sweater and a set of slacks that were dark gray. He looked polished, expensive…delicious.
“Hello, stranger,” she said as he stopped in front of her.

“Do you mind?” he whispered.
“I’m sorry, what?”
But then he was taking her face in his hands and lowering his head—and she was pulling him down to her mouth, his lips the only thing she wanted in the world.
It was quite possible she moaned as he kissed her. Or maybe that was him. Who cared.
They shuffled inside and she closed them in, and then she was against him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. It was a long while before they eased back, and even when they did, it was just their mouths. Everything else stayed close.
Silas’s eyes were heavy lidded and glowing as he stared down at her. “Hi.”

His mouth dropped down to hers again, his lips plying at her, his tongue coming out and licking for permission to enter. Broad, warm hands slipped around to her waist, and her breasts got tight as they met the wall of his pecs.
It was clear he was aroused.
And that got her even hotter.
But then he was cursing and putting her back from him. “Damn it. I promised myself I wouldn’t—”
“Do I look like I’m complaining over here?”

They ended up on the couch. She had no idea how they got there.
One minute, Ivie was standing against him, the next she was on her back and Silas’s weight was pushing her into the cushions. And then, when she parted her thighs, he accepted the invitation, settling himself between them, the hard ridge of his arousal stroking at her core through their clothes.
Rolling her hips, she arched into his body, and the groan he let out registered as a caress that went down into her abdomen.
When he pulled back, he was panting, his eyes at once glazed and hyper-focused. “Ivie…”

Silas sat forward and took her face in his hands, in that way he did. “You would do that for me?”
“Of course. I mean…well, you look like you could use it. When was the last time you fed?”
He answered the question by virtue of his scent, that spice of his flaring, his eyes going to her wrist, which was bare.
Instantly, she was hot all over.
“Not there,” she said huskily. “Here.”
Moving her dark hair to the side, she stroked her jugular. “I want you here. At my throat.”
His chest started to pump up and down, and a growl permeated the silence of her apartment. “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes.”

With hands that were rough, Silas grabbed on to her and all but threw her on her back on the couch. And then he was on top of her, pressing her down into the cushions, his pale eyes volcanic, his body strung like a steel cable, his fangs elongating.
In a voice that was deliciously demanding, he said, “Even if I can’t stop?”
He wasn’t talking about taking too much from her vein. No, as he rolled his hips so she could feel his arousal, she knew damn well he meant sex.
“I don’t want you to stop.”
“There isn’t a lot of time. I have things I have to do at home. I won’t be able to stay afterward—”
“Shut up and get into me.”
He didn’t require any more urging than that. With a tremendous hiss, he bared his canines and bit her neck hard, the pain lancing through her body and translating into pure pleasure by the time it reached her core.

He still had his coat on, and that fine wool was all texture against her hyper-sensitive nipples, the hard ridge at his hips pushing into her core and then retreating until she was going to lose her mind, his scent a roar in her nose.
“I need you,” she barked. “I need you in me—now.”
Somehow he heard her, or maybe he had reached the same desperation she had—either way, he retracted his hips and moved one of his hands between them, yanking at the tie on the waistband of her scrubs as she helped by pulling them down and kicking them free along with her panties.
And then he was jerking at the fine leather belt he wore. She took over, pushing his hand out of the way as she freed the buckle, the button, the zipper.
The length of him was hard and hot and long in her hands.
And the sound he made turned her body into a tuning fork, the bass vibrating through her.
She was too impatient for the feel of him inside of her to do much exploring, and as soon as his head was at the heart of her, she pushed her pelvis forward so he sank in deep.

And then he was moving in her, pumping with thrusts that sent the top of her head into the armrest, a creaking noise rising up from the sofa’s supports, the banging sound probably the windowsill taking a beating. Or maybe the wall. Who cared.
Gone was the aristocrat with the nice manners and the polite words, the arching accent and the expensive clothes. Silas was utterly dominant as he took everything she had and demanded more, his pace rough and powerful, a male’s lust unleashed without restraint.
And she just wanted more.
As if he read her mind, he hooked his forearm where his palm had been, cranking her even tighter under his heavy weight, his hips pounding into her, the lower half of his body swinging freely—
Until he locked against her with a punch of his thighs, his erection emptying into her as he continued to suck at her throat.
All she could do was hang on to his shoulders.
And pray he never, ever stopped.
Sure it would kill her, but what a way to go.

Stroking her, his lids lowered and he growled, “Give me your mouth, female.”
He pulled her to him by the back of the neck and then she felt something between her legs that was hot and blunt.
Ivie sat down on his arousal, and they both groaned and jerked. Controlling the tempo, she rolled her hips and used her knees to go up and down, the pleasure so acute, she couldn’t decide whether to close her eyes so she could concentrate more or keep them open so she never forgot where they were and what they were doing.
Her release was overwhelming and he was right there with her, even though they were straining in the confined space, and their clothes were tangled, and oh, crap, the bucket seat was sooo in the way, and also the console—how great was it that none of that mattered?

“What do you most want to be remembered for?” she whispered.
His lids lifted and his eyes shifted to her own.
“My love for you.” He blinked slowly. “I wish to be best remembered for how much I loved you. Of all the places I’ve gone and people I’ve known and things I’ve done…my love for you is the purest representation of who I am. It’s the best of me, of who I am, of my soul. My love for you…is everything of me.”
Ivie teared up even though she did her best not to give in to emotion. “Silas…”
“Please don’t forget me. I know I’m probably supposed to tell you to move on with your life and dwell on this little slice of time we’ve been given…but just…take me in your heart wherever you go. It will be the life I wished I’d lived, by your side, enjoying the gift of time and health with you.”

“I thought you needed an oak of your own right now,” Rubes said gently from behind.
Ivie’s father was standing in the middle of the corridor, those biker boots planted on the fancy runner, his hands on his leather-clad hips, his tattoos gleaming in the low lighting because, of course, he had come without a jacket on.
Ivie squeezed her cousin’s hand in thanks and then she ran for her sire.
She hit Hirah like a car going out of control at full speed. And like a concrete pylon, her father didn’t budge. He just put his heavy arms around her and held her tight.
“He’s dying, Daddy. He’s dying…”
Her father didn’t say a thing. He let his strength do the talking as he kept her from collapsing in a heap in the hall.
“I love him so much,” she turned her face to the side and squeezed her eyes tight. “And he’s dying…”

And later, much later, she would reflect that it was then that she became an adult. Standing in that corridor, in her father’s embrace, she fully came into her maturity.
The thing was, when you were young, and you went to your parents for support, nine times out of ten, they could fix whatever was wrong. They could glue the broken rudder back on your sailboat. Throw a Band-Aid on a cut. Feed you when you were hungry, put you to bed when you were exhausted, hang out with you when you were alone. They could help you find what was lost, make the storms go away, buy you an ice cream when someone was mean to you for no good reason.
Parents, when you were a child, were the source of it’s-gonna-be-all-right.
But as Ivie leaned on her dad, it was as an adult.
He couldn’t fix this, and she knew better than to even ask.
“I’m so sorry, little girl,” he said in a voice that cracked. “I’m so sorry…”

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