Review: Devil to Pay by Susan Napier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Review: Prisoner by Annika Martin, Skye Warren

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Criminals & Captives, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Grayson Kane
Heroine: Abigail Winslow
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 22, 2014
Started On: April 09, 2020
Finished On: April 10, 2020

Even in chains, he seems vibrant, wild and free, a force of nature—it makes me feel like I’m the one in prison.

Prisoner is the debut book in the Criminals & Captives series by two very talented authors Annika Martin and Skye Warren. While I have never read a novel by Skye Warren prior to this, I have enjoyed the work of Ms. Martin who also writes as Carolyn Crane. Behind the Mask is one of my favorite books by Ms. Crane and I have on occasion “pestered” her about continuing the series. I seriously hope that she does, because she has left the series at a point where die-hard fans like ourselves need the next book in the series.

Prisoner begins with the heroine Abigail Winslow being assigned a project to work at the The Kingman Correctional Facility and comes across Grayson Kane, who changes her life in more ways than one. Grayson who is in for a crime he did not commit, executes the perfect getaway plan which finds Abigail being taken hostage and held against her will.

Grayson is the kind of hero that commands all your attention and nothing less. When Grayson first walks into the story, or rather strolls into it, you can practically feel the energy that rolls off him, the take charge vibe that would make the story unforgettable in its way. It is powerful how just the mere introduction of a character makes you shiver in all the right ways, telling you that he is going to wreak havoc on your emotions before he is done.

Abigail finds herself in uncharted waters when it comes to the effect Grayson has on her. Even though she tries her hardest to get away from Grayson and escape captivity, what holds her to him is far stronger than anything either of them can deny. While life would be much easier for both if their deeper feelings were not to be involved, neither Grayson nor Abigail can find it in themselves to walk away before they are thoroughly immersed in each other’s psyche, heart, and soul.

If I were to sum up what Prisoner was like in one word, I would choose “unconventional”. Prisoner is a book that stands out in many ways because I went searching for something that would push the boundaries of the norm we are all used to as romance readers and that is exactly what I got. I loved Grayson to bits, because he is unapologetically ruthless in a way that is all him. I wouldn’t have loved his character half as much if he had turned putty the minute he found Abigail and fell for her.

I also loved Abigail equally and as much. Her spirit and fire burns in a different way, but it is equally strong when it comes to the clash of wills between Grayson and her, which I am happy to report that both of them win, and so fabulously too. I loved how Abigail could make Grayson feel all those things that he never thought was possible and that in Grayson Abigail found what she had been searching for all her life.

Like I mentioned earlier, as soon as you meet Grayson, you know that he is going to shake you up. He might be a captive, but he is a man who makes his own rules within the four walls of the prison he is in. The minute he mouthed Ms. Winslow and left Abigail flustered in his wake, I knew that Grayson would be a character that would be devastating to my heart and senses. And I was so glad to be proven right in this regard.

There is violence in this story, so be warned. There are also elements that may not be well received by certain readers. But this is Grayson and Abigail’s story and I for one am so glad that the authors stayed true to their voice, both individual and collective, and let their love unfold in the truest way possible for them.

Definitely and absolutely recommended for those who love a ruthless hero, a heroine who ignites that fire within, and a story that leaves you breathless from want.

Final Verdict: There is nothing that anyone can say otherwise when it comes to Prisoner that would change my mind about its absolute remarkableness: a story steeped in darkness sucking in the light, designed to turn the pages!

Favorite Quotes

“We’re going to meet my friend in a secluded area.”
She gives me that look again. The flare of surprise—and a little bit of something else too.
“Why, Ms. Winslow, please. Mind out of the gutter.” I smile and sit back. The smile is there to put her at ease. Stone’ll want her dead. It’s going to be a problem.
Another pair of cop cars heads over the hill. “You just drive nice, okay?”
“Nicely,” she snaps.
“What?”
“Drive nicely, that’s how you say it. Not drive nice.”
Oh God. Nicely. Correcting my grammar even at gunpoint. I’m so fucking hot for her, I think I might burst into flames.

I bite the finger of the hand over my mouth. He swears and shifts his hand, squeezing my jaw shut. I grab at his hair, pulling, but the feeling between my legs is building; my mind is melting.
He won’t stop stroking me, won’t take his hand off my mouth, and before I know it, I’m holding on to his hair instead of pulling it.

He continues his circling motion as I writhe under him, pushing into his hand. He tightens his seal over my mouth, stroking slowly. I can’t stop arching into him, pulling his head into my breast by his hair, wanting, needing.
And suddenly I shatter with feeling. Sharp, bright, intense. It goes all through me in waves, this beauty, this wildness. I’m breathing hard and he is, too, and nothing matters except that feeling, pulsing on and on. His fingers stop as the intensity fades, leaving me boneless, because it was wonderful. Too wonderful. Too wild. An orgasm. I’m aware that I’m crying. I feel bewildered.
He shouldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t have liked it.

He parts my lips and slips inside. There’s a moment of hesitation. Do I let him? A rough sound of impatience vibrates from his lips to mine. His hand tightens on the back of my neck. He’s not asking; he’s taking. He takes my air and breathes it back into me. He takes control of me, and I can finally give in.
I can finally let go.
He rubs his tongue against mine, raising goose bumps along my arms. I never want him to stop, and as if he hears my deepest desires, he tightens his hold on me. One hand fisted in my hair. The other on my hip, pulling me closer.

Her hands tighten, and I shudder with pain and pleasure and a sudden reluctance. I want to jackhammer inside her and I want to draw a line in the sand that will keep me from her.
I want to hurt her and I want to protect her. Break her and shield her.
Determination fills her eyes, and my dick gets that much harder. “Why do you want me to slow down?” she taunts. “A little desperate from all that time in prison? A little dry?”
“Fuck,” I say, teeth clenched tight because her hands are moving even faster. “Yeah.” She’s racing me to the finish line, and she’s winning.

“What are you doing here?”
“What does it look like?”
“I’ve had hours to tell everything I know—what your friend looks like. The license plate.”
“Did you?”
“They didn’t question me yet, but—”
“Didn’t think so.”
“But you didn’t know that!”
He gives me this look, calm and sure. It’s as if I’ve been out there buffeted by wild ocean waves, and he’s a strong, solid rock outcrop. He’s sharp in places too—maybe touching him will rip me open. I don’t know how to feel.
“Why?” I whisper.
He kneels, putting himself at my level, and something like concern flickers in his eyes. “Because I had to get you out of here.” He closes his hand around my upper arm and pulls me up. “I’ll always come for you. You’re mine.”

Her lips part. Her lids lower. She’s going to drop right out of awareness, asleep and pulsing around my dick. I tighten my grip on her hips, and I slam into her hard enough to wake her up again. Her eyes open wide as she whimpers. Her eyes roll back, but it’s not the drug this time.
It’s pleasure.
I’ve found the place inside her that makes her body jerk and her thighs quake. She can’t even help it. I plunge my dick inside her, again and again, finding that spot, battering it.
There, there, there. Her mouth opens around a choked cry. I don’t think she could form words if she wanted to. She can’t ask me to stop, and that’s just as well, because I’m not going to.

He doesn’t ask why I changed my mind. Maybe he doesn’t care. He just pulls a condom from the drawer and slips it on. He flips me over, drags my hips up, and pushes a pillow underneath.
That’s the only warning I have before the hot, blunt head of his cock breaches me from behind.
My body opens to him, wet and soft and willing. My mind understands him, why he is the way he is. But it’s my heart that aches for him, wanting whatever shards of love he can give me, jagged, even knowing I’ll get cut in the process.

I put down the binder and back her up against the wall. Her eyes widen.
She knows what’s coming.
She wasn’t expecting this, and her shock just feeds my lust. My dick is pressing against my jeans. My dick has a lot of ego. It thinks it can burst through denim and shove up into her skirt and thrust right into her slick, warm cunt. It has the right idea.
I run my finger along her cheek. “I like it when you talk classification,” I murmur.

She licks her lips, and I realize she’s not going to answer at all. Instead her hands go to my jeans, unzipping and pulling me out. I shudder at the feel of her soft, small hands. God, those hands. I could come just like this. A few solid strokes.
She leans forward, and I hold my breath. Her lips press together. She kisses the tip of my cock. Kisses it. Like she’s fucking courting it or something. I almost come.

“Security council,” she says on an exhale, and I thrust inside her at the same time, forcing the words out. And I don’t let up. I don’t give her any time to adjust. All I have for her are bruising thrusts as I ride her from behind. I hold on to her hips, those lovely hips, and force my dick through her swollen flesh.
Her muscles clench around me. She cries out. God, yes, she’s coming in a wet, messy gush. I want her to make a mess all over the library, all over the pages and pages. I want her to smear the ink.
“Again,” I demand, fucking her harder, faster.

“What do you need, baby?”
She makes a sound like a tortured animal. I nip at her clit with the front edge of my teeth. She had to know this was coming, but she still cries out in surprise.
She likes me to nip her, to bite her, to hurt her a little—to make her feel. Her mom ignored and neglected her, but I’m the opposite; I can never get enough of her, and she knows it. Her cries echo through the room, through the open window, through the neighborhood of wrecked, unruly buildings.

My balls draw up. I’m seconds away from coming. I won’t be able to hold back, so I make the most of it. I grasp her hips and she wraps her legs around me. Then I lift and rock her hips in both my hands, jacking myself off with her cunt in the coldest, rudest way possible.
She’s spasming around me. Her cunt is milking my dick. Her arms are clawing me, holding me tight. Even her mouth has latched on to the skin at my neck, sucking me—and I’m not even sure she knows it. She’s a feral thing in my arms, drawing me into her pleasure, drowning me in it. I shout as my cock releases into her, mixing with her wetness. I grasp her ass even tighter and use her body to wring the last drops of come and pleasure from my body.

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

Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Review: Outmatched by Kristen Callihan, Samantha Young

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

greatread

Review: Release by Aly Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Savaged by Mia Sheridan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Angel of Darkness by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Bookangelofdarkness
Read with: Paperback/Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Angelo Cesare Rossetti
Heroine: Kelda Wyatt
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 24, 1999
Started On: February 14, 2020
Finished On: February 16, 2020

Angel of Darkness is Lynne Graham at her best. It has everything going for it; lust of the kind that sets the pages sizzling and your senses humming, a hero who is equal shades ruthless and possessive that you cannot help but want him, a heroine who is tempestuous and headstrong just enough to drive the hero a tad crazy, and a love so worthwhile that it reaffirms the belief that long-term romance readers like myself hold true to our hearts – that there is no other genre worth reading except romance when it comes right down to it.

Top model Kelda Wyatt is shell-shocked to hear that her mother Daisy is getting back with Tomaso, her step father; whose marriage to Daisy had been short-lived. What sort of terrifies Kelda out of the icy coldness that is her signature mark is the thought of coming face to face with her step brother Angelo Cesare Rossetti, in whose arms she had faced every single vulnerability an eighteen year old girl could have at the cusp of womanhood.

Years later, with Daisy’s marriage looming overhead, Kelda is looking forward to a photo shoot in Tuscany only to find out that it had been Angelo who had engineered the whole setup, just so that she wouldn’t be around to interfere with their parents’ relationship a second time around. Angelo also has a secondary goal; seduce Kelda and walk away from it as he does countless of other women.

What starts out with Kelda in a rage over being forced into Angelo’s company ends with her going up in smoke in his arms. Their attraction to one another demands nothing less but total submission where Angelo and Kelda are both concerned, and their scorching passion heats up, takes things to a level that neither was expecting of their coming together.

A series of misunderstandings lending that healthy dose of angst to the story, prolongs the eventual coming together of Angelo and Kelda, which was the best part of the story. Angelo’s qualms about being tied to a woman who is so possessive, someone who rouses the same desire in him is something he needs to take a step back from – his childhood had made him wary of women whom he thinks to be an unfaithful breed.

Kelda is not equipped to handle nor understand a man like Angelo at his fiercest. But try she does, and her helpless surrender in his arms brings the two closer than either of them would give credit for.

In the end, it was this heady sense of passion that explodes into everlasting love. I somehow have a feeling that their happily ever after would be just as scandalous, just as consuming as the story was in its entirety.

Recommended for everyone who loves a wholly passionate love story, for those who may want to start on a Lynne Graham novel, and fans of Harlequin category romances!

PS: I also love the original cover of the book than its current one. The former shows a scene from the book, and you can practically smell the sunshine warming the leaves upon which the couple lies, while lost in their unrelenting desire for each other.

Final Verdict: Full of tempestuous passion and blazing desire; Angel of Darkness is a delight in the way it overtakes your senses.

Favorite Quotes

‘I told you to shut up.’ His brown fingers moved caressingly over her taut cheekbone and then he leant down, deftly winding his other hand into her hair and let the tip of his tongue slowly and smoothly trace the tremulous line of her lower lip.
Her breath escaped with a tiny gasp and her heart thudded like that of a wild bird in a cage. She wanted his mouth so badly she burned, every sense pitched to an unbearable high as he toyed expertly with the sensitive fullness he had discovered. Her eyes slid shut, her long throat arching as she bent back her head instinctively.
Angelo set her back from him and fired the engine of the car. Her lashes swept up on glazed green eyes, her whole body throbbing with an intensity that was pure pain.
A blunt forefinger raked down the slender length of her thigh. ‘I know,’ Angelo breathed thickly.

‘Let go, Angelo,’ she said breathlessly.
‘I think I will.’ His stunning eyes skimmed with hungry sensuality over her and then he drew her close with con¬trolled power and took her mouth with slow, drugging intensity.
She was a good strong swimmer but she drowned in Angelo’s arms. Six years melted away and she was back, back where her body told her she belonged, back where the world contracted into the crazy thunder of her heart and the mad race of the hot blood in her veins.

He pulled her hands away and lifted his mouth from hers and then he just looked at her, a feverish flush of colour accentuating his striking cheekbones, his breathing pattern audibly fractured.
Her breasts were small, high and perfectly formed. Her nipples were shamelessly distended rose-pink buds. Angelo released his breath in a long, sighing groan as though he was afraid to touch her. She knelt there in front of him, quivering all over, every heated inch of her flesh ready to take fire.
The silence was electric. A voracious hunger vibrated like a physical aura between them. ‘If I touch you… do you vanish?’ Angelo whispered unsteadily.
‘Do you?’

‘You are mine,’
Angelo told her, lowering her into the grass with raw determination. ‘Tell me that, before I bury myself in that exquisite body…’
Her lashes lifted. She focused on blazing golden eyes and melted to the consistency of honey all in one go. ‘Yours,’ she framed in a whisper of sound torn from the
very depths of her.
‘Always,’ Angelo attached with savage emphasis.

He kicked her bedroom door wide, kicked it shut again and dropped her down on the bed. ‘Angelo’
‘Shut up.’ He came down on top of her in one lithe movement, pinning her flat with his superior weight. She was in the act of struggling to raise a punitive knee when he brought his mouth down hard on hers.
Still in a fury, she dug her hands like claws into his luxuriant hair and then the passion flooded her in a roaring tidal wave. It came out of nowhere, attacked and took her prisoner. A passion so instantaneous it wiped out everything that had gone before it. Electrified by the raw, devouring heat of his mouth, she was possessed by an excitement so intense that she felt dizzy and disorientated.

‘I’m hurting you,’ he whispered, not quite steadily. The pain had gone as quickly as it had come but her untried body had yet to adjust to that most intimate invasion. ‘No.’ The denial was jerky, swift. ‘You’re so small,’ he breathed, sinking his hands be-neath her slender hips, lithely shifting between her thighs with a stifled groan of pleasure and splintering control.
She felt possessed then, utterly and completely. He moved on her, slowly, deliberately until all she could focus on was the extraordinary response of her own body.
All control was gone.

Angelo reached for her in one powerful movement. Deftly angling his body to one side so that he would not hurt her, he took her mouth in a devouring kiss that she felt right down to her toes and back up again. She reacted like a woman possessed. With one hand she hit out at him in blind rage, but the other hand inexplicably dived into the springy depths of his hair, holding him to her. He kissed her breathless. Great rolling waves of excitement overwhelmed her. The hand that had balled into a fist uncurled and slid under his sweater instead and exulted in the satin-smooth skin of his back before sliding across his taut flat stomach to rake into the furrow of silky hair that disappeared beneath his belt.

He followed the sweet trail of the champagne down over her quivering stomach and she made a sudden grab at his hair. ‘No!’
But his hands were on her thighs and he had already discovered just how weak she really was. She was tender and damp.
‘Evidently I wasn’t the only one seething with silent lust over dinner,’ Angelo murmured huskily, letting the tip of his tongue track the clenched muscles on her inner thigh until she trembled and shook and completely forgot that she was supposed to be fighting him off.

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

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Review: Sweet Vixen by Susan Napier

Format: E-Booksweetvixen-sn
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Hero: Max Wilde
Heroine: Sarah Carter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October, 1985
Started On: January 27, 2020
Finished On: February 03, 2020

Sweet Vixen by Susan Napier is a book I read in my attempt to hunt down books by an author whose penchant for writing great romances with sizzling sexual tension caught my attention in 2013.

Don’t you just love it when you discover an author who has got this entire back-list of books just waiting for you? That is how I felt when I initially discovered her, and having read most of her books that have received good ratings as compared to the rest, I am at a loss as to how I am going to recapture that magic that is created by the words of a single author that no one else can seem to replicate.

Sweet Vixen is the story of widowed Sarah Carter, who works as an editorial assistance to a monthly fashion magazine Rags & Riches in New Zealand. When Max Wilde is “forced” by his father to travel to New Zealand and assess the magazine financially and otherwise, thus begins the battle of wills between Max and Sarah which made for good reading!

Sarah having being married to someone who had tried to undermine her every attempt at independence, does not feel the need for a man, much less someone as brazen as Max Wilde. However, Max goads her into accepting things about herself which she otherwise would not have, and at the same time, Max finds himself on uncharted territory with a woman who entices him to do more and be more than he has ever been.

Through a plot to engineer misunderstanding mastered by none other than Sarah, and both Max and Sarah’s stubbornness bringing a hefty dose of the angst factor which I loved, Sweet Vixen proved to be delightful in many ways. The only thing that lacked for me was the delivery on the superb sexual tension in the novel – which was lackluster to what Susan Napier as an author has delivered and can deliver in her books time and yet again.

Recommended for fans of Susan Napier and those who love Harlequin romances!

Final Verdict: Sweet Vixen delivers low key sexual tension coupled with angst of the kind that keeps the pages turning!

Favorite Quotes

She leaned lightly against him and he let go of her shoulders to move his hands delicately over the fabric at her back. His skin against hers was smooth and warm, the fresh tang of chlorine mingling with his male body smell. He nuzzled the corner of her mouth and discovered the tender spot where her lip had split against her teeth, touching it with his tongue and gently sucking away the pearly drop of blood.
Open your mouth, darling,’ he whispered seductively, ‘ Let me taste you properly.’

Her eyes fell from his mouth to his chest, where the dark hair curled damp, now matted with sand and a few thin Strands of grass. As she watched, the tenor of his breathing changed, became slower, the rise and fall of his chest acquiring a deep, hypnotic rhythm. There was a peculiar attraction in knowing that he was waiting on her, that he had placed the situation firmly in her hands. That she was in control.
Tentatively, she touched him, she couldn’t help it, resting a hand just above his heart, feeling the strong, rapid beat. It was like feeling the beat of her own heart.
‘Sarah?’ the word was low, husky, almost strained, and she looked up. The expression on his face made her tremble inside.

The smooth olive skin gleamed bronze in the lamplight, silvered with dampness and rippling as he moved to kneel beside her. He plunged his hands into the broad swathes of her hair and lifted them, letting the strands run through his fingers like water to splash over her body.
‘How could I ever have thought you anything but what you are—lovely, desirable . . .’ His voice roughened into harshness and his hands clenched her waist. ‘My God, I want you—’

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-Bookloveherorloseher
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Hot & Hammered, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Dominic Vega
Heroine: Rosie Vega
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 14, 2020
Started On: January 24, 2020
Finished On: January 27, 2020

Tessa Bailey is an author who definitely knows what she is doing when it comes to writing romances. She has written a lot of books since the publication of her first romance somewhere in 2013, and most of what I have read from her, I have loved.

When she first started out, she wrote heroes of the kind that can overwhelm your senses; to test this theory, I recently re-read Staking His Claim and felt just the same – wasn’t a fluke of my imagination by any means. Some of her books in recent times however, I have felt disconnected from the characters and felt that she wasn’t bringing in her true self to the novels. I know that writing romances can be quite problematic in the current times we live in – if we are to stay true to the notions of modern society, romance tends to lose its allure, and if we don’t, well, there are many readers who like myself live for books as such.

Even though the books that fall into the latter category are far and few in between, I still haven’t given up on Tessa Bailey because she is an author who can drive her game up a notch or two if she wanted to. Plus, her books do fill in that need for good sexual tension and delivery which is sorely lacking in some novels. So I will tide myself over up till she once again takes up a hero who is broody, reluctant, and sexy as they come – the Tessa Bailey signature when she first started writing.

Love Her or Lose Her is the second book in the Hot & Hammered series, a romantic comedy series by the author. Telling the story of Rosie and Dominic Vega, married couple and high school sweethearts, the story revolves around a marriage falling apart at the seams, resulting from Dominic having checked out of the relationship emotionally a long time back.

Working as a Cosmetics Consultant, Rosie is sick and tired of having to come home to a house seeped in deep silences of words left unspoken, of a relationship that exists on the physical realm alone. Though Dominic might not talk to her about any of the things that goes inside of his mind, the way he could still make Rosie falter in her steps from deep want for the physical release that he could give her is something that Rosie does not want any longer. So she walks out on their marriage, giving Dominic that jarring jolt to wake up and smell the emotional black hole that their marriage had become.

If attending extreme couple counseling sessions is going to bring Rosie back to him, Dominic is willing to try that, even though he might cringe at the very thought of exposing himself emotionally to that level. However, as Rosie and Dominic go through the uncharted waters of counseling and delve deeper into their relationship, each discovers part of the reasons why their actions may have been perceived differently by the other, giving them a fighting chance at making a last bid attempt atsalvaging their marriage.

There was so much going in this story, that I reveled in most of it. The sexual heat between Dominic and Rosie for instance; there is no one else who can do dirty talk and delivery on sizzling sexual tension better than Tessa Bailey, and it shows. Even with a couple who have been married for a long while, she still manages to bring that sizzle factor which sets your senses humming and some, and delivered just right on all the tension when Dominic unleashes who he is; when Rosie is all ready for it, of course.

However, I had a couple of issues with the story that I would like to highlight, which is mainly centered around Rosie’s character. A marriage or any relationship for that matter takes two people; both are responsible for the connection fostered and maintaining it, and we are all human and definitely not infallible. As result, we all tend to make mistakes and let things slide, especially when a relationship dives deep into the years and you have adjusted to one another. Taking each other for granted, the lengthy silences, the i-can’t-be-bothered-enough-to-try-or-care attitude; all of that starts to happen as a result.

Dominic checked out of the relationship, especially on the emotional front, upon his return from war. What I didn’t understand was why Rosie had not tried harder to get him to talk. From everything that happened in the story, it is evident that Dominic basically lives for Rosie. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her, and I believe had she given any indication earlier on, he would have done something about it, especially when he understood the seriousness of the matter.

Dominic does not do anything out of spite or anger, not even once, throughout the story and the history of their relationship. Which is why I found it especially hard that there was no mention of how Rosie tried to get him to connect with her on an emotional level, when the change had happened upon his return from war.

It is pretty common knowledge that PTSD is an issue faced by soldiers once they have been deployed for duty; I wonder if Rosie had ever heard of it and even tried to get him to see a therapist because he had changed. Because there is no mention of it, I am assuming Rosie lived under a rock for the most of her life.

Second thing was how it was mostly about Rosie; it was ALL about Rosie’s needs and wants that Dominic had not been able to fulfill. Dominic, the silent caretaker type of character that he is, meanwhile is killing himself over how he has been failing Rosie ever since his return from deployment. Dominic’s thoughts centers around what he had learnt from his childhood, as to what a man’s duty is to his wife, even if they weren’t a particularly loving couple. He believes his duty to his wife is to provide for her, and provide well.

That it had hit him hard when he had measured himself against everyone who had been deployed with him, and their plans of grandeur when they returned home; it was understandable why Dominic had retreated into his mind and decided that he would provide for Rosie, or die trying. In his mind, he was only worthy of Rosie to the extent that he can fulfill her dreams and needs – perhaps one reason why he couldn’t bring himself to talk about dreams they had both held dear at one point in time.

For Dominic, there was no question that Rosie always came first. But when it came to Rosie, I didn’t quite get that vibe from her. But I did love the fact that the story touched deeply on the concept that even if you don’t need another person to pull you up, make you stronger, and get you to achieve your dreams, the unflinching support given by those whom you love, it matters in the short and long run. It gives you that confidence that you can take on the world, and also the comfort that if things headed south tomorrow, that you would have someone who would be there to help you pick up the pieces and comfort you in a way no one else can. That was a concept that Tessa Bailey explored in this story that I adored.

I just wish that there was more exploration of Dominic’s character; I would have loved to see Dominic’s parents – and Rosie’s realizations on where he was coming from. That would have added a more believable tangent to the story in terms of building Rosie’s understanding of Dominic’s deep convictions when it comes to a marriage.

I just found that the relationship was more skewed towards Rosie than it was a balanced one between her and Dominic. Nevertheless, Rosie coming through at the last minute made up for some of it, and that is why I enjoyed the story in the end.

Recommended for those who love Tessa Bailey, fans of the Hot & Hammered series, and those who love a story focusing on a long-term marriage, delving into its ups and downs.

Final Verdict: In Love Her or Lose Her, Tessa Bailey plunges into what makes or breaks a long-term relationship, analyzing what it is like, and the tremendous effort it takes to achieve that balance between love, support, and dependency.

Favorite Quotes

“We took it as far as we could without going all the way.” Her eyelashes fluttered. “And we finally decided just the tip didn’t count, didn’t we?”
Dominic lunged forward off the chair, dropping to his knees, carrying Rosie with him. No sooner had her back landed on the floor of their kitchen did Dominic nudge his wife’s panties to one side and sink the head of his erection inside her pussy. Not driving it the entire damn way made him crazed, but the tight pressure of her entrance around his tip was incredible. Perfect.

“Go get the key before I find a dark corner of this club, hike up that dress, and do something illegal.” His right hand dropped from her backside, his fingertips brushing the back of her bare thigh. “After seeing how those hips move, you better believe I’d risk getting arrested to be nine inches deep next time you dance.”

Her hips wouldn’t stay still, and a low, carnal twist started in the lowest part of her belly and wrapped around her limbs like tentacles. She threw her head back over the edge of the table and felt herself soaring over the city, unstoppable and strong—and when Dominic’s lips closed around her clit and applied just the right amount of suction, the buildings splintered in front of her eyes, light fragmenting in every direction. Of their own accord, her thighs wrapped around his head and she screamed.

“Tell me you’ll come home tonight. To our home.” He caught her chin in his hands, tilting her face up and waiting for her dazed eyes to focus on him. To see him. “Give me that, Rosie. Say you’ll come home and I’ll fuck you harder than I ever have in our lives. Your screams will still be echoing in this kitchen when you open for business.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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