Review: When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Levi Joseph Paige
Heroine: Parker Joy Cruse
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 03, 2017
Started On: July 17, 2021
Finished On: July 23, 2021

When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann, published in 2017, is going to be tough book to review. Not because the book was bad, but because it was exceptionally good and held me spellbound from start to finish. This is going to be a book tough to read if you are the judgmental sort, but if you believe in the fragility of human emotions, if you believe that we are all bound to make mistakes or even find love through those mistakes, then this book is for you.

26 year old Parker Joy Cruse needs independence from her family, even if it means moving a short distance from her parents place – freedom meant freedom. But Parker’s new neighbours turn out to be more than she bargained for, especially when she starts developing feelings for the very married husband of the household.

Parker is the person who basically chairs the “I Hate Cheaters” club, having been on the receiving end of the heartache and pain that she nurses in her heart. Her fractured relationship with her identical twin sister is testament enough to this fact. Parker who sees the world in black and white suddenly finds herself confronting the shades of grey in the midst, having to contend with her burgeoning feelings towards the one man she should not want.

But then tragedy strikes, leaving not just Parker wounded in the wake. However, life happens, and in comes 33 year old Levi Joseph Paige who dominates Parker’s world once again. Unable to grieve openly and publicly over the loss, and when Levi offers her the chance to break free from the circus that is her hometown and well-meaning parents, Parker decides to take Levi up on his offer and travel to Arizona with him.

Thus begins the journey on which Parker comes to terms with the love that she found and lost in such a brief moment in time, and once again confronts the feelings that comes to life with the merest touch from Levi. In Levi, Parker finds the love that she has been waiting for, for the past 26 years of her life. However, Levi is a complex man who harbours his own scars, the blame he shoulders over what took place in the past keeping him in an emotional cage of life’s making. At the same time, Parker’s secret is one that could destroy the fragility of the relationship between them, unless both of them are willing to look beyond and have the courage to face the consequences, bitterness, and the beauty that life is in its glorious complexity.

Needless to say, I loved this story to pieces. Jewel E. Ann is an author who knows how to draw out the intricate emotions of readers; you can love or hate what she makes you feel – I choose love because I read for the pleasure that stories bring, especially how they engage all my emotions and leaves me wanting more. When Life Happened is that kind of book, and I would not have it any other way.

The title of this book aptly describes what the story would deliver – but don’t be fooled into thinking you would be able to predict what would happen. I for one have never come across an author who dared to do what she did with this story, and boy, did she deliver it well. I was sucker-punched and left to gasp in the wake of the immensity of the feelings that were coursing through me. I was expecting a miracle to happen at any moment, but then again, that is not what life is about, is it?

I kept asking the what-if questions, even towards the latter end of the book, but I guess that is also in reality what life is like. Some people prefer to live in the what-ifs, and let life pass them by, while those that prefer to be grounded in reality move on and make peace with their lot in life.

When Levi stepped into the pages, I was once again shaken up by just how quickly he laid claim to my heart. Parker who lost her self worth at one point in time, finds not one, but two men in a short span of time, both who recognizes the value of Parker and wants to lay down the entire world at her feet.

The angst and heartbreak towards the end broke my heart, but I believe it was pretty much needed to bring the collective emotions of Parker and Levi full-circle. They both needed to accept, heal, and move on individually to be able to love each other and sustain their love through life’s curve-balls that would come in time.

Recommended for those who want to read a romance that would sweep you off your feet and engage all your emotions. This one delivers in spades!

Final Verdict: When Life Happened teaches us of life’s unpredictability, about the shades of grey in the midst, and about the endless possibilities that is life! Loved this in a way that is indescribable!

Favorite Quotes

“Out of control hormones are no excuse.” She rinsed the plates and set them beside the sink.
“Desire is very powerful.”
Parker reached for the handle to the fridge. “I don’t buy it.”
Before she could make sense of what was happening, Gus whipped her around and pinned her to the refrigerator door with his body, chest to chest. He pressed his hands flat to the door on either side of her head as she flattened hers to it just below her hips.
She tried to speak as his eyes stripped every ounce of her confidence. His warm breath touched her lips as he licked his, hovering an inch above hers. When her mouth opened to protest or scream, nothing came out.
“Parker,” he whispered in a deep, throaty voice.

“You’re what?” His hand moved up her shirt, stopping at the edge of her bra as his knee moved a fraction.
So. Fucking. Wrong.
“Confused,” she whispered.
“And?” His fingers caressed her abdomen.
Her muscles clenched. “Gus …”
She looked up at him and blinked, sending tears running down her cheeks.
He pressed his knee into her until her hips involuntarily bucked against it. She grimaced and more tears filled her eyes as her body betrayed her again.
“Tell. Me.” He gritted his teeth and stroked her again with his leg, and again her pelvis rocked into it.
As she squeezed her eyes shut, her hands gripped his shirt, warring between the need to push him away and something else too terrifying to admit.

“But, Parker?”
As she turned toward his voice, he grabbed her arm, yanked her into the garage, and pinned her against the wall.
“If you’re going to tell Sabrina about our kiss, it sure as fuck isn’t going to be the lame, drunken kiss at the bar.”
“Wha—”
He silenced her by smashing his mouth into hers, delivering a kiss that obliterated every thought in her head. When his tongue probed into her mouth, sliding against hers, she tried to push him away. He cradled her face to deepen the kiss even more and when he moaned, she did the unthinkable—the unforgivable: she laced her fingers through his hair and kissed him back.
Gray. A terrible color. The murky water where sinners thrived. Parker Cruse was a hypocrite. A cheater. And in need of another change of underwear.

“Parker …” He kissed her hard again. She released her breasts and threaded her hands through his hair. His hands began to unfasten his navy cargo shorts, exposing the hard bulge barely contained by his briefs.
“N-no …” She broke their kiss. “Not sex.”
Gus’s hands gripped the counter on either side of her as his forehead rested against hers. “Jesus, Parker … o-okay.” His ragged breaths washed over her face. He nodded against her. “No sex.”
“No sex.” Her voice quivered as her hands clawed at his back.

Her arms and legs pulled him closer as her heels dug into his backside—every move greedy and mindless. Gus released the back of her head and slipped his hand under her bottom so he could thrust harder against her, each vying for more friction.
“I’m going to … stop …” She dropped her head to his shoulder and her teeth dug into his firm flesh.
He growled as she bit harder, returning the favor as he sucked the sensitive skin along her neck, rocking their bodies together over and over.

Parker saw Levi, but she felt Gus. Pieces of him lingered everywhere. She could close her eyes and taste him on her lips, smell the hint of leather and spice cologne in the crook of his neck, feel every muscle of his back beneath her fingertips, and hear his “I love you” echoing over and over.
He was the wind. The moon sketching shadows. The shiver along her skin at night when she shut off the lights and whispered his name. He promised her everything and left her with nothing. How could nothing—a deep, hollow hole—feel like something so tangible, like her pain had its own pulse.

He jabbed her entrance with the head of his cock.
“Jesus…” she gasped “ …Christ …”
He pressed his hand to her back, pushing her forward until her hands rested on his legs.
“Flub up?” He chuckled. “I’m not that drunk. Hold on, this could be a rough ride.”
He lifted her up a couple inches and jerked her back down onto him.
“Fuck!” Her chin dropped to her chest and the second his right hand slid between her legs, she saw the stars.

Levi toed off his sneakers while he removed his shirt dropping it to the ground next to her bra. Parker’s breath caught when he feathered his fingers down her arms.
“How do you do that?” she whispered.
“Do what?” He clasped her hands slowly bringing them above her head and then back behind his.
“Make me feel like you’re the first man to ever touch me?” She fisted his hair and arched her back as he ghosted his hands back down, under her arms, around to her belly, teasing them just below the waist of her panties before inching up to her breasts. She moaned when he cupped them, and then she pushed them even more into his hands.
“Because…” he dipped his head and pressed his lips to her shoulder “…my touch is the only one that will ever matter.”

Levi crawled between her spread legs, kissing his way up her body. She played with his hair again like her fingers couldn’t get enough as he tasted his way up her abdomen. Her lips parted, eyes locked on his. He hooked his arm under her knee as his mouth covered her breast. Watching her eyes the whole time, he pushed inside of her.
She sucked in a sharp breath, eyes heavy but still focused on him, as her hands curled into his hair.
Pulling back slowly, he plunged into her harder.
“Levi …”
The bed jerked beneath them.
He kissed his way along her neck up to her mouth. “I think it’s pretty clear,” he whispered.

“How I feel about you, it hurts in here.”
The slightest flinch flashed across his face. Then he pressed his lips to her hand. “I’m going to take the pain away … you’ll see.”
He plunged into her the rest of the way.
“Levi …”
“How does it feel?” He kissed her neck.
“Levi …”
Gripping her hips, he set the pace.
“Like a drug,” she whispered just before her mouth crashed to his, catching the ultimate wave of addiction.

“Tell me, Mister World Traveler, what is your greatest memory, the one you’ll never forget?”
He squatted down in front of her, resting his hands on her legs. “That’s easy. Overcast sky. Barren field. Blue pick-up truck. Pizza. Twelve-pack of beer. And the woman who owns my world.”
“Liar,” she whispered as her heart nearly exploded.
He laid a sound kiss on her lips then grinned. “No Lie Levi.” Standing, he walked to the door. “I love you. Don’t you ever fucking forget it.”

“Don’t tease me again, Levi.” Parker blinked open her eyes. The games were over. She saw nothing but love in his eyes. “Make love to me, Levi, but do it like—”
“Like you’re the last woman I’ll ever want for the rest of my life.”
Parker couldn’t breathe from the impact of his words. She was going to say “like we usually do,” but he had to step in and remind her one last time that after twenty-six years, her heart had found its rightful owner.

As soon as her dress fell below her breasts, he gripped them, kneading them until she arched her back, breaking their kiss. “Levi …”
She released him from his briefs and stroked him. He hissed in a breath, leaving one hand on her breast. His other hand grabbed the crotch to her panties and pulled it to the side as she guided his erection to that very spot.
“Stop.” He pulled back a fraction. His hand on her breast moved to the back of her neck, and he rested his forehead on hers. “I love you back,” he whispered through ragged breaths. “I love you back so fucking much I’m certain it’s the only thing I have ever done in my life that’s one hundred percent selfless. But this isn’t us. I don’t want to have pissed-off-at-the-world sex with you.”
“Levi …” She panted, holding tight to his cock. “I kinda need this to happen.”
He nodded, still leaning into her forehead with his. “Agreed.” He laughed a little. “But it’s I-love-you sex. I-need-you sex. My-whole-fucking-world-revolves-around-you sex.”

“Levi …” she whispered breathlessly as her heart pounded in anticipation.
“Shhh …” He eased off her panties, ghosting his lips along the back of her legs and over the curve of her ass.
“Fuck!” Her muscles clenched. “Did you just bite my ass again?”
He chuckled while his tongue glided over the spot. As he stood, he lifted her right leg and plunged into her. Bending over her back, he whispered in her ear, “My whole … fucking … world.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: A Bride for the Prizefighter by Alice Coldbreath

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Prizefighters, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: William James Nye
Heroine: Minerva Walters
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 25, 2020
Started On: June 15, 2021
Finished On: June 19, 2021

Debut novel in the Victorian Prizefighters series from Alice Coldbreath, a new to me author at that, turns out to be A Bride for the Prizefighter. Stumbling across this title from Ms. Coldbreath’s novels on Kindle Unlimited, I am glad that I decided to give this author a try as I enjoyed this novel quite so!

The story begins with the heroine, 24 year old Minerva Walters being witness to her father’s death, leaving her alone and destitute, except for the last piece of advice that he gives her; to entrust her welfare in her long lost brother who would come for her.

At a loss for options otherwise, Minerva is forced to make nice with and follow the man who turns up on her doorstep, only to be given away in marriage to a man named William James Nye, who runs a pub called The Harlot of all things. Even with the lowest of expectations, Minerva is at a loss for words when it comes to the farcical ceremony that ties the knot between her and William.

Given the fact that Minerva is not someone averse to hard work and earning her keep, that is how she is determined to approach her life as a married woman, winning the hearts of everyone involved in the story. While William makes no secret of the fact that he does not having been forced to take her on as his wife, Minerva’s stubborn determination makes William start to see her in a whole new light.

As these two start to navigate life as husband and wife, the passion that ignites between the two comes as a surprise for both William and especially Minerva, who is as innocent as they come. However, once her husband starts teaching her pleasures to be had in the marriage bed, she is an avid pupil, giving readers hot and beautifully spun scenes of passion between the two..

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Ms. Coldbreath. I loved both William and Minerva; William being just the right touch of taciturn, ruthless, grumpy, and hot, while Minerva was fierce, determined, beautiful, kind, and compassionate. I loved how these two started to open up to each other and confide in one another. I enjoyed the adventurous and exploratory nature of their sex life, and I thoroughly reveled in how they were possessive and protective of each other.

The biggest factor that won me over? Minerva never set out to change her husband; William did it on his own, all because he wanted to be the best version of himself for the woman who owned his heart, body, and soul. I dislike female leads who always act out of “goodness” of their heart and try to change the male lead – love is supposed to do that on its own if it were meant to be. If not, you just accept the person you are with, flaws and all, and make your peace with your lot in life.

There were no preachy undertones to the story, Minerva just accepts things the way they are and by virtue of her being a hardworking and honest person, not to mention the steamy hot attraction between the two which drives William a little bit stir-crazy, he is the one who on his own changes for the better. For a woman whose mother kept telling her that beauty is not for all women, William certainly proved her mother wrong in the way he saw the beauty both on the inside and out when it comes to his beloved.

There are very few authors out there, whose historical romances that I enjoy now – to be honest, few authors who writes romances as I enjoy them now, so Ms. Coldbreath, who writes the kind of characters that speaks to my heart is one that I would continue to read in the time to come.

Recommended for fans of historical romances featuring protagonists brought together by life’s circumstances, opening wide the door for the kind of love that lasts a lifetime!

Final Verdict: With a fabulous mix of good storytelling, characterization, emotional depth, and heat, A Bride for the Prizefighter is definitely a must-read!

Favorite Quotes

His eyes glinted. “Maybe there are other things I’d rather you tried out with me.”
“Such as what?” The words had left Mina’s mouth before she noticed his expression. Then he reached out and grip on her forearm and she was spun around, an arm clamped about her waist and Will Nye’s large hand resting against her jaw. Oh, he meant kissing, Mina realized mere moments before his lips descended to hers.
Oh dear, she thought distractedly, what was it he had told her to do last time? Breathe through her nose, she seemed to recall. Then she noticed his lips were much gentler this time, touching tentatively to hers, exerting much less pressure. Not wanting him to accuse her of not pulling her weight, she tilted her head up and leaned into the kiss.
Nye made a noise in his throat that was not a growl, but something very close. Mina’s head reeled.

“Nye—” Mina breathed, but his hands were on either side of her face, angling her head up for his kiss. This time when he sealed his lips to hers, she felt his tongue swipe slowly along her bottom lip and jolted with shock. That was it! Last time he had said he wanted a taste of her tongue. Her face flamed hot. No sooner had she let her lips part for him then her mouth was thoroughly taken.
Her eyes closed, Mina gave a muffled gasp, before remembering to breathe through her nose. One of the cups fell from her loosened grip and shattered on the kitchen floor. Nye didn’t even flinch. One of his hands lowered from her jaw to grip her waist and then skimmed as much of a hip as her stiffened petticoats allowed. He made a noise of frustration. Then his tongue was tangling against hers again and Mina’s mind went blank.

“Take down your hair,” he said in a gravelly voice.
A refusal trembled on her lips, but it seemed silly to cavil after she’d stripped off her clothing at his request. Instead, she reached up hesitant fingers and removed her hairpins, unravelling the roll of hair from her nape. She shook her head and ran her fingers through it, until her hair lay loose over her shoulders.
“Turn around,” he said in a gravelly voice.
“Nye—” she started to object, but he interrupted her.
“Indulge me.”

He reached up and loosened the strings at her waist. “Lift up,” he ordered. Mina lifted her hips off the bed, and he tugged her white drawers down to her ankles, then whisked them off her altogether. Mina forgot to breathe for a moment. She didn’t dare look Nye in the face. She was mortified that he was squatting down like that, at eye level with her most private place. She had never even taken a good look down there herself! His hands were on her knees, urging her to part her legs and heaven help her before she even realized it, she had obeyed his unspoken demand and opened herself to him.
Suddenly, he let out a harsh groan, and Mina’s eyes flew to his. He was staring right between her legs. Her mouth went dry. She almost shrank from him when he lurched forward, sliding two big hands under her bare bottom, and dragged her to the edge of the mattress. “Nye,” she cried. “What on earth are you—?” She forgot to breathe when he went in face first.

Her head lolled back on a choked sob. She writhed against his mouth in an abandonment she could never have believed herself capable of, arching her back and craning for the wicked caress of his mouth where she most needed it. Tears started from her eyes and she realized she was being none too gentle, tugging and pulling at his hair, raising her hips to press herself eagerly against his mouth. He didn’t seem to mind though, as his hands squeezed her buttocks, urging her to press closer and closer to questing tongue.
“Oh Nye!” she squealed. “Nye!” Then her vision wavered altogether, and she felt herself swoop over the edge of an altogether different cliff, but instead of being dashed against the rocks below she turned into sea foam as light as the air and crested on the bobbing waves.

“Nye!” she whimpered. He released his grip on one breast and inserted his hand between them, running it down her flat stomach and between her legs. “Nye!” Her head came off the pillow.
“You’re nice and wet down here,” he said with approval. The slide of his fingers was downright scandalous. His words penetrated the fog that was on her mind right now. Wet? Her gaze snapped to his.
“F-from your mouth?” she faltered, realizing she was wet down there. Very wet. She could even hear it. Her ears burned at the lewd sound.
He smiled slowly. “No, this is all you.”

“Wrap it around my back,” his words were tersely spoken. She had only just rested her heel against the small of his back when he thrust again with a loud, shuddering groan. “Red stockings,” he gritted.
Mina was telling herself it did not hurt so much now. She felt alarmingly full and stretched to capacity but not in pain precisely. She frowned. “Red stockings?” she repeated.
“I want you in them.”
What? “Why?”
“And lace,” he grunted as he settled into a bruising rhythm. “Lots and lots of lace.”

“I hate you!” she grumbled, even as she felt the familiar tingle through her limbs as he pressed all his hard, muscular flesh up against her between her legs. And he was hard. She nearly groaned aloud feeling his manhood bobbing against her thigh. He just grunted an acknowledgement as his hands sought out her breasts, cupping and making out their shape.
“I hate you too,” he groaned then lent down to rub his face over her unbound breasts. “God,” he whispered against her nipple, then took it in his mouth and began sucking her.
“Nye!” Mina whimpered. He gave a satisfied moan, then moved to her other nipple, wrapping his tongue around it, and drawing it into his hot mouth. With horror, Mina realized she was grinding her hips against him. Her conscious mind told her to stop it at once, but her flushed body wasn’t listening. “Nye,” she groaned again, arching her back up as she tried to press even closer.

“Come on Mina.” His voice throbbed. “I want you mindless again. I need it.”
‘Oh God, I – Nye – I—” Her hips shifted restlessly as he hammered into her, the slick sounds their bodies made as they moved together were shamefully exciting. She was so wet, her yielding pussy was giving his big cock barely any resistance as he pushed in and out, her suctioning flesh, pressing and gripping him as he ruthlessly plunged into her depths.
He gave a low dirty groan. “If you don’t give it to me soon—” His gleaming eyes returned to her full bouncing breasts and he adjusted his position so he could take one of her nipples into his mouth again and give it a hard suck. She felt the tug of his hot mouth everywhere and with a startled cry she crashed over the edge.

“Are you wet, Mina?” he asked hoarsely. She watched him run his tongue over his full bottom lip, as his fingers slid into the warm folds of her quivering cleft. Mina’s fingers gripped hard around the brass rail of the headboard. “Nye!” she gasped again, and he gave a satisfied growl. “Drenched,” he said tracing her slit as he coated his fingers in her moisture. “I want you to ride me.”
“What?” Even as her shocked words burst forth, he slid two fingers deep inside her, making her eyes water even as she clamped down on him. “Oh Nye!”

Mina’s hands dropped from the rail to either side of his head on the pillows. The bed shuddered as she felt him reach up instead to seize the metal frame with his hands. “Ride me,” he groaned. “Now.”
“I don’t—”
“Yes, you do. Move your hips,” he ground out, sounding in pain. “Use me.”
Mina blinked down at him. She felt so full at this angle, she was a little concerned she might do herself a mischief. She bounced forward experimentally, and he groaned. Re-settling her knees against the mattress, she rose up and then sank back down on him. She couldn’t help crying out at the thrilling sensation of propelling herself like this on him.
“Harder,” he grunted.

“Oh.” She fell forward, bracing her hands against his chest. “Will,” she sobbed, twisting her fingers in his dark smattering of chest hair, and tugging sharply. She couldn’t hold off much longer, a few more strokes and she’d ignite. Holding off her pleasure, she stopped bouncing and just undulated against him, tightening her inner muscles around him, taking him deep. “Will,” she whispered brokenly. “You feel so good.”
She felt him throb within her as she came apart and suddenly his knees came up behind her. The bed jerked as he released the headboard and sat up, his hands hard on her hips.
“Minerva!” he choked, and she blinked in the dark as she felt his breath on her face, his shocked voice in her ear. For a second, she thought she’d hurt one of his injuries, but then she felt him spilling within her.

She was just starting to feel foolish when his lips descended on hers, in a kiss such as Will Nye had never bestowed on her before. His lips were soft yet firm against her own, and infinitely sweet as he molded them to her own. After a moment, she felt his hands cup her face almost tenderly and run his thumbs along her cheekbones in what she could only consider to be a caress.
Never in her wildest dreams would she have dreamt that Will Nye would ever touch her thus. When he lifted his face away from hers, he looked almost as surprised by it as she.

Pinning her to the edge of the seat, he reached down to free himself from his breeches and she felt the bold thrust of him against her belly. “Hurry Nye,” she implored.
He cast a wild glance out of the carriage window. “We’ve plenty of time.”
“That’s not what I meant!” she sobbed, crowding against him. “I can’t wait any longer. Please, Nye.”
He was still for a heartbeat. “Ah Mina, love,” he said thickly. “It needed only that…” He caught her behind her knee and hooked it over his hip. “Tell me again.”
“I can’t wait, I want you- oh! Oh Nye!” she keened as he thrust and her eyes watered as she felt him lodged within her, sinking into her slowly but surely.

“Tell me, Mina. I’ll do anything you say,” he vowed throatily.
“Yes, yes faster,” she implored, tightening her arms over his shoulder. “Faster please! Oh yes!”
At this point, he illustrated so thoroughly an understanding of what she needed, that Mina lost her wits completely. She shivered and moaned and wailed her way through an orgasm that saw her lose control of her limbs and her inhibitions so completely that they ended up sliding from the seat into a tangle of limbs on the floor of the carriage.

“You’re mine, Minerva,” he said richly. “Say it.”
‘I’m yours.”
His mouth nuzzled at the back of her neck. “Don’t you ever forget it, wife.”
“Or you,” she panted, making him give a broken laugh.
“I’m not likely to,” he groaned, his hips picking up the pace further. “Everyone knows you keep me on a short fucking leash, woman.”
Minerva made a sound of explosive disagreement as he ran his thumbs hard over her nipples.
“Oh yes, you do,” he whispered huskily against her temple. “And I don’t give a fuck who knows it.”

“You want to know something really messed up, Mina?” he asked in a raspy voice.
His hips were really hammering against her backside now and Mina knew she was lost. She gave a low scream as he pushed in deep and pinned her hard against the seat. She clamped down on his shaft, as her shuddering orgasm ripped through her. Only when the tremors had subsided, did he buck his hips forward in another hard thrust which tore a grunt from his own throat. “I. fucking. like. you. owning. me.” Each word was punctuated with a thrust.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

Re-Read Review: The Unfaithful Wife by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequi
Hero: Nik Andreakis
Heroine: Leah Andreakis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 1995
Started On: June 02, 2021
Finished On: June 07, 2021

When it comes to The Unfaithful Wife by Lynne Graham, the title itself indicates that this would be a stormy, angst-ridden read in every sense. That is exactly what Ms. Graham delivers, and I enjoyed every single heady sensation that this number brought to the forefront at every turn.

The story begins with Nik Andreakis and Leah’s marriage having reached its five year mark. Leah is the classic definition of the abandoned wife, the lonely years she has spent without any emotional support from her spouse or otherwise leaving its mark on her. Leah agreed to the marriage because of her father, who had basically emotionally blackmailed her into tying the knot with a man she had wanted from the start.

Leah knows that Nik despises her for reasons unknown. But when Leah is just about ready to move on with someone else and gather the courage to ask for separation from Nik, the inevitable happens – Nik comes for her, and states his intention to claim her as his.

I have no memory of having read this title before, but looking up my Goodreads reading history indicates that I have indeed read this in 2010. While my rating was considerably lower back then, reading this once again after 11 years proved to be more eye opening. I was better able to understand the undercurrents in the story and appreciate how Leah stood up for herself even though she had been brought up to be submissive all through her life.

While Nik’s cruelty did not win him points for him at the beginning (but then again where is the fun in the hero who is saccharine sweet), I could understand where he was coming from as well. For someone like Nik who had wanted the freedom to choose his bride, being forced and blackmailed into a marriage had been a pill bitter to swallow. When Leah learns of Nik’s side of the story, she finally understands how Nik could have misunderstood the machinations behind their union and despised her for what had taken place.

However, even though Leah and Nik may want to ignore each other, the passion that flares to life between them (which had in reality drawn them together when they had initially met, which kick-started the chain of events leading to their marriage), is hard to ignore, especially when Nik is determined to claim Leah as his, once and for all.

Insane jealousy, a whole host of arguments which clears up the misunderstandings, crazy heat and intense sex brings Leah and Nik together in a way that makes for combustible reading. Unlike most stories from Ms. Graham, I loved this more so because of Leah – how she basically lays it out for Nik to make him see the despicable manner in which he had destroyed her for the past five years. I felt like bringing out my nonexistent pompoms and doing a cheer dance for Leah, just because.

This novel has the hero groveling, with Leah having the courage to walk away from Nik and making it on her own. She would have been just fine even if Nik had not come after her, but then again, where is the fun in that? Nik had to eat humble pie, understand the worth of the woman that he loves more than life itself, and do a bit of groveling just to experience the bliss of their happily ever after.

Definitely recommended – don’t let the first couple of chapters fool you, this novel surprises you in a way that is heartwarming when all is said and done.

Final Verdict: The Unfaithful Wife is chock-full of goodness – heartbreak, heat, and intense emotions from all ends. If you love angst-ridden romances, this is a must read!

Favorite Quotes

‘Nik…’
His mouth came down on hers with mesmerising expertise and prised her soft lips apart. She stopped breathing. He gathered her closer, sealing her to every abrasively male angle of his taut body. Her back arched without her volition, increasing that contact. His tongue drove into the moist, tender interior she had yielded and explored. A river of fire flowed through her and she quivered, leaning against him, winding her arms sinuously round his neck. Darkness beckoned behind her lowered eyelids, the heat in the pit of her stomach twisting like a hot wire through her trembling length.

Before she could move, Nik caught her up in his powerful arms and dumped her down on the divan behind her. He came down on top of her so fast that she hadn’t a hope of evading him. Waves of shock coursed through her.
‘You’re my wife,’ Nik growled down at her, as if that were sufficient justification.
‘Let go of me…you’re flattening me!’ Leah slung back at him in fury.
‘Maybe you’ll get to like it.’ Nik shifted sinuously above her and meshed one hand into her tumbled hair. He stared down at her for a long, timeless moment. ‘Theos, I am so hungry for you, I ache,’ he muttered raggedly.

He rolled over, carrying her with him, and dispensed with her T-shirt by whipping it over her head. He uttered a savage groan as her unbound breasts rubbed against his hair-roughened chest and a split-second later she was lying flat again, his hands shaping the pouting mounds he had discovered.
She shut her eyes, gasping for breath, all reasoning power wrested from her. He found a distended pink nipple with his mouth and she dug her hips into the mattress, her back arching, a wildness she had never known tearing at her.

‘You are mine,’ Nik grated in a voice so tortured that she didn’t initially realise that he had spoken in English.
She wasn’t listening anyway. He was apart from her. She didn’t like it. She lifted her head and touched his sensual mouth with her lips and then, more daringly, with the tip of her tongue, unconsciously imitating what she had learnt from him. He shuddered and accepted the invitation with a raw passion that consumed her, his arms banding so tightly around her that she could barely breathe.

Wonderfully warm and relaxed, Leah gave a sinuous little wriggle and the hard heat of the body next to hers tautened. Her lashes lifted. She looked up into smouldering black eyes, fringed by ebony lashes. The impact of those eyes was mesmerising. Her blood leapt in her veins and her heat raced. She felt dizzy, breathless and utterly dispossessed of all rational thought.
A fingertip stroked along the lush ripeness of her lower lip. ‘Open your mouth for me. I want to taste you,’ Nik urged huskily.
Held fast by his searing gaze, she instinctively obeyed and with a stifled groan of satisfaction he crushed her slender form to him, his hands sweeping over her hips and her back as his hard, demanding mouth took hers with savage intensity.

Leah felt her body stretch to accommodate his raw invasion, the sensation still new enough to shock, and then he moved inside her, creating an insatiable need that burned through her entire body. Unconsciously her fingers dug into his smooth, muscular back, her breath sobbing in her throat with every urgent thrust. Ecstatic sensation took over as he possessed her so thoroughly that she was driven out of her mind with sheer, splintering pleasure. And when release came it consumed her utterly for long, timeless moments and then dropped her down gently into sweet, drowning languor.
‘Heaven is said to come to he who waits,’ Nik murmured silkily, curving her confidently into the damp, hot heat of him. ‘But I was always a speculator…and patience is not one of my virtues.’

And she did forget, the same instant that he brought his mouth swooping down into explosive connection with hers. The smooth control she was accustomed to was absent. Nik unleashed a passion that devastated her. It was no slow, gentle seduction of the senses but an erotic assault in which clothes were thrust aside rather than removed. Excitement took over, blanking out everything but her body’s insanely instinctive need for him.
She gasped and threw her head back as he drove into her, rejoiced in his answering groan of satisfaction and from that point on there was nothing but wild sensation, rising to ecstatic heights she had never touched before and finally throwing her over the edge into a shattering release.

‘Yes,’ she moaned, arching her back in sudden delicious torment as he skimmed his knuckles down over her taut stomach and then spread his hand, holding her where she most needed to be touched but denying what every skin cell longed for.
‘I don’t know where to begin,’ he muttered thickly against her swollen mouth, and she could feel him, hard and hotly aroused against her thigh. ‘I want…I want everything you have to give.’

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Review: The Reluctant Husband by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Santino Vitale
Heroine: Frankie Vitale
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 1998
Started On: May 17, 2021
Finished On: May 17, 2021

The Reluctant Husband by Lynne Graham, first published in 1998 is one of those books that I have seem to have missed out on when I initially discovered Ms. Graham’s books. The story is one you have to read taking into consideration how the heroine’s most formative years were disrupted because of the volatile relationship between her parents. I cannot even fathom going through half of what she did and come out “normal” in any sense. With that disclaimer, I move onto my review.

When the story begins, the heroine, 21 year old Frankie Vitale is “forced” to travel to Sardinia for work purposes, which is the last place on Earth she wants to be at. While her colleague thinks the visit would be therapeutic for Frankie, she believes otherwise, and with good reason. The reason being, 29 year old Santino Vitale, the man she married, the one who broke her heart years ago.

From the start, it is evident that Frankie’s mother does not hold much affection for her, but to discover the extent of her lack of care towards her only child as you read along is nothing short of astounding. Frankie does not have a normal childhood by any standards as I mentioned earlier, at eleven years having been forced to move to Sardinia with her father, who had thrust her into the care of his parents and left.

The kind of trauma that any child would go through being forced to endure a world that is unfamiliar, lives by different values to what she has been brought up, where no one speaks English; well I can only imagine. The only ray of hope that shone for her then was none other than Santino, and it is only natural that Frankie holds onto him, only to have her heart shattered after a marriage that is forced upon them.

Santino had plans for his future which did not include a naive wife coming along for the ride. While Frankie learnt that lesson the hard way, she had been returned to her mother like the unwanted baggage she was, and she had never intended to return to the place that still haunted her, if she were to be honest with herself.

Coming face to face with Santino, who proclaims that their marriage was never annulled, and that he now intended to bed his wife, the wife that he has invested in all through the years, of course it comes as a shock to Frankie, who resists him at every turn. But the intensity of the desire that awakens to life between them is not something easily denied as Frankie finds out the hard way, and succumb she does, as does Santino.

I quite enjoyed The Reluctant Husband as the story unfolded. I am of the opinion that I may not have enjoyed this story half as much if I had read this when I was younger, and perhaps unable to empathize as much with the plight of Frankie and understand where she was coming from.

Santino is the classic Graham hero – all out alpha in a way that makes for a swoon-worthy hero. It is also evident that Santino feels much more for his lawfully wedded wife than he lets on, especially when he proclaims of how much he had actually desired his very young bride and resisted the urge to act on it at every turn. It is also unrealistic to expect that he would not have taken other lovers along the way; it would have been more realistic had Frankie too taken on a lover since then, but Ms. Graham does love her virgin heroines, who tend to serve their purpose.

Like most novels by Ms. Graham, this too delivers taut sexual tension and scenes of passion that explodes from the pages. There are few authors who can do this kind of tension between characters AND deliver on it in a way that leaves the reader satisfied on all counts.

Ultimately, the story won me over because for all the angst and heartache, the main protagonists manage to have conversations with one another which sheds light on their shared past which helps them reconcile their differences and move onto a happier future together.

Recommended for fans of Lynne Graham and those who love category romances featuring married couples, who initially lose their way and find their way back to one another.

Final Verdict: Littered with misunderstandings, angst, and heightened sexual tension means The Reluctant Husband delivers the kind of stellar read that Ms. Graham is famous for!

Favorite Quotes

‘Francesca…’
‘Nobody calls me that any more,’ Frankie muttered waspishly, striving to rise above an ever-increasing sense of crawling mortification.
This encounter was a nightmare, she conceded, stricken. At sixteen, she had been so agonisingly, desperately in love with Santino. She had thrown herself at his head and done and said things that no woman in her right mind would want to recall once she reached the age of maturity! She must have seemed pathetic in his eyes, forever swearing undying love and resisting his every move to sidestep the intimacy which she had craved and which he had never wanted. It hadn’t been Frankie who had locked her bedroom door at night… it had been Santino who’d locked his. That particular recollection made her feel seriously unwell.

‘You will experience only pleasure in my arms. I promise you that. In fact it is a matter of honour that you should relish sharing a bed with me.’ Playing the tip of his tongue erotically across the excruciatingly tender skin of her throat, Santino sent her pulses leaping into sensual disarray. ‘Open your mouth,’ he urged, glittering eyes like scorching shards of pure gold.
Frankie trembled, unyielding as marble, but he brushed her mouth with his and then somehow—and later she genuinely couldn’t understand how—her lips softly parted. And without the slightest warning at all Santino was kissing her with slow, deep, shattering intimacy.

He was so close she could smell the hot, sun-warmed scent of him, intrinsically male and powerfully familiar. Her nostrils flared, her breath catching in her throat as she raised an involuntary hand and let her fingers rest on one broad shoulder to steady herself, her gaze welded to the shimmering gold of his. She shivered as he eased her forward and bent his dark head. A warm, drugging anticipation trapped her in submissive stillness.
He kissed her very gently, his tenderness a soothing balm to her smarting sensitivities. And it made her want him even more. In fact it made her want to cling. He tasted her lips in tiny hungry forays that sent her arms snaking round him in desperation to pull him closer. Her whole body felt as if it was reaching up and out, craving what only he could give. An explosive charge of hunger burned up inside her, and when his tongue penetrated between her readily parted lips her heart lurched so violently she could barely breathe in the seething excitement that controlled her.

His hands were slightly rough against her softer skin, the knowing exploration of his fingers over her achingly tender breasts a tormenting pleasure as she strained helplessly up to him, her whole body awash with response and reaction to his every tiny move and caress. She felt dominated and confined and she liked it, and she laced her seeking fingers ecstatically into his thick black hair, holding him tightly to her.
He dragged himself free, shone an innately ruthless smile of satisfaction over her confused face. Her treacherous heart contracted in response.
He looked so dangerous, his slashing confidence unhidden. ‘I’m not going anywhere, cara…your hunger is the one true gift you have to give me and the only thing you cannot lie about or control. The completeness of your surrender will be my triumph.’

‘You’re so ready for me,’ Santino groaned.
His lean, strong features harsh and intent in passion, he rose over her, lifting her trembling thighs back and settling himself fluidly between them. As she felt him, hot and urgent and alarmingly male against her tender entrance, Frankie gasped and tensed, and yet with every contrary fibre of her being she would have died of frustration had he stopped. Then he moved, and pleasure splintered into shocking pain as he thrust deep and a startled cry was wrenched from her.
For an instant Santino fell still. He surveyed her with lancing golden eyes that scorched like flames over her hectically flushed and shaken face. ‘If ever anyone got the punishment they deserved for lying…’ he breathed, unexpectedly deepening his invasion with a powerful twist of bis hips. ‘I would have been slow and gentle if I had known the truth.’

‘Sexual hunger is never simple because we are not animals, mating without thought or feeling at nature’s behest… how innocent you are in spite of your avarice. You can’t even admit your own ignorance. But the higher you climb on that ladder of self-deception, the harder you will fall.’
His thumb grazed the comer of her full, tremulous lips and then almost lazily slid to probe within. Involuntarily her languorous eyes slid shut, her lips converging hungrily on that intrusive digit, the lancing bitter-sweet pain of that hunger shrilling through her slender frame, making every muscle fiercely taut with anticipation.
‘And with the smallest encouragement… such a natural-born temptress,’ Santino completed, his accent thickening as he closed one impatient hand over her hip to yank her closer.

He succumbed to the apparent temptation and encouragement of that one little glance by closing his arms round her so tightly she could barely breathe, crushing her to him and kissing her until her head swam. The merest persistence might well have persuaded her that there was nothing remotely wrong with making love in a corridor.
But he jerked back from her then with a growling sound of frustration. ‘Only this morning you were a virgin. I should be making allowances for that…I’m not.’
She met burning golden eyes and knew she was utterly enslaved.
‘I want you so much I am in agony,’ Santino gritted unevenly.

Impatiently dispensing with the silky panties which still clung to her slender hips, Santino wasted no time in rediscovering the unbearably hot, moist welcome awaiting him. With an exultant growl, he pushed back her thighs and came over her like a conqueror to thrust with urgent, forceful hunger into the heart of her yielding body.
Frankie cried out, her spine arching on a relentless surge of excitement. He was wild for her and she was hopelessly out of control. For tormenting minutes of terrifyingly intense pleasure, he drove her ruthlessly to satisfaction. The explosive, blinding shock waves of climax hurtled through every fibre of her being and totally wiped her out.

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Review: From the Embers by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Eason Maxwell
Heroine: Bree
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 28, 2021
Started On: May 15, 2021
Finished On: May 17, 2021

From the Embers by Aly Martinez is one of my favorite reads from 2021. Discovering Ms. Martinez through her book Release has been a godsend. Stumbling across authors like Ms. Martinez is why I spend countless hours sometimes, looking through title blurbs of authors I have never read before. Books like From the Embers makes all the bad books you come across worthwhile in the long run.

The story begins at the point where the main protagonists, Bree and Eason Maxwell are married to each other’s best friends. Bree a businesswoman prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom of two when their family’s finances had given her the freedom to do so, and Eason, a songwriter whose marriage seems to be on a perilous path all because he was just not doing enough to keep his wife satisfied on all fronts.

All that changes in a heartbeat when an explosion takes the lives of both Bree’s husband and Eason’s wife, leaving them both bereft, hurting, and bewildered in the wake of the heartbreaking loss. Eason might have carried Bree to safety from the explosion, but it is Bree who finally sees him for who he is, as they are both forced to rely on each other to get through the days ahead. However, as these two navigate the circumstances of the new reality that they have been thrust into, dark secrets come to the forefront, threatening to crumble the foundations upon which the bond between Eason and Bree is forged to life.

Bree had never been Eason’s fan – she had always found Eason lacking, all owing to the fact that she had viewed Eason through the lens of her best friend’s viewpoint. All of that changes when Eason becomes her rock in the turbulent times that faces them both, the family they become as they leave the painful night behind them and starts the slow and painful process of moving on.

Both Bree and Eason are wonderful characters; every single character that you come across in the book is special. Kids often have a tendency to annoy me in books – but Ms. Martinez makes it all work, bringing the right mix of cuteness and wholesomeness to the mix. The plot was well done; at first I was a bit skeptical thinking that what comes to the forefront was just too easy – but in the end Ms. Martinez surprised me with the plot twist that brought a different edge to the story as it reached its climax.

Eason was perfect. Bree was perfect. The secondary characters were perfect. This story was nothing short of perfect. Recommended for those who want a story that would sweep them off their feet on a journey that is all consuming!

Final Verdict: Beautiful, surreal, and utterly spellbinding; From the Embers makes for an explosive read in every single sense!

Favorite Quotes

“I don’t hide anything from you.”
“Good,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way.”
My throat got thick, and as hypocritical as it was, I hoped the sweat breaking across the back of my neck and the tempo of my racing heart were both hidden. Her proximity suddenly felt suffocating, which was almost as confusing as it was intoxicating.
Together, we stood there, surrounded by white lights and unspoken emotions. There were gratitude and respect, but most of all, there was love. Maybe not the conventional or romantic variety, but it was there all the same.

“Look, I know this is going to complicate the hell out of things. But being with you is the only thing that feels right in my life. I’m gonna be real honest: I’m mad at them. I’m hurt. I’m embarrassed. And I can’t even begin to imagine the agony that’s going to follow over the next few weeks as we sort this shit out with Luna. But there are two things I know for sure: I want you, Bree, and I’m not waiting one fucking second longer to make my move.”
In one swift motion, I rolled over and tucked her beneath me. Smoothing the wisps of hair out of her face, I added, “I can’t wait any longer to kiss you from head to toe, to make you feel good and know for sure it was because of me.”

After unwrapping her like a candy and sampling the sweetness between her legs, her hands balling the sheets beside my shoulders, I nearly lost my mind.
Just before I tipped the scales out of my favor, she annihilated them altogether by rolling on top of me. “In my dreams, you said I wasn’t ready. But I’m ready, Eason. I’m so damn ready for you.”
She’d had dreams.
About me.

Every day, Eason was easygoing and laid-back, but in bed, he was a completely different animal. He was powerful and strong, almost unyielding in the way he ravaged my body with his. He was bold and sure, confident in knowing everything I needed even before I could anticipate it myself. He was demanding and gentle, but above all else, he didn’t hold back.
Eason gave. I took.
He went harder, faster. I begged for more.

“I swear to God, Bree, your fucking body was made for me.” His hips twisted as he pushed deeper. “I can’t go much lo—”
I silenced him with my mouth on his. “Shhh. Then don’t. Give it to me. Give me everything.”
Breaking the kiss, he went up onto his arm, looked down at where our bodies were crashing into each other, and then pressed his forehead against my shoulder as the most erotic moan rumbled through his chest. “Fuck.”
His heavy weight collapsed on top of me as he pumped and twitched his release. For as ugly and tainted as the world could be, the sight of Eason losing himself in an orgasm would forever be one of the purest and most beautiful things I could experience.

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Review: The Bride in Blue by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Wedlocked
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jonathon Parnell
Heroine: Sophia
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 25, 1996
Started On: May 02, 2021
Finished On: May 02, 2021

I have forgotten the countless number of times I have indulged in The Bride in Blue by Miranda Lee, one of my favorite Harlequin romances to revisit time and yet again. However, it is also amazing that I have never put down a review of this book for whatever reason, which I aim to rectify this time around.

The story begins with Sophia the bride wearing blue on her wedding day, to be lawfully wedded, not to the man whose child she is carrying, but to his younger brother who steps into take her beloved Godfrey’s place to do the right thing. From the start, Jonathon Parnell had rubbed Sophia the wrong way – he was just too much of everything, and being the distraught bride mourning the loss of the love of her life certainly does not make it easy for her to see him any other way.

There is a powerful connection that exists between Jonathon and Sophia. While Sophia might be naive and inexperienced not to know that, Jonathon does and that is the singular most reason why this story is so appealing on multiple fronts. There are those readers who would find Sophia annoying – and I admit, she is annoying at first, because like everyone else, she is quick to judge Jonathon without understanding the dynamics that drives his behavior.

When Sophia finally starts to see the undercurrents that exists within the family and how Jonathon is the pariah for some reason, the man who is always on the sidelines left wanting – though his cold and aloof manner would hardly tell you anything, that is when Sophia starts to realize the true worth of the man who is her husband.

The sexual desire that awakens in Sophia is a foregone conclusion when it comes to Jonathon; readers will have to experience Jonathon for his animal magnetism to understand why, not to mention the fact that he harbors a secret he is unwilling to part with when it comes to his reluctant bride.

At the cost of repeating myself and sounding gushy, I so love this story. I would say this is Miranda Lee at her very best, delivering a hero that makes you literally melt from the way he just strides into a room. Yes, Jonathon is that kind of hero. Once Sophia starts to see Jonathon in a new light, you can see the feisty side of hers emerge; the woman who gives it her all when it comes to loving and protecting Jonathon.

The angst factor was just right, and the sexual tension that permeates throughout the book heady enough, and I could not ask for more! Sophia’s fantasy when it comes Jonathon, when at last she is ready to accept him as her husband in the truest form – well, you will have to read on to find out!

Recommended for the sheer effect of Jonathon as he wreaks havoc on your senses.

Final Verdict: The Bride in Blue is the kind of book that stands the test of time, the reason why when I read for pleasure, my chosen genre would always be romance!

Favorite Quotes

‘Say “I will,”’ Jonathon hissed into her ear.
‘I…I w-will,’ Sophia stammered, to her mortification.
‘God,’ came the low mutter from beside her.
Jonathon bit out his ‘I will’ as if he were giving a guilty verdict for murder. When the celebrant pronounced them ‘as one’ in a flowery way, followed by a sickening smirk and a ‘you may kiss your bride’, Sophia darted Jonathon an anxious look.
She didn’t want him to kiss her but she couldn’t really see how they could avoid it. Everyone else knew their marriage was a sham, but the celebrant didn’t. Jonathon looked just as reluctant to oblige, but, seeing perhaps that he had no alternative, he took Sophia firmly by the shoulders, turned her his way and bent his head.
Sophia steeled herself for the cold imprint of his mouth on hers, so she was somewhat startled to find that the firm lips pressing down on hers were quite warm. Her eyelashes fluttered nervously, her mouth quivering tremulously beneath his. His mouth lifted, and for a second he stared down into her surprised face. Something glittered in that cold blue gaze.
Then he did something that really shocked her.
He kissed her again.

Jonathon’s eyes narrowed on the rapid rise and fall of her chest. ‘Are you saying you want to go to bed with me?’ he asked, his voice disbelieving.
Sophia kept her eyes steady on him, even whilst her cheeks were burning. ‘I can’t say I do, but I can’t say I don’t. I haven’t had much experience in such matters. But you must know you’re a very attractive man, Jonathon, and I’m sure, a very experienced one. What do you think?’ she rashly flung at him. ‘Could you make me want to go to bed with you?’
Those blazing but oddly cold blue eyes seemed to seer through her dress, their fire heating her skin, their ice freezing her nipples into hard little pebbles. With breathtaking and incredibly sensual slowness, his gaze travelled upwards, leaving behind a parched throat and parted panting lips. At last he reached her eyes, her large, liquid brown eyes which grew larger as they glimpsed the power within that ruthlessly sexual gaze.
Oh, yes, she realised breathlessly, he could make her want to go to bed with him. But it would be nothing like what she had experienced with Godfrey. His kisses would not be sweet or soft or romantic. There would be no meeting of souls, only a meeting of bodies. Hard, panting bodies, reaching for each other in a strictly primitive passion.

‘I shouldn’t be doing this,’ he muttered against her lips, groaning a type of despair, she thought, as the last millimetre between them was crossed.
And then she didn’t think anything. There was nothing but his mouth, hard on hers, his hands tightening on her flesh.
When his mouth lifted momentarily on a raw moan, she gasped for air, only to instantly have his lips back covering hers and his tongue, hot and wet, surging deep inside. Wild swirls filled her head, the blood pounding in her temples. She pressed her hips against his, whimpering a need she had never felt before.

Standing there as he was in the moonlight, with his shoulders squared and his fists curled, his chest still rising and falling with the physical effort of that savage swim, he presented an image rather similar, Sophia fancied, to that of a primitive man who’d just forded a flooded river. Soon, he would stride on home to his cave where his woman would be waiting with food cooking over an open fire.
But this caveman wouldn’t want to eat straight away. He’d been away, after all, for days, seeking out new hunting fields. What he suffered from was hunger of a different kind.
Sophia could see him now, eyeing his scantily clad mate with hot eyes, then coming forward to grab a clump of her hair at the back of her head, bending her body back till he could suckle on one of her bare breasts like a starving infant before dragging her back on to their rough bed of furs at the back of their cave and vanquishing his hunger, not once, but several times.

He crossed the carpet with huge strides, looking larger and larger with each step till he towered over her. She lifted rounded eyes to his narrowed ones, her tongue suddenly thick in her mouth. A flood of nerves consumed her, bringing with it a trembling deep inside.
But even as her apprehension built, so did her desire, her eyes clinging to his, her body unconsciously straining towards him.
He ripped the nightie from her body, rent it in two from top to toe and threw it aside before sweeping her shaking body up into his arms and carrying her to the bed. He held her briefly against his damp body, hot eyes raking over her naked flesh before spreading her out on the quilt then swiftly stripping himself. Sophia was stunned by the speed with which he loomed over her, a dark silent force that breathed but did not speak.

‘No, don’t stop,’ she cried a second time when he abandoned what he was doing.
He didn’t stop. He merely started replacing his mouth and hands with his body, making her gasp when she realised he was as large there as he was everywhere else. A sob caught in her throat, her eyes squeezing tightly shut against the pressure of his titanic desire seeking entry into her almost virginal body.
When he suddenly achieved the unachievable, slipping deeply inside, Sophia’s eyes flung wide. All discomfort had ceased, the only sensation one of being thoroughly and very satisfyingly filled. What Jonathon was feeling, she couldn’t tell. He didn’t look at her from where he was still kneeling between her legs, his hands under her buttocks, his concentration seemingly on that area where their flesh became one. His face was in shadow, but his stillness suggested a silent savouring of their union.

Jonathon, however, had driven her mind and body into a crazed frenzy from the first moment he’d kissed her tonight. Yet they weren’t in love with each other. It hadn’t been making love, what he’d done to her on this bed, what he was still doing to her…
His name was torn from her lips, a lost, bewildered cry which called for him to explain how she could feel like this when there was no love involved, to comfort her in her confusion, to hold her till this cataclysmic experience released her from its tenacious grip.

You’re so lovely,’ he muttered, his eyes narrowed upon her. When he ran the back of his fingers across the tips of her breasts, she gasped aloud. He groaned, and dropped his head.
‘God, Sophia, do you have any idea how much I want you?’
She simply stared at him, unable to say a word.
‘I need to have you right now,’ he went on, sweeping her up into his arms. ‘No foreplay. Nothing for you but the knowledge that I’ve never been like this with any woman before. I haven’t a hope of controlling myself as I did last night. Believe me, I guaranteed that performance by swimming in a cold pool till I was almost exhausted. It took the edge off my need. Not so this time,’ he told her as he strode back into the bedroom. ‘This time I will be appallingly quick. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to frighten you, or disappoint you. But I must do this. Don’t say no.’

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Review: His Countess by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Erotic Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #3
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Gideon Banks
Heroine: Alys Taunton
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 02, 2020
Started On: April 09, 2021
Finished On: April 09, 2021

Book 3 in the Victorian Decadence series brings to readers the story of 38 year old businessman Gideon Banks, who is legendary for his depravity, whose lecherous behavior had him expelled from Oxford at one point in time. Gideon makes no apologies for who he is, but at the same time, he increasingly finds himself dissatisfied with his lot in life, that is until he becomes the Sixth Earl of Taunton and finds himself saddled with the former mistress, Alys Taunton.

26 year old Alys becomes a widow after eight years of marriage, having become disillusioned with the institution itself. She wants nothing to do with marriage, but as society would have it, she requires the protection and good will of the new Earl if she were to survive. While Gideon believes Alys to be of the stuck up lot in high society, Alys wants one thing from Gideon: for him to tutor her in the pleasures of the flesh.

What starts off as a raunchy one-time sexual escapade, with Gideon who might have been reluctant at first, brings such heady pleasure to both, which of course makes Gideon wary of what that might mean in the long run. The resultant effect ends in a marriage of convenience for which Gideon lays down one basic rule – he does not do fidelity, nor does he expect it from his wife. However, each raw encounter with his wife brings Gideon to the brink of surrender to which he resists with all his might, until one final act of power play on his part results in what Gideon has been pursuing out of sheer fear.

I found His Countess to be great in terms of readability, when most romances these days are either too preachy for their own good and/or filled with modern jargon that strives to keep certain reader-bases happy. But in reality, what it does is remove the essence of the genre that makes for such raw and gut-wrenching reads. I want my books to mean something; the drama as long as it adds value to the story and fleshes out the characters well enough for me to fall in love.

I enjoyed the journey that Gideon takes towards his happily ever after, even though like in previous books, I cannot fathom wanting to have so many sexual partners all at the same time. I can understand the lure certainly, when it comes to a someone who can give you pleasure of the kind you have only ever dreamed of. We are hard pressed to come across just one single person who does that in real life, and for the protagonists in these stories to just get it on with anyone of their choosing is still a bit jarring for me.

In my opinion, men and women experience sexual pleasure differently aside from the fact that we all identify with raw animal magnetism of those that attract us at our very core. But that does not translate into gratification of the kind that seems to come so easily to the characters of these books, no matter what. For women, our minds play a key role in reaching fulfillment, but for men it is a different ballgame altogether. Perhaps, new age adults might believe differently, but quantity does not necessarily translate to quality in the short or long term.

My ramblings about sexual pleasure aside, these decadent books by Ms. LaViolette are unlike most historical romances readers would come across. While Ms. LaViolette categorizes these books as historical erotic romance and not erotica, I would say it is a bit of both. There are few authors who dare push the conventional boundaries of romance novels, and with Ms. LaViolette, I would say she has no boundaries to begin with, giving readers highly erotically charged reads that are hard to put down.

As most readers and fans of this series, I cannot help but yearn to read Smith’s story. However, I believe it would be quite a while yet, given what Ms. LaViolette has stated in that regard on Goodreads. One can keep hoping and praying that Smith lets Ms. LaViolette write his story and give us all what we want!

Recommended for fans of the series and those who love plenty of eroticism in their novels.

Final Verdict: While Gideon Banks might not have a conventional bone in his body, his countess changes it all. Great characterization renders this a page-turner!

Favorite Quotes

“That’s what I want—something physical, animal, those things you were doing to L-Lucy and Susan.” She swallowed. “I imagined you doing them to me.”
Her words set off a commotion in his head—not to mention in his cock—that was too powerful to ignore. Gideon grabbed her arm and yanked her close, holding her clamped against him from hips to shoulders.
“You are rapidly approaching a place where I will not turn back,” he snarled into her ear. “Do you understand?”
“Yes . . . please.”

Alys made that embarrassing sound again and clamped her jaws shut. But her body’s trembling was beyond her control.
“Never hold back from me, Alys. I want to hear every whimper, yell, groan, grunt, and gasp.” His finger elicited several of those examples immediately, whatever he was doing making her dizzy and weak. “Come for me, little one,” he urged. “That’s right,” he praised as her hips jerked. “Let go and soak my hand.”
Her body responded to his crass order almost as much as his skilled touch and explosive, exquisite pleasure spread from that one little spot to every part of her.

Gideon held her gaze and pulsed gently in and out. “Do you want more, Alys?” he asked, his head almost dizzy with the effort of exercising restraint.
“Yes, Gideon,” she said in a whisper. And then she flexed her pelvis and his iron control shattered.
Gideon slammed into her, pounding her with hard, deep thrusts. “Tell me,” he rasped in between strokes. “Tell me when you’re close.”
She never answered because she was already there.
His restraint, already worn to threads, snapped and Gideon drove into her thrice more and then froze, emptying himself into her convulsing body.

“So tight. Clench for me, Alys.” Her entire body jerked as she contracted around him.
He gave a husky laugh. “I like the way your cunt obeys my commands—like an obedient pet.” His hand began to pump, slow and deep, his middle finger grazing something exquisite inside her. “I want to shove myself inside you but our fun would be over far too quickly. So let me pleasure you, first. Let’s see how many times I can make my pet come.”
It was his words as much as his actions that drove her toward the precipice with such dizzying speed. Any residual embarrassment at being so exposed slid away as he worked her with relentless, and increasing, intensity.

“You see, my love,” he’d gasped in between savage thrusts. “There is something to be said for riding astride. Now,” his jaw hardened and his nostrils flared, “Ride me to a lather.”
Alys had to admit she’d enjoyed the vantage point and being in control of their rhythm—at least to a degree. He’d not been a passive partner but had exhibited breathtaking strength as he’d thrust upward into her, every line and curve of his body hard and taut.
He’d made his pleasure obvious when he’d spent in her. “I love filling you with my seed,” he’d snarled in her ear while he pumped inside her. “I going to fuck you every chance I get, little one. I won’t be happy until you’re swollen with my child.”

“You see how excited you’ve made me?” He gave himself a pump, causing his slit to leak for her. “Tongue it, taste me,” he ordered, holding his cock by the root, the action making it look even bigger, thicker.
She trembled as she leaned closer, opening her mouth.
“Take my hips with both hands. Good. Now, show me your tongue—yes, like that, stick it out and make a point. And then poke it into my little hole.”
The tentative touch of her hot tongue ripped a groan from his chest.
“Christ! Yes,” he snarled, shoving his hands into her hair and holding her skull immobile. It took every ounce of self-control not to start fucking her mouth like the beast he was.

He opened his eyes, hungry to see her lips stretched around him. He grinned; she was sucking his fat head like it was a sweetie.
“The part below the crown is the most sensitive,” he encouraged, shuddering when she immediately began to investigate. He allowed himself only the slightest pulsing of his hips, his fingers massaging her skull. “One day,” he told her through clenched jaws. “I’m going to fuck your mouth as hard as I fuck your cunt.”
Her groan went right up his cock to his balls and he almost came.

“I’m going to check and see if you’ve been exercising for me.” He slammed into her without warning.
A mortifying animal moan slipped from her mouth; fortunately it was drown out by Gideon’s crude grunts and words.
“So. Fucking. Tight.” He punctuated each word with a brutal thrust.
He was wicked for saying such things and she was twice as wicked for loving his filthy mouth.
“You feel as delicious as you taste, my little pet.” His hips pounded savagely as he held her with fingers that would leave bruises. “I’m so looking forward to filling your body with my spend,” He said through clenched jaws. “I’ll fill all your holes, darling,” he whispered, the words so shocking Alys wasn’t quite sure she’d heard him correctly.
“But not just yet, I think. First I want you to come for me.”

“You seem almost fey, this morning, Gideon?”
He turned toward Alys, who was watching him with an affectionate look.
He grinned. “I’m looking forward to my daily riding reward.”
As he’d intended, she blushed and rolled her eyes. “You know, some people might consider riding itself a reward.”
Gideon laughed. “Not me.” He allowed all his desire for her to show on his face. “I’m going to strip you naked, tie you to a tree, and spread your legs wide, exposing your beautiful body to the morning sun. The only thing I’ll let you wear is your boots.” He grinned. “And then I’m going to kneel between those delicious thighs and make you scream.”

“What do you think Silber would say if he saw you like this?”
Pleasure rippled out from her tightly clenching sex. Alys only realized she was grunting and whimpering when he stepped closer and shoved a gloved finger between her folds.
“Did you just come, Alys?” he demanded roughly, pumping the finger inside her still-contracting sex. “I think you did.” He flicked her sensitive bud and she cried out. “I think you love the thought of being watched, put on display.” He lifted his hand, the black leather slick with her juices.

“Please, Gideon.”
“Please?” He cocked an eyebrow as he absently swatted the sensitive skin of her breasts, harder and harder. “Please what, darling?”
“Please. I want—”
He smiled like a cat that had eaten the canary. “What?” He smacked her mound and the stiff leather grazed her bud. “Do.” Smack. “You.” Smack. “Want?”
Each swat brought her closer to yet another climax.
Gideon dropped to his knees. “God, yes.” He spread her with sheathed, impersonal fingers and sucked her into his mouth.

“I can’t,” she gasped when he began to stroke her again. “Not again.”
“Just once more,” he said. “See how I’m begging? Please. Come once more for me?”
She groaned, but dropped her head, her shoulders dipping but her bottom pushing toward him, the position deliciously submissive.
“My good, obedient girl,” he murmured, stroking into her with his cock while he slowly brought her to orgasm.
When he felt the contractions coming, he fucked into her with vicious thrusts, until he could hold back no longer and drove himself deep, coming in wrenching jerks.
Mine! Mine! Mine! He crowed inside his head, glorying in his possession and marking her with each spasm of his cock until he was aching and empty.

“Open for me,” he ordered sharply, smiling when her legs instantly parted. His warm, questing fingers slipped between her thighs and grazed the seam of her sex and he shoved two fingers right up into her body. Her throbbing body.
Alys whimpered and pushed her hips to meet him.
“Do you always get this wet and swollen when you are angry?” he growled in her ear, leaning closer, his arm moving in slow, deep thrusts. He bit her ear lobe and she jumped. “Never lie to me about what arouses you, Alys. Your fantasies are mine, all mine—they all belong to me. Now, open for your husband.”
She spread wider to take him, her wanton body so greedy for the pleasure he could give that it didn’t care how mortified her mind was.
“Say it,” he demanded. “You’re mine—you belong to me.”
“I belong to you.”

Beyond the peep, it was as if they’d heard him. Or at least as if Alys had. Because they broke off kissing and grinding and the next thing he knew, Silber gently set Alys down and then led her to the seat that faced the peep—the closest one, the chair Gideon had most specifically instructed Jackson to arrange. They held hands for a moment and then Silber lowered himself into the chair, his huge body filling it.
Alys turned her back to him and the stable master placed his monstrous hands around her slender waist and lifted her over his spread thighs. Alys opened her shapely legs and reached for his rod, her eyes not moving from the peephole as she guided the fat crown toward her entrance—an opening Gideon knew to be exquisitely tight—and then took him into her body, inch by goddamned inch, her white teeth biting her lower lip and eyelids fluttering. She wore a rapturous expression as her body absorbed Silber’s ridiculous organ, until she was stuffed full, her body utterly impaled.
Gideon’s hand was nowhere near his cock when he came, splattering onto his waistcoat. His eyes flickered closed as his hips spasmed, powerful contractions wracking his body.

His hips began to buck, his control visibly slipping as he drove into her with primitive force, the muscles of his torso, back and shoulders gloriously defined as he held her arms immobile. His jaw clenched in a grimace as he pounded into her so hard Alys swore she could feel it inside her own wet, swollen body.
He thrust deep and then froze, the powerful muscles of his buttocks clenching as he jerked into her. Alys knew what it would feel like—hot jets of his spend filling her, the contractions of his shaft throbbing against her sensitive sheath.
She shoved her hand between her thighs and grunted as her finger finished what Jackson had started. As she came, biting her lip hard to suppress her cries, Jackson’s eyes opened, as if he knew. And then he did something she’d not believed possible: he smiled.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: Hate Me by Ashley Jade

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Black Mountain Academy
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trenton Knox
Heroine: Aspen Falcone
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 28, 2021
Started On: March 30, 2021
Finished On: April 01, 2021

“He tastes like cinnamon and uninvited desire…wrapped in pure evil.”

Hate Me by Ashely Jade is a novel that would be hard to take in for a lot of readers because it deals with a bullish hero who comes off as the worst of the lot at the initial stages of the story, until Ms. Jade slowly reveals his backstory and allows us to peek into his most formative years and the toll of constant physical and emotional abuse from a very tender age. Growing up with a vicious psychopath has its consequences, and that is what Ms. Jade shows us through this mesmerizing story.

The main protagonists, Trenton Knox (Trent) and Aspen Falcone meet at a very young age. The first meet does not go exactly as one would envision it would, with Aspen walking away crying with a bloodied nose and Trent hating the very essence of the girl who for the very first time sees right through to him and the misery that his life was.

Through the years, there are countless encounters between the two, until fate leaves Aspen fatherless and her mother remarries none other than Trent’s father, bringing everything full circle. That is when the story actually begins, with “Stray” as Trent loves to call Aspen finally landing on his home turf.

For Aspen, whatever notions she had before of Trent starts to change slowly as for the first time, she starts to see what Trent’s life must have been like through the years. However, Trent does not make it easy to understand him as he pushes her away at every turn, even though the sizzling connection between them roars to life with a ferocity that refuses to be denied as the story progresses.

Aspen’s life is no walk in the park either once her father passes on, with a mother who only cares to keep up appearances. With little or no emotional support in her life, Aspen takes on paths that are only attractive to someone who has nowhere else to turn to. It feels at first as if Aspen switches from one path to destruction to another when the attraction between Aspen and Trent reaches its climax, but there are undercurrents at play in the story that needs to reach their conclusion before anything long lasting can come to fruition between the two.

I enjoyed Hate Me for the most part; it was captivating through the bigger chunk of the story and had me anxious to find out what would happen next. Additionally, the way Ms. Ashley spun Trent’s arc was gripping, with the layers to his character exposed as the story delved deeper into the combined lives of both Aspen and Trent. Some of the scenes of abuse or the aftermath of it were difficult to read, but nevertheless it was needed to show the depravity of monsters that live in society, taking up revered positions in the community.

The only thing that I could not wrap my head around was the ultimate conclusion of the arc of Aspen’s mother’s character – without giving way to spoilers, all I have to say is that I did not find what happened to her sitting well with me at the end. The only reason why this book did not get a higher rating was because I could not understand that particular ending.

Ms. Ashley gives us a realistic happily ever after once all is said and done, with both Aspen and Trent doing some needed healing and growing up before coming together once again.

Recommended for those who enjoy stories that brings together difficult to understand heroes and the heroines whose spunk and courage definitely makes them stand out!

Final Verdict: Trent and Aspen are two halves of one jagged soul; each beautifully broken in a way that only those who are survivors can be.

Favorite Quotes

“What is your prob—”
I don’t get to finish that sentence because his hand slides to the back of my neck and his mouth crashes against mine.
What the hell?
Everything freezes…except my heart, which feels like it’s exploding.
It’s my first kiss..
The fact Knox is the one doing it is just…weird.
I should probably stop him. I hate his guts and he doesn’t deserve to kiss me.
But I can’t…because he’s kissing me like he just swallowed poison and I’m the antidote.
At first there’s no tongue. Just greedy lips.
But then he growls, low and deep, and everything changes.
I rest my hands on his shoulders, my knees going weak as the fingers on my neck tighten and he coaxes my mouth open to feed me his tongue.
He tastes like cinnamon and uninvited desire…wrapped in pure evil.

“Do you want my jacket?” Leo offers.
I shake my head, my nipples puckering as I fight to keep my breathing in check. “No. Thank you.”
The woman turns to him again. “What is it you do for a living?”
I’m thankful for her nosiness, because Knox curls his fingers and an orgasm tears through me so fast my head spins as I clutch the chair for dear life.
That’s when I feel a sharp pull on my panties. I’m in no position to protest, so I don’t as he wrenches my thong off before tucking the silky material into his pocket.

I spread her pussy with my fingers, stretching it as far as it will go before I lower my mouth and thrust my tongue deep inside her, extending it as far as I can.
Liquid heat fills my mouth as she squirms below me.
“You know why Leo didn’t know I made you come last night?” I flick my tongue ring against her swollen clit and she moans around my cock. “Because he’s never done it before.” I suckle the sensitive bud as she gags on my dick and the sounds of me eating her fill the jeep. “He doesn’t have a clue how you look when you come.”

His lids lower, and his hand grazes my bare knee. “Why are you down here, Stray?” Ever so slowly, his calloused palm moves up my inner thigh. “What is it you really want?”
An electrifying tremble breaks free and I suck in a sharp breath when he cups me between my legs.
I hate how his touch feels like both damnation and deliverance.
Right and wrong.
Bad meets evil.
His free hand trails down his sculpted stomach until it disappears under his sweatpants.
My heart speeds up, pumping hard against my ribs when he pushes them down his hips and his weighty cock bobs out, slapping against his abdomen.
“Is this what you want?”

Rising on my knees, I slowly lower myself onto him. He’s so big, so thick, it aches as I stretch around him. My eyes flutter closed when I sink down and he fills me to the hilt, my skin tingling and my nipples puckering as I relish the sensation.
Slowly, I start to ride him. I suck in a breath when his grip on my hip tightens, and he bites his lower lip and groans.
He looks so sexy…so hungry. Like he wants this even more than I do.

I gasp when the sharp tip of the knife pierces the top of my breast. “Knox—”
In one fluid movement, he wraps an arm around my lower back and shifts us into a sitting position.
Groaning, he inclines his head and licks the blood from the small cut he made. “Every part of you tastes good.” Squeezing my tits in his big hands, he sucks a nipple into his hot, wet mouth. “So fucking good.”
I tilt my head, arching my back and closing my eyes…getting lost in the feel of his warm lips on my skin and his cock pumping deep inside me.
I hold on to him for dear life as his thrusts pick up speed.
Oh, God.

“Stop.”
But he doesn’t. Instead, he grabs the back of my neck, turning my face up to meet his before he kisses me like I’m the air he needs to breathe in order to survive.
He explores every inch of my mouth, leaving no stone unturned.
I feel the armor I’ve built around me begin to crumble like cheap plywood with every hungry stroke of his tongue.

I hiss when he spreads my ass cheeks and holds them open—exposing all of me—before I feel the head of his cock nudge my entrance. “Tell me you don’t want this.”
“I don’t want to want this,” I whisper, the last of my willpower shattering like glass.
Because everything was so much easier when I hated him.
His gruff voice cuts through the air. “That makes two of us.”
With that, he pushes forward until he’s buried deep inside me.
“Fuck.”
His thrusts are fast and brutal—punishing—yet rewarding at the same time.
I scratch at the seat, tearing the upholstery as he gives it to me exactly the way I need it.

His nose skims the length of me and he inhales deeply, his long fingers tightening around my hips. “I don’t give a fuck.”
He proves his point by licking and kissing my pussy the same ravenous way he does my mouth.
The vulgar sounds of him eating me fill the kitchen, causing my skin to tingle and my head to spin as he continues drawing incredible sensations from my body.
I place my hand on his head, keeping him right where I need him as he stabs his tongue between my legs. He makes tiny circles, causing the metal from the barbell to graze my inner muscles.
I whimper as pleasure coils my insides, and he shoves two fingers inside me before attacking my clit with his mouth.
“Oh, fuck.”

I trail my palm down his chest. “Because you wanted it to be my mouth around your dick?”
His lids grow heavy as his eyes track my every movement. “What are you doing?”
Moving my hand lower, I undo his belt buckle, release his fly, and slip my hand inside, grazing his length through his boxers. “Giving you what you want.”
He raises an eyebrow in challenge. “What makes you sure I want this?”
Tugging on the waistband of his boxers, I reach inside. He’s warm and hard for me. “It feels like you do.”

He playfully tugs my t-shirt. Or rather, his t-shirt. “Take this off.”
I fold my arms around his neck, not quite ready to put an end to his kiss. “Why?”
“Because I want to watch you shower.” Reaching down, he grabs a handful of my ass and squeezes. “I want you to pretend you’re all alone while I watch you play with yourself.” His fiery mouth slides down my neck. “But you’re not allowed to come.” He sucks the sensitive skin above my throat. “Not until my cock is inside you.”

“Knox.” She utters my name like a warning and a plea.
Standing up, I work my cock inside her pussy while I finger her tight little asshole. “How does it feel?”
“Full.” Her teeth saw along her lip as she closes her eyes. “I can feel you everywhere.”
Good.
Pumping my finger, I thrust deeper.
The walls of her pretty cunt squeeze around me, milking my dick as I give it to her harder.
But it’s not enough.

He drops me on the bed and kneels in front of me, his rough hands immediately going to the zipper on my jeans. I raise my hips as he tugs them off. My shirt, bra, and panties follow shortly after.
I reach for the hem of his shirt and bring it over his head.
I need to feel his skin on mine.
I need to feel him inside me…owning me, claiming me, fucking me.
Making everything make sense again.

His thrusts deepen as he kisses my cheeks, my chin, my lips.
Our skin sticks with sweat as we rock into each other and he presses his forehead against mine.
Oh, God.
This is so different…so intimate.
He holds my gaze as we exchange the same breath. “Aspen.”
There’s so much stark emotion contained when he says my name—hate, love, want, desire, obsession—all of it tangled into one.
Just like us.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Tied by Carian Cole

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: All Torn Up, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Tyler Grace
Heroine: Holly Daniels
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 2017
Started On: March 19, 2021
Finished On: March 24, 2021

Holly Grace is five years old when she is kidnapped. Forced into captivity by a man who is the worst kind of predator, Holly is rescued by none other than Tyler Grace the town recluse, who kills her captor and sets her free. Holly sees Tyler as none other than her prince charming, the knight in shining armor who rode to her rescue. Even though Holly does not get to see Tyler for two years after, she waits patiently for their union – because even if Tyler knows it not, he is hers and she is his.

Assimilating back to society takes its time and Holly feels out of place with everything, even when it comes to her family. Being in captivity, solely relying on her captor for eleven long years had left its mark. Holly is determined that one way or the other, she would find Tyler, and it is her quest to find her faithful companion when she was held in captivity which leads her to yours truly, who lives in a cottage in the forest, where Holly finally feels like she has come home.

Tyler has his scars from the past, having gone through a lot of rough patches when his life had changed irrevocably that one fateful night. I found myself thoroughly enchanted by the story as Holly and Tyler found their way to each other even amidst all of what stood in their way. They are two souls fated to be together, something which readers come to know as the story reaches its climax.

I loved Holly for how brave she was through everything, in spite of everything. She goes through the worst kind of tragic experience which had robbed her of the most formative years of her life, and yet she holds onto her hope that her prince would come to rescue her. Some people may find that to be an odd notion for a young girl who is kidnapped at the age of five, but I found it to be what gave her hope that someday she would be freed from the evil clutches of the man who held onto her.

Tyler was just as endearing in many aspects. He is someone who hides himself away because he too is on the fringes of society, on the outside looking in. His regrets are multiple when it comes to his past, and he believes that he would continue to pay penance for it for the rest of his life.

What I had problems with was how the story ended; the epilogue was bittersweet in the way it cheated readers out of a more wholesome look into their shared future together. But having gone back to re-read the epilogue once again makes me think perhaps it was the most fitting epilogue for two individuals who had suffered so much pain to finally find their home in each other.

While Holly’s parents were callous for the most part when she is finally found, realistically speaking, I do believe that her parents were right in getting her the help she required. But it would have been better had they rallied around her and provided better emotional support than they did. But I also understood how Holly’s abduction had destroyed the family as well – and human emotions being what they are can often be messy and chaotic when they somehow find a medium to survive in the aftermath of a tragedy.

There was also the point where the readers do not get to see Tyler embrace his darker side while with Holly. I understood the need to take things slow when it comes to Holly, but at the same time, Holly is someone who wants her prince wholeheartedly, the good and the bad that is within him. And I would have loved to see even one scene, maybe a couple of months into their relationship as they figure things out in terms of physical intimacy and gets comfortable to a point where Tyler could have shown Holly that side of him.

I also felt that the story was a bit rushed from a certain point onward, which is perhaps why the effect that I had hoped for when I picked this up to read did not materialize fully. But even with all that, I still enjoyed Ms. Cole’s voice which stands true to delivering emotional goodness in dealing with difficult subjects such as trauma of the kind that leaves its deep abiding scars on your soul forever.

Recommended for fans of the series, fans of Ms. Cole, and fans of romances of the beauty and the beast theme.

Final Verdict: Holly and Tyler are two halves of one soul, tied together by the invisible thread of fate which propels them towards each other in defiance of everything that may stand in their way!

Favorite Quotes

“Your heart is like a little hummingbird.” He breathes. “It was beating like this the day I found you…” He kisses the valley at the center of my chest, his tongue slowly sending a warm shiver up my spine. “I could feel it against my chest. And it made me want to hold on to you forever.”
I reach up to run my hands across his back, my mind growing fuzzy, drunk on his words and his touch.
“I’ve always wanted you to.” My whispered words invite his mouth to mine, and he kisses me softly at first, then unapologetically rough and deep, pulling me further into a woozy haze.

His mouth comes down on mine again as his hand gently moves over my breast, pushing the fabric aside. His rough palm grazes over my nipple, and a small sound of surprise escapes me at the sensation jolting through my body from that tiny touch.
“I fuckin’ love that sound…” he growls, and he roughly yanks the fabric up to expose my breasts, his mouth and tongue dragging over skin that’s never been touched. Surprise and fear are chased away as he sucks a nipple into his mouth, his tongue flicking over the hard tip, and my entire body responds, craving more of this, more of him, more of everything that feels so incredibly good.

“Can I ask you something?” she asks.
“Of course.”
“If I asked you to, would you stop doing the fighting?”
That’s the last thing I expected her to ask me. “Maybe. Why?”
“Because I love your face. And I don’t want it getting hurt anymore.”
You skeeve me out.
Her words rock me, right into my soul. Right now, she doesn’t know how much her words mean to me, but I know she’s the only person I’ll ever meet that has the true capacity to understand. We’re kinda made of the same ripped-up cloth.

“Holly…” My voices catches in my throat.
“I want to.” Her gray eyes lock onto mine as she pulls my shorts down, and I’m powerless under her sweet, sultry gaze and the sudden warmth of her mouth descending on my rock-hard cock.
All the way down.
My eyes literally roll back in my head as she expertly deep throats me, her lips touching my balls as she takes the full length of my shaft.
Oh, fuck. Nothing has ever felt so fucking amazing.

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

Review: Torn by Carian Cole

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: All Torn Up, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Toren Grace
Heroine: Kenzi Allyster Valentine
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: November 12, 2018
Started On: March 17, 2021
Finished On: March 19, 2021

My love, Walk in the rain with me. Kiss me in the misty fog. Let me hold you all night under the hush of the wind. I’m waiting for you. Throwing pennies…making wishes. I’m wishing only for you. Always for you. Come back to me. I’ll fight for you. I’ll fight for us. Wish for me, too…and I’ll make it come true.” ~ Toren Grace

Having experienced the beauty of the written word from Carian Cole, I decided to take the plunge and read some of the books from her backlist which appealed to me. Of course it certainly helped that a pivotal character from this series ended up being featured in Don’t Kiss the Bride, which helped propel me in this direction.

Featuring the May-December trope once again, Ms. Cole pushes things a bit further in Torn by putting in an additional layer which makes the romance between the main protagonists further taboo – the hero being the best friend of the heroine’s father around whom the heroine grows up. With a 15 year age gap between 37 year old Toren Grace (Tor) and 17 year old Kenzi Allyster Valentine when the story begins, Toren is just 16 years old when Kenzi is born.

From the moment Kenzi enters the lives of Tor and his best friends (parents of Kenzi), a monumental bond is formed between Kenzi and Tor. Taking the reader back and forth through the formative years of Kenzi’s life to present day when the romance between Tor and Kenzi buds to life, Ms. Cole certainly does a swell job in terms of building Tor’s character as he materialized in the story.

Tor is rough around the edges, ruggedly handsome, and tired of all the meaningless relationships that has ruled his life up till that point. He had played second fiddle to the woman who holds his affections for far too long. Wanting to settle down and live a simple life is what Tor dreams of, however elusive that dream maybe for him. The one constant in his life throughout has been Kenzi, and at the cusp of womanhood, Kenzi scares him with the at times stray thoughts of illicit nature that enters his subconscious where she is concerned.

Tor is a major part of Kenzi’s life as she grows up. Having parents who became famous musicians a year after she was born had meant that Kenzi too had spent her toddler years on the road on tour with them. When tragedy strikes and Tor is called back home, Kenzi too is left with Tor for the most part when her parents go about their lives, wanting to give Kenzi a more wholesome and grounded experience while growing up. And when tragedy strikes the lives of Kenzi’s parents, it is Tor who picks up the pieces and becomes the grounding force in her life, while her father puts his sole focus on dealing with the aftermath.

When things start changing between Tor and Kenzi, it is mostly to do with Kenzi pushing Tor beyond his limits. Tor resists at first, and puts up walls to keep her at bay. After all, no man in his right mind would say yes to what Kenzi wants, no matter how much Tor too may want the same thing. The conversations between Tor and Kenzi brings to light just how beautiful their bond is. Tor is Kenzi’s confidante, the person she feels safest with.

Resistance by Tor however is futile as Kenzi chips away at the walls and embraces the man who has loved her in every single way throughout her life, showing him that the kind of life that Tor has always wanted for himself could be a reality with her. Tor is love in its purest of forms, there are no two ways about it. He is a contrasting mix of gentle and rough which is so appealing. His love for Kenzi shines through in every single sentence of this book that deals with the couple and I have no words to describe just how perfect it all was.

Kenzi obviously being young does not care overly much about what people may think. But Tor of course does. Kenzi is the one who pushes Tor to give in, promising that they would weather whatever storm that may come, together. This is where my problems with this story began; at first I loved Kenzi for promising Tor that she would be by his side, no matter what. In the end, her words rang hollow as she leaves for an extended period of time given the situation that unfolds as Kenzi’s father finally finds out about Tor and her relationship.

That is where my confusion as to how to rate this book too arose. On the one hand, I loved everything to do with Tor, the relationship between Kenzi and him from years back which had developed into love of the kind that is fulfilling in every single aspect. While I understood why Kenzi takes the advice given by her closest friend to put distance between herself, Tor and her father for things to cool down, the extent of the time she stays away made me feel sad for Tor on many levels.

While I appreciated the fact that she does find firmer footing of her own path in life during the time spent apart, I still felt that Tor was cheated out on some level; how would we readers have reacted had Tor promised the same and ran with his tail between his legs quoting the same reason, and then tries to see whether he could move on or rather tests the waters to see whether what he had with Kenzi was in fact real? I think we would not have been very happy with Tor either, if that were to be the case.

I also felt that at times Kenzi was just a hidden shadow in the story for the most part. While her love for Tor was a tangible thing, I felt that her parents were just too focused on each other and furthering their career as musicians to care overly much for Kenzi; they left the parenting to Tor for the most part. If Kenzi had been more fleshed out in other ways perhaps, I guess her character would have been more wholesome.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Cole and fans of taboo romances featuring a significant age gap between the main protagonists. Ms. Cole definitely does the subject matter justice when she delivers her stories.

Final Verdict: Tor is the definition of love in its purest form, a beautiful manifestation of what most women want their significant other to be. Sign me up for the next Tor please!

Favorite Quotes

“You’re bleeding.” My voice cracks as I choke back new tears and dab at his hand with the sleeve of my sweatshirt.
His hand closes over mine, on top of the big furry dog’s back, and his gaze drifts from our joined hands, up to my face. For the first time I don’t recognize the deep, dark eyes staring back into mine, but I fall right into them willingly as our lips meet. My eyes flutter closed as I tumble further into him, but he quickly jerks away, and we simultaneously suck in a startled breath, staring at each other with wide-eyed shock.
Dropping my hand, he grabs the back of my neck, yanking my mouth back to his hungrily, and I clutch his arm to keep from falling backward onto my ass. His lips are warm and demanding, his tongue pushing past my teeth, coaxing my mouth open. My heartbeats turn into soaring butterflies. Nothing has ever felt like this.

Holding her gaze, I yank off my worn T-shirt and toss it to the floor, watching how her eyes take in my bare chest and then drift hungrily to my abs. I want her to run. I want her to stay.
“Well, here I am. Show me.”
I know every single one of Kenzi’s expressions for every feeling she has ever felt. But I’ve never seen this look of sheer smoldering desire on her face before. Her eyes stay on mine as she steps towards me with zero hesitation, zero doubt. She completely owns her determination to do exactly what I asked – show me.
The space between us disappears quickly, and she backs me up against the adjacent wall, her hands coming up to hold my face as she goes up on her toes to kiss my lips.
“You,” she says softly. “You are what I’ve always wanted. And yes – way before I even knew what that meant. But I know what it means now.”
She lowers her head and kisses my bare chest, right above the tattoo of her words, her lips soft, wet, and warm.
“I want all of you,” she continues as her lips move across my flesh. “Your love, your body. Your past, your present, your future. Everything.”

“Make me stop, Kenz. Please…” I beg, knowing I’ll never let her go if she doesn’t stop this. She’s got me too far gone to turn back and her new level of sensual confidence is throwing up way too many green lights.
“No,” she says simply, wrapping her arms around me, kissing me just as hungrily as I’m kissing her.
“Push me away.”
“Never,” she whispers, pulling me even closer.
“What’s gotten into you today?” I demand, moving my lips down to suck her neck.
“I don’t know…” she breathes, tilting her head back, letting me suck the delicate flesh of her throat. “Being so close to you all day…touching you…I don’t want to stop.”

Reaching up, she pulls the hair tie out of the back of my hair and smiles when my hair falls down into her face.
“You like that?” I ask softly, stroking her cheek with the back of my hand.
“I’ve dreamed about you on top of me like this, with your hair in my face.”
I suck in a quick breath. “You never told me you dreamt about me.”
Her hands skim up my chest, over my shoulders, and clasp behind my neck as she stares up at me. “I was afraid it would make you pull further away from me.”
“I don’t think I can pull away anymore. It’s a battle I just can’t win.”

Her body is engulfed by mine as I climb back on top of her, and I can feel her trembling beneath me now, either from fear or excitement or probably a mashup of both. My mouth is hard and demanding on hers as I move my body over her, the feeling of flesh on flesh making my cock like a rock between us, pressing against her, seeking her heat. Reaching down between us, I slide my hand between her thighs to gently stroke her pink lips and she’s so fucking wet already that it obliterates any ideas of patience and gentleness I may have had. I want in, and I want it now.

“Are you still on the pill?” I ask against her lips, my fingers expertly strumming over her clit.
She nods and moves her hands down to my ass, trying to pull me between her legs. “Yes…” she says breathlessly. “For you.”
“Good,” I growl, moving between her thighs. She doesn’t waver at all when I grab my cock and rub the head up and down between her wet lips and over her clit, coaxing her into that crazy place of wanting nothing but sweet release. Of wanting nothing but me.

Time stands still as we rock against each other, our bodies slippery with sweat, her lips pressed against my chest, kissing that spot over my heart that’s forever marked with her words.
And now, her kiss. Her touch. Her love.
After today, I can never deny the truth again. She completely owns me.

Spreading my folds with his fingers, he gently pushes me down until I’m flush against him with his cock wedged between my lips.
“Keep your legs spread and slide yourself back and forth over me,” he coaxes, grabbing my hips and moving me so my sex glides from the base of him all the way up to the head, and then back again. And he’s right, even though he’s not inside me, rubbing along his hard length feels incredible.
Leaning back against the pillows, his gaze drifts up my body, not stopping until he reaches my eyes.
“That feels so good…” he groans softly, cupping my breasts in his hands again. “Don’t stop, just let yourself go and get off on me. I want to watch you come.”

Grabbing the back of my neck, he gently pulls my head down and kisses my lips. “You’re perfect, Kenzi. Every single inch of you, inside and out. You’re turning me on like fuckin’ crazy.” He kisses me again, always knowing exactly what I need to hear and feel, and I continue to ride along his shaft, arching my back to press my clit against him.
“There ya go,” he whispers, his fingers grazing over my nipple, sending more sparks throughout my body and down into my core. “Feel how hard I am for you? For months I’ve been hiding that from you but now I want you to feel every inch of what you do to me.”

He growls against my lips when I let the tip of his cock press against my wet entrance and I get my first taste of real sensual power. He wants me. Maybe even needs me.
Angling my hips just the right way, I lower myself down onto him and he inhales sharply, pulling me down hard on him, his cock plunging deep. A small cry sounds in my throat but again, the sensation of pain and want is intoxicating for me, intensifying when he whispers my name and shudders, losing himself in me completely just as I am with him.

I wait at the front door for him with a pounding heart, holding myself back from running to him just in case a neighbor might see me. His long jean-clad legs carry him up the walkway quickly and he shuts the door behind him, his eyes locking onto mine with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on him as he immediately reaches for me, cupping his hand on the side of my throat and bending down to cover my mouth with his, slow and deep. Possessive. I wind my arms around his neck and hang on to him as my legs turn to jelly, threatening to let me melt into a puddle at his feet.
This is the best hello of my life.

“Do you want me?” His teeth graze the back of my neck as his finger slowly pushes into me, a small moan escapes my lips.
“Always.”
“Tell me.” His lips curve against my neck in response and he pushes his palm up against my sex, his middle finger pressing perfectly against my sweet spot. “I want to hear your sweet voice say something dirty.”
Without hesitating, I say exactly what I’m thinking. “I want to feel every inch of your cock rammed in me right now.”

“Tor…” Orgasmic delirium has me liquifying under his touch, as if my bones are melting. Dropping the showerhead, he spins me around and grabs my ass, lifting me up and pushing me back against the tile, his stiff cock finding home again as I wrap my legs around his waist. He kisses me with wild hunger, pumping into me while the dangling showerhead spins around, spraying water everywhere. He moans against my mouth and stills, buried deep inside me, his kisses halting to slow, deep, and soft, and I feel him surge and pulse as he comes. I move my pelvis in slow circles against him, milking and caressing him with my tightening walls. Exhaling deeply, he stares into my eyes and loosens his grip on me.
“Damn…I love you,” he says, his voice filled with raw emotion.
“I love you back,” I say breathlessly, raining kisses over his face and smoothing his wet hair back.

Rolling over onto my back, I pull her on top of me and she’s already a step ahead of me, knowing exactly what I want and need. Her body moves tantalizingly slow on top of me, like she’s savoring every inch, every breath, every touch. She takes my cock into her with a long, smooth descent, then lifts herself up even slower ’til she reaches my tip before lowering down onto me again, repeating this over and over. There’s no rush, no crazy bouncing up and down, no slamming of bodies. Her body dances effortlessly with mine, like we were made to be one since the beginning of time. There’s no rush to reach an end because there is no end. Her eyes fall closed, her pouty lips parting with the ecstasy of my body filling hers as she makes love to me like we have forever.
And she made me believe that we did have forever.

He sucks in a breath and watches with dark lust-filled eyes as I slowly slide myself down the wall until I’m kneeling in front of him, holding his gaze as I slowly unzip his jeans and pull them down along with his boxers. His hard cock thrusts out, and I eagerly wrap my lips around the head and slide my mouth down his shaft, filling my mouth and throat with him. He leans one arm on the wall above me and his other hand cups the back of my neck, his thumb slowly rubbing over my cheek as I move my lips up and down the hot length of him.
“I love when you suck me.” The deep, breathiness of his voice sends tingles up and down my spine as he thrusts his salty crown against the back of my throat.

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