Review: In Bed with the Boss by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Third Person, Single
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Duncan Royal
Heroine: Sunshine Kalera Donovan
Sensuality: 3
Published On: December 25, 1998
Started On: April 16, 2022
Finished On: April 21, 2022

Kalera shivered as she pulled into the hotel car park, her nerves spiking at the vivid mental image of Duncan, his moon-burnished torso arched into a shuddering bow, his fists digging into the mattress, head flung back, sweat glistening on his straining throat, his mouth open on a hoarse cry of violent ecstasy as he spilled himself into her hand. Heat prickled over her breasts as she remembered how quickly his body had veered out of his control, his intellect completely submerged in a rapturous celebration of the senses.

In Bed with the Boss by Susan Napier might sound like a story based on a cliched and tested and tried trope. The story that unfolds however, is nothing that fits into any form of the reader’s preconceived notions. Ms. Napier is famous for writing characters that stands out and delivers stories that were way ahead of the times in which she wrote the books. And this story is no exception to that rule.

The story begins when 27 year old Sunshine Kalera Donovan, who has been working for a period of three years at Labyrinth Technology as 34 year old Duncan Royal’s secretary, submits her resignation. While Duncan refuses to accept her resignation and is shocked within an inch of his life to find out that Kalera was resigning because of her imminent marriage to none other than his bitterest rival, needless to say, Duncan hits the roof.

Kalera’s previous marriage had ended on a tragic note when her husband had died in his prime, leaving her a widow. Duncan had seen it all, comforted her through some of the darkest moments of her life the two years since, and even though Kalera is loath to admit the fact, her awareness of Duncan as a man makes her all too eager to give up her job and rejoin the safety that marriage had offered her once. With Duncan working at every turn to convince Kalera that she is making a mistake and that it is to him that she belongs, Kalera is just as determined to do what she set out to do, until the devastating truth to what she had never known before comes to light.

Duncan and Kalera are two opposites in many ways – Duncan is flashy, driven, ambitious, and hot-blooded. Kalera, having grown up with a set of parents who were all about unconventional and open relationships, abhors frivolity and had found solace in her staid husband who had provided her with stability and also taught her that being sensual in bed can be coupled with faithfulness as well. Kalera lives with her head up in the clouds, unable to see what is right in front of her, and that means that Duncan has his work cut out for him when it comes to convincing her that they indeed belong together.

Duncan was such a wonderful hero. Ms. Napier has done such a splendid job in bringing out the sensuality that oozes out of his very pores, his brash style and energy that he brings to every scene something that the reader is helplessly drawn to. Kalera might wish Duncan to be less everything, just so that she can be spared the sensory overload when it comes to Duncan, but in reality, he is a delight to her every sense, intellectual and physical. The way Duncan takes care of Kalera in all aspects, be it emotionally or physically, and drives her to come out of the cocoon that she basks in and face the ultimate truth – that was the best aspect of this novel.

The most shocking revelations come towards the end and giving that away would mean giving Duncan’s character away – and how he had watched from afar a woman who had owned his heart from the minute she walked through his office door to be interviewed for the position as his assistant.

Loved this to bits and recommend this to anyone who loves romances; the sheer experience of Duncan alone is reason enough to indulge!

Final Verdict: In Bed with the Boss is a testament to Susan Napier’s remarkable talent when it comes to weaving romances with heart and depth that is chock-full of sensuality and goodness of the kind that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Favorite Quotes

‘Kalera? What’s wrong?’
Unutterable relief throttled her speech. Nothing was wrong. Not now. In the dim light she could see that Duncan was bare-chested, his broad shoulders gleaming like polished wood, the muscles of his supporting arm bulging in a manner that proclaimed him strong and vigorous and pumping with life. She had never looked at Duncan as a man before and now suddenly there he was—blatantly, inescapably, irrefutably male, a potent symbol of the passion that had been wiped out of her life by a bitter stroke of fate.

‘Oh, yes…that feels so good, so hot…’ she murmured eagerly, pushing her smooth thigh between his legs, twisting her upper body so that her stiff nipples scraped against his chest and her hip angled across the thickening shaft of flesh stirring against his belly. He uttered another tormented groan.
‘No, we can’t do this—’
But even as he spoke his hands were shifting to cage her ribs, his thumbs angling into the crease under her soft breasts, pushing them up into pouting prominence, his thighs clenching around hers, a sheen of perspiration slicking across his skin.

‘Yes, oh, yes…’ Her voice throbbed with relief as he stroked her there too, insinuating his hand between her silky thighs and dipping his fingers into the damp, creamy heat, parting the moist petals and finding the most sensitive spot on her body with a tantalising skill that made her almost burst with unbearable delight.
‘Do you like that, darling?’ he murmured against her dewy breast, moving his invading fingers deeper into her receptive body. ‘Tell me…tell me everything you want and I’ll give it to you…’

‘What have you done? Let me see.’ Duncan wove himself sinuously around the end of his desk and divested her of the weapon. He tossed the papers back down on his desk and turned her hand over and they both looked down at the bead of blood rapidly forming on the pad of her thumb.
‘Here. Let me.’ Expecting him to offer up his handkerchief to dab at the tiny wound, Kalera was stunned speechless when he lifted her hand and put her entire thumb in his mouth, his tongue swirling over the tip as he suckled strongly. She froze, her thoughts turning to chaos. His cheeks hollowed and as she stared into his deep, dark gaze the hot, wet, rhythmic contractions suddenly became shockingly erotic.

‘We were just having a meal,’ she denied.
‘A man and a woman innocently enjoying each other’s company,’ he agreed softly. He had a gift for making a chaste phrase sound ineffably wicked.
His thumb pressed into the tiny indentation in the middle of her chin, tugging minutely on her lower lip. ‘Only it wasn’t entirely innocent, was it, Kalera?’
‘We weren’t doing anything,’ she blurted feverishly.
His eyes grew slumberous. ‘But we wanted to,’ he murmured, his hand moving to cup her smooth cheek, encompassing it from jaw to temple, the heel of his palm curving under the angle of her jaw.

But as his denim-clad thigh thrust between hers and his hands raked open the buttons of her blouse she couldn’t remember why she should care. The mingled scent of their heated bodies was a heady bouquet in her nostrils and went like wine to her head, so that when Duncan broke the endless kiss to curse over a lone snagged button a bubble of husky laughter escaped her throat.
Goaded by the sexy sound, he lost patience and ripped her blouse open, thrusting his hands into the stretch lace cups of her bra and dragging them down to expose her swollen, brown-tipped breasts.

‘I’m glad you wore my sexy little dress,’ he told her softly, propping one hand on the pillar above her golden head. ‘I was afraid you might resist the temptation and swaddle yourself from head to toe in something pretty, but sadly unadventurous.’
A perfect description of her blue dress!
‘I wore this for Stephen,’ she said quickly. ‘Not for you.’
‘You wore it for the man who gave it to you, whoever you might have thought it was—and that’s me,’ he said with satisfaction, hooking a glass of champagne for himself from a passing waiter. ‘I spent ages hunting for exactly the right one…one that would warm your skin and furl your body like a half-opened rose…perfumed, velvety-soft, sensual, and alluring…’

He lifted her right hand and dragged off the glittering diamond ring and threw it onto the floor. Then he placed her bare hand on his thrusting body and crushed her mouth with his and suddenly her dammed emotions were bursting their swollen banks and she was fighting with him for the pleasure, helping him tear off her nightie, arching her breasts to his mouth and lifting her legs to encompass the rock-hard strength of his thighs, guiding him into the silky heat for the physical union that would complete them as two halves of a whole. The intense pleasure spiked at his first thrust, then again, and again, as his hips drove him deep into her central core, and Kalera shuddered, her gasping cry mingling with his answering groan of completion.

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

Review: The Confidence and Resurrection of Wildflowers by Micalea Smeltzer

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: First Person, Single
Series: Wildflower Duet
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Thayer Holmes
Heroine: Salem Grace
Sensuality: 3
Published On: March 23, 2022
Started On: April 10, 2022
Finished On: April 13, 2022

He cuts off my question, pressing me into the corner of the maze, the dried corn stalks rough against my back, and then he kisses me. It’s a rough, searing, soul-stealing sort of kiss. Thayer Holmes has branded himself on me. And I know, without a doubt, that whatever this is, whatever we become, if we grow and flourish like the wildflowers behind our houses, or crash and burn, it won’t matter because when I’m old and gray, lying in bed thinking about my life, he’ll be the best part.

The Wildflower Duet by Micalea Smeltzer was released early last year. Ms. Smeltzer is an evocative writer, whose elegant prose and characterization left me spellbound when it came to the story Sweet Dandelion. Being a sucker for May-December tropes, I was quick to grab this as it was released and I was not disappointed – at least with the first installment of the duet.

Salem Grace is 18 years old when the story begins, having just finished high school and dating the quintessential popular guy you come across in small towns. 31 year old Thayer Holmes moves in as Salem’s next door neighbor, and an unlikely friendship is forged with the single father whose gruff and silent manner should have been off-putting but draws Salem to him like a moth to a flame.

As Salem starts to babysit for Thayer’s son, the relationship between the two deepens to something much more, and a love forges to life, unlike any Salem has known. With Thayer, Salem feels safe from the nightmares that plagues her, and she feels cherished in a way that she has never known. However, tragedy is not too far from their lives when the unthinkable happens, driving the kind of wedge between Thayer and Salem that only time alone would heal. As the story moves to its second installment, Salem returns to her hometown six years henceforth, forced to come home and face the music at long last. This time around, she is older and wiser, and has a secret that she left with all those years ago.

As mentioned earlier in the review, I did enjoy the first installment in the series. Salem and Thayer invoked so many emotions in me that at times I felt chock full of it. Salem’s tragic past had me wanting to hurt someone, a very specific someone, and Thayer was all kinds of appealing. He has his own demons to fight with, but the connection between Salem and Thayer is one that all too real for him to ignore, even with the huge age gap between them.

I could understand why Thayer acted the way he did towards the end of the first installment, because some losses, you never ever fully recover from. The fact that Salem loved Thayer enough to know that and understand that was one reason I loved both of them to bits. But as the story moved to six years later, I found that there was not much essence nor conflict to the story to keep the reader hooked and the pages turning. I would have been happier had the first installment being extended a bit, and this was just a single book story. I believe it would have been more fitting.

Towards the end, I skipped huge parts of the latter half of the second book, just so I could get to the ending. I don’t like reiteration in my novels to the point where I have to force myself to keep my eyes open. That is what happened with the second installment in the series, with mundane details of everyday life thrown into make the pages count. I just sorely wish that had not been the case because if not, this would have been a stellar 5-star read!

Recommended for fans of the author and fans of May-December themed romances.

Final Verdict: The Wildflower duet is a story of tragedy and heartache. It is also one of deep abiding love and hope that gets you through the darkest moments of life!

Favorite Quotes

“I’ll get our drinks.” I head back to the kitchen for them. I grab another Diet Coke from the fridge and turn to get his, but nearly smack into his chest. “Jesus Christ!” My hand flies to my chest. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.” He makes no move to back up. “Thayer?” His brown eyes stare at me intently. “W-What are you doing?” His tongue wets his lips and I realize he’s staring at my mouth. “Are you going to kiss me?” I blurt my thoughts out loud.
He towers above me, lowering his head so I’m cocooned with the mini-fridge behind my legs and his body blocking everything else. I know if I wanted to move, he’d let me pass, that’s the kind of man he is. But the fact is, I don’t want to.
His voice is deeper than normal when he asks, “Do you want me to?”
I swallow. Do I?
“Yes.”

“Salem,” he murmurs my name between kisses.
I wind my legs around his waist, gasping when I feel the hardness of his erection.
We are chaos. Unrestrained passion igniting with a single spark.

“Need to be in you.” He sounds like he’s aching with the same need I am.
He shoves his jeans down and his boxer-briefs with them.
Thayer Holmes is naked in front of me.
I don’t look away.
I take in every inch of him.
Every. Long. Perfect. Inch.

He doesn’t hesitate. Grabbing the base of his cock, he plunges into me. I cry out, my back arching. He’s so big and I’m so full.
“Fucking hell, Salem,” he curses, exhaling heavily.
“Am I too tight?” I squeak, because my God, he’s stretching me.
He shakes his head, brown hair falling over his forehead. I reach up, brushing it away so I can see his eyes. I need to see them. He can’t hide from me that way.
“No,” he rocks slowly out and back in, “it’s just…” His fingers tighten around my hips, angling me up to meet his thrusts. “You feel like mine.”

His hips push into mine and I gasp at the feel of him hard and ready.
“Thayer,” I pant.
He wraps a hand around my neck. I moan, surprised at how much I like his hand there. “Do you want me to fuck you against the wall, Salem?”
God, yes.
“Yes.”
“Good.”

“Thayer,” I pant, breathless, “right there. Don’t stop.”
I fall over the edge, my orgasm rattling me to the bone.
His lips press open-mouthed kisses to my neck. He pumps his hips harder, faster into me, and impossibly I feel my body building toward another high.
“Thayer!” I scream his name, my orgasm rippling through me.

“If you wouldn’t have chosen a peony, what did you think my favorite would be?”
“Sunflowers,” he answers without hesitation. “I guess that’s because you remind me of them. You’re so bright and happy most of the time.”
“I didn’t used to be,” I admit mournfully.
His finger is warm beneath my chin, lifting my head to look at him. “Who we used to be doesn’t matter, it’s who we are now, what’s in our hearts that matters most. You’re sunshine, Salem, but even the sun doesn’t always shine.” His hand moves to cup my cheek. A sigh passes through my lips as I lean into his touch. “I’m not bright like you, but I promise, when your days are dark, I’ll be your light.”

“You feel so good,” he murmurs into the skin of my neck. “Fucking made for me, Salem.”
“God, yes.” I squeeze my legs around him. He rests his forehead against mine, our noses brushing, breath to breath.
He makes love to me and I soak in every bit of that, letting it fill me up.
This is what it means to be cared for. Cherished.
Anything less is second best.

One of his arm winds around my back and he lifts me effortlessly, pressing my back to the shower wall. His erection presses into my core, my hips grinding against him on their own accord.
“Yes,” he encourages, guiding my hips with his hands, “get yourself off on me.”
He kisses me again, and it’s rough, aching, so desperately needy.
My fingers grapple against his slick back.
I rock my hips harder, faster. It feels so good. He feels so right.
My orgasm shatters through me so fast with so much force that I scream.

I bite my lip, holding back tears. My voice is barely above a whisper when I say, “I never stopped caring about you. I moved on, but my heart didn’t.”
He pulls the truck abruptly off to the side of the road. Gravel and dirt kick up behind us as he slams the vehicle into park. He turns slowly in his seat to look at me.
“Thayer—” I start to question, but he doesn’t give me a chance to finish my thought. He cups my cheek in one hand, his mouth descending on mine in less than a heartbeat.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Review: Claimed by Evangeline Anderson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Third Person, Dual
Series: Brides of the Kindred, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Baird
Heroine: Olivia Lauren Waterhouse
Sensuality: 3.5
Published On: February 09, 2011
Started On: February 04, 2022
Finished On: February 09, 2022

“You can think whatever you want, Olivia, but you should know one thing.” He leaned even closer, his hot breath stirring her hair as he murmured in her ear. “When I take you—because I will take you—make no mistake about that,” he said, cutting off her protest. “When I do, I promise you’ll want it every bit as bad as I do. You’ll beg for it, Linlenta. Beg to have my shaft inside you, filling you up as I bond you to me forever.”

Having had a taste of Evangeline Anderson’s writing through her novel Planet X, I found myself wanting to experience more of her world-building, exciting adventures, and the cool science that she explores in her stories. I was not disappointed in my venture, as I dipped my toes into the series of The Brides of Kindred through the debut book in the series, Claimed.

The title of the story is quite fitting, as Claimed explores the very concept of the male claiming his female. The year is beyond 2030, and the life on Earth has changed significantly. 2025 was the year that saw Earth being attacked by a mysterious force known as the Scourge, until an alien-warrior species known as the Kindred had come to the Earth’s rescue. Their only condition for the assistance being genetic trading, sourcing wives for their mostly male dominant species. As a consequence, an all female draft had been set up on Earth in which every unmarried woman between 19 and 35 years of age were required to enter.

Conditions of the mating are guided through rules which have to be adhered to, and if not the contract entered would be null and void. During a four week period the male has to convince the female to accept him as hers, the fourth being the mating week and if the female refuses to mate with the male at the time, they are free to leave and return to Earth, and if not, they would be mated for life to live with their Kindred mates.

Against this backdrop comes Baird, seeking his mate Olivia Lauren Waterhouse. Baird has just escaped from captivity aboard the mother-ship steered by the Scourge, six long months of hell that he had survived purely because of Olivia. At the moment of his capture, his mind had aligned with that of his mate’s and it had been only through her that he had found the will to survive and escape.

A nursing graduate who is taking some time off before starting her position as a pediatric nurse at a major hospital, Olivia is left feeling restless in the wake of the dreams and nightmares that has plagued her for the past half of an year about a man she has labeled as “the dark man”. She has seen him look defeated, exhausted, hooked to a machine, and undergoing pain and torture of both the physical and emotional variety. For some reason she cannot fathom, she had experienced every bit of agony he had undergone, and then the authorities come to take her to the Kindreds as a bride that has been claimed by none other than “the dark man”.

Olivia resists the very thought of being bound to a man she never known except through the vividness of her dreams. Having broken up from her cheating boyfriend just six months back, Olivia is not amused by the idea of Baird claiming her as his, the kind of Kindred known as Rager aka the Beast Kindred who are said to have the most unpredictable tempers, and would kill to protect their mates no matter what. Olivia has only one game plan; get Baird to do something that would render the contract null and void, so that she can return to her safe and staid life back on Earth.

What Olivia does not factor in is how the six months of dream-sharing has affected her, how her body wants Baird’s touch, and how helpless she is when the wanton desire that courses through her body takes over whenever Baird is around within touching distance. It hurts Baird that his beloved resists him so, but he is equally determined to show her what it means to be mated to him – even if it kills him every time Olivia rejects his overtures.

When the ultimate act of “betrayal” happens, it is only then Olivia realizes the gravity of the depth of her feelings towards Baird, how he owns her soul just as he does hers. But the battle with the Scourge comes in between, making their journey towards a happily ever after that much more perilous.

I enjoyed the story that Claimed offered for the most part. As expected, I got plenty in terms of the world building, cool as heck gadgets used by the Kindred, and got a kick out of understanding the differences in body physiology when it comes to the species. I also fell like a ton of bricks for Baird, who was quite the opposite of what I expected of him. His kind is known to be the fiercest, but I saw him as a gentle giant of sorts, who truly was besotted with his mate and would not have hesitated to go through any means possible to have her. His gallant nature and courtship of Olivia who defied it at every turn made me fall even harder, and the only thing that was savage about Baird was his gentleness when it came to seducing Olivia, which completely undid me.

Olivia was tougher in every sense; I understood her resistance to Baird at first and through most of the antics she practiced to get away from what was inevitable. Even when she saw for herself that Baird was not what she had expected him to be, that he was in fact interested in what she wanted and needed beyond the physical, that he was into her in every sense, she still resisted, even when she knows that the Earth offers slim pickings given her experience with the male species back home. It got tiresome after a certain point, because I felt like she was resisting with no real reasoning behind it, just to keep up her pride, until eventually she learns her lesson.

The one thing that I am discovering about books by Ms. Evangeline is that, she builds up the sexual tension to a fevered pitch in a way that leaves the readers on tenterhooks and the delivery somehow falls short of expectations because you have been left to build your own castles in the air of explosive fireworks all abound. Planet X posed a similar problem with the vivid dream sex and this one with all the crazy build-up. I hope the books down the line fare better.

I will be revisiting other books in the series as time allows, when I am in need of a good sci-fi erotica to pick me up. I was also quite enamored by a character who stood out from the Scourge, the son of their leader who left a lasting impression on me. Looking forward to reading his story which has already been published.

Recommended for fans of sci-fi romance with emotional depth and fantastic world building!

Final Verdict: The debut book in The Brides of Kindred series lays down exciting possibilities for the stories to follow!Baird is the very definition of savage tenderness; a hero who would make any female yearn to be his.

Favorite Quotes

“The reason I know how you’ll react is because I’m going to spend hours getting you ready, driving you crazy with my mouth and hands.” His eyes were blazing and half lidded with lust as he spoke.
“Get…getting me ready?” Liv faltered.
Slowly, he nodded. “I can’t wait to touch you. Can’t wait to taste you—to spread your sweet, creamy thighs and put my tongue in your hot little pussy until you beg for more. Beg to have me inside you, filling you all night.”

Baird broke the kiss long enough to whisper something low and urgent in her ear—something that sounded like her name. “So beautiful. So fuckin’ perfect,” he groaned into her hair as she rubbed herself wantonly against him. Then he reached between them and Liv heard the low ripping noise of fabric parting. A cool breeze caressed her heated sex and she understood that the big warrior had actually torn off her panties, baring her pussy completely.

“Want you to imagine something for me, Lilenta,” he murmured, stroking a little more firmly. “Imagine my mouth on you here with no panties in the way. Imagine how good it’s going to feel when I spread your pussy open and taste you. You think you’d like that? Think you’d like being open on the bed for me, feeling my tongue deep inside your cunt?”
“I…I don’t know,” Liv gasped, squirming under his fingers as he stroked the side of her clit with a slightly faster rhythm. Damn him, how did he know exactly the right way to touch her, even in a dream?

Baird still didn’t kiss her back but he parted his lips invitingly and, to her surprise, Liv found herself taking him up on the invitation. His mouth was hot and wet and luscious and she found she was exploring him delicately with her tongue, tasting and testing, learning him, kissing him as though she never wanted to stop.
And then, at last, Baird kissed back. He pulled her close, positioning her so that she straddled his hips, and ran his big, warm hands up and down her back. Sucking her tongue gently, he pressed up against her until Liv felt like she was floating on a cloud of pure lust.

“You like the feel of my hands on you? My fingers inside you?” He matched actions to words, sliding two long digits deep into her slippery pussy as the broad pad of his thumb continued to slip over her clit.
The new sensation was too much. Liv felt like she’d been on edge all night, the build up of sexual tension inside her was like a nuclear reactor set to blow. When she felt him enter her she cried out, her spine bowing and her fists clenching at the bedspread on either side of her.
“That’s right, Lilenta,” she heard Baird murmur. “That’s right, just let it go. Let yourself come for me.”

They were on their sides facing each other with her breasts pressed against the hard wall of his chest and her head resting on his bicep. Her face was just at the level of his throat and that same spicy masculine musk she supposed must be his natural smell was invading all her senses at once.
God, he smells good…feels good…Without knowing what she was doing, Liv nuzzled against him, pressing her nose closer to his throat and breathing him in, just as he had said. She felt rather than heard the low rumble of laughter coming up from his chest.
“You scent marking me, Lilenta?”

“Please, Baird, please.”
“Can’t, I told you.” He kissed her hard and then more softly before looking into her eyes. “Just let yourself come again and you’ll feel better. Look at me, Lilenta. Let me feel you coming under me.”
The intense eye contact and the low, commanding tone of his voice as much as the delicious friction between them finally sent her over the edge again. As a second, even stronger orgasm crashed down on her, Liv arched her back and cried out her pleasure shamelessly. At the same time she felt Baird getting even harder against her and then, with a low roar, he released in hot, hard spurts against her belly.

Liv cried out as he released her first nipple and began on the second one, sucking it into his hot, wet mouth. She expected to feel him pinching the other but instead his hand slipped down her abdomen and into her jeans and panties.
“God, Baird!” she protested, vaguely aware that they were still in public but there was no stopping him. Before she could say another word two long, thick fingers slipped deep into her pussy, fucking up into her and making her arch her back and moan.
“That’s good, Olivia,” he said in her ear. “Ride my fingers and let me fuck you. Gods your pussy is so hot and wet. Can’t wait to feel you coming.”

Baird redoubled his efforts, his tongue lashing her mercilessly while his fingers drove into her, pumping hard and deep, showing her exactly how he was going to take her when it was his cock filling her instead.
The thought of that—the forbidden mental image of his huge shaft stretching her open and bottoming out inside her was too much. Liv didn’t quite know how it happened but suddenly she was crying and moaning as the pleasure inside her peaked and rushed over her in a warm wave.

“Look at me,” he whispered roughly when Liv’s eyes closed with the overwhelming pleasure. “Look at me while I touch you, Olivia. Look at me while I fuck you. While I bond you.”
Liv’s eyes fluttered open and she met his intense golden gaze. “Baird,” she whispered, unable to say more.
“Now,” he growled. “Come for me, Lilenta. Come for me so I can fill you up, so I can flood your pussy with my cum and make you mine for always.”

She didn’t know how long it lasted or how many times she came. There were periods of hot, wild fucking where Baird pounded up into her as though he was determined to mark her as his own. But there were also long stretches where he barely moved at all. Instead, he filled her with a slow, rocking movement while he looked in her eyes and told her how much he loved her. He came in her over and over, just as he had promised he would and each time she felt it as she never had with a human man, felt his hot seed filling her and making the connection between them even deeper. And each time he did, it released something in Liv’s body, making her come too.

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

Review: To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
POV: Third Person, Dual
Series: Wyckerley Trilogy, #2
Publisher: NAL Trade
Hero: Sebastian James Ostley Selborne-Hammond Verlaine
Heroine: Rachel Crenshaw
Sensuality: 3
Published On: September 01, 1995
Started On: January 12, 2022
Finished On: January 13, 2022

Even now her husband obsessed him. He lifted his face from the hot hollow between her neck and shoulder to ask, “Did he hurt you, always? Was there never any pleasure for you?”
She wouldn’t answer.

Reading a Patricia Gaffney is always an experience – whether you enjoy it or not, learn from it or not is a whole different story. Book 2 in the Wyckerley Trilogy, To Have and To Hold, would be my second read by Ms. Gaffney and this was riveting in many ways.

The story begins when 28 year old Rachel Crenshaw is brought in front of 30 year old Sebastian James, Viscount D’Aubrey, who resides as a judge in their small town. Accused of stealing, Rachel would have easily been thrown in prison as someone with a record, who was jailed for ten years for the murder of her husband.

Sebastian is a man called many things—rake, sensualist, seeker, dilettante, degenerate. Those very traits within him sit up and take notice of Rachel from the very first moment he lays eyes on her. The sensualist in him drawn to the drab form Rachel is, a woman who has erased the very essence of who she is. His curiosity drives Sebastian to do the unthinkable and he hires Rachel as his housekeeper. The story that follows is one that was compelling.

Sebastian’s goal is simple – to goad his new housekeeper into revealing bits and pieces of herself until she is no longer the mystery that his brain works to solve every single day. Sebastian invades Rachel’s personal space, deliberately tries to get a reaction out of her when she would not give him much, and obsesses with the fact that she was married and what it is that her husband must have done to be murdered at the hand of his wife mere hours after their marriage.

It is only when the story reaches its pivotal point that much is revealed about the horrors that Rachel underwent, the hard blow that life had dealt her, after the way her family had brought her up to cultivate the right sorts of relationships and acquaintances to snag just the perfect match that would take her places. Ultimately, the only place it had taken her was to the gaol and a life of loneliness and hardship of the kind she had never known.

Sebastian is a hero that many a reader would love to hate – the way he pursues Rachel, someone who has undergone abuse and is clearly suffering from the memories of it is something that many readers would not be able to condone. However, we are talking about a time when people did not acknowledge the trauma of abuse, when it was seen as the woman’s duty to accept whatever form of abuse that was doled out by their spouses. Even at present day, we still have a hard time understanding and empathizing, and I would not expect someone like Sebastian to have understood where Rachel was coming from.

While Sebastian makes you want to smack him a time or two, those very characteristics made the story that much more enticing when the transformation ultimately happened. Sebastian reminds me of heroes written by Anne Stuart, men who are rakes and degenerates who live up to their reputations, up till the point they finally accept that they have fallen in love and that there would be no going back.

What happens to Sebastian too, is similar. When he ultimately finds out the extent of the damage that had been done to Rachel, the wooing he does, the patience he exerts, and the results which emerge when Rachel finally lets go of the shackles that binds her to the past; that is what made this story stand out.

The story Lily being the only other novel from Ms. Gaffney which I read prior to this, I was expecting something similar that would consume the whole of me. Those expectations were ultimately not met. There were things about Rachel that I wished to be true for her towards the end. I wanted her to be stronger than who she was; for the most part, neither Sebastian nor Rachel had the mind to question what was happening to her and assess the circumstances. Had it not been for a particular piece of correspondence that cleared up Rachel’s name, she would in all probability have been forced to go to prison before the story was through.

This story also made me think deeply about the attitudes of the criminal justice system towards women who have undergone a life of abuse. Has much changed? Not really, if you ask me. There are so many cases where women finally fight back only to find themselves in prison for defending themselves from someone who would have most likely killed them due to escalation of violence which is only inevitable. Makes me want to hang my head in shame for all that and more.

Recommended for fans of historical romances featuring heroes that won’t sit well with most readers! The transformative experience makes it worth the pain!

Final Verdict: Ms. Gaffney takes the reader through a journey that makes you question how far society has come when it comes to women and the criminal justice system.

Favorite Quotes

Leaning in, he ran his tongue along the prickly line of her lashes. She had stopped breathing. She waited for him to do the next thing, take the next conscienceless liberty with her body. Very well, he would. He gently inserted the tip of his middle finger between her lips. Her mouth moistened it, and he wet her lips with his finger, smoothing it back and forth, going back inside for more wetness when her lips went dry. He thought she might be trembling, and brought his other hand to the back of her neck to see. Yes. Soft, subtle quivers coursing through her, like a light breeze rustling the leaves of a small, slight tree.

He put his hands flat on her chest, feeling her heart thud, thud, as she drew a choking breath. She was going to the stake like St. Joan, brave and above it all. He slid one hand to her face, spreading her lips to the sides a little with his thumb and forefinger, parting them. She made a soft sound, helpless. He put his open mouth on hers, breathing on her, and tasted inside her lips with his tongue, circling them slowly.
Heat jerked through him, rough and willful, out of control.

“Hold on to me,” he told her, and she did that at least, clutching his sides with stiff, loveless fingers. He took her as gently as he could, and until the last second it was a cool, controlled act of sexual release. Then he lost his head. He saw the light around him dim and recede, objects disappear. In absolute blackness, he drove and drove into her, conscious of nothing but pure sensation, impossible pleasure, storming and raging in him, until he surrendered and let it take him over the blinding white edge.

He slicked his hand into the jar again, and this time he took a taste of the ointment on his tongue. The wicked smile flashed. “I like it,” he announced, and began to soothe her other breast with the same slow, careful, painstaking enjoyment. Her toes curled. She could not possibly like this. She hated sex, which was violent, brutal, and degrading. She could endure it, but she could not enjoy it. No matter, completely irrelevant, that some people claimed to take pleasure in it—she knew what she knew. And yet, when Sebastian leaned over her and put his mouth on her, put his lips on the nipple he’d warmed and stimulated with his hands and his devilish unguent, a stab of such exquisite pleasure shot through her that she groaned, and the longer he teased and tongued and bit, the more excruciating it became.

He drove her higher, pushed her against the rails, cold wood hard against her shoulders, driving, driving. Sweat glistened on his face and chest, his straining arms; sweat dripped from his damp hair and fell on her breasts. He kissed her, opening her mouth wide, thrusting into it with his tongue in rhythm with the steady plunging of his sex inside her. She knew what he wanted, knew he wouldn’t stop until she gave it to him. She wanted it, too—but it was out of reach, impossible. She let him pull her legs around him, tight around his waist, and she moved her own body to his fevered rhythm.
“Let go,” he panted against her neck, grazing his teeth across her throat. “Give in.”

He lay down beside her and propped his head on his hand. Watching her eyes, he tilted the vial and poured a drop of oil on the nipple of her right breast. She caught her breath. “Don’t close your eyes. Look at me.” Their gazes locked while he plucked and rolled the tight, crinkling bud between his fingers. She moaned softly. “If you knew what you look like. Your mouth . . . you have the most delicious mouth.”
“Kiss me . . .”

“I’ll tell you what I want,” he said threateningly, leaning over her until they were mouth to mouth. While he spoke, he skimmed his finger down the moist crease of her sex, making her suck in her breath through her teeth. “I want to put my cock inside you very slowly. Feel your heat. Feel you stretch and tighten around me. I want to feel the beat of your pulse deep inside. I want to see your face when you lose control—and you will lose control. And when you come, Rachel, I want to hear you cry out my name.”
Two spots of bright pink color stained her cheeks. She couldn’t catch her breath. He rested his finger over the tight, swollen nub of her sex just to let her know he knew where it was. “What do you want?”
“I want you to touch me,” she ground out through her teeth. “There. Now. Do it.”

“Don’t hold back. Give yourself to me, Sebastian. Because I want you.”
She let him keep her hand when he grabbed for it. He squeezed it tight, so tight he was hurting her—but then his punishing grip slackened and a groan tore from his throat. Panting, he lifted his head from the pillow and dropped it back heavily, twice, too stunned to speak. She could feel him trembling, feel the tension in his muscles and the light sheen of sweat everywhere she touched him. His fingers tangled in her hair. “Rachel,” he said on a sigh, and he sounded sated, resigned, almost hopeless. “Too much. Oh God, Rachel.”
She rested beside him, her arm across his waist, thinking, Ah, then you know how it feels. It was good that he knew. When she left him, they could feel, at least for a time, the same loss.

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

Review: Nightwolf by Karina Halle

Title: Nightwolf by Karina Halle
Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
POV: First Person, Dual
Series: Spinoff, The Dark Eyes Duet
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Wolf Eriksen
Heroine: Amethyst DeMille
Sensuality: 3.5
Published On: November 22, 2021
Started On: December 30, 2021
Finished On: January 02, 2022

She tastes like eternity. Like life among the stars. Like something that could sustain me forever, like her blood has always belonged with mine.

Night Wolf by Karina Halle is a spinoff from her The Dark Eyes Duet. Having never read the duet, and being a sucker for romances in the friends-to-lovers theme which are hard to find these days (especially well written ones with all the feels), I decided to give this one a go as I like Ms. Halle’s style of writing.

Almost 30 year of age, Amethyst DeMille is in love with Wolf Eriksen and has been for a long time. Having become friends with Wolf since she met him in her early twenties, Amethyst knows that a future between the two is futile in many ways, even if her heart tells her to take that leap of faith and her body hums its own tune every single time that Wolf is in her vicinity.

All of that stocked up sexual tension between the two comes to head when Amethyst requires Wolf’s protection from an evil force that seems to be targeting her, the “forced proximity” proving to be the accelerant that puts fuel to the low simmering fire that has burned between them for months. Ultimately, no matter how much Wolf might try to resist the lure that is Amethyst, the overwhelming nature of their desire overtakes them both leaving them with little choice but to confront the tenuous nature of their shared future.

While I liked the overall premise of the story, somehow it came off as disjointed. Wolf’s past which was laid out at the beginning of the story in which one could see that he was affected strongly by the untimely demise of his father, had no correlation to what takes place in the present world. I expected some sort of coherence to the story-line in that arc which failed to materialize.

Additionally, I felt that there was too much focus on an aspect of Amethyst’s life that detracted from the main theme – something I understood after reading the author’s note at the end of the story. Grief over losing two very important people in Ms. Halle’s life was a huge part of how this story came together and I guess that explains to a large extent the direction of the book plot when all was said and done.

I also thought that Wolf had more potential to his character than was explored. It is almost as if he was a half fleshed out character – perhaps because I read this as a standalone without pursuing the duet first, I am thinking I might have missed out on more of him. Either way, I thought Wolf deserved more than he got out of the story.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Halle’s books!

Final Verdict: A disjointed plot and characters that failed to live up to their expected potential rendered this a disappointing read.

Favorite Quotes

You could feed on me.”
He swallows hard, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t. I would never.”
“You mean you’ve never thought about it?” I ask, my tone both playful and serious. “About biting me, feeding on me.”
Fucking me…
He stares at me, his look growing more intense by the second. He may have not heard that thought, but he felt it. He adjusts himself, as if uncomfortable.
“I’m a vampire, Amethyst. Of course, I’ve thought about it.” He closes his eyes, breathing in deep through his nose. “But it would be violent.”
“Maybe I like the violence of it.”

“As I said before,” he says in a gruff voice, his hands skimming down the sides of my waist, his eyes glued to my parted lips. “You’re a tease.”
Oh baby. I give him a wicked smile in response, straddling him deeper until I can feel the long hard length of him pressing up against me, only thin wet fabric between us.
My god.
I can feel him.
I can’t believe this is happening.
“Did you ever think that you’ve been the tease in this situation?” I manage to say.
He tilts his head, appraising me, gaze flicking up to meet mine. “In this situation at the moment?” His voice is even lower now, making my nerves dance. His eyes sharpen with intensity. “I’m definitely not teasing.”
And at that, he brings his hand over my stomach, sliding his lengthy, strong fingers down beneath the band of my underwear, and fucking hell am I glad I got a bikini wax a few weeks ago because his finger slides over my clit and I immediately gasp.
Holy jeez.

I bite down on my tongue, gripping his shoulders, trying to meet his eyes.
Fuck, he’s so beautiful.
And he’s staring at me like I’m some goddess from above.
“That’s it, baby, look at me when you come,” he says in a deep, gruff voice, and then I’m letting go, into the freefall.
I come hard on his hand, rocking my hips into him, his fingers diving deeper, leaving no inch unexplored. I cry out, a string of expletives that ring out across the night, and it feels like my soul is being torn in a million little beautiful pieces, softly floating down from those stars.
Holy shit.
I mean, holy shit.

His tongue lashes me, mouth moving hard and fast, ravenous, and even though he’s not feeding, he’s feasting on me all the same. The hot, thick pressure in my core is molten, spreading throughout me, and my nerves feel like they’ve been stretched like a tightrope, moments from snapping, and, and…
“Oh, fuck!” The cry rips out of my throat, something deep and dark and primal, and I’m writhing on Wolf’s face, the water splashing over the tub as I thrust my hips up, helping his tongue fuck me deeper until I lose all control.
I come so hard, I’m slipping down in the water, gasping for ragged breath, trying to hold myself up, yet succumbing to oblivion as my limbs jerk and shake, as if my mind has been pried open and the contents won’t stop spilling out.
The water goes above my head.
Then everything goes black.

I throw my head back and bellow, the sound being torn out of my chest while I stiffen, nearly falling over. I thrust hard, once, twice, into her bruised, plump lips, then still, my heart beating so fast it might burst through my veins.
For a moment all I hear is the blood in my head, the ragged gasp of my breath, the flutter of birds in the branches that I must have startled when I started roaring like a beast.
Then I look down through heavy eyes to see Amethyst smiling up at me, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, and swallowing me down with pleasure.
That’s going to be burned in my brain forever.

He’s kissing me.
Wolf is actually kissing me.
Never mind the fact that I’ve had his cock in my mouth, and he’s had his tongue inside me. A kiss is still something to be anticipated and revered and worshipped. A kiss still has the power to bring you to your knees, to give you butterflies, to change your life, and I think this kiss is doing just that. It’s changing my life, for better or for worse, there’s no coming back from this.
It’s just too easy, it’s just too good.
All that chemistry between us that we’ve been stockpiling for years is finally spilling out in the way that it always should have.

“Please,” I whisper.
He leans in, just enough to brush his lips over mine. “Please what?” he asks roughly.
“Kiss me,” I say, my eyes closing, taking in his scent, the cool feel of his fingers, my pulse skipping against my skin. “Fuck me.” I pause, my eyes opening to meet his. “Claim me.”
Fire ignites in his pupils and he moves so fast that the world becomes a blur.
His mouth covers mine and he’s pushing me backward and I’m stumbling as I go. Then I’m pressed up against a tree, my hair tangling in the ragged bark, and his hands are roaming over my body, leaving fire and ice in their wake.

“I’m going to fuck you long and hard and rough,” he murmurs in a deliciously raw voice. “But not until you’re dripping down your legs. Got it?”
My heart beats like mad at the base of my throat and I find myself nodding.
Holy moly, that sounds like a challenge.
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to take you,” I find myself saying, and I’m too turned on to be the slightest bit bashful about it.
He gives me a small, wicked grin. “I’ll make it work.”

“I think you’re a greedy fucking girl, that’s what I think.” His grin is carnal, like the predator he is. “That’s what I know.”
Suddenly he plunges his fingers in deeper, moving them in such a way that they drag across every swollen nerve inside me and I’m set off like a bomb, the orgasm tearing through me again like fireworks.
This time I haven’t even caught my breath or gathered my thoughts before Wolf is picking me up by the waist and lifting me up against the tree. I have just enough time to wrap my legs around him before he shoves his massive cock inside me.
FUCK!
I holler like an animal, still throbbing, still fucking coming, and he’s already squeezed inside me to the hilt, pushing all the air out of my lungs, making me feel like he’s impaled me to the tree.

“Focus, baby,” Wolf says in this deep voice that makes me want to do everything he says. “Just think about how good I feel. Fuck it, tell me how good I feel.”
“You feel so fucking good,” I tell him, reaching out and pressing my hand against the hard planes of his back, marveling at his strength while I pull him in deeper, my nails digging through his shirt. “Fucking me so good. I can barely handle you, you’re wedged in so tight.”
His nostrils flare like primordial lust runs through him and he lets out a tense growl.
He leans in quickly, kissing me hard, lips tender but the movement rough, like he’s fucking my mouth as much as he is my cunt, and I’m completely lost to him.

Then reaches around me, the length of his thick arm going up over my spine, a barrier between me and the tree, and starts fucking me again.
Harder than before.
Just a burst of animalistic power that can only belong to a vampire, feral and wild and dangerous, and I am at his mercy.
I completely submit to him.

I brace myself with my hands against the wall and lean forward so that my breasts are in his face.
He immediately responds, his tongue lapping up the swell of my breast in strong, broad strokes.
I groan, my eyes closing, succumbing to the sensations of his mouth on my skin, but then he’s wrapping his lips around my nipple and sucking in hard and it creates lightning that shoots out along my nerves, straight to my core, like I’m plugged into a star system.

Purchase Links: Amazon

ARC Review: Brutal Intentions by Lilith Vincent

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance
POV: First Person – Dual
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lazzaro Rosetti
Heroine: Mia Bianchi
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 28, 2022
Started On: September 20, 2022
Finished On: September 23, 2022

“Come on, Mia. Show me how bad girls get off in the middle of the night.”

Having never read a Lilith Vincent novel did not stop me from requesting for an ARC of this steamy, taboo-as-it-gets romance when I encountered the author’s posts on the release of Brutal Intentions on Instagram. Being a lover of dark, edgy romances that pushes the conventional boundaries of male-female relationships, I felt right at home with this one. Even though in real life I would probably never be able to imagine something like this happening, much less supporting it, between the pages, 29 year old Lazzaro Rosetti (Laz) was just what this depraved heart of mine needed.

18 year old Mia Bianchi is used to being the invisible member of her dysfunctional family, bearing the brunt of and carrying the stain of her mother’s past mistakes. All of that changes the moment she lays eyes on Laz as he stands at the altar saying his I do’s to none other than Mia’s mother.

Laz is the youngest of his family, trying to get his hands on what is rightfully his to forge his own path in life. However, Laz finds himself forced into a marriage that is of not his choice, and as a result it is Miathat bears the the brunt of his anger over his lack of freedom to choose. At his heart, Laz is just as lost as Mia is in some ways, but even Laz through his depraved heart can see that Mia has got it much worse than he ever did.

The story is relentless from the very beginning, with Ms. Vincent never letting there be any respite from the heat and twisted nature of what unfolds between Mia and Laz. While Mia does try her best to steer clear from Laz, it is as if Laz has made it his life’s mission to torment her and make Mia face the inevitable truth when it comes to what is between them; the lust that roars to life that is unparalleled. There is no escape from being consumed by the fire that rages for either of them, and Laz to his credit, does not even try.

Navigating the treacherous nature of Mia’s family takes some doing, but it is Laz’s well placed intentions that makes for the climax of this newfound and fragile love that was careening towards the edge of the cliff from the onset. However, there is something to be said for the determination that defines both Laz and Mia even in the face of all the obstacles that stands in their way, which is one reason why their story was so satisfying when all was said and done.

I do not think I can begin to express all that this novel presented; there is just enough emotional development and backstory to the characters to make all of this real and relatable to the point where you root for the main protagonists against all odds. However, if you are the type to shy away from cheating in romance novels, this is definitely not the book for you – because there is plenty of cheating, assholery, and the kind of sex that makes you reach for your non-existent glass of cold water at your bedside table.

I will definitely be looking for more of Ms. Vincent’s books in the future. Her writing is flawless, even when writing a character that is rough around the edges like Laz, who does not care for the polished veneer that most people believe makes us civilized. With an increasing number of books published that tries to serve the appetites of the majority that likes their romances bland and safe to fit the current times, it is rare to meet authors like Ms. Vincent and I will doggedly be in pursuit of her new releases!

Recommended for those who love their romances on the frisky side, with an extra serving of taboo to really spice things up.

Final Verdict: Brutal Intentions at its heart is the kind of story that digs itself deep into those empty crevices of your soul that you never acknowledged existed.

Favorite Quotes

[Mia] Heat and pleasure rise up and crash over me. My body flexes in Lazzaro’s strong arms as I hurtle beyond all conscious thought and straight into pure pleasure.
That was better than anything I’ve felt in my entire life.
I suck in a deep breath and open my eyes.
Lazzaro is awake and staring at me, his expression absolutely feral.

[Mia] “Do as you’re told, Mia. I’m not letting you up until you come again.”
Lazzaro thrusts hard against my ass through his sweats and his hot breath is on the back of my neck. The hottest man I’ve ever laid eyes on has me pinned in place, and my body craves to give him what he wants. His brutal assault on my senses forces a third orgasm from me.
I press my face into the pillow and moan, wishing it didn’t feel so good to be so thoroughly humiliated.
My stepfather raggedly breathes into my ear, “Good fucking girl.”

[Mia] “What a performance Giulia made over a broken leg. I don’t think she’d carry on the same way about you, do you?”
“Thanks for pointing that out,” I seethe.
“So do something about it.”
“Like what? I’m not going to pour red wine on Mom’s favorite dress because she loves Isabel more.”
He shrugs, but there’s a dark glimmer in his eyes. “There are better ways to take revenge.”
“I’m not going to suck your dick because my family hates me.”
A wicked smile hooks Laz’s mouth. My eyes are drawn to his scar as he saunters toward me. “You are going to suck my dick, but because you crave the feel of me bottoming out in your throat.”

[Mia] Wanting my stepdad is one thing.
Falling in love with him?
Insane.
I pull myself out of his grip and back away.
“I can’t be your anything. I really like you, I care about you, I’m always thinking about you, but this isn’t right.”
The expression in his eyes flickers between anger and pain. “If you wanted to say the words that would make me back off, those aren’t it.” He moves toward me like a hunter stalking prey. “You like me? You care about me? That’s oxygen to me.”

[Mia] “You bad fucking girl.” Laz pulls me closer, takes my face in his hands, and kisses me hard, his tongue parting my lips. My heart is beating wildly as Laz perches me on the vanity and moves between my thighs, pulling them around his hips. He overwhelms me.
Invades me.
Conquers me.
It’s the most intense kiss of my life.

[Laz] “Am I hurting you?” I ask through gritted teeth.
Mia sits up on her elbows and stares at herself. Stares at me driving into her with careful thrusts, edging my way deeper. Her pretty pussy is getting my shaft so wet.
She looks up at me with flushed cheeks and dilated eyes. “I think you were made for me, Laz.”
I relax a little and thrust deeper, and she moans in pleasure. I’m lost in those big eyes, my cock buried inside of her.
I think she’s fucking right.

[Laz] I picture Mia wearing a wedding dress with a pregnant belly, and my dick gets so hard.
I need to fuck her again.
And so, I do.
I pull back and slam into her again, short, hard thrusts.
“Laz,” Mia hisses. “What are you doing?”
“Hold still, baby, I’m not done with you.” I drag her down the bed, pull one of her legs over my shoulder and the other around my waist.
Mia’s breathless with desire and panic. “You shouldn’t—we can’t—”
All her protests are like a red flag to a bull. I can and I will.

[Mia] The drag and pull of his cock inside me is making me go insane. My clit is alive with sensation. There’s sweat on Laz’s chest and his eyes are dilated and dark. Suddenly, he clamps a hand around my throat and squeezes. I’m being pressed down into the seat, completely at his mercy. Trapped between his body and the leather.
Suddenly, everything rushes up, and I fly apart into a thousand shining pieces.
Laz is on the verge of coming when I return to earth. I reach around his cock, grab the skin of his ball sack, and twist.
He groans but doesn’t stop pounding me, and I feel him come as his rhythm stutters, his body flushes red, and his head tips back.
When he opens his eyes to catch his breath, he grins lazily at me. “You little hellcat.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

ARC Review: The Night Blossoms by Leylah Attar

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Untitled Series, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Rafael Roza
Heroine: Vee Roza
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 28, 2022
Started On: July 14, 2022
Finished On: August 03, 2022

The Night Blossoms by Leylah Attar is a novel that is closely tied to The Paper Swan that was published in 2015. While The Paper Swan was dark, gritty, and breathtaking, The Night Blossoms, like its main male lead is a different ball game altogether, which was spellbinding in a totally different way.

When Vee Roza’s husband Rafael goes missing after a heated argument between the two, never does Vee think that this would in fact be the pivotal event which brings the secrets that she hides to the forefront, test her to her very limits of endurance, and in the end show to the readers the strength of her character.

I went in expecting the kind of immersive experience that was The Paper Swan. Don’t get me wrong; this book was engrossing in the way Ms. Attar unfolded the layers to her characters and revealed all that was simmering underneath. While I would have loved for more darkness in the story, I did enjoy the tumultuous journey that was the Rozas’ before and even after they said their I do’s.

With The Night Blossoms, Ms. Attar shows to readers what resilience really means when it comes to relationships, especially after marriage. Vee and Rafael do not find each other under the most heartwarming circumstances; they both lead equally tough lives, especially during their most formative years. One would think that they would catch a break, but turns out, life wants to test their love to a point where most of us would just probably give up and walk away.

I loved Rafael – his character was one that shone through in many ways. Ms. Attar explores a fascinating trait in Rafael, something which I do not want to particularly reveal in my review. Understanding what it means to live with that sort of “gift” perhaps, is something beyond my capacity as I cannot imagine the impact something like that would have on one’s physical and mental well-being.

Rafael’s smartness is what got me – when he started talking about concepts of physics, I wanted to be sitting in his class, soaking all of it in. We would all be so lucky to have educators who are as enthusiastic as Rafael is when it comes to imparting knowledge that is akin to a gift given for life.

Vee’s character was a tougher nut to crack for various reasons, and I think Ms. Attar wanted it that way. Even when the story is told from Vee’s point of view, there is always a part of herself that she keeps in the shadows, as if penetrating her secrets would threaten her very existence. Her fears and insecurities were all too real and I felt them, which attests to the brilliance that is behind Ms. Attar’s writing.

Recommended for readers who love romantic suspense. You will have to read The Paper Swan first to have an appreciation for the characters, and if you like myself love dark romances, The Paper Swan is definitely a treat!

Final Verdict: The Night Blossoms is tale that captivates the reader on multiple fronts, of love of the kind that prevails and grows in strength through the worst life has to offer.

Favorite Quotes

“Yvette? Did you hear what I s—”
Her kiss was breathless. Clasping her fingers behind his neck, she drew him close. The air expelled from Rafael’s lungs. He angled his mouth to taste her. His lips trailed to her throat, to the pulse under her skin. A wild surge of pleasure gripped him when her hand slipped under his waistband and untucked his shirt.

“Don’t fall in love. Not with me.”
“Why not? You’re smart and strong and determined. You can do anything you set your mind to.” He stroked her hair. “Why do you hate yourself so?”
Slipping out of reach, she gathered the blanket to her chest and sat. “You will too, when I tell you the truth.”
“Fine. Let’s have it.” He grinned.
Bit by bit, she revealed the details.
Bit by bit, Rafael’s world careened out of orbit.
Everything shifted. Everything changed.
By the time Yvette was done, nothing was the same again.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

ARC Review: A Governess Should Never… Deny a Duke by Emily Windsor

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Governess Chronicles, #2
Publisher: Sentra Press
Hero: Rhys Cadogan
Heroine: Isabelle Violette de Beaujeu
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 07, 2022
Started On: July 05, 2022
Finished On: July 14, 2022

A Governess Should Never… Deny a Duke is the second installment in The Governess Chronicles by Emily Windsor. Even though this is part of a series, the story is perfectly readable as a standalone.

27 year old Isabelle Violette de Beaujeu is a governess with almost a decade of experience under her belt, having earned an impeccable reputation for herself. Her newest charge is the 15 year old niece of the Duke of Aberdare. Even though 34 year old Rhys Cadogan has a reputation for being mean, moody, and mysterious, it does not deter Isabelle from seeking the position, one more milestone towards making headway in her retirement funds.

From the get go, the Duke’s sheer masculinity takes Isabelle’s breathe away, or so it would have she tells herself, if she weren’t made of sterner stuff. Likewise, Rhys is drawn towards the spirit and fire that is evident when Isabelle loses that rigid control she exerts on herself.

However, a governess has no space to dream about frivolous things like love and desire, especially when it involves the likes of a Duke, who for all intents and purposes is on the hunt for a bride. What neither Rhys nor Isabelle realize is that when it comes right down to it, they are both two halves of one soul, drawn towards a shared future, irrespective of the circumstances that brought them together.

From one breathless encounter to heated stolen kisses, Isabelle comes to the realization of the kindness that is inherent in the Duke, the passion that he hides behind the at times aloof facade of his, and the dreams that he harbors for the kind of love that Isabelle herself yearns for but never hopes to find.

I loved this installment in the series and enjoyed both Rhys and Isabelle. Rhys is the kind of hero that is the right mix of tenderness and masculinity that sweeps you off your feet. His keen intelligence and his kindness draws the reader towards him like a moth to flame, and it is not just Isabelle that falls hopelessly in love with him.

Isabelle is the kind of heroine readers root for in every sense. With a past that still haunts her, Isabelle is someone who has lived true to her values and principles and made a name for herself in her profession. Even when the Duke tempts her so, Isabelle tries to tell herself that it is not for the likes of her, but alas, love does have a strange way of seeking one out when you are least looking for it.

The style of writing that Ms. Windsor brings to the genre is evocative, the portrayal of the yearning of both characters in this novel the kind that makes for an immersive reading experience, and the witty nature of the inner monologues and the dialogues which keeps the pages turning. The secondary characters added vibrancy to the story as it unfolded, many of whom I would definitely love to read more about.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Windsor and fans of beautifully spun historical romances!

Final Verdict: Delightful, sensual, and poignant; Ms. Windsor’s writing is powerful in the way it moves the reader!

Favorite Quotes

I wait. I tremble. I yearn,
Yet to me she cometh not.
I lust. I languish. I burn!
Yet to me she cometh not.

His lips brushed.
Back and forth. Beguiling and mellow and supple and sinful.
The angel admonished one last time, prattling on about all those years of flawless reputation, but instead of dissuading Isabelle from this path of desire, it compelled her to be reckless. Yes, she had been all that was placid and perfect for so long, but she was tired. Tired of suppressing her accent, her upbringing, her nature, her temper, her very self.
So, she returned the duke’s kiss.

Abruptly, she was swung around, her spine meeting the panelled wall, and she was unsure why until he pressed his muscled frame as though he required more pressure, could not get close enough to her…
Now the assault came not from just his ravishing lips, or from his hands which grasped her face, securing her for his kiss, but his hips which recklessly thrust.
She knew he was heavily aroused, had read many a novel for knowledge, but even the most prurient tale failed to convey the sheer elation that surged.
Real, indulgent and utterly wicked.

“Beg pardon,” he muttered, hands tidying her bodice and attempting to push curls into their plait – a fruitless endeavour yet she welcomed it, savoured the sensation of being fussed over for once, till he claimed her wrist and kissed the pounding pulse. “Thank you. Thank you for… My mood was sombre tonight and you fetched light into it with your empathy and touch…Miss Beaujeu.”
She nodded. Knew tonight was at an end for Isabelle.
The clock chimed midnight.
“Good night, Your Grace.”
“Good night, Miss Beaujeu.”
He kissed her hand once more and she twisted away on legs that appeared to be filled with English custard.

“Ça alors!”
He shivered. “You know when you speak in French, it causes the most uncontrollable urges within me.”
“Does it?” She brought her lips to his ear. “Je te désire, Monsieur le duc.”
With a grunt, he strode for the bed. “If you keep testing my limits, Miss Beaujeu, you will find yourself nude and splayed before you can take another breath.”
She laughed as he lowered her to the coverlet, followed her, his perfect mate as she arched beneath him.

His entire weight sank upon her, powerful and possessive, and her legs parted of their accord to accommodate.
Now the kiss grew reckless and tempestuous, both their bodies arching into one another.
With a growl, he reared, twisted off the bed and wrenched at the fall of his breeches, shoving them down. By the flame of the candle, Isabelle glimpsed muscled planes and masculine beauty and an arousal that should’ve scared her but that instead spurred her pulse to race.
He sank upon her again, but now with bare, heated skin, his body tight with sinew, blunt with need.

She leaned up as best she could, gasping as it forced him deeper. “Mon amour. Mon coeur…”
“Cariad, don’t–”
“Je t’aime pour l’éternité.”
With that, any pretence they were civilised creatures vanished as Rhys roared and abruptly arched, his hand grasping her hip as he bucked.
Isabelle sought to retain a grip unto sanity but it was a futile endeavour as his mouth devoured her breast, her throat, and his body demanded she yield also to this madness of desire.

“Love waits, still and swithe,
Love lingers, dusk and bright.
Love waits, it waits for thee,
For thee to fill my night.

So come to me, my soul,
Aside the pounding sea.
Come love and make me whole,
And ‘I’ shall become ‘We’.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: A Daughter’s Dilemma by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Powers-Slater Studio, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Vaughan Slater
Heroine: Carolyn McKensie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 21, 1997
Started On: December 21, 2021
Finished On: December 30, 2021021

A Daughter’s Dilemma by Miranda Lee was my last read for the year 2021. It is February 2022, and it is only now I am able to get my last review for the year in place. I am a firm believer of the philosophy better late than never. Perhaps more applicable here than elsewhere in my life because I have a habit of always running behind on my review schedule.

My book list for 2021 veered in the direction of picking up older Harlequin romances to read because, at the cost of repeating myself, modern watered down versions of the heroes that I come across in books these days just makes me itch, and not in a good way at all. I feel bereft of the emotions that would otherwise run gamut through me when authors just get it all right, with a hero who is brusque, taciturn, and all those qualities that we hate to love and love to hate.

Miranda Lee in this way, is an author whose books teeter on 50-50 line; I either love them or am meh about them. Luckily, this one too passed muster, and I had an enjoyable time with the journey that was 34 year old Vaughan Slater and 24 year old Carolyn McKensie take to their happily ever after.

The story begins with Carolyn sending off her newly wedded mother on her honeymoon cruise, with a promise to her stepfather that she would do what was needed to ensure that their new home was ready to move into upon their return. However, Carolyn gets the shock of her life when she finds out that the architect hired by her stepfather is none other than Vaughan, who basically destroyed her mother all those years ago.

Carolyn’s mother raises her as a single parent, with her father having died even before she was born. All of that had caught up with her mother when Carolyn was fourteen years old, and since then, Carolyn had acted more as a mother than vice versa. Carolyn being fiercely protective of her mother is not ready to forgive and forget what Vaughan is responsible for; having seduced and discarded a woman who was much older than him.

Carolyn’s helpless reaction to the magnetism that Vaughan exudes is however the nail on the coffin so to speak, and even though she is determined not to give in, it proves too much of a challenge to turn away from the heat, especially with Vaughan feeling the same way. Consequently, the attraction between them gives way to passion of the kind that innocent Carolyn had never known, and before she knows it, her heart too is on the line.

But there looms dark clouds on the horizon, casting gloomy shadows on her newfound happiness that is all too fragile, especially when Carolyn has a hard time reconciling with the version of the events that Vaughan stands by and won’t let her shy away from. With Carolyn torn between the man who makes her senses reel and her heart soar, and her mother for whom she would practically do anything for, it is up to Carolyn to gather her courage and face the music, whatever tune it may be playing when all is said and done.

While I found Carolyn a bit tiresome at certain points, overall, I understood where she was coming from. I too would probably have been a bundle of nerves if I were in her place, believing that I have to choose between the love of my life and my own mother who sacrificed her youth to bring me up. That is a tough place to be in.

I loved Vaughan, for being as determined to make Carolyn stand up for what she wants, for giving her that needed push to step out of her comfort zone, without which she would probably have made the wrong choice and ended up being miserable, bitter, and lonely for the rest of her life.

Recommended for fans of Miranda Lee and fans of Harlequin romances.

Final Verdict: A Daughter’s Dilemma delves into what it is like to be caught between a rock and a hard place; it takes courage of the kind not many of us can muster to make that leap of faith.

Favorite Quotes

For a few seconds longer he stared down at her. ‘Let’s see if I can’t help you make up your mind…’ And his mouth slowly descended.
How long later did it lift again? A minute? Two?
Carolyn had no idea, for instantly those soft sensual lips claimed hers she was catapulted into a world so erotic and exciting that all coherent thought rocketed to a distant planet. She clung to him, her lips parting soundlessly beneath the increasing pressure of his, letting his tongue slide forward into her mouth, letting him arouse her with it to a pitch she would never have believed possible from a kiss. The blood began swimming in her head and wave upon wave of heat flooded up through her body. When her knees threatened to buckle from under her, she slid her arms up tightly around his neck, her small hard breasts pressed flat against his wet chest.

Carolyn bit her bottom lip against the tumultuous pleasure he immediately evoked, her knuckles whitening around the railing as she felt him gradually work his way back down her body. Surely he didn’t mean to…to…
When he passed her navel, every internal muscle she owned contracted and held tightly. Her lips parted, as though ready for protest. But no protest came from her lips when he finally reached his destination. No protest at all. Only a shuddering sigh of sheer ecstasy. ‘Oh, yes,’ she moaned. ‘Yes…’

For a split second Carolyn felt a thrilling moment of peaking, of being suspended. And then she was spun into a wild avalanche of sensation that shattered her completely, the experience impossible to fully capture in words or even memory. Its sharpness caught at her breath, then forced sounds from her lips, soft sensual cries somewhere between sighs and moans. Her head tipped back, her lips panting apart, her back bending like a bow from the bed as she felt her flesh convulsing around Vaughan’s, felt her woman’s pull on his body, urging him to a mutual release.
When it came Carolyn was stunned, thinking the pleasure she’d just experienced was impossible to surpass. But nothing could eclipse the emotional and physical satisfaction of holding Vaughan and feeling him climax deep within her.

‘Tell me you love me too,’ he urged. ‘I want to hear you say it.’
Her heart leapt, but instinct warned her not to admit to such a thing. ‘No,’ she panted. ‘No…’
He muttered something and resumed his slow, steady rhythm, taking her inexorably towards the moment when will-power would cease to exist, when there was nothing but her body and his, teetering on the brink of ecstasy.
At this most crucial moment, Vaughan stopped once again, bringing a cry of sharp need from her gasping lungs. Her nails dug deeply in his back and her body urged him desperately to continue.
‘Tell me you love me, dammit,’ he demanded, holding her still beneath him in an iron grip.
She whipped her head from side to side till he captured her mouth with his own, grinding her head back into the soft pillow with a savage kiss.
‘Say it!’ he gasped when his mouth finally burst from hers. ‘Dear God, just say it this once!’
She was moved, more by the desperate note in his voice than his violent kiss, or the sexual edge on which she was hanging.
‘I love you,’ she cried huskily. ‘I’ve loved you all along.’

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

Review: A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Angellini
Heroine: Salome Twynan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 25, 1994
Started On: December 13, 2021
Finished On: December 17, 2021

A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee is a category romance that was first published in 1994. The story begins when 24 year old Salome Twynan discovers that her ex-husband had once again added another item to her divorce settlement; a penthouse unit at McMahon’s Point. Salome had married young, at the age of nineteen to a 49 year old man, who had warned her that people would talk, judge, and slander her reputation upon their marriage. Salome had gone into the marriage with her eyes wide open, let her husband mold her into what he wanted, and when the divorce had come out of nowhere, Salome is devastated, and having tried and failed to see her ex-husband to get answers to the questions she has being futile slides her further into a depressive state.

When Salome turns up at the penthouse, she discovers that her neighbor is none other than Michael Angellini (Mike), one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, the wealthy owner of an exclusive Italian restaurant that Ralph had taken Salome to on many occasions during the course of their marriage. From the onset of their introduction, Salome and Mike had rubbed each other the wrong way, and the hostility had often meant Mike ignoring her or giving her scathing glances while Salome tried her utmost to be more flirty and appreciative of her husband in his presence.

Needless to say, the knowledge that Mike is going to be right next door is not information that settles well with Salome, especially when she discovers that underneath all her hostility lies recognition of Mike’s vitality as a man and the need he rouses in her. Salome has her hangups about casual sex which drives her up the wall when it comes to admitting to the fact that she indeed finds Mike desirable to the point of distraction.

I found the love that unfolded between Mike and Salome to be an entertaining, sweet, and sexy journey with a bit of angst tossed into the mix. It is apparent from Mike’s behavior that he finds Salome just as desirable, and would like nothing better than for Salome to give in for them to reach the height of their mutual pleasure in each other. But Salome is a stubborn as well as a reluctant heroine (but not to the point where it becomes annoying), and Mike has his work cut out for him in trying to make her see that for him, there is no other.

Recommended for those who love books by Miranda Lee.

Final Verdict: Intense heat and good characterizations renders A Date with Destiny to be a wonderful read!

Favorite Quotes

‘You don’t want me to stop, do you?’ he said hoarsely.
‘No,’ she admitted, her voice shaking. ‘No…’
His raw groan stunned her. Clearly, he wanted her almost as much as she wanted him. Maybe he had always wanted her. No, no, a dim memory refuted. That’s not so. He said that wasn’t so.
His next kiss obliterated any further thought, and this time his mouth contained nothing but uncontrollable passion, a taking rather than a tempting. Salome met him halfway, their tongues joining together in a violently sensuous mating that could only be eclipsed in one way.

She could hear his breathing, as heavy and ragged as her own, hear his dark mutterings as he began working on the buttons of her jacket and blouse, then the tie at her neck. Cool air suddenly caressed bare breasts, a rash of goose-bumps temporarily sobering her. For a split second the appalling truth of what she was allowing came home to Salome but, before she could react, Mike’s mouth moved across her breasts and closed over one single, straining nipple.
A moan was torn from deep in her throat, the fingers of both her hands curling over to dig into her palms. ‘Oh, God!’ she whimpered. She jammed her fists down beside her on the case, but this only served to give her a lever with which to arch her back further upwards, pushing her flesh deeper and deeper into his mouth. Her head swam with dizzying pleasure, the blood in her veins surging hotly through her body.

‘What is it?’ Mike said sharply.
She expelled the breath she had been holding in a trembling gasp. ‘Nothing…nothing…’
‘Tell me,’ he urged, and drew her to him in a breathtakingly close embrace, his lips pressed feverishly to her forehead. ‘What is it that frightens you so about me? Why didn’t you want to let me finish making love to you earlier on? Why?‘
She shook her head frantically from side to side. ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ she whispered hoarsely. ‘I can’t! It’s all too confusing.’
‘What’s confusing?’ he insisted, little knowing that the hot, stroking hands on her hair, her neck, her back, were the most confusing of all, because they kept bringing wave after wave of sensation that was slowly obliterating her capacity to reason. Surely she wouldn’t feel like this in any other man’s arms, would she? It didn’t seem possible. Yet…if it was only Michael Angellini who could do this to her, then what was it exactly she felt for him? Sexual infatuation? Obsession? Lust?
Salome refused to embrace the word ‘love’. Even if her feelings for Ralph had finally begun to die, her bruised, battered heart wasn’t ready, or capable, of loving another man yet, and certainly not a man who had nothing but contempt for her. Perhaps she was acting this way out of some sort of crazed revenge against the hurt perpetrated by her husband. Perhaps this was a rebound thing. She didn’t know any more.
‘Everything’s confusing,’ she groaned. ‘Me… this…you…’

She moaned her frustration and frantically pushed him away, ‘No, no!’ she cried.
He staggered back off the end of the bed, getting to his feet and staring down at her with eyes both wild and incredulous. ‘You must be mad! There’s no stopping now. No changing your mind. Look at me!’ And, with a single savage yank, he stripped off his pyjama-trousers, striking her speechless with the stark evidence of his desire.
Salome had never looked quite so blatantly at an aroused man before, certainly not one as well-endowed as Mike. Colour burnt in her cheeks, her heart thudding beneath her breasts. ‘I haven’t changed my mind,’ she burst forth, then hesitated, finding it hard to find the words. ‘I was wanting you. You!’ she cried. ‘Not…anything less…’

Finally he gasped away from her mouth and pressed hot lips to the smooth skin of her shoulder, the pulsating vein at the base of her throat, his hands running up and down the sides of her body. Her own hands were caressing the muscles in his back, but dug sharply inwards when he grabbed her hips, lifting them from the bed and thrusting even more deeply into her. Quite instinctively, her inner muscles squeezed tightly around his throbbing hardness, gripping and releasing him in a relentless rhythm. Any moment now…
There was a split second when she seemed to balance on a sharp edge, when her breathing stopped, and every muscle in her body strained to an aching stop. She heard him gasp for breath, felt his hands tightening around her. Then, with one final surge, he set them both free, and their mutual cries of release echoed in the night.

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