ARC Review: Cold Malice by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldmalice.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #8
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Steve McKenzie
Heroine: Theresa Jane Hines
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 12, 2017
Started On: September 07, 2017
Finished On: September 13, 2017

The Cold Justice series is well into its 8th book, with Toni Anderson hitting the mark with each single installment in the series. That is what I call well researched books that keeps the pages turning and the readers coming back for more. And I have definitely been coming back for more.

Cold Malice, just like every other book in this series, takes on a prominent issue in current society. The rise of white supremacist movements in countries like the United States, putting into peril years of painstaking work into building more inclusive societies. Toni’s insight and the way she handles sensitive issues of this nature continues to amaze me in every single one of her books and Cold Malice was no exception.

Theresa Jane (Tess) is the one surviving daughter of the infamous Hines family, notorious for its extremist right wing philosophies that had turned deadly. With her younger brother Cole, Tess had found refuge in the kind woman that had adopted them, and had grown up trying to run from a past that seems to be catching up with her in a way that leaves her cold on the inside.

When Assistant Special Agent in Charge Steve McKenzie (Mac) comes back into Tess’s life, it is as if a ghost from her past has come calling, a ghost that she had clearly thought and believed to be dead in the events that had taken place that fateful night when the lives of the Hines family had met its ultimate deadly conclusion. A string of hate crimes is what brings Mac to the scene, an FBI agent who had slowly risen through the ranks to prove himself capable and beyond the trashy background from which he had emerged. For Mac, his career comes first and foremost, and if Tess still reminds him of that little girl he had failed to protect all those years ago, he would just have to deal with it.

With Mac in charge of the investigating team, it is one harrowing experience after another that pits Tess and Mac together, each having to rely on the other to get through. Trust comes hard for both of them, especially Tess who has always had to isolate herself from the rest of the world lest the truth of her background emerge and harm her prospects for a life of normalcy that she strives so hard for. For Mac, even though he is 99% certain that Tess has not one prejudiced bone in her body, it is that 1% that makes it hard for him to trust her on a level that he should, given the way he reacts to her at every molecular level of his being.

A killer with an agenda that targets the awakening of the slumbering beast, Mac finds himself running a race against time in trying to put everything together. In the midst of it all lies the searing passion that he shares with a woman he may never have forgotten, a woman who stirs his very soul and makes him think of a future other than that of one filled with ambition to further his career.

I loved Cold Malice, just like I have loved reading every other book Toni has written. Toni’s books come bearing interesting tidbits of information about what law enforcement itself is like at its heart, how painstaking it is to go through tons of evidence, especially in light of the world of information exchange that we inhabit today. Furthermore, the concept of “ghost skins” that I came across in this book was one that fascinated me. Extremist movements such as the white supremacists, going through the ranks of government service, embedding themselves deep within the system, until the time comes for them to rise and act on their twisted agendas. It is a concept that makes shivers run up and down my spine, the kind of meticulous and painstaking planning and patience that it would take for a group of people filled with so much hatred for anything that they do not agree with.

The tidbit on child marriages still being allowed in most parts of the US, more so than most people think also gave me a pause. We are all quick to judge when the lesser developed countries have archaic laws that allows these marriages to take place, that violates a girl in so many ways that it does not even bear thinking. Yet, the country that sits at the position of the leader of the free world itself has festering within, the kind of policies and laws that should have been done away with a long time ago, to protect the rights of every child. Perhaps it is a significant fact that even though the US ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995, it failed to implement the terms of CRC at home, owing to contentious politics within.

I loved both Mac and Tess. As a hero, Mac is a specimen worth salivating over. There is a vulnerability to him that he hides, and he hides it well. A failed marriage that has left its mark, a childhood that drives him to be the person he is. Labeled a sex god by Tess, he is very well worthy of the term as he takes the straitlaced Tess and teaches her how fun, and oh so good sex with the right person can be. Tess is a mass of contradictions unto herself. Yearning for the kind of closeness and love that she believes are possible only in Disney fairy tales, she never thinks for a moment that the man from her past that she had fallen in love as a child would be the person who would change it all. I felt every single scar on Tess’s soul deep within. It is amazing how Toni can craft characters that are deep and multifaceted as Tess. I loved her

Cold Malice is a novel done well, delivering a story that would stay with the reader for a long while. The subject matter alone is reason enough.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: There is no running from a past hellbent on playing catch up. Toni delivers an unputdownable read in Cold Malice!

Favorite Quotes

Instead of backing away, he lifted her up until both her legs wrapped around his waist and he positioned himself against her entrance. Then he held both her hands against the door and stared deep into her eyes as he pushed slowly inside. Her head went back as she cried out and her back arched.
She went blind as pleasure rushed through her.
He dropped her hands and grabbed her ass. She gripped his shoulders as he eased farther inside. Sweat beaded on his brow and ran down his temple. She tasted it on her tongue.

After a few seconds, she deliberately clenched her muscles around him again and he growled his approval. He started moving then, pumping in and out of her in long, deep strokes.
Dear Lord. It felt like Heaven. She whimpered at the pleasure that was flooding her senses. Every muscle in her body was trembling with need to race to that sharp edge of completion, but she wanted it to last, too. She wanted to go slow. And fast. And everywhere in-between. Mac changed his stance and she felt him inside her, touching a place that made her insane with want.
“Oh, God.” Her nails raked his shoulders as her body clenched around him. She wanted to be the girl from her fantasies, the one who asked for and got what she wanted. “More.”
“Is this what you wanted?” He drove into her over and over, holding onto her and thrusting deep at the same time.
“Yes.” She gasped. “This is what I want. You inside me. It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”

When her eyes closed he took over, gripping her hips, grinding her against him, gathering a handful of her hair in his fist and rearing up, trying to get even deeper inside. And he was the one in charge, in control, right up to the moment she put a twist into the way she rode him and he was gone. She cried out as his world turned black.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

greatread

 

ARC Review: Too Wild to Tame by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-booktoowildtotame
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarksons, #2
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Aaron Clarkson
Heroine: Grace Pendleton
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 06, 2016
Started On: August 31, 2016
Finished On: September 09, 2016

The second installment of Romancing the Clarksons by Tessa Bailey brings us the story of Aaron Clarkson, the driven and ambitious in the family, the one who wants to make a name for himself within the elite political circles. Aaron has to work doubly hard because of the bungling up he had done in the recent past, and this time around nothing was going to stand in his way. Not even the unexpectedly fierce desire he feels for Grace Pendleton, more complication than he currently has the time for.

Grace is a woman who has lived under the shadow of her father’s political career basically her entire life. Hiding in the shadows is what is required of her, and she does a good job of it, that is until Aaron draws her out of the shadows and makes her come alive for the first time in a long while. The scars she carries in her soul runs deep, however, that does not stop her from seeing Aaron for who he can be.

Aaron is a deeply conflicted character as well. There is of course the family dynamics and his complex relationship with his brother Belmont (whose story I am waiting ever so impatiently to read, which I believe is the case for most readers of this series), and there is the ambition that has brought Aaron to this point, something that he simply cannot turn away from. But Grace tests his resolve more than anyone he has ever met, and it was wonderful seeing both of them come together so explosively and tenderly when all was said and done.

I did not really expect to enjoy Aaron’s story as much as I did. In fact, I was pouting with the knowledge that most likely, fans of the series would have to wait for Belmont’s story for a long while. Aaron was in my opinion a paltry substitute for what I wanted. But I was so very wrong as Aaron proved to be a mighty fine hero on his own, giving me something to think about a time or two and of course I loved the way everything turned out in the end. Grace’s backstory was one that was painful to read, something that made me wonder how if ever, would you heal from something of that sort.

Recommended for fans of the series and those who love steamy contemporary romances. I loved the sex scenes in Too Wild to Tame. So wonderfully well done.

Final Verdict: Wonderful storytelling from start to finish. Loved Grace and Aaron!

Favorite Quotes

With a thready apology, Grace shot forward and up, locking her mouth with Aaron’s, memorizing the way his stiffness melted in one big deluge. The way he gave a rough exhale through his nose. That gruff sound that drummed from his throat, a split second before his lips opened, tongue teasing in to taste hers. Just some. The most perfect, slick greeting. The two of them hung there, mouths open, lips wet and fitted together, breath racing, kitchen clamoring behind them.

“I wanted to hold your hand in the woods, too. But this is better. Better. I’m going to…”
“Christ. Do it. Go on, Grace. Fill up my palm with the best you’ve got.” Aaron ducked his head to suck a trail up the side of Grace’s neck, unable to resist a bite beneath her earlobe. Another one. “Girls who get so wet from kissing shouldn’t leave the house without underwear, should they? No. And they definitely shouldn’t leave the house with someone like me. I don’t hold hands. I shouldn’t be allowed within ten feet of you.” He spoke the words angrily into her neck. “This is what I do. I return you home with a dirty secret.”

Aaron’s tether broke. Recapturing Grace’s mouth with an obscene amount of tongue, he backed them toward the bed, satisfaction rippling in his middle when she went down beneath him, her legs falling open in welcome. He draped his body over Grace’s slighter one, eager grunts leaving his mouth as he positioned himself over her pussy and bore down with his erection. Their groans were pain-filled, reaching every corner of the cabin, breaking off when Aaron got back to kissing that addictive mouth, yanking the oversized sweater up, up to her belly, so he could rock against her sex with only his pants and her tights as obstructions.
“Aaron.”
“You were warned,” he reminded her with a strangled shout, delivered into the space above her head. “Three times, Grace. That’s three times more than I’d give anyone else.”

Aaron reached up, fisting the back of Grace’s hair and guiding her down to his mouth, the ensuing kiss voracious, her grinding glides up and down his cock turning into something else. The head of his cock squeezed, followed by his full, aching length…and then he rammed into the back of her pussy. “No…” Aaron growled through the inescapable euphoria of being joined with Grace, nothing between them, but somehow responsibility found a way to grip him around the neck, his words forceful but slurred. “Need a condom. Can’t have y’like this.”
Didn’t matter that he was clean. This…Jesus, this was one privilege no amount of atoning for his past, present, and future could earn. No matter how fucking terrible it would feel to pull out of warm, safe…home. The home he could never live in, but would dream about for the rest of his pathetic life.

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

Great Read!(1)

ARC Review: Wildfire by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookwildfire
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fire, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Malcolm Gunnison
Heroine: Sophie Jordan MacDonald
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 14, 2017
Started On: January 28, 2017
Finished On: February 09, 2017

Wildfire is the 3rd book in the explosive Fire series, a spin-off from the delectable Ice series by Anne Stuart. Readable as a standalone, Wildfire tells the story of the Committee operative Sophie Jordan MacDonald who had made the blunder of falling for the charm that her target had exuded in spades, and marrying the monster with whom she had suffered for the past 3 years. Knowing that no one from her former life as an operative would be coming to rescue her as she had bungled up the mission in a major way, Sophie is counting the days until she can escape, that is until Malcolm Gunnison walks into her life and throws everything into a spin.

Malcolm’s mission is one that is straightforward. But the minute Malcolm crosses paths with his target’s wife, the whole operation changes its focus. Malcolm who is not given to feelings of the tender kind finds himself strangely fascinated by a woman he knows he should be able to walk away from. The fact that Sophie’s husband outlines his plans when it comes to her does not help matters. In fact, it pushes Malcolm and Sophie together in a way that makes the sparks literally fly.

Though Wildfire would not be my favorite book in the series thus far, it still carries the trademark Anne Stuart style in delivering a story that heats up and delivers from the onset. The one thing that irked me was the continued references towards how Sophie had been a rookie who should not have been sent into the mission that had changed her life so drastically. The repetitiveness of that particular statement almost throughout the book was a bit off putting to say the least.

Nevertheless, with Malcolm, Anne Stuart once again presents her readers with a hero as ruthless and delicious as they come. There is no turning away from the mastery he wields in the bedroom – well the bedroom comes later, but hey, you get what I mean. If you have ever read an Anne Stuart book, it is how she delivers bad boys of the kind that makes you want that keeps you coming back for more. That and the wit and charm she puts so effortlessly into her books. And she does not disappoint when it comes to Wildfire.

I loved Sophie as well. Her vulnerability and her strength was a combination that made me fall and root for her. The ending when it came was classic Anne Stuart as well. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Final Verdict: Wild is the fire that rages between two operatives who have no intention of falling in love. Deliciously sensuous in the way that only Anne Stuart does it!

Favorite Quotes

“Touch me and I’ll kill you.”
“You and what army?” Before she knew what was happening, he’d crossed that last bit of space, slid his arm around her back, and yanked her against his hard body. “Don’t be a hypocrite. We both want it, and it helps the mission. Man up, Jordan.”
It was a shock, hearing her maiden name for the first time in years. She could feel him, his hard cock unmistakable beneath his jeans, pressing against her stomach. “I don’t think that’s exactly what you’re expecting me to do.”

He was right. She’d wanted this from the moment she first saw him, whether she wanted to admit it or not, and his tongue in her mouth was the first claim—her response, the first acceptance.
His body pressed hers against the wall, and she felt him reach between them, unfastening his jeans, and she panicked for a moment, lashing out at him. He caught her wrists, holding them tightly together, and began to pull up her skirt. She wanted to shove him away, she wanted . . . she wanted . . .

He shoved into her, and she gasped, shocked at the unexpected size of him, the thick cock deep inside her, so good . . . so good . . . and she tightened her arms and legs around him as spasms of pleasure washed over her. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe, she just wanted to feel. She needed this to last forever, and she rode him, his hands on her hips, sliding her up and down on his cock. She threw her head back, wanting to scream, and he sank his head against her neck, his teeth against her shoulder, the sting of his bite sending her over the edge.

Another wave hit her, and this time she did cry out, a wordless sound of rich pleasure, and he pulled away from the wall, turning around, still holding her as he moved, in and out, his thickness a wicked torment, harder, deeper, until he was suddenly rigid in her arms, in her body, his breath rasping as he poured himself into her, punctuated by each jerk of his hips, and she let go, let go of everything, drowning in sensation, in him, in Mal.

“Move back,” he said hoarsely. “Please.” Her face was very still. She hadn’t touched him yet, but he could feel her long, cool fingers so close to him that he wanted to groan. “Why?”
“I want to suck your breasts.”
“It doesn’t turn me on,” she said in her cold little voice.
“Maybe you haven’t had the right person do it.”

He took her other breast in his strong hand, squeezing her just to the point of pain but no further, and she bucked again, letting out a tiny moan.
He lifted his head. “In case you ever find yourself in a position to make love to a woman,” he murmured, “you need to remember that breasts are different with everyone. A lot of women need gentle coaxing, almost worshipful attention. But more women than you’d imagine need a little roughness.” He pinched her breast, and he saw the reaction in her face, the dazed expression in her brown eyes. They’d been soft before, except when she was staring at him in rage, but now they were positively unfocused in reaction to what he was doing. “You’re one of the ones who need a little roughness.”

“Come in my mouth,” she whispered.
He no longer had a choice. His body bucked, and she held onto his hips, taking him in, everything, her fingernails digging into his skin, and as he exploded he thought he felt an answering orgasm ripple through her body as she straddled him.
She drew back, away from him, sprawling on the floor in what should have been graceless exhaustion but instead looked like pure sexual abandon. He’d climaxed, come hard in her mouth, but he wanted more from her, he wanted her every way he could have her, and this time it was for nobody’s pleasure but theirs.

She began to shiver, and he thought that if she dared to make any sound, she would have told him she couldn’t take any more, but he knew she could. That ripple of reaction was hardly strong enough to take her over the edge, give her the release she needed, and he kept up his steady pace, into her, deep, so deep, and he heard an almost imperceptible sound from the back of her throat. It made his cock swell even more inside her, and he slid his hand under them, finding her slick clitoris, circling it. She was shaking so hard he felt the need to hold her together, keep her safe, pushing, pushing, until she froze, a low, keening sound coming so quietly from within her, a sound more powerful than a full-throated scream, and he went over the edge with her.

She was beginning to stir, getting restless, and he knew she was going to pull away, and he wouldn’t be able to stop her, not without drawing attention to them. With strong but gentle hands he turned her in her arms, pushing her hair back off her face, and put his mouth on hers, kissing her with extraordinary sweetness. He swallowed her strangled sob, and she kissed him back, sliding her arms around him and pulling him close, so close, their sweat-slick bodies growing chill in the night air, and he wanted to say something, tell her something, but he couldn’t imagine what. So he simply kissed her, until she pulled away from him, disappearing silently into the darkness.

She wrapped her legs around his slim hips, her fingers tight on his shoulders as he moved inside her, steady, deep, and she wanted more, needed more. This was like nothing she’d ever felt before, it was sex, it was fucking, it was making love. Her heart seemed to flow through her body, into his, a total joining that beckoned her, frightened her, almost destroyed her. He was so big it hurt, a sweet pleasure-pain that simply moved her deeper into this dark, magic, scary place where there was no Sophie, no Mal, just them, sliding together in the murky light, and she felt another orgasm building inside her, deep and powerful, and she knew if she climaxed her heart would explode, and she didn’t care, didn’t care at all.

He reached down, caught her hand, and pulled it away from him, shoving her onto her back. He was going to leave her there, wet and wanting, he was going to turn his back on her and walk away . . .
The hell he was. He shoved her legs apart, moving between them, and thrust his cock into her so hard she cried out, not in pain but in fierce satisfaction. She was everything he wanted—she was nothing but trouble.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

Great Read!(1)

ARC Review: Cold Secrets by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldsecrets
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #7
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas Randall
Heroine: Ashley Chen
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 31, 2017
Started On: January 10, 2017
Finished On: January 27, 2017

The 7th book in the Cold Justice series brings to readers a story that drives home the point that Toni Anderson is an author who delivers on all fronts where the romantic suspense genre is concerned. Every single book in this delectable series has been a hit for me, the subject matter that Ms. Anderson takes on in each of the stories being ones that are often difficult to write about with a measure of objectivity and impartiality. In Cold Secrets, Ms. Anderson delves into the world of sex trafficking, especially that of children who gets the short end of the stick where the fastest growing industry in the criminal world is concerned.

It all begins with the hunt for a little girl, where FBI Agent Lucas Randall finds himself going undercover as a john, the girl who is believed to have been kidnapped by an international ring of sex traffickers. The operation goes horribly wrong, with Lucas barely managing save his own life. Thus begins the hunt for a group of people who always seem to be one step ahead of the team of FBI agents allocated for the task, which is how computer expert and FBI agent Ashley Chen finds herself crossing paths with Lucas.

From the moment these two meet, there is an awareness that is almost palpable in the air. Ashley is someone who holds herself aloof and centers her life around work. She believes that the mistakes that she has made owing to wanting “normalcy” has cost her too much in her life and therefore has no intention of saying yes to the answering heat that flares to life deep inside of herself where Lucas is concerned. At first, Lucas is a bit skeptical of the talent and determination that drives Ashley. While Ashley herself is determined that this would be the case that would prove her worth to the establishment, she finds herself drawn deeper into a case that could hit far too close to the lies that has practically defined her past to a point.

Cold Secrets brings forth a multi-layered story, where as each layer is revealed makes the reader go a-ha!, just like that. I believe that that is part of the ingenuity that makes Ms. Anderson the master she is in weaving stories of the kind. The issue of sex trafficking as well as that of pedophilia is handled, both with the kind of sensitivity that won my wholehearted approval. Neither of these issues are easy to talk about, probe into, dissect and discuss. But I believe that in Cold Secrets, Ms. Anderson has definitely done a praiseworthy job of including the pertinent details without getting bogged down in the unnecessary when it comes to the story.

Being the geek I am, I especially loved the tidbits about the technological aspects that Ms. Anderson included in the story. Well researched is how I would conclude all the facets explored in the novel. Considering the fact that Ashley is someone who works on computers and has dreams of becoming part of the cyber-crime security expert team, there is a bit of jargon that needs to be handled in a way that does not bore the less tech savvy members of the readers community. I loved it all. The statistics, the intricate working mechanisms behind the DarkNet, and the role the Tor browser plays in all of it; all of that were intellectually stimulating to this brain of mine.

Another aspect that is part of the Cold Justice series is the way it delves into issues that relates to how the lines between liberty and privacy and the grey areas that agents often have to work around in order to nab criminals whose nefarious tendencies are protected by the letter of the law that they manipulate by using an army of highly paid lawyers. The fact that this requires painstaking work on the part of law enforcement officials, requiring them to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s is one that is at times frustrating, but then again, that is what the justice system is all about. I love how these stories sheds light onto all these aspects without getting procedural about the whole thing. That is one of the many reasons that I would always keep coming back for more where Toni Anderson is concerned.

Another facet of the story that I adored were Lucas and Ashley, both of whom I loved. Lucas is just so darn sexy and admirable in the way that he knows how to “handle” someone as prickly and difficult as Ashley, and I mean that in the best way possible. Lucas is light where Ashley is darkness in comparison. Lucas is open and frank in his interest when it comes to Ashley, but with her, it is a fact that she is constantly warring with herself to not make the same sort of mistake that could be costly as her past had taught her. Even with all that, the sizzling attraction that at times you could cut through with a knife makes it impossible to turn away from and that is exactly what happens to Ashley when it comes to Lucas. The sexual tension was done perfectly well, the scenes of passion just as much! The ending when it came, I could not have asked for anything better.

A job well done, Ms. Anderson!

Final Verdict: Ms. Anderson wows readers yet again by taking on Chinese organized crime & spinning a tale that hits all the marks!

Favorite Quotes

Yesterday, she’d kissed him. It was only fair to return the favor.
He dipped his head, captured her lips and she opened her mouth with a groan. It was like diving into sin and temptation. Heat and pleasure flared between them and made the frigidity of the night, the damp dirtiness of the alley, and the grim reality of the case, all disappear.
Her body rose to meet his and he dove deeper, tangling his tongue with hers, feeling the fervor of her response. He didn’t let go of her wrists, but his other hand tugged her silky shirt out of her pants so he could reach inside and cup those perfect breasts.
Lace scraped his palm and made him instantly rock hard.

“I like you, Ashley, or haven’t you figured that out yet?”
Fear entered her gaze and she turned her cheek away from his touch. “Please don’t.”
“Please don’t what?” he asked. “Like you? You think I kiss every woman I come across in the street?”
Ashley sent him a disdainful glare. “If either of us had had a condom you’d have gotten your reward for that kiss, and you know it.”
He was so close he could still smell traces of her arousal and it twisted his good sense. “I had my reward, sweetheart. Watching you lose it isn’t something I’m going to forget anytime soon.”

“Don’t be naive, Lucas. You don’t have to like someone to fuck them,” she snapped.
Her attempt to push him away didn’t surprise him, but it did make him angry. “You’re right. I wouldn’t have to like you to fuck you, but God help me, I do.” He leaned closer. “And after feeling you come all over my fingers I really want to fuck you. So keep that in mind next time you follow me down a back alley at midnight.”

His hands urged her on, harder, faster. And even though there were no spaces left to fill she still wanted more of him; she wanted to swallow him whole. He sank his fingers into her long hair, rearing up until he could graze her neck with strong white teeth. Still he demanded more, forcing her to keep chasing that edge again, but with him this time. He nudged her knees wider
apart and she sank even further down his length and cried out. He lay back on the bed and his fingers found her nipple and clit, pinching them both at exactly the same time and making her shatter. Her cries echoed off the walls.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktoseduceasinner
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #2
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Jasper Renshaw
Heroine: Melisande Fleming
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 1, 2008
Started On: August 15, 2016
Finished On: August 18, 2016

It is quite the impossible feat to finish reading To Taste Temptation, the 1st book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series and not be intrigued by Emeline’s best friend Melisande Fleming. It is also fair to say that pairing Emeline’s best friend with the man she had been engaged to marry before she had met her happily ever after, the man being Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale was another reason that I was so quick in picking this up to read. Melisande’s character intrigued me for the front she puts up, the stoic and reasonable woman behind which I knew lay a heart that wants what most of us do. Someone to love, someone who returns that love tenfold and make you glad and giddy that it is so.

Even though popular with the ladies all over the ton, Vale seems to have run into quite the fix when it comes to acquiring his own bride. After being jilted for the second time, it is Melisande who comes to his rescue and offers her hand in marriage to him, surprising and intriguing him at the same time. While Vale makes it quite clear to Melisande that he is looking for a proper marriage, one where he gets bedding rights with his wife, Melisande agrees to everything and more. After all, she has loved Vale from afar for six long years and he needs not know her reasons for wanting him as her own.

Melisande is described as a plain woman. Someone who pretty much no man, especially one like Vale would notice in his attempts to woo and seduce ladies. It is Vale’s coping mechanism. Being surrounded by people, parties, laughter and joviality while on the inside he is reeling from the effect the tragedy at Spinner’s Falls had left on him. Being responsible for the regiment that had been attacked by Indians, the nightmares never leave him, especially at night when they come home to roost in his subconscious. Vale keeps that fact close to his heart, until Melisande breaks down the barriers he has put up, both physical and mental, until she takes him for everything he is.

Vale’s intrigue when it comes to the woman he married increases by the day. The sharp contrast between the woman who does not show much emotion during the day and fulfills every dirty and wanton need of his at night is a woman that needed to be unraveled. Vale is relentless in his pursuit of the secrets that Melisande hides behind. To find out what makes her tick. To find out what she wants. And most of all, why she offered her hand in marriage to him. A secret that Melisande guards as selfishly as Vale does that of his nightmares.

Along with the seduction and wooing of his wife that he pursuits with a vengeance, Vale continues his quest for the truth behind what happened at Spinner’s Falls. To find out the man that had betrayed his regiment and left them all at the torturous mercy of Indians who had practically annihilated them. Vale’s character is one you grow to love as the story goes on. The man behind the mask that he puts on at social gatherings is a man worthy of everything Melisande has to give and more. The fact that he never acknowledged Melisande’s existence before she had come up to him with the proposition does not deter him from seeing her from then on. Really seeing through to her and finding a woman who completes him in every single way possible. A woman he needs in every single way there is.

The emotional wallop behind the story suckerpunches you square in the gut right after the marriage. The emotions that coursed through me as I witnessed both Melisande and Vale at once fight the losing battle between them towards claiming each other as their own was one that I absolutely loved! The scene where Vale draws out Melisande’s secrets, one kiss at a time, one heady caress at a time was purely hedonistic, and I could not have asked for more!

Beautifully crafted, as always! Kudos to Hoyt, the master of the genre!

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Sinfully hot and just as exquisite! Hoyt’s name resounds all over the genre for a reason!

Favorite Quotes

“Why are you doing this?”
“What?” he asked idly. He brushed the rose against her cheek, the softness of the petals sending a shudder down her spine.
She caught his hand, hard and warm beneath her fingertips. “This. You act as if you’re wooing me.”
“Do I?” He was very still, his lips only inches from hers.
“I’m already your wife. There’s no need to woo me,” she whispered, and couldn’t keep the plea from her voice.
He moved his hand easily, though she still had her fingers wrapped about his. The rose drifted across her parted lips.
“Oh, I think there’s every need,” he said.

“Do you mind?” she asked.
She was gratified that he had to clear his throat. “Not at all.”
She nodded and raised the hem of her chemise to her hips before climbing into the chair. She straddled his lap carefully and let the chemise fall. Then she sat. For a moment, all she could do was savor the heat of his thighs against her bottom. She could feel his body hair tickling her most intimate parts.
Then she smiled and wove her arms about his neck. “Will you kiss me?”
“God, yes,” he growled.

She raised up on her knees and pushed against his cock. She was panting now. He watched her and brought his thumbs and forefingers together, pinching her nipples. She gasped and arched her back, but his cock slid to one side. Frantically, she reached between them to hold his slippery length steady. She ground against him. She could feel her folds, swollen beneath her fingers. She imagined her sex, crimson and wet, flowering against his cock. She rubbed the head of his penis against her clitoris, biting her lips, striving, struggling toward that goal.
Then he leaned forward and sucked a nipple into his hot, humid mouth, and she went over the cliff. Rushing, panting, she shattered in space.

She grabbed his broad shoulders and hung on. Her legs were wide, her breasts jiggling, and her mouth was open against his face, kissing, licking, biting. And all the while, his cock plundered her. Leaping. Demanding. Plunging.
Until all his muscles tightened at once. He shook his head, his teeth clenched, his body rigid, and she felt the hot wash of his seed into her body. He jerked once. Again. Then exhaled as if all the air was leaving his body at once.

 He jackknifed up and flipped her beneath him. And then he was looming large and menacing over her, his face dark as he growled, “Do you think me a plaything, my lady?”
She opened her legs wide, planted her feet, and arched her hips off the bed. She rubbed her sex against his length, watching as his eyelids fell in reaction.
“Perhaps I do,” she whispered. “Perhaps your cock is my favorite toy. Perhaps I want my toy in my—”
But he thrust fast and hard, making her lose her words on a gasp of pleasure.
“Wanton,” he gritted. “My wanton.”

“I have watched you,” she panted, “for years. I’ve seen you look at women—vapid, pretty women. I’ve seen you choose which ones you wanted. I’ve seen you stalk them, woo them, and seduce them. And I’ve seen when you grew tired of them, when your eyes would start to wander again.”
He tore at the laces to her bodice, loosening and pulling aside the fabric of her dress and stays until he reached her bare nipple. He palmed one breast and drew the other into his mouth, sucking strongly.
She cried out.
He lifted his head. “Tell me.”

“I watched you for years,” she whispered. The tears were drying on her cheeks, and heat was building within her. If he would just touch her. Touch her there. “I watched you and you never saw me.”
“I see you now,” he said, licking around a nipple. He trailed his tongue across her breast and to the other breast, circling the nipple there. Delicately. Tenderly.
Damn him.
“You didn’t even know my name.”
“I know it now.” He tested her flesh with his teeth.
Pleasure mixed with pain shot through her, straight from her nipple to where his hand still played. She arched, silently begging, and he relented, sucking the nipple strongly into his mouth.
“You . . .” She swallowed, trying to focus her thoughts. “You didn’t know I existed.”
“I do now.”

He stopped suddenly, and she opened her eyes. His head was thrown back, his eyes blind, pleasure convulsing his face.
“Melisande!” he cried.
His head thumped to the pillow beside hers, his lungs sucking air. He was heavy and hard, and her arms were still drawn over her head. It didn’t matter. She’d gladly suffocate here underneath him. She turned her face toward him and licked the ear she’d earlier bloodied, and she finally said it. She gave him what he wanted.
“I love you. I’ve always loved you. That’s why I married you.”

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Review: To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktotastetemptation
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Samuel Hartley
Heroine: Emeline Gordon
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 1, 2008
Started On: July 23, 2016
Finished On: August 15, 2016

Though the cover on this book leaves much to be desired, the first book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers is one that delivers on all fronts. After a failed attempt at picking up a historical romance from another author, I just couldn’t wait to erase that memory from my mind, which had me returning to Hoyt, an author that has never failed me up till this point. A tall order, I know. She might even have replaced classical favorites like Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood themselves, all because of the way Hoyt crafts her stories that leaves me begging for more.

Legend of the Four Soldiers is centered around four soldiers who returns from war and a terrible incident that marks them forever. Battling with PTSD and worse, these are the stories of the happily ever afters these four soldiers find for themselves. In the midst of each story, true to Hoyt’s trademark, there is an element of mystery happening which makes the book that much more of a page-turner. Each soldier chooses a different path to travel to their ultimate destinations, and in doing so Hoyt once again finds a common theme between the enchanting fairy tale that she begins each chapter with and the actual story that unfolds. That is just one more reason why Hoyt has carved a notch for herself in a genre that is redundantly often overdone with stories that are taxing to read. 

Mr. Samuel Hartley the hero is not from London society, rather he is a businessman from Boston, one of the soldiers that comes seeking Lady Emeline Gordon on the pretense of hiring her services for his sister. But Samuel in reality is seeking the truth of what happened in Spinner’s Falls, to find out who it is that had betrayed their regiment in such an abominable manner. Emeline meanwhile comes off as snobbish and standoffish from the first moment Samuel seeks her out. Perhaps the reason being that Samuel triggers feelings inside of her that she had forcibly buried, never to resurrect, ever since the death of her husband. The scars that have been leftover from the death runs deep, something readers only come to know as the story progresses towards its pivotal moments.

Samuel comes off as someone rather average at first, a harmless soul if ever there was one. Hoyt created a mesmerizing character out of Samuel by revealing his true self as a man who is driven by desire of the kind he cannot control, an alpha man to boot, not willing to take no from the woman who holds his desires captive. Emeline would give just about anything to turn away from Samuel, but she finds herself in a vicious cycle of need that refuses to be denied, a need that sees her getting into one clandestine position after another with Samuel. 

Though the story was a tad slow at the beginning, once things started heating up, I could barely breathe from the anticipation that was coursing through me. I always love the fact that Hoyt never shortchanges readers on the scenes of passion that she so artfully crafts into her novels. They are gems to be treasured. Every single one of them. The way the passion between Samuel and Emeline exploded onto the pages was just as beautifully done. It was dirty, raw, explicit, momentous and beautifully wondrous at the same time. Every scene brings forth the tightly reined in passions of two people who are so well suited for each other, but one or the other is too blind to see it, or refuses to in this case. The number of quotes included in this review attests to what I am talking about.

Samuel’s stubbornly unyielding attempts at winning Emeline over mesmerized me just as much as the scenes of passion did, knowing that to win the heart of someone such as Emeline so well entrenched within the customs of the elite of society would find it hard to break out of the safe existence she had carved out for herself.

Absolutely breathtaking, the fairy tale as well as the story of the love that unfurls between Emeline and Samuel! No two ways about it. Recommended!

Final Verdict: A feast for all your senses; heart, mind, body & soul!

Favorite Quotes

She inhaled deeply and sat back, her face entirely hidden by shadows now. “What difference does it make to you if I do find your affairs to be of interest, Mr. Hartley?”
He smiled wryly. “Touché, my lady. I’m sure a sophisticated gentleman of your society would deny it to his death if he was moved by your interest, but I am made of simpler stuff.”
“Are you?” The words were whispered in the dark.
He nodded slowly. “So I tell you: I am moved by your interest. I am moved by you.”
“You are frank.”
“Can you admit the same?”

“Yes, that’s what I want. A civilized man. An Englishman who knows the rules of society, an aristocrat to help me with my son and my lands. We are perfectly suited, Jasper and I. We are as alike as two peas in a pod.”
She saw the hurt in his eyes. It was very subtle, few other people, perhaps no other person, would understand it, but she saw and comprehended. She was hurting him.
So she drove the knife home. “We will be married soon, and I will be very, very happy—”
“Goddamn you,” he growled, and then he kissed her.

She was panting, almost crying, her mouth working under his, their teeth scraping against each other inelegantly. There was no finesse, no pretty caress in their kiss. This was a display of lust and anger.
She could smell his skin. He wore no powder or pomades or perfume, it was purely him, and she was driven mad by his scent. She wanted to tear the coat from his shoulders, rip off his shirt and neckcloth and bury her nose in his naked neck.

“Samuel,” she moaned.
“Hush,” he muttered.
He was urging her legs apart, and one part of her mind was thinking that his position relative to hers did not put her in the most attractive angle. Then she forgot any doubts, for he was running his thumb along her crease.
“You’re wet,” he said, his voice deep and dark with male satisfaction.
She lifted her head from the wall and almost pulled away at that. How dare he take her for granted?
But he tilted her hips and then…
Oh, God! And then he licked her.

He swore suddenly, and then he caught her against himself, her bare back pressed to his waistcoat as his cock buried itself in her and began to spurt. It was an odd angle—and erotic—her feet on tiptoe, her legs wide apart, her breasts and belly bare and displayed, impaled on his cock. She heard him groan and reveled in his loss of control. He worked insistently at her bud, splaying his hand possessively over her cunny as he came inside her.
And then she did scream. Waves of almost painful pleasure coursed through her as she convulsed on his cock. He placed his hand over her mouth to muffle the sound, and she bit him, relishing the taste of his skin on her tongue.
Behind her, he caught his breath. “Little cat.”

“I may not be fully aware of all the niceties of your society, but I think that you won’t want that.”
Her mouth had fallen open during this arrogant speech, but now as he turned away, she found her voice. “How dare you presume—”
He caught her by the shoulders, making her indignant sentence end on a squeak. He bent his head and spoke fiercely into her ear. “I dare because you welcomed me into your body not a quarter of an hour ago. Your body rained your pleasure all over my cock, and I want that again.”
He covered her mouth. But this time his kiss wasn’t gentle or soft. It spoke of a man’s desire. He thrust his tongue into her mouth and angled his head so that his lips all but enveloped hers, and her silly body arched into him. She wanted this. She craved this. Intellect and reason fled her brain.

He lifted his head, but his gaze remained on her breasts. “I’ve been thinking of this all day—your nipples, bare to me and what I would do with them. I could hardly walk for the cockstand in my breeches.” His eyes flicked to hers, and she saw that his expression was almost angry. “That’s what you do to me—turn me into a mindless, hungering cock.”
She squirmed at the words, so crude and explicit.
His nostrils flared at her movement and she froze. “Hold them for me. Offer your breasts to me so I can suck them until you come.”

“Will this do?” he grunted.
She didn’t answer, lost in a sea of bliss.
He slammed into her and held still. “Will this do, my lady?”
Her eyes flew open and she glared at him. “Yes!” She clutched at his buttocks, trying to get him to move again. “Yes! Yes! Yes! Just move, damn you!”
And he complied, either chuckling or growling low in his throat; it was impossible to tell, because her eyes had fallen closed again.

She sobbed, helpless and angry, and more angry that she let her innermost feelings show. “Stop.”
He shook his head slowly, pressing into her again, his hard body causing hers to flower open, vulnerable to all the sensations he was making her feel. His eyelids dropped for a second as if he, too, were overwhelmed by what he did. Then he raised them and looked into her eyes. “No.”

He withdrew a fraction of his length, but she felt the friction as his cock pulled against her oversensitive flesh. Then he was bearing down again, grinding, grinding, grinding against her exposed clitoris, and she couldn’t stand it anymore.
She came apart, all the secrets, doubts, worries, and hopes that she had kept tightly bound to herself flying outward, free and unharnessed, exposed to the chill morning air and to him.
To him.
And she looked up in time to see him grit his teeth and tremble, undone as much as she, as he released his seed within her.

But he withdrew his hand from her suddenly, catching her about the waist and lifting and shoving so that her rump balanced precariously on a barrel. Then he was between her legs, and she opened her eyes to watch him frantically rip at his breeches.
“God!” It was a groan. He freed himself and thrust into her, huge and hot, in the same movement. “God!”
She sank her nails into the cloth covering his shoulders and hung on for dear life, wrapping her legs high over his hips. He jerked rapidly in her, thrusting again and again and again. Her orgasm had not fully crested and now it began anew on a higher, sweeter, almost painful note.

She tore at his coat, ripping it off his upper arm, and filled her mouth with clean linen and his shoulder. Her eyes closed in bliss as she bit him. She clung to him while his cock took his pleasure of her. He rode her hard, rode her until she wanted to scream, rode her until he grabbed the back of her head and kissed her, his mouth wide and gasping as he came, his great body shaking. She could feel the heat of his seed flooding within her. And she knew, even as she crested the wave herself, she knew.
This must be the last time.

He muttered something and released her nipple, catching her hips. He pumped into her in quick, powerful thrusts, grunting with each plunge, his cock hard and hot and long within her. His movements, his obvious desperation, prolonged her pleasure, and when she felt his warmth flood her, she was still in bliss. She fell against his heaving chest, his hand tangling in her hair, his breath rasping against her damp temple. She heard his whisper in her ear.”
“I love you.”

He wouldn’t forget her, his warm lady, even if he lived for six decades more. He knew that now, sitting by her cold fire. She would be with him all the days of his life. As he walked the streets of Boston, as he conducted his business or chatted with acquaintances, she would be the ghost beside him. She would sit with him as he ate, she would lie beside him as he slept. And he knew that when his time on this earth was at an end, his last thought as he entered the void would be of her.
The scent of lemon balm would haunt him forever.
So he sat a little longer, watching her sleep. All the days of the rest of his life stretched before him, and he needed to store up these few seconds with her.
They would have to last him a lifetime.

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Review: Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booklovereternal
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #2
Publisher: Signet Book
Hero: Rhage
Heroine: Mary Luce
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 1, 2006
Started On: July 28, 2016
Finished On: August 02, 2016

Lover Eternal, the second book in the much revered Black Dagger Brotherhood series brings to the table the story of Rhage, legend and sex God, and Mary Lace, the human who brings him to his knees and then some. Taking place right after Dark Lover, the first book in the series, Lover Eternal brings to readers more of the bad boy vampire heroes who as a team are tasked with protecting the race from the evil known as the Lessening Society, members of which are formed by humans who as psychopaths or worse, were turned to do the bidding of their leader known as Omega.

Rhage might be all good looks, sex legend and more. But he is also a vampire cursed with an affliction of the kind that he wishes he could trade for practically even much less than half his life’s worth. But, that is not to be of Rhage’s choosing and he still has almost a century of living with a curse with which he has known no peace of his heart or soul since. But hide it he does, and hide it well, except from his Brothers who knows the toll it takes on Rhage.

Mary enters the lives of the Brotherhood through a mere chance, or perhaps fate as some would say. As a rehab specialist for autistic children, Mary’s role when it comes to communicating with John Matthew, someone who turns up mysteriously and could be one of the Brothers once he turns, is the reason for Mary’s appearance in Rhage’s life. For the first time since being afflicted with the curse, Rhage finds his body at peace with Mary’s presence.

Mary has yearned for the unattainable practically her whole life. 31 years old and a cancer survivor or so she thought, Mary has never had anyone special in her life, someone who had looked at her like she was his everything. When the leukemia returns, Mary knows that her dreams would stay the way they were, just as dreams, never to be realized. But every single encounter with Rhage brings her closer to the brink of a desire left unchecked for so long, the inevitability of a life that is running closer to its expiry date making it more so.

However, Rhage has his own battles to fight in his desire to claim Mary. With the beast inside of him warring to come out and claim her as well, the fear Rhage feels that he might inevitably end up doing irreparable damage to the most precious being in his life is one that he cannot endure. Fight they do, lovers they become and conquer do they their worst fears to triumph in a love that was meant to be from the very start.

Though Lover Eternal didn’t stir me up as Dark Lover did, there were so many elements in the story that made it the stellar read it was. J. R. Ward’s writing is topnotch, one reason why these books are so easy to devour. At the cost of repeating myself, Ward’s take on vampires is a tad different from what is out there. That itself makes this unique. The Lessers make a formidable enemy, not to mention the transitions that happens amongst the leaders of the Lessers as time goes on. The turn one of the Lessers took, in his bid to separate himself from the rest of his “race” and to feel something for a change, to make a connection with who he was before – that was a very interesting aspect to a multi-faced villain, just as important when it comes to stories of this nature.

Mary as a heroine fell a bit short for me. Its not that she didn’t shine in the right places – she does belong with Rhage in every manner possible, but she just didn’t stand out as a character as much as I wished she would. The way her battle with leukemia was resolved also fell a little bit flat, perhaps one of the reasons behind my discontent when it came to Mary. Nevertheless, Lover Eternal gives a great read, one that is a must read for fans of the series. More so because this is where Zsadist’s story starts, his encounters with Bella and how his tortured soul grabs at your heart from the start was something that I absolutely reveled in.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Rhage and Mary’s claim on each other is as sexy, bold and colorful as they come!

Favorite Quotes

“Use me, Mary. Let me bear this for you.” With a flash of movement, he raked his chest with her nails and then clamped his palms on either side of her face.
“Make me bleed for you…” His mouth stroked against hers. “Let your anger go.”
God help her, she bit him. Right on his lower lip. She just sank her teeth into his flesh.

Something inside of her snapped and she hurled him away, ducking out of his hold.
But instead of running for the door, she stared at him mercilessly.
Four scratches streaked down his chest. His lower lip was cut. He was panting, flushed.
She reached out and ripped the towel from his body.
Rhage was shockingly aroused, his erection straining, enormous.
And in the breathless moment between them, she despised all his smooth, perfectly hairless skin, his tight muscles, his fallen-angel beauty. Most of all, she loathed the proud length of him, that sexual tool he used so much.
And still, she wanted him.

She started to move off of him.
In a quick surge, Rhage’s legs shot up under her, toppling her onto his chest. As she fell on him, his arms wrapped around her.
“You know what you want to do, Mary,” he said into her ear. “Don’t stop. Take what you need from me. Use me.”
Mary closed her eyes, turned off her brain, and let her body go.
Reaching between his thighs, she held him up and sat on him hard.
They both shouted as she took all of him, right to the pubic bone.

Zsadist was sitting on the bed, his broad shoulders caved in, his arms wrapped around his waist. Bent over Rhage’s sleeping body, he was curled down as close as possible without their actually touching. As he rocked himself back and forth, there was a faint, lilting song in the air.
The vampire was chanting, his voice rising and falling, skipping octaves, soaring high, falling low. Beautiful. Utterly beautiful. And Rhage was relaxed, resting peacefully in a way he hadn’t before.
She quickly crossed the room and went out in the hall, leaving the men alone.

He pulled out and quickly turned her over. As she landed on her back, her legs flopped to the sides as if she didn’t have the strength to hold them up. The sight of her open to him, glistening for him, swollen from him, nearly had him releasing all over her thighs. He dropped his head and kissed where he had been, tasting a little of himself, a little of that marking scent he was leaving all over her body.
She cried out wildly as she climaxed. And before her pulses faded, he shot up over her and plunged back inside.
She called his name, nails scoring his back.

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Great Read!(1)