Review: The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehunter
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Christopher Argent
Heroine: Millicent Karolina Lapinski
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 02, 2016
Started On: September 01, 2019
Finished On: September 26, 2019

“Death is inevitable. To fear it is to waste energy.”

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne is book 2 in her fabulous Victorian Rebel series, where she writes about rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards who steal your heart and leave you wanting more. The Hunter explores the story of Christopher Argent who is an assassin, whose very nature makes him the perfect killer for hire. That is until Christopher’s services is procured to assassinate London’s darling and the stunningly beautiful actress Millicent Karolina Lapinski (Millie).

Christopher who is always able to detach himself from the lives he has taken thus far is unable to do so when he meets Millie, and in the process puts her and her son’s life in danger. With Millie Christopher for the first time learns the meaning of unthrottled desire. In Millie Christopher sees a woman who drives him crazy with need, and with whom his senses come alive as if he has been waiting for her touch all his life.

Christopher’s darkness lies deeply engraved in him, making him one of the most fascinating heroes I have read of late. I enjoyed The Hunter more than I did the first and third book in the series, the latter of which I read first. The lack of an epilogue is perhaps one of the main reasons why the rating did not go higher. Having gone through the roller-coaster ride of emotions that this book takes readers on, I believe we need an epilogue to let go of Christopher’s story with a heart that believes he got the best of what the world has to offer in terms of love of the kind that perseveres, no matter what.

Christopher’s character is perhaps one of the most emotionally complex characters that the series has offered thus far; his birth in the belly of the beast that is Newgate Prison and the unconscionable violence and tragedy that had been so much part of his life and shaped him into adulthood, marking him for life. I was traumatized by the sheer scale of violence that Christopher was subjected to, much of it with just enough details for the reader to form a full picture.

I found the delve into his psyche the most fascinating aspect of the story. Millie’s son Jakub was just adorable and I believe that he really did make a difference in the way Christopher sees himself. Millie was also such a darling character. She was a match for Christopher in every sense. A fierce lioness where needed and a gentle lover who knows just the right touch; when to press forward and when to give in, which is crucial in dealing with a man like Christopher whose life up till that point had taught him that he was a man unfit for loving and being loved.

Seeing Dorian and Farah was such a nice touch to the story as well, both of them easing into the new roles of their lives as husband and wife made me really happy.

I am so glad for having stumbled across these titles because at the cost of repeating myself, they come with the kind of darkness that I as a reader revel in. Heroes whose darkness is embraced by the heroine rather than embarking on an agenda of reform for the hero which is just plain annoying and unrealistic when it comes to characters who have gone through so much as Christopher did.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of dark historical romances. This one is all kinds of delicious!

Final Verdict: Christopher is the kind of hero that makes a romance stand out. The Hunter is a novel that takes readers through tumultuous emotions of the kind that delivers!

Favorite Quotes

“It won’t hurt, I promise,” he whispered as his fingers gently reached the nape of her neck, and then her jaw, and paused there.
It already hurt. She ached, ached in places generally best left ignored. Millie’s breath had now been reduced to little more than needy pants. “If you don’t kiss me, I’ll die,” she confessed.
He froze.
Vibrating with frustrated arousal she surged against him, lifting to her toes and grinding her lips against his.
The kiss was as hungry as it was sudden. While his eyes may have been cold, his mouth was hot and tasted of wine and male. She kissed him with abandon, enjoying the way his entire body jolted and went instantly rigid.

His fingers tightened again against her throat, just a little, and she gasped. Then moaned as a thrill of fear titillated down her nerves and settled as a pool of moisture between her thighs.
“Again,” she demanded, her arms winding around his neck, her body rubbing against his like a cat demanding to be stroked.
His curse was lost in the cavern of her mouth, and she knew in that moment that they both needed to see whatever this was between them to fruition.

Her scent filled his nostrils and held him prisoner. Soap, sweat, and something that reminded him of late summer berries. Everything about her enticed him, and the clenching of the muscles beneath his stomach pulled a sound from his throat so desperate, it could have been a plea.
In that moment, he could feel that she lost her fear.
And he lost his mind.

“I wonder…” Her husky voice vibrated through him, sending shivers of yearning down his spine that arced to his turgid sex with agonizing need. “I wonder, Mr. Argent, if you take instruction as deftly as you give it.”
Christopher froze beneath her, his entire being focused on the growing heat between her parted legs, creeping closer to his aching arousal with the graceful arch of her body as she continued to sit back.
“Never,” he breathed. He obeyed no one.
“Not even if I ordered you to claim my lips with yours?”

“Kiss me,” she commanded, rolling her hips back until she was pressed intimately against him, her voice containing a growing desperation that might not entirely pertain to the carnal heat building between them. “Kiss me like you did the night we met. Like a man who captured my gaze across a glowing room and seduced me with a waltz. Touch me as though we are back in that dark corner beneath the stairs of the Sapphire Room and you are Bentley Drummle, nothing more than a harmless, charming businessman.”
“Millie,” Christopher warned, confused by the almost frantic need in her eyes. By the fear and strain that seemed to underscore her passion.
“Kiss me like you never meant to kill me.”

Despite his words, his dreamlike exploration didn’t last. She may have initiated this kiss, but she was a fool if she thought she’d control it. Not only that, but she hadn’t been prepared for it, for the pure blistering intensity of it. His lips were hard, yet full. His movements raw and unapologetically carnal. He kissed her with a wicked mouth, one that issued threats and vulgarities and brutal, albeit sometimes endearing, honesty. He kissed like a man unused to kissing. No artfully applied maneuvers or sensual variations. He kissed like a man about to—to fuck. Like he wanted to pour himself into her, or perhaps crawl inside of her. This was a dominant kiss. A shameless kiss. The kiss of a man who knew his sins and granted himself absolution.
This was the kiss of a killer.

His rough chin scratched at the soft valley between her breasts, and she stiffened when she realized his mouth was drifting lower, leaving her upper half completely exposed.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“Your scent on my body, on my hands, drove me mad with hunger,” he said against the plane of her quivering belly. “Once I bathed I wanted it back. I want to taste you until you say my name.”
Dear sweet Lord, she couldn’t let him do that. It was too wicked. God, who was this man? Where was her terse assassin? Where was the man who bent her over and took her with her clothes left on? The one who’d pleasured her in the ballroom earlier and then pushed her away and disappeared? Who knew that in his dreams he was so utterly sexual? That he could set her blood to burning and mortify her at the same time?

Her sob touched him as deeply as he penetrated her. Soft hips spread beneath him in sweet feminine submission.
“Come for me,” he demanded on long, almost punishing thrusts. “Say my name … One … more … time.”
“Christopher.” His name was ripped from deep in her throat. “Please.” A plea or a prayer, he couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter. She whimpered, then screamed. Her body clenched around his cock, bore down on him with a throbbing pressure so intense, he couldn’t fight it.
He closed his eyes, battling the ecstasy building in his abdomen and preparing to burst from him. He clung to the moment, held as long as he could.

His possession was unbelievably slow as he sank inside of her, filling her with a heat she’d not known existed. For a moment they stayed like that as his cock stretched her slick channel and throbbed inside her welcoming body. They both stared, stunned by the incomprehensible intensity of the moment. It was like a thousand bolts of lightning converged within them, between them, and they somehow had joined more than just their bodies.
But fused their souls, as well.

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

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Review: Ask Me Why by Harloe Rae

askmewhyFormat: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Brance Stone
Heroine: Braelyn Miller
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2019
Started On: November 09, 2019
Finished On: November 10, 2019

Ask Me Why by Harloe Rae is a story that caught my ever roving eye because I am a sucker for an anti-hero or a hero whose most redeeming qualities aren’t visible from the get go. I mean, I can take heroes who are sappy, good to the very core of their existence etc. to a certain level, but I need my fix of anti-heroes, who are in short supply, considering the need for authors to conform to what the current reader-base wants, and how romance as a genre has evolved over the years.

The heroine Braelyn Miller is three years in her road to recovery from the deepest loss that has marked her life; the loss of her significant other Devon, to a senseless accident. Suffering from post-traumatic disorder, panic, and anxiety since, Braelyn gives all of herself to her shop which stocks all sorts of knickknacks for those looking for something out of the norm. It is the abundant candy section at her store that draws Oliver Stone (Ollie), a young boy whose enthusiasm and joy brings undiluted happiness to Braelyn for the first time in a long while.

However, all of that is overshadowed by Ollie’s father, a successful divorce lawyer Brance Stone, who carries his cynicism close to his heart like body armour. With a mother whose actions had left its bitter mark on him, to Ollie’s mother who had removed any ounce of compassion left in his heart, Brance’s only saving grace comes from Ollie, for whom he would brave the store of Braelyn’s, even if it means his entire being prickles and goes on high alert mode in a way that does not sit well with him.

Brance views all women with suspicion, especially given that he knows the effect he has on women at large. However, that suspicion is laced with contempt when he believes that Braelyn is using Ollie to get close to him. Clash is what Brance and Braelyn do at first, their verbal warring such fun at certain points, laced with heavy moments as well. But ultimately the fight goes out of both of them and succumb they do to the thick and heavy desire between them which is almost palpable at times.

I enjoyed Ask Me Why in a large way because I needed the kind of hero that Brance was in the story. I have missed heroes like him to the point I could cry! Ollie contributed in a huge way towards making the story adorable. That is no mean feat I tell you. Especially given the fact that my previous read featured a child who was so tiresome, that I felt like throwing my Kindle at the wall most of the times. Then came Ollie, and all of that discontentment went poof and I was all smiles and love and wanting to cuddle the little guy for all the optimism and inquisitiveness he brought to the story.

I also adored Braelyn. She was hands down, one of the best aspects of the story. Her unwavering strength in the face of such a tragedy was something I could identify with, be it in a little way. It is not easy to pick up the pieces of your life when you suffer such a terrible tragedy, and there is an embedded message of hope in Braelyn’s phases of recovery. One does not get cured overnight, it takes effort and the love of well meaning friends/family around you to keep you grounded and able to take those difficult first steps, one at a time. Her inherent goodness shines through in every single aspect of the story and I couldn’t have asked for a better heroine in any way.

Let me not forget to mention just how much of an effect Brance had on me. He was obnoxious at points where I wanted to throw something at him, but that does not detract from the fact that he is sexy in a way that makes you melt on the spot. Once he turns on his charm, and when he is not even trying, there is a certain way with which he carries himself that does a number on you. The term sex-in-a-suit was invented for men like Brance, and alongside with that confidence of his, I was a mess every time he started talking dirty!

With all that I loved about the book, there were a couple of things that disturbed me as well. I understood why Brance was the way he was; cynical and damaged from the past that had done its number on him. But I found his attitude towards Ollie’s mother to be double standards; he himself sort of agrees to that. He is all for women’s rights and each woman having the independence to decide whether they want to carry a pregnancy to term or not.

But when it comes to Ollie’s mother, Brance was practically the one that “forced” her to do have him. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t even imagine the story without Ollie. I also agree that the way Ollie’s mother treated Brance from that point forward was abominable, but what do you expect when you force someone to do something that they do not want to wholeheartedly? Resentment flares and some people are obviously worse than others. I am not excusing her behavior for one second, but I just found it all to be very hypocritical.

That brings me to the point where things head south in Brance and Braelyn’s fragile beginnings of a relationship. When Braelyn suffers a panic attack (with good reason if you ask me), and Brance did not even try to understand where she was coming from, at that moment I actually hated Brance. For someone who suffers from the same, I understood the panicky, end-of-the-world scenarios that had been running through Braelyn’s mind at that point in time. Once your brain starts running in that direction, it is extremely difficult to rein it in and keep it in check. Because lets face it, our minds tend to have a life of its own; that is one reason why it is so fascinating as well. I would have liked it better, had Brance tried to understand, even a little.

However, I bow down to Harloe Rae’s amazing ability to spin a tale that sucked me in right from the beginning. I enjoyed Brance and Braelyn’s extremely bumpy journey to their happily ever after.

Recommended for those who love a hefty dose of their alpha-holes. Brance is definitely that and more! My first Harloe Rae certainly did not disappoint!

Final Verdict: Ask Me Why is breathtaking on many levels, combining terrible tragedy and heartache with the surprising curve balls that brings immense joy and happiness in life; I loved Harloe Rae’s voice that resonated deep within.

Favorite Quotes

I find a sliver of space to move closer. “Wanna hear a secret?”
“Always,” Braelyn purrs.
“You’re a damn distraction.”
She snaps her fingers. “Guess it sucks to be you.”
Her tactics don’t deter me. “All I can think about is wiping that sad look off your face.”
“I’m fine, other than these inconvenient visits from you.” Her guarded eyes skitter away from mine.
“Don’t lie. You want me. Just once would do. I’d turn that frown so far upside down, you’d never stop smiling.”
“Cocky asshole.” She dips her chin, but I catch the blush staining her cheeks.
I close the distance between us by another foot. “I’ll lick your clit until you scream my name. Then it’ll be my cock’s turn to pleasure you. Over and over until you beg me to stop.”

I shiver when Brance’s hand begins to wander. His fingers drift along the bare skin of my inner thigh. The loose fit of my shorts grants him easy enough access. I sag against the shelf when he reaches my center. Brance shoves my panties to the side with masterful precision. He glides through my slick heat, turning me into a quivering mess. He doesn’t waste time teasing with me, zeroing in on my clit with sure strokes.
Brance rips his mouth away with a snarl. “You’re wicked. This shouldn’t be happening.”
“But it is,” I whisper.

The talking abruptly cuts off when he crashes our mouths together. I moan into the kiss, arching against him. His lips drift up my cheek and temple. The move is almost tender.
“You’re such a pain in my ass,” he growls close to my ear.
I shift against him, rubbing along the hard ridge prodding at me. The empty space inside of me weeps. I curl my fingers on the shelf, but metal doesn’t satisfy me. A chunk of finely toned Brance would do nicely. I want to grip his sculpted ass and soothe any pain he might be feeling.

“Don’t make me wait, Brance. Please.” When the plea drops off her lips, a surge of need propels me forward. I grab a condom from my discarded pants. With calculated precision, I ripDon’t make me wait, Brance. Please.”
When the plea drops off her lips, a surge of need propels me forward. I grab a condom from my discarded pants. With calculated precision, I rip open the foil and roll the rubber down my shaft. I climb onto the mattress and move between her parted thighs. Leaning on an elbow, I lower myself until we’re aligned together. My cock nudges her entrance. Braelyn loops her arms around me. She’s about to let me conquer the deepest parts of her body. I line up with her center and push inside.
Her hips lift and tilt, welcoming me further. I sink to the hilt. We share a groan.
Braelyn’s nails dig into my back. “B-Brance, holy shit. You fit just right.”
I brush my mouth against hers. “So fucking good.”

I crawl backward until my head bumps against a pillow. He reaches behind him and strips off his shirt with one smooth move. I’m antsy, rubbing my thighs together before spreading them apart. Brance undoes his jeans and shoves them down. He stands before me in a black pair of briefs, tenting in the front with his desire.
For me.
I prop myself up and lick my lips. With a curl to my fingers, I beckon him to me.
Brance strokes himself through his shorts. Such a damn tease. “Take off anything you don’t want ripped into shreds.”

Make me feel good.”
“Don’t I always?”
I open my mouth with another plea. Brance lines up and slams into me. A burst of color blooms in my vision. I claw at the sheets and tumble under his spell.
Holy shit.
Brance’s hips grind against me, forcing us closer. There’s not a sliver of space separating our bodies.

When we’re alone again, I arch a brow at my date. “Same side seating?”
“Only way to appreciate these booths.”
“Oh?”
Brance’s palm rests on my bare thigh, drifting up and higher. “Yeah, babe.”
I spread my legs without hesitation. With one touch, I’m dragged under his seductive spell. Those talented fingers roam further, disappearing beneath my dress. I’ve never been more grateful for my choice in clothing. He reaches my satin covered center with no signs of slowing down. I really like the direction he’s taking.
“W-what are you doing?” My tone is barely a rasp.
Brance ghosts his lips over my cheek. “I’ve missed you. Just a little starter while we wait for the main course. Relax, babe.”

I sag against the seat in a pliable puddle, ready for Brance to mold me into his making. The rest of my resistance fades when he swipes across my slit. I’m so wet, almost embarrassingly so. Telltale tingles are already creeping up my legs. The thrill of getting caught. The tender warmth in his searing gaze. His strong strokes against my clit. It’s a recipe for a sharp and powerful climax.
I clamp a hand over my mouth and moan. Tremors wrack my limbs, an eruption cracking through the volcanic surface. My eyes roll back while I shudder in his grip. I do my best not to rattle the booth.
“You’re so fucking sexy.” His voice is a hypnotic pulse lulling me deeper into the waves of euphoria.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookdreamsof18.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Graham Edwards
Hero: Quentin Savage
Heroine: Violet May Moore
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 10, 2019
Started On: October 10, 2019
Finished On: October 13, 2019

Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent is her latest novel, published on October of this year. This was a much awaited novel on my part, like every other fan of Saffron I believe, because that is just how it is when it comes to books by an author who literally and figuratively takes your breath away. What Saffron does with her characters is priceless, the boundaries she pushes in the genre makes her books stand out, and the wealth of emotions her books carry are second to none.

Dreams of 18 brings to readers 18 year old Violet May Moore and 36 year old Graham Edwards, whose story begins when Graham moves next door to Violet’s home in Cherryville, Connecticut. Violet had been just 16 years old then, and Graham’s son Brian had quickly become a close friend. But from the moment Violet had laid eyes on Graham from the very first day they had moved in, there had been no other man for her, even though she knows that nothing would ever come to fruition from her harmless crush on her someone who would never give her the time of day.

However, the night she turns 18 is the night all hell breaks loose. One kiss, and everything unravels, Graham leaves town and Violet is left to pick up the pieces. The story continues ten months later, when Violet seeks Graham, largely to ask his forgiveness and to right the wrong she had done by initiating a kiss that had destroyed Graham’s life and forced him to leave.

The Graham she finds is one who unravels her even more than before, and the more time Graham and Violet forcibly spends together, increasingly she comes to the realization that Graham is not as unaffected by Violet as he pretends and would like to be. The battle of wills between the two heightens until of course there is nothing left but to give in, and give in they do, oh so gloriously!

I loved Graham and Violet, because its hard not to fall in love with two characters who are as lost and lonely as they are. But I have to admit that I loved the first half of the book more than the latter. Graham, having grown up with an absentee mother, and a father who had mourned the fact every single day to the point where Graham had never known love or affection. Violet’s childhood had been just as bad. Her mother who had never really wanted her had left its mark, and Violet had learnt to keep herself occupied so that the loneliness would be kept at bay. The very first time Graham wishes Violet a happy birthday was a scene so full of gut punching emotions that it nearly undid me.

The yearning that hits Violet at such a deeply intrinsic level is one that is echoed in Graham, even though he berates himself every single day for the way he feels about someone so young. There is just something about heroes who are larger than life and heroines who are dainty and beautiful, and the way these heroines basically have the hero wrapped around their little finger.

Graham who tenderly cares for his roses, and Violet who sees through to what it actually represents. Graham who sees and understands the wealth of accumulated hurt in Violet, and eases them with every kiss he lays on her with carnal intention or otherwise. Violet, who understands the grouchiness that is at times Graham, but loves him for it regardless because the more grouchy and possessive he is, the harder she loves him all the more. Graham who would have walked away in a heartbeat if it would have ensured her Violet’s happiness at the risk of damning his own soul. That is in essence what Graham and Violet are about, and the beauty that Saffron delivers to readers.

The other thing that struck me the most is the premise upon which the plot of the story is based. Saffron is famous for writing on taboo tropes, undoubtedly. In Dreams of 18, she navigates perhaps one of the trickiest topics of present times, especially when discussions such as #MeToo, pedophilia, and child grooming are hotly debated. The ingenuity in Dreams of 18 lies in the way Saffron skates the very edge and somehow makes it all work and entices the reader to fall in love.

Dreams of 18 may perhaps not be for everyone. And that is fine. But for readers like myself who loves authors who push the conventional norms when it comes to romance, Saffron Kent is like hitting jackpot! I just wish there were more authors like her out there, and that Saffron had an extensive back-list of books I could gorge on until the date of her next publication.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Dreams of 18 is an overload of emotions and sensations tied up in a neat bow presented to readers. Let the unraveling begin!

Favorite Quotes

“What do you think she wanted me to do to her?” he asks.
With every question that he asks me, the answers become more and more difficult. I should really put a stop to it.
Mostly because it’s none of my business. But also because I don’t wanna talk about her. I don’t wanna talk about what that woman wanted from him and what he wanted from her.
And yet, I can’t help it when my lips part and my answer slips out. “Keep kissing her and never stop.”

“What if I bring my hand forward, slide it down her stomach? Would she like that?”
My eyes go down to his hands. They’re clenched into fists by his sides, mimicking my own.
His stance is wide, and his body sprung tight, completely in conflict with his low, lazy, almost sleepy voice. And I realize that maybe this is how he looks when he’s aroused.
Oh Jesus, is he aroused? Did she get him going that much?
It makes me wanna sob.
Instead, I whisper, “Yeah. Yeah, she’d like that. Very much.”

But before I go, before I become a puddle on his couch, I ask, “Are you saying that I’m… visible?”
“No, Violet, I’m not saying that you’re visible. I’m saying that you’re the only thing that a man sees. I’m saying that you’re a thing that drives a man to distraction. You make him forget what’s right and what’s wrong. You’re a thing so terrible and beautiful and fucking breathtaking that he can’t escape you. He can’t think of anything else, not about his job, his responsibilities, his promises, his family, nothing but you. You undo him. You make him helpless. You turn him into an animal who wants to rut. You’re a girl who makes a man go bad.”

My breaths are louder. Louder than his hand jerking off his cock.
God, he’s jacking off and I don’t know what to do.
How to simply stand here and not go to him.
I’m salivating for it. My mouth is full of saliva and I’m biting my lip and licking it.
I’m gasping and probably rolling my hips in the air and that’s how he knows I’m here.
He catches me perving over him while I’m making noises.
Yikes.
As soon as his eyes hit me, his face goes from flushed to furious in a split second and he whips around, his shaft hard and pointing toward me. “What… What the… What the fuck?”

He goes for my panties.

He hooks his fingers in my waistband and yanks them down. He keeps yanking until they are off and somewhere on the floor where he throws them before coming back to me.
Before coming back and lying down on his stomach, as sprawled as I am on the bed.
My legs are all open now, almost in a split and his shoulders are jammed between them. His face is at my open, bare core that he’s breathing over, fanning my steamy folds with the air within his lungs.
He stares at it, burning my most intimate flesh with his eyes, as his thumbs run in circles at the juncture where my thighs meet my hips.
He stares at it and stares at it, getting lost for a second like he did when he looked at my breasts, and I have to call his name again. “Graham?”
He looks up, then.
“What’s my special kiss?”
Finally, he growls, “This.”
With that, he licks me.

“Graham,” I whimper, my hands going to his chest, my fingers burying in his chest hair.
He lets go of my nipple and moves further up. He kisses my pulse and I bend my neck to the side to give him more access. Then, he’s at my lips. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes up and up and finds my forehead.
Closing my sleepy eyes, I nuzzle my nose at his stubbled throat as I feel him kiss me there, at my sweaty forehead, and whisper, “Happy birthday, baby.”

“You gonna grip me hard, Violet? You’re gonna keep me here, huh?”
To emphasize here, he massages my entire core again and I can feel that I’ve practically drenched my pajamas. I can feel the wetness on my thighs. I can feel him rubbing that wetness back into my pussy and I’m almost there. Almost.
And then, he edges me over with these erotic, filthy words that he rasps just below my ear while he licks me there, rubs his jaw and beard over my soft skin.
“Your mommy should’ve tied you to the bed, Jailbait. Barred your windows. Hidden you from the world. It was only a matter of time before you ended up on the wrong side of a bad man’s cock.”

I dig my nails in his biceps, making him groan and making myself whimper.
But more than that, I make myself move and rock and twist against his length. I’m sliding back and forth on his cock, humping against it when suddenly, my eyes pop wide open.
Because holy shit, he’s inside of me.
Just like that.
He’s just pushed himself in on a groan and a grimace, his eyes still on me but so much foggier now. So much brighter and covered in a sheen that wasn’t there before. Not when I closed my eyes a few seconds ago.
Just that look of his, all panting and drugged, makes me come.

“Do you think I’m bleeding?”
He jerks slightly, his fingers digging into my flesh. Not a lot but enough that I feel the movement ricocheting in my swollen cunt.
“Jesus Christ, virgins,” he mutters to himself like he forgot about the bleeding part, panic laced in those words. To me, he grits out, his eyes concerned, “I hope to fuck that you’re not.”
I wind my arms around his neck and shake my head. “No, no. Don’t hope that.”
“What?”
“I like that. I wanna bleed.” He shudders over me; I feel the muscles of his shoulders quaking. “Because I’m… I’m a woman now. You made me one. I’m all grown up.”
His cock lurches inside me as he curses, and comes down on his elbows, as if he doesn’t wanna be away from me. As if he wants our skin to touch and slip against each other.

A second later, he pops the candy out of my mouth and throws it away before kissing the fuck out of me.
Before fusing our bodies together and slamming his cock into me. Pounding and ramming and beating up my horny channel as he fucks me. Plows into me like a beast.
It’s even more intense than last night. The way he’s riding my pussy.
His strokes are harder and more powerful. More possessive. Like his need for me only increased after he had one taste of me.
Like he wants me even more now. Like he needs me more.

I clench around his cock and his drives become rough and haphazard.
He jerks and twitches, his body slipping over mine with the sweat, the friction we’ve created. And then, he comes too.
He does it still looking at me.
He doesn’t close his eyes. He doesn’t get lost in his climax alone.
He gets lost in it with me.
The girl he can’t love but looks like he does.
The girl who’s thinking, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
I can’t lose that look. I can’t tell him. I can’t tell him the truth.
I love him.

While his truck is shaking and rocking with us and the windows fog up.
But more than anything, I wanna do this all day and for the rest of my life because I want to make all my secrets with him. Secrets like this one. So dirty and sacred at the same time.
It’s us: him and me. The new us that we’ve created together.
I told him that night when I wore the red dress for him, that I want us to be us, just him and me.
This is us.
Wild and savage and filthy and beautiful. Beauty and The Beast.

“When I saw you, Violet, it felt like someone stabbed me in the chest,” he rasps.
My eyes go wide. “What?”
He chuckles; it’s brittle and thin. “Or at least, it felt like it. I saw you up on the roof, with your thick, gorgeous hair and your arms open wide, something got lodged inside my chest, just under my heart and for the longest time, it felt like a knife of some sort. Something that made me… different. It wasn’t that, though.”
“W-what was it?”
“My soul,” he whispers. “It was my soul waking up. The thing that keeps a man alive, came alive in me when I saw you. You woke up my soul, Violet.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: In the Dark by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Bookinthedark.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Mason Deniaud
Heroine: Callie Sutton
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: December 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 20, 2019

Sometimes the only thing to fear . . . is yourself.

In the Dark, the latest release by Loreth Anne White, is a story that stands testament to Loreth’s ability to spin thrillers that are dark, forbidding, and explores the deepest facets of human psychology. Some might shy away from it, others may scoff at the very notion of it, but what Loreth puts to paper is in part what humans are capable of. The good and the evil that resides in us, which makes us so complex as a creation, combined with our intelligence which makes us unpredictable.

In the Dark begins with an entity known as RAKAM Group in Malaysia bringing together a group of nine individuals for a test round of their future business in terms of holidays provided at a remote location. None of the chosen foresee the darkness that lays ahead, the harrowing circumstances under which they would each fight to survive in the days to come, nor what ties one to the other.

The group consists of Dan Whitlock, a private investigator who dies before the journey begins, Monica McNeill, a grocery chain heiress and her husband Dr. Nathan McNeill, a professor of mycology at the University of Toronto, Bart Kundera who operates a transportation service, Katie Colbourne, a travel-documentary maker, Jackie Blunt, former police officer turned owner of a private security firm, Dr. Steven Bodine, cosmetic surgeon, and Stella Daguerre their pilot who carries them to their final destination.

When the group arrives, instead of the cozy vacation mountain lodge they were expecting, there stands an abandoned lodge in total isolation, without seemingly anyone around for miles. With a storm front that had moved in making it impossible to make the return journey, the spooked out party decides to wait out the storm, and instead find themselves in a bizarre setting within which they come to realize that they had been duped well and good, and brought together for a purpose none of them understands well.

With the realization that someone amongst them or outside of the nine is playing a harrowing mind game on them willing them to turn on one another bringing the ugliest of truths each harbours, the group starts to fray at the edges when one by one, members are killed, in line with a rhyme that they were meant to find from day one. According to the rhyme, only one is meant to survive, or none, depending on how the events unfold.

Sergeant Mason Deniaud, is a veteran big-city homicide detective, who decides to move to the middle of nowhere that is Kluhane Bay for personal reasons. When he encounters his first major case in the form of a downed plane with an apparent homicide victim, this kick-starts a chain of events which leads him and Callie Sutton of Kluhane Bay’s Search and Rescue on a mission to uncover the truth and search for survivors. With time running out, Mason and Callie’s team battle with nature itself to get to where the group of individuals may have ended up in.

When I turned the last page of the story, what was racing through my mind were the words, what a creepy and sensational book! I don’t even know if I should be using those two words in the same sentence. However, the more I think about it, the more drawn I get into the ingenuity of the plot, the layers to it, and the deeply rich characterization upon which the plot is built. There is no one character that does not add value to the plot, and that is no mean feat when you are juggling multiple individuals who all play pivotal roles in the story.

For the first time when it comes to a Loreth Anne book, I didn’t miss out on the romance angle. Maybe because I have conditioned myself not to expect romance in her books now. Even though there exists an elemental connection between Callie and Mason, I didn’t feel morose about the fact that nothing actually did materialize from that connection. Rather, the way Loreth left things on that turf seemed fitting, because you know deep inside, that somewhere down the line, what’s meant to be would find its way.

In short, on the psychological thriller front, what Loreth delivers in this story is priceless. I have never really read an Agatha Christie novel, but the premise of this novel’s plot depends deeply upon one of her novels. In the Dark strips down human nature to its very core, where Loreth drives and forces her characters towards their most feral and survivalist of natures, and taps into the psychology upon how people who have been dealt with extremely tough hands in life choose to shape and steer their future.

While I empathized with the mastermind of the plot, I couldn’t wholeheartedly say that I agreed with the character’s actions in its entirety. But that is exactly why Loreth is such a brilliant writer. She makes you see through the thin veneer holding civilized society together and strips us bare to expose the very elements which makes us who we are. That in short is why this book is a mastery unto itself.

Recommended for anyone who loves a tightly plotted thriller that delivers.

Final Verdict: In the Dark is a novel that brings together Loreth’s unique ability of in-depth characterization, exposing our deepest and darkest fears, and the wildcards among us who serve to be the ones you must look out for!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Colder Than Sin by Toni Anderson

Format: E-Bookcolderthansin
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice: Crossfire, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Quentin Savage
Heroine: Haley Cramer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 22, 2019
Started On: October 26, 2019
Finished On: November 02, 2019

Colder Than Sin is the 2nd book in the Cold Justice: Crossfire series by Toni Anderson. A crossover series that introduces new characters alongside with some of the favorites from the Cold Justice series, everyone who has loved the first title of this crossover series, Cold and Deadly, would have been eagerly awaiting for the story of the Chief of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, Quentin Savage.

Quentin is in Indonesia for a conference, when on the very last night his gaze falls on the bombshell of a beauty that is Haley Cramer. Haley is a partner to a topnotch security firm in the US, and even though there is mutual interest on the part of both Haley and Quentin, they both decide to leave it at that, that is until fate intervenes.

Things take a dangerous turn when the hotel is attacked by militants in the middle of the night, killing almost everyone who had been present, with Qunetin and Haley barely surviving, only to find themselves taken hostage by the militant group. Thus begins a harrowing couple of days that is brutal on both of them, that brings them closer together in a way which otherwise may not have happened.

I liked Colder Than Sin and the premise upon which the plot is built. As always, I enjoyed thoroughly, the science behind Toni’s research which always tells me how well read and up-to-date she is on current affairs of the world. Reading her books is a joy always, because of that fact.

Colder than Sin is action-packed and definitely has some heavy material within it that some readers might find difficult to get through. Especially when it comes to Darby O’Roarke, the student who was held under captive for days, before Haley and Quentin rescues her, and also elements of Haley’s dark past as well.

There were a couple of things that perhaps detracted a bit from my enjoyment factor. By the time the attack had taken place, I had kind of figured out who the villain was, because the clues were quite prominent, perhaps what Toni wanted as well.

Quentin was a great guy in many ways; kind, considerate, and sexy, all in one. His past makes him a bit wary of putting his heart on the line once again, but then again, none of us have any control over whom we love and how we fall in love – it just happens.

When it does, Quentin does know that he has been given a second chance, but the guilt of moving on and the difficulties when it comes to opening up about fragility of own emotions is not easily overcome, even if you are a topnotch hostage negotiator.

At times, I felt that there was too much emphasis on depicting Quentin as the good guy, when everything he does, says, and thinks alludes to just that. Quentin would have been just as likable, had the reader being left to draw their own conclusion on who he is and what he stands for.

Haley was a tough cookie in many ways. A childhood that had been less than ideal, she is a survivor in many aspects, something that makes her perfect for the role of teaming up with Quentin on such a harrowing journey. While the sex between Haley and Quentin is combustible, I cannot say that I fell in love with them, either individually or together. All I can say that I felt that was something elemental missing between the two that I just cannot put my finger on.

I really liked how Toni brought to the forefront the challenges that we women have to face to compete in a man’s world. It is not mean feat to pull that off without sounding preachy and self-righteous which is noteworthy in my opinion. That is one of the reasons why I love Toni’s voice – she does every theme she takes on justice by getting to the very heart of the matter in a way that only she is able to.

Towards the end, I was really intrigued by the connection between Eban Winters and Darby, and I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on their story. Hopefully soon!

Final Verdict: Toni’s second installment in her Cold Justice: Crossfire series is filled with action packed moments, tough situations, and steamy love scenes in a way that makes for enjoyable reading!

Favorite Quotes

He tossed the condoms on the bedside table and turned to face her. He sank his hand into the hair at her nape, pulled her forward, and kissed her on the mouth.
It caught her off guard, that simple kiss. He didn’t try to force his way inside. Instead, he coaxed and teased, giving her the time she needed to adjust from sex to kissing. Kissing was an art form not everyone paid attention to. It was a getting-to-know-you move she didn’t always allow. But she couldn’t have broken that kiss if someone had put a gun to her head and threatened to pull the trigger.

“Tell me what you like, Haley. Tell me how to get you off as many times as you want before I get inside you.”
She choked. Holy crap. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. She felt exposed and vulnerable and covered her insecurity with a light laugh. “Cocky much?”
One side of his mouth twisted into a grin. “Confident. But only with your help. Tell me what you like.” He took her hand and sucked her finger into his mouth. “Show me.”
She was shaking so hard, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to.

She slicked a finger over her clit. “I liked it when you sucked me here.” “Sucked you.” “It made me want to crawl all over you and fuck your face.” She laughed. He climbed onto the bed to lie beside her. “Your wish, lady.” She rose to her knees, a little intimidated even though she prided herself on knowing her way around the bedroom. He drew her up his body until she straddled him. And then he sank his tongue inside her and made her gasp.

Finally, as she was about to crash over the ledge one more time, he started thrusting into her deeper, hips pumping as he anchored her pelvis to him. Filling her hard and deep and so amazingly deliciously her breath came in hoarse pants. He growled softly as he came—spine bending, eyes closed, jaw clenched—pulsing inside her and setting off a chain reaction which blew the fuse on her orgasm so they both exploded together.

Then he kissed her, and she took his tongue in her mouth as he guided himself inside. One thrust, and he was lodged deep, filling her so perfectly. She wrapped one leg around him, anchoring him to her pelvis as they began to move. Finding a rhythm that was wild and reckless and glorious. There was no finesse. They were rutting in the mud, grinding against one another in a rush to come. His hands pinching her nipples, his mouth devouring hers. Her hips rose higher and higher off the ground, and he turned them so she was on top looking down at him, riding the thick length of his arousal, using him to get off in an orgasm that detonated waves upon waves of pleasure throughout her body.

When she came on his tongue, he absorbed her shudders and treasured her flavors. He grinned as he rose to his feet, right up until the moment she sank to her own knees and licked him from root to tip.
Oh, shit.
He held on to the tree as his knees almost buckled. It was a battle for him to hold on to his control as she did to him what he’d just done to her. But he wanted to be inside her again. Wanted to be looking her in the eye when they both came.

He lifted her up and thrust inside, cushioning her back against the hard trunk with an arm wrapped around her waist, the other beneath her ass as he worked himself in and out, wishing he had one more hand.
“Touch yourself. Make yourself come.”
Her eyes held his as she slipped one hand lower, the other grasping him around the nape, holding on for dear life as he pumped inside her like a madman.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

Format: E-Bookwitheringhope
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Tristan Bress
Heroine: Aimee Myller
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 18, 2015
Started On: June 10, 2019
Finished On: June 11, 2019

Aimee Myller is on the way to get married, traveling to her fiance’s vacation home in Brazil. It is just Aimee and the pilot Tristan Bress alone in the flight, a route that both Aimee and Tristan as Chris’s personal pilot has traversed many a time. However, things go awry and the flight crash lands, leaving both Aimee and Tristan stranded in the middle of the Amazon jungle, with no sign that help is imminent.

Tristan is better equipped to handle survival in the wilderness than Aimee is, but that does not stop her from giving it all that she has and hoping enough for the both of them even when it is futile. Tristan with his experience in the military, carries with him the psychological scars that prevents him from interacting much with Aimee at first. But being forced to spend so much time together, especially with someone like Aimee slowly works its magic on Tristan.

As the days fade into each other, the dangers surrounding the two become all too real. As friendship blossoms and turns into heated desire, it is a conflicted Aimee who decides to bid farewell to the man she had been engaged to, the person who had been her best friend all through her life. For when it comes to Tristan, it is a desire that scorches and a love that refuses to be denied.

The conversations that these two engage in, the fears they share, the myriad of words unspoken; all of that and more invokes feelings that is indescribable as you read along. It is as if they are wrapped in a cocoon that nurtures and cradles the fragility of their love in the wilderness. It is as if at any moment, danger could smash through the walls and take away what both of them holds most precious.

Towards the end, it was sheer agony to turn the pages (you are both hopeful and fearing the worst simultaneously); there was pain, sorrow, and tears. But for a love that had persevered through so much, there is nothing but hope that they would endure to live on.

When the epilogue came, I did not know whether I wanted to bawl my eyes out or smile through my tears. In short, I was a mess. For the very first time in my life as a romance reader, I did not know how I could be so happy and so devastated at the same time.

One reads about the concept of soulmates all the time, especially if you are into romance. But in Tristan and Aimee, I believe that the concept came alive for me, for the very first time. They are literally soulmates in every sense. The ending brought to mind a real life story that my father related to us one day; how two people who had been married for most part of their adult life had passed away, just a couple of hours from each other. There are people who literally die of broken hearts, and that teaches the living that true love in its purest form can exist, even amidst all the cruelties that this world has got to offer.

There is so much that goes on in this story that it is hard to put into words the harrowing journey that these two go through to come out safely on the other side. There is love that surpasses everything else in life and that is the kind that Tristan and Aimee found in each other in the dangerous wilderness of the Amazon.

Though Aimee “cheats” on her fiance, at that point, there is nothing I would have done differently, had I being in her shoes. Because it was as natural as breathing to stay alive at that point, the connection that was forged in the midst of fighting for their lives and nearly losing each other towards the end.

This is a story that should be read with a box of tissues ready. You will not be the same having gone through Aimee and Tristan’s journey towards their happily ever after. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Layla Hagen’s impressive and evocative writing had me on the edge in more ways than one. There is a beauty to Withering Hope that stays with you long after you are done.

Favorite Quotes

The touch of his lips on mine electrifies me, shimmer after shimmer coursing through my nerve endings. His tongue takes mine in a primal claim. Icy shivers splinter my skin, and at the same time, fire awakens deep within me. I’ve never been kissed like this. Ferociously, with absolute, desperate need. I try to temper the heated emotions building inside me. I try to remember it’s wrong. But that fleeting thought is drowned by the heat igniting his lips and hands, and I surrender. Tristan deepens the kiss until I’m out of breath.

I cradle his head with my arms, forcing him to kiss me even deeper. I’m rewarded with a groan. With one swift move, he pulls me underneath him. His expansive chest pushes against my breasts, and a deep throb pulses low in my body. Desire takes a life of its own when he slams his hips against mine, and I feel his need for me—his hard length strained by the fabric of his pants. In a haze, he frees me of the straps on my shoulders and pushes my dress down to my hips, revealing my breasts. His lips dart to my neck, suckling their way to my collarbone and then to my breasts, leaving a trail of fire in their wake that burns away any ounce of control I still have.

“You’re so beautiful,” he says in a breathy voice. In the moonlight, I see his heavy-lidded eyes raking over my naked body. I’m shaking with consuming need. His eyes meet mine, and my need is mirrored in his dark gaze. He cups my backside greedily with one hand and sinks into my core with abandon.
“Aimeeeeeeeeeee,” he grits in the curve of my neck, the feral sound spearing through me.
His hands are everywhere. Grazing the skin on my thighs, cupping my breasts. His passion pushes me to the edge, until I’m brazen enough to let out without restraint the proof of my own passion.

When I can’t tolerate the ache anymore, I pull him to me, kissing him, and rocking my hips against his. He plunges inside me, filling me, ripping whimper after whimper out of me. His mouth dusts my arms, calling my name in deep, guttural sounds that unhinge me. He increases the pace of his moves, thrusting so deep my thighs wobble. Eagerness swirls up inside me as wave after wave of pleasure engulf me, my body surging forward when my release shatters me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Lachlan’s Protégé by V.F. Mason

Format: E-Booklachlansprotege.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lachlan (Kaden Scott)
Heroine: Valencia Moore
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 15, 2018
Started On: April 19, 2019
Finished On: May 05, 2019

Lachlan’s Protégé by V.F. Mason is spectacular in the spellbinding tale it delivers. Like one of the reviewers on Goodreads has mentioned, V.F. Mason is unapologetic in the way she writes, the darkness that she brings to her stories, and the anti-heroes that she creates.

While Lachlan’s Protégé pretty much gives out similar vibes as Psychopath’s Prey, there are of course the differences that made this book worth every minute I spent reading it. Lachlan’s Protégé begins at a point where other stories would perhaps be reaching their climax. It is the way V.F. Mason puts it forth, taking readers back and forth along a journey where you cannot help but be invested in the lives of the characters you are reading about.

Lachlan, otherwise known as Kaden Scott, is an enigma amongst the circles within which he moves. Lachlan has one goal in life – to seek out the man upon whom he wants revenge. And if it means getting to that goal through Valencia Moore, an innocent who remains largely unaware of the evil that had been so close to her, so be it. In Lachlan’s mind there is no line that he would not cross to reach ultimate victory. What he never counted on perhaps, was that his need for Valencia would surpass his desire for vengeance above everything else.

Lachlan’s Protégé is not an easy read by any means. There is a wealth of emotion packed into this story as it takes readers through the lives of the younger versions of Valencia and Lachlan, both seeming to intertwine at one point. Valencia lives a sheltered life, pretty much clueless to the darker emotions that had clouded the marriage between her parents, which had ultimately broken up, with her mother having never given her any reasons as to why.

Lachlan is the character that makes you bleed profusely in cuts that are small and yet lethal. It makes you cringe in fear and also weep for the boy he was, who through no fault of his own finds himself prey to the darkest elements of society. Being abused at such a tender age, and reaching adulthood pretty much the same way has left its mark on Lachlan, something he refuses to give up, something he harnesses as his weapon of destruction of the same kind who preys on the most innocent and vulnerable.

The ending when it came was spectacular in the way everything came together. What I loved the most was reading the epilogue. Even knowing that Lachlan would never conform to the “norms” that society expects of a “hero”, there is no other sentiment in my heart but love for him. Love for the little boy he was who grew up in a world so cruel, love for the man he was, and love for the man he would always be.

There is a certain kind of acceptance that we all go through when we enter into long-term relationships or marriage with our better halves. For Victoria, it is an acceptance that reaches far beyond what normal couples would have to. But knowing what she knows of Lachlan and what she means to him, even though he may never say the words, it is in the way he lights up her world in all the ways that matter.

This story leaves me with a deeply resonating message. We as a society need to talk more about these kinds of issues, what it means to generations that grow up having gone through abuse so vile that we cannot even comprehend what it is like. We need to do more to weed out the evil, to protect the vulnerable. But we cannot hope to do that if we are unwilling to open our minds and hearts to what it means to actually undergo abuse as such, what it could do to the psychology of the person who undergoes that abuse. People spend their entire lives going through therapy and psychiatric treatment for the same. Seeing the abuser meet a violent end, is perhaps the only cathartic experience under such circumstances.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking and gut wrenching; there is darkness through which light seeps. The best one can hope for is for the light and dark to coexist. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Nipping on her sensitive skin, I still her in my arms. Her back arches under my touch when I kick her legs apart a little and slide my hand lower to her pussy. “Do you see how gorgeous she is? Flushed, against me, with her body begging me to touch her and pleasure her. Why would I need any reason but that to want her?” Sucking on her earlobe, I quickly bite it before skimming my lips over her ear, and whisper, “What would you want me to do, Valencia? All this sassy attitude needs punishment, doesn’t it?” She moans, pressing harder against me. “Do you need my fingers?” I probe her a little, just enough to give her clit a little friction through her leggings. “My tongue? I remember you could get off on it for hours.”

He spins me around and crushes his mouth to mine, changing my question into a moan as he slides his hands down my ass and hikes me up, leaving me no choice but to wrap my legs around him while my arms circle his neck.
His kiss is demanding, passionate yet punishing in a way that brings me pain along with pleasure. As if he wants me to forever remember the imprint of it but at the same time hates that he is doing it.
Hates that he needs me.

“Look at you, all flushed and ready for the taking. I could fuck you against the wall now and you’d scratch my back, welcoming every thrust. Right, Valencia?” he prompts, bending me forward, and then I feel my breasts press against the bed, the movement arching my ass up to him, and his hand palms it, molding and then squeezing, earning himself a moan. “But that’s not how I will give it to you tonight. You deserve to be denied a little for all the fucking hell you put me through.” And that’s when he spanks me, his palm bouncing off my ass cheek, and I still.

When I’m about to lose my freaking mind, he rises up, unbinds my wrists, and I hear the foil packet being ripped open. Then I feel him nudge against me, sliding his cock up and down over my heat, spreading the wetness all over me. He murmurs, “Fucking finally,” and enters me, stretching me wide, not even giving me time to adjust to his cock as he drags it out and slides back in, matching my gasp with his as we both groan.
He is right.
Fucking finally.

A moan slips past my lips, and he lets go of my mouth, trailing kisses down my neck while I throw my head back, groaning at his bites that will for sure leave marks for everyone to see.
I don’t dwell on it much as he rolls my shirt over my head and sends it flying behind me. His tongue circles my pointed nipple and licks the tip but then bites on it hard. I cry out in pain, scratching the back of his head, but still seeking his touch as it sends prickles of electricity through my skin.
“There is beauty in the ache, angel,” he rasps, immediately licking the abused flesh and driving me even wilder. “I know you like it long and hard, darling, but tonight it’s going to be only hard.”

I hear the belt buckle being unfastened, and then he places his palms on my knees, bringing me closer to the edge, and with one swift move, he flips me over again, and we end up on the floor, with me straddling him once more. My head goes dizzy and I can barely comprehend what’s going on, as he growls in approval.
“Have to keep you off-balance so you feel nothing but this.” And that’s when he enters me, filling me to the hilt. My arms automatically wrap around his neck as my cry echoes in the room, followed by his low groan, our lips inches away from each other.

My body aches, my nipples pucker, and I moan around the head before sucking on it lightly. What I’m doing must send vibrations through him, because I’m roughly hauled up, and without giving me a chance to take a breath, he tears the nightgown away. I only have time to blink as he throws me on the bed where I bounce, ending up on my back.
My heart stills and then gallops again as I see the expression on his face when he removes the strands of hair that fell over my face.
I think the gentle part has ended and I’m about to be fucked hard.

Sucking her neck, I make sure to leave my mark on it so she’ll always fucking remember who makes her body ache, and before she knows what’s happening, I enter her with one swift move, digging my fingers into her ass, adjusting her for a better angle.
Fuck, she is tight, so fucking tight I almost lose it right there. I catch my breath as she cries out and wraps her legs around me, pushing into my ass. “Move, Lachlan.”
“You are not in charge, darling,” I say, thrusting deep as her breath hitches. “I am.”

Her pussy clenches around me, her mouth hangs open, and her eyes fill with pleasure. A cry tears out of her throat and she falls back on the pillow, her chest rising and falling, my cock still drilling inside her, deeper, deeper, and deeper, finding solace in her heat and seeking the calmness only she can give me.
Then I feel it. The tingling of my spine, my balls draw closer, and finally I spill into her as pleasure unlike anything I’ve experienced before washes over me, almost knocking me out completely.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

Format: E-Bookahungerlikenoother_kresleycole
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Immortals After Dark, #2
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Lachlain MacRieve
Heroine: Emmaline Troy
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 28, 2006
Started On: January 25, 2019
Finished On: April 10, 2019

A Hunger Like No Other is the second book in the Immortals After Dark (IAD) series by Kresley Cole. Having read the first book in the series, I remained somewhat confused by the characters that seemed to come and go, and the concepts that Cole explores in these books. Or maybe I am just dumber than the average reader, most of whom have nothing but wonderful things to say about the series.

A Hunger Like No Other is a novel that has been listed as one of the best romances published throughout the years. This book is one reason why I have been wanting to give the IAD series a go. Though I remain confused even after I was done with the story, and currently have no intentions of going through the rest of the books (though this might change if I get bored enough and want to read something different), I did enjoy bits and pieces of the story as it unfolded.

The second book in the IAD series tells the story of Emmaline Troy, aka Emma the Timid, half vampire, half Valkyrie and Lachlain MacRieve, King of the Lykae. Lachlain has been a captive for thousands of years until he scents his mate above the catacombs of Paris in which he has been held prisoner. There is very little Lachlain would not do to claim his mate and that is how the story begins, with Lachlain making his escape and going in pursuit of Emma.

Emma’s character was harder to place for me; she grew up in the care of her foster mother and “aunts” who knew their place in life unlike Emma. Her need to seek answers about her parents had been the reason behind her visit to Paris, and in the course of the events that takes place after meeting Lachlain, she finds that the truth can be often harder to digest than going through life not knowing what that entails.

Lachlain’s struggles with the nightmares left behind from his captivity prove to be why his character came off more authentic than that of Emma. Through all of it, there was no doubt when it comes to his true devotion to Emma and her pleasure, even at the cost of hurting his own self. From Emma, that did not materialize until towards the latter half of the novel, until the point at which she redeemed herself.

I just wish that the multitude of characters in the novel were related in a manner that is more coherent than it is now, so that the dumber than average reader (like myself) can make sense out of it all, without feeling totally lost as if in the midst of an untraversed jungle.

Recommended for fans of the series, fans of urban fantasy novels with a healthy dose of romance, and fans of Kresley Cole.

Final Verdict: Lachlain’s devotion to his mate for life, Emma, is reason enough to dig through the story to get to the good stuff. Loved all that was Lachlain.

Favorite Quotes

He flicked his claw down her blouse and sliced it and the flimsy bra beneath open, then slowly brushed the halves past her breasts. She struggled, but it was useless against his strength. He studied her with a greedy gaze as rain splattered down, stinging her naked breasts. She was shivering uncontrollably.
His pain was so sharp it nauseated her. He could take her or he could tear open her unprotected belly and kill her….
Instead he ripped open his own shirt, then placed his huge palms against her back to draw her to his chest. He groaned when their skin touched, and electricity seemed to flash through her. Lightning split the sky.

He bent down to wash her legs front and back, and scrubbed the grass and mud from her knees. When he rubbed toward her upper thighs, she shoved her legs together. He gave a frustrated growl, then stood to draw her back against his chest, until she could feel him prodding her. He started the same leisurely exploration of her front, one arm bent by her side, his hand clasping her shoulder.
Suddenly his callused palm cupped her breast. She would fight, or scream—
“Your skin’s so damn soft,” he murmured in her ear. “Soft as the silk you wore.”
She shivered. One compliment, and Emma—who’d never suspected she was easy—relaxed somewhat.

“But you said,” she whispered, devastated that she’d believed him. She hated being lied to, especially since she could never lie back. “You said….”
He stilled. With a deep growl, he released her leg and hit the wall again. Her eyes widened when he grabbed her and turned her around. Right when she was about to scratch him, bite him, he pulled her into his arms again, her back against his chest. He shoved her hand to his erection, inhaling sharply at the first touch. His voice gone guttural, he said, “Stroke me.”

She resisted for longer than he would’ve if he’d been starved. Finally she dabbed the tip of her tongue at her lip, then licked there. Her eyes turned silver. To his shock, he went instantly hard.
Her small fangs shot longer. She had sunk them into his arm before he could blink.
With the first draw, her eyelids fluttered closed and she moaned; he went dizzy with sexual pleasure, feeling on the verge of coming.

He placed his hand on her thigh, rubbing upward, but she withdrew her fangs and flung herself away, rolling to her side. He sat on his haunches in shock, trying to compose himself, baffled by his reaction.
“Emmaline,” he said in a broken voice as he took her shoulder and turned her to her back. His eyes widened as her wee fangs grew smaller. Her eyes turned blue once more, and she rolled them with apparent ecstasy, falling back, her pale arms over her head. As she stretched and writhed, her nipples puckered tighter. Then she gazed up at him with her full, red lips curling. The lass had a smile such as he’d never known—

Unable to stop herself, she eased forward, took his shirt with her fists, and sank her fangs into his skin. Rich warmth and pleasure exploded within her, and she moaned against him. She felt his groan reverberating beneath her lips. When she almost toppled over from the rush of sensation, he bit out, “Straddle…me.”

“Release me from my vow, Emmaline.”
She didn’t respond, wouldn’t release him, and damn it, it had begun to matter to him if he broke his word to her. Her only answer was spreading her knees wider over him, then slowly, sensuously rubbing his length between her legs, with only his trews and her silk between them. “Ah, God, yes, Emma,” he grated, shuddering with need, disbelieving that she was doing this to him.

“Tell me one thing about you that I doona know,” he demanded.
When able to force her gaze to his face, she debated, then finally said, “I went to college and got a degree in popular culture.”
He appeared impressed, but of course he hadn’t been around this time long enough to know that most people thought pop culture was a do-you-want-fries-with-that degree. He nodded, turning toward his room, and because he didn’t expect her to, she said, “Tell me one thing.”
When he faced her again, he did appear surprised she’d asked. His voice gravelly, he answered, “I think you’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”

“Emma.”
His voice was broken.
“Hold out for as long as you can,” she said, stroking his length once. His eyes closed with pleasure.
He felt her breath first, making him shudder. Then her slick lips, then her tongue darting and flicking over his flesh. Ah, she had a wicked little tongue—
Sweet God, her bite.
He gave an anguished groan, falling back on the bed, only to immediately raise his hand to cup her face and his head to watch her mouth on his cock. He was a twisted man…. “I had…no idea. Always like this,” he growled. “Always.”

She perceived him moving, then…felt his mouth on her sex. She cried out with shock and pleasure. He was lying on his back beneath her, her knees spread over his face, his arms wrapped over her back, hugging her down. She couldn’t move if she tried.
He groaned against her, arms tightening if possible. “Dreamed of tasting you again,” he growled. “Almost as much as fucking.”

“Oh, God, yes! Lachlain, please.”
He drew his tongue from her, entering his finger. “Please what?”
She was panting, near mindless. “Please make me for once…please let me have—”
“Come,” he commanded, with a palm coming down on her ass and a thrust of his finger as he resumed sucking and licking. She screamed and her body clenched instantly, shuddering her through her first orgasm, making her accept the explosion of pleasure. His hands were on her, roughly palming her cheeks, shoving her against his mouth, licking relentlessly.

He put one arm solidly around her waist. “Waited so long to be inside you.” He ran his other arm under her, over her breast, and clenched her shoulder from underneath, holding her immobile. “I claim you for my own.” He plunged into her.
She screamed again, this time in pain.
“Ah, God,” he groaned. “So tight,” he bit out with another buck of his hips. She was so clenched around him he could scarcely move.
She gasped, her eyes watering from the searing pain. She’d known they wouldn’t fit.

Licking, biting, suckling her, slaking his lust on his mate. Unable to tamp down yells, growls, his need to taste her wet flesh. Too rough with her. Needed to fuck her harder. Couldn’t stop driving into her.
With the last of his will, he shoved himself away from her.
Her claws rent the ground in frustration, her hips undulating for him. “Why?” she cried.
“Canna hurt you.” His voice was not his own.
“Please…come back inside me.”
“You want this? Like I am?”
“Yes…need you…exactly as you are. Please, Lachlain! I feel it too.”
The moon had claimed her too? At her words, he gave himself over to it.

But they only made it to an empty hall before he pressed her against the wall, cupped her neck, and demanded once again, “You’ll stay with me?”
“Always.” Her hips arched up to him. “You love me?”
“Always, Emmaline,” he grated against her lips. “Always. So damn much you make me mad with it.”
When she moaned softly, he lifted her so she could wrap her legs around his waist. He knew he couldn’t have her here, but the reasons why grew hazy with her breaths in his ear.

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Review: Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-bookindecentexposure
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Jack Garrett
Heroine: Katie McCoy
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 30, 2018
Started On: August 27, 2018
Finished On: December 18, 2018

Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey is the second book in The Academy trilogy. When I was done with Disorderly Conduct, I knew right away then that I wanted to lose myself in the third installment in the series. But since I have a level of OCD of my own when it comes to reading books in order in a series, I decided to go with the flow and read Indecent Exposure first.

Jack Garrett is the kind of hero that is hard not to notice, even when he is lurking in the background. It was Jack’s voice as described in Disorderly Conduct that stuck with me when I picked this number to read. Apart from that, Jack is known as the one out of the trio (Charlie, Jack and, Danika), who is not serious about his training at the police academy.

Jack had grown up at a brothel where his mother had worked to make ends meet. That had exposed Jack way too early in his life to the realities and the ugly side of sex and what it could mean. A man who could practically charm the panties off of any woman he chooses to, it surprises Jack when his obvious interest in Katie McCoy goes unreciprocated at first. But the truth is, none of the ladies he pursuits or does the pursuing of him, ever realizes that deep down inside, Jack loathes the way he feels when the act is said and done.

Katie is in New York to have fun. To loosen up. An Olympic gold medalist in the air rifle competition, and a special weapons instructor, Katie turns out to be the new arms instructor for the recruits undergoing training. Jack’s interest in Katie doesn’t even begin to show signs of abating, even with the notion that he would be skirting dangerous waters by wanting to get it on with an instructor. 

Jack has a problem with alcohol. He drowns out the blackness that is inside of him, owing to a secret that he has never confided in with anyone, something that eats at him day in and day out. Katie on the other hand, is someone who avoids watering holes altogether. She has her reasons for it, and knowing that Jack imbibes in alcohol should have been a deal breaker from the very start.

But just like Jack tries to give up his acquired habit of drinking too much because he wants to be worthy of Katie, the desire to be with Jack is is something Katie cannot ignore as well. But giving up a lifelong habit is easier said than done, and it is the struggle that both Jack and Katie go through together to come through that makes this story delightful.

When I first began reading Indecent Exposure, I am sorry to say that I was not that enamored with Jack nor Katie. But as I went deeper into the story, I started seeing fascinating tidbits into both characters that made me fall in love. That is the kind of author Tessa Bailey is. Which is one reason why I never give up on a book from her, knowing that, one way or the other, she tends to deliver the kind of emotional story that I would always fall in love with.

Even though Jack’s character did not impress me all that much in the first book, I loved what I saw inside of him when it came to his story. He has a tortured soul. I mean who wouldn’t have issues when you grow up in a brothel, watching your mother put up with men of all kinds just so she could provide for you? Returning that favor is Jack’s sole aim when it comes to getting through the training at the police academy.

While Charlie and Danika are invested and fully committed and go out of their way to excel when it comes to the training, Jack is half-assing his way through – just so that he can provide for and take care of his mother.

I would have loved to see Jack’s mother a bit more than I did in the story. It would have been good to see the kind of relationship that Jack has with her, and how it has shaped his outlook on life. That is something I did enjoy when it came to Disorderly Conduct, because both characters had issues that had stemmed from the environment within which they had grown up. We all do, some definitely more than others.

Katie’s character was certainly one that I enjoyed. She has an innocence that belies the formidable woman she is career-wise. There is a sweetness to her that remains unchanged at the very core, a sensitivity to her character that fits in well with Jack. She has keen insight into people, and is fair and honest, which is one of the reasons why she is not hesitant when it comes to seeing Jack’s talents for what they are, and giving Jack a chance to prove himself, in the process gain the respect of fellow trainees and supervisors.

While Jack’s struggle in terms of dealing with his reliance on alcohol is dealt with sensitivity, there are also no fairy tale solutions to his struggle, which is what I believe made this story that much more realistic. It is something Jack has to work at, continually more or less, because he believes in Katie and himself, because he believes that Katie deserves the best, and he wants nothing but to be the best there is when it comes to her.

Hopping onto see my favorite duo next. Greer baby, here I come!

Recommended for fans of Tessa Bailey and those who love a sinfully good romance! With the mistress of finely tuned dirty talk, you can never go wrong!

Final Verdict: Jack and Katie has the ability to sucker-punch you with the ferocity of emotions they invoke. Add in the blazing hot sex, and Tessa Bailey has definitely got herself a winner

Favorite Quotes

[Katie] His rough exhalation shakes out into my mouth when our lower bodies meld on a single grind, his eyebrows slashing down as though he’s in pain.
“One more, Katie. One more, one more, one—”
I yank him back down, cutting him off with my waiting kiss and his hands, they become these sweeping sources of hot want,dragging down my sides, clutching my hips and pulling me up onto my toes, sliding me side to side against his large arousal.

[Katie] One big hand invades my hair, the other slides down my back like it owns me. And very slowly, he rocks me, rocks me on the ridge behind his fly.
The flesh between my legs clenches—a hot, insistent squeeze—and it’s like Jack knows I’ve just been hit by a massive lust tidal wave. While his mouth continues to devastate me, his eyes open and lock with mine . . . and he rolls his hips. Rolls them twice, three times, dragging his bulge up and back underneath my quickening heat.
I tear our mouths apart with a gasp. “Wow.”

[Katie] His tongue leaves me, though, and I lose myself completely, locking my heels and trying to keep his mouth in that perfect place where I need it. Need it so bad. When Jack lays a kiss on my stomach and whispers my name, I loosen my muscles. Justin time for him to ease a finger into my dampness. Pumping it. And again, the storm whips. I’m looking up at the ceiling,but I don’t see it. His knuckle twists on top of my clit, his finger jiggling inside me. My pleasure is blinding me. I’m shaking.There are tears or sweat or both sliding down my temples and I don’t care. My body has a mind of its own, arching and clenching,my voice begging.

[Katie] I pull him down on top of me, just as my body wins the battle, reeling in the orgasm that ironically, sends me out to sea.A current carries me, rippling over and through my body, my eyes full of nothing but exhilarating blue. Above me, Jack grits out my name and joins me, bringing the violence of the water, his muscles jerking, his throat gasping for oxygen. My arms and legs wrap around him tight, forcing him to share his spasms with me, forcing him to accept mine. Afterwards, we lay there,too spent to move for what feels like hours.

[Jack] When I realize Katie is looking up at me, that’s when I begin to lose it. Her lips stretch as she sinks down to my root, keeping those blue eyes on me the whole time. She’s excited. There’s a light in her gaze, like she can’t believe what we’re doing.Can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. As if . . . it’s her first suck-off. Jesus Christ. Am I a pervert for wanting to flip our positions and fuck her mouth hard now? Just like last night, when I hit this point of no return, all I want to do is claim her. Make her mine.

[Jack] “Jack!” She grinds back against my mouth, thighs shaking out of control and come shoots up my cock so fast, I groan and flick my tongue along Katie’s convulsing flesh, refusing to stop until she’s wrung out. My stomach constricts so hard with the climax,I must be dying. My body moves without any kind of mental command, writhing and bucking, trying to get rid of the liquid lust that seems to be never-ending.

[Katie] “I know you had a physical before the academy, which means you’re all clear. Have you used protection every time since then?”
“Yes. I’ve never, Katie. Never without.”
Our foreheads bump when I nod. “So tell me you’re clean, like I know you are.”
His breath races in and out. “I can’t let us do this. You’re—”
“I’m on the pill.” With lust lacing in my blood like lightning, I bring his erection between my legs, dragging it through my wet heat. “Yes or no, Jack?”
There’s no earthly description for the sensation of a man’s muscles shaking, the heat of his hands hovering above my ass,his flesh thickening in my hand. It’s the epitome of anticipation. An aphrodisiac. “Yes, I’m clean for you, but—”
He breaks off with a growl when I tuck the head of him inside me. A plump, pulsing inch that stretches me and zaps eagerness to my nerve endings. “Have me.” I raise my knee, resting it on Jack’s hip. The movement allows him to slip deeper, just a touch, but I might as well have pushed him in all the way, his reaction is so intense.

[Jack] “Drop your legs,” I order in a desperate voice. “I’ve got you.”
Confusion wrinkles her brow, but she follows my order, leaving her feet dangling down near my straining calves. A split second later, when I thrust up between her thighs, a scream leaves her mouth, the advantages of the position clearly hitting her. “Oh my God, Jack. M-more. Please, more.”
Easier said than done, shout my balls, but my mind, my heart is obsessed with the pleasure on her face. My experience isn’t something to be ashamed of in that moment, but something to be celebrated.

[Jack] “Mine,” I groan into the top of her head. “Mine?”
“Yes.”
“Mine to come inside?”
“Y-yes.” The single, incredible word splinters into husky cries, her pussy clamping around my dick. And I lose it. I bend my knees and fuck up into her in a rough push, smacking her ass against the wet wall and circling my hips, grinding into her spasming flesh, marking it as mine. The battle ends when she screams Jack, her fingernails raking down my back and burying in the flesh of my ass. My orgasm is painful in its intensity, rocking me
from the soles of my feet to the top of my head. I press my mouth against the damp marble wall and shout through the ringing
of my insides, the emptying of my lust.

[Katie] Silence thrums around us. “Are you worried about what I’ll do when you leave? Is that what this is about?”
A tank crashes in my stomach, because I hadn’t considered the obvious. But there’s no pretending when our heartbeats are pressed together. “Yes.”
“Me, too.” He tilts my chin up. “You’re the one who held up a mirror. You’re the one who brought me to the meeting.” Regret mixes with determination on his face. “But I’d be worried about slipping even if you weren’t leaving. Fixing this problem of mine? That’s on me. You’re not responsible, Katie, understand?”

[Katie] A kiss on my nape, following by a rough bite. “It’s coming, honey.”
No sooner does that bathroom door slam shut, leaving us alone once again in the restroom, than Jack drives himself inside me so hard I’m elevated several inches off the ground. I scream. I scream without attempting to subdue the wild sound, but it’s swallowed in the loud, fast-paced music and the sharp slap of Jack’s thighs against my bottom. My orgasm is blinding, tightening and loosening bolts beneath my belly button, shaking my limbs and filling my eyes with startled tears.

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

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Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

Format: E-bookthesmallestpart.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Noah Andelin
Heroine: Mercedez Lopez
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 13, 2018
Started On: December 15, 2018
Finished On: December 16, 2018

The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon is the kind of book that fits my favorite trope in the romance genre. It is a story of best friends who become lovers, but then again, it is as simple as that. The Smallest Part is an epic journey filled with a lot of heartache and pain that brings the two together, and makes you more grateful for the fact towards the end. It is the story of the girl who gives up the love of her life, because her best friend was in love with him too. I do not recall how I came across this title now. Not that it matters, because this was gut wrenching in every single way that matters.

Mercedez Lopez and Noah Andelin are best of friends. Mercedes is the one who sees Noah, and befriends him when they were just kids. Two years later, into their lives comes beautiful Cora, the one whom everyone wanted to take care of, because she was a fragility unto herself, a tragedy waiting to happen.

Fast forward through the years, Cora is the one who marries Noah, when Mercedez herself had been in love with Noah ever since she could remember. Not that she would ever profess to it. In fact, she lies when Cora asks her about it. But Mercedez gives him up, all because Cora had professed to wanting him. Everything comes to a standstill when Cora, now mother of a one year old daughter dies a tragic death, leaving everyone else reeling from the impact of the suddenness of it all.

So begins life without Cora, Noah and Mercedez picking up the pieces, learning to be whole again. It is Mercedez that is the pillar of strength to Noah when he needs it, it is she who coddles and gives the much needed reality check when Noah needs it. She is also Gia’s godmother, a godsend in every way to his daughter, until Noah is able to start making sense of the grievous loss that had once again come calling to his life.

When things start changing between Noah and Mercedez, it is Mercedez who tries to put on the brakes, to salvage the friendship that means everything to her, so that the one relationship that she completely depends on to keep whole would never fail on her. But somethings are inevitable, no matter which course in life you choose to take, and Noah and Mercedez are just that; inevitable and two halves of one whole that will time and yet again make their way back towards one another.

I cannot begin to describe how much this story meant to me. In a way, it made me think of one of my favorite books of all time; Guilty Needs by Shiloh Walker. Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard also follows a similar theme, and if you ask me, books like these, that takes on a sensitive trope as such and does it justice are too far and few in between. But perhaps it is for that reason that when you do find a book as such, it is hard to put down because you are reeling from the impact of the characters that break you in ways you never thought possible.

The Smallest Part is a story that has so much depth, such vivid characterization, that it is difficult to describe the profoundness you find in the story. I do not believe that I would be able to write any review that does this book justice, but all I can say is that this is the sort of book every romance reader ought to read, because this is the reason why we spend so much time searching for that one particular book that would hit all the spots and make the countless hours of searching worthwhile.

Amy Harmon does a masterful job in bringing to life the characters in the story. Without vilifying any of the main protagonists, she manages to convey the dynamics that had driven three individuals whose lives would always and forever remain entwined. Noah and Mercedes were definitely meant to be from the start, but then Mercedes steps aside, because she is the sort of person whose love is as pure as it comes – the kind of love that wants the best for the person you love, because that is what love in its truest sense is all about.

Moving between the past and the present, Harmon takes readers through the all together human emotions of jealousy, competitiveness, sorrow, and happiness that had driven the dynamics between the trio. She also takes on subjects such as deep chronic depression that could potentially end in suicide, how it impacts the lives of those left behind. How we as humans, tend to put the people we love up on pedestals once they are no longer with us, and in the end shortchange ourselves because we refuse to acknowledge what they were really like and how we were impacted by their actions when they were with us.

Mercedes is a force of life to be reckoned with. Strong in mind and spirit, beautiful inside and out, loyal, honest, & unafraid of hard work; she is the glue that forges and fosters the bond between the three. She is Noah’s rock and guiding force, the woman who always has his back, no matter what. There is not an ounce of malice in Mercedes, and that is what makes you realize that she is the real deal.

On the other hand Cora is weaker in character, never having properly moved on from her father’s suicide. Cora has an inability to love her own self, and looks for reassurance from those she surrounds herself with to keep the demons at bay. Where Mercedes is loyal, Cora is not. Where Mercedes gives it her all, Cora has only bits and pieces to offer.

Noah is the kind of character who is truly deserving of every bit of love that Mercedez has to give. His life had not been any less tragic than that of Cora’s, but there is a light that shines in him that tends to put others at ease. There is a strength of character to him that makes him so very easy to fall in love with. His steadfastness when it came to Cora and Mercedez, that is what I loved most about him. 

I loved how the story had the ability to spirit me away, make me resent the need for sleep, and the time away from reading that life demanded. It has been a while since I felt as such about a story and I am grateful for having discovered this gem.

Recommended for anyone who loves a good story. You need not be a romance lover to enjoy the roller-coaster ride of emotions this book will take you on.

Final Verdict: Harmon’s ability to weave the past & present together & juggle a myriad of characters, while ripping my insides to shreds & making me whole again; why this story will live on in my heart for a long while.

Favorite Quotes

Noah played a song on his guitar. It was the silly tune he’d written to ask Cora to marry him. Mercedes had never had the heart to tell him it was terrible. But as she listened to his quiet voice and the awkward strumming of his long fingers, not quite holding the chord, she realized how wrong she’d been. It was a song about all the little things he loved about her, all the parts that made up the whole. He’d rhymed words like button and glutton, like boring and snoring, and when he’d played it for Cora the first time, before he popped the question, she’d hardly been able to keep a straight face.
But between the silly verses and his bashful delivery, there was love and devotion, there was commitment and promise, and there was hope. It wasn’t terrible at all. It was perfect, and it was painful. It was all Mercedes could do not to cover her ears until it was over.

Without asking, without warning, he leaned in and kissed her.
His lips were soft, his breath sweet, and the tips of his fingers were light on her cheeks. But it wasn’t a kiss between friends. It wasn’t a kiss goodbye. It was a desperate hello. Her heart grew and grew, filling her chest with both terror and triumph. But she didn’t push him back or pull away. In the darkness, she returned the press of his lips, and when he deepened the kiss, she opened her mouth to him without hesitation.

Here I am, her thoughts screamed. Here you are. Here we are. This is us.
But she did not know this Noah.
She did not know this side of him, the way his breath caught when she stood naked before him, curved and full-bodied, warm-skinned and round-hipped. The way he moved his hands around her thighs and lifted her, pulling her legs around his waist, one arm beneath her, one arm behind her, cradling her head from the cool tiles at her back. The way he gasped when he entered her, like he’d never been with a woman before. The way he moved against her, lost in the rhythm and the gathering storm.

For a long time, Noah just kissed her. He kept his weight above her, kept his hands in her hair, kept his mouth on hers. Kissing is a thousand times more intimate than sex. He knew some people would disagree, but the first thing that goes when a marriage is coming apart is not the sex. It’s the kissing.

“Noah, please. Noah,” she begged, her hips rising, her hands escaping his hold to clutch and coax. He capitulated slowly, mouth to mouth as he sank into her, and was so overcome with emotion, he had to pause. He was Atlas, holding the weight of the world on his shoulders, suspended above her, reveling in the exquisite agony of servitude.

He pressed his lips to the corners of her eyes and sipped at the salt on her cheeks, tasting the feelings she tried so hard to keep from him. He didn’t ask her why she cried. He didn’t beg her to stop. He understood her pain, and he knew he was hurting her. Tenderly, gently, carefully . . . hurting her. For a moment she was with him, lost in the sweetness of surrender, sobbing his name against his lips. He rocked against her, lazy and slow, a porch swing on a summer evening, just the two of them with nowhere to go.

“If I kiss you, will I lose you?” he whispered, and she groaned, inexplicably angry.
“Why are you asking me? Why don’t you just take what you want? Why don’t you just kiss me? Why do I have to give you permission and guarantees and sign a freaking form before you—” Her rant was swept aside by the brush of his lips. He was gentle and tentative, holding her face in his hands, pulling her shuddering breath into his throat, and giving it back to her. For several heartbeats, his mouth moved with hers, no urgency, no pressure, no pain.

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

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