Review: The Beast by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthebeast.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rhage
Heroine: Mary
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 05, 2016
Started On: February 27, 2018
Finished On: February 28, 2018

The Beast, 14th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series seems a trifle bit “odd” an installment. Yet I suppose there was the need for a brief “reprieve” so to speak, to give other unfolding events the time to catch up to a point where all hell would break loose. The Beast nevertheless proved to be a fabulous read because what JR Ward does, she does in style whenever it comes to the series.

The Beast focuses on one of the old-time favorite couples in the series; Mary and Rhage, who got their story in the second book. Rhage is the Brother with the “curse” from the Scribe Virgin (the mother of the race), which had left him with a beast inside of him, which requires that he be in control of his emotions that can reach high octane levels given the right circumstances. Mary is the one person who has the ability to tame both Rhage and the Beast inside, both of whom love and adore Mary equally and just as ferociously.

By the end of the last book, the relationship between Mary and Rhage were beginning to show signs of strain, just like any long-term relationship would have its ups and downs. Rhage doesn’t even know where his discontent stems from, the hollowed pit of a feeling inside of him that he desperately craves to fill without trying to acknowledge its existence.

The opening scene of The Beast is one that could have taken the whole series in a direction that would have left a lot of broken hearts in its wake. But luckily for everyone involved, it turned out that Rhage’s act of defiance in the face of Vishous and his warning proved to work out just fine. But that moment defines a pivotal point in the lives of Mary and Rhage as a couple, because it leaves both of them at crossroads over the moments of clarity the situation had exposed them to.

In the end, everything does work out well; Rhage and Mary gets to the crust of the issue between them, and a solution presents itself which answers to the needs of all parties involved. All the while, I kept waiting for a final showdown with the Omega, who makes an appearance in the story. The eerie moments that Vishious and couple of other Brothers witnessed, was by far the most interesting moments in the story as it unfolded. By the end, I was still waiting for a scene that never emerged, which makes me wonder what sort of ingenious plot has Ward in store when it comes to a final showdown between good and bad; or in fact whether it is ever going to happen.

Another aspect of this novel that did not settle all too well with me was how Throe, second in command to Xcor of the Band of Bastards who had plotted to take down Wrath the King and assume the Throne for themselves, suddenly turns out to be the bad guy. Throe never came off as someone who was full of himself, narcissistic and egoistic enough to warrant such a radical change in his personality and the direction he chooses to take once Xcor lets it be known that his ambition to overthrow the King was no more. While the rest of Xcor’s soldiers fall in line, Throe decides that he would do what is needed, with or without them.

There was no prior indication that revealed that Throe, who had once been a member of the vampire aristocrats, actually wanted back the glamour and the glitz that would afford him the high life. His loyalty to Xcor and the Band of Bastards had been absolute, even though he had been forced to join them initially. In time, he had become one of the most formidable fighters, and of course with the kind of loyalty that warranted he be the second in command. All of a sudden, Throe is shacking up with a glymera wife who is unhappy with her spouse, and plotting ways to get rich enough to afford whatever plan he has hatched in order to assume his “rightful” place in life. Maybe I might have missed something in one of the books, but I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around it to make enough sense.

The Beast also ushers in the end of an era; where the Scribe Virgin ups and leaves. There were moments in the story where I kept wondering whether she was depressed, and then I wondered whether deities could get depressed. In the end, perhaps I was right, because it felt like Scribe Virgin was “misunderstood” by the race she had given birth to, that she had tried to direct and command to follow the old Laws and way of life which had slowly crumbled to dust while she had watched on. It is as if what had been sustenance for the Scribe Virgin had ceased to exist, which meant that she had been slowly being robbed of her strength and that indomitable will of hers. Vishous being the one to find it out was perhaps a turning point in his non-relationship with the woman, who is in fact his Mahmen.

Interesting developing plots still remain; story of Xcor and the Chosen Layla, and Assail and Marisol whose stories are still set to continue. Xcor’s story is the one that I want to read the most and hide from at the same time. Because I would not be able to bear it if there is even the slightest injustice done to his character. There was also one other point that caught my attention, held it, and made me sit up a little. The emergence of Dr. Manello’s sister in the midst of it all. I am waiting to see what interesting turn that mini-plot might take.

Final Verdict: The Beast takes readers through the changing lives of the Brotherhood and the world of the Vampires and the rapidly evolving dynamics between good and evil. It also brings to the forefront the struggles of Rhage and his beloved Mary as a couple. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

The hospital bed’s mattress shifted as she stretched out next to him, and her palm moved under the sheet, traveling oh, so very downward. Spreading his legs to give her all the access she wanted, he arched his head back and bowed his spine toward the heavens as she gripped his erection. Shouting her name, he felt the beast surge as well, the dragon riding the crest of pleasure along with him, while still staying leashed.
As if it had learned its good manners.
“My Mary…” And then he gasped. “Oh, yeah.”

“Oh, God, I need you,” Mary said as he slammed the door shut, manually turned the dead bolt, and popped her up off the floor.
As she grabbed the bottom of his muscle shirt and yanked it over his head, the thing got caught on his nose, nearly shearing his nostrils off. But like he gave a fuck? And then her shaking hands were clawing at the zipper on his leathers.
“I need you in me, hurry—I need you.”
“Oh, fuck, Mary, you have me—” The second her hand came into contact with his cock, he arched back and shouted something. Her name? Something about the Scribe Virgin? F-bomb? Again, who the fuck cared. “Let me get you—”
Next thing he knew, she was off the shelf, at his hips, and pushing him back until he slammed into the opposite side of things so hard cans of soup bounced down and rolled across the floor like they feared for their lives.
“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaary—”
That mouth of hers sucked his erection in deep, and though the warm, wet hold and suction were out-of-this-world erotic, what was even hotter? The sense that she was so fucking desperate for him, she couldn’t wait for him to get his pants down and hers off.

Mary sat down hard on his cock and both of them cried out. Then she leaned forward, propped her hands next to his head, and began pumping her pelvis, his erection going in and out of her sex, their bodies slapping together, Rhage’s eyes latching onto her as she stared back at him with a combination of fierce determination and utter adoration.
She still had her coat on. The thing was flapping around her, and though he would have loved to see her breasts and her neck, her stomach, her sex, he was too caught up to be any kind of coordinated with his hands and his thoughts.
It was just really fucking awesome to be wanted like this. Ridden like this. Taken like this.

As she grabbed onto his back, she felt the beast surge under her nails, the tattoo rising up and creating a pattern in his skin as if it wanted to get out.
“Mary,” Rhage said into her neck. “Oh, fuck, Mary…”
At the sound of his hoarse voice, an orgasm hit her like a lightning strike, the pleasure making her call out as he punched his pelvis into her again and again while he ejaculated.
When they finally went still, she stroked his spine, petting the beast, which surged under her touch. And it was so strange. In moments like this, even though it was crazy, it seemed like the three of them were together.

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

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Review: The Shadows by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheshadows.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Trez, iAm
Heroine: Selena, Maichen
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 31, 2015
Started On: February 17, 2018
Finished On: February 27, 2018

If you must know, I couldn’t stop the reading frenzy that hit me from a certain point onwards after I picked up the Black Dagger Brotherhood series from where I left off. So following the culmination of Wrath’s story, The King, I moved onto the 13th book, The Shadows, telling the tale of the brothers iAm and Trez, who live amongst the Brothers.

Shadows are a tribe of vampires who live in seclusion, mostly keeping to themselves. Known as the s’Hisbe, they are ruled and governed by a different set of laws, their state of affairs overseen by their Queen. With a social strata that defines everyone’s place in life in the community, the s’Hisbe views acts of intimacy as sacred, outlawing even acts of self pleasure. Firmly rooted in the knowledge of astrology, s’Hisbe believes that their lives are dictated by the alignment of the stars defining their fates and futures.

As firstborn to his parents, Trez “belongs” to the Queen of s’Hisbe, as the fated mate of her daughter. Trez’s parents had sold him off for a better place in the social circles, and had never looked back. Trez had fought his way out of the imprisoned life he had been subjected to, which had been hard won, and he has no intention of going back. However, the clock continues to tick, signalling the arrival of the day of reckoning, the brief reprieve of time that s’Hisbe’s executioner s’Ex had given him having come to an end.

Trez’s way of dealing with the fate of his life that looms closer than ever is to sleep with any and every woman that comes his way. Though iAm his younger brother, his voice of reason cautions him against it, tries to intervene many a time, Trez does not believe that there would ever come a time when he would willingly give up whoring around. Then comes into his life Selena the Chosen, whose mere presence startles into life something deep inside of him, that yearns to belong and for Selena to belong to him. But alas, Selena’s time on Earth is limited, which means that for both Selena and Trez, time is essentially running out in more ways than one.

What follows is a heart wrenching story of a love that races against time, the ending when it came, one that I hoped would be otherwise. But realistically speaking, I think Ward provided a magnificent story when it came to Trez, iAm, Serena, and Trez’s betrothed, whom we encounter when iAm turns up on s’Hibe’s territory intending to what he always does. Help his brother Trez. In the process, iAm, the brother who had never wanted a woman before in his life, finds the one woman who makes him forget every possible rule by which he has lived his life up till now, as if the stars were in perfect alignment and agreement that the woman in his arms belonged solely to him.

Trez and Selena’s story was heartbreaking. There are no words that would describe the immense pain behind the loss, and the final act of saying goodbye is one that was etched into my mind days after I was done reading. The scene was that powerful. Though I was not that enamored with the Selena and Trez pairing when it initially happened, I came to love them both, perhaps owing to the fact that Ward allows readers to see different sides of their characters in this story.

Even then, to be honest, I was more taken with iAm and the story of how the woman he meets at the s’Hisbe territory changes his life drastically. I found the fact that his lifeling abstinence meant that it was all the more sexier, and more meaningful when iAm decided to give himself to someone, a study of contrasts once again when it came to Trez and himself.

The truth when it came out was not so much of a shock, and I believe most readers would have figured out the same. Nevertheless, the end of an era, ushered in with the final act that required s’Ex was one that was stunning and breathtaking at the same time. If iAm had not been in the picture, I would have wanted for s’Ex to be the “hero” of the story, but alas, that is a story for another time. Which I hope comes soon. A girl can always hope!

The story of Layla the Chosen, pregnant with Qhuinn and her children, and her association with Xcor, my second favorite hero from the series also continues and reaches a turning point, the point which perhaps signals that their story is up next.

Recommended! Ward certainly never disappoints when it comes to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Final Verdict: Delving deep into the psyche of one of the most fascinating and elusive tribes in the Vampire world, Ward takes readers on a journey they would never forget, no matter who triumphs or loses out in the end.

Favorite Quotes

“Selena, I’m serious.” He fumbled to stop her before she got to stroking. “I want to honor you—”
“You’re wasting time.”
With that she got on her knees and took over. As she was a tall female, her mouth was at the perfect height, and God save them both, she put it to use, extending her pink tongue to lick at the head of him. The velvet rasp left him shaking all over, and before he went the way of the robes and hit the fucking floor, he leaned forward and braced both hands on the nearest thing he could reach.
The bureau. Or it could have been the hood of a car. Santa’s sleigh. A refrigerator.
Warm and wet, she drew him in, the suction and all the slick wiping out the world, bringing him instantly to the brink.

Freedom.
As Selena sat on her knees in front of Trez, with his taste in her mouth and his scent all over her skin, she reveled in the sense of sexual freedom that had overtaken her. The liberation seemed entirely at odds with the death sentence that she lived under, and yet her lack of time was what spared her any awkwardness or self-conscious worry. She was flying above the constraints that had long pinned her to the ground, her training as an ehros letting her soar on the currents of sex that ran, thick as tangible ropes, between their bodies.

“I’m going to fuck you now,” he gritted out in her ear.
“Oh, God, please—”
Selena shouted loudly as he jabbed into her, stretching the inside of her nearly to the breaking point. The pain was the perfect bite—and then he started to pump. There was no slow-and-steady windup; hard, pistoning power made her see stars until she lost the strength to hold her upper body off the bed. Collapsing face-first into sheets that smelled of him, she struggled for breath and loved the suffocation as each thrust shoved her face-first into the pillows.

He was hard and hot, velvety and thick, and she slid a grip around his shaft, pumping him. The more she stroked, the crazier the kiss got, until his pelvis was jerking up against her, and his chest was thrashing, and she was breathing as hard as he was.
When he orgasmed, he barked out her name and shoved the handkerchief onto himself—and she was so turned on, so giddy with the feel of his mouth on hers and the pump, pump, pump of her palm against his sex, that she felt a welling between her own thighs, an answer to what she was doing—which was so much less than what they both really wanted.

Her own release was a surprise, but she welcomed it, absorbing the sharp grabs of pleasure, making them stronger by squeezing her thighs together and rocking. Meanwhile, she continued her stroking rhythm, squeezing at his head, working his length.
“We very carefully get rid of this.” Grasping the hem, he pulled the black wisp up over her waist … over her breasts. “Fuuuuuuuuuck.”
As he tossed the silk to the floor, he just stared at what he had revealed. “Oh, that’s what I want.”

With his palms stroking up and down her thighs, he dropped his head to one of her nipples, sucking her in, nursing at her, his dark head contrasting with her paler skin. Letting her head fall back, she gave him the access he wanted, spreading her knees even further.
The sound he made was all male animal, and the hold he sank into her hips was rough as he jerked her forward.
“Gimme,” he demanded. There was a quick zip! as he released himself, and then that growl was back. “All night. Thought about this all night.”

“Do you want my panties off?” she asked between heaving breaths.
“No, I’m going to fuck you with them on.”
And he did. He grabbed her perfect ass and hopped her off the ground and around his waist. Reaching in from behind, he stroked at her, feeling how ready she was, how hot she was, how desperate she was.
He wanted to spend all night there. Instead, he shoved the silk aside, and—

“Oh, God, Selena,” he hissed.
Slick and hot, tight and vital, the penetration rocked him and kept him standing at the same time. As he began to move, he held on to her ass and rocked her back and forth. Her hair was in his face; her scent was in his nose; she was an overwhelming tide that made him want to drown.
Faster. Harder.

iAm felt like he was suspended in time as maichen’s face was revealed inch by inch. Her lips were full and deep red, her skin smooth and slightly darker than his, her cheeks wide and high—
He stopped being able to form a thought as her eyes were uncovered.
Deeply set and with heavy lashes, they were a brilliant peridot green. But then again, she was in high emotion and that was a sign of it, something that the stares of Shadows did.
Maybe his were that way, too.

And then there was her hair. Tightly waved, it flowed from the crown of her head and covered her shoulders and beyond. It was so long that he couldn’t see where it ended.
She was, quite simply, the most extraordinary thing he had ever seen.

iAm went for her, lunging forward, grabbing onto the nape of her neck, bending her backward, holding her in his arms and putting his mouth to her flesh. He had never taken from a female this way, and he didn’t immediately strike. He was overcome by the scent of her, by the soft skin under his lips as he extended his tongue and licked up her vein.
He intended to nuzzle at her further, but as her hands took hold of his shoulders and she arched into him, he couldn’t wait any longer. He hissed and penetrated her skin.
At the bite, she cried out, but instead of pushing him away, she pulled him even closer.
Her blood was a blast in his mouth, tasting of dark wine and promising an intoxication that started to take hold the instant he swallowed.

When he swept his hand over her sex, she moaned and pulled harder on what he was providing her—and he wanted her to drain him dry. But not the other way around. Forcing himself to release her vein, he licked the puncture wounds closed and then found himself drawing his lips downward, crossing over the graceful wing of her collarbone. Heading for her breasts, he gripped the top of her robing with his fangs and ripped it apart, the fabric giving way until—

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” he gasped.
Bared to her lover’s eyes, maichen had expected to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Only her female bathers had ever seen what iAm was looking at.
Instead?
She kicked the robing free from her hands and brought her palms up to cup her breasts. “Yours,” she heard herself say. Then she moved down and touched her exposed sex. “Yours.”
His upper lip curled back and he let out a growl that was both reverent and a little evil.

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Review: Salem’s Daughter by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-booksalemsdaughter.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Jean Pierre La Crosse
Heroine: Bristol Adams
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 03, 1981
Started On: January 13, 2018
Finished On: January 17, 2018

Salem’s Daughter by Maggie Osborne is one of the most complex stories that I have read from her. Not that the rest of her books aren’t complex and multi-layered, but this one stood out from the rest because Osborne delves into the Salem’s witch trials and brings that into her story with a twist that made for at times difficult reading, not because it was boring or didn’t fit into the story, but rather because it depicted humanity at our worst. That is never easy to read about, but I do believe that writing about these things, propagating this is a must in order to create the much needed awareness on identifying said behavior and taking action where needed.

Salem’s Daughter starts at a juncture which brings vividly to life the depravity behind religious zealots and how they can twist and turn everything to make everyone a sinner that needs repenting. Bristol Adams finds herself on the wrong side of the Puritans when for once she commits the “ultimate” sin of talking to a male, requiring a public whipping. Bristol beseeches her father, who has never done wrong by her before, to save her from the humiliation and the pain. But then her father is a proud man if ever there was one, and to heap rejection upon the humiliation, he decides to send her off to England to stay with an aunt for a couple of months.

Bristol does try to use her female wiles on her affianced to marry her then and there, but then he is not a man to be persuaded beyond what he wants to give Bristol, a life where they could both live comfortably. So sets Bristol on the journey that would carry her to England with bitter anger in her heart, on a ship where the lecherous intents of ship’s crew is all far too real. The only man standing between her and them is the formidable captain of the ship, Jean Pierre La Crosse, with whom she has a run in before the ship sets sail. What she saw then didn’t appeal to her much, although she does not realize that the feelings that he stirs to life in her does not happen with just anyone.

The voyage itself proves to be a harrowingly eventful one, and it is in the aftermath that Bristol and La Crosse finally give into the heady and stormy passion between them. La Crosse makes no promises about what he is or where they are going relationship wise, but Bristol has no inkling of the misery and heartache that is headed her way when they part their ways.

However, fate has other plans in store for them and it is not long before Bristol comes face to face with her “competition” when it comes to La Crosse; his fiancée. It is heartbreak upon heartbreak for Bristol watching La Crosse marry someone who would eventually destroy him. But it is not long before Bristol is caught in the crossfire and the hardest days of her life come upon her. Taken captive by a pimp with a notoriety of letting his fists show his anger, Bristol ends up losing the most precious thing in her life.

Even though that cruel fate brings her to La Crosse once again, a message from home means she is to return, only to find her whole village caught up in vilifying and turning on each other, all because of hate preaching by those concerned. Bristol does try and give her most valiant effort to make a difference, but there is no working against a tide that is fervent and resilient, and in the end, Bristol nearly gives her life to the cause until things come to their eventual conclusion.

The summary outlined does not do justice to the story that Osborne tells in this book. For one, there is Bristol, who starts out as this pompous woman-child, who naively believes that her beauty and charms would make her life easy. That she would get everything she wanted. The fact that she is full of herself is revealed during the first couple of chapters, until she starts experiencing the harsh realities that life has to offer, starting from her journey to England.

Through the course of the story, Bristol transforms into this woman worthy of the love of a strong man, a man who would shelter her from the deepest and darkest of storms and carry her safely ashore. Even if that were not to be the case, Bristol turns out to be a woman who has the strength and fortitude of a thousand men of worth. At times, she has to be strong for both La Crosse and herself, but that never steered her away from what was important.

Some might find the concept of cheating involved in the book abhorrent, or turn them away from the real story that develops. It requires someone who is a bit open-minded to understand and empathize with the difficulties life throws both La Crosse and Bristol’s way. If I were to be caught up in a relationship as such, I myself do not know how much strength of perseverance I would have. So in Bristol, Osborne has once again created one of her formidable heroines; her heroines always stand out, and for good reason.

La Crosse is a hero who is caught between his duty and what his heart wants and desires. He does try, I would say he tries harder than the average male would, to stand true to the the course that he had set out on. But one only has to read between the lines and sometimes just read the lines to understand the kind of hellish existence La Crosse’s life becomes in the end.

When all was said and done, only issue I had was with how La Crosse and Bristol spent so much time apart before the eventual ending of the story. Perhaps this was felt mostly owing to the lack of an epilogue to make readers happy. La Crosse and Bristol’s happily ever after was hard won. Readers deserved to see them happy and together, having sweated and cried through all the turbulent times their relationship brought.

Recommended for those who love romances that deliver your less than usual stories.

Final Verdict: Salem’s Daughter is an intense read, one that you might never completely recover from. Osborne weaves her magic and spins a tale that takes you through the kind of emotional wrangling that leaves its mark forever. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

La Crosse halted, standing over the bed, his naked body catching fingers of moonlight. He sucked in his breath and stared. “Mon Dieu!” His voice emerged in a hoarse whisper. His hungry eyes devoured Bristol’s lush body bathed in moonlit tints of ivory shadow. “Mon Dieu! Even bloody and soiled you are a beautiful woman!”

A choked sob tore from Bristol’s throat, and her breath came in shallow, rapid gulps. “Don’t. Don’t,” she pleaded. But his dark head brushed her chin, moving. A skilled tongue caressed her breasts, tantalizing, coaxing, calling forth a responding heat from her trembling limbs. To Bristol’s horror, she felt her nipples harden, rising pink and ripe to his lips.
A frightening weakness flowed through every muscle in her suddenly flaming body. His naked chest brushed her stomach, moist and strong and burning where he touched. Beneath his stroking fingers, her breasts tingled, and a bewildering sense of urgency began in her thighs and swelled, sweeping her breath away.

Suddenly her arms were free, and they dropped to circle his neck. Her lips opened to his with the urgency he’d created; her frantic body strained against hard flesh with the plunging need he’d drawn from every trembling nerve. Blind yearning filled the very fiber of her aching body. Bristol’s sensual nature exploded into life, wakened by his skilled touch with all the intensity of a long-dormant instinct craving expression.

“Aye,” Bristol screamed, her mindless hips rising to match his rhythm. “Oh, aye,” she groaned. Her tangled hair fell back and her eyes closed, and tortured breath rushed past her parted lips.
Her fingers tightened on La Crosses rippling shoulders, and some buried part of her mind recognized that he paced himself, moving in deep rhythmic strokes, adjusting to her own instinctive cadence. And then faster and faster and harder and more urgent. Until an expanding universe spun behind Bristol’s lids, pouring color and sensation, rocking and glowing. And then her universe narrowed and cracked into a mind-sweeping explosion.

She lifted her eyes to the slumbering form in the bed, seeing a glow of moonlight on La Crosse’s shoulder. Because of him, she now recognized that moment with Caleb in the settler’s cabin had been a mockery. There was more—so much more—than Caleb could give. But she’d lain with Caleb in love. At least for a while she’d thought it was love.
The man in the rumpled moon-washed bed represented no tender feelings—only blind desire. And yet it was he who had awakened a deep sensuality, he who had shown her the woman she could be. Bristol’s face paled, and she battled a misting of tears.

“Do you really believe any of us are brave in our secret hearts? No, little girl, it is not so!” He stroked her hand lightly.
“A man who believes himself without fear, who boasts of bravery and courage—that is a foolish man. He courts unnecessary risk and endangers others as well as himself. The truly courageous is one who admits to fear, then overcomes it.”

They slowed and stopped, and Bristol’s breath caught in her throat. His arm tightened on her waist, and he drew her trembling body against his lean, hard chest. A weakness spread through her limbs, and his burning eyes seemed to fill the night sky. Then his hungry mouth crushed her head back in a bruising, searching kiss. His tongue forced past her lips, and his throbbing erection seared against her body, urgent, demanding. And a familiar fire raced through her flesh, tingling along the nerves, burning in the secret hidden places.

His eyes traced the curve of her lips. “I think of you always,” he said softly. He didn’t move to touch her, but Bristol felt his leg against hers, sending waves of electricity through her body.
“Please, we can’t… we must forget…” Disconcerted, she looked at the scar her fingers had tenderly mapped, the lips her own had clung to, “I…”
His voice was low and intense.
“I want you every waking minute. I think of you lying sweet in your bed, and I must fight not to smash your door and take you.” His eyes flickered with passion and his face was hard as granite, but his voice remained soft. “Take you and make you call my name.”

The door was open. It swung in, and she stood framed in the doorway, her eyes wide and helpless.
Jean Pierre lay against a mound of pillows, still dressed in shirt and breeches. One candle burned near his bed, and he held a wineglass in his hand. Smoky eyes met hers.
“I’ve been hoping,” he said softly. Putting down the glass, he opened his arms. “Come to me. Come to me, my love.”
Bristol felt faint; her legs refused to move. She held to the door for support, staring at him. Instantly Jean Pierre was at her side, sweeping her into powerful arms. His lips crushed hers in a savage kiss of need and passion denied too long.

“I love you Bristol,” he said in a low voice. “You are the one shining truth in my life, the island of sanity I cling to.” A short, bitter laugh escaped his lips. “I, who have never clung to any person, to any thing.” His hand caressed her hair, the silky strands rising under his fingers. “I cling to you. I think of you when all around is black; I see the softness in your eyes, and I know there is still beauty and meaning in the midst of the chaos.”

She smelled the freshness of his hair, buried her hands in the dark curls tied at his neck. She laid her cheek against the crisp hair covering his chest, so different from the rest. And his hands moved over her satiny body with joy and astonishment, with the wonder of love. Seeing her as if for the first time, as she saw him.
Then he moved over her, slowly, unhurried, and he brushed long hair from her cheek.
“I love you,” he said. Intensity quivered in his hard face, his eyes, his voice. “I love you, little one.”

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

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Review: The Samurai’s Garden by Patricia Kiyono

Format: E-bookthesamuraisgarden.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Astraea Press
Hero: Hiromasa Tanaka
Heroine: Hanako Shimizu
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 06, 2012
Started On: October 15, 2017
Finished On: December 19, 2017

The Samurai’s Garden by Patricia Kinoyo is a book that I purchased on a whim when I came across the title on Amazon. The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise, set in Japan is one of my favorite movies of all time. Plus, Japan as a country holds a wealth of fascination for me, not the least to do with their discipline, moral code, their love for nature, and their general kindness towards humanity. To read a romance set in Japan, infused deeply with Imperial Japanese culture was something too good for me to pass up.

The Samurai’s Garden is set in the 17th century, a time during when the Samurai were stripped of their powers, leaving a lot of of men lost amidst the changes taking place. In Hokkaido, Hanako Shimizu is a widow struggling to survive the harsh realities of life without her father and her husband. Not that the latter had been of much help when it came to the practicalities of life. But for a woman without the protection of a male in the household, life was a perilous journey, especially considering the unwanted advances of men she would rather not associate with.

When a stranger with two swords hanging at his side comes to her rescue at the market and offers to work at her homestead for a place to stay and warm meals, Hanako wants to refuse. But something about the way Hiromasa Tanaka holds himself makes her trust him enough to invite him into her life.

Justice, Bravery, Benevolence, Politeness, Veracity, Honor, and Loyalty were the seven codes of the Bushido, or “Way of the Warrior”; the code by which Hiro has lived his life up till the point until the new laws had come into place. Rather than head back to Tokyo to be with his family as he should have done, Hiro had gone even further north until he had come to the island of Hokkaido where he meets Hanako, invariably changing both their lives forever.

Working together to make Hanako’s home self sufficient, Hiro proposes marriage to Hanako, an offer that she is reluctant to accept for many reasons. Hanako has always more or less being viewed as a nobody with no special skills to speak of, no family of worth to back her, which means that understanding her own worth is a monumental task for her. Hiro aims to change all that for his Little Flower, as soon as she would agree to do the honors of being his wife.

The Samurai’s Garden was so lovely in so many ways. There is Hiro of course, a man who is as gentle and kind as they come, with a core of steel running through him that makes him oh so very desirable. His dedication towards making their shared home a prosperous and happy one is evident throughout and for those reasons and more I loved him wholeheartedly. There was also the fact that Hiro wanting to allay Hanako’s fears about being done wrong by a worthless husband yet again, does something very uncommon, especially during the time period in which the story is set. That was the icing on the cake for me when it came to Hiro’s character.

Hanako, while she resists Hiro on many levels at first, starts seeing the man of worth Hiro is from day one. However, that does not make it easy for her to trust him with her heart, and the way Hiro wins her over, inch by inch, and how Hanako blooms under his care, love, and attention was so worth it.

In the midst of it all, Hiro prepares the village to face off rogue Samurai, and the final test of their relationship comes when Hiro is called back home to face unfinished business that he had left behind. What the whole story brings together, apart from the way Hideyori Kato’s story ended, a bit anticlimactically if you ask me, everything else was pretty wonderful.

I just adored how Hiro calls Hanako his Little Flower. Made me go awn every single time. The garden Hiro plants and tends to around their property, even with Hanako’s misgivings about its practicality, the flowers that bloom, the beauty, peace, and tranquility of it all which Ms. Kinoyo brings to life so effortlessly with her words was why I adored this book.

Recommended for those who would love to read a romance in a Japanese historical setting.

Final Verdict: The Samurai’s Garden is aptly named in a way that brings a smile to my heart. It reminds me of Hiro and Hanaka, and Hiro’s undying love for a woman who is his equal in every way. Beautifully written!

Favorite Quotes

Hiro stood at the edge of the clearing, swinging an ancient axe in a deadly arc at the trunk of a thick tree. A loud crack preceded the thunderous boom as it crumpled to the earth. The axe continued its work as limbs and branches were separated from the trunk.
Hanako’s mouth went dry at the sight of her handsome guest. He was stripped to the waist, his tanned and muscled arms glistening as they swung rhythmically. She couldn’t resist leaning out of the doorway to get a closer look. Mesmerized, she stared at the rippling muscles on his back. Kenji had never stirred such feelings in her. Of course, Kenji had never subjected himself to hard physical labor. He was an artist and an intellectual.

“Are you certain you are all right?” Hanako asked again.
“I’m fine,” he insisted. “I’m just hungry.”
“Yes, of course. I will prepare your meal,” she said as she scurried toward the cook stove. He noticed her hands shook as she measured the rice, poured water into the pot, and attempted to light the fire. The flame would not start for her, and as she tried again and again, she got more agitated. Finally he got up and stood behind her. He reached around her and put his hand on hers.
“You are too distressed from today’s events. I can do this.”
She dropped the flint and covered her eyes. Great sobs racked her body, and she tried to step away from him, but he gathered her in his arms and rocked her gently.
“You are safe, my little flower. I would not let anyone harm you.”

She let herself dream as his arms and body cradled her. They went through the motions, his right hand and arm directing the improvised weapon, his left hand moving her body. It was amazing how their bodies fit together, how their limbs moved in perfect synchronization. His hands switched as he moved the improvised weapon to her other hand and turned her body so her left side faced the imaginary opponent. Hanako knew the movements had been designed for fighting, but the two of them were engaged in a much different, though equally intense, reality.

He had often imagined her like this, late at night, as he tried to sleep knowing she was only a short walk away. His mind’s eye had constructed the creaminess of her skin, the smooth curve of her body, the warmth of her smile. But the vision before him surpassed all of his dreams. This woman had been created especially for him, and he alone would have the right to cherish her from now to eternity. He would not ever take this right for granted.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepository

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Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdevilscut
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #3
Publisher: Ballantine
Hero: Lane/Edward/Samuel
Heroine: Lizzie/Sutton/Gin
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2017
Started On: September 29, 2016
Finished On: October 05, 2017

The third and final book in The Bourbon Kings trilogy delivered a lackluster read for me in many ways, reasons which I will be detailing about later in the post. JR Ward’s characterization and setting is of course top notch. And even with all the problems I had with the story and its development, I enjoyed the escape it provided when I needed one. 

Devil’s Cut takes off from where things were left off in the second book, The Angels’ Share, where the eldest, Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine, confesses to the murder of his father. This sets in motion the events that escalate into the culmination of the ending Ward delivered, with Gin and Samuel’s story being given a little bit more attention to tie up the loose ends in their story as well.

Things I loved about the story can be summed up in just one sentence. Gin and Samuel, and their fiery non-relationship relationship. It is not the ideal love affair that they have going, but because of it, their story manages to grab you from the first book onward and not let you go.

One of the things I disliked about the series was that it focused too much on Lizzie and Lane, when it should have been separate novels for each of the lead characters we meet. Secondary characters like Edwin MacAllan (Mack), Master Distiller for the company who meets his match in Beth Lewis who turns up for the position of his assistant was a secondary story that was left without much written about them after the initial introduction. There was so much potential in their story and the readers just got to see them “together” all of a sudden.

While I grew to accept Lizzie and Lane together, I never did love their coming together as much as I should have, especially given the time that Ward invested in writing their characters, by giving them so much presence in all three novels. I could understand why from the viewpoint of Lane being the one responsible for bringing it all together, solving the family issues etc. But, that could have been catered to while letting their stories simmer in the background, making other characters more prominent.

I would have loved to see an expansion of Maxwell’s story, the son who left and didn’t return until at the very last minute. He is labeled as a drifter, a troublemaker, a tattooed bad-ass if you ask me, and he was just sidelined in the series to an extent that it was as if Ward just happened to remember that he also needed to come back. His history with Tanesha Nyce, the preacher’s daughter was one I wanted to read about, and yet that too, never materialized.

That brings me to the couple that gave the series that jolt of electricity, that pulse of life; Gin and Samuel – the lifeline of the series. Yet, they didn’t get to have their own book, and they had the potential to be so much more. Even when Ward did not give them their own book, they made their presence felt throughout, so much so that I wished that I got to read about them and them alone. There is so much history to them, their on and off explosive “relationship”, the secret Gin has been carrying with her for so long, a secret so incendiary that it seems to drive a wedge between Gin and Samuel that could have lasted for a long time. Gin is a character who is extremely flawed, and the way she transforms was the one aspect to the series that I wholeheartedly approved of. But I just wished that Ward had focused more on them than on other paltry characters of the series.

Ward also started a story line where a sort of love triangle could have emerged between Edward, Shelby, and Sutton. I wasn’t that enamored with Sutton at all. Nor was I won over even when everything just seemed to neatly come together with Shelby moving on all of a sudden. There was a vulnerability to Shelby, a down to earth honesty to her character that I fell in love with from the onset. She seemed to see right through to Edward, his pain, and the darkness inside of him unlike Sutton for whom Edward shows a different side of his character. He tries to protect Sutton in a way when with Shelby, he is himself, the version of himself that he became after all the trauma that he had gone through. But of course, it was Sutton he went for all of a sudden, and there was this missing component to their story line that didn’t satisfy me on all fronts.

The ultimate culmination of the main thread of the story was also disappointing to say the least. It focuses on the murder of William Baldwine and the ensuing chaos that brings all siblings “together”. While the “killer” became obvious halfway through, I still hoped that Ward would provide something more explosive than what I knew would be a pitiful ending. Everything of course comes together rather neatly, but there were those potholes in the plot that were left gaping open. Ward is capable of so much more, as her Black Dagger Brotherhood stories testify time and yet again. I know that both series are entirely different in their own manner. But the fact that even with all those things that did not work for me in this one, I was still hooked to Ward’s storytelling tells its own tale.

Final Verdict: Disappointing for the fact that it could have been so much more; I wished for individual stories for all main leads in the series.

Favorite Quotes

In lieu of answering, he dipped down and brushed the side of her throat with his lips. Moving his hands farther up under her skirt, he brushed the tops of her thigh highs—and then kept going until—
“You’re not wearing panties,” he growled.
“Of course not. It’s eighty-five degrees out there and humid as the inside of a shower.”
Samuel T. became unhinged then, his control snapping, his greed for her overtaking everything. With sure fingers, he unbuckled his monogrammed belt and unzipped his slacks—and Gin was clearly as impatient as he was. Moving herself down on the sofa, she brought them together at the very moment he angled his erection forward.
They both shuddered, and then he started moving.

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

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Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheangelsshare
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #2
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Edward Baldwine
Heroine: Sutton Smythe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 26, 2016
Started On: September 02, 2016
Finished On: September 29, 2017

Even though I usually write my reviews before starting on the next book in the series, the part of my life that was dedicated to reviewing  romances that I read and enjoy so much took a hiatus in recent times. But I am someone who believes in the “better late then never” concept when it is about people and things that matter above everything else.

The Angels’ Share, book 2 in The Bourbon Kings trilogy picks up where the first book ends. That things are a mess for the Baldwines would be an understatement. With their father dead, the family’s finances in a mess, it is Tulane Baldwine (Lane), the poker playing former man-whore who returns home to pick up the pieces. Four siblings, all of whom are “estranged” from one another in different ways; JR Ward lays out a complex family for readers to sink their teeth into, and the surprises keep coming forth, urging the reader to turn the pages faster to get to the inevitable conclusion of it all.

Lane has his work cut out for him in trying to make sense out of the mess that his father has left in the wake of his death, an autopsy of which proves more than what Lane bargained for. William Baldwine is not the beloved father figure that most would presume he would have been. Instead, he is the father who destroys a family with his words and actions, and inaction when it came to Lane’s eldest brother Edward..

One has to read the trillogy altogether to get a sense of just how deep JR Ward digs when it comes to the Baldwines. Having never read anything else but the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by the author prior to picking up this particular trilogy, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but in usual JR Ward fashion, she blew me away with the depth that she brings to her characters and the story.

While I didn’t particularly root for the Edward and Sutton connection (which I am pretty sure I would be in the singular minority in this case), I felt intrigued by Gin’s story most of all. I think that would have been the case for most readers. Gin and her ongoing tit-for-tat, explosive relationship with Samuel T. took my breathe away every single time they were in the same room together. Gin’s inability to face her inner demons, to right the wrongs of her past, to accept herself for who she is, to draw on her inner strength and fight; those were all things that I wanted for her, from her. That in my opinion is a character well written.

Gin is not without her fair share of faults. But, given all that, I fell for her, hard. Unlike most of the characters in the book, and even Lizzie for whom I just had a passable liking at best, Gin stood out from everyone else like one of those exotic creatures gracing the cover of a glossy magazine tossed on a pile of old, worn and torn ones that no one would look at twice. That is how Gin materialized for me in the story and captivated me all throughout.

Enjoyable in a way only great storytelling can deliver, The Angels’ Share provides for enjoyable reading.

Final Verdict: Incredible, the level of depth to the story. It just keeps getting better.

Favorite Quotes

It was not supposed to go like this, he thought to himself. He’d banked on her backing away from him, leaving him alone, forgetting about the damn doctor.
“Sometimes the land must accept the storm,” Shelby whispered.
“What?”
She just shook her head as she moved up his lower body. “It’s not important.”
And she was right. Nothing much was important at all as she was the one who kissed him, her lips soft and shy, as if she knew nothing about seduction.

His hands swept up and cupped her breasts as his hips rolled against her, stroking her with an erection that was so hard, so distinct, she didn’t know whether he’d taken his pants off. Her skirt didn’t last long, Edward taking advantage as she arched up to his mouth to release the back fastening and do away with it.
Her stockings followed suit.
And then her panties.
And then his mouth left her breasts … and went other places.
The orgasm was so strong, her head knocked into the hard table, but she didn’t care. Throwing her palms out, they squeaked against polished wood as she called his name freely.
There was no one to know.
Nobody to hear.

He whispered something in her ear that she didn’t catch.
“What?” she said.
“Nothing.”
Edward stopped her from asking again by kissing her some more. And then he was moving inside of her, his erection still hard, his hips still strong, his need still for her.
For some reason, her eyes watered. “Why does this feel like you’re saying good-bye?”
“Shhhh …” he said before kissing her again.

Samuel T. to Gin – “What I really want to say is two things,” he continued. “First, I want you to know you’re better than that, and not because you’re a Bradford. The truth is, no matter what happens to the money, you’re a strong, smart, capable woman, Gin—and up until now you’ve used those virtues in bad ways, dumb-ass ways, because quite frankly, you haven’t had any real challenges put in front of you. You’ve been a warrior without a field of battle, Gin. A fighter without a foe, and you’ve been lashing out at everything and everyone around you for years now, trying to burn off the energy.” His voice grew unbearably hoarse. “Well, I want you to channel all that in a different way now. I want you to be strong for the right reasons. I want you to take care of yourself now. Protect yourself now. You have people who … you have people who love you. Who want to help you. But you’re going to need to take the first step.”

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

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Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverunleashed.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Manny Manello
Heroine: Payne
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 01, 2011
Started On: February 23, 2017
Finished On: June 04, 2017

Lover Unleashed by JR Ward is the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and brings to readers the story of Payne, born to the Scribe Virgin, and thus the twin of Vishous. The revelation that his twin is alive comes in an earlier book, one that shocked me to boot. I cannot even imagine the depth of feelings that must have coursed through Vishous himself when the fact was made known to him.

Payne is a heroine who is powerful in a way that only one born out of such a union can be. Like Vishous, Payne’s beauty is such that it has the ability to take away the breath of those who come across her. Her beauty is one that mesmerizes people for the lack of a better word. What is more stunning is the immense power that she holds in her hands, which comes to light with the divulgence of the unthinkable she had done to the man who had sired her.

It is also Lover Unleashed that brings a new band of “enemies” to the turf of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of fighters from the vampire race who are just as vicious in their manner when it comes to the war with the Lessers. Yet, they do not identify themselves as a Brotherhood. Xcor, the group’s leader is a vampire to contend with and then some, a bastard born to the Bloodletter himself, walking on a path to avenge the death of his father, a murder that he had never forgotten nor forgiven.

Payne’s appearance in the Brotherhood company comes through a tragic event that unfolds, leading Dr. Jane Whitcomb, the shellren of Vishous to seek the services of chief of surgery at the hospital where she had worked prior to her “death”. Manny is brought in to the Brotherhood compound on the premise of helping Payne where Jane’s medical abilities fall short. While bringing in people, especially humans who are none the wiser to the existence of the vampires as a race is a big no, Wrath, the King makes an exception owing to the extenuating circumstances and his involvement in what leads to the circumstances.

Manny’s appearance in Payne’s life brings forth a connection neither would have thought possible. For Manny, the possessiveness that streaks through him as his gaze lands on Payne in her hospital bed is one that shocks him to the core, almost as if his very DNA recognizes Payne as his and his alone. While Vishous and the rest of the Brotherhood might have other ideas where Manny is concerned, Payne is as drawn to him which brings forth complications that aren’t as black and white to resolve.

Alongside Payne and Manny’s developing story, it becomes a testing period for Vishous and Jane’s relationship as well, which was something I loved in the story. Vishous is someone who has a penchant for sex of the darker variety, an aspect of himself that he had “given up” on when he had embraced his love for all that is Jane. However, with dark memories rising up from his past, Vishous is at a loss as to how to deal with them, and the friction between him and Jane is one that was painful to read about, but a much needed one in my opinion.

Someone like Vishous, who had undergone so much, and carries such a powerful weapon on his own self, a man with such a dark past – that doesn’t just find a cure overnight because they have fallen in love. Even if love of the kind that vampires have is an all consuming one, I believe that JR Ward did immense justice to both Vishous and Jane’s characters by bringing to light this side of their relationship, and the role that Butch plays in all of it to help them.

It is often difficult to review books so well written, especially of a series of the caliber of Black Dagger Brotherhood, because so many things keep happening at the same time, which makes these books the stellar reads they are. The stories continuously keep evolving in a way that leaves readers on the edge, and I believe the same must happen to JR Ward herself when it comes to the places her immensely complex characters take her.

I loved so many things about Manny and Payne’s relationship, together with the way Vishous and Jane faced their own troubles and made things work – because their love is worth all that and more. All throughout the story, there was one thing that kept circling in my mind – the fact that Manny is over the top hot. The way Payne and Manny want each other was is out of this world hot, burning up my eyeballs and then some, and I enjoyed every single aspect of it.

The friendship and love that exists between Butch and Vishous is one that was tested as well, with Butch having to step outside of his comfort zone to help his Brother for whom he would practically lay down his own life for. There is an understanding between them that is hard to put in words, but materializes so beautifully under Ward’s craftsmanship.

When all is said and done, Lover Unleashed delivers a story that is well rounded in every way. Each book in the series continues to amaze me in a way I would never have thought possible. I know that I should not be surprised any longer when it comes to JR Ward and this series, and yet the fact that she continually does so is reason number one that I would keep coming back for more.

Wholeheartedly recommended for fans of the series and those that love well rounded tales of the paranormal romance genre that delivers scorching and such well done scenes of passion!

Final Verdict: Lover Unleashed, the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is just as astounding as the rest. JR Ward is an author not to be missed for this very reason!

Favorite Quotes

Pushing into the examination room, he—
Oh . . . dear God.
Oh . . . Lord above.
The patient on the table was lying still as water and . . . she was probably the most beautiful anything he’d ever seen: Hair was jet-black and braided into a thick rope that hung free next to her head. Skin was a golden brown, as if she were of Italian descent and had recently been in the sun. Eyes . . . her eyes were like diamonds, both colorless and brilliant, with nothing but a dark rim around the iris.
“Manny?”
Jane’s voice was right behind him, but he felt as if she were miles away. In fact, the whole world was somewhere else, nothing existing except for the stare of his patient as she looked up at him from out of her immobilized head.
It finally happened, he thought as he burrowed under his shirt and took hold of his heavy cross. All his life he’d wondered why he’d never fallen in love, and now he knew: He’d been waiting for this moment, this woman, this time.
The female is mine, he thought.

“Teach me,” she said darkly, her lips parting, her hips rolling under his own. “Take me.”
Her hand moved between the two of them and found his erection, rubbing at it, making him moan.
“I am empty without you,” she said. “Fill me. Now.”
With an invitation like that, he didn’t give anything else a second thought. Fumbling around, he shoved his scrubs down his thighs and then. . .
“Oh, fuck,” he groaned as his hard cock slipped up her slick core.

With his tremendous strength, V repositioned her in the blink of an eye, pivoting her around and shoving the sheets out of the way so he could lift her hips up and over his torso. Her thighs were split over his face and—
“Vishous,” she said around his erection.
His mouth was slick and warm and right on target, fusing with her sex, latching on and sucking before his tongue snaked out and licked inside of her. Her brain didn’t so much turn off as explode, and with nothing left to think with, she was blissfully lost in what was happening and not what had gone before. She had a feeling V was the same. . . . He was all about the stroking, lapping at her and sucking on her, his hands digging into her thighs as he moaned her name against her core.

“Fuck, I need you,” he cursed.
On another quick burst of power, Vishous lifted her as if she didn’t weigh more than the sheet did, and the shift was not a surprise. He always preferred to come inside her, deep inside of her, and he spread her legs before settling her on top of his hips, his blunt head nudging into her . . . and slamming home.
The invasion was not just about sex, but him staking his claim, and she loved it. This was the way it should be.
Falling forward and bracing herself against his shoulders, she stared into his eyes as they moved together, the rhythm pounding until they came at the same time, both of them going rigid as he jerked inside of her and her sex milked him. And then V flipped her onto her back and shot down her body, going back to where he’d been, his mouth fusing on her, his palms locking on her thighs as he ate at her.
As she came hard, there was no break or pause. He surged forward, stretching up both her legs and swording in, entering her on a solid stroke and taking over.

The brush of her lips was nothing but velvet, except the anticipation of what was to come had him hyper-focusing so everything was magnified. He knew precisely where she was—
The scrape was viciously soft as she nuzzled him.
Then her hand snaked around to his nape and clamped on, holding him in place so hard, he realized she could snap his neck if she wanted.
“Oh, God,” he moaned, giving himself over completely. “Oh—fuck!”
The strike was strong and sure, two points going in deep, the sweet pain robbing him of sight and sound until all he knew was the sucking draw at his vein.
That and the massive orgasm that rolled through his balls and pumped out the head of his cock, his hips jacking up against her as his erection kicked and jerked . . . and kept going.

“Do this thing you want to me, healer,” she moaned. “Whatever it is. I know you are holding back.”
A growl came out of him and he moved so fast that the only thing that could have stopped him was her saying no. And that word was evidently not in her vocabulary.
In a flash, he was between her thighs, his hands spreading her wider, her sex laid open and weeping in the face of his male urge to dominate and mate.
He gave in. Fuck him, but he let himself go and kissed her core. And there was nothing gradual or gentle about it; he dived in with his mouth, sucking at her and tonguing her as she cried out and scratched at his forearms.

Vampire . . . he thought. Beautiful vampire.
Mine.
As that thought coalesced in his mind, he acted on autopilot, shifting his head to the side, offering his jugular to her—
He didn’t have to ask twice. In a great surge, Payne sprang up, all but launching her whole body onto him, her hand shoving into his hair and tightening on his nape. As she held him in her grip, he was utterly immobilized, hers for the taking . . . prey for her predator. And now that she had him, she moved slowly, her fangs dropping to his skin and dragging up the column of his throat, making him stiffen in anticipation of the puncturing and the sucking. . . .
“Fuck!” he barked when she bit him. “Oh . . . yeah . . .”

“I want more of you,” Payne murmured as she nuzzled him.
Well, he was still hard as stone even though he’d—
“I want you in my mouth.”
Manny’s head kicked back and he groaned as his cock twitched like it was taking a jog down there. But as much as he wanted her, he wasn’t sure she knew what she was in for. Even the thought of her lips on his—
Payne’s head went down into his lap before he could find the breath to speak, and there was no preamble; she sucked him right down, pulling him in and holding him in her wet, warm mouth.
“Fuck! Payne!”

Snaking a hand around the back of her neck, he drew her lips close to his throat. “Take me.”
The sound she made had him orgasming inside of her—it was too fucking hot for him to hold back. And as his cock spasmed, her fangs struck deep into his vein.
The sex went wild. She moved against him, her tight core fisting him up and milking him as he came again . . . and then he started to pump his hips hard. The drinking and the crazy rhythm swept them both away into a heady pounding of bodies that he knew they were each going to feel in the morning: There was nothing civilized to this; it was male and female distilled down to the most primal core.
And it was the very best of anything he had ever had.

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

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