Review: When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath

Format: E-bookwhenadukelovesawoman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Sins for All Seasons, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Antony Coventry
Heroine: Gillian Trewlove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 21, 2018
Started On: December 13, 2018
Finished On: December 15, 2018

I picked up a Lorraine Heath to read after ages, the last time I read a book of hers I cannot even remember. But what I definitely can recall with vivid clarity is just how emotional her books are, how much angst they carry, and how much I enjoyed them even as I cried over the obstacles between the hero and heroine in achieving their happiness.

It is 1841 and winter in London when Ettie Trewlove receives a bundle on her doorstep, another by-blow left for her to take in, babies born in sin by aristocrats that she has been in the habit of taking in and giving a home to. Even though she can ill afford to take in another, her heart is unable to leave the child to her fates, and so Gillian Trewlove grows up knowing a mother’s love, but never having actually known her own parents, always believing that she was only worthy of being left on a doorstep on a cold wintry night.

It is mid-August in 1871 when Antony Coventry, the ninth Duke of Thornley finds himself having the mother of bad days. With his bride having left him at the altar, Thorne finds himself being set upon by a bunch of ruffians, who would have killed him, if it had not been for the woman who finds him and comes to his rescue.

Gillian is the owner of a tavern in Whitechapel, and while she has a low tolerance for misdeeds in her tavern, she abhors violence of the kind that can do someone grievous harm. So when Gillian rescues a man who is definitely in need of help in the alley next to her tavern, she does not know that it is a Duke she is bringing into her life, nor how much things were going to change in her life from there onwards.

As Gillian slowly nurses Thorne back to health, he comes to the realization that Gillian is unlike any woman he has ever come across before. Thorne had assumed responsibility of the Dukedom when his father had passed away as Thorne had hit 15 years of age. Thorne had never known much affection or love in his life, not even from his mother, embittered by the actions of his father who had never stopped his philandering ways.

With the Dukedom had come responsibilities Thorne’s way, which had included a marriage that had been arranged the minute his bride-to-be had been born. What Thorne or the bride had wanted hadn’t factored in, and Thorne had been determined to do right by what was required of him, even if it means going against what he really wants.

Gillian knows her limitations as a bastard child, who practically has no place in society’s hierarchy. Especially not one that would make her desirable as a bride for anyone, much less a Duke. But the heart has a mind of its own, and it is as Gillian strives to help Thorne find his missing bride that their connection deepens. Each finding aspects about the other that fascinates and lures them closer together.

However, obligations and societal rules do not stop pressing upon one just because the heart yearns for something else. In the end, it is up to Gillian and Thorne to decide whether they want society to dictate their happiness, or chart their own course towards what is waiting for them, if only they are willing to make the sacrifices required.

I was so excited to be reading a Lorraine Heath after so long. I guess it was partly the excitement that made me expect more out of the story than it offered, which perhaps detracted a bit from the enjoyment factor. I was looking for the Lorraine Heath’s voice that I remember even after all this time, the dormant emotions that she is so good at rousing from readers.

I liked the slow build up of the romance between Thorne and Gillian. But I expected more from Thorne in a way, and while I found him sexy enough, I believed he should have stood up for himself more. But then understanding the rigid strictures of society that he had grown up in, it is also understandable where he comes from. Gillian comes off as the stronger character between the two, and because of the fact, it works between them.

I loved Gillian. She is strong, has a big heart, and wants to do right by Thorne, even if it means having her own heart broken along the way. That kind of sacrifice can only come from someone who loves in the truest sense. As I mentioned earlier, Thorne is a bit laid back in his nature, almost beta if you ask me when you consider the kind of hero he is. I guess that is one reason why the story lacked the angst I looked for. But I was glad when all was said and done, that Gillian turned out to be the kind of heroine who was deserving of the kind of gentle love that Thorne bestows upon her.

Recommended for fans of historical romances & fans of Lorraine Heath.

Final Verdict: Thorne and Gillian makes for a wholesome couple, and it is their journey towards happily ever after that I enjoyed much.

Favorite Quotes

Then he was standing before her, and for all her imaginings of this moment—all the times in her mind that she’d been calm, witty, and oh so very clever—the actual reality hit her as a bit disappointing when she heard herself ask, “What are you doing here?”
Both corners of that glorious mouth that had haunted her sleep hitched up. Slowly, ever so slowly he reached into a pocket inside his jacket, withdrew gold-rimmed spectacles, and perched them on that sharp aquiline nose of his. How could he suddenly appear even more masculine than before? “I wanted a better look at you.”

His mouth slid off hers, trailed along her chin, creating a myriad of sensations that heated her to the core. She had this odd need for him to place his mouth elsewhere, on her breasts, her stomach, lower. Dear God, but she felt wanton, yet she seemed incapable of pushing him away as he nibbled along her throat, his tongue lapping at the sensitive skin, before he moved on to the next area. He reached her collarbone and his mouth lingered, suckling gently before journeying back up to her chin and retreating.

Tearing his mouth from hers, he shoved himself down a few inches, plumped up her breast with one hand and offered it to his questing mouth as though it were the finest morsel ever served. As his lips came securely around the turgid nipple, he suckled, and she very nearly came off the bed as pain and pleasure warred for dominance, and pleasure won, sending armies of sensation throughout her. She pressed her honeyed canal against him, tilting up her hips, bowing her back in a way that allowed her to rub her intimate core along the length of his hard shaft.
If the way he jerked was any indication, now he was the one close to coming off the bed.

As the world exploded around her, as she flew apart and came back together, she knew memories would not be enough to sustain her, but they would be all she had and she would cherish and hoard them. She became aware of his frantic pumping, his harsh breathing, his stifling moans—
Then he pushed himself free of her, burying his face between her breasts as he shook with spasms, spilling his seed in his hand in an effort to protect her from anyone ever learning of her sins.

His fingers danced over the outer portion of her thigh, up and down, up and down, until he moved to the tender and sensitive inner edge, his fingers no longer frolicking but slowing to a meander until they reached the haven that was already moist and aching for him. “You’re so wet,” he rasped.
Moving her hand down, she rubbed the swollen length of him. “You’re so hard.”
“Aching with need, actually, need that will go unsatisfied until later. But you, princess, you need not wait.”

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

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Review: The Lion’s Courtship by Annelie Wendeberg

Formathelionscourtship.jpegt: E-book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Anna Kronberg Thriller, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Anna Kronberg
Heroine: Garret O’Hare
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: July 16, 2014
Started On: December 04, 2018
Finished On: December 06, 2018

It was my hankering to read something different that had me taking a look at The Lion’s Courtship by Annelie Wendeberg. This is the first book in the Anna Kronberg Thriller series, and is written in the first person. This was an intriguing and eye opening look into what the rest of the series entails.

Anna Kronberg lives in the worst of the worst that Victorian London has to offer. Anna is a doctor, who is viewed by most as a “nurse”, (because why on Earth would a woman be a doctor?), treating those who would never have access to proper medical care if otherwise. She treats the prostitutes, the criminals, and the children who grow up in the miserable and abject poverty that is brought to life so vividly in this story. And then there is her secret identity where she moonlights as Dr. Anton Kronberg at Guy’s Hospital.

When Garret O’Hare comes seeking Anna’s services, thus begins a reluctant acquaintance, at least on the part of Anna. However, Garret continues to surprise her and slowly gets under her skin. And it is only Garret that is willing to help Anna in her quest to find a man who had slashed the face of a young prostitute, the prostitute having seemingly disappeared altogether.

So begins the search, where Garret warns Anna of the consequences that could come calling. There is no prettying up what the squalid conditions of where the story takes place is like. Ms. Wendeberg dishes it out as it is, and as it should be. The whole setting comes off as authentic, Anna and Garret realistic in a way that you can relate to and root for them. The menace that lingers owing to the killer is one that does not abate as the story proceeds, the ending being the most shocking of all. A killer who can outsmart everyone else, that is in reality who he is.

I read this right after I finished watching The Alienist series, which I absolutely loved. I felt as if Ms. Wendeberg’s writing carried the same vibe, and I felt just right at home with the story that unfolded.

I did take a look at the next book in the series and find that this is probably the only ending this story is going to get? Plus the series is veering in a totally different direction? I believe I might come back and sample some of the other stories in the series in due time.

Recommended for those who love historical mysteries. This one definitely and cleverly serves as the appetizer to the next installment.

Final Verdict: Ms. Wendeberg certainly has the prose, style, and wit to carry this off. Definitely gets one thinking, which I love in my books!

Favorite Quotes

Rotten food was squeezed in floorboard cracks — floorboards so dirty that one must think they’d never seen a brush and a dollop of soap in their entire life.
Twelve straw-covered pallets were stuffed into the limited space. He’d had to climb over sleeping bodies to reach his bed. He can still hear the tinkling of urine in chamber pots, the snoring and grunting, the bawling of an infant, the swearing, burping, and farting. This was not the shiny paradise his once boyish mind had dreamt up. This was the place where humans had reached their lowest point and had long lost all shame.

She unlocks the small room at the very end, steps in and locks it, fumbles for the matches, then lights two oils lamps and yanks off her dress.
She hates being scared and being fragile, being the weaker of the sexes. She hates not having equal access to education, employment, and basic rights. If screaming could make things better, she’d scream until her throat turned numb.
Instead, she sheds her dress and undergarments, and opens the wardrobe where she keeps her disguise. Only ten minutes later, she’s her professional and controlled self: Dr Anton Kronberg of Guy’s Hospital.

Both women know that once the unwanted child is gone, the cycle will start anew, and there is little to be done about it. For Anna, this is hard to accept. She kills miniature children, knowing she’ll never have one of her own. Every time she holds one in her hand and sees the bloody mess of tiny limbs sliced off the small body, she looks up from between the legs of her patient and sees a woman whom nature simply hasn’t considered. Not only are prostitutes at the bottom of society’s cesspit, evolution has no regard for them, either. Without the ability to switch off conception when copulation is used to avoid starvation, prostitutes are left at a social and biological dead end.

‘Most of the time, I don’t like people. They could all be apes; it wouldn’t make too much of a difference to me.’
Garret’s breath stalls. His mind refuses to provide a meaningful analysis of Anna’s statements. ‘I don’t believe you. You help people every day. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t like them at all.’
Several moments pass without a reply. Her breathing has grown deeper and slower, and he believes she has fallen asleep.
But then she stirs a little. ‘Because when people are sick and weak, when they fear death, they reveal who they are. They wear no masks and I can see their souls.’
‘Do you like them then?’
She sighs again, and searches for his hand he had withdrawn a moment earlier. ‘All souls are beautiful. But you…’ She presses the back of his hand against her forehead. ‘…you have an exceptionally beautiful soul.’

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Misconduct by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-bookmisconduct.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Tyler Marek
Heroine: Easton Bradbury
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 01, 2015
Started On: November 14, 2018
Finished On: November 17, 2018

Penelope Douglas has officially become one of my favorite authors. Having enjoyed two of her books prior to this, Birthday Girl being an absolute favorite read of this year, I have come to discover that Douglas is one of those authors that would always continue to push the norms of the genre and do that in a way that has the approval of a large number of readers. That alone is no mean feat in my opinion.

I picked Misconduct to read because I wanted something that was standalone and not part of any particular series. Plus, I wanted the magic that Douglas creates so effectively with her characters and settings, giving readers like myself a ton of angst which I absolutely revel in.

Misconduct begins when ex tennis player Easton Bradbury runs into Tyler Marek for the very first time at a function. Told in the first person from both Tyler and Easton’s point of view, the attraction that springs forth between them is swift and equally felt on both sides, but before either can act on it, the moment is over, and away walks Tyler and so does Easton their separate ways. But before the night is over, Easton realizes who Tyler actually is and what he stands for.

Months later, it is when Easton begins her job as a US History teacher at one the prestigious private schools that she has her next run in with Tyler. The parent of one of the most reticent of her students, Easton believes that Tyler walking through her classroom door is the best reason ever to steer clear of the man – for obvious reasons.

Tyler has his reasons for staying away – he cannot mess up his relationship with his son any more than it was already. Not that he would win any father of the year awards, but he was willing to make most of the time he had been allowed with Christian, and shacking up with Christian’s history teacher wasn’t exactly the way to go about it.

When Tyler and Easton clash regarding Easton’s teaching methods, that is when things unravel between the two, and there is no turning back. The attraction that both had resisted from the very beginning bursts forth and there is no closing that door once it is opened. However, both Tyler and Easton have issues that needs resolving for them to find equal footing where their future is concerned, and how Penelope Douglas brings it all together is the sheer brilliance that lies behind her storytelling.

If you haven’t guessed it already, I loved the story. The main protagonists just fit together, despite the age gap between them, perhaps why it worked under the circumstances. Easton is way mature for her 23 years, perhaps stemming from a childhood that had been spent prepping herself for a professional career as a tennis player. Her life had been all about schedules and keeping up – her parents having never let her really enjoy childhood as it should be. Then it had all derailed, leaving the life of Easton and her brother in shambles. The events that had led to the tragedy had left its mark on Easton, even though she has pretty much regained a semblance of normalcy in her life.

Easton makes for a terrific teacher. Her enthusiasm leaps off the pages and even I wanted to sit in one of her classes to learn history, a subject that I have always thought wasn’t for me. But with a modern touch, Easton manages to turn something that would otherwise be considered as boring and mundane into issues that are relatable for students of the age, which is why her classes become such a hit. Easton’s charm lies in her lack of artifice. She is a simple girl at heart, who believes that she can take on the world all by herself, but ultimately realizes that with the right person, being vulnerable gives one added strength.

Tyler, OMG Tyler! He is the kind of hero that makes you want to surrender, and give yourself up to the minute he walks in. He does this simply just by being, a sense of arrogance to him that makes him all that more appealing, and that hunger and drive of his, as misplaced as it may be adds onto the attractiveness. His thirst to have it all and lose nothing had seen him make massive mistakes, ones that he tries hard to make up for.

His ambitions to make it to the US Senate is one that should have factored in a lot when it came to pursuing passion filled nights with his son’s teacher, but it hardly even registers because for Tyler, as misguided as his intentions maybe, his heart was always in the right place. He just needed something to move him enough in his life to set his priorities straight.

The scenes of passion were explosive, so very hot that I felt as if my Kindle was going to combust. It was of the panty-drenching kind, the heat scorching enough to leave the reader panting, wanting more.

Misconduct is recommended, because when you find an author as good as Douglas, you hold on for dear life and wish she would write faster, because you definitely can never get enough!

Final Verdict: Bold & full of heat, Easton & Tyler storms through the pages, straight into your heart.

Favorite Quotes

[Easton] “We can’t do this,” I told him.
My clothes felt like sandpaper on my skin, and I wanted them off. I wanted his shirt open and to know what he felt like under my fingertips.
“I know,” he answered.
But while his left hand held my knee up, his right hand slid between my legs and rubbed my clit through my panties.
I sucked in a sharp breath and clutched his shoulders, letting my eyes fall closed as my head floated away from me.
“Mr. Marek,” I begged.
But his breath fell against my mouth, and he whispered, “I told you there would be no stopping me when we finally ran into each other again.”

[Easton] “Tyler, oh, my God,” I cried, squeezing my eyes shut again and feeling my insides swirl and tighten.
“On second thought, call me Mr. Marek,” he insisted, and I popped my eyes open, seeing the devil in his grin.
I bit my lips between my teeth, groaning as I leaned back on my hands and slid my ass back and forth, fucking his fingers.
“Yes, Mr. Marek,” I breathed out, dropping my head back as the whole fucking world started to spin.
One of my heels dropped to the floor, but I couldn’t care less.

[Easton] “What are you doing?” I gasped.
His forehead pressed against mine, and his hands moved urgently, holding my face. “Dark spaces, quiet places,” he whispered over my mouth. “That’s all we need, Easton.”
And I sucked in a breath as he dove in, taking my lips, moving fast and making it sting so sweetly when he sucked and bit my bottom lip like he was starving.
I moaned, feeling the thick ridge of his cock as he ground into me.

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out.
He breathed out a quiet laugh against my cheek and palmed my tit, squeezing it possessively.
“I’m burning,” I gasped.
He flashed me a smug smirk, and my pussy clenched as I moaned, feeling his hand work between our bodies, unfastening his belt. “I’ll make it better,” he promised.
The warm flesh of his cock crowned my entrance, and he slid it up and down my slit to spread my wetness.
“Wait,” I panted, trying to pull off his jacket. I wanted to see his body.
But he slammed his hips into mine, and I cried out, that sweet pain of the first thrust spreading through my belly as he slid into me.

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out, my back stinging from the friction of the wall as he thrust into me.
I looked at him, seeing his eyes on mine, and we both watched each other, our lips barely an inch apart as he lowered his forehead to mine.
My pussy clenched around his cock, loving every inch he put into me and feeling that high every time he rubbed my G-spot.
He bit my bottom lip. “Is that it?” He slid in and out of me, raw and rough. “Do you like how I take what I want?”

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out.
He breathed hard, squeezing my tit as he moaned. “Oh, fuck.”
And I hunched over, crying out as my insides exploded and his dick rammed my sweet spot, bringing me home.
“Oh, God,” I groaned.
Warmth spread through my belly, and my legs shook from the tingles spreading down my muscles.
My whole body continued to jerk, and my head bobbed back and forth as he kept pounding me from behind.
“Ah,” he growled, and I winced from how hard he gripped my hips.
He yanked me back again, my neck jerking twice as he slammed his cock deep inside me and came. The warmth of his come filled me up, and his ragged breathing fell across my shoulder blade as he bowed his head, trying to catch his breath.

[Tyler] I didn’t wait. I never fucking waited with her.
I rose and climbed on top of her, nestling between the warm legs she so graciously opened for me.
I grinded up and down her slick heat, feeling her wetness on my cock already.
“Jesus, you’re wet,” I whispered against her mouth as I laid my chest flush with hers with my forearms resting on either side of her head. “Is that what I do to you? Huh?” I teased.
But rather than her usual smart-ass comebacks, she blinked awake and gazed at me, looking so fucking innocent and dreamy.
“Yeah.” She nodded.
My fists balled above her head, and I covered her mouth with mine as I thrust my hips, sliding into her tight body.
What the hell was I doing?

[Tyler] “Please kiss me,” she begged.
I covered her mouth with mine as I went at her with everything I had.
“Yes!” she cried, then pulled away to shout, “Fuck! Harder!”
I gripped her thigh and gave her everything I had, completely lost in her moans and cries, smell and taste. Her sounds got higher and her skin was drenched.
“Fuck,” I gasped out, closing my eyes, letting the moment overtake me.
“Ah!” she cried out, then stilled, holding on for the ride.
I thrust into her again, my body jerking as I finally spilled inside of her.

[Easton] “Yeah, I’ve had women,” he admitted, baring his teeth. “Lots of women. I’m thirty-five fucking years old, for Christ’s sake.” He shook my head slightly. “Tessa McAuliffe is a beautiful woman, and we’ve enjoyed each other many times.”
I rammed my palm into his chest, but he didn’t budge. “Many times?” I raged.
He nodded, getting in my face. “Yeah, many times.”
But as I felt my eyes pool with tears, he came closer and grazed my lips with his. “All before you,” he whispered, making my breath stop. “There hasn’t been anyone since you.”
I stayed still, needing to pull away but wanting to stay.
“That’s why you’re stupid.” He grabbed the backs of my thighs and lifted me onto the pool table. “Why the hell would I want her or anyone else when I’ve got this?”
And he pulled up my dress, pulled my panties to the side, exposing my pussy, and dove down, capturing my clit in his mouth.

[Easton] He pulled down the top of my dress, bra straps with it, and pushed me back down to palm my breasts and rub his thumbs over my nipples.
I groaned, letting my eyes fall closed.
“You belong in my bed every night, and I fucking hate that I can’t have you there,” he gritted out, his hands working between our bodies. “I want to buy you shit just to have you throw it back in my face, and I want to fly you to Fiji just so I can rip a bikini off of you.” I felt the hot tip of his cock at my entrance, and I could feel the wetness between my legs.
“I said my dick was yours, and I meant it,” he breathed out, grabbing hold of my hips as he slammed his dick inside of me.

[Tyler] Reaching behind her neck, I unclasped her dress and pulled the top down, gazing at her gorgeous body and beautiful breasts. Grazing my fingertips down her flat stomach, I pulled the dress down farther, meeting her eyes, so she could see mine.
“I need you,” I growled low. “Right now.”
And I yanked the fabric until she got the hint and raised her ass off the seat, so I could get the dress off.
“Jesus Christ,” I groaned. “You weren’t wearing panties?”

[Tyler] “You didn’t want it slow, did you?” I pawed her breast possessively.
She shook her head. “Uh-uh,” she whimpered.
I thrust into her harder and faster, groaning when she began backing up into it. Her pussy was so tight, squeezing my dick like a hand. I couldn’t believe I thought I could do without her.
“Sir.” Patrick came over the intercom, and I slowed. “Where am I taking you?”
I leaned down, turning Easton’s head so her lips met mine. “You don’t belong anywhere I’m not,” I whispered.
She kissed me slowly, nodding.
I leaned back up, rocking into her and feeling her pussy clench and spasm.
“Home, Patrick,” I choked out. “Take us home.”

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

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ARC Review: Dark Water by Tricia Tyler

Format: E-bookdarkwater.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Hero: Nick Garrison
Heroine: Evangeline Marie Broussard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 24, 2018
Started On: September 09, 2018
Finished On: September 22, 2018

There’s a killer hunting in the backwoods bayou town of Barfleur, which is where FBI Agent Nick Garrison is headed, as a favor to his army buddy. Three victims thus far, with no clues whatsoever as to how the killer was selecting victims. That is until heroine Evangeline Marie Broussard (Evie) comes into the picture.

Evie is a gifted psychic, who works as a private investigator. However, working on crimes like the one her cousin Remy Boudreaux is trying to solve takes a lot from Evie. But knowing that there is something she could do to help before the killer strikes again is something that Evie cannot turn her back on. Even if it means facing the scorn and contempt on the face of the FBI agent who comes along for the ride.

Nick has had his run in with psychics and learnt the price for it. He has never forgiven, nor forgotten the way people can abuse a family’s grief for their five minutes worth of fame. There is nothing Nick would love to do better than dissuade the notion that Evie could be of any help in the investigation, at all.

However, even with all the disdain he feels, Nick is man enough to accept and acknowledge the fact that no woman has moved him in the way Evie was, ever since he walked into her life. For Evie, the connection is just as intense. No matter how much she tries to protect herself from the onslaught on her senses, she finds that it is a game she is going to lose, spectacularly.

As the killer draws in, taking someone whom Evie considers to be very dear, it’s time for the hunted to become the hunter. There is no stone that Evie would not turn to get her friend back, which is how she is led right into the lion’s den, with nothing but her wits to use in the fight for her life.

I picked up Dark Water on a whim when I happened across the title on netgalley. I seldom request books on netgalley now because I usually do  not end up reading them, unless they are authors whose work I am already familiar with. However, I have always loved me a good suspense, and with the cover calling to me, I decided to check this one out. I am so glad I did (even though the review is a tad late than I would have liked), because I enjoyed reading Dark Water immensely.

I loved the sexual tension that is palpable and intense throughout this novel. I loved how the author brought the sizzle into the scenes and made me sit up and take notice, even when there was plenty happening otherwise. When sexual tension reaches its peak and the culmination of it all is as explosive as what took place in this story, then the author has done it right.

Nick was a delightful hero. Sexy, broody, and the take charge type with a core of sensitivity that works well when it comes to Evie. His need to create and restore beauty in contrast with the kind of darkness that his job usually invites was a fascinating aspect to him. I loved seeing both sides of him, and it helped me see a long term future for both Evie and Nick because there was so much more than just good sex, hot enough to scorch your reader, between them.

I liked Evie just as much. Her vulnerable nature is evident once you see her through her grandmother’s eyes. The visits that her grandma’s spirit does was a charming facet to the novel. Evie’s preference to be alone was also understandable given the weight of the ‘gift’ that she carries, and how her past has taught her to be stingy with her trust when it comes to love.

The only thing more I could have asked for  was more details on the villain in the story. I wanted to learn about what created the monster residing within, rearing it’s ugly head until the desire to kill is satisfied. A good romantic suspense delves deep into the darkness that manifests within the killer as well, and I felt a bit cheated out on that aspect. Regardless of that little fact, I enjoyed the suspense that went into the story, and how the dots were connected towards the end.

Recommended for those who love the slow heat that comes with romances packed with the Southern charm. This little number certainly delivers. I hope this novel serves as a debut to a “series” because I definitely want more!

Final Verdict: Dark Water delivers a story that thrums with the tightly wound sexual tension and the dark and evil energy of a killer who had lost his way a long time ago. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“This is a mistake.” His body gave lie to his words as he settled deeper into her. The rough material of his jeans rubbed against the sensitive skin of her thighs, heightening her senses to a fever pitch. Every move, every shift, sent a craving through her until the only thing left was a deep hungering need for more. An ache thrummed within her lower belly, spreading until it encompassed every part of her. Bon Dieu, she was in serious trouble. He’d barely touched her, and she was ready to explode.
“A mistake? Yes…most definitely,” she said, shaking her head slowly back and forth. It was one her body desperately wanted to make. Giving in to her body’s demands, she rubbed herself against him. She knew exactly what she was doing to him. It was empowering to realize the effect she had on him. He was a prisoner to the same hunger controlling her own reactions.

His grip on her hair tightened. He released her hands, sliding his slowly down her arm and across the length of her body until he cupped her ass, pulling her up and closer. Frantic, she blindly reached for his shirt. Buttons flew until smooth hard muscle lay beneath her fingertips, threatening her sanity. Sucked in by her own body’s traitorous reaction, all she could do was enjoy the ride. She didn’t give a rip at the moment about the little voice of reason inside her.
Jolts of heat ran up and down her spine like little devils racing in a marathon.
Bon Dieu.

He pulled in another ragged breath. Reaching between them, he grabbed the string along the side of her thong and yanked it off without regret. He’d buy her a new one. Hell, he’d buy her a drawer full as long as the last barrier between them disappeared. Catching her gasp with his mouth, he drove his tongue inside as he slid and plunged two of his fingers into her. Hot and wet, her muscles clamped around him.
Fuck!
“You’re so damn tight,” he mumbled against her mouth.
“It’s…it’s been too long,” she gasped, her body writhing beneath his ministrations.
Satisfaction swept over him knowing she hadn’t been with anyone in a long time. He refused to dig too deeply into why he felt that way. If he did, it might scare the hell out of him.
“Sweetheart, you’re killing me.”

“Bon Dieu…I want to feel you inside me now,” she begged. “Please, Nick. Now.”
He claimed her mouth as his own in a quick, bruising kiss. “Tell me you’re ready,” he demanded, not sure he could hold out any longer.
Her legs gripped him tighter, pulling him against her. He meant to go slowly, but the warmth on his cock sent him over the edge. He plunged fast and deep with the first stroke. She closed around him tight and sweet, and the rest of his body wanted to follow. All thoughts of taking it slow fled.

“You’re mine.” He lowered his head until they were nose to nose. “Say it.”
Her breath hitched, and her pupils dilated.
He lifted his hips until only the head of his dick remained inside her. The need to hear her say the words overwhelmed him and scared the shit out of him all at the same time. The need was stronger.
“I want the words, Evie.”
“Yours. I’m yours.” The words tumbled out on a shuddering breath, filling him with relief.
“And you’re mine,” she whispered, her expression fierce.

She tightened her muscles and bit the inside of her cheek, attempting to clamp down on the fire spreading through her. It was neither the time nor the place, and not the right man for God’s sake. Unfortunately, no other man had ever made her feel this way with just one look.
“Fuck. You can’t look at me like that and not expect me to respond,” he said, with an edge to his tone. He stepped in closer crowding her against the vehicle, determination engraved in the lines of his face. Reaching out, he clasped her face with both hands, and his lips crashed down on hers. Fast, deep, and hot. Oh…so very hot.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: Psychopath’s Prey by V.F. Mason

Format: E-bookpsychopathsprey
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kierian McAvoy
Heroine: Ella Gadot
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 17, 2018
Started On: September 07, 2018
Finished On: September 09, 2018

Have you ever read a book featuring a serial killer and found yourself sympathizing with the character? Understanding where the serial killer was coming from? Why the character had turned out to be a monster? I have. Countless times. When an author does a great job of characterizing and delving deep into all the main protagonists of a book, and does it well, that happens.

But have you ever read about a serial killer and then fallen in love with him? I haven’t. At least not before V.F. Mason came under my reading radar. I was feeling restless with the lack of books that spoke to me. I would be forever grateful for @mad4rombks for directing me towards these books. I wouldn’t have thought that falling in love with such a character was even possible. Until I found myself deeply immersed in Psychopath’s Prey.

Ella Gadot’s ambition for a long time has been to become an FBI agent. The violence smeared past of Ella’s makes her crave for it. But at every turn, having being rejected, no one is more surprised than Ella when she is offered a position on the behavior analysis unit of the FBI. What makes Ella so good at identifying what makes a particular kind of killer tick perhaps lies in her past, and her association with the darker side of life that most of us are shielded and protected from.

Kierian McAvoy and Ella become part of each other’s professional lives when Ella joins the unit. Or so she thinks. But Ella has been chosen for a purpose. She has been drawn in by a highly sophisticated killer who has never hunted women before. But for some reason, Ella makes him itch to hunt her down, and make her his. He draws Ella in by the only thing that would reel her in. A case that would make her work to find him, and in the end become the hunted.

Told in first person from both Kierian and Ella’s point of view, and the psychopath’s younger version from the tender age of seven on wards, V. F. Mason carries the reader through a journey that bled me raw and I do not think I would ever be the same again. This books is not merely a story. It is an experience. It is a journey you have to take with a young boy who saw nothing but pain and torture inflicted upon him and his mother on a daily basis, until his mother ceased to exist. It is the story of a man who had blocked out parts of his past to deal with being who he is. A psychopath. A killer. Someone who never believed that love was for him.

There was so much about this book that I loved. Like I mentioned before, I picked this up to read at a point in time where my book pile had gotten stale. I’m sure that has happened to everyone once or twice. It happens to me more often than before, now that I have grown older and stories tire me out more often than not. When this happens, you just need something that would spice up your reading list and then move on from there.

Anyone who understands my reading habits and preferences know that I am not someone who likes saccharine sweet books. I’m a romance reader who is old school in many ways. My one vice is that I like darkness in my books. A lot of darkness. I love to find an unexpectedly dark hero in a book that makes mincemeat of my emotions. And I love an equally strong heroine (who doesn’t grate on one’s nerve to prove that she is an equal to the hero) in my books. And that is exactly what Psychopath’s Prey gave to me.

It has become a rarity to find well written books that feature the aforementioned. Mainly because every single thing out there has become a point of contention for someone who doesn’t identify with it. There are so many movements out there to make romance genre “better”. I believe like everything else, the romance genre too is evolving to suit the mass numbers of readers out there, who believe romance to be nothing but light and fluffy. Well, V.F. Mason is here to tell you that romance can be dark, extremely dark, and still make all your tingly parts go haywire from want.

Similarly, with this book, I am pretty certain that a lot of people will harp on factors like ‘how is this possible?’, ‘it made my skin crawl’ etc. The ending is not your typical, the hero conquered his nightmares and they lived happily ever after variety. There is a happily ever after that fits the characters and the story of course, otherwise I would have thrown the e-reader at the wall and stomped on it for effect. I digress. But the point here is that, this is definitely not for everyone. Some would find the concept of a serial killer and a criminal psychologist falling in love an abhorrence in itself. But for me, I found the concept a novelty, refreshing, and sometimes I believe we do identify with what the society doesn’t accept for valid and good reason.

I have always empathized with villains who were shaped out of nightmarish childhoods, that had nurtured a certain need in them. I am not saying that it justifies the pain they inflict on others, but it makes you understand why they are the way they are. Kierien is such a hero. I bled for him every single time his past came up, because it is difficult to detach yourself when you read about a child being subjected to such horrors. Similarly in Ella’s case, she has a childhood that is macabre in another aspect; the one night that had changed her life irrevocably and forever.

If I were to sound gushy, I could go on rambling about what made this book work for me. So I will limit myself to state a few. The way it invoked so much emotion from me, and took me from high to lows and then to highs again. I actually resented the time spent away from reading because in a long while, a book had captivated me thus. For this reason alone, I would recommend this story. Because it’s not everyday you fall in love. In love with a serial killer. Plus, have you seen the cover? *goes into a trance*

Recommended for those that love dark and edgy romances, the not your usual variety. This was definitely captivating in every single sense.

Final Verdict: Definitely not for the judgmental, nor the faint-hearted; exactly why I loved Psychopath’s Prey & Kierian, the very definition of an anti-hero if ever there was one.

Favorite Quotes

While he drags us to my room, I unbutton his shirt and slide it off his shoulders, and then I move to his belt buckle, desperately needing to feel him in my hands.
We do all this while kissing, and finally the back of my calves touch the bed as he locks his arm around me while whispering my name and leaning into my neck for his hungry assault. “I’ve been going crazy with need to fuck you since our last time.” His words send a shock directly to my clit as he rubs against me. I still feel him despite our clothed state. My whimper doesn’t go unnoticed as he drags me closer. “Missed me, Ella?” I nod eagerly. “Is this pussy wet for me? Ready for the one cock that can bring it satisfaction?”

Kierian,” I moan, and he surges deeper, completely owning me with his mouth. His tongue travels over my folds, laving them with the attention and hunger they’ve been denied for so long.
He cups my ass cheeks and laps at my core with his full mouth, making sure to play with my clit with his upper lip. I bite my fist, muffling a groan while my other leg bends on the bed, giving him wider access to work in.
“You. Are. Mine,” he growls against me, digging his fingers into my skin as a hint of pain touches me. “Don’t ever deny me again.”

“Kierian, don’t tease.”
He bites on my neck harshly as he growls. “No teasing?”
I shake my head, but reply anyway, “No.”
“You want hard fucking only, Ella?”
“Yes!” That’s all I want in this freaking moment. So can he get on with the program already, and—
With one swift motion, he surges inside me, tearing a scream from me that he immediately covers with his mouth. He thrusts deep, deep, then deeper into me, shaking the bed with his force. I wrap my legs around him as he entwines our fingers above my head.
He is slow, steady, and hard. He waits until each thrust shakes my entire system before giving me another one, and each time, the pleasure rises in me higher and higher, my skin flushing, heat spreading through me and reminding me this man is all male.
“Mine,” he says, pounding harder, and I arch my back, completely lost in everything he makes me feel.

Kierian is always so hungry for me, being able to go at it for hours and demand complete submission. In these moments, he is not a compatible boyfriend who understands me; he is a raging beast who wants to own his woman.
“Mine,” he growls right before placing my legs on his shoulders and grazing the walls of my pussy with the tip of his tongue, barely touching me, but it’s enough to send electricity through me and my moan fills the space.

He pushes his tongue deep, sweeping at my walls and tasting me as deep as he can.
He is hungry, domineering. I lock my legs around his neck, my pussy clenching, but it’s not enough.
Kierian needs to get on with the fucking program before I lose my mind!
My hips jerk, lifting to his seeking tongue, as I pull at his hair, shamelessly rubbing myself on his mouth, and he welcomes it.

She grabs my hands and pulls me on the bed, and as I get to it, she flips me on my back while looming over me, her eyes roaming all over my body.
Her fingers trail down my scars and her breath hitches, as if in pain. “They are old.” I feel the need to reassure her, and she smiles sadly.
“They aren’t if they still have the power to hurt you.” Her words stab me like a fucking knife in the heart that suddenly knows how to beat for another person, but she shakes her head. “This has no place for bad memories.” Ella captures my mouth with hers as we entwine in a wet and needy kiss that leaves us alone with raging desire between us spiking the flames.

With one final suck to her beautiful nipple, I push my arms under her knees and thrust into her so hard the headboard hits the wall.
She cries out, but it quickly turns into a moan as I pull back and push in again, digging my fingers into her hips as hard as possible so she’ll be marked by me.
I expect her to close her eyes and get lost in the moment as she always does, but instead, she brings my head closer. Our gazes clash for a moment and then she hugs me, giving me a hot kiss that flames my desire even more.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Angie Pallorino, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddocks
Heroine: Angie Pallorino
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: June 12, 2018
Started On: July 11, 2018
Finished On: July 19, 2018

The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White is the final book in the Angie-Pallorino series. Each installment has carried “individual” stories that can be read as standalones, but I would still recommend that the books be read in order for the reader to get a true grasp of the depth of characterization that has gone into these stories Loreth has crafted.

Loreth is a writer of darker edged suspense, with just enough romance in the mix to appease readers like myself. If Loreth chooses to write pure suspense, I would still buy her books because she is an author who always gets it right, regardless. The darkness in her books calls to a part of me, which perhaps even I do not understand. Loreth’s deep understanding of human nature, and the way she tells it as it is; all that and more are reasons why I would always keep coming back for more.

The Girl in the Moss begins when the body of a woman is uncovered in the moss, in an area where both ex-cop Angie Pallorino and Detective James Maddocks goes to get away from the stress of city life, their jobs, and the countless other issues that has plagued their union from the beginning. When the body is discovered, Angie and Maddocks are the first detectives with experience to arrive at the scene. However, with Angie now no longer being part of the active police force, her resentment which is always at the surface flares up, at which point everything starts heading downhill.

The tables turn when Angie is summoned by the grandmother of Jasmine Gulati, the woman whose body was discovered, with the grandmother willing hire Angie’s services to find out certain aspects related to Jasmine’s disappearance 25 years ago, and the circumstances surrounding Jasmine’s life before the incident had taken place. At first Angie is reluctant, even as intrigued as she is about the elements surrounding Jasmine’s disappearance and death by accidental drowning as the coroner had concluded. But as Angie delves deeper into the case, she puts the final nail in the coffin that drives her boyfriend Maddocks away, and in the pursuit of the truth, uncovers more than she bargained for.

Small town alliances, familial relationships, the unchecked sexual power and hedonistic nature of one woman and how it had played out for her in the end; all of that and more are at the heart of this story. How the brutal sexual assault and violation of a boy with developmental issues at a tender age made him more reclusive, and creates amidst a close-knit society a killer in the gentle giant he is otherwise. It was hard to abhor a character of that nature, even when he had performed such evil, when his troubled past is taken into account.

Explosive secrets that could rip families apart surface, and age old wounds that some didn’t even believe existed, but were festering underneath the daily grind of life open up and along comes Angie, pricking and prodding, doing what she does best. Stubborn to a fault, like a dog with a bone, that is in essence who Angie is. How two different investigations collide, bringing to light the full picture, that alone was reason enough for this book to deserve commendation.

Even with all her faults, Angie still makes for a likable heroine. There are so many facets to her character that makes you want to shake her, and shake her good. Her stubborn and dogged determination does not apply to her work alone, but to her personal life as well. With a past such as hers, colorful to say the least, with memories of the kind that would cripple anyone’s emotional well-being, Angie fights all of it, and fights those who try to get close to her.

Maddocks finally calling it quits made me admire him on a level I cannot explain. Maddocks has always been a larger than life figure in this trilogy, even though the main focus has always been Angie. Loreth’s ability to craft such characters and give them voice has the reader wanting more, definitely more. Maddocks is absolutely that kind of character. Though his role in this last book is almost nonexistent, his presence is somehow felt throughout. That is the kind of brilliance that Loreth brings to the table as a writer.

Reading through my notes for this review has made me appreciate the story all the more. This is a novel that runs through the reader’s mind like a movie that unfolds right in front of you giving deep insight and clarity. It is the kind of story that is rare, and perhaps because of that very reason, all the more coveted. Loreth is an author who deserves more recognition as a writer, whose books deserve to be sensationalized, if that hasn’t happened already. It would be redundant for me to say at this point that I am looking forward to the next book, The Dark Bones set for release in May next year.

The Girl in the Moss is the kind of book that makes choosing the next book to read that much harder. All because you know deep down inside that nothing would ever live up to where your last read took you to. I just wish that there were more books in the series, even though I can sense the need to end the trilogy at this point. The best kind of series are those than an author completes, giving the due closure needed, and at the same time, leaves the reader wanting more.

Recommended for those who love tangible suspense and tension that unfurls and coils around you as you delve deeper, books that you can sink yourself into and forget the rest of the world.

Final Verdict: Just when you think that Loreth wouldn’t be able to surprise you, she brings on plot twists that just leaves you speechless. Excellent plot & fantastic execution. To see the changes Angie has undergone was the icing on the cake.

Favorite Quotes

Maybe it wasn’t just truth. Maybe at the heart of it all, at the heart of all that was human, even in the dark, was love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Heartless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookheartless.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #5
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: Brandon George Rohan
Heroine: Emma Rose Magdalene Cadbury
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 15, 2018
Started On: May 30, 2018
Finished On: June 02, 2018

At last, Heartless, the 5th book in the House of Rohan series by Anne Stuart is out,  a book that has been long awaited by fans. The fourth book, Shameless was published in 2011, with Anne Stuart promising fans that she would get around to writing Brandon George Rohan (Brandon) and Emma Rose Magdalene Cadbury (Emma)’s story. It has been four years since I discovered this delectable series by Anne Stuart and indulged to my heart’s content. Before the arrival of Heartless, I decided to do a re-read marathon of the entire series, which actually made Heartless all that more meaningful to me.

Heartless starts after a period of three years having passed since what took place in Shameless happened. With Brandon living in the Scottish Highlands, recovering and recuperating from the mess his life had become after the war, Brandon is summoned home by his brother Benedick upon the birth of his and Melisande’s second child. Brandon is reluctant to make his way back to England, but it was finally time.

Taking a look at Emma’s life, it sure had changed considerably since then. Someone who had been the youngest madam in England had turned her life around to the point where she was now about to replace Mr. Fenrush as the head of surgery at the Temple Hospital where she pursues her passion of becoming a surgeon. Her triumphs in her professional life had not come easy, especially pursuing a career in the medicinal world as a woman at the time. But Emma has an innate talent that wins her peers over, except for Mr. Fenrush, whose anger towards her often seems more malicious than just professional jealousy on his part.

Emma and Brandon’s story is one that begins way before Heartless does. Which is perhaps why readers have been waiting with bated breathe for their story. Emma had been one of the volunteers at the hospital at the time during which Brandon had been admitted, suffering from war injuries. It is at the hospital that Emma and Brandon forge a bond, that for Emma had been something beyond her wildest dreams, especially for a woman such as herself considered as soiled in the eyes of the society. For Brandon (whose thoughts on their shared time together are revealed much later), Emma had been the lifeline which had held him together, and he had entertained unrealistic dreams of them being together, even knowing that Emma wasn’t probably the wisest choice as a life partner.

When Emma and Brandon’s worlds collide once again at the christening ceremony of Alexandra Emma Brandon Rohan, Emma is hopeful and at the same disappointed that Brandon doesn’t seem to remember her. And it is a game that Emma continues to and is willing to play, as long as it does not put her emotions in peril. However, even with the obstacle of Brandon’s pompous elder brother trying to force a bride on him standing in the way, there seems to be no obstruction strong enough to prevent Emma and Brandon from coming together, except of course for Emma herself.

Heartless was I suppose what you would call mellow, at least mellower than the rest of the books in the series. I understood the need for it. Both Emma and Brandon are broken in a way that no other characters we have come across in previous books have been, not even Brandon’s grandmother whom we encounter in Ruthless. Imagine being ripped off of your virginity in the cruelest way, being forced to sell your body by someone you had trusted, and not having a choice about any of it. Imagine going dead inside, having never sought pleasure in the act of sex, never understanding the pleasure to be had.

It is Emma’s character that requires care in this story. It is usually the male lead who almost always has issues that are seemingly insurmountable. But in the case of Emma and Brandon, it is Emma’s character that needed the TLC factor, and Brandon, having undergone what he had owing to his attempts to drown out certain aspects of the war he had witnessed in drugs and liquor, has the patience and endurance for the slow seduction required of Emma.

Emma’s avoidance of everything to do with Brandon does come with a price. It is an avoidance that is borne out of the need to protect herself, and that tactic applied to an escalating danger to her life ends up nearly costing her life. The period of separation that takes place was one that provided the emotional angst factor in spades, and Brandon never giving up on Emma was something I approved of and loved wholeheartedly. If ever there are two people who deserve to have their happily ever after, it is Emma and Brandon, and knowing that they did achieve it? Makes me smile from ear to ear.

Recommended for fans of the series. Brandon and Emma’s story was beautiful and soothing in a way that deviates from the norm that is Anne Stuart.

Final Verdict: Heartless might be a little late to the party, but it brings along a ton of angst, feel good emotions, and a whole lot of love. Emotionally heavier in comparison to the rest of the books in the series, Brandon has just the right amount of tenderness, steely determination, and sensuality to seduce Emma, for life.

Favorite Quotes

“Hullo, Charles,” Melisande said, and Emma knew her friend well enough to recognize the lack of enthusiasm in her voice. “I hope your wife and daughters are well?”
“As always. Elinor and the girls are in London, alas. Too many social commitments to allow them to escape.”
“And you were afraid our sister and her wretched husband might be in attendance,” Rohan interjected dryly. “You needn’t have worried. Miranda is once again expecting—I think she and the Scorpion are planning to repopulate the entire Lake District—so your wife’s delicate sensibilities wouldn’t have been offended.”

“You’re right,” he said slowly. “The only man who’s going to get in your bed is going to have to love you, and I’m afraid that’s a part of me that never healed.”
It felt like a blow. Why should the word “love” even be mentioned between them? “You’re stronger than I am,” she said calmly enough. “You could take what you wanted. I’m a professional, remember? I know when a man wants me.”
His smile was wry. “Oh, I want you very much. I doubt there’s a man who sees you who doesn’t want you, with the possible exception of my brother Benedick. Even a stuffy old prude like Charles wouldn’t be immune. But you’ve been hurt, you’re weak and trembling, and I don’t make a habit of taking advantage of frightened little girls.”
“I’m not. . .” she started to protest, when he bent down and brushed the softest, sweetest kiss against her mouth, gone almost before it had begun, so quickly that she could do nothing more than stare at him in astonishment.
“You are,” he said softly. “Good night, Emma.”
She stood outside her door, bemused, as he faded into the shadows. She put a hand to her lips, expecting some monumental change. They were no different—soft, slightly open. He’d kissed her, and life would never be the same.

She knew it was hogwash, just as she knew he didn’t belong in the rough wards of St. Martin’s Military Hospital. He had the voice of a gentleman, and she had yet to meet anyone who could falsify those tones. She had kissed him anyway, the soft brush of her mouth against his—harmless, innocent. Until the last night, when the kiss became something quite different.
He’d grown stronger, he’d been sitting up in bed, and she’d moved her chair closer, night by night. For some reason she continued to hold his hand—the human touch kept him tethered to this earth, she thought, never realizing it kept her tethered to him. Until the last night, or early morning, when she rose to leave him, and leaned over to give him her chaste, affectionate kiss.
Instead he’d caught her arm, tugging her off balance, and deftly managed to slip his hand behind her head to hold her in place while he deepened the kiss, pushing her mouth open with his, using his tongue.
She’d been too shocked to react, had simply let his kiss her, long and slow and hard, so thoroughly she felt. . . she felt. . .
His grip loosened, and she stumbled back from him, her hand to her mouth. “Harpy. . .” he’d said, laughter and concern in his voice, but she whirled and ran, through the crowded ward without a backward glance.

“Why did you kiss me?”
He jumped. That was the very last thing he expected—he’d assumed she’d ignore the incident, skittish as she was, and he wasn’t prepared for her flat question.
He knew he hadn’t shown it though—he was an even better master of his reactions than she was. “That’s an inordinately silly question. I wanted to. There’s something about your mouth, I think. Why? You didn’t seem to mind.”
Her face had whitened, which he found extremely odd “You didn’t give me a chance to mind,” she mumbled, taking another hasty drink. He was going to have to tell Noonan about it. In the north they usually got by on gallons of hot, strong tea, but given that he allowed himself no other liquids, Emma’s drink might be a worthy addition to Noonan’s limited cooking repertoire.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “Should I have kissed you longer? Harder? Deeper?”

She rose suddenly, setting down her empty cup, and there was just the faintest bit of chocolate on the corner of her lip. “I really need to go back upstairs,” she said hurriedly. “I feel unwell. That is, if I’m to leave tomorrow I should probably rest. . .”
She’d been backing away from him, with good sense, since he’d risen as well and was moving toward her. He caught up with her just before she reached the door and casually pulled her away from it, backing her into the corner of the room away from the windows. Near a divan.
“I’ll let you go,” he said softly. “In a minute.” And he set his mouth against hers, his tongue licking out to taste that tiny bit of chocolate.
She shuddered, but it wasn’t in disgust. Her hands had come up to his shoulders, but they’d moved beneath his jacket, clutching the soft cloth that covered his shoulders, and the sound she made was one of soft, unexpected pleasure.

Words began spilling from his mouth then, when he’d been so determined to be silent. “Yes,” and “fuck” and “more” and “yes” as he moved faster, his own body beginning to shake with the power of his overwhelming lust. He couldn’t, wouldn’t say the word “love” but he could push into her, with dirty words whispered in her ear that made her tighten around him. He was fighting a losing battle with self-control, and he wanted to lose it, but she wasn’t quite ready, though he knew from her breathing, from a thousand other physical signs that she was near. “Don’t,” he said, his mind blank, “give it,” he muttered, and the battle was lost. “Now,” he groaned, feeling his seed boil up from his balls and spurt into her, and the last word he spoke, as he pulled free and collapsed beside her, was even worse.
“Harpy,” he said, and fell into an exhausted sleep.

If they’d been on that bed it wouldn’t have been he who was weeping. Emma and beds had an obvious connotation—in fact, the idea of any bed made him think of Emma. Any flat surface. Up against a wall. In a chair—he hadn’t done it in a chair for years. . .
He slammed a door on his thoughts. “Did I ever bed you in this house?”
She turned, and he couldn’t read her expression. “I assure you, until last night I had been blissfully celibate for eight years.”
He froze. “That’s not possible!”
She turned, calm and controlled, raising an eyebrow. “How so?”“You . . . that is . . . you . . .” he hadn’t been at a loss for words since he’d be a callow youth, and he simply stared at her in disbelief.
“I retired from the day to day tasks of a bordello and concentrated on the business side. Once a whore, always a whore, but in fact my hard-learned skills have not been put to the test for a very long time. I hope I proved satisfactory, my lord. I would hate to receive money for inferior performance.”

“You’re my harpy. You always say awful things. Do you want to leave?” He would let her, of course. He would let her out of his life if he had to, if she had to. He would die, but he would do it. For her.
“I want to stay,” she whispered.
The buttons on the night dress unfastened easily—the fussy thing wasn’t without merit. He could feel the tremor in her body and he knew she had to be handled carefully, not with the brute passion of the night before.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said.
She was holding very still as his hands moved lower and lower, the tiny pearl buttons releasing with just a flick of his shaking fingers. The gown parted to show her moon-silvered flesh, and he caught his breath. “I could wish you weren’t so perfect.”
“The ugliness is all on the inside,” she said.
“There’s no ugliness in you anywhere. There’s only pain.”

She heard her own scream with shock, and she quickly slammed her hands over her mouth, as a fierce, hard response rocketed through her, strange and untenable. “Don’t—” she gasped, but he was past listening, and then she was past protesting as she felt a sharp energy begin to build, to suffuse her body with something that surely was wrong. She was past fighting it, past worrying about it, and when she felt him slide two long fingers into her as he licked and sucked and bit, then she was gone, unable to stifle her response as it took over her body, leaving no room for herself there.
It was like being thrown over a cliff, sailing through dark, powerful winds and ending in a storm-tossed sea, and she could do nothing but hold onto him like the life raft he seemed to be, the only thing solid and safe in her mad, swirling world. Every muscle in her body had seemed to lock, as those waves crashed over her again and again. She couldn’t stop it, she couldn’t control it, and then she no longer wanted to, giving herself over to the wash of feelings. She hadn’t even realized he’d moved up, over her, until she managed to open groggy eyes to stare at him, at the triumph, the satisfaction on his face, things she could rail at, except for that shocking streak of tenderness in his eyes.

But when he pushed back in it was even more wonderful, and her hips rose to meet his, the walls of her sex tightening around him as her hands clutched his biceps. This was possession, but a different kind, a glorious one that she could hold in her heart. He took her, claimed her, but she took him as well, into her body, into her heart, into her soul, where he would always stay, no matter what happened. She finally let go, giving herself to him, to the rampant, building pleasure, to the joy of love that had cracked her guarded heart, as he thrust, each push a promise he couldn’t keep, but it no longer mattered. Deep and harder and harder and she wanted more, craved more.
“Yes,” she whispered fiercely. “Again. Again. More.”
The darkness that was closing around her split with lightning, and suddenly everything ceased to exist, only man and woman, elemental, eternal, as she seemed to burst apart in a shower of pure sensation. She could feel him with her, her love, her soul, joining her, flooding her, and she took everything in savage satisfaction and a guttural sob of triumph.”

Emma appeared dumbfounded, a rare occurence for his beautiful bride. “No,” she said. “That is … I didn’t say yes… I still think we should…”
Brandon took care of her protests in the most efficient way possible, and when she was too breathless to speak he glanced at Ellis. “Well, for the time being you’re my butler, and you will leave and see that no one disturbs you for the next hour.”
“Hour?” Emma said, sounding alarmed.
“Make that two.” He focused all his attention on Emma. “And take the damned dog.”
When they were finally alone, he turned back to her, and she was wiping tears from her cheeks. “Damn these things,” she muttered. “I only started crying five weeks ago and now I can’t seem to stop.”
“That’s all right, Harpy,” he murmured. “I’ll always be here to dry them. Accept it- there’s no way you can win against the assembled might of the Wicked Rohans. You’ll marry me and live happily ever after.”
“No one ever does,” she said.
“You will,” he said firmly. “I promise you.”

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