Review: To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktodesireadevil
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #4
Publisher: Vision
Hero: Reynaud St. Aubyn
Heroine: Beatrice Corning
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1, 2009
Started On: August 25, 2016
Finished On: August 30, 2016

To Desire a Devil, the last book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series by Elizabeth Hoyt is a hard book to rate. This book had so much potential; after all, all the preceding stories had pretty much delivered on all fronts. Yet, this book sort of fell flat where every other book shined, and I could not muster enough enthusiasm for the main protagonists in the story either.

Reynaud St. Aubyn, the Viscount of Hope, returns home to a shocked household, who had all presumed him dead for seven long years. Held captive by Indians, Reynaud had not survived the hand that he had been dealt with, to walk away now from the challenge of proving himself to be who he says he is. To complicate matters, his reaction towards Beatrice Corning, niece of the present Earl who resides at his home is one that he does not particularly need or want. However, life has a way throwing the unexpected along your way, and even though Reynaud might not want the added complication, it is one that tempts him on every level.

While the accounts of what Reynaud had gone through made for interesting reading, the rest of the story pretty much did fall flat. I keep trying to put my finger on exactly what went wrong, and yet I cannot. Perhaps it is a mix of factors that led to the whole thing. Either way, this would have to be my least favorite book by Hoyt.

Recommended for fans of the series.

Favorite Quotes

Then he leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Are you sure?”
And that small bit of tenderness decided her. “Yes.”
He wasn’t gentle. He didn’t try to go slowly. He thrust himself inside her, quickly and violently, and her entire body arched with the pain. Burning. Tearing. Something wasn’t right.
She pressed her palms against his chest. “No.”
He looked down at her, his face drawn, the tattooed birds flying about his eye, wild and savage, and he no longer looked tender. He looked like a conqueror. “Too late. You’re mine now.”

He pushed the odd thought aside as he shoved the rest of his length into her. He grasped the headboard on either side of her arms and enclosed her within his embrace. She shivered, and somehow that little movement was the final straw. He began thrusting, hard and fast, the feel of her slippery flesh around him, holding him so tightly, sending him completely out of control. She arched her hips, pushing back at him, and he leaned forward, biting her nape to keep her steady. She gave a cry, high and helpless, and then her cunny was flexing about him, milking his cock as she came.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | eBookMall | iTunes

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Re-Read Review: Hidden Fires by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookhiddenfires1
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Warner Vision
Hero: Jared Lockett
Heroine: Lauren Holbrook
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 1, 1982
Started On: November15, 2011
Finished On: November 16, 2011

First published on my birth year, Hidden Fires by Sandra Brown is a romance that stands true to the test of time. Trust on Sandra, one of my all time favorite authors to deliver a romance as sizzling as hot coals and a story that is so engrossing that I couldn’t bear to let this one go even for a minute. Even being the second time round that I was reading this, I was completely riveted on the events that took place in the novel, a woman’s hatred and vindictive and controlling behavior that drives the story together with the sensual and beautiful romance Sandra delivers.

The year is 1903 and 20 year old Lauren Holbrook travels to Texas from North Carolina on the invitation of one Ben Lockett who has all well placed intentions regarding the beautiful Lauren. Lauren having lost her mother at the age of 3 and father at the age of 12 had lived since then with Reverend Abel Prather and his wife Sybil. Naive and innocent, Lauren has no idea of the hornets nest she is stepping into when she disembarks from the train to make her way towards Coronardo, Ben’s hometown.

Jared Lockett is a man who is notorious throughout the state for his whoring and drinking. A Harvard graduate and a cowboy, Jared is a character who stirred up my senses even right from the start. A mass of contradictions is what he is; brash, harsh and coldly controlled one minute and tender and teasing the next. His parents marriage being an unhappy one is an understatement and Jared had borne the brunt of their unhappiness with one another that had shaped him up to be the person he is.

When Jared’s mother, the beautiful and vindictive Olivia Lockett schemes to arrange a marriage between Lauren and Jared both find themselves agreeing to the marriage of convenience for a period of two years. Though Jared would have loved to storm out of the discussion and turn his back on his mother’s wishes, her manipulations turn out to be more well placed than Jared could counterattack and thus finds Lauren and Jared being bound by holy matrimony and little does Jared know that Lauren is the woman who would bring him to his very knees before their marriage is through.

Lauren who is an innocent babe in the woods when it comes to carnal desires is misjudged right from the very start by Jared and thus makes her life miserable from the onset of their marriage. But for Jared, Lauren is not as easily dismissed from his mind as he would like as her innocence and beauty keeps creeping up on him at the most unexpected of moments, his personal vow to stay away from Lauren a much harder one to keep than he thought.

Lauren is drawn to Jared right from the very start, the cravings that hits her whenever Jared is around a foreign one to her but one she knows instinctively that only Jared can fulfill. Sandra keeps the sexual tension mounting until all I could do was practically squirm in my chair from wanting the explosive culmination of the desire between Jared and Lauren, something Sandra is very good at delivering on! And I wasn’t disappointed when their relationship progressed to that stage and all but welcomed the beauty of their coming together with open arms.

What I loved most about this novel was Lauren’s character. She is naive and innocent to a fault when she steps on the rugged land of Texas, but having an instinct that guides her to judge people easily saves her from a lot of hurdles. In Olivia, Jared’s mother Lauren finds a woman who is bitter to the very end, who loves people only to gain the upper hand and to further her own goals in whatever notorious scheme or plan that she cooks up. It is Olivia’s doing that separates Lauren and Jared and drives a wedge between them one right after the other, for the fear that Jared might not be as easily controllable if Lauren were to work her healing magic on him.

How Lauren grew throughout the story, her gentleness and giving nature together with that stubborn streak of hers when it comes to those she loves and considers dear to her are her best characteristics. The way she faces and weathers one storm after the other in her relationship with Jared, the man who so effortlessly steals her heart for good and all time to come is one of the reasons I admired her character. She gives as good as she gets, but knows instinctively when its time to let go in order to heal the tortured soul that is Jared’s.

Jared is the type of ruthless alpha hero that I absolutely adore and love. Sandra certainly knows her way with male lead characters and even when they are rakes of the most notorious kind, you can’t help but be drawn towards them like a moth to flame. Jared’s entrance to each and every scene in the book makes it come alive with his sheer magnetism alone and if I were to talk about the effect he had on my senses; I tell you this is going to end up a long, long review!

The one thing that stopped me from giving the 5-stars that this book so very well deserves was what happened towards the latter part of the book. I found that Jared’s “cruelty” towards Lauren to make his mission a more believable one was something that could have been done away with. But somehow it all serves its purpose, the villains get what they truly deserve and Jared and Lauren find a love so worthy of slaying dragons over that I just heaved a huge sigh of pleasure once the book was done!

Sandra’s mastery is such that not even one iota of my emotions remain aloof when reading, my whole being focused on the sensations that courses through me right from the very start. Her ability to paint a picture so vividly with words and make you feel as part of the story that unfolds is how remarkable an author she is and that is one reason why I would continue to buy her books as long as she continues to publish them.

Favorite Quotes

Lauren whirled her head around so quickly that the motion hurt her neck. Jared’s hand came up and clamped the hat more firmly over his face. He adjusted his long body to another position, contracting and relaxing muscles that Lauren didn’t know existed. But then, she had never seen a masculine physique like this before. His languid movements were repelling and thrilling at the same time. It was like watching some pagan god who was beautiful even in his decadence.

Jared hadn’t planned it, had never even thought about it, but he couldn’t control taking complete possession of her mouth with a bruising kiss. He wanted to insult her, to further humiliate her, to shatter her damned poise. But her body was so female, her lips so soft, warm, virginal, that what had been hurtful and brutal became tender, seeking, questioning.

Lauren could smell the starch that kept Jared’s shirtfront crisp, which blended intoxicatingly with tobacco and champagne. When he spoke in confidential tones to the silly woman, Lauren could feel the vibration of his voice in his chest. The bank director’s wife moved away, and still Jared retained his possessive hold on her. His hand trembled slightly as his thumb moved upward and lightly stroked the side of her breast. Or did she only imagine it? Lauren thought she would die from the constriction in her chest that pounded up into her throat and sought release in a small moan.
Another guest walked toward them. Slowly, reluctantly, the strong fingers were withdrawn, leaving behind an imprint on Lauren’s skin as scorching as a brand.

Rosa wasn’t far from wrong. In her naked loveliness, she appeared to be an angel.
But Jared was mortal, and he wanted her as he had never wanted a woman before. He carefully lowered his head and kissed the pulse in her throat. Then his lips traveled with a blissful laziness over her breasts, nibbling and licking lightly so she wouldn’t ever know that he had worshiped at this temple of her body. She was forbidden to him. It was a self-imposed denial, but that made it even more binding.

Don’t be afraid of loving this man, Maria had told her. Don’t be afraid. Her slender fingers closed around the warm shaft with its velvet skin stretched smooth. Gently her fingers played over him, curious, wondering fingers, fingers made exultant by their discoveries.
Reflexively Jared arched his back. His head went back in a gesture of exquisite feeling. Then his chin lowered and he was searching her face again. His golden eyes shone bright with emotion. “Touch me, Lauren. Touch me until I die from the pleasure of it. Know all of me.” His voice was breathy and uneven.

Her fingers dug into the flesh of his hips as his own passion peaked. His face was buried in her neck and her skin felt his rapid, moist breath as he chanted her name.
He didn’t leave her. He couldn’t forsake the paradise just yet. Nestled within her body, he raised himself on his elbows and looked down at her. Tenderly he kissed each feature of her face.
“Is this possible?” she breathed, referring to the enormity of her rapture.
“Yes, yes,” he murmured against her lips.
He raised his head and his eyes searched her face once again. His expression was difficult to define, but it closely resembled love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: The Outsider by Penelope Williamson

Format: Paperbacktheoutsider
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Warner Vision
Hero: Johnny Cain
Heroine: Rachel Yoder
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 1997
Started On: November 24, 2010
Finished On: November 30, 2010

I came across The Outsider by Penelope Williamson as usual on a discussion forum on Amazon. The lone hero of the gun-slinging variety and the atypical setting of this romance won me over within seconds of reading the book synopsis. Since this book is not available anywhere in e-format *insert incoherent muttering and cursing at publisher here*, I found myself paying up US$ 22.95 *oh the horror!* for this book without any hesitation. It was only when I received this book that I found out that The Outsider had in fact being made into a movie in 2002 starring the hauntingly beautiful Naomi Watts and sinfully handsome Tim Daly. So this review is a first for me such that it comes right after I read and fell head over heels in love with the story and watched the movie right afterwards so this would end up being a sort of a mixed review between the book and the movie.

The first thing that caught my eye, even with the turn of the very first page was the quote at the very beginning, achingly beautiful in the way it was told that I knew that I would end up with a booklet of quotes from the story to include in my review. And I wasn’t far off the mark when I thought that but I have restrained myself to including those scenes that I really had no choice but to share with those who read my reviews because I have this need within myself to share the beauty that  this story is.

34 years old Rachel Yoder belongs to the Plain People of the straight and narrow path, who puts all their affairs in the hands of God and believe that He would take care of all their needs as long as they submit their will to Him. Its the way of the Plain People to support and aide their neighbors, for women to submit to their husbands, to turn away from violence and mayhem and to shun anyone who leaves their faith once they have submitted to it. Beautiful with mahogany hair and solemn gray eyes, Rachel is left widowed with her 9 year old son Benjo who suffers from stuttering (but oh he is so cute!!) when Benjamin Yoder, her husband of 17 years is brutally hanged by the outsiders hired by Fergus Hunter who owns the Circle H ranch and wants to drive away the Plain People with his cattle and beef rearing business going under mostly due to the bad decision making on his part. The outsiders are those who do not belong to the Plain People and follow their way of life and are deemed to be wicked and bring in with them a lifetime of debauchery and sins and consorting with the likes of them frowned upon. And when one cold Sunday morning during the last ragged days of a Montana winter, a tall outsider walks in on Rachel’s property and collapses right before her eyes bleeding all over from a gunshot wound, Rachel with all the goodness in her heart takes him into her home and nurses him back to health.

The outsider, Johnny Cain, with his black-brown hair, high sculptured cheekbones, long narrow nose and wide-spaced eyes with thick long lashes, and armed to the teeth with different types of guns, stirs up a kaleidoscope of feelings in Rachel. In a man that the Plain People see nothing but the very devil lurking inside of him, Rachel sees the beauty in his face, the haunted look in his otherwise cold blue eyes, the yearning that crosses his face for things better left unspoken as the desire to possess and be possessed rages like a wildfire through Rachel. She sees the scars and calluses on his hands, the shackle marks on his ankles with the whip beating marks on his back that hints of the price that Johnny has paid with his skin and blood that stirs the protective instincts inside of her and makes her think of just how much of his soul Johnny has lost in the process.

Regardless of the fact that plain only marry plain, Rachel yearns for her gunslinger Johnny with a fierceness deep within herself that doesn’t surprise her as she is the one who is witness to the complex man that Johnny actually is. With view points of other multifaceted characters thrown into the mix such as Noah Weaver, the man who wants to claim Rachel as his own, Moses Weaver son of Noah who is conflicted in his need to experience life on the wilder side, who at times think that the Plain way of life is not for him and the complex nature of the relationship described between Quentin Hunter, the half-breed son of Fergus Hunter and his wife Alisa Hunter makes this a book that is hard to put down. Though I resented the time spent on descriptions of their lives which meant time away from the heady magic that is Johnny and Rachel, I know that as a novel their character development lent a richer feel to the story in the end.

The movie of course as anyone who reads romances would know, would always fall short of our expectations. Maybe because this time I wasn’t expecting too much out of the movie knowing that a movie would NEVER be able to invoke the myriad of emotions that the story does, I loved the differences as well as the similarities with the book as I watched Tim Daly work his magic on Naomi Watts and her cute, cute son Benjo. The ending was different from the book and I have to say I loved both endings as they give the much needed happily ever after for Johnny Cain, a more tortured soul one would never find.

 

Likes:

  1. Johnny Cain. Now ain’t that obvious? *grin* It has been quite sometime since I have read a novel that doesn’t include the hero’s point of view on stuff at some point in the story. The relationship that unfolds between Johnny and Rachel is told mostly from Rachel’s point of view and those who observe the not so subtle connection between them that bursts forth against all odds. I almost wept when I read of his childhood at the hands of humans who are better off being labeled as animals with their savagery that had turned Johnny into the killing machine that he is.
  2. Rachel Yoder. Her  upbringing and way of life certainly makes her one of the most unique heroines that I have read about. From her beautiful nature inside and out to the music that she hears in her surroundings, I loved her gentle yet fierce nature when it comes to those whom she loves. I adored her for being wise and insightful enough to see beyond the facade of ruthlessness that is as much part of Johnny Cain as are the guns that he handles like an extension of his arm. And Rachel sealed the deal in acquiring one more fan when she gave up everything because the love she feels for the outsider causes her no shame and it is a love that is much more fierce than any sense of belonging she feels to the Plain People and their way of life, no matter how much the separation from the latter hurts her.
  3. Benjamin Yoder. As I said before though he is not alive even when the story begins, his character seen through Rachel’s eyes made me fall for him right from the very beginning which is a rare happenstance for me when it comes to a romance novel. I loved Benjamin because he had known what a precious gem that Rachel is and had loved, protected and cherished her in kind.
  4. I was totally captivated by the subtle and not so subtle indications to the attraction between Johnny and Rachel. The yearning that they have for the other which neither could deny especially made sweeter by the fact that Johnny’s desire is shown through his involuntary reactions to Rachel made this a world of sensual delights to sink into though if you are looking for any detailed lovemaking scenes in this one, you aren’t going to find it here.

His gaze riveted to her every move as she spread open Ben’s warranted Perfection razor and stropped the blade, moving it back and forth over the smooth leather. She tested its sharpness with the pad of her thumb, deliberately giving herself a little nick. She pulled a face and sucked on the wound. He swallowed hard.

Lucas (the town doctor) set his bag on an upturned nail keg, found the witch hazel cream, and rubbed it into Cain’s blistered palm. As he gripped the man’s wrist, he could feel that the pulse was fast, too fast.
Lucas looked up to find that Cain’s eyes were riveted on Rachel.
*swoons*

Dislikes:

As I mentioned before, though the stories of other characters that enriched the novel in terms of character development, I resented being away from the subtle world of magic that surrounds Johnny and Rachel. I wouldn’t have minded if it had just been them in the story, with just enough about the side characters to move the story along. But then again, I enjoyed The Outsider as it is, but nevertheless I did wish at times that I could just skim through some of the other side stories that picked up along the way.

Favorite Quotes

As she (Rachel) bent down to lower the wick in the lamp. her loose hair brushed over his chest and face. Se felt a tug on her hair and saw that he had tangled his fingers in a thick hank of it. In his eyes was a look of surprised bewilderment, but then his heavy eyelids closed as if against his will. He slid into sleep again, but not before letting go of her hair and wrapping his hand once more around the grip of his gun.

Her hair had been falling into her face all night, when it wasn’t been twisted into knots by the wind. She scolded herself for not pinning it up and covering it properly with a prayer cap. It had been prideful of her – and wicked, because she had done it for him.
“Rachel,”
Her name, coming at her out of the night and in such a tone of urgency, startled her so that the sheep hook went clattering to the ground.
He had come up close behind her, and as she whirled, her flying braid wrapped around his throat. He reached up, his long fingers tangling in the thick loose plait. His fingers tightened their grip, pulling her closer. His head dipped, and his lips parted slightly as if he would kiss her.
It was as if she had roped him, roped him with her hair.

She (Rachel) settled the sleeping lamb into the empty cracker box. “Those aren’t the sort of feelings I’m very good at inspiring, making him (Benjo) feel like a man.”
His unsettling eyes stared at her across the small space that separated them. His voice, when he spoke, was clotted and rough. “You’re good at it.”
And then time slowed and slowed and … stopped, as his hand came up. His fingers caressed her neck as they followed the length of her thick, loosely woven braid, down over her shoulder, down where the feathery, wispy ends of it curled around her breast. He was loosening and unraveling her hair.
His mouth was hard, so hard. But his fingers combing through her hair were gentle. She felt a strange seizing, deep in her heart – as if it, like the whole rest of the world, had ceased beating.

They stood close together but not too close, and they spoke not in whispers but plain, so anyone could hear. But Rachel’s eyes shone like morning dew. And her mouth smiled quick and sweet. And her whole body seemed to be leaning, straining to span the distance between them, as if all of her was saying to the outsider, Touch me, touch me, touch me.

Somehow they stopped walking and were facing each other. The wind fluttered her cap string. He took one in each hand and pulled them down until they were stretched taut, with his fingers barely brushing her breasts, and yet she felt his touch all the way to her toes.
He surprised her by starting to sing, a lilting song about a girl named Annie Laurie, filling in with la-di-das when he forgot the words, and at some time he had let go of her cap strings to take her hand, and he was now fitting his palm to hers, entwining their fingers, while his other hand had lifted her arm by the wrist and was draping it over his shoulder, and he was sliding his arm around her waist.
And they were dancing.

Recommended for: All fans of romance novels! This is one not to be missed.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | AbeBooks

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