Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighlander.PNG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #3
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Lt. Col. William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie
Heroine: Philomena St. Vincent
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 02, 2016
Started On: August 17, 2019
Finished On: August 20, 2019

The Highlander, the 3rd book in the Victorian Rebels series turned out to be my first sampling of Kerrigan Byrne’s stories. Discovering a new author that speaks to you on so many levels is rare and so very treasured, and I intend to go through the back-list of her books in its entirety to sample each and every one of her published works over time.

The hero, 40 year old William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie (Liam), comes from a place of violence. The fact that his childhood had been a difficult one would be an understatement. With an abusive father who had cared naught for the physical and emotional well-being of his children, legal and otherwise, Liam had been the big brother who had taken most of the physical brunt to protect his younger siblings. But that had not been enough to prevent them from witnessing the horrors of a childhood better left in the darker fringes of one’s memories.

The main story begins 20 years later, with the opening chapter focusing on the heroine, Lady Philomena St. Vincent (Mena), Viscountess Benchley, who has been institutionalized by none other than her husband and his family. Mena who grew up with a father who thought the world of his daughter and brought her up to be an intellectual, kind and generous soul, the horrors of her marriage that are revealed in stages to the reader is something that is as old as time itself.

The mental asylum, which was a norm in the past for husbands to commit their wives to just to get rid of them, is the mother load of horrors. Tortured in ways that really leaves a mark on the reader, some may find those particular scenes to be too disturbing for them to continue with the story. However, that particular aspect of the book does not set the tone for the rest of the book as the author brings to readers the stunning and vivid portrayal of a love that was so worth delving into.

When Mena is rescued and her well meaning and newfound friends sends her away to Scotland to evade the clutches of her husband, it is to the keep of Liam she is sent, where the very first moment she lays eyes on the strong, deeply masculine, and beautiful man that he is, something long forgotten stirs to life inside of her. Liam too is shaken by the very physical and visceral reaction he has towards Mena from the onset, but even though both of them might think to avoid each other hoping that the yearning for the other is a fluke on their part, things of course do not work out that way.

Liam’s haunted eyes that bespeaks of horrors and regrets of his life draws Mena to him like a moth to flame. Mena’s gentle strength and wit that had remained unbroken by the violence she had experienced in her adult life speaks to Liam on a level that he cannot comprehend. However, old enemies stirring in the darkness, tempting and beseeching to turn on Liam might prove to be the undoing of what blossoms to life between him and Mena, if her husband’s search for her does not bear fruit first.

I enjoyed my very first novel by the Kerrigan Byrne. Mena was glorious. Beautiful, kind, and soft, with just the right touch of authority to her which made her appealing on so many levels. I rooted for her with every fiber of my being, wanted the best for her because she deserved nothing less.

Liam’s soul is a broken one, even though he does not let it on. Betrayed and widowed, there is a wealth of unspoken pain in his heart. His inability to get through to his own children is a source of continued frustration for him, that is until Mena comes into his life and shows him what that entails. Drawn to each other by the kind of tangible connection that leaves the reader breathless, Byrne does a marvelous job of crafting both characters and bringing them to life.

The sexual tension that is interwoven into the very fabric of the story was just as enticing, and Byrne definitely delivers without leaving the reader hanging. Absolutely loved this gem of a novel and would recommend it for readers who love historical romances with characters that speaks to you. These are two very broken characters who meet and find their way to a happily ever after. Don’t let the barbarity depicted in the first couple of chapters deter you from reading. I believe we have to take the bad with the good to achieve a balanced nuance in order to deliver a story worth sinking into.

The epilogue was super cute and healing in so many ways. Perhaps, Byrne may write a novella depicting two secondary characters who definitely deserve their story to be told somewhere down the line. A reader could always hope!

Final Verdict: There is a rawness to Byrne’s story that speaks to me. A ruthlessness to her heroes that does things to this wanton heart of mine. The Highlander is marvelous in every sense.

Favorite Quotes

Then she saw him.
Her mouth became dry as the desert, and a tremor that had nothing to do with the cold rippled through her.
Though he wore a soiled kilt and loose linen shirt beneath his drenched cloak, he sat astride a black Shire steed with the bearing of a king. Dark waves of hair hung long and heavy with moisture down his back, and menace rolled off the mountains of his shoulders in palpable waves.
Whoever he was, he was their undeniable leader. She saw it in the way they looked to him, in the deference they used when speaking. If not by birth, then by physical laws of nature, surely. As the largest, the strongest, and the most fearsome of them all, he towered above the brawny men as he scowled through the window at her.

“Och, lass.” Liam beat her to it. “These roses are a jealous flower.” Cupping her hand with his, he pressed a thumb into her palm to secure it before plucking the thorn out quickly, to cause her the least amount of distress.
A tiny drop of blood welled from her fingertip.
Liam had no other handkerchief to offer her, and didn’t want to use the one on the ground, so he did the only other thing he could think of, and slid her finger into his mouth. Closing his lips around the insignificant wound, he watched her reaction with rare pleasure.
She froze, her eyes growing round as two glowing moons.
His body’s reaction was just as astonishing, and just as instantaneous.

Liam sprang toward her, grasping her wrists and pulling her back down to him. He sank his fingers into her luxurious hair, loosening the intricate coiffure there, and pinned her head between his two strong palms as he took her wicked mouth with his own.
It was in the joining of their lips that Liam found what he’d come to the chapel seeking. He kissed Mena with a reverence he’d never felt in the entirety of his life. Driven by a hunger that welled from the darkest, most heretical depths of his soul, he knew he’d finally found something worthy of his worship.

He swallowed her shocked gasp and plundered her with his tongue as though she were a lifelong conquest. Digging his fingers into her ribs to keep from taking what she did not offer him, he deepened the kiss, using his tongue to convey what he could not find the words to say.
She wasn’t the only one who was afraid. Liam was terrified.
Of losing her.
Of loving her.
And at this moment, he was in mortal danger of both.

“Kiss me, Mena,” he moaned against her mouth, his hot, sweet breath fanning over the moisture on her lips. “Touch me. Teach me to keep the demon at bay.”
She could only see the whites of his eyes in the dim light, circling the obsidian of his pupil and iris in such a way that truly seemed demonic.
With trembling fingers, she reached up to softly test the shape of his masculine jaw. Bristle scraped against her fingertips as they explored the raw, hard features that she’d always wanted to study, but didn’t even allow herself to look at for too long, lest she be lost.

Then his hand was there, clever fingers slipping into the wet cleft and touching a place no one had ever before paid attention to. He somehow ignited frenzy into her blood with infuriatingly slow strokes. A curious heat unfolded in her core and quickly caught into a blaze of sensation.
Mena writhed helplessly against him, riding his strong thigh as more heat created more friction, which in turn built the flames even higher. What sort of pagan magic was this? How could hands so rough and raw create such smooth, silken sensations against her most tender skin?

“I can’t,” she cried, feeling her knees melt.
His lips left her with a wet, wicked sound. “Ye will,” he breathed against her most intimate flesh.
“I’m going to fall,” she warned weakly, her hips undulating toward his mouth with mortifying wantonness.
“Fall apart in my arms, lass,” he soothed, his hands caressing around to fill his palms with the flesh of her backside, making a cradle of her hips. “I’ll not let ye go.”

“Can ye take more of me?” he panted.
Mena’s eyes flew open. How could there possibly be more? He withdrew yet again, gazing down at her with dilated eyes as he surged forward. He touched a place inside her she’d not known existed, and Mena tossed her head from one side to the other, letting out a high cry of ecstasy.
“Yes,” he whispered fervently. “I knew ye would take all of me, Mena.” He drove forward again. And again.

When another climax blinded her with pure bliss, she locked her legs around his pistoning hips, pulling him impossibly deeper. Shivering pleasure assaulted her in wave after unrelenting wave.
He roared her name to the sky as her pulsing body gripped and stroked at the swelling length of him. Hot spurts of his release spilled inside her. His great body locked with spasms as he crushed her to him and joined her in that place where right and wrong no longer mattered.

Then they said nothing at all when he pulled her above him and split her legs over his lean, sinuous hips. They’d communicated only in gasps and sighs as she’d ridden him with sensual rolls of her body. He’d palmed her breasts in his warm hands and said wicked things in his people’s native tongue while she pleasured herself upon his sleek and magnificent body. Then, when he could stand it no more, he’d dug his strong fingers into the flesh of her hips and driven upward until he’d bowed with such shocking pleasure, Mena had thought his back would break.

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Review: The Maid’s Spanish Secret by Dani Collins

Format: E-Bookthemaidsspanishsecret
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rico Montero
Heroine: Poppy Harris
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 16, 2019
Started On: August 13, 2019
Finished On: August 14, 2019

Hankering to read a category romance, because it has been ages, I decided to opt for The Maid’s Spanish Secret by a new to me author, Dani Collins. The story begins as the hero, Spanish aristocrat, Rico Montero comes to find that he has a daughter with none other than Poppy Harris, the woman with whom he had had a one time passionate encounter, which he still remembers at odd moments.

The knowledge of the existence of his daughter snaps Rico out of the funk he is in, given the death of his wife under most unfavorable circumstances. Rico turns up on Poppy’s doorstep, the home which she shares with her grandmother and throws her for a loop, big time. Rico is the last man she would have expected to see, given all the hopes and dreams that she had spun out of that unforgettable encounter having being smashed to smithereens under the weight of the knowledge that Rico had chosen to marry another.

Rico’s demands that he be part of his daughter’s life is what propels Poppy to give in. Not to mention, the reckless abandonment that Poppy had felt in his arms then comes blazing to life the minute he re-enters her life, stoking the flames of her very dormant desires up till that point. Each passionate encounter with Rico leaves her wanting more, begging for more, but for Poppy, without Rico’s heart to claim as hers, it would never ever be enough, the concept of love being something Rico struggles with.

I greatly enjoyed this harlequin romance, and felt so grateful for the escape it provided me with. It is hard to find authors whose books in these category romances that I can enjoy without feeling like something is missing as is the case with most Harlequin titles of today. This titles makes me hopeful and pushes me into thinking that I should sample more authors like Dani Collins, if what she brings to her stories is replicated in some form or the other across the vast expanse of the Harlequin romance titles.

I loved Poppy, no questions asked. She is so refreshing as a heroine because she lacks the artifice that is usually part and parcel of many heroines who are featured in romances like these, especially of this particular trope where the heroine has a secret baby. Poppy’s uniqueness lies in her ability to let her feelings be known. She communicates with her significant other, even when it leaves her vulnerable, emotional and otherwise.

We as readers, have sort of come to accept that the lack of communication between the main protagonists is the reason behind the heavy angst in romances. Perhaps rightfully so as well. While love is one of the most potent of emotions that a human being can experience, it is also one that renders us immensely vulnerable. Our pride often does not let us follow our hearts for fear of it being trampled upon. But Dani Collins has done the unthinkable and created angst where I would have originally thought would render a romance to be a tad boring.

Rico was wonderful too. I enjoyed immersing myself in his sensually charged self, and delving deep into his character which sheds so much light on why he tends to shy away from the deeper emotions. Bound by duty, having always lived his life by strict rules, Poppy had been the one time he had thrown caution to the wind and indulged. The fact that he has a hard time getting a read on his own emotions, knowing what they mean; that struggle was very real for Rico and I enjoyed watching him get to that point where he felt comfortable in the acceptance of his feelings for Poppy.

All in all, this was a delightful read in so many ways because Rafe and Poppy gets under your skin and into your heart before you know it. Thank you so much dear Dani, for giving me a new author to be hopeful about when it comes to short, emotionally and sensually charged reads that leaves you with a happy glow, inside and out.

Recommended, for fans of Harlequin romances and those looking for a short read that packs an emotional punch.

Final Verdict: The Maid’s Spanish Secret has all the right ingredients which makes for a superb read. Dani Collins certainly knows how to deliver sensuality, romance, and the emotions that makes you fall hard!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you?” He refused to give her what she wanted until she answered.
Her skin grew too tight for the anticipation that swelled within her. Beneath the layers of her thick jacket, her breasts grew heavy. Her thighs ceased to feel the cold through the denim of her jeans.
“Yes,” she admitting on a throb of longing.
He made a noise of satisfaction and stepped so his feet were outside her own. His hot mouth sealed across her lips.
A sob of delight broke in her throat as his hard lips raked across hers, making real all the erotic fantasies she’d replayed in the long nights since leaving Spain. Her arms went up around his neck and he swept her closer still. So close she could hardly breathe.

She tried to open his shirt, but, like the first time, had none of his skill. His buttons were small and tight. Impossible. He brought his hand up and brushed hers away then swept his hand in a sharp yank that tore off buttons and ripped holes.
She gasped. “You didn’t have to do that!”
“I did,” he assured her, catching her hand and bringing it to his hot chest. “I’ve waited a long time for your touch.”

His legs were pinning hers, though, keeping her beneath him in a sensual vice where she couldn’t escape the pleasure he was bestowing on her. She finally clasped the sides of his head and dragged his mouth up to hers again. She pushed her tongue between his lips, flagrant and uninhibited.
Take me, she begged with her kiss.

“Poppy.” His voice reverberated from somewhere in his chest, ringing inside hers. “Open your eyes.”
She didn’t want him to read how anguished she was. How her soul was right there, seeking his as her body yearned for the impalement of his flesh. It was too much.
“Let me see you.”
She opened her eyes and time slowed.
“Take me into you,” he commanded, biting at her chin, using his powerful thighs to spread hers apart.

Did you ever touch yourself and imagine it was me?” He dropped one hand and drew his fingertip through her swollen folds, looking down again as he languidly caressed her. “Did you want to feel my hand here?”
She was immediately disoriented, glad for the hard wall at her back as she rose into his touch and draped her arm across his shoulders, seeking balance.
“Tell me,” he commanded between kisses. “Tell me or I’ll stop.”
“Yes,” she gasped.

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Review: Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcrazylikeafoxas.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey
Heroine: Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 01, 1997
Started On: March 09, 2019
Finished On: March 14, 2019

Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart begins when Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey, with her nine year old daughter Carrie in tow, finally makes her way to her deceased husband’s family in order to recoup and find her footing once again. Having had a less than stellar marriage with Carrie’s father Dexter, it was the last thing that Margaret wanted; to finally admit defeat and seek the help of the Delacroix family.

In the midst of the Delacroix family, Margaret finds the mysterious Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey, the Delacroix who by all accounts is a lunatic, looking for a reason to go off the hinges at any moment’s notice. Margaret cannot explain why she is drawn to Peter, why she finds him fascinating when she rightfully shouldn’t, and at the same time has distrust for him running through her veins.

Peter has been in a jail of his family’s and his own making ever since the events surrounding the death of his former wife. A man who had everything he could have desired, Peter’s downfall had come from his marriage to a woman who had wanted more. Along with her death, the blame of which had fallen squarely on him, Peter had found himself biding his time, waiting for his cousin Wendell to prove his innocence, sort of lost in the midst of the sea upon which he had been tossed adrift. That is until Margaret walks into the family home and makes him want again.

Crazy Like a Fox sounds like a title that would deliver a humor-filled read. While the book has its witty moments (it is Anne Stuart after all with her acerbic wit), the book delves into two characters who have been lost for a long while. Margaret had made the mistake of marrying a man who had wanted the next high that gambling would bring his way, a wayward character if ever there was any, leaving both herself and Carrie destitute when he had left this world.

Peter is the character that is truly intriguing, Anne Stuart’s masterful creativity bringing forth a someone you cannot figure out at first. Peter is a character that is revealed to readers in layers, his story emerging in bits and pieces that makes the story that much more intriguing. I loved the unveiling of his character as much as I loved the connection forged between the two lost souls himself and Margaret are, and the resolution to a mystery that had been a miscarriage of justice right from the start.

Anne Stuart’s intelligent heroes & equally witty heroines always reel you into the story without fail. An innocent man doubts his own sanity while the madman responsible for it all lives among them, waiting and biding his time. The wildcard that changes it all proves to be Margaret and her daughter Carrie, infusing Peter’s life with the vitality and vigor it had been lacking since a long while back. Loved the awakening, the connection, and the happily ever after.

Definitely recommended.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart’s books age so finely that you don’t even remember how long ago the book was written, because each word inexorably woven with the other presents readers with sheer magic.

Favorite Quotes

Taking her arm, he pulled her away from the tomb, away from an approaching group of tourists, back into one of the shadowy alleys. They were alone, sheltered from sight, separated in time and space from the crowds around them. “That’s Marie’s speciality,” he said, reaching his hands up to cup her face. “Trust her.” His mouth moved down to touch hers, softly. “Trust me.” And he kissed her again, just as lightly, his mouth teasing hers, drawing her into a response she couldn’t help but give.
He tasted of champagne and pancakes. He smelled of the night and smoke from the ceremonial flambeaux. He felt warm and solid and real, no phantom at all. Sliding her arms underneath his cloak, she made a small, whimpering sound of surrender, of a longing so deep she couldn’t begin to understand it. And her mouth opened beneath his.

“Thank you for everything,” she said, knowing she sounded stilted. “Goodbye.” She turned and opened the door.
She was unprepared for his reaction. Catching her arm, he whirled her around, enfolding them both in his voluminous cape, and this time when his mouth met hers it wasn’t gentle, or teasing, or quietly seductive. His kiss was harsh, full of demand and despair, and she wrapped herself around him and returned the kiss, lost in the same sense of desolation.
Then abruptly he released her and she sank back against the doorway of the old building, her breathing rapid, her eyes shut.
“Next time, Marguerite,” he whispered, “I want to see your red hair.”

His hands moved down to cover her breasts, and she made a tiny, almost indistinguishable sound of protest. That protest drifted into a sigh of pleasure, and she dropped her head back, her hair flowing over both of them as he caressed her breasts through the thin lacy barrier of her bra.
And then the barrier was gone. His hands were warm and rough skinned against her sensitive breasts, and his mouth was at her neck, drawing her, drawing her. She turned, opening her eyes for a moment, staring up at him with a dazed expression, and then his mouth caught hers.

Deliberately he pulled her toward him, his hands rough on her arms, not allowing her any escape.
She had no intention of escaping. She slid her arms around his waist, moving against him, and her mouth reached up for his.
He stumbled against her, pushing her up against the wall, his body covering hers, pressing against every square inch of her, and his hands cupped her face, holding her still for his devouring mouth. He kissed her lips, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose, then returned to her mouth, slanting across her soft, giving lips and drinking deep. She gave a little cry deep in the back of throat, one of desire and acceptance. She didn’t care.

“Let go, Peter. Let me leave, drive away from here, out of your life. Please, Peter. Let me go.”
And they both knew she wasn’t talking about anything as simple as his hand on her arm.
“Marguerite,” he said, his voice low and sorrowful. “Chère. I’m not that crazy.” And he pulled her slowly, carefully, into his arms, giving her plenty of time to pull back, to fight, to resist.
“Oh, Peter,” she whispered. “I am.” And rising up on her toes, she kissed him, pressing her mouth against his, opening it slightly, touching her tongue against his lips.
His response was a muffled growl of longing as he threaded his long, beautiful fingers through her hair and kissed her back.

He yanked his clothes off, his eyes never leaving hers. He stripped off her jeans and threw them halfway across the room, and then he covered her body with his, with his long, lean, muscled beauty that was unlike anything she’d ever seen. She wanted to touch him, to treasure him, to delight in him, but his mouth was on her breasts again, suckling them deep, his hands were between her legs and she was damp and aching for more. She reached down to hold him, but he’d already moved on top of her, between her legs, hot and heavy and ready for her.
“I can’t wait,” he whispered, his voice harsh with desire and an impossible restraint. “Come to me, Marguerite.” And he sank into her, deep and hard and wonderful.

“Scream for me, Marguerite,” he whispered in her ear. “I want to hear you scream.” And he reached between their bodies and touched her, deftly, as he surged against her.
She did scream then, as he’d wanted, as she never had in her life. She felt her body dissolve, even as he surged and shuddered against her, and the flames engulfed them, destroying and devouring them, until there was nothing left but ashes.

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Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Dangerous by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-bookdangerous.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #1
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Adam de Courtney
Heroine: Euphemia Marlington
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 26, 2018
Started On: November 18, 2018
Finished On: November 27, 2018

Dangerous by Minerva Spencer is her debut novel, the first book in The Outcasts series. I read the second book Barbarous first, right after which, I just HAD to get myself a copy of Dangerous to indulge in. And indulge I did, in one of the finest historical romances that I have read this year!

The Duke of Carlisle is desperate in his bid to get his daughter Euphemia Marlington (Mia) married off to avoid further scandal to their family. Mia’s return home had not been the joyous affair most would think would happen when one’s daughter, who was captured by corsairs, and then later taken into the harem of the Sultan for a long time, for whom she had borne a son has returned home after so many years. Now 33 years old, Mia has only one goal in mind. The sooner she is married, the sooner she can return to her son Jibril, something she keeps secret from even her father and own brother.

It is the Duke’s desperation that drives him to extend an invitation to Adam de Courtney, the Marquess of Exley, to a dinner and ball at the Duke’s residence, for the sole purpose of finding Mia a suitable husband. Adam’s two past marriages leaving him a widower had earned him the nickname The Murdering Marquess, and Adam’s reclusive nature from society is what sets the gossip mill stirring, what makes society want to avoid him in return. However, Adam’s interest in details surrounding the return of Mia is piqued enough to turn up, and to his surprise finds himself beguiled by a woman who he did not think would possess such a charm.

Against his better judgement, Adam proposes marriage, and Mia accepts, at first because she believes Adam would be the person who would unknowingly help her further her goals in getting back to her son. Adam’s condition is that she give him an heir, something he had failed at when it came to his past two marriages.

So begins the charming and sensual tale of two people who are drawn to each other in spite of themselves. Mia with her secrets that she hugs close to her, and Adam keeping the scars left behind from his first marriage that had practically ruined him for anyone else. But Mia seduces more than his body, she takes everything he has to give, and Adam finds that he cannot quite get enough of his newly wedded wife

As their relationship progresses, Mia too finds herself drawn towards the enigmatic man she married. A man who tries to put up a cold front, but shows how fiery and deep his passions run when it comes to her. If it had been just Mia alone, she would have been content to stay with Adam and forget the very reason upon which she had based her decision to take Adam as her husband. But when her past comes calling and gives her a very brutal wake up call, Mia must do everything in her power to leave the man she loves behind in order to bring her son back to safety.

I must say that I enjoyed Dangerous far more than I did Barbarous. I loved the intensity of emotions between Mia and Adam. Mia is someone who is passionate by nature, society’s worst nightmare perhaps, because she is someone who speaks her mind. Her captivity at the Sultan’s palace had also meant that she is far more experienced in the arts of sexual pleasure, something that Adam does not begrudge her for and enjoys. Mia is a refreshing character in many ways. I loved her because she is feisty, independent, and is not afraid to speak her mind. All of that and more endeared her to me in ways I cannot explain. Her love for Adam is one that runs deep, a love that is pure on many levels, because he is the first man to move her enough  to give her heart to.

To fall in love with Adam is so easy. He might show the uncaring facade, put up his daughters at his country estate and plan never to bring them into society, and after all, his past two wives ending up dead does earn him the sort of notoriety that is hard to shake off. But deep inside Adam is a man of immense passion, integrity, and honesty, a man who wants to do right by those whom he love and is responsible for. His skills with swords is one that was hot – I cannot explain why, you would just have to read the story to find out.

I loved the ending. It gave glimpses into the lives of Mia and Adam and their happiy ever after that I could have gone on reading more about. But I am hoping that Jibril is going to end up getting his own story somewhere down the line, and that readers like myself who fell in love with Adam and Mia would get to see the couple in action then as well. I would be remiss if I were not to mention how much I enjoyed Adam and Martin’s relationship that developed towards the latter part of the story. I think I read somewhere that it is going to be Martin’s story up next. Can’t wait!

Recommended, because Minerva writes with a style and wit that draws you in, and does scenes of passion so beautifully well that you cannot help but feel the heat.

Final Verdict: Captivating from start to finish, Minerva’s scrumptious debut novel demands the reader to pick up the next in the series right after! Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes

He went only as deep as his aching head before stopping. A bead of sweat broke from his temple and trickled down his jaw as he stared down into her slitted green eyes. His control strained at its tether like a rabid dog on a leash. Once he began moving, there would be no finesse.
She smiled lazily, tilted her hips, and took him inside her.
“Ah, God.” The words burst from him like a plea for mercy.
Any vestige of control disappeared, and his best intentions with it. He used her with a savagery he knew would shame him later but he was beyond caring.

His vision went black and his body exploded. He crushed her hips in a punishing grip and held her still as he filled her and claimed her.
Mine.
He exhaled raggedly and rolled over, not wanting to crush her. Her legs tangled with his and she turned with him, a girlish giggle breaking from her when they tumbled onto their sides, still connected at the hips, their faces inches from each other.
Adam looked into her flushed, joyous face and his heart beat a deafening tattoo in his ears.

He came into her slowly and both of them made low sounds of satisfaction as he filled her. “My God, you feel good,” he whispered, his cheek pressed against hers, his breath hot on her ear. “I need to take you.”
She answered by tilting her hips to take him even deeper and then squeezing the length of him until he moaned.
“That was very naughty,” he gasped, drawing almost all the way out of her and then stroking into her hard and fast. The power of his thrust drove her up the bed and he rode her so hard she barely had the breath to cry out when the first climax overtook her.

As her flush deepened one small hand crept between her thighs and found the place that gave her so much pleasure. Adam didn’t think he’d ever been harder in his entire life as he watched her work herself while riding him.
Her other hand moved to her breast and stroked her erect nipples. Her back arched and her eyes closed and that was enough. He grabbed her hips and drove himself home.
She fixed him with an unfocused gaze as he pounded into her. “Come with me, Adam.”
Her words were the last straw and he convulsed against her with the sheer force of his orgasm, yelling out God-knows-what as he spent himself.

“You’ve reached the end of the road,” he said, backing her up against the ornately carved wood. She bent close, rather than trying to get away, flicking her tongue over one of his nipples.
“Witch,” he hissed, his eyes closing.
Her skilled tongue worked his nipples, alternating painful little nips with soothing sucking while his erection pulsed between them.
“You are so beautiful,” she murmured, her sharp teeth catching him and pulling, the pain exquisite. “Ever since the day you kissed me at my father’s house, I become wet whenever I think of making love to you.”

She laid her hands against his chest, looking up at him in a way that did disconcerting things to his stomach. “Will you bathe with me, my lord?”
He released into his gaze all the hunger and lust he had been controlling since their truncated lovemaking earlier in the day. Her face flushed and her lids lowered as he pushed against her, forcing her to take a step back, and then another as he relentlessly advanced on her, not stopping until he’d pinned her against the hard stone wall of the bathing chamber.
“Unbutton me,” he told her, his voice harsh with need. Her deft hands worked fast to free him.
He pulled up the skirt of her traveling costume, his hand moving to what he knew would be waiting for him. She wore no drawers. He shook with desire as he delved into her curls and found the part of her that transformed her into something that was his alone.

While she was still shuddering with pleasure he grasped her bottom, lifted her against the wall, and slid into her, holding very still once he was seated. He braced himself, his feet spread shoulder-width apart, gaining control of himself. She moved restlessly above him, her hips grinding, wanting more.
He pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were hooded, her mouth slack and willful.
“So greedy.” He snuggled her tighter to his body as he worked himself deeper. “You’ve hardly finished one orgasm and you already want another. You’ll not come again until you’ve earned it,” he whispered, punctuating his words with a quick thrust of his hips.

“Turn around and put your hands on the wall.”
She complied without speaking. He trapped her hands with his and pulled her arms taut, roughly shoving apart her legs before stepping between her thighs. He entered her with a thrust so violent he lifted her off her feet. She moaned and pushed back against him and the last vestiges of his sanity burned away.
“You will never leave me again,” he gritted the words into the back of her fiery head as he filled her. “Do you hear me?” He slammed into her. “You are mine,” he said from between jaws clenched so hard it hurt. She arched against him in answer.

“Unbutton me, Mia.” His voice was husky against her taut bud.
She opened his breeches and grabbed him. Colorful blasts exploded behind his eyelids and rendered him speechless as she took him into her body in one long, hard slide.
He held her hips loosely as she rode him, looking down to where their bodies were joined. She knew what he wanted and pulled all the way off him before lowering herself, allowing him the breathtaking view of his shaft disappearing into her body. He thrust with all his might and she cried out, her hands gripping his shoulders while she convulsed around him.
His orgasm left him blind and he shuddered and pulled her against his heaving chest, stilling her body while his heart pounded so hard he thought it might explode.

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Review: The Sister Swap by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookthesisterswap_susannapier.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Hunter Lewis
Heroine: Anne Tremaine
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January, 1996
Started On: October 24, 2018
Finished On: October 26, 2018

After the recent rounds of lackluster reads from Susan Napier, The Sister Swap turned out to be a godsend in the way it sent my senses humming. This is the Susan Napier that I fell in love with when I first read her work, and this is the voice that I seek every time I pick up one of her titles to read.

Anne Tremaine has a big heart, which means that she always puts her family first. When her sister Kaitlin requests from Anne to swap places with her, Anne enters into a deceptive existence, seizing the opportunity, given her thirst for knowledge and want for a college education. With her nephew Ivan in tow, Anne foresees no dangers of her secret coming out, that is until she meets her neighbor aka Professor Hunter Lewis.

Hunter does not want distractions, which includes neighbors who play trashy music loudly enough to disturb his peace. A writer who requires his quiet, Hunter is further disconcerted by the fact that he literally cannot figure out Anne as a woman. Just when Hunter believes that he knows everything there is to her, she surprises him in a way that intrigues him. Hunter does not like it, not one bit at all, which is why his temper gets the best of him where Anne is concerned.

Anne cannot believe that she is stuck with a surly and churlish neighbor the likes of Hunter. But when circumstances bring them together time and yet again, Anne finds that she is rather fascinated by the conundrum that Hunter presents to her as a man. He excites her, arouses her, and irritates her in equal doses. There is no denying that for an innocent like Anne, Hunter at full throttle was definitely going to end up being a disaster. Hunter gets a dose of what its like to be confronted by a woman who is all that he wants, but his fear that stems from the past acts as a deterrent.

I so loved The Sister Swap and what it entailed. I cannot quite figure out why the book has received bad ratings. Because Susan Napier is at her most charming and hilarious form in this novel, presenting to readers two characters that cannot stand each other and at the same time want each other so very badly.

Hunter’s character was riveting. He is equal doses passionate and likes control in his life, especially given the circumstances upon which he had become a widower a couple of years back. He has no intention of letting the feels catch him once again, but for the love of him, he cannot stop the avalanche of need that seems to take over his body when it comes to Anne.

I loved watching Hunter unravel, piece by piece. I reveled in the fact that he could not help himself when it comes to Anne. I enjoyed watching him succumb, watching him lose that patience of his, that intellectual part of him being taken over by the passionate man he is deep inside, until he gives in, and oh so headily.

I loved Anne, for the warmth of her character, the spark of her intelligence, that wit and sarcastic humor that sets the pace between the two of them, and the love she shows to Hunter in abandon, even when he tries to steer clear of emotions that could bring him down.

The ending was equal parts hilarious and endearing. Anne certainly knows what she is doing when it comes to Hunter. I closed the book with a huge ass grin on my face, already envisioning a Hunter trying to keep up with his charming and sexy wife, who stirs him in every single way that matters, with a bunch of small Hunters and Annes’ in the mix, with more on the way. I could literally picture that, given the earthy nature of both characters. The way Hunter gets seduced by Anne’s long and plaited hair was one of the highlights of the story.

Loved, loved, loved! Recommend this wholeheartedly for the fun and sizzle!

Final Verdict: A super grumpy hero who is reluctant to fall in love, a heroine who holds a secret that she would take to her grave with or die trying; but when these two meet, there is no denying the sparks that fly.

Favorite Quotes

‘I’m sorry.’ His quiet sincerity took her off guard and she turned, just as he moved to pick up the tea-towel on the bench beyond her. Trapped against the cupboards, Anne could feel every inch of him from chest to knee…every impressive inch! ‘Anne?’ He picked up her plait, which had flopped on to the bench, winding it around his hand as she maintained her silent resistance, forcing her to look at him. ‘I’m sorry.’
She meant to say something flippant, something smart, something sophisticated. Instead she could only stand there, transfixed by the dark compassion in the heavy-lidded gaze, aware of simmering heat that had nothing whatsoever to do with the sultry, late-summer night.
And then he kissed her.

His fist tightened on her plait, pulling her head back, and she instinctively went up on tiptoe to meet his descending mouth. It was hard, hot, and faintly hostile. Instead of frightening her, his restrained aggression was fiercely exciting. He wasn’t asking for a response, he was demanding it, and Anne gave with greedy generosity. When he bit at her soft lips they parted instantly and he plunged inside, making a rough sound of triumph that vibrated on her tongue. He tasted deliciously warm and spicy, and as he sank recklessly deeper she pressed her palms flat against his chest to steady herself and was entranced by the straining tension in his body, the rapid, erratic pounding of his heart.

She pushed her hands eagerly up under his shirt to stroke his silky, hot, hair-roughened chest. She touched his flat, masculine nipples and was startled to feel them react sharply, hardening under her clumsy caress. Intoxicated by a rush of feverish curiosity, she pulled her mouth away from his and pushed the soft fabric up out of her way, revealing the thick muscles bunching and shifting with every convulsive breath.
‘Anne…’
She was too enraptured by her discovery to notice the husky note of warning in his voice as his hand stilled on her breast.
‘Why, you’re just like me,’ she murmured wonderingly, touching a finger lightly to one rigid nipple where it peeped out of its thick nest of hair and watching it stiffen further.
He shuddered and swore savagely under his breath and she looked up at his face, fascinated by the mixture of smouldering resentment and carnal desire that she saw there.

Anne lifted her knee, not even feeling the shoe slip off her foot and bounce into the gutter as she pressed the inside of her thigh against his lean flank, like a rider trying to sense the next move of a powerful, unruly stallion.
He made a thick, greedy sound and immediately slid his hand into the crook of her raised knee, tugging it higher on his hip so that he could settle more securely between her legs, trailing his hand up the back of her thigh to cup the curve of her buttock, its smooth roundness tautened by her wanton pose.

He opened his mouth against her and she went utterly weak, not even noticing the rough hand glide smoothly under her hanging blouse and unclip the plastic fastening at her back. As her breasts tumbled free he made a rough sound of greedy satisfaction and sank back down with her on to the firmly sprung couch, holding her across his lap and nuzzling the flimsy fabric aside with his mouth before lapping at the soft, shyly trembling peaks with long, lazy strokes, gliding them with his clever tongue until they were rigid and glistening. He admired his erotic creations with little crowns of biting kisses, then cupped her again in his strong fingers, guiding each stiff nipple in turn into the scalding moistness of his mouth, drawing them deeper as he suckled hotly, with a fierce, lusty enjoyment that drove her into a frenzy of delight.

Anne was lost in a world of languid bliss, unaware of the passage of time as Hunter teased her skirt slowly up her legs, deliberately taking his time in order to savour her uninhibitedly sensual response to each fleeting caress, his warm fingers stroking, delving, sliding, enticing, his mouth always moving, tasting, exploring her with a thoroughness that would have shocked her had she not been blinded by the shattering glory of her first physical experience of love.
She wasn’t aware of the skilful disrobing that accompanied his wildly erotic explorations until she opened her pleasure-dazed eyes and suddenly found herself nude in her lover’s arms, unbearably excited by the feel of his rough clothing against her singing skin, the slide of smooth cotton against her bare back as he shifted her to accommodate his needs. He had released her hair from its faded hoop of elastic and fanned it out to frame the lush, pearly curves of her body, winding his hands in its gleaming luxuriance, teasing it over her gloriously sensitised breasts, tantalising her with its feathery friction.
When she teased him throatily about his fetish and protested at the inequity of their dress, Hunter laughed smokily and touched her where she was most vulnerable, stroking her with excruciating delicacy until she melted with a drenching cry, praising her for the splendour of her response.
‘So soft, and hot and silky wet… Don’t lose the rhythm, darling, stay with me… that’s right… a little harder… a little faster… No, darling, don’t fight it…’

Am I the first man to do this to you, Anne?’
He withdrew once more, and again she couldn’t stop herself from panicking, digging her short, practical nails into his tight buttocks until he eased forward, this time a little faster and more roughly, beginning to establish a rhythm that was both exhilarating and frustrating.
‘Am I, Anne?’
This time as he pulled back Hunter deliberately hesitated and, as he expected, his answer arrived in a wild rush as she wound herself around him.
‘Yes, yes! Although if I’d known it was going to be this good I wouldn’t have waited so long!’ She slid her fingers through the hair on his chest and stroked the fine pelt, following the silky line down his belly to push into the thickening where his body joined with hers—Anne and Hunter, Hunter and Anne—if only it could go on forever.

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Review: Lily by Patricia Gaffney

Format: E-booklily.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Leisure Books
Hero: Devon Darkwell
Heroine: Lily Trehearne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 01, 1996
Started On: October 20, 2018
Finished On: October 24, 2018

Lily by Patricia Gaffney is one of those novels that lifelong romance readers will come across, either in a list of books to avoid, or a list that is at the other extreme end. I believe that with Lily, there is no middle ground to be had. You either fall in love with the story, the heartache, the imperfections, the hero who borders on anti-hero material, and the heroine, who is a pillar of strength with courage of the kind that we would all like to possess.

Lily is the sort of book that one has to experience to get the full impact of what the story entails. It is not the kind of story you can read with your emotions detached from what is taking place. It is not light and fluffy, nor is it humorous. But there is love, an abundance of it, especially from Lily’s end towards a man who is deep in denial, a man who has undergone tremendous pain and betrayal, a man who has been bitten once, and is more than twice shy.

Lily Trehearne is caught in a fix when her last male relative upon the death of her father and becomes the executor of her father’s estate and her legal guardian for thirteen more months, winds up wounded from an act of self-defense. Believing that the death of Reverend Soames would probably see her hanged or worse, Lily flees her home, and finds herself hired as a scullery maid in the household of a viscount.

Lily’s paths cross with Devon Darkwell, Viscount Sandown, the master of Darkstone Manor, the very first night that she arrives at his household. The anguish and rawness of the pain that Devon was leaking from his very pores at that moment strikes something deep inside her. But as a mere servant in a household that is run under the iron fist of Mrs Howe, the housekeeper who hires her, Lily believes that there is futile chance of their paths crossing again.

However, life does not prove to be so “fortunate”, as Lily finds herself rescuing the master of the house, taking care of him, and lying for him when the authorities come calling. Even with Devon feeling like he is waking up from deep sleep of the nightmarish variety when Lily is close to him, Devon does not want to believe in the goodness of the human heart, not with a past that keeps mocking him for his reckless behavior and the price an innocent life had paid for it. Devon’s scars run deep, his wounds never did heal, and it is Lily that pays the ultimate price for it all.

There are many occasions upon which any sensible female would have given up on Devon. But Lily sees beyond the anger, heartache, and the unwillingness from Devon to move on. So love him she does, enough for both of them, or so she thought, until the moment arrives which makes it easy for Devon to kick her loose, all because he was afraid of confronting his own feelings that run amok when it comes to Lily.

What Devon does to Lily in the guise of revenge is pretty much unforgivable, but in the end, he does pay the price for it. Lily is no doormat heroine, though I suppose some might see her that way. But for me, the strongest of us are those who can love, and love so deeply, even when it leaves them vulnerable to a wealth of hurt and pain. That is what Lily endures, time and yet again at the hands of Devon, until truth comes calling, and Devon realizes the fatal mistakes he has made along the way. All because he could not move on from the betrayal that had marked his life so terribly.

Nothing absolves or excuses Devon’s behavior towards Lily, especially that last act of betrayal on his part which nearly costs Lily her life. But once again, it is her own strength and the help of kindred spirits along the way that keeps her going, putting one foot in front of the other, to keep moving, until she is able to live again. Lily definitely makes Devon work to earn her forgiveness. I believe as readers, we might never understand how Lily was able to forgive Devon when all was said and done, but I believe that for someone like Lily, whose heart is pure and her love for Devon the kind that blazes from deep within her soul, it was a foregone conclusion.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, Lily is the type of book where you need to live through the ups and downs of the story to become whole again. Its not easy. But then love is never easy. That is the lesson that Lily leaves readers with. I believe that I as a reader, find profound meaning in that message.

Recommended for those readers who don’t shy away from anti-heroes and the heartache and pain they can cause along the way.

Final Verdict: Lily is the kind of book that will crush your soul, break your heart, and oft times your spirit. Through it all, Lily shows the remarkable strength of true love, the kind that never falters, even in the face of the greatest of tragedies.

Favorite Quotes

“But he doesn’t mind kissing, does he?”
“What?”
He caught her up in his arms again. “Your young man won’t care if we do this,” he whispered, and kissed her hard.
Lily’s resistance crumbled at the first touch of his lips. It was as if they had never stopped, as if that interruption had been some perverse mistake they both regretted and were making up for now. She wound her arms around his neck and pressed against him, every sense engrossed and besieged by his mouth and the fervent stroking of his hands on her back. He dragged her cap off again and filled his fingers with her hair, never stopping the kiss, and she moaned her perfect willingness against his lips and into his mouth.

Lily sighed against his lips, and her breath was warm and moist on his skin, gentle as a blessing. “Dev,” she whispered, so amazed. The straining weight of his body on hers felt perfect. She pulled him closer. They kissed with fierce, greedy passion until the last second. Then they just held on to each other, stunned and humbled, while time stopped and they suffered together the tumultuous recoil of an identical explosion. Lily thought she was lost, that it would never end, and the minuscule piece of herself that was still intact knew a second of panic—no more. But the storm subsided, and time started again, and Devon kissed the tears on her cheeks with such tenderness that her heart cracked open and she loved him.

He didn’t have to tell her to fold her legs back and straddle his lap: she figured that out for herself, almost instantly. But she loved his passionate instructions. Were all men so—talkative? she wondered. His volubility gave her courage. To hide her face she kissed him, then murmured against his lips, “I love the way you feel inside me. It’s like everything is melting.”
He dragged his mouth down her throat, her chest. “Lean back,” he ordered in a guttural murmur; when she did, he took her breast into his mouth and suckled her with greed and thoroughness.
Gasping, she clutched at his shoulders. “I’ve never done this with anyone but you! Do you believe me?”
He answered, “Yes,” immediately. Could it be true? He didn’t care, didn’t care.

She pulled back, and they watched each other’s eyes again, spellbound, gauging. He slid lower on his spine until she lay on top of him, her feet just touching the floor. She braced herself with her forearms against his chest and set the new rhythm herself. Nothing had ever felt like this, this wild mix of power and surrender, control and abandon. Finally it was need, raw and burning and urgent, that overpowered her. “Devon, I can’t—I can’t—!”
Hold back, she meant, but he thought she meant the opposite. He clapped his palms to her buttocks and thrust into her again and again, grunting, breath rasping, and suddenly her whole body convulsed. She shouted out something loud and incomprehensible, and he felt her helpless, uncontrollable quivering for a long, long moment before she softened and finally sank against him. He held her tightly—too tightly, he knew, but God! he couldn’t help it—while he unleashed himself and plunged inside her over and over and over. He thought it would never end. When it did, they were both as limp as rags, and he was incapable of moving.

She shifted subtly and pulled her knees up, lodging him higher, tighter. Legs locked around his waist, she began to rock him with the same slow, canny, devastating artistry he had taught her. His face was buried in her hair, but she thought she could hear him grinding his teeth. Patient and passionate, she gave herself to him, daring him to reject the gift this time. She knew the instant his resistance began to disintegrate. He raised his head; just for an instant, behind the desire, she caught a glimpse of haggard suffering in his eyes. Her heart contracted. Cradling his dear face, she touched her lips to his in a soft, gentle kiss. He shuddered, not moving, and then suddenly his open mouth slanted over hers and he returned her kiss with all the wild tenderness she had been afraid to hope for. He only lifted his head to grit out a low, hoarse shout when his climax came. It surged through him with a rough, tumultuous violence that she accepted gladly. She held him tightly, needing to shelter him until the storm passed. Afterward, he lay limp in her arms, sprawled across her, his breath rasping. But she could not tell from the heaviness of his body whether what he felt now was satisfaction or defeat.

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