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.

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

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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.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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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.

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

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Review: Deal of a Lifetime by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookdealofalifetime_susannapier.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon Romance
Hero: Frazer Conway
Heroine: Emmaline Rainer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: 1991
Started On: September 22, 2018
Finished On: September 29, 2018

In Deal of a Lifetime, Susan Napier explores and navigates the world of a woman who wants to succeed in the business world. To not let herself get lost in what everyone else believes would bring her happiness; getting married and popping the 2.5 kids who would adore her till the end of times. Emmaline Rainer (Emma) has her work cut out for her when it comes to maneuvering the cutthroat world of ConCorp, the company she works at. Dealing with male chauvinism is something Emma has pretty much perfected, and alongside with her assistant Marc, Emma is ready to show the bosses that she is the woman for the executive position that is soon to be up for grabs.

Emma’s plan for making the perfect pitch gets derailed when a weekend away from the corporate headquarters is planned, especially one which includes an invite for the kids of contenders to join. Emma’s avoidance of kids comes from the fact that she looks like the motherly sort, which draws children to her, an image that she wants to dissuade at any cost.

It is by chance that Emma happens across Frazer Conway, the sibling who would be taking over the reins of the company soon. From the start, Emma’s senses are rubbed raw from the onslaught that Frazer delivers. He is everything she has avoided successfully thus far. But there is something about Frazer that calls out to everything that is feminine inside of her, which makes it extremely difficult to put up the front that usually works for her. Even her scathing sarcasm does not seem to work on discouraging Frazer, in fact, it seems to draw him closer to her.

Amidst a lot of back and forth between Emma and Frazer, the story continues, delivering the trademark Napier heat that she is famous for in her stories. However, Deal of a Lifetime fell short for me in many ways, mainly due to none other than Emma’s character.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for women’s rights, which I view as equal rights as that afforded to men and the opportunity to do compete in an even field. Almost 27 years has gone by since the publication of this novel, and we are still battling with the issue of male chauvinism and at worse, harassment in various forms coupled with the lack of equal opportunities to compete against men on an even setting. Part of it is related to biology, the other part related to circumstances and societal perceptions of what women are supposed to be.

I have noticed (from having read a lot of novels by Napier), that her works tend to focus on creating strong women who defy the time periods within which the stories were written. Of course, it is owing to women like Napier writes them that we have made the minute progress we have achieved even today when it comes to equality of the sexes.

Emma is the type of character cut from the same cloth, i.e. trademark Napier heroine. She is determined to make her way in the world. None of it had been easy, given that her big family had wanted her happily settled down by the time she was of age. Emma had wanted more, and that had been the sole reason behind her seeking a university education, to become a lawyer nonetheless, and that is where she had gotten burnt enough to be twice shy when it comes to men and their pursuit of her.

However, because Frazer is made from sterner stuff, he does not give up as easily. In Frazer, Emma finds that she has met her match in stubborn. Furthermore, knowing that he is a single father, a domesticated male makes him more dangerous to her ambitions. So push she does, to keep him away from her, but alas, along the way, her emotions do get involved from which there is no hiding.

While I liked the overall premise of the story and of course Frazer, I couldn’t bring myself to like Emma all that much. There was this edge to her that I at times nearly found annoying. I am all for standing your ground and not letting a man walk all over you. At the same time, I would also appreciate that same strength to make an appearance when the woman is in the wrong, and has wronged the male. But that is often a problem in Napier’s books, as it is usually the male who has to do the chasing, the groveling, and the winning. If we are to talk about equality, the female should also do her fair share of work, especially when it comes to making up for what she puts the male through.

Frazer deserves awards for how patient she is with Emma. A widowed hero who is a single father, wanting the woman who has practiced to perfection what it means to not give into societal demands by getting married and starting a family.

While the story did have its moments when it comes to debates on patriarchal societies and societal expectations, I just didn’t feel that Emma met the hero halfway or did enough on her part to convince the readers that for her as well, the feelings were of the same intensity and ferocity.

Loved the sexual tension and the thick and heady web of desire between Emma and Frazer. The lack of an epilogue was sorely felt. After putting readers through that much of a wrangler, this book definitely needed the epilogue. But Harlequin novels rarely deliver epilogues, but this should have had one in my opinion.

Final Verdict: The battle for equal rights versus the battle for love. It does not always have to be one or the other, and Frazer is determined a male if ever there was one, to show his woman that he is in for it all.

Favorite Quotes

He lifted a hand and ran a finger along the underside of her proud jaw. ‘What’s part of him is part of me. That promise makes me your friend, too, Emma. And I take the demands and responsibilities of friendship very seriously.’
The pressure of the slightly callused pad of his fingertip tilted her face up and his mouth came down, warmly covering hers.
He tasted different. No alcohol this time, diluting the flavour of him, just pure essence of male. One arm went around her, supporting her against the hard length of his body while his mouth thoroughly explored her shocked lack of resistance.

She felt his hunger in the strong fingers cupping her back, the thud of his heart vibrating against her breasts, the restless surge of his hard thigh against the constricting narrowness of the skirt that prevented him from tucking himself between her legs. He lifted his mouth and she dragged in a ragged breath, finding no will to object, and then he was kissing her again, harder, deeper, more intensely than before, taking her acquiescence for granted.

She stared fixedly at his face as his fingers curled into the soft jersey and he slowly eased the top of her dress down, pushing it into folds around her narrow waist, holding it there. She watched, fascinated, the tanned, handsome face harden, his breath hissing through his teeth as he looked at what he had uncovered. A tinge of
dark blood anointed his slanting cheekbones, his pupils expanding like black storm-clouds in the hot blue sky.
‘Is this new, too?’ he asked softly, no trace of honey in his voice now, only rough, jagged edges that snagged at her senses as he touched the lacy side of her daring bra.
‘I… yesss…’ If only he would touch her properly, instead of tormenting her with his tantalising eyes.
‘Did you wear it for me?’
Her head fell back on her shoulders, baring the truth.
‘Yes!’

He lifted his mouth and groaned at the sight of her, naked to the waist, aflame with a passion that fuelled his, her wide mouth lush and full and moist for his pleasure, an erotic dream in itself. Then he was lifting her, pushing her back on to one of the wider lower helves, moving in between her thighs, pressing hot and tight and close, whispering of forbidden delights as he urged her to feel what she did to him, no longer the slow, sensuous lover but all blind, driving masculinity taking everything he could get and wanting still more…
His mouth on her breasts was their undoing. Emma gave a small, whispery scream as he bit into the swollen ripeness to suckle with a strong, rhythmic, hungry impatience that wrenched at her womb.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: My New Step-Dad by Alexa Riley

Format: E-bookmynewstepdad.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Bruce Archer
Heroine: Sophie Sullivan
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 01, 2015
Started On: July 09, 2018
Finished On: July 11, 2018

My New Step Dad by Alexa Riley is my very first sampling of their work. Taking on a taboo trope, the authors have done a fantastic job of evading the icky factors that such a trope would bring forth in spades.

Bruce Archer is newly widowed when he finds out that he is to be responsible for his step daughter, whom he had never met during the broef course of his marriage to her mother. Bruce is a man who has nothing but his career on his mind. That is where his focus lies, and he has room for nothing else, especially not duties related to minding an almost eighteen year old girl.

Sophie Sullivan has always been a lonely child. Having yearned for that elusive connection with her mother all her life, that opportunity is lost with her mother’s death, bringing Sophie under the care of her step father.

From the very first moment that Bruce and Sophie meet, it is as if their whole world is turned upside down. The fierce attraction that springs to life is one that is problematic, especially for Bruce who wants nothing to do with Sophie.

Being in close quarters however, works its own sort of magic on two lost souls. Bruce might never acknowledge the bone deep loneliness within him, but it is there, stripped bare when he comes to realize just how much he wants Sophie, and not just in the most base and carnal way he could ever want a woman. For Sophie, whose heart yearns for love and affection, she wants it all. She wants someone she can make a home with, someone who would want her and see her for what she is and not as a mere afterthought in their lives.

Bit by bit, the walls crumble, and before Bruce knows it, he is well ensnared with the way Sophie makes him feel. I loved the delicious tingly aspects of this novella. How the authors managed to deliver a wholesome story that made me crave for more is something I would carry with me, and is the one single reason why I would check their books out in the future.

I loved the build up of sexual tension in the book. But for me, the culmination of it all was a bit too abrupt which detracted a bit from the enjoyment factor. Perhaps a full size novel could have covered everything better and given all aspects of the story a more wholesome edge. Nevertheless, I did like what the plot delivered; a wholesome story when all was said and done.

I loved, loved, loved the epilogue. Seeing how far both Bruce and Sophie had come in five years time was just wonderful.

Recommended for those that love to read scandalous stories centered around taboo tropes.

Final Verdict: My first Alexa Riley was of scorch-the-kindle variety hot. Alexa Riley’s talents lie in turning something taboo into a wholesome story of which I definitely wanted more.

Favorite Quotes

She slowly steps past me, and I get a bit of her sweet honeysuckle scent. I breathe deeply and close my eyes, the throbbing in my cock returning.
When I open my eyes, I see her looking at me, and then back to the floor. She seems so submissive, and I have the sudden urge to put her on her knees.
“Yes, well, this is your room,” I say again and clear my throat. What the fuck is wrong with me? She’s too goddamn young to be doing this to my body.
I really need to get laid.
“Thank you, Mr. Archer,” she whispers, and I realize this is the first time she has spoken. Her voice is soft, making me wonder how hard I could make sure scream my name. I want to hear her say it now.
“Bruce. Please, call me Bruce. I think we are past certain formalities, especially while you live here.”

Shamelessly, I know it will fuel the masturbation session I’ll be having after I leave her. This one will be better than the one I had about her last night. The one she doesn’t know about, the one I had standing over her bed last night while she slept. I stood there, staring at her lips, imagining them wrapped around my cock until I came in my hand. This time I’ll have a better idea of what body looks like.
“You’re too young. I’m an older man, not to mention your stepfather, and it’s not good for someone to see us like this,” I say. I look down at her pure, innocent pussy and I see a drop of moisture on her panties. “Fuck,” I breathe out, and lean forward a little. I don’t know what my body is doing, but I try to get a hold of myself.

Rubbing my pussy against the pillow, I pretend it’s his lap I’m straddling instead of the arm of the chair. I imagine rubbing my clit against his hard-on and using him for my pleasure while he sits completely still, fighting not to touch me. Pressing myself further into the pillow, I shudder at the shock of desire that shoots up my spine. He’d be so powerless to his desires, he’d suddenly lift me from his lap, slam me down onto his desk, and put his face between my legs. He’d need to taste me. He’d use his tongue and fingers to prepare my tight pussy for his cock. He’d be so worried about hurting me, because I meant everything to him. He’d do it for hours, just worshipping, not caring about anything else in the world. Only I mattered, and I was his everything.

Her panties are out of my pocket and to my nose before the door stops shaking. My other hand undoes my belt, pulls out my cock, and jerks off hard as I hold them over my face. I breathe in her scent as I punish my cock. I’m mad at myself for allowing that to happen, and for allowing her to get the better of me. I’m completely pissed off that this eighteen-year-old girl has gotten me harder and more worked up than anyone else in my life. Ever.

I reach down and pull my shirt off over my head, and then lift hers up fully so she can push her tits to my naked chest. I lean back into the sofa with my arm around her, and she sits right next to me, twisted to the side so our chests are press together. One small move and she could be straddling me, but I just hold her naked chest against mine, as she works both of her hands under the covers.
The feel of her hard nipples against me is so good and so wrong. I shouldn’t be so turned on. I should be ashamed of myself. The feel of her naked chest against mine is amazing, and I can’t help but turn into her body as well.
I hold her tightly to me, rubbing my dick against her blanket-covered body.
“Oh God,” I moan, and close my eyes.

“Come with me, Bruce.”
Her soft sweet words send me over, and I release my cum inside my shorts. I hear her shouts of release as I hit my peak, feeling my own orgasm trigger hers. As I open my mouth, gulping in air as the last spurts of cum leave my dick, I feel her finger touch my lips and, God help me, I suck her drenched finger into my mouth and taste her sweet nectar as I finish.
When we both catch our breath, I look down at her and watch as she cuddles into my side again.
“I like movie night,” she whispers.
I sit there, stunned at what just happened, and all I can think is…I agree.

“Bruce, go back to your room,” I say the words but there’s no power behind them. I’m already wet thinking about what he wants to do to me. The way he looks at my pussy when he gets off makes me cum so hard. I want that right now. Even if it’s not a good idea, I want it so bad.
He looks down at me and licks his lips, not giving an inch. I’m naked except for a pair of peach-colored cotton panties. I know what he’s going to say, and I know I’ll show him.
“Let me see it, Sophie,” he whispers.
I cream a little at his words and slowly reach down, giving him what we both want. Pulling my panties to the side, I show him my wet pussy and wait for his reaction.

His cock pulses a little, and I can feel his heartbeat between my legs. I squeeze my pussy muscles to the beat. I pinch my nipple, getting closer and closer to the edge.
“Fuck, that’s it, baby.” He pushes a little more against my hymen but doesn’t breach it. I feel his cock swell and start to jerk as he shouts out.
His warm cum splashes inside my virgin pussy, and the feel of him cumming inside me sends me over the edge, my orgasm ripping through me.
As I shout out my release, I feel his mouth latch on to my nipple and I skyrocket to the best orgasm I’ve ever had. Our only bodily contact is through his cock touching my pussy and his mouth on my nipple, and I cum so hard and long I nearly pass out.

I want to breathe her body into mine and show her how much she means to me. It’s not just my body that’s being pulled towards her, my heart is too. Something about her spirit is connected to mine, and kissing her is like coming home.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-booktoohardtoforget.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarksons, #3
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Elliot Brooks
Heroine: Peggy Clarkson
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 25, 2017
Started On: June 03, 2018
Finished On: June 08, 2018

Too Hard to Forget, the third book in the Romancing the Clarksons series by the impressively talented Tessa Bailey was a delightful read in so many ways. Too Hard to Forget tells the story of the youngest Clarkson Peggy, and how she makes use of the opportunity of the road trip the Clarkson siblings take to make a pit stop which she believes in all probability would allow her finally move on and forget the one man who has ruined her for all others.

Peggy, like her mother Miriam writes at the beginning of the novel, is a character with a million facets to her that you can never truly understand even if you spend a lifetime trying to. Its not that she is difficult as a person, no, the farthest thing from that. Peggy is made of a breed that allows you to see the wonderful bits to her as you watch, wait, and learn from her life.

Peggy might seem like the air-headed and most naive of the bunch, but Peggy’s heart is one that is pure gold. When you think you have finally figured her out, she manages to surprise you yet again.

Peggy turns up at her old university to face her demons head on, believing that she would be able to exorcise the man known as Elliot Brooks from her heart, body, and soul once and for all, and leave him wanting more while at it.

Elliot Brooks, head coach of the Bearcats, and known as the Ki,ngmaker is a man who is devoutly Catholic, continually paying penance for the part of his life that fills him with regret and loathing. Elliot is a man who was raised in a Catholic household as an only child, and has no particularly happy family memories to show him that life could be more than repenting for sins perceived and otherwise.

Elliot’s focus has always been on winning and baseball, and his life had held no room for a wife with whom he had had no particular affection, except for the child that had been born of their perfectly serviceable marriage. It is the death of Elliot’s wife that hits him the hardest, the guilt for all that he had not done, all that he had failed to do, and above all, his fiery attraction to a woman most unsuited for him, that makes him break all the rules.

Even as Elliot gives in, he keeps pieces and chunks of himself from Peggy, until at long last, he drives her out of his life, seemingly forever. Three years later, Peggy is back, more beautiful than ever, and to Elliot, she still represents everything that is sinful, every reason why the Church itself exists as an establishment for sinners to pay their penance and to remind themselves of what is more important in life. It is however a fight that Elliot loses every single time Peggy is within arms distance, a fight he loses to his innermost self which wars against his desire to completely possess Peggy one minute and walk away the next. All because he does not believe that he deserves the kind of light that Peggy has always shed in his life.

Too Hard to Forget is a novel that amazed me at every turn and made me sigh and swoon in equal doses. There is not a single aspect of the story that I would change, and it was undoubtedly precious from start to finish. Peggy’s character wasn’t one that I had warmed up to in the previous books all that much until her own story began in this installment. And once it did, I couldn’t get enough of her. That in its entirety is a rarity because it is usually the hero or the hero and heroine together that I can’t get enough of in most novels. But in this instance, once I fell in love with Peggy’s character, I did so for life, just like Elliot did and was fool enough not to recognize and accept it for what it was.

Peggy’s heart like I mentioned, is one that doesn’t allow her to usually see the bad in people. Perhaps that is where most would call her naive. But then again, the world needs more human beings like Peggy, who would be willing to go out on a limb for those that majority would usually not bother with. Perhaps that is in a way one reason why Peggy follows Elliot into the locker room and the rest, as they say is history.

While Peggy does believe she would find a way to move on from Elliot, it doesn’t really work out the way she had planned or thought it would. In the end, Peggy faces some hard truths about her own self and her need for Elliot’s brand of “love”, making her realize that she is worthy of more than the destructive kind of passion and love that exists between them. But of course, Elliot is not ready to give up without a fight, the fight for the love of his life, a woman he has wronged in so many ways as he has wronged himself by denying the happiness that could have rightfully being his, if only he had had the courage to move past his fears and preconceived notions of what life should be about.

Tessa Bailey’s mark is stamped all over the book, in spades. Dirty talk good enough to drench all your panties, sex scenes hot enough to singe and make you want and want more, and a hero who has control stamped all over his DNA, and loses it so spectacularly for the woman who owns his heart.

I would recommend this for everyone and anyone who loves an obstinate hero and a heroine who you would root for with every fiber of your existence. Yes, it is that kind of book.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Emotionally nuanced to perfection, Too Hard to Forget is wonderfully smutty, edgy, and made ALL of me clamor for more. This just might be in the run for my favorite Tessa Bailey yet; and that is saying a lot!

Favorite Quotes

“Shut your mouth.” His forehead ground against hers. “Shut your beautiful, ripe, little mouth.”
Desire thickening in her blood like oil, Peggy removed one of the hands he’d fisted on the locker, lowering it to the space between her legs. His nostrils flared, hot exhales bathing her face, eyelids slamming to a close. But she didn’t let his massive presence intimidate her. One by one, she smoothed open his curled fingers, then cupped Elliott’s hand at the juncture of her thighs, encouraging him with a roll of her hips to mold the flesh beneath the built-in panties of her cheerleading skirt.
“It’s okay to need this.”
“No.” His denial was a near-roar. “It’s not.”

With a jagged breath, Elliott grabbed up Peggy’s other leg, drawing it high around his waist as she guided his arousal toward her core. He entered her with a biting slam against the locker door, releasing the vilest of epithets into her ear. “Jesus Christ. This is what sin feels like,” he rasped. “Wrong and right, at the same time. Life and death. Blond, long-legged, and tight.”

The head of his rigid cock pressed against his belt buckle, straining painfully inside his pants. “That’s not how it works,” he rasped. “Prayer isn’t an excuse to sin.”
Peggy’s knee moved up and down the side of his thigh, and just knowing her legs were apart, her pussy out in the open, blasted another hole in his resolve. “No one will know. Touch them. Be as rough as you want,” she breathed. “I remember what you like. How you like to get mad at my body. Frustrated at it for making you want something natural.”
“Nothing natural about what we did.” His touch moved down, stopping a mere inch from her breast, fingers flexing. “You made me behave like a beast. Some of the ways I took you…some of the places…”
She groaned and it broke him. Knowing the memories had caused such a harsh sound of longing brought his clutching hand to her breast, where it kneaded the taut mound once before racing under her shirt. Lust railroaded him, and he was out of his mind with need to feel her bare skin. “Yes, Elliott. More.”

With a possessive snarl, Elliott pressed her to the wall with the use of his mouth, increasing the power of his suck until she cried out, twisting his hair with frantic fingers. She tugged him away with a cracked sob and then her lips were so close. So damn close. The most tempting of fruit. And he descended on their parted perfection like the Apocalypse was upon them.
“How do you do this to me?” he groaned against her mouth. “I can’t even get my dick hard unless I think of you. I bet you love knowing that.” The ensuing kiss was brutal, his tongue driving deep and claiming. “Bet you love knowing that sliver of stomach you showed me today in the car made it necessary to jerk off in my office with the door locked.”

She held her breath and waited once inside. Only a couple seconds passed until he blew through her doorway—sexual and intimidating—kicking the door shut, lifting her off the ground to attack her mouth. Peggy moaned into the kiss, her thoughts going fuzzy when Elliott’s tongue slipped past her lips, his free hand stroking down the side of her face, smoothing her hair in an affectionate gesture that made the last three lonely days worth every second. God. God. His huge presence combined with the passion of the kiss to rock the atmosphere. Thunder boomed outside, but she swore it was happening in her chest, between her legs. The smell of him and rain and…chocolate…was amazing.
“Shit,” Elliott rasped, pulling back. Rubbing a thumb against her lower lip, he dropped a kiss on her forehead, then reached into his jacket to remove a small, crushed bakery box. “This didn’t go according to plan,” he grumbled. “Nothing with you does.”
“What’s in there?”
“A cupcake. For your birthday.” He cleared his throat. “Happy birthday.”

Holy shit. Peggy shoved at Elliott’s shoulders, putting his back up against the bench, his expression rife with lust and anticipation as she applied the latex, sucking in a breath when she felt him pulsing against her fingertips. Using the bench’s wooden back for balance in her left hand, she moved higher on his lap, guiding his erection home with her right. “Oh God, oh God,” both of them groaned in a seemingly endless loop, as she sank down—
With only half his erection inside her, Peggy started to shake, the orgasm she’d spent so long chasing, busting through the dam of her middle and drowning her, dragging her under the churning relief. She felt Elliott’s hands in her hair, his powerful grip steadying her, mouth blocking her scream with a kiss. The kind of kiss you gave someone you might die without. Fast, slow, heads turning, bodies twisting. A full body kiss. “More. Elliott. More.

Peggy contracted her most intimate muscles around Elliott’s girth, listened as rusted epithets married in his throat, felt his fingers dig into the flesh of her backside. “These inches of yours,” she breathed up against his ear, licking the lobe, catching it between her teeth. “They’re the only ones that know the right spot to hit…the only ones that can make me scream. Or feel a damn thing. Please.”
Her back landed on the bench, the wood’s coldness reaching through the back of her jacket to wrap around her spine. But the rest of her…oh God, the rest was so fucking hot, she knew the word fever would forever hold new meaning. Elliott descended on her with the power of a pack of wolves, caged inside one man.
“Get your knees up. Get them up,” he snarled. Without waiting for her to comply with his command, he reached back and pulled her knees even with her hips, just out to the side. And that first drive with Elliott’s full weight on top of her was so glorious, it might have topped the orgasms he’d already given her. The positivity that she was being dominated, that she was prey and couldn’t escape his pinning heaviness, the thick evidence that he was man…it caused starburst to erupt behind her eyes, in her belly, all along her nerve endings.

As if sensing her resolve, Elliott set out to crush it, his mouth stamping down on her possessively, his tongue sweeping into her mouth and letting her taste his frustration. “Touch me,” he urged against her lips. “Skin on skin.”
She shook her head, trying to distract him with more kissing, but he pulled away, those eyes drilling into her, his lower body grinding in rhythmic devastation, sending her so close to the point of no return, she lost her ability to think straight.
“Damn you, Peggy,” Elliott growled, pressing his face into her shoulder. “I need your hands and eyes. I missed them most of all.” Their hearts slammed into each other between them, in perfect time with his rolling hips. But only hers was fracturing, splitting right down the middle, little pieces falling away as he continued. “No one ever touched me like you did. I’ve needed it, baby. I’ve been dead without it. Dead inside. Please.”

You’re making my chest hurt.”
She dropped the fork onto the plate with a clatter. “What?”
Elliott’s gaze cut away, clearly having surprised himself. “The way you’re sitting there…the sun making your skin glow.” He sat up straighter in an abrupt movement that dipped that mattress. “Looking at you makes me want to forget everything else and never stop. Every time I’m with you, I come closer to giving in. Setting aside my responsibilities so I can spend more time looking and listening to each and every damn word out of your mouth. Every time.”
Heart running circles around her rib cage, Peggy set the plate of food aside and threw herself at Elliott, laying across him horizontally, her lower half still twisted in the sheet. “You don’t have to set anything aside, you can just shift them a little.” She smiled into his chest hair. “I’m short. I’ll fit.”

Peggy turned, giving the coach her back, watching him over her shoulder, raising both arms in the air and clapping her hands together. Once. “We are the Bearcats and we want to win.” With a hip roll, she turned, sliding into the V of his thighs, smiling as he sucked in a winded breath. “We did it once before and we can do it again,” she continued, holding his knees for balance as she dipped down low and rose slowly, slowly, bumping her hips sharply to one side, and then the other, until Elliott finally gave in, reaching into his sweatpants, his hand moving in vigorous strokes. “Please don’t make us mad. ’Cause we’ll get nasty and mean,” she whispered against his mouth, before licking at the parted seam. “And we just might decide to roll over your team.”

Her back landed on the kitchen table a split second later, Elliott grunting above her as he shoved down his sweatpants, ripped off her underwear, and rammed home with a shout. “Christ. Christ, what you do to me. It’s the devil’s work.” He mounted her body, dropping his face into the crook of her neck. “When a man loses control of one part of his life, all others follow. All others.”
“And I’m the catalyst?” Peggy whispered, her voice shaking. “Guess you better punish me for it.”
When his hips gave that first rude pump, she felt it up in her throat, choking her and setting her free, all at once.

Elliott wasn’t having it. He slipped his left hand up and down her thigh, moving a little higher with each stroke. “Did you have to change your panties when you came upstairs, baby?” He tucked his thumb just beneath the material of her underwear, dragging it in an arc, stopping just a few inches from her pussy. “When you put on the new ones, I bet you gave your clit a little rub. Just once around with your middle finger. Maybe twice. But you stopped because you felt bad about fingering yourself in someone else’s house, sun out and everything. Did I get that right?”
“Yes,” she breathed, tilting her head to the side, giving Elliott an opening to scrape his teeth up the side of her neck. “How did you know that?”
“I know, because even though you were damp and horny in someone else’s kitchen, you’re a good girl deep down.” He sensed her withdraw at that, just a touch. But he wasn’t finished. “And I know because when your pussy gets wet, that real, aching, slick type of wet, you want to hold out for my cock. Don’t you?

“Yes,” she wailed as Elliott did just that. Tended to her like they had only one minute until the Apocalypse. His stiff tongue raked over her clit, lapping at it, while his middle finger slipped through moisture into her entrance. “Yes
“You don’t need to tell me yes when you’re this wet,” he groaned, stabbing his tongue as far inside her as it could go and drawing it out slowly, until his stubble met her sensitized flesh and scraped, before repeating the move several quick, mind-spinning times, all while his thumb strummed over her clit. “Keyed up in my passenger seat, wiggling around like I was already tongue deep in this soaked pussy of yours. Were you remembering how much I love licking it?”
Elliott pushed two fingers inside Peggy and her hips jerked off the bureau, her bare ass slapping back down into the surface as she cried out, “Oh God. Yes, I remember.”

“My favorite part was afterward. After you’d come enough to be fucking delirious…” A prolonged suck of her swollen nub that had her legs shaking, one knee bashing off the wall. “Then I’d slide you toward me or flip you over, whatever you were begging for, and your cunt would be so shiny for me. Ready for a pounding from my cock. Gorgeous.”
“Ohhh.” Her fingers plowed into his hair and gripped tight. “Do that again. Don’t stop. I need to. I need to—” Her pleas ended with a scream when Elliott pushed his fingers deep, jiggling them rapidly, while his mouth applied the sweetest amount of suction to her clit and sensation exploded below her waist. “Elliott. Jesus Christ.”

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