ARC Review: My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Format: E-bookmyfairprincess
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Improper Princesses, #1
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Charles Valentine Penley
Heroine: Gillian Dryden
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 30, 216
Started On: August 11, 2016
Finished On: August 12, 2016

Vanessa Kelly became an author that I liked to look out for whenever possible after reading her Renegade Royals series. Her stories had most of the essential ingredients that makes for a good historical romance. The Improper Princess seems to be a spinoff of the Renegade Royals, bringing to us as the debut book in the series, the story of Griffin Steele’s sister, and an illegitimate one to boot, Gillian Dryden.

Hellbent on seeking revenge, Gillian is on the hunt for the man who killed her stepfather. Her path crosses that of Charles Valentine Penley, the Sixth Duke of Leverton when her grandmother seeks his service in order to mold Gillian into a proper English lady who wouldn’t shock everyone with her improper attitude and brash nature as she is want to do. Charles though reluctant to get into the middle of something he knows would be more trouble than what’s worth, finally gets coerced into taking Gillian on, only to find himself properly intrigued by every facet of her character.

Overall, I found the story an okay read, and believe it could have been much much better. There was just too much talking between characters, dialogues that the book could have totally done away with, things that could have been brought to the readers in a different way. There is conversation and lively banter and then there is this. Plucking through all the elongated conversations was exhausting, and Gillian was the sort of heroine that just got on my nerves. Looking through some reviews up on Goodreads, I believe I am not the only one who feels that way about her.

Towards the ending, her behavior moved beyond the point of ridiculous and I just couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm to be bothered anymore. Cumbersome to plod through at certain points, My Fair Princess made me realize just how exceptionally plotted books by authors such as Elizabeth Hoyt are when it comes to the genre. Vanessa Kelly is not a bad author. My Fair Princess just seems to be a bad egg in place of all the good books that have been published in the author’s name.

Recommended for fans of Vanessa Kelly.

Favorite Quotes

Gillian was now using her grip on his coat to pull herself up. She clamped one hand around the back of his neck to hold him steady as she kissed him back with an enthusiasm that almost sent his eyes rolling to the back of his head.
Good God.
For a girl who’d been tearing a strip off him just moments ago, she’d certainly gotten into the spirit of things, turning his mind to mush in the process. Her sweet lips wandered over him, teasing and tasting with dainty licks that felt like flickers of fire. When Gillian rubbed her gentle curves against him, Charles felt his knees start to buckle. Every point of contact between them heated to unbearable levels.

He was rewarded with the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen. Gillian, half-naked, her shirt pooled up around her shoulders as her body arched in a lithe curve, breasts pushed high, nipples flushed and full. Her eyes were closed, her expression fierce with passion as she approached her climax. She was so sweet, so bloody natural, hiding nothing of herself and ready to give him everything. Just looking at her made something inside him explode like a powder keg, almost knocking him flat. He’d never felt anything like it before.
Because she’s mine.

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

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ARC Review: How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy by Vanessa Kelly

Format: E-bookhowtoplanaweddingforaroyalspy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
Series: The Renegade Royals, #3
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Captain William Endicott
Heroine: Evelyn Whitney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 6, 2015
Started On: July 27, 2015
Finished On: August 2, 2015

Book 3 in the Renegade Royals series tells the story of Captain William Endicott (Will), the bastard son of the Duke of York, a military officer and a spy for the government. Returning from the bloody battlefields, Will is more than looking forward to putting up his feet and relaxing and perhaps determine on the course which he wants to steer his future. All that is thwarted however, when he is summoned by none other than his father, requiring him to work on a mission of utmost importance. A mission rendered doubly tricky by the fact that he is to spy on his former childhood sweetheart, Miss Evelyn Whitney (Evie).

Evie is the typical variety of plain Jane heroine if ever there was one. A wallflower and happy to be one, Evie is comfortable with who she is, letting her twin Edie shine in her stead. Working on charity supporting Irish immigrants with her almost fiance’, Evie is looking forward to settling down with the man with whom she shares a lot of similar interests with, a man who wouldn’t crush her dreams and destroy the very ground on which she stands on like Will, her childhood friend and the love of her life had done.

When Will enters into Evie’s life all of a sudden, no one is more dismayed than Evie herself. The fact that she responds to Will’s presence with a ferocity of her being that she can’t help yet want to hide from, Evie finds herself in a dilemma of epic proportions when her mother starts to push her and Will together. A lot of theatrics and misunderstandings determine the fate of this second chance at love Will and Evie gets, amidst a plot of assassination of the Kingdom’s finest that Will bears the responsibility of stopping.

How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy would have to be the story from the series which I found the hardest to get myself into. The plot starts off slowly, the most riveting thing about it being the sparks that fly between the secondary characters, Edie and Will’s best friend and cousin Captain Alasdair Gilbride whose story is up next. When the main couple in question fades to a mere dot in the presence of secondary characters, well there’s a damper on the excitement of the reader if ever there was one.

The story begins to pick up during the latter half, and mostly due to the assassination plot stirring in the midst of all the antics between Will and Evie. Both protagonists have trust issues stemming from different things. Will’s distrust stems from the fact that he doesn’t bring himself to trust his judgement where Evie is concerned, the conflict of interest between doing his job by his country and doing right by the love of his life, the latter being something which he figures out only much later in the story. Evie has a hard time trusting Will for good reason if you ask me. Will had pretty much cut ties with her after her attempt to show Will that she had feelings for him, something that had crushed the soul of someone like Evie to an extent which she’d thought she would never get over from.

Though I didn’t overly fall in love with either Will or Evie, both were likable enough characters. Evie being a softie for anyone, male or female in distress and Will, the handsome war hero whose mere presence alone stirs Evie into doing things she would never think of otherwise. All said and done, I think Will and Evie are the perfect match for each other. Will brings out the passion in Evie, stirs her desires and delivers on them in the most panty melting fashion. Evie brings forth the playful side of Will, a man who has seen too much blood and senselessness on battlefields to last him a lifetime.

Recommended for fans of the series. I can’t wait to wade into Edie and Alasdair’s mess of a story. I am practically rubbing my hands in glee even now! Those two promise a fiery and stormy read and I have been hankering for one, for a long, long while.

Final Verdict: Spies, scandalous sex & a second chance at love. Makes for good storytelling!

Favorite Quotes

In the soft light, he did look rather like a wolf. His hair was a rough gold and his high cheekbones and rugged jaw lent a hard, almost fierce, cast to his features. As he prowled across the room, she had to resist the temptation to press a hand over her pounding heart. There was no reason for Will to make her nervous, and she needed to start believing that right now.
When he stopped just a few inches from where she’d plastered herself against the bookshelves, the slow, devastatingly attractive smile that curled up his oh-so-masculine mouth sent her pulse racing like a runaway horse. He stretched out an arm, resting a big hand on the mahogany shelf next to her head. It effectively caged her in.
“Why, Evie,” he said in a voice that made her shiver, “I’ve come to see if you need help.”

“Do you really want this? Want me?” she whispered, afraid to hope. She wanted so much for that to be true.
His eyelids lifted, and Evie’s heart skipped a beat at the passion that lit his eyes with a blue fire. “I want you, Evie— in my arms, in my bed, in my life.”
Those were the words she’d longed to hear. The walls she’d built against him, year after painful year, were crumbling into dust.
He pressed a searing kiss to her mouth, robbing her of breath and making her restless for more.
“I want you naked beneath me,” he said when he released her lips. “And I want you on top of me, my cock driving up into you while I play. I want you, Evie. Mine, forever.”

Evie was about to register a half-hearted objection when his mouth came down on hers again. Her protests were an- nihilated by the hot, slick glide of his tongue and the strength of his arms holding her snugly against him. For several minutes he simply held her on his lap, gently ravish- ing her with his lips and tongue, giving her the time to sink into a shimmering haze of boneless pleasure. With every kiss she felt the imprint of him on her mind and body and knew there was no going back. There was no one else who could draw forth the yearnings of her heart, nor would there ever be again.

Will clamped both hands on her bottom and surged one last time, high and hard, his strong thighs lifting her as he groaned out his release. His eyes were closed, his features pulled tight with passion. She clung to him, her own eyes filling with tears of gratitude and emotion as his powerful body shook under her hands.
As he finally came to rest beneath her, his eyelids rose and a slow, sensual smile curled his lips. With trembling hands, Evie brushed her fingers through his dishevelled golden hair.
“My Wolf,” she whispered, and then collapsed in his arms.

“Don’t bother on my account,” she said in a sarcastic voice as he retreated into what she assumed was his bedroom. “I’ve seen it before, as you no doubt recall.”
He whipped around to stare at her, his blue eyes heating with what she thought was irritation, but she couldn’t be entirely certain. The look on his face set her heart to thumping all over again.
“You haven’t seen anything yet, I assure you,” he said, growling like the lion he resembled.
“Don’t brag, Will,” she retorted. “It’s immodest.”
He braced his hands high on the doorframe, giving her an excellent view of the spectacular muscles in his chest and arms. “You are going to drive me completely insane, do you know that?”

“So pretty, Evie. Everything about you is so pretty.” His voice was a husky rumble that knifed through her.
“Will,” she whispered, her voice breaking with need.
His hot glance flicked up to hers, then he swooped in and fastened his mouth tightly on her sex. He sucked her into his mouth and Evie came apart in a sudden, explosive climax. She let out a high-pitched wail and curled up to grab his shoulders, clutching at him with shaking hands.
A moment later, Will surged up her body, bringing her hands up and clamping them over her head. He pushed into her, spinning her climax to impossible heights.

Evie could feel her eyes start to sting. “Wolf,” she whispered, her voice fracturing with emotion.
“Yes, love,” he said, in a tight voice. “I’m right here with you.”
She gripped his shoulders, staring into his gaze. She felt like her heart was splitting wide open.
“I love you,” she said.
He closed his eyes and came down on her, surging into her one last time before letting himself go, shaking in her arms as he found his release.

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ARC Review: Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney

Format: E-booknotquiteawife
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Lost Lords, #6
Publisher: Zebra Books
Hero: James, Lord Kirkland
Heroine: Laurel Herbert
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1, 2014
Started On: December 24, 2014
Finished On: December 28, 2014

Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney is my first read from the author. Book 6 in The Lost Lords series, Not Quite a Wife’s title reminded me of Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas and I expected something similar to that when I requested for the title on Netgalley. And though the story didn’t deliver the exact sort of tale that I was expecting and I found myself a tad bit disappointed in the story, there were aspects to it that worked for me that kept the pages turning.

James, Lord Kirkland is a spymaster and quite a wealthy one at that. Ten years back, James had fallen in love with the Laurel Herbert and married her quite soon after they’d met for the first time. But their love had been a short lived one, or rather a love that had been tested by the other side of his life, a life steeped in violence when required. The fact that Laurel had told him that she never wanted to see him again is the reason James stays away, though his heart bleeds from the loneliness of their separation.

Laurel is the co-founder of a shelter for the abused along with her brother. The life that she had carved out for herself after she had turned away from James is one that she is content with, though the thought that she would never be able to have any children of her own with divorce being a non-option from her estranged husband leaves her feeling bleak. That is until James lands in her life yet again and a sequence of events finds her pregnant with his child.

Thus a pact is made; all that James asks of her is to give him a chance, give them a chance to find out whether they can make their relationship work, for the sake of their unborn child. I loved the premise of the story. It is rare to read historical romances where the lead heroine ventures into issues such as taking care of the abused and the less fortunate in the society. Laurel’s heart is a pure one, and James sees nothing but good in her. She is the light that brightens up his otherwise dark soul and when she took leave, that light had been extinguished from his life for ten long years until James is given the chance to make things work again.

And yet, the violence that is part of James’s life is one that comes to light yet again, driving Laurel to seek a way to move past that particular factor that repels her very core. Though I understood that Laurel’s upbringing hadn’t really prepared her for violence of the sort that James is familiar with, I found myself liking her a little bit less because of her attitude towards James, a man who had been nothing but kind, loving and ardent when it comes to her. I found that for someone like Laurel who is smart and has seen the dark side that life has to offer in the eyes of the abused that comes seeking shelter with her, yet she cannot seem to see past the violence that shrouds James’s life.

I loved James. For me, he was the only reason the story worked to the level it did. He is kind, loving, strong, sweet, loyal and yet lethal as well. The lack left behind by Laurel in my opinion was partly taken care of by James, whose character I absolutely adored. The one unique aspect to the story that I liked was the music that James and Laurel makes together. That opened a doorway to reconciling a lot of issues that existed between James and Laurel.

Recommended for fans of Mary Jo Putney.

Final Verdict: Not Quite a Wife; a story  that explores a second chance at love & marriage.

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

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ARC Review: Beauty’s Beast by Amanda Ashley

Format: E-bookbeautysbeast
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Erik Trevayne
Heroine: Kristine Arrington
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 2, 2014
Started On: September 4, 2014
Finished On: September 6, 2014

Erik Trevayne, seventh lord of Hawksbridge Castle is a man cursed with a spell that slowly and painfully transforms him into the form of a beast, a beast that would be haunted and taunted by the memories of what its like to be human. Having made a promise to his father on  his deathbed, Erik has no choice but to sire a heir while he is still able to and thus picks Kristine Arrington to be the mother of his child.

Kristine is rescued from the death gallows by the man rumored to have killed his first wife, a man said to be so beastly that few hardly have even seen him. Kristine wishes for one thing when she is asked to wed Erik; that she be blessed with a husband who would make her happy. However, Kristine soon discovers that the ways of her enigmatic husband is not conducive to the stuff that happy marriages are made of. Though Erik beds her every night, he always comes to her in the deep shadows of the night, hiding a part of himself and refusing her touch on his body. And though Kristine should hate her husband for bedding her as such, she can’t help but be enamored by the care that he bestows on her night after night.

Erik didn’t sign up for a wife when he handpicked Kristine to bear him a heir. But that is what he gets when Kristine is determined to be a wife to him, to learn his secrets and the wealth of pain that he hides in his heart, mind, body and soul. With many a twist in between, the author leads the reader to a happy ending, an ending that Erik deserved more than anyone else.

Though the plot and certain elements within the story worked for me, I didn’t feel enamored enough with the lead characters, namely Kristine. I found her to be a bit of a pushover whenever Erik tended to push her away. I wanted Kristine to stand strong and firmly in her love and affection for Erik and not sway in the determined front that Erik presented to keep those whom he cared for at bay. I just think there lacked that something in Kristine’s character that made it tough for me to love her as I should have.

Erik was a tortured soul through and through. With no fault of his own, Erik finds himself cursed in a manner that there is no escape from. His pain practically seeps through the pages, and my heart literally broke into pieces during some of his encounters with Kristine. We all have read those stories about heroes who are terribly disfigured that society had deemed as monsters and such, but in this case, Erik truly is turning into the beast that he is accursed to be, painful inch by inch. And that was what in essence made this story stand out for me.

Recommended for those who like a little bit of paranormal with their historical romances.

Final Verdict: A historical romance with a twist of the different.

Favorite Quotes

For a moment, he collapsed on top of her. She felt the silk of his hair against her cheek, the warm whisper of his breath across her bare breast.
And then, as if he had never been there, he was gone, and she was alone in the bed.

As always, she longed to touch him, to explore his body, to know his body as intimately as he knew hers.
As always, he refused to let her touch him.
As always, he saw to her pleasure first. His climax followed quickly.
Lying there, their bodies still pressed intimately together, she closed her eyes. Listening to the sound of thunder and her husband’s ragged breathing, she felt a tear slip down her cheek, and knew that it was his.

She moved beneath him, hips lifting in silent invitation. He made love to her slowly this time, savoring each sensation, holding back until she was clinging to him, her fevered body trembling. Together, they plunged over the abyss into ecstasy.
“Kristine!” Her name was a sob, a prayer. And then he whispered the words he had held back for so long.
“Kristine, my Kristine. You will never know how much I love you.”

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

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ARC Review: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa Kelly

Format: E-bookconfessionsofaroyalbridegroom
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Renegade Royals, #2
Publisher: Zebra Books
Hero: Griffin Steele
Heroine: Justine Brightmore
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014
Started On: July 2, 2014
Finished On: July 3, 2014

If you have read the first book in The Renegade Royals series, you’d have met the utterly mysterious and alluring Griffin Steele whom your heart would have clamored for even then. Good thing that Vanessa Kelly delivered on his story with the second installment in the series because Griffin is a hero definitely worth drooling over and then some.

Griffin Steele is a man who made a name for himself practically out of nothing. The bastard son of a Prince who till today remains unacknowledged by his father, Griffin bears the emotional scars of being abandoned as a child, though he would rather carve out a piece of himself than admit to the fact. Griffin is in the midst of tying up all loose ends that ties him down, planning on leaving England in search of what his soul craves, a sense of completion that he desires but is unable to voice out for. And then turns up a baby accompanied with a mysterious note and a signet ring on his doorstep which throws all his best laid plans awry, leaving Griffin scrambling to make sense of the total chaos that his life becomes from that point onwards.

24 year old Justine Brightmore craves peace and solitude above everything else. Having had enough dramatics in her life to last her a lifetime. The only thing that propels Justine to leave the comfort of the life that she has carved out for herself is being summoned by her godfather Dominic Hunter. Dominic thrusts Justine into the house of one of the most notorious men in London, a man equally loathed and revered amongst society though anyone would hardly go on to acknowledge the likes of someone like Griffin.

From the moment Griffin and Justine lay eyes on each other, it is dislike at first sight with a healthy dose of awareness for everything to do with each other. Griffin though he loathes the position of playing guardian to Justine is helpless in his need to know everything about the woman who drives him crazy with her stubbornness and attitude. Justine might want to bury her head in the sand where Griffin and the feelings that he rouses in her are concerned, but even her stoic determination is no match for the gravitational pull that Griffin has on her senses.

When a turn of events puts Justine’s honor in a precarious position, there is nothing left to do but tie the knot, something Justine views akin to a noose around her neck. However, as both Justine and Griffin learn more about one another, Griffin providing details of his past with sheer reluctance, both of them find that where their emotions are concerned, the aloofness that each had strived for at the begining is no longer even a possibility.

Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom started on a high note with the delicious Griffin taking your very breathe away. The fascinating tattoo that coils over the left side of his upper torso alone was enough to increase the hyperventilating factor when it came to him. His sardonic wit was another reason to go crazy over his character, not to mention the deep well of tenderness that lives inside of a man rumored to be one of the most ruthless and notorious in the city.

Though I liked Justine just fine, I couldn’t find it in myself to fall for her the way I did with Griffin. For one thing, I found her focus on the mysterious baby to be a tad too much, or perhaps the focus of the story as it progressed was on the baby more than the burgeoning relationship between Griffin and Justine. Perhaps it was the balance between the mystery, romance and sensuality that I craved which somehow seemed to be at odds with one another which brought down the rating where I was concerned.

However, that doesn’t mean that this story isn’t an enjoyable one, far from that. Even with that misgiving inside of me, the fact that I was drawn into the tale and enjoyed the back and forth between Griffin and Justine and of course their happily ever after tells the tale of romance that was enjoyed from start to finish. Worthy of a mention are the two scenes of passion in the story, highly sensual that took my breathe away.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of alluring heroes who seduce you rather effortlessly from page 1!

Final Verdict: Sizzle, mystery and a bit of mayhem gives an enjoyable read!

Favorite Quotes

“You couldn’t possibly want to marry me,” she whispered, even as something overpowering, something more real than anything she had ever felt in her life, stretched up and loomed over her, blotting out the light from the lamps and the roaring fire in the grate. She could see nothing but Griffin.
To her astonishment, a gleam of amusement sparked to life in his gaze.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said in a musing tone. “Any woman who, by her own admission, is capable of shooting a man in cold blood is likely the perfect wife for me.”

Never had she felt such delicious warmth, or imagined that a kiss could cast such a transfixing spell over her body. Though her mind reeled in astonishment, she wanted to stand there forever, greedily drawing in his heat and strength. Drawing in the heady taste of him—something wild and masculine and utterly tempting.

“Why do you even care?” she whispered.
His eyes half closed and he leaned toward her, as if trying to capture some elusive scent. “For some reason I’m unable to fathom, I want to know everything about you. I want to know what your favorite toy was when you were a child, what was your most treasured possession. Who comforted you when you cried, or if you ever climbed a tree. I want to know what you like to eat and what makes you curl up your sweet little nose. I want to know when you first wished to kiss a boy. I especially want to know about that,” he finished with a wicked purr.

Unable to stop herself, Justine moved against him, spreading her legs even wider and rubbing against his thick erection. Sensation rose up through her in a heady spiral, every rational thought in her head blasted away by the sensual storm he evoked in her as he suckled and played with her breasts. They felt full and aching. Indeed, her entire body ached with a need only he could fulfill.

He groaned and dipped his head, his long hair coming loose from its leather tie, his chest rising and falling with quick breaths. She pulled the strip of material from his hair and flung it away, then tunneled her fingers through his thick, long locks, smoothing them down over his back. Justine felt like she was drowning in a world of sensation and emotion, and she willingly went under.
“My God, Justine,” he gasped before planting a searing kiss on her mouth.

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

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Review: Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booklordofdanger
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Zebra Books
Hero: Simon of Navarre
Heroine: Lady Alys de Lancie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1, 1997
Started On: April 10, 2014
Finished On: April 21, 2014

Lady Alys de Lancie also known as Alys of Summersedge has lived most of her life in the convent, all thanks to her malevolent uncle Richard de Lancie otherwise known as Richard the Fair, whose ambitions begin and end with the throne he is willing to acquire by any means. By his side is the enigmatic, mysterious and much revered magician Simon of Navarre who has his own agenda when it comes to Richard and his goals.

Alys and her beautiful sister Claire are summoned back to Summersedge by Richard, of course with the ulterior motive of marrying them off to suite his needs. Wanting to offer Simon a bride of his choice, it is at first Claire that would have been paired off with Simon if not for Alys stepping in to take the place of her younger sibling. Plain and seemingly mild-mannered, Alys knows when to put her best foot forward and when to take a step back and retreat. But Simon throws all that for a loop when with one sweeping glance from his golden eyes makes Alys think of things way beyond her knowledge and capacity as an innocent who knows naught of the pleasures of the flesh.

Simon finds his plans thwarted in the face of the woman he has chosen to marry, an conundrum if ever there was one. Alys captivates Simon in a way that has never ever happened to him before, making him reconsider and re-evaluate everything he has set out to do, something of course which he doesn’t like overly much. But what is a man to do when his heart refuses to let go?

Just like every single novel by Anne Stuart, Lord of Danger contains the classic elements which makes Anne unbeatable in any genre that she chooses to write. Simon is as alluring as they come, with those elements to him that teases at your brain as well as the other senses that remains attuned to everything he does whenever he enters the picture. And Alys turned out to be just perfect for someone like Simon, a woman who wouldn’t give up, even in the face of major adversity.

I swear that Anne weaves some sort of magic wand on all her stories that makes them this good, there is no way you can pick up a story from her and remain unmoved, even if it is to give in to the urge to throw the book at the wall because of the abruptness of the ending. But then again, you tend to get used to that particular trait when it comes to Anne because somehow, you know that the happily ever after is one that would stick through all sorts of adversity.

Like most historical romances I have read from Anne to-date, Lord of Danger also comes with a side of delicious secondary romance that develops between the beautiful Claire and the altogether too married and too serious Sir Thomas du Rhaymer whose beliefs regarding beautiful women and what he perceives himself to be makes for all sorts of deliciousness when it involves him and Claire. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart and fans of historical romances.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart proves time and yet again that love can strike even the most jaded of hearts. Beautifully crafted, as always.

Favorite Quotes

He’d forgotten how sweet a woman could taste. Or maybe no woman tasted as good as Claire of Summersedge—he was entirely ready to believe that. She kissed with complete innocence, following his lead, letting her tongue touch his, as she moved closer still.
He slid his fingers through her tangled hair, slanting his mouth across hers, deepening the kiss, feeling his soul slip away and no longer caring. He could make his confession later. He could repent later. But how could he repent of something that felt so miraculously wonderful?

“For a wise woman you can be very stupid, Alys,” he said gently. “There is such a thing as pleasure.” He gently stroked her cheeks with his thumbs.
“Pleasure?” she echoed blankly, as if the word were in Arabic, even as her body arched towards his, unconsciously seeking him.
“Pleasure,” he said, his voice low and beguiling. “Shimmering, endless longing and delight, touch and taste and delicate wonder.” He moved his head closer, let his mouth hover over hers. “Heat and dampness and yearning,” he whispered. “An empty aching that finally explodes into a small death that is like no other.”

“He wants a new husband for you. Though he’s strongly considering the convent.”
“I don’t want to enter a convent.”
“That was your original request. What made you change your mind?”
“You.”

She was slipping down on the bed as the drug took possession of her, slowly, languorously. “I’m afraid of you,” he said, knowing she wouldn’t remember. “I’m afraid of loving you.”
She blinked, dazed. “You’re afraid of making love to me?” she said, her voice gently, sweetly slurred.
“No,” he said bleakly. “I’m afraid of loving you, when I haven’t loved anyone in years. It would destroy me.”
Her eyes drifted closed, but a sweet smile curved her mouth. “Then perhaps,” she whispered, “you need to be destroyed.”

He would have her, and there was no room for the tears she wept as she clung to him. He cursed his ungentle hands but he couldn’t stop himself from wanting her, taking her. He moved between her legs, pushing in deep, breaking past the frail barrier of her innocence. He hurt her, and she cried. He kissed her, and she kissed him back. He touched her, and she came.

“I hate you,” she said.
“I know.”
“If you touch me again I’ll see to it that you really are unmanned.”
“I know.”
Her furious eyes met his. “I love you,” she said, her voice rich with loathing.
“I know,” he said, and kissed her.”

He opened his eyes and looked at her as the pace increased, and she was caught in the tangle of his eyes, staring up at him as her body received him, faster now, harder, deeper, and she still wanted more. She was crying, she wasn’t sure why, but he licked the tears from her face and kissed her with them. She wanted to hold him, but her hands were trapped beneath his, and all she could do was absorb him, take him, as he was taking her, steal his soul and make it her own.

For a moment he said nothing. Then he spoke. “Will you come away with me?”
She looked warily at the horse. “Where?”
“To the far reaches of the world. To the isles of the north, where the wind is like ice. To the heat of the desert, to the mountains of Switzerland. Come away with me and you may never see England again.”

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ARC Review: Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard by Vanessa Kelly

Format: E-booksecretsforseducingaroyalbodyguard
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Renegade Royals, #1
Publisher: Zebra Books
Hero: Aden St. George
Heroine: Lady Vivien Shaw
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 7, 2014
Started On: January 5, 2014
Finished On: January 12, 2014

Secrets of Seducing a Royal Bodyguard by Vanessa Kelly is her first book in The Renegade Royals series. Having never read a Vanessa Kelly prior to this, I had not idea what to expect when I delved into the 400+ pages of this story. What initially drew me to check this book out of course was the cover. Who can resist a cover such as this one with a hero who looks good enough to eat? And then the synopsis turned out to be one that intrigued me enough to give this a go.

Vanessa Kelly has the sort of writing that definitely makes a story easy to read. Though the first 1/3rd of the book could have picked up in pace a bit, the latter part of the story turned out to be fun and delicious with the ongoing thread of mystery and danger interwoven together.

Aden St. George works for the Secret Service and his newest assignment takes him to the delectable Lady Vivien Shaw, who has a somewhat murky reputation amongst the ton. Having grown up with a father who had resented his very presence in the household, Aden had been a child who had learnt early on in life to hold his emotions in and to never make himself vulnerable. When he finds his heart and emotions being invaded bit by bit by Vivien, Aden tries his darnedest to repair the armors around his heart and soul but to no avail.

Lady Vivien is a woman who stands at the brink of disaster. One wrong move could destroy everyone that she holds dear to her heart not to mention the added danger of being abducted and held against her will until her knight in shining armor had rescued her and made her feel like she had found a safe haven inside the circle of his arms. Once Vivien realizes that the danger to her life is one that wouldn’t cease until Aden and his colleagues can uncover who it is that wants to harm her, Vivien realizes that her work is going to be cut out for her in her determination to do what she must to save her family.

Vivien has had her fair share of suitors, amorous in their intentions and otherwise, but nothing prepares her for the sheer impact of Aden’s continued presence in her life. Each heat laden gaze and touch sends her senses spinning and the stolen kisses that comes later on makes Vivien yearn to be taken by Aden in every single way a man can take and possess a woman. Combine Vivien’s innocence together with that of Aden’s expertise and Vivien’s determined nature to make Aden see the light, well fireworks fly in every direction, not to mention the fact that it makes for some very hilarity ridden scenes too!

I loved Aden as a hero. His tall, dark and silent manner at times made him intriguing and of course the kindness that is deep inside of him which shines through with his thoughts that are in continuous turmoil and his actions made me fall for him that much deeper. I loved Vivien too. The way she seemed to find herself in the most hilarious circumstances made her an enjoyable heroine and the fact that she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she wants and believes in and fights till there’s nothing left to fight with earned her my wholehearted admiration. All in all, I would say, a fairly enjoyable debut novel that certainly hints at more to come. Recommended!

Final Verdict: Mirth, sizzle & mystery makes for an unbeatable combo in this delicious debut to series!

Favorite Quotes

“Wha . . . what are you doing?” she stammered.
“I’m answering your question,” he murmured, the dark rumble making her shiver.
Then he moved, tilting her back over his arm as he swooped in to kiss her. His mouth fastened over hers. Not gently, either. He plundered her lips, demanding entrance with a masculine arrogance that swept past her resistance in one skipped heartbeat.

As if she were in a trance, her hand drifted up to touch her lips. They felt hot and swollen. His pupils seemed to dilate, flaring as he tracked her movement. Vivien let her hand drop to his chest, sliding her fingers past the lapels of his coat to clutch the fine linen of his cravat. Beneath her fingertips, his heart thrummed in a rapid, steady beat, his life and heat flowing into her hand.

And then he touched her, right there, right on the tight little bundle of flesh that ached with need. He slicked his fingers and rubbed her until she began to tremble in his arms. Contractions rippled from her womb, finally coalescing in luxurious spasms that pulled from her mouth a startled cry. When she arched back, letting the waves wash over her, Aden pressed a hot kiss to her breastbone, right above her heart.

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