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.”

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

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Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookonceuponamaidenlane.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #12.5
Publisher: Forever Yours
Hero: Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell
Heroine: Mary Whitsun
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: June 02, 2018
Finished On: June 03, 2018

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt, a novella set in the Maiden Lane series is readable as a standalone. However, for the diehard fans of the series like myself, the story of Mary Whitsun, a character that we have witnessed growing into her womanhood is definitely one too good to pass up on.

Set in 1747, London, Mary is out and about on her full day off for the week, browsing in a bookshop when she encounters Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell. The chance meeting changes Mary’s life forever in ways she has never expected, and before she knows it, she is taken into a residence of confluence and finesse, as a family’s long lost daughter and finds herself to be betrothed to none other than Viscount Blackwell himself.

Mary has a lot of adjustments to make when it comes to settling into her new life. The most unsettling aspect of it perhaps being the way her body responds to Henry. Building castles in the air is not for the likes of Mary, but she does get drawn into the web of desire, sensuality, and want that is Henry in his entirety. But ofttimes, fate has a cruel way of taking away from you what you want the most, unless you are willing to make a sacrifice that could either make or break you.

I loved Once Upon a Maiden Lane, undoubtedly so. After being a trifle bit disappointed with certain aspects of the last book in the series, Duke of Desire, I was totally enamored by the charged sexual tension deliciously entwined with the rest of the story as it happened along.

I loved both Mary and Henry, and couldn’t have asked for more. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Once Upon a Maiden Lane is a succulent little morsel of a delight. Loved, loved, loved!

Favorite Quotes

He examined her as if he could see through the silk of her bodice, through the whalebone of her stays, to all her vulnerable places underneath.
She felt her nipples tighten almost painfully as he watched her, and she wondered wildly: did he know what his examination did to her?
Did he know that her center was melting because of his eyes?
Holding his blue gaze was an almost-unbearable torture.
Just a corner of his mouth curled up as he stared into her eyes, and she had her answer.
Oh, he knew all right.
The realization should’ve sent her running from the room in embarrassment. It didn’t.
Instead she raised her chin in challenge.
The curl of his lips widened into a true smile.

She’d never been kissed before.
This…this was…a revelation. His mouth was hot on hers, his chest firm. She could smell him. A lemon scent, perhaps from his hair, and a hint of tea.
She felt her controls slipping. Felt him urge her on—toward what she wasn’t sure. She mustn’t. She mustn’t.
But part of her wanted what he offered.
Freedom. Sensuality. Bliss.
His tongue ran along her bottom lip. She tentatively opened her mouth, answering him, gasping in sudden wild heat when she felt his tongue touch hers.
Only to have him abruptly let her go and step back.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, his voice husky. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

He stepped closer so that his chest almost, almost touched the tips of her breasts, and she was forced to tilt back her head to keep her eyes locked with his. He bent and murmured in her ear softly. Intimately. “Only a small time to learn your likes and dislikes. Your favorite foods. The thing that disgusts you the most.” He paced around her, and she was reminded of how he’d stalked her in the sitting room. His voice came from over her left shoulder. “What authors you like to read. What you look like when you laugh from your belly. How your tears fall. If you like to stroll in the morning or if you’d rather laze abed. If the sound of an orchestra makes your heart sing or leaves you unmoved. How to make you smile and how to make you sob.”
His breath was hot in her right ear, and Mary shivered, closing her eyes to keep herself calm.
“I want to learn all of you. I want you to know me in return. When I next kiss you, I want you to welcome my lips like a lover instead of a stranger.”
She inhaled sharply. This was like a waking dream, for this man, this fascinating, handsome aristocrat to speak to her so bluntly.
So passionately.
“Do you want that as well?” He was in front of her now.
“Yes,” she said, opening her eyes to meet his gaze boldly. “Yes, I do.”

He took possession of her lips without any sort of hesitation, parting them and running his tongue along the inner edge of her bottom lip.
Mary stifled a moan as pleasure burst through her body.
She’d wondered if what she’d felt with that first kiss might just be an oddity. Something that couldn’t be replicated.
But it hadn’t.
It was he—Henry.
He slid his tongue into her mouth, moving forcefully even as he angled his face against hers, his arms pulling her close against his chest.
She felt taken. Captured. As if he commanded her at the moment.
As if he could do anything to her.

He lifted his lips from hers and looked into her eyes.
“That’s it,” he said, unsmiling. It was as if he were searching for something. “You’re so beautiful like this. So open and wanton, all your defenses down. I want to keep you like this forever, hanging on the edge of my hand, weeping over my fingers, desperate and undone. Mary, my Mary. Darling. Let go for me and only me. Let go for me now.”
And she did, her soul, her body flying apart.
She let go and fell, her limbs shaking, gasping for air. It was awful. It was bliss. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before.
And when she opened her eyes she saw his eyes locked on hers.
His beautiful, witty mouth was twisted, and his gaze was somehow tender. “Darling Mary, you destroy me.”

She clutched at him. At his buttocks and his shoulder. Moving her hips up to meet his descent. Spreading her legs even wider.
Feeling the jolt when he rubbed her just there.
Sweat slicked his back, hot and real, and he moved faster now, his hips thumping into hers.
She felt the tension build, felt his penis thrust in and out of her, felt her body coil tight.
He hitched his hips and made a swiveling motion on her and stars exploded behind her eyelids, white and sudden, hot and bright, shattering her.
She gasped into his mouth as he kept kissing her, his tongue claiming her, his lips rough and hard.
Until he jerked his mouth from hers and gasped, his head arching back, his eyes squeezed shut. She could feel heat pulsing into her even as he cried out her name.
She watched him, wanting to remember this moment forever.
She. She had brought him this pleasure.

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

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Review: Heartless by Anne Stuart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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ARC Review: The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthelullabygirl.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Series: Angie Pallorino, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddocks
Heroine: Angela Pallorino
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: May 14, 2018
Finished On: May 20, 2018

The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White is the second book in the Angie Pallorino series, books centered around the lead female detective, aka Angela Pallorino (Angie). These are not standalone books, so if you want to immerse yourself in the ‘dark’ escape that this series provides, you will have to read the books in order. I say dark escape because Loreth’s books delve into the darker side of suspense with just enough romance going for it to suit readers like myself.

The Lullaby Girl begins two weeks or so after The Drowned Girls end, rather eventfully I must add. With Angie taking down a serial rapist turned killer (Spencer Adams) working her now life partner (of sorts), Sergeant James Maddocks, Angie’s life had considerably turned upside down since the hunt for Spencer had started. Angie, who had then being working sex crimes, had been partnered with James, the man she had tied to a motel bed and drowned herself in him on her way to oblivion – Angie’s method of escape from the voices that hound her.

Since then, Angie and Maddocks had managed to bust wide open a case that has all the elements that makes society gasp in indignation and fear. A rapist & killer who mutilated his victims, who had found easy pickings aboard a ‘pleasure vessel’ known as Amanda Rose, which had also exposed dirty politicians that had benefited from the operations.

While Angie had been placed on leave until the investigation into the culmination of the Spencer Adams angle in the case had ended, Maddocks meanwhile had continued the probe into the human trafficking of young girls and how far the tentacles of the case reaches.

Angie had in the meantime, started inquiries into her childhood, the lies which had pretty much defined her existence having come out into the open during the strenuous hours spent on the case. It is as Angie digs her heels into finding out more, that two detectives seek her out on a cold case of a DNA match with Angie’s, bringing home the possibility that Angie must have family somewhere that could possibly have been looking for her all these years.

With her position as a detective in the department at peril and placed in the social media division, Angie has no choice but to go along for the ride, if only for the ‘benefits’ being on the job would bring in the line of her own investigations. But resent the punishment, she definitely does.

So finds Angie going along with the investigations into her past, while Maddocks pursues the leads on his case, which takes on Russian organized crime amidst international human trafficking angle which brings takes the case to a whole new level. But it is when these two separate and distinct investigations collide that things take a turn which brings the whole house of cards tumbling down.

The Lullaby Girls proved to be just as engrossing a read as it’s predecessor. Angie’s character was just as thorny, perhaps more so owing to the different upheavals that her life has been subjected to along the way. Angie doesn’t see the destructive path she is on, though it is hard not to empathize with what she’s going through as well. She has had her whole world turned upside down, and to come to know that she had had a life that was vastly different from what she remembers to be her childhood, enables her to understand her affinity with crime solving and sex crimes in particular.

The inability to see the “difficult” side of her character prevents Angie from seeing the punishment she is given at the department for what it is; that it had been owing to her actions and behavior along with her strained relationships with her partners, and her lack of ability to follow orders while keeping a level head about it.

This of course makes Angie lash out, and lash out she does, which makes things pretty difficult for Maddocks. Because for Angie, there is nothing more vulnerable than letting someone into her life to a point where he would have the ability to destroy her whole world, if it ever comes to that. Angie likes control, well let’s be honest, who doesn’t. But then again, Angie’s need for control makes it almost impossible for her to see the damage she is doing to her own life, the relationships she forges with everyone around her, and her inability to connect with people long enough to forge meaningful relationships with them.

And then there is Maddocks. Whose own life has clearly not been a walk in the park. The case which forces him to return to his old haunts brings back the memories of a failed marriage, his idealistic views on what his life should have been like, his frayed relationship with his daughter, and most of all, his tendency to be attracted to the broken that needs fixing, which explains Angie and his need for her in his life.

Like I said in my review of the first book, if it were any other man but Maddocks, he would have washed his hands off of Angie and walked away a long while back. But there are reasons which makes Maddocks stay, reasons which I as the reader see for myself when I keep wading through the complexity that is Angie. There is that damaged side to her character which is hard not to empathize with, and there is that wonderful person she could be if there wasn’t so much darkness clouding her life, a person that peeks through from within the layers every once in a while that makes Maddocks’ patience worth it.

Angie coming full circle with her past and uncovering the roots of her beginnings was something to behold. I enjoyed every single minute of it, rooted for Angie with every fiber of my being, and held my breathe every single time things started heading south. But life holds little meaning, if it ain’t for the struggles which you triumph through.

Recommended for fans of thrillers and suspense novels that keeps you at the edge, because a book that doesn’t make you sweat for the characters you root for, ain’t a book worth reading.

Final Verdict: The Lullaby Girl delves deeper into the psyche of Angie and brings to the forefront the horrors of sex-trafficking, taking on the world of transnational organized crime, delivering a story as informative & unsettling as they come.

Favorite Quotes

People don’t understand the toll that job can take on a police officer or his family. They don’t know how we all have to tiptoe around the ugly side of the job, the mood swings, the depression, the drinking.

He caressed the line of her jaw with his thumb. And something fierce and angry erupted inside her—a desperation to burn down her own insecurities, to kill the pain, to blind herself to the fear of what her own memories might reveal, the realities that she might have to face about what had happened to her in childhood. She grabbed his tie and yanked him closer. Drawing his head down, she reached herself up and pressed her mouth hungrily to his. His lips were cold from outside. He hesitated a nanosecond before suddenly cupping her buttocks and jerking her hips tightly up against his pelvis. His mouth bore down on hers, forcing her lips open. He slid his tongue inside, met hers. Lust blinded Angie as she felt his erection stiffening against her belly.

His eyes, intense, held hers as he allowed her to pin his wrists above his head against the floor. Angie straddled his hips and slid the crotch of her skimpy panties aside. Widening her knees, parting her thighs, she sank down onto the hot, hard length of him. With a bliss-filled sigh she spread her thighs farther, making him go deep, deeper. And she began to rock her hips, creating friction deep inside the core of her body. Her breaths came fast, faster. She rocked harder. She became slick around his erection. Her body began to tingle. A hot, raw anger exploded, ripping through her gut, driving her wilder. She closed her eyes, put her head back, mouth open wide, panting, her skin going damp. And she rode him hard and fast and half-clothed, forcing her mind back, mentally reliving that very first night she’d spent with him at the Foxy Motel. She gasped suddenly, froze, then cried out as muscle contractions slammed through her in rolling waves, taking control of her body.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-bookbirthdaygirl.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Pike Lawson
Heroine: Jordan Hadley 
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 05, 2018
Started On: May 10, 2018
Finished On: May 12, 2018

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas is a story that takes on a favorite trope of mine – the forbidden love factor that brings a ton of angst to the story. I can’t quite remember how I came across my first Penelope Douglas novel, but the title Corrupt was definitely the kind of book that made me sit up and take notice of the talent that Penelope wields when it comes to romance novels of the darker edged variety.

Birthday Girl begins with the heroine Jordan Hadley opting to celebrate her birthday by going to the theater to treat herself to an older 80’s flick while she waits for her boyfriend Cole to pick her up or find another way to hitch a ride home. It is at the theater that she meets by chance, a man who at first makes her a little wary, but as their time together at the theater progresses, Jordan finds that she is super comfortable with him in a way she doesn’t let herself be with people she usually meets. Before the night is through, both Jordan and her mystery man are in for a surprise; it turns out she was sitting together with none other than Pike Lawson, Cole’s father.

Thus begins a story that made for an excellent read, a book that I resented having to put down, and that has not happened in such a long time that I had even forgotten what that feels like. Three days after the “post-theater incident”, Cole and Jordan move in with Pike, and it is during this period of time that a bond that had been formed inside a dark movie theater over which two souls had connected, strengthens and fights to overcome the gigantic hurdles in front of them.

Pike definitely does not want to be lusting after his son’s girlfriend. That is not the kind of person he is. But Pike finds that Jordan is the kind of woman he has always dreamed about settling down with, and beneath the tough exterior of a man hardened by the bitter experience that had been his ex-wife, lies a heart that yearns for a loving home with a wife and kids of his own. But Pike knows that it is a dream that would have to remain as such, with him close to hitting 40 years old, the age gap between him and Jordan being reason enough to leave her alone.

Shared dinner conversations and other moments of companionship brings Jordan and Pike closer, while things head south between Jordan and Cole. However, even then, Pike is a man who fights his inner desire to claim Jordan for himself, even when Jordan tests his self control too many a time. But it is a fight that Pike loses spectacularly to Jordan, and Birthday Girl includes such scrumptious scenes of sex together with high doses of sexual tension that it is difficult to remain unaffected by everything that happens.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, conflicts that are part of a trope like this comes with a ton of angst, and boy, did Penelope deliver on it. She manages to write scenes that make an emotional wreck out of you one minute, turn you on to the point of pain the next, and deliver so fabulously in a fashion that leaves you wanting more. Always more.

I loved both the main protagonists in the story. Jordan, though comparatively much younger than Pike, was his equal in every single way. She is yin to his yang, the woman who completes all those missing pieces to his life. With a heart that yearns for a family of her own, Jordan has this dream that mirrors that of Pike’s owing to her childhood. Though she was not abused, neglect had left its mark, and having never really known of her mother, Jordan yearns for the wholesome family life which echoes with the unvoiced needs hidden deep inside the complex man that Pike is.

Pike lashes out, of course; whats a man to do when his deepest longings come wrapped along with his darkest nightmare, i.e. hurting his son, the child he never really got to have the experience of watching your child grow to be an adult. Pike is a man who gave up his dreams to provide for his son, and the very idea of “betraying” his son on such a level makes Pike feel as if he deserves no better than the misery he feels when he denies the need he feels for everything that is Jordan.

Jordan’s character meshes well with Pike’s because she has a wisdom and maturity to her that doesn’t jive with boys of her age. With Pike in her life, Jordan has no need to look at another man twice because with him, Jordan feels secure, safe, and wanted in a way that she has never dreamed possible. The way Jordan looks after Pike in her way, providing for him a place of solace, and a home was one of the best aspects to the story.

The period of separation was painful, but a much needed one, for Pike especially, to come to terms with the depth of his feelings for Jordan, the woman who owns his heart. The epilogue was just the right touch, giving readers the joy of experiencing a tiny part of their happily ever after, and I loved, loved, loved Penelope for providing us with that glimpse into the future.

Definitely recommended, for anyone and everyone who loves an off the charts hotter than sin hero who resists and gives in so magnificently.

Final Verdict: Birthday Girl is one of the best contemporary romances I have read of late, hitting all those spots just right. Penelope Douglas is definitely an author worth keeping an eye on. Utterly delicious! There’s a beauty to the sensitivity and raw honesty that Douglas portrays that does the trope justice.

Favorite Quotes

[Jordan]: My orgasm is cresting again, my nipples press painfully into the tiled wall, and it feels so good between my legs. I want him. I want him on me. I want to know what he feels like.
Reaching behind me, I don’t think. I grab a loofah and slide it between my legs. The netting chafes my clit in a way than sends me over the edge. I roll my hips into it, wanting to feel anything, because it’s him in my head and that’s enough. His smell surrounds me, his mouth sucks my neck, and he’s hefting me up, so he can slip inside me. It’s rough and hard, his hands on my tits one minute and his mouth stealing my breath the next. God, his tongue tastes good.
The orgasm tingles deep, building and building, and Cole’s father is fucking me so good.
I come, the wave washing over me, and I cry out in silence, breathing hard but making no sound. God. I collapse against the wall, nearly crumbling as I shudder, the orgasm drifting down my legs and making my knees week. I squeeze my eyes shut and shake through it until it ebbs away, leaving me light-headed.

[Pike]: “All kidding aside, Pike,” he goes on, “she is exactly your type. You shouldn’t be alone with her.”
Yeah.
I know.
I just hope he’s the only person who’s noticed.
“Thanks for the intervention,” I tell him, “but even if I were attracted to her, I’m capable of controlling myself.”
“You’re not seeing yourself from my perspective.” He looks out the front windshield, solemn. “You look at each other like…”
“Like?”He swallows, an unusually troubled pinch to his brow. “Like the two of you have your own language.”

[Jordan]: He reaches around, taking my face in his hand and his hot breath in my ear. “Don’t threaten me with shit like that. If you want to act like a brat, then maybe you should get grounded like one, huh?”
I almost laugh through the tears drying on my face. “By all means,” I taunt. “I’m dying to see how you try to take control of me. You can’t even get Cole to do his chores, and when was the last time a woman got hot in your bed? You’re not even a man.”
He growls and slams his palm into the house in front of me.
I jump.
And the next thing I know, his hand is in my hair, and my head is being twisted to the side as his lips crash down on mine.
I whimper, the feel and taste of him flooding me so hard my clit pulses between my legs. Oh, shit. My eyelids flutter closed, the heat and adrenaline diving from my chest to my groin in the span of a second.
He pulls back. “Fuck.” And his fist tightens in my hair.
But he comes back in, his mouth covering mine, demanding more, and I can barely catch my breath. I’m hot all over.

[Jordan]: “I love how you worry about me and want to protect me,” I say. “But a girl has needs, too, and eventually, I’ll have to find another man who can do your job better.”
Rage burns behind his frozen stare, but he doesn’t blink.
“Another man will kiss me,” I breathe out, “and take off my clothes and go at me in his bed, in his shower, and spread me wide over breakfast on his kitchen table…”
Pike’s lips are almost twisted in a snarl, and he’s breathing hard—in and out, in and out as he glares down at me.
It’s there. I can feel him. It’s like we’re wrapped up together, the heat between us almost suffocating, and all he has to do is reach out and pull me into his arms.
Take me.
I wait.
I’m yours. Just reach out and take me.
But he doesn’t.
He just stands there, and tears burn at the backs of my eyes as he hovers, unmoving.
Unwilling.
My heart is breaking.
I shake my head. “You don’t have a clue what to do with me, do you?”
I scoff and push away from him, but then suddenly, he grabs my arms hauling me back to him. I gasp as he puts his hands under my arms and lifts me off my feet, bringing me face to face with him like I’m five years old.
“Oh, I may be out of practice, little girl,” he bites out in a threatening tone, “but I think I’ll figure it out.”
And he brings me in, kissing me and stealing my breath so hard all I can do is wrap my legs around him and hold on.
Fuck yes.

[Pike]: Goddamn her.
Goddammit. I’m not stopping. Fuck it. I can’t.
She just kept pushing and pushing, hitting all my buttons, everything she knew would bring me to this, and I wanted her to. In the back of my mind, I always knew I couldn’t not have her.
I grab her ass in my hands and drop us down to her bed. She unlocks her legs and straddles me, our lips never breaking contact. I love her mouth. Hot and sweet, and she teases me with that tongue—flicking and brushing in ways that drive me insane.

[Pike]: “I hated feeling like that,” she pants.
“Like what?” I run my hands all over her, gripping and squeezing as she breathes over my mouth and grinds on me, making me painfully hard.
“Jealous,” she says.
It takes me a moment to remember we were fighting about April being here. Slipping my hand up her shirt, I take her breast in my palm, and she lets out a little gasp. I groan at finally having her in my hand.
“I know,” I say. “When you left the party with that little shit tonight, I was so pissed.” I bite her bottom lip between kisses. “Like I was fucking seventeen again and someone else was taking what was mine.”

[Pike]: “You said you wanted me to eat something.” I remind her. “What do you want my mouth on?”
She drops her eyes, staring at my lips. “Um…” She swallows and caresses her inner thigh, moving her hand up to the V. “Down here.”
“And what’s down there?” I play with her, staying just out of reach every time she moves in for a kiss. “Use your adult words, Jordan. What do you want me to kiss?”
“Um,” she stammers, turned on and dying for it. “Um, my…”
My…?
She comes in for my mouth again, but I pull away, making her bare her teeth in a quiet, little growl.
“My…”
“Yes?”
“My, um… my cunt,” she whispers.
My eyebrows shoot up, surprised. I wasn’t expecting that word, actually, but okay.
“I want you to kiss and suck on it,” she breathes out, begging. “Make me come?”
And I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment, my dick fighting against my jeans for room to grow.
Fuck.

[Pike]: “Pike,” she whimpers, clutching my head to her body and falling back on the bed.
Jesus, I’m fucking high. I’ve wanted this for so long, and I finally have her, legs spread on my bed, body begging for me.
I suck on her clit first, stretching it into my mouth and going back in again and again, making her squirm and desperate to come. I lick her up and down, swirling my tongue around over her nub and getting drunk on her scent and taste. After a minute, I lose control, though, and I’m kissing and nibbling her everywhere. I curve my arm under her thigh and grip it for support as I feed off her, doing it as much for me as her. Her back arches off the bed when I flick her with my tongue, and she moans.
I keep doing that until she’s panting so fast I know she’s ready to come apart. Palming one of her breasts, I keep my head buried between her legs until I feel her stomach start to shake and then she sucks in a deep breath and freezes as the orgasm takes hold.

[Pike]: Slipping my hand under her, I grip her ass and press our bodies together, the world spinning behind my closed eyes. Having her under me, skin on skin…my cock is so hard, I can’t take it.
This is mine.
Leaning back on my heels, I roll on the condom, never taking my eyes off her.
“I’m a little scared,” she says, worry creasing her brow.
I halt, trying not to squeeze the fist around my cock too hard.
Scared?
“What if I make too much noise?” she whispers.
And I exhale, relieved she’s not having second thoughts. I stroke my cock and come down on her again. “Pull up your shirt, Jordan,” I whisper back. “I want to see your tits when I fuck you.”

[Pike]: Reaching down, I hold her eyes as I fit my tip at her entrance, and then I grab hold of her hip and thrust inside of her, immediately overcome with the feel of her and my body shaking.She arches her neck back and closes her eyes, moaning, and her breasts bounce with the movement
“Oh, fuck, fuck…” she cries. “Pike…”
“I know, baby.” You feel so good.
I thrust again and she clutches my waist to hang on as I slowly pick up the pace, sinking deeper inside her and mesmerized by her body underneath me. I dip down, sucking on her breast as she moans and whimpers.
Coming back up, I kiss her mouth, and she does that thing where she licks my tongue, and I’m spiraling.
“Jordan, fuck,” I breathe out, thrusting faster and harder until the only thing I hear is our bodies coming together.

[Pike]: I grab her ass and arch up, taking a nipple in my mouth again, sucking and tugging and then moving to the next one in a frenzy. She leans into me, never slowing her pace, and I can feel the sweat gliding down the small of her back.
I suck in air through my teeth, my muscles tensing, and I’m close. I flip her back over, hungry to be in control again, and her head falls at the side of the bed, too close to the bedside table. I grab the edge of it and whip it away, sending it toppling over, lamp and everything crashing to the floor.
She whimpers and kisses me, caught up in the madness of the moment, too.
“Don’t stop,” she pants. “Don’t stop. I’m gonna come again.”
I press my forehead to hers, both of us damn near hyperventilating as I thrust over and over again, trying to think of anything that won’t make me come, but she feels too good, and I’m too fucking lost.

[Jordan]: “I couldn’t wait to get home,” he whispers. “You don’t know how hard I was trying to control myself today.”
“How hard?” I work at his belt, frantic to get it off.
“I was in the worst fucking mood,” he growled. “I couldn’t get you out of my head. All I wanted was this.” And his hands scale down my ribs, and he pushes me back and forces my shirt and bra up over my tits. I fall to the table, and he dives down, biting and tonguing my nipples.
I close my eyes and moan, squirming under him and arching my back, not sure if I’m trying to get closer to his mouth, or if it’s too much to take. I can feel his lips all the way to my toes.
Heat fills my wet pussy, and I watch as his hot tongue flicks over the hardened bud of my nipple, my clit throbbing so hard I can’t breathe. I shake, an explosion of pleasure wracking through me and warming my insides. My eyes roll into the back of my head, and I cry out.
Shit! Shit, shit, shit…
I shudder, opening my eyes, a little in shock.
I look down, seeing Pike staring up at me. “Did you just come?” he asks, his eyes rounded in surprise.
I swallow, my mouth suddenly parched, and nod. “Yeah. I think so.”
His eyebrows shoot up. “You like your breasts kissed, huh?”
“I like it when you kiss anything on me.”

[Jordan]: My shorts drop to the floor, he whips me around, and I plant my hands on the table to support myself. I hear a wrapper crinkle and then the clank of his belt as he opens his jeans. My thighs shake, so turned on by what’s coming. Thank God the blinds are closed.
Arching my back, I open my legs for him and look over my shoulder. “I’m sorry I did that to you last night,” I say.
He pulls his cock out of his jeans and rolls the condom on, and then comes in, wrapping a hand around my neck and kissing me hard.
“Well, not really sorry, I guess,” I pant against his lips. “This makes it worth it.”
Hell yes. He’s so hot right now. Well, he always is, but…
Pulling down my panties, he grips me where my thigh meets my hip and guides his cock to my entrance. Once it’s crowning me, he pulls my hips back to him, and I’m sliced in two, gasping and shuddering as his dick slides deep inside me.
“Oh, my God,” I whimper, my head dipping, because I’m shaking so hard.

[Jordan]: “You can go again later, right?” I ask over my shoulder.
“You’re insulting me,” he growls in my ear. “You think I can’t keep up with you?”
“I just really want to…”
“Want to what?”
I open my mouth, whispering against his lips as our bodies meet again and again. “I want to suck you off.” I rub my lips over his, taunting him. “I want to feel you in my mouth.”
He exhales hard, baring his teeth and closing his eyes. “Jordan…” He shakes his head almost as a warning.
I kiss him, our lips hovering over each other as sweat glides down my back. “You want your cock in my mouth?” I whisper.
He bites my bottom lip gently and lets it go. “Say it again.”
“I want to suck your dick,” I say again.
His cock pounds me like a hammer, and I curl my toes, feeling my orgasm crest.
“I want to lick you,” I whisper, “and taste you and make you come.”
His fingers dig into my flesh, and the tops of my thighs ache from where they keep hitting the table, but he’s making me come again, and nothing in the world has ever felt this good. I’m almost there.
I flick his lip with my tongue, feeling fire spread through my thighs and rock my insides. “Please?” I whisper, backing up into his dick and chasing it, too. “Fuck my mouth tonight?”
“Jordan, Jesus!” he cries out, and he grabs my shoulder at the neck and pounds me so hard, I can’t speak even if I wanted to.
We both come, my knuckles turning white as I dig my nails into the wooden table, tensing, and tightening every damn muscle in my body.

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

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Review: Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdearestivie.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: “Silas” Montasilas, son of Mordachy the Younger
Heroine: Ivie Hannaford
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 13, 2018
Started On: May 08, 2018
Finished On: May 10, 2018

Dearest Ivie is a novella set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, that fits in between the titles The Chosen and The Thief. What makes Dearest Ivie so notable is the fact that it steers away from the lives of the King, the Brothers, and their shellans. It takes readers away from all that and delves into the lives of ordinary civilian vampire population. If you are thinking that a story as such wouldn’t be half as interesting, you would be wrong. And let me tell you why.

Dearest Ivie, as the name goes, tells the story of Ivie Hannaford, a nurse who works with Havers, and is sort of hopeless when it comes to romance and dating. Probably to do with the fact that Ivie is the sort of person who tends to say what is on her mind and that is a character trait not be received well by most. I found Ivie’s character endearing and hilarious in equal doses and I loved her all the more for it. Sarcastic wit always gets to me, and Ivie had that in spades, especially in a story that needed it owing to the angst factor well delivered when it came to Silas, the hero.

Silas turns up in Ivie’s life rather unexpectedly, but is no less potent in the feelings that he invokes in her from the start. A bit elusive and secretive, Silas however takes Ivie’s breath away. Ivie comes from a huge family, her father Hirah, the six-five, bearded and tattooed hulk of a man who was one of the most lovable characters I have come across in the series. I fell in love with him from the very first moment he stepped into the story and that was it. Ivie is what you would call someone from the middle class or lower class perhaps, but Silas belongs to the glymera, the aristocracy, and comes from one of the founding families of the race.

However, it is not Silas that has issues with their different stations in life, but Ivie, who has a bit of reverse snobbery going for her, until Silas sets things straight – I totally loved him in that moment, for calling out Ivie on her behavior. But what was really tragic was how Silas keeps a secret from Ivie, a secret of the kind that might just be too much heartbreak for Ivie when all is said and done.

Like I mentioned earlier, Dearest Ivie was such a gem of a read. It had everything going for it. Snark and wit, a lovable heroine who knows what it means to be steadfast and loyal in the face of extreme challenges in life, a hero who is sexy, beautiful, and above all, kind-hearted and Ivie’s other half in every sense. How Ward managed to convey all that in a simple novella, I would never know. But then again, she is the genius storyteller and I am just the reader who cannot get enough of her books.

When I turned the last page, I wished to read more novels on vampire civilians – if the men are even half as sexy as Silas and the women are just as quirky and adorable as Ivie, I would consider it a novel/la that would make my day.

Recommended; even if you have never read a Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, this is totally awesome and can be read as a standalone!

Final Verdict: Dearest Ivie is one of the sweetest books I have read from a series that certainly does not do sweet. In the midst of all the danger and darkness that is Black Dagger Brotherhood, Dearest Ivie stands out for the laugh out loud humor & the beautiful characters. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

Opening her door, she leaned out into the carpeted corridor…and there he was, coming down to her, his smile as big as hers, his body just the same, his face just the same.
His scent just the same.
No suit this time, and that was good. Instead, he had on a black cashmere sweater and a set of slacks that were dark gray. He looked polished, expensive…delicious.
“Hello, stranger,” she said as he stopped in front of her.

“Do you mind?” he whispered.
“I’m sorry, what?”
But then he was taking her face in his hands and lowering his head—and she was pulling him down to her mouth, his lips the only thing she wanted in the world.
It was quite possible she moaned as he kissed her. Or maybe that was him. Who cared.
They shuffled inside and she closed them in, and then she was against him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. It was a long while before they eased back, and even when they did, it was just their mouths. Everything else stayed close.
Silas’s eyes were heavy lidded and glowing as he stared down at her. “Hi.”

His mouth dropped down to hers again, his lips plying at her, his tongue coming out and licking for permission to enter. Broad, warm hands slipped around to her waist, and her breasts got tight as they met the wall of his pecs.
It was clear he was aroused.
And that got her even hotter.
But then he was cursing and putting her back from him. “Damn it. I promised myself I wouldn’t—”
“Do I look like I’m complaining over here?”

They ended up on the couch. She had no idea how they got there.
One minute, Ivie was standing against him, the next she was on her back and Silas’s weight was pushing her into the cushions. And then, when she parted her thighs, he accepted the invitation, settling himself between them, the hard ridge of his arousal stroking at her core through their clothes.
Rolling her hips, she arched into his body, and the groan he let out registered as a caress that went down into her abdomen.
When he pulled back, he was panting, his eyes at once glazed and hyper-focused. “Ivie…”

Silas sat forward and took her face in his hands, in that way he did. “You would do that for me?”
“Of course. I mean…well, you look like you could use it. When was the last time you fed?”
He answered the question by virtue of his scent, that spice of his flaring, his eyes going to her wrist, which was bare.
Instantly, she was hot all over.
“Not there,” she said huskily. “Here.”
Moving her dark hair to the side, she stroked her jugular. “I want you here. At my throat.”
His chest started to pump up and down, and a growl permeated the silence of her apartment. “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes.”

With hands that were rough, Silas grabbed on to her and all but threw her on her back on the couch. And then he was on top of her, pressing her down into the cushions, his pale eyes volcanic, his body strung like a steel cable, his fangs elongating.
In a voice that was deliciously demanding, he said, “Even if I can’t stop?”
He wasn’t talking about taking too much from her vein. No, as he rolled his hips so she could feel his arousal, she knew damn well he meant sex.
“I don’t want you to stop.”
“There isn’t a lot of time. I have things I have to do at home. I won’t be able to stay afterward—”
“Shut up and get into me.”
He didn’t require any more urging than that. With a tremendous hiss, he bared his canines and bit her neck hard, the pain lancing through her body and translating into pure pleasure by the time it reached her core.

He still had his coat on, and that fine wool was all texture against her hyper-sensitive nipples, the hard ridge at his hips pushing into her core and then retreating until she was going to lose her mind, his scent a roar in her nose.
“I need you,” she barked. “I need you in me—now.”
Somehow he heard her, or maybe he had reached the same desperation she had—either way, he retracted his hips and moved one of his hands between them, yanking at the tie on the waistband of her scrubs as she helped by pulling them down and kicking them free along with her panties.
And then he was jerking at the fine leather belt he wore. She took over, pushing his hand out of the way as she freed the buckle, the button, the zipper.
The length of him was hard and hot and long in her hands.
And the sound he made turned her body into a tuning fork, the bass vibrating through her.
She was too impatient for the feel of him inside of her to do much exploring, and as soon as his head was at the heart of her, she pushed her pelvis forward so he sank in deep.

And then he was moving in her, pumping with thrusts that sent the top of her head into the armrest, a creaking noise rising up from the sofa’s supports, the banging sound probably the windowsill taking a beating. Or maybe the wall. Who cared.
Gone was the aristocrat with the nice manners and the polite words, the arching accent and the expensive clothes. Silas was utterly dominant as he took everything she had and demanded more, his pace rough and powerful, a male’s lust unleashed without restraint.
And she just wanted more.
As if he read her mind, he hooked his forearm where his palm had been, cranking her even tighter under his heavy weight, his hips pounding into her, the lower half of his body swinging freely—
Until he locked against her with a punch of his thighs, his erection emptying into her as he continued to suck at her throat.
All she could do was hang on to his shoulders.
And pray he never, ever stopped.
Sure it would kill her, but what a way to go.

Stroking her, his lids lowered and he growled, “Give me your mouth, female.”
He pulled her to him by the back of the neck and then she felt something between her legs that was hot and blunt.
Ivie sat down on his arousal, and they both groaned and jerked. Controlling the tempo, she rolled her hips and used her knees to go up and down, the pleasure so acute, she couldn’t decide whether to close her eyes so she could concentrate more or keep them open so she never forgot where they were and what they were doing.
Her release was overwhelming and he was right there with her, even though they were straining in the confined space, and their clothes were tangled, and oh, crap, the bucket seat was sooo in the way, and also the console—how great was it that none of that mattered?

“What do you most want to be remembered for?” she whispered.
His lids lifted and his eyes shifted to her own.
“My love for you.” He blinked slowly. “I wish to be best remembered for how much I loved you. Of all the places I’ve gone and people I’ve known and things I’ve done…my love for you is the purest representation of who I am. It’s the best of me, of who I am, of my soul. My love for you…is everything of me.”
Ivie teared up even though she did her best not to give in to emotion. “Silas…”
“Please don’t forget me. I know I’m probably supposed to tell you to move on with your life and dwell on this little slice of time we’ve been given…but just…take me in your heart wherever you go. It will be the life I wished I’d lived, by your side, enjoying the gift of time and health with you.”

“I thought you needed an oak of your own right now,” Rubes said gently from behind.
Ivie’s father was standing in the middle of the corridor, those biker boots planted on the fancy runner, his hands on his leather-clad hips, his tattoos gleaming in the low lighting because, of course, he had come without a jacket on.
Ivie squeezed her cousin’s hand in thanks and then she ran for her sire.
She hit Hirah like a car going out of control at full speed. And like a concrete pylon, her father didn’t budge. He just put his heavy arms around her and held her tight.
“He’s dying, Daddy. He’s dying…”
Her father didn’t say a thing. He let his strength do the talking as he kept her from collapsing in a heap in the hall.
“I love him so much,” she turned her face to the side and squeezed her eyes tight. “And he’s dying…”

And later, much later, she would reflect that it was then that she became an adult. Standing in that corridor, in her father’s embrace, she fully came into her maturity.
The thing was, when you were young, and you went to your parents for support, nine times out of ten, they could fix whatever was wrong. They could glue the broken rudder back on your sailboat. Throw a Band-Aid on a cut. Feed you when you were hungry, put you to bed when you were exhausted, hang out with you when you were alone. They could help you find what was lost, make the storms go away, buy you an ice cream when someone was mean to you for no good reason.
Parents, when you were a child, were the source of it’s-gonna-be-all-right.
But as Ivie leaned on her dad, it was as an adult.
He couldn’t fix this, and she knew better than to even ask.
“I’m so sorry, little girl,” he said in a voice that cracked. “I’m so sorry…”

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ARC Review: My Roommate’s Girl by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookmyroommatesgirl
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Aidan Shannon Shaw
Heroine: Aster
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 12, 2017
Started On: May 04, 2018
Finished On: May 08, 2018

I have been a fan of Julianna Keyes ever since I discovered her from one of those chance reads I took on Netgalley. Julianna has a way of writing that delivers stories that maintain a realistic edge, and at the same fulfill the yearnings of the romance reader for the angst-ridden and sexy reads that make our day. Plus, Julianna always has a unique tangent to her writing, with twists to existing tropes that makes her books so worth your while.

My Roommate’s Girl toting a gorgeous cover, is written in the first person, told from both Aidan Shannon Shaw, the hero’s, and Aster, the heroine’s point of views. Aidan meets Aster through Jerry, his roommate, whose girlfriend turns out to be none other than Aster. From the moment Aidan lays eyes on Aster, he wants to have her for himself, he needs to have her. But there is of course that little pesky problem of the boyfriend who stands in his way. So sets Aidan on the course that would deliver Aster into his arms, as conniving and manipulative as it sounds.

What unfolds next was not by any means predictable. One would think it would be, given where the story was headed, but the way Julianna peeled back the layers to both Aidan and Aster was truly masterful.

Aidan’s character is easier to figure out in a way; the troublesome background, the way it had been easier for him to fall in with a bad crowd and lose his way. Until a judge had seen through his belligerence and decided to give him the chance to clean up, or else. But like a tweet I came across just today, “the devil works hard but peer pressure works harder”, and that is exactly the case with Aidan as well.

Now Aster, she is the true gem of the story. Her character managed to surprise me at every single turn, and that is no mean feat for someone who reads through so many romance novels and can often predict character behavior from a mile away. But damn, Aster certainly managed to shake my preconceived notions and then some. I felt proud of her for identifying with what had happened, and even fighting back just as dirty to get even. But then again, Aster did not take into account how seductive it is to be stripped bare of all the fronts she has put up, and to be seen exactly for who she is; not the image of perfection that she presents to the rest of the world, but a woman with faults and flaws of her own, someone who learnt from her past and aims to never go down that path again.

Like every single hero I have read from Julianna, Aidan is sexy personified. From his dirty blond hair and that raw physique of his, to the way he wants Aster with every fiber of his being; all that and more made him pretty alluring. Even though the only way Aidan knows to get what he wants is to fight dirty, with Aster, he finds that his conscience doesn’t allow him to be half the douche bag he could really be. For him, Aster is the woman that makes it all matter; she makes him want to stand steadfast on the path of the straight and narrow.

I loved Aster just as much. The fact that she had been able to leave a difficult past behind and clean up her act, that spoke volumes when it comes to the strength of her character and the kind of person she is. And she proves to be just that, honest and kind where it matters. I loved the ending, the way it all came together and how everything worked out. There is nothing better than a happily ever after for a couple you root for from the very beginning, even when that beginning might be the furthest thing from perfect.

Recommended for fans of romances that deliver unusual twists and turns that makes the book that much more worth it.

Final Verdict: My Roommate’s Girl delivers a succulent tale that is trademark Julianna Keyes, with characters that are relatable, and a happily ever after that I rooted for from the very beginning!

Favorite Quotes

I kiss her.
I don’t even think about it, I’m just acting on instinct. The hand on her hip slips around to the outside of her arm, up to her shoulder, her neck, fingers curling into her nape. She doesn’t move, doesn’t look away from my mouth, and the soft flutter of her lashes is the last thing I see before my lips touch hers.
She makes a tiny sound when our mouths meet, and I feel a tremor roll through her, like a frisson of energy arcing from her body into mine. I fumble behind me to stick the spoonful of melting ice cream back into the carton, only fifty percent sure I manage the task, a hundred percent sure I don’t care.
I cup her face with both hands, feel her silky hair teasing my fingers, the softness of her mouth, her breasts pressed against my chest. The tip of her tongue touches my bottom lip at the same moment her hand comes up to stroke my cheek, and I leap away like I’ve been electrocuted.

“Aidan,” she moans again.
“What…do…you…need?” I grunt out. Sensation is rocketing up and down my body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, things I’ve never felt before and don’t know what to do with.
When I first saw Aster, first thought of fucking her, I didn’t think it would be like this. I thought she’d be prim and proper, maybe ride me like a dainty cowgirl. I thought I’d dirty her up, scandalize her a bit.
Now I don’t think I could scandalize Aster if I tried. She fucks like it’s the most natural thing in the world, like my hands pulling her hair is the thing she likes most. Like my mouth on her nipples and my cock plowing into her is something she lives for. I want to earn those responses. I want to hear them. I want to taste them.

When I first arrived at Holsom, I was terrified. It was new and strange and even among thousands of students, I felt hopelessly alone. Meeting Jerry helped, but I never truly relaxed. Never felt like I belonged. I thought I might, one day, but even after a year of dating I knew that deep down, he never really knew me because I never really let him.
Aidan knows me. I only let him know me because I thought I’d never see him again, but here we are, out in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t feel alone at all. I feel like he sees me and he’s totally okay with what he sees. Scars and all.

At long last I’m seated, his cock buried inside, taking a moment to adjust to the aching fullness. I grind my forehead into his shoulder, feeling him, feeling everything, and he lets me take my time, no pressure, no hurry.
I shift so my lips find his neck, his racing pulse betraying his laidback demeanor. I flex my thighs and lift up slightly, then slide back down, finding an easy, unhurried rhythm that makes everything inside me go soft and molten.

Aidan drops his hands from my hair and I see him digging his fingers into the sand at his sides, trying to hold on. Trying to wait for me.
That’s what sends me over. The sight of this man, weak but still so strong. Hard, solid, tough, sweet. A study in contradictions.
I come with a soft cry, stifling the sound in the curve of his neck, tasting his sweat on my tongue. My body spasms in long, slow waves for what feels like an eternity, and when the orgasm ebbs away Aidan jerks beneath me, hips pushing into mine as he anchors me with his hands on my waist, holding me in place while he takes what he needs.
My limbs feel like jelly, like there’s no earthly way I can stand, no possible way I’ll be able to hike back. I lift my head and absorb the quiet forest, the pristine lake, the boundless sky. This is the farthest from civilization I’ve ever been, but out here, with just me and Aidan, I’ve never felt closer to home.

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

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