Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Booktheduke
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #4
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Collin Talmage
Heroine: Imogen Pritchard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 07, 2017
Started On: November 11, 2019
Finished On: November 25, 2019

The Duke is the 4th book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne, telling the story of Collin Talmage (Cole), Duke of Trenwyth, who is the English Empire’s golden son until fate decides otherwise and takes everything that he holds dear to him. When Imogen Pritchard who works at the Bare Kitten, paying off debts incurred by her deadbeat father meets Cole for the first time, she is spellbound by the beautiful male specimen that he is, and the haunted look in his spellbinding eyes.

That fateful night turns out to be when Imogen loses her virginity to a man whose tender and fierce loving makes her glad that it was him. When dawn comes and they part, even though Imogen might long for a fairy tale ending, her pragmatic self knows that any future between her and the Duke is near impossible, given the vast differences in their societal hierarchy.

A year passes on and when the Duke returns, a mere shell of the man he was, that is when fate decides that even this time around, Imogen and Cole are not meant to be. Two years later, Imogen is a widow, living next door to the Cole, who for some reason cannot stand the sight of the woman whom he believes to be a gold digger, who got the best out of one of his dearest friends.

Circumstances bring these two together again, without Cole being aware of the fact that Imogen is in fact the woman he has been searching for in vain the past two years. Sparks fly as these two battle out their attraction and frustration with one another, which was enjoyable. In the midst of it all, a killer lurks, biding time until the victim that the killer has been after all along can be finally claimed.

I did not end up liking The Duke as much as I thought I would. The beginning was everything I could have hoped for, but towards the middle of the story, there seemed to emerge a deep disconnect between Collin and Imogen which led to my dissatisfaction. Kerrigan took an unusual route to their happily ever after, which was good because it managed to surprise me.

I also felt a bit weirded out by the fact that Imogen’s mother and sister who are very much alive and living with her, never emerged in the story. I believe that also prevented me as a reader from envisioning a more wholesome character for Imogen.

Cole was classic Kerrigan in so many ways. With the mere description of his thigh alone, Kerrigan had me all but salivating over Cole. And Lord, can the man kiss? Sigh! But I believe I would have loved it more had his past being more a tangible part of the story. I would have liked it more had there been more details about his family, the war, his trauma etc. being part of the story, which I believe would have made up for the time during which they were both separated.

An epilogue would also have gone a long way towards making the story more wholesome. I felt that the serial killer angle in the story culminated rather hastily towards the end, which detracted from the enjoyment factor.

However, even with all that did not work for me in the story I still enjoyed The Duke, and Kerrigan is an author I intend to pursue and read because she writes heroes unlike any other and equally strong heroines who revel in the darkness that is such a huge part of the man that they love and adore.

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

Final Verdict: The Duke aka Cole makes you quiver in all the right places. Exploring a serial killer villain in the midst, The Duke was fascinating for the most part!

Favorite Quotes

“Those closest to me call me Cole,” he informed her mouth.
“But … I am not close to you.”
Tightening his arm around her once more, he grasped her hip with his other hand, and pulled her up his startlingly long and muscled thigh with a slow, languid move, until she straddled him as high as his leg would allow. Even through her skirts and petticoats, the movement created an unfamiliar friction against her sex that elicited an alarming but not unpleasant pressure. He didn’t stop until the curve of her bottom settled against his lap. She was aware of a surprisingly insistent cylindrical shape pressed against her. She’d worked at the Bare Kitten long enough to know exactly what it was.
“Far be it from me to contradict a lady, but I beg to differ. You and I are very close, indeed.”

When Trenwyth adjusted his position, his leg rubbed against her so intimately, a stab of sensation caused her to gasp and clench her feminine muscles.
His thigh instantly tensed beneath her and, for a moment, Imogen was terrified that she’d offended him.
Until he did it again.
She had to reach out a hand to the table to steady herself against an assault of wicked pleasure.
His sex hardened against her backside once more, and he leaned up to gather her close. “I have a distinct feeling that you’re quick tinder to set ablaze, aren’t you?” His words slurred a little, but his movements were steady as one hand drifted down her waist and the other up her thigh, angling to meet in the middle.

Imogen thought she’d been kissed before, but she’d been utterly mistaken. His siege of her mouth went on and on until she lost her breath and didn’t care. Her thoughts scattered like a flock of panicked birds chased out of their roost. Even inebriated, his skill with his mouth pushed her beyond her wits. He tasted of Scotch and sin, and Imogen wondered if intoxication was as contagious as a fever, because she felt quite funny.
Just when she thought there was no other place for him to lick, he would begin to suck and nip. To sample and savor. First her bottom lip, then the top before gently capturing her tongue. She thought she’d go mad from the busy sensations.

“Cole?” she whimpered, clutching at him, almost afraid of whatever it was that locked every muscle from her sternum down into uncontrolled pulses.
“Yes,” he growled into her mouth. “Fucking come for me. That’s it.”
The gathering storm broke upon her with scream-provoking intensity. Tears sprang to her eyes as she curled around him, her thighs clenching his as though she rode a powerful steed rather than wave after wave of unimaginable pleasure. Convinced there was magic in his hands, she opened her mouth to tell him so, but all that escaped her was a low cry. Or maybe nothing. She couldn’t tell. Or remember. Or care.

In one graceful move he lifted her, rotated them both, and tossed her onto her back. His body was so big on top of her, pressing her legs almost uncomfortably wide. She wanted to tell him to wait, to give her a moment, but he distracted her with another deep, long kiss.
He released unintelligible words into her mouth, and Imogen knew them to be harsh and filthy. His eyes had glazed over completely now, as though his wits had deserted him, leaving her with nothing but this beast of lust and need.
He lifted himself, arched his neck, and on a smooth, brutal thrust, he was inside her, ripping through the feeble barrier of her virginity as though it didn’t exist, and separating muscles unused to intrusion. The sound he made was more roar than growl, and drowned out her whimper of protestation.

His head dipped low, his body curled around her. So small. So slight. And yet so warm.
Her tremulous breath brushed at his face, her features frozen. Paralyzed. Though her small, pink tongue slipped over her lower lip, leaving a delicious gleam of moisture there.
Fuck, suddenly he wanted to—
Surging up to her toes, she slammed her lips against his with such force their teeth almost clattered together.

He licked at the seam of her mouth, more of a warning than an inquiry, before he claimed it with his tongue. In truth, he half expected her to bite him.
But she didn’t.
The moment a dark groan manifested in his throat, she came alive in his arms, clinging to his shoulders for stability.

Imogen clung to him as he, quite literally, kissed the wits right out of her.
His every muscle was drawn drum-tight as he rhythmically surged against her in harmony to the plunge and retraction of his tongue. He made a sound so foreign to her; Imogen could only identify it as a violent sort of appreciation.
Her throat produced a husky answer that seemed to both thrill and comfort him.

He murmured urgent things against her mouth, low, animal praise that was admittedly harsh and vulgar against the softness of her lips.
But his hand. His hand remained gentle as he spread the plump petals concealing her sex and saturated his finger in the desire he found there.
Their combined exhale was a desperate, throaty invocation. Cole bent farther over her, hungrily latching to the throat she exposed as her head rolled back on her shoulders when his fingers slipped and stroked around the soft folds of her core.

He hit his knees behind her, his left arm stealing around her middle to pull her in, bringing her bare bottom to fit neatly against the front of him. A hot, hard length pressed against the cleft of her ass, impeded only by the thin cloth of his trousers. His grip was iron against her middle; his breath volcanic against the back of her neck.
Then he bit her.
Imogen opened her mouth to cry out, but he’d already begun to lick and lave at the shoulder he’d marked, and her sound of pain escaped as a husky sigh of submission.
It was all he needed to hear.

“Wait—” Her voice sounded too thin. Too low. Too husky to be her own.
“Don’t stop me,” he commanded, though a ribbon of desperation threaded through the order.
So she didn’t.
And he didn’t.
He drove inside her with rough power and searing heat. It was like he penetrated her with lightning, striking at her with his hips and injecting an indefinable current that locked every muscle into futile spasms of blistering pleasure.

Suddenly he was there. Her covers were gone and he replaced them, clutching her to him as he took her offered mouth with ferocious gentility. Clinging to him, she relished the heat building inside of her, answering the scorching flames he licked into her mouth with a demanding tongue. She tasted love on him, love and fear and earnest need.
Desire fanned through her, at once tensing and releasing her muscles. She turned into a puddle beneath him, her legs falling open, her body making way for his weight.
“Good sweet God,” he groaned. “I’m going to taste you everywhere.”

“Cole,” she begged, desperately grasping for his hair. “Please.”
Another pleased groan caused her feminine muscles to clench against the sensual promise in the sound, and she surged against his mouth. He latched on to her then, his clever tongue flicking and laving, creating sensations of overwhelming delight.
She cried hoarse relief to the canopy as wave after wave of crippling ecstasy crashed over her. Her breath came in sobs and inarticulate words. It felt like bliss flowed from his tongue into her body, bowing it with paralyzing spasms until the fingers she’d used to hold him to her now clutched at him to pull away before she expired from ecstasy.

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Review: His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookhiseverykiss
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #2
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Dylan Moore
Heroine: Grace Anne Lawrence
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 28, 2004
Started On: November 03, 2019
Finished On: November 09, 2019

His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke is the 2nd book in the Guilty series. First published in 2004, His Every Kiss tells the story of renowned musician and composer Dylan Moore, who struggles to make music ever since a terrible incident leaves him bereft of his ability to compose, battling insomnia and all other ugliness that becomes part and parcel of life for him from that point on wards.

When Grace Anne Lawrence comes across Dylan at a point in his life when he is feeling his lowest, it is because of Grace that Dylan steps back from the precipice that he had been ready to fling himself off of. Because for the first time in months, in the presence of Grace, Dylan is able to focus on the music that is such an integral part of himself, which he had lost.

When Grace disappears leaving him behind, the story continues five years on. Dylan whose search had not found where Grace had disappeared to, at times believes that she had been a figment of her imagination when he had been at his lowest. When Dylan runs into Grace again, he is determined that this time around, he would hold onto her even if it means working hard to gain that right to be with her.

Grace is wary of Dylan for many reasons, one of them being the fact that she is a woman once burnt and twice shy. There is nothing more that Grace wants than to return home, a home she knows would no longer welcome her because of the shame she had brought unto her family when she left them in pursuit of her passions. Grace is done with men who are creative, who needs her as a muse, who sees her only as a means to an end. In Dylan, that is all Grace sees and nothing more.

Dylan, without being privy to any of what makes Grace so reluctant to give into him, pursues her with a dogged determination that Grace sidesteps with every intention of rejecting his every offer. That is until Dylan comes face to face with the result of one of his many dalliances in the past in the form of Isabel, his daughter.

Grace gives in and comes into Dylan’s life in as Isabel’s governess, and amidst all of it, Dylan is relentless in his need to possess the woman who calms his mind and soul to a point that he is finally at peace from what hounds him day and night. However, it would take more than Dylan’s considerable charms and wit to convince Grace to give in and love him for the rest of both their lives.

His Every Kiss, I must be honest, kind of fell short of my expectations. The beginning of the story hinted at something that could have delivered a richly nuanced story, exploring an illness that affects so many people across the globe. An illness that particularly has no cure and has driven many to a point of madness, the only avenue left being adjusting to a sickness that one would in all probability have to suffer through for the rest of their lives.

I loved Dylan as a character, and felt terribly sympathetic towards him because I could empathize with what he was going through. Grace has a backstory that kind of broke my heart at certain points, but the aloofness with which she treats Dylan for the most part of the story never really won any brownie points for her with me. I wished she had been more welcoming, more understanding, and more emotionally connected to Dylan which would have made their union more believable towards the end.

The one character that annoyed me endlessly was Isabel. I don’t think I have come across a more tiresome child in a novel, who at times made me want to clench my jaw, and hard. I really wanted to love Dylan and Grace’s story, but alas, I must say that there was something integral missing between the two of them for their connection to be believable and tangible for me as a reader.

Recommended for fans of Laura Lee Guhrke.

Final Verdict: With every kiss he lays on Grace, Dylan speaks of a need that goes beyond words. If not for the lack of emotional connection between them, His Every Kiss could have been a marvelous read!

Favorite Quotes

He bent his head, and before she could think, she was parting her lips to take his kiss. A lush, open-mouthed kiss it was, one that sent shimmers of pleasure through her entire body, pleasure so startling she cried out against his mouth.
He caressed her tongue with his own, deepening the kiss. As if her body had a will of its own, Grace gripped the edges of his cloak in her fists, rose on her toes, and met his kiss with the shameful eagerness of a strumpet. So long since she had felt this way. So long since she’d felt this craving for a man’s kiss, his touch, his body. She felt so keenly alive at this moment.

She was wet, and so soft. He pulled back and she arched toward his hand, wanting more and ready to receive it. He bit his lip, feeling the painful bruise of his teeth as he fought to keep himself in check just a bit longer.
“This is what you want, isn’t it?” He dipped into her and out again, stroking the folds of her opening, spreading moisture with the mere flex of his hand.
“Yes,” she gasped, frantic, her face buried against his shoulder, her panting breaths hot on his skin. “Yes, yes. Oh, yes. Ohhh.”
Her hips jerked, and she climaxed with a long, low moan of feminine ecstacy, her thighs clenching around his hand again and again as she said his name.

His hands tightened their grip and he pulled, impaling her on his shaft. Driving out the ghost of the man she had known before. Mine , he claimed her. Mine .
Arms and legs wrapped around him, she followed his rhythm, crying out at her peak, tightening around him again and again as he held her buttocks in his hands and thrust deep within her, all his own passion finally unleashed in a rough, frantic cadence.

“Your hair, Grace,” he said, his gaze lowered to the muslin ribbon that held her braid together. “Let me see it loose.”
She was melting beneath that dark, heated gaze. Her fingers fumbled with the end of her braid, where the ribbon lay against her bare breast. She untied the strip of muslin and began to unravel the plait of hair.
Dylan moved to stretch out and lowered his weight onto his elbows as he watched her fan her hair out loose around her shoulders.
“That,” he said unsteadily, “is a sight I’ve dreamed about a hundred times. God, I wish it was daylight, and I could see all the colors in your hair. Come here.”

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Review: Her Best Friend’s Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Format: E-Bookherbestfriendsbaby
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Maitland Maternity, #9
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Morgan Tate
Heroine: Mary Jane Potter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 23, 2001
Started On: October 21, 2019
Finished On: October 26, 2019

Her Best Friend’s Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson is a novel that explores the concept of surrogacy, friendships, and crossing lines, which makes this for an emotional read. 22 year old Mary Jane Potter is carrying her best friend Arielle’s baby, the woman who had been a big sister, mother substitute, and her closest friend in the entire world.

When 31 year old Morgan Tate, husband to Arielle arrives on her doorstep late one night and gives her the devastating news of her best friend’s passing, that is the night when lines are crossed bringing these two together. Highly emotional and in need of human warmth and touch at such a time of deep grief, Morgan and Mary give into physical desire, complicating their relationship from then on.

While Morgan is adamant that a repeat of what happened that night is not possible, however as Morgan and Mary spends more time together and discover aspects of each other’s character they are both drawn to, the tug of attraction between them strengthens to a point where it is impossible to ignore. However, both of them do try valiantly for strength for as long as they can, until of course they give in.

It is not easy to accept that you have fallen hard for the husband of your best friend, a woman that you had put on a pedestal for the whole of your life. Morgan’s behavior is impeccable, the strength to his character and discipline evident for all to see, when he tries to do the right thing even at the cost of his own happiness.

There were many things that I loved about the book. Primarily Morgan who was such a sweetheart in every single way that counts. Not to mention Mary Jane, who infuses the story with a vitality that tugs at your very heartstrings. Vicki Lewis Thompson’s take on the concept of surrogacy and identifying the toll it could take on the surrogate mother was superbly done. Especially when it comes to someone like Mary Jane who would make a wonderful mother in her own right.

One thing that drew me to Mary Jane was her total and unabashed honesty which helped Morgan to move forward and accept things as they turned out to be. The fact that both Morgan and Mary Jane acted like mature adults rather than going the road of miscommunication with each other and creating needless problems between them as a result was welcome. Morgan being pulled from an otherwise lackluster life was one of the best bits about the story and the sexual tension and delivery on that front was done just right, totally deserving of what was blossoming to life between him and Mary Jane.

At first, I thought that the story line would not work because Mary Jane and Morgan get together too soon in the story. I was proven wrong because that was an elementally human response to the sudden loss of someone whom they had both loved and held dear in their own way. There was no ickiness factor because of what happened, and for that alone, I would say Vicki is a genius in writing about complex human emotions.

Recommended for fans of Silhouette romances and those who love stories that brim with hope in the best way possible.

Final Verdict: A story that brims with love, heart, and all the good stuff in between. Vicki Lewis Thompson definitely knows how to deliver a deeply and emotionally satisfying story.

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not trying to make you feel better, damn it.” He could tell from her expression she didn’t believe him, and that’s when he finally lost it and kissed her.
Oh, God. She tasted like…the richest hot fudge sundae he’d ever had. He sort of went crazy—kissing her, and kissing her, and kissing her some more. He was afraid he also used his tongue quite liberally as he continued to enjoy her full, sexy, incredibly sweet mouth. His hands found their way to her bottom and pulled her in tight, and boy, oh, boy, did she fit.
She filled his arms in a way they’d never been filled before. He’d never held such energy, such excitement, such heat.

There’s nothing logical about the way I’m feeling right now.”
“Exactly.”
With a groan he pulled her into his arms. And heaven help her, she let him do it. Worse, she dug her fingers into his hair and coaxed his head down. She wasn’t going to be able to blame any of this insanity on him.
“I’m wild about caramel, too,” he murmured. Then he settled in to prove it.
During their first kiss in her kitchen she’d felt as if someone had pulled the pin on a grenade. This time it was as if someone had detonated a bomb.

He lifted his head. “We should go into your—”
“Stairs are nice.” She finished with his shirt and started on his belt buckle.
“But you need—”
“You.” She unzipped his jeans.
“A bed.”
“Later.” In an inspired move she slipped her hands inside the waistband of his briefs and slid to a sitting position, pulling his jeans and briefs down as she went. The maneuver gave her perfect placement.
“Mary Jane.”
She wrapped both hands around his solid penis. No wonder he’d felt so wonderful deep inside her that first night. She caressed him lovingly, and then she leaned over to kiss the straining tip.

Suspended halfway between sleep and wakefulness, drifting in a sensual haze, she closed her eyes. Lying on the bed limp and relaxed as a rag doll, she allowed Morgan to do as he would with her. He seemed to know exactly what to do with her, and he apparently required no participation from her to achieve his ends. He might even think she was still asleep and her body was automatically responding to his touch.
What a wild sensation, to be coaxed and kissed awake in every sense of the word. He cupped her belly with both hands, caressing her lightly as he continued his assault right where it counted the most. She was in heaven.

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Review: Undeclared by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-Bookundeclared
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Burnham College, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kellan McVey
Heroine: Andrea Walsh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 27, 2017
Started On: October 19, 2019
Finished On: October 20, 2019

Undeclared, book 2 in the Burnham College series by Julianna Keyes, released in 2017 is a book that I have been meaning to read since its publication. Julianna is an author I definitely look forward to for many reasons; she has written some of the best contemporary romances that I have read in recent years.

Undeclared tells the story of Kellan McVey and Andrea Walsh (Andie), in the first person POV, from Kellan’s perspective. Kellan who returns to his hometown for a bit, to run into Andie, the girl with whom he had been friends/neighbors since they were five years old, Andie who had loved him for years, and Kellan who had left it unacknowledged all along, even when they had both slept with each other that summer before Kellan had upped and left for college, leaving Andie behind.

Returning to college after the break, only to find that Andie too is now a student, throws Kellan for a loop. Kellan who believes himself to have grown up over the past couple of years, having faced the fright of his life just recently, even though he continues to remain uncommitted to a future, much less a relationship of any sorts.

A series of events leads up to the point where Kellan and Andie gets together again, Kellan savoring each moment that he gets to have with Andie, and if he were to acknowledge the truth, he had never truly gotten over the summer fling they had had, before he left for the greener pastures of life away from his hometown.

While I found Undeclared to be an okay read, it did not move me as much as it did Undecided. One of the major factors being perhaps that the entire story is told from the hero’s point of view which meant that while it was a novelty for me, I was not really impressed.

A romance being told solely from the man’s point of view tends to lack emotional depth and description, because the way I see it, the nuances of emotions tends to escape most men, especially of Kellan’s nature. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Kellan as a character. He was okay in many ways, though I don’t think I was that enamored by him on any scale. Perhaps the more sensitive male protagonists would be able to assess and relate emotions/feelings better, but Kellan being who he was, did not really manage to do that for the story in my opinion.

For that reason I believe, the novel lacked that something vital which makes readers fall in love with the characters and ultimately the story. The inability to see what Andie was feeling and thinking made it impossible to relate to her as a character as well. The fact that I could not really gauge her feelings for Kellan made it difficult for me to be excited about them being together. It is not just two people coming together that makes a romance novel; it is all about how much readers can relate to the characters and understand them which spikes up our emotions as we read.

However, being a Julianna Keyes novel also accounts for a lot, and if nothing else, the book did have me looking forward to reading at that point in time, which I take to be an achievement in itself.

Recommended for fans of sports-themed, new adult romances in college settings. Also those who have a hankering to read a book told from the hero’s viewpoint.

Final Verdict: Undeclared is unlike any other book I have read from Julianna Keyes; she explores what it is like when a romance is told from the male perspective alone, which was a novel experience in itself.

Favorite Quotes

More than two years after our last kiss, I kiss Andi again. For ten long seconds I just press my lips to hers, her mouth soft and stubborn all at once. I can’t remember the last time I did this when I wasn’t drunk and horny and willing to get off with anyone who was equally willing.
Finally Andi exhales, a ragged breath I hear and feel, and she fists her hands in the hem of my T-shirt and tugs. I know what that means. Andi wasn’t a girl who said things like “Do me” or “Fuck me” or “Yeah, baby.” Her actions spoke for her and this one says all of the above. Relief courses through me, then adrenaline, then hormones. Arousal as sharp and heady as I’ve ever felt it.

I push in slowly, feeling her body cede to mine. I’m vaguely aware of the sweat at my temples and the trembling in my weak muscles, but I nudge my hips forward until there’s nowhere left to go, Andi’s legs bent and splayed wide to accommodate me.
I hear her soft sigh as I bottom out and for a long time I don’t do anything. I can’t do anything. This is what I’ve looked for in far too many places and failed to find. It’s what I’m terrified I’ll never find again.

When I’m buried as deep as I can go, I just stay there, my arms trembling as I hold myself up, not sure I have the strength to move. After a minute Andi nudges my chin so she can kiss me, tongues twining lazily. At some point I realize I’m moving, slow, deep strokes that feel like they’re going nowhere and everywhere all at once. I can’t recall the last time I had sex where it wasn’t just about getting off. Maybe never.

My block is dark and quiet, the only sounds our rapid breathing and the quick shuffle of our sneakers on damp pavement. I snatch the keys from my pocket, twist open the front door, and stumble when Andi fairly shoves me inside. I smile and whirl around to pin her to the door with my hips and my hands, though it’s totally unnecessary since she’s already got her fingers in my hair, rising onto her toes to kiss me.
My cock grows impossibly harder.
This might have been worth the wait.

Before I can dwell on it Andi tangles her fingers in my hair and tugs me back, gazing down, lips parted. If I ever woke up in a jungle, this is exactly the woman I imagine would find me. I grope around for the condom, my clumsy fingers eventually finding and rolling it on. I hold my cock in one hand and her ass in the other, guiding her as she lowers herself into my lap. The strong muscles in her thighs quiver as she hovers over me, the too-sensitive head of my cock stroking over her entrance. She bites her bottom lip, hair tangled around her shoulders, and the visual sears itself into my brain.

“Kell,” she gasps.
“What?” I gasp back.
“I… She struggles to inhale. “I don’t have…” Another breath. “A journal…” Her eyes sink shut as she starts to come. “But if I did…” She shudders. “This would be page one.”

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Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

Format: E-Bookneanderthalseekshuman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Knitting in the City, #1
Publisher: Cipher-Naught
Hero: Quinn Sullivan
Heroine: Janie Morris
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 08, 2016
Started On: October 14, 2019
Finished On: October 19, 2019

“If I were a function, you would be my asymptote. I always tend toward you.”

Neanderthal Seeks Human is my first read by Penny Reid. This book was available for free on Amazon during one of those free deal days by the author, I am guessing to promote Knitting in the City series of which this is the debut book.

Told in the first person, through the POV of the heroine Janie Morris for the most part, the story begins with Janie getting fired from her job, losing her boyfriend and apartment in a single day, and Sir Handsome McHotpants escorting her out of the building.

Janie believes herself to be an outlier of the human species; where  she is not greatly affected by desire and the need to connect on a primal level. That is until Sir Handsome McHotpants aka Quinn Sullivan makes his interest in her known, which is an aberration in itself if you ask Janie.

With her bunch of friends who make up the knitting group so to speak, Janie embarks on uncharted waters for her, in pursuing something that is out of this world for someone like her. Quinn, who is one of the finest of the male specimens to ever walk into her life, Janie is uncertain about many aspects of the burgeoning “relationship” between them. There is drama of the kind that makes for hilarity and of course brings forth the conflict in the main story line.

While Neanderthal Seeks Human was a great story in many ways, I felt cheated on two aspects. Mainly, the lack of POV included from Quinn, the hero. He is of course a character cast well amidst all of my complaints, but the fact that the readers do not get to see how he views the world and Janie as one of the lead characters was a sore point, especially when it is difficult to read him through other people, when Janie has so many misconceptions about what it is that she has with him.

The second thing was the lack of delivery on ALL that sexual tension and build up. Perhaps that is Penny Reid’s signature in her novels, I wouldn’t know. But I dislike it when authors build up and ratchet up the heat so much and then just leave you hanging. Books like this makes me feel so cheated. Its like having a lot of foreplay which leads to extremely bad sex.

In all honesty, that is how I felt. And when the author mentions the whole on the table sex that is about to happen at work and just leaves it at that, I was like, now that’s the author being just plain mean! I know, I know, somethings are best left to one’s imagination and all that, but if you do build up the heat to a certain point, you have to deliver – no excuses in my opinion.

I liked Janie well enough, though I wouldn’t say that I fell in love with her as the lead female character. Since Quinn’s POV is hardly accounted for, it is pretty evident that it is Janie who is with issues. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that hero does not have his own past, but the constant going back and forth the heroine does in the story, while understandable at certain points, was definitely irritating when I hit my saturation point for all of it.

The one positive aspect of the book for me were Janie’s friends. They are the kind of steadfast peeps that everyone should have. Made me realize just how alone I have become in that regard. I guess growing up has its own disadvantages whereby everyone starts to lead their own lives and making time for friends also becomes a bit difficult.

But there is something that I always believe in; that we would make time for what and who in our lives we consider as important. But the thought of starting over, getting a bunch of friends to hang out together just makes me weary in the extreme. But it is nice to read and bask in the glow of friendships as the ones that materialize in this book, which I am sure is a continued thread in the rest of the books in the series.

Recommended for those who love rom-com books – this one is good on that score, where I laughed out loud so many times, the dedication at the beginning of the book being one of the best, if not THE best that I have encountered ever.

Final Verdict: Neanderthal Seeks Human is a novel packaged with intelligent writing, laughter, and good times. It sizzles with sexual tension of the kind that leaves the reader in a state of inebriated desire.

Favorite Quotes

Cell phones, like the other social media constructs of our time, encourage the collecting of so-called friends and contacts similar to how my grandmother used to collect teacups and put them on display in her china cabinet.
Only now, the teacups are people, and the china cabinet is Facebook.

I parted my lips and he responded with a low growl, his arms sliding completely around me as he claimed my mouth. His hand moved up my back and fisted in my hair; he pulled my bun out of its twist sending rascally curls in every direction. He looped a length of it around his hand and held me in place as he explored my mouth. The kiss turned hungry, and my hands, trapped between us, could only grip the front of his shirt.

I frowned at him, but before I could process his response, he bent and kissed me for the third time that night. This one was different; not the slow, savoring sweetness of our first kiss and most definitely not a quick caress of lips like our last. This one was hungry, immediate, and demanding.
He fisted his hand in my hair and backed me into the door of my building, trapping me in place. It was the kind of kiss that drove away all coherent thoughts; like a bloodthirsty wolf chasing a bunny rabbit. My body responded in a way that I didn’t know possible, my back arching, wanting to press every inch of myself against his taut form, with the painfully delightful ache in my lower stomach winding its way around my limbs.

On impulse I leaned down and brushed my lips against his, intending to give my sleepy beauty a small peck. However, before I could withdraw, Quinn’s hands held me in place; his giant palms on my cheeks, his long fingers stroking my neck.
He deepened the kiss even as he sat upright and leaned over me so that I was slightly reclined, the back of my head against his knee; my fingers curled around his forearms to steady myself. His tongue was warm and soft and worshipful as it gently, maddeningly gently, caressed my own. I was being tasted and savored like one licks ice cream or a gourmet dessert. The effect was inebriating.

“Quinn.” I whispered his name. I don’t know why I was whispering, but I suspected that my vocal chords were incapable of cooperating. “Quinn.”
Abruptly, he wrapped the long fingers of one hand around the back of my neck, cupping it, and before I could think or react, he dragged his mouth over mine and ransacked me. He was fervent and wet and hot, and the warmth in my stomach fluttered and twisted until the pressure between my thighs was unbearable. I pressed my knees together again and clenched.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Dark Light of Day by T.M. Frazier

Format: E-Bookthedarklightofday
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: King, #0
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Jacob Francis Dunn
Heroine: Abby Marie Ford
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 02, 2016
Started On: October 04, 2019
Finished On: October 06, 2019

The Dark Light of Day by T.M Frazier landed in by TBR pile from my never ending search for books that deliver dark romances. The Dark Light of Day is definitely that, delivering the kind of depravity that humans are all too capable of, leaving scars that run deep, which lasts for consecutive lifetimes.

The Dark Light of Day delivers the story of 22 year old Jacob Francis Dunn (Jake) whose mother had taken her own life and his father hates him since. Jake makes his own way in life and when he meets Abby Marie Ford (Bee) whose life had taken a turn for the worse when her grandmother is killed, thus begins the story of these two whose tale is tragic as they come.

Bee’s grandmother had been the only person who had cared about her, had shown her even an ounce of love, which was a far cry from her abuse filled childhood. One would think that a girl would be able to catch a break, but then turns out it is not smooth sailing for these two who are each broken in their own ways.

If I were to describe what happens in the story, I guess I would be spoiling it for the ones who haven’t read this book yet. I quite do not know how I feel about the book, even months after I finished reading it. What Bee goes through in the story is atrocious on so many levels and at the same time showcases her strength in overcoming nightmares of epic proportions.

What I do not understand is how Jake acted when the abominable deed had happened, how he turns his back on Abbie and leaves her to fend on her own. Perhaps the only role in which he made a positive impact on Bee was to teach her that there was pleasure to be found in consensual sex. Apart from that, I really could not understand his contribution to the whole story.

Jake did show Bee that all men aren’t vile creatures out to get the most vulnerable of us. But then again, it wasn’t just the men in her life that had taken advantage and abused her within an inch of her life. Her mother had been the vilest of them, scarring her childhood beyond recognition. Mothers like her deserve their own special place in hell and beyond.

While I may never be able to wrap my head around how the story progressed and took off, I still believe this is a page-turner in its own right. I just wish for a better and more well rounded ending.

Recommended for those who love strong heroines; Bee is what the word defines.

Final Verdict: The Dark Light of Day is a story that definitely makes an impact; a tale of inner strength, victories, and triumphs of the broken.

Favorite Quotes

“You are so fucking beautiful,” he said again. He covered my mouth with his, stroking my lips with his tongue, urging me to open for him. When I did, he tasted my tongue in long slow strokes before breaking our kiss to lavish his attentions on the nipple he hadn’t yet tasted.
“You know I’ve never done this before,” I whispered. Since I’d never just come out and said it, it felt foreign to me. I guess I was technically a virgin, although I never really felt like one.
I may never have had sex, but I’d lost my innocence a long time ago.

“You see, Abby, a respectable man would probably not want to take your virginity. Some guys, the kind with manners or morals, would even be turned off at the thought of being your first, but like I’ve tried to tell you–” He leaned in closer, and his lips brushed against my neck when he whispered in my ear. “I’m not like those men.” He pressed firmly on my clit. The pressure that had been building exploded in a blinding white hot release, sending shock waves from my toes to my neck, my insides pulsed and clenched as I rode out the new waves of sensation that just kept coming.
I didn’t know how much time had passed when I could again open my eyes. “That was…”
“Nothing yet,” Jake finished for me.

My legs shot out from beneath me as I felt the pressure start to take me under. Jake held my gaze as the white hotness returned, this time even bigger than before, rolling in on waves that never seemed to end until the flames ignited in one powerful explosion. I pulsed around Jake until he pushed deep into me one last time. I felt his ass clench under my hands. He hardened even more, if that was even possible, and twitched inside me. Then, he held my gaze and cried out my name as he spilled himself into me.
Before that very moment, I had thought the sight of Jake on his bike was the sexiest thing I’d ever seen. That was no longer true. From that day forward, nothing could compare to the sight of Jake coming.
And nothing ever would.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehunter
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Christopher Argent
Heroine: Millicent Karolina Lapinski
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 02, 2016
Started On: September 01, 2019
Finished On: September 26, 2019

“Death is inevitable. To fear it is to waste energy.”

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne is book 2 in her fabulous Victorian Rebel series, where she writes about rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards who steal your heart and leave you wanting more. The Hunter explores the story of Christopher Argent who is an assassin, whose very nature makes him the perfect killer for hire. That is until Christopher’s services is procured to assassinate London’s darling and the stunningly beautiful actress Millicent Karolina Lapinski (Millie).

Christopher who is always able to detach himself from the lives he has taken thus far is unable to do so when he meets Millie, and in the process puts her and her son’s life in danger. With Millie Christopher for the first time learns the meaning of unthrottled desire. In Millie Christopher sees a woman who drives him crazy with need, and with whom his senses come alive as if he has been waiting for her touch all his life.

Christopher’s darkness lies deeply engraved in him, making him one of the most fascinating heroes I have read of late. I enjoyed The Hunter more than I did the first and third book in the series, the latter of which I read first. The lack of an epilogue is perhaps one of the main reasons why the rating did not go higher. Having gone through the roller-coaster ride of emotions that this book takes readers on, I believe we need an epilogue to let go of Christopher’s story with a heart that believes he got the best of what the world has to offer in terms of love of the kind that perseveres, no matter what.

Christopher’s character is perhaps one of the most emotionally complex characters that the series has offered thus far; his birth in the belly of the beast that is Newgate Prison and the unconscionable violence and tragedy that had been so much part of his life and shaped him into adulthood, marking him for life. I was traumatized by the sheer scale of violence that Christopher was subjected to, much of it with just enough details for the reader to form a full picture.

I found the delve into his psyche the most fascinating aspect of the story. Millie’s son Jakub was just adorable and I believe that he really did make a difference in the way Christopher sees himself. Millie was also such a darling character. She was a match for Christopher in every sense. A fierce lioness where needed and a gentle lover who knows just the right touch; when to press forward and when to give in, which is crucial in dealing with a man like Christopher whose life up till that point had taught him that he was a man unfit for loving and being loved.

Seeing Dorian and Farah was such a nice touch to the story as well, both of them easing into the new roles of their lives as husband and wife made me really happy.

I am so glad for having stumbled across these titles because at the cost of repeating myself, they come with the kind of darkness that I as a reader revel in. Heroes whose darkness is embraced by the heroine rather than embarking on an agenda of reform for the hero which is just plain annoying and unrealistic when it comes to characters who have gone through so much as Christopher did.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of dark historical romances. This one is all kinds of delicious!

Final Verdict: Christopher is the kind of hero that makes a romance stand out. The Hunter is a novel that takes readers through tumultuous emotions of the kind that delivers!

Favorite Quotes

“It won’t hurt, I promise,” he whispered as his fingers gently reached the nape of her neck, and then her jaw, and paused there.
It already hurt. She ached, ached in places generally best left ignored. Millie’s breath had now been reduced to little more than needy pants. “If you don’t kiss me, I’ll die,” she confessed.
He froze.
Vibrating with frustrated arousal she surged against him, lifting to her toes and grinding her lips against his.
The kiss was as hungry as it was sudden. While his eyes may have been cold, his mouth was hot and tasted of wine and male. She kissed him with abandon, enjoying the way his entire body jolted and went instantly rigid.

His fingers tightened again against her throat, just a little, and she gasped. Then moaned as a thrill of fear titillated down her nerves and settled as a pool of moisture between her thighs.
“Again,” she demanded, her arms winding around his neck, her body rubbing against his like a cat demanding to be stroked.
His curse was lost in the cavern of her mouth, and she knew in that moment that they both needed to see whatever this was between them to fruition.

Her scent filled his nostrils and held him prisoner. Soap, sweat, and something that reminded him of late summer berries. Everything about her enticed him, and the clenching of the muscles beneath his stomach pulled a sound from his throat so desperate, it could have been a plea.
In that moment, he could feel that she lost her fear.
And he lost his mind.

“I wonder…” Her husky voice vibrated through him, sending shivers of yearning down his spine that arced to his turgid sex with agonizing need. “I wonder, Mr. Argent, if you take instruction as deftly as you give it.”
Christopher froze beneath her, his entire being focused on the growing heat between her parted legs, creeping closer to his aching arousal with the graceful arch of her body as she continued to sit back.
“Never,” he breathed. He obeyed no one.
“Not even if I ordered you to claim my lips with yours?”

“Kiss me,” she commanded, rolling her hips back until she was pressed intimately against him, her voice containing a growing desperation that might not entirely pertain to the carnal heat building between them. “Kiss me like you did the night we met. Like a man who captured my gaze across a glowing room and seduced me with a waltz. Touch me as though we are back in that dark corner beneath the stairs of the Sapphire Room and you are Bentley Drummle, nothing more than a harmless, charming businessman.”
“Millie,” Christopher warned, confused by the almost frantic need in her eyes. By the fear and strain that seemed to underscore her passion.
“Kiss me like you never meant to kill me.”

Despite his words, his dreamlike exploration didn’t last. She may have initiated this kiss, but she was a fool if she thought she’d control it. Not only that, but she hadn’t been prepared for it, for the pure blistering intensity of it. His lips were hard, yet full. His movements raw and unapologetically carnal. He kissed her with a wicked mouth, one that issued threats and vulgarities and brutal, albeit sometimes endearing, honesty. He kissed like a man unused to kissing. No artfully applied maneuvers or sensual variations. He kissed like a man about to—to fuck. Like he wanted to pour himself into her, or perhaps crawl inside of her. This was a dominant kiss. A shameless kiss. The kiss of a man who knew his sins and granted himself absolution.
This was the kiss of a killer.

His rough chin scratched at the soft valley between her breasts, and she stiffened when she realized his mouth was drifting lower, leaving her upper half completely exposed.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“Your scent on my body, on my hands, drove me mad with hunger,” he said against the plane of her quivering belly. “Once I bathed I wanted it back. I want to taste you until you say my name.”
Dear sweet Lord, she couldn’t let him do that. It was too wicked. God, who was this man? Where was her terse assassin? Where was the man who bent her over and took her with her clothes left on? The one who’d pleasured her in the ballroom earlier and then pushed her away and disappeared? Who knew that in his dreams he was so utterly sexual? That he could set her blood to burning and mortify her at the same time?

Her sob touched him as deeply as he penetrated her. Soft hips spread beneath him in sweet feminine submission.
“Come for me,” he demanded on long, almost punishing thrusts. “Say my name … One … more … time.”
“Christopher.” His name was ripped from deep in her throat. “Please.” A plea or a prayer, he couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter. She whimpered, then screamed. Her body clenched around his cock, bore down on him with a throbbing pressure so intense, he couldn’t fight it.
He closed his eyes, battling the ecstasy building in his abdomen and preparing to burst from him. He clung to the moment, held as long as he could.

His possession was unbelievably slow as he sank inside of her, filling her with a heat she’d not known existed. For a moment they stayed like that as his cock stretched her slick channel and throbbed inside her welcoming body. They both stared, stunned by the incomprehensible intensity of the moment. It was like a thousand bolts of lightning converged within them, between them, and they somehow had joined more than just their bodies.
But fused their souls, as well.

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