Review: Misconduct by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-bookmisconduct.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Tyler Marek
Heroine: Easton Bradbury
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 01, 2015
Started On: November 14, 2018
Finished On: November 17, 2018

Penelope Douglas has officially become one of my favorite authors. Having enjoyed two of her books prior to this, Birthday Girl being an absolute favorite read of this year, I have come to discover that Douglas is one of those authors that would always continue to push the norms of the genre and do that in a way that has the approval of a large number of readers. That alone is no mean feat in my opinion.

I picked Misconduct to read because I wanted something that was standalone and not part of any particular series. Plus, I wanted the magic that Douglas creates so effectively with her characters and settings, giving readers like myself a ton of angst which I absolutely revel in.

Misconduct begins when ex tennis player Easton Bradbury runs into Tyler Marek for the very first time at a function. Told in the first person from both Tyler and Easton’s point of view, the attraction that springs forth between them is swift and equally felt on both sides, but before either can act on it, the moment is over, and away walks Tyler and so does Easton their separate ways. But before the night is over, Easton realizes who Tyler actually is and what he stands for.

Months later, it is when Easton begins her job as a US History teacher at one the prestigious private schools that she has her next run in with Tyler. The parent of one of the most reticent of her students, Easton believes that Tyler walking through her classroom door is the best reason ever to steer clear of the man – for obvious reasons.

Tyler has his reasons for staying away – he cannot mess up his relationship with his son any more than it was already. Not that he would win any father of the year awards, but he was willing to make most of the time he had been allowed with Christian, and shacking up with Christian’s history teacher wasn’t exactly the way to go about it.

When Tyler and Easton clash regarding Easton’s teaching methods, that is when things unravel between the two, and there is no turning back. The attraction that both had resisted from the very beginning bursts forth and there is no closing that door once it is opened. However, both Tyler and Easton have issues that needs resolving for them to find equal footing where their future is concerned, and how Penelope Douglas brings it all together is the sheer brilliance that lies behind her storytelling.

If you haven’t guessed it already, I loved the story. The main protagonists just fit together, despite the age gap between them, perhaps why it worked under the circumstances. Easton is way mature for her 23 years, perhaps stemming from a childhood that had been spent prepping herself for a professional career as a tennis player. Her life had been all about schedules and keeping up – her parents having never let her really enjoy childhood as it should be. Then it had all derailed, leaving the life of Easton and her brother in shambles. The events that had led to the tragedy had left its mark on Easton, even though she has pretty much regained a semblance of normalcy in her life.

Easton makes for a terrific teacher. Her enthusiasm leaps off the pages and even I wanted to sit in one of her classes to learn history, a subject that I have always thought wasn’t for me. But with a modern touch, Easton manages to turn something that would otherwise be considered as boring and mundane into issues that are relatable for students of the age, which is why her classes become such a hit. Easton’s charm lies in her lack of artifice. She is a simple girl at heart, who believes that she can take on the world all by herself, but ultimately realizes that with the right person, being vulnerable gives one added strength.

Tyler, OMG Tyler! He is the kind of hero that makes you want to surrender, and give yourself up to the minute he walks in. He does this simply just by being, a sense of arrogance to him that makes him all that more appealing, and that hunger and drive of his, as misplaced as it may be adds onto the attractiveness. His thirst to have it all and lose nothing had seen him make massive mistakes, ones that he tries hard to make up for.

His ambitions to make it to the US Senate is one that should have factored in a lot when it came to pursuing passion filled nights with his son’s teacher, but it hardly even registers because for Tyler, as misguided as his intentions maybe, his heart was always in the right place. He just needed something to move him enough in his life to set his priorities straight.

The scenes of passion were explosive, so very hot that I felt as if my Kindle was going to combust. It was of the panty-drenching kind, the heat scorching enough to leave the reader panting, wanting more.

Misconduct is recommended, because when you find an author as good as Douglas, you hold on for dear life and wish she would write faster, because you definitely can never get enough!

Final Verdict: Bold & full of heat, Easton & Tyler storms through the pages, straight into your heart.

Favorite Quotes

[Easton] “We can’t do this,” I told him.
My clothes felt like sandpaper on my skin, and I wanted them off. I wanted his shirt open and to know what he felt like under my fingertips.
“I know,” he answered.
But while his left hand held my knee up, his right hand slid between my legs and rubbed my clit through my panties.
I sucked in a sharp breath and clutched his shoulders, letting my eyes fall closed as my head floated away from me.
“Mr. Marek,” I begged.
But his breath fell against my mouth, and he whispered, “I told you there would be no stopping me when we finally ran into each other again.”

[Easton] “Tyler, oh, my God,” I cried, squeezing my eyes shut again and feeling my insides swirl and tighten.
“On second thought, call me Mr. Marek,” he insisted, and I popped my eyes open, seeing the devil in his grin.
I bit my lips between my teeth, groaning as I leaned back on my hands and slid my ass back and forth, fucking his fingers.
“Yes, Mr. Marek,” I breathed out, dropping my head back as the whole fucking world started to spin.
One of my heels dropped to the floor, but I couldn’t care less.

[Easton] “What are you doing?” I gasped.
His forehead pressed against mine, and his hands moved urgently, holding my face. “Dark spaces, quiet places,” he whispered over my mouth. “That’s all we need, Easton.”
And I sucked in a breath as he dove in, taking my lips, moving fast and making it sting so sweetly when he sucked and bit my bottom lip like he was starving.
I moaned, feeling the thick ridge of his cock as he ground into me.

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out.
He breathed out a quiet laugh against my cheek and palmed my tit, squeezing it possessively.
“I’m burning,” I gasped.
He flashed me a smug smirk, and my pussy clenched as I moaned, feeling his hand work between our bodies, unfastening his belt. “I’ll make it better,” he promised.
The warm flesh of his cock crowned my entrance, and he slid it up and down my slit to spread my wetness.
“Wait,” I panted, trying to pull off his jacket. I wanted to see his body.
But he slammed his hips into mine, and I cried out, that sweet pain of the first thrust spreading through my belly as he slid into me.

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out, my back stinging from the friction of the wall as he thrust into me.
I looked at him, seeing his eyes on mine, and we both watched each other, our lips barely an inch apart as he lowered his forehead to mine.
My pussy clenched around his cock, loving every inch he put into me and feeling that high every time he rubbed my G-spot.
He bit my bottom lip. “Is that it?” He slid in and out of me, raw and rough. “Do you like how I take what I want?”

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out.
He breathed hard, squeezing my tit as he moaned. “Oh, fuck.”
And I hunched over, crying out as my insides exploded and his dick rammed my sweet spot, bringing me home.
“Oh, God,” I groaned.
Warmth spread through my belly, and my legs shook from the tingles spreading down my muscles.
My whole body continued to jerk, and my head bobbed back and forth as he kept pounding me from behind.
“Ah,” he growled, and I winced from how hard he gripped my hips.
He yanked me back again, my neck jerking twice as he slammed his cock deep inside me and came. The warmth of his come filled me up, and his ragged breathing fell across my shoulder blade as he bowed his head, trying to catch his breath.

[Tyler] I didn’t wait. I never fucking waited with her.
I rose and climbed on top of her, nestling between the warm legs she so graciously opened for me.
I grinded up and down her slick heat, feeling her wetness on my cock already.
“Jesus, you’re wet,” I whispered against her mouth as I laid my chest flush with hers with my forearms resting on either side of her head. “Is that what I do to you? Huh?” I teased.
But rather than her usual smart-ass comebacks, she blinked awake and gazed at me, looking so fucking innocent and dreamy.
“Yeah.” She nodded.
My fists balled above her head, and I covered her mouth with mine as I thrust my hips, sliding into her tight body.
What the hell was I doing?

[Tyler] “Please kiss me,” she begged.
I covered her mouth with mine as I went at her with everything I had.
“Yes!” she cried, then pulled away to shout, “Fuck! Harder!”
I gripped her thigh and gave her everything I had, completely lost in her moans and cries, smell and taste. Her sounds got higher and her skin was drenched.
“Fuck,” I gasped out, closing my eyes, letting the moment overtake me.
“Ah!” she cried out, then stilled, holding on for the ride.
I thrust into her again, my body jerking as I finally spilled inside of her.

[Easton] “Yeah, I’ve had women,” he admitted, baring his teeth. “Lots of women. I’m thirty-five fucking years old, for Christ’s sake.” He shook my head slightly. “Tessa McAuliffe is a beautiful woman, and we’ve enjoyed each other many times.”
I rammed my palm into his chest, but he didn’t budge. “Many times?” I raged.
He nodded, getting in my face. “Yeah, many times.”
But as I felt my eyes pool with tears, he came closer and grazed my lips with his. “All before you,” he whispered, making my breath stop. “There hasn’t been anyone since you.”
I stayed still, needing to pull away but wanting to stay.
“That’s why you’re stupid.” He grabbed the backs of my thighs and lifted me onto the pool table. “Why the hell would I want her or anyone else when I’ve got this?”
And he pulled up my dress, pulled my panties to the side, exposing my pussy, and dove down, capturing my clit in his mouth.

[Easton] He pulled down the top of my dress, bra straps with it, and pushed me back down to palm my breasts and rub his thumbs over my nipples.
I groaned, letting my eyes fall closed.
“You belong in my bed every night, and I fucking hate that I can’t have you there,” he gritted out, his hands working between our bodies. “I want to buy you shit just to have you throw it back in my face, and I want to fly you to Fiji just so I can rip a bikini off of you.” I felt the hot tip of his cock at my entrance, and I could feel the wetness between my legs.
“I said my dick was yours, and I meant it,” he breathed out, grabbing hold of my hips as he slammed his dick inside of me.

[Tyler] Reaching behind her neck, I unclasped her dress and pulled the top down, gazing at her gorgeous body and beautiful breasts. Grazing my fingertips down her flat stomach, I pulled the dress down farther, meeting her eyes, so she could see mine.
“I need you,” I growled low. “Right now.”
And I yanked the fabric until she got the hint and raised her ass off the seat, so I could get the dress off.
“Jesus Christ,” I groaned. “You weren’t wearing panties?”

[Tyler] “You didn’t want it slow, did you?” I pawed her breast possessively.
She shook her head. “Uh-uh,” she whimpered.
I thrust into her harder and faster, groaning when she began backing up into it. Her pussy was so tight, squeezing my dick like a hand. I couldn’t believe I thought I could do without her.
“Sir.” Patrick came over the intercom, and I slowed. “Where am I taking you?”
I leaned down, turning Easton’s head so her lips met mine. “You don’t belong anywhere I’m not,” I whispered.
She kissed me slowly, nodding.
I leaned back up, rocking into her and feeling her pussy clench and spasm.
“Home, Patrick,” I choked out. “Take us home.”

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

amazingread

Review: Glass Houses by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookglasshouses.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Dubrovnika
Heroine: Laura de Kelsey Winston
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 25, 1989
Started On: November 07, 2018
Finished On: November 08, 2018

Glass Houses by Anne Stuart was picked as my next read to chase away the dissatisfaction that had been left behind by the last novel that I had read. Anne Stuart is an author who continuously delivers. After all, there is a reason why she is a queen of the genre itself, no matter in which sub-genre she chooses to write.

Glass House is referred to as a famous New York landmark built by the grandfather of the heroine, Laura de Kelsey Winston. Owner of Glass Faces, a small and exclusive up and coming modeling agency owned by Laura herself, she is determined that she would protect the building and preserve its authenticity at any cost, no matter how many vultures might circle her in their attempts to buy the land plot upon which Glass House stands.

However, in Michael Dubrovnik, known as Whirlwind to his competitors, Laura finds the most formidable buyer that yet, willing to fight dirty to get what he wants, with him explicitly stating so. Underneath all the back and forth that happens between Laura and Michael, starts an awakening of the senses, especially for Laura, whose young heart had been bruised by the fact that she was considered the “ugly swan” among the rest of the beauties in her family. Plus, the actions of her mother had left its mark on Laura, something which makes her believe that sex would never be enjoyable for someone like her, and she has so far succeeded in her attempts to steer clear from any amorous intentions of the opposite sex she comes across.

Michael manages to get under her skin in a way that leaves Laura vulnerable. It is not easy for someone who projects a cool front otherwise, to lose her temper and other senses so spectacularly around a man as experienced in his ways as is Michael. But Laura is not alone in feeling that sizzle of longing and awareness. Michael too is caught in its tendrils and before they know it, both Laura and Michael are tumbling into a world where only the headiness of sensual pleasure rules. But when tragedy comes calling, Laura must decide what it is that she would do; wave the white flag of surrender or carry on business as usual, if she wants to have it all.

I loved Glass Houses and the feels that this novel brought out in me in spades. I believe that the effect was magnified by a hundredfold because of the lackluster story I had read earlier as well. But then again, it IS Anne Stuart we are talking about here, the author who can do no wrong, 99 per cent of the time.

I loved Michael. He is arrogant in a way that comes from climbing his way to the top with sheer hard work and making a name for himself where many had failed. His arrogance itself served as a turn on at appropriate moments. That is the sheer brilliance behind a character well written.

But the most fascinating aspect to Michael was how well he saw into Laura, how insightful he was when it comes to the woman she is behind the facade she presents to the rest of the world. Of course, that is not surprising given he is ruthless in his business ventures, and for that, he needs to be able to read people. But for once, Michael is unable to exert his usual ruthlessness to full effect, because unknowingly, Laura also loosens something dangerous and possessive inside of him.

Laura was one of those spunky heroines that Anne Stuart is famous for. She is feisty, goes out of her way to thwart all and every attempt of Michael to win her over, goes as far as to thrust another woman towards him as she pursues her interests elsewhere; all the while kidding to herself on the extent to which she was already compromised. The period of separation between Michael and Laura was one that brought on the angst factor, which I of course loved. I believe that Laura needed that period of healing in order to start over from a clean slate where she and Michael were concerned.

Definitely adored the ending. It was just fitting!

The secondary romance tucked in between the high octane tale unfolding between Michael and Laura was equally enticing. Loved how Susan finally got what she deserved, in the arms of none other than the man she had been in love with, ever since she had come to know him.

Recommended for fans of sizzling hot romances featuring a tad of a ruthless hero and a heroine who will fight till the very end before giving in.

Final Verdict: What a good novel does for you is priceless, and that is what Anne Stuart undoubtedly delivers, every single time.

Favorite Quotes

She didn’t even have time to get self-conscious. “You have the most beautiful body,” he whispered, his mouth traveling down, brushing the tops of her full breasts as his fingers slid the narrow straps down over her arms, pushing the silk away from her body to land on the floor. She was standing naked in his arms, and shyness washed over her body in a dull pink haze. She tried to turn from him, but he wouldn’t let her, and the hands that ran up the length of her were gentle, almost worshipping. “I love your breasts,” he whispered, his hands brushing their softness, so that she wanted to cry with longing. “I love your hips brushing against me, I love your arms around me, I love your mouth under mine, I love your legs, I love…”

“If you think you’re all done for the night, babe,” he whispered, “you’re wrong.” And putting his hand between their bodies he touched her, deftly, deliberately, as he surged forward once, twice, three times.
She heard the muffled cry from a distance and knew it was her own. His mouth covered hers, drinking in her cry, as his body pushed her over the edge into places she’d never even dreamed existed. There was only rippling darkness, his body pulsing within hers, as every muscle, every cell in her body convulsed. It went on forever, a timeless, impossible eternity, and when she finally returned to the mattress beneath her and the man above her, the room and the noise and the New York City night, her face was wet with tears.

He was too fast for her. Before she had the faintest idea what he was going to do, he’d pulled her into his arms. Her laughter faded into silence as his mouth covered hers, wet from the rain, tasting faintly of whiskey.
She was too startled, too breathless, to react as she should have. Instinctively she put her arms around him, and suddenly he lifted her, swinging her around, away from the shelter of the building and out into the pouring rain again. She clung to him, half out of dizziness, half out of a sneaking, self-destructive streak she couldn’t fight anymore. Damn it, she wanted to kiss him. And kiss him she did, opening her mouth to his as the rain poured down around them.

Before she realized what he intended, he pulled her into his arms, tightly against his body. He was far more aroused than Carnaby had ever been, and the tension and strength vibrating through him effectively wiped out any other considerations. When his mouth met hers she was absurdly ready, hungry for him despite all her better judgment.
She moaned when his tongue touched hers, pushing him away with her freed hands as her mouth answered his. Ignoring her lands, he cupped her face, holding her still for the scorching power of his kiss, and her fists grew feebler, batting at him weakly.

He released her breast, and her skin felt damp and cool compared to the feverish flush that covered the rest of her body. “This is a game for two players, Laura,” he said, his voice rasping in the darkness. “Touch me.”
She released his arm, reaching up to tentatively caress his shoulder. He was covered with a fine sheen of sweat, and she could fee! the tension pulsing through him. “No,” he said, his voice hard. “Touch me.”

She couldn’t pretend not to know what he meant. And suddenly she wanted what he wanted. She wanted to feel that heavy male power in her hands, wanted to know what would soon be a part of her. Running one hand down his chest, she let it slide across his taut stomach, down the crisp curl of hair. And then she touched him, the silken length of him, the satiny-smooth flesh, the heat and desire and dampness and sheer size of him.

For a moment she panicked, trying to push him away from her, tightening up against an invasion she wasn’t sure she wanted. “Don’t fight me,” he murmured, but she couldn’t hear him, lost in her own unexpected alarm.
The sharp pain on her shoulder startled her into a shriek of dismay. Michael took advantage of his deliberate distraction, pushing in deep, filling her with his strength and masculine power. She shuddered, accepting him, and when she looked up, her eyes were glazed with tears.
“You bit me,” she whispered.
“Needs must when the devil drives,” he murmured, running his tongue over the teeth marks on her soft white shoulder. And he began to move.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispered.
She didn’t need his small smile to know that he’d won. It no longer mattered. He returned to her, thrusting deep and hard, and his voice in her ear was just a reminder of her weakness. “I told you you’d beg me not to leave you.”
Deep in her body he was holding still, and she had no choice but to respond. “You’re a manipulative bastard, Mischa.”
“Yes.” He reached down, took her legs and wrapped them around his waist. “But I’m honest about what I want. And I want you.”

Her fingernails raked across his back, but he ignored them, his hands bruised her wrists, but she ignored them, clinging to him with her arms, her legs, her body, holding tight and reaching… reaching…
“Look at me,” he said, his voice hoarse, his muscles standing out with exertion. “Open your eyes and look at me, Laura. I want to watch you when you come.”
She opened her eyes. “I’m not going to,” she said faintly. “I’m not…”
“Yes,” he said. “You are.”
And suddenly she did, convulsing around him, shock and surprise spinning into blind sensation as she was swept away, caught in a whirlwind of dark desire that was twisting and turning her, tossing her into a night where nothing existed but sheer sensation.

Her entire body began to quiver. She was covered with a fine film of sweat, her breathing was rapid and shallow, and the pleasure he was giving her was so exquisite, she thought she might die from it. “Stop,” she whispered hoarsely, unable to bear any more. “I can’t…”
“Yes, you can.” His voice was nothing more than a breath of sound on the still night air. And suddenly she did, biting her lower lip as her body convulsed in a reaction that was still too new. He held her tight, prolonging it, prolonging it so that she thought she might explode as tears poured down her face.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

amazingread

 

Review: True Enchanter by Susan Napier

Format: E-booktrueenchanter_susannapier
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Richard Marlow
Heroine: Joanna Carson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 10, 1987
Started On: October 26, 2018
Finished On: October 29, 2018

After the high of my previous read, The Sister Swap by Susan Napier, I decided that one more Susan Napier was in order to continue riding the high.

Story begins with Joanna Carson, aunt to one talented and quite young Rebecca, acting as a chaperone to her niece on a movie set, where Rebecca was as one of the lead roles. This is how Joanna starts to spend time, albeit reluctantly, with Richard Marlow, the director of the said movie, a man she believes to be too egoistic and arrogant for his own good. 

Richard had been a promising actor himself, who at the peak of his stardom, went out of the spotlight owing to a life changing accident, which saw him return as a movie director. 

True Enchanter, despite all elements that should have made it work, was a tough story to care about. I liked the hero a bit, and disliked the heroine intensely. In my opinion, she is one of those heroines whom you want to see as someone who was pushing the boundaries on the gender equality agenda, but somehow ends up being annoying about everything. But in all honesty, I just found her tiresome and thought to myself good riddance when I skipped bits and pieces to get to the ending. 

Susan Napier writes strong heroines, and pushes the accepted norms in her books. Feminism as an evolving concept has always been challenged by romance authors to different extents. But then there are the heroines who grate on your nerves because of their “strong ideals” and end up giving the story a bad vibe rather than being an empowering figure to the reader.

Recommended if you like heroines who come off too strong. 

Final Verdict: Tiresome in a way that had me skipping parts of the story to get to the ending. It is my faith in Napier’s abilities as a writer that made me even  try.

Purchase Links: Amazon

mediocreread

Review: The Sister Swap by Susan Napier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

awesomeread

Review: Lily by Patricia Gaffney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

greatread

ARC Review: Barbarous by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-bookBarbarous.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #2
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Hugh Redvers
Heroine: Daphne Davenport
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 30, 2018
Started On: September 29, 2018
Finished On: October 02, 2018

Minerva Spencer is a Canadian author, who writes Regency Era romance. With two of her published works out, both in the series entitled The Outcasts, I came across her work when acclaimed historical romance author Elizabeth Hoyt recommended her books in one her tweets. I have loved almost everything that I have read from Hoyt and believe her to be a sensational author. So when she recommends an author whose books have spoken to HER, well, needless to say, I needed no further urging.

I did not read this series in order and read Barbarous first. In doing so, I did not feel like I had missed out on understanding the characters or felt that any of the story line was missing. So it is safe to say that this can be read as a standalone.

Barbarous begins when Hugh Redvers returns from the “dead” fifteen years after he was presumed to be so. A handsome daredevil who had stolen bits and pieces of Lady Daphne Davenport even when she had been an impressionable child when Hugh had been banished by his uncle, the older and mature version of him, scarred as he is, is a sight to behold.

Daphne’s first impression of Hugh upon his return is explained in a manner that does justice to what his character brings to the story. “Daphne knew she was gawking, but she couldn’t stop. His sun-bronzed skin and golden hair were an exotic surprise against the pallid gray of the spring sky. But it was the black eye-patch that covered his left eye and the savage scar that disappeared beneath it that were truly arresting. He lacked only a battered tricorn and cutlass between his teeth to be every maiden’s fantasy of a handsome pirate. Was he lost on his way to a masquerade ball?

Daphne’s biggest fear upon Hugh’s sudden return is that he would find out her “deception” and the fact that she had robbed him of his rightful inheritance. Daphne’s marriage to Hugh’s uncle is one that Hugh cannot wrap his head around, and he knows that he no right to be entertaining such wicked thoughts about his “aunt” – spread for him to feast upon, in all her wanton glory.

Daphne knows that she is not the type of woman that would excite a man like Hugh. But the manner in which Hugh slowly seduces her is reason enough to drive her ever slowly out of her mind. Even if she is determined to stay unmoved, there is no helping the fact that her body responds to the proximity and wicked looks that Hugh throws her way. However, for Daphne and Hugh to have their happily ever after, the need to face their past and reconcile with it is a must, before the dangers closing in from all sides could destroy what they have, even before their entwined life could begin.

Before I start gushing about this book, I just have to put this out there. I have the utmost respect for Canadian authors. The few Canadian authors, whose books I read, have wowed me in ways I cannot even comprehend. Some of them are the reason I continue to read the genre even when most tales in the genre today have grown pale in comparison to what my reader tastes are like. In Minerva Spencer, I believe I have found one more author that I will continue to watch out for, because she has a flair for bringing all the elements together that makes a romance work, which makes reading no hardship at all.

Barbarous was amazing in its prose and delivery – no two ways about it. I loved how both Daphne and Hugh’s characters were crafted. Daphne is the ultimate bookworm, a bit lost inside her head, and has a heart that is warmth itself. Her difficult past, the way she had found a sanctuary in being married to her deceased husband, and the twins that had been borne out of horrible circumstances, but whom she would give her very own life for; all this and more define Daphne. The way she responds to Hugh, that innocence of hers, her curiosity, and the way she loves and accepts Hugh wholeheartedly, for all that and more, I loved her character.

When it comes to Hugh, he is a man who strides into the story, giving it a vitality that I am hard pressed to explain. He is like a warm beating heart, pulsating with life, giving energy to the rest of the elements that makes up the story. His kindness above everything else, made me fall like a ton of bricks for him. His wicked, wicked nature when it came to the slow seduction of Daphne made me want to hoot and give out a catcall, especially when he strip teased for her. A hero doing the teasing in that manner is something I have seldom come across in romance novels, especially when it comes to the historical genre. His possessiveness was just the right touch, the balm that soothes the heart and soul of someone like Daphne who considers herself to not have anything much to offer a man like Hugh.

The cast of secondary characters definitely brings added color to the story, with every character multi-faceted in a way that lends credence to the unfolding story. Even the “villain” had his own story to share, which makes one think along the lines of how under similar circumstances, good and bad can thrive and persist, even beyond human comprehension.

If scrumptious love scenes, an interesting cast of characters, and excitement of the kind that would keep you turning the pages is what you want, Minerva Spencer is the author for you. I cannot wait for the next couple of books (which I am hoping the author is working on) to be out!

Final Verdict: In Barbarous, Minerva Spencer delivers a delectable tale of a larger than life hero who returns home to find himself scandalously in lust with his uncle’s widow. To say that sparks fly would be an understatement. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Tendrils of her luxuriant hair had come loose as she played. Some spiraled wildly, glinting pale gold in the light, some lay damply against the exposed skin of her throat. Each time Hugh turned a page, he bent lower than necessary, breathing her in, inhaling her. She smelled clean, unper-fumed with anything but the vague scent of soap. Never had Hugh realized just how heady another human’s natural scent could be.
By the time the final notes came to a crashing conclusion, Hugh ached with the effort of holding his body in check. The cavernous music room was silent but felt crowded and small, the atmosphere heavy with a maelstrom of emotions he had no interest in examining.
Her arms trembled with the mere physicality of the past moments and a slight shudder passed through her, as if she’d just come out of a trance. She followed his hand—which rested on the piano—up to his face and blinked, surprised to find she wasn’t alone.
Hugh gazed into her heavily lidded eyes and was astounded by the violence of his need to touch her—embrace her. Instead, he took a small step back, even that much a struggle.
“You are magnificent,” he said, his voice hoarse.

His handsome features were taut and intense, but no longer angry. “Daphne—” He stopped and shook his head. Daphne stared into his emerald eye, mesmerized by the gold shards that glinted in the green, like slivers of sunlight through a forest canopy. His fingers tightened and his disconcerting gaze traveled from her eyes to her mouth and then back.
He gave a low groan of frustration. “Oh, bloody hell,” he muttered, just before his mouth crushed hers.
Daphne closed her eyes.
Finally
. The word echoed so loudly inside her head that, for a moment, she feared she’d spoken out loud.
If she had, Hugh did not appear to notice.

Daphne shuddered and grabbed onto his body to steady herself as his gentle sucking set off colorful explosions behind her eyelids. The tautly bunched muscles of his upper body were hard and hot beneath the smooth wool of his coat and her hands traveled the broad expanse of his shoulders toward his neck, lightly grazing his cravat before she pushed her fingers into his thick, surprisingly wiry curls.
He growled and inched even closer, releasing her lip and then pushing at the seam of her mouth with his tongue, as if he was trying to . . . enter her.
Daphne inhaled sharply and the room shifted beneath her feet as he took her face in both hands and tilted her, stroking into her . . . tasting her . . . licking her.

He traced the gentle curves with the tip of his tongue, teasing the thin silk barrier that molded to her lithe body. As he’d suspected—a million years ago at the wretched dinner—her nipples were less than an inch below the tissue-thin fabric of her gown.
Daphne shifted and arched as he suckled her through the silk, bringing the tip to tantalizing hardness before moving to the other, working her until the noises coming from deep in her throat were so hungry he had to see her.
He held her at arm’s length, staring into her sleepy eyes. “You are so beautiful,” he said, his hands moving to the damp, stretched fabric that barely covered her.

She lightly dragged the very tip over his lips, as if drawing his features, leaving a searing trail of heat as she kissed and licked and nipped her way up his scar, pulling his head lower and feathering the torn, tender skin with the lightest of kisses. Before Hugh knew what she was doing she’d untied the ends of the strap that held the patch over his eye.
He moved to grab it, but she flung it away and then clutched his face in both hands and pulled him lower.
“I want all of you.”
He hadn’t believed he could become any harder; he’d been wrong.

He circled his hand over her, stroking her pelvis from side to side until her hips pressed against his palm on the next sweep over her sex.
Hugh smiled at the familiar gesture of need and cupped her in his hand before dipping a finger between her swollen lips. She reacted with a convulsive thrust and he probed deeper, working her with a gentle but persistent rhythm, each stroke a little deeper, a little harder. She swelled around him and her hot wetness told him when she could take more. A second finger joined the first and her hips responded eagerly, thrusting in time to the motion of his hand.
“God, you’re so wet. So sweet and tight,” he whispered, the words causing her body to shake.
Hugh felt as though he’d barely begun when she contracted, her hips bucking hard, as if she couldn’t get him deep enough.

Holding her gaze, he withdrew almost all the way and then filled her with a single slick thrust. Her eyelids fluttered and her body tightened around his and a groan tore out of his chest.
“Touch me, Daphne. Stroke me while I stroke you.” Again he pulled all the way out and drove himself home, harder this time. Her hands began to roam his body, exploring his torso, his chest, his buttocks. He moved faster and pumped harder, driving into her with powerful, deep thrusts, holding nothing back.

She met him stroke for brutal stroke, until his body was about to fly apart. He was afraid he could no longer wait when she contracted around him.
“Yes, Daphne, yes. Come for me.” He punctuated his words with one savage thrust after another. She sank her teeth into his chest, her crisis coming fast and hard and triggering his own petite mort.
Hugh threw back his head and yelled something mindless as he drove himself home and spent deep inside her.

The sculpted muscles of his back and shoulders bunched with controlled power as his blond head moved rhythmically, his skilled tongue and fingers working their magic. Daphne gave herself up to pure pleasure and rode the crest of the wave that had been a long time coming. A wave that built and built until it crashed, taking her with it and pummeling her body over and over, until she was weak, breathless, and limp.
“Hugh,” she whispered, her hands slipping from his hair, where they’d somehow become tangled.

“I—I want . . .” Daphne had no recollection of what she’d meant to say.
He laughed wickedly. “You want . . . this?” He entered her in one slick, endless thrust, driving her in to the mattress with the force of his action.
Daphne groaned, her head falling back, her eyes closing. It was . . . too much, too intense, too—
And then he began to pound her with merciless, measured thrusts, each invasion deeper than the last.
“Your body is heaven,” he gasped, halting his savage thrusting and instead pushing slowly into her, inch by inch by inch. “Take all of me, darling.”
She wrapped her legs around him, tilted her pelvis, and tightened.
“My God, Daphne!” He shuddered violently enough to shake the four-poster bed, lifting her higher, his fingers digging into her hips while he drove into her, his body taut and slick with the strength of his need.

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

greatread

Review: Deal of a Lifetime by Susan Napier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

peachyread