Review: Cry for the Moon by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcryforthemoon.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yorktown Towers, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Simon Zebriskie
Heroine: Marielle Brandt
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 01, 1988
Started On: December 15, 2016
Finished On: December 17, 2016

Widow of six months, Marielle Brandt turns up with her five year old daughter Emily and eighteen month son Christopher at the doorstep of Farnum’s Castle, against all the advise doled out by the elderly attorney, who from the onset tries to convince her to sell the derelict building which Marielle is now to call home.

Left destitute with a mountain of debt by her husband, Marielle leaves behind a life which she particularly wouldn’t miss. The attorney goes as far as to tell her that the building is haunted, which does not in the least deter a very undaunted Marielle. The determination with which she was going to make Farnum’s Castle perhaps borne a bit out of the fact that she has nowhere else to go.

When one of the tenants of the building, the mysterious Simon Zebriskie encounters the very young Marielle, whom he considers so owing to perhaps his failed marriage from before, he is distrustful. Not so much because she is untrustworthy, but a distrust that stems from a side of himself that he had thought had gone dormant that comes to life with Marielle’s presence.

Simon is a man paying penance for something that had meant the end of life as he had known it, which had afforded him a life of luxury that is a distant memory from what his life is like now. With an odd cast of secondary characters who magically brings the “Gothic” side of the story alive, Cry for the Moon is once again a testament to Anne Stuart’s ability that remains unrivaled even with the multitude of romance writers out there.

A book written when I was in my early childhood, and yet even today stands firm with the test of time is exactly why I would always pick an Anne Stuart to chase away my reading blues. In Simon, there is the deliciously tender hero that any reader would fall in love with. Minus the anti-hero qualities that makes Anne Stuart so famous in the development of heroes in her novels, Simon is a man haunted by a past that makes him aloof and reluctant in many ways to confront his rioting emotions when it concerns Marielle.

Marielle on the other hand, is the strong, kind, and yet emotionally scarred heroine that anyone would root for. Her reluctance to step into anything with Simon comes from a marriage that had failed her miserably when all had been said and done. Having gotten married at a young age, Marielle would rather forge ahead on a path of her own making and do it alone, and yet, she cannot help but be ensnared by the passion that rises to the surface and explodes with every deliciously lazy kiss that Simon lays on her.

Final Verdict: Beautifully rendered, Cry for the Moon belongs in the collection of gems with which Anne Stuart has enriched the reading lives of many a romanceaholic like myself. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

“Let go of me,” she said, her voice a hushed command in the still room.
“Yes,” said Simon, not moving.
“We can’t do this.”
“No,” he agreed.
“Simon.”‘ Her voice held a very definite note of warning.
“Yes,” he said. Then, “No.” And then he dipped his head, blotting out the moonlight, and his mouth caught hers.
Unbelievably, it had been years since she’d been kissed. Possibly not since the night Christopher had been conceived, and she wasn’t even sure of that. And she’d never been kissed the way Simon was kissing her, all urgency gone now, slowly, thoroughly, his mouth touching and teasing and tasting, nudging away her panic until she had no choice but to soften her mouth, to part her lips for him, to let him take possession with a sudden sly ferocity that left her trembling beneath him.

Suddenly she decided to shock him in return, to prove to him that she wasn’t the skittish little coward he seemed to think her. Reaching out with the tip of her tongue she touched the firm contours of his lips, teasing the edge of his teeth, exploring, very gently, very shyly.
She was unprepared for the intensity of his reaction. He’d been standing there completely passively, hands at his sides, when a strangled groan caught at the back of his throat and he pulled her into his arms, his tongue meeting hers. He picked her up and turned her in his arms, pressing her against the graffiti-covered wall of the apartment as his tongue took up where hers had left off.

Simon paid no attention to her protests. He kissed her, his mouth covering hers and sealing her objections as his long, deft fingers stroked and caressed her. Now she was clutching his arms, fingers digging into his hard-muscled flesh. She wanted to beg him to stop—except that she didn’t want him to stop. She wanted him to keep on, keep on forever, his hand between her legs invading her, arousing her, taking her from blind innocence to someplace dark and dangerous and overwhelming.
Marielle tore her mouth away from his. “No!” she choked. “No, stop! I can’t stand it! I can’t…”
“Yes, you can.” He was relentless, and for just a moment she fought him, pushing against him. Then the first wave hit, a jolt of sheer, agonizing pleasure shooting through her with the power of an electrical charge. She went rigid in his arms, shock and reaction keeping her still for a moment. Then her body convulsed against him as wave after endless wave of response twisted her into a helpless rag doll.

She shut her eyes, still tense, still waiting. But he made no move at all, despite the power vibrating in his arms, despite the need covering his body with a fine film of sweat. “Look at me, Marielle.” There was a hoarse note of pleading in his voice, one she couldn’t resist. Her eyes shot open. “Say something, Marielle. Anything.”
“I thought you liked me quiet.” It didn’t sound like her voice. It was raw with need and wonder and emotion.
He still didn’t move. “Not that quiet. Say something, Marielle. Say you want me.”
The ghost of a smile twisted her mouth. “Of course I want you. I’ve never in my life wanted anyone the way I want you. I never thought I’d want anyone the way I want you. I want you, I need you, I…” His mouth silenced the last, dangerous statement that might have slipped out, and his body pushed into hers, settling deep.

Maybe it was the two glasses of wine, or the roller coaster of emotion she’d been riding; maybe it was just time to take a chance and stop being so damned serious. Marielle lifted her flowing black chiffon skirts, just high enough to expose black lace ankles and spiky black shoes, and sauntered across the room toward a wary-looking Simon. “Saint Simon,” she murmured, her voice low and throaty when she reached him, “am I another one of your charity cases?” And before she could think better of it she reached up and pressed her red-painted lips on his, her heady perfume enveloping them both.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: Wildfire by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookwildfire
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fire, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Malcolm Gunnison
Heroine: Sophie Jordan MacDonald
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 14, 2017
Started On: January 28, 2017
Finished On: February 09, 2017

Wildfire is the 3rd book in the explosive Fire series, a spin-off from the delectable Ice series by Anne Stuart. Readable as a standalone, Wildfire tells the story of the Committee operative Sophie Jordan MacDonald who had made the blunder of falling for the charm that her target had exuded in spades, and marrying the monster with whom she had suffered for the past 3 years. Knowing that no one from her former life as an operative would be coming to rescue her as she had bungled up the mission in a major way, Sophie is counting the days until she can escape, that is until Malcolm Gunnison walks into her life and throws everything into a spin.

Malcolm’s mission is one that is straightforward. But the minute Malcolm crosses paths with his target’s wife, the whole operation changes its focus. Malcolm who is not given to feelings of the tender kind finds himself strangely fascinated by a woman he knows he should be able to walk away from. The fact that Sophie’s husband outlines his plans when it comes to her does not help matters. In fact, it pushes Malcolm and Sophie together in a way that makes the sparks literally fly.

Though Wildfire would not be my favorite book in the series thus far, it still carries the trademark Anne Stuart style in delivering a story that heats up and delivers from the onset. The one thing that irked me was the continued references towards how Sophie had been a rookie who should not have been sent into the mission that had changed her life so drastically. The repetitiveness of that particular statement almost throughout the book was a bit off putting to say the least.

Nevertheless, with Malcolm, Anne Stuart once again presents her readers with a hero as ruthless and delicious as they come. There is no turning away from the mastery he wields in the bedroom – well the bedroom comes later, but hey, you get what I mean. If you have ever read an Anne Stuart book, it is how she delivers bad boys of the kind that makes you want that keeps you coming back for more. That and the wit and charm she puts so effortlessly into her books. And she does not disappoint when it comes to Wildfire.

I loved Sophie as well. Her vulnerability and her strength was a combination that made me fall and root for her. The ending when it came was classic Anne Stuart as well. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Final Verdict: Wild is the fire that rages between two operatives who have no intention of falling in love. Deliciously sensuous in the way that only Anne Stuart does it!

Favorite Quotes

“Touch me and I’ll kill you.”
“You and what army?” Before she knew what was happening, he’d crossed that last bit of space, slid his arm around her back, and yanked her against his hard body. “Don’t be a hypocrite. We both want it, and it helps the mission. Man up, Jordan.”
It was a shock, hearing her maiden name for the first time in years. She could feel him, his hard cock unmistakable beneath his jeans, pressing against her stomach. “I don’t think that’s exactly what you’re expecting me to do.”

He was right. She’d wanted this from the moment she first saw him, whether she wanted to admit it or not, and his tongue in her mouth was the first claim—her response, the first acceptance.
His body pressed hers against the wall, and she felt him reach between them, unfastening his jeans, and she panicked for a moment, lashing out at him. He caught her wrists, holding them tightly together, and began to pull up her skirt. She wanted to shove him away, she wanted . . . she wanted . . .

He shoved into her, and she gasped, shocked at the unexpected size of him, the thick cock deep inside her, so good . . . so good . . . and she tightened her arms and legs around him as spasms of pleasure washed over her. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe, she just wanted to feel. She needed this to last forever, and she rode him, his hands on her hips, sliding her up and down on his cock. She threw her head back, wanting to scream, and he sank his head against her neck, his teeth against her shoulder, the sting of his bite sending her over the edge.

Another wave hit her, and this time she did cry out, a wordless sound of rich pleasure, and he pulled away from the wall, turning around, still holding her as he moved, in and out, his thickness a wicked torment, harder, deeper, until he was suddenly rigid in her arms, in her body, his breath rasping as he poured himself into her, punctuated by each jerk of his hips, and she let go, let go of everything, drowning in sensation, in him, in Mal.

“Move back,” he said hoarsely. “Please.” Her face was very still. She hadn’t touched him yet, but he could feel her long, cool fingers so close to him that he wanted to groan. “Why?”
“I want to suck your breasts.”
“It doesn’t turn me on,” she said in her cold little voice.
“Maybe you haven’t had the right person do it.”

He took her other breast in his strong hand, squeezing her just to the point of pain but no further, and she bucked again, letting out a tiny moan.
He lifted his head. “In case you ever find yourself in a position to make love to a woman,” he murmured, “you need to remember that breasts are different with everyone. A lot of women need gentle coaxing, almost worshipful attention. But more women than you’d imagine need a little roughness.” He pinched her breast, and he saw the reaction in her face, the dazed expression in her brown eyes. They’d been soft before, except when she was staring at him in rage, but now they were positively unfocused in reaction to what he was doing. “You’re one of the ones who need a little roughness.”

“Come in my mouth,” she whispered.
He no longer had a choice. His body bucked, and she held onto his hips, taking him in, everything, her fingernails digging into his skin, and as he exploded he thought he felt an answering orgasm ripple through her body as she straddled him.
She drew back, away from him, sprawling on the floor in what should have been graceless exhaustion but instead looked like pure sexual abandon. He’d climaxed, come hard in her mouth, but he wanted more from her, he wanted her every way he could have her, and this time it was for nobody’s pleasure but theirs.

She began to shiver, and he thought that if she dared to make any sound, she would have told him she couldn’t take any more, but he knew she could. That ripple of reaction was hardly strong enough to take her over the edge, give her the release she needed, and he kept up his steady pace, into her, deep, so deep, and he heard an almost imperceptible sound from the back of her throat. It made his cock swell even more inside her, and he slid his hand under them, finding her slick clitoris, circling it. She was shaking so hard he felt the need to hold her together, keep her safe, pushing, pushing, until she froze, a low, keening sound coming so quietly from within her, a sound more powerful than a full-throated scream, and he went over the edge with her.

She was beginning to stir, getting restless, and he knew she was going to pull away, and he wouldn’t be able to stop her, not without drawing attention to them. With strong but gentle hands he turned her in her arms, pushing her hair back off her face, and put his mouth on hers, kissing her with extraordinary sweetness. He swallowed her strangled sob, and she kissed him back, sliding her arms around him and pulling him close, so close, their sweat-slick bodies growing chill in the night air, and he wanted to say something, tell her something, but he couldn’t imagine what. So he simply kissed her, until she pulled away from him, disappearing silently into the darkness.

She wrapped her legs around his slim hips, her fingers tight on his shoulders as he moved inside her, steady, deep, and she wanted more, needed more. This was like nothing she’d ever felt before, it was sex, it was fucking, it was making love. Her heart seemed to flow through her body, into his, a total joining that beckoned her, frightened her, almost destroyed her. He was so big it hurt, a sweet pleasure-pain that simply moved her deeper into this dark, magic, scary place where there was no Sophie, no Mal, just them, sliding together in the murky light, and she felt another orgasm building inside her, deep and powerful, and she knew if she climaxed her heart would explode, and she didn’t care, didn’t care at all.

He reached down, caught her hand, and pulled it away from him, shoving her onto her back. He was going to leave her there, wet and wanting, he was going to turn his back on her and walk away . . .
The hell he was. He shoved her legs apart, moving between them, and thrust his cock into her so hard she cried out, not in pain but in fierce satisfaction. She was everything he wanted—she was nothing but trouble.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: Chain of Love by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookchainoflove
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Sinclair MacDonald
Heroine: Cathy Whiteheart
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 1983
Started On: April 03, 2016
Finished On: April 09, 2016

Anne Stuart has sort of become my go-to author when books are failing to give me what I am looking for. When you pick up an Anne Stuart novel, you are guaranteed a story that will stay with you for a while, if not for a lifetime. Even Chain of Love that was published a year after I was born, managed to give a read that held me enthralled, though I didn’t quite agree with one incident that took place in the book.

Cathy Whiteheart is coming out of a relationship that she never would have pegged as one that would turn abusive. Holing up inside of her own sanctuary, Cathy refuses to go out and make nice with people. She just does not have it in her. That is until her sister Meg forces her to do so and in the process thrusts her in the path of the sinful Sinclair MacDonald.

Sinclair otherwise known as Sin to his friends, is a man who is handsome, charming and seems to have got it all. Cathy does not trust the way her body reacts in Sin’s presence. Furthermore, her reactions are not what is normal for a woman like her, who had sworn off of men because she just cannot handle another relationship of the sort that had nearly broken her to begin with.

However, Cathy is no shy damsel in distress even though she might have gone through hell in her previous relationship. Far from it. Cathy remains spirited, the fire in her burning anew when Sin makes it impossible for her to hide from the feelings that starts to churn deep inside of her. I at times felt a bit overwhelmed for Cathy. Because once Sin had her in his sights, there was no way that she could have prevented the chain of events that led to its ultimate conclusion.

While Sin’s frustrations when it came to Cathy was understandable, his one act during the latter part of the story made me take a step back. But then again, given how Cathy reacted to it right after made me think that that even though I might abhor the reaction on Sin’s part for what it was, it seemed to have worked with Cathy. I would like to think that getting physical never solves your problems. But perhaps in the heat of passion, sometimes that is all there is left.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart. There indeed is no author who even comes close to what she is.

Final Verdict: Sin MacDonald is a man made for sin. No choice for Cathy but to give in!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t you think it’s a little dark for sunglasses?” he inquired gently, reaching out and taking them from her face before she had a chance to gather her wits and stop him. The car was parked outside her apartment building, and he was hunkered down on the sidewalk, inside the open passenger door, staring at her face in great concentration. The streetlight was very bright overhead, and she heard his sudden intake of breath.
“My God, they’re green,” he murmured, his voice low and husky. “If I’d known that I wouldn’t have let you wear those damned sunglasses for so long.”

The elevator arrived; the door swished open beside him. Those searching hazel eyes looked at the elevator, and then back at Cathy’s motionless figure waiting by her door. Slowly he straightened up, and the panther look was back on him in full. He headed into the elevator, did a sudden about-face and turned back toward her, stalking her like the jungle beast he so resembled.
Before she had time to react he had pulled her slender body against his, hard. Her hands were caught between them as she instinctively raised them to ward him off, trapped against his broad chest. “To hell with keeping my place,” he said succinctly, and lowered his mouth to hers, gently at first, as if not to frighten her.

“Open your mouth, Cathy,” he whispered as he moved back to recapture her lips. Closing her eyes, she obeyed, letting him regain possession of her mouth even more intimately than he had before. His tongue explored every inch of her warm, moist mouth, demanding and drawing from her a response that she had never given another man. Her heart was pounding, her breath coming in quick, shallow pants, and her entire body trembled from pent-up desire. She could feel the flat surface of the wall behind her while every square inch of his body seemed burned into her flesh, and still he kissed her, as if he could never get enough of her willing mouth.

There was nothing tentative about this kiss, none of the reassuring gentleness of the night before. He kissed her long and deep and hard, with a kind of savage tenderness that was inexplicably arousing. Pressing her back into the soft mattress, he half covered her body with his, his long, bare legs holding the lower part of her body captive, as he plundered her willing mouth. His hand, which had been stroking her neck with long, sure strokes, moved down to caress one full, straining breast, his thumb rubbing gently until the tip hardened in fevered response beneath the silk gown. All her free will seemed drained away, leaving her a grateful captive of his knowing hands.
“Oh, God,” he muttered against her soft mouth. “I want you so much.” The hoarse words warmed her fluttering heart as she pressed closer.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Night of the Phantom by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookphantomofthenight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Winslowe
Heroine: Megan Carey
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 01, 1991
Started On: January 25, 2016
Finished On: January 25, 2016

Be it a historical, paranormal or contemporary romance, Anne Stuart is a master at crafting tales so superbly that you enjoy every single minute of the ride. Night of the Phantom was a story that according to Anne Stuart, was inspired by Phantom of the Opera. I guess it shows in certain elements of the paranormal and mystical variety included in the story. Didn’t detract at all from the storyline, but rather added to its charm, making Night of the Phantom the winner it is.

Ethan Winslowe is a recluse who lives in a forgotten part of the country that people seldom talk about. However, as reclusive as he is, Ethan is a genius in the field of architecture, and it is his splendorous designs that Megan Carey’s father used to rise to the position of fame and glory that he enjoys. Things go awry however, when Megan’s father begs her to take his place to meet Ethan who has threatened to bring the whole Carey corporation down. Megan, having never been able to say no in the face of her father agrees, albeit reluctantly. A decision that she regrets from the moment she steps foot in the godforsaken town.

Megan’s entrance into Ethan’s carefully structured plans is hardly a welcome one – at first. However, when Ethan realizes the perks of having Megan at his mercy, Ethan changes his plans accordingly, all the while knowing that Megan might prove to be detrimental to the heart that he keeps closed off from the rest of the world. Ethan enjoys the darkness, revels in the darkness that is his life. Megan, whose heart had craved romance and adventure when she had made plans to go traveling prior to having had to come see Ethan, finds her soul reaching out to that of Ethan.

Night of the Phantom turned out to be such a good book, one that I just had to finish in one single sitting. Anne Stuart’s books have a way of making me lose out on precious sleep, not something I would ever regret, given how well written her books are. Ethan makes for a darkly alluring hero. Hidden in the shadows with the darkness of the night wrapped around him, Ethan beckons your soul in ways you would never think possible. 

There’s a surreal and ethereal edge to the story as it unfolds. Timeless in the way Ethan and Megan circle each other; Megan frightful of her wanton desire for a man who doesn’t trust her enough to show his face and Ethan, frightened by just how much he needs, wants and lusts after Megan, all of which hides the deeper emotions that he fights to keep at bay. The town’s reluctance to harbor an individual as Ethan in their midst, regardless of what his presence means to an already dwindling community was one that proved to be another facet of the novel that fascinated me.

The ending when it came, was perfectly fitting to the story and the characters. Megan being the one to finally go after Ethan didn’t detract from the fact that someone as reclusive as Ethan had made the decision to go after her as well. That in my opinion, was the most wonderful ending they could have been given.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart takes you away on a journey of darkness and splendor!

Favorite Quotes

She paused for a moment, stretching like a contented cat as she stepped out of her fallen dress. She felt sinful, sensual and deliciously evil as she stood there in her shocking underwear and her high, high heels. If he hadn’t needed life-support systems before this little act, he would now.
Leaning over so that her hair fell in her face, she slowly unhooked one sheer black stocking. Sliding it down her leg, she stepped out of her shoes with a trace of regret. Men were supposed to find high heels unbearably erotic. She wanted Ethan Winslowe to suffer.
The next stocking followed. She unfastened the garter belt and tossed it in the corner beneath the video camera with all the aplomb of an elegant stripper tossing her clothing to a hungry crowd.
For the first time in her life, she didn’t feel ten pounds overweight. She felt luscious.

“Stop fighting me, angel,” he whispered, and his hand brushed her skin, the soft, sensitized flesh of her stomach. The row of tiny buttons had disappeared and her nightgown was open to the night air. “Stop fighting yourself. Give yourself to me.” And his hand moved between her legs and touched her.
What strength she had in her legs vanished and she sagged against him. It happened with shocking speed, scarcely had his long, deft fingers found her than she dissolved, lost in a darkness of sensation and despair. She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out but a strangled gasp of surprise, of release, of an astonished pleasure so intense that what little existed of reality vanished, and her last, amazed thought was that, for the first time in her life, she was going to faint.

“You’re lying,” he said bitterly. “I know revulsion when I see it.”
“Do you?” She stopped thinking. He was tall; she was barefoot and tiny. She reached up, cupping his face with her hands, both sides of his face, and pulled him down to her, kissing him full on the mouth.
For a moment, he froze, and she could feel the shock trembling through his body. Stillness washed over them, a silent eternity.
And then he pulled her against him, hard, slanting his mouth across hers, kissing her back with a passion that was devouring, frightening, filled with such longing that she felt as if she were going to be sucked up into a vortex of emotion.

“You could have gone with Palmer. If you’d asked again, Salvatore would have let you go.”
“I didn’t want to go.”
“I live in darkness,” he said, still not touching her, his voice low and urgent. “In the shadows, in the warmth and safety of the night. If you come to me, you’ll live in shadows, too.”
She lifted her head to look around, and her hair rippled down her bare back. “The moonlight is bright enough for me,” she said quietly.
He reached out then, his hands cupping her face, his thumbs caressing her cheeks. “I must be mad,” he whispered. “You’ll destroy me.”
“I’ll love you,” she said, but the words were silent.
“You’ll destroy me,” he said again, closing his eyes in sudden despair. And then he kissed her.

He knew how to judge her reactions perfectly, the shift, the restlessness, the ripple of reaction, the strangled breathing. He knew when she was just on the edge of explosion, and he knew how to expand that edge, to draw her over it, willingly, tumbling to her doom with no more than a strangled cry. He knew how to prolong it so that she was clawing at his shoulders, sobbing frantically, certain her body could take no more until he showed her, with inexorable determination, that it could.
And yet it wasn’t enough. She convulsed against his mouth, her body going rigid in reaction, and still she pulled at him, tugged at him, wanting more and more of him, wanting him, not his mouth, not his hands working their fiendish magic, she wanted all of him.

He had his face turned away from her so that all she could see was his unmarked profile, the sheath of long hair between them. His muscles were bunched, slippery with sweat beneath her hands, and she was loath to give up holding him, touching him, but she had to. Reaching up, she caught his face, turning him to look down at her, full face, his bisected beauty mesmerizing her. She kissed his mouth, his nose, she kissed the marked side of his face. Pushing his hair out of the way, she kissed the side of his neck where the mark continued down between their joined bodies.
For a moment, he stilled the hypnotic, powerful rhythm of his body and she was afraid she’d gone too far. She met his gaze fearlessly and she said the words she’d only thought, the words that would be her death knell. “I love you.”

She had no sense of where they were, and she didn’t care. Inside the door, he released her, ripping off her clothes with the same shaking passion that suffused her body. She was trembling so hard, she couldn’t help him, didn’t want to help him. All she wanted was to touch and kiss his body, to possess it, possess him, until there was nothing left between them, no secrets, nothing held back.
And then she was naked, wet with rain and sweat, shaking with fear and desire, and he was naked, wet with rain and sweat, and he lifted her up in his arms, pushing her back against an unseen wall and entered her, driving deep with a fierce thrust that made her cry out in instant, shuddering satisfaction. He wrapped her legs around him, holding on to her hips as he drove in and out, in and out, like someone possessed, and his mouth against hers, the words that tumbled forth, love words, sex words, angry and despairing and tender, simply fanned the flame higher and hotter until she thought she might explode from the power of his thrusts, the power of his love.

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

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Review: Dark Journey by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookdarkjourney
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Anne Stuart’s Bad Boys, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Alex Montmort
Heroine: Laura Fitzpatrick
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 20, 2015
Started On: January 20, 2016
Finished On: January 20, 2016

Anne Stuart manages to accomplish in just 70 plus pages what most authors strive for in their entire careers as writers. There is an ethereal beauty to Anne Stuart’s writing that I have not come across in the works of any other authors, and I have read enough romances in my lifetime to know exactly what I am talking about.

This short read by Anne Stuart served me well in my bid to say adios to Anne Stuart’s works – for the time being, still riding the high from Driven by Fire that I had finished a day back. Dark Journey delves into the lives of the Fitzapricks; Laura Fitzaprick being sickly all her life owing to a heart condition. Her time to leave this world had come many a time, but Death had defied those very moments in a bid to keep Laura alive and kicking – for reasons that he would rather not think too deeply about.

Alex Montmort comes into Laura’s life at a moment that the lives of the entire family are on a teetering edge. Because unknowingly, in their midst, is someone who is driven by anger, jealousy and psychosis, determined to eliminate the entire family in a bid to claim the entire wealth of the family. Laura who has always remained on the fringes of the lives of members of her family because no one would let her exert herself, is stunned by the man who resembles nothing she has ever seen in her life, nor experienced, but can’t help but think she has encountered before. Alex’s timely arrival coincides with strange occurrences all over the world – because Death itself had gone on vacation for a short while.

Alex finds himself drawn towards Laura, who tries and fails in her mind to place where exactly she has run into him before. Laura is fearless in her attempt to understand Alex and pursue the hedonistic attraction that is between them. The only thing that keeps her at bay is Alex and the fact she can’t bring herself to believe that someone experienced like him who could have any woman he desires, wanting a sickly thing like herself, who has zero experience to speak of. But the heart wants what it wants, regardless, does it not?

As the series title attests to the fact, Dark Journey features an Anne Stuart variety of bad boy that you wouldn’t encounter anywhere else. He is ruthless, he is charming, and he can take a scene from zero to hundred by the mere flick of an eyebrow in the right direction. I kid not. Suffices to say that I was smitten with Alex, from the very start!

There is a thin line that we humans walk between life and death. What Anne Stuart explores in Dark Journey is how much would we be willing to walk onto the other side. Would we ever want to? Haunting in the wake of the thoughts this little number leaves behind, proved to be a winner for this heart of mine!

Final Verdict: Tinged with darkness & the masterful prose that is Anne Stuart. 

Favorite Quotes

The ice had melted from his face, his lips, his hair. He kissed her with a ferocity that should have terrified her, but she was past terror, past second thoughts. She wanted to kiss him back, but she wasn’t sure how. Then his thumbs cupped her jaw and gently opened her mouth for him.
He used his tongue as he had that morning. He taught her how to use her tongue, to give, as well as to receive, and when he thrust his tongue into her mouth, her knees buckled.

He leaned forward, sliding his hands up her torso to cover her breasts, and the sensation was the sweetest torment. “Are you afraid of death, Laura?” he whispered against her mouth.
She found she’d been clutching the sheet beneath her. It was a simple enough question, with an obvious response. But she didn’t want the obvious, she wanted the truth. And for some odd reason, she knew that her answer mattered terribly.
“No,” she said, with no doubt whatsoever. “I’m not afraid of death.”
“Then let me show you life,” he said. And, moving down, he put his mouth between her legs.

The first wave hit her, a spasm of reaction that sent starbursts dancing behind her eyes. The second wave came, harder and stronger, and from a distance she could hear a gasping sob that had to be her own.
Before the tremors had died away he moved up, over her, between her legs, thrusting deep, breaking past the fear and the fragile barrier of her innocence, deep and hard and sure, and his hand covered her mouth, muffling her cry.

Reality and time seemed to have vanished into the maelstrom. She lay beneath him, listening for the pounding of a heart that should have exploded five minutes ago, listening as her breath rasped to a more reasonable pace. She reached up and cupped his face, and his long hair fell around her fingers. His sun-glasses were gone, but it was too dark to see his eyes, his face. She could feel dampness on his cheeks, could feel the tentative movement of muscle that might have been a smile. She felt his love, strong, sure, unspoken. She didn’t need the words.

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

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ARC Review: Driven by Fire by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookdrivenbyfire
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fire, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Matthew Ryder
Heroine: Jennifer Gauthier Parker
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 16, 2016
Started On: January 18, 2016
Finished On: January 18, 2016

I have been stalking Netgalley since forever, in anticipation of the release of the second book in the Fire series by Anne Stuart. As usual, once I had this baby safely in my TBR pile, I couldn’t focus on any other book, which is a given when it is the newest release by the Queen of Romance herself. I finished this in one sitting, which is rare for me these days. I always tend to take breaks now, the days of reading a  book straight in 4 hours a thing of the past as I have grown older. But Driven by Fire demanded that I lose sleep over it as I raced to the finish line, determined that I wouldn’t miss out on any of the deliciousness that is a fresh Anne Stuart novel.

37 year old Matthew Ryder is a member of the infamous Committee, a group of high level operatives and assassins who are trained in the art of deception and all the skills required in order to preserve democracy in its member countries. 28 year old Jennifer Gauthier Parker is a member of the notorious Gauthier family of organized crime and political power, one that she has distanced herself from a long time back. A pro bono lawyer, Jenny is hellbent on doing good where her family is determined to live their life doing just the opposite.

Ryder and Jenny’s paths cross during a night that Jenny’s father reaches out to her to save her youngest brother. Stubborn in her belief that her brother is innocent where a heinous crime such as human trafficking is concerned, Jenny is the one who prevents her brother from ending up in the hands of the ruthless operative who stands in her way, and later finds herself turning up on his very doorstep, determined that The Committee help her where one of the victims of the trafficking ring are concerned. Little does she know that once she enters the den that is Ryder’s fortress, nothing in her life would remain the same, ever again.

Ryder might dislike the fact that he and Jenny are thrown together, with both having to stick it out until he can find out who it is that has it out for the seemingly innocent Jennifer Gauthier. A man who is more cynical than most, Ryder prefers his life without commitments of the kind which features women like Jenny. While his reaction towards her on a physical level makes him think that he has gone too long without a woman, his suspicions about Jenny holding back something from him makes for the pivotal point in the story, and one that may turn out to be a tough selling point for many a reader. But true to the style of the legend that Anne Stuart is, she makes the relationship that fosters and grows between Jenny and Ryder one that reaches its ultimate explosive conclusion, delivering a read that is combustible on many a level.

I also have to admit. Between the two books that have been published in the series so far, the clear favorite of mine would have to be the debut, Consumed by Fire. Ryder is ruthless in a way that makes the James Bishop look like a wuss. I am not kidding. But the reason why I love books by Anne Stuart is because she doesn’t shortchange in her delivery of ruthless heroes. She makes them stay true to their character. They don’t turn into a puddle of gooey softness the minute they know of their vulnerability towards the heroine. Just the opposite in fact. They fight their emotions, and they fight it hard, but inevitably its a losing battle – thank God for that. Ryder while ruthless in a way that most readers might have a problem forgiving, I loved him, all that ruthlessness as well. But I did wish that he had to grovel a bit more where Jenny was concerned. But then again, Anne Stuart delivers heroines who are pragmatic at best – while they are strong and independent, they have no qualms about accepting their fate where their love for the hero is concerned.

Jenny is a heroine who has it bad. With a family that cares naught for her, and a family that one should be leery of at best, it is Jenny’s naivety that gets her in trouble as it is. Naivety in trusting the wrong people, in being too trusting – period. With Ryder, even though Jenny knows that she might not survive his brand of ruthlessness, it is because she doesn’t trust Ryder to do right by her that she continues to skirt away from coming clean with him. Given the circumstances, I wouldn’t have accepted an agent of Ryder’s caliber to turn his back on his mission, and I think Jenny knew that deep in her heart. I think one of the reasons why readers would have a difficult time in coming to terms with what happens as the story progresses is because there is seldom any talk of Ryder’s past, where he comes from and what makes him tick. Consumed by Fire tended to be more well rounded in this regard which is why it was more splendid in that manner and ended up being the five star read it was for me. But like I said earlier on, I didn’t have any qualms with accepting Ryder and Jenny as they were, but this heart of mine did wish that Ryder would have redeemed himself, just a tad more where Jenny was concerned.

I was ecstatic to come across two characters who are most likely to get stories of their own if Anne Stuart is going to continue with the Fire series, which I dearly hope she does! Jack Abbott and Remy Vartain makes for two secondary characters that appeared in this novel for whom I would love to have their own stories! Especially Jack Abbott. Anne Stuart seldom writes about heroes and heroines who have known each other for a while. For her, it is always a case of a chance meeting that explodes into something hot, worthwhile and long-lasting. Abbott’s story if I am not mistaken, is set to follow the less traversed road and I can’t wait to indulge!

Driven by Fire recommended for fans of ruthless heroes. You don’t need to read the series in order to enjoy this one. But be warned. Ryder will shake and throttle your comfort zones, if you have one where ruthless heroes are concerned. For those who love Anne Stuart’s brilliance in crafting them as they should be, Driven by Fire should be a hit!

Final Verdict: Caught between loyalty towards family & the fiery love for a ruthless operative. This is why Anne Stuart tops the game – every single time.

Favorite Quotes

He pushed his tongue past her teeth, and she shuddered in response. At some point her hands had come up from her sides and landed on his shoulders, but instead of pushing him away, which she no doubt would have wanted to do, she was digging her fingers in, pulling him closer to that delicious body of hers.
He wanted to fuck her. It would be easy enough to hoist her onto the butcher-block countertop, yank down that baggy pair of boxers, and thrust inside her. She’d like it—he’d make sure of that— but horny as he was, she wasn’t worth the trouble it would bring.

She opened her mouth to tell him to get off of her. She opened her mouth to tell him no. She opened her mouth to the man who’d hurt her, and she lifted up and pressed it against his.
His reaction was instantaneous. He cupped her face, holding her still, and slid his tongue between her teeth, an intimacy that startled her into even greater arousal. He kissed her with such thoroughness, his tongue dancing, tasting, teasing, and she heard her soft little whimper of response as her fingers tightened on his shoulders and she closed her eyes.

“Please,” she whispered.
He was kissing his way down her neck, over the soft swell of her breast.
“Please what, Parker? Please leave you alone?”
The words filled her with despair, and she shook her head wordlessly.
“Please put your mouth on my breasts and suck?” he suggested softly. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t believe it was her voice. “Please,” she said again.

She should touch him, pleasure him, get him ready—the thoughts swirled through her brain—but then she felt him, rock hard against her, and his solid thrust went in deep, so deep, and she slid her arms around him, pulling him tight against her. Her nipples were so hard they hurt, pressed against the silky smoothness of his muscled chest as he moved, sliding his hands under her butt and lifting her up so he could go deeper still. He was huge, so big she wasn’t sure she could take all of him, but he whispered in her ear, his tongue tracing her lobe, reading her fears. “You can take me. Just relax.”

He was all around her, in her head, in her heart, in her cunt, and she wanted to devour him, own him, never let him go. His slow, steady thrusts made her gasp, getting her used to the size and power of him, stilling her apprehension, stoking her desire, as sweat slicked their bodies until they were slapping against each other, hard, fast, again, again, again.

He braced himself over her, kissing the side of her mouth, letting his tongue trace her lips, slip past her teeth to coax her tongue forward, kissing her as he’d never kissed anyone before. He moved his mouth to her ear, biting into the lobe, and she made a muffled sound of pleasure. “I need more,” he whispered. “I need you to take more of me.”
He felt her hesitation, and he kissed her mouth again. “I’ll help you,” he murmured, licking the side of her neck, and he slid his hand down between their sweat-slick bodies to find the bud of her clitoris.

He was almost home, and he knew he should hold back rather than risk making her uncomfortable, but need was raging through his body, and he needed his entire cock deep, deep inside her. He pulled out, pushing in gently, then pulled out again, and she reached up and caught his arms in her tight grip. “No,” she said. “I want all of you. Give it to me.”
He couldn’t have stopped himself to save his life.

“I’m not mourning Soledad and Billy,” she said in a voice so soft he almost couldn’t hear it.
“Then what are you mourning?”
“Loss,” she said, turning her back on him and walking to the window. “The loss of my brother, loss of innocence, loss in the belief that I knew what I was doing. You.”
“What about me?”
She kept her face averted, her back straight. “I’m mourning the loss of you.”

A moment later he pulled away, and she went flying through the air, ending on her back on the huge bed, staring up at him in shock as he ripped off his clothes, then crouched over her like a predatory beast. “I don’t care if you’re afraid of me,” he growled. “I don’t care if you’ve been hurt. All I care about is fucking you as hard as you can take it. I’m going to make you come so hard you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to hell. I’m going to fuck you so hard that no one will ever come close. You’ll never get me out of your mind, out of your body.”

He kissed her mouth, slowly, deliberately, his tongue making lazy swirls inside her mouth, his teeth biting down on her lower lip, his hand sliding down her stomach to touch her once more, and she could feel the excitement building almost instantly, and she wanted him, so, so badly. “I need you,” she whispered, her voice raw.
“I need you inside me.”
“Then take me in your mouth.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Partners in Crime by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookpartnersincrime
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Anne Stuart’s Bad Boys, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Alexander Caldicott
Heroine: Jane Dexter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 5, 2015
Started On: August 17, 2015
Finished On: August 17, 2015

Anne Stuart books are a treasure I keep, to indulge in between books, or whenever I hit a reading stump because there is no other author who scratches the reading itch as well as Anne Stuart does. Book 4 in her Bad Boy series, Partners in Crime is actually quite mellow compared to most of her stories. I wouldn’t label Alexander Caldicott (Sandy) as a bad boy. Nevertheless, in true Anne Stuart style, Sandy gives the sexy to the story in a way you can’t get enough of.

An erroneous caption in a newspaper leaves small town librarian Jane Dexter with the belief that Sandy is one of the shadiest criminals in the country, capable of committing the crime that she wants. When Jane knocks on the door of Sandy’s motel room, he can barely muster enough interest in her, that is before she opens her mouth, demanding him that he commit arson for her. Sandy’s view of Jane the minute he opens the motel door is definitely interesting enough to highlight.

“She was short, and he liked tall women. She had mousy brown hair, and he was partial to blondes. Her eyes were brown, too, and partially obscured by wire-rimmed glasses that gave her a faintly startled look. Her mouth was too generous, and so was her nose, and her clothes were drab, boring, the sort of things worn by a Midwestern librarian. She couldn’t have been much older than thirty, or much younger, either. He stood in the doorway, looking down at her, trying to summon up at least an ounce of polite interest.”

Jane believes that its just her rotten luck that the man who stirs in her a carnal interest of the type she had never felt before turns out to be the man who could actually fulfill her needs when it comes to committing crimes of the kind that could get her locked up for good. However, that doesn’t deter Jane from seeking him out and making a play to entice Sandy into working for her. Jane’s view of Sandy is just as fascinating as Sandy’s view of her, worthy of a mention.

“He was tall, a bit over six feet, and beautifully coordinated. His shoulders were just broad enough, his legs long, his hands, from what she could see from a distance, were well shaped. His hair was blond, probably lightened from hours on the deck of a yacht or racing around a tennis court, and his remaining tan set off features that were just this side of perfection. She hadn’t gotten close enough to see his eyes, but she knew they had to be perfect Aryan blue. His mouth was thin but sexy, his teeth very white, his cheekbones and jaw chiseled. He even had a perfect nose, damn him.”

When Jane turns up on Sandy’s doorstep, for the first time in weeks, hell, for the first time in months, Sandy feels alive, invigorated about the next day and what’s to come. Life had been losing all meaning for him of late, his career not giving him that jolt of satisfaction, his life seemingly a benign existence that he just wakes up to face every morning.

The adventure that Jane and Sandy embark upon is a hilarious one. True to Anne Stuart’s legendary style, the dialogues between Sandy and Jane are laugh out loud worthy at times. No two ways about it. Jane’s snarky attitude entices Sandy to get into her mind, to explore the curves that she hides behind the drab suits, the persona that she hides behind lest anyone take enough notice of her.

Sandy continues to live the lie that Jane believes him to be, and all along, these two fall in love, a love based on a lie that could have devastating consequences if and when Jane were to find out. But then again, Anne Stuart writes characters of the type that do not wallow in what cannot be changed and the ending with tiny bites of surprising aspects to it, gave the story a well rounded edge to it.

Like I said earlier on, I wouldn’t describe Sandy as the dark bad boys of the type that Anne Stuart is well known in the romance genre for. Sandy is sexy, smart, with a core of goodness and integrity to him that shines through as he tries to divert Jane from her bloodthirsty mission by any means possible. That doesn’t mean that Sandy doesn’t bring along the vitality to the story as required. He does that, in spades and I believe he was the right fit for the story under the circumstances. But then again, I keep envisioning a bit of an edgier Sandy, someone who forces Jane out of her shell with the “cruelty” that only heroes of that nature are capable of. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be in Partners in Crime.

Jane is a character who had come from one of those families that aren’t actually trying to be cruel, but ends up being just that towards one of their children. Jane had learnt long ago to expect her dues and move on. Never in a hundred years would she have expected to fall for a seedy criminal, but that is exactly what she thinks she has fallen for, in the process of committing the only crime she had ever wanted to commit in her straight and narrow life.

Sandy brings to Jane’s life, the color that had been missing in it. The sensations that she had never gotten to experience with another. The kind of feelings that she had always shunned because she thought they weren’t for someone like her. To find it with Sandy, to accept it, well, that’s the fun part of the story.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart. If you want one of her darker heroes, this won’t do any good. But nevertheless it does provide the sort of storytelling that only Anne Stuart can deliver.

Final Verdict: A bit more mellow than the usual, but just as sexy. Just as good!

Favorite Quotes

The feel of his hand on her breast, even through the lacy bra, shocked and aroused her. His mouth was on hers, wet, hot, seeking, his tongue and lips taking complete, unquestioning control of her and overwhelming any ounce of restraint she might have had. Too many emotions were batting at her, too much adrenaline, too much stimulation. She snaked her arms around his neck, pressed her breast against his hand and kissed him back, wanting nothing more than his mouth on hers, that desperate, erotic claiming that was shaking her to the very marrow of her bones.

“What would you call home?”
“The second floor of a run-down Victorian house in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I used to live in a boxy apartment but it drove me crazy.”
“Somehow I don’t see you as a Victorian.”
“Don’t you? I’ve been called prudish in my time.” She knew her voice sounded raw, but she hoped he wouldn’t notice.
Sandy noticed everything. “Who called you prudish? Your ex-husband?”
“Yes.”
“Does he have anything to do with your Victorian lifestyle?”
Jane sighed. “I wish you wouldn’t be so damned nosy. Why don’t we change the subject?”
“Lovely weather,” he said obediently enough.

He was darkness, powerful, sexual, wiping out the terrors of the night and the anguish of loss and betrayal, he was life and heat and desire, and he was everything she ever needed.

He rolled onto his back, taking her with him, and she was on fire, her hands desperate for the feel of his flesh beneath her, her mouth bold with deep, hurried kisses. He put his mouth on her breasts, and she arched her back like a cat in the intensity of her reaction, he slid his hand between her thighs and she shattered at his first gentle touch.
“Easy,” he whispered. “Easy now.” But she couldn’t, wouldn’t slow down. She was shaking all over, covered with a fine film of sweat, shivering and helpless as her needs raged out of control, unable to even say the words to beg him.

With a moan of fear and anticipation she sank down, guided by his hands on her hips, until he filled her. She let out a muffled cry at the unexpected feel of him, and the hands on her hips held her still, giving her time to accustom herself to his invasion. She bowed her head for a moment, absorbing the impact, and then she opened her eyes to meet his fierce gaze.
“I still don’t trust you,” she whispered, not giving an inch.
He grinned then, and his fingers dug into her hips as he slowly withdrew. “It doesn’t matter.” And he arched up, deep within her.

He reached down and held her hips, striving with unquestionable intent, and his mouth covered hers, his tongue in her mouth, a dual invasion. She was crying, she knew she was, she could feel her face wet with tears, but all she could feel was the man within her body, carrying her places she hadn’t even dreamed existed.
Suddenly his body tensed, and he lifted his head, his eyes glittering down into hers with a fierce intensity. She could feel the life, the love pumping into her, and then everything shattered around her, dissolving into a maelstrom of sensation and dark, dangerous release.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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