Review: Break the Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbreakthenight_new.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: John Ripley Damien
Heroine: Elizabeth Stride
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 1993
Started On: June 16, 2018
Finished On: June 18, 2018

Break the Night by Anne Stuart is another one of her masterpieces in her long list of books (which I am forever grateful for), that more or less belong in the same category. Taking on the events surrounding the killer Jack the Ripper as a premise, Anne Stuart weaves a tale that left me wanting more on every single aspect of the story that unfolded.

Elizabeth Stride (Lizzie) is an artist trying to survive the LA scene. A creator of masks, Lizzie is caught in a nightmarish circumstance when a serial killer takes on her masks as part of the killer’s signature. Known as the Venice Ripper, Lizzie’s only saving grace comes from the fact that members of the public remain unaware of the use of Lizzie’s masks in the killer’s grotesque pastime.

However, Lizzie’s “anonymity” when it comes to the Venice Ripper becomes a thing of the past when news reporter John Ripley Damien i.e. J. R. Damien takes it upon himself to release the details about the masks in one of his articles featuring the Venice Ripper. Damien’s interest in the killer comes at a cost to both his personal and professional life. Renowned for his skill and talent as a reporter, Damien’s life takes a turn for the worse when he starts blaming himself for failing to see the line that exists between professional reporting standards and what is not. What could have been and what actually did happen.

Damien is haunted by dreams of a past that is filled with bloodshed, nightmares that seem hauntingly too real, when those dreams coincide with murders that happen in the present. Damien believes that stopping the killer is a job that is his duty, perhaps his past life had made it his responsibility to be the savior. But Damien knows that avenging the killer would come at a cost, a payment that he might have to make by giving his own life up in the process.

All of that is fine with Damien until Lizzie shows up in his life. Damien is none too shocked when an outraged Lizzie turns up on his doorstep, calling him out for publishing her details in relation with the Venice Ripper. While Damien tries to project an aura of indifference to all that is Lizzie, deep inside he knows that he is in deep trouble when it comes to her. The farthest thing from his usual style of women, Lizzie is what Damien would call a homebody, and for the very first time in Damien’s life, he wants to embrace the dreams of togetherness forever that he can see in Lizzie’s eyes.

However, there is a killer who is relentless, who is closing in on them as the passion between Damien and Lizzie ignites and burns with a ferocity that leaves them both stunned. And it will take everything Damien has got, all his wits about him to protect the most precious person in existence for him from a killer whose blood-lust has reached uncontrollable levels, taking on the task of the “cleanser of sinful souls” in the world.

I loved Break the Night. It is hard to believe that this was a story published more than ten years ago. Standing true to the test of time, as is the case with all Anne Stuart novels, both Damien and Lizzie are lovable and enticing characters. There is a vulnerability to Lizzie that is hard not to fall for, and a heart that yearns to open up to Damien and take him for all that he is – darkness and light together.

Damien is another topnotch example of heroes that Anne Stuart brings to life so effortlessly. Tall, lean, and darkly handsome in a way that makes a woman sit up and take notice, Damien’s demons run deep into his psyche, starting from a childhood that had been less than idyllic under most circumstances. However, it is Damien’s ties to a past that has long come and gone that is most intriguing, his often misplaced “blame” of self that takes place, because he is that kind of man.

Every Anne Stuart I pick up gives me a meaty read to sink my teeth into, delivers sexy and sinful heroes, pieces of whom I carry with me always; these are just some of the reasons why I would always keep coming back for more.

Recommended for fans of romantic suspense novels with a bit of creepy ethereality in the mix.

Final Verdict: Break the Night is the sort of novel that would rightfully leave you with the heebie-jeebies. Entwining long gone past events with the present, this is a story that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.

Favorite Quotes

“Damn it!” He hauled her upright, fury fighting with the panic that had suffused his body and winning. She simply stared up at him, her face wet with rain, and then it was too late. He pulled her into his arms, shoving her against the brick wall behind her and kissed her.
Her reaction was immediate. She slid her arms around his waist, clinging to him as if her life depended on it, and kissed him back. She tasted of rain and fresh coffee; she tasted of love and hope and despair.

For a moment, neither of them moved. And then he reached up to touch her, his hands cupping her shoulders, drawing her down, bringing her mouth to his. He kissed her slowly, gently, his mouth soft and damp and questing against her lips. He nibbled at her, tasting her. It was a kiss of such startling sweetness that she felt tears spring to her eyes, as a gnawing, yearning warmth started in the pit of her stomach and grew, spiraling outward, downward, filling her with such heat and longing that she began to tremble herself, and she wanted to move closer, to sink against him, into him, to press against him and dissolve.

“I’m yours, am I? Always?” he said, and there was no missing his bleak, self-mocking grin. “Lord, Lizzie, I only wish it were that simple.”
She let her eyelids flutter closed as she absorbed the feel of him against her. She could feel the sudden increase in tension, the hissing intake of breath. “Damn you, Lizzie,” he muttered under his breath.
She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Only if you want me.”
The feel of him against her hips left no doubt in her mind, despite the torment in his eyes. He pulled himself away from her, heading into the living room like a man facing his executioner, and Lizzie almost smiled.

She had beautiful breasts, small and perfectly formed. He leaned over and put his mouth on her, drawing the nipple deep and hard against his tongue, and her body jerked in reaction. Her hands were clutching the rumpled sheet beneath them, and he pulled one away, bringing it to the front of his jeans, holding it there, feeling the exquisite agony of a desire so strong he didn’t know how long he could make it last.
He could feel the darkness closing around him, could feel the blood beating in his ears. His hands were rough as they stripped off her jeans, but if she protested he was beyond hearing, lost in some black, dangerous place of his own.

“No,” she said fiercely. “Don’t. I don’t want you to touch me… ”
He wasn’t going to listen to her, and neither was her body. Despite her hurt and anger, she was aroused, and he was deft, determined, as he reached between and caught her clitoris between his fingers, somehow knowing how to touch her in just the right way, and she climaxed, fighting it, her body tightening and rippling around his aching hardness, as a helpless little cry filled the darkness.

He hauled her up into his arms, roughly, before she realized what he was doing, wrapping her legs around his waist. He looked dark, remote, not t he man she thought she knew, as he shoved her up against the wall, his face almost brutal in the firelight.
He pushed into her, hard, filling her, and she braced herself, welcoming him, no longer worrying about pain, only needing him, more of him, all of him, but this time her body didn’t resist him, this time she was ready. Her face was crushed against his shoulder as she felt him thrust into her, and she cradled his head, holding on, wanting nothing but his release, his pleasure to fill her.

It was darkness, madness, blood and death. With each thrust of his body she went a little farther, a little deeper, lost in some world where nothing remained but the inexplicable, powerful feelings surging through her body, the sound of his breathing in her ear, the beating of his heart against hers, the slick sweat on his skin as he surged into her, again and again and again, deep and hard and eternal.

His body was lean and wiry and golden in the firelight, a runner’s body. She slid her hands up his chest, placing her mouth against his neck as she pushed him down on the mattress. He tasted of soap, of skin, of something dark and wonderful. She moved her mouth downward, over his flat belly, kissing, biting, tasting. And then she took him in her mouth, the full, silky length of him, consuming him, consumed by him, lost in an act she had never performed, not in this lifetime, and never with love.

His hands caught her shoulders, his long fingers caressing, and she could hear the strangled sound of his breathing, taste the salty sweetness of his desire, feel the blood course through his body. The night closed down around them, and there was nothing to fear, only the two of them, and she wanted this, she wanted him.
She spread her legs for him, closing her eyes as his hands cupped her hips, and waited for the thrust that would fill her.
A moment later, her eyes shot open when he set his mouth between her legs, using his tongue, his teeth, his lips, to bring her to the precipice, and she knew her first fear. And then there was no room for fear and she leapt over the edge, her body dissolving into an endless convulsion that stole her breath, her heartbeat, her mind and soul.

He rolled over on his back, taking her with him, looking up at her as she moved over his body, the two of them slick with sweat as the firelight cast eerie shadows across their skin. He reached out and caught her hips, but let her set the pace, his face drawn taut with the effort of control.
She felt smooth, sleek and powerful. “Don’t fight it,” she whispered in the darkness. “Give yourself to me. Now, Damien.”
His eyes shut tight. “Now,” he said. “Now.” And he thrust up into her, hard, filling her with his warmth, his wetness, his love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: One More Valentine by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookonemorevalentine_new.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: James Sheridan Rafferty
Heroine: Helen Emerson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 01, 1993
Started On: June 12, 2018
Finished On: June 16, 2018

As a romance reader who has an undying and unabashed love for all that is Anne Stuart’s books and her heroes, I have this wish that I would never run out of her books to read. That is one reason why I try to exercise caution and space out books from her and save them for the days when I NEED to read an Anne Stuart. When all the mushy reads with heroes who capitulate too easily get too much for me, I pick up an Anne Stuart, knowing that it would chase away those blues that only she can.

One More Valentine is a bizarre read in many ways. It deals with a hero who has been dead for sixty four years, who gets the chance to “live” for 48 hours every year. This time period coincides with the Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of the massacre that had killed James Sheridan Rafferty.

Assistant Prosecutor, Helen Emerson dreads the arrival of the Valentine’s Day every year. Single and in love with the old building which houses her apartment, Helen is a woman who stands out from the rest, not because she is a beauty of the kind that makes heads turn. She has strange dreams that she cannot make much sense out of, and a love for an era that had come and gone even before she was born into this world.

When Rafferty turns up on her doorstep, Helen wrongly assumes that he is from the defendant’s team on a case she is trying. Soon enough though, she learns that Rafferty is not exactly what he portrays himself to be. Thrown together by circumstance more than anything else, Rafferty is not altogether too happy with the idea of wasting his 48 hours “alive” babysitting Helen, a woman who disturbs his peace in more ways than one.

Helen is the direct opposite of the type of women that Rafferty usually goes for – the uncomplicated variety with whom he can have fun and leave when his brief sojourn on Earth is up for the year. Yet, he is drawn to Helen and irrevocably so, and in the span of the 48 hour period, Rafferty learns that there is no running from destiny that is determined to play catch up.

Helen is an innocent in a lot of ways, and the carnal desire that Rafferty invokes in her so effortlessly should be reason to scare her away, but in Rafferty, Helen finds the kind of man that she could definitely fall for, and fall hard. With danger courting her very existence, an old enemy of Rafferty’s out to wreak havoc and vengeance, Rafferty has no choice but to stick by Helen’s side, even if it means making himself vulnerable in return.

I loved the story, as strange as the premise and plot line seemed to be. There is no denying that Anne Stuart is a master storyteller, no matter what trope she chooses to write. In Rafferty, she brings the sort of hero who seems brusque and out of touch when it comes to courting a woman who is considered to be marriage material. And Rafferty steers clear of Helen’s kind for a reason. But there is no stopping the tide of desire that catches them both, tugging, cajoling, and enticing until there is no choice, but to give in.

I loved both Helen and Rafferty in equal doses. Helen gives as good as she gets, one reason why Rafferty has such a hard time turning away from her, though he tries his hardest to do so. The streak of independence that is a core characteristic of Helen infuriates and entices him in equal doses. I fell head over heels with the ending. When Anne Stuart decides to deliver a good ending, she does it spectacularly well, with just the right touch and flair.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: One More Valentine is the kind of novel that should be read on a rainy day, cozied up in bed, with a cup of hot steaming tea right next to you. The feels; they just explode with this little number!

Favorite Quotes

And maybe one brief kiss wouldn’t make things worse. He could brush his lips against her forehead, against the thick, sweet-smelling hair, and she might not even notice. It wouldn’t do any harm. Even if he threaded a hand through the thick hair at the back of her neck, tilting her face up to his, it wouldn’t cause irreparable damage. Even if she looked up at him, her eyes wide and solemn and waiting, her mouth pale and damp and slightly parted. He didn’t have to kiss her, did he?
Yes, he did.

He pulled her into the hallway, slamming the door on the bright winter sunshine, cocooning them in warmth and darkness. Pushing her up against the wall, he slid his hands under the heavy fur coat, around her body and pulled her tight against him, against his own hard, aching body, wanting to scare her away, wanting to take her, wanting a thousand conflicting things.
She stared up at him, wordlessly. And since he made no move to kiss her, she reached up on her tiptoes and put her mouth against his, sweet and shy and very brave. “Come on, tiger,” she whispered against his mouth. “What are you afraid of?”
“You, Helen. Just you.”

“I thought you were a ghost,” she said, her voice deliberately taunting. “Or a zombie.”
“Damn it.” He moved his hand from her mouth, cupping the back of her neck beneath the heavy fall of hair and kissed her then, his mouth hard against hers.
She closed her eyes, sinking back against the wall, reveling in the feel of him, of his hard, taut body, of his hungry mouth, pushing her lips apart, tasting, devouring, as if a man obsessed. She wanted to kiss him back, but he was too forceful, allowing her no choice but to accept, passively, when she wanted more and more and more.
When he broke the kiss he was breathing heavily, and she could feel him against the soft cradle of her hips, feel how much he must want her. He couldn’t turn her down this time, could he? She’d waited so long for someone she really wanted. She was tired of waiting.
“Helen,” he said, his voice nothing more than a rasp of longing.
She cupped his face with her hands, his dear, tormented face. “I want you, Rafferty. I’ve been waiting all my life for you. Don’t turn me away.”

“Trying to scare me off, Rafferty?” she whispered, stilling her reaction, keeping her hands from covering herself. “You can’t do it.”
“Can’t I?” he muttered. And he pulled the dress down over her narrow hips, so that it fell at her ankles, and she was standing there in the hallway, dressed only in a pair of serviceable white cotton panties and white silk stockings rolled to her knees.
He scooped her up then, wrapping her around his body, her legs around his hips, her arms around his shoulders, pressing her against the wall as he kissed her again, his mouth hot and wet and seeking, his long fingers cupping her hips, squeezing, pressing her against him, and she could feel his heat and hardness at the very center of her.

She began to work on the pearl buttons of his white shirt, unfastening them slowly, one by one, until she reached the belt of his trousers. And then she leaned forward and put her mouth against his chest, against the hair-roughened flesh.
He sucked in his breath, and for a moment she wondered if she’d been too bold. And then his hands cupped her head, gently, as she tasted him, her tongue tracing tiny patterns on his flat stomach, as her hands reached for his thin leather belt.
He pulled her up then, into his arms, and somehow they made it over to the sofa as his mouth met hers. He pushed her back on the cushions, kneeling over her, still fully dressed, and his hands cupped her breasts, the first time she’d felt a man touch her, and his thumbs danced across the tight peaks, sending a shaft of desire streaking through her, arching her hips against his imprisoning legs. His mouth followed, wet and hungry, suckling her, and she moaned, a soft sound of pleasure and frustration.

“Show me,” she said, overriding his concern. “We only have a few more hours. Show me what to do.”
He groaned, and his last attempt at restraint vanished as he reached between her legs to the heated, aching center of her. She arched against his hand, whimpering softly with pleasure, and in the darkness he smiled, murmuring to her, telling her how sweet and responsive she was, how soft and sleek and damp and hot she was, and how much he needed, wanted her.
“Slowly, love,” he whispered as he positioned her above him, throbbing and ready. “Very slowly. Make it last. God, Helen…” the words were a jumble of pleasure as she followed his lead, sinking slowly, filling herself with his strength.

When she was ready to shake apart, reaching for something beyond her grasp, he simply rolled her over on the bed, covering her, surging against her with a slow, steady pace that made her want to scream, to pound at his shoulders and weep.
And suddenly his control was gone as well, and he thrust into her, again and again, in a frenzy of need that brought forth her own wild response, and when he went rigid in her arms, his body arched against hers, his voice lost in a strangled cry, she was with him, shattering around him, tossed into the maelstrom of a love that knew no boundaries of time and space, life and death.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

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Review: Blue Sage by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbluesage2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Charles Tanner, Jr
Heroine: Eleanor Johnson Lundquist
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 01, 1995
Started On: June 10, 2018
Finished On: June 12, 2018

Charles Tanner, Jr. is returning to his hometown. It would be an understatement to say that he is not looking forward to the “homecoming”. If Tanner were to have his way, he would never have made the journey, but then for the man who had been the father figure he never had, he would return to his place of origin, even if it means facing the demons left behind by his father.

Tanner’s father is a legend for all the wrong reasons. Known as a vet who had gone on a killing spree murdering sixteen and wounding one before turning the gun on himself, Tanner knows that he is going to end up stirring some bad memories for a lot of families who had lost loved ones.

What Tanner doesn’t expect to happen is to come across the all too beguiling Eleanor Johnson Lundquist, the almost 31 year old widow, and the lone survivor among the victims of the massacre at the hands of Tanner’s father. Tanner catches Eleanor during one of those rare moments in which she lets her uninhibited self roam freely; something that is not too easy given her revered status in the close-knit community that is Morey’s Falls.

With the anniversary of that fateful day coming, Tanner’s arrival undoubtedly stirs someone to once again force members of the town to relive the nightmares. With everyone on the edge, it is all too easy to paint Tanner as the bad guy. But within Eleanor, there is an altogether a different kind of storm brewing. For the very first time in her 30 plus years, Eleanor feels the stirrings of lust and desire, to take and be taken, and scandalously enough, by none other than Tanner himself.

As Eleanor and Tanner spends more time together amidst Tanner’s pursuit for the truth, they discover elements and facets to each other’s characters which otherwise would have remained uncovered. Each layer as it is peeled back, exposes a side that appeals to the other more. Tanner who has a habit of leaving, the itch that possesses him to go roaming and not stay put, finds himself with an inexplicable need for the very first time in his life to stay.

Blue Sage was a pleasant surprise because of the depth of the story that Anne Stuart delivered. Harlequin titles are not often known for the depth in their stories, but mostly quick reads that gives you a much needed escape. But somehow, Anne Stuart even then, managed to deliver books that were close to perfection with her ability to present to readers characters that seem polar opposites of one another, and yet form this bond around an almost indiscernible connection that springs to life from the get-go.

I loved both Tanner and Eleanor. Tanner with his lean whipcord physique, who believes that his pursuit of the truth comes from an innate responsibility towards the only man he looks up to, when it comes from a need within himself as well, to understand the man who had sired him, and a community that had failed all of them with their inability to see an unstable character for what he was, until it was too late.

I actually did think that there would be more to Tanner’s father’s story, but it didn’t turn out that way. Nevertheless, the whole aspect of a reemerging menace from within the community, with history repeating itself was a captivating aspect of the story.

I loved Eleanor as well. That inner vulnerability, core of strength, and the fact that she does identify with the fact that she is drowning on the pedestal that Morey’s Falls has put her on, to the way she blossoms under the touch of Tanner; the sensual awakening that is slow, hard and fast at the same time, were all parts of her story that I adored.

I loved the scene in the moonlight, up in the hills, with just Tanner and Eleanor – that was as elemental as it could get, and it somehow seemed fitting when it came to both of them.

The ending definitely made me teary-eyed. Tanner’s need to walk-about which hits his restless spirit and how it all played out was apt. Recommended for fans of contemporary romances with suspense in the mix.

Final Verdict: Blue Sage is magical and uncanny in equal doses; Anne Stuart waves her magic wand and creates characters that leaps off the pages, taking you for a ride you would never forget anytime soon!

Favorite Quotes

Lock your door, Ellie,” he ordered. “And I’ll keep away from Pete’s Fireside Cafe.”
She looked up at him. The shadows were all around them, the smell of the approaching storm thick in the air, and a sudden, waiting stillness caught at her.

He was so close, and so locked away from her. His blue eyes were hooded, unreadable, and his mouth looked hard and unyielding.
It wasn’t. Before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled her into his arms, out on the back porch in plain view of anyone who cared to

look. His hand cupped the back of her neck, holding her in place as his mouth came down on hers.

He lifted his head, his mouth leaving hers, and his eyes glittered in the shadowy half-light. “You kiss like a virgin,” he said, his voice softly mocking.
She kept herself from flinching. “I wasn’t kissing you,” she pointed out with an attempt to sound matter-of-fact. All she sounded was shaky. “You were kissing me.”
“Then let me do it properly,” he whispered, and the sound played across her spine like a thousand tiny leaves. “Open your mouth.”
She could no more deny him than she could have stopped her heart from beating.

It was beguiling, the innocence and enthusiasm in her untutored mouth. He kissed her slowly, lingeringly, giving her time to get used to the contours of his mouth, the dampness and texture, before using his tongue. He loved her little start of surprise at his intrusion, the acquiescence, the growing boldness as her tongue touched his.
Her hands tightened on his waist, digging in slightly, and if his mouth hadn’t been busy he would have smiled. Instead he encouraged her, teasing

her, his mouth sliding wetly over hers, lips nibbling, touching, biting, tongues dancing against each other.

It was unseasonably warm for a late-June night. Tanner’s pack was lying on the ground, his sleeping bag unzipped and spread out on the grass. She’d let Shaitan get a little closer, just close enough to read his expression. If it wasn’t welcoming, she could leave.
His dark-blond hair was wet and slicked back away from his face. His mouth was a narrow line, thin and unsmiling, and his cold blue eyes were in shadow. Ellie could feel the dampness in her hands as they held the reins, feel the trembling in her knees. Somewhere in the distance an old owl hooted, and overhead a million stars warred with the bright moonlight to flood the field with light.

Ellie didn’t move. Fear was supposed to be a cold, hard lump in the chest. Her fear was a blaze of fire burning deep inside, much lower down. She didn’t say a word, and neither did he. He merely stood there, his strong hand stroking Shaitan’s neck. And then he moved closer, and his hand left the horse, reaching to catch her bare ankle in his long fingers.
His flesh was hot, hers was cool. He slid his hand up her calf, up to the ruffled hem of her lacy nightdress. Before she realized his intent he’d pushed the material away, exposing her bad knee. His mouth followed his hand, tracing the line of scars that stretched along her leg.

She heard a quick, shocked intake of breath, and vaguely realized it was her own. And then his hands were reaching up, encircling her waist, and he was lifting her down, down from Shaitan’s high back, her body sliding against his, her skirts bunching up around her thighs, his warm, bare shoulders damp beneath her trembling hands.
She began to shiver in anticipation of some distant, unapproachable delight, and she felt Tanner, slippery with sweat, tremble in her arms. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t know what for. For the moon, still shining down on the entwined lovers? For the stars, glittering in the sky beside their sister moon? Or cry for herself, lost and seeking, shivering and reaching and aching and longing?

Her head thrashed back and forth in mute negation of something she couldn’t begin to understand. She wanted to tell him to stop, it was useless, it was more than she could bear. He thrust all the way into her, holding her with the pressure of his hips, and his hands caught her head, holding her still.
“Not without you,” he muttered obscurely. And setting his mouth on hers, he reached down between their sweat-slick bodies and touched her.
Her body arched, convulsed around his. Her mind, her emotions shattered, like the thousand stars of the Montana night, and she was gone, lost, floating, and Tanner was with her, his strangled cry swallowed in their last, desperate kiss, his body rigid in her arms.

“Ellie,” he said hoarsely, lifting his head, trying to pull away, to regain the last tiny shreds of self-control. He couldn’t do this to her.
She put her hand up to his face. It was shaking, and there was blood on her fingertips. She pulled his head down to hers, and her mouth was waiting. And her choice was life, not death.

He tore at her clothes and she helped him, raising her hips so he could slide down her jeans and underwear and throw them across the room, lifting her head so he could pull off the bloody shirt and send it flying after her other clothes. Her own hands were just as eager, just as desperate, fumbling with the zipper on his jeans, digging into his shoulders as she pulled him over her, on top of her, into her, wrapping her legs around him and holding him tight.
No sooner had he slid into that delicious warmth when more shudders of reaction began to wash over her. He held himself still, reveling in her helpless

response, and then he thrust deep, joining her in a white-hot blaze of heat that burned the past to ashes.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

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Review: Heartless by Anne Stuart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: Banish Misfortune by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbanishmisfortune.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: John Springer MacDowell
Heroine: Jessica Hansen
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 01, 1985
Started On: January 04, 2018
Finished On: January 13, 2018

Banish Misfortune by Anne Stuart (republished as When the Stars Fall Down) is nothing short of a masterpiece, written when I must have been running around with a bottle in one hand and a toy in the other. Yet, it is the kind of tale that makes me wade through the thousands and thousands of books in the romance genre to meet that one special book. That special book that has the uncanny ability to wash away the effect of a thousand lackluster reads, and Banish Misfortune was a book that ticked all the boxes in the category.

Banish Misfortune is a complex story. There are layers to it that you would have to peel back and assess if you were to write a comprehensive review that would do the book justice, which I don’t think I would be able to do. The are two parts to the story, the latter of which carries a secondary romance, just as equally enticing even as short as it was.

Jessica Hansen is a woman determined to climb the corporate ladder of Kinsey Enterprises. Engaged to the prodigal son of the owner of the company, it seems as if there is no line that Jessica wouldn’t cross in her attempt to achieve that prize she has been working for all along. Jessica’s past is a complex and a complicated one at that, one that had shaped her into becoming the Ice Queen, an image which she had started to put on for show because that was easier than bleeding from the scars that had never quite completely healed over from childhood.

Jessica’s path crosses that of John Springer MacDowell owing to her relationship with his parents. Springer is a man that carries on his shoulder a ton of baggage of his own. His strained relationship with his father for one had defined a lot of aspects of his adult life, from quitting his what could have been a professional career at basketball and joining the military, to his inability to commit, even during his brief marriage that had fallen apart owing to his amatory nature.

When Springer comes across Jessica at his father’s home, he wrongfully assumes her to be one of his paramours. The sparks that fly between the two could zing anyone caught in the crossfire, but there is more to their story than just having a chance meeting, falling in love, and carrying on with their happily ever after.

Jessica’s background is revealed slowly, as Anne Stuart painfully exposes the gaping wounds that had scabbed over her unhealed scars, the ugliness of it all somehow beautiful because Jessica had fought every inch of her way through a childhood that could have taken down anyone else. Neglect, abuse, and a whole lot more played its role in molding Jessica, and being away at university for the lack of anything better to focus her attentions on had been the one place where she found and perfected her coping mechanism.

However, Springer has a way of getting through to her defenses, crumbling down the icy walls around her heart, and the numbness that encases her from the outside, which usually makes it impossible for people to reach to her. Springer with his protective and yet at times formidable nature, teaches Jessica that the pleasure of lovemaking could be just that. In the end, the consequences of that act, together with the curveball that life throws Springer’s way is how they go their separate ways, only to return to each other, because there is no way that two people who are so meant to be together could stay apart for that long.

Like I mentioned earlier, there is a secondary romance that complemented the heartache, pain, and immense joy the main protagonists brought to the story. The story of Marianna, a single mother who had been singed badly by the actions of her ex-husband, who finds love with the reclusive Andrew Cameron, a Scottish man, younger than Marianna, and yet able to meet her on equal footing in every single way.

Just stating that I loved Banish Misfortune would be an understatement. But I am pressed for words to describe how I felt as I was reading the story. There was so much emotion wound around it that it was impossible not to give into the tears that were begging for release at each and every emotionally intense and at poignant moment of the story.

Jessica fighting her way back to a semblance of normalcy was one she did on her own which made me love her all the more. She could have chosen to take the “easy” way out, but then I don’t think she would have survived had she taken such a decision. Springer also didn’t have it easy, given that all the “forces” were working against him when he wanted to pursue what had blossomed to life between himself and Jessica, as imperfect as all of it had been.

The secondary romance? Totally amazing! I loved Andrew, the way he saw Marianne and finally managed to penetrate her defenses. Pun intended.

Recommended for anyone and everyone who loves multi-layered stories, romances with a ton of emotion packed into it. Anne Stuart certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Final Verdict: It is a testament to Anne Stuart’s mastery that Banish Misfortune stands the test of time even 33 years since initial publication of this novel. There is simply none like her.

Favorite Quotes

She could lie back in the grass, feel it tickling her skin, and the noisy gruntings and moanings were a distant irritation. The hands on her skin melted away, and she was gone, floating with the puffs of clouds. Doesn’t the sky look green today, she thought dreamily, staring down. And then it was gone, ripped away from her with a sudden, shocking violence, as his bleary, raddled, lecherous face hovered over her, breathing heavily. Wave after wave of Scotch-laden fumes covered her face, choking her. She opened her eyes, staring up at him, and began to scream. “Dammit to hell!” Lincoln swore, scrambling off her in panicked haste and retying his robe with nerveless fingers. “Stop it, for God’s sake! Shut up!”
Turning slowly in his arms, she slid her hands up around his neck. He was looking down at her, an ar-rested expression on his dark face. And there on the windswept, deserted beach, she reached up and pressed her mouth against his unsuspecting one. Deliberately she kept her mouth soft, pliant, waiting for him to make the next move. She could feel his hesitation, indecision, and she increased the pressure, reaching out with the tip of her tongue to lightly touch his lower lip. She heard a low, muffled groan, and then his hands were cupping her close-cropped head, holding her gently as he deepened the kiss, his mouth warm and wet and hungry on hers.

She made one last, hopeless effort to summon up the green pasture, the clear blue sky, floating, floating… Until the slow, steady invasion began to rip through the cloudlike veil, and her eyes flew open, staring up into his intent ones, as he slowly filled her, the smooth fluidity of his movement telling her that even if her soul wasn’t ready, her body was. “Stay with me, Jessie,” he whispered thickly. “Don’t leave me alone while you go off to never-never land. Feel me, feel this.” He slowly withdrew, then arched up to fill her again. “It’s real, it’s good. Stay with me, Jessie.” She had no answer for him. She was lost forever, trapped, not by his strong, hard body, but by the long-dormant desires that had risen beneath his skillful handling.

“Don’t,” she gasped in a weak cry. “Don’t do this to me.” The clear blue sky faded forever beyond reach, leaving only the midnight darkness. “I can’t stop, Jessie,” he murmured. “I have to.” And his hands reached down to cup her slender buttocks as he thrust deeper, deeper, his muscles bunching under her clinging hands as he drove her onward, further and further, their skin wet and clinging, their breathing rapid, their hearts pounding. No, she wept inside. No, I won’t. I won’t let him And then suddenly, in the midst of her protests, it shattered, the one inviolate part of her, and the midnight darkness split apart as her body arched up against his.

He kicked the door shut behind them, standing over her as he fumbled with his tie. The streetlights were the only illumination as she lay on the faded patchwork quilt, looking up at him out of shadowed, wary eyes. His usual expertise seemed to have escaped him, for the tie knotted, and he had to yank it over his head, the buttons on his shirt caught, and he sent it spinning. He was yanking at his belt when he caught her eyes.
“God, Jessie, you make me so crazy,” he muttered, sinking on one knee on the narrow bed beside her.
His hands were shaking and not at all deft as he stripped the panty hose off her, and he almost strangled her with the slip as he pulled it over her head.

And then, unexpectedly, before he had more than set up the age-old rhythm that had once disgusted her, the familiar-unfamiliar tightening gripped her, arching her up against him, as wave after wave swept over her. It was mysterious, overwhelming, indefinable, and she wept against him, her tears hot on their damp skin. He cradled her against him until the last spasm passed, and in sudden shyness she tried to pull away.
“Not so fast,” he whispered in her ear, his teeth capturing her sensitive lobe and nipping lightly. Another ripple of pleasure shook her body, and he laughed breathlessly.
“Do that again,” he murmured, biting her again. Her body trembled once more, and he pushed against her.
“I’m afraid I’m not quite finished,” he added politely, his tongue lightly tracing her tremulous lips. “And I don’t think you are, either.”

He stood there, staring at her.
“Woman,” he said again, his rich Scottish accent caressing the word, “you’re not sorry at all.”
She had to turn her face to hide her sudden smile, and she missed his swift movement. One moment he was standing in the middle of the room, eyeing her with his usual irritation, and the next moment he was beside her, one strong, beautiful hand sliding behind her neck, under the heavy mane of chestnut hair, tilting her head up to look at him. She did so easily, too surprised to resist.
“Woman,” he whispered, “you’ll drive me mad.”
And his mouth caught hers, in a brief, deep kiss that tasted of brandy and pipe tobacco and of an intense longing that left her shaken. She raised her hands to touch him, but he had already moved away, not even aware of her incipient response.
“Happy Christmas, Marianne,” he said, and was gone.

Not another word was spoken as he stripped off her clothing, the jeans, the loose cotton tunic, the wispy bra and panties landing in a pile on the floor. She could be glad the wall supported her, otherwise there was a good chance her knees might give way. His mouth and hands were everywhere on her, feverish, demanding, arousing her and arousing him to a level past thoughts and memories. He was rough in his need, rough in his haste, but the thoughtlessly delivered pain only made her love him more. He was lost in mute anguish, and she could soothe him, bring him sweet forgetfulness if only for a night. She reached out her hands, tentative hands that slowly became more sure as she gave herself up to his overwhelming need.

She made one last attempt.
“But I always wanted a man who could carry me up to bed,” she wailed, grasping at straws. A devilish smile lit his dour face.
“Well, I could do it if I had to,” he allowed, “but I might strain something. It would really make more sense if you carried me.”
“You…” She opened her mouth in outrage, and he kissed her, deeply, completely, his tongue silencing her as his hands pulled her hips across the table to him. He was very strong, she noticed distantly. And very aroused. And she began to shiver in his arms.
“Take me to bed, my lioness,” he whispered. She smiled up at him through the haze of passion she could no longer fight.
“Follow me, shorty.”

“Marianne, my sweet viper, I am twenty-nine years old. I assure you, I know very well what I’m doing, and just how to do it. And I know what I want, have known it since I caught you in my raspberry bushes last summer.”
He’d warned her, of course. He’d told her women hadn’t complained about his lack of size, but she’d thought he’d been teasing her. But he’d been nothing more than truthful. Andrew Cameron was a great deal more man than Tom Trainor, so much so that Marianne suddenly panicked. He must have felt the tension race through her body. The moment he slipped out of the corduroys he pulled her back into his arms, his strong, rough-textured hands oddly soothing.
“Hush, my brave lioness,” he whispered, though she hadn’t said a word. “I promise you I won’t hurt you. I’ll never hurt you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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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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