Review: Without Words by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-bookwithoutwords
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Breton J. Sterling
Heroine: Hassie Ahearne Petty
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 30, 2014
Started On: November 6, 2014
Finished On: November 7, 2014

The very first note that I made as soon as I started reading Without Words by Ellen O’Connell was, “Reading an Ellen O’Connell after so long. I’m so excited.” That excitement pretty much started as soon as I stumbled upon Ellen’s newest release and held all throughout, since then up till I turned the very last page. Ellen O’Connell is a master unto herself. A force to be reckoned with when it comes to self-published and otherwise authors out there. Her writing style rivals that of one my favorite authors of Western themed romances, i.e. Maggie Osborne. Her heroes never fall short of making you fall head over heels in love with them and her heroines are just the same. And Without Words is definitely not an exception to the said rule.

Breton J. Sterling (Bret) is a bounty hunter, who after confronting his latest convict finds himself saddled with Hassie Ahearne Petty; it was either take her or leave her to fend off for herself which would have ultimately meant that she would starve to death or worse. Hassie has no choice but to do as the icy-eyed bounty hunter orders her to. A childhood accident had rendered Hassie without the ability to speak loudly and coherently enough for people to understand. That had pretty much defined Hassie’s life since then and she had been resigned to living the life that had been hers until Bret storms into her life and her heart, making her a changed woman forever.

Without Words is not just a story. It is a journey of two people who at first seems to have nothing in common, a man and a woman joined together by circumstances. Bret is man who is paying his self imposed dues to his family, and Hassie has no family to speak of. While Bret has no need for a woman, he can’t help but be protective of Hassie, a woman who defies every single hardship that had befallen her and still manages to see the beauty the world has to offer. And before long, Bret finds himself yearning for more of his violet-eyed Hassie, something he had never thought would happen in his lifetime.

Hassie’s awakening towards Bret as a man is one that progresses slowly. She has no experience to put her trust in when it comes to anything good happening between a woman and a man, but Bret makes her want to trust and put her belief in the honor that is practically stamped all over the man himself. The trust that unfurls in Hassie towards Bret grows in leaps and bounds until of course Bret becomes the only man she has ever loved, even though his past warns her of the consequences that this love would wreak on her heart.

Without Words is a story in which practically everything worked and meshed well together to give the sort of read that is so hard to come by in the modern world of romance today. There is a reason why I still yearn for the “classics” that started me on my journey of reading romances. And Without Words brought that back with an effortless ease that made me want to cry because there aren’t enough authors who write today like Ellen O’Connell does.

Like I mentioned earlier in my review, Ellen creates some of very the best heroes and heroines I’ve encountered in romance novels. There’s a voice to Ellen’s work that speaks to you on a level beyond just words strung together that give meaning. These words, they speak to your soul. It invokes emotions in you that you don’t think possible and yet if you are a romance reader like myself, yearn for with every fiber for your being. I cried during moments of sweet angst and smiled so much at times that my face hurt. There’s nothing more beautiful to a reader than a well spun story that they can lose themselves in and Ellen has provided just that with every full length novel that she has published to date.

Bret; I swear I just trembled from want, every single time that icy control of his that shattered under the strength of his passions, be it anger against the wrongs in this world or his desire for the woman who consumes him. Bret is a hero who is uber masculine, one who is unabashedly manly and yet has a core of strength and honor in him that makes a woman fall like a ton of bricks. And fall hard, I did. There is no other way to say this; Bret, you own my heart.

With Hassie, Ellen has once again created her trademark variety of heroine. The fact that Hassie can’t speak was a novelty in itself, her outlook towards life, that sheer joy deep inside of her that reaches out from the pages and practically engulfs you in its hold is a powerful one. Without Words is an apt title for a book that speaks to the reader on so many levels and that too with a heroine who is unable to use her voice to communicate. I loved Hassie for everything she stood for. Her love for Bret hadn’t happened overnight, neither had she thrown herself at him just because she was dependent on her. Their love had been a slow and a fiery one, one that consumes you and leaves you with that wholesome glow of having been loved and loved well.

Ellen explores with her stories the hardship that life was during those times. The imminent threat of starvation, the price women had to pay to make a livelihood for themselves and the harsh reality of women without a man by their side, the rough and at times unforgiving land that could make or break a person; all that is vividly brought to life in every single novel that I have read from her. I’m so glad that I happened across the release of this one and Ellen, you’ve made my whole month by this beautiful story, which if you are a lover of romance novels definitely ought not miss!

The problem with finding a book that moves you enough to render you unable to do anything afterwards is the fact that you never want the story to end, you want the pages to go on, the magic to continue, the feelings that courses through you to never cease. And once you turn that last page, you feel like mourning, you feel like no other book would ever have that impact on you ever again and mostly it turns out to be true, because it is so rare these days to find new books that has everything going for them. So I treasure this diamond in the rough that shines vividly through and hope that someday soon I find yet again the magic that I discovered while reading Without Words, that undeniable magic that makes being a romance reader worthwhile.

Final Verdict: Without Words is a beautifully crafted masterpiece that touched every single piece of my soul. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve done this too often to count, and I’ll be back before you know it, but you need to be ready to move out fast then.”
Her hand rested on his cheek, fingers soft by his temple, palm warm even through the growth of several days’ beard. Her body pressed close. She hugged him and was gone.
The cool wind blew in vain as he rode toward the town. The memory of her touch warmed him every step of the way.

She anticipated the kiss, expected hard pressure on her mouth and an invading tongue. Instead his lips brushed hers as lightly as butterfly wings before settling more firmly. Her arms tightened. So did his.
Her body molded to his, chest to chest, belly to belly. Her quickened breath matched the rhythm of his. His mouth caressed hers, played against hers. His teeth tugged gently on her bottom lip, and she opened for him, not invaded at all but joined. His tongue teased until she tried to imitate. From the sound he made deep in his throat, she succeeded.

The mattress moved under his weight. His lips feathered across hers. Her breath caught. A small moan escaped, and she tried to stifle it.
“Don’t,” he whispered against her lips, “Don’t keep anything inside. If you feel like talking that Greek at me, do it.”
She laughed, felt him inhale her laughter.
“You have the most beautiful laugh. It runs up and down my spine, shivers over my skin, and makes me want to grab hold of you like a mad man. You have no idea….” His mouth closed over hers again, his tongue tracing her upper lip, lower, along the seam.

The fever rose again, and soft sounds of desire escaped with each breath. She pulled at his shoulders again to bring him over her, and this time he gave what she wanted, settled between her thighs, slid into her hot, wet core, stretching her past what she had known. Her muscles spasmed, and he groaned.
She did it again, deliberately this time.
“Hassie.” Her plain name sounded like it belonged to someone else, someone beautiful and desirable and loved.

His heat enveloped her or maybe only merged with hers until the room lost its chill. Sweat prickled along her spine, and the tiny knot of reservation inside her dissolved in the flood of pleasure. She moaned softly, her teeth in her lower lip. Mine, she thought. Her hands fisted in his hair. Mine.

“Is that how you think of it?” she signed.
“I was being poetic, but yes, it got harder every year. I’m glad to be done with it. My only regret is I’ll never again see the look of wonder on your face when you see something like the Missouri River for the first time.”
“There will be other things to wonder at.”
“Without mountains and rivers what will there be?”
She fought the temptation to tell him of the greatest thing they would wonder over.
“There will be Christmas trees.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

outstandingread

Requested Review: Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: American Western Historical
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Caleb Sutton
Heroine: Norah Gifford Hawkins
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 29, 2012
Started On: November 18, 2012
Finished On: November 25, 2012

From one of the best American Western Historical romance authors comes another fantastic installment, this time a book entitled Beautiful Bad Man, a most appropriate title for a book that delivered a story that was beautiful and fascinating as the hero in the story truly was, a book that made me sigh and yearn in all the right places as Ellen once again wove her special brand of magic on me.

Ellen O’Connell writes stories that are gritty and realistic. She is not an author who pulls any punches when she delivers novels that depict the harshness of life as it was back then. But amidst all the violence and chaos, Ellen still manages to give the reader something that turns out to be that much more precious and beautiful because of the fact and Beautiful Bad Man is no exception to this rule.

Norah Hawkins and Caleb Sutton meet under the most unusual and trying circumstances just for a brief moment in time as young adults. Years later, these two happen to meet again by a quirky twist of fate. Though both Norah and Caleb had never actively sought to think about each other as the years had passed on by, both had in fact wished the best for each other, and had somehow envisioned the other living the sort of life that would bring peace to the other’s mind. However, reality couldn’t be further from those dreams as Caleb finds himself facing a disillusioned woman who is ready to collapse from the lack of will to fight for what she wants. For Norah the jolt is a stronger one. Norah being someone who always has a clear cut vision on what is right and wrong finds herself confronting a man whose eyes show nothing but coldness, in it lying the truth of how survival of the fittest always means that you lose something precious and vital inside of you to come out as the winner in the game of survival.

A partnership forged between two people who couldn’t be more different from each other even if they tried would seem to be a venture doomed for failure right from the very start. But that is exactly the opposite of what happens as Norah starts to discover those startling qualities about the man she married, the man that she slowly starts to fall in love with as Caleb unknowingly shows her just what it is like to be married to someone who truly appreciates Norah and all that she can offer in the truest fashion.

Caleb is someone who believes himself not worthy of beauty or kindness that life has to offer, no wonder owing to the harsh brutality that he had suffered during his childhood. But Norah awakens in him something that runs sure and deep into his soul, a yearning to reach out for the impossible and hold on for as long as possible. 

The constant danger that both Norah and Caleb fight together to safeguard what is theirs brings these two closer and seals a relationship that already takes them to new heights in the physical sense. Norah is the type of heroine that I love to read about. The type of heroine that Ellen is so good at creating. And thus its no wonder that I fell in love with Norah right from the very start.

Caleb is a hero that is truly beautiful and bad, both at the same time, somehow making those two words strung together just that much more meaningful. Caleb is a hero in every sense. A bit alpha, a bit headstrong, just a tad stubborn and a total softie when it comes to his wife and their dog Early without even realizing the fact himself. 

If you haven’t read an Ellen O’Connell, its high time you did. She writes characters and stories that you would not forget anytime soon. A must read if you are a fan of American Western historical romances. Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“The times they’d coupled by early morning light or with a lamp still burning, his face stayed a handsome shadow. In bright sunshine she saw every detail — the way the water had made dark spikes of his lashes, the way those lashes were half-lowered over eyes turning liquid with passion. She had not drowned in the shallow creek. She would lose herself forever in his eyes.”

“She expected his weight, the familiar. He turned her on her side to face him, draped her leg over his, and entered her, his eyes locked on hers. She shut her eyes, invaded in some impossible way beyond the physical.
He moved inside her slowly. She moved with him, giving herself to the pleasure. One arm held her close, one hand rubbed a nipple.
“Norah.” His voice was hoarse and deep, his words in the rhythm of their movement. “Look at me. Let me know you know it’s me. You want it to be me.”
“I know. You’re the only one I ever wanted.” She opened her eyes and let him see the truth.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

[xrr rating=4.75/5]

Caliber Seal: FANTASTIC READ!

Review: Dancing on Coals by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Gaeten
Heroine: Katherine Grant
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 29, 2011
Started On: December 9, 2011
Finished On: December 10, 2011

You know those books that refuse to let its hold on you go even long after you are done? Yep, Dancing on Coals by Ellen O’Connell is one such novel that I lay thinking about long after I was done. The characters, the passion, the violence and the undying love between two people who are so obviously two halves of one just kept coursing through me, wishing that I could keep on reading their story forever.

The year is 1881 and Katherine Grant is on her way home to New York after travelling throughout the country. The only girl amongst 5 boys, Katherine had grown up running around with her brothers in different parts of the world ever since their mother had died when she was 6 years old. The only reason she had left home unknown to her family had been because they had not believed in her when she had needed it the most, and as Katherine figures, what her family doesn’t know cannot hurt them.

But when armed robbers attack their stagecoach and everyone else but Katherine is killed, her savior comes in the form of Nilchi, an Apache warrior whose lean good looks and fluency with English puts her at ease even with Nilchi’s older brother Gaeten glowering at her, hatred spitting from his eyes at every turn.

But not long after, Gaeten and Katherine are forced to team up, Gaeten’s promise to his younger brother on his deathbed the only reason that prevents Gaeten from testing the sharpness of his knife against the white woman’s throat. Gaeten’s hatred for the White runs and courses deep through his veins. The haze of rage that blinds him is a vicious one ever since his parents had been killed by white men when he had been just 9 years old. But through every harrowing escape that Katherine and Gaeten make together, he comes to realize that even if Katherine is a white woman, the courage of an Apache runs through her blood.

Ellen O’Connell writes romances that are a dying breed in present days. Her honest portrayal of life what it was like back then, the violence, bloodshed, thievery and murder that was part of the daily life comes across vividly and there isn’t one aspect of the novel that I would change. The setting, the characters and the way she brings forth the connection, the sizzling attraction and the oh so strong love between Gaeten and Katherine was just perfect.

Gaeten’s thoughts remain hidden until Chapter 9, the only way to garner his feelings being by how Katherine views his expressions and his behaviour when it comes to her. Even bound by his promise to his brother, Gaeten would like nothing more than to leave her behind, but unbeknown to him, the connection that is forged between them during their escape and trek through the wilderness binds him to her, even when Gaeten tries so hard to deny it. I was halfway in love with him even way before that, the minute he charged into the story on horseback, intent on killing the woman who would later turn his life around. And as the story progressed, I was mesmerized by Gaeten, the way he slowly transforms and leaves behind the black rage that surrounds him, the healing which comes from Katherine’s acceptance of him, just the way he is.

Katherine is the type of heroine that is trademark Ellen O’Connell. She creates them courageous with an inner beauty that makes it inevitable that the reader would fall for her as well. Katherine is a practical woman, who had turned away from her fiance back home when he had done something she would never abide by. Even when fear for her life at Gaeten’s hands makes her tremble, she doesn’t back down, making it that much harder for Gaeten to dismiss her as just another white woman. The way she accepts, loves and desires Gaeten just the way he is makes for one of the best aspects of the story, the way she “tames” her fierce husband reason enough to revel in this story.

Exceptionally crafted as is usual for Ellen’s novels, Dancing on Coals is a novel not to be missed for fans of the genre. To read the beautifully done afterword is enough reason to read this novel, the research that Ellen has done to write this story one that shines throughout and one that I applaud wholeheartedly.

Favorite Quotes

He entered her in a single hard thrust, opening her, stretching her and forcing a moan of surprise from her. She was ready, so ready, and yet totally unprepared. She’d been wrong. She was still virgin to this, to his strength and her need, to the pleasure and the pain and the sheer triumph of having him. He drove into her and she rose to him, clutched him tighter, harder. Her nails raked and dug into his back, her teeth into his neck.

“Your skin is white, but I think the white god made a mistake, or maybe he did it on purpose to play a joke. He gave you an Apache heart.”

She toyed with the top button of his shirt. “Do Apaches kiss?”
“The people believe the mouth is only for eating.”
“Oh.” She didn’t try to hide her disappointment.
He shifted her against him a little and cupped her breast with one hand, his thumb rubbing across the nipple. “They also believe a woman’s breast is only for nursing a child.”
Lowering his mouth over hers, he ran his tongue between her lips, exploring her tongue, making her shiver with a stroke along the roof of her mouth.
When he raised his head at last, she whispered, “I’m glad you’re an unbeliever.”

Facing him, she saw what she didn’t need to see to know. Even if most wives experienced being washed by a fully aroused, naked husband, they would never know this — a man no words had been invented to describe, beyond handsome, beyond beautiful. His skin glowed copper in the light from the fire, shadows emphasizing the curves of muscle and planes of bone. His erection was hers, for her.

If a man could taste wind and fire, they would taste like Katherine. When he stood in high places looking down on things made small by distance, he tried to feel what the eagle felt soaring free on the wind. He was an earthbound man. Only his spirit could ever soar, and only Katherine raised him so high.

He entered her slowly, determined to keep a tight hold on the lust pounding in his veins. She wrapped her legs higher, took him deeper and deeper. Her hands dug into the muscles of his rear, urging, telling him what she wanted and what he needed were the same. He obeyed and thrust harder, driving into her not with anger but with a desperate raw need. He felt her climax, her body arching, tightening and contracting around him as she cried out against his neck. He shuddered with the intensity of the explosion that wracked his body and spirit and wrung a deep cry from him.
“Katherine.” I was afraid. I missed you. I love you.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Smashwords

[xrr rating=5/5]

Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!

Review: Rachel’s Eyes: A Short Story by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tied with Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Cord Bennett
Heroine: Anne Wells
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 10, 2011
Started On: May 13, 2011
Finished On: May 13, 2011

Rachel’s Eyes is a short story that continues from one of the most wonderful historical romances that I have read to-date i.e. Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell. I loved the story that unfolded between half-breed Cord Bennett and Anne Wells amidst the violence and prejudices that life was back then so much that I have pimped it out on several occasions when fellow book lovers like me ask for book recommendations from the American-Western romance genre.

I was delighted when my friend Jill on Goodreads told me about the release of this short novel which sort of continues Anne’s and Cord’s story, giving the reader glimpses of their happily ever after which makes me one ecstatic reader all around.

This novella tells the story of Rachel Miles Ross, Anne’s best friend before her marriage to Cord. When Rachel comes calling, in dire need of help from Anne and her husband, Cord certainly cannot say no after hearing about what married and family life has been like for Rachel all along. And it is always heartwarming to see Cord through the eyes of secondary characters, bringing to light what it is that made me fall so hopelessly in love with his character.

For a novella that wanted to bring about a part of Anne’s life that was left without a happy ending in Anne and Cord’s story, this one does a swell job of tying up that loose end quite effectively. And once again, let me not forget how Ellen O’Connell weaves her brand of magic that even in a short story like this manages to grab the reader right from page one. Literally can’t wait until the release of her next book which is to come out later this year.

Definitely recommended for those who have already read and fallen in love with Cord upon reading Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold. If you haven’t already read their story, buy a copy and immerse yourself in one of the finest American-Western romances out there. Most certainly worth your time & money.

Purchase Links: Amazon |Smashwords

[xrr rating=4/5]

Caliber Seal: GREAT READ!

Review: Sing My Name by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Matthew Slade
Heroine: Sarah Hammond
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 22, 2010
Started On: December 30, 2010
Finished On: January 1, 2011

The fact that I am starting out the year 2011 with the review of a story that played with all my emotions in a good way is a cause for celebration in itself. Ellen O’Connell who published her first romance “Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold” earlier in 2010 shot right into my auto-buy list with the style of her writing and her ability to spin a romance totally different from what you normally read about. In her stories, the tragedies are real and heartbreaking; you don’t just read a narration of a life changing event for the hero/heroine but rather you experience the events right along with them which makes the story seem that much more real and in the end leaves you with its remnants long after you are done. So when I found out that her newest book had been released around 2 months back, I nearly jumped up and down with glee and I didn’t even hesitate to buy myself a copy and lose myself in the story of Matt and Sarah; a story that is so damn quotable that I raged an internal battle to keep the quotes at a minimum.

Matthew Slade or Matt had just been 10 years old when his parents, his four brothers and two sisters had all been killed in an epidemic that had wiped out nearly everyone in the vicinity. Matt himself had been at the throes of death when his neighbor who had lost his whole family had stumbled upon him and nursed him back to health and took him away with him. Matt had then been left with a couple who took in orphans such as himself from whom Matt had escaped from when he was 14 years old because of the brutality of the reverends wife when dealing with the children under her guardianship. Fighting in the civil war for all the wrong reasons thinking them to be the right ones, Matt is a survivor of a war that had claimed many a life, where hunger had been his best friend and bedfellow. Two years after the war, Matt is mistaken for a man who had killed a whole family and taken captive by two men who refuse to believe his proclamation of innocence. It is during the journey when his captors wheedle their way into a cavalry escort travelling along to the same destination that Matt comes across Sarah Hammond irrevocably changing both their lives forever.

Sarah Hammond is the pampered and overprotected daughter of a rich family back in Boston who had been strong abolitionists. With blond hair, deep blue eyes, with a round figure and an inherent sweetness to her, Sarah is being escorted to be with her fiance Carter Macauley who wanted nothing more from Sarah other than what she would bring to their marriage in terms of her impeccable character and grooming.

When Sarah witnesses how badly Matt is treated by his captors, her kindhearted nature demanding that Matt be treated better for the duration of the journey causes many a conflict amongst her chaperons. However all this comes to head when Comanches attack them and it is only Matt and Sarah that barely escape their brutal onslaught.

It is during the journey that Matt and Sarah takes across the unforgiving land amidst constant danger from those trying to hunt them down to finish what they started that a bond unlike anything else is forged between these two unlikely souls. Sarah’s dependence on Matt for survival soon turns into something much more as feelings of a totally different kind enter into the equation which reaches its inevitable conclusion before the journey is through.

Though in Sarah’s dreams she and Matt ends up inevitably together after she regrettably informs Macauley that she cannot marry him as she has fallen in love with Matt, reality is much harsher on these two as Macauley engineers a vicious plan to drive these two apart with his thirst for vengeance and revenge. The story of how at first a rebel and a yankee meet and fall in love and how circumstances force Matt (the convict) and Sarah (the whore) apart until 7 years later these two come to meet again is a story that will stay with the reader for a long, long time after they are done.

I Liked:

1- Sarah Hammond. She is hands down the best thing about this story. She is sweet, gentle, kindhearted with a backbone of steel which Matt eventually shows that she has. She is equal parts stubborn, loyal and loves Matt so much that she is willing to go to any lengths to finally be with the man that completes her. The fact that she doesn’t give up when life throws its harshest challenges at her is what makes her my most favorite heroine of all time. There are so many endearing qualities about her that I don’t know which ones I should start naming first. Though Sarah has had a pampered life which her well off parents had bestowed upon her, when the rough and tough times comes calling, with Matt by her side Sarah faces each and every challenge head on and wins them over. Her docile nature fools a lot of people into thinking that Sarah needs to be cossetted and directed towards the path on which she should walk on. But when it does come to stuff that really matters to her like her daughter Laurie and her beloved Matt she is like the fiercest of warriors protecting what is rightfully hers. Needless to say, she has earned the role of my favorite heroine and I loved her character to bits in this heartwarming romance.

2- Matt Slade. He is handsome, utterly charming at the beginning of the story and later towards the end and has a sense of humor that touches something deep inside of you as you read along. Macauley’s vicious plans nearly ends Matt’s life before putting him in prison for 3 years of hard labor from which a harder and a more vital Matt emerges. Not knowing that Sarah had borne their daughter Laurie, Matt refuses to subject Sarah to his presence even though he knows that there would be no one else for him. Even though that part of his character which believed he is no good for Sarah rankled, I still could not help but fall for him because Matt demands nothing less but just that from the reader.

3- Ellen O’Connell’s evocative characterization and style of writing. Though she has just two romance novels to her name, her writing style just draws you in and keeps you in the throes of the story refusing to let go. I would say that her stories are just pure magic – yes, they are that good. If you don’t believe me, I dare you to pick just one of the two and indulge. ^_^

4- How Sarah tries to seduce Matt at the beginning. With Sarah being a virgin and Matt with practically zero experience, it was heartwarming and quite humorous at the same time to read about how Sarah tries to seduce Matt into giving her something even which she cannot understand what it is that she actually wants. Though not explicit in nature, their journey of sensual discovery was one of the best parts of the story worthy of revisiting from time to time.

5- The unique marriage proposal almost at the end of the story. I have never come across a marriage proposal quoted from passages in the Bible, maybe because I don’t read Christian romances, but the way Matt proposes to Sarah is just perfect for this story.

I Disliked:

1- Even though I loved this story to bits, I didn’t care much for the conflict between two ranching businesses which was the main focus of the latter part of the story. Though it was this conflict that enabled Sarah’s friends to bring these two together in the hopes of getting Sarah over Matt once and for all, I didn’t want anything to take my attention away from the beauty of the love between Sarah and Matt even for a second.

2- This story tends to end a bit abruptly until you read the Author’s note to discover that she has an “Afterword” available for download on her website which is the actual conclusion of this beautiful story. All in all, for me, the story would have been more complete if the afterword had been included in the original story. The afterword is a fitting end to a love that held me captivated right from the very beginning.

Favorite Quotes

Sarah gasped and looked up. She was going to hit him. Except … he was trying without success to keep a straight face.
The afternoon sun slanted across him, and his eyes shone bluer than ever, dancing with suppressed laughter. No other man in the world would react this way to such an unmentionable subject, help her without complaining or blaming, and tease away her embarrassment.
She started laughing with him. Something slipped and slid inside her, and Sarah fell in love with Matt Slade.

She traced the lines of Matt’s face in the air. Then her air-touch moved down his neck, out across his shoulder, in again along his collarbone, down the breastbone, back and forth across each rib. Air touching only made the ache worse. She wanted to feel the smoothness and warmth of his skin, feel the muscle and tendon and bone under his skin. She wanted to spread her hand out flat over his belly, feel the breathing and life of him. She wanted — oh she wanted.

He held himself above her on his forearms, still looking at her with that narrow-eyed intensity, his eyes darker now in the shadows with the light behind him. She pushed her hips up, dug her fingers into his back, tried to make him give what she wanted without speaking the words.
Matt did speak. His voice, barely a breath across her lips, vibrated through her.“Sing, Sarah. Sing my name, Sarah.”
He moved then, and Sarah sang.

She (Sarah) froze, jerking Laurie to a halt. Hundreds, no thousands of times Sarah had pictured what would happen if they met again. She would run into his arms, which would be open, welcoming. They would come together with a joyous crash, and everything would be as it had been, should be. Now she stood and stared. Unlike in dreams, her emotions and fears and the lie she had lived for so long anchored her in place.
Staring, taking in every detail, she wondered how she knew him so instantly. Could a heart see in its own way what eyes did not? No words in that deep grainy voice helped her. She knew every inch of his body intimately, had traced the contours of each bone and muscle with her fingers and her lips. The changes jarred her, the beloved sameness called to her. The hat brim shaded his face, a face changed terribly whether in profile or full view as he pivoted towards her.

Recommended for:

1- Fans of historical romances.
2- Fans of romance books in general.
3- Fans of Ellen O’Connell.

Note: All the while that I was reading this story, I couldn’t help but think that the song “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars effectively sums up all the feelings that courses through Matt whenever he sees his beautiful Sarah whose mere presence is enough to keep him happy for the rest of his life. So I’ll end my review by including a snippet of the lyrics that just brings a smile to my face, and Sarah and Matt to my mind as I listen to this song each and every single time.

When I see your face
There’s not a thing that I would change
Cause you’re amazing
Just the way you are
And when you smile,
The whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you’re amazing
Just the way you are

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[xrr rating=5/5]

Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!

Review: Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published

Hero: Cord Bennet
Heroine: Anne Wells
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 9, 2010
Started On: September 13, 2010
Finished On: September 14, 2o10

Rarely do we come across books on Amazon that have received an average rating of 5 stars. This is one such book that has achieved this status, which caught my eye once again whilst browsing through a discussion thread. Reading the synopsis, I immediately knew that this would be my kind of story and I immediately fell in love as soon as I started on page 1.

Anne Wells, has always shamed her family in one way or the other. Having never really bided by the conventional rules of the society and not being a real beauty to make men swoon at her feet, Anne had always stood apart from the rest of them. Elroy Turrell had been the first man who had taken an interest in her and Anne had been whisked off to Chicago to live with her aunt since her father Edward thought that a farmer’s boy was really beneath them. Then had come Richard Tyler, a banker’s son whom she had met in Chicago. Engaged to the  man for 4 years, Anne had broken things off with Richard because she had finally seen the light and knew things would never work between a woman who wanted her independence and freedom from the restrictive rules of the society whilst Richard was of the opposite mindset. The broken engagement had enraged her father much more and eventually he had brought her back home. And then trouble had started when George Detrick, a widower, older than Anne’s father started pursuing her, a man who was fat and greasy with beady eyes and smelled worse.

Edward Wells was delighted by the fact that his daughter could be married off even though Anne made her refusal to wed him pretty clear. Driven into a rage beyond anything Anne had witnessed from her father before, Anne was locked up in a boarded room, given little food than what was necessary, her father’s plan to get her to agree to marriage with Detrick or starve to death. Anne finally manages to escape before she is driven to do just that, and hitches a ride unbeknown to the owners of the carriage. When the storm that had been raging had driven her to seek shelter in a farmstead, little does Anne know that she would sleep through the night to wake up and find herself at the home of Cord Bennet, a man despised and feared throughout her hometown.

Cord Bennet, a man with an unusual shade of light brown eyes, jet black hair with a bronze face that was all angles and plains who emanated a fierceness with his stillness has a soft spot for Anne though he doesn’t admit it. Cord had been the first child of Jamie Bennet’s shocking second marriage to an Indian woman named Song. Though Cord and his sister Marie had been protected from the vicious tongues of the townspeople who didn’t take too kindly to the mixed blooded children, they had been tolerated because the Bennet family had been richer than anyone else in town. But it hadn’t taken long for Cord and his sister to wise up and face the fact that they would always be treated differently than their step siblings.

When Cord hears of the circumstances that had landed Anne at his home and needing his help to get to Chicago to see whether her aunt Clara would once again put up with her, Cord knows that he would help her regardless of the outcome. But when Edward comes looking for Anne with a mob crowd rather than a search party and slaps Anne around to make her admit that the savage and brute that Cord was rumored to be had taken advantage of her and raped her and Anne refuses, all hell breaks loose. Cord who is rumored to have special skills in fighting, acquired during his days living with the Indians is unable to do anything to protect Anne or himself. Beaten to the point of death until he agrees to marry Anne since Detrick refused to wed a “soiled” woman, Anne and Cord make their vows amidst violence that had me reeling. Even afterwards, Cord has to helplessly watch on whilst Anne’s father watches on with the judge whilst the group of bullies Anne’s father had rounded up try and rape her.

It is by a miracle that these two survive the unjust violence that was unleashed on them. Thinking that Cord would die during the days that follow, Anne still stubbornly nurse him through, a man who is black and blue all over and bleeding in his urine. The doctor’s prognosis isn’t good either and its by sheer force of will of Anne that Cord comes through. Thus starts a fragile relationship based on an acquaintance that had been made when the both of them had only been 10 years old, when Anne had come to the rescue of Marie who was been bullied by other girls in class with whom Cord had not known what to do with.

This story is so beautiful on so many levels. Cord, a man who is hated even by his own family and of whom everyone expects and always believes the worst of finds himself with a woman who puts her undying trust in him and his character. Whilst Cord had always expected to live in a quiet corner of town until the end of his days, the unexpectedness of having Anne in his life shakes him to the very core. Sweet yearning and desire unfurls in a man who would sell his soul to keep Anne by his side through eternity, though he knows a woman like Anne is too good for a man like him.

Anne blossoms under the strong and patient man that her husband is. The awareness which Anne has of her husband which she doesn’t even know, slowly kindles and burns into something beautiful that made every scene with Cord and Anne one worth a lot of sighing over. Anne and her zealous for life paints Cord’s otherwise bleak life in colors. A future that had seemed endless with no joy insight is suddenly filled with laughter and joy and togetherness as these two tackle life, its everyday challenges, and taming Cord’s family and the townspeople all in one go.

But Edward Wells, who is seething at the mere thought of her daughter being “forced” to live with that “savage” is livid when Anne refuses to come home and annul the marriage to which Edward had forced her into. His cunning plans rips Anne apart from Cord, just when Cord had come to accept the fact that things between Anne and him were meant to be and was not a temporary arrangement. I so fell in love with Cord, for his gentleness which was his innermost strength that everyone else refused to see, but was so clear to his wife and partner for life. Beautiful ending for a beautifully done story, which makes me yearn and wish for another book by the author sometime very, very soon!

Very highly recommended for lovers of historical and American Western romances. This is a book that is a definite winner, one not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

(Anne)”Do you know that every time you look at me like that you erase the hurt of at least a hundred times someone said I wasn’t ladylike enough? You make me feel so – female. I think to myself that must be the way a hungry wolf looks at a lamb.”
He moved then, walked to her. She found herself thinking maybe topaz, maybe his eyes are like smoked topaz. This kiss was not tentative, but sure and certain. For months she had dreamed of kisses, but the sensual magic of the firm lips was sweeter than anything she had known to dream about.

Cord fought sleep, wanting to savor this moment and the memories of the day. Anne’s breath fanned across his throat sweetly. I wanted you so much it hurt. She made him feel like the king he was sure she had been born for. He thought of her face as she ran into his arms after the race, the feel of her in his arms dancing in the summer night. Perhaps there would never again be such a day, but he had this one. And he had her – now.
As he finally stopped fighting sleep, he wondered if maybe just occasionally the gods designed a woman fit for a king or a prince and then gave her to an ordinary man. Maybe they did such a thing once in a while, knowing an ordinary man would treasure her more, love her better. Maybe they even let him keep her – for a while.

Whirling in Cord’s arms, Anne was aware of nothing but the floating sensation and the eyes of gold so close to her own and so somber.
“You know, Annie, a long time ago an old man told me beauty doesn’t mean much in a woman. It disappears with age. But he said some women have something better. They have a special glow that lasts all their life and just gets richer. You’re like that. You really shine.”
She could feel her eyes growing moist.
“Don’t cry.”
“I’m not.”
Her hand slipped from his shoulder to his face without conscious thought. He rubbed his cheek lightly against her fingers and kissed her palm. The scandal would last a hundred years, she thought, and willed her hand back to his shoulder. The smile started then, a real smile, teeth flashing oh so white in his bronze face. Her heart soared, and in truth, that night Anne Wells Bennett was not the only one who saw beauty in her fierce, dark man.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Smashwords

[xrr rating=5/5]

Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!