ARC Review: Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard

Format: E-booklakeofdreams.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Richard Chance
Heroine: Theadora Marlow
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 02, 2016
Started On: March 22, 2016
Finished On: March 22, 2016

I have been undergoing a vicious dry spell in my reading the last couple of months. Every single book that I have picked up to read (some even from my favorite authors) have proved to be lackluster in some way and I eventually put them on hold. There were times I kept wondering whether romance genre altogether had lost its appeal to me. Maybe I had come to my saturation point where my beloved genre was concerned – all very alarming conclusions of course for someone who seldom goes on to read other genres.

Then I picked up Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard, up for grabs on Netgalley. Linda Howard has been a legendary writer back in the day. Her recent novels have lacked the punch that is the usual accompaniment of her novels. I actually believed this to be a full length novel and one that has not been previously published – I was wrong on both accounts. But the story that Lake of Dreams delivered is the reason why Linda Howard rose to stardom in the first place.

Theadora Marlow, a house painter who seems to lead a reasonably normal life is being plagued with dreams of the erotic variety. The man who visits her in the dreams takes her, possesses her in ways that she would never have thought possible, and yet at the end, always leaves her aching and crying for more when she eventually wakes up. Thea becomes affected to the point where she cannot concentrate on much, going to sleep itself becoming one of the hardest chores of her life.

To get away from it all, Thea makes her way to her family’s summer vacation cabin, hoping to let loose and relax without anyone intruding on her. However, as soon as she turns up, Richard Chance comes calling, the embodiment of the very man who has been visiting her dreams, some of it ending with a less than favorable impression of the man, leaving her bewildered and scared at the same time.

The short story that unfolded proved to be the balm that my frayed soul required, the water to my parched throat, the book that answered every single of my needs when it comes to reading romances. This was the Linda Howard that I remember, that I want to remember and keep in my memories and recall them from time to time. Earthy heroes, feisty heroines and a love so affecting that one can never be removed from it, if at all. 

I could not help but sigh as I turned the last page – because that is what a good book does to a soul that is starved for one.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: The beauty that is a well written romance is enough to tide one over a lifetime. 

Favorite Quotes

He took her that way, pulled to the edge of the bed and with only her lower body bared, and the mosquito netting between them. He took her with anger, and with tenderness. He took her with a passion that seared her, with a completeness that marked her forever as his. And, in the end, she did cry out. That triumph was his, after all. But her cries weren’t of pain, but of pleasure and fulfillment, and a glory she hadn’t known existed.

Before she could ask why, now that she was perfectly comfortable in his arms, he withdrew his arm from beneath her legs and let her lower body slide downward. Though he took care not to let her nightgown get caught between them, the friction of her body moving over his could scarcely have been more enticing. She caught her breath, her breasts and thighs tingling with heat even as she sought his boot tops with her feet and let her weight come to rest on them. Nor was he unaffected; there was no mistaking the firm swelling in his groin.

The taste of him was like coming home, their mouths fitting together without any awkwardness or uncertainty. A growl of hunger rumbled in his throat, and his entire body tensed as he took her mouth with his tongue. With the ease of long familiarity he thrust his hand under her T-shirt and closed it over her breast, working his fingers beneath the lace of the bra cup so his hand was on her bare skin, her nipple beading against his palm. Thea shuddered under his touch, a paroxysm of mingled desire and relief, as if she had been holding herself tightly against the pain of his absence and could only now relax.

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

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Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookshadowwoman
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Xavier
Heroine: Lizette Henry
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 1, 2013
Started On: January 9, 2013
Finished On: January 15, 2013

I crave for a fix of Linda Howard like an addict craves for a fix of the drug that gives him a high. Dramatic? Yes. But its nothing but the truth. When I discovered books by Linda Howard, quite by chance I must say, I raced through them like a serial killer would race through a field of potential victims. Again, dramatic a description? But again, that is nothing but the truth. Linda Howard is an author I have an utmost admiration for, because she has written so many outstanding books and the recent decline in the popularity of her newer books has just made me sad enough to weep. What keeps the tears at bay is there is always the possibility of re-reading her entire collection when the mood hits, just so I can get my fix of Linda Howard once in a while, an author who has written romance as it should be, too many a time to count.

I decided to give Shadow Woman, Linda Howard’s latest novel a go because the reviews coming in had not been as bad as it had been for her previous two books which I skipped reading altogether. Yes, call me a coward, but I’d rather remember Linda Howard in all her glory than diminish what her stories have meant to me all through the years by reading books that would shed her talent in an unfavorable light. Nevertheless I did read Shadow Woman and I’d have to admit that disappointment did flow through me as the book made a steady decline in rating as I progressed into the story.

The premise of Shadow Woman is an exciting one. Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and discovers that the face in the mirror that is staring back at her is not hers. And the warning bells start ringing, throwing Lizzy into murky waters where she doesn’t know whether she can trust anyone to keep her safe from them whoever they may be. Unknown to Lizzy, or perhaps I should say unknown to Lizzy until that point in time, she has been under constant surveillance, a subject of massive interest to some very powerful people who hold the cards on whether she should continue to live or be terminated because the wealth of information if she were to remember could bring everything tumbling down.

As Lizzy awakens from the deep “slumber” she has been in for the past 3 years, remnants of her past come calling, in the form of flashbacks of memories and thought processes and behavior she’d never have thought herself to be capable of. And in her dreams comes a man she calls as X, the man who makes her hunger for what his touch does to her, for what they together create in those beautifully vivid dreams of the erotic variety.

When all hell breaks loose, it is Xavier who rides to Lizzy’s rescue, the man who has haunted her dreams since her memories started coming back, their past something shrouded in a mystery until Lizzy finds herself confronting that very past that makes her a loose end that needs to be dealt with.

Shadow Woman is a novel that has so much potential to it. What made it all the more heart wrenching to read was the fact that there were echoes of the old Linda Howard in bits and pieces of the story, mostly in the delicious dreams that Lizzy sees of herself and X, entwined in a lover’s embrace that could be called nothing but sensual and off the charts hot. In Xavier I found that Linda’s ability to create mouthwatering heroes that makes my heart beat faster still exists and yes, Xavier is a hero that was delicious in a lot of ways.

What did not work for me in Shadow Woman was the fact that the actual story got bogged down in too much descriptive detail that detracted from the pace and the suspense factor in the novel. I skipped large chunks of the story towards the latter part of the book, just because I wanted to find out the big secret and wanted to know how Xavier and Lizzy fair in the long run.

With enough bits and pieces of the old Linda Howard to entice, Shadow Woman turned out to be a favorable read for me which could have turned out to be an all out fantastic one if not for the details that kept getting in the way.

Recommended for die-hard fans of the author like myself. 

Favorite Quotes

Then she straightened, tossing her hair back, and turned to the mirror – and stared into the face of a stranger.

For a moment they just lay there on the big bed, chest to chest, legs intertwined, hearts pounding. They were eye to eye, and for a moment Lizette felt her breath catch. Good God, he was beautiful! Not pretty, there was nothing pretty about him, but seen with her heart he was … beautiful.

His touch firm, he dragged his fingertips through her cleft, found the soft, damp opening between her legs, and bit her in the curve between her neck and shoulder as at the same time he slid two big fingers deep into her. The heel of his rough palm pressed down hard on her clitoris, sending little lightning shocks all through her.
Her body bucked and shimmied under the triple onslaught. A breathless little cry slipped from her lips and she turned her face against the pillow, fighting to contain the sensation, and the sounds she was making.

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

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Review: Heart of Fire by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookheartoffire
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Ben Lewis
Heroine: Jillian Sherwood
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 1, 1997
Started On: December 18, 2010
Finished On: December 18, 2010

Jillian Sherwood, daughter of the archaeologist known as Cyrus “Crackpot” Sherwood grows up with the love for archaeology and lost civilizations instilled into her long back when she had been just a young child fascinated by the stories of long-lost civilizations she had learnt of whilst sitting in the warm security of her father’s arms. When her father had died when Jillian had been 14 years old in the Amazon jungle on the expedition which would have proved once and for all that Cyrus didn’t have his head up in the clouds as all his colleagues and the rest of the archaeological community believed him to be, Jillian follows in his footsteps to become an archaeologist herself, something which becomes twice as hard for her because her father’s reputation lingers even long after his death.

The final straw comes when Jillian is overlooked as a possible candidate for the Ouosalla dig in East Africa, the biggest new archaeological find in decades funded by her employer Frost Archaeological Foundation. Even though Jillian is more than qualified to attend, she is not even considered because of her father’s reputation, which brings forth the burning desire in Jillian to actually delve into her father’s fascination with the Anzar theory of the Amazon being named for a band of warrior women who had lived deep within the jungle, this fascination of his which had played the main role in Cyrus being labeled as a “misguided” fool.

When Jillian’s half brother Rick Sherwood learns of the probable treasure, the “Empress of the Heart”, a big fat red diamond that supposedly exists in the lost city of Anzar civilization, its not long before Rick teams up with the unsavory Steven Kates who agrees to fund their expedition to find the city of Anzar. Because only Jillian knows the secret of the coded message left in her father’s books, they have no choice but to take Jillian along. It is in Brazil that Jillian first comes across the six foot tall, potentially lethal Ben Lewis who is to be their guide in the rough trek through the Amazon jungle and its river for the next two months or so.

From the moment Jillian lays eyes on the rough around the edges Ben, she instinctively goes on the protective mode knowing that here was a man who would be lethal to her heart, body and soul if she were even to give in an inch. Ben is more than surprised and a little bit aggravated as well to find his unexplainable fascination with a woman who does not even remotely fit in with the usual type of women he carouses around with. And though Ben tries to tell his wayward libido otherwise, his body clamors to possess Jillian as his own and brand her his. His practiced seduction techniques certainly do not seem to work on the cool and collected Jillian, who makes it her self appointed mission to not give into Ben’s caresses which leaves her senses begging for more of where that came from.

I liked:

  1. Ben Lewis. Its tough not to like a man who oozes sexuality from just his mere presence in the story. *fans self*
  2. Jillian Sherwood. Linda Howard knows exactly what we want from her characters and she certainly doesn’t disappoint us with Jillian. Independent to a fault, vulnerable and loyal and a stubbornness that makes Ben grit his teeth every now and then, Jillian and her acrid sense of humor certainly makes for an enjoyable heroine.
  3. The witty banter between Jillian and Ben. My God, I laughed out loud several times during the story, especially the parts where things never seem to go as Ben plans them with Jillian. She constantly manages to surprise and infuriate him with the lack of interest she shows towards his advances, a fact that just continues to aggravate and arouse Ben more and more throughout the story.
  4. The explosive passion between Ben and Jillian. One reason why Ms. Howard’s books always rate a re-read is the fact that she delivers in spades in the romance, adventure as well as the sensuality department in her stories. The scene where Ben claims Jillian in the middle of a thunderstorm amidst the downpour in the jungle made my senses all go on red alert! *mmmm..*

Dislikes: Umm.. nothing much but I felt that I didn’t get to learn more about Ben and his past which I yearned for throughout the story. Though the lack of his past didn’t in anyway diminish the full force of his personality, I would have loved knowing more about him than just his hyperactive libido which makes its presence known right from the very beginning. *wink*

Recommended for: Fans of Linda Howard and fans of jungle trek themed romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Short & Sweet Review: Mackenzie’s Mission by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookmackenziesmission
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Mackenzies, Book 2
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Colonel Joe Mackenzie
Heroine: Caroline Evans
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 1, 1992
Started On: October 31, 2010
Finished On: October 31, 2010

I have decided to go ahead and treat myself to the rest of the books on Linda Howard’s backlist which I have left unread for some reason or the other during the Linda Howard crazed fest which I found myself in the first time that I discovered Linda Howard as an author. I remember that I started to read this title after completely falling in love with the 1st book in the series, Mackenzie’s Mountain the first time round. I don’t know why but at that time I couldn’t muster up much interest in the story that unfolded, which now after finishing this story has left me completely dumbfounded as to the reason why I couldn’t continue with the story earlier. Oh well, better late than never I guess!

The Hero: Joe Mackenzie or “Breed” as he is called by his fellow co-workers has always known that he belonged in the sky. Joe had become a legend even before he had graduated from the academy and being the first in his graduating class, Joe had chosen to proceed with fighter jets though his six foot three frame is considered not the ideal height for fighter jet pilots. Like everything else, Joe excels in his chosen field through hard work and his god given talent and at the age of 32 Joe is made lieutenant colonel. When Joe had been young, his father Wolf Mackenzie had served time for a crime that he did not commit, and being a half-breed Joe had suffered a lot at the hands of one of the foster families that had taken him in. Joe thrives on his iron hard control both in and out of the sky and only lets go when he is back at home in Wyoming at his father’s ranch.

The Heroine: Caroline Evans is a 28 year old genius, a bona fide specialist in light amplification and optic targeting together with a PHD in Physics. Caroline had led an unusual childhood being the genius she is. Thirsting for knowledge that leaves her unsatisfied if she cannot get enough, her parents who are both PHD holders themselves had identified Caroline’s gift and nurtured it by providing her the best education possible. That had meant that Caroline had always felt out of place because she had rapidly advanced through the grades to find herself armed with her PHD by the time she turned 21 years old. Having no knowledge whatsoever of men, dating or the etiquette that goes along with the dating scene, Caroline has remained a virgin till now and knows that her best defense against men who come on to her strongly is to act prickly and totally cut them off before anything can happen. And it serves her well, that is until she meets Joe Mackenzie who shatters her very soul just by one piercing look from his light blue eyes.

Storyline: Joe has been assigned the task of ironing out the kinks in a new second generation advanced tactical fighter code named Night Wing which Joe calls as his baby. As the program manager it is Joe’s responsibility to work within the given time frame to push his baby to its limits and to take care of any tactical errors before it could go into full production. When one of the technician’s on Joe’s team suffers a minor heart attack, Caroline is brought in who manages to get under Joe’s skin right from the very beginning. And together with Caroline’s appearance starts a series of attempts to prevent Night Wing from making its deadline to production which needs the vote from the senate to acquire the funding required for its production. Joe who has always put his country first finds himself torn between the woman who sets his senses afire and his sense of duty to his country when all fingers point at Caroline to be the saboteur.

First Encounter: Joe walks in on Caroline whilst she is at the office getting acquainted with her assignment on the day of her arrival to the base. Joe who always walks silently, not because he wants to sneak up on people but because he had been taught that way to walk from the very beginning finds himself face to face with 100% infuriated woman because Joe had scared the wits out of her by letting his presence be known.

Time period: Story has a contemporary setting and takes place at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Awareness between the hero and the heroine: I don’t know how she does it, but Linda Howard always delivers on the simmering and sizzling sexuality between her heroes and heroines. Joe and Caroline are no exception to that rule and from the very first moment these two meet, its a battle of sensual delights that meets its heady culmination delivering everything that I as a reader craved for and more.

The turning point: It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Caroline is more than wary of the intense feelings that Joe so effortlessly invokes in her. Having never tasted the headiness of mind blowing passion or lust, Caroline is helplessly ensnared by the sensuality that is an inherent part of who Joe is. When Joe realizes that Caroline’s skittishness is a result of her naivete when it comes to the opposite sex, Joe offers a wicked plan to thwart all the unwanted attention from the other pilots who seem too keen to move in for the kill. Joe would stake his claim on Caroline so that she could work in peace a condition to which Caroline agrees which irrevocably changes life as Caroline knows it in the arms of her fighter pilot.

Ending: Before the story is through, Joe makes the ultimate mistake of doubting Caroline, a betrayal that leaves Caroline reeling from it. Caroline long since having admitted to herself that she has fallen irrevocably in love with Joe feels doubly betrayed by the fact that the man in whose arms she had found joy unlike anything else she has known before can stare at her so coldly and think the worst thing possible of her. Before the ending is through, the actual saboteurs nearly succeed in eliminating Joe and Caroline as potential witnesses to their activities, the series of events which makes Joe take into account his feelings for Caroline.

Likes: Joe Mackenzie from his delectable head to foot. I felt tingles running up and down my spine every single time he seduced Caroline and he seduced me right along with her – Darn the man! I liked the fact that Caroline doesn’t let Joe walk all over her in his attempt to fulfill the role of being the alpha male that he is. And loved revisiting Wolf Mackenzie’s mountain once again, a story that still brings a warm smile to my face.

Dislikes: None.

Recommended for: Fans of Linda Howard, fans of romance stories with a little bit of suspense in the mix.

Favorite Quotes

“Hold out your hand,” he commanded softly, and she obeyed.
His hard, warm hand enclosed her fingers, and he pulled her closer even as he bent. His mouth lightly touched hers, lifted, settled again. He turned his head slightly to adjust the pressure, and somehow the motion parted her own lips, so that they yielded to the molding of his. …
She felt enticed rather than coerced, and his taste was filling her senses. Warm pleasure shuddered up from her depths; with a little whimper she opened her mouth, and slowly he took her.

She had chosen to wear a halter top sundress with a full skirt, deciding that it no longer mattered if he could slide his hand under it, since she had given him permission to do much more than that, but she nearly had heart failure when that warm, hard hand slipped up under the material and squeezed her bare thigh.
All thoughts of food fled her mind. She stared at him, hunger of another sort building, her need revealed in her suddenly darkened eyes and quickened breath. Joe lightly stroked her inner thigh with his fingertips, then forced himself to withdraw his hand.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Now You See Her by Linda Howard

Format: E-booknowyouseeher
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Richard Worth
Heroine: Paris Samille Sweeney (Sweeney)
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 29, 2003
Started On: October 30, 2010
Finished On: October 31, 2010

I needed a book to maintain the high I was riding after finishing up the last book I reviewed which happens to be Naked Edge, the 4th book in the delectable I-Team series. And I am so very glad that I picked this one up knowing that Linda Howard never fails to deliver. This is one book that I seem to have missed when I first started on my Linda Howard fest when I discovered her as an author after reading the emotionally gut wrenching story Sarah’s Child by the author. As always, the hero is to die for, his character described in such a manner that it is impossible not to give a part of yourself to him before the story is through. The heroine is not the type to stand back and just let the hero tread all over her, but rather she gives as good as she gets which made this book the winner it is for me.

The Hero: Richard Worth is a self-made millionaire who is described as a Wall Street whiz which made him the rich man he is. Growing up dirt poor in a farm in West Virginia, Richard’s father had died when he had been 3 years old. Now 39 years old, Richard had grown up with his grandfather and mother, both of whom had worked every day of their lives to provide for themselves. From a very young age Richard’s grandfather had instilled in him the need to work and earn your keep which makes Richard the man he is. Joining the army because he had been unable to afford a college education had made him discover that he had a knack for military life. And when Richard had found that he had knack for the stock market which was more lucrative and since money was all he had wanted to make Richard had never looked back. Its been 15 years since Richard has left the army and life had seemed to be going well when he had married Candra his wife of 10 years. Discovering his wife’s infidelity had broken the luster from his marriage and the final straw had come 9 years into their marriage, an act of ultimate betrayal by Candra which pushes Richard to end their farce of a marriage and apply for a divorce. Richard is a man who draws women to him effortlessly but remains faithful to his wife because Richard has always been the sort of man one can truly depend and rely upon.

The Heroine: Paris Samille Sweeney (Sweeney) or sweetie as Richard calls her is a woman who is so immersed in her work as an artist that she rarely takes notice of the opposite sex. Born in Italy, Sweeney comes from parents who found no time for their children but rather pursued their careers, her mother as an artist and her father as a filmmaker. Sweeney shies away from the opposite sex because her experiences with her promiscuous mother whilst growing up had made her wary of turning out to be exactly like her. Now 31 years old, Sweeney is described to have a trim figure, almost medium in height with blue eyes and curly brown hair which she keeps below shoulder length in an effort to control its unruliness. Sweeney had been living in the small town of Clayton in New York when that fateful day in August she had seen the ghost of 10 year old Samuel Beresford who had died of leukemia a month back. Afraid that people would assume that she has lost it, Sweeney wants to move somewhere that is warmer when Candra Worth, owner of the gallery where Sweeney sells her work convinces her to move to New York. The story continues a year after that fateful day when everything changes for Sweeney, someone who equals sameness and normalness to security.

Storyline: Sweeney’s entire world changes the day she starts seeing ghosts. The experiences leave her with a bone deep cold that refuses to leave her. Her work as an artist also changes from the trademark delicacy of her landscapes and still studies to paintings more boisterous and colorful in nature which leaves Sweeney with a feeling of hopelessness as she tries to prevent the changes from overtaking her life completely. Never one to take bullshit from anyone, the final straw comes when Sweeney is invited to Candra’s gallery to do a portrait for an important client of hers, a client who is a strong political figure that grates on Sweeney’s nerves right from the first moment. And when Sweeney’s body decides to take notice of Richard Worth all of a sudden, Sweeney is decidedly at a loss on how to control the sudden and swift change within her towards a man who was in a bitter contest of finalizing his divorce from Sweeney’s friend and mentor for the past year. Sweeney’s actual capabilities come to light when she sleep paints the murder of a person whom she is overtly fond of, the truth which she finds out only a little bit too late. When Sweeney finds herself face to face with another sleep painting attempt of hers, Sweeney is determined that she would finish the painting before its too late to warn whoever it is of her impending death.

First Encounter: There are references to Sweeney and Richard meeting one another on several occasions, most of which Sweeney doesn’t even remember because she has a tendency to desexualize herself and immerse herself in the wonderful world of vibrant colors that her life is. But the day that Sweeney’s body decides to take notice of and wants to claim Richard Worth as her own is the moment that Richard has been waiting for since he has always found Sweeney attractive.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in New York.

Awareness between the hero and heroine: With the first heady kiss between the two there is no turning back though Sweeney refuses to sleep with Richard till his divorce is final which propels him to use his ruthless determination in obtaining his freedom from the woman who he has come to hate, an action which sets in motion a set of events that leads to Candra’s murder. The bone deep cold that takes hold of Sweeney whenever she sleep paints only seems to go away in Richard’s fiery embrace which definitely makes this one heady read!

The turning point: From the moment Sweeney’s hormones become aware of Richard as a man there is no turning back for either of them. Richard is captivated by Sweeney who is the total opposite of Candra and for the first time Richard finds a woman with whom he can be himself with which is an attraction in itself. Sweeney though she tries her damnedest to return her life back to the dull and lonely version it was before finds herself no match to Richard’s quiet determination to win Sweeney over. With each kiss and embrace between the two the inevitable conclusion of which is a combustive joining of their hearts and souls is exactly what Linda Howard delivers – in spades.

Ending: Though the killer is not really a mystery as the story proceeds, nevertheless its an interesting one which brings to light the tangled web Candra decides to weave in order to dig herself out of the hole she has landed herself in. The ending is a fitting one which brings out the killer once and for all, nervous at the thought of Sweeney completing her portrait to point the homicide detectives in the right direction.

Likes: As always Linda Howard creates the best alpha heroes in her stories. Richard has a quiet unassuming strength about him that  totally captivated me and made me wish all his attention were focused on me. Silly I know, but I tend to get silly and all swoony around heroes like Richard. I also loved Sweeney and how she overcomes the fear of the change that takes place in her, how she finally accepts the fact that she has changed for better or worse and tries to make the best use of her talents to help others. Her less than perfect character perfectly complemented Richard in every way which made this book a winner for me.

Dislikes: I found myself a little bit put off by the fact that the Epilogue was just a couple of lines which sheds some light on why Sweeney is the way she is. I wanted a longer epilogue detailing the changes that had come about in both Richard and Sweeney’s lives a year on and glimpses of the perfectness of the world they had created together.*pouts a little*

Recommended for: Those who like romantic suspense with a tangy bit of paranormal in it.

Favorite Quotes

His hand on the back of her head, he settled her against him once more. His mouth lightly brushed her temple, and over to her eyelid. “After next week, when you get cold, I’ll be able to warm you from inside out.”
Oh, God, he managed it now. Her heart leaped, and her pulse rate jumped to double time.
“You’re doing just fine as it is,” she gasped.
“The way you shake and shudder, I won’t even have to do any work. All I’ll have to do is set you in place, then lie back and enjoy the ride.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: Angel Creek by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookangelcreek
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Western Ladies, Book 2
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Lucas Cochran
Heroine: Dee Swann
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 1, 1998
Started On: October 9, 2010
Finished On: October 14, 2010

Surprisingly, this is one book by Linda Howard that I do not remember ever reading. I do however remember reading the first book in the Western Ladies series, A Lady of the West which I have the mind to re-read again sometime.

This story takes place in the town of Proper in Colorado. Lucas Cochran upon the death of his father is the new owner of the Big Double C ranch which he has high hopes and big dreams of turning into an empire one day. One of the things that stands in his way and one of his many contentions with his father when he had been alive had been the issue of buying the land through which Angel Creek the most abundant source of water that ran through the surrounding mountains into the valleys. Lucas, a hard man who does not budge once he has made a decision has mapped out his life to the extent that he has decided on the woman whom he would marry, Olivia Milican, the daughter of the town’s only banker  in order to take his life along the path he had chosen. What Lucas hadn’t counted on is the desire to claim and posses that unfurls and rages out of control as soon as he meets the Dee Swann, the feisty owner of the land through which Angel Creek runs.

Dee, whose parents had moved to Prosper when she had been a fourteen year old school girl had only known of Lucas in passing. Eight years older than Dee, Lucas had already been a grown man and had left Prosper shortly after she and her family had arrived and settled down. Life had thrown its fair share of tragedies at Dee when Dee’s mother who had been a school teacher had died when she had been at the age of sixteen closely followed by the death of her father when she had barely turned eighteen. At first the sheer aloneness which she had found herself in had frightened her to no end. But Dee, a passionate and strong woman had quickly learnt to safeguard what’s hers and take care of herself by growing a garden of vegetables which saw her through the year. Men turning up with offers to buy out her land wasn’t something new for Dee, but the strong tug she feels towards blue-eyed Lucas Cochran is something she had never ever felt before.

With two people who are as strong-minded as these two, coming together is an explosion that is waiting to happen which Linda Howard as always handles superbly. I swear, Linda Howard writes the hottest love scenes, sometimes much racier than the most explicit erotica, racier in the sense that you feel more whilst reading these scenes than you feel when reading erotica that is done not so tastefully.

Dee falls head over heels in love from the moment Lucas claims her as his though Lucas takes a bit of time to identify that what he feels for Dee is not something that he would find with just any woman. But Angel Creek and the deep abiding love that Dee feels for the land that surrounds her and brings her peace unlike anything else is a source of contention amongst the two until another party who showed his interest in the land suddenly decides to take matters into his own hands when drought threatens to take away everything he has built from scratch.

With rage and fear coursing through Lucas at Dee nearly been snatched away from his life because of the dreaded land, Lucas presumes to know what would keep Dee safe above everything else which nearly drives them apart in the end. There are two side stories that go hand in hand with Lucas and Dee’s story, both equally interesting in their own rights. And as usual, being the sucker for epilogues that I am, I loved reading about how all the couples fared in the end knowing that each found true love and happiness with their life partners in the end. There’s nothing more a true romance reader could ever hope for!

There were several things I loved about Dee. She is headstrong, not your meek average heroine who would grate on your nerves. Rather, she is the sort of woman who knows what she wants and works hard to achieve what it is that she desires. When true love does strike, Dee doesn’t strive to change who she is so that she can fit into Lucas’s plans. Rather she takes whatever time she has with the man she loves, consequences be damned! Lucas sometimes made want to hit him a time or two on the head, but he is a man who is in love and lust with the woman who is made for him. And I am always a sucker for a hard man who can treat a woman gently enough and goes crazy enough to lose their iron clad control. So all in all, a great read though I took my own sweet time in finishing up. You all can blame my busy work schedule for that!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookShades of twilight
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Webb Tallant
Heroine: Roanna Davenport
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 1, 1997
Started On: September 14, 2010
Finished On: September 16, 2010

As Catherine Coulter says on the cover of the book, Linda Howard is definitely an author who makes all our senses come alive with her cleverly spun romances. All my senses were on red alert from the start till I read the very last line of the book. No author does alpha heroes better than Linda Howard and that my fellow readers, is a fact.

Shades of Twilight is a story that is focused on  the Southern, rich and generations old Davenports family. The story kicks off when Roanna Davenport is just a mere 7 years old, Jessamine (Jessie) 13 years old and Webb Tallant 7 years older than Roanna who are all 1st or 2nd cousins. Roanna’s parents along with Aunt Janet who had been Jessie’s mother are killed in a car crash rendering their grandmother, the strong head of the household Lucinda mourning the loss of two of her children in one day. The Davenports resided in a mansion like house called as  the Davencourt, which Lucinda ruled and managed over. Though Webb is not a Davenport, he comes from Lucinda’s side of the family and she loves him and sees the strength in him that would make him the best choice to lead Davencourt in the years to come.

Whilst grandma Lucinda adored the beautiful Jessie where Roanna never did learn how to be graceful and always had a way of finding trouble where ever it may be, Roanna was afraid for the most part that the death of her parents would mean that she would be sent away. But in the end, grandma Lucinda overrides the discussion by stating that both Jessie and Roanna would live at the Davencourt. Even from that very tender age, Roanna hero worships Webb and the ground he walks on. Webb always had time for her, played with her and in general made her feel better than anyone else in the family.

But Roanna knows that as destiny has decided, Webb would take control of the Davencourt and from the way his eyes possessively roamed over Jessie, he would claim her as well. Spoiled to the core and illegitimate, Jessie had always resented Roanna for the fact that Webb always seemed to stand up for her and protect Roanna from Jessie’s bullying. The only place where Roanna feels any comfort is with the horses that the Davenports breed and there she blossoms and blooms like a flower starving for sunlight.

When Roanna turned 15, Webb and Jessie had married leaving Roanna heartbroken. Two years pass by and everyone at Davencourt knows that the marriage is far from a happy one. With Webb thrust into the cutthroat world of business whilst at the same time attaining his masters, he had little time for the tantrums that seemed to be a daily part of Jessie’s life upon her discovery that she is not able to control Webb like she does with other people who surround her life. And when she starts her illicit little affair with her own birth father, Jessie can barely keep her glee to herself. Meeting her father at hours for a time during the day, it is on one such day that Roanna follows Jessie and comes upon Jessie and her mystery lover whilst going at it like a bunch of animals. Angered beyond belief and hurt on behalf of Webb, Roanna makes her way home vowing never to tell Webb what she had witnessed.

That night, things take a turn when Webb who always badgers Roanna about how little food she intakes, offers her comfort in his arms. An innocent embrace slowly spirals out of control when Webb who has never seen Roanna as anything else other than a sister finds himself fiercely aroused, and a kiss initiated by Roanna has both of them nearly out of control when Jessie walks in on them and starts shrieking the house down. Jessie eventually manipulates the turn of evens to make it sound as if Roanna had deliberately tried to set up the scene in the kitchen so that Jessie would walk in on them, and the loathing and anger that Roanna sees in Webb’s eyes breaks her heart to pieces.

The mother of all arguments that Webb and Jessie has that night ends when Webb walks out fed up of Jessie and their marriage. And it is Roanna who walks into their room later to find her murdered, with her head bashed in. The whole family is quick to blame Roanna who the police rule out from the very beginning. In the end, Webb is their number 1 suspect, though his airtight alibi doesn’t allow the police much room for conviction. That night, everything changes in their family. Webb who had always been the darling golden boy of the family comes under accusations and the one time he needs his family, except his mother and another aunt, all his family turn their backs on him. Roanna does try to offer him comfort, only to be rebuffed in front of everyone else, which finally shatters her completely. Finally, with the investigation over with, Webb walks out on the family, never looking back.

Ten years later, Lucinda begs Roanna to bring Webb back home. Lucinda needs to make her peace with Webb, and hand over the reins of the  business to him as cancer is slowly taking her over. The ten years had left its toll on Roanna  as well. Gone was the coltish, exuberant girl brimming with energy and mischief. In her place was a cool, remote young woman who never hurried, never lost her temper, seldom smiled and much less laughed out loud. n her mind, she had been worthless and unlovable as she had been when Webb had rejected her apology and the comfort she had offered at Jessie’s funeral. So she had destroyed herself and built a new person who doesn’t feel much, and goes through the daily routine of life like an automated machine. The act of convincing Webb to come back to Davencourt stirs the only emotion that she had felt in 10 long years and Roanna knows that she would never fall out of love with the man who had captured her heart so completely when she was a mere child.

Webb, who has made something of himself in Arizona is shocked by the classy woman who stands in front of him. Vivid erotic encounters featuring him and Roanna had kept much of his dreams occupied and Webb’s control finally breaks and he makes it a condition that Roanna have sex with him for his return to Davenport, an act that he deeply regrets next morning when he discovers that he wants Roanna to come to him on her own terms rather than him forcing her.

Webb’s return to Davencourt is hardly met with applause from the rest of the family who sometime or the other have slowly moved into Davencourt and were leeching off Lucinda. It is upon his return that Webb learns just how close Roanna had come to losing her life and the thought that he would not have known about it leaves him weak with fear. A love that had unfurled as that of a love of a brother towards sister had changed into something else on that fateful night when all their lives had taken an unimaginable turn. And Webb was determined that he would make Roanna his, and prove to her that she belonged with him, as he surely belonged to her.

Amidst his return, the killer who had laid dormant all those years return with a vengeance, to finish off what was started that fateful night 10 years back. A novel that portrays the secrets and lies that a family holds and takes with them to their deathbeds, a story of intense love and passion that withstands  the test of time and distance, this story just took my breath away, even the second time round.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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