Review: Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookmeanstreak
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Hayes Bannock
Heroine: Dr. Emory Charbonneau
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 2, 2014
Started On: September 28, 2014
Finished On: September 29, 2014

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown hit the bookshelves just earlier this month. I stumbled across the release of Mean Streak quite by accident. Ever since then, I’ve been biding my time until its release, putting it on my calender so that I could have it in my hands as soon as the book released. It would be an understatement to say that I am a HUGE fan of Sandra Brown. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that she is one of those authors who have compelled me to keep reading romance and also instilled in me a love for the genre. Her books are those that I have read, re-read and then re-read again when I had hit an all time low on reading books that somehow keep falling short of hitting all those vital spots that makes a book stand out in more ways than one.

Mean Streak is a novel that hits all those spots. Dr. Emory Charbonneau is a pediatrician who shares a practice with two other OB-GYNs, a philanthropist, a general do-gooder and a marathon runner. Her three plus year marriage had been going downhill for quite sometime and Emory’s latest planned run in her quest to challenge herself up in the solitude of the mountains couldn’t have come at a better time when she needs to get away and sort things out. However, rather than clearing her head and getting a timeout from her life as Emory planned, she ends up waking up in a strange hut, with a man who frightens her with his size, intensity and the sparkle of something inside of her that she dares not name.

Forced by circumstances, Emory stays with the man who remains secretive about his name and elusive about anything to do with him that might reveal who is. Fearing the worst, Emory would like to believe that she is immune to that gentle touch and the calm and quiet that exudes from a man who should really be menacing rather than making her feel sheltered and protected in a place where there seems to be no one else but just the two of them. And without Emory realizing, she does the worst thing possible under the circumstances; she falls for the man whose name she knows not, but whose merest touch has the power to melt her on the spot.

Sandra Brown’s mastery with storytelling is evident in Mean Streak. For 3/4ths of the story, you never know the name of the man up in the mountains who shelters a woman suffering from a concussion, yet unleashes his ferocity on those who deserves it. Emory who has led a pretty “normal” life on the scale of things up till then can’t decide whether she is attracted to or afraid of the man who makes her feel so many emotions that it becomes difficult for her to identify which one is the strongest.

Hayes Bannock, the hero turns out to be quite the surprising character in the story. Surprising in the sense, you are as stupefied as Emory when it comes to him. The different facets to his character though he reveals nothing of himself is what makes him such a fascinating character. And in the end when Sandra reveals his full character to you, you are left with the feeling of how totally wrong you could be about a person and how easily you could be led to believe a totally different “truth” about a person. And that was unsettling and brilliant in itself. Hayes is the type of hero that has faded away from the genre as authors strive and write heroes of the variety that pleases “feminists” in general. And because of this rarity and because I am a sucker for a ruthless and dangerous man as Hayes, I loved Sandra’s unapologetic portrayal of him as a hero that defies the accepted norm when it comes to creating heroes. A man who asks to make dirty memories with him; well that’s a hero you can’t ever go wrong with.

The explosive attraction between Hayes and Emory was of the shiver worthy kind of the good variety. Hayes is all male; confident, dominant and totally unapologetic in the way he takes, possesses and destroys every single notion that Emory has about sexual attraction and love. Hayes though he doesn’t show much of how he feels, the words of passion exchanged between Emory and himself during long and dark hours of the one night they spend together reveals just how much Emory changes Hayes’ stance and perspective on the life he has been leading up till then. Those flashbacks that Emory has of the time they spent together? Erotic, compelling and definitely ties you up in knots.

The end when it came encompassed everything I could have wanted for the story. Emory’s life that is in danger, which is revealed as the story progresses gives you the most shocking twist of all, and that ladies and gentlemen, is how you write suspense of the variety that keeps the pages turning. I was a bit apprehensive towards the last pages of the book thinking that Sandra wouldn’t deliver the happily ever after for Hayes and Emory as I had been craving. If you have read Lethal by Sandra Brown, you’d know exactly what I am talking about. But thankfully, there was a wonderful ending to Mean Streak that I believe did the story justice in all the ways possible.

Combining masterful suspense and heated passion, Sandra delivers one of the best novels of the year. Most definitely recommended! And now I have to contemplate on how to resign myself to books that would fall short in comparison and send me into despair until the next book that would deliver on all fronts, which seems to happen less and less as I read more.

Final Verdict: Oh dear Sandra Brown, thank YOU for this one!

Favorite Quotes

Her attempt to be a femme fatale had ended on an ironic twist: it was she who’d been seduced. She had put on that mortifying display, but when he began caressing her, she stopped playacting. He’d pulled her to him, and she’d felt him hard and insistent against her, and the truth had been undeniable. She’d wanted him.
Every feminine urge had sprung to life, and it wasn’t just the long dormancy that had made her sexual desire so acute. It was him. She wanted to experience him, every rough surface, every gruff word, his outdoorsy scent, the whiskey taste of his breath, the arrogant jut of his penis. She had wanted the totality of him with a reckless disregard for what was right and proper for Dr. Emory Charbonneau.

“The brothers were fighting when I came out to get you. What was that about?”
“Me.”
“You?”
“Will asked me if I was a homo.”
“How crass. What did you say?”
He looked at her for a moment, then removed his hand from the doorknob, placed it around the back of her neck beneath her hair, and pulled her up to receive his kiss—his open-mouthed, exploratory, evocative, and unshy kiss, which started out slow but soon acquired an urgency that was barely contained.
He kissed her like he meant it, like this kiss was going to be the last thing he ever did on earth, and he was going to do it right, thoroughly, and leave nothing wanting.
But she was left wanting, and judging from the rapid rise and fall of his chest and the fever in his eyes when he jerked his head back, he’d been left wanting, too.
Roughly, he said, “I told him no.”

“Last chance.”
She placed her palms on his chest and then slid them up onto his shoulders.
“Okay. I warned you. I told you that if I ever got my hands on you again—”
“You’d put them all over me.”
“That’s not all I said I’d do.”
He covered her lips with his and unleashed the hunger he’d restrained the night before. Nothing was tempered, not the introduction of his tongue, not the need with which her mouth opened to him, not the darkly erotic words that he whispered when he finally broke the kiss and released her, but only so he could hastily undo the buttons of his shirt she wore.

He pushed into her in one, purposeful glide.
“Jesus, Doc,” he groaned, “I promised you it wouldn’t hurt.”
“It won’t.”
“It might.”
Flexing his hips, he seated himself even deeper, then stretched out above her and began moving. Mating. All raw, male power and surety. Unapologetic, dominant and possessive.

He lowered his head to her breasts, sipped at her tight nipples and flicked them with his tongue.
Her orgasm was shattering.
With a snarled obscenity he pulled out barely in time and imprinted her body with his.
Writhing and straining, they wrung out every ounce of pleasure, and when he came, the pulses were strong and intense. Then they seemed to melt into each other, spent.

His voice a sexy rasp, he said, “You’re not gonna go run screaming from me?”
In a sublime state of arousal, she smiled and shook her head no.
“Then make memories for me, Doc.”
“Memories?”
Leaving her breasts tingling, he skimmed his hand down over her belly. He contemplated the architecture of her hipbone as though it was a marvel. Then he brushed the backs of his fingers over the soft hair. “Make memories for me to take out and play with when you’re gone.”
“What kind of memories?”
Her question ended on a surprised inhale when he deftly relocated and moved her thighs far enough apart to accommodate his wide shoulders. She could almost feel the probe of his hot gaze as he slid his hands under her and pulled her closer. She definitely felt the first sweep of his tongue, then his lips moving against her as he whispered. “Dirty ones.”

[Hayes] “Sorry, Doc.”
[Emory] “For what?”
[Hayes]”Keeping you awake.”
[Emory] “I haven’t complained.”
[Hayes]”So, you don’t want me to stop?”
[Emory] “No.”
[Hayes]”Don’t stop this?”
[Emory] “No. God no. Don’t…don’t stop.”
[Hayes]”You’ll have to be the one who says you’ve had enough.”
[Emory] “I’m not there yet.”
[Hayes]”Good. Because I can’t stop.”

When she lay back, he followed her down and sank into her, pushing until they couldn’t possibly be any closer, then he settled his weight onto her and buried his face in her neck. “You’ll be the ruin of me. But fuck if I can help myself.”
He levered himself up and, eyes focused on hers, began to thrust into her.
And it was incredible, not only because she was so deliciously tight and silky. She was. Not only because she perfectly timed a corresponding motion for each short, quick jab and every long, smooth glide of his cock. She did.
Not only because whenever he all but pulled out, she worked the tip of his penis with seductive belly-dance motions until he couldn’t stand it any longer and had to again sheathe himself completely.
Not only because her hands caressed him with flawless intuition. And not only because, when she climaxed, he felt every convulsive squeeze, but also saw the tears in her eyes that attested to the overflowing emotion behind them.
All that contributed. But what made him come harder, longer, and more meaningfully than he ever had in his life, was that in those moments when he lost himself in her, she closed her arms around his head, and held it close, and said on a sigh, as though it was the dearest word in her vocabulary, “Hayes.”

Tearing his mouth free of hers, he buried his face in the ell of her shoulder and neck, his breath fast and hot against her skin. “Yeah, okay, something has changed. When I’m by myself in the night, I’ll want you.”
He dipped his head and found her nipple through her clothing, moving his mouth across it as he hoarsely whispered broken phrases. “Sleeping between your thighs, finding your breasts in the dark, listening to your breathing, and smelling your hair on my pillow. I’ll want all that, damn you. Damn you, Doc. You won’t be easy to let go.”

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

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Review: Tempest in Eden by Sandra Brown

Format: E-booktempestineden
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Ian Douglas
Heroine: Shay Morrison
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 2005
Started On: September 7, 2014
Finished On: September 8, 2014

Tempest in Eden is one of those books that I have missed out on in my quest to read all the titles by Sandra Brown. This one came to my notice I think through Amazon that does a wonderful job out of emptying my credit card every month by suggesting books that I definitely MUST have, most of which I never end up reading due to time constraints.

Tempest in Eden tells the story of Shay Morrison, whose mother recently gets remarried. Meeting her stepbrother turns out to be one hell of an encounter, when she sees the man in the shower, completely naked, spellbinding Shay by the complete and utter deliciousness of his physique.

From the moment Shay and Ian meet, it’s a clash of wills between the model that poses nude, someone who has no qualms about showing off parts of her body and Ian who is a Minister, who has devoted his life to serving God. Shay turns into a completely different person around Ian, her need to move past the indifference he shows towards her body and attempts to bring him to heel making her more frustrated and prone to childish tantrums than she believes herself possible.

Tempest in Eden throws the hero and heroine into an intriguing scenario. A clash of wills as well as a clash of beliefs takes place. Shay is quick to anger, because she always ends up being defensive about her life and the career she has chosen. Her defensiveness and the walls she has built around her heart also stems from her past marriage, a marriage that had left its emotional mark on her.

I loved Ian as a hero. He is gentle in his soul, understanding even when Shay tests his patience every now and again with her temper and physically a demanding lover who cannot get enough of the woman who holds him enslaved. I cannot say that I fell in love with Shay. There were times when I felt like shaking some sense into her and then there was the latter part of the story where she grew up and made me fall for her character, just a little.

This might not be the best of Sandra’s work, but her talent nevertheless shines through in this short novel. A bit flowery in prose for my tastes perhaps, but the one thing that has held constant in her past novels, something that I miss in her present ones is that Sandra always manages to capture in her novels the essence of a wildly hedonistic sexual attraction that practically robs two people of their very breath in their desire to consume one another. And that is an emotion that is rarely captured in novels of today.

Recommended for fans of Sandra Brown.

Final Verdict: Nude model vs a Minister. Let the sparks fly!

Favorite Quotes

He went only as far as the third button. With heart-stopping slowness, he carefully parted her blouse. His hand slid around the column of her throat. He pressed his thumb against the pulse point at its base. It was beating erratically. “I had to touch you with some degree of intimacy.” He sighed. She closed her eyes just as his mouth fused with hers.
The kiss was hot, wet, and turbulent, evoking the very act of love. His thumb kept up that hypnotic massage along her neck. It was only a suggestion of the things she wanted him to do. It was only a suggestion of the things his eyes had told her he wanted to do.

“Shay, I can’t wait. Take me inside you.”
He grasped her hips with strong hands, and she let herself be impaled on his strength. Her cries of ecstasy echoed in the small tile enclosure as he fused their bodies with the wet, sleek precision of two sea creatures. Their mating was frenzied and quick. His body shuddered with his release at the same moment that she collapsed onto his chest, dying a little even as his life pumped into her.

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

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Review: Envy by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookenvy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Hero: Parker Mackensie Evans
Heroine: Maris Matherly-Reed
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2002
Started On: March 2, 2012
Finished On: March 2, 2012

This is the 2nd book that I have chosen to read because fellow book reviewer Brie seemed to recommend the book so highly. And I have got to believe the girl and take her recommendations to heart because for the world of me, I couldn’t seem to put down this book once I started to read. Envy makes for such a compelling read that I resented every single minute I had to be away from the story that unfolded, bringing home the fact that when it comes to thrillers of the romantic suspense variety, there is none like Sandra Brown who can deliver on every aspect of the story.

Parker Mackensie Evans is a man who has been biding his time, plotting and planning the perfect revenge for his best friend turned foe Noah Reed. Parker has got the bait that would draw Noah’s wife, Maris Matherly-Reed in, and use her in his plot for revenge and vengeance that he has been waiting for for the past 14 years. A man with enough scars on the inside and the outside to last him a lifetime, Parker’s story is one of pain, heartbreak and eventually one full of lessons for anyone willing to read between the lines.

Maris Matherly-Reed is the ultimate heir to Matherly Press, one of the most renowned publishing houses in the country. Maris’s marriage to Noah Reed is going on 22 months and though Maris feels those twinges of unease about her husband and his inattention towards her oft late, she manages to brush it aside and go on with her daily life. Maris adores her father, and rightfully so when Daniel Matherly had brought her up single-handedly, given her all the love and affection in the world, taught her how to be true to herself and all that she believes in. Maris though is the senior vice-president of Matherly Press, she craves for those days when she had been an editor involved in the nitty-gritty process involved in shaping up a good book and delivering it to readers. So when she comes across a manuscript entitled “Envy” that draws her in with the characters and the story that it hints at, Maris trusts her gut instincts and seeks out the author who lives in the remote island of St. Anne.

Little does Maris know that when it comes to Parker, nothing is as it seems and that Maris is merely a means to an end that Parker wants so badly, even if it means that he has to forgo the only chance he would ever have at love and maybe finally peace from all those nightmares that continues to haunt him night and day. Parker’s manuscript with two characters Todd and Roarke that span the years of the 80’s is a story of two best friends whose competitiveness to outdo each other as the first one to land a publishing contract goes horribly wrong when one of the characters involved continue to harbor a darkness deep within his soul, intent in going through any means to achieve fame and fortune which he believes to be rightfully his. It is up to Maris to dig deeper in order to unravel the truth behind the story, to find out whether the story is indeed fiction or a true story which could have dire consequences on her life and those whom she holds near and dear to her if left unheeded.

Envy is one of those stories that I seem to have missed during the days in which I positively devoured every Sandra Brown book that I could get my hands on. And as I mentioned at the beginning of my review, Envy turned out to be a story that I couldn’t get enough of, Parker’s multifaceted character reason enough to dig deeper into the story. Parker is the brooding, cynical, manipulative hero and all rightfully so based on all that he has gone through in life. His careful plotting and planning doesn’t get him far when he encounters Maris in flesh, the woman who in the end turns his life and best laid plans all around. Suddenly things don’t seem to be as clear cut as Parker wants them to be, but the fire of vengeance that burns and taints his soul is one that refuses to be denied, and Parker pays the price of letting go of the one woman who could have brought that much needed light into his otherwise dark and bleak existence.

Maris was a character that I simply adored. She is such a true romantic at heart that it is hard not to fall for her even as the story begins. Maris is a woman who cares, perhaps a bit too much, but a woman who nevertheless defines fairer sex as they should be. She is strong, patient and loving and has that innate kindness inside of her that reaches out to those around her. Her reaction towards Parker is an alien one, one that confounds her and makes her question her vows to a man who seems to have bedazzled her with his charm and wit beneath which lies cruelty and a will to hurt that surpasses anything that Maris has ever encountered before in her life. The one thing Maris learns is that nothing is as it seems and to trust no one but her instincts that have guided her until now.

The twists and turns the plot takes are endless, ones that leaves you reeling from one twist to the next. Sandra Brown is definitely a master at what she does and Envy is a testament to her ability to deliver a good mystery/thriller with elements of romance in the mix, recommended for fans of Sandra Brown and fans of the genre.

Favorite Quotes

[Parker] “We know why I kissed you last night, Maris.”
“To frighten me off.”
He frowned. “That doesn’t even merit an argument. I kissed you because you braved Terry’s and showed up everybody in the place, including me. I kissed you because just looking at you made me ache. I kissed you because I’m a rotten son of a bitch and your mouth looked so goddamn kissable. Simply put, I kissed you because I wanted to. It’s something I admit and you damn well know. But there is one question that’s driving me fucking crazy.”
His eyes focused harder on hers and, by doing so, penetrated. “Why did you kiss me back?” 

He gathered a handful of her hair, then wound it around his fist and drew her closer until their faces were inches apart. He hesitated for several heartbeats, then settled his lips against hers, tested the angle, readjusted. He was moderately controlled until he heard a small whimper from her. He backed off, looked down into her eyes, and recognized a desire that equaled his own.
Control was abandoned. He covered her face with wild, random, artless kisses and she was doing the same to him. Then mouths melded and tongues touched, and they kissed with carnal greed.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository

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Re-Read Review: Hidden Fires by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookhiddenfires1
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Warner Vision
Hero: Jared Lockett
Heroine: Lauren Holbrook
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 1, 1982
Started On: November15, 2011
Finished On: November 16, 2011

First published on my birth year, Hidden Fires by Sandra Brown is a romance that stands true to the test of time. Trust on Sandra, one of my all time favorite authors to deliver a romance as sizzling as hot coals and a story that is so engrossing that I couldn’t bear to let this one go even for a minute. Even being the second time round that I was reading this, I was completely riveted on the events that took place in the novel, a woman’s hatred and vindictive and controlling behavior that drives the story together with the sensual and beautiful romance Sandra delivers.

The year is 1903 and 20 year old Lauren Holbrook travels to Texas from North Carolina on the invitation of one Ben Lockett who has all well placed intentions regarding the beautiful Lauren. Lauren having lost her mother at the age of 3 and father at the age of 12 had lived since then with Reverend Abel Prather and his wife Sybil. Naive and innocent, Lauren has no idea of the hornets nest she is stepping into when she disembarks from the train to make her way towards Coronardo, Ben’s hometown.

Jared Lockett is a man who is notorious throughout the state for his whoring and drinking. A Harvard graduate and a cowboy, Jared is a character who stirred up my senses even right from the start. A mass of contradictions is what he is; brash, harsh and coldly controlled one minute and tender and teasing the next. His parents marriage being an unhappy one is an understatement and Jared had borne the brunt of their unhappiness with one another that had shaped him up to be the person he is.

When Jared’s mother, the beautiful and vindictive Olivia Lockett schemes to arrange a marriage between Lauren and Jared both find themselves agreeing to the marriage of convenience for a period of two years. Though Jared would have loved to storm out of the discussion and turn his back on his mother’s wishes, her manipulations turn out to be more well placed than Jared could counterattack and thus finds Lauren and Jared being bound by holy matrimony and little does Jared know that Lauren is the woman who would bring him to his very knees before their marriage is through.

Lauren who is an innocent babe in the woods when it comes to carnal desires is misjudged right from the very start by Jared and thus makes her life miserable from the onset of their marriage. But for Jared, Lauren is not as easily dismissed from his mind as he would like as her innocence and beauty keeps creeping up on him at the most unexpected of moments, his personal vow to stay away from Lauren a much harder one to keep than he thought.

Lauren is drawn to Jared right from the very start, the cravings that hits her whenever Jared is around a foreign one to her but one she knows instinctively that only Jared can fulfill. Sandra keeps the sexual tension mounting until all I could do was practically squirm in my chair from wanting the explosive culmination of the desire between Jared and Lauren, something Sandra is very good at delivering on! And I wasn’t disappointed when their relationship progressed to that stage and all but welcomed the beauty of their coming together with open arms.

What I loved most about this novel was Lauren’s character. She is naive and innocent to a fault when she steps on the rugged land of Texas, but having an instinct that guides her to judge people easily saves her from a lot of hurdles. In Olivia, Jared’s mother Lauren finds a woman who is bitter to the very end, who loves people only to gain the upper hand and to further her own goals in whatever notorious scheme or plan that she cooks up. It is Olivia’s doing that separates Lauren and Jared and drives a wedge between them one right after the other, for the fear that Jared might not be as easily controllable if Lauren were to work her healing magic on him.

How Lauren grew throughout the story, her gentleness and giving nature together with that stubborn streak of hers when it comes to those she loves and considers dear to her are her best characteristics. The way she faces and weathers one storm after the other in her relationship with Jared, the man who so effortlessly steals her heart for good and all time to come is one of the reasons I admired her character. She gives as good as she gets, but knows instinctively when its time to let go in order to heal the tortured soul that is Jared’s.

Jared is the type of ruthless alpha hero that I absolutely adore and love. Sandra certainly knows her way with male lead characters and even when they are rakes of the most notorious kind, you can’t help but be drawn towards them like a moth to flame. Jared’s entrance to each and every scene in the book makes it come alive with his sheer magnetism alone and if I were to talk about the effect he had on my senses; I tell you this is going to end up a long, long review!

The one thing that stopped me from giving the 5-stars that this book so very well deserves was what happened towards the latter part of the book. I found that Jared’s “cruelty” towards Lauren to make his mission a more believable one was something that could have been done away with. But somehow it all serves its purpose, the villains get what they truly deserve and Jared and Lauren find a love so worthy of slaying dragons over that I just heaved a huge sigh of pleasure once the book was done!

Sandra’s mastery is such that not even one iota of my emotions remain aloof when reading, my whole being focused on the sensations that courses through me right from the very start. Her ability to paint a picture so vividly with words and make you feel as part of the story that unfolds is how remarkable an author she is and that is one reason why I would continue to buy her books as long as she continues to publish them.

Favorite Quotes

Lauren whirled her head around so quickly that the motion hurt her neck. Jared’s hand came up and clamped the hat more firmly over his face. He adjusted his long body to another position, contracting and relaxing muscles that Lauren didn’t know existed. But then, she had never seen a masculine physique like this before. His languid movements were repelling and thrilling at the same time. It was like watching some pagan god who was beautiful even in his decadence.

Jared hadn’t planned it, had never even thought about it, but he couldn’t control taking complete possession of her mouth with a bruising kiss. He wanted to insult her, to further humiliate her, to shatter her damned poise. But her body was so female, her lips so soft, warm, virginal, that what had been hurtful and brutal became tender, seeking, questioning.

Lauren could smell the starch that kept Jared’s shirtfront crisp, which blended intoxicatingly with tobacco and champagne. When he spoke in confidential tones to the silly woman, Lauren could feel the vibration of his voice in his chest. The bank director’s wife moved away, and still Jared retained his possessive hold on her. His hand trembled slightly as his thumb moved upward and lightly stroked the side of her breast. Or did she only imagine it? Lauren thought she would die from the constriction in her chest that pounded up into her throat and sought release in a small moan.
Another guest walked toward them. Slowly, reluctantly, the strong fingers were withdrawn, leaving behind an imprint on Lauren’s skin as scorching as a brand.

Rosa wasn’t far from wrong. In her naked loveliness, she appeared to be an angel.
But Jared was mortal, and he wanted her as he had never wanted a woman before. He carefully lowered his head and kissed the pulse in her throat. Then his lips traveled with a blissful laziness over her breasts, nibbling and licking lightly so she wouldn’t ever know that he had worshiped at this temple of her body. She was forbidden to him. It was a self-imposed denial, but that made it even more binding.

Don’t be afraid of loving this man, Maria had told her. Don’t be afraid. Her slender fingers closed around the warm shaft with its velvet skin stretched smooth. Gently her fingers played over him, curious, wondering fingers, fingers made exultant by their discoveries.
Reflexively Jared arched his back. His head went back in a gesture of exquisite feeling. Then his chin lowered and he was searching her face again. His golden eyes shone bright with emotion. “Touch me, Lauren. Touch me until I die from the pleasure of it. Know all of me.” His voice was breathy and uneven.

Her fingers dug into the flesh of his hips as his own passion peaked. His face was buried in her neck and her skin felt his rapid, moist breath as he chanted her name.
He didn’t leave her. He couldn’t forsake the paradise just yet. Nestled within her body, he raised himself on his elbows and looked down at her. Tenderly he kissed each feature of her face.
“Is this possible?” she breathed, referring to the enormity of her rapture.
“Yes, yes,” he murmured against her lips.
He raised his head and his eyes searched her face once again. His expression was difficult to define, but it closely resembled love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Lethal by Sandra Brown

Format: E-booklethal
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Leo Coburn
Heroine: Honor Rosemary Gillette
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 20, 2011
Started On: September 23, 2011
Finished On: September 24, 2011

It feels like its being ages since I have been invested in a story, its characters and its final outcome as much as I did when reading Lethal by Sandra Brown. And it has been quite sometime since I picked up a Sandra Brown, who always manages to keep the reader glued to the pages, whether it be because of the strong elemental connection she manages to make with the reader or because of the suspense element in her later novels that always manages to entice the reader to put everything else on hold and indulge.

Lee Coburn is a federal agent deep undercover going on 13 months when all hell breaks loose and he is forced to flee for his life after being implicated in the mass murder of 7 men which had initiated a nationwide manhunt for him. His destination is one that will either help him make or break the case of a wide ring of smugglers who dabbles in transportation of young girls to drugs to weaponry.

When widow Honor Gillette’s 4 year old daughter Emily discovers the wounded man outside of their home, Honor has no inkling that her whole life is about turn upside down when the dangerous man with menace emanating from his very pores makes her regret the impulse to check on him. But what Lee brings home to light makes Honor question the circumstances surrounding the seemingly innocent death of her husband Eddie two years back and place her trust in Lee to keep Honor and her daughter safe when everything familiar seems so murky in comparison. 

Lee with his ingrained mistrust for everyone tries hard to not be disarmed by a pair of hazel-green eyes that entices and beckons at the same time. With everyone involved in the manhunt with unclear agendas of their own, Lee trudges his way through with the woman and her child in tow, knowing that anything else would mean a swift death for both of them which he just cannot fathom having on his conscience. And all the while, the awareness that singes through both Honor and Lee’s blood grows with every passing minute, practically making the very air between them electrifying.

Sandra Brown takes the reader on a harrowing journey told from multiple viewpoints, the story’s impact a much more profound one because of the fact. The villain when brought to light towards the end proved to be a shocker which is a testament to Ms. Brown’s ability to spin a well effectuated thriller.

Both Lee and Honor, who serve as the main protagonists are reason enough to bow down to Ms. Brown’s superior talent when it comes to delivering on heroes and heroines a reader can relate to and characters that you want to open up your heart to.

Lee is the version of a dying breed of heroes that few authors have the gumption to write in the present times. Lethal and dangerous, Lee is a former Marine who had a tough childhood, whose days in the military had honed his skills of killing to the extent that he practically feels nothing until Emily and Honor both pierce through the fog of nothingness that has surrounded him all his adult life. With a delicious barbed wire tattoo on his bicep and a straightforwardness to his manner that is both exhilarating and alluring at the same time, Lee is a hero who raced towards my shelf of favorite heroes before I had the time to blink!

Honor is a worthy heroine for a man like Lee. A second grade school teacher who is a total babe in the woods when it comes to the likes of Lee, Honor nevertheless has a backbone of steel that propels her to make the right decisions even when everything else tells her otherwise. Her attraction when it comes to Lee is a visceral one that has her falling hard and fast before she even has the time to gather her wits around her.

Emily was just plain adorable I say and I think my heart just practically turned over during the first couple of chapters which brought to light her cherubic character. I knew then and there that if nothing else could get through to a hero of Lee’s caliber, Emily could, with her innocent and trusting nature that could heal even the most wounded heart.

When it comes to the suspense aspect of the novel, it is how Ms. Brown manages to keep the reader on tenterhooks about her characters, wondering which one’s the ally and which one the foe that makes this one hard to put down. With the turn of one page, you think you have learnt a bit more about the characters that constantly keeps you on your toes. But then at the turn of the next page you realize that you might not know as much as you think you do, which makes this an instant page-turner!

My one teensy bit of disappointment stems from how the story ended, though there were elements that makes the reader draw the conclusion that there is a happily ever after in store for both Honor and Lee. But then again, I guess it was because of the ending that Lethal would remain in my heart for a long time, the riot of emotions that coursed through me at that very moment being one I wouldn’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Final Verdict: A game of cat and mouse timed to perfection & flawless in its execution, Lethal by Sandra Brown is another winner by master storyteller Sandra Brown.

Momentous Scenes:

  • The moment Emily places a kiss on Lee’s cheek. Had me going all Aww! because of how much it affected the stoic Lee Coburn.
  • The moments during which Lee holds Honor in his arms, just wanting the moment to linger on, a first for him. Such a sweet and throat tightening moment.

Favorite Quotes

His entire aspect was menacing, starting with his chilling eyes and the pronounced bone structure of his face. He was tall and lean, but the skin on his arms was stretched over muscles that looked as taut as whipcord. The backs of his hands were bumpy with strong veins. His clothes and hair had snagged natural debris—twigs, sprigs of moss, small leaves. He seemed indifferent to all that, just as he did to the mud caked on his boots and the legs of his jeans. He smelled of the swamp, of sweat, of danger.

Doral asked if Coburn’s neighbors had been interviewed.
“By me personally,” Fred replied. “Everybody in the apartment complex knew him by sight. Women thought he was attractive in that certain kind of way.”
“What certain kind of way?”
“Wished they could fuck him, but considered him bad news.”
“That’s a ‘way’?”
“Of course that’s a ‘way.’ ”

She shook her head slowly. “I don’t believe you. You can’t be a cop.”
“Not a cop.”
“Federal agent?”
“FBI.”
“Even more unlikely.”
“J. Edgar rolls over in his grave every day, but that’s the way it is.”

And then he pressed into her. First his thighs, then his middle, his chest, and finally his mouth. She made a whimpering sound, but its definition was unclear even to her, until she realized that her arms had gone around him instinctually, and that she was clutching his back, his shoulders, her hands restless and greedy for the feel of him.
He kissed her openmouthed, using his tongue, and when she kissed back, she felt the hum that vibrated deep inside his chest. It was the kind of hungry sound she hadn’t heard in a long time. Masculine and carnal, it thrilled and aroused her.

Moving between her thighs, he stretched out above her, then thrust into her. Once. Because, as he did everything, he acted without hesitation or apology to claim her entirely. Her eyes went wide and her breath caught. Holding her gaze, he pressed himself deeper, barely easing back before pressing deep again.

(Coburn)“Honor.”
Gasping, she lowered her arm from over her eyes and looked into his face.
“Put your hands on me. Pretend this means something.”
With a whimper, she wrapped her arms around him and clutched his back, then slid her hands down over his ass and drew him even deeper into her. He groaned, buried his face in the hollow of her neck, and rocked his body against hers. An orgasm burst through her at the same time he came.
She pretended nothing.

The intensity of his expression caused her to tentatively ask, “What?”
“I’ve never been a big fan of the missionary position.”
Not quite sure how to respond to that, she said simply, “Oh.”
“I preferred making it any other way.”
“Why?”
“Because it didn’t have anything to do with getting off.”
“What didn’t?”
“Looking into the woman’s face.” He murmured the statement as though puzzled by it.
Her throat grew tight. She reached up and stroked his cheek. “You wanted to look into mine?”

(Honor)“You had told me that if you didn’t return within a few minutes of ten o’clock, I was to drive away and get as far from Tambour as possible. So, for all you knew, that’s what I had done. After nearly dying in that explosion, with a burn on your shoulder, and your hair singed, you could have run in any given direction in order to get away, but you didn’t. When you found me on the railroad tracks, you were racing back to the garage. To me.”
He didn’t say anything, but his jaw tensed.
She smiled and moved closer to him, aligning her body along his. “You don’t have to give me flowers, Coburn. You don’t even have to hold me.” She laid her head on his chest just below his chin. Her hand curved around his neck. “Let me hold you.”

He had to admit: She’d got to him. This demure second-grade schoolteacher, who’d been faithful to her husband, but who had fucked him with the same fervor with which she’d fought him two days ago, had crawled under his mean ol’ hide.

If he turned his hand into her and began stroking her there, she would wake up smiling and drowsy and ready for him again.
They would kiss. Erotically. Her mouth would be so damn enticing, he’d dip into it again and again to gather the taste that was now familiar to him. He would touch his tongue to her nipples, and she’d rub her thumb around the tip of his cock and feel that he was about to burst, and then he’d be inside her, moving.
Or maybe not. Maybe he would do something he’d never done with a woman. Maybe he would just… be. […]
No, maybe this time, he would just savor being joined to another person as tightly as two people could be. He would savor being joined with Honor.

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

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Review: Adam’s Fall by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookadamsfall
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Mason Sisters, Book 2
Publisher: Bantam
Hero: Adam Cavanaugh
Heroine: Lilah Mason
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1, 1988
Started On: March 22, 2011
Finished On: March 22, 2011

I can’t make up my mind as to whether I have read Adam’s Fall prior to this or not. The story that unfolded reminded me of the novel Come Lie With Me by Linda Howard that stems from a similar theme.

Adam’s Fall is book 2 in the Mason sisters series, the first book being Fanta C. Adam’s Fall begins with the news that uber rich hotel entrepreneur Adam Cavanaugh was involved in a mountain climbing accident in Northern Italy, killing two of his companions in the process leaving him with severe spinal injury that has rendered him paralyzed from the waist down.

Lilah Mason is the volatile younger sister of  dainty and feminine Elizabeth Mason now married to Thad Randolph who gets their happily ever after in book 1 of the series. Lilah though she resembles her sister in looks is bold and audacious where Elizabeth is not and Lilah has always gone out of her way to be as different from Elizabeth as she can be. A physiotherapist who is really good at what she does, Lilah is approached by Elizabeth and Thad both beseeching her to take over Adam’s therapy sessions which at first Lilah flat-out refuses. Sparks had flown between the two whenever they had met in the past making Lilah believe that the intense dislike that she feels for Adam and what he stands for is mutually shared between the two of them.

Though reluctant, Lilah finally succumbs to her pregnant sister’s pleadings and takes on the demanding task of making Adam want to walk again. A daunting prospect at best, Lilah is met with exactly what she bargained for when she took the job with a hostile, depressed and sullen Adam who doesn’t believe that he would ever be wholesome again.

It is Lilah’s demanding nature and slap or two on the face that wakes up Adam and makes him motivated enough to want to change his life around for the better. Amidst the constant squabbling and friendly flirting that takes place between Adam and Lilah as the weeks go by, the physical attraction that has always smoldered between them burns out of control giving Lilah her very first taste of being  totally possessed by a man whose entirety is focused on giving and receiving pleasure. But before anything can come out of it, Lilah flees, knowing that her heart would just about shatter to a million pieces if she were to stand around to watch Adam walk away from her once he has no use of her.

Though I did enjoy reading this short contemporary romance by Ms. Brown, this doesn’t get shelved into my favorites shelf because for some reason or the other I kept expecting more out of Adam and Lilah’s relationship. I wanted a bit more passion of the explosive kind to simmer between them for a while longer before it reached its ultimate conclusion.

Recommended for fans of earlier novels by Sandra Brown/Erin St. Claire.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: The Devil’s Own by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookthedevilsown
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hell Raisers, Book 2
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Lincoln O’Neal
Heroine: Kerry Bishop
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 1, 1987
Started On: March 17, 2011
Finished On: March 18, 2011

Wow! That was exactly what I was looking for when I chose to re-read this oldie goody from Sandra Brown wrote under her pseudonym Erin St. Claire. Sandra Brown’s earlier books deliver in spades on what I look for when I read romances. She gives me exactly what I need with her larger than life, tortured and hot as sin heroes and delivers on all fronts with the right kind of heroine to bring down the hero to his knees. I just love her older books and get my fix now and then to balance things along in my world of romanceldia.

The Devil’s Own is book 2 in the Hell Raisers series book 1 of which is Led Astray which I re-read and reviewed earlier last year. 35 year old Lincoln O’Neal, one of the most renowned and prolific photojournalists of the world is celebrating his departure from the war torn Montenegro when he is waylaid by the woman who walks into the cantina and promises him a good time. Linc has earned his reputation as a photojournalist during the evacuation of Vietnam and has recorded 35 mm of film every war and catastrophe since then. On top of how much he has had to drink combined with the red hot desire that flashes through him when the wickedly sensual woman proposes to him, Linc who wants nothing more than to escape the war torn hell he has been living in for the past six weeks finds himself at the mercy of do-gooder Kerry Bishop who wants his help in rescuing 9 orphans from war ridden country to give them a better life in the US.

Kerry Bishop is the coveted daughter of rich parents who has led a sheltered life with her diplomat of a father until scandal had rocked her entire world leaving her with a bitter taste of reality. Wanting to make amends for her father’s atrocities, Kerry has been living in Montenegro for the past 9 months or so, teaching the 9 orphans enlisted in her care, getting them ready for their new lives  back in the US. However knowing that she alone would not be able to fulfill the task of getting the children safely to the point where they are supposed to take-off, Kerry does the next best thing and scouts the local cantina for the most disreputable mercenary soldier she can find.

What she finds is Lincoln, who has always looked out for his hide when push comes to shove, and what she mistakes for his weapons turns out to be his coveted camera equipment. However knowing that she is running out of time, Kerry forces him to work with her, knowing that resentment and anger would rule Linc’s utmost emotions throughout the 3 day trek through the jungle. However that doesn’t stop her from wanting what his blatantly sensual touch and kisses evoke and doesn’t stop her from craving Linc with every fiber of her being. Respite from making a fool of herself comes when Linc mistakes her for a nun which puts an additional strain on Linc to keep his hands off of the woman who heats up his blood in a way that has never happened before.

I just flat-out loved everything about this novel. Linc turns out to be one of those heroes you cannot forget because he demands nothing less when he steps into the picture. Handsome, cynical and lethally attractive, Linc doesn’t know what hits him when he starts coveting Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes who lands him in trouble in the first place. Knowing that she is a woman he can never have doesn’t stop him from craving her and neither does it stop the sexual tension that lingers between them that can be cut through with a knife. One of the best parts of the book for me was the explosive tension between the two which comes to its heady conclusion delivering fireworks of all kinds towards the end! *Sigh!!*

The romance and heady attraction between the two doesn’t detract from the adventure aspect of the novel. The danger that surrounds them in a country that has been stripped bare by the civil war that has raged in it continues to hound them through their trek to reach safety. The last moments right before they board the plane are edge-of-the-seat variety moments that makes this story a well-balanced romantic suspense on all aspects.

It was an additional plus point to revisit Cage and Jenny from Led Astray and experience their happily ever after in this novel. A tale of opposites attract with Linc being the proverbial bad boy hero who was brought up by a drunken lout of a father and never had any sort of formal education after high school meets his match in the society school bred Kerry and gives them both a love that leaves the reader breathless on all accounts.

A very highly satisfying romantic suspense, which makes me wonder why authors today do not write classics such as this one where heroes do not turn into wimpy puddles just because the woman of their dreams walks into the picture.

Recommended for fans of Sandra Brown and fans of romantic suspense that delivers on all counts.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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