Review: The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-booktheothersideofus
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Oliver Garrett
Heroine: Mackenzie Williams
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 2, 2013
Started On: January 17, 2013
Finished On: January 18, 2013

Having a new Mayberry book come out is like receiving a surprise gift from a loved one. Having being away from the reading world for quite a while, I had almost forgotten about the Mayberry book that would be out early this year and discovering the fact that it was out already made my weekend! It has been so long since I have anticipated reading a book and got exactly what I bargained for when I made the purchase that in itself alone is enough to make me send a box load of smooches Mayberry’s way.

Oliver Garrett is on the verge of divorcing his wife Edie after 6 years of marriage. The way things had ended leaves Oliver reeling from the shock of betrayal and immense sense of loss, hurt and anger such that he doesn’t know how to overcome the constant voice of anger and frustration that is always at the back of his mind. It is to escape his tormented thoughts more than anything that he makes his way to the beach house of his late aunt with his dog Strudel in tow.

When Oliver introduces himself to his new neighbor Mackenzie Williams, his first impression of Mackenzie is hardly a favorable one, owing mostly to the standoffish manner in which Mackenzie treats his presence at her doorstep. Mackenzie is recovering from a horrific accident that had taken away from her everything that she had sacrificed her whole adult life for and getting back on her feet and re-entering the world that she had been forced to leave behind is what keeps her putting one foot in front of the other and pushing herself beyond her body’s limits.

Though Oliver and Mackenzie both want nothing to do with each other, Mackenzie’s dog Mr. Smith and Strudel both decide differently and it is through ‘misbehavior’ on their part that these two reluctant people are forced to interact with each other. And when disaster of a different kind comes calling, it is then that Oliver and Mackenzie discover that beneath their reluctance to be in each other’s company lies an attraction that is fiery, hot and undeniable coupled with many qualities that both of them find endearing in the other.

The Other Side of Us is by no means a light fluffy story of second chances and love that comes calling to make every single trouble fade away. Rather it is the story of two very real and relatable people who find each other at the lowest points of their lives, both of whom stumble upon a second chance at love; only if they are willing to trust each other and put in the effort to make it work, regardless of all the insurmountable twists and turns ahead of them.

I love how Mayberry brings her characters together, how she unravels the beauty of two people who are flawed, yet have all those redeeming qualities that makes you fall in love with them as you read along. Discovering each of Mayberry’s characters come to life is like unraveling a gift wrapped up in many layers, each layer giving away a hidden facet of its character that makes the gift that much more treasured. Likewise Oliver (be still my heart) is a hero that I fell in love with by the turn of the first page of the story. And yes, this is the unvarnished truth if you don’t believe me. Oliver is hard not to fall in love with. He has got the looks, the characteristics that makes a guy essentially alpha and endearing, both at the same time. And yes men of the world, you can be manly and alpha without becoming arseholes about the whole thing. And oh, how I loved his sense of humor, even his rambling thoughts at times giving me a reason to smile and grin in a way that just made his character that much more lovable!

Oliver hurts deep inside, though he might put up a facade of normalcy as much as he can for the benefit of the people around him. But when he is alone and when the thoughts of his marriage and the failure it had become starts haunting him, there is no escaping the emotions that blindsides him with a ferocity that continues to make him believe that he would never find a respite from it all. But slowly and surely, with Mackenzie entering into the realms of his thoughts, heart and life, Oliver starts to discover that there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mackenzie is the ambitious and driven sort of person who doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way – not if she can help it. She had made huge sacrifices for her career along the way and being sidelined because she is not physically up for the challenge just makes her want to push herself that much harder and forgo the limits of endurance that her body is yet ready to handle. And then along comes Oliver, and with him arises the thoughts and possibilities of a future that is for a different version of Mackenzie, a Mackenzie that takes each day as it comes, a Mackenzie that starts to dream of a different path to walk upon, with Oliver right by her side.

It is beautiful the way Mayberry can put so much heart and emotion into a story that I sacrificed my weekend sleep hours for in order to reach the inevitable happily ever after for two people who deserve that and so much more. What I love about Mayberry is the fact that she continues to touch subjects that are difficult to explore, such as Mackenzie’s journey towards recovery, a very real nightmare that Mackenzie lives through each day. And at the very end, when Mackenzie pursues Oliver and turns up at his doorstep, that was when the waterworks began that had me reaching for the tissues at my bedside. If I had already not being head over feet in love with Mackenzie, I would have fallen for her like a ton of bricks then and there, because she understood Oliver and empathized with him on a level that is a crucial factor if any relationship is to survive.

If not for anything else, the fact that this is the one book that I have read in ages that had me coming back for more is reason enough to say this is an outstanding read. This is a story that reaffirms the reason why I love the romance genre so much! The Other Side of Us is a story of second chances, yes, but it also shows that love finds you, regardless of the circumstances one may be in, and that if you are to grab your chance of happiness; a little bit of faith, a whole lot of love and a bit of hard work would get you there eventually. Kudos to Mayberry, for you have done it yet again.

Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Then he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers.
The world stood still. Her heart stuttered in her chest. She forgot to breathe. Then his mouth moved against hers and heat exploded in her belly and breasts and between her thighs. In that fraction of a second she knew how it would be between them – hot and wild and desperate.

He kissed her, his body shaking with barely controlled need. His hands covered her breasts, his fingers plucking at her nipples as he pressed his lips against hers. She’d never been so turned on in her life, every inch of her skin screaming to be in contact with his. Desire was an ache between her thighs, insatiable and demanding.

Mackenzie rode him with her eyes closed and her head tilted back. Her breasts rose and fell, rose and fell as her movements became increasingly urgent. Her watched her through half-closed eyes, his hands gliding over the warm silk of her skin, fighting the growing need to grab her hips and thrust into her soft, yielding warmth.
Finally it was too much for him and he gave in to instinct, driving himself into her, need an urgent tattoo in his blood. She gave a small, inarticulate cry, her head dropping forward, her hands clutching at his shoulders. He felt her pulse around him…and was gone.

“Once upon a time I used to think I was happy,” Oliver said after a moment of perfect silence.
She drew back a little so she could look into his eyes. “And now?”
“Now I know. Beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

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


Review: Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-booksuddenlyyou
Read with: txtr
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin SuperRomance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Harry Porter Neville
Heroine: Phillipa White (Pippa)
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 30, 2012
Started On: October 18, 2012
Finished On: November 17, 2012

Sarah Mayberry’s final book for the year 2012 was certainly a delightful surprise and a wonderful. wonderful read. I say a delightful surprise because most of the time I mope around a little after reading Mayberry’s latest release because the wait for the next book always seems so long. However, since life is so busy at the moment, I hardly got a chance to worry about this and it was by sheer luck that I came across a tweet that mentioned the release of this book at the end of October. And of course from that moment on, Suddenly You was the one constant on my mind until I managed to grab myself a copy from the Harlequin E-book store before the actual release date set for the book.

Harry Porter Neville is the ultimate version of a bad boy that we women would all love to have. A body to die for with tribal tattoos on the delicious package he presents, Harry leads the ultimate bachelor life with no commitments and no worries; just the way he likes his life to be. Working a job that lets him earn enough without having to shoulder much of a burden, Harry is comfortable where he is and wouldn’t want anything to interfere in his life, or so he thinks til he runs into Pippa once again, quite by chance.

31 year old Phillipa White (Pippa) is a single mother, struggling to make ends meet and just barely getting by. With her daughter Alice just six months old, being a mother, working to make ends meet and attending classes is all Pippa is capable of juggling for the time being. When her car breaks down on her, the last person she expects to come riding to her rescue is her ex’s best friend Harry.

This chance meeting changes a lot of things for both Harry and Pippa who have always been comfortable in each other’s company. Though neither of them had ever had the hots for each other when Pippa had been dating Steve, the new ‘status’ of their relationship brings to the front a lot of other feelings that are both frightening and exhilarating at the same time for both Pippa and Harry.

For someone like Harry who might like his no strings attached life as much as the next guy, deep inside Harry is someone who takes his commitments seriously and takes care of what’s his. And of course the bro code which dictates that he never even look at the ex of his best friend in a way that goes beyond casual friendship, for Harry to start noticing all sorts of appealing tidbits about Pippa disturbs Harry more than he can imagine. However, as these feelings that start to grown in both of them fight to reach the surface, Harry and Pippa both fool themselves into thinking that their affair would run its course and die a natural death before either of them could get emotionally involved.

I just loved the way the story unfolded and fell in love with both Pippa and Harry almost instantly. Its hard not to fall for two people who are obviously of the best caliber, people whose inherent kindness you can feel just like that. Sarah is marvelous in creating characters who always warm the heart and both Harry and Pippa together with Alice delivered just that.

The conflict that Harry finds himself is one that made for an engrossing mix of emotions. On the one hand Harry feels that he is betraying his closest friend, the friend with whom he has a shared history that goes a long way back. On the other hand, Pippa invokes and awakens in him a desire that he can’t deny, emotions that he tries so hard to suppress but in the end, the temptation that proves to be the fiery hot attraction between the two of them means that neither Pippa nor Harry can turn their backs on each other. And the deeper, much sweeter connection that is forged right alongside with it just made me want to go into an eternal sighing session while reading.

There is nothing more satisfying in the world than that moment when you reach the ending of a book that has thrilled you in every way. And Suddenly You certainly did that from the rough on the exterior and soft on the inside hero Harry to Pippa whose endearing character warmed my heart to the sparks that flew between them and the tangible sexual connection that felt oh so good to read about and to witness the explosion that burst forth when things got too hot to handle.

A must-read if you are a fan of contemporary romances. And a should not miss if you are a die-hard fan of Ms. Mayberry like myself.

Favorite Quotes

He reached for her at the same moment she closed the distance between them. Her breasts hit his chest as his arms closed around her and she tilted her head for his kiss. Harry’s mouth found hers unerringly, his tongue sliding into her mouth in a heated rush.
He tasted like desire. She moaned her approval as her body went up in flames. Dear God, it had been so long, and this man knew how to kiss.

Then Harry pushed her shirt up and pulled her bra down and lowered his head to her breasts and she lost the ability to think coherently. He didn’t just kiss her breasts, he consumed them—tonguing her nipples and drawing them into his mouth and shaping her breasts with his hands. He feasted, eyes tightly shut, utterly obsessed with the task at hand.

He slid inside her, big and hot and long, and she was gone just like that, her body throbbing around his in a breathtaking climax. 
He started to thrust, his body hard with need. She pressed kisses to his neck and shoulder and finally his mouth. He plunged in and out of her, every muscle tense. She gripped his shoulders and inhaled the smell of sex and felt herself climbing again.
“Yes,” she panted.
Harry’s fingers pressed into her hips and ass as he intensified his efforts. She arched her back and tilted her hips…and then she was there again, his name on her lips as she came and came and came. He lost it, burying himself deep and staying there. She throbbed out the last of her climax as he shuddered into her.

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


Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookwithinreach
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin SuperRomance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Robinson
Heroine: Angie Bartlett
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2012
Started On: July 2, 2012
Finished On: July 15, 2012

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry focuses on one of my favorite tropes in romance. A widowed hero who finds love in the most angst-ridden situation one can find and thus Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry is a superb read and delivered exactly what I wanted in the right doses.

Michael loses his wife of 6 years to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect and devastation doesn’t even begin to cover what he goes through in the process of picking up the pieces of his life as his two kids demand that he be a pillar of strength rather than breaking down and digging himself a hole somewhere, which is exactly what he feels like doing. 

Angie Bartlett loses her best friend when Billie dies at the age of 32. Her vivacious friend whose zest for life and color, whose life was so abruptly cut off leaves Angie reeling from the loss of it all. And it takes her a timeout from the situation back at Billie’s household to realize the rapid escalation towards crisis it was veering off to.

Helping out in the process of moving forward means Angie finds herself spending a lot of time at Michael’s, and both start to face that unsettling discovery that there might be more to their feelings towards each other than just mere friendship. Angie feels as if she is betraying her best friend by feeling desire of such ferocity towards Michael. And Michael who has vowed never to forget nor love any other woman except Billie finds himself torn apart by the strength of his desire to possess and be possessed by the woman who is slowly driving him insane with want. Though Michael wants nothing more than to ignore the feelings that Angie invokes and bury his head in the sand, the answering need that flares to life in Angie’s eyes proves to be his undoing every single time.

Sarah is an author who certainly gets everything right when it comes to developing lovable characters. She has that uncanny ability to deliver characters that we the readers can relate to, characters who are flawed, yet comes with redeeming qualities that just makes them seem so real and larger than life. For me, both Angie and Michael’s characters were equally appealing. Angie in my opinion is kindness itself, and she earned my love from the very beginning of the novel. Angie might be reserved when it comes to being openly affectionate, but she has a mighty tender spot for Billie and her family and that shines throughout the story, even way before she starts developing feelings for Michael. I loved how Angie seemed to be able to give, expecting nothing in return, even when she knows that the ultimate conclusion of a relationship with Michael might mean irreversible heartbreak for her.

Michael is such a delicious hero. The way Sarah brought him to life through Angie’s eyes, those things about an attractive man that we all notice and take a second look at coupled together with that innate sense of fairness and kindness deep inside of him makes him one of the most drool-worthy heroes I have read this year. I love a man who is larger than life, and that is exactly how I envisioned Michael as I read along. And let me tell you, Michael might seem a bit hesitant when it comes to taking the “plunge” with Angie, but when he does, oh boy does he do it well! 

The only thing that disappointed me a bit was the lack of an epilogue. There was so much angst in the book that the lump in my throat refused to go away each time I picked up the book. Even from chapter 1 itself I knew that Within Reach was going to end up breaking my heart a bit, but then I trusted Sarah enough to put it back together. The ending itself wasn’t bad, but I wanted something to keep with me, something to dream about a bit during the moments of semi-wakefulness that I go through when I am right about to fall asleep. And I wanted just a bit more for Angie which I know might not convey the message that I want to, but I wanted to see Michael and Angie’s happily ever after, a happily ever after worthy of someone like Angie.

Nevertheless, Within Reach was an amazing read, and Sarah Mayberry is an author that always never fails to deliver.

Recommended highly to fans of Sarah Mayberry, fans of widowed hero themed romances that love a good angst-ridden read!

Favorite Quotes

He finished up then shed his clothes and climbed into bed. Turning onto his side, he closed his eyes. As always as he drifted toward sleep, there was a small, forgetful moment where he slid his hand over to touch Billie’s back, instinctively seeking reassurance as he hovered on the brink.
As always, he found nothing but cold sheets.
A few minutes after that, he fell asleep.

He wasn’t sure who moved first, her or him. There was the thunk of her bag sliding down her arm to hit the floor, followed by the muted clank of her keys a split-second later, then he was pulling her into his arms and she was lifting her face to kiss him.
She tasted of salt and fresh air and life and he spread his hands across the small of her back and pulled her closer, need an urgent tattoo drumming through his blood. She felt so good, so strong and supple, and they fit together perfectly.

Her legs started to tremble and together they went down to the rug. Angie lay spread before him like an impossible offering and every thought, every memory, every consideration dissolved and there was only the need to be inside her, to lose himself in the slick warmth of her, to feel alive and to feel pleasure.
He stretched on top of her and her legs spread to accept him. He gripped himself and found her entrance. He slid inside her, into tight, wet heat. And then he really did lose his mind.

She watched as Michael stripped and walked toward the bed, his erection standing proud. The bed dipped as he got in the other side. She rolled toward him, and he pulled her into his arms. His skin was cool against hers, making her nipples bead. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed herself against him, offering him her heat.
Offering him everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin


Review: Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookherbestworstmistake
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Martin St Clair
Heroine: Violet Sutcliffe
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 5, 2012
Started On: May 4, 2012
Finished On: May 6, 2012

If you are a fan of Sarah Mayberry and her Blaze line novels, you must have come across Hot Island Nights which was released in September of 2010. In Hot Island Nights, Sarah leaves readers with a tantalizing glimpse into the relationship between Victoria and Martin and I for one was drawn towards it so much so that I mentioned in my review about wanting to read their own story. And finally, with Her Best Worst Mistake which turns out to be Sarah’s first self-pubbed story, she gives her die-hard fans the story of Martin and Violet and believe me, I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting story for the two of them.

Violet Sutcliffe and Martin St Clair tolerates each other’s presence for one reason alone. Their love for Violet’s best friend Elizabeth who happens to be Martin’s fiance is what keeps the claws sheathed behind a veneer of civility whenever they are around each other. Violet thinks Martin to be a bit stiff under the collar, someone who needs to loosen up a bit and live a little. Martin thinks Violet to be a bit too much, a bit too flashy and just a tad too much of everything. 

When Elizabeth leaves a floundering Martin behind in the wake of her realizing that her life is not going in a direction that she wants or needs, Violet is surprised by the feelings of sympathy and a riot of whole other emotions that cruises through her at the thought of Martin being all alone. While Violet battles with the unsettling feelings that seems to unravel deep inside of her all the while thinking that Martin despises her, Martin proves her wrong by turning up on her doorstep and leaves her reeling from the most explosive sexual encounter of her life.

Sarah definitely turns up the heat in this one. I for one have missed the heat she so effectively turns up in her Blaze books, not that I haven’t immensely enjoyed her Super Romance titles – I have. But, a girl needs a little bit of heat every now and then and in Her Best Worst Mistake Sarah gives us that and so much more with each encounter between Martin and Violet turning more explosive than the previous one. Don’t be lulled into thinking that its all about heat and explosions in this story. True to Sarah’s style, she gives readers two characters who have gone through their fair share of trouble in life to become the people they are today.

I loved, loved, loved Martin. I wanted to hug him and never let him go after reading the first couple of chapters. And my love for everything to do with Martin seemed to grow exponentially as the story continued. I wanted to be the one to ruffle his feathers, to make him lose that legendary cool and control of his. And when Violet does just that by merely walking into the same room as he is in; I felt like jumping out of my chair and shouting out “Hallelujah!” at the top of my voice. I was that invested in his character and the emotions that he invoked in me.

Violet was such a swell heroine. I loved her vivacious and bold nature right from the very start. Her loyalty towards her best friend is what keeps the guilt meter at an all time high when she is with Martin. But the attraction and the feelings of the more tender nature that courses through her when she is with Martin are ones not to be denied and I loved her for being true to those feelings, even when all the while conflicted with what she thinks is right and what she considers to be wrong.

The best part about the book was how well Sarah handles the crackling heat between Violet and Martin that they never even identify to be as such. I loved how realistically Sarah portrayed the turn of their relationship. I am always a reader who finds it a bit funny when two people who have such an explosive sexual chemistry right from the very start manages to just stay away from each other until the very last minute until the author is well and ready to deliver on all that tension. In my experience, if two people have that explosive a sexual attraction, it would be hard to just walk away when things tend to reach the point of no return pretty easily. And I loved Sarah for making Martin and Violet’s attraction just that – something I could identify with and loved from the very beginning.

If you have already read and enjoyed Hot Island Nights, I am sure you would have already grabbed your copy of Violet and Martin’s story and enjoyed it as much as I have. If you haven’t, don’t worry, you can still read Her Best Worst Mistake as a standalone. But reading the two books together makes for an awesome loosely tied series which I cannot recommend highly enough!

Explosive, beautiful and tender – a romance not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

Martin smiled, the slow curve of his mouth revealing a dimple in his left cheek.
Violet frowned, as she did every time she saw that dimple.
It didn’t belong on his face. It was as simple as that. Dimples were impish and mischievous. They spoke of laughter and pleasure, not three piece suits and pipes and slippers and cardigans with elbow patches.

“Why did you lift your top the other night in my office? Why did you flash your breasts at me like that?” he asked, his voice very low, his grey eyes intent on her.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. 
“Liar,” he said, and then he closed the distance between them and his hands were cupping her face and his mouth was lowering toward hers and her heart was beating so hard and fast it was a wonder it didn’t explode. 

“I’m sorry, I have to move. I have to. You’re so bloody tight. So good,” he groaned, his face distorted with need. 
He started to pump into her, long, powerful thrusts, the slap of flesh on flesh and the wet rush of their bodies moving together mingling with their ragged breathing. Everywhere she touched him he was hard as granite, as though every muscle in his body was straining toward completion. She’d never felt more desired, more wanted, more wanton or sexy in her life and she felt her own desire rising higher with every stroke.

Her perfume enveloped him as he reached for her. His hands smoothed over soft fabric before finding the warmth of her skin. She lifted her mouth to his and kissed him hungrily, greedily. 
She tasted so good. Like sin. Like every dirty thought he’d ever had. 

Purchase Links: Amazon | Smashwords


Review: More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookmorethanonenight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Superromance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rhys Andrew Walker
Heroine: Charlotte Long
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2012
Started On: February 4, 2012
Finished On: February 4, 2012

Trust Sarah Mayberry to take a plot that has practically been done to death in the world of romance and still give readers a story that is worth remembering. In my eyes, Sarah Mayberry is one of the few authors in the contemporary romance genre who can do no wrong. Each and every single story that I have read from her has always been memorable, and her latest release is no exception to the rule.

32 year old Charlotte (Charlie) Long leaves the army after 14 long years of service and is trying to find her place in civilian life. Her best friend Gina sees a cause for celebration her first night back and that is how she crosses paths with the handsome, charming and sexy Rhys Andrew Walker, who himself is celebrating the successful sealing of a business deal that means the world to him. Driven, determined and ambitious is what Rhys is all about, and when he sees Charlie and the spark and connection between them is an immediate and instantaneous one, Rhys convinces Charlie to indulge with him in one night of decadent passion.

However for Charlie, the light of the morning brings forth with a vengeance the insecurities that had been kept at bay in the darkness of the night and Charlie slips away, believing deep in her heart that someone as sinfully good looking as Rhys would never give her the time of the day. Eight weeks later the story continues, Charlie slowly and surely finding her footing in the uncertain waters that is civilian life. And then comes the scariest revelation of her life; that she is pregnant with Rhys’s baby.

More than One Night is a story that stands true to the remarkable talent that Sarah Mayberry shows whenever she puts pen to paper to create her vivid cast of characters and emotions that practically seeps through the pages. And in More than One Night I found a story that nearly had me in tears, a relationship that when it unfolded had me holding my breathe in just to see how Rhys and Charlie make their way through a situation fraught with the unknown and emotions that neither of them had never felt before.

Charlie is one of the most complex heroines I have encountered in the fact that she has so much pain and feelings of insecurity buried so deep inside of her. As a child, Charlie had learnt early on to keep her emotions in check, to show a calm and controlled front to the rest of the world. Having never received love or affection from her father, Charlie had set out to join the military as the last attempt at winning over his affections. But even that had not turned out as she had thought it would though the military had given her a sense of belonging she hadn’t ever felt before.

The pivotal moment in the story during which Charlie came out with all the fears and insecurities that had been bottled up deep inside of her for a lifetime, I seriously found myself with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat the size of a roadblock that refused to go away no matter how hard I tried. And I am not one to cry easily either at movies or over a book, and the fact that Charlie’s character invoked so much emotion from me surprised me all in a good way. Needless to say, I loved Charlie, her straightforward and pragmatic manner, her loyalty, the way she wants to do the right thing above everything else and the way she faces whatever challenge that she comes across with a strength and determination that astounded me at times.

It is a rare circumstance for me to gush about a heroine in a book and totally forget about the hero. Rhys’s character was what made everything deep inside of Charlie better and stronger in the end. Rhys is the type of man who focuses on what he wants, goes after it and succeeds in his attempts to win over the goals he sets in his life. But all those things that had seemed so important to him before suddenly takes a backseat when he discovers he is going to be a father, a news that has him reeling at first. But slowly and surely, Rhys finds that becoming a father with Charlie in the picture is exactly what he wants and needs, if only he could convince Charlie to let go, to trust in him and their newfound love for one another.

It was a thing of beauty to witness the phases that Charlie goes through in order to come out the triumphant one in the end. Rhys works his brand of magic on her, like a soothing salve on those wounds that had festered away for far too long. As I said before, the emotional impact of the story is one that completely sucker punched me, from the sexually charged scenes to the beautiful proposal at the end that had me smiling through all the emotions that had bombarded me from all corners for the better half of the story.

If you want a story that would completely draw you in, characters that feel real, and go through honest emotions to come out winners with a love that is that much more beautiful because of the journey they take towards the ultimate happily ever after, this one’s for you.

Favorite Quotes

He leaned closer and she swallowed the rest of her words as he pressed a kiss to her lips. He lifted his head slightly and looked into her eyes. She stared back at him, stunned, her heart thudding against her breastbone. He palmed the nape of her neck, and then he was kissing her again, his tongue sweeping into her mouth this time, turning her legs to jelly.
She pressed her body against his, her skin on fire, desire beating a tattoo through her veins. His tongue stroked hers gently, provocatively, and she reached out and gripped his shoulders with both hands.
After a long, long moment he drew back. “Come home with me?” he asked very quietly, his voice a low husk.
Dear God, I thought you’d never ask.

Just when she was about to scream with frustration he flexed his hips and slid inside her. Her body welcomed him as he buried himself to the hilt. She let out a broken little sob, almost tearful over how good it felt to be filled by him, how hard and thick and hot he felt inside her.
He started to move, and within seconds she’d found his rhythm. Every clumsy sexual encounter she’d ever had, every second of self-consciousness over her body or her own needs, every doubt she’d ever experienced went out the window as she gave herself over to the moment.

He pulled her close and kissed her the way he’d been wanting to for weeks. There was the smallest of hesitations then she kissed him back, her body straining toward his almost desperately. She tasted of salty tears and need and he tightened his arms around her, wanting to take away the pain he’d caused her, needing to make things right between them. 

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N| Harlequin


Review: All They Need by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookalltheyneed
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin SuperRomance
Publisher: Harlequin Publishers
Hero: Flynn Randall
Heroine: Melanie Porter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1, 2011
Started On: October 9, 2011
Finished On: October 12, 2011

All They Need is the much awaited latest release by my favorite Harlequin author Sarah Mayberry. This story is somewhat a bit different from the last two releases by Sarah Mayberry in the sense that this is less intense, a bit more mellow and slow moving, but nevertheless makes for a great read, the remarkable ease with which Sarah manages to draw in the reader once again evident in this one as well.

34 year old Flynn Randall comes from one of the richest families in Australia. A single child, Flynn is the type of hero that makes you want to curl into a comfy little ball and sigh over. I say this because Flynn has “honor” tattooed on his forehead for everyone to see. Filthy rich, handsome and charming he might be, but he is no arrogant hero who expects each and every female within his vicinity to swoon over him. Rather, he is the type who feels things deep inside, the kind of man who steps up when his family needs him to do so, the kind of man who does the right thing even if it hurts him deep inside to do so.

31 year old Melanie Porter is newly divorced and still recovering from the number her abusive marriage has done on her. Not your average heroine Mel might be with her build that makes her tower over the average female. But to Flynn, Mel has always held an appeal even when she had been off limits, though he had never acted on his attraction towards her then.

Making a vow to herself to never make herself that vulnerable towards another person again, Mel is more than surprised and a bit apprehensive to say the least when she discovers that she might not be immune to the charms of Flynn who makes her want to throw caution to the wind and indulge. The ease with which they fall into an easy friendship with the hint of just something more was certainly one of the best things about this story.

But six years of constant verbal abuse has left its mark on Mel and her feelings towards Flynn though strong continues to be tamped down with the memories of what it was like when she was married before. But Flynn knows a good thing when he sees it, and when for the first time in his life he falls in love; the kind of love that he has wanted to feel always, being a witness to the deep abiding love between his parents; Flynn knows he would never let Mel go, even if it meant giving up his dreams of marriage and children in the process.

Although this novel too delves into a topic that touches one deeply, i.e. Alzheimer’s disease, it wasn’t the depressing sort of read but rather those bits makes you thankful for the memories good and bad that linger on in your life. Sarah Mayberry always has that uncanny ability to delve into the heart of the matter and that’s what she does even with this novel, delivering those bits and pieces that makes you want to cry and then smile all at the same time.

The enduring love between Flynn’s parents makes one yearn for a love like theirs, a love that would no doubt withstand the devastating reality of Alzheimer’s disease on a marriage that has withstood 40 years of togetherness. How Flynn and Mel find their way towards each other is a slow moving one, one that I felt was indeed appropriate for a woman like Mel who had undergone so much pain, self-doubt, abuse and heartbreak before. But once the relationship makes the turn it has been waiting for ever since Flynn and Mel lay eyes on each other, I was pleasantly surprised by the red hot bite of sensuality that Sarah weaves into their relationship so cleverly, leaving me with a hot flash or two in the process.

Like I have said before, and at the cost of repeating myself, Sarah writes stories about “real” people, whose feelings and emotions you can certainly relate to, whose sorrows you feel deeply and whose victories and happily ever after you see through with happy tears in your eyes.

Recommended for fans of Harlequin Super Romances, fans of Sarah Mayberry and fans of slow moving and yet satisfying romances.

Favorite Quotes

She should have looked ridiculous, standing there wet and bedraggled in her silly underwear, but she looked magnificent. Like some kind of mythical goddess rising from the mists of time.
Statuesque, utterly feminine. Breathtaking.

She acted completely on instinct, closing the distance between them and wrapping her arms around him. He was unresponsive for a long beat, as though she’d taken him by surprise, then his arms went around her in turn.
Her breasts were pressed to his chest and every breath she took was filled with the smell of his aftershave but there was nothing sexual about their embrace. She was offering him a little comfort, and he was accepting it. It was as small and simple as that.

He was strong and warm and male and his mouth moved gently against hers, his kiss provocative and soothing at the same time. Her hands found his shoulders, her fingers gripping muscle and bone. She felt the brush of his tongue against her lips, then he was inside her, hot and wet and demanding, and a part of herself she’d pushed down deep inside came roaring to life.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Harlequin


ARC Review: One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookonegoodreason
Read with: Amazon Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Going Back, #33
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jon Adamson
Heroine: Gabriele Wade
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 26, 2011
Started On: July 5, 2011
Finished On: July 6, 2011

I am like a kid with a new stick of candy when it comes to books by Sarah Mayberry. I want to savor every emotion the book invokes, I get frustrated when anything takes me away from my indulgence and I am left with a feeling of melancholy once I am done, knowing that it would be quite sometime afterwards that I would get to indulge in a book by my favorite Harlequin author again.

The release of this book has also brought to light the fact that I am the worst possible stalker in the world. Ever since I read Sarah Mayberry’s last release earlier this year which features Tyler, younger brother of the hero Jon in this novel, I have been looking up various websites to see when and what her next release would be. Even then, somehow I managed to miss this title until I saw a review of the book from my friend Jill on Goodreads. You could probably imagine my reaction when this happened and lets just say that I was not a happy camper at all. LOL!

As I mentioned earlier, One Good Reason is tied with Sarah Mayberry’s last release The Last Goodbye. Jon Adamson is the older brother, the one who fled home as soon as he was able to and moved to Canada where he had owned his construction company and made a name for himself until his return back to Australia upon the death of his father. Quieter and more intense, Jon is a man who keeps all his emotions under wrap, control being his most important and coveted feature until he meets the prickly and independent to the boot Gabriele Wade (Gabby) who pricks and pokes into all his emotions until his control shreds to pieces.

Gabby works as the office manager at the T.A. Furnitures owned  by her ex-boyfriend Tyler who is now very happily married to the love of his life. Gabby had spent 3 years of her life with Tyler, wondering when he would open up to her, and finally walking away when she realized that Tyler would never change.

From the start, Gabby and Jon rub each other the wrong way, polite conversation a foreign concept for both of them when they are together. All this culminates in one of the most explosive desk smexing session that left me breathless, that tore apart both Gabby and Jon’s control to pieces, that somehow brings home the fact that for both Jon and Gabby, their encounter means more than a meaningless roll in the hay.

But Jon is a man who has his own demons to fight, the residue of a childhood spent with an abusive father, his hold on Jon still a deep rooted one even from beyond the grave. For Jon, trust and opening up himself doesn’t come easily and for Gabby who has once being through all this before, its like her worst nightmare come true all over again when her feelings are much more involved than the last time around.

What I love about Sarah Mayberry’s books is the fact that she writes about ‘real’ people with problems you can relate to. Honest emotions, fears and doubts are dealt with in a way that brings forth a lot of emotions of the good and bad kind and once you are done, you can’t help but want more.

Jon’s character is such an endearing one, his physique and the fact that he is wearing a god-damn tool belt on the cover earning him all plus points in spades. And Jon is much more than just a pretty face, described as a gentle giant in the book which pretty much sums him up, as beneath his tough exterior lies a heart that bleeds.  Gabby is a heroine who wormed her way into my heart because deep inside she wants Jon to be happy, for Jon to be able to move beyond the shackles that has bound him till now. Her independence, the fact that she is fiercely protective lends her character a charming facet that has landed her in my favorite heroines shelf.

One Good Reason is a book that deals with a difficult subject. Child abuse at the hands of those that should protect them from the evil that lurks in the rest of the world. The effects that still linger and the emotional scars left behind are all dealt with honesty earning this novel a corner from my favorite reads this year.

Recommended for ALL fans of contemporary romance.

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


Review: The Last Goodbye by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookthelastgoodbye
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Going Back, #30
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Tyler Adamson
Heroine: Ally Bishop
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 8, 2011
Started On: February 4, 2011
Finished On: February 5, 2011

Sarah Mayberry delivers on all accounts once again with this Harlequin Super Romance letting faithful readers of her delightful stories know that she definitely is an author that should remain on your auto-buy list when it comes to a good dose of contemporary romance, which just happens to be my favorite genre of romance. I have been keeping a close eye on the release date of this book since Harlequin always tends to release its books much earlier than the designated release date and it was just by chance that I happened to stumble upon this book, ready for download on the Harlequin website yesterday. Needless to say, 7 pages in, I was hooked line and sinker and nearly snarled in frustration every time something or the other took me away from the magic that Sarah Mayberry has woven with this beautiful story.

37 year old Tyler Adamson, owner of the largely successful T. A. Furniture Designs is a man haunted and tortured by the unpleasant memories of his childhood at the hands of his emotionally and physically abusive father Robert Adamson (Bob). Tyler and his elder brother Jon had never had a happy moment to reflect back upon and Tyler had followed in Jon’s footsteps and left home when he had barely turned 17 years old. It had only been a sense of guilt and obligation that had made Tyler visit his home in Woodend, a small Victorian town when his mother was alive. The day she had died, Tyler had said goodbye to his father as well and never looked back, until Ally walks into his life, all rightful indignation forcing Tyler to face the demons of his past.

33 year old Ally Bishop is a nomad at heart. Commitment phobic to the extreme, Ally is the unwanted child of an artist who had always been free spirited and flitted from one place to the other. Ally’s mother had discovered the fact that she was pregnant with Ally when it had been too late to do anything about the unwanted pregnancy. Ally had grown up, never having known her father with a mother who had been really too selfish to stop and think about the needs of a child and it had been up to Ally to mold herself even as a child into her mother’s lifestyle which has left its own sort of emotional scars on Ally. The author of the Dear Gertude column in the Melbourne Herald, Ally is a house sitter who occupies one home after the other, looking after other people’s homes for them which gives her free accommodation all over the country which suites her needs pretty well. Haunted by the thought that she is just like her mother, Ally shies away from relationships that makes her feel too much and which requires a commitment from her part until silver-eyed Tyler Adamson changes how she views the world once and for all.

It is when Ally house sits for her friend Wendy that she comes across Bob and rescues him when he collapses from stomach pain to be rushed into surgery for doctors to discover that Bob has cancer and that its a stage where they can do nothing more for him than keep him comfortable till his time comes. It is the fact that Bob is to face his death all alone that propels Ally to seek out Tyler, never really comprehending the can of worms that she was about to open with her good intentions.

It is a Tyler who is torn between doing what is right and seething with anger and unresolved issues that reluctantly goes to visit his father to say his goodbyes and give him a piece of his mind for what he and Jon went through at his hands. But what happens is the farthest thing from Tyler’s mind when he finds himself the caretaker of his father, who wants to go home to die. The only good thing Tyler finds amidst all the pain, grief and anger is the presence of Ally and her warm brown eyes that soothes his tortured soul unlike any other and her touch that starts a trail of fire deep within and comforts him at the same time.

This story encompasses complex relationships combined with the red hot passion that flares between two people who are as tortured and emotionally scarred as they come. The relationship if it can be called that between Tyler and his father played with all my emotions, making me want to rage at his father for the hell that he put his children through and at the same time made me watery eyed to think of what the cancer would be doing to his body, making him just a scared little man who must have had many a regret when he let out his last breath. It also made me want to be the fierce protector of Tyler and Jon, who makes an appearance very late in the book and just begs for his story to be told because I have a feeling he would make a great, drool worthy hero for a romance.

I loved a lot of things about this story. The way it reeled me in from page 1 and refused to let go the hold it had on all my emotions was what I loved best about this story. It makes you root for every single person in the story, makes you want  to get to know them, and even makes you shed a reluctant tear or two for the abusive father towards the end. It brings home a lot of hard truths, to do good unto others during the short life that you live because you never know how much time you really have left to walk this Earth.

I loved both Tyler and Ally and deem them just perfect for each other. Ally the nomad who craves stability and a home of her own without even knowing about it and Tyler the man who is ready to provide all of this for her and is understanding to the max without crowding her, who finds his own home & ultimate happiness in Ally’s welcoming arms just made this story a wonderful one all around.

If you want a contemporary romance  that grabs you right from the very start, a romance that delivers on all fronts and makes you cry towards the end, this one’s for you!

Favorite Quotes

She tasted like chocolate, hot and dark and mysterious. Her tongue slid along his, tentatively at first, then with more confidence. He angled his body toward her, leaning closer, wanting more. She gave an encouraging little moan, her hands sliding to his shoulders.
Heat fired in his belly as he felt the weight of her breasts against his chest and inhaled her scent. Vanilla and cloves, sweet and exotic. Their tongues slid and teased, her hunger matching his.

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



Review: Below The Belt by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookbelowthebelt
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Blaze #404
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Cooper Fitzgerald
Heroine: Jamie Sawyer
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 1, 2008
Started On: December 26, 2010
Finished On: December 28, 2010

Though I have enjoyed reading a couple of sports themed romances (they have been far and few in between) this is the first of its kind for me. Even being not much of a sports buff in reality this book turned out to be delightfully good, no doubt a testament to Sarah Mayberry’s extremely talented writing abilities.

34 years old Cooper “The Fist” Fitzgerald is a heavyweight boxer who has held the position of being the best in the world of heavyweight boxing for 4 straight years before he had been forced to retire owing to a detached retina in his left eye which had occurred during his last fight. Doctors had given him a choice, either continue to fight and lose his eyesight or retire. Being the smart and driven man that Cooper is he had opted to go with the latter and open up his own fighter’s gym and take on fighters to train. Cooper’s childhood had been far from idyllic as he had grown up in a destitute household with a heroine addict for a mother and her constant string of abusive boyfriends who had taken to beating the shit out of Cooper whenever possible until he had left home opting to live homeless rather than subject himself to the constant abuse. At the age of sixteen Cooper had been discovered by the man who had trained and turned him into what he is today and he has never looked back since.

27  year old Jamie Sawyer is the daughter of the infamous Jack Sawyer who had held the title of the heavyweight fighting championship for five years before retiring only to make an ill fated comeback to be charged with fraud for throwing a fight. Jamie who had always worshiped the very ground her father had walked on, in whose eyes he could do no wrong had been devastated by the shock and betrayal that had run its course through her. Jamie had watched as her grandfather who had been a legend himself in the boxing world be shunned by those he considered his friends and died a little inside as she watched the toll it had taken on him. The final straw had come when her father had committed suicide leaving Jamie clutching at straws to make ends meet. And when her grandfather had had a heart attack following his son’s suicide, Jamie had promised her grandfather that she would erase the shame her father had brought on the Sawyer name if its the last thing she did. So Jamie had given up her training in naturopathy, dropped out of Tae Kwon Do club she was so good at and started training in the boxing ring. Sharing a ratty apartment with her grandfather and working long hours as a maid in one of the big hotels in the city, Jamie is a determined and feisty woman who sets her heart on obtaining Cooper as her trainer.

Cooper comes across Jamie at his friend Ray Marshall’s place when he approaches Ray to join his fighter’s gym. At first mistaking her for a housemaid, Cooper is nevertheless struck by instant lust at the sight of Jamie’s hard, fit and toned body in front of him. When Cooper finds out that the reason Jamie is there is to lure him into taking her on as fighter in his gym Cooper flat-out refuses to take her on, not because he is a male chauvinist but because he doesn’t believe that Jamie is serious about fighting and that she has what it takes. And even then, it doesn’t stop him from going to see Jamie fight, identifying the beauty of her moves and finally giving in and taking her on, not understanding the need that drives Jamie.

What takes both Jamie and Cooper unawares is the red hot lust that seizes them and clutches both of them in its throes refusing to let go. Being the commitment phobic logical thinking female Jamie is, she proposes that she and Cooper give in to the undeniable attraction between them so that they can both get each other out of their systems. Wary of even the slightest sign of anything other than just a physical connection, Jamie is not at all prepared for it when Cooper starts falling for her and even lets Cooper walk out of her life as her trainer only to be forced by the events that follow to finally acknowledge that Cooper had invaded into her heart without her knowledge. But even then, Jamie’s driving need to succeed for all the wrong reasons in the fighting world nearly drives these two halves of one soul apart making this a very satisfying read on all fronts.


  1. Jamie Sawyer. She is one of the most different heroines that I have come across in the romance world and because of that I loved her to bits. She is strong, feisty, stubborn, determined to win at all costs, loyal to a fault and on top of all that she is so very vulnerable at the very core. But she hides her vulnerability from the rest of the world with the tough facade that she puts up, and it works most of the time that is until Cooper comes into the picture and all that just crashes down at her feet leaving her with no choice but to surrender her heart, body and soul to the one man who would never betray her trust. I liked the fact that Jamie didn’t just become a sweetly submissive woman overnight shedding her tortured soul to become a woman with a sunny personality and smiles all around. Rather she took her time getting there and even then stayed true to her self which is what eventually makes me her biggest fan all around.
  2. Cooper. He is hot, sinfully handsome, wickedly intense and oh my lordy when he is turned on he is sex personified. Cooper’s most endearing quality is his ability to love Jamie for who she is, the way he cherishes her and stands beside her in everything she wants to achieve in this world. Though it hurts something fierce in him to watch Jamie get battered up in the ring, he understands the fire driving Jamie to succeed and win big and at the same time he loves her enough not to give up when Jamie is being too stubborn for her own good. I totally and irrevocably heart Cooper  to bits.
  3. The true Blaze style sensuality in the story. This book packs a punch in the sensuality department and gives the reader all the right kind of tingles in all the right places in the style that I have come to recognize that is just uniquely Sarah Mayberry. From the first blazing hot smexing session that nearly knocked my breathe out to the slow paced actual act itself had me sighing, fanning myself and mooning all over Cooper and his well honed muscles. *gulp*
  4. Mmm.. I totally love the cover. Just wanna run my hands all over that slick, hot body of Cooper’s. *wink*
  5. And I absolutely loved the fact that this story kept me entertained, willing me to turn the pages that didn’t bog me down with unnecessary details of the fighting and kickboxing world and yet still managed to teach me a thing or two about it. As I said at the beginning of the review, Sarah Mayberry is so very talented and this story too is a testament to the fact. Makes me wonder why I kept this in my TBR pile for as long as I did now. *scratches head*

Dislikes: None.

Favorite Quotes

He didn’t want to want her. She didn’t want to want him. But he did, and she did. And if Dean didn’t do the trick tonight, Jamie honestly had no idea how to handle the situation. Human desire was a powerful thing. It had ruined marriages, brought down governments, destroyed dynasties. How in the hell was she supposed to stay strong when she saw the man every day? When he touched her time after time in the course of their work? When –
She caught movement out of the corners of her eyes and nearly groaned with frustration. He was peeling his tank top off, leaving his chest bare.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
She forgot to breathe for a moment as he balled his top in his hand and mopped his sweaty chest with it. He was beautiful. Great pecs, amazing abs, those big shoulders. Lucky she was already panting. As it was, she could barely keep her eyes off him.

“I’m not starting my training career by screwing one of my fighters,” he said.
Frustration and need welled up inside her. She knew he wanted her as much as she wanted him. She was so sure that this was what they needed – the release of it, the freedom of it.
She took a last step forward, so close that she could feel the heat coming off his body, so close that her nipples brushed his chest.
“You’re really going to let this go to waste?” she asked, holding his eyes as she slid a hand onto the long, thick ridge straining against the fabric of his shorts.
He felt so big and hard in her hand she almost purred with anticipation.
His jaw tightened as she gripped him through his shorts and rubbed her hand up and down his shaft, once, twice, maintaining eye contact all the while.
He swore and reached for her, hauling her against him and angling her head as he took her mouth in a fierce, no-holds-barred kiss.

“I want to make sure you’re not lying to me,” he said.
She stopped resisting and he slid both hands up to cup her face. He used the pads of his thumbs to survey her features with infinite tenderness, assessing her swollen lip, tracing the cut on her nose, mapping the puffiness around her eye.
“Sweetheart,” he said his voice deep with regret. “Sweet Jamie.”
His touch was so gentle, his concern for her so evident. Wet heat burned at the back of her eyes. The first tear slid hotly onto her cheek and splashed onto his chest.
“Jamie,” he said softly again, then he tugged her closer so that he could kiss her.
It was her undoing, before she knew it, tears were shuddering out of her and he’d pulled her down beside him on the bed to hold her tight.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of sports-themed romances.
  2. Fans of Sarah Mayberry.
  3. Fans of the Harlequin Blaze line.

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



Review: The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookthebestlaidplans
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Super Romance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Stone
Heroine: Alexander Knight
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 9, 2010
Started On: November 2, 2010
Finished On: November 3, 2010

Yes, Sarah Mayberry has done it yet once again, stringing all my emotions taut enough to form a permanent lump in my throat which refused to melt away until I read the beautifully done epilogue which was just sheer perfection. Reminds me why even though this title’s release date was said to be the 11th of this month, when I found out that the Kindle version was already available, I basically put everything else on hold and grabbed myself a copy – knowing that I would be safe in Ms. Mayberry’s hands. Sigh! And I can’t wait for her next book though I am still reeling from the remnants of emotions left over from this one.

The Hero: Ethan Stone or Pretty Boy as his brother Derek calls him is a man so scarred by the immense betrayal that his ex-wife Cassie had left him reeling in after she had walked out on 12 years of being together, 8 of which they had been married that Ethan has lost his faith in the concept of marriage and happily ever afters with anyone else. At the age of 42, Ethan is one of the youngest partners of Wallingsworth & Kent and a family lawyer that makes him a witness to the ugly side of people who have sworn to love till death do them apart, which makes him further wary of trying to start anything serious with a woman. Ethan’s younger brother Derek and his wife Kay together with their children Tim and Jamie is the closest to the family life that Ethan so badly craves even now during unguarded moments. Described as being tall, dark and handsome with a fallen angel’s face and dark blue eyes, Ethan sets many a female heart aflutter wherever he goes. His one vice is his love for good food and wine which is a constant source of amusement with his family, Ethan is a man who cooks to relieve stress – and oh boy, can he cook! Now why can’t we ever land someone like him! Sigh!!

The Heroine: Alexander Knight (Alex) or slow poke as Ethan calls her is also one of the youngest partners at Wallingsworth & Kent and one of the best corporate lawyers around. Being calm, cool and efficient with whatever Alex chooses to do has been her motto in all the hardships that her life had dealt her. Growing up never knowing her father, Alex had just been 12 years old when her mother Rachel Knight had had an accident fracturing her skull which had left her needing constant care and attention which had turned the tables around on the lone parent and child. But a determined Alex had seen it through and cared for her mother until her imminent death and then put herself through law school to land a partnership at one of the most prestigious law firms in Melbourne a mere seven years after graduation. With jaw length dark hair, wide mouth and eyes too large to be conventional Alex too has had her fair share of betrayal from Jacob, the man she had lived 7 years of her life with, hoping that his initial dislike at the matter of having kids together would fade away with time until the topic had come to be a matter of discontentment and anger between them until Jacob had left her life 18 months ago.

Storyline: It is when Alex runs into Jacob with a baby in his arms, the Jacob who had even refused to discuss the possibility of having a child with her that stuns Alex into thinking about the best years of her life wasted with a man who hadn’t really loved her enough to want to share everything with her. And when it hits too close to home that the family and children that she has so badly craved for all her life might not happen with her eggs dying up on her in a couple of years, Alex is driven to do what she always does – take charge of her life and turn it around and work for what she wants. When in a moment of weakness Alex confesses all of this to her partner and racquetball buddy and the star of her crush Ethan, everything starts to change. Knowing that meeting someone, dating them and finally being able to broach the subject of children and the possibility of having kids together would take more time from her than she has, Alex does the only thing left to do – contact a sperm bank and decides to become a single mother, a fact Ethan learns about which propels him to offer himself up as the sperm donor.

The First Encounter: There is no part in the story that mentions how and what happened when Ethan and Alex had first met, but rather describes the moment that Alex had first seen Ethan walking towards her with the senior partners at her law firm after being lured into working for Wallingsworth & Kent. Something deep inside her had fluttered at the mere sight of him and in her heart had called out “Hello heartbreaker”.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

Awareness between hero and heroine: Though both Ethan and Alex acknowledge the fact that they both find the other attractive, neither Ethan nor Alex feels inclined enough to mess up the friendship between them by making things complicated by wanting more from the other. Ethan had instinctively known that Alex deserves much more than he is willing to offer and works hard to keep things on a platonic level between the two. And though Alex knows that Ethan is the most handsome and compelling man she has ever met, Alex is a woman who is far too practical to throw herself at a man who she feels she is better off being friends with.

The turning point: When Alex breaks down in front of Ethan and Ethan is witness to the deep yearning in her voice as Alex talks about the babies and the family that she so wants, something inside Ethan refuses to let him forget but rather taps into his long locked away desires for a family of his own. But marriage and relationships are not for Ethan and he proposes the next best thing, he would provide the sperm for his and Alex’s baby and take an active role in his child’s life and plans it in such a way that only two lawyers can. But the best laid plans as always have a way of backfiring on them in the best possible way in the end.

Ending: It wasn’t by any means a smooth road to happily ever after for these two. Though Alex acknowledges the fact that she has fallen completely in love with Ethan and Ethan confesses to falling for Alex as well, there are still obstacles between them, namely the deep emotional scars within Ethan that has to heal before he is able to make a full commitment to the one woman who means everything to him. I just loved the ending of this story. *sniffles*

Likes: One of the first things that drew this book to me (apart from it being a story by one of my favorite Harlequin authors of course) was the beautiful cover of this novel. The cover just touches something deep inside of me, which depicts a scene from the novel before things get complicated between Alex and Ethan. I just love the way Ethan is bending towards Alex as if to whisper sweet nothings in her ear (a gal can hope always *wink*). The next thing that drew me in was the depth of character development in this story. Ms. Mayberry always does a splendid job with her characters that draws you in right from the very beginning of the story. And she has once again proved to me why I just adore her books. I also loved the fact that the obstacles that both Ethan and Alex faced in attaining their happily ever after wasn’t solved with a quick rip of the band-aid off the wound that has been festering inside Ethan for years. Just loved Ethan from his head to foot and ahem all that in between. I just wanted to hug him and face his ex-wife with a sword of my own whilst I was at it! Yes, fiercely protective I am of my Ethan!

Dislikes: I was a bit disappointed with the lack of steam between Alex and Ethan in the 1st half of the book though it totally goes with their characters and the story that unfolded. But I just had a craving to see Ethan lose all control for Alex and just give me something to sigh and moon over in between!

Recommended for: Those who love Harlequin romances, Ms. Mayberry would never steer you wrong though if you are looking for hot and frequent lovin’ you aren’t going to find it in this one. Just enough emotion to punch you in the gut!

Favorite Quotes

“Idiot,” he said.
Then he lowered his head and kissed her once, very hard, on the mouth.
He looked as surprised as she was when he lifted his head. For a moment they stared at each other, then Ethan’s gaze slid to her mouth again.
“Alex,” he said so quietly she almost didn’t hear him.
He lowered his head again. This time his lips were gentle on hers, the pressure more a question than an expression of frustration. For a moment they stood together, neither of them moving, joined only by their mouths and his hand on her arm. Then she parted her lips the tiniest fraction. The merest hint of an invitation. He sighed and slid his hands to the nape of her neck and opened his mouth over hers.

Ethan found him in the kitchen, pouring himself a more conservative Scotch. He met his brother’s eyes and took a deep breath.
“I appreciate the concern but I’m fine,” he said.
Something warm and wet fell onto his hand. He looked down at it. It took him a moment to understand that he was crying. He put down his glass.
“Jesus,” Derek said, and then his brother’s arms were closing around him and he was being held tightly and couldn’t keep the rest of the tears from falling.
He fought them every step of the way until Derek gave him a shake.
“Cry you big dickhead. It won’t kill you.”

When is the next title from Ms. Mayberry going to be out? I so want it, like now?

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