Review: The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Lady Sherlock, #4
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Lord Ingram Ashburton
Heroine: Charlotte Holmes
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: October 15, 2019
Started On: April 27, 2020
Finished On: April 29, 2020

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas is the much awaited fourth installment in the Lady Sherlock series. This time around, Charlotte Holmes and her ragtag band embarks on a journey to find a lost piece of art for a former lover of Mrs. Watson’s, who is being blackmailed.

The third book saw Lord Ingram Ashburton and Charlotte coming together as lovers, but alas, only as a ploy to deceive the villain into playing right into their hands. Ingram is adamant that he would not take advantage of Charlotte in that sense, even if she is more than willing to be taken advantage of.

Lord Ingram’s life revolves around taking care his two children of whom he is now the sole parent of. While he deals with the unwanted and unwarranted affections of a governess, he must also deal with his mixed feelings when it comes to Charlotte, which has always been the case when it comes to her.

While I am not much of a fan of cat-burglar variety of mysteries, I still enjoyed this for the most part, with Charlotte and her accomplices donning disguises to infiltrate a prestigious household in pursuit of the lost artwork. What I particularly did not care for was the fact that Ingram and Charlotte’s arc takes backstage to all that is central to the plot of the story.

However, at the same time, there are subtle shifts happening between Ingram and Charlotte in terms of how Charlotte starts viewing Ingram and the prospect of a more permanent future between the two. But then again, I have my doubts when it comes to how Charlotte will fare with Ingram’s children, who need a mother as well. Which was for the main part what Ingram also has mixed feelings about when it came to the governess plot in the story.

Finally, this had bits and pieces to the story which sounded so preachy in terms of women’s rights, colonialism, gender equality etc. I am all for messaging done right and properly in a story, but for me, when stories start sounding like a women’s rights leaflet, that tends to bore me to tears. I kind of got fed up of reading stories by Courtney Milan because of the very reason.

I find it quite odd when authors go against the realities of the fabric of society at that point in time in which the story is taking place and flesh out out of place aspects of characters that seems far fetched for the time. I am all for strong heroines who defy the conventions, but at the same time, one must be realistic about what one is crafting and presenting to the readers.

Recommended for fans of the Lady Sherlock series.

Final Verdict: The Art of Theft moves at a slow pace for the most part, while the other half sounds overly preachy at times, along with muted shifts taking place between the main protagonists.

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Review: The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Lady Sherlock, #3
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Lord Ingram Ashburton
Heroine: Charlotte Holmes
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: October 02, 2018
Started On: April 26, 2020
Finished On: April 27, 2020

The third installment in the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas, i.e. The Hollow of Fear, begins where the second book ends, and continues several months after the fact, with Lord Ingram Ashburton being implicated in the murder of his estranged wife. For the first time since the series started, readers get to see Charlotte Holmes “emotionally” affected in a way she never has been before, even going as far as to lose her appetite for her beloved cakes and desserts.

As the story continues, readers like myself who covet Ms. Thomas’ romance novels are rewarded with just barely enough entanglements of the nature taking place between Lord Ingram and Charlotte. There is so much push and pull factor happening when it comes to Ingram and Charlotte. There is much left unsaid, much yearning, and the desire between the two at times is almost a palpable thing. For someone like Charlotte who lives inside her mind most of the time, it is rather intriguing to see Lord Ingram through her eyes, the way she views his character, their shared history, and the parts of his life that are far removed from hers.

The ending as always, “surprised” me the with who the villain turned out to be. Having watched enough movies and TV series based on the character of Sherlock Holmes, you kind of tend to think along the lines of wo would be the most unlikely villain of all.

I liked The Hollow of Fear better than the first two books, perhaps because the characters themselves are being fleshed out more through each installment and of course there is the fact that things “progress” between Lord Ingram and Charlotte in a way that had me on tenterhooks. I would always look for romance in whatever Ms. Holmes writes, and I guess I am a glutton for punishment in the way I seek out the tidbits that hints as much when it comes to Lord Ingram and Charlotte.

Though at times I wished for the story to be less intensive in terms of dialogue and included more on actual investigations, I did understand partly why the books are crafted as such. For the most part, these plots are centered around the ingenuity or cleverness and the mind games that play out based on Charlotte’s superior powers of deduction.

Recommended for fans of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and fans of Sherry Thomas.

Final Verdict: The Hollow of Fear brings important milestones to life when it comes to Charlotte and Lord Ingram. Enjoyed the twists and turns that heralded the end of this installment.

Favorite Quotes

He did not move again. Not because he might startle her—she had ever been imperturbable in these matters. But because he was startled. He had thought he knew everything there was to know about his desire. Had considered it, so long fettered and trammeled, as tame, or at least manageable.
When it had always been feral. Primal.
Her lips touched his nape, just above the rim of his collar. He spun around, cupped her face, and kissed her on the mouth, a kiss that he might never be able to stop.

He looked at her. She smoothed the back of a spoon across the jam glaze on top of the tart, returning his gaze. He stood very still—no fidgeting for him. But in the rise and fall of his chest there was agitation. Inquietude.
“Why are you nervous?”
He hesitated. “You make me nervous.”
“Why?” She was not nervous at all. “You must have done this hundreds of times—at least.”
“Not with you.”

“I have much to learn,” she said happily. “I wonder if Mrs. Watson can impart any wisdom.”
Good God. “How about I tell you exactly what I like?”
“Really?” She batted her eyelashes at him, needlessly long lashes that would have been a lethal asset had she any interest in flirting. “I’m astonished, my lord. You never tell me anything except what you don’t like.”
“In that case . . .” He placed his lips against her ear and whispered for some time.
When he pulled back, her eyes were slightly glazed. “I was rather hoping, given how starchy you are in public, that in private you might be a man of varied and somewhat depraved tastes. I must say I’m not disappointed.”

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Review: A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Lady Sherlock, #2
Publisher: Penguin Group
Hero: Lord Ingram
Heroine: Charlotte Holmes
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: September 05, 2017
Started On: August 01, 2019
Finished On: April 25, 2020

A Conspiracy in Belgravia is book two in the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. I started on the second installment right after I finished the debut book, A Study in Scarlet Women in 2019. Somehow I couldn’t seem to make headway and decided to return to the story later. Second attempt proved to be successful and I have got to admit that by the time I was done, I was warming up to all the characters that emerges from different corners of the story, making this enjoyable an experience.

Picking up right where the first book ended, A Conspiracy in Belgravia brings Lord Ingram’s wife to Charlotte Holme’s doorstep, without of course knowing the true face behind the identity of Sherlock Holmes. Charlotte is not unnerved by the fact, as most in her position would have been, in going behind the back of her friend and/or the only man that Charlotte has ever found herself wanting in her entire life, in order to do her job this time around.

Charlotte is different in the way her mind works, the curiosity within her, and the way she views the entire world. With a penchant for desserts and cakes, which is perhaps her only vice so to speak apart from Lord Ingram (or so one can hope), Charlotte breaks convention in her bid to leave the confining world of her familial home. Solving mysteries is her thing, the more complex they are, the better. And thus she embarks on finding Lady Ingram’s “beau”, the events culminating in the most surprising of twists towards the end.

I liked A Conspiracy in Belgravia better than the first book in the series, and I guess it has got something to do with the fact that I have started to take a liking towards most of the characters in the series, with Lord Ingram being my favorite, of course. There is no denying the fact that I would rather have Ms. Thomas writing historical and/or contemporary romances than mysteries. But a girl must do what she must, and being the ardent fan of Ms. Thomas’ work that I am, I couldn’t stay away from this series even though I wanted to, just as a way of silently protesting the lack of romance novels published by Ms. Thomas.

Anyhow, even though some of the cleverness in the book sometimes eludes me (I am not really good at mind games nor solving puzzles), I did enjoy reading between the lines in terms of the connection that exists between Lord Ingram and Charlotte that grows stronger with each installment, together with the different facets of the secondary characters that are explored as the series moves forward.

Recommended for fans of quirky heroines who are brilliant and social misfits. Charlotte Holmes quite takes the cake on that one.

Final Verdict: The stunning revelation towards the end is what hooked me the most. A Conspiracy in Belgravia would be a definite hit with those who love a multi-layered mystery.

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Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-Bookastudyinscarletwomen
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Lady Sherlock, #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Hero: Charlotte Holmes
Heroine: Ingram Ashburton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 18, 2016
Started On: July 26, 2019
Finished On: August 01, 2019

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas is a novel that I had been studiously avoiding for a while. All because I am still “mad” at Sherry Thomas, one of the most evocative voices in the romance genre, for not writing romances anymore.

In all fairness, Sherry Thomas is a perfectionist (as most who are brilliant usually tend to be), and she has answered questions on Twitter as to why she has not published a romance title in ages! Something which I begrudgingly understand as well. Doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. Either way, I succumbed, because lets face it, novels by Sherry Thomas are gold and that is how I ended up reading the debut novel of the Lady Sherlock series.

Sherlock Holmes is a character that has fueled imaginations of many a writer and TV adaptations as well. Bringing that fine twist to Sherlock’s character, Sherry Thomas delivers readers with a female Sherlock Holmes, aka Charlotte Holmes. Charlotte who has always been different, even as a child, a curiosity that had driven her to different depths in terms of inquisitiveness in comparison to most. Charlotte who is also beautiful, has a penchant for food and a sweet tooth (if one cannot relate to that, I forever deem you as a lost cause), and serene in a way that makes one feel that Charlotte is a placid pond, with still waters that run really deep.

25 years old and the youngest of four sisters, Charlotte commits the ultimate sin that any woman of her time could, and that is how in a way her career as “Sherlock Holmes” sets off. Setting out on her own, finding her own footing even amidst all the precarious pitfalls in society that awaited women, especially in the 1800’s, and how everything comes together towards the end proved to be delightful on many fronts.

Tightly woven together  within the mystery elements is the story of Lord Ingram and Charlotte, Ingram who is the scion of a ducal family and married. There is a deep reservoir of history between Ingram and Charlotte that just practically leaps off the pages. I guess being the romantic that I am, I was more deeply engrossed and riveted by the riot of emotions that Sherry Thomas managed to pull off of every scene in which these two came together.

Lord Ingram fascinated me on so many levels. That control of his just makes me want to see it all shot wayward, just because (because I am wicked that way). The state of affairs between Charlotte and Ingram and the delicious possibilities therein, the angst, and the pain – reminded me of every other angst-filled romance that filled me with  longing, all in a good way of course. The elements of mystery while intriguing, lost me a little in between – some plots I have determined, are just too smart for this brain of mine.

In short, I enjoyed the debut book of the Lady Sherlock series and of course would be coming back for more. But with a little pout of course, reserved for Sherry Thomas, all because I need my romance fix from her!

Recommended for folks who love a good mystery and a strong and uniquely crafted female lead.

Final Verdict: A Study in Scarlet Women is a novel that carries itself wonderfully when it comes to rich characterization and laying down the groundwork for the Lady Sherlock series.

Favorite Quotes

“And I only had you followed until you became Mrs. Watson’s companion. After that it was all Mrs. Marbleton, or I should say, Mrs. Mo—”
She kissed him.
He stood stock-still for a moment. Then he yanked her to him, cupped her face, and kissed her back with the force of Zeus’s thunderbolts striking ground.
Sweet. Bitter. Pleasure. Pain. And then only fierce, mindless sensations, only heat and electricity.

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Review: The One in My Heart by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-booktheoneinmyheart
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Bennett Oliver Stuart Somerset
Heroine: Evangeline Canterbury
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 20, 2015
Started On: August 22, 2015
Finished On: August 28, 2015

“Praise the Lord,” he murmured, slipping off my undies, “for a woman who can bring me to my knees.”

The One in My Heart is Sherry Thomas’ first foray into the world of contemporary romance. Written in the first person, The One in My Heart is a novel that firmly entrenches itself in the reader’s heart as you go deeper into the story. If you have read any of my reviews on Ms. Thomas’ historical romances, you’d know that I always praise her for her ability to write stories in such poetic prose – there is no other way to describe what her words does to you. They just flow through you, become one with you, as if you have been waiting your whole life for those words to come to you.

The One in My Heart starts on a dark stormy night, when Evangeline Canterbury, while walking home, altogether too depressed for words, runs into the enigmatic, charming and handsome Dr. Bennett Oliver Stuart Somerset. What happens in the next couple of hours is a connection of the instantaneous variety, the kind that sears through the walls of reserved indifference on the part of Evangeline.

Months later, Evangeline encounters the good doctor again, only to be persuaded to help him in a scheme to get back into the good graces of his family, a family he had walked away from in the pursuit of the only woman who had owned his heart. Evangeline knows that when it comes to Bennett, that her heart is in serious jeopardy of falling, and falling hard. The one thing Evangeline has always evaded is getting too close to anyone who could hurt her because life had taught her that in abundance.

What follows is as delicious as it is heartbreaking and reaffirming. Ms. Thomas takes you on a journey of the type that is not easy to forget, that just consumes you as a whole. I couldn’t get enough of Evangeline and Bennett once I got into the story, nor would my stomach settle down from the nervous anticipation of the ultimate destruction of their non-relationship relationship when it happened. A good romance is one where all your emotions are involved and there is no holding back. And Ms. Thomas delivered just that with The One in My Heart.

The One in My Heart has a bit of a slow start to it. But 2-3 chapters in, and bam, you are hooked, line & sinker & there’s no turning back. The infamous Sherry Thomas magic was present in spades in this one. Being her first & only contemporary romance to-date, I’d say Ms. Thomas definitely has had zero issues in transitioning from the historical genre to the contemporary. A job well done, I must heartily admit.

One thing that surprised me though, was the first person take of the story. None of her historical romances are told in the first person, & yet Ms. Thomas made this work too. Though I truly wanted to get inside the mind of the charmingly sexy Bennett, Ms. Thomas did an excellent job of making the reader not feel too cheated out on in that aspect.When Bennett laid out his side of the story, when everything clicked so well in that a-ha! moment, that was when I truly felt my heart quake inside my chest.

Bennett totally invaded my heart & soul, ravaged my mind & left it all muddled with all the effortless charm and sexy he brought to the story. If there’s anything that makes a girl salivate over a romance is a hero presented well, a hero that can turn your half-hearted “no” to a complete “Oh my God yes!” in a heartbeat. When Bennett pushed Evangeline against the wall and had his way with her, this just mere hours after their first encounter, well, that was my “you had me at hello” moment when it came to him. With his penchant for older women & tendency to fall in love at first sight, well, lets just say that Bennett can turn up on my doorstep any day with just his trench coat on & nothing else. Well, a girl can always dream, can’t she? A hero who is so beautifully portrayed as you sink deeper into the story, that you can’t help but sigh endlessly over his character. Yes ladies, Bennett is that salivation worthy!

Evangeline was the tough cookie in this novel. But she was just as endearing, especially with her high wall of reinforced steel guarding her vulnerabilities & emotions, adept at playing dodge with the messier aspects of relationships. Evangeline actually prefers her existence the way it is, but then Bennett had to enter into it, entice her into saying yes to being his fake girlfriend and before she knew it, she’d fallen head over heels for the man. The fact that Bennett loved Evangeline too much to not let her hide behind barriers, to shake her out of the contentment she seeks in never showing her true self to anyone, made me love him just more. Evangeline’s attempts to thwart all efforts by Bennett to let him in was heartbreaking to watch, but I think that was exactly the jolt she needed to really face her past, exorcise the ghosts and move on.

Loved the secondary characters, the little tidbits about them that made the story that much better & enticing. I could’ve kept on reading and reading about Bennett & Evangeline, but like everything else that is good and beautiful, the end did come. A beautifully fitting end to an otherwise golf-sized-lumps-in-your throat variety of story. Icing on the cake was the fact that this story is very loosely tied to one of the most emotional historical romances from Ms. Thomas that I’ve read & reviewed to date; Private Arrangements. I continually find myself amazed at Ms. Thomas’ ability to make the unworkable work. Private Arrangements has such a storyline. The One in My Heart has the other woman done to a T, but yet, it doesn’t leave you feeling like the heroine got second helpings when it came to the hero, nor did it paint his first love as a villainous harlot that you absolutely had to hate. Absolute genius is Sherry Thomas!

Ms. Thomas definitely proved to be a quick study when it came to her first contemporary romance. Nothing short of splendid! Absolutely worth your time. Highly recommended.

Final Verdict: Beautiful in its prose & darkly emotional; The One in My Heart will completely & utterly ruin you!

Favorite Quotes

I panted, the sound primal. Animal.
He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it aside, revealing a runner’s build: strong shoulders, slim waist, beautifully cut abdomen.
I closed my eyes for a moment, overcome by lust. When I opened them again, it was to the sight of my hand on his upper arm. And then I did something that surprised me: I leaned in and nipped his shoulder.
He grunted. I found myself pressed hard against the wall, his hand between my thighs. For a moment I thought he’d be rough, but he touched me lightly, delicious little caresses at just the right places.
“Yes,” I whimpered. “Yes.”

“You see this?” he asked as he laid me down on the chaise. “When I come back from thirty hours in the hospital, I don’t even bother going up to the bedroom. I just sleep right here. But before I go to sleep I masturbate, and I think about you—under me, over me, and maybe bent over the armrest. Every time, without fail.”
I was unbelievably turned on.
He yanked off my boots. Reaching under my skirt, he peeled away my tights and my underwear. Now he undressed, smoothed on a condom, and pushed my skirt up around my waist. Then, in one motion, he was all the way inside me.

“Do you know why I think of you?” He spoke directly into my ear. “You make me come instantly. I put my hand on myself, picture you naked, and I come like a fourteen-year-old.”
The pleasure of his body was volcanic. The pleasure of his words was a conflagration. I was already on the verge when he said, “I come so fast that sometimes I have to masturbate one more time. And when I do that, I imagine fucking you all night long.”
My orgasm was a bullet to the head, a shocking starburst. His was similarly thorough and ferocious. But he didn’t stop. He kept going, kissing my face, my throat, my breasts, until I was trembling again.
Until together we fell over the edge again.

He pulled the sweater over my head and did the same for the camisole I wore underneath, exposing my bra. And then he pushed down my skirt and tights to reveal a pair of matching underpants. They were both basic black—I hadn’t wanted to look as if I’d planned to be disrobed.
“Praise the Lord,” he murmured, slipping off my undies, “for a woman who can bring me to my knees.”

“Do you know you have the perfect face for a nun—as if you have only prayers on your mind? And then there are those times when it all changes, and you look pornographically turned on.”
He pried open my legs and caressed the places I’d tried to conceal from him. Pleasure flooded me.
“Do I look like that now?” I heard myself ask, my voice raspy.
It was his turn to sound unsteady. “Yes.”
He went down on me. And it felt so good, I had to bite down on my lower lip to not sound as aroused as I felt. But by the time he brought me to my third orgasm, I had given up any and all attempt to be quiet and contained.
Then he was inside me, huge and hard. And just like that, I was again pornographically turned on.

“You. I masturbate to you.”
At this he resumed that wonderful cadence that gave me so much pleasure. “Keep talking.”
“I imagine…” I panted. “I imagine running into you unexpectedly, somewhere out of town.”
“Somewhere like Munich?”
I quaked inside. “Maybe.”
“And then?”
“And then you pull me into your hotel room, lock the door, and fuck me.”
“Do I fuck you all night?” His voice was rough, demanding.
I closed my eyes even tighter. “Yes.”
He rammed into me. “But you never called. And you never texted.”
And I came like an asteroid striking ground.

“You know what I want?” His voice turned raspy. “I want to fuck you before I go to work. And I want to fuck you right after I come back home.”
I might have ripped apart his vest. I definitely heard shirt studs pinging into the headboard. Keep talking. Keep telling me how much you want me.
And don’t ever stop.
“I want to see you naked against a wall again. I want to see the way you look at me. You have such hungry eyes.”

He bit my earlobe. “Do you know what I really want?”
“What?” I gasped.
“I want to fuck you bareback. Every inch of me, feeling every inch of you.”
Damn him. Those words made me peak again—violently. At least he joined me this time, his orgasm equally untrammeled.

He gripped the back of the chaise, his teeth gritted. “God, Eva.”
I braced my hands on his shoulders. “This is what you want, isn’t it? To fuck me bareback?”
For a minute only the sounds of our heavy, ungovernable breaths filled the air as my hips lifted and lowered, merging with him again and again.
Then he wrapped his arms around me and brought me close to him. “Yes, this is what I’ve always wanted, to make love to you with nothing between us.”
And I was lost.
We were both lost.

Unhurriedly he kissed me everywhere. Without any haste he entered me. We kissed, our bodies joined, and went on kissing, until slow-simmering pleasures again more turned needy and frantic.
“I love the taste of your lips,” he whispered in my ear. “I love the texture of your skin. I love the sound of your breaths. “
And then: “I love everything about…about this moment.”
The orgasm that ensued was the most intense one yet.

“In Henry V, King Henry says to Kate, ‘You have witchcraft in your lips,’”
Bennett murmured sleepily. “Do you know where you have witchcraft, Eva?”
“Do tell,” I answered archly, expecting him to heap praise on my private parts.
He pressed a kiss into my shoulder. “In your eyes.”

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


Review: My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-bookMyBeautifulEnemey
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Leighton Atwood
Heroine: Bai Ying-hua
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 5, 2014
Started On: October 2, 2014
Finished On: October 4, 2014

My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas follows closely on the heels of The Hidden Blade. I would say this once again, this time having finished the 2nd book that signals the end of this duology; you have to read The Hidden Blade first in order to really get into the characters Leighton Atwood and Bai Ying-Hua (Catherine Blade), whose tragic and moving pasts entwine both of them in a way that’d not be felt if you just end up reading My Beautiful Enemy as a standalone.

My Beautiful Enemy tells the story of Catherine Blade aka Bai Ying-hua, who is tracking the three jade tablets for the treasure it might unearth based on the legend of the monks that had been a part of Catherine’s life when she had been growing up. She seeks the tablets on behalf of her stepfather Da-ren, the closest thing she has left as family, to win his approval and perhaps be considered worthy of all that he had done for her.

Catherine is well versed in the art of fighting, she is like a lethal blade honed to perfection. But her life had not come without making a formidable enemy in its wake. The man who searches for her seeks vengeance of the kind that needs Catherine to be in her best form, something she has been hard pressed to achieve ever since the last encounter between them. Her journey takes her to London, the stories of a city that teems with life according to her childhood friend that fails to live up to her expectations. And then it happens; she crosses paths with that of her lover, the lover that she had poisoned trying to kill him, the man she’d searched for in vain after, the man who still has the ability to bring her to her knees, the only man she has ever loved.

Leighton hasn’t forgotten the young woman who had slayed his heart in the Chinese Turkestan 8 years back. His love for her had been swift, but it had been a relationship based on half-truths at best, which hadn’t served well for either of them when the time had come. Seeing a different version of the woman he has tried to forget all these years throws him for a loop, and Leighton is hard pressed to act normally and not let his fiance think anything untoward about his aloofness around Catherine.

Old habits die hard and before Leighton knows it, he is swept into his old role of taking care of Catherine, looking after her well being because Leighton would rather die himself than see any harm come to Catherine. My Beautiful Enemy consists of a lot of flashbacks into the entwined pasts of Leighton and Catherine, how they meet and how the beautiful man that Leighton is wins the prickly Catherine over with his gentleness, charm and the fact that when it comes to Catherine, his heart had never stood a chance.

For the most part, Catherine comes across as someone who is straightforward and assumes a no nonsense lifestyle. Though well versed in the etiquettes of what is deemed as proper behavior for a lady, beneath the facade that she presents to the rest of the world lies a heart filled with loneliness, an aching soul that yearns for nothing else but love. Her past had taught her to be wary, but when it comes to Leighton there is little fight left in her when she had already succumbed to his touch years ago. I didn’t like the flashbacks all so much. I felt that one reason why I failed to connect to both Leighton and Catherine as the story progressed was because all that had indeed connected them happens through flashbacks in the story.

My Beautiful Enemy is certainly different from the books that I have read from Sherry Thomas to-date. This tale doesn’t focus mainly on the element of romance between Catherine and Leighton. Rather I would say this duology focuses on the fated connection between Catherine and Leighton that spanned continents all those years back, the near miss of a meeting that should have happened between them and how years later, finally, Catherine and Leighton find their way towards each other.

I felt a trifle bit disappointed with the steam factor of My Beautiful Enemy, perhaps the reason why I felt that Catherine and Leighton’s connection didn’t touch me in the way it really should have. Especially, after having read the scrumptious scenes of passion that Ms. Thomas can weave in her romances; The Luckiest Lady in London will attest to this fact, needless to say I felt My Beautiful Enemy was a bit of a letdown in that sense. Point; I just didn’t fall as hard and fast in love with either Leighton or Catherine as I should have.

Entertainment wise, My Beautiful Enemy hits the spots. Emotional wise, thought I felt a bit disconnected from Catherine and Leighton, I was still swept away by the sheer magic that is Sherry Thomas’ writing.

And oh yes, this bit in the novel that describes my country, the Maldives, blew me away!

“There is a chain of tropical coral islands not far from the southern tip of India. And all around them the water is the exact color of the sky, and so clear you can see the fish swim. I want to take you there.”

I’d say Sherry Thomas has done a perfect job in describing a country renown for its beauty.

Recommended for those who love historical fiction and romance. Sherry Thomas is an author you ought not miss in this genre.

Final Verdict: A connection that defies time and distance; a love that knows not the span of continents.

Favorite Quotes

When he returned, one window of his room was wide open, the curtain whipping in the draft.
Someone with her skills could have easily closed the window behind herself, if she wanted to.
Instead, she had chosen to acknowledge her presence. Her invasion of his privacy.
And in doing so, reaffirmed the desire on her part that had set him on fire, like a city already ransacked.

Slowly she lowered the dagger, but the pulse at her throat grew ever more agitated. Her gaze landed on his lips. He held his breath, his heartbeat wild. He remembered the taste of her skin, the texture of her hair, the lithe shape of her body pressed into his. He remembered the whimpers of pleasure that escaped her, the glazed look in her eyes, the way she writhed and clung and took him ever deeper inside herself.
The parlor echoed with the sounds of their breaths.
She pivoted and walked out.
Behind her, the bead curtain shook and swayed, as restless as the desires of his heart.

She felt her lips tremble, her throat constrict. He’d gone back twice? “You must not have realized that I caused your occasional disability.”
“I have known it for years. The poison in your salve was extraordinarily powerful.”
She could scarcely believe it. The backs of her eyes prickled. “And still you looked for me?”
He exhaled. “And still I looked for you.”
Something hot and wet rolled down her cheek. “I left Chinese Turkestan in the winter of eighty-three. I never went back.”
He closed his eyes for a moment and let go of her. “I guess some things are not meant to be.”
Neither of them said anything more. And then the silence became that of his absence, a silence that she had come to know all too well.

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Review: The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-bookthehiddenblade
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Leighton Atwood
Heroine: Ying-ying
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: July 20, 2014
Started On: August 3, 2014
Finished On: October 1, 2014

Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas serves as a prequel to her most recent historical romance My Beautiful Enemy. Hidden Blade comes in the length of a full novel; most of the time we come across novella length books for these types of stories. And true to Sherry Thomas’ ingenious style, she delivers a heart wrenching read that works as a powerful backstory to the characters in My Beautiful Enemy.

I’m already halfway through reading My Beautiful Enemy and I’d highly recommend that Hidden Blade be read before venturing into My Beautiful Enemy, though I suppose you can still read the actual story without having read Hidden Blade. But the way I see it, without reading about the pasts of the characters that makes up My Beautiful Enemy, you wouldn’t be as emotionally involved with the unfolding story as you’d be otherwise.

Hidden Blade takes place in both China and England. China where young Ying-ying, a girl born out of wedlock and to a foreign devil at that, finds her life changing irrevocably when her mother dies leaving her in the care of her Amah (nanny) and later on being forced to go under the care of Da-ren, a prince of the blood and an uncle to the current emperor to whom her mother had been concubine to.

Amah teaches her the tactics to the deadly beauty that is martial arts, more so because she is more vulnerable without any real family to look after her in any sense. Hiding her skill, becoming the docile and meek creature that she transforms herself into at Da-ren’s household might’ve been the only way to survive, but her heart yearns for acceptance, love and understanding all the same.

Miles and miles away, in England, Leighton Atwood’s life fares no better. Of the two stories which takes place simultaneously, Leighton’s story proved to be the one that hurt me deep inside. The story of his struggle to keep sane until the day he’d once again be free, that was an enlightening and thought provoking journey in itself.

Hidden Blade in no means gives you the type of closure you need after having read a story. Yet it tantalizes your senses and awakens them to the future of Leighton and Ying-ying that is yet to come, and long after you’re done you still wonder to yourself, what if Leighton and Ying-ying’s paths had crossed before it had been too late. What’d have become of their future then. But I guess those are questions for which we’d have to make up our own answers.

Embedded with insight into the machinations of Chinese politics during reign of the Tung-chih Emperor together with beautifully crafted fight scenes that leaves your mind reeling, Hidden Blade is a novel that unsheathes it’s cover and thrusts you towards the melancholy inducing pasts of both Ying-ying and Leighton, leaving you wanting more after the fact. Recommended.

Final Verdict: A must read before reading My Beautiful Enemy.

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Review: Claiming the Duchess by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-bookclaimingtheduchess
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy, #0.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Mr. Kingston
Heroine: Clarissa Lexington
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 12, 2014
Started On: May 16, 2014
Finished On: May 16, 2014

“Some turn the soil and plant seedlings. We garden with words and nurture affinity.” – JMK to Clarissa

Claiming the Duchess is a very short novella which is part of the Fitzhugh trilogy. It was quite by chance that I encountered the post on Sherry Thomas’s Facebook about the release of this one and being a freebie at that I didn’t hesitate to get myself a copy. Well, let’s face it. Even had it been for 3 dollars, just because it is a novella by Sherry Thomas, I’d consider myself well rewarded for the money spent.

The first thing that hit me when I started reading, just a couple of paragraphs into the book was the strong sense of nostalgia that I had really missed Sherry Thomas’s writing. And knowing that English is her second language impresses me a helluva lot more than her writing had before; her style of writing is sheer poetry on the senses. Every emotion that she pens down the reader feels to the very core and in my opinion that is what outstanding writing is all about. It’s a damn shame that she publishes just one historical romance full length novel per year.

Moving onto the review, Claiming the Duchess is the story of the stepmother of the hero of the first full length novel in the series, Beguiling the Beauty. Clarissa Lexington is married to the Duke of Lexington when she lays eyes upon the silently intense figure of Mr. Kingston who makes an impression on her lonely heart and soul. And though Mr. Kingston in no way shows any interest of the same variety in her, Clarissa’s mind conjures up his image every now and then. The loneliness that is her life is kept at bay by the odd pen friendship that strikes up between her and a Ms. Kirkland until four years later, Clarissa is finally free to pursue her interest for the man who has never been far from her thoughts from that first day of their encounter.

Revealing any further would be to give away the story, though I bet smart readers can already put two and two together and conclude how things would go down. I fell in love with Clarissa from the beginning. It takes a talented author to put the dreams, yearnings and hopes of characters across to the reader in such a few number of pages. And Mr. Kingston. Oh Mr. Kingston. They say still waters run deep and you certainly realize that when all is said and done. My only complain even if it can be called that was the fact that there wasn’t a full fledged love scene included in the novella. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the numerous sensuous scenes of lovemaking included in Sherry Thomas’s novels of late.

Recommended; because if you haven’t been reading Sherry Thomas as a romance reader, you haven’t been reading right.

Final Verdict: Sherry Thomas manages to wrench your heart out & take a piece of it, all in just 20 plus pages.

Favorite Quotes

A movement caught her eye. A rider charged across the expansive grounds, weaving amid copses of chestnut and hazel. He followed the bank of the stream that bisected the large meadow behind the house. And when he whipped off his hat, the wind rushing past him ruffling his thick, glossy hair, she bit her lower lip at the sharp dig in her chest, as if her heart had been dented.
Mr. Kingston, in the flesh.

He settled a hand at her nape. She shivered with the sensation of his bare skin on hers, zigzags of electricity that shot deep into her spine. The searing heat spread. He was now touching the underside of her jaw, the tender skin just beneath her ear, and—
She gasped aloud as he pressed his lips into the shell of her ear.
“Clarissa,” he murmured.

She couldn’t tell whether his lips were soft as rose petals or rough as sandpaper. She couldn’t seem to feel anything but this fire that scorched any and all nerve endings, as if she had grazed the corona of the sun.
She moaned. Her hands plunged into his hair. She returned the kiss roughly—if he was made of flames then let her be a fire-eater. Lips, teeth, tongue, she wanted everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Smashwords


Review: His at Night by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-bookhisatnight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bantam
Hero: Spencer Russell Blandford Churchill Stuart
Heroine: Elissande Edgerton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 25, 2010
Started On: December 2, 2013
Finished On: December 2, 2013

The girl of his dreams. He had met her at last.

So as you can see from the last couple of reviews of mine, I went on a Sherry Thomas reading binge because that is exactly the sort of thing that happens to me if I get addicted to the books of one particular author. Unluckily for me, Sherry Thomas doesn’t have a long backlist of books for me to wade through one by one but hopefully I’d always have the pleasure of reading each and every historical romance that she publishes because there are very few historical romance authors that I follow as diligently as I do with her books.

Lord Vere is a man who leads a double life or to be precise a man who fools even those who are closest to him to serve the country and the Queen. The deep abiding loneliness that is a resultant effect of the lifestyle that he has chosen to lead might make itself known every now and again, but Vere has always has his dream of the peace that he someday might find with him to keep the monsters at bay. And then his path crosses with that of Elissande Edgerton which throws him for a loop and changes his destiny in a way that he has never thought possible for a man like him.

Elissande is a woman who is desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to get away from the oppressive thumb of her uncle who has made an award winning actress out of her, able to hide her real emotions in the worst of situations. When fate throws Lord Vere her way, Elissande tries every trick that she has under her sleeve to secure a way out of the household, with the clock interminably running out on her.

Forced to enter into a marriage of convenience, Vere would like to feel nothing but contempt for the woman that he married, but time and yet again Elissande reveals the true face of the woman behind all the pretense, and at the same time unmasking him from the role that he willingly plays in front of everyone else. With Elissande’s uncle promising revenge and vengeance to get back at her for besting him, time to forge an actual relationship with her enigmatic husband is a scarce one, except for the times he unwillingly turns to her in passion for her that he cannot deny.

His at Night is quite different from the rest of the books that I have read from Sherry Thomas such that this story focuses more on the mystery element and setting than the developing feelings between Vere and Elissande. Even then, His at Night made for an engrossing read that was hard to put down.

One can only surmise just how tiring it must be in actuality to live a life that is not really your own, assuming a persona that is your very antithesis day in and out. The toll that it takes on Vere is more than evident, the cynicism that he wears like a cloak around himself one that makes him oblivious to even the best of things in his life. His quest for finding inner peace by seeking justice is one that doesn’t seemingly play out as he envisions it, thus the crust of his distrust when it comes to his newly wedded wife.

Elissande might not be proud of the way that she married Vere but she would do it again in a heartbeat if it means freedom for which she has longed for all her life. But her deceit does come with a price attached to it, the price of the withheld affection on her husband’s part and the hope that he crushes out of her even when she should know that hope is futile. Her struggle to find common ground with Vere when he makes it almost impossible was one of the many reasons why I fell in love  with her character.

Though not your usual run of the mill variety of romance, His at Night still gives you a story steeped in mystery, double lives, treachery and mayhem with romance to round it off. If you are a fan of the type, this one is for you!

Final Verdict: An engrossing tale that keeps you turning the pages.

Favorite Quotes

He was a god above her, powerful, beautiful, larger than life. The light brought out the latent gold of his hair. The shadows contoured the perfect form of his body. Light and shadows converged in his eyes, bright lust, dark anger, and something else. Something else entirely.
She recognized it because she’d seen it in the mirror so many times: a bleak, austere loneliness.
Her hands, which had been clutching at the sheets, moved up his arms. “I never pretended it was anyone but you.”

He ground into her with enough force to launch an ocean liner. And bucked and shook as if in pain, exquisite, breathtaking pain.
She opened her eyes again to see him looking down upon her, the way he would a cursed treasure. He lifted a hand and traced her brow.
“Now you are mine,” he said softly.
She shivered.

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Review: Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-bookprivatearrangements
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bantam
Hero: Camden Saybrook
Heroine: Philippa Gilberte Rowland
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 25, 2008
Started On: November 29, 2013
Finished On: November 30, 2013

When I finished reading the latest novel by Sherry Thomas which happens to be The Luckiest Lady in London, the question that was utmost on my mind was whether Sherry Thomas would write the story of the Tremaines as I mentioned in my review. My vague hunch that it had already been written was confirmed when Sherry replied to me as such and that’s of course the moment I rushed to purchase a copy for myself and indulge in the heavenly romance that Sherry Thomas creates so deliciously that it is impossible to not lose yourself in the midst of it all.

To the society, Lord and Lady Teramine seems to have the perfect marriage. Perfect because they have led separate lives starting from the first day of their marriage ten years back. The status quo changes when Phillipa (Gigi) requests for a divorce which brings Camden back to London with his own proposal that is treacherous grounds to tread on for both of them.

Sherry Thomas does a remarkable job of telling the story with the past and present entwined, shedding light on how and why things had gone so wrong between two people whose attraction to each other had been immediate and a scorching one at that. The young Gigi had been a cynical woman for her age, someone hardened by the life choices that had been drilled to her from the beginning by her mother Victoria. The loneliness that she hides deep inside of her is one that no one had ever seemed to see or understand until Camden had walked into her life, a seemingly unattainable Camden because Camden is a man of his word who is loyal to the core.

The mistake that Gigi makes in her desire to have the man she falls in love with, at any cost proves to be the reason her marriage turns out to be such a trial for both of them. The feelings of respect, desire and love that had seemed to blossom between them dies a sudden death, especially on Camden’s end when he learns of the treachery on his wife’s part and he makes her pay for it throughout the years of separation that involves affairs on both ends. But as the story delves deeper into the lives that Camden and Gigi had led separately for so long makes one wonder, who was punishing whom exactly in the light of things that are revealed.

Private Arrangements is a story that made me cry. Like most books Sherry Thomas pens, this one too had the ability to reach deep into my heart and soul and wrench emotions from it that most books aren’t halfway capable of wringing from me. And that is one reason why I loved this book which might not be well received by most romance readers due to the elements of adultery included in the Tremaines’ story.  I believe that it takes immense talent on an author’s part to pull off characters of the sort who makes god honest mistakes like both Gigi and Camden makes in this story and come out winning the heart of readers like myself who understands and needs authors to push the expected boundaries of norm every now and then to give us a spellbinding tale of love and passion like this one. Kudos Ms. Thomas, for you continue to amaze me and I hope that never ever ceases to happen.

Recommended for those who are not turned off by aspects of cheating on both the hero and heroine’s part. Trust me when I say this; Sherry Thomas knows what she’s doing. Hop along for the ride. If you are like myself and wants stories that reaches deep into your soul, Sherry Thomas offers just that with every story she writes.

Final Verdict: Provokingly beautiful, the Tremaines reach into your very heart and makes you bleed for them. Definitely Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

He smiled at her. And it hit her like a mallet to the temple, the realization that she was in love with him. Stupidly, dreadfully in love with him.
Overnight, she’d become a fool.

He retorted by divesting her of her drawers and trapping her naked body—naked but for white satin evening gloves and white silk stockings—between his body and the edge of the desk.
His fingertips skimmed over her bare bottom and headed slowly yet inexorably for the junction of her thighs. She closed her eyes and bit her lip but refused to clamp her legs together despite her nervousness.
“Are you always this wet?” he whispered. “Or is it just for me?”

He sank his teeth into her shoulder. Nothing painful, just a strong bite to punctuate the hot, smooth glide of his body into hers. She could not silence a small moan.
Despite her desperate attempt to recite the alphabet backward—she reached only as far as V before she could no longer think—her body drowned in sensations. She was full, so full, and deliciously pummelled.

He drowned himself in the velvety feel of her, marveling at the way her skin slid over her clavicles with her every breath, kissing a trail along the top of her shoulder, reluctant to leave each square inch of her glorious skin, impatient to savor all of her.
She placed her hands against his upper arms, but she didn’t push. She only emitted a sweet, despairing sound as he kissed the base of her throat. The gloom in his heart lifted a bit, though he knew it was madness to think this was anything but madness.

He tormented her with long, slow strokes, teasing her nipples as he drove into her at a leisurely pace. He made her beg for each delicious thrust. He made her thrash and gyrate and wail and whimper. And only when she was wholly vanquished, desperate, convinced that she would exist forever in this state of trembling, feverish arousal, only then did he give in and pummel her to her incoherent, wild, joyous, and vocal satisfaction.

She turned onto her back and slid a knuckle across her lower lip. “Won’t you come to bed and make me pregnant?”
He was on that bed and inside her in a fraction of a second. She was all hellfire and heavenly suppleness, clutching at him, her legs wrapped tight about him, her unabashed gasps and moans driving him mad with desire.
He shook, shuddered, and convulsed, his vaunted control in pieces as he came endlessly, well on his way to making her pregnant.

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