Requested Review: Holiday Sparks by Taryn Elliott

Format: E-bookholidaysparks
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Hero: Ben Hartley
Heroine: Darcy Tucker
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 21, 2012
Started On: July 4, 2013
Finished On: July 5, 2013

Ben Hartley is a tattoo artist who also happens to be Darcy’s tenant. Darcy Tucker is the front end manager of the elite Blackstone’s Department Store. Work practically dictates her life and she has time for little else.

Ben loves Christmas and the festive season that goes along with it. He learns the hard way that Darcy, who is way far too appealing for his peace of mind does not when he ends up using his ingenuity to decorate her home and light it up for the whole neighborhood to admire. A quirky sequence of events however has Darcy asking for Ben’s help, which gives them both the opportunity to explore what they could have together if they are willing to take that chance.

With a contemporary setting and told from both Ben and Darcy’s points of view, Holiday Sparks was a beauty to lose myself in. I frikking loved Ben, which should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. I mean I loved him so much that I felt a tiny frisson of jealousy over the fact that author Cari Quinn practically owned him even before the story made its way to the rest of the readers.

There’s no reason whatsoever not to like a man who has a wicked sense of humor. That is always a major turn-on factor as far as I am concerned. Add to that the take-your-clothes-off-now variety of good looks and tattooed bad-assness that hides a sensitive and fun loving guy; well, there’s very little possibility for anyone to screw it up with a man like him.

Ben is the direct opposite of Darcy who is ambitious and driven enough to not let her focus on her end goals be swayed by anything until she takes notice of Ben who lives right under her nose. It doesn’t mean that Ben is someone without his own goals and focus in life. Rather Ben is the type willing to have a little bit of fun along the way to his ultimate goal. When circumstances forces Darcy to get to know Ben up close and personal, its hard for her to walk away from the man who makes her feel like the most precious and desired woman on the planet.

I loved the intense love scenes in the book more so than the tender ones. Not that I didn’t love the tender ones too! I found that the intense ones brought to light just how into each other Ben and Darcy were and showed the changing flavors of their relationship in the most scorching and panty melting way possible!

Overall a book that surprised me and held me enthralled in equal doses. What more can a gal ask for?

Recommended for fans of holiday themed romances with a lot of snarky humor & heat! And also fans of Taryn Elliott.

Final Verdict: A story that delivers a love that sparkles & shines in all the ways that matter!

Favorite Quotes

She sucked in all the air in the room. And it still wasn’t enough. Her body trembled as he kept the constant circular pressure. The safe warmth was gone, leaving her raging inside. She searched out for something to grab, anything to hold on to. Fisting the blankets, she pushed back against him. Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes as she sobbed through the tearing release. His name was a keening cry ripped from her lungs.

She sobbed into his shoulder. It was just the only way for all the pressure and the pleasure to release from her. He buried his forehead into her shoulder as he panted against her. His body still sought refuge in hers. His thrusts grew into a madness that didn’t seem to know how to blow itself out.
She clamped her legs around his hips and held on to him as they finally both broke into too many pieces to ever comprehend.

He plunged inside her. Ocean-scented sex curled around them. Her fingernails bit into his shoulders as she rode him harder. The way she sobbed his name with the racking shudders that chased her orgasm kicked him into the beyond.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Ellora’s Cave | B&N


Requested Review: Ashes and Wine by Taryn Elliott

Format: E-bookashesandwine
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Untitled Series, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Hero: Royal James Andreas
Heroine: Tessa Winter
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 28, 2012
Started On: August 14, 2012
Finished On: August 24, 2012

Royal James Andreas is a man who is conflicted with his need to seek the comfort and love that he craves from Tessa Winter, the delectable owner of the store As You Wish and his need to be strong for his father and family that seems to drain every little bit of emotion that he has left to give. 

Tessa cannot figure out the reason why Royal seemed to be so in tune with her when they had first met and changed into a more reserved version of the man since then. Though it hurts her with how much she craves for Royal and his touch, Tessa knows that if he is not willing to meet her halfway, it would never even begin to work out in the first place.

When the overwhelming need to touch and to feel becomes too much for even a man like Royal to deny, it in the end pushes both Tessa and Royal into a new territory in their relationship. The way that Tessa takes charge of the relationship and is there for Royal through those moments when he does need her more than the air he breathes was something to behold. I liked the fact that Tessa didn’t wallow in self-doubt and pity and let what she wanted to do go to waste. She took charge and stuck to what she was dealt with which made me admire her strength and tenacity very much so. And Royal, (dreamy sigh), Royal was just the right touch of alpha and softness that just made me melt in all the right places.

The one thing that struck me was the way Taryn completely surprised me with this story. I found the writing and prose to be poetic, mesmerizing and beautiful and haunting at times even. There were bits when tears sprang to my eyes, when my heart literally ached from all the emotions that Taryn managed to invoke in me as the family struggled to come to terms with the imminent loss in their lives that was about to hit them with the strength of a hurtling freight train. 

Taryn doesn’t cut any corners with the emotional aspect of the novel and it shows, even in the haunting music that Royal plays, which Taryn so vividly brings to life and made it in such a way that I couldn’t help but strain to hear the music that speaks of so much heartache, longing and conflicted emotions. The bits where Royal and his father butt their heads, the conflicting wayward riot of emotions that courses through Royal after each draining encounter made for superb reading and I loved every minute of the story that Taryn has created so remarkably well.

The romance and sensuality aspect of the novel makes for quite a stirring read as well. There were those bits that just made me go “Oh dear God, just do it already you two”, just so that both Royal and Tessa would find relief from the sheer intensity of their need for each other. 

Taryn, you have earned my utmost respect for the sheer emotional wallop you packed with this novel, for the mesmerizing way you have presented the story and for the appealing cast of characters that you have managed create, all of whom are so darn likable that I want to read ALL their stories like right now. And please hurry along with Alaric and Mercy’s story? Because you have managed to give a glimpse into their relationship which just practically makes me itch to read their story.

Poetic, haunting and mesmerizing; Ashes and Wine is a novel not to be missed if you love your stories with enough emotion wallop to tie you up in knots. Beautiful is how I would describe Ashes and Wine, a story that just begs the reader to cry their heart’s out and at the same time rejoice in the beauty that is love, because Taryn Elliott demands nothing less.

Favorite Quotes

The tip of his tongue flicked along the roof of her mouth before sliding along hers possessively. The chain reaction of shivers, followed by a bone-deep burn, only made her want more. 

He kissed her like he’d never get enough of her. Deeper, darker, and with an overwhelming intimacy that left her trembling. The hard crush of his chest trapped her hands between them. Her fingertips dug into whatever she could reach, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to explore the crinkle of hair beneath his shirt, wanted to feel his skin under the pads of her fingers. She wanted everything.

The first strains of the haunting melody halted conversation. The hollow knock against the body of the guitar was like a heartbeat. Steady and controlled, his long fingers manipulated the strings along the fretboard. A simple instrument shouldn’t have so much power.
Sad and lonely, the song reached inside and carved Tessa’s heart out. No words were needed. 

When he opened his eyes, he found Tessa instantly.
Her bright cap of copper hair was up in a chignon, leaving her elegant neck bare. A soft wool sweater and skirt hugged her curves, complemented by heeled boots. She was beautiful—almost untouchably so, with her creamy skin and dancer’s body. But then she smiled, and he was hers for as long as it lasted.

Her lips found his one more time before she drew away. Their fingers tangled, and he held on for another precious second.
Mistake. This was a mistake.
But she’d be the best mistake he’d ever made.

He rose up and their kisses lost any semblance of finesse. She fisted her hands in his hair and cried out his name. She pressed her cheek to his. Her full body tremor ended with that cracked moan that was quickly becoming addicting. She’d completely steeped herself in him, in their mutual pleasure, and her surrender was sweeter than anything he’d ever known.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N


Requested Review: Uncross Your Heart by Taryn Elliott

Format: E-bookuncrossyourheart
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Plus-Novel
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Series: Untitled Series, Book 1
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Hero: Nathan Patrick Cross
Heroine: Miranda Jayne Lyons
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 23, 2012
Started On: March 24, 2012
Finished On: March 25, 2012

Yep. That’s right people. If you haven’t already heard, I have officially updated my version of the English dictionary to equate the meaning of the word “Temptation” to “Nathan Cross”. And I tell you, I am not kidding! 

Nathan Patrick Cross is a tinkerer whose one invention keeps him afloat enough to pursue his day job as a FedEx delivery guy while he tries to come up with a new innovative gadget whose design keeps eluding his best attempts. The one woman he meets along his delivery route, who manages to get under his collar and leaves him all hot and bothered doesn’t even realize he exists. Every single day that had taken him her way on delivery routes leaves him wanting her to look at him and see HIM just once and Nathan is about  to become cross-eyed with wanting and frustration on how to go about winning himself the woman he desires.

Miranda Jayne Lyons is a woman on a mission. She wants to bury her past deeper than anyone can dig it up and throw it in her face and she does it with a ruthless efficiency that leaves her little time to mingle with other people, to socialize and put her face out there. Through the not so gentle nudging of her co-worker and friend Max, Miranda decides to step into a club even if its the last place she wants to involuntarily go to. 

The man that catches Miranda’s eye turns out to be none other than Nathan and Miranda is more than surprised and a bit appalled to say the least when the man whose touch she craves just after one indecent dance turns out to be her FedEx delivery guy. There is no stopping Nathan from the path he weaves towards Miranda and for Miranda, Nathan poses the biggest risk on her heart and emotions as he slowly wields that magic of his around her and brings those walls of steel around her heart tumbling down until she is left reeling from it all.

But the secrets that Miranda hides are far too many, and her hesitancy in sharing them with the man who quickly turns out to mean everything to her breaks the fragile connection and the burgeoning feelings between them until this time it is Miranda who must face her fears and pursue Nathan to show him that with him she becomes the Miranda that she wants to be and loves.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Taryn Elliot won’t woo you with Uncross Your Heart just because it is her debut novel. Far from that. I was pulled into the story from page one, heck, lets just say from the minute I met Taryn and learned that she is the critic partner of many other great authors out there, I knew instinctively that she would be someone to keep an eye out on. And I was proved right when Uncross Your Heart turned out to be a novel that delivered on every aspect of what I look for when I read a contemporary romance.

Nathan Cross. I can’t even say his name without going into an endless sighing session. He is the best thing about this story and believe me, there were so many good things about this whole novel. The way Taryn brought him to life, adding those little nuances to his character, his charming and easy-going manner, that bottomless gray eyes of his that I won’t mind staring into for a couple of centuries or so – needless to say Nathan charmed my socks off right from the very minute he entered into the story. His utter focus when it comes to Miranda and above all his patience – someone out there should give out Nobel Prizes for patience and I am sure he would come out a winner and with flying colors too! There is not a single thing I would change about the man, maybe except wish for him to turn up as my birthday present tonight at 00:00 hours sharp? Sigh! Well, a girl can always hope.

There were so many fascinating characters that brings life to the story as it unfolds. Miranda’s colleagues and Nathan’s whole family and believe me, if you read Uncross Your Heart, you would want to read all their stories. I am especially keeping my eye on Noah and his broody character – he seems like a guy who would give this old heart of mine a jolt or two if he ever were to get his own story. And yes, I am looking right at you Taryn. You can’t leave a gal hanging after creating so much havoc with my emotions and all.

Miranda is one complex character and she is the driving force behind the story, the secrets that she keeps close to her heart the cause of the rift between herself and the man who as she puts it is her worst nightmare and fondest wish all wrapped up in one. From the minute she is forced to open her eyes and look, and I mean really look at Nathan, she is a goner. And for someone like Miranda whose past makes her susceptible to all sorts of wild behavior, or so she thinks, needless to say Miranda would rather bury her head in the sand and forget that Nathan Cross exists.

But her desire for a man who kisses her senseless, a man who holds himself back because he wants just more than mindless fucking from a woman with whom he would like to base his future on is a temptation that is too hard for even Miranda to resist. The passion that burns between them is of the scorching variety and my God, can Taryn turn on the heat? I couldn’t get enough of the many a variety of scenes, all with that emotional pull that just makes you go all gooey on the insides and warm in places that one would rather not mention. And I loved it all!

What drew me in the most and held my attention was how real both Nathan and Miranda were as they tried to forge a path together towards their ultimate happily ever after. There is no easy road for someone like Miranda to take when she tries to flee from her past, to forget that she ever was that person she is so ashamed of rather than accepting that her past would always be a part of herself and the person she has shaped up to be. Through a lot of soul searching and a painful period of separation from Nathan she does eventually get there and I believe that Nathan and Miranda’s love for each other to be that much stronger because of the fact.

A FANTASTIC debut novel from an author who shows remarkable talent – I simply could not get enough!

Give Uncross Your Heart a shot if you love emotionally gripping and sensual contemporary romances. This is a book that definitely caters to every whim and then some. And if you are like me, you would not be disappointed!

Favorite Quotes

He stilled at her laughter. It was rich and sexy, dark and playful. Something he’d never heard out of her mouth. His vision blurred for a second when she dragged his shirt up enough for their skin to touch. Then she gave up on getting the shirt off and latched on to his mouth again. He groaned as the heat of her skin blazed against his.

A long, low moan reverberated through her chest and into him. He sucked harder, flicking his tongue around the tiny pink tip. She was in the shadows cast by the late-day sun, leaving him little choice but to learn her by touch. He found the water-soft curve of her breast, running his tongue along the heaviest part of her until she filled his mouth. “More,” he murmured, shifting her higher until his teeth scraped along her ribs.

She shut her eyes, digging her fingers into his shoulders as she slid herself down his length. He couldn’t quite stop the quick shout of pleasure as her knees clamped his hips, crowding around him with her warmth. He wanted to hold her there, to drown in her, but she was already moving. She lifted herself higher and he took the clue and sucked her elegant neck, drawing in her scent as she took him inside her again.

She twisted her hips in time to his rhythm, riding his hand. He couldn’t stop himself from dipping inside her heat, groaning when she coated his fingers, his palm—just, God, he wanted all that around him again.

He cupped her cheek, the muscles of his forearm burning with the slow thrusts inside her. “You’re beautiful.” Unable to have even a few inches between them, he caught her mouth, swallowing her moans. Cheek to cheek, he dragged in her scent. Murmuring her name, he held her as she broke. 

She turned into his mouth again and her taste bloomed on his tongue. His stroking gentled until he pulled his hand free, cradling her close. No ghosts, no false starts, just them.

He was her worst nightmare and fondest wish all wrapped up in a damn Boy Scout.

His hair was especially mussed. So much so that her fingertips tingled with the need to grab and plunder the curls and let her mouth work the wicked quirk of his lips that verged on a smile. But it was his eyes that hit her the hardest. A settled gray that would forever be stamped Happy Place in her mind.

 Instead of relying on technique she looked for cues that were individual to the man—her man—the quickening of his breath, a sighing moan and the grip of his fingertips on her hip. Her body listened to his and learned what was right instead of what her experience said should work. And in its place they became a dreamy roll of fluid exploration.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Ellora’s Cave