Lady Lily Drummond understands only too well the danger of spy work. Her father, a preeminent master spy, has been missing for months, and her brother barely survived his final mission for the Crown. Lily is still determined to help find her father, no matter how hard her brother and his best friend try to keep her in the dark.
Busy trying to untangle the web of deceit surrounding the Earl of Windor’s disappearance, Crown spy Gray Masterson also has to ensure Lily Drummond, the gangly, awkward child who was his constant shadow growing up, doesn’t get herself ruined at her London debut. But the girl with scraped knees and elbows has evolved into a lush, sensual beauty surrounded by a bevy of suitors.
Realizing Lily is going to investigate on her own if he doesn’t let her join the hunt for her missing father, Gray assumes he can give Lily a few minor tasks to pacify her, but he quickly learns she is a valuable asset. Moreover, she fairly crackles with life and warmth—things he craves after his dark years in service.
Laura Trentham had me intrigued with the title, showing real interest with the series name, and hooked with the synopsis. How do I walk away from all these things?? The answer is, I don’t.
Lily Drummond just isn’t what her father, the Earl of Windor hoped she would be. Lily isn’t at all interested in making a good match and settling down with a man who only wants her for her dowry. Lily doesn’t care about titles or property, she wants a man who will see her for what she is, an intelligent, adventurous, daring woman who doesn’t need a man to be complete. In fact, Lily is so committed to her plan and desires, she faced off against her father in an attempt to convince him of her wishes. Unfortunately, that fight was the last words Lily spoke to her father before he went missing. As a spy, the Earl of Windor is often gone for long periods of time but this time, Lily is certain something is amiss.
Gray Masterson has known Lily Drummond since she was an obnoxious child trailing around behind him and her brother, Rafe. Gray has been best friends with Rafe since they were children and when Rafe calls on his friend to look after his sister during her first London season, Gray finds he simply can’t deny his friend. Additionally, he lost a bet and has no choice J The years have been good to both Lily and Gray but nothing could possibly prepare either for the dramatic change in their respective appearance. Gray is simply gobsmacked by Lily and from the moment he lays eyes on her, he finds it hard to resist her. Lily is intelligent, bold, stubborn, determined, sassy, and undeniably, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. She also has her mind set on finding her father and if Gray won’t help her, so be it, she’ll go at it alone.
Gray’s encounters with Lily are some the highlights of this read. Gray is a trained spy and understands how to go about gathering information and accomplishing goals without getting himself killed. Lily is desperate to find her father and willing to take unreasonable risks. Reigning her in takes every ounce of patience Gray has and some he didn’t know he possessed. Additionally, Lily is ripe for the taking and watching her being courted by titled and entitled asshats is more than Gray can tolerate. Gray knows he isn’t good enough for Lily (no money, no title, etc.) but she is a treasure that none of the men courting her can possibly handle. As the mission to find her father becomes more and more dire, Gray begins to see Lily for exactly the woman she is and knows, absolutely that she will never be satisfied with the life her father wants for her. Lily’s mind is quick, her heart is true, and she loves working with Gray to uncover the mystery of her father’s disappearance. The deeper the investigation goes, the deeper Gray falls in love and when Lily’s life is threatened (multiple times!) he realizes he may be the only man capable of handling her.
The Bottom Line: WOOOOOO, did I love this read!! How the hell can you possibly go wrong with spies and lovers set in the Regency period? You can’t, is the answer. Trentham has created deep and involved characters that simply can’t be ignored. Lily is a delight and I am always glad to have a woman who is so boldly and unapologetically ahead of her time and place. To take it a step further, I more than love it when said woman finds a man worthy of her and willing to accept her for exactly who she is. Gray is just the man for Lily and though he is often totally exasperated by her, he accepts her and learns to work with her rather than against her. The plot is sufficiently convoluted and crazy to keep the reader interested though not so complicated as to become off-putting. There is a past meets the present element that I am always excited about and just enough danger to keep you on the edge of your seat in some places. The only element of this read I didn’t care for at all is Lily’s father. The anecdotes about his behavior and attitude, especially toward Lily generates a lot of hate for the man and I found myself not really caring if he was found at all. In the end, I didn’t let that one element sway my opinion of the overall read and can honestly say, I fell a little in love with Laura Trentham and her Spies and Lovers series.
Lily slyly watched Gray confront Montbatton and then execute a courtly bow to Lady Abbott. How long before her reckoning? Only a few minutes had passed. Not nearly long enough for her heart to slow. He approached—not with angry mincing steps or even hurried anxious ones, but in a casual loose-limbed saunter.
Did he know?
Gray had been lanky in his youth, but he’d always possessed an unusual agility and grace. Seemingly never feeling awkward in his body, he moved with a compelling confidence that had only grown more telling over the years. A broad, deep chest and narrow, lean hips complemented indecently muscled legs. Not that she had made a close examination, heavens no, but she could hardly miss them flexing during their dance.
Perhaps he wasn’t the tallest or the most handsome man in attendance, but there was something about him. In fact, several ladies’ heads turned when he passed them by. Not that he noticed, because his gaze pinned her like an insect on display.
Not smiling nor frowning, his face revealed not a single clue to his mood. He stopped directly in front of her, cocked one foot in front of the other and clasped his hands behind his back. A purely masculine stance that, along with his silence, set her nerves jangling.
She tucked several escaped tendrils back into pins and then opened and closed her fan a few times. Unable to tolerate another second of the increasing tension, she yielded, feeling somehow as if she’d lost the first skirmish of a war. “We meet again, Mr. Masterson. Mayhap did you learn anything interesting?”
His eyes, vibrantly green and arresting even partially shielded behind his spectacles, shimmered with an emotion she couldn’t interpret. “I learned Montbatton is indeed in pursuit, and you should expect an offer. He informed me most vehemently to pass that information on. Lady Abbott thought it highly amusing I didn’t know your name. And lastly, I discovered Lady Lily should be in the corner with her chaperone.”
“Very impressive, but did anyone reveal my name?”
“Absolutely no one.” A single eyebrow arched above the rim of his spectacles.
Her shoulders, which at some point had bunched toward her ears, relaxed, and she tapped her fan against her lips to stem a victorious smile. “And I was so looking forward to another dance. Mayhap I’ll help you find your wayward friend instead. Over here did you say?”
A dark-haired matron in a red dress occupied the corner in question. She sat upright in a chair next to a ficus and, at first glance, appeared to be serenely observing the tableau of couples on the dance floor. The only indications she was soundly asleep were her closed eyes and slightly agape mouth. Her Aunt Edie was quite possibly the most worthless chaperone in all of England, which suited Lily perfectly. She’d no desire to relinquish the relative freedom she enjoyed in the country.
“That’s certainly not your debutante,” Lily said. “Come, let’s stroll while we look.”
“God’s teeth, that’s most likely her chaperone. Sound asleep while Lily runs wild.” Gray sounded truly aghast.
“Yes, your friend might be in the company of the worst sort of rogue who inappropriately whisked her away.” A cough covered her spate of giggles.
“Indeed.” His tone turned solemn. “She’s a highly impulsive chit not used to male attention. No doubt, she’d be easily lured into an indiscretion by a charming smile or prestigious title.” He tutted. “They’d only be after her dowry, poor thing.”
She sucked in a huge breath, ready to unleash her tongue, but his next words ripped the air from her lungs.
“Would you care to take a turn in the gardens as I haven’t earned a dance?”
“What about your friend? Shouldn’t you find her? What if she waits for you?” Her words spilled out too quickly. How many times had Rafe told her to never enter the gardens with a gentleman? At least a hundred. Although it was only Gray. If any man could be trusted, it would be him. Wouldn’t it?
“I was to surprise her tonight. She doesn’t even know I’m attending. We won’t be long, just a breath of fresh air. It’s rather stuffy, isn’t it?”
“I suppose a very brief turn in the garden wouldn’t hurt. It is awfully close in here.” Lily snapped her fan open and cooled herself with frenzied flicks of her wrist. Was it the crush of people or his suggestion making her feel so heated?
I was born and raised in a small town in Northwest Tennessee. Although, I loved English and reading in high school, I was convinced an English degree equated to starvation! So, I chose the next most logical major – Chemical Engineering- and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years. Now I live in South Carolina with my husband and two children. In between school and homework and soccer practices, I love to get lost in another world, whether its Regency England or small town Alabama.
Books One and Two of my Falcon Football Series are available from St. Martin’s Press (Slow and Steady Rush; Caught Up in the Touch). Book Three, Melting Into You, is available for preorder.
Book Two of my Spies and Lovers Series, A Brazen Bargain, will release January 2016.
On the waves of the North Atlantic, a poison spreads, sapping the life from humans and striking madness into immortals.
Patrick Murphy, the immortal leader of Dublin, has been trying to stem the tide of Elixir washing into his territory, but nothing seems to stop the vampire drug. While others in the immortal world work to cure the creeping insanity that Elixir threatens, Murphy has been invited to London to join a summit of leaders hoping to discover who is shipping the drug. If Murphy and his allies can cut off the supply, they might be able to halt the spread long enough for a treatment to be found for the humans and vampires infected.
Anne O’Dea, Murphy’s former lover, retreated from public life over one hundred years ago to help immortals in need… and to heal her own broken heart. Though powerful connections keep her insulated from the violence of vampire politics, even Anne is starting to feel the effects of Elixir on her isolated world. The human blood supply has been tainted, and with Anne’s unique needs, even those closest to her might be in danger. Not just from infection, but Anne’s escalating bloodlust.
When Anne and Murphy are both called to London, they’re forced to confront a connection as immortal as they are. As they search for a traitor among allies, they must also come to terms with their past. Behind the safe facade of politics, old hungers still burn, even as an ancient power threatens the fate of the Elemental World.
It is no secret I have been a long-time fan of Elizabeth Hunter and her Elemental World Series. I go into every single read knowing I am very likely going to simply adore what she gives. With that being said, I have struggled for several days with the most unusual sensation that I didn’t adore this read and it has taken me these past several days to pinpoint exactly what it is that kept me from absolute adoration. Go ahead, boo me now . . . .
What I Liked:
Patrick Murphy: Holy hotness, Batman do I loves me some Patrick Murphy. As the unquestioned leader of Dublin, Murphy has earned his position through ruthless control, absolute loyalty to his people, pure charisma, and shrewd business dealings. He holds his friends and allies close, trusts only a handful of vampires and people, and deals death to all who defy him or hurt those he calls his own. He is wicked sexy, funny, snarky, inquisitive, and completely consumed with two things, his mate, Anne O’Dea and protecting his people from Elixir.
Elixir: This long-term plot line is getting more and more interesting with each installment of the series. Its effects are being felt throughout the human and vampire worlds and to date, no one has any real answers about how to cure it, who’s making it, and who’s shipping it. It is still as nasty as it has ever been and there seems to be no end in sight.
The Summit: What a tricky business inviting the world’s most powerful vampires to a single location. That much power, intrigue, and distrust is just a recipe for disaster but, needs must. Elixir is a ferocious and uncaring enemy that has crossed into all territories and if it is to be contained, these immensely powerful creatures must share information and work together to achieve a common goal. With Patrick at the head of the event, and information coming in little by little, it is soon clear to all that there is more afoot than just the spread of Elixir. The summit tests each and every participant, strengthens some alliances while others are weakened, provides a great amount of drama and action, and is a wonderful way for new characters to be introduced and the long-term plot to be advanced and further developed.
What I didn’t like:
Anne O’Dea: Let the booing at me continue . . . . Anne is an older character (she helped Brigid control her fire!) whose time has come to have her story told. For the last century, Anne has hidden away from vampire society and lived a quiet life in her native Galway. She is close to her father (the extremely old and powerful Tywyll) and her sister and has earned a reputation as a caring, considerate, and ultra-private individual. Much of Anne’s seclusion has to do with her very unique ability, her extreme hunger for blood, and her heartache over the loss of her mate, Patrick Murphy. When her sister calls her into service to attend the summit in her stead, Anne is forced back into the world and into the arms of Patrick Murphy. Anne’s intelligence and ability to read the other summit attendees makes her invaluable to Patrick but that is where the goodness ends for me. Though she is a vampire and sired from a very old and powerful vampire, Anne is not strong and that makes her a constant liability to Patrick. Furthermore, though I fully appreciate Patrick was an ass in the past, Anne has really punished him for long enough. Her refusal to speak to him or be near him for fear of losing herself simply reads as selfish more than a sense of self-preservation. Finally, Anne’s relative weakness compared to the other females in the Elemental World is somewhat off-putting and makes her, in my view a poor choice of mate for a vampire as strong as Patrick Murphy.
The Bottom Line: As you can clearly see, I did generally enjoy most aspects of this read. The plot is once again strong and exciting with lots of intrigue and action, the reappearance of older characters (Brigid and Carwyn!) is always a bonus for me, the introduction of new characters not only enhanced the plot in this read but is a clear indication the series is going to continue for some time (YAY!!). Hunter’s writing style is clear and strong with no perceivable flaws. For me, the only negative in this read is a single character and now that her story has been told, she likely won’t be as large a factor in future reads. In all, The Scarlet Deep is a good book but not one of my favorites in the overall series.
My father was most certainly NOT an innocent man. As the leader of the Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club, he was guilty of many things. But he died for a crime that he didn’t commit, framed by an enemy within who then stole his club and everything he had ever worked to protect. Including my innocence. When Dornan Ross framed my father, he set into motion a series of events that could never be undone. My father was murdered by Dornan Ross and his sons when I was fifteen years old. Before my father died, Dornan Ross and his sons stole my innocence, branded my skin and in doing so, ensured that their lives would be prematurely cut short. That they would suffer. I’ve just turned twenty-one, and I’m out for blood. I’m out for revenge. But I didn’t expect to fall for Jase, the youngest brother in the club. I didn’t expect that he would turn my world upside down, yank my heart out of my chest and ride away into the sunset with it. Now, I’m faced with an impossible choice – Jase, or avenging my father’s death?
DORNAN: I see the panic in her eyes, and it makes my cock throb.
Yes. It’s my turn now, you silly little girl.
I’m going to twist her diabolical fucking soul until she’s completely at my mercy, knees on the ground and mouth on my cock, sucking and begging for forgiveness all at the same time. There’s going to be so much more blood in our future, and it’s going to be beautiful.
“I know you think this is going to be bad,” I say, pleasure and rage sizzling in my veins, “but however bad you think this is going to be, it’s going to be So.Much.Worse.”
JASE: There’s something to be said about a person who’s been put in hell and doesn’t lose themselves.
But what if you find yourself there instead?
“Say it,” Chad said, sliding one finger inside Rails so that she flinched. Even with the drugs, the rough way he was poking and prodding at her must have hurt. “Say you’re no better than us. Say you’re one of us and I’ll let her go.” I looked to Rails, but she wasn’t even there. Whatever drug was in her bloodstream, it looked effective.
“I’m no better than you.” I ground out.
“And?” Chad prompted, snaking his tongue out to lick Raelene’s earlobe.
“And I’m one of you.”
“One of what?”
“A fucking Gypsy Brother!” I screamed.
Normal men don’t want to hurt the women they love.
Normal men don’t have a darkness inside them.
But I’m not normal. I never was. I might’ve been patched in by force, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got GYPSY BROTHERS forever etched into my skin, and their blood running through my veins.
I might look like a good person on the surface, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m Dornan Ross’s son.
ELLIOT: Why’d we have to meet the way we did, in a goddamn nightmare? She was so beautiful and passionate in the moments her demons weren’t dragging her beneath the murky waters and drowning her. Selfishly, I wished she would try harder to be that girl who laughed and said funny things, dazzling me with her smile, instead of the girl who held my gun in her lap and willed herself not to eat it.
“It’s okay, Elliot,” Juliette said, trailing her hand over my cheek. “I’d leave me too, if I could.” I swallowed back all the words I’d never be able to say to her.
ALL 7 books in the COMPLETE Gypsy Brothers series are now in ONE SET! This dark, adrenaline-induced, revenge BIKER series is ONLY $0.99 for one week. DO NOT miss this epic sale!
Lili writes dark romance, suspense and paranormal stories. Her serial novel, Seven Sons, was released in early 2014, with the following books in the series to be released in quick succession. Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, good coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Pinterest. She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.
Mr. X (Clarissa Wild): He’s come to kill me. I don’t know his name, but I know he wants me. He is Mr. X; the man who comes to claim my life. Can I save myself before he demands my heart?
Gypsy Brothers (Lili St. Germain): Six years ago, Juliette Portland was viciously attacked and left for dead by people she trusted. People inside her father’s motorcycle club, greedy for power, who defiled her, shot her father dead and destroyed everything she ever cared about. Only, she didn’t die. She survived … and now, she’s out for revenge.
Overwhelmed By You (Nashoda Rose): I don’t deserve her, but I’m selfish and I’m taking her anyway. This is who I am and it’s too late to change me.
Serial Volume 1 (Jaden Wilkes & Lily White): Jude Hollister kills. Born with everything, wanting for nothing, murder has become his addiction. He kills women who entice him. He immortalizes them while they’re still young and beautiful. How will he manage to save the one woman he loves?
Epiphany (Gemma James): He haunts her in her dreams, but she’s never laid eyes on him. Until now.
His Witness (Vanessa Waltz): He kidnapped me.He was charming, powerful, intoxicating. Accepting his advances might be the last mistake I’d ever make. Now I’m trapped in his basement, completely at his mercy.
Love The Way You Lie (Skye Warren): I’ll do anything to stay free, even if it means taking my clothes off for strangers. So I dance, hiding under the shadows and bright lights. Then I see him in the audience, and I know my past isn’t the only thing I need to run from…
Irrevocable (Skye Callahan): I remembered! They stripped me of my life but never my will to survive. Descending into their darkness and making it my own became my only escape.
Clarissa Wild: is a New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author, best known for the dark Romance novel Mr. X. Her novels include the Fierce Series, the Delirious Series, and Stalker. She is also a writer of erotic romance such as the Blissful Series, The Billionaire’s Bet series, and the Enflamed Series. She is an avid reader and writer of sexy stories about hot men and feisty women. Her other loves include her furry cat friend and learning about different cultures. In her free time she enjoys watching all sorts of movies, reading tons of books and cooking her favorite meals.
Lili St. Germain: Lili writes dark, disturbing romance. Her USA Today bestselling Gypsy Brothers series focuses on a morally bankrupt biker gang and the girl who seeks her vengeance upon them. The Cartel series is a prequel trilogy of full-length novels that explores the beginnings of the club, to be released worldwide in print and ebook in 2015 by HarperCollins. Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, good coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Pinterest. She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.
Nashoda Rose: Nashoda Rose is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She writes contemporary romance with a splash of darkness, or maybe it’s a tidal wave. When she isn’t writing, she can be found sitting in a field reading with her dog at her side, while her horses graze nearby. She loves interacting with her readers and chatting about her addiction–books.
Lily White: Lily White is a dark writer who likes to dabble on the taboo side of eroticism. Most of the time she can be found wandering around aimlessly while her mind is stuck in some twisted power play between two characters in her head. You may recognize her in public by the confused expression, random mumbling, and occasional giggle while thinking up a scene. Lily’s favorite things in life are reading, thinking about reading, buying books for reading….and writing. Her other secret pleasure is meeting with her plot editor in public to discuss her books and watching the shocked expressions of the people around her that don’t realize she’s talking about a book. When Lily is not reading, writing, wandering or freaking out innocent bystanders, she’s sleeping.
Jaden Wilkes: Jaden is the pen name of a girl living on the prettiest farm in BC. She shares her space with her husband, her children, and an Irish Wolfhound named Tiberius. She can now be found lurking in the dark corners of the internet looking for artful porn gifs, dirty poems and places to promo her work.
Gemma James: Gemma James is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author of a blend of genres, from new adult suspense to dark erotic romance. She loves to explore the darker side of human nature in her fiction, and she’s morbidly curious about anything dark and edgy, from deviant sex to serial killers. Readers have described her stories as being “not for the faint of heart.” She warns you to heed their words! Her playground isn’t full of rainbows and kittens, though she likes both. She lives in Oregon with her husband and their four children–three rambunctious UFC/wrestling-loving boys and one girl who steals everyone’s attention.
Vanessa Waltz: My name is Vanessa and steamy, bad boy romances with headstrong alpha males are my trade. Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com. Join my newsletter here for discounts, information on new releases, and more!
Skye Warren: Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of dark romance. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely tender. For those new to her work, consider the bestseller Wanderlust, Prisoner or the Dark Nights series starting with Trust in Me.
Skye Callahan: Skye Callahan is the bestselling author of Irrevocable a dark romance that ran away with her emotions and led her on a whole new writing journey. She enjoys exploring the darker sides of life through her fiction, whether through paranormal creatures or the depraved underbelly of human nature. Her other works include the follow up to Irrevocable, Bend Don’t Break, The Redline Series, The Fractured Legacy Series, and Bound and Unbroken. Her love of reading and writing started at a young age and she has been blessed with a family that continues to support her dreams to be a full-time writer. She has lived in Ohio all of her life, where she enjoys taking long walks through cemeteries with her husband (when the insane Ohio weather permits), studying local history, and trying to make peace with the neighbor’s cats.
Who needs Mr. Right when you can have the perfect Mr. Wrong?
Ryder Diamond-the town’s golden boy-doesn’t have time for taking chances, let alone love. Against his better judgment, he lets his buddies set him up on a blind date with a girl who’s only passing through town. But temporary or not, Whitney James sets fire to desires he can’t control.
Before they know it, Ryder and Whitney are in a supply closet, drowning in lust. She’s only in town for the summer-what better way to spend it than in the arms of Mr. Perfect? Except, she’s wild and free, and he’s Mr. Stability. Which means he may as well be Mr. Wrong.
And her new job? It’s with Ryder’s sister.
Sex and the inability to keep their hands off each other are the only things they have in common. But this little hook-up has “disaster” written all over it…and the only way Ryder can save his reputation is by avoiding the sweet little firecracker who could ruin it all.
“Maybe we should take baby steps,” she said, taunting him just enough to get that silver spark in his eyes to glint. “I wouldn’t want to frighten you with my wild ways.”
He raised a brow. “Me? Frightened of you?”
She shrugged, but the way his body moved made the hairs on her neck perk up and pay attention. He stalked behind her and stood tall so that she was caught in his shadow. His hands moved ever so slightly as if he could snatch her in a single second and do what he wanted with her.
And she’d let him. Because the raw power that dripped from him was engulfing. So that was what it took to bring out his wild side—a challenge he couldn’t refuse. And boy, now she had to wonder if she’d gotten more than she’d asked for. He exuded a dominating presence that refused to be ignored.
“You looking to taunt me, little girl?”
“Just looking to learn you.”
That made him stop. Shit, had she said the wrong thing? This was only for a single night. But she wasn’t going to bore him with her plans for the summer—make some money so she could move on to the next place. This guy wasn’t even from around there. Looking to “learn him” had been a poor choice of words for a man she would never see again. Yet she couldn’t bring herself to back down from her statement. She only had tonight with him, but she planned to learn everything she could about how to give him pleasure.
“What is it you think you’ve learned so far?” he asked.
“You’re polite, but I think you have a wild streak just like I do.” She tapped her chin, revving up that alpha instinct he was keeping a tight hold of.
Push just a bit more.
“I wonder…” she said. “Do you ever get to act on that wildness?”
“What makes you think I don’t?”
“You’ve never even gone skinny-dipping.”
“Maybe because I’ve never gotten the lady out of my bed long enough to make it to the lake.”
That got her attention real quick. He was good. Very, very good. And while she was certain he was also a nice guy, it was becoming clear there was an intensity to him that he rarely, if ever, got to explore. And she wanted to tap into that wicked darkness he was caging up.
“I’ve never had sex with a cowboy in his truck,” she said.
He unleashed the sexiest grin God had ever gifted a man, and he took one more step until he was toe-to-toe with her.
His breath hit her lips when he said, “Like I said, sweetness, I’m no cowboy. But I do have a truck.”
She was about ready to scream the word and rip his clothes off. Instead, she finished her drink and tried to keep her body from buzzing out of control. Calm and seductive. Maybe even a bit coy. That wasn’t exactly her game—she preferred being direct—but if that was what Ryder needed, she was all too willing. She was game for anything and refused to cower behind inhibitions. Just looking at Ryder had her thinking that the few interactions she’d had with boys in the past were nothing compared to the man that stood before her.
She finished her drink and set it on the edge of the pool table. His eyes were locked on her, silent and waiting. He didn’t have to pretend at control, he owned it. That much was clear from the stillness in his frame and the confidence in his stance.
There was a back door out of the billiard room. She slipped her hand into his large one and tugged him to follow her. He did, and right when they hit the small hallway, his grip tightened and he spun her around to face him.
“Fuck baby steps,” he rasped against her mouth, then snagged her bottom lip between his teeth, tugging slightly and bringing her in for the hottest kiss she’d ever had.
National and international bestselling author Joya Ryan is the author of the Shattered series, which includes Break Me Slowly, Possess Me Slowly, and Capture Me Slowly. She has also written the Sweet Torment series, which includes Breathe You In and Only You. Passionate about both cooking and dancing (despite not being too skilled at the latter), she loves spending time at home. Along with her husband and her two sons, she resides in California.
For years, Alyssa has been going to bed with a memory. Is she ready to wake up with a fantasy?
Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mate, but not Alyssa Barrow. She met Rob at nineteen, and they were set to live happily ever after—until he became ill. In his final days, Rob urged his beautiful, young wife not to abandon happiness—or pleasure. He even left her a special gift, a sexy game plan to help her move on: Thirty cards with instructions for thirty days of passion. You’ll know when the time is right, he’d said. Now it’s two years later, and when Alyssa meets her hot new neighbor, Harrison Kemp, she begins to think the right time is right now…
From his sculpted thighs to his devilish grin, Harrison is the kind of man women want. Before she can lose her nerve, Alyssa tells Harrison about her long-ignored cards…and asks him to help her fulfill them. It’s a favor he’s more than happy to, um, perform. With his skillful touch, and the hot press of his lips against her skin, Alyssa finds herself re-awakening to life—and a host of other sensations. But what began as not-so-innocent fun soon grows into true intimacy, and Alyssa realizes she’s opening herself up not just to sex…but to love. When it comes to a future with Harrison, what’s really in the cards?
I have been a fan of Christine d’Abo for quite a while and always appreciate her naughty and nice reads but this time, she has taken everything to a whole new level of awesome.
Alyssa Barrow married her soulmate and never, not once regretted her decision. She and Rob were meant for forever and then he got sick and made her a widow in her early thirties. For the past two years, Alyssa has been making her way through life with no thought of ever being as happy as she once was with Rob. But Rob was wise beyond his years and left Alyssa instructions for what to do when he was gone. For two years, Alyssa has ignored that letter.
Harrison Kemp (his mother really liked Star Wars!) is only in town for three months. His job is high pressure, rewarding, and does not lend itself to long-term relationships. Just the way Harrison likes it. When his attractive neighbor, Alyssa approaches him with an offer of no-strings-attached sex, Harrison is hooked. He and Alyssa are both up front and honest about the situation: Alyssa is looking to complete a mission left for her by her late husband and Harrison is willing to be her sex monkey. The rules of the game are clear: no getting attached, no emotions, and no rearranging the cards, they must be completed in order.
Over the course of Harrison’s three month stay, he and Alyssa are going to work through all thirty cards and at the end of the thirty days they will absolutely be able to make a clean break. Rob’s intention for Alyssa was to help her get back in the saddle following his death and reawaken her sexuality. Each of the thirty cards left by Rob detail some sexual experience Alyssa is to experience and they range from the very simple/very vanilla to the more daring and less vanilla. Harrison is by far the more experienced of the two and his patience and care with Alyssa is so, so sweet. He understands from the very beginning she is still hurting and still in love with her husband but is ready to reclaim her life. Though Harrison thoroughly enjoys being with Alyssa and her appreciates her willingness to experiment, he finds it difficult to constantly live in the shadow of her late husband. For Alyssa, Harrison is a wonderfully inventive and willing partner who make her body sing, her head swim, and her heart hurt.
The Bottom Line: This was a must-finish read for me and I found myself pulled in from the very beginning. Alyssa just broke my heart in the earliest chapters, made me laugh with her propositioning of Harrison, frustrated me with some of her stubbornness, and finally, made me so very happy when she was able to make things right and get to her well-deserved HEA. As much I liked Alyssa, Harrison is really the highlight of this read with his overall beauty. He is strong and confident, sexy and slightly cocky, and just as vulnerable as Alyssa but for very different reasons. Harrison’s back story really brings everything together and helps both Alyssa and the reader understand some of his words and actions. The naughty bits are sexy, steamy, unconventional (hello, grapefruit!), sometimes funny, always sweet, and totally appropriate to the characters. Outside of Alyssa and Harrison there is small cast of secondary characters who flesh out the overall read and create an interesting dynamic among the group. 30 Days may just be one of my favorite reads of the year with its strong plot, excellent naughty bits, interesting and fully-developed characters, and overall engaging read.
From New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones comes the fourth and final part in the sexy, suspenseful The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series—finally revealing the long-awaited wedding between Amy and Liam. But with the explosive secret they’re hiding, will their enemies ever let them live happily ever after?
For six long years I lived on the run, in fear and devastated by loss. That began to change the day I met Liam Stone, who is so much more than his money and power, and even the protection he has offered me. He is passion. He is friendship. He is love and happiness, and the man who made my enemies his own. And now with his help, the secret that drove me into hiding is buried, our enemies contained. Liam and I can finally start our life and put this behind us. The nightmare is over. Unless…it’s not.
“Let’s make more good memories, baby.”
“Yes. Please,” I say, and my words land on his tongue as he kisses me tenderly. His mouth lingers over mine, my body coming alive, and I feel him breathing with me. Sometimes it feels as if he’s the only way I can breathe.
Liam shifts the spell between us to new places, turning me to face the massive four-poster bed that stirs wonderful, intimate memories, and I am most definitely ready to make more. He unzips my skirt and with deft fingers undresses me, removing one of the barriers between us. Slowly. Seductively. Somehow he never touches my skin but I feel him everywhere. My skin tingles the way my backside had when he smacked it. I know he’s teasing me, driving me to a place where there is only this man, this room, and me. I feel the energy shift and know that he’s no longer directly behind me, leaving me naked and untouched. The freedom to be vulnerable with this man, which I don’t dare with anyone else, is sexy in a thrilling way.
“Turn around,” he orders, and the rough, aroused quality of his voice tells me I affect him, too. I like that even when he’s in control, there’s a part of him that I set free.
I face him, finding him close, but not close enough. He shrugs out of his jacket and I’m mesmerized by him, his power, his grace. Every move he makes is controlled. Every action calculated. And I realize something I think I’ve known all along: we are the same. Both damaged. Both shattered in some deep way. Both defending ourselves from future wounds with our self-control.
He tugs his tie off and wraps it around his hand, silently promising me that soon I’ll be at his mercy. It’s not the first time he’s tied me up, and each encounter is different in a good way. Yet tonight feels like the first time—as if we really are starting a new chapter.
During our first encounter, he’d said, “Sometimes having a safe place to give it away is the best way to block everything else out. I’m asking you to let me show you that I’m that safe place.”
And Liam is my safe place.
His voice commands my attention, and I look up to find I’ve missed the delicious moments leading up to him now being gloriously naked. My gaze lands on the “pi” tattoo on his belly, the 3.14 etched above a row of numbers in an upside-down triangle that is all about the infinite possibilities of life. It’s both thrilling and terrifying at times when I consider them with this man.
“Hold out your hands,” he orders, and it speaks volumes that I no longer hesitate to give myself fully to Liam.
He twists his tie around one of my wrists, and I think of the many ways he has helped me escape my past. But what about his past, which is just as etched in heartache as mine? He doesn’t talk about his mother, not since his sole emotional breakdown. Since then, he’s protected me—but who protects him?
He completes the knot binding my hands and pulls me to him. “And now, you’re mine to please and tease.”
“Yes, I am,” I agree.
For More information on The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series page including: buy links, and excerpts for the previous two and also upcoming releases. Visit Lisa’s website here: http://bit.ly/AmyBensen
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland, Austin Powers, Must Love Dogs) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists. Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann. Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine. Lisa loves to hear from her readers.