Bound tightly within its gorgeous cover, the words upon the pages of DEMON ANGEL spans eight hundred years and tells the tale of how layers upon layer...moreBound tightly within its gorgeous cover, the words upon the pages of DEMON ANGEL spans eight hundred years and tells the tale of how layers upon layers of deception and the twisted spin of lies can, against all odds, shape an unbreakable bond of eternal love.
As a demon halfling, Lilith was forbidden her humanity. Born as the creation and daughter of the Morningstar, Lilith served Lucifer at first with utter glee and devotion, reveling in her role of collecting the damned for the armies Below. But with the simultaneous change in her role from collection to temptation and the kindness of one young knight, Lilith's existence would rely upon the stolen and coerced kisses of that very same knight turned Guardian at her behest. For the one man to show her kindness, Lilith will risk Punishment within the bowels of Hell, even possible death, just to keep him.
With the glimpsed evidence of Lilith's humanity, Hugh embarks upon the role of Guardian with not only the burden of protecting mankind from the demons of Hell and the nosferatu upon Earth, but he also vows to save Lilith. Yet as the centuries slip by and the unveiling of Lilith's saving continues to elude him, Hugh's soul slowly turns to ice. Lilith's determination to serve Lucifer baffles Hugh while hardening his heart to her. Unleashing his Gift of truth upon her only makes Lilith's willing servitude more unbearable. But Lilith isn't the only corruption that festers within Hugh for his role as well has turned into a mockery with the modernization of the world. While a Guardian can protect humans from demons and nosferatu, they cannot prevent their Free Will. If humans are intent to harm and maim one another, Hugh cannot interfere, the Rules prevent it. Tired of witnessing destruction with his hands tied behind his back, Hugh makes his decision. He's known all along what can save Lilith, his only hope had been a different outcome than the one available. With one last kiss, Hugh slices Lilith's heart in two and Falls.
Sixteen years later, Hugh is once again human and unbeknownest to him, Lilith is still alive.
Despite the fact that Hugh knows that Lilith's death was necessary to give her freedom, he's still yet to fully recover from his grief. He loved her even though Lilith's demon nature would have prevented her from the same emotion. Slowly, Hugh has pieced together an acceptable existence but his soul has become restless and he feels that doom lingers upon the horizon. It's because of this that Hugh isn't necessarily surprised to find Lilith alive. What's surprising is the coincidence of their meeting and the fact that Lilith is...different.
Although saved by Hugh, Lilith only experienced two hours of freedom after two thousand years of serving Lucifer before he revives her to life with a bargain: A life for her life and the life he demands she take is Hugh's.
A new world has developed for demons. The corruption of the federal and governmental bureaus offer a smorgasbord of opportunities to infiltrate the inner workings of mankind like never before. Lucifer's demons now possess congressmen and senate seats, controlling positions within the FBI, and other powerful outlets. Lilith, aka Agent Lily Milton, works for the San Francisco FBI under Agent Smith, aka the Demon Beelzebub, and justice is not what they seek.
When Hugh learns that his assumption of Lilith as a demon was wrong, that she was in fact human and a halfling, he's more than devastated. For eight hundred years he denied his passion for her thinking that her emotions would only be that of a demon's. Although he's a mere human now, Hugh is once again determined to save Lilith despite her bargain. If he must sacrifice his life for hers then so be it. But soon it's not just about saving Lilith. Hugh's college students are being abducted and found later with gruesome symbols carved into their bodies and their blood drained. There is also a large concentration of nosferatu in the San Francisco area and no Guardians or demons slaying them. When the FBI come knocking at his door with questions, Hugh is soon pegged as the prime suspect in the students' abductions and slayings.
In the midst of avoiding the FBI, stopping the nosferatu, protecting the college students, and trying to outwit Lucifer, Hugh and Lilith's repressed lust comes bursting to the forefront. Already wrought with sexual tension, when these two come together it's positively combustible. Stripping away her demon form and illusions, Hugh burrows deeply within the woman that Lilith has hidden for two thousand years. He rips forth her humanity in such a way that she'll never again be able to hide who and what she truly is: Human. With that being done, of course Lucifer calls in his bargain that Lilith is to take Hugh's life, but Lilith has another plan that's absurd in the extreme. But perhaps a little absurdity is shocking enough to break the bonds of her bargain, save the abducted college students and maybe even close the Gates from Hell to Earth for five hundred years.
I don't believe that any review can convey the sheer epic quality that is DEMON ANGEL. The passage of unimaginable time is depicted clearly with the incredible growth of the novel's characters. Even Hugh's love for Lilith has been shaped by eight hundred years. How does one even describe the evolution of a love that complex? Yet Brook pulls it off and the complexities and the rampant emotions of Hugh and Lilith are captivating.
Lilith's personality resembles the emotionally closed off bad boy heroes that we hussies love so much in romance. First, she's freakin' bad ass! The woman is a serious hardcore superhero in an anti superhero sort of way. She's a woman who cuts herself off from any relationship with a rapier wit and excessive cruelty knowing that one day she may be asked to lead them into temptation. Gentleness is not a highly prized attribute of hers but with Hugh, she is someone that no one else is allowed to see. Even after she's made tentative friends, she cares naught but for Hugh.
The romance in DEMON ANGEL ranged from brutally tragic to fearsome and combustible. Both Hugh and Lilith are adrenalin junkies and their lust for one another is ramped sky high with each brush with death but they're also able to slow it down and luxuriate in each other's embrace. What Brook did with DEMON ANGEL is unlike anything that I've read before or since. Her world is amazingly intense and complex yet its also broken up with laugh out loud moments and passionate love affairs.
There is only one aspect of DEMON ANGEL that dragged down the experience a bit. In some instances the happenings are just too complex and Brook looses the flow of the novel from time to time. Occasionally I had to stop and re-read sections to better understand the characters and their motivations. Truthfully, I think that the themes she tackled in DEMON ANGEL were just, for lack of a better word, huge. Good verses evil is never easy to write for the concept is not black and white but rather it's a spectrum of countless shades of gray. Even knowing that though, one can see and appreciate the talent that Brook has and it shines brightly with DEMON ANGEL. (less)
PATIENCE is the story of two strong-willed, independent creatures that have each been betrayed by those whom they trustingly gave their hearts only to...morePATIENCE is the story of two strong-willed, independent creatures that have each been betrayed by those whom they trustingly gave their hearts only to be found lacking. Now, having brutally learned their lesson, neither is interested in repeating their previous pain but thankfully there's an undeniable pull that draws these two fated beings together. And once in each others arms, their well fortified walls begin crumble as if so much dust.
An incomparable beauty, Patience Emmalina Dare is coveted by all the male members of the ton. As they preen, peck and squawk their candidacy as potential suitors, they know not that their efforts fall upon deaf ears for Patience has no desire to belong to any man. Instead, her heart - her everything - belongs to her cello and the music she persuades from its strings for you see, her instrument could never forsake her, can never ever leave her thus providing the perfect guard against any who contrive to poach upon her love. However, despite Patience's instrumental guard, she also recognizes a deep-seeded yearning for one man that has the very real potential to obliterate all that she is but the secrets he dangles before her are utter temptation and they have her leaping for a glimpse of the freedom he offers.
Matthew Morgan Hawkmore, formally the second son of an earl but now a known bastard and recent social pariah of the ton, is grasping with white knuckles to the remaining pieces of his former life that he can still call his own. But there are those that would glory at seeing his financial demise and none is more hungry for that than Archibald Benchley - the Earl of Benchley and Matthew's would be father-in-law if news of his bastard birth had never made light. Accused of withholding his bastardy from "good society", Matthew has been snubbed by those he had once called friends and now to have his name and his honor slandered atop of the fierce financial crush that Benchley has heaped upon him, the desire for revenge has him swirling in an all encompassing darkness of anger and hatred. There is only one light capable of piercing through the black that is now Matthew's tarnished soul and that is Patience. Her goodness and her light calls to him, beckoning with sensual promise as well as soothing acceptance.
It's really no surprise that from an early age, Matthew recognized and cultivated a burning need and desire to sexually dominate. With evidence of his already controlling nature, his role as a sexual dominant is no coincidence for he's a man that inherently seeks control - needs control - and in his current uncontrollable and crumbling world this unequivocal need to dominate gravitates him on a very primal level towards Patience. As if viewing a mirror image of himself, Matthew recognizes a deep-seeded and complicated pain within her and his reaction to it is fierce. Ultimately, Matthew desperately craves Patience's absolute surrender; to strip her of all her fortified walls, crumble her resistance, and tear asunder the pain that has burdened her so greatly. Perhaps by unleashing and healing Patience, Matthew can heal his own dark pain and the only way he knows how to do this is by requiring her complete and utter submission.
Patience, nervous and unsure of the submission Matthew is demanding, follows him with a tentative trust. No man has ever demanded anything of her and while she should be affronted by his commands, instead Matthew brings to light a curious feeling that she's never before felt; one that awakens a previously dormant and unknown faucet of her nature that ultimately causes her to grasp hold of it with desperate hands and an aching heart. Soon, Patience finds solace in her submissive bonds. She no longer has to control her thoughts or maintain her strict independence for in truth they're not her nature. She was meant to be a nurturer, a calm example but instead she became closed off, seemingly un-needing of anyone but her cello. For years Patience has unknowingly forced herself into something she's not and with Matthew's help she's released from these constricting bonds of her own making and instead basks in the silken bonds of his dominance.
However, while Patience unveils hidden aspects of her personality, hauntingly painful moments in her past, as well as gifted Matthew with her complete trust, he's hidden a plan from her that could potentially tear apart their burgeoning relationship. His revenge scheme for his enemy, Archibald Bentley, has escalated to such a high degree that Matthew recognizes no moral bounds. It's kill or be killed in his mind and he has every intention of beating Benchley to the punch despite the fact that his conscience is saying he's wrong. There's strong evidence of this because Matthew does his absolute best to make sure that Patience is kept completely in the dark from his nefarious plotting. She is everything that is good and beautiful in his world and to make his plans known to her would only spell his doom. Instead, Matthew is so twisted with anger and hatred that he becomes nearly blinded by the revenge he seeks rather than the cling to the love he's already been given by the woman that longs to lighten his world.
Truly, what I think surprised me the most about PATIENCE, and it's not the unbelievable depths that Valdez explored with the D/s relationship between Matthew and Patience, but the fact that it didn't resemble PASSION in any way. Instead, the novel is compellingly unique and held its own superbly against its famous predecessor. That accomplishment in and of itself is rare and quite splendid. Bravo Ms. Valdez!
That being said, I must admit that I'm shocked at the negative reviews this novel has received. This was a daring work of art that was, for me at least, incredibly moving and beautiful to experience. Every moment meant something and I basked in the depth that Valdez took her characters as each and every barrier is sensually stripped to reveal the true Matthew and Patience. Even more shocking was that people were perplexed that Matthew discerns Patience's submissiveness seemingly "out of the blue". I disagree. There were plenty examples of Patience's unknown desire to submit. It was in her voice, her words, her false independence, and most importantly it was her reaction to Matthew. Extending beyond that, the relationship was explored slowly with Matthew giving Patience every chance to leave. How else could she have known of this desire? It's not like she knew the lifestyle existed. What did readers expect Matthew to do, ask her directly about a subject she knows nothing about? Have a discussion over tea? He's a sexual dominant who knows that he must dominate. He's been practicing for years thus helping him to recognize Patience's hidden nature.
The negativity, in my opinion, stems mostly from a simple dislike of D/s. I believe that you must have at least an appreciation for the Dominant/submissive dynamic in order to fully enjoy a novel of this nature. If this is not something you enjoy or desire to read, then you're only going to see it as derogatory and your inner feminist will rear its head and scream foul. The relationship that Valdez has written is fluent with the D/s stories that I've read and loved from the masters and to read it in a historical setting by such a passionate author was an absolute dream and one I will not be forgetting soon.
I've also had a friend email me saying that she didn't see the romance at all in PATIENCE and again, I'm shocked. For me, every word spoken, every touch bestowed, taken and demanded was romance. This is a novel that focuses nearly completely on the hero, heroine and their struggle. Its dissected and explored with graphic but sensual sex scenes that will most definitely leave you breathless if not squirming in your seat. From beginning to end, PATIENCE is romance, one that I will most certainly be returning to for seconds, thirds and more.
If you love intense romance with graphic sex, x-rated language, an uber alpha hero who also happens to be a sexual dominant, and a complex heroine who lives and breathes to submit to her hero, than PATIENCE is the historical romance for you.(less)
Hadrian Braxton-Lowell, the ninth Duke of Clayborough, is a man bound by duty and honor. After he and his mother suffered greatly at the hands of his...moreHadrian Braxton-Lowell, the ninth Duke of Clayborough, is a man bound by duty and honor. After he and his mother suffered greatly at the hands of his abusive father, Hadrian swore that he would never allow himself to be similar to his sire in any way. Yet with his driving need to be proper, Hadrian has become somewhat tight fisted. He even acknowledges to himself that no one would like him if he wasn't the Duke of Clayborough for with that title comes great and exceptional power. Hadrian also feels duty bound to his fiancé, Elizabeth, with whom he's been engaged to since nearly her birth. While he adores her as a brother might of a younger sister, Hadrian feels no desire for his bride. But he is a duke and he will follow through with his commitments. Although fate, it seems, has another plan for him.
Nicole Bragg Shelton is no stranger to scandal and while her birth proclaims her a lady, no one else would believe it. After escaping the noose of a potentially dull marriage, society has shunned her to the country. Yet this couldn't bother Nicole in the slightest. Living like a wild ruffian, Nicole shamelessly rides her feisty stallion astride with men's breeches, no less. She'd much rather be galloping around with her father and brothers then being trussed up in a ball gown and having insipid conversation.
After Nicole's pride is pricked by some unsavory acquaintances, Nicole decides to attend the masque ball being held in honor of the Duke of Clayborough's arrival to his neighboring country estate. Nicole dresses as a gypsy, staying true to the nature of the costume she arrives with her long dark hair unbound and her feet left bare. Her scandalous ensemble garners the attention of the duke in quite the wrong way. He jumps to the conclusion that she's a widow looking for passion. With raging desire that cannot be denied, Hadrian invites Nicole to his home with the simple intentions of bedding her and then sending her on her way.
But things do not go as planned with Nicole's true unwed position being discovered by Hadrian while Nicole discovers that the man she's fallen in love with is actually engaged to be married. A physical altercation ensues with Nicole flaying Hadrian with a riding crop. The whole debacle then moves to London where once again it appears that Nicole is fodder for gossip and that her past scandal has not lost its appeal to society.
Both Nicole and Hadrian feel guilty for their flaming desire for one another because Elizabeth, Hadrian's fiancé and saint that she is, wants to see Nicole accepted by society and implores Hadrian to help put a stop to the gossip. Nicole truly begins to care for Elizabeth and sees her as a wonderful friend while Hadrian is pulling his hair out in wanting to stay clear of the temptation of Nicole but he also wants to please his bride.
When Elizabeth's strange and elusive illness claims her life both Nicole and Hadrian are bereft at the loss. Nicole, wanting to ease Hadrian's grief visits him unescorted. Hadrian, wishing to numb both his feelings for Nicole and his grief for Elizabeth, drinks himself into a haze and when comforted by Nicole, he takes her in a fit unbridled passion. When he comes to, he's need to be dutiful has him offering Nicole marriage. Nicole refuses. It's her belief that while she loves Hadrian; he's still in love with Elizabeth.
Hadrian, baffled by Nicole's refusal, decides to tell her father what transpired between him and Nicole. Somehow his feelings for Nicole have grown into something that prevents him from even trying to walk away from her. It's not just about duty, but the fact that he desires her as his wife. He's a little unprepared though for Nicole's wrath when she discovers that he's informed her father of their scandalous passion and she is now being forced by her parents to marry him. Dragging her feet every step of the way insights numerous battles and heated discussion yet neither can deny the passion and desire they still harbor for one another. When the vows are finally spoken and the duke whisks her back to his country estate the culmination of that transpired is fought out in the bedroom eliciting a night of ravaging desire. But these two are not out of the wood yet.
Nicole, glimpsing the love that may be had between them embarks on being a duchess but of course nothing is to go smoothly for the woman who instigates scandal just by breathing. The battle of wills once again erupts with Hadrian trying to force Nicole to bend to his iron will but she comes back fighting. Eventually Hadrian realizes that who Nicole is, scandal and all, is what has ignited his deep seeded love for her. But will his realization be too late?
Nicole was a very feisty and entertaining heroine. Some reviewers disliked her thinking her to be a whiner who chased after Hadrian incessantly. I loved Nicole though for her blatant tenacity. She's fiery and bold and while there were times that she acted immature, I believe it was more to do with the newness of her emotions. I loved when she went after Hadrian with her crop. She's not afraid to show her emotions to him especially when she's angry. I think she struck him about four times in the book but I thought they were all deserved. Nicole really had my inner feminist cheering for her time and again.
There was only one instance that had me frustrated with Nicole's stubbornness and that was at her wedding. Hadrian spent two weeks trying to quiet any vicious gossip over the truth of their marriage. She almost became ostracized over the fact that the duke was marrying her within weeks of Elizabeth's death. Hadrian plays the role of a love sick groom, stating that he just couldn't wait to marry his true love. Yet Nicole ruins his work when she blatantly shows her disapproval over having to marry him. Society then laughs at Hadrian for loving a woman who obviously doesn't love him which couldn't be further from the truth. Nicole soon sees the error to her ways but she almost took her stubbornness too far.
Hadrian was a perfect foil to Nicole's untamed spirit. He really needed some scandal to liven up his life. Nicole becomes the key to his freedom from the choke-hold of duty. And while of course being a man, Hadrian has trouble reconciling his intense feelings for Nicole; he soon accepts that she's the love he's unknowingly always wanted in his life.
Despite the vastness of the De Warenne Dynasty series, every book can easily be read as a standalone and 'Scandalous Love' is no exception. Brenda Joyce has a very extensive website featuring long excerpts and historical facts. I think I've already spent a few hours on her site; the woman seriously has that much material.(less)
Marguerite Purrequet has a very regimented daily routine. She begins and ends each day the same with the sun rising and setting around her tea shop, T...moreMarguerite Purrequet has a very regimented daily routine. She begins and ends each day the same with the sun rising and setting around her tea shop, Tea Leaves. Only one variation exists. Every Thursday night Marguerite steps out of her tea shop and into The Zone, an exclusive BDSM club where she is known as Mistress Marguerite, the Ice Queen. Marguerite is a sexual Dominant. Her soul finds true bliss when a submissive relinquishes all - body, mind and soul, entrusting Mistress Margurite with not only their safety but their fantasies as well.
Tyler Winterman, a man of untold wealth, is a Master and heterosexual Dominant at The Zone. In his early forties, Tyler embodies the seductive sturdiness and strength of a real man who knows himself - body, mind and soul, thorough and thorough. His soul rings true to Marguerite's and their shared desire to dominate their sexual partners.
The Zone requires all Mistresses and Masters to complete a study in both BDSM roles in order to maintain membership status. These studies allow sexual dominant members to experience BDSM sessions from the submissive perspective. Computer error has allowed Marguerite membership without class completion. In order to continue her forays at The Zone, Marguerite selects Master Tyler to be her teacher in the hopes that The Zone's two elite can work out a deal whereby Marguerte may continue her membership without class completion. But Tyler is not in a mood to comply.
Tyler has been infatuated with Marguerite since the first time he saw her at The Zone two years ago. Her appearance alone would attract any ones notice. Marguerite is tall and slender with long snow white hair and translucent skin but it's her ice blue soul-piercing eyes that captivate Tyler. That and the fact that he thinks Marguerite is a "switch" - a Dominant that is actually a sub. Tyler believes that the computer glitch is destiny and convinces Marguerite to complete the study while spending a weekend at his Florida Gulf home.
Marguerite is intensely complex. While her body lays out the trauma of the past one cigarette burn at a time, Tyler does not inquire about how their appearance came to be. Although a Master's goal is to view the soul of the sub, somethings, upon the sub's request will not be disclosed. That is part of the safety and trust that a Master can and must provide. Yet the scars only represent the first of many unbreakable walls that Marguerite has erected to protect her soul and Tyler fights desperately to blast through them.
This book was like a fencing match with two very aggressive beings thrusting a parrying back forth while the steel of their souls clash causing sparks to fly. Marguerite is mostly on the defensive trying desperately to maintain and uphold the bricks of her walls but Tyler continually crumbles them with soul searing light. And while that light helpful it's not enitrely effective, Marguerite's darkness appears too vast and deep that the light is vanquished by it's shear depth and blackness. Yet Tyler's persistence is admirable and he knows that while Marguerite runs, he has made an impact, those first protective walls have come down and he tries one last direct hit with allowing Marguerite to dominate him.
I really enjoyed this novel. It provided the extreme of BDSM with the complexity of a true, albeit unusual, romance. Tyler's acceptance of Marguerite, including her sordid yet unrevealed past, is beautiful and true making him a hero in every sense of the word. Marguerite is the epitome of strength and vision of how one can pull their life together after terrible tragedy. She is selfless and compassionate to others and is more than deserving of Tyler's love and protection. These characters were perfect for each other. (less)