Reviews – February 2013

Passion's NectarPassion’s Nectar by The Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By now there have been so many reviews (and if not, there should be) talking about how amazing Passion’s Nectar was, that I’m just jumping on the bandwagon at this point. But I’m going to do it anyway . . .

After I read the Prologue, my mouth was literally hanging open. And I became one of those people who emails authors to ask them what happens next, rather than just reads the book. But I had to reach out to The Black and honestly it was not so much to find out where the story went, but to tell him that his work was pure awesomeness. And I guarantee you will have the same urge when you read Passion’s Nectar. My next thought was a panicky one: I know this is a series, what if he hasn’t written the others yet??? Thankfully he has, with only one installment remaining, which—fingers crossed—is due out later this year.

But this one, on its own was perfectly titled for more reasons than one. It was exactly like a nectar—rich, dense, best consumed slowly, and satisfying long after it’s done. The story is, ostensibly, about Carrie who goes out to a nightclub with friends and awakens the next morning in a mansion. Her clothes are nowhere in sight and she has no memory (at least not in her mind) of what transpired. But her body remembers, and The Black gives us small, tantalizing doses of her sensory-memory of the previous evening. One of my favorite sentences, which is illustrative of how this writer writes: Her body thrummed its memory.

How can you not love that!?

Oh, and it only gets much, much better. Carrie’s flashes of returning recollection are given to us in short spurts, just like real memory. The cadence and pacing of the writing mirroring the nature of remembered scenes in her mind.

His breath and lips on her neck . . .

So big . . . so hard . . . so deep

. . . his hand between her legs, touching her . . .

And as the story unfolds you realize that Carrie is not the star of the show, she is an experiment of sorts. She had been drinking Passion’s Nectar, a potent new invention that excites the libido and makes people sexually insatiable, because the formula has yet to be perfected.

Finally, near the end of the story (or at least this part of it) we find out exactly how Carrie came to be naked in the mansion, and the writing in that section of the book is among the best I’ve read in a while to convey thought and action simultaneously:

She was so wet.

She felt her need slicking the insides of her thighs as she followed him from the garage through the shadows of the cavernous house to the stairs.

She took no notice of the house. Her eyes were on him. Her mind was on what he represented.

Relief.

Release.

Dick.

She followed his dick up a winding staircase into a dark upper hallway.

After that, I was just done. I became Carrie and was there when: He stood behind her, pushed his hard heat into her wet heat.

By this point, I was looking down at my Kindle and noticing with dismay that the story was 78% done. My only comfort at that point was the knowledge that I could go to Amazon and buy Passion’s Kiss, Passion’s Fire and Passion’s Journey.

But like Passion’s Nectar, I plan to pace myself and read them very, very slowly because I just don’t want it to be over.

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Redemptive Acts~Part IIRedemptive Acts~Part II by Nikki Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nikki Walker’s Redemptive Acts Parts I and II were the first books I’d read in the inspirational romance genre, and so I didn’t quite know what to expect. The story of a young woman who is sexually assaulted and then finds protection and solace with her attacker’s twin brother is, on the surface, not one you might easily believe could happen. But Ms. Walker made me believe it could, and that was purely on the strength of the characters she drew. Cherise, who is guided by faith and her hopes for a better future for her and her child, makes the only choice she can under desperate circumstances—to trust the brother of the man whose act almost destroyed her trust in people entirely; and Jonathan whose life up the point he meets Cherise is guided by duty and responsibility to family, assumes a new responsibility, but one that will put him at odds with the family he lives for.

In Part II, Cherise has come to trust, rely on and love (though it takes her awhile to admit it) Jonathan. And his feelings for her have developed as well, from responsibility and a desire to make amends for his brother’s act, to something far deeper. To further protect her from harm, he suggests a marriage of convenience, that the reader knows immediately is not quite that, for either of them. I loved the descriptions of both Cherise and Jonathan responding to each other as a man and a woman, even as they try to argue themselves out of that attraction. There is a scene where Cherise is about to take a bath, and needs Jonathan’s help, that will make your heart melt and yearn for a love that is like theirs—sweet and pure, and in their case (at least to this point) chaste.

As a reader who tends toward more gritty relationship stories, I was absolutely drawn in by the depiction of a couple falling in love without the fast-attachment trick provided by sex. It’s easy to manufacture a connection between a couple on the page when they have frequent and vividly-described sex. Without that, Nikki Walker showed how love can grow through mutual respect, trust, and friendship. Instead of making love on their wedding night, Jonathan and Cherise play a board game! And sleep in separate beds I-Love-Lucy style. I adored that, because not only did it underscore that their connection was more than physical attraction, it added to the sense of longing that is a crucial part of every good love story. The absence of physical love only heightened your sense of the emotional bond between the couple, and that’s not easy to do.

And finally, the characters. Nikki succeeded in making me feel for Cherise what Jonathan felt—a fierce protectiveness for her, and a fear that she would be hurt again. I understood and could feel how closely she tried to guard her heart, even while she began to feel things for Jon that she knew might result in her being hurt once again. At the same time, she showed Cherise’s protectiveness of Jonathan, and her selflessness when she thought about how Jon’s choosing to protect her might further separate him from his family and his brother who is not just any sibling, but his twin.

Jonathan was just the man we all hope we have, or might have—guided by a deep-seated desire to do what’s right and cause no pain to those he loves.

And finally, there was Ty, who is the subject of the upcoming release ‘In Search of a Healing Place’wow. I wanted to hate him, I really, really did and there were moments that I did, but considering his actions (can’t tell you, sorry), the real surprise for me was that I actually felt some empathy for him and had to remind myself that he should be disliked. He is definitely the villain of the story (because every good story needs one) but he is not villainous. He is misguided, deluded and in many ways, just a sad and deeply lonely character. I very much look forward to reading about the rest of his journey, and am so glad I started on it with Redemptive Acts Parts I and II.

This is not edgy stuff, but who needs edgy all the time? This is sweet romance at its best. I highly recommend.

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