There’s something utterly decadent, in the best possible way, about revisiting a beloved fictional world, and getting to peel off more and more layers from a reality that already captivated us, mesmerized us, kept us engrossed beginning to end. The Wild Side trilogy was one of those delicious reading escapes for me that was impossible to put down and inevitably left me starving for more—more insight into the characters, more uncovered truths, more angles from which to untangle the plotline, not to mention seeing some of the secondary characters get their chance to tell their story. This book gave us just that—it gave us back two characters we couldn’t help but notice and become intrigued by in the midst of Iris and Dair’s whirlwind romance—and it made us fall in love with them. Lourdes and Heath are as unlikely a match as they could possibly be, and yet their very differences make them so perfect for one another. My heart raced from the first page, every word in this sinfully exhilarating romance making me forget the world around me and immerse myself blissfully in yet another scorching R.K. Lilley story that I adored.
“What I’d give to have a man love me like that… What I’d give to have a man look at me like that, with his whole heart in his eyes.”
A successful woman in her forties, Lourdes’ messy divorce has left her apprehensive about trusting men again in her life. Her romantic heart has always dreamed of finding a great love in her life, of being adored, cherished, protected, even though she never believed she’d be lucky enough to find such a man. So when a mysterious stranger, sixteen years her junior, walks into her life, determined and relentless in his forceful pursuit of her, Lourdes battles with herself as her mind and heart pull her in different directions. But it becomes very clear from the start that her stranger is not a man easily dissuaded from his intentions, his every touch, look, command awakening her body as never before.
“Don’t make me regret this.”
“You won’t. And you won’t forget it, either.”
Stoic, dominant, unreadable at the best of times, Heath’s remarkable self-control makes him a very confusing and often exasperating man to be around, but Lourdes is drawn to him like a moth to a flame, his ability to affect her body as puzzling as his unwavering concern for her emotional wellbeing. While he dominates in the bedroom, he is surprisingly gentle in his handling of her outside of it, making her feel protected and treasured whenever within his reach. Everything about him cautions her to safeguard her heart from him, and yet she inevitably falls for him more and more each time they are in each other’s arms.
“I’ve lived a violent life. But, Lourdes, listen very carefully, because this is a promise: I’d never hurt you. Okay?”
But Heath is a man drowning in secrets, his life a horrific collection of traumatic memories and lurking dangers, and the more Heath and Lourdes start to feel for one another, the more his reality drives them away from one another, breaking Lourdes’ heart more and more each time Heath disappears without an explanation.
“I’d taken in a wild animal. How could I be surprised I’d been bitten in the process?”
Ms Lilley has given us a heroine with an astounding level of self-awareness evident in her every thought, doubt, impetuous act born out of nothing more than instinct and courage. Her character is meticulously and perceptively framed start to finish, making it easy for us to connect with her on every possible level. She remains mindful of every complicated trait present in the broken man she is slowly falling in love with, and yet she keeps putting her heart on the line, confident it wouldn’t steer her wrong.
“I’d be alone for the rest of my life before I’d settle for less than a man who flat out adored me.”
An electrifying story that kept me on the edge of my seat page after page, with just the right balance of sizzling sex and mounting emotional attachment between the characters, not to mention an impressive insight into the characters’ psyche. I loved the way Lourdes and Heath are allowed to grow individually, as well as a couple, and the only thing that I would have loved even more would have been to hear Heath’s inner voice as well on occasion, an insight into his complex personality a welcome addition to the heroine’s. As they help one another overcome what is holding them back from having a life more complete, Heath and Lourdes also teach each other the true meaning of ever-lasting, selfless love—that love changing every aspect of their existence.
“How could the way someone looked at you change the way you saw your life?”
While this story could theoretically be read on its own, it connection to The Wild Side trilogy is impossible to ignore, many aspects of Heath and Lourdes’ story completing that of Dair and Iris. Their parallel timelines are designed to fit perfectly into one another, filling each other’s gaps and offering a more thorough understanding of the overall plotline.
I thought he was going to kiss me. I wanted him to. I wanted that and more. But he didn’t, not then.
Instead, he let me go, and stepped back, nodding his head at the coffee pot that had just finished brewing. “I know better than to come between a woman and her morning caffeine.”
I smiled wryly, but as I prepared us both a cup, my hands were shaking so hard that I wondered if I should even drink it. I was already wound up too tight to contain.
“How do you take it?” I asked, my back to him, my shaking hand on the creamer.
Before he even touched me, I felt him getting closer. I shivered as he pressed his chest against my back, his taller form folding over me until his hands braced on either side of mine, gripping the counter’s edge.
“I’d rather show you than tell you,” his gravelly voice rasped into my ear.
I gasped, then silently cursed at myself. This was not me. Men did not make me nervous. “I was referring to the coffee,” I said archly. “Cream and sugar?”
“Just cream,” he responded. “No sugar. I’m sweet enough.”
That forced a hard laugh out of me, because we both knew that he was about as sweet as a pit-bull.
I finished mixing our coffees, him pressed to me all the while, his body dominating mine before he’d ever even kissed me.
He took his cup and moved away. I was equal parts relieved and disappointed. I was having a hard time knowing what I was feeling, what I wanted, where he was concerned. I knew this was moving too fast, was certain of that, but at the same time, I wanted more, wanted it to move faster, to go forward with no brakes.
I took a few breaths, then turned to look at him, leaning back to brace my hip against the counter as we both took our first drink.
“How do you feel about restraints?” he asked casually.
I nearly choked on the hot liquid pouring down my throat.
Of course he’s into kink, I thought to myself, eyes narrowed on him. Any man that young and good looking would have some quirks.
“Like handcuffs?” I asked when I’d finally recovered from the fit of coughing that he had caused.
His arched brow just arched higher, the corner of his lip lifting up in what I thought was amusement.
I shook my head. “No. Sorry, no. I don’t know you that well.” I set my coffee down, done with it. I was already too wired.
He set his down, too, and in spite of everything, all I could concentrate on was how his muscles moved under his tight shirt with every movement.
He moved to me slowly, and I had to consciously make an effort not to hold my breath.
“Fair enough,” he told me. “We’ll work on getting to know each other better. But in the meantime,” his hands reached down, grabbing both of my wrists.
I watched those hands. They were so big. I never saw myself as particularly delicate or small. I was slender, and fit, but not tiny. But as he grabbed my wrists, circling them with his fingers, I became hyperaware of just how delicate I was, compared to him. How fragile.
A strange thrill moved through me. Strange because it wasn’t only desire I was feeling. Mixed in there somewhere was a definite thread of fear.
Why did that only enhance the desire? I almost didn’t even want to investigate it. Yes, it was perverse. But it was also exhilarating. Exhilarating and so much more.
So many things I hadn’t felt in too long to name, and I didn’t want to pass on any of them.
He squeezed my wrists. Not to the point of pain, but with just enough pressure to let me know his strength, which was formidable.
“I won’t use restraints,” he said quietly. “Not until you’re ready. But I will hold you down. Can you handle that?”
I found myself nodding jerkily, even as I wondered if I really could.
I didn’t know why I just agreed to that, just like I didn’t know why I was about to have sex with a perfect stranger in the middle of the morning on a Tuesday.
It felt dangerous, yet completely necessary.
It was a while before I could look away from my captive hands and up into his cold stare.
“Any other quirks of yours that you want to tell me about upfront?” I managed to ask him in a somewhat steady voice.
He smiled, and it was colder than ever. “Not particularly.”
Well hell, that was far from reassuring.
He took a step back, still holding my wrists. “I don’t even know where to start with you,” he said, voice low, eyes on my body.
That wasn’t reassuring either, but it was becoming clear to me that maybe I didn’t want to be reassured, going by my body’s reaction to every alarming thing that came out of his mouth.
He suddenly moved closer again, took one captive hand and pulled it, palm first, to cup him. I moaned at the feel of him. The hardness of him, the foreign largeness. I rubbed at him over his sweats, my heavy-lidded eyes on his cold ones.
I suddenly found myself grabbing a handful of bare cock.
I glanced down. He’d shifted his waistband down, exposing himself.
My jaw nearly dropped, eyes going wide. He was fully aroused, and huge.
“Holy shit,” I thought. Oh no, I hadn’t thought that. I’d said it aloud.
He seemed to get a kick out of that, which I didn’t think was good. This guy did not need any more strokes to his ego.
“I take it your ex-husband didn’t measure up,” he said, arrogant bastard.
“I don’t think many men measure up to that,” just sort of slipped out of me. But fuck it all, it was only the truth.
I ringed my fingers around his girth experimentally, licking my lips. My fingers couldn’t touch. I let him go, watching his heavy cock bob down heavily as I did it.
I’ve always considered myself to be a passionate, sensual woman. I’ve enjoyed sex, not just the physical release but the intimacy of it, but this was something else entirely, like some new person was suddenly sharing space in my body.
Never in my life before that moment had I felt a need like this. Never had I felt like a bitch in heat, but I did then. I stared at that cock and I wanted it. Wanted to drop to my knees and beg him for it, any way I could get it, anywhere.
“Your turn,” he said, his rough voice drawing my eyes back to his face.
I licked my lips, mind gone blank, no concept of what he was asking or why. “E-excuse me?”
He smiled his cold smile, and pushed my hand back to his cock. “I took something off. Now it’s your turn. You take something off.”
I glanced down at his sweatpants, hand feeling at him, memorizing his length with hungry fingers. I tugged at my other arm, but he held it fast, still gripping my wrist.
“You didn’t take anything off,” I pointed out. “You just pulled something out.”
He chuckled, and I glanced up at his face. I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed, or more fascinated than ever, that even when he laughed it didn’t reach those eyes of his.
He pushed my hand away, dragging it behind my back, along with the other, gripping both of my wrists in one massive hand. The other went to my braid, twisting again, wrapping it around his fist, tilting my head back.
My lips parted, eyes closing, as I realized that he was finally going to kiss me.
It wasn’t what I expected, that kiss. After all of his blunt statements, I’d expected him to be rough, to ravage from the start. He did not. Instead, his lips were soft, coaxing, easing mine open for the shockingly tender onslaught of his tongue.
His body shifted, crowding mine against the counter, his hardness digging into my leg.
I moved against him, impatient for more contact.
He deepened the kiss until I was moaning as I tasted and sucked at his driving tongue as it plunged repeatedly to mate with mine.
He groaned, shoving his enormous erection hard, hard, harder into my thigh. So hard I wondered if I’d have an oversized boner shaped bruise there tomorrow.
He ripped his mouth away from mine, gasping . “Bedroom,” he said curtly, taking his hands off me, and pulling away.
I nodded, then began to move, on unsteady legs, toward my room. I could feel him at my back, his breath on me neck, every drugging step of the way.
I paused in the doorway to my bedroom, but his hard body nudged me all of the way into the room. That made me shoot him a glance over my shoulder.
Every line in his face read unapologetic, so I knew it had been deliberate.
“Raise your arms over your head,” he ordered me.
I raised a brow at him, but did it, holding them high, arching my back, my aching breasts thrust forward.
His nostrils flared, and he stepped close behind me, so close I could no longer crane to see his face.
His big hands settled on my hips, gripping into the fleshy part, testing it in a way that made me tremble.
My arms started to lower, but a rough, “No, keep them up,” in my ear stayed them.
His hands started skimming under my shirt, teasing at my belly.
Abruptly he pulled it up and over my head.
A muscle quivered in my stomach as the skin of my abdomen was bared.
My shoulders drew up tight as, with rather impressive speed, he unsnapped my bra and tore it off my arms, tossing it carelessly to the ground.
His hands skimmed from my shoulders to my wrists with a featherlight touch. I could hear my own breath panting out of me as he folded them behind my head, wrists held together close to my nape.
He used that hold to nudge me, moving me closer to the bed.
“All this needs is a bag over my head, and we’d have a perp walk,” I said, my wry tone spoiled by the fact that I couldn’t seem to breathe properly.
He liked that, I could hear it in his voice as he responded, “If this is a perp walk, I need to do a better job of patting you down.” As he spoke, he shifted my wrists to one hand.
I sucked in a breath as his free hand moved to my collarbone. I glanced down to watch as he slid it over my skin until it held my breast, watched it move with the rapid rise and fall of my chest. He ran a rough thumb over my nipple.
“You’re trembling,” he rasped into my ear, making me tremble all the more. “Fear or excitement?”
I licked my lips and gave him the truth. “Both.”