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(Flames & Ashes #1)
by Carolyn Anthony
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(Flames & Ashes #1)
Publication date: January 7th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
When Jaxxon Reginhardt walks into my gym, my rigidly structured existence begins to crumble. He’s a beast of a man, the personification of power, and more beautiful than any man has a right to be. He’s everything I avoid. Everything I fear. Yet, the second I see him, something deep within me roars to life. He makes me want. He sets my body aflame with just a look, and makes me wish I wasn’t a damaged shell no one will ever love.
I don’t have time for men when my whole world is built around self-preservation. But Jaxxon breaks down all of my strategically constructed boundaries like no one ever has.
How can I give into these new cravings, when there is a half-remembered demon from my past waiting for me to fall asleep, preying on my vulnerability?
If he ever knew the truth, he would run, and it would destroy me …
The last thing I need in my complicated life is a snarky, frustrating, spitfire of a woman like Valentina Durare. As if that isn’t bad enough, there’s something haunted about her. My head says stay the hell away, but I can’t seem to get on board with that logic.
Something about me scares her. I can feel it. She’s a beautiful enigma I ache to understand.
The closer we get, the more she responds and draws me in. It can’t be me she fears. There must be something else … Something tied to the scars she refuses to show me.
But I’m stubborn son-of-a-bitch. I want all of her—not half. Because when we touch, nothing less will do but her complete surrender.
I need her to trust me, before her fear destroys us.
He moved his hands to my back and unhooked the chain holding the back of my gown together. As the sides loosened and fell open, my muscles strung tight, but I stayed where I was.
Resting his hands on my shoulders again, he slipped his fingers under the sides of the loosened sleeves. “Look at me, sugar.”
I leaned back enough to see his face and crossed my arms over my chest, which earned me the shit-eating grin that both got under my skin and made me wet as hell.
With his eyes locked to mine, he inched the top of my dress down my arms, causing my breasts to push up over the neckline.
“When’s the last time you came?”
I couldn’t stop my mouth from falling open. He wrapped his hands around my wrists, his fingers warming my overheated skin. “I think that’s a bit personal.”
“Sweetness, we’re about to get very fuckin’ personal. You’re straddling me. I can feel how turned on you are, and I’m trying not to freak you out. It’s a legitimate question, given what you’ve told me.” He kept his hold loose, but still held onto me.
When I looked down at our hands, my vision blurred…
Cuffs. Leather cuffs. Metal table. The images flashed like slides in an old movie reel and I jerked away from him on a gasp.
“Valentina!” My name came out in such a hard tone it jolted me right out of the dark place. His thumbs dug into the pulse points of my wrists, before I fell back. “Where’d you go, sugar?” His eyes searched mine, the concern visible even in the dim light. “You okay?”
I gave a quick nod. Fast, it was so fast, so clear—but enough …
No! Not now … Please, not now!
“You sure?” Letting go of my wrists, he brought both hands to the back of my head.
“Mmm-hmm. Yes.” I covered his hands with mine and interlocked our fingers, holding onto him like a lifeline.
“I—I don’t remember.”
Please, Jaxxon. Please, take it away …
He nodded. “Then that’s way too long.” He pulled me against him.
I wedged my arms between the back of his head and the cushions. The warmth of his bare skin, the strength of his huge arms, transferred to me as I pressed my body harder against his.
For a while, he simply held me. When my breathing regulated and the shock of the memory waned, the contentment to simply be held faded. His erection lay pressed against my throbbing clit. A simmering heat built in my core and spread outwards. I buried my face against his neck, brushing my lips under the tender part of his ear, lightly at first, but when he started rubbing my bare back with firmer, more aggressive strokes I sat up in his lap.
No more preamble needed, he slid the top of my dress down my arms, dragging the material between our bodies. The seam of the neckline scraped over my swollen nipples. I inhaled quickly at the twinge of pain, and embraced the pleasure it left behind.
Carolyn Anthony is a sucker for a dark romance with a dominant, tattooed, alpha man at the helm. Her characters deal with real life issues: the painful, the tragic, the damaging sort of life events that leave both external and internal scars, because she’s been there. Her heroines are strong women at the core who will always find what’s been lost, taken or exploited: their strength, their self-worth, their identity, their innocence or their love. She writes about women exploring their sexuality, owning that sexuality and enjoying it. Along for the ride, the flawed, yet redemptive and gorgeous men who prove worthy enough to be on that journey with them.
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