Wednesday, July 29, 2015

review || AN OBSESSION WITH VENGEANCE { blog tour } by Nancy Haviland

Montlake Romance | July 21, 2015 | Organized Crime Romance
Wanted Men, book 3


Maksim Kirov is a mobster who gets what he wants, both at his posh gentleman’s club in Hell’s Kitchen and in the bedroom. Sexy, dangerous, and obsessed with control, he’s risen through the ranks to become a highly respected leader in the tight-knit Tarasov crime syndicate. He rules with an iron fist…until he meets Sydney Martin.

The Australian-born Sydney is determined to refuse Maks’s advances, despite their electrifying chemistry. The owner of a neighboring nightclub, Sydney rules her own domain. But when a deal with a Mexican drug cartel goes terribly wrong, she has no choice but to turn to Maksim and the Tarasov organization for protection. Could giving in to their intense attraction be what saves both Maks and Sydney? Or will their all-consuming passion—and her shocking secret—destroy their lives? In the hot and scandalous third installment of the Wanted Men series, lust and loyalty clash in New York’s mob underworld.

All books in the Wanted Men series can be read as stand-alones.

{ about nancy haviland } .

Nancy Haviland is the author of the bestselling romantic suspense series, WANTED MEN. She writes about her alpha mobsters and their ladies from her home near Toronto, Ontario. She has three children, an arrogant but playful kitty named Talbot, and she adores her Tim Horton's coffee, as any self-respecting Canadian would. She writes contemporary romantic suspense but will happily read anything that involves two people smooching.

{ excerpt } .

“So naturally beautiful, you,” he whispered as he bent to kiss the pulse at the base of her throat.

Her hands gripped his shoulders when her knees weakened.

“Don’t forget, role-playing. Eyes are everywhere,” he informed her as he straightened. His words hit her like a runaway bus, bringing with them a reminder of why they were here. “Get that fear out of your eyes, Sydney. Just follow my lead, and it’ll be fine.”

He released her and held out her chair, waiting until she stiffly sat before going around and taking his own. She wanted to ask if he knew for sure someone was watching them and who it was, but before she could, a waiter appeared with a bottle of white wine, presenting it with a flourish. Maksim nodded his dark head and held a hand out.

“Oh, but, sir, I would be pleased to open it for you . . . ?”

Maksim shook his head. “No, thanks. I’ve got it from here.”

Eyes darting around, as though expecting to get yelled at, the waiter quickly handed it over with the bottle opener and left. The cork was popped, the wine poured, and she was handed a glass. She took a much-needed gulp before Maksim could do something as cheesy—romantic—as make a toast. She could see him watching her with a discerning look, which had her trying to gain that air of distance she’d perfected when she was only fourteen and sitting at a table she wasn’t allowed to leave even though she was being ignored by all the adults.

She met that intent silver gaze of his and could tell he knew she was floundering. She took another drink and tried not to wonder what kind of kisser he was—languid and coaxing, firm and demanding—all the while trying desperately not to fall into his trap. When she was around him she felt she was constantly jerking back on the reins of her libido—one that had awakened with a vengeance the day they’d met and had yet to go back to sleep. It badly wanted what he’d already given to so many others. It didn’t care about all the reasons it shouldn’t. Didn’t care that he was a dangerous organized crime figure. That many things he did throughout his day were likely illegal. Her fluttering stomach didn’t care that his activities might also be immoral. For all she knew he was a pimp.

“Do you know many prostitutes?” she blurted, forcing her attention to remain at their table rather than allowing it to roam the room in search of someone with opera specs trained on them.

“A few.”

She balked and became more determined than ever to fight her attraction.

“I consider a good many of my associates’ wives prostitutes because they married for the money and house rather than any feelings they might have for the man supplying the lifestyle. That’s the worst form of prostitution. Don’t you think? At least the men and women you see on the street are honest about it. And I don’t have any on my payroll, if that’s what you were really asking.”

“Sorry.” She looked around at the cozy tables-for-two and spacious booths for larger parties. Had to—it was the lesser of two evils, after all. “I was thinking about you—I mean, about what you do for a living— and was curious but didn’t think it polite to ask if you were a pimp. Or manager, or whatever it is they call it these days.”

“Sydney.” Setting down his glass, he picked up her left hand. “You have to relax, lover. Just play your role. You’ve been doing well so far. Why are you feeling off balance tonight?”

Her focus came back to him, and she lost her breath when he smiled across at her. I really should have gone to Gabriel Moretti for help rather than this temptation. Her teeth gnashed together as she shook her head. “Things seem . . . different tonight,” she said honestly.

“They’re not. You’re in love with me, of course. Can’t get enough of my body. Would do anything, anywhere, blah, blah, blah. You know, the usual.” He winked, seeming unaffected by what he’d just said. But then, why wouldn’t he be? It was his shtick. She was at odds because this, all of this, was unfamiliar to her. From the criminal activity to the make-like-we’re-lovers.

“The usual. Yes, of course,” she muttered, raising her glass to her lips once more.

His thumb running over her inner wrist had her practically dropping the fine crystal rather than placing it back on the table. “Tell me about this,” he said, lifting her hand and running his nose across the elephant/Andrew tattoo on her wrist.

“It’s a tattoo,” she said in a tone snootier than she’d used with him in days.

“Is that so?” he said dryly. “What does it mean to you?”

“That’s private. Tell me about your tattoos,” she forced herself to demand as she tried to pull herself from the moment. He needed to stop what he was doing with his thumb.

A muscle flexed in his jaw, and a calculating light entered his eyes before he came at her with both barrels. “For all anyone in this fucking place knows, we walked in separately for modesty’s sake. I could have taken you in the car on the way here. You could have taken me, ridden me like the stallion I am. Or you could have interrupted my shave an hour ago by sliding up on the bathroom counter between me and the mirror to tempt me with a smooth shave of your own.”

She gulped. “Maksim . . .”

“I could have had you in our breakfast nook this morning, or maybe at lunch. Right on the table because you’re my favorite thing to eat.”

Lust roared through her. I can’t allow him to do this to me. But her stupid body didn’t listen. It did its thing, tightening her belly, quickening her breath. As her cheeks flamed, Sydney was barely aware of Potty Mouth getting to his feet.

“And now that you actually look the part of panting lover, let’s dance.”

{ playlist } .

{ review } .

Yet again, Nancy has brought a great couple into the world of these WANTED MEN. Now... as my theme has been 5-stars with this series, I tried to be a bit more critical with Maks and Sydney, so I was going to give it a 4.5-star review but...

I just couldn't do it.

Every one of these men that Nancy brings us has had things to work through, and Maks's backstory? My goodness, my heart breaks for the man -- especially the deeper parts that he only tells Sydney during a moment of secret telling (that left him so raw and exposed that he didn't even want to hear her secret).

Sydney, or Australia, as Maks likes to call her, has a decent secret, one that she nearly slips up on time and time again. As she gets closer to Maks, she wants to tell him, but she fears their safety.

"You've just done what most are incapable of." He spoke slowly, and in Russian, trying to wrap his head around this. He. Was. Dumbfounded.

Maks is attracted to Sydney but her snappy ways has them staying far apart. However, when Sydney takes on a project to keep drugs out of her club, she ends up messing with the wrong player. To keep herself safe, she ends up under the watchful, careful eye of Tarasov and co. -- and to further keep her safe, she needs to appear to belong to one of them.

That 'one of them' being Maks.

There's just one rule -- Maks can't play around.

Maks is a man of his word, so when the attraction starts to boil over, he finds himself battling his desires.

Sydney could have easily been written as a weak woman -- or at least had weak ways. She moved clear 'cross the ocean at seventeen and hasn't had the best hand dealt to her by any means. But she's a fighter, and it's something that comes across in every scene she's in.

Maks's past keeps him from finding anyone to settle down with -- he's just not that type. Sure, he's envious of his friends but he just doesn't see that for himself. The more time he spends with Sydney, though, all under the ruse of them being together, the more he finds himself wanting more. He enjoys her mouth -- whether it's being sassy or sweet, mouthing off or kissing him -- and he likes the fire in her eyes. Again and again he tries to convince himself (and certain body parts -- there is one such scene that had me laughing out loud) that he's not a one-and-only-one kind of man, but in addition to the envy toward his friends, he manages some jealous moments (and while he's a bastard through them, green looks good on him).

His worry for Sydney, and then everything he does to prove his love (once he allows himself, of course) puts him right on par with our other fallen men.

Speaking of those other fallen men... let's talk side stories (which I typically hate but love in this series). I totally thought I put it in one of the previous reviews, but I love Lore and his battle between walking the right side of the law, and helping out his childhood friends. On top of that, with his attraction to Tegan? We get to see a little more of these two in AN OBSESSION WITH VENGEANCE and it made me a little giddy. Additionally, we get a bit of a segue into Alek's book. Alek has already fallen, you see... he just needs to figure out how to keep her. And of course, we see more Gabriel/Eva and Vincente/Nika (love looks good on those two men).

{ previous reviews of series } .

A LOVE OF VENGEANCE 5 { review here } .
THE SALVATION OF VENGEANCE 5★ { review here } .

{ giveaway } .

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