Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hidden Heart by Measha Stone Blog Tour

Jessica Stanley is comfortable in her orderly life as a paralegal at a high end law firm. Having dated her fair share of liars and manipulators, Jessica views men through a pair of thick, cynical lenses. Men are good for one thing in her eyes, and one thing only.

Her predictable life is thrown into a whirlwind of new experiences when she meets a dominating man at a casual dinner with friends. Royce Bradford is a man of intent and is used to getting his way. Until he meets Jessica. She is wound tight, and he finds himself yearning to unravel her secrets and her passions.

Jessica declares their relationship casual. She’s tempted by his seductive tone and unusually powerful demeanor to give him that much. But for Royce, it’s not enough. He wants more.

Except Jessica has built a secret tomb around her heart, and it will take a lot more than sensual play times and verbal commands for him to be allowed entrance. Royce never backs down from his desires. He takes up the challenge to seek out her Hidden Heart.

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“I want to show you the fun of playing with pain and pleasure.” Royce took a stool from the corner of the room and placed it in an open space. “Take your clothes off,” he instructed and left the room before she could argue.

Jessica stood staring at the stool for a moment, worried about what was about to happen. Other than a playful swat to her backside here and there, they hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary, at least physically, on their dates. Reminding herself that she had begun this journey of exploration and she would see it through, she began to remove her clothing.

When Royce returned, she stood behind the stool, her arms crossed over her chest. In an attempt to keep her modesty, she clenched her legs together.

He shook his head as he brought a small cloth bag to the coffee table. “Let me see you.” He stood over her.

Although she was at least a head shorter than him, until he stood over her naked body, she didn’t feel petite.

She looked away, toward the hallway he had just emerged from and dropped her arms to her sides and stood with her legs straight.

“Sit on the stool.” He was giving short commands, but his voice held a softness that comforted her.

Jessica slid onto the stool, keeping her hands folded in her lap and her feet on the lower bar of the stool. She watched him open the cloth bag and pour colored clothespins onto the table. She chewed the inside of her lip while watching him sort them into colored groups—green, blue, red, and white.

“Doing laundry?” she attempted a joke.

He grinned up at her from over his shoulder and continued with his work. Finally finished, he stood up and pulled a thick, black strip of fabric from the back pocket of his jeans.

“No laundry, but remind me later to tell you about what a friend did with his submissive and some clothespins when she kept forgetting to do the laundry.”

He played with the fabric in his hand, and she shifted in her seat. “We are going to play a memory game. I’m going to place these clothespins on your breasts. When I do so, I will tell you what color I’m placing. Your job is to remember what color is where. Then I’ll ask you to tell me what color a particular pin is. If you remember right, pleasure will be yours. If you get it wrong, the pin will be removed unpleasantly.”

Her face paled as he explained the game. “It will hurt,” she stated the obvious.

“Yes, but only a little. My intention isn’t to injure you. It’s to play.” He ran the back of his hand down the length of her nose.

She found the action oddly comforting.

“You’ll see. The good and bad mix together, until you aren’t really sure where one stops and the other begins and then it all just feels good.” His smile was reassuring.

“Okay.” She nodded and closed her eyes. He tied the fabric tightly behind her head. Her breathing became deep and controlled.

“This one is blue.” He placed a soft kiss to the inside of her right breast and pinched the skin before placing the clothespin….

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I was drawn in by the cover and synopsis of this book. The writing was pretty good overall. I liked our heroine, Jessica. She isn't sure what to expect with Royce, a Dom, but she is willing to try, for a short period of time because he's sexy and he isn't going to let her get away with the usual things men let her get away with. He is different all around from other men she has dated.

Royce was harder for me to connect with. He could be a great Dom at times while at others I felt like he wasn't a dom at all. I felt like we didn't know anything at all about Royce except that he was a Dom and apparently friends with Jessica's friends (and co-worker with Alex too).

The naughty scenes were just okay for me. They seemed very limited to me and weren't all that sexy to me, but the spanking and clothes pins scenes were HOT so that sort of made up for it.

I look forward to the sequel to this story with hopes we get to see more of their relationship as it develops.

** 3.5 Stars **

Hidden Heart had me from the first chapter. In my mind this was headed to a 4 star read but I will explain why I gave it 3.5 stars.

Jessica didn't believe in love or relationships. She had closed herself off in that respect. She had a past filled with pain, it's understandable. From the first time she laid eyes on Royce there was something about him, that was pulling her to him. He is a dominant. Was she ready to explore a relationship like that? Could she open up and be want Royce wants?

This story had me hooked and then BAM a rush to the finish. There was so much lead up and things from her past glazed over (which I get, it is only a novella) but at the end when a big reveal of feelings could of happened it was just a sentence. I felt let down. Don't get me wrong, it was written well, I guess I just expected more at the end.

This short novella packed a lot of punch. I really enjoyed the buildup and the opening up of the hidden heart. I did think that it ended too soon – but in a way that is because I cared enough to want more! Royce was the perfect foil for Jessica and we got to enjoy a dominating alpha male, but with a gentle touch. I loved it when he counted lies – and it made me think just how many we all tell, just for expediency's sake ...

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
A great first book in what I hope is a long series. I enjoyed Jessica's notion of "love doesn't exist," and how Royce breaks her out of her shell.

Royce's introduction of romance outside the lines was tender and touching. A Master that any sub would love to have school in her in the ways of BDSM. Jennifer's initial reluctance is natural and the discussion of her fears and ideas of what was expected was nice to see.

I hope that we see more of Royce and Jessica in other books in this series. There is so much more that I would love to know about Royce and Jessica, particularly why Jessica gave up on love.

Jessica talks tough but it is easy to see it is just because she has been hurt too many times. Royce can see right through Jessica's tough talk about not wanting love and only wanting sex and he isn't afraid to confront her.

Royce wants Jessica to become his submissive and the conversations between the couple in the lead up to their relationship are open and insightful. I love that Jessica is a strong experienced woman because she challenges Royce and doesn't just blindly follow and assume he is right.

There were several times in this book that the story got a little too close to FSOG and that bugged me because it pulled me out of the story. Aside from that I enjoyed Hidden Heart and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Angela  – ☆☆☆
Hidden Heart is a well written and quick read. Unfortunately something about it just didn't work for me personally. While I liked the characters Ms. Stone created, I didn't connect with them and I really wanted to, especially with Jessica. There was quite a bit of build-up regarding her past and why she was so aloof, yet when the time came when I thought explanations would be given we were left with a rather vague thought that the previous men in her life always disappointed her. I found this to be quite anti-climactic and hope that the next book in the series delves more into her past.

Royce's character wasn't necessarily anymore developed than Jessica's, but this worked for me as it's not unusual for the Dom's personality to be more elusive. Double standard? Maybe, but it is Jessica's Hidden Heart that the book focuses on and for me it seemed to remain hidden. Because I never fully connected with the characters, the sex scenes lacked that wow vibe I anticipated. I enjoyed the play scenes and thought Jessica's reactions in the clothespin scene to be believable, yet none of the scenes really got me going.

Typically my reaction to this book would result in a 2-star rating. However, Ms. Stone is clearly a skilled writer and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series in hopes that it gives us more of Royce and Jessica as their relationship develops. I've read bad books before and Hidden Heart is not one of them. This is simply a case where the book and I just didn't mesh. So my recommendation in this case (and pretty much any book) is to check out the sample and see if it appeals to you. Just because I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped doesn't mean you won't.

Measha Stone lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband and their children.  By day she works as a healthcare administrator, and by evening she steams up the computer screen with her erotic romances. No stranger to the BDSM community, Measha feels right at home within the erotic genre. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Her vanilla writing has been published in the online magazine efiction and the DuPage Writers Group annual journal Possibilities.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Hidden Heart (Windy City #1) by Measha Stone to read and review for this tour.

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