Sunday, August 6, 2017

Book Spotlight on In His Hands by Adriana Anders (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Readers will find themselves put through the emotional wringer in this tale of a young woman who's devoted her life to religion who finds herself betrayed and running for her life into the arms of a man who left his own betrayal behind when he left home years ago.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of In His Hands by Adriana Anders, with its unforgettable romance between two bruised souls looking for a place to call home, along with getting my impressions of this book.  In honor of this third installment in the Blank Canvas series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a set of the first two books in this series too!

The rules are simple:
Never speak to outsiders.
Never yearn for something more.
And never, ever seek the pleasure of a stolen kiss…or a whispered promise that with him, she can finally be free.
Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there’s no way out…until her darkly handsome, brooding neighbor defies the rules and takes her into the safety of his arms.
He should frighten her, but everything inside Abby thrills at Luc Stanek’s rough manners and shockingly gentle touch. He excites her, ignites her, leaves her shaken and wanting more. But evil men follow in her footsteps, and it may take more than one fierce beauty to defend her loving beast.


Luc swallowed, his eyes glazing over.
“We shouldn’t have kissed,” he said, looking angry with himself.
“No. We shouldn’t have."
“You’ve never done it before?"
“Not really,” she whispered, knowing full well it was time to walk away. But I don’t want to. “I want another one, Luc."
“Another what?” he asked, looking truly puzzled for a few seconds.
“Another kiss."
He shook his head, only instead of the refusal she expected, he said, “I can’t stop thinking of your mouth."
She pressed her lips together subconsciously. Her body was glued in place, but her mind raced ahead. How would it feel, in here, with no eyes to see them? No weather to disrupt them? Would the wrath of God reach in through that enormous window and strike her down?
What if it didn’t? What if...
It didn’t matter. Let him punish her. It was too late, anyway. What was a little kiss after the thoughts she’d denied since the first time she’d seen this man?
Slowly, she stepped forward, eyes on Luc.
“Kiss me,” she whispered, full of the knowledge that this could well be the end. What if he doesn’t want this?
She watched as he reached out to graze her dress with his fingers. Just the fabric, not the body beneath, but even that was heady, different. New.
“You want this.” It wasn’t quite a question. If anything, the words came out disbelieving.
“I want you."
That did it. Whatever it was. Like they’d busted through their shell, only it was more like a dam had blown, and the man she’d known until this moment—quiet, contained, restrained—transformed into something wild. Unleashed.
Several feet away one moment, the next they collided.
It felt like falling, inside and out, a fatalistic succumbing. She could barely contain a sob when his skin finally touched hers, his lips moved to her neck, his hands on her shoulders. One hand went to her nape, cupping, cradling, but firm as well. And his face, as it made its way from the hollow beneath her ear, up and over her jaw, her cheek, to her mouth… Gracious, the man was drinking her in, learning her, smelling her.
And she wanted to do the same to him.
By the time his lips made it to hers, she thought she’d be ready for it. She was wet between her legs like she’d never been in her life, and heavy, too heavy to move.
Only somehow, her hips were doing a dance all on their own, tilting toward him.
He stopped right before her mouth. “You want this, Abby?” His whispered words felt wrenched from his massive frame, each one a hot little brand against her face.
“I’m afraid,” she whispered in his ear.
He stilled. “Of me?"
“Goodness, no.” She almost laughed. “I’m afraid of what God’ll think."
“Of this?” He pulled back and frowned. “A kiss?"
It might sound absurd when he said it like that, but they couldn’t all be wrong, could they? Mama and Isaiah, Hamish and the other folks?
And was this really just a kiss? That hardly seemed possible.
She couldn’t think straight with the smell of him so close. Like nothing she’d experienced, it was heady and intriguing, and all she could think was...This is what a real man smells like.
“What happens, over there, if you do something sinful?"
“You’re punished."
“By who? God or the man who leads the Church?"
Weren’t they one and the same? “Guess I’m not sure anymore."
“We shouldn’t do this, then,” he said, running the back of his hand over her cheek and behind her ear, where his fingers sifted through her hair. “I don’t want to hurt you, Abby.” He sounded tortured. Was this the punishment—this strange, frenzied fluttering, this agony of need? “I’ve never...I’ve never been with someone like you."
“Someone like me?"
Innocente.” The word, his accent, the strain of his voice—all of it built and built until she could barely breathe. Her lungs were so full, she’d die if something didn’t ease the pressure.
Tell me it’s wrong, she prayed. Show me a sign.
“Just cause I haven’t done things doesn’t mean I haven’t thought of them,” she admitted.
With a growl, he kissed her, and Abby didn’t stand a chance against that kiss. No, it was so much more than a kiss, drawing at parts of her body that shouldn’t be connected to her lips. And not just her lips, but her tongue and teeth, her nose, her face, all of it prey to that mouth and those callused hands. It came together in a mixed-up cloud of dark, confusing sensation she’d never even fathomed. She’d never been so aware of herself before, of her skin, explicit, right and lush.
I’m going to die, Abby thought. This is going to kill me.
She’d had no idea before. None. She’d seen people kiss when she’d worked in the market—hadwatched surreptitiously, entranced, as the couple in the alley went way beyond just mouths into certain sin—and she’d wondered what pushed them to act like that. Lord, now she knew.
He muttered something against her cheek before biting her jaw, gently—not enough to mark, although suddenly, she wanted him to with something close to compulsion.
Never had she pictured this…this overwhelming wave of need. Goodness, the things she needed right now.
To be touched. Her skin ached with it. This body that had never had eyes upon it. She wanted him to eat her up with his gaze.
He stepped away instead, backing into the bar, looking agonized.
“I can’t,” he gasped.



It's an idyllic world readers are first introduced to where there's a love of the land and a peace in its quietness.  At least it's that way for some of the inhabitants whose lives readers quickly become immersed in.  From the first page to the last readers discover a world that hides pain and depravity behind a religious veneer but find wonderment and unwavering acceptance between two bruised souls making their own heaven on earth.  Hard-hitting issues balance with sweetness and sensuality to make this an unforgettable romance that continues to make Ms. Anders's Blank Canvas series a must-read.

Abby Merkley's young life was harsh, but at least she had the love and comfort of her mother to count on.  When things got too tough though her mother chose to find her own comfort in the teachings of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith which at first seemed awe-inspiring.  Through being separated from her mother, having her exuberant outlook on life condemned, and through bitter teachings that left her scarred both inside and out, Abby soon found herself longing for a different kind of life.  The presence of the commanding yet quiet man on the mountain above their enclave gives her strength to make a life of her own, as does her fear for a young man with Down's Syndrome who's seen as a curse by the other Followers.  Wanting to make a life of her own means finding a job which leads her to that mysterious man who not only opens her mind but also her heart and soul.  He soon has her questioning everything as he becomes the embodiment of all her forbidden longings.  With Luc she discovers all she's been missing out, love, and a home that's truly hers.  When Isaiah comes looking for his missing Follower though time starts running out for them and the life she's struggling to claim in a heart-pounding conclusion to a story that showed the worst in people as well as the best.  Abby's an endearing character, full of life and wanting to experience all life has to offer.  She's condemned for her inquisitiveness in the most heinous ways courtesy of a depraved man whose perversions are just hinted at throughout the story.  Despite all she'd been through though she was never broken, she still grabbed on to every experience Luc offered her and her wonderment over every new decadent delight was infectious.  She had a kind heart and her interactions with Sammy, and her desire to get him the medical help he needed, showed her to be wise beyond her years despite her child-like delight in the simplest things.  She was condemned as wanton by Isaiah, but with Luc those desires were sensually depicted and life-altering for both of them.  She showed unending strength through every scar burned into her soul and skin and still stood up for herself and others in need which had me cheering her on every step of the way.

Luc Stanek grew up on a vineyard in France, learning to love the land and what it takes to grow the perfect grape.  He also learned his secondary place in that world with the woman who proclaimed to love him choosing his brother while having every decision he made countermanded.  Wanting to find his own place in the world led him to setting down roots on the mountainside above a community that's always left him leery.  His bruised heart left him closed off from the world and devoted to only his grapes.  He prefers solitude and a life without complications, but all that ends the day the bubbly yet shy Abby shows up looking for a job.  Early on her questions are irritating and her body a distraction, but soon she becomes an obsession.  He soon comes to need her as he needs air, her presence a temptation that he no longer wants to deny.  As they grow closer together he becomes her savior, the man keeping her safe from the increasingly dangerous Isaiah.  With danger coming ever closer he'll have to choose between the life he's made for himself and the life Abby's longing to make.  Luc's happy with his life of solitude at first, bitterness and resentment over the past his constant companion.  He's a bit standoffish and gruff but moments of care and compassion show readers the heart he hides behind the bruises on his heart.  Abby's visits are like a breath of fresh air and though he tries to keep her at arm's length early on her sweetness and sensual longings call to him.  Though he feels unworthy of her he'll do all that he can to keep her safe and help her find the kind of life she wants.  Ultimately Luc's a delicious hero teeming with sensuality and though he doesn't want to be anyone's hero he's there when Abby needs him most and I found myself drooling over him from the first page to the last.

This was an emotionally intense romance featuring two bruised souls who found their own bit of heaven in each other's arms.  They found unwavering acceptance with each other as both would've sacrificed all for the other.  Abby's the kind of heroine you root for who stood strong in the face of heinous adversity.  Though she was beaten and burned she never lost faith in herself which led to a rousing conclusion that had me cheering her on.  Luc's a great match for her as he became her partner in experiencing all the decadent delights she longed for, a hero when she needed him most too.  Their romance was sweet yet sexy and I loved how freeing it was for Abby as she embraced all the sensual acts she was once taught to condemn.  The unsettling acts within the Church were subtly revealed and became gut-wrenching as the story concluded.  Life there was seen as heaven on earth but behind the facade was a man drunk on power willing to take children's innocence away from them.  The world depicted there was reminiscent of Waco and its existence kept me on edge waiting for an implosion.  Balancing the insidiousness of the Church are the heartwarming moments between Luc and Abby, along with glimpses of characters from the previous books in this series.  The heroines from those stories represent the kind of life Abby wants for herself and empowered her even further.  On a whole this is a powerful story with an endearing main couple and a storyline that juggled serious issues with sweetness and sensuality.  It's a series that I'm not ready to say goodbye to yet and with the complicated connection between Rory and Jessie I witnessed, I hope there's more to come.

My rating for this is an A.

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Under Her Skin (Book 1)
By Her Touch (Book 2)
In His Hands (Book 3)


Adriana Anders writes romance that's dark, smart, and full of heart. She has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and two cats in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.



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