ARC-Review: YOURS TO TAKE by Joely Sue Burkhart

All fire and gunpowder need is a stray spark…

The day one of her old clients gunned down a cop, former defense attorney Vicki Connagher lost everything—her passion for justice, and her lover, Detective Elias Reyes. The dead cop’s partner.

Even though she’s following her dream to start her own fashion line, it’s tough with heartache as her only companion. Until she brings Jesse, a wandering street artist, in from a freak Texas snowstorm. His submissive flirting brings out dominant tendencies she never knew she possessed, yet she hesitates to let him take her as far and as hard as she wants to go.

Some homeless junkie in Vicki’s house? Not on Elias’s watch. Pride kept him away, but as long as Jesse is staying in Vicki’s downstairs shop, he’s staying with Vicki. On the couch, but it’s a start.

As the days go by, the three work out an uneasy alliance. But Vicki’s joy at having Elias back in her life is tempered with a growing desire to have it all. Elias in her bed, and Jesse under her command. The only question remaining is if her tough alpha cop is willing to embrace all that she is…

Product Warnings
Explicit sex, BDSM, a tough alpha cop, a reluctant Domme, and a smoldering submissive street artist willing to do anything to belong to her.

Author: Joely Sue Burkhart
Series: The Connaghers, book 3
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2012, May 8
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
It didn’t snow very often in Dallas, Texas, but when it did, everything came to a halt.

Memorable Scenes:
– Jesse telling Vicki and Elias his life story >; my heart broke and I cried
– That first kiss between Jesse and Vicki >; OMG that was hot
– Jesse’s watercolors for Vicki >; *melts*
– the confrontation between Vicki and her mother >; was holding my breath the entire time
– Vicki and Elias’s make up sex session while Jesse watched >; *mesmerized* I think my mouth was open and I drooled while my heart was beating a drum solo that would have done great in a drummers competition

Vicki Connagher is a former defense attorney now fashion designer. She’s a tough cookie with a big, tender heart. She’s uninhibited, doesn’t pull punches and tells it like it is. I loved Vicki. Though she was only subtly present in the previous books in this series I suspected there was so much more to her than was being presented in those glimpses.

Vicki has two heroes in this book as the book flirts with both BDSM and ménage.
The first hero is Jesse Inglemarre, a homeless street artist who has had a rough time over the years. Thinking of Jesse makes me sigh. I have never read a hero like him. He is so strong in his fragility and vulnerability it blew me away. He’s sweet, honest, intuitive and open. He’s candid yet guarded as he’s had to learn how to survive on the streets.

With Jesse Joely Sue Burkhart shows that the true power of a D/s relationship lies with the submissive. This and more elements of BDSM were portrayed in various scenes that made me fan myself and at the same time they made me think about what a D/s relationship entails.

The second hero is Elias Reyes, a police detective and Vicki’s on-again-off-again boyfriend. Elias is gruff, protective, harsh and uncompromising when it comes to his work but he has a soft side to him too. He doesn’t show this side often but when he does it’s all the more powerful.

There weren’t very many secondary characters but those who were present definitely left their mark. I loved that Victor, Shiloh and Mal made an appearance! And of course there was powerhouse Mama Connagher. But a newly introduced character who left a lasting impression on me was Colby Wade. A little birdie told me he’s going to have his story too and I can’t wait!

I’ve waited a long time for Vicki’s story and now it’s here. I love this series and from the moment I caught snippets of Vicki’s book on Joely Sue’s website I was chomping at the bit to get my greedy little paws on this book. And I couldn’t be happier with it than I was when I finished it.

I must disclose that I am not a seasoned BDSM reader. I’m what my dear friend Leontine calls “a BDSM-light” reader. This means I enjoy books with not too dark BDSM elements. I am not familiar with the lifestyle or how it’s “supposed” to be. I always say that if I really like a BDSM story the seasoned BDSM-reader won’t.
Now by no means do I want to imply Joely Sue Burkhart doesn’t write BSDM as it’s supposed to be but I can imagine that readers of darker BDSM and connoisseurs of the lifestyle will find YOURS TO TAKE not to their liking. I however gobbled it up like a starving bum at a star-restaurant all you can eat-buffet.

The main characters of YOURS TO TAKE are so powerful and intense they just blew me away! I was in awe of Vicki’s big heart and strength, I melted for Jesse’s disarming honesty and Elias just made me weak in the knees with his gruff alpha attitude. You want to dislike Jesse because he’s flirting with a woman who’s committed to another man, you want to dislike Elias for his harshness and borderline aggressiveness, you want to dislike Vicki for wanting to have her cake and eat it too. But you just can’t, at least I couldn’t. The sum of these three characters created a beautiful whole with a perfect balance that just worked for me but I can see that it might not work for everyone that way.

The thing is, they’re flawed, they have their ugly sides and faults but that’s what I love in characters. I don’t like picture-perfect, happy-happy characters. For me to click with them emotionally they need to have their flaws and go through emotional growth throughout the book and that is exactly what Joely Sue Burkhart gave me with Vicki, Jesse and Elias! And next to that she intertwined them both as characters as with their development in such a powerful way it left me in awe. From the first word to the last I was enthralled, captivated by the characters, fascinated by their back-stories and the story unfolding between them and fanning myself at the heat of the sex scenes.

YOURS TO TAKE is the kind of book that took my heart, broke it and then put it back together, leaving it whole and satisfied. If you love erotic romance that’s both scorching and emotionally brilliant and you haven’t read Joely Sue Burkhart’s Connaghers series yet, you are seriously missing out!

Favorite Quotes:
“Vik,” he drawled out his nickname for her in that low, sexy voice that always made her want to throw her head back and moan deep in her throat. “I thought you quit defending assholes I put away.” ~Vicki & Elias

All his arousal was for her, if she wanted it. If she needed it. In his mind, he imagined her giving him the order not to touch himself. No pleasure unless she gave it. ~Jesse

He let out a low, husky laugh against her ear that sent the southern half of her body on full alert. Oh God, now it was her turn to feel ashamed at her ravenous hunger. She was lucky her stomach didn’t rumble as loudly as his had at breakfast. Starved and so damned needy, it took all her willpower not to turn around and haul his mouth down to hers. ~Vicki & Jesse

“Maybe you need a buffer between you and him. Someone softer, gentler, who can absorb all the dramatics without falling apart, who would never try to set one against the other, and will always do exactly as you say, when you say, how you say, no questions asked. Someone who’d love getting burned by your sparks, and isn’t afraid of the harder black, either. In fact, you just might like someone who can take it hard, real hard, as hard as you want.” ~Jesse to Vicki

She slid her right hand down his back and wrapped her fingers around the waistband of his pants, hauling him tighter against her. “I’m going to hell for this.”
“Then you might as well enjoy me fully.” ~Vicki & Jesse

“So you’ll come over tonight? Please?”
He let out a wicked, low laugh that made her blood smolder. “Oh, I don’t know, Vik. Your couch isn’t that comfortable. Besides, you’ve got that hot cabana boy to tend to you now. Why do you need me?”
“I won’t make you sleep on the couch tonight. I swear.”
“We’re going to be loud, babe,” he purred, drawing a rough groan from her.
“I’m going to make you scream. We’re going to hit every surface of your bedroom, hell, your whole apartment, and your boy’s going to hear every whimper, thud, curse and shout of release. Are you sure you’re up for that?” ~Vicki & Elias

“ This ?” He drawled out, making her toes curl. “What exactly are you offering me, Vik? Sharing you with that young pup? I’m a junkyard Rottie named Spike and I guarantee my bite is just as mean as my bark. I don’t tolerate cream-puff poodles around my woman.” ~Elias

He hugged with his entire body, arms locked around her hips. “I’ve never had a choice. I don’t know what I like, not really, but when you touch me, even a hug, it’s like angels start singing and my bones melt and my blood boils in my veins. It’s you. Whatever you want. I trust you not to hurt me.” ~Jessie

Elias quietly slipped his seldom-used key into her locked door and eased it open. It made him feel sneaky and mean, hoping to catch her in a compromising position, and also sick to his stomach at the thought. He didn’t know if he could really face that reality. He could talk about it, even joke about it, but if he saw her having sex with another man, it might be the last breath that bastard would ever take.

“Nah, that was just the appetizer.” He swiped his tongue along the curve of her ear. “We’re going to take a long, sweaty ride while you buck for all you’re worth. You want to fight me. You want me to conquer you, tame you to my hands and my body like a green-broke mare. Every time we fuck each other into a stupor, you make me prove I’m man enough for you. So buck. Fight. Or better yet…”
He leaned in, shoving with his body hard enough that her breath rushed out on a groan, but he released her hands. “Try to drag me into a death roll at the bottom of the river.” ~Elias

As if Elias knew she’d thought of the other man, he growled in her ear. “Can he take you like this, Vik? Can he make you groan and sweat facedown against the wall? Can he ride you at your worst, no matter how bad you buck and kick?”

“If you were to deliberately pick out something to wear for Reyes, I bet you’d choose red or black, right? This is totally unexpected. It screams innocence and shyness, a direct contradiction to your personality. If you were to slip this little baby on for your cop, I guarantee he’ll swallow his tongue in surprise, and then blow a gasket trying to get you out of it.” ~Jesse

Her cheeks burned. “You’re my brother, V. The last thing I want to do is tell you all the things running around in my mind every single time I look at him. You’ll probably beat him up or something.”
“Nah,” he drawled. “That’s Conn’s department, not mine. Mama might horsewhip him though.” ~Vicki & Victor about Jesse

The bathroom door opened, and Elias damned near choked to death because his heart tried to crawl up his throat. He couldn’t breathe as Vicki came near her bed. She wore a filmy, white negligee that tied beneath her breasts and fluttered about her hips, oddly demure but so damned sexy he couldn’t remember his own name.

His lips slid over her flesh in nibbling, soft bites. His breath was a light caress, his stubble a rough one that made her clutch his head harder. He nosed deeper, like he was trying to rub her scent all over him, like he didn’t care if he never breathed again. ~Jesse & Vicki

“Are you okay?” She didn’t dare lift her head to seek Elias’s reaction. Jesse didn’t answer—he knew who she was asking.
“Yeah,” Elias replied in a graveled voice that made her shiver. “I’ve never seen anyone go so limp and eager like that. It’s like he’s giving you every single thing he’s got. His breath. His will. God, no wonder he makes you so hot, Vik. He’s begging you to ravish him.” He must have leaned close because his hot breath moistened her ear. “Show me some more.”

Later today I’ll be posting a mini-interview with Joely Sue Burkhart, make sure you come back to comment on it because you could win your own e-copy of YOURS TO TAKE!

One thought on “ARC-Review: YOURS TO TAKE by Joely Sue Burkhart

  1. I love reading how you were blown away by this book!! I also love the characters Joely Sue Burkhart brings to life for all the reasons you mentioned in your review. I like ’em flawed ;) As i told you, I couldn’t help thinking while reading Yours To Take was that this story fits you to a tee with all the elements ;)) Just like you I can wait for Mal and Colby!

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