Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Heart Signs by Cari Quinn

Title: Heart Signs
          (Ellora’s Cave Moderne)
Author: Cari Quinn
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Category: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Type: Kindle


Book Blurb:

The heart has a language all its own…

Rory Fowler has taken Sam Miller’s billboard orders for the last two years, but they aren’t to advertise, they’re love notes to his wife. Sam’s most recent billboard about his wife’s passing hits Rory hard. When she calls Sam to offer condolences, it sets off an unexpected chain of events that ends with Rory in Sam’s apartment—and his arms.

Reading Sam’s love letters tugs Rory into the romance between him and his estranged, now-deceased, wife. Their lives soon intertwine so completely that Rory wonders how she’ll ever forget the man who makes poetry out of emotions she’s fought to dismiss. And plays her body even more skillfully than he writes love notes.

Consumed by guilt and grief, Sam is shocked by the feelings Rory arouses in him, sexually and otherwise. Now he’s not thinking about yesterday as much as he’s looking forward to tomorrow. He’s just not sure if he’s capable of moving on…or if the woman who helped him find the will to really live again will be by his side.

Book Excerpt:
(adult content)

They’d just had a car accident—a minor one, true—and he hadn’t taken her info yet. If he had, the jig would’ve been up.

And she would’ve continued to wonder about him, as she had wondered for the past two years.

An honorable person would tell him who she was. It seemed right. They weren’t strangers, not completely. But that would ruin the mystique. Anyone could see the shadows gathered in Sam’s haunted dark eyes. If she could give him a respite from his ghosts for an hour or two, she would.

He’d mentioned exchanging information, so he’d find out who she was soon enough. But she didn’t harbor any illusions about the real reason she was following him home. What had happened the minute their eyes met defied explanation or conversation. He’d felt it too. Refusing to go home with him hadn’t even been a consideration. He’d asked, she’d agreed. No thinking involved.

Dangerous or not, she absolutely wanted this to happen. Whatever this was. She’d learned early on that sex revealed a lot about a person, both in what they gave and what they held back. She wouldn’t get to study all his gears or dismantle all his secrets in an hour, but she’d definitely get a crash course in what made Sam Miller tick.

He wasn’t anywhere close to the poetic-looking guy she’d expected. He had to be six-four, easy. For a girl who reached five-foot-seven on her best day, that was big. And the guy was as bald as a newborn, with eyes as black as the hair color she got from a bottle. He had no facial hair and no visible tats, though it had been hard to look away from the draw of his eyes on hers.

One thing he had was muscles. A lot of them. To go with his notable height, he had the sort of massive body she’d never found particularly attractive. She liked her men with more brains than brawn.

So what happened when she found one with both? Then what?

“He’s married,” she whispered. Still wore the ring to prove it. Even knowing that his wife had died didn’t diminish her sense that he was very much taken—and worse, that by doing this she’d be betraying a woman she’d never laid eyes on.

By even coming here, she was confirming every negative opinion her aunt had of her. Despite what Pam thought, she wasn’t easy and she didn’t sleep around. But this couldn’t just be a casual lay. Not only was Sam a client of JDS, she didn’t want to create any more drama for him. Or for herself.

She wouldn’t flip and expect a relationship, but any sensible woman knew a guy on the rebound after dealing with grief wasn’t a good bet. Maybe she would inadvertently cause him more problems than she solved. Sex wasn’t always the magic elixir it was cracked up to be. Even though he looked like a big enough boy to know what he wanted and needed, exteriors could hide a lot.

But she still followed his silver Chevelle, keeping far enough back that she wouldn’t accidentally inflict any more damage on his previously pristine classic car. Any admonitions were basically useless at this point. No internal warning would stop her from finding out all she could about Sam Miller, sexually or otherwise.
He swung into the drive of an ordinary-looking two-family house and she parked behind him, using the moment it took to grab her purse to suck in a deep breath. She’d told Pam she’d be gone for two hours, just in case. She glanced up as he climbed out of his car. His intent dark eyes bored into hers through the windshield and she felt the hit all the way to her toes.

Two hours that just might change her life.

It took every ounce of nerve she possessed to climb out of her sedan. She walked over to where he stood by his trunk and searched frantically for something to say.

I’m here. Now what?

But she knew what. And when her attention locked on his full lips, she wanted that what to start immediately. At least until he started moving.

Rory stepped backward as he advanced, self-preservation belatedly kicking in. He dwarfed her, both in size and intensity. In everything. Only when she bumped into her car did she realize she’d never even looked at her own fender. Hell, she had enough trouble even remembering they’d been in an accident.

With effort, she tore her gaze from his and zeroed in on a small tic-tac-toe board of scratches on her black Honda. She would’ve shrugged them off but he leaned around her and smoothed his fingers over them, drawing her focus to the size of his hand.

She swallowed. Yep, every bit as big as the rest of him. Was it wrong she liked how tiny he made her feel? She hadn’t felt tiny since…well, ever. She had a large frame and everything that came with it. Large hips, large breasts, rounded shoulders a linebacker would appreciate. She’d lost weight, but she would never be svelte. And from the way he turned his head sideways and let his gaze travel over her, he didn’t seem to mind.

Her skin heated under his stare. He didn’t speak, just rested his fingers lightly on her battered car’s new scar. It felt as if he was touching her intimately, holding his hand over the pulse point in her throat, over her heart. Over her breasts and her pussy and all the sensitized nerve endings in between.

“I can fix this for you.”

His voice. God, just the whisker-rasp of it made her melt. He didn’t need to touch her. With every flick of his fingers on the quarter panel of her sedan, her breasts swelled, nipples pulling tight. The clench of her thighs couldn’t disguise what was happening between them. How she’d already readied herself for a man she’d never believed she could have.

Men like Sam didn’t exist in her world. Lust on her terms suited her just fine, and she’d never actively searched for love. In fact, until Sam’s feelings for his wife had repeatedly awakened her to what she hadn’t realized she’d been missing, she would’ve said her life was just the way she wanted it.

He pivoted toward her and this time she didn’t retreat. This time she moved closer. She had to touch him, had to know. Her lips trembled open and she lifted her hand to his chest. She expected the wall of hard muscle. What she didn’t expect was the wild throb of his heart beneath her palm, its skipping beat encouraging her own to race.

“It’s just a scratch,” she managed, unable to meet his eyes. She didn’t know what she’d see in those shadows, if there would just be two people there or three.

“Some scratches go pretty deep.”

“The rest of the car’s pretty beat up anyway. Not worth the effort.”

He didn’t ask her to remove her hand or to stop caressing him through the threadbare cotton. His heart just beat faster. “How does it run?”

“Like a charm.”

“Then it’s worth it. The internals are what count. Dressing the window just helps convince people of what’s inside.”

She didn’t want to talk, didn’t care about her car or his or the minute dings in the paint. None of that mattered right now. Or ever. Normally she didn’t have any trouble making the first move, and he’d asked her here, so technically this was the second. But she couldn’t get her voice to work.


Her gaze snapped to his and utter shock rolled over her body in a hot wave. Oh my God. “You know?”

“I know,” he said, one corner of his mouth lifting.

“I know too.” She couldn’t believe she could smile. Who knew that even extreme sexual arousal didn’t preclude such banal gestures?

He rubbed his thumb over her cheekbone. “Will you come inside so we can get to know more about each other?”

Dialogue Highlight:

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?” The concern in her question almost broke him, almost unraveled his tenuous control.

He cast a hand around him, at a loss for words. The place was a dump. She was a beautiful woman, and the room looked even worse in contrast. How could he have brought her here? They would’ve been better off at a hotel. Even a motel. The only thing his apartment had going for it was that he cleaned a lot. What else did he have to do?

It wasn’t like he had many belongings either. A couple chairs and tables, the requisite nightstand and dresser. The small room off the hallway had probably once been an office but now it held his weight bench and punching bag.

At least the kitchen had all the standard issue stuff. The windows even had pretty gingham curtains his mom had made for him. She’d insisted his home needed to be brightened up. Hard to argue with that assessment.

“I like it. The place is cozy.” She glanced over her shoulder at the nightstand, letting out a half laugh. “Though the Bible kind of freaks me out. Not because I’m against religion, but it might be strange to look over and see it right now. If you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I hear you.” He picked it up and tucked it in the drawer. “Better?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Maybe I should change the sheets.” He glanced at the bed. “They’re fresh though, just put them on yesterday. But I’m not sure—”

“They’re fine. Don’t worry.”

He swallowed hard at her understanding smile. “I guess you can tell I don’t usually do this.”

“I can’t say the same. So if you want, I can take the lead.” She sighed and shook her head. “Let me rephrase that. I enjoy the occasional meaningless hook-up but I don’t make a weekly practice of it. There. Does that sound a little less icky?”

He laughed, shocking the hell out of himself. “Hey, nothing wrong with hooking up. I used to back in college.”

Which was how he’d met Dani. What he’d thought would be a one-night stand had ended up in marriage.

“I don’t do it that much but now and then, I like having a good time.” She stepped forward and placed her hand on his forearm as she lifted her gaze to his. “We’ll have a good time together, Sam. I promise.”

There it was, permission for him to let go. To stop worrying so much and just take things as they came.

Nodding, he cupped her shoulders in his hands. “Uh, you wouldn’t happen to have protection, would you?”

Rory waved her purse. “Never leave home without it.”

“So I guess we’re all set then. No reason not to…proceed.”

She cocked her head, a smile playing around her lips. “Maybe you should take my insurance info first. Writing down my digits after the deed might get awkward. This way you don’t have to get nervous that I’ll expect you to call.”

“No problem there. I can handle the paint jobs. To both cars,” he added. As anal as he was about car maintenance, even he couldn’t sleep with a woman then put in a claim to her insurance afterward.

“You work on cars?” The interest in her voice prompted him to snatch one of the business cards bookmarking the book on the nightstand. He handed it to her and her eyes widened. “Classic cars. Your own shop. Which makes my crashing into your sweet Chevelle even worse.”

“It’s okay.” He would’ve taken back the card, but she tucked it in her giant purse and shut the clasp. “Worked out all right so far, though we missed lunch.”

“I’m definitely hungry.”

He flicked a look toward the door that led to the kitchen. “I might have stuff for a sandwich.”

She walked her fingers up his belly, stirring all sorts of appetites that had nothing to do with food. “Not hungry for a sandwich, Sam.”


Rory has admired the love Sam has for his wife from afar for along time. She has always processed his billboard love letters to his wife and, although subconsciously on some level, she longs for the same kind of love in her own life. When the order comes through with a date of Sam’s wife’s death, she is compelled to call him to convey her condolences. She rationalizes her intent behind the phone call, but again, subconsciously she is trying to connect on some level with the guy that seems to good to be true. Unexpectedly, Sam invites Rory out for lunch, ultimately setting into motion a chain reaction that was never meant to be … or maybe it was.

Sam married young and, like many young men who are not ready for the responsibility that comes with marriage, makes plenty of mistakes. Unfortunately, by the time he had realized the error of his ways, his wife had had enough and kicked him out. Stuck in a limbo from which he has no escape, Sam tries to pay his debt to his now deceased wife by refusing to move on and keeping her memory alive. She may have been moving on with her life at the time of her death, but Sam continues to wallow, not quite sure how to let go and simultaneously afraid of what happens once he does let go. And then Rory walks into his life basically by accident and sucker-punches him back into the world of the living. Except Sam has been resigned to his loneliness for so long, he doesn’t know if he can figure out how to let go. And even if he does, can he take another chance with his heart? And will he even remember how to go back to the cheerful guy he used to be? Or is he destined to cause Rory the same pain he caused his wife? Either way, the feelings Rory provokes within him gives him enough of a push to try. But the pain of moving forward may be more than he can overcome; with or without Rory’s help.

Rory has always been a bit of a “buck-the-system” kind of girl. She lost a lot of her chunkiness and now dresses provocatively to show off what she has. She will never be skinny, but her curves are something she is more comfortable with now. Despite her Aunt’s requests to tone it down at work, she continues to dress how she wishes. She also allows herself to be stereotyped. Many assume she is a tramp and she allows them to think so, never trying to correct their incorrect assumptions. She is comfortable with herself and her lifestyle and that is all that matters. In fact, she is somewhat of a guy’s guy – a fanatical sports enthusiast and a lover of classic cars. Rory is also known to speak her mind and frequently shock or offend with her blunt tendencies. Not one to fall for the belief that there is true love somewhere just waiting for her to find it, she prefers to keep her relationships casual. But the sparks that she and Sam ignite simply from a look are undeniable. And soon, Rory is longing for things she never dreamed of. And she couldn’t possibly have chosen a more broken man to try and cultivate a relationship with. She tells herself that being friends would be okay, but she knows, and Sam knows, that their relationship can have no half measure. It will be all or nothing. And nothing seems more likely with Sam’s inability to allow his former love to rest in peace.

Heart Signs is one of the best short stories in erotic fiction I have read, hands down. What better combination is there than a heroine who is persistent and determined; who realizes her own desires, but puts the needs of someone else above her own wishes; who is willing to help to the best of her ability with no guarantee of a happy outcome? Pair her with the broken hero – nearly beyond broken – who has loved and lost and is stuck in that loss, with not a single clue how to move forward; who admits a deep desire for the woman in front of him, but doesn’t know if he is deserving of another chance at what he squandered; who really is an all around good guy that messed up and paid a heart-wrenching price. Okay, maybe I am laying it on a little thick, but I admire the fact that Ms. Quinn was able to present the hero that is borderline unsaveable. He is right in the edge of being too far gone without being beyond redemption. And Rory is equally flawed in her own ways. Flawed characters are the type that make the reader root for them, make the reader identify with them is some way, make the reader want to see them finally happy in life and love. For me, Rory and Sam fit this description perfectly. The story is short, so there is not a deep storyline that has to be sorted out. Everything is laid out on the table at a fairly quick pace, giving just enough to understand while refraining from overwhelming. Shockingly, Ms. Quinn was able to elicit some pretty strong emotional reactions from me in a seriously short amount of time. I sped through this little gem in about 3 hours. And in the 3 hours, I went through the emotions I believe the reader was intended to experience. The heart-break, the happiness, the frustration, the stimulation – this book was packed with emotion.

My only issue with the book was actually a secondary character, Rory’s Aunt. She seems inconsistent at best. A bit of a bulldog at first, then possibly a person who really cares about Rory, then almost instantly into a bitter wretch. I’d like to think that as Rory’s Aunt, she cares for her well-being and wants to see her happy, wishing only the best for her. But that brief glimpse into a “possible” moment of compassion leaves me doubting her affection towards Rory.

But what I could possibly say was the post enjoyable part of the story was the epilogue. I feel like epilogues are almost necessary for stories that may not be or are not part of a series. If the reader is not likely to experience these characters in the future, then it is highly probable that he or she will want to know what happens to them in the future. Rather than compromise a well-written story by trying to tie everything up within a few paragraphs at the end, Ms. Quinn made a positive move and included an epilogue. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have had stories ruined by the abrupt ending before. Such is not the case here. Despite the raw emotions stirred within this story, I felt that they enhanced this story in a way that made it more endearing. The reactions were believable and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Rory and Sam. An emotionally gripping tale of love, loss, and second chances, Heart Signs is sure to pull at your heart strings.

(Digital copy provided by author for review.)


  1. Cari is one of my favorite authors! And a former critique partner :).

    Kendra, I got your email through the EC loop. I'd love for you to review anything of mine. BJ only has one release so far (visit but my alter ego Helen Hardt has several. Visit If any of my releases interest you, email me at with the title, and I'll send you a copy.

    1. Fabulous! I loved Heart Signs - it was my first book by Ms. Quinn. I don't know her well, but I liked what I gleaned via e-mail correspondence setting up her appearance on the blog.

      I am absolutely interested in having you on the blog and will e-mail you shortly. :)

  2. Sam and Rory have to be one of my all time faves from Cari.
    She knows how to drag out all the uncomfortable emotions and make you deal with everything, even if it's not the pretty way to do it. Sam made me want to curl up like his little kitten and purr for a lifetime. And Rory was so cool that I couldn't even be jealous of her for getting such an awesome guy.

    1. Taryn ~ Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I couldn't agree more. Your description just about sums it all up! :)


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