Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Too Hot to Handle (Meet the Clarksons #1) by Tessa Bailey: Release Blitz Review & Excerpt


When rescue looks like a whole lot of trouble . . .

The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted-ass car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn't seen in years. When rescue shows up---six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle---Rita's pretty certain she's gone from the frying pan right into the fire . . .

Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in this town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he's about to be sorely tempted. There's something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn't just for tonight---he's forever.

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Review by Yvette:

I have read and loved all of Tessa Bailey’s books and, while she’s fully capable of tugging on my heartstrings, I’ve never been as emotionally invested in her characters as I was while reading Too Hot to Handle, the first book in her new series, Meet the Clarksons. There’s something about the prospect of four siblings embarking on a cross-country road trip to fulfill their mother’s final wish that cautions, there will be gut-wrenching angst in store. Too Hot to Handle is a heartbreakingly beautiful romance about family, about fate, and about finding yourself. It’s an emotionally-charged, relentlessly sensual romance that will keep you captivated from start to finish.

When mechanical trouble finds the Clarkson siblings stranded in a small town in New Mexico en route to New York, fate brings together protagonists, Jasper Ellis and Rita Clarkson. Their chemistry is instant, although Jasper’s handsome, confident demeanor paired with his obvious interest in Rita has her wary of his intentions. The pairing of the standoffish, brooding chef and the sinfully charming bar owner seems like a case of opposites attracting but, the more we get to know these characters, the more they are laid bare on the pages. Because of the nature of their would-be romance, with the clock ticking on their time together, we become acquainted with these characters quickly and thoroughly, learning their faults and weaknesses, and discovering not only how they see themselves but how they see each other.

I loved the dynamic of Jasper and Rita’s get-to-know-you routine, which feels both like a whirlwind and a slow-burn romance. Is it insta-love if the author teases and tantalizes you with chapter after chapter of incredibly erotic, will-they-or-won’t-they, not-quite-sex scenes? Too Hot to Handle has romance aplenty but the narrative’s emotional depth is what really drew me to these characters. Jasper and Rita’s exchanges are awkward and fumbling at times as they attempt to reconcile their past selves with who they want to be, which I found to be refreshingly realistic. I liked that, mutual attraction aside, nothing about their situation was easy or predictable. These are characters that will break your heart and slowly put it back together with every step each takes towards self-discovery and I relished every moment of the process.

Jasper and Rita’s relationship is the heart of Too Hot to Handle but the connection between the Clark siblings is the soul. Bailey does a brilliant job with character development, infusing the pages of the book with the liveliness and uniqueness of these four individuals. She showcases their different personalities and shrouds each sibling in just enough mystery that I was left with an impatient need to delve further into their own stories. The groundwork is painstakingly laid out for a series that’s sure to deliver captivating stories, steamy romance, and heartrending emotion. With Aaron’s story up next, I’m excited to see what else is in store for the Clarkson siblings.

*complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

About the Author:

Thank you for your interest in my books! I'm Tessa and I live in the crazy, loud, overcrowded borough of Brooklyn, New York. I love it here. This city is a constant source of inspiration, which is why I've decided to set my most recent books in the Line of Duty Series here.

I moved to New York when I was eighteen, the day after I graduated high school. Threw my suitcase in the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier and drove across the country to find my adventure. I'm still finding it, little by little.

Thank you for being a part of it.

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Rita and Belmont were sitting silently on the sidewalk, staring at the decimated restaurant, when a sleek, white Mercedes with the license plate VOTE4AC pulled up along the curb, eliciting a sigh from them both. Rita shoved a hand through her dyed black hair and straightened her weary spine. Preparing. Bolstering. While Belmont’s modus operandi was to hang back, take a situation’s measure and then approach with caution, her younger brother Aaron liked to make a damn entrance, right down to the way he exited the driver’s side. Like a Broadway actor entering from stage left into a dramatic scene, aware that eyes would swing his direction. His gray suit boasted not a single wrinkle, black shoes polished to a shine. His golden boy smile had made him a media sensation, but for once, it was nowhere to be seen as he approached Rita and Belmont.

Aaron shoved his hands into his pants pockets. “Fuck. Right?”

“Yep,” Rita said, swallowing hard.

Her politician brother did a scan of the dire scene, brain working overtime behind golden brown eyes inherited by all the Clarksons. Except Belmont, whose eyes were a deep blue, on account of him having a different father. A fact that Rita forgot most of the time, since Belmont had been there—an unmovable presence—since the day she was born. Aaron had come later. The second coming.

“Are you all right?” Aaron asked her abruptly, a suspicious twinkle in his gaze. “You must have been in there a while with the smoke. The soot around your eyes—”

“Hilarious, dickhead.” Her heavy, black eye makeup and general fuck off appearance were a constant source of amusement for her clean-cut younger brother. “You have a funny way of showing concern.”

“Thank you. What do I need to handle?” Aaron adjusted the starched, white collar of his shirt. “Did you make a statement yet or anything?”

Rita allowed the steel to leach from her spine. “I’ve been kind of busy just sitting here.”

“Right.” Aaron feigned surprise at finding Belmont on the sidewalk with them. “Jesus. I thought you were a statue.”


“You smell like the ocean.”

“You smell like the blood of tax payers,” Belmont returned.

“Well.” Rita finally found enough presence of mind to yank the smoky apron over her head, chucking it into the street. “I think I just remembered why we haven’t hung out since Mom died.”

Truthfully, even before that rainy afternoon, the time they’d spent together as a family had felt mandatory. Organized by their mother and fled from in almost comical haste.

“Oh. My. God.”

At the sound of their youngest sibling, Peggy’s, voice, all three of them cursed beneath their breath. Let the family reunion officially begin. It wasn’t that they didn’t love their baby sister. And in many ways, Peggy, a personal shopper to San Diego’s elite, was still a baby at twenty-five. Her big coke-bottle curls and cheerleader appearance guaranteed she got away with just about everything. Including neglecting to pay her cab driver, if the irritated-looking man following her with a receipt clutched in his fist was any indication.

“How did this happen?” Peggy hiccupped, playing with the string of engagement rings dangling from her neck, as Belmont wordlessly paid the cab driver. “I just had dinner here two weeks ago. Everything seemed fine.

Rita battled the compulsion to lay down on the sidewalk in the fetal position. Oh God. Her mother had bequeathed her an award-winning restaurant and she’d burned it down. On Rita’s first day back.

Aaron was busy scrolling through his phone, the screen’s glow illuminating his perfectly tousled dark blond hair. “Look at the bright side, Rita. Now you can pursue your dream of being a Hot Topic register girl.”

Rita barely had the strength to flip him the bird. “Jump up my ass.”

When Peggy approached, Rita couldn’t look her in the eye, so she focused on her younger sister’s toes, peeking out of strappy silver sandals. “Hey. I’m glad you’re okay.”

Rita’s throat went tight. “Thanks, Peggy.”

“I’m sorry about the restaurant, too. I know how much you loved it. How much Mom loved it.” Her youngest sibling nodded and cast a discreet glance over her shoulder, turning back with a charming half smile. A smile responsible for four marriage proposals over the past three years. “Mom probably would have wanted me to talk to those firefighters, though. Am I right?”

Rita groaned up at the sky.

Meet the fucking Clarksons.

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