Friday, December 2, 2016

Too Hot to Handle (Meet the Clarksons #1) by Tessa Bailey: Paperback Release Launch w/ Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

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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Excerpt:

“So.” He plunked his beer down on the bar. “Where were you four headed in that big, rusty Suburban before Hurley reeled you in?”

She looked pensive as her shit-stomping boots started to sway back and forth, bumping the wooden rungs of the stool. “We need to be in Coney Island by New Year’s Day. So we can jump into the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Why—what?” He dropped onto the stool beside her, his drink forgotten on the bar. “That’s pretty high on the list of things I didn’t expect.”

“Oh, I know the feeling.” A beat passed. “It was our mother’s last wish.”

“I’m sorry.”

She nodded, brushing her hair back in a jerky motion, as if she were uncomfortable having someone’s undivided attention. He’d never had cause to use the word preposterous before, but that was the only way he could describe her lack of confidence. Despite the inappropriate name, the Liquor Hole was his life’s work, and, at the moment, it was nothing more than an unworthy backdrop for Rita. And, God, he was staring at her hands like an aggressive palm reader. “Most mothers want to avoid having their children turn into floating ice sculptures. What was her reason?”

“Good question.” A hint of sadness winked in her eyes, and Jasper wished he’d let the subject drop. This was what happened when he avoided talking about sex. He stumbled right into deceased parents. And yet he wasn’t sorry. Not even a little bit. He wanted to know everything. “I think…she meant it as some sort of symbolic bonding experiment. But I don’t know. We’re kind of unbondable.”

“Got the feeling I interrupted a near-melee this afternoon.”

“Aaron called my soufflé decent.” A strand of dark hair caught on her lips when she shook her head. It took one hundred percent of his impulse control not to tug it away, but she beat him to it, anyhow. “It sounds silly now.”

“Nah.” Jasper couldn’t help leaning in to get a whiff of cooking spices. “He would have had it coming just for dressing like a preacher on a weekday.”

Another one of those quiet, smoky laughs. “I guess there’s a fine line between politician and preacher.”

“Politician?” Jasper shivered, then recalled the threat Rita’s brother had leveled at his head back on the highway. “Still, I can’t help but like him for wanting you safe from a stranger. He can’t be all that bad if he worries about you.”

“Worried might be an exaggeration,” Rita said.

When her golden-brown gaze lit on his mouth, Jasper realized he’d moved into her personal space without any conscious thought. One of her knees brushed the denim covering his hip and, God help him, if the bar were empty he would’ve been between her split thighs before she could call for Jesus. For someone who hadn’t felt more than a passing appreciation for the opposite sex in years, his libido was sure trying to play catch-up tonight.

“What are you thinking about?”

Lie. He had to lie. I want to strip you down and fuck you on this seat, but I’m trying my hand at being a gentleman, was not an acceptable line. It was too aggressive when she seemed spooked merely from his close proximity. But she was leaving, leaving his town tomorrow, and the slow-game option had been ambitious for Jasper when he knew nothing about it. So he’d tell the truth while leaving out the oh-so-dirty reality in his pants. “I was thinking it would have been a goddamn shame if you’d broken down one town over.” His voice was gravel, so he cleared it. “More than a shame. I’m kind of finding it hard to think about, if you want to know the truth.”

For long moments, he couldn’t hear a single sound in the loud bar. No music, no crunching ice or raucous laughter. And, somehow, he knew she couldn’t hear the noise, either. It was there in the perplexity of her expression. He expected her to call bullshit or make a joke, but she didn’t. She shocked him instead.

“I’ll think I’ll take that kiss now.”

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