REVIEW w/ Q & A , EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey

Romancing the Clarksons Book Three

Recommend reading in order

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♦BLURB♦

This time, she’s calling the shots.

Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he’s been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy’s determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she’ll finally be able to move on.

In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist.

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

It appears Bailey is increasing the Tortured Hero factor in each subsequent book in the series, and with Too Hard to Forget, she hits a high point (though one is expecting the next book to be off the charts in this aspect). It’s not often that an author can put into the mix a devout religious man in a book and handle the religious aspect in a way in which it makes him more attractive and gives a rebellious spark to the romance, but with Coach Elliot Brooks we get not just that, but two different kinds of religion: Football and God.

One would think they had Peggy somewhat pegged (heh) from the prior books, but Bailey was holding out on us by waiting to release the chameleon that is this character until her own book. With alternating perspectives of past and present, the reader gets to experience their connection back when it started to now, where it’s severed and ugly. Fractured as it may be, there was no shortage of lust or unfinished business between the two. And when I tell you that the religious aspect of Elliot makes him more attractive, I am not kidding in the least. The way this man uses his religion is deliciously arousing.

Bailey knows how to make her men worthy of redemption, whether by action or emotion. I’ve yet to read a Tessa Bailey book that doesn’t evoke reactionary emotions such as sharp pains in the chest, deep dips of the stomach, or in some cases, tears. I search out books, like hers, that force me to respond in such a way, to feel and empathize with the hero and heroine, and to be an actual participant in their story. The heartbreak, lust, and emotional turmoil that the two harbored was palpable and painful. All of this to say that Elliot was at times a fumbling, naive man when it came to love, and watching him stumble like a newborn calf was endearing and sweet. As the older man, with so much on his plate, I wholeheartedly enjoyed seeing Elliot, the beloved Kingmaker of college football, have to fight his way back into the heart of the woman who got away on a playing field he had no playbook on.

Too Hard to Forget was another explosive story of second chances in the Romancing the Clarksons series. Peggy was a wild child spitfire that took hold of the pages and made them her battleground. It was sexy and raw and wild as any Bailey book, but it had such deep longing tied underneath it all; tied all together with the beauty of a love painfully lost. Well-written with only a skill that this author has, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them once the book opened. The Clarksons are each so vivid, their relationships with one another honest and disconnected, and I cannot say how much I adore each of them as we get them. I loved this book and I’m beyond ready to read the next.

Side note: And to all of those waiting on bated breath for more Belmont and Sage, you’ll be happy (happy being a very light word, maybe tortured is better?) to know that we get some more of them in this book. Hurry up September!

♦EXCERPT♦

“I don’t know, Peggy.” He whirled on her, closing in until she was forced back onto the desk. “I had an All-American on my squad this morning and now I don’t. That’s all I know.” He pointed a finger toward the window. “I solve problems down on the field. Saving people isn’t my job.”

Saving people. God, there was such a wealth of regret and pain in those two words. But he couldn’t hear it and she couldn’t address it. Letting him know she saw right through his façade to the hurt beneath might force Elliott to close himself off. “You didn’t always limit yourself. Why are you doing it now?”

“Accepting things that can’t be changed isn’t a limitation. It’s realistic.”

“But how will you know if something can’t be changed unless you try?”

“When it comes to certain things, Peggy, trying leads to losing.” He was in her face now, the mint from his toothpaste familiar and inviting where it slid over her lips. “And I don’t lose.”

No one ever stood up this man but her, and she wouldn’t be cowed now. “No? You’re out a receiver.” She hitched herself up on his desk. “I’d call that a loss.”

The tips of his shoes met Peggy’s, his hands gripping the furniture on either side of her hips. “Who do you think you are, little girl? Coming into my office and telling me what I’ve done wrong?” His eyes were brilliant in their vexation, the attraction he was trying so hard to fight. “Where do you get the goddamn bravery?”

“The bravery is what you liked best about me,” she breathed, heat sizzling in a downward V toward her thighs. “Isn’t it?”

“No. That bravery is what almost led to my downfall.” His hands found her bottom, jerking her to the edge of the desk. “I resented it. Still do.”

“Liar,” Peggy whispered, easing her thighs wider. “You’re dying for an excuse to head for another downfall.” When her legs were as open as she could spread them, she leaned up to Elliott’s ear and let her breath shake loose. “One thrust.”

Elliott’s right hand came up out of nowhere, molding over Peggy’s mouth as his hips crowded into the notch of her legs. With a quick maneuver to recline her halfway back, Elliott’s erection found the apex of her thighs, delivering an aggressive pump against her underwear that sent a scream climbing up Peggy’s throat, only to be trapped by his hand. Knees jerking up out of reflex over the rush of sensation, an orgasm almost—almost— broke past the surface, sending her waters rippling out on all sides. Her legs wanted to hug Elliott’s waist, her voice wanted to beg for one more, one more, one more, but he shook his head, denying her, even though his gaze was hot, a low groan issuing from his harshly masculine mouth.

He leaned in and nipped the lobe of her ear. “Next time, ask for two.”

 

♦Q & A♦

When asked for her Top 5 Alpha Romance Heroes, this is what Tessa Bailey had to say:

Oooh. This is going to be a tough list! I’ll go with a mixture of classic faves and new ones to the party!

  1. Joshua from The Hating Game (by Sally Thorne). Oh yes. Still waters run deep with this man. It has been a while since I reread a book, but I read this one twice. He is holding so much inside, but he’s clearly protective and IN LOVE with the heroine. It’s just the most beautiful slow burn I’ve ever read.
  2. Reiner from Kulti (by Mariana Zapata). This author has this amazing ability to write heroines that are totally oblivious to the hero’s undying devotion and it turns out, that is my catnip. This German ex-soccer star coach will always have a spot in my soul.
  3. Maksimilian Sevastyan from The Master (by Kresley Cole). This is the second book in her Gamemaker’s Series. He’s a politician/Mafiya boss and basically decides to keep the heroine, no negotiation. It’s probably the hottest book I’ve ever read in my life. I had a temperature the entire time.
  4. Jules Cassidy from the Troubleshooters series (by Suzanne Brockmann). He’s a badass FBI agent and also the first gay character I’d ever read. I fell in love with him and it was amazing watching his rocky road to love with Robin. They’re still one of my all time favorite couples.
  5. Tate Sullivan from Never Sweeter (by Charlotte Stein). This is a romance between a college student and the boy who bullied her in high school. That’s a hard road to redemption, let alone making me fall in love with him. Such a beautiful, angsty book.

 

♦SERIES♦

Too Hot to HandleKindle | Mass MarketiBooks | B&N | Kobo | Google | My Review
Too Wild to Tame: Kindle | Mass Market | iBooks | B&N | BAM | Google | Indiebound | Kobo | My Review
Too Hard to Forget: Kindle | Mass Market | B&N | BAM | Google | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo
(Not Pictured) Too Close to Call (a 1001 Dark Nights novella): Kindle (13-JUN)
Too Beautiful to Break: Kindle | Mass Market (26-SEP)

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

tessa bailey bio

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

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♦GIVEAWAY♦

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COVER REVEAL w/ EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Stand by A.L. Jackson

Bleeding Stars Book Six; Standalone

Release Date: May 22, 2017

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♦BLURB♦

From NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson comes the next seductive, unforgettable Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel…

Zachary Kennedy has never been known as a fighter, but he’ll never regret fighting for her…

I’m Zee Kennedy.
Quiet. Reserved. Predictable.
When my brother died, everyone thought I was just the good guy who stepped up to take his place in the band.

No one knew what I was hiding. The one thing I’ve been fighting for.

For six years, I’ve never lost focus.

Not until one chance encounter with Alexis Kensington.

Now she’s become my greatest temptation.
I knew better than to touch her, but now that I’ve had a taste, I can’t get enough.
Her kiss becomes my air. Her body my salvation.

She needed a savior and somehow she became mine.

Taking her was a betrayal. But keeping her means risking everything.
One look at Alexis Kensington, and I know she’s worth the fight.
Will my past continue to keep me down or will I finally find the strength to pull myself up and Stand?

♦TEASER EXCERPT♦

Tingles rushed, my words nothing more than pants as he kissed down through the valley of my breasts. “Maybe you’re just remembering who you are. Who you were always supposed to be.”

I felt as if I was so close to knowing him. This boy who’s beauty had been muted.

He groaned, half pained, half demand. “You almost make me feel like him.”

Yanking me away from the railing, he hoisted me high. My legs were wrapped high around his chest as he carried me the rest of the way to the upper loft. To this magical place where twilight touched every corner, whispered its secrets and danced in its shadows.

He’d barely tossed me to the bed when he was over me, shoving up my dress and ripping it free, my fingers just as frantic as I tore his shirt over his head. I searched him, hands racing across his chest, feeling the wild beat of his conflicted heart, hearing the struggle that whimpered from his spirit.

He angled down and captured my mouth again. He kissed and bit and nipped as he held my face steady in the frame of his hands. Then he edged down, driving me wild with this murmurs of kisses at my jaw and ear and neck.

“Zachary…please.”

I writhed, dizziness rushing as I stared up at him towering over me.

His body was brimming with hard, cut muscle. Muscle that jumped and ticked and flexed, as if the desire thrumming in his veins stalked back and forth, a caged predator, searching for a way to be released.

My gaze traveled across the tattoo on his chest.

Relentless.

“Fight for me,” I begged.

 

♦SERIES♦

Where Lightning Strikes, Wait, and Stay are standalones; A Stone in the Sea and Drowning to Breathe are a continuing story and must be read in order.

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installment STAND, coming Spring 2017.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 24587 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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♦GIVEAWAY♦

First Prize: Bleeding Stars Signed Book Bundle (includes first 5 books of the series
Second Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

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NEW RELEASE & REVIEW w/ GIVEAWAY: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Love Unexpectedly Book Four; Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

 

♦4.5-STAR REVIEW♦

Lauren Layne has the genius of a Rom-Com down pat. Walk of Shame was so, so fun and enjoyable that I couldn’t put it down. The lightness of its airiness mixed with building sexual tension between Andrew and Georgianna made this an unputdownable novel. It’s a novel with the perfect amount of animosity and romanticism between its main characters that it crackled with awareness.

There was such a great juxtaposition with Georgie. She’s a New York socialite, an unemployed but a self-proclaimed party girl, and yet, underneath all of that, she’s holding onto the brightest, biggest heart and personality around. You wanted to dislike her for her easy life, but you just couldn’t help falling under her charm. I loved her. The hopeless romantic with so much love to give. Add in Andrew, the stodgy, icy lawyer, and one couldn’t help but think they complemented each other so well. The two of them had amazing chemistry, both in hate and lust (and even beyond), that it carried the story forward with such ease.

LL is a favorite author for a reason: she mixes wit and charm so beautifully in her love stories. The characters were so concrete and vibrant, the pull between them built in the perfect way, and it was hot to boot. Honestly, it’s the perfect light read that has every wonderful element you want in a book. Walk of Shame is a must-read romance from an author whose writing is so effortlessly easy to fall into.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

And who is he, you ask?

Andrew Mulroney, Esquire.

I know this because we moved into the building on the exact same day, and right before we got into a horrendous fight over whose movers should have access to the building loading dock first, he handed me his business card.

The thick white card stock declared that he had a fancy law degree to go along with the fancy suit he was wearing on a Saturday.

Andrew handed it over with such superiority, I actually wished for a half second that I had a business card of my own that would somehow be better than his. Like, lined with gold or something. No, platinum. With a diamond in the corner. It would be too heavy for him to hold, and he’d drop it, thus having to kneel at my feet to pick it up.

But then I realized it was just as well that I didn’t have a business card.

Because it would say . . . what? Georgie Watkins, professional party girl?

Anyway, I digress. Despite the high temps of that swampy July morning, the encounter had been the start of an epic cold war.

Me, the socialite in apartment 86A against the uptight esquire in apartment 79B.

I’m not entirely sure I’m winning the war, but I’ll never tell him that.

I let my gaze drift over Andrew, even though his appearance rarely holds any surprises. The man’s a lesson in sameness, like some sort of anal-retentive version of Groundhog Day.

There’s always the black mug with some healthy gunk inside held in his right hand, Tom Ford briefcase and Armani garment bag in his left, containing what I know to be a perfectly tailored three-piece suit.

Andrew’s coppery hair is perfectly styled, although I’d swear that there’s some natural curl in there threatening to disrupt his perfect order. I imagine that annoys him, so it therefore makes me happy.

Let’s see, what else about my nemesis?

He’s got a hard, unfriendly jawline that’s perfectly shaven.

Dark brown eyes, cold and flat. Black gym bag over one shoulder.

I suppose you could say he changes up his attire, because he does alternate between black and gray gym shirts. But considering that they seem to be the exact same fit, both colors molding perfectly to his impressively sculpted upper body, we’re not giving him any points for variety there.

Same goes for the lower half. The black shorts worn in summer have given way to sleek black sweatpants now that October’s upon us, but they’re both black and Nike, so we’ll give him no credit for changing it up there either.

The shoes, though . . .

I do a double take.

Well, well, well . . .

Instead of the usual black gym shoes, the man’s shoes are red. I don’t know how I missed it before.

I drag my eyes back up his body with a grin, and he gives just the slightest roll of his eyes to indicate that he’s noticed my slow perusal and isn’t fazed in the least.

“You went shopping, Dorothy!” I say happily.

He stares at me. “I don’t shop.”

Of course not. Far too frivolous.

“No, that makes sense,” I say, pointing at his feet. “Glinda would have given these to you.”

Andrew looks down at his Rolex watch. “I’ve got to go. Have a good day, Mr. Ramirez.”

“You too, Mr. Mulroney,” Ramon says with a deferential nod. “Enjoy your workout.”

“Yes, do,” I say, turning and watching as Andrew moves toward the front door of our building. “What’s on the schedule today? Treadmill, or just skipping down the Yellow Brick Road?”

Andrew Mulroney, Esquire, doesn’t respond. He doesn’t even turn before pushing through the revolving doors and stepping out into the still-dark autumn morning.

Now come on. Tell me that wasn’t at least a little bit fun, despite the ungodly hour.

 

♦SERIES♦

The Blurred Lines

Love Unexpectedly Book One; Standalone

Purchase:  Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | BAM

 

17 - Good Girl

Love Unexpectedly Book Two; Standalone

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My Review

 

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Love Unexpectedly Book Three; Standalone

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My Review

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

LaurenLayne-Headshot-Official

Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to Manhattan to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals.

Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).

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NEW RELEASE & REVIEW: Where Good Girls Go to Die by Holly Renee

The Good Girls Book One

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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♦BLURB♦

It was a bad idea from the beginning.

He was my brother’s best friend and the definition of unavailable.

But I didn’t care.

I had loved him for as long as I could remember.

He was worth the risk. He was worth everything.

But then he broke my heart as easily as I fell for him. He watched me fall, spiraling out of control, and as I reached for him, he wasn’t there to catch me.

So I ran.

Four years later, I never expected to see him again.

He was still my brother’s best friend, and he was more unavailable than ever.

He looked every bit the bad boy I knew he was, covered in tattoos and a crooked smile.

Guarding my heart from him was top priority because Parker James was where good girls go to die.

Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t a good girl anymore.

 

♦3.5-STAR REVIEW♦

Where Good Girls Go to Die is a second-chance romance between a girl and her brother’s best friend. Told from both alternating perspectives and past/present viewpoints, this story is a quick, easy read that envelopes you into their taboo romance.

I’m a sucker for anything involving a brother’s best friend as I love the forbidden aspect of it, and I loved that part of this story. The way in which its told, from the beginning of their relationship and mixing it in with the present, gives it a more complete feel. I could see their uprising and their downfall which gave me a better connection to their current standings. Parker’s rough around the edges, but has this inherent sweetness inside him–Renee wrote the subtle, sensitive side to him very well. It peeked out around him at just the right times to really endear readers to him. Same could be said for the inner alpha in him; it wasn’t in your face or loud, but instead lurking for just the right moments to make itself known.

In reading the blurb (and the title), I expected a bit more of a bad girl in Liv. She felt hard and battle-wounded in the very beginning, but that went away very quickly, and for someone in her position, that quick change didn’t feel genuine. She still felt and acted like the good girl we saw in the chapters with the past, and it didn’t fit the main concept. If I hadn’t been led to expect the bad girl who had died inside, the rating would’ve been higher.

All of that aside, I still enjoyed the story. It was sexy and angsty, with a nice parallel between past and present chapters. Parker really stole the show and it was easy to develop feelings for him from the get-go. His charm came not only from his tattooed skin, but from the man they hid. I think readers will enjoy Where Good Girls Go to Die, and how it carries such a great second-chance romance.

(Side note for those with triggers/issues with this aspect: It does involve cheating)

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Bookaholic, firm believer in grand gestures, and obsessed with happily ever afters.

Holly Renee is from the small town of Maryville, TN where she was born and raised. She currently lives with her husband and fur baby, Luna. (Yes. She was named after Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter.)

Holly Renee is the author of her debut novel Letting Go.

During the day, Holly spends her time as a nurse, but once her shift ends, she falls deep into her passion of reading and writing.

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