Romancing the Clarksons Book One
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.
Where to even start with this review. TOO HOT TO HANDLE is now tied for top spot for my favorite Tessa Bailey book. I absolutely loved the premise behind this series with four siblings trekking across America and the shenanigans that derail them. It’s more than a love story, this book (and I presume the series) is about finding who each of them are individually and also as a family. And Rita and Jasper? Well… they will rock your effin’ world.
Rita’s a bit lost and a whole lot troubled. She’s lived with so much weight on her shoulders for so long that she’s finally snapped that brittle string keeping her together. On sort of an identity crisis, she’s finagled all of her siblings to take this road trip with her to New York City. And it isn’t too far into this trip that the family runs into a roadblock. Within that road block comes Jasper. Now Jasper has sort of already suffered an identity crisis and he’s on the downhill slope, having stopped his precarious reputation from further growing. But seeing Rita for the first time creates this explosion of need that he has to fight every single inner demon (and outer, really) in order to not mess it up.
I love the way Tessa writes a man. She makes them intensely instinctual, like a prowling wolf that has these inner urges to rut, to claim, to have, that they almost can’t control. Along with the captivating possessiveness is this weakness they all carry that make you feel deeply for them, and Tessa did an amazing job making me want to desperately soothe Jasper. Because an alpha isn’t a true alpha without a humanizing quality, I couldn’t imagine loving her men as much as I do without it. And I can’t (literally can’t–I’m speechless) say enough about the dirty-talking that Tessa always has in her books, and it is.in.full.effect in TOO HOT TO HANDLE. I mean, ho-lee hell Jasper about killed me.
Aside from the beautiful love between Rita and Jasper, and the incredibly well-written story, this book really touched on family. The Clarksons were all so very different, and I loved each and every sibling. They were all charming and a bit kooky, but I could tell just from getting to know them in this book that we have so much to look forward to in their books. And I did shed some good tears seeing the unemotional, guarded siblings make some progress in opening up. They each touched me in their own ways, and I’m pretty sure I’m so involved with them all that I want to beg Tessa for them all now. I loved this book, and I am chomping at the bit for more of the beloved Clarksons.
He dipped down until they were nose to nose, saw the rush of thought going on behind her eyes. It was pretty damn breathtaking up close. “Mind cluing me in as to what’s going on in there?”
“If—if—we need to stay overnight—”
“—then I might see you at the bar.” She wedged a hand between them and separated their bodies. “I’d rather see someone’s worst than their best. Saves time.”
Jasper heard the tow truck pulling into the garage parking lot and cursed. Not even remotely confident that his first attempt at polite conversation with an available woman had been successful, Jasper walked her backward until they were hidden behind a rusted pay phone. She’d broken away from his touch, so he was careful to respect that. He dropped his mouth to an inch above hers and said, low, “I didn’t get near enough time with you, Rita. If you don’t show up tonight, don’t be surprised if I come looking.” He laid his palms against the warm building, above her head, watched her gaze dip to his stomach. His lap. “And if I have to come looking, I’ll be twice as determined to get that kiss.”
Her head came up. “W-what kiss?”
Jasper lowered his mouth until their lips brushed. He listened to her breath accelerate, watched her wet her lips. “The one I want to give you right now.” He allowed himself to linger another few seconds, then, with the effort of ten oxen, Jasper stepped back. “Tonight, beautiful.”
On his way to his bike, Jasper tipped his hat at Rita’s gaping siblings.
♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦
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.