Thursday, May 19, 2016

Too Hot to Handle (Romancing the Clarksons #1) by Tessa Bailey

Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

Release: May 17, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarkson's #1

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.

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

How can you not love a series based on dysfunctional families (blood or otherwise)? I know that I personally tend to gravitate to series involving siblings and families so when I was presented with the opportunity to read this book, I simply couldn’t pass it up. Not only did I love hero and heroine in this book but the heroine’s family also took on a starring role (that was fun and charming nonetheless).

The Good
  • Rita embraces spontaneity at several points in the book. Something feels right down deep in her soul and she chooses it spur of the moment. Books that embrace spontaneity tend to make for really good reads for me since they keep me on my toes.
  • Jasper and Rita save themselves. Yes, Jasper helps Rita get over her fear. Yes, Rita makes Jasper see that he’s more his past. They challenge each other and make the other person see that they are truly worthy of happiness. However, in the end Rita saves Rita and Jasper saves Jasper. They move on from their pasts and start their HEA with a clean slate.
  • Rita has past and a personality that’s just right. She’s not too meak, not too brash, not too shy, not too emotionally unstable...she’s just right. I didn’t necessarily connect with her since her story is not even close to mine, but her kick-ass personality didn’t turn me off at all, it actually drew me to her which is hard to do.
  • No one writes a better dirty-talking hero than Tessa Bailey. End of story.
The Bad
  • Too Hot to Handle had me on the edge of my seat most of the book, I’d guess due to the limited time frame premise. However, even at the very end of the book it didn’t really feel like I could release the breath that I’d been holding. Now, the epilogue did get me to relax a whole lot, but that much prolonged tension in books just isn’t my cup ‘o tea.
The Unique
  • Rita chose to start over. It’s pretty common in romances to read about heroines that need to start over since their lives have fallen apart. Rita’s story felt different since she chose to start over and she chose to go on a crazy adventure with her family. Sure, the odds were stacked against her in San Diego and she was at the end of her rope. But girlfriend took charge and made a choice to leave, go somewhere else and do things differently. Mad props to Tessa Bailey for taking a chance on a heroine like Rita.
  • The reformed playboy hero and plain heroine is not a new storyline in a romance. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever read it done so well in a contemporary romance. I really did love the opposites attract aspect of Jasper and Rita’s story. From their intimate moments, to their scenes with each of their families, nothing felt contrived or cheesy about them together even though they came from different worlds.

I rate this book:

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—”

“You will.”

“—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 Tessa Bailey
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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