TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Romancing The Clarksons, #1
On Sale: November 29, 2016
Previously released as an eBook in May 2016, the first book in Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarksons series is now available in print for the first time!
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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“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.”
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.”
Tessa Bailey’s signature is ALL over this book except for one thing, and that’s character connection. The story of Rita and Jasper felt very secondary to me. I don’t quite know what the correct wording is, but the siblings and their interactions took frontal stage for me in the book. And that was really weird to read. It was really entertaining and the story itself kept me captivated but it was weird. The other aspect that felt odd was how fast Rita and Jasper went from total strangers to BAM! It didn’t quite ring true to me. I believe in lust at first sight, but HEA takes longer than first sight …. in my opinion that is. As much as I enjoyed Jasper’s alpha dirty talking spirit, I didn’t quite feel it. I just merely read it. Make sense? I can’t exactly say I enjoyed the book because I more read than felt the story and that is really unusual for a Tessa Bailey book, but I can’t say I disliked it either.
I’m hooked on the series as a whole because I’m already hooked on the siblings based on their portrayal in this book. So there’s that 🙂 As for Too Hot To Handle, I am very much middle of the road.
Copy provided for blog tour
THE ROMANCING THE CLARKSONS SERIES
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans, and laptop, and drove 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 and daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.