Title: Too Hot To Handle
Author: Tessa Bailey
My Rating: A-
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarksons #1
Main Characters: Rita and Jasper
Release Date: May 2016
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
When Rita Clarkson's Suburban takes its last breath on a New Mexico roadside, rescue roars up on a Harley in the form of smooth-talking honkey tonk owner, Jasper Ellis, a man as mysterious as he is charming. Rita's cross-country journey to New York City--with her three estranged siblings in tow--is only beginning, but now that Jasper has found Rita, his plans do not include her leaving.
I love the premise of this new series. The book starts off with a journal entry from the four siblings mother (she sounds like she was a crazy mom to have growing up), but in it she explains that her dying wish is that her four (extremely different) children all go and leap into the Hudson River in NYC on New Year's Day.
This particular story starts out with the oldest daughter, Rita. Her mother was a famous chef (and had the Food Network show to prove it). Rita has spent her life trying to live up to her mother's and the world's expectations for her. But having just flamed out on her own show spectacularly, she has now just burned down her mother's legacy...her restaurant that she left to Rita. The bad thing...Rita is nothing but relieved that the restaurant is gone. But when all her siblings show up to watch the ashes of the restaurant, she tells them of her mom's last wish that she discovered in her journal at the restaurant.
And that sends the four siblings off on a road trip to NYC. Rita is a washed-up chef, Aaron is a politician, Belmont is the staid loner who works as a ship salvage captain, and then Peggy is the baby with four ex-fiance's left at the altar. None of the four are close...in fact, they're quite the opposite. At this point in their lives, they don't even really know one another. But they all agree to the trip anyway...maybe all of them needing somehow to connect with the others...something that none of them have managed to do since mom died a year ago.
But after the first day, they end up broken down in Hurley, NM where Jasper lives and owns the local bar, Liquor Hole (say that out loud...) Yeah, he gave it the name when he was 21 and brash and the town tramp. In the last two years, he's tried to become something better than the good times guy in town that every woman comes to when she needs a good lay. He wants to be more. As a result, he hasn't had sex in two years. And he's NEVER even had a real date. But when he sees Rita all of that changes. Suddenly he sees someone that challenges his self-imposed celibacy...but she's on her way through town as soon as their Suburban is fixed.
Tessa Bailey wrote an amazing romance in this story. Jasper's want is palpable. It wafts off the page with his need, but it's SO MUCH MORE than just sexual. For the first time in his life he can see something more. Something long-lasting. Something permanent. It doesn't matter if it's only been literally hours. Rita's arrival in town hits him like a brick to the head, and Rita doesn't get it...no one has ever looked at her the way Jasper does. Now he just has to convince her not to leave...not to honor her mother's last wish...not to connect even more with her siblings. Yeah, this is a catch-22 story if ever there was one. While I so desperately wanted Jasper and Rita to work, what about her brothers and sister and this epic road trip that they need to connect?
But I will say...Tessa Bailey makes it all work. The story was amazing. And I'm so excited to see where the author takes these characters on this epic road trip. I need the rest of the series...like yesterday! There's a tiny glimpse into the next story...Aaron. I can't wait!!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.