Wednesday, June 14, 2017

[Review]: "Too Close to Call" + Excerpt

romance novel covers, contemporary romance, Royal Pick, Too Close to Call by Tessa Bailey
Too Close to Call by Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated (June 13, 2017)
Series: Romancing the Clarksons, 3.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

All-American wide receiver Kyler Tate’s life is about to change. A fairytale college career skyrocketed him to the NFL draft. Adoration and opportunity are thrown in his direction wherever he goes, thanks to being chosen in the first round by the Los Angeles Rage. 

None of the accolades mean anything, though, without his high school sweetheart, Bree Sutton, by his side. Four years ago, she walked away from Kyler, choosing a quiet life over the flash and notoriety his career would someday bring. 

Now he’s back in their Indiana hometown, refusing to leave for Los Angeles without her. Demanding she give their life together a shot. Her heart never stopped bleeding for the love of her life, but Bree’s decision was final. Too bad their wild attraction has only been amplified by their separation, and Kyler won’t quit until Bree is wearing his ring.

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Reviews of Bailey's Previous Novels:

Raw Redemption
Too Hard to Forget
Too Hot to Handle
Too Wild to Tame
Worked Up
Wound Tight

My Review:

Because four years gave me enough perspective to know I’m nothing without her.

Kyler is your All-American boy; he played football through college, and was damn good at it, and has just been drafted into the NFL. He’s due to hit LA for training camp in just a few weeks but he’s not going until he takes care of something, something that’s missing in his life: his first, and only love, Bree. They broke up right before he left for college, and he always wondered if there was something more to her sudden decision to push him away. For four years, he’s thought of her and only her, not touching another. Tired of having wasted so much time already, he’s determined to go back and woo her again. Because when he leaves their hometown for the big city this time, he’s leaving with her – or he’s not leaving at all.

Bree’s never really enjoyed the spotlight, but she’s always known that Kyler would have it on him. That hesitation over being pulled into his spotlight, combined with feelings she has of not leaving town – of not leaving her father – lead to her hardest decision ever: letting Kyler go. Every time he’s been back to visit his family over the years, she’s done everything possible to avoid him, to avoid the heartache of seeing him again. But this time, he’s not letting her hide, and there’s a part of her that wants to pick up where they left off, even as she still worries about leaving her father and sister. She has to finally make a choice: completely break from Kyler and try to move on, or reach for her own happiness, and Kyler, and throw away any guilt she has about leaving.

If you recall in my review of Too Hard to Forget, which introduced us to Kyler (he played on the college team that Elliott coached), I was excited to hear that Kyler and Bree were going to get their second chance romance. And I was not disappointed by this novella!

We get a small peek at Kyler and Bree’s highschool romance, told through brief flashbacks, which helps to set up for their HEA this time around. I liked seeing those moments, but I also would have loved to see a bit more, to get a bit deeper connection to what they had before those four years apart. It just would have added that little bit something extra to help explain the quick jump to a HEA here – and that is never a bad thing. You can’t have too much of that, really! Still, I was happy with what we got, I’m just greedy and wanted more. Story of my life as a reader, really.

Bree is a vet tech, though she’s always wanted to become a fully trained veterinarian like her father. Because she doesn’t want to leave him (there’s a bit of a story to that, but I won’t spoil it), she’s slowly taking what online courses she can at home while working her ass off as a tech in their small town. We do get to see a bit of her working on page and she’s definitely more than competent and passionate about her dream career, which I always love in a heroine (or hero, for that matter).

Oh, and before I forget to mention it, Bree is a heroine of color; her father is black, her mother white. There’s brief mention of how that interracial relationship caused some issues in their small town, but it wasn’t fully explored/explained here. Still, I was happy to see a bit more color in Bailey’s books (a topic that’s been brought up lately, actually, and for good reason). It’s not enough, of course, to have one heroine of color, but it’s something at least, and a step in the right direction, I hope. In the meantime I have no problem pointing out the lack of diversity, in hers or any other author’s backlist.

To Kyler, Bree has always been his supergirl, and that’s his nickname for her. Cue the “aww” sighs! There’s this flashback moment that shows where he came up with the name. I could really connect to Bree here:

“Lay it on me, supergirl.” 
Her lips parted at the nickname he’d bestowed on her years ago. After her mother left, Bree had assumed so much responsibility, playing mom to Kira, helping her father run the family business and never once letting her grades suffer. The first time he’d called her supergirl, she’d sobbed for an hour in his arms, showing Kyler how much the added responsibility had taken a toll. How hard it had been to face every day, no matter how difficult. Afterward, she’d tearfully asked him if he still thought the nickname fit. Fits even better now, he’d said.

Also, the supergirl cuteness comes full circle at the end when Bree gets a jersey with his number on it and “Superboy” in place of his last name. How cute is all that?

I enjoyed seeing their second chance unfold. While trying to win Bree back, Kyler has a talk with her dad, as well as taking her for little walks down memory lane, learning about who she is now, and even some hot teasing in a weight room.

Oh, damn, but that scene . . . They don’t get up to anything but it’s no less hot for the teasing!

And when they do get down to the dirty reunited fun? Oh fuck, it is just as hot as any of Bailey’s other books.

I mean:

That first downward grind had Kyler throwing his head back and releasing a satisfied shout. Which was when Bree remembered why they’d always found it necessary to drive out to the creek to make love. 
“We never did this quietly, did we?” 
Kyler’s voice sounded just as unnatural as hers when he responded. “A man can’t stay silent when he’s wrapped up in something so tight.” His thumb rubbed over her clitoris, side to side. "Christ, I thought my mind had exaggerated how good you feel, Bree. How good we feel. It's taking everything I got not to flip you over and ram myself--" He cut himself off with gritted teeth, eyes closing. "No, I'm going to make this last. I want this to go on forever. You sitting there, full of my inches, thighs dancing around like you can barely handle them."
"Forever might be a stretch if you keep talking like that," she managed on a shaky inhale, her hips bucking involuntarily.
"Ride it, Bree," he gritted, levering his hips up for a long, slow grind. "Been too damn long since I came with my cock inside you and not just imagining it there."
Her pulse stuttered. "Did you imagine it a lot?"
"Every. Time."

And there’s no beds in this novella. Nope, they get up to their dirty-smutty ways outside at their old rendezvous point and against a wall in a barn during a storm.

Can we take a moment for that? Because storm sex is just . . . It’s A Thing. A Very Hot Thing, at least for this reader!

“Just once I’d love to be between these thighs in a fucking bed, Bree. You have any idea what I would give for that?” He pulled out and drove deep, consuming another one of her screams, reveling in the pain of her nails breaking skin through his T-shirt. “My fucking soul. I would hand it right over.”
"Oh my God." Her eyes were blind, words pushed out from between her teeth, her thighs tight and trembling around his waist. "Doesn’t matter where. Feels so good. Kyler, don’t stop.” 
“It matters.” He ground their foreheads together, beginning to pump in earnest, one forceful drive after the other. “Where I fuck the love of my life matters. I want to buy sheets together, bring them home, and lick you until they’re drenched. I don’t want time limits or worrying if we’ll get caught. I’m a goddamn man and I want my woman beside me when I sleep, Bree.”

Shit, I can only imagine what they could do with a bed!

If there’s one thing I wish we could have seen a bit more of, it would be the two of them together after they head to California. But again, that’s partly me as a greedy reader. I thought the ending was pretty solid, especially for a novella, and believable for their HEA, but I’ll never turn down more – especially from Bailey!

Too Close to Call Is a quick, cute, and hot second chance novella that I very much adored. The next, and final, book in this series (out in September) returns to the Clarksons with Bel’s story (fucking finally!) and I’m counting down the days until I can get my hands on him.

“Don’t you mean ‘until I can get my hands on his book’?”

….No. Though I guess I’ll settle for that so that Sage can have him. *sigh*

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the blog tour company.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Tessa Bailey; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Too Close to Call by Tessa Bailey

“Bree.” Her blood snapped with electricity at the sound of her name, said in that low drawl. Kyler stepped to the forefront of the crowd. The green eyes that still graced her dreams zeroed in, raking over her like they couldn’t help it. 

Heaven above, four years looked incredible on him. Extra inches had been added everywhere. His height. The athletic breadth of his shoulders. The corded biceps that tested the stitching of his T-shirt sleeves. Even his thighs, which were wrapped up in faded denim, were exploding with muscle; thighs she’d spent a good portion of her youth perched on since Kyler never allowed her to sit anywhere but his lap, no matter where they were or whether it was appropriate. “Hello.” 

“Hello,” she whispered. “You’re in town.” 

His slow nod was so familiar a ripple moved through her. “Here for the week. Can I get you that coffee?” 

“No.” She flushed over her own abruptness. “I meant to say, I can’t stay. I’m going to be late for an appointment.” 

“Fine. I’ll walk you out.” 

His expression dared her to say no. Challenged her. And for the first time since Kyler left, sexual awareness danced in her middle, sending a swift tremble down the length of her legs. Because her body hadn’t forgotten what often lay on the other side of those challenges. “Fine,” she breathed. “Suit yourself.” 

For all his sexual energy, Kyler was a gentleman, straight down to the soles of his feet. So Bree wasn’t one bit surprised when his long gait ate up the distance between them. He reached over her head to push open the glass door, sending his scent crashing into her senses, the combination so familiar, Bree’s nipples tightened until she winced. Grassy fields and Nautica Blue aftershave. 

Their gazes clashed, but Bree couldn’t decide if he’d worn the scent on purpose. His steady eyes gave nothing away. Before hers could betray her curiosity, Bree turned and passed through the door Kyler held open. And hell if it wasn’t the longest walk in history, his presence behind her looming larger than a mountain. Every eyeball in the diner was sure to be on them and the attention made Bree twitchy, her fingers yanking on the strings of her hoodie. 

She needed to get this reunion over with as soon as possible. Being around Kyler would only make her wonder what might have been. That kind of thinking was pointless. Destructive. 

Back in high school, the writing had been on the wall when it came to Kyler. Everyone knew he’d been destined for greatness. That he would shake off Bloomfield and put his name in the history books. She’d been selfish to stay with him for so long, absorbing his love and attention, all the while knowing she’d wave good-bye to him someday. The decision was a painful one, but it had been made and now she would stick to it.

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Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on June 29th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,


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