Blood Guard (Mission #1) by Megan Erickson-a review

BLOOD GUARD (Mission #1) by Megan Erickson-a review

Blood Guard

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

About the book : Release Date September 12, 2017

Enter a world of immortal danger and desire—and discover an incredible fate borne of blood.

Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next, I’m whisked away by a vampire named Athan who tells me that I’m the lifeblood of his clan. It sounds unbelievable, but he’s got evidence I can’t deny. Turns out, Athan belongs to an underground society of vampires who feed only on humans with their consent. Their enemies have no such qualms, and they want me dead. The only thing standing in their way is strong, sexy Athan. And the closer we get, the more tempted I am to let Athan feed. . . .

Athan: How could I have known when I snatched this snarky, beautiful human off the streets that she would change my destiny? As a loyal soldier, I must deliver Tendra to our future king—my brother. Empowered with the blood of ten generations of the Gregorie breed, she is fated to rule as our queen. But there’s something between us that’s so intoxicating, so carnal, I can’t help wanting Tendra for myself . . . even if it’s treason.

••••

REVIEW: BLOOD GUARD is the first installment in Megan Erickson’s contemporary, adult MISSION paranormal, erotic, romance series. This is vampire Blood Guard Athan and human waitress Tendra’s story line.

Told from dual first person perspectives (Athan and Tendra) BLOOD GUARD introduces the world of the Gregorie vampire-their enemies, a rival vampire clan, known as the Valarians who want to enslave all of humanity as blood banks, and the Quellens (assassins for hire). With the impending arrival of the King-to-be’s Sanguivita, the Gregorie clan prepares for a future awash in unmentionable powers.

Our heroine Tendra is a strong female character; the Sanguivita of the Gregorie clan-the sole human provider of blood to the king-a position she is ill prepared for, and a position of which, she knew nothing about. Athan is Gregorie vampire royalty but a royal designated as the Blood Guard to his brother’s future bride-a spare to the heir, so to speak but a spare whose position within the royal elite will soon come to light. Athan has been tasked to safely escort his brother’s future bride to her new home at the Gregorie compound but the compound has been compromised, and the royal family struggles to stay one step ahead of an unknown threat. What ensues is the building relationship between Athan and Tendra, and the potential fall out when the truth about the royal legacy and the Sanguivita prophecy is fulfilled.

BLOOD GUARD is a story of insta-love; of forbidden romance between soul mates; two people pulled together by love and fate; and the unmistakable allure of what should have been. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. There is a palpable, sexual attraction between our leading couple-an attraction that does not go unnoticed by the man in charge. Fair warning, there are some M/M, F/F sexual situations between non-relevant characters but situations that explain the attraction and desires during vampire feedings.

We are introduced to Athan’s brother Idris; his best friend Zeb, and Tendra’s co-worker and friend Ruby. There is a large assortment of secondary and supporting characters who come and go throughout the story including Athan and Idris’s father King Connell. Idris’s story line is next BLOOD VEIL November 2017. Here’s hoping the author has plans for Zeb’s HEA.

The world building reveals some of the backstory and touches briefly on the history of the Sanguivita-her role as the sole human blood provider of the Gregorie king including the potential power her blood can gift to the rightful heir. Athan’s earlier years, including his relationship with his brother, struggled in the face of their father’s power and control- a control that will dissipate as the Sanguivita takes her place on the throne. I was hoping for some more information as to the reasons why the Gregorie vampires chose the town of Mission-perhaps it was the availability of the old, underground subway system that allows for a secret city beneath the town.

BLOOD GUARD is a fast paced and intriguing story line. The premise is sexy and energetic- there was nothing earth shattering or new but the story line kept me entertained and interested in the fate of the leading characters; the romance is intense; the characters are colorful and charismatic. Megan Erickson’s BLOOD GUARD is a great start to a new series. I hope you give it a try.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

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Overexposed (In Focus #4) by Megan Erickson-a review

OVEREXPOSED (In Focus #4) by Megan Erickson-a review

Overexposed

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / KOBO / BAM /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 20, 2016

Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.

His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs.

••••••••••••

REVIEW: OVEREXPOSED is the fourth installment in Megan Erickson’s contemporary, adult IN FOCUS M/M romance series. This is former reality star Levi Grainger, and Thad Connors’s story line. OVEREXPOSED can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. The previous story line couples make a cameo appearance at the ends of the book. The reader was first introduced to Levi Grainger in book three-Out of Frame-where he was presented as the ‘token’ gay guy on the reality show Trip League.

NOTE: OVEREXPOSED contains M/M sexual situations.

Told from first person point of view (Levi Grainger) OVEREXPOSED focuses on the building relationship between former reality star Levi Grainger-a twenty three year old young man who recently lost his sister-his best friend- to the war in the Middle East, and quiet, brooding twenty six year old Thad Connor- a man struggling with the direction of his life. To fulfill his sister’s dreams and wishes, Levi goes off grid and begins to hike the Appalachian Trail-alone. Enter Thad Connor, the man who would steal Levi’s heart, and destroy his faith in the man with whom he would fall in love. What ensues is a friends to lovers relationship that will falter when the truth about Thad’s solo hike is revealed.

Thad is a dark, introspective and foreboding character; a man whose silence screams secrets and pain, and in this Levi is determined to draw forth some sort of emotion from the man with whom he is falling in love. Thad needs the solitude of the Appalachian Trail as he struggles with what was and what is about to be. As a former reality star, Levi remains hidden from the public and social life, preferring to complete the trip his sister had planned but life has a way of interrupting his freedom as they meet several people along the way. Thad is unaware of Levi’s notoriety, and Levi prefers it just that way. The $ex scenes are intimate and provocative without the use of over the top graphic language or text.

OVEREXPOSED is a passionate and emotional story about starting over and personal growth for two men whose futures are fated by distance and time. The premise is encouraging and impressive; the characters are colorful, energetic and charismatic; the romance is captivating and powerful. OVEREXPOSED is an inspiring and poignant story.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

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Leveling the Field (Gamers #4) by Megan Erickson-a review

LEVELING THE FIELD (Gamers #4) by Megan Erickson-a review

Leveing the field

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 2, 2016

Reclusive magazine exec Ethan Talley is furious when his business partner hires a photographer—a gorgeous photographer who insists on speaking her mind, damn it—to take pictures for an upcoming article. No matter how badly he wants the woman…under him, over him, against the nearest wall…he has reasons for not wanting to be on camera anymore, and his scars are only one of them.

It takes approximately two seconds for Lissa Kingsman to recognize Ethan as the popular YouTube gamer who fell off the planet years ago. But this Ethan is different than the charming man she used to watch, and the crush she had on him then is nothing compared to the way she’s lusting after the brooding man he is today. If sex is all he can give her, fine. Why not use that bearskin rug in her studio for something other than a prop? But she’s determined to put a chink in his armor, no matter how much he resists.

••••••••••••••

REVIEW: LEVELING THE FIELD is the fourth installment in Megan Erickson’s contemporary, adult GAMERS erotic, romance series focusing on the men and women who work for Gamers Magazine and in the gaming industry. This is former YouTube sensation and Gamers co-owner Ethan Talley, and photographer Lissa Kingsman. LEVELING THE FIELD can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Grant is Chloe’s brother (Playing for Her Heart #2).

Told from dual third person perspectives (Lissa and Ethan) LEVELING THE FIELD follows the building relationship between Lissa and Ethan. Ethan is a man who keeps to himself; hides a multitude of physical and emotional scars that have left him a broken shell of a man, and a man whose heart was destroyed with the death of someone close. Enter Lissa Kingsman, a woman whose own emotional scars remain hidden behind the glitter of boudoir photography, and a smile that presents its face to the world. When Lissa’s latest assignment to photograph the reclusive Gamer entrepreneur goes downhill, she is stunned when Ethan makes her an offer she doesn’t want to refuse. What ensues is the friends with benefits relationship between two people whose earlier years met with heartbreak, loss, and grief. Tragedy struck both families: where Ethan has shunned the outside world and the family he once loved, Lissa calls attention to the people who have overcome their scars and obstacles in life.

LEVELING THE FIELD is a storyline that covers a number of issues including accidental death, suicide, gay lovers, interracial relationships, and dysfunctional family heartbreak. All of the previous storyline couples play secondary and supporting roles. We are introduced to Lissa’s parents and her brother Angel, as well as Ethan’s family-long estranged from their only son.

LEVELING THE FIELD is a quick and sexy read. There are moments of heartbreak and presumed betrayal; grief and loss; acceptance and moving forward. The premise is enjoyable; the characters are colorful, animated and fun; the romance is seductive. There is no denying the attraction between our leading couple but some of their interludes felt cold and empty hearted-it is the nature of the beast that only wants $ex with no emotional after thoughts.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

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Tied to Trouble (Gamers #3) by Megan Erickson-a review

Tied to Trouble (Gamers #3) by Megan Erickson-a review

Tied to Trouble

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / BAM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 4, 2015-a review

Between love and hate, there’s a whole lot of trouble…

Chad Lake only showed up at his sister’s party for the free food, but when he spots an uptight nerd at the edge of the crowd, he can’t resist trying to ruffle the guy’s perfect bow tie and impeccable hair. The hottie’s ready for him, though, and in the end, it’s Chad who’s left wide-eyed, his ears still ringing with the filthy things Bow Tie whispered in his ear. No one gets the upper hand on Chad. Ever.

Owen Hawkins has heard all about the cocky Adonis from Chad’s sister—the same sister who holds Owen’s career advancement in her hands. He has every intention of steering clear of the other man…until Chad’s sexy taunts push him too far. There’s something intriguing about Chad, and even though Owen knows that getting tangled up with the infuriating man is trouble, he can’t seem to stay away…

•••••••••••••

REVIEW: TIED TO TROUBLE is the third installment in Megan Erickson’s contemporary, adult GAMERS erotic, romance series. This is bartender Chad Lake, and GAMERS magazine copy editor Owen Hawkins. TIED TO TROUBLE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous story lines is revealed where necessary.

NOTE: TIED TO TROUBLE is a M/M story line with graphic, sexual imagery and text.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Chad and Owen) TIED TO TROUBLE focuses on the building relationship between Chad Lake-Marley Lake’s (Chasing His Game #1) younger brother, and Owen Hawkins-Marley’s coworker at Gamers Magazine. Chad is a twenty seven year old sexy, bad boy who is struggling to find his place in the world. Working as a bartender but hoping for something else, Chad finds himself attracted to his sister’s co-worker Owen Hawkins-a copy editor, eye glass wearing, bow tie wearing nerd who pushes all of Chad’s buttons. What ensues is a push and pull romance between two people who want something more from life and love.

The relationship between Chad and Owen is one of immediate attraction but Chad and Owen are opposites: Chad is the sexy, bad boy; the bartending partier who has failed to follow a successful life path. Owen is a successful copy editor with some issues of low self esteem; a man who believes he is not worthy of a man like Chad. When Chad and Owen are asked to work together on a surprise for Marley, the sexual attraction between our leading couple increases but a lie and a misunderstanding push Owen and Chad in opposite directions-once again. The $ex scenes are erotic, intense and seductive.

All of the previous story line couples play a secondary and supporting role. Part of the story line focuses on Marley and Austin’s (Changing His Game #1) continuing relationship-their future and their love, and Chad and Owen’s connection to their possible

TIED TO TROUBLE has a little bit of everything: $ex and romance; lies and betrayal; forgiveness and fun. The premise is spirited and sexy; the characters are dynamic; the romance is impassioned but there were a couple of questionable moments with Chad’s behavior towards the man that he loved.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

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Dirty Talk (Mechanics of Love #2) by Megan Erickson-Review, Book Tour & Giveaway

DIRTY TALK (Mechanics of Love #2) by Megan Erickson-Review,Book Tour & Giveaway

Dirty Talk_Blog Tour Banner 2

Dirty Talk
Mechanics of Love 2
by Megan Erickson
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance
Release Date: September 15, 2015

Dirty Talk

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / BAM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 15, 2015

When the one you shouldn’t want is the one you can’t resist…

Brent Payton works hard, plays hard, and has earned his ladies’ man reputation. But he’s more than just a good time, even though no one seems to see it. Until a gorgeous brunette with knockout curves and big, thoughtful eyes walks into his family’s garage and makes Brent want more.

Ivy Dawn and her sister are done with men, all of them. They’ve uprooted their lives too many times on account of the opposite sex, but that’s over now. The plan seems easy until a sexy, dirty-taking mechanic bursts in Ivy’s life and shakes everything up.

Brent can’t resist the one person who sees past his devil-may-care façade, and Ivy finds it harder and harder to deny how happy he makes her. But she has secrets of her own and when the truth comes out, she must decide if she’ll run again or if she’ll take a chance on forever.

•••••••••••••

REVIEW: DIRTY TALK is the second installment in Megan Erickson’s contemporary, adult MECHANICS OF LOVE erotic romance series focusing on the Payton Brothers from Payton and Sons Automotive-a spin off from Megan’s ‘Bowler University’ series where Max Payton (the youngest Payton brother) was the male lead in book two-MAKE IT RIGHT. This is second eldest brother Brent Payton, and single mother Ivy Dawn’s storyline. Ivy is the sister of Alex –a female mechanic who works for Payton and Sons.

Told from third person point of view DIRTY TALK focuses on Brent Payton as he tries to seduce Ivy Dawn. Ivy is a single mother, who between she and her sister Alex, have made a pact to give up men in the hopes of a safe and secure future. Ivy and Alex’s pasts are tainted with emotional abuse and betrayal, and with it comes the need to first and foremost protect themselves and Ivy’s six year old daughter Violet. Ivy’s constant rejections of Brent’s attempts for a date find our heroine at odds with Brent Payton when our hero rescues Ivy’s daughter from a near drowning accident after a school bus roll over. What ensues is a series of dates where Ivy will begin to fall in love against her sister’s wishes.

The relationship and attraction between Ivy and Brent is immediate but Ivy must keep secret her past. Alex’s past has placed Ivy and Violet in a precarious position, and with it will comes the need to run when Alex’s past begins a search for the woman he got away. Ivy and Brent’s relationship is slow to build but when Brent discovers that Ivy and Alex are on the run, he believes he has lost everything along with his heart. Brent is the family ‘bad boy’; the ‘black sheep’ and believes he must work harder to prove he is worthy of everyone’s love. The $ex scenes are erotic and hot.

The secondary and supporting characters include Ivy’s sister Alex whose past history plays a pivotal role Ivy and Violet’s need to run. We also reconnect with Delilah –own of Delilah’s Drawers and Ivy’s new boss: as well as Cal Payton and Jenna MacMillan (Dirty Thoughts #1), and the Payton family patriarch Jack who is beginning to realize that his family is moving forward without him. Cal and Brent’s half –brother Asher makes several appearances-I am looking forward to Asher’s story but for now the young man is still a high school student with problems of prom, first love, and graduation on the horizon. We are also introduced to Davis- a former fire fighter who lost the use of his legs in a tragic fire fighting accident. I am not sure if Megan has plans for a romantic story involving Davis but we can only hope considering Davis feels like his romantic options have come to an end.

DIRTY TALK is a quick, sexy and easy read: the potential for conflict never came to fruition but resolution about Alex and Ivy’s past has not been addressed-perhaps Alex’s storyline will see the conflict come to a head. There are moments of heartbreak when Ivy must leave in order to protect her daughter, and Brent’s resolve to let Ivy go without a fight. Saying that, there is one particular scenario where Brent falls back into his old ways that didn’t sit well for this reader under the circumstances when his friends and some family members pushed our hero into looking elsewhere to ease his pain. The premise is engaging and fun; the characters are energetic and charismatic. DIRTY TALK is a great addition to Megan Erickson’s MECHANICS OF LOVE series.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Edelweiss

Reviewed by Sandy

Excerpt Black and Hot Pink

Brent Payton wanted some decent music while he was working.
Not this pop-rock crap the radio had been playing but real rock ’n’ roll. Hell, he’d take George Thurgood right about now. Some “Bad to the Bone”? Hells to the yeah. That was better than a cup of coffee, which he could really use this Monday morning.
He’d volunteered to spring for an iPod and a docking station so he could play his own music, but his technology-inept father had acted like Brent wanted to buy a spaceship.
So that was out.
“Brent,” Cal’s voice called from the other bay of their garage at Payton Automotive.
“Yeah?”
“What’s this shit on the radio?” his older brother asked. “Turn it down before my ears bleed.”
Brent snorted. Cal was grumpy on a normal basis. But now that he’d quit smoking and wore a nicotine patch, he was even more insufferable. So Brent didn’t argue and turned down the music.
A truck rumbled into the parking lot, and Brent turned around, squinting to see who it was.
Alex Dawn, the new employee they’d hired a week ago, strolled into the garage, a bandana wrapped around her head, wearing baggy jeans and a tight T-shirt. She held a banana in one hand.
Brent grinned and walked over to where she stood outside the door to the office, looking over the schedule for the day. She peeled her banana and took a bite. He leaned in and inhaled deeply. “I love the smell of estrogen in the morning.”
Her lips twitched only slightly before she turned around and socked him in the bicep, hard. The woman could hit.
He howled dramatically and clutched his arm, swinging it limply from the elbow. “I’m injured! I can’t work!”
While Alex gazed at him, one eyebrow raised in amusement, he forgot about his injury, grabbed her banana, and bit off half of it.
“You asshole! That’s my breakfast!” Alex smacked him in the stomach, and he started laughing, nearly choking on the banana. “I’m so stealing the Snickers you keep hidden in the office.”
He straightened in shock. “You wouldn’t.”
She was smug, the witch. “I would.”
“That’s war, woman.”
She took the rest of the banana out of the peel and then tossed it so it landed on his shoulder. “Then don’t mess with my banana.”
“That’s some grade-D dirty talk,” he said, picking the peel off of his shoulder and throwing it in the trash can.
“Will you two quit it and get to work?” his dad, Jack, hollered, sticking his head out of the office door. “It’s like you’re related.”
Brent shrugged and walked over to the minivan to continue rotating its tires. Alex smirked at him from her bay. Brent winked back.
Working with Alex had been rocky at first. She had a chip on her shoulder—which she refused talk about—and Brent really enjoyed trying to knock it off, which only led to their sniping at each other. But when some asshole customer gave her a hard time because she was a woman, and she told him to shove it—Payton and Sons Automotive didn’t really have that customer-is-always-right policy—Brent developed a newfound respect for her. When Brent backed her up in front of said asshole, she began giving him some respect in return. And so they’d fallen into this brother-sister type relationship that was actually kinda fun. Brent didn’t really have friendships with women and especially not women he’d never fucked.
And the thing about Alex was . . . he didn’t want to fuck her. It wasn’t because she wasn’t hot, because she was. But the chemistry between them was . . . lacking. Which surprised Brent. Because he was like hydrogen; he reacted with everyone.
Brent worked quietly for the rest of the morning, singing to himself when decent music came on, taking care of the minivan before moving on to the next job.
He was draining oil from an old Toyota when he heard voices from the front of the garage. He spotted Dick Carmichael talking to Alex. She pointed toward the back room, where Cal had disappeared. The Carmichaels had been coming to the shop since before Brent had started working there. Dick was a retired accountant, and his wife still cut hair in an add-on at their house.
“Can I help you, Dick?” Brent asked as he walked closer.
The man turned to him. “Hey, Brent. Uh, no, that’s fine. I’ll just wait for Cal.”
“Oh, well if you need—”
Dick waved him on. “It’s fine. You can get back to work. I’m sure you want to break for lunch soon.” He patted him on the shoulder, like he was a kid, and chuckled. “Your dad always says that’s your favorite part of the day.”
Brent tamped down the irritation. First, whatever Cal could help him with, Brent could too. Second, yeah, Brent liked eating a hell of a lot, but that didn’t mean he didn’t do his job.
So he nodded and walked back to the Toyota. He didn’t look up when he heard Cal return, when Dick spoke with Cal about some work he wanted to do to his car—work that Brent would probably be assigned to, but he wasn’t Cal, the responsible one.
Nor was he Max, their younger brother, the first of them all to become a college graduate.
Brent was the middle brother, the joker, the comic relief. The irresponsible one.
Never mind that he’d been working at this shop since he was sixteen. Never mind that he could do every job, inside and out, and fast as fuck.
Never mind that he could be counted on, even though no one treated him like that.
A pain registered in his wrist, and he glanced down at the veins and tendons straining against the skin in his arm, where he had a death grip on a wrench.
He loosened his fist and dropped the tool on the bench.
This wallowing shit had to stop.
This was his life. He was happy (mostly) and free (no ball and chain, no way), and so what if everyone thought he was a joke? He was good at that role, so the typecasting fit.
“Why so glum, sugar plum?” Alex said from beside him as she peered up into his face.
He twisted his lips into a smirk and propped a hip on the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “I knew you had a crush on me, sweet cheeks.”
She narrowed her eyes, lips pursed to hide a smile. “Not even in your dreams.”
He sighed dramatically. “You’re just like all the ladies. Wanna piece of Brent. There’s enough to go around, Alex; no need to butter me up with sweet nicknames—”
A throat cleared. And Brent looked over to see a woman standing beside them, one hand on her hip, the other dangling at her side, holding a paper bag. Her dark eyebrows were raised, full red lips pursed.
And Brent blinked, hoping this wasn’t a mirage.
Tory, Maryland, wasn’t big, and he’d made it his mission to know every available female in the town limits and about a ten-mile radius outside of that.
This woman? He’d never seen her. He’d surely remember if he had.
Gorgeous. Long hair so dark brown it was almost black. Perfect face. It was September and still warm, so she wore a tight striped sundress that ended mid-thigh. She was tiny, probably over a foot smaller than he was. Fuck, the things that little body made him dream about. He wondered if she did yoga. Tiny and limber was his kryptonite.
Narrow waist, round hips, big tits.
No ring.
Bingo.
He smiled. Sure, she was probably a customer, but this wouldn’t be the first time he’d managed to use the garage to his advantage. Usually, he just had to toss around a tire or two, rev an engine, whatever, and they were more than eager to hand over a phone number and address. No one thought he was a consummate professional anyway, so why bother trying to be one?
He leaned his ass against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “Can I help you?”
She blinked, long lashes fluttering over her big blue eyes. “Can you help me?”
“Yeah, we’re full service here.” He resisted winking. That was kinda sleazy.
Her eyes widened for a fraction of a second before they shifted to Alex at his side and then back to him. Her eyes darkened for a minute, her tongue peeked out between those red lips, and then she straightened. “No, you can’t help me.”
He leaned forward. “Really? You sure?”
“Positive.”
“Like, how positive?
“I’m one hundred percent positive that I do not need help from you, Brent Payton.”
That made him pause. She knew his name. He knew he’d never met her, so that could only mean she’d heard about him somehow, and by the look on her face, it was nothing good.
Well, shit.
He opened his mouth, not sure what to say but hoping it would come to him, when Alex began cracking up next to him, slapping her thighs and snorting.
Brent glared at her. “And what’s your problem?”
Alex stepped forward, threw her arm around the shoulder of the woman in front of them, and smiled ear to ear. “Brent, meet my sister, Ivy. Ivy, thanks for making me proud.”
They were both smiling now, that same full-lipped, white-teethed smile. He surveyed Alex’s face and then Ivy’s, and holy fuck—how did he not notice this right away? They almost looked like twins.
And the sisters were looking at him now, wearing matching smug grins—and wasn’t that a total cock-block? He pointed at Alex. “What did you tell her about me?”
“That the day I interviewed, you asked me to re-create a Whitesnake music video on the hood of a car.”
He threw up his hands. “Can you let that go? You weren’t even my first choice. I wanted Cal’s girlfriend to do it.”
“Because that’s more appropriate,” Alex said drily.
“Excuse me for trying to liven it up around here.”
Ivy turned to her sister, so he got a better glimpse of those thighs he might sell his soul to touch. She held up the paper bag. “I brought lunch; hope that’s okay.”
“Of course it is,” Alex said. “Thanks a lot, since someone stole my breakfast.” She narrowed her eyes at Brent. Ivy turned to him slowly in disbelief, like she couldn’t believe he was that evil.
Brent had made a lot of bad first impressions in his life. A dad of one of his high school girlfriend’s had seen Brent’s bare ass, while Brent was lying on top of his daughter, before the dad ever saw Brent’s face. That had not gone over well. And yet this impression might be even worse.
Because he didn’t care about what that girl’s dad thought of him. Not really.
And he didn’t want to care about what Ivy thought of him, but, dammit, he did. It bothered the hell out of him that she’d written him off before even meeting him. Did Alex tell her any of his good qualities? Like . . . Brent wracked his brain for good qualities.
By the time he thought of one, the girls had already disappeared to the back room for lunch.
“Do you think we hurt his feelings?” Ivy picked at a stray piece of lettuce hanging out of her sandwich.
She didn’t meet her sister’s eyes, not even when Alex started making choking sounds across from her at the small table in the back of Payton and Sons Automotive.
“E-excuse me?” Alex stuttered.
Ivy bit her lip and lifted her gaze to her sister’s. Alex had talked a lot about Brent, and while there was an underlying platonic affection to her words, most of her talk was complaining about how much of a pain in her ass he was. Maybe Alex hadn’t been looking at Brent close enough during their conversation out in the garage, but Ivy had been. She’d noticed the flash of frustration over his face when they’d shut him down.
What made her pause was that it seemed like frustration directed at himself, not at her.
Crap. Ivy dipped her gaze back to her sandwich. This would not do. She and Alex had basically stamped a big red X over all dicks—literal and figurative—for a good long time. They’d already moved twice to get away from men who had ruined their lives. Tory was supposed to be where they settled in, got their lives straight, and raised Violet.
Ivy’s defense mechanism was to immediately be cold to Brent. She could have gotten bees with honey, but she didn’t want bees. Or honey. Or whatever. So she was all stinger.
She and Alex didn’t need men. The two of them and Violet would be just fine.
And yet at this moment, Ivy couldn’t stop thinking about Brent. Alex hadn’t warned her that he looked . . . like that. Like six-feet, two-inches of hotness straight out of a Mechanics of Your Dreams calendar. Jesus. That dark hair, those full lips that smirked, those slate eyes that did nothing to hide the fact that this man was trouble with a capital T.
“Iv-eeeeee.” Alex drew out her name in that way only big sisters could do when they planned to interrogate.
Ivy poked the wheat bread of her sandwich. “What?”
“Why are you concerned about Brent’s feelings?”
She didn’t know. Honestly and truly, she didn’t know, but she couldn’t forget that momentary flash of emotion that passed over his face before he covered it with a smirk. “I don’t know; he’s your coworker and—”
“I know he’s basically sex on legs, Ivy, but he knows it. And I’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who hasn’t taken a ride in this town.”
Ivy pressed her lips together, chastising herself for letting her soft heart show. She needed to focus on finding a job and raising her daughter. Those were her priorities. Not going toe-to-toe with some cocky hot guy. “You’re right; forget I said anything.” Ivy held up her index fingers and crossed them in an X. “No men.”
“Ick,” Alex spat.
“Gross,” Ivy said.
Alex grinned at her, and Ivy returned it, sipping from her iced tea. “So, work going okay?”
“Yeah, I like it here. Cal’s fair. Brent’s fun to work with. Jack’s still a hard-ass but I think he’s warming to me.”
Alex had told Ivy that Brent and Cal’s dad was a brick wall of gruff and stubborn. “Good.”
“Violet off to school okay?” Alex asked.
Ivy’s daughter was in first grade at White Pine Elementary School in the Tory school district. They’d moved in time for her start at the beginning of the school year. “Her teacher called me again, saying Vi cried on and off this morning.” Ivy knew moving was hard on her, but they hadn’t had much of a choice. “I hate this.”
Alex squeezed Ivy’s hand where it rested on the table. “It’s school. You’re not torturing her. She’ll get used to it.”
Ivy’s stomach rolled, thinking about it. “I hope.”
“She’s a good kid. She just needs time.”
Ivy sighed. “I guess.”
“Alex,” a deep voice said from the doorway. Ivy craned her head to see a man who looked a lot like Brent but . . . wasn’t Brent.
“Yeah?” Alex answered.
The man nodded at Ivy. “I’m Cal.” He turned to Alex. “Sorry. I know you’re eating lunch, but got that customer of yours out front from last week. I tried talking to her, but she likes you better.”
Alex laughed. “Greta Sherman?”
“That’s the one.”
She balled up her empty sandwich wrapper. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes,” she said to Ivy.
Ivy looked down at her half-eaten lunch. “I can leave—”
“Nah, I’ll be right back. You finish eating.”
Alex tossed her trash into the can on the way out.
Ivy took a sip of her tea and picked at her sandwich. She’d spent all morning on the computer, applying for jobs in and around Tory. It wasn’t necessarily a mecca of job opportunities, but Alex had found a place she fit in, and the pay wasn’t bad. Ivy had some savings, but it wasn’t going to last forever, and she wanted to pull her weight in the little family they’d created.
Her résumé was a bit slim. She had a high school diploma but no college degree, having spent her early twenties raising Violet. Her job options in Tory were working as a secretary for a lawyer, selling furniture at a department store, or being a nanny.
None was appealing.
But at least they all paid.
The chair across from her squeaked, and she lifted her gaze, opening her mouth to tell Alex about her job options.
Except Alex wasn’t sitting across from her.
Brent was.
He leaned back in his chair, feet up on the table and crossed at the ankle. He held a packet of peanuts and tipped it so a couple fell into his mouth. He chewed, steel eyes on her.
She clenched her jaw shut.
He swallowed. “You looked like you were going to say something.”
“Sure I was. To Alex. But you’re not Alex.”
“No, I’m not. But I’m a great listener.”
“I’m sure,” she said drily.
His lips quirked. “Want to hear about what other things I’m good at?”
“Not particularly.”
“Because I can do this thing with my tongue—”
Good God. “I don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what?”
She waved a hand between them. “This. Flirting.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Babe, I haven’t even begun to flirt.”
She took a deep breath to calm her rising blood pressure. “Don’t do that either.”
“Jesus! Now what?” His exasperation might have been cute if she still had a heart.
“Nicknames.”
“Babe?”
“My name is Ivy. I-V-Y. Three letters. Two syllables.” Even she wanted to cringe at how much of a bitch she was being.
He was studying her now, his face a little less amused and more . . . thoughtful. She didn’t like thoughtful Brent. Amused, flirting Brent? Harmless. Thoughtful Brent, who tried to look deeper? Dangerous as hell.
He ran two fingers over his lips and then dropped his hand to the table, cocking his head. “You’re just thorns everywhere I touch, aren’t you?”
She froze at his words, like a deer in headlights because yes—yes, she was a whole lot of thorns because she’d learned long ago they were necessary to protect all her soft parts.
Brent wasn’t done, though; his voice was softer when he spoke again. “You born that way, or something make you that way, Ivy?”
She swallowed. Yep, Brent Payton was dangerous in a sexy-as-hell package. His words were seeping past those thorns, hitting all the spots where she was weak. So she gathered herself and clenched her fists at her sides. “You’re just acting like this because I’m the first woman who hasn’t fallen at your feet.”
He laughed at that. “Fallen at my feet? Nah, there are plenty of women who’ve told me to go to hell. My percentage is good, though. Maybe eighty-twenty.” He grinned that shit-eating grin. “But you got me curious now. I wanna keeping prodding until I find a place that isn’t a thorn. How long do you think that’ll take me?”
Shit, no; that’s exactly what she didn’t want. With those eyes that were smart and trouble at the same time.
She swallowed and straightened her spine. “You’ll never get close enough.”
He cocked his head. “No?”
“No.”
He hummed a little and leaned back in his chair again. He threw a peanut in the air and caught it in his mouth. Then he chewed, with those steel eyes daring her to look away. “Guess I gotta plan my attack better next time, huh? You better work on those defenses.”
She heard Alex’s voice as her sister made her way back to the lunchroom. Ivy smiled and lifted her chin. “Who says I’ll be the one who needs defense?”
He laughed sharply, like he was surprised. “Oh, babe, bring it.”
She gritted her teeth. “Ivy.”
“Babe. I call it as I see it, and you’re definitely babe.”
Ivy growled.
He smiled, and then he was up out of his chair and walking out the door as Alex made her way in. Her eyes trailed Brent as he retreated to the garage.
Alex turned to Ivy, eyes concerned. “Was he bothering you?”
Bothering didn’t even touch it. “No, he’s fine. Nothing I can’t handle.”
Alex shrugged. “I can talk to him—”
“Alex, I swear, it was nothing, and even if it was, I could handle it.”
Her sister eyed her and then stole a bite of her sandwich. “Fine; now eat. You’re getting skinny.”
“Quit mothering me.”
Alex pointed to the sandwich with raised eyebrows, and Ivy glared at her as she took a bite.


 

Series Spotlight

Dirty ThoughtsDIRTY THOUGHTS
Mechanics of Love #1
by Megan Erickson
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance
Release Date: June 16, 2015

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of DIRTY THOUGHTS

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 16, 2015

Some things are sexier the second time around.

Cal Payton has gruff and grumbly down to an art…all the better for keeping people away. And it usually works. Until Jenna MacMillan-his biggest mistake—walks into Payton and Sons mechanic shop all grown up, looking like sunshine, and inspiring more than a few dirty thoughts.

Jenna was sure she was long over the boy she’d once loved with reckless abandon, but one look at the steel-eyed Cal Payton has her falling apart all over again. Ten years may have passed, but the pull is stronger than ever… and this Cal is all man.

Cal may have no intention of letting Jenna in, but she’s always been his light, and it’s getting harder to stay all alone in the dark. When a surprise from the past changes everything, Cal and Jenna must decide if their connection should be left alone or if it’s exactly what they need for the future of their dreams.

 

About the Author Black and rose

Megan EricksonFollow Megan: Goodreads / Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/Pinterest

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

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Dirty Thoughts (Mechanics of Love #1) by Megan Erickson-Review and Book Tour

DIRTY THOUGHTS (Mechanics of Love #1) by Megan Erickson-Review and Book Tour

Dirty Thoughts

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 16, 2015

Some things are sexier the second time around.

Cal Payton has gruff and grumbly down to an art…all the better for keeping people away. And it usually works. Until Jenna MacMillan-his biggest mistake—walks into Payton and Sons mechanic shop all grown up, looking like sunshine, and inspiring more than a few dirty thoughts.

Jenna was sure she was long over the boy she’d once loved with reckless abandon, but one look at the steel-eyed Cal Payton has her falling apart all over again. Ten years may have passed, but the pull is stronger than ever… and this Cal is all man.

Cal may have no intention of letting Jenna in, but she’s always been his light, and it’s getting harder to stay all alone in the dark. When a surprise from the past changes everything, Cal and Jenna must decide if their connection should be left alone or if it’s exactly what they need for the future of their dreams.

•••••••••••••••

REVIEW: DIRTY THOUGHTS is the first installment in Megan Erickson’s adult, contemporary Mechanics of Love romance series focusing on the Payton brothers from Payton and Sons Automotive-a spin off from Megan’s ‘Bowler University’ series where Max Payton (the youngest Payton brother) was the male lead in book two-MAKE IT RIGHT. This is eldest Payton brother and mechanic Cal Payton, and public relations specialist Jenna MacMillan’s storyline. You do not have to have read MAKE IT RIGHT to understand the premise and background of DIRTY THOUGHTS.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Cal and Jenna) DIRTY THOUGHTS is a second chance romance storyline that sees Jenna returning to her hometown of Tory after ten years in New York. Her father’s company MacMillan Investments is undergoing a crisis of faith following Jenna’s brother’s discrimination lawsuit and the media fall out that ensued. To boost employee morale and play spin doctor with the media, Jenna has been hired by her father’s firm as their new public relations representative. But Jenna’s return to Tory is not without some heartache. Ten years earlier, to protect the man that she loved, Jenna agreed to her father’s terms never letting Cal Payton know why she walked away.

Cal Payton has always been in love with Jenna MacMillan but when she left for New York without a backwards glance, Cal’s heart hardened towards Jenna and her family. Jenna’s family was well to do and employed a number of people in the town of Tory, while Cal’s family struggled with their automotive repair shop and an emotionally absent father who preferred the bottle to his sons. When Cal was only six years old, he became both mother and father to his younger siblings when his mother walked away leaving her husband with three young boys to struggle on their own. Cal’s life has centered on raising his brothers and in this, he believes he has failed as both a parent and older brother.

The relationship between Cal and Jenna is one of second chances but there is a history between Cal, and Jenna’s family-one that broke Jenna’s heart when she was forced to walk away to protect the man that she loved. Jenna’s brother is a bit of a ‘douche’ and in this Dylan MacMillan continues to be a spot of contention between Jenna and her family, as well as a problem between Jenna and Cal. Cal will continue to push Jenna away at a time when he needs her the most. The $ex scenes are erotic and provocative.

DIRTY THOUGHTS is an ensemble storyline with a large cast of secondary and supporting characters including Cal Payton’s three younger brothers-Max, Brent and newcomer Asher; as well as Cal’s parents Jack and Jill Payton (yep, Jack and Jill). We are also introduced to Jenna’s best friend Delilah who owns a high end second hand clothing store called Delilah’s Drawers; and of course, the requisite evil comes in the form of Jenna’s brother Dylan MacMillan. Jenna’s mother is all about making impressions, and Jenna’s father is caught between keeping his family happy and fixing what ails his once stellar company.

DIRTY THOUGHTS is a fast paced, heartwarming and sexy romance with a palpable sexual attraction between our leading couple. There are moments of emotional highs and lows; betrayal and revenge; family and commitment. Megan Erickson has the amazing ability to pull you into a storyline with a little bit of everything for everyone. Your heart will break for a man who believes he is not worthy of a happily ever after.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Edelweiss.

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

 

Cal Payton sighed and braced himself as the opening guitar riff of “Welcome to the Jungle” reverberated off the walls of the garage. Sure enough, several bars later, his brother, Brent, began his off-key rendition, which didn’t sound much different from his drunken karaoke version.
Which, yes, Cal had heard. More times than he wanted to.
He growled under his breath. Brent kept screeching Axl Rose, and if Cal wasn’t stuck on his back under this damn Subaru, he’d be flinging a wrench at Brent’s head. “Hey!” Cal yelled.
There was a blissful moment of silence. “What?” Brent’s voice came from somewhere behind him, probably in the bay next to him at the garage.
“Who sings this song?”
“Are you kidding me?” Brent’s voice was closer now. “It’s Guns N’ Roses. The legendary Axl Rose.”
“Yeah? Then how ’bout you let him sing it?”
There was a pause. “Fuck you.” His brother’s footsteps stomped away. Then the radio was turned up, and Brent started singing even louder.
Cal blew out a breath and tapped the socket wrench on his forehead, doing his best to tune out Brent’s increasingly loud voice. Cal vowed to buy earbuds and an iPod before he murdered his brother with a tire iron.
He turned his attention back to the exhaust shield he was fixing. The customer had complained of a loud rattle when his car idled. Sure enough, one of the heat shields covering the exhaust system under the car was loose. It was an easy fix. Cal used a gear clamp to wrap around the pipe of the exhaust system to prevent the shield from making noise.
It didn’t necessarily have to be done, but the Graingers were long-time customers at Payton and Sons Automotive. And they always sent those flavored popcorn buckets at Christmas. He and Brent fought over the caramel while their dad got the butter all to himself.
He finished tightening the hose clamp onto the pipe and then banged around the exhaust system with the side of his fist. No rattle.
He slid out from under the Subaru and patted it on the side. He squinted at the clock, seeing it was almost quitting time. Their dad, who owned half of the shop—Cal and Brent split ownership of the other 50 percent—had already gone home for the day.
Cal put away the tools he’d used, purposefully ignoring Brent as he launched into a Pearl Jam song. Cal rubbed his temple, wiping away the bead of sweat he could feel rolling down his face. The back room had a small table and a refrigerator, so Cal made his way there to get a water.
In the summer, they kept the large doors of the garage open, but the air was thick and humid today. The American flag outside hung like a limp rag in the still air.
Cal wore coveralls at work and usually kept them on to protect his skin from hot exhaust pipes and any number of sharp tools lying around. But as he walked back to the lunchroom, he stripped his upper body out of the coveralls so the torso and arms of the clothing hung loose around his legs. Underneath, he wore a tight white T-shirt that still managed to be marked with grease and black smudges from the work day.
In the back room, he grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and leaned back against the wall. After unscrewing the cap, he tilted it back at his lips and chugged half the bottle.
After the Graingers came to pick up their Subaru, he was free to head home to his house. Alone. That was a new luxury. He used to live with Brent in an apartment, and it was fine until he realized he was almost thirty years old and still living with his younger brother. He was tight with his money, which Brent teased him about, but it’d been a good thing when he had enough to make the deposit on his small home. It had a garage, so he could store his bike and work on it when he had free time. Which wasn’t a lot, but he’d take what he could get. If his father would quit dicking him around and let him work on motorcycles for customers here, that’d be even better. But Jack Payton didn’t “want no bikers” around, ignoring the fact that his son rode a Harley-Davidson Softail.
Cal’s phone vibrated in the leg pocket of his coveralls. He pulled it out and glanced at the caller ID. It was Max, their youngest brother. Cal sighed and answered the call. “Yeah?”
“Cal!” Max shouted.
“You called me.”
“What’s going on?”
“Workin’.”
“You’re always working.” Max huffed.
Cal took another sip of water. “That’s what people do.”
“Hey, I work.”
“You play dodgeball with a bunch of teenagers.” Cal knew Max did a hell of a lot more than that at his physical education teaching job at a high school in eastern Pennsylvania, but it was fun as hell to get him worked up. Cal smiled. One of the first times that day.
“Hey, I had to hand out deodorant and condoms to those teenagers this year, so don’t give me that shit,” Max said.
“Condoms?”
“Yeah, they’re kinda liberal here,” Max muttered.
“Huh,” Cal said, scratching his head. They sure never handed out condoms in school when he was a teenager.
“Anyway,” Max said.
“Yeah, anyway, what’dya need?”
“How do you know I need something?”
“Why else do you call?”
“I want to hear your pleasant voice?”
Cal grunted.
“I just wanted to know if you had any plans for your birth—ouch!” There was rustling on the other line, some mutters, and a higher-pitched voice in the background. Then Max spoke again. “Okay, so Lea punched me because she said I’m doing this wrong.”
Cal smiled. Lea was Max’s fiancée, and she was a firecracker.
“We wanted to come visit you and take you out for your birthday. All of us.” Max cleared his throat. “And you can bring a date too. If you want.”
A date. When was the last time he’d introduced a woman to his family? Hell, when was the last time he’d had a date? “The five of us should be fine.”
“So that’s okay? To celebrate? I mean, you’re turning thirty, old man.”
Cal let the old man comment roll off his back. “Yeah, sounds good.” He paused. “Thanks.”
Max seemed pleased, chattering on about his neighborhood and how he was enjoying being off work for the summer. Cal drank his water and listened to his brother ramble. Max hadn’t always been a happy kid. Cal had tried his best after their mom left the family shortly after Max was born. Their dad was pissed and bitter and immersed himself in working at the garage. So as the oldest brother, Cal scrambled to hold the reins of his wild brothers.
He hadn’t done such a great job, he didn’t think. His brothers survived in spite of him, not because of him, he was sure. Brent was still a little crazy, and it had taken Lea to straighten Max out in college. Cal tried not to dwell on his failure and instead appreciated that at least they were all alive and healthy.
It was why he valued his own space so much now. His alone time. Because he’d been a surrogate father at age six, and he was fucking over it.
Although, by the time he hung up the phone with Max and slipped his phone back into his pocket, he had a warm feeling in his gut that hadn’t been there before his brother had called.
He was flipping the cap of the water in his fingers and finishing the last of the bottle when Brent poked his head in the back room. “Hey.”
Cal raised his eyebrows.
“Someone’s asking for you.”
Cal tossed the empty bottle in the trash. “The Graingers?”
“Nope, they just came and got the Subaru and left. This is a new customer.”
Cal threw the empty bottle in the recycling bin, turned off the light to the back room, and followed his brother out to the garage. “We’re closing soon. Is it an emergency? Are they regulars?” He pulled a rag out of his pocket and began to wipe his dirty hands. He thought about washing them first in case this customer wanted to shake hands.
Brent didn’t answer him, didn’t even look at him over his shoulder.
And that was when a small sliver of apprehension trickled down his spine. “Brent—”
His brother whirled around and held his arm out as they walked past a Bronco their dad had been working on. “I think it’s better if you take this one.”
Cal squinted into the sun and when his eyes adjusted to the light, her legs were the first thing he saw. And he knew—he fucking knew—because how many times had he sat in class in high school staring at those legs in a little skirt, dreaming about when he could get back between them? It’d been a lot.
His eyes traveled up those bare legs to a tiny pair of denim shorts, up a tight tank top that showed a copious amount of cleavage, and then to that face that he’d never, ever forget as long as he lived.
He never thought he’d see Jenna MacMillan again. And now, there she was, standing in front of his garage next to a Dodge Charger, her brunette hair in a wavy mass around her shoulders.
Fuck.Okay, so admittedly Jenna had known this was a stupid idea. She’d tried to talk herself out of it the whole way, muttering to herself as she sat at a stop light. The elderly man in the car in the lane beside her had been staring at her like she was nuts.
And she was. Totally nuts.
It’d been almost a decade since she’d seen Cal Payton, and yet one look at those silvery blue eyes and she was shoved right back to the head-over-heels in love eighteen-year-old girl she’d been.
Cal had been hot in high school, but damn, had time been good to him. He’d always been a solid guy, never really hitting that awkward skinny stage some teenage boys went through after a growth spurt.
And now . . . well . . . Cal looked downright sinful standing there in the garage. He’d rolled down the top of his coveralls, revealing a white T-shirt that looked painted on, for God’s sake. She could see the ridges of his abs, the outline of his pecs. A large smudge on the sleeve drew her attention to his bulging biceps and muscular, veined forearms. Did he lift these damn cars all day? Thank God it was hot as Hades outside already so she could get by with flushed cheeks.
And he was staring at her with those eyes that hadn’t changed one bit. Cal never cared much for social mores. He looked people in the eye, and he held it long past comfort. Cal had always needed that, to be able to measure up who he was dealing with before he ever uttered a word.
She wondered how she measured up. It’d been a long time since he’d laid eyes on her, and the last time he had, he’d been furious.
Well, she was the one who’d come here. She was the one who needed something. She might as well speak up, even though what she needed right now was a drink. A stiff one. “Hi, Cal.” She went with a smile that surely looked a little strained.
He stood with his booted feet shoulder width apart, and at the sound of her voice, he started a bit. He finally stopped doing that staring thing as his gaze shifted to the car by her side and then back to her. “Jenna.”
His voice. Well, crap, how could she have forgotten about his voice? It was low and silky with a spicy edge, like Mexican chocolate. It warmed her belly and raised goose bumps on her skin.
She cleared her throat as he began walking toward her, his gaze teetering between her and the car. Brent was off to the side, watching them, with his arms crossed over his chest. He winked at her. She hid her grin with pursed lips and rolled her eyes. He was a good-looking bastard but irritating as hell. Nice to see some things never changed. “Hey, Brent.”
“Hey there, Jenna. Looking good.”
Cal whipped his head toward his brother. “Get back to work.”
Brent gave him a sloppy salute and then shot her another knowing smirk before turning around and retreating into the garage bay.
When she faced Cal again, she jolted, because he was close now, almost in her personal space. His eyes bored into her. “What’re ya doing here, Jenna?”
His question wasn’t accusatory. It was conversational, but the intent was in his tone, lying latent until she gave him reason to really put the screws to her. She didn’t know if he meant, what was she doing here at his garage, or what was she doing in town? But she went for the easy question first.
She gestured to the car. “I, uh, I think the bearings need to be replaced. I know that I could take it anywhere, but . . .” She didn’t want to tell him it was Dylan’s car, and he was the one who had let it go so long that she swore the front tires were going to fall off. As much as her brother loved his car, he was an idiot. An idiot who despised Cal, and she was pretty sure the feeling was mutual. “I wanted to make sure the job was done right, and everyone knows you do the best job here.” That part was true. The Paytons had a great reputation in Tory.
But Cal never let anything go. He narrowed his eyes and propped his hands on his hips, drawing attention to the muscles in his arms. “How do you know we still do the best job here if you haven’t been back in ten years?”
Well, then. Couldn’t he just nod and take her keys? She held them in her hand, gripping them so tightly that the edge was digging into her palm. She loosened her grip. “Because when I did live here, your father was the best, and I know you don’t do anything unless you do it the best.” Her voice faded. Even though the last time she’d seen Cal, his eyes had been snapping in anger, at least they’d showed some sort of emotion. This steady blank gaze was killing her. Not when she knew how his eyes looked when he smiled, as the skin at the corners crinkled and the silver of his irises flashed.
She thought now that this had been a mistake. She’d offered to get the car fixed for her brother while he was out of town. And while she knew Cal worked with his dad now, she’d still expected to run into Jack. And even though Jack was a total jerk-face, she would have rather dealt with him than endure this uncomfortable situation with Cal right now. “You know, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I’ll just—”
He snatched the keys out of her hand. Right. Out. Of. Her. Hand.
“Hey!” She propped a hand on her hip, but he wasn’t even looking at her, instead fingering the key ring. “Do you always steal keys from your customers?”
He cocked his head and raised an eyebrow at her. There was the smallest hint of a smile, just a tug at the corner of his lips. “I don’t make that a habit, no.”
“So I’m special, then?” She was flirting. Was this flirting? Oh God, it was. She was flirting with her high school boyfriend, the guy who’d taken her virginity, and the guy whose heart she’d broken when she had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life.
She’d broken her own heart in the process.
His gaze dropped, just for a second, and then snapped back to her face. “Yeah, you’re special.”
He turned around, checking out the car, while she stood gaping at his back. He’d . . . he’d flirted back, right? Cal wasn’t really a flirting kind of guy. He said what he wanted and followed through. But flirting, Cal?
She shook her head. It’d been over ten years. Surely he’d lived a lot of life during that time she’d been away, going to college, then grad school, then working in New York. She didn’t want to think about what that flirting might mean, now that she was back in Tory for good. Except he didn’t know that.
“So, you think the bearings need to be replaced?” Cal ran his hand over the hood. From this angle, all she saw was hard muscle covering broad shoulders, shifting beneath his T-shirt.
She shook herself and spoke up. “Yeah, it’s making that noise—you know, that growl.”
He nodded.
The only reason she knew was because she’d spent a lot of weekends and lazy summer afternoons as a teenager, lying in the grass, getting a tan in her bikini while Cal worked on his car, an old black Camaro, in his driveway. She’d learned a lot about cars and hadn’t forgotten all of it. She wondered if he still had that Camaro.
“Want me to inspect it too?” Cal was at the passenger’s side door now, easing it open.
“What?”
He pointed to the sticker on the windshield. “I can do it now, if you’d like. You have to get it done by end of next month.”
She opened her mouth to tell him sure, but then she’d have to give him the registration and insurance card, and then he’d know it was Dylan’s car. “No, no, that’s all right.”
He frowned. “Why not?”
“I just . . .”
He opened up the passenger’s side door and bent inside.
“What are you doing?” She walked around the car, just as he pulled some papers out of the glove box. She stopped and fidgeted with her fingers, because he’d know in three . . . two . . .
He bent and tossed the papers back in the glove box. “I’ll have it for you by end of the day tomorrow.” He started walking toward the office of the garage.
He had to have seen the name, right? He had to have seen it. She walked behind him. “Cal, I—”
He stopped and turned. “Do you need a ride?”
“What?”
“Do you need a ride . . . home, or wherever you’re going?”
She shook her head. “I’m going to walk across the street to Delilah’s store. She’ll take me home.”
His gaze flitted to the shop across the street and then back to Jenna. He nodded. “All right, then.”
She tried again. “Cal—”
“You picking it up or your brother?”
The muscle shift in his jaw was the only indication that he was bothered by this. “I’m sorry, I should have told you . . .”
He shook his head. “You don’t owe it to me to tell me anything. You asked me to fix a car—”
“Yeah, but you and Dylan don’t like each other—”
That muscle in his jaw ticked again. “Sure, we don’t like each other, but what? You think I’m going to lose my temper and bash his car in?”
Uh-oh. “No, I—”
He shook his head, and when he spoke again, his voice was softer. “You didn’t have to keep it a secret it was his car. I’m not eighteen anymore. I got more control than I used to.”
She felt like a heel. And a jerk. She wasn’t the same person she was at eighteen, so she shouldn’t have treated Cal like he was the hothead he’d been then. “Cal, I’m so sorry. I—”
He waved a hand. “Don’t worry about it, Sunshine.”
That name—it sent a spark right through her like a live wire. She hadn’t heard that nickname in so long, she’d almost forgotten about it, but her body sure hadn’t. It hadn’t forgotten the way Cal could use that one word to turn her into putty.
He seemed as surprised as she did. His eyes widened a fraction before he shut down. “Anyway”—his voice was lower now—“we close tomorrow at six. Appreciate it if you’d pick it up before that.” He jingled the keys and shot her one more measuring look, and then he disappeared into the garage office, leaving her standing outside the door, her mind broiling in confusion.
She should have known Cal Payton could still knock her off her feet.


 
About The Author Black and Red

Megan EricksonFollow Megan: Goodreads / Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/Pinterest

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

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Changing His Game by Megan Erickson – a Review

Changing His Game by Megan Erickson – a Review

 

Changing His GameAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM

Description:
He controls the game, but she’s rewriting all the rules…

Marley Lake is no stranger to awkwardness, but getting caught watching a dirty GIF by the company’s hot new IT guy exceeds even her standards. That is, until she realizes he’s as turned on by it as she is. But with a big promotion on the line, she refuses to let her current dry spell be her downfall. Maybe.

Austin Rivers has no business lusting after the irresistible editor of Gamers Magazine. He’s a secret partner in the business—and technically Marley’s boss. One look at that GIF, though, and he’s ready to install a whole lot more than just software…as long as she never finds out who he really is.

But reality’s not as virtual as it seems, and when Austin’s identity jeopardizes Marley’s promotion, he has to change his game or risk losing the only woman with the cheat code to his heart.

 

Review:

Changing His Game, A Gamers Novel by Megan Erickson is the first book in the incredibly funny, erotic – The Gamers Series.  This book tells the story of Marley Lake, a beautiful, smart, young, head of the copy editing team at Gamers Magazine.  She is well respected and well known in the gaming industry for her knowledge, reviews, and news on new games hitting the market.  While working late one night and on a deadline her computer freezes.  Knowing that she is about to miss her deadline, and almost everyone is gone for the day; she decides to call on IT.  She is patiently waiting for “Cheese Stink Abraham” from IT to arrive only to realize that he has been replaced with dark and brooding Austin Rivers.  While Austin sets out to fix her computer issues she soon remembers that she had forgotten to close out of her Tumblr account.  And the next thing you know he is clicking on that particular internet tab and up pops a hot and steamy GIF.  One that she has spent many times fantasizing over.  Awkward and embarrassed she soon realizes that it may have turned him on just as much as it did her. And with one click of her tab – their worlds would change forever. 

Marley Lake is career driven; detail oriented and has been having a dry spell in the romance department as of late.  But one interaction with the companies hot, new IT guy is not going to dissuade her from working hard and striving for a new job opportunity within her company.  Or will it?   While out one night to see a newly released movie based on a video game, she runs into Austin and the alcove in the movie theater lobby will never be the same.  But can she keep her mind off this co-worker who should be off limits and do what she needs to do to get the promotion she wants. 

Austin Rivers is a secret partner and owner of Gamers Magazine.  When the one woman in the company that should be completely off limits calls for IT help one night, he doesn’t know why, but he decides to go and help her.  From the moment he saw the pornographic GIF on her computer his thoughts are constantly about her.  He can’t seem to think straight or even remotely concentrate on anything work related.  But can he have a relationship with her without her knowing that he is really her boss.  And what will happen when she finds out?  He isn’t sure he wants to risk any of it.  But yet again – he can’t seem to get her out of his head.

I absolutely loved the premise of this book and the book description I read before accepting to review it was hilarious, sexy and quite intriguing.  My first thought was how is this author going to make gaming, cosplay and computer geeks sexy, romantic and erotic?  But I am pleased to say that it was all of that and more.  Much, much more… 

This book was highly erotic, sensual and yet all the while funny and witty.  It is exactly the kind of book that will have you flushed and hot and turning on the AC and laughing and tearing up the next.  It was the perfect mix of eroticism, romance, lust and humor.  I couldn’t wait to turn the page and see what was going to happen next and what Marley was going to do once she found out the truth about Austin.

The characters were real and quite relatable.  I fell for Austin’s nerdy yet dark and brooding personality from the start.  And Marley was hilarious and witty and quite a joy to read.   The sub-character of Marley’s brother Chad added an amazing sibling banter that made me laugh out loud and I could relate to the embarrassment Marley felt at times with his crazy sense of humor.  And just for the record – I am totally rooting for a Chad and Owen book – oh please oh please!!!! I literally found myself yelling at Marley – HELLO – CHAD and OWEN!!!!!   

Austin’s best friend and business partner Grant was warm and funny.  His constant antagonizing of Austin was hilarious and was exactly how a friendship since college would play out in the real world.  I loved the bond that Grant and Austin had for one another and add Grant’s daughter Sydney to the mix and it was complete and total love.

I completely enjoyed the play on words and puns that were rampant throughout this book. All of which made it all the more enjoyable.  If you love gaming, cosplay,  erotica, romance, lust and laughing – this book will be right up your alley.    I will happily continue on with this series. 

Reviewed by Erin

Copy provided by Publisher

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