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Escalation Clause by Liz Crowe – Excerpt/Review/Interview/Giveaway

Liz will be awarding prizes to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour: a signed copy of the new release (either ebook or print); $100 Amazon gift card; and a gift of Stewart Realty (Zazzle) swag of choice.  Don’t forget to leave a comment/question (NO FLAMING-it will be deleted) for Liz with your email.  Good luck!


Young love burns hot and bright. Soul mates are found, then lost in the blink of an eye. When young widow Maureen Gordon Taylor meets her daughter’s sexy soccer coach, her body and heart slowly unthaw.  But will holding tight to the past cost her a future?

A devastating blow shatters a family’s fragile happiness. Rob Freitag and Lila Warren now confront life without the emotional glue that once bound them, but a shared goal brings them back together. Is it enough to make them whole again and become the family they were meant to be?

Mutual trust is hard won for the Gordons.  When tragedy strikes, Jack and Sara’s lives are sent into a tailspin.  To keep her family from falling apart, she must force Jack to admit his deepest fears. After everything they’ve been through, can they revive the spark and mo

ve to the next stage of marital fulfillment?

The sweeping saga of the Stewart Realty series continues as long-time friends learn to rely on each other, and to grab hold of happiness before it’s too late. 




Sara Thornton




Escalation Clause: Stewart Realty Book 6

PG 13 for language:


The sunlight pierced the light haze of his sleep. Brandis groaned, rolled over seeking shade and found himself hand-and-kneeing it facing the brick pavers of his parents’ patio. “Christ in a sidecar what time is it?” He mumbled, flipping around so he sat, back against the chaise lounge that must have served as his bed for the night. Not that he recalled anything after the second joint. He groaned and ran a hand down his already sweaty face.


Jack walked out the back door, Mountain Dew in hand, dressed for work at his father’s construction site for the day. Brandis blinked at his friend. “How in the hell can be so awake and non-hung over? I feel like three day old shit.”


“You look like it, too.” Jack slammed the remaining soda and threw the can into the returnables’ bin. “You taking those back today? We need food at the house while you’re at it.”


Brandis flipped him off. “I look like your personal shopper?”


“No,” Jack sat, laced his work boots up then leveled a deep blue stare at him. “You look like a guy lucky enough not to have to work on the Saturday after a giant pool party.” His friend leaned forward on his knees and gave Brandis an ominous look. “You also look like the guy who could possibly be messing around with my sister. I don’t recommend you be that guy. Not at all.”


“I’m…” Brandis started to say something, but he had nothing, so he stayed quiet. Jack stared him down, turned on his heel then left, letting the gate bang loud behind him. Brandis crawled to the edge of the pool, noted all the shit he needed to clean out of it including at least two condoms, then stuck his feet into the cold water, groaning when his temples started pounding to the beat of his heart. He put his head in his hands. Mo was the first thing he saw when he closed his eyes. Her bright blue eyes snapping with laughter, anger, and…desire … God help him, he had nursed a crush on her for years.


She’d been such a tomboy, running with him and Jack, tagging along then joining in the baseball, basketball, soccer whatever they concocted, up to and including egg throwing at Halloween and more less innocent vices. Their easy camaraderie had always allowed them to wrestle, to tickle, to touch. After she’d shown up at his house last month, determined to escape her jerk-off father, he thought he could just ease back into it. But, he hadn’t seen her in over a year, and in that time, she had become a full-fledged, jaw-dropping woman. Her tall, athletic frame was lush, lovely, full-hipped and inviting. The deep blue of her eyes and inky black fall of her hair made him want to bury his hands in it, to kiss her until she begged for more.


So, it seemed, his crush had bloomed into full-blown lust. A desire she apparently matched.


No way.


He’d heard Jack’s message loud and clear. And as much of a man-whore as Brandis was, he was a loyal friend. So, Mo was off limits. Fine. He did not need that hassle, not now, with just a month and a half before he left for Colorado.


He leaned back on his hands and willed his cock soft, but the memory of her lips, and the feel of her skin against his if just for that one moment was not something he would soon forget. When he’d fucked that girl in the basement then realized Mo had been down there, watching them, it had taken him a couple of seconds to acknowledge he’d been picturing her beneath him, her body taking his, the sounds of her climax in his ears the entire time.


What a fucking mess.


“Hey,” he nearly jumped a mile into the air at the sound of her voice. “I, um, just want to say, you know, well…” She sat a couple of feet from him and let her feet dangle in the water. “Sorry.” She looked straight ahead.


“For what?” He cleared his throat, nervous beyond belief.


“For spying on you. I mean, I wasn’t, I was getting a drink and just kind of … oh hell. You know what I mean.” She looked down into the water. “This pool is disgusting.” She shoved a greasy looking floating seat away with her foot. “Are those…” She pointed to the used rubbers on the bottom.


“Yeah,” he ran a hand down his face, then jumped up and grabbed the skimmer. He cleared the condoms, a bottle of sunscreen and three beer cans from the pool, trying to ignore her. But his baser self would not cooperate and he had to grab a towel and fasten it around his waist to hide the damn tent in his shorts. She moved all the chairs back into their usual places and cleaned off the two glass-topped tables, finding yet another rubber in the grass near the back fence.


“You guys sure do know how to throw a party.” She smiled at him, lifting his heart and making his damn cock pound in time with his headache.


“Huh,” he grunted, before turning the water on to refill the pool and taking a reading on the chemicals. Sweat dripped off his forehead, blurring his vision. Fuck it was hot out already and it was barely eight o’clock in the morning. She crouched down next to him, her arm grazing his, making him flinch. Crush, Brandis. Remember? She is a no-go zone. Don’t do it.


Liz has graciously answered a few questions for me.  🙂


1.  I know that you love soccer but what I’m interested in is why?  Did you play when you were a child?  Siblings that played? Or was it living overseas, that you fell in love with the sport?

I am not an athlete myself. I danced for 10 years, 5 of them en pointe but my kids are hugely athletic. And since I was in the high school band I was at all football and basketball games so I became a class-A sports fan and I have been since. I grew up in a basketball state (Kentucky although I am a LOUISVILLE FAN THROUGH

Craig Robinson

AND THROUGH), now live in a football state (Go Blue) and came to love soccer when we lived overseas. It so happens my youngest kid has become a soccer star at 14 so we are immersed in the sport nearly daily. And I will state without flinching that I believe soccer players are the most fit of all, through and through given that they play 90 minutes nearly straight thru (no time outs for TV or otherwise) with just 15 minutes between halves and run up and down the field constantly. They have to have upper and lower body strength, speed and agility.  One of my fav “footie fan girl” blogs is: check it out and see what you think.

2.  You know that Harlie is a big supporter of your family saga series that started with Floor Time.  Do you think that you will ever stop having books within the series?  Meaning, will the series ever been truly over?

Yes, the Stewart Realty series will eventually end. However, there are 2 off-shoot series coming, including the Black Jack Gentlemen, which is the expansion soccer league and team introduced in Escalation Clause that currently has 3 books planned for 2013 plus The Suite, a BDSM themed series coming in 2014.  However, as it stands now there are 2 more books in the works for the Stewart Realty series itself: Mutual Release which will focus on Evan and Julie and serve as a potential stand alone novel with some dark elements given both of their backgrounds (scheduled for release 2/14/13) and Good Faith which will release in November 2013. It will be the longest novel of the series and be the saga of the kids: Kate, Brandis, Bethany, Gabe, Blair, Maddie mostly but with the focus on Brandis’ and Gabe’s individual stories.  It will be tough, fair warning now.

3.  Maureen is Jack’s sister.  Can you give us a little background on their relationship as kids and now? 

Rob Freitag

They had a bit of a challenging life as kids. “Gordon Senior” as Jack calls him was a workaholic, emotionally abusive father who had little time for “coddling” the kids. Their mother was a social alcoholic and dead by the time Maureen was 10. Jack and Mo relied on each other growing up, and he took on his role as caretaker for the first time, learning how much he loved being that for her. Later, after tragedy strikes and she ends up back in Ann Arbor with her 2 kids, he takes over again, helping her through it and in the process growing even closer. They are very much alike, temperament-wise, bossy, self-starting and opinionated but both allow themselves to own their weaknesses in this 6th book thanks to the love of their significant others.

4 Escalation Clause is the starting point for your spin off series…can you tell us a little bit about it and who will show up in it from the Realtor series?

The Black Jack Gentlemen series has 3 books that will release in fairly quick succession:

MAN ON (book 1) is the story of the first 2 players recruited to the Detroit expansion professional soccer team and is a m/m love story. Rafe, Mo, Jack and Sara are in it some, as Rafe is the original manager of the team until he can get a real one in place (in soccer, like baseball “manager” = “coach”)

FREE AGENT (book 2) is a longer story of the Turkish coach they convince to come back to the game to manage the new team. It’s a story of love lost and found.


PENALTY KICK (book 3) will be a story of a woman in the team’s front office who falls for one of the players and his struggle to get over his past and embrace his future.

5.  You usually have a playlist of songs when you write; care to share from Escalation Clause…  🙂

Sure! here ya go:

The Escalation Clause “Soundtrack”:


Rolling Stones–Wild Horses


Jack & Mo:  Foo Fighters–Times Like These (acoustic)


Summer of Brandis:  Tracey Chapman–Fast Car

Seal–Kiss from a Rose


Sara:  Alex Clare–Too Close


Mo:  Jet–Look What You’ve Done


Lila:  Seisemonic–Closing Time


The Spec House: Tristan Prettyman My Oh My


Girl Talk:  3rd Eye Blind–Semi Charmed Life

Ray LaMontagne–Trouble


Rob/Lila:  Band of Skulls–Sweet Sour


Rafe/Mo:  Carlos Santana feat. Rob Thomas–Smooth


Trip to Georgia:  U2–With Or Without You

Coldplay–Fix You

Billy Currington/Shania Twain–Party for 2

Flo Rida feat. Sia–Wild Ones



Rafe/Mo: Maroon Five–Harder to Breathe


Family in Florida:  Imagine Dragons–It’s Time


The Memorial Redux:  The Avett Brothers–Life


The Truth About the V:  Alanis Morisette–You Learn


Family Isn’t Who Always Who Shares Your Blood….:  Dave Matthews–Mercy



6.  Can you share with us your inspiration for your main characters?  Pics, please…Plus, we already know who Jack is…  *sigh* 

Mr. Gandy and Mr. Owen…perfection as Mr. Gordon


Of yes, Clive Owen and John Gandy. A perfect mashup of Mr. Gordon.

7.  When you submitted your series about Michigan Realtors, did you ever think that it would evolve into the series that is has become and how its effected you?

This series was the most-rejected thing I have ever written, mainly because it was the first thing I ever wrote. And “first things” tend to be riddled with rookie errors. So I took all my rejections and critiques and kept at it, changing and honing and revising and taking a large book and breaking into three shorter ones.  Once I found someone willing to take a chance on it in principal, since it’s pretty far from what most traditional romance readers expect, we buckled down to make it even better. And now, I’m beyond gratified that a project that was and is so near and dear to my heart has become so popular!

8.  You write about things that are relevant in your own personal life…selling real estate, beer pub/brewing and living in Turkey and now soccer.  Is there something that you would like to write about that has effected you in some way but just don’t have the time to do so?

Not something that has affected me directly, however, something that is a bit of a phenomenon that I’m following in the “erotic romance” genre. I’m going to write an offshoot novel in 2013 called In His Shadow about a young woman who is abused by a man posing as a “Dom” and how some personalities are drawn to stronger ones only to be taken advantage of. This will have its hot moments but only as the young woman in question literally escapes him and learns how to live without abuse.

It will be a total departure for me on many levels as I plan for it to be in first person point of view as well as a deep exploration of the psychology of the D/s lifestyle and when a self-declared “Dom” is really simply an abusive asshole.  This character will be introduced in Mutual Release, Evan’s story and be a part of the darkness Evan works to overcome.

9.  We know that you have talked about Escalation Clause on FB and dropped hints/lines etc. but is there something that you haven’t shared with your readers about EC?

hmmm….well, I will say there is a hint buried in it about what will ultimately happen in young Brandis’ life that will make Good Faith the challenging novel that it will become.


Rafe Inez

And because I love you and your support Harlie I will reveal here before I say it anywhere else I will write a short, hot, m/m novella as part of the Stewart series to be released in early 2013 called “House Rules”—> remember Allen and Drew, Sara’s new team of salesmen? Yeah. Them.  It’ll be fun!







Okay folks.  Do yourself a favor and please start this series with Floor Time.  I’m serious.  Liz is serious.  If you start off by reading Escalation Clause, you will become frustrated, annoyed, confused, arused and left stratching your head.  This is NOT a stand alone book.  Keep in mind that this is a series that needs to be read in order.  The cast of characters grows in each book.  You have been warned.  Okay…to the review.

Good lord, I really don’t know how Liz does it with this series.  Just when I think its finished…she pulls me right back in.  😉  This is essentially Maureen’s book but in a sense, its not.  Maureen is Jack’s baby sister and while getting to her HEA is heartbreaking, sexy and joyous.  Watching her relationship with her late husband Brandis develop when they were teenagers and to eventual heartbreak.  I literally cried with Maureen and I shared her grief.  These were not easy scenes to read and I felt tears roll down my checks.  The heartbreak of their children and how they handled it tore into my gut.  Everyone around knew what she needed and it was Rafe.  Not just as a boy toy but as a lover, friend and a man.

Rafe, Rafe, Rafe…typical macho Latin male.  LOL!  He was that and so much more to me.  I knew what he wanted and he wanted Mo.  Pure and simple.  Yes, it was that simple.  The problem in their relationship was Mo.  She didn’t know what she wanted: she didn’t want to forget Brandis; and my favorite, what about her children.  Like someone remindered her…they are sixteen, basically adults, its not about them.  Its about you.  Rafe understood that and honored it but boy was it frustrating in some parts.

While the usual cast of characters are present:  Jack, Sara, Lila, Rob, and sadly (for me anyway) not enough Craig/Suzanne or Evan/Julie, its their kids that stole the book from me.  Yes, children in a book.  They are not the children that we used to read about.  They are a very important part of the story and not just dressing.  (Trust me, the last paragraph of this book….  just saying.  Thanks Liz!)   There is a purpose in the story to what the children do, say and interact with each other.  Getting a better insight on Sara’s parents was a real eye opener, too.

Getting back to my statement above that yes, this is Mo’s book but in a sense not…it really a book about the family that Liz has created for us to read.  She cares about her family as she writes them.  Most of the stories now have their true HEA’s (at least in my mind) but their relationships will never easy.  No relationship is ever easy.  That what drives me to read Liz’s books.  Its like a drug for me.  Reading Mo’s book just makes me what to start all over again with Floor Time.

And that’s Romance for Real Life.

Oh and before I go…wax play. Just saying…












Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as erotic romance author.


When she isn’t sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.


Her groundbreaking romance subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)


Her beer blog is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.






Since this book is not a standalone, if we could make sure that the series links are included along with the pre-order link with each post, that would be great.  I want to make sure that people have the easiest and most direct access as possible to any/all of the buy links to make the tour as successful as possible for everyone.

Amazon Series – Amazon Link to Series


B&N Series –

ARe Series  –

Escalation Clause (pre-order link – –




13 thoughts on “Escalation Clause by Liz Crowe – Excerpt/Review/Interview/Giveaway

  1. A fabulous review thank you. I have every intention of starting at the beginning of the series.


  2. Hi LIz,

    Wow this was a great interview and I liked the excerpts. Now I have to go out and buy Floor Time and read so I can find out all about the excitement of your books. My best to you in your writing career.

    P.S. Thank you for showing the picture of David Gandy. That man is in my dreams. There’s not a day that goes by that I tell someone they really need to have a Win a week with David Gandy contest.*:)

    Thank you,

    Teresa K.
    tcwgrlup41(at)yahoo dot com

  3. Wow you have yummy taste in men…especially Mr. Gandy. LOL He tops my list of muses along with Michael Fassbender any old day. I am clueless about your series but I always love being introduced to new ones and based on the excerpt I read, I have a feeling I have missed quite a lot!

    Loved the interview!

  4. Great interview and review. “Wax play,” huh? I can guess but it’s a bit out of my repetoire…unless Rafe is getting his back hair waxed. LOL.

  5. What a great interview. I love learning about the process and thoughts behind this series of books. Cannot wait for the saga to continue. Run, do not walk to your favorite ebook and start with Floor Time. You will not regret it.

  6. Good review – I have to admit I haven’t started this series – not for lack of not wanting to read it but just a lack of time/scheduling – I’m hoping to be able to spend a lot of time during the upcoming holidays with my eReader in my hands though:)

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