This is my stop during the blog tour for Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 1 till 7 April, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
Hiding from the world…
Tucking herself away in the Adirondack woods was supposed to keep Vivienne Harris safe. From dark memories of the Bronx, from danger, from entanglements. But when an orphaned bear cub raids her pantry and conservation officer Liam Walsh appears with news of poachers nearby, her private, peaceful world is turned upside down!
Suddenly two forces are drawing her out—Button, the cub who needs her help, and Liam, the man who’s dead set against her rehabilitating the bear. If she can just win Liam’s support, Vivie knows she can give Button a good life. And maybe find the courage to embrace a future with Liam…
You can find Raising the Stakes on Goodreads
Excerpt Three: First Kiss
He lifted her chin with a gentle finger and gazed down at her. “You’re always safe with me.”
For some odd reason, her eyes welled and a tear clung to her lashes.
He brushed the wetness away with his thumb, his hands lingering and cupping her face.
“I’m never safe,” she whispered, her voice so low he had to bend closer to hear.
“I’ll protect you,” he found himself saying, a gallant and reckless offer considering his planned move. Still, a fierce urge to reassure her filled him. A need to kiss her full lips followed.
He captured them with his own, tasting berries, and something sweeter still. He buried his hands in her silky hair and brought her close, an insatiable hunger taking hold. The wildflower smell of her enveloped him and her mouth tantalized his. He nibbled on her lower lip, loving her soft exclamation of pleasure. Or was it surprise? She was early spring sunshine, a spring-fed pond, a mountain peak and everything that’d ever made him glad to be alive.
Without warning, she jerked away and sprang to her feet, backing away until her legs brushed the bushes.
Her face had lost all color and she looked as if she might faint. She shook her head, her hand rising to cover her mouth.
Regret snuffed out his elation. He shouldn’t have moved so fast. Or at all, darn it. “Did I offend you? I’m sorry. Blame it on a beautiful day. A lonely bachelor. A stupid one.”
Button appeared at Vivie’s feet. She stretched up on her hind legs, put her paws on Vivie’s sides and pressed her face against her caregiver’s stomach. If Button wasn’t a wild animal, he’d think the young bear sensed Vivie’s mood. Was trying to console her. He’d comfort Vivie, too, if she didn’t seem ready to bolt.
“I’m an idiot, Vivie.” He got to his feet, feeling like a consummate jerk for kissing her without any signs she’d welcome it. But for a moment, when she’d kissed him back, it’d seemed as though…
He shook his head. Women had the final say when it came to what they wanted. He should have been more sensitive. Not given in to impulses. “Please. It won’t happen again.” And he meant it. She was upset. Had a right to be. If he had any sense, he’d know kissing her was wrong for him, as well. Soon he’d be across the country. His attraction to Vivie was irrational.
“Vivie, talk to me.”
She stumbled away, Button stuck by her side, the cub’s turtle dangling from her mouth.
He ducked in front of her, unwilling to let the moment end badly. “What can I do?”
She wiped her nose and met his gaze. “Just stay away.” Without another word, she returned to the trail.
It took all of his willpower not to chase after her. He’d follow at a distance instead, staying far enough behind to ensure she got home safely. But it wasn’t enough. He wanted things back to normal again. If that was possible.
Strange that she’d said the same words he repeated to himself whenever Vivie came to mind—stay away.
Yet the more time he spent with her, the harder that became. His emotions for this complicated woman deepened every day. He could deny it all he wanted, but he cared about her.
The job in Yellowstone came to mind. He wouldn’t put off his decision any longer. As soon as he got home, he’d let them know. Escape before his feelings lashed him down forever.
Vivie was right.
Except when it came to Button, he’d stay away.
I’m such a sap or just maybe my reading habits have changed over the last couple of years. Been in a discussion today about the billionaire Dom with heavy BDSM. Yes, kinda like FSOG and I had to admit that I haven’t reviewed a “true” erotic romance in over a year. My author persona does occasionally but I don’t review them at all for Harlie’s Books anymore. Most of my readers don’t read them and frankly, it was the same plot, characters, just a different setting. *yawn*
My point is that I’m back to my roots when it comes to reading. I’m rediscovering Harlequin authors, found some new lines (Heartwarming) that I adore, and I admit that I’m a category romance freak. Oh yes, I read Presents still. And Desire, Blaze, Medical, Superromance, Kiss and now Heartwarming. I don’t need sex on every other page in my reading. I want character development, a plot that makes sense and above all, characters that I care about. I want them to be happy, find their HEA and ride into the sunset together. I guess its my age now (LOL!) on going back to my roots. And this is why I particularly love the Heartwarming line. Its character driven, you don’t have a lot of people to keep up with and above all, its a believable romance that slowly builds throughout the whole book.
Ms. Rock has done it again with her story with Vivie and Liam. Great characters, believable back story, animals and a setting that you can see and hear. What really got me in the story is Vivie needing to feel safe and secure and Liam’s inability to stay put for any length of time. Oh, I understood it but when you read the book, everything just clicks for these two but oh no…Ms. Rock doesn’t make it easy for them. Each carries baggage that would break the bank at the airport. They have to work at it and even when you think it has…
I just can’t get over Button. I’m not a bear person (hey I live in Texas) but after reading this, I want one. Well, until they get big and take a swipe at me. The crux of the book revolves around Button and I can only imagine the amount of research it took. There are some very sweet and touching moments with Button and also sad ones. Have tissues, just a warning.
I could go on about Liam and Vivie but truly this is a story that you need to read and savor. I don’t know how Ms. Rock does it time and time again but she did it again. I can count on my fingers how many authors that I would buy the phone book if they rewrote it and she is one of them. She crafts a heartfelt, emotional and character driven story for the ages.
Oh and did I mention there is also a dog, cat, pies and diner? And a bar in Soho? I didn’t…my bad.
About the Author:
Karen Rock is an award-winning YA and adult contemporary romance author. She holds a master’s degree in English and worked as an ELA instructor before becoming a full-time writer. Currently she writes for Harlequin Heartwarming and her first novel for the line, WISH ME TOMORROW, has won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2014 Golden Quill Contest and a finalist in the Published Maggie Awards. The first novel in her co-authored YA series, CAMP BOYFRIEND, has been a finalist in the Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Raising the Stakes. These are the prizes you can win:
– a 100$ Amazon gift card (INT)
– a set of signed paperbacks of Wish Me Tomorrow, His Hometown Girl, Someone Like You and A League of Her Own (US only)
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway