Blog Tour (Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway): Licked by Brooke Blaine

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Title: Licked (L.A. Liaisons)
Author: Brooke Blaine @BrookeBlaine1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 227 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis

As the owner of Licked, an eclectic ice creamery and bar, Ryleigh Phillips doesn’t have time for that love stuff. Serving up Nibble My Nuts sundaes and Drunken Sailor boozy shakes are as close to an orgasmic affair as she’s had in months thanks to her expanding empire—until the night of her ten-year high school reunion.

When Ryleigh’s crush, gorgeous ex-football god Cameron Mathis, comes streaking into her life (literally—streaking), she begins to wonder if she really can have it all.

Wouldn’t it just figure that the moment you think life is perfect is when it falls spectacularly apart?

Enter Hunter Morgan, the contractor in charge of Licked’s renovations. Devastatingly handsome, and a smartass to boot, he’s got his eyes on Ryleigh from the moment he finds her passed out on his couch (yeah, that’s a long story). There’s just one tiny complication—he happens to be Cameron’s best friend.

When the lines between relationships and friendships blur, and it’s impossible to choose between two delicious flavors, what’s a girl to do? Taste a sample of each? Or go out and get LICKED?

Ivy

description

Vintage charmer: What happens when you have the chance to have what you always wanted, but maybe what you always wanted isn’t what you really need? Well, that’s when romance happens.

Ms. Blaine has crafted a real charming little tale with vintage flair. It’s her debut and you can tell a vivid world has been playing around in Ms. Blaine’s head. Her writing style is fun, it’s done in first person POV and Ryleigh’s head easy to inhabit. I love when female friendships are handled well, and they are some of the strongest bits. The humor is on point, and the banter between all the characters made me smile more than once. If Ms. Blaine continues with this series, I’d be more than happy to see each of them get their own HEAs.

The setup is fun: Ryleigh has always had a love for ice cream and her life was rolling right along, with her little ice creamery Licked and her plans for expansion, courtesy of the reality show she’d signed up for. She has her friends, and she has her shop, and if she doesn’t really have a love life, that was alright. Kind of. The contractor she has is flaking out on her, and she’s stressing about her high school reunion and seeing those who gave her flack for being different and loving her fifties style.

Ryleigh always wondered what it would be like to go back and snag the attention of the one who never (seemed) to look her way – Cameron, her high school crush. When she bumps into him (literally) at the reunion, she gets to find out the answer to that what if. Except, that what if comes with a new question, in the form of Hunter Morgan. He’s Cameron’s best friend and he offers to help her out as the new contractor for her venture Licked After Dark. Now you’d think that the dreaded T word will rear its head and while it does for a while…

This is more circle of life than triangle:  Triangles are a tricky thing and I’ll admit I was worried that I’d have issues with lines being crossed. Happily, those didn’t come to pass. The question of who Ryleigh should be with is answered fairly quickly and clearly, which I appreciated greatly.

Good chemistry between leads: In answering the triangle question, the chemistry practically leaps off the page at the reader, and I think The Firsts (meet, kiss and love scenes) were handled well. I’m being deliberately vague but I think it helps to not have all that info up front.

I want ice cream now: I love, love, love the ice creamery Licked. The names Ryleigh comes up with for her ice cream flavors, the little touches such as the Pity Party of One booth, and the Ballot Box of Assholes really made me laugh. The care and attention paid to setting up a shop that I’d love to visit in real life was great fun. I could picture myself having a boozy shake while sitting with Ryleigh, Paige, Shayne and Quinn, I’m pretty sure I’d have a ball. And not one Castrated Ball. You’ll get it when you read it.

Reality show subplot: More of a hint, really – like a sprinkle on top of her boozy shakes. I would have liked to see it factor in a bit more, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of this tale.

As sweet as the ice cream Ryleigh sells: There were alot of components here that I enjoyed, like Ryleigh’s inner monologue, her female friendships, and it played more chick lit than straight romance at times. Emotionally, I would have liked to have seen some more developed and that the angst had felt more organic to the tale. Alot of time was spent developing the idea of the shop and while it was fun, I’d have rather seen that time spent in really explaining why Ryleigh was so insecure, why she made some of her choices and ultimately, that certain big beats have happened because she chose them, instead of being pushed in that direction. I’d also have loved to see more of Hunter’s life and that critical bits of information been imparted through his own conversations with Ryleigh, instead of the way it was.

description

There’s good bones under this sweet tale. If you’re looking for a light read with low angst, this is a decent debut from Ms. Blaine. I’d like to read more about Ryleigh’s friends, and visit Licked again.

– Ivy

*An ARC was received for an honest review.

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Excerpt

“And then?”

I tugged at the edge of my apron in an attempt to avoid the three pairs of eyes staring bug-eyed at me. “And then he walked me to my car.”

“And then you…?” Shayne asked.

“Went home,” I said.

“Wait a minute, can we talk about the fact that he made you sleep on his couch?” Paige’s eyebrows were raised up to practically her hairline. “I’m sorry, but in what fucking universe is that acceptable? Why didn’t you call Quinn to pick you up?”

“He didn’t make me, geez. He passed out and it was late, and I thought maybe…you know. Morning sex.”

Shayne cocked an eyebrow. “And did that happen?”

“Well, no. Hunter made me coffee, and then Cameron woke up and…that’s it.”

“Wait,” Quinn interrupted. “You slept in an apartment with two guys and both of them had you sleeping on the couch? Jesus, Ryleigh, it’s against man-code for that to happen. Did you wear a chastity belt last night or something?”

I groaned, my head falling into my hands. Of course the girls would give me a hard time. I’d been talking up tackling Cameron at the reunion for weeks, so my body wasn’t the only one feeling let down.

Still, I was seriously regretting inviting them over for a powwow at my shop during our off hours.

“I think I need another shot of vodka in my Feisty Ho-bag now.” Paige pushed her glass stemware toward me, and I grabbed a liquor bottle from behind the bar and tipped some into her glass.

Boozy shakes. They were the bread and butter of Licked during the brunch and evening hours, and the main reason for the expansion next door. I glanced at the black tarp hanging over the doorway that led to the space I’d bought a few months ago and sighed. Construction was running behind, and it was too late to hire another company if I wanted to keep the launch date set.

And I had to keep the date set.

“So are you seeing him again?” Shayne asked, dunking her cherry through the layers of baklava bits and whipped cream on top of her Nibble My Nuts shake. “I will totally get involved if I need to.”

No doubt she’d be successful. She basically ran one of the top matchmaking companies in the city, not that you’d know it from her degrading pay scale. Her boss was a fucking nightmare, but Shayne was convinced she had to pay her dues.

“I don’t need your expert skills this time, but thank you. He’s got my number, so…we’ll see.”

“You can’t just wait around for a guy to call,” she said.

“I’m not waiting. I’ve got all that”—I gestured to the ugly tarp that hid the mess behind it—“to deal with, so I’m actually quite busy at the moment.”

The three of them gave each other “the look.” You know, the one that said, We’ve got to help our poor little friend get laid so she doesn’t end up gorging on the ice cream and boozy shakes she makes and be relegated to spinsterhood.

“Guys,” I said, placing my hands on the counter as I stood in front of them. “I’m not on my way to spinsterhood. I just have priorities.”

“I’m sure you could squeeze Cameron Mathis in,” Quinn said with a wink. “Get it? Squeeze him

“More like blow off the dust, grab a key, unlock that shit, and pray there are no bats,” Paige agreed.

Oh for fuck’s sake. “All right, no more booze for either of you.”

Pinup. Beautiful woman on heels

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About

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You could say Brooke Blaine was a book-a-holic from the time she knew how to read; she used to tell her mother that curling up with one at 4 a.m. before elementary school was her ‘quiet time.’ Not much has changed except for the espresso I.V. pump she now carries around and the size of her onesie pajamas. Flash Point is Brooke’s debut solo novel, and she is the co-author of the erotic serial, A Desperate Man, with Ella Frank.

The latter has scarred her conservative southern family for life, bless their hearts. Licked, a romantic comedy, will be released on November 11th, 2015. If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find – just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for ten years.

Website http://www.brookeblaine.com/

Mailing List http://www.brookeblaine.com/#!contact/c20x9

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/BrookeBlaine

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