Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary romance from Tessa Bailey. TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK is the fourth, and final, book in her Romancing the Clarkson’s series. I’ve read the first three books, TOO HOT TO HANDLE, TOO WILD TO TAME, and TOO HARD TO FORGET, and really enjoyed them so I couldn’t wait to read this last one…especially as it features shy, reserved Belmont finally opening up emotionally and sexually to shy, reserved Sage!
Catch and excerpt below and be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for one of 10 paperback copies of TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK, too!
About the book:
The third book in New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarksons series about four siblings on a cross-country road trip, perfect for fans of Gena Showalter and Julie James!
A love of a lifetime . . .
Leaving Belmont Clarkson is the hardest thing Sage Alexander has ever done. From the moment they met, she knew Belmont was the one, and getting up close and personal with him on his family’s epic road trip has taken her desire to a new, even hotter level. But there’s no way she can go there—not without revealing secrets that could devastate them both.
Losing Sage is not an option. Belmont’s heart is hers, has always been hers. He knows she’s hiding something from him, but nothing will stand in his way of telling her just how much she means to him. Finding her is easy—saving her from her past could cost him everything.
How about a little taste?
“You don’t have to leave right away,” Sage said when Belmont turned, watching her from beneath his eyebrows. “Can you wait here while I take a quick shower?”
Maybe that hadn’t been the right thing to say. His big back heaved and the touch of his tongue in her mouth came crashing in like a behemoth wave. They had crossed an unspoken boundary on the train platform. There was no going back to before, to when they stopped at rough, crushing embraces. As if that hadn’t been… than sexual somehow.
“Yes, I’ll wait,” he said, his voice sounding like serrated metal. “I can light the fire for you.”
God, why did everything sound like an innuendo now? If her body weren’t flush and sweating beneath the jumpsuit, she would have laughed about it. But there was nothing funny about having Belmont looming mere yards away, looking like one word of encouragement would snap his chain and send him barreling toward her. “That would be perfect. I’ll just be…a few minutes.”
Sage all but dove into the itty-bitty bathroom, pressing her back up against the door and willing her racing heart to calm down. Why had she asked him to stay? Her resolve would weaken with every passing second. Biting down on her lower lip, she began the excruciating task of lowering the zipper of her jumpsuit, which kicked up a protest in her triceps and shoulder muscles. When she finally got it down, she gripped the hem of her T-shirt and attempted to lift it over her head.
Her arms wouldn’t cooperate. They flat out wouldn’t rise any higher than her ribs, leaving the T-shirt suspended in midair. Her muscles burned like someone had doused them in lighter fluid and held them above a flame. Sage’s agony must have escaped in the form of a whimper, because Belmont’s boots scraped just outside the door. And her stomach hollowed with awareness, lightning racing all over her skin.
“Sage.” His voice was deep, urgent. “Do you need help?”
She’d only gotten finished reminding him she need him. But in this case, it would be a lie and she’d done so much of that lately. With Belmont. The most truthful person she knew. “I can’t get my shirt off.” Her nose started to ache, the tip probably turning red. “My arms hurt.”
His growl was short and broken. A beat passed before the door opened and she felt Belmont filling the doorway behind her. She flicked a glance up to the ancient mirror and confirmed what she’d seen in her mind’s eyes. Belmont towering over her like an avenging angel, outlined by candlelight. He’d taken off his coat, leaving him in a black long-sleeved shirt, which he’d rolled up to the elbows. Every inch of visible skin was shot through with strained cords of muscle, as if his frustration were written on him like a road map.
Sage still had the shirt halfway lifted, so her lower back was visible. Not a big deal to most people. But Belmont had never seen anything below her neck. Or above her knees. With the jumpsuit peeled halfway down, the band of her underwear might even be peeking out.
Breathing grew difficult as Belmont took one step closer and took hold of the T-shirt, his knuckles grazing the small of her back. “You’re wearing”—his breath ghosted down her neck—“my shirt.”
Sage only realized she’d closed her eyes when they popped open. In the shock of Belmont arriving, she’d forgotten. “I am?” Her mouth was parched. “L-look at that.”
“I am looking.” She jumped when Belmont reached over her shoulder with his left hand and turned on the shower, the sound of spray filling the room. Then the roughness of his knuckles returned, sliding up her spine along with the shirt. “I like knowing there was a layer of me standing between you and the earth.”
Her legs took on the consistency of Jell-O. His touch was a drug, making her languid, although it was different than the way he usually touched her. There was sex this time. So much of it. And it was that major difference that allowed Sage to accept the skimming of his fingers. Accept the part of herself that lusted. They were in a dark room and time had surely suspended anywhere outside this little plot of square footage. Words ached to leave her mouth, words that wouldn’t be suitable in the sunlight. This man, so warm and brave and large at her back, knew things about her no one else did. What was one more secret? “I stole it out of your suitcase. I broke a commandment and everything.”
“Why?” He breathed into her hair, sinking heat like an anchor in her belly. The shirt came off, her arms dropped to her sides, and she was left in nothing but a bra from the waist up. Inches from Belmont. “Why, sweetest girl?”
A light steam had begun curling in the air like beckoning fingers. It felt like one of the fevered fantasies she woke from on occasion, sweat slicking her breasts and neck. “Because I like the way you smell and it hadn’t been washed.”
His exhale was gravelly. “”
She thought he might not respond, but finally he asked a question that made her nipples turn to hard points. “Can you manage”—a long, windy inhale—“the bra?”
Sage tried. She really, truly did. Her arms felt as though they might break off and hit the floor, but she reached back until her muscles locked up, refusing to move farther. But Belmont was already there, pushing them back down, holding them at her hips.
“ Please, stop. I can’t watch it.” His touch disappeared only for a second and then the cotton material of the bra tightened over her breasts. She could feel him working the back clasp with fingers she knew so well. They’d tunneled through her hair so many times, twisted in her clothing, but had never, ever, touched her with any kind of…intent. Intent to seduce. And that’s what he was doing, intentional or not. The inhibitions she’d held close forever, circled the drain, along with the shower water. “Your back is so beautiful.” A ghost of a fingertip traced down her spine. “But I need to leave before I—”
“Before I turn you around.” They weren’t touching, but she could sense the shudder that ran through him. “Or look in that mirror.”
Right or wrong, the mine, their codependency aside, Sage knew if she let him leave just then, she would regret it for all time. Her body had been woken up. By one man. He’d kept her on the razor’s edge for thousands of miles, surrounding her with his power and taking it away. Over and over. And this fever wrapping around them in the tiny bathroom was completely different from easing his anxiety. Finally, she felt like a woman standing in front of him, instead of a calming device. This was mutual and alive and she couldn’t it to end. Tomorrow might be a different story, but this moment was the culmination of a thousand dreams and she could no more deny herself than she could forget his face.
“Belmont, do you think of the kiss?”
“,” he groaned into her hair. “Never.”
She took a deep breath for courage. “Will you shower with me?”
This is the final book in a four-part series about the Clarksons, adult siblings who began a road trip from San Diego to NYC at the behest of their late mother. They were meant to bond with each other–because this is a rather dysfunctional family–and all jump into the ocean on January 1st. While you can read this one on its own, I know I enjoyed it more for having read the first and second books already. As the books progress, one of the Clarksons find his/her soulmate and stops traveling with the promise of reuniting for the Big Plunge.
Now, with Rita, Aaron and Peggy building love and life with their soulmates, Belmont Clarkson and Sage, Peggy’s best friend and wedding planner, are in the big ol’ Suburban on their way to NYC. Or, not so much. Because Sage decides she’s leaving Belmont and the dysfunctional friendship they have built.
See, Belmont fell into a well when he was ten–and it took four days to rescue him. He’s been a reserved, “gentle giant” since that time. A silent protector to his younger siblings, and now Sage, whose presence quiets his mind. Sage, for her part, loves cuddling with Belmont, loves him, but can’t be his security blanket anymore. And, she’s got a family obligation to attend.
Sage comes form tiny Sibley, Louisiana. The main employer there is a salt mine–and the owner is Augie, a wealthy, lonely man who fell hard for Sage’s mother way back when. Her mom chose another man to marry, and Augie’s employed that man his whole life–and lent him money when needed, relishing sending Sage’s father into the worst areas of the mine. Now, Sage’s dad is (supposedly) only a couple months from retirement, but he’s physically unable to do his job. Sage bargains with Augie to take her daddy’s place, if only he’ll let her work the final couple of months, and her daddy will get his full pension.
Belmont’s fear of the dark, and of enclosed spaces has followed him since his descent into the well. He has some black memories of that experience, including the reason he was down there in the first place. But putting his Sage in the ground, working a mine, is an untenable situation. He is going to take her place no matter what.
So, this book is long on self-sacrifice, yet contains a good amount of communication for characters who’ve been so muted to this point. I liked how Sage and Belmont both acknowledged their co-dependency and worked to reveal more of themselves to one another–to banish the misconceptions between them. Sage believes that Belmont can’t see her as a woman–and Belmont’s stunned because so much of his reserve was keeping himself in check physically; he’s wanted Sage a long, hard time… Meanwhile, Belmont saw the polished Sage and thought she was perfection, an ideal she couldn’t hope to live up to–but it doesn’t mean he loves her any less upon seeing her faults.
I’ve learned that Tessa Bailey will include some outrageous sexy scene in each of her books, but the double-first in a house of god was a capper, hands down. The tentative loving was to be expected, and the unleashed passions was frosting on the cupcake. I loved how Belmont’s siblings came to support him in his hour of need, and how the judgemental townsfolk of Sibley stood up for what was right at just the right time. I bet Augie didn’t expect that, as he turned his Machiavellian screws.
Click on this giveaway link for your chance to win one of 10 paperback copies of TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
Interested in the first book, TOO HOT TO HANDLE? Watch shy Rita get wooed by a man working hard to turn his lady-killer reputation around.
It is both sweet and sexy…
And the second book of the series, TOO WILD TO TAME, was a surprisingly tender book that featured the jaded political analyst, Aaron, falling for a girl suffering years of PTSD. Catch my review for more deets.
And, the third book, TOO HARD TO FORGET features the youngest Clarkson–Peggy–finding her ‘one that got away’…and bringing him back. Peggy scores a touchdown wooing her widowed coach back to the land of the loving.
About the Author:
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.
She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!