Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh Blog Tour

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

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Book 1
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Being a devil woman, she reminded herself. Having fun for a change. Not being a grandma at twenty-eight years of age.

Still, she couldn’t stop second-guessing herself as Sailor led her out of the house through a side entrance that opened out into a small, manicured garden. “I’ll have to take off my heels,” she whispered when she saw the pebbled path snaking through the garden.

“Want a piggyback ride?” A playful grin. “I promise not to molest your thighs.”

Goose bumps broke out over Ísa’s skin, her nipples tight. Reckless as she was feeling tonight, she might just have taken him up on his offer if she hadn’t been worried her damn dress would split in two. “Maybe when we’re naked,” she said instead, Devil Ísa in full flower.

Groaning, he doubled over as if she’d punched him.

Her lips twitching despite the melting sexual heat liquefying her bones, she leaned down to slip off her heels.

Sailor waited, his hand firm around hers, until she was done. Taking the heels from her, he carried them in his other hand as Ísa padded beside him on the grass that lay on this side of the pebbled path. The path ended at a weathered wooden gate, which, when opened, put them at the top of a narrow walkway that led down onto a beach Ísa couldn’t yet see but could hear.

Her heart crashed in time with the waves as they made their way down to the beach while the mansion behind them pulsed with light and music. But she didn’t turn and run away, she didn’t stop and talk herself out of it, she didn’t attempt to be a sensible adult. She followed a gorgeous, blue-eyed man down a dirt pathway to an effectively private beach.

The sand that had been tracked onto the path was gritty under her feet, the air coming off the sea cool but not cold.

“The water’s going to be icy, isn’t it?” she whispered to his broad back.

“Don’t worry, spitfire. I’ll keep you warm,” was the deep-voiced response. “Stop here.” Jumping down to the beach, he reached up to grab her by the waist, swinging her down as if she were a featherweight.

Something fluffy and mushy came to life inside Ísa. “Here?”

Shaking his head, he said, “Raj told me there’s like a little cove area—not a proper cove, but caused by— There.”

Ísa saw it at once. A huge tree had fallen into the water at some point and smashed up against some rocks where it appeared to be stuck. Between the jutting rocks on either side and the fallen trunk was a naturally created pool. The water within it was pretty calm, and it looked as if they could get to it by clambering over some rocks that didn’t appear too sharp or slippery.

Of course, she’d be walking over those rocks naked.

Ísa looked up at the moon. Imagined it shining on the stark white of her body. Gulped. “Will you close your eyes while I go in the water?” Even Devil Ísa wasn’t up for blinding him with her glow-in-the-dark form.

A glance back. “What’re you going to bribe me with?”

Ísa scowled. “Not pushing you into the water right now.” It was a toothless threat given his muscles and her lack of them.

Rubbing his jaw, he said, “Three tongue kisses. That’s my price, and I’m not budging.”

Ísa wanted to pounce on him all over again. “Two,” she countered.

“Nuh-uh. Three. Or I’m keeping both eyes wide open.” Leaning in, he pressed his nose to hers. “I really want to keep my eyes wide open.”

And Ísa really wanted to kiss him and run her hands all over that sculpted chest. “Three,” she whispered.

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
I really love Ms. Singh's Psy-Changeling series, so I was ecstatic to get a chance to read and review this new series. And I'm glad I did.

This contemporary romance starts off a little slow, letting you get to know the characters and the reasons why they are the way they are. As we get to know Ísa, we learn that most of her hang ups stem from her unconditional upbringing. As a child of wealthy parents, you would think she would have the best life had to offer and she did. What she craved was what she never had: parents who put her first.

Sailor, on the other hand, grew up in a home filled with love, of promise, and dreams. After his biological father left, it was a hard scrabble existence for a while, but he, his mother, and brother not only survived, but thrived when his mother remarried.

When Sailor and Ísa meet again, they do their best to put their pasts aside, but those demons are hard to slay.

4.5 Stars

I have to say that while there was a thread in this story that is so very common (in real life and fiction), the way the author had it play out was very refreshing and beautiful. I wish it happened in real life like that more often, but sadly it rarely does. People get so focused on the future that they forget about the present.

Both main characters were interesting, and their relationship was complex. However, I felt like this was a little bit of insta-love and I had a hard time with that (hence the loss of 1/2 a star). Otherwise, I really liked the storyline and the progression of the characters’ relationship and personal growth.

I’ve been a fan of Nalini Singh for years, but this is the first contemporary romance I’ve read by her. This is obviously lacking the action and worldbuilding from Singh’s UF series, but I thoroughly enjoyed the character development and the beautiful New Zealand setting.

To me, this story felt slower and the writing more ordinary than Singh’s usual writing but I very quickly found myself thoroughly invested in Ísa and Sailor. Ísa is a pretty special woman – she’s a wealthy heiress who chooses to work as a teacher. She’s the glue that keeps her family together. And as she nears 30, she’s getting broody. There was a moment at the beginning when I worried she was going to be a miserable Bridget Jones type character, but Ísa is a few decades younger and she’s living a full life – with or without a man. I really loved Ísa’s passion for poetry, her love of teaching, and her commitment to her very dysfunctional family.

I do love a younger man and Sailor might be the most enticing 23-year-old ever. He’s an entrepreneur with a growing business and a role model to his younger brothers. He’s also incredibly handsome. I can only complain that he’s just a bit too perfect.

The conflict in this story is subtle and I feel like the story drags in places. Career ambitions, dysfunctional families, an age gap, and differences in privilege provide soft barriers between Ísa and Sailor but they don’t necessarily make for an exciting read.

So, I love the characters in this story, I enjoyed the connection between Sailor and Ísa, and I appreciate the way Singh plays with traditional attitudes and gender roles. This is definitely one of the better contemporary romances I’ve read this year, but I will personally always prefer the action in in Nalini Singh’s Urban Fantasy writing.

Nalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her
website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

Connect with Nalini

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Cherish Hard (Hard Play #1) by Nalini Singh to read and review for this tour.

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