Tuesday, November 15, 2016

REVIEW & EXCERPT: "Managed" by Kristen Callihan (Contemporary Romance)

by Kristen Callihan

Publisher: Plain Jane Books (Self-Published)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: November 14th 2016

Series: VIP, #2
Standalone: Yes

Alpha Male, Heavy Subjects, Love Abroad, Rock Star, Stuck With You
Other Books in the VIP Series

#1 Goodreads
Description from Publisher:
It started off as a battle of wits. Me: the ordinary girl with a big mouth against Him: the sexy bastard with a big...ego.

I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I was upgraded to first class on my flight to London.

That is until HE sat next to me. Gabriel Scott: handsome as sin, cold as ice. Nothing and no one gets to him. Ever. He’s a legend in his own right, the manager of the biggest rock band in the world, and an arrogant ass who looks down his nose at me.

I thought I’d give him hell for one, long flight. I didn’t expect to like him. I didn’t expect to want him. But the biggest surprise? He wants me too. Only in a way I didn’t see coming.

If I accept his proposal, I leave myself open to falling for the one man I can’t manage. But I’m tempted to say yes. Because the real man beneath those perfect suits and that cool fa├žade just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I just might be the only one who can melt the ice around his heart.

Let the battle begin…
My Rating:
Heat Rating:

My Musings:
I loved the banter between Sophie and Gabriel and how witty and fiery the dialogue was. I found myself laughing out loud for most of the dialogue. I mean, seriously, how freakin' fun is this:

“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t manage,” comes his tight reply a few seconds later. Not bothering to take the mask off, I extend a hand his way. “Sophie Elizabeth Darling.”

Sophie, our heroine, is sassy and opinionated and friendly. She's pretty stoked when she finds herself somehow upgraded to First Class on an international flight for a job interview. Until she meets her seatmate, Gabriel. Gabriel "Scottie" Scott is gruff and grumpy and cold, and people do what he wants them to. He's fearless... Or is he? ;) After verbally sparring with one another for the entire flight, they learn that they're sort of stuck with each other for awhile longer.

And poor Brit Gabriel discovers that the cure to all that ails him is, for some reason, this overly chatty American cuddling up beside him. This is basically a "forced close proximity" romance, and it's a lot of fun. I couldn't help but like Gabriel, in particular, and how quickly we see beneath his grouchy exterior. How can you not be a fan of a guy who loves Buffy and is Team Spike? :)

“Angel is a teen girl’s dream, all sad sighs and mental angst. Spike is for when she grows up and realizes satisfaction is hers for the taking.”

That all said, I did have some issues with this that kept it from a higher star rating. One is a bit minor, but still sort of got to me - Sophie is supposed to be American and even asks what certain British-isms mean, but refers to things like "cling film" rather than "plastic/saran wrap".

Others that were a bit more serious was the tone of things around the time Sophie first meets the band and Killian and how that entire thing was handled. It felt melodramatic and a bit jarring to me, though I think it would have made more sense if I had read the first book and was already familiar with the shared past Sophie has with them. After that part was over, everything took a turn back up and I really enjoyed the camaraderie that developed between Sophie, Brenna and the rest of the Kill John band and crew.

After about 65% though, things sort of got muddled and bogged down again with what felt surprisingly overly dramatic again, with a grand gesture at the end that fell a bit flat & cliched for me. Which was a bit of a bummer because I so loved these two together and the ways that they accidentally fell in love and opened themselves up!

Despite those things, this was a really lovely read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys laughter (who doesn't?), sexy with bits of dirty and characters that are far from perfect but you love them anyway.

My Source: I received a digital ARC from the publisher to voluntarily review. This in no way influenced my review. My opinion is unbiased and my 100% own.

About the Author: Kristen Callihan
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.
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In all this time, I had yet to see Gabriel without a shirt. He hides his body like a pious Victorian, never letting me see anything other than him fully dressed and polished. Now I know why. Had he let me get a glimpse, I might never have been able to form a coherent thought around him.
This man’s chest is a work of art. It’s every fantasy I’ve had about a man’s body made real. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but I’m not about to complain. God, he looks touchable. Olive skin, tight little brownish nipples, a smattering of dark chest hair over the most incredibly honed—
You’re staring.” His tone is dry.
Yes, I am.” I drag my eyes up and find his expression bemused.
A thick brow lifts. I try to mimic the look and fail when both of my brows lift as one. His lips twitch in amusement.
He shifts his weight, causing his abs to clench. Good Lord. He’s not some overdeveloped gym worshiper, just solid and strong, that perfect balance between defined musculature and healthy male—
You’re still staring, Sophie.”
You think it’s easy looking away from all this splendor?” I ask his belly button, licking my lips when he huffs out a laugh and just a little bit more of his lower abs are revealed, slanting toward the thick bulge of his cock, which is lamentably hidden behind his slacks.
You’re impossible,” he mutters, though there is humor in his voice. He strolls farther into the room and then practically kills me when he sits in one of the low-slung armchairs. That body, sprawled out on display, those thick, long thighs braced as if to take me in his lap—it’s too much.
I want to straddle him and lick my way from the hollow of his throat to the tip of his cock.
He eyes me as if he knows what I’m thinking, and the air thickens. So many things we left unsaid. I’m remembering his lips now, surprisingly soft, but strong with purpose.
From the way his lids lower, I wonder if he’s remembering things as well. But he doesn’t move. Tension glides over his body and snakes around the room. I feel it in my throat and down my spine. We’re closing up again, retreating.
Slowly, I toe off my shoes and set my gear down, never breaking eye contact. “I was being completely honest,” I tell him. “I see you like this and I want to stare forever.”
He snorts, shaking his head even as he rests his temple on his knuckles. “What do you mean ‘like this’?”
He tenses. It does lovely things to that chest. I focus on his face, mainly to maintain some semblance of decorum.
You think this is me undone?” he asks quietly.
It’s a start.” I reach for my camera bag. “Will you let me photograph you?”
There is safety to be found with the camera between us. A way for both of us to hide until we’re comfortable around each other again.
You’re serious?”
You sound surprised.” Holding my camera, I sit in the sofa opposite him. “Don’t tell me no one has asked to take your picture before.”
They’ve asked. I never saw the point.” He shrugs. “I’m not the story.”
You’re my story. You always were.
This is just for me,” I say instead. “No one else.”
His shrewd gaze pins me. “Why do you want this?”
So I can have a bit of you forever. “Pictures capture moments in time. I want this one—when you finally let me see a sliver of the man behind the clothes.”
His nostrils flare on an indrawn breath, and he slowly lets it out. When he speaks, his voice is a rasp. “Take the pictures.”

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