Sunday, December 17, 2017

Blog Tour and Review ~ SWEET LIFE (Sugar Rush #5) by Nina Lane @NinaLaneAuthor @InkSlingerPR


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He knows if she's been bad or good.

Amidst the sugarplums and mistletoe, fashion stylist Julia Bennett is every inch a scrooge. Known for her ice-queen ways, she's having a meltdown over a botched business deal and an upcoming milestone birthday. Add the pressure of forced holiday cheer, and she's ready to dive into the spiked eggnog and not come out until summer. 

Warren Stone, president and owner of the Sugar Rush Candy Company, is determined to make Julia slow down and enjoy the holidays. As her friend and confidante for fourteen years, he knows her better than anyone. But when decking the halls leads them to an explosive, sexy night, everything suddenly changes.

Just when Julia thinks Warren is all she wants for Christmas, an old flame comes to town and reminds her of the carefree girl she used to be. As the new year approaches, Julia is forced to decide if she wants to relive the past or embrace the future.

What a tasty holiday treat that can be savored any time of the year!

Sweet Life, the fifth installment in one of my most beloved series by Nina Lane, has become my new favorite! I am just absolutely smitten, head over heels in love with Warren and Julia's romance. Once again, I found myself lost in Lane's enchanting world as my emotions ebbed and flowed with those of her characters, feeling all their love, passion, heartaches and joys. And this time, a refreshing change of pace as well with the journey of a more mature couple. With age comes experience and believe me, this duo may be in their 50's, but the connection they shared was off-the-charts ~ setting my kindle ablaze with their intense sexual chemistry. A beautifully written, heartwarming story of pursuing second chances, the love of family, lifelong friendships, of overcoming past regrets and the courage to face and take on challenges.

Following the series, we saw glimpses of Warren and Julia in each of the Sugar Rush novels. Their story could be considered a standalone, but I do suggest diving into at least the first three books to appreciate this couple's history and their dynamic relationship fully. Their connection runs deep as for thirteen years, Julia Bennett effortlessly stepped into the role as matriarch of the Stone Clan when her older sister, Rebecca, suddenly and tragically passed away.  She was the glue that held the family together through the worst of times and right along with Warren, Julia helped raise the Stone children. They are not only in-laws but each other's support system and the closest of confidants. Their relationship, though unconventional due to the circumstances, was painted tastefully, respectfully by the author. The love they shared blossomed organically, weaving the past into the story line which served to strengthen their bonds of love.

This couple delightfully surprised me. Julia on the surface played the role of the sharp-tongued, stubborn, tough as nails woman who's always composed and always in control. Seeing her past and the impulsive girl that embraced a wild-child free spirit, all the secrets she carried, the love kept hidden for years and her vulnerable side, shed new light on Julia's persona. Peeling back her layers, she bloomed right before my very eyes. I loved the duality of her character ~ a fiery woman who wore a stern mask as armor for all the world to see while guarding her gentle and fragile heart underneath. I adored Julia for her insecurities and fears as well as her icy, rigid demeanor. She was a tigress, a woman who loved her family and Warren so fiercely, willingly sacrificed her own heart to protect them.

Warren Stone melted me. Seriously, this charismatic corporate mogul and father of seven had major swagger. He quickly became one of my favorite characters penned by this author. Beneath his custom-tailored designer suits adorned with cutesy candy themed ties, beat the heart of a ravenously sexy man so wildly passionate, I was swooning my way through page after page practically losing my mind. I loved him and his undying determination to claim Julia, despite her hesitations and reservations. Warren was the perfect hero ~ a man who faced challenges head-on, fought for what he wanted, and never gave up. And in the bedroom ~ Papa Stone liked his control. In a word, Warren was scrumptious.

Written in dual points of view, with occasional flashbacks to the past that explained this couple's long history, I truly enjoyed Warren and Julia's journey. If you are looking for a read that will capture your heart and touch your soul, I highly recommend Sweet Life and this entire series!! Thank you, Nina, for another great romance.

I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this publication.

“Now step into my office.”
         Julia blinked at his hard tone, her gaze shifting to his closed office door. “I beg your pardon?”
         Warren opened the door. “In. Now.”
         Her features tightened with resistance just as the elevator doors opened and several employees emerged, their voices rising in chatter. Julia crossed the hallway in front of them, her shoulders rigid. He caught a whiff of Chanel No. 5 as she passed him.
         He entered the office behind her and closed the door, flicking the lock shut.
         “You are not to take out personal crap on my employees,” he said. “That’s not how I run this company.”
         Julia’s lips compressed. “Odd that you’ve never before questioned my treatment of your employees. And it wasn’t personal. She needed to know she’d screwed up.”
         “Announcing the holiday party early is not screwing up,” Warren replied evenly. “You’re pissed off because you’ve had a shitty week, you have too much on your plate, an old bucket list has thrown you off your game, and you don’t know what to do with the fact that we fucked the other night.”
         Two spots of color appeared on her cheeks. “I seem to recall that what I did with that fact was tell you it wasn’t going to happen again. After which you informed me in excellent caveman style that I was wrong. You seem to forget I’m never wrong.”
         About this, you are.
         He bit back the words. He hadn’t become the president of Sugar Rush by throwing his weight around. He knew how to bide his time, work his way into getting what he wanted. And damned if he didn’t want her more with every passing second.
         “Well?” Julia put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “Are we done here?”
         Under her make-up, purplish smudges shadowed her eyes. Brackets of tension lined her mouth. His jaw tightened.
         “You had a migraine yesterday,” he said.
         “What the fuck do you care?” Julia snapped.
         Warren’s hands flexed. He was used to her quick-fire cursing, all the more effective when delivered by a woman who looked like royalty, but he didn’t like being the recipient of her wrath.
         “I’m putting Mia Donovan in charge of the Sugar Rush holiday party,” he said.
         “You’re firing me?” Julia stared at him, her eyes widening. “Are you serious?”
         “Yes.” He steeled himself against her shock and the knowledge that he was hurting her. “You’ve planned it for the past ten years, and it’s time to hand it over to someone else.”
         “You don’t get to decide that.”
         “Yes, I do. Sugar Rush is my company. This is also the event where I’ll be announcing my retirement. You’re not going to plan it.”
         “Because I have too much on my plate?” Julia stopped in front of the windows, her arms crossed and her fiery gaze fixed on him. “Thanks for your concern, Daddy, but I assure you I can handle everything I take on.”
         “That’s why you’re such a success. It’s also why your headaches are getting worse.”
         “You are not my fucking doctor.”
         “Stop swearing.”
         She barked out a laugh. “You need to rethink this retirement thing, Warren. It’s making you soft.”
         Given the state of his dick, he was anything but soft.
         “If you won’t delegate your projects, I will,” he said.
         “Because you can’t stop being the boss, even if you think otherwise.” Julia paced angrily to the desk, her eyes flaring with blue ice. “Why are you retiring, Warren? Everyone knows you’re the power behind the throne, much as you’ve let the boys take all the glory. Three months—hell, one month from now when you have nothing to do and no one to order around, you’re going to wonder why you made such a bad decision.”
         Warren’s jaw clenched. He was sick of getting pushback from all sides. “I’ve been in business my entire life. I know what I’m doing.”
         “So do I, dammit,” Julia retorted. “I don’t need you looking out for me.”
         “I will always look out for you.”
         She came to a halt, her whole body stilling. By contrast, Warren’s heartbeat kicked up, sudden heat flooding his veins. Their gazes met across the room, a crackling electric current firing through the air.
         Julia took a breath, her breasts heaving beneath her jacket.
         “Goddamn you, Warren Stone,” she whispered.
         “I told you to stop swearing.” He advanced, his own breath increasing, his hands fisting and unfisting at his sides.
         Rebellion tightened her features. “And if I don’t?”
         “You sure you want to find out?”
         He closed the distance between them, his lust flaring like a match to dry leaves.
         What the fuck was going on with them?
         The question flared like a comet through his mind and died just as fast—because he didn’t care about the answer. His mind was consumed with the thought of tasting her red lips again, sweet like cherries, spicy like peppers. Her mouth could deliver an insult as sharp and searing as a blade, but he knew—had always known, even if he’d smothered the knowledge—that the sounds issuing from Julia Bennett’s mouth could also be smooth, hot murmurs of lust that rushed straight to his blood. Weakening him of all thought, all control, inciting him with the urge to—
         He grabbed her shoulders, hauling her soft, slender body against him. He’d always loved the contrast of Julia, the sharp-tongued, acidic queen and the relentlessly devoted aunt. The rigorous boss who shot orders like arrows, and the loyal friend who bought Hailey’s favorite peanut butter, sent care packages to Gavin Knight when he was deployed in Iraq, spent hours on end with Evan at the hospital.
         He stared down at her fine features, pale skin, and wide blue eyes that he’d seen almost every day of his life for the past thirteen years—and suddenly now it felt as if he were looking at her for the first time. Had he never noticed that tiny birthmark right beneath her left eye? Or the silver flecks in her irises, like falling snow? Or the perfect curve in her upper lip, tempting him to put his tongue there and—
         Oh, he’d noticed all right. He’d just tried to pretend he hadn’t.
         “What the hell am I going to do with you, Julia?” he muttered.
         “Fire me, apparently.” Her tone was bitter, her eyes blue fire.
         Her gaze flickered involuntarily to his mouth, her lips parting. He slipped his hand beneath her chin, lifting her face to his. His heart jackhammered. Her breath brushed against his mouth, the familiar scent of her—Chanel No. 5, lavender soap, pure Julia—suddenly exotic and tantalizing.
         “I’m going to let you go,” he said slowly, “and take two steps back. I want you to reach under your skirt and take your underwear off… if you’re wearing any.”

Meet the hot men of the Sugar Rush Candy Company...

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Nina Lane writes hot, sexy romances about professors, bad boys, candy makers, and protective alpha males who find themselves consumed with love for one woman alone. Originally from California, Nina holds a PhD in Art History and an MA in Library and Information Studies, which means she loves both research and organization. She also enjoys traveling and thinks St. Petersburg, Russia is a city everyone should visit at least once. Although Nina would go back to college for another degree because she's that much of a bookworm and a perpetual student, she now lives the happy life of a full-time writer. 

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