Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway ~ Better as a Memory by Merilyn Baxter

Looking at her potential client, Atlanta image consultant Victoria Sharpe is convinced the job will be a cross between What Not to Wear and Man vs. Wild. She’d love to turn down the offer, but refusing it—not to mention the referrals it could generate—just might break the bank. Yet, agreeing to make over this man’s image might also break her heart. Again.

Max Brown will tolerate anything to gain access to his trust fund. Returning to work in the family business, even submitting to his mother’s demands to trade his comfortable flannel for Armani is worthwhile if he can get the money necessary to start a camp for at-risk boys. But then he sees he’ll be working with Victoria Sharpe, his college girlfriend, the one who got away. Or, really, the one he left. The impression he makes here will be the most important of his life, and the person most as risk is himself.

Max jangled his car keys in his hand as he waited at Victoria’s door. He felt as nervous as a fifteen-year-old on his first date. He wore the gray pants and navy blazer Victoria had approved together with a brilliantly white shirt and a yellow tie with small navy dots. He wiggled his toes in his new black oxfords and marveled at how comfortable they were. True to her word, Victoria had steered a wide berth around wing tips and had showed him that style and comfort were not mutually exclusive.

He knocked a second time and nervously straightened his tie. And when she finally opened the door and he got his first glimpse of her, he let out a low whistle. His gut told him he would have a hard time keeping his hands off her.

And hard was the operative word as his body twitched below his belt. The black dress had a ruffled skirt that skimmed her knee. The V neckline teased at her cleavage but left plenty to the imagination. Simple sapphire and diamond earrings sparkled as they caught the light, and he saw a matching bracelet circling her wrist. While her high-heeled shoes were plain, they made her legs seem as if they went on forever. And when she bent to pick up her purse from a table beside the door, he caught a glimpse of her black lacy bra and gritted his teeth in an effort to will his body to cooperate.

This might be a very long and very frustrating night.

After taking her arm and helping her negotiate the steps down to the drive, he held her purse and wrap while she settled into the passenger side of his SUV. She had certainly taken her own advice to heart. She was stylish and understated, but he wasn’t so sure her classic beauty wouldn’t make her stand out like a diamond among pieces of coal.

They chatted about mundane things for most of the drive to his parents’ estate, but when he turned into the long drive lined by towering pines, he posed a question. “Are you okay with me introducing you tonight as my image consultant? I mean, that won’t make you feel like…well, you know.” He was at a loss for words.
What you are trying to ask is if I’ll be insulted if people think I am your employee.”

Well, yeah. I mean, you’re not, but in this crowd, that’s liable to be what people assume. I was just thinking you might drum up a little business when people see how you turned the beast into Prince Charming.”

Too bad I didn’t tame his raging ego, too.”


Victoria laughed, and once again Max had to scold his misbehaving libido.

****4- Short, Sweet & Sexy- Stars****
~this review may contain minor spoilers~

Annoying Victoria was his goal for the day. He had agreed to the makeover partially to placate his mother and partially for the opportunity to push Victoria's buttons again. He'd rather enjoyed goading her during the interview. Apparently age had taught her to resist lashing back like she'd done when they were in college. That was really too bad, because the backlash usually resulted in the two of them ending up in bed.

That was a lot shorter than I expected but still packed with enough angst to have me furiously flipping through the pages, with some sweet, sexy and frustrating thrown in.
Victoria Sharpe is an image consultant who has just landed a job proposal that could not only bring her company out of the red zone, but has the potential to land her lots of big clients in the future. There's just one small problem- the job is for Brown Industries, where their estranged son, Max Brown, has returned after a seven year disappearing act to finally take his place in the family business and it is up to Victoria to change this mountain man into Mr. GQ. Max was the love of Tori's life in college, til he dropped out and fled town leaving behind more than he bargained for with nothing but a 'Dear Jane' email for Tori. If she didn't need this job so bad, she would take her shattered heart and run in the opposite direction, as it is, she will have to steel herself against his baby blues and remind herself why getting involved with him again would leave her with nothing but heartache. If she has any hopes of surviving this job with what remains of her heart in tact, she must keep things 'strictly business'.

She needed to shore up her self-control and focus on what was most important in life. And she wasn't going to stand by and let everything she had worked for fall by the wayside just for a man. Especially not that man, even if she did miss being kissed and his kisses left her wanting more.

Max, however, has other plans. Seeing the only woman he has ever loved after seven years hits him a lot harder than he would have expected as he's reminded of everything he left behind. And though he has no intentions of getting involved in another relationship, or sticking around for that matter, he can't deny how much he still wants her. Can he break through her walls and get her to let him in again even if he's not looking for something permanent?
I can honestly say, I was not a real huge fan of Max, but I have to give Tori some credit for keeping things professional as long as she did, even with Max's persistence. At the same time, she hands out forgiveness as quick and easy as some might hand out candy. I'm not one to hold onto grudges but, I am a strong believer in the whole 'make him work for it' idea, and she just....didn't. Plus the ending seemed kinda rushed to me. But overall, it was a sweet, if frustrating, second-chance story and I will definitely check out more from this author in the future.

Later that night he lay awake rethinking all the plans he had so carefully crafted over the past year. One point hammered at him. None of it would matter if he did it alone. He had told Victoria he was better as a memory to her, but now he wanted to be with her, near her as much as possible. 

 In 2001, Marilyn discovered Romance novels quite by accident, which led to a renewed interest in writing. She started out by writing fanfiction about Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Superman, which developed into a desire to write about her own characters. She’s had over forty short stories published in the confessions and Romance magazines.
Also, she has taught a class in how to effectively write for this genre and worked as a researcher and copy editor for several Romance authors. All this combined to give her a great love of the Romance genre and helped develop a multitude of friendships in the Romance community.
She’s a member of Romance Writers ofAmerica, as well as her local chapter, Heart of Dixie. In addition to reading, Marilyn loves to knit (as long as it’s only a scarf), cook (in the crockpot), garden (in a couple of pots on her patio), and her motto is “Have passport, will travel.” She’d love to add to the list of 32 states and 21 foreign countries she’s already visited.
After raising two great sons, she loves to spoil... er... dote on her two granddaughters.

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