Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy Release Day To Liz!

That is...of course...to me!

Essence of Time, The fourth book in my popular Stewart Realty series releases this weekend.  I've been a good little author for the last 4 days, promoting my ever loving arse off at RomFest in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  It's been fun, don't get me wrong. And for my "first" Con a great experience!

I've had my first book signing, my first set of readers accosting me at breakfast with "I was up ALL NIGHT an it's YOUR FAULT!" moment, lots of firsts, really---including my first "Top Pick" from The Romance Reviews review site. More on that momentarily.

But I'm beyond thrilled to announce that I'll be giving away EITHER an e-copy OR a paperback copy of your choice of the Stewart Realty series to one lucky commenter today so, you know, be all clever in your comment---I'm picking in a wholly unscientific way (and if you've been in my contests before you know I'm prone to give more than one).

If you are wondering what all this fuss is about, please allow me brag just a skosh:  This is what the reviewer for The Romance Reviews said about SWEAT EQUITY: Stewart Realty Book 2 (the book that also got a JERR Gold Star a few months ago)...Ahem:

This is truly not the happily ever after I was hoping for after the somewhat engagement that happened in Floor Time. It seemed that everything exploded in this book. Characters were everywhere and each seemed to have his own problems. The amount of raw emotions and sheer passion is so passionately written it's absolutely wonderful. Applause for Ms. Crowe.

I felt so confused throughout this book but at the same time could actually see it happening in real life. It seems that Jack and Sara hit so many roadblocks in their relationship but they are the ones that are creating them and they have only themselves to fault for that.

Talk about a cliffhanger in this book! I can't wait to go home and buy the third book in this series to see if Jack and Sara get together. But most importantly, see how it all comes together and how it ends. I have developed my own happily ever after conclusions for all of the characters but let's see if any of my own conclusions are what the author comes up with.

I urge readers to pick this book up, but if you have not read the first book in the series, Floor Time, I encourage you to read it first. This absolutely the best book I have read this year.

Yeah, I have been staring at these words a lot.  Pretty cool, considering not 2 weeks ago I had an equally vehement "keep your day job" review from another Big Shot Reviewer.  Sigh....can't win 'em all can ya?

So. without further ado...Essence of Time.
The Blurb:

For years, Rob Freitag has resisted anything resembling a true emotional connection, preferring instead to explore life and his own desires without committing to anyone for very long. The reason behind this remains known only to a few, among them Jack Gordon, his college cohort in female conquests and lifelong friend. While he is close to achieving his career goal as head chef of a five-star restaurant in Chicago, he is still very much alone.

Blake Thornton’s heart has been shattered by an intensely emotional relationship with Suzanne Baxter in Ann Arbor. Completely broken by what he believes was his one true love, he arrives at a Chicago food and beer festival, prepared to drink his sorrow away. When the two men meet, their lives are changed forever. But time is of the essence for Rob and when he acknowledges his true feelings, he will stop at nothing to keep them together, including finding a surrogate mother for the child Blake to desperately wants.

Lila Warren is recovering from a nasty divorce, needs cash and believes carrying their baby will fulfill her in ways her marriage never did. None of them suspect that the connection they share will provide the final emotional key to their life-long puzzle. When Rob’s secret is revealed, time becomes the one luxury they don’t have, setting in motion a chain of events that shatters the fragile illusion of happiness for them, and everyone around them. 


Rob poured him more wine before turning back to pull the pasta from the stove. “Check that will you? See if it’s properly al dente?”

Blake nodded, rising to the challenge. He tasted, found it perfect. “You know, it probably could have used another minute or two.” He sipped and watched the blood rise in Rob’s fair cheeks.  He had no idea why he felt a need to provoke but loved it. “I’m sure it will be fine.” He turned away, lest he yank the tall handsome god-like man to him and do something foolish. The table was set, with no-fuss white ceramic dishes, simple flatware and one candle.
They shared a few anecdotes about random drunk idiots that peopled every decent beer festival as Blake sat on the couch and tried to summon self-control. He had no business here. The odd connection he felt with Rob was surely born of nothing but simple lust. But while his body continued to thrum with erotic anticipation of what would no doubt be an amazing lay, his heart had relaxed its tight, anxiety-ridden contraction for the first time in nearly a month. This man might be exactly what he needed, on a physical level at least, but the promise of more gave him some pause.
By the time Rob emerged from the kitchen, a bowl of the pasta tossed with the amazingly prepared simple fish, vegetables, garlic and cheese in one hand and a basket of no-doubt fresh-baked bread in the other hand, Blake had to grip his knees to keep from launching across the room at him. He stood, slowly, stretching, trying to stay non-committal and uninterested.
They sat in uncomfortable silence, clinked wine glasses and sipped. Blake was relieved that Rob seemed as flustered as he was, at least for now. Once they started eating and the true supremacy of the man’s kitchens skills became apparent, Rob seemed to visibly relax. He speared a fat scallop, held it to Blake’s lips. Blake took it, bit down and let the oily, sweet, rich concoction fill all his senses once more. He shut his eyes, chewed, swallowed, then opened them.
“Pretty good. But a bit over salted, wouldn’t you say?” He grinned and kept eating, breaking bread into small bits and dragging them through the garlic oil at the edges of his plate.
Rob frowned, then lifted his chin, eyes narrowed. “You’re a smart ass, you know it?”
“Yeah. So I’m told.” Blake ate two entire plates of the amazing stuff, and they relaxed into conversation about beer, wine, food, the restaurant business, segued into Blake’s gastro pub dream for a moment. Finally, they pushed their plates away, appetites for food sated. 
“So, after years of training, practice and food science I stand by the mantra: the simpler the better,” Rob declared, holding his wine glass up to the light, letting it catch the thick legginess that slid down the inside of the bowl. Blake nodded, allowed himself a small second of contact between their legs at the small table before leaning back so he could better observe the man with whom he was prepared to … “Except of course,” Rob interrupted his reverie. “When it comes to dessert.” Rob stood, put a hand on Blake’s shoulder
“Because real desserts are truly a perfection of complexity.” 
“Of course, there is the simple perfection of a strawberry dipped in chocolate.” Blake insisted, the contrarian in him rising to the bait. Rob chuckled, and emerged with two ramekins of crème Brule and a blowtorch. Blake grinned.
“What a showoff,” he mumbled, standing and cupping a hand behind Rob’s neck. “Now kiss me before I’m intimidated by your kitchen prowess and run screaming into the night.”

Rob’s entire body felt hot, enervated, oddly at peace and at once revved beyond belief. As his lips met Blake’s the sense of transcendence, of actual fulfillment overwhelmed him. This, the man in his arms, was what he wanted, what he required. That thought cut through all his usual avoidance bullshit like a god damned
knife. He gripped Blake’s shoulders, slid his hands down his back, pulled him close and swept into his mouth, loving the way the man met him halfway. No, not loving it, needing it like he had never needed anything before.
“God,” Blake gasped as they broke the kiss and Rob licked his way down the extreme beauty of Blake’s neck. “Seriously. I’m…ah…” Rob ran his hands down Blake’s torso, gripped his ass, and then moved back up, unable to settle on any one expanse of flesh. All of him was so amazing. So fucking perfect. Blake struggled out of his arms then.
Blake stepped back, stared at Rob, chest heaving. “I…don’t think I’m ready.” He muttered, running a hand down his face.
Rob took a breath, grabbed the blowtorch and
the top of the custardy desserts for them. He sat, dipped out a spoonful and held it to Blake’s lips. If the man wanted to go slow, then go slow he would. Because the sudden piercing light of actual attainment was making him dizzy. Blake was his, or would be very soon, of that Rob was certain. He smiled as the young man took the bite of creamy dessert, watched as he swallowed it, then dipped out yet more, feeding him the entire bowl reveling in his youthful appetite.
Slow down Frietag. This guy is just that. A guy. A piece of ass. A fine one, to be certain, but nothing more.
They polished off a second bottle of expensive Italian wine, the other dessert and nearly dissolved in a boozy pool of lust. But just as Blake was reaching for his zipper, Rob put a hand over his, kissed him once more and moved away. “No, Blake. Not yet. I’m sorry. You aren’t the only one not ready.”
His heart convulsed at the look in the young man’s eyes. The grateful, nearly teary gaze made Rob catch his breath; he put a hand along Blake’s rough cheek. He had no words, or if he did, they didn’t need saying. Not yet. Dear
, but he wanted to say them. Blake shifted further away from him and stood.
“Okay, I’m gonna go. Before we do something neither of us is ready for and both of us will regret.”
Rob shot to his feet. Putting his hands on either side of Blake’s face he kissed him, hard, loving the way the other man’s body molded into his. Then he stopped. “Okay. Good plan.” In spite of every living piece of him screaming to toss Blake over his shoulder and throw him into his bed, he moved back, walked to the door. Going slow was something new, and if he were honest with himself, it worked. On a level separate from his aching balls, of course. Blake smiled, stuck his hands in his pockets. Rob had to bite the inside of his cheek nearly raw to keep from going with his primal instincts as they exchanged one last lingering kiss, and he watched the man head to the elevator. “When will I see you again?” He called at the last minute.
“Soon,” Blake leaned against the elevator wall, winked and disappeared behind the closing doors.


Tina Donahue said...

Great review, Liz. Really enjoyed the excerpt. You've been getting a lot of buzz with this series and I can see why. :)

Adele Dubois said...

Big congrats on your new release and rockin' review, Liz! BTW, I absolutely love your covers.


Harlie Reader said...

I can not wait to start reading Rob and Blake's story. :) Great excerpt Liz and major congrats on the release.

Off to tweet and FB.


Mrs Condit said...

Hope you are having fun at RomFest! Wish I were there to meet you in person. I haven't started this series yet but am eager to do so. Hope you pull my name out of the hat!

jean hart stewart said...

Great excerpt, but what a teaser.Guess that's what it's supposed to be and it works.