Thursday, October 29, 2015

review || LOVING LUCAS { blog tour } by Violetta Rand

Loveswept | October 20, 2015 | Romantic Suspense
Lies and Leather, book 1


Perfect for fans of Joanna Wylde and Monica Murphy, Violetta Rand’s explosive new Lies & Leather series kicks off with a red-hot motorcycle racer who rides hard and plays for keeps.

Twenty-one-year-old Karlie Augustine is a survivor. She’s smart and tough, but she’s in too deep with a bad boyfriend who isn’t above breaking her spirit—or her body. Luckily, help arrives in the form of a leather-clad, motorcycle-riding hunk on the right side of the law. Lucas Lafontaine is pure muscle, a Corpus Christi cop who ignites something primal deep within Karlie. And when he offers her room and board in exchange for housekeeping, she finally starts to feel safe again.

As their arrangement turns deliciously decadent, Lucas gets hooked on Karlie’s killer body and fighting spirit. He wants to heal the pain he sees behind her eyes, but to protect her he needs to keep her close, especially now that her psycho ex won’t take a hint. Even as Lucas fights his own battle for custody of his young son, he knows that what he’s found with Karlie is real—and that he’d do anything to protect the woman he wants to take to the finish line.

{ about violetta rand } .

An environmental scientist by day, Violetta Rand has been in love with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. Rand enjoys outdoor activities, music, reading, and losing herself in the world she brings to life in the pages of her stories. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband.

{ excerpt } .

I’m a prisoner. My cage is a luxurious thirty-two-foot Thor motor coach and Connor is stretched out on the leather couch by the only exit. If I try to sneak out, he’ll wake up. And I don’t want to suffer the humiliation of another one of his explosive tantrums. I’m standing between the bedroom door and living area, arms crossed over my chest, music and laughter filtering through the open windows. It’s ten o’clock; the races are officially over, but the partying just started.

I peek out the closest window, catching sight of the bonfire. It lights up the nighttime sky like fireworks. My friends are drinking and having fun, and I’m stuck inside with my homicidal boyfriend who loses it when I smile at another guy. I carefully weigh my options, considering the consequences. With Connor, everything comes with a price.

I sniff the air, smelling cigar smoke and barbeque. A tradition I hate missing. Michael Samos travels to Cuba every year and smuggles the finest cigars back, saving a box for the last weekend of the races. I can taste the citrusy twang already. However, what I crave most is the camaraderie, the feeling like I belong somewhere. Sitting in utter silence while Connor sleeps off his postrace buzz sucks. And I’ve already exhausted the DVD collection in the bedroom. If I watch Fast & Furious one more time I’ll puke.

I edge closer to the door. Connor flips onto his right side. There’s a night-light on in the kitchen. I gaze at his angelic face. That’s what initially attracted me, along with his sense of humor, of which I don’t see that much anymore. But after sixteen months, I know what lurks beneath his tranquil features.

And that’s why I don’t like him anymore.

I take another silent step and then stop. So far, so good. Another few steps and I’m at the door . . . I touch the latch, turn it, and the lock pops.


I cringe, not facing him. “Yes?” My voice wavers.

“Where the fuck are you going?”

I hear him sit up. “Outside.”

“Get over here.”

The fine hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. And my fight-or-flight instincts insist I obey. But I don’t want to. Instead, I push the door open.

Everything happens so fast. He clamps onto my hips, snapping me backward. I let out a little cry as he lifts me off my feet, slamming me onto the couch. My back hits the padding so hard it knocks the breath out of me. But I still try to roll onto the floor—maybe I can crawl between his legs, making it outside.

“Settle down,” he hisses, gripping my right ankle. “Now.” His nails dig into my flesh.

Tears sting my eyes, more out of fear than pain. “Please,” I beg. “Let me go.”

He laughs, wrapping his fingers around my throat. He applies just enough pressure to let me know he’s in control. “Where, Karlie?”

I raise my chin, my last attempt at defiance. “Wherever I want.”

He squeezes harder, depriving me of enough oxygen to make me feel dizzy. I kick my feet so hard my sandals fly off. I dig my fingernails into the sides of his face.

“Bitch . . .” He lets go accidentally and I take full advantage, launching off the couch.

I land on my knees near the steps and fall forward, hanging on to the edge of the first one, ready to scramble out the half-open door. He grips both of my ankles and flips me over, and the back of my head smacks the tiled floor with a sickening thud. It hurts more than brain freeze. I grit my teeth, praying the pain away, only to have it replaced by something far worse. He bends my big toe forward, and fire shoots up my foot. Oh. My. God. I bite my bottom lip so hard I taste blood.

I kick frantically as he twists my toe again. “Stop or I’ll break it.”

He means it; I’ve been to the hospital twice in the last year with a broken wrist and a concussion. When the doctors asked what happened, Connor turned on the local-boy charm and told them I crashed at practice. He’s a local celebrity, so no one challenges him; no one suspects him of abuse. Except my friend Marie, but she’s outside with her boyfriend.

“Wh-what do you want?” I ask.

“Where’s the goddamn phone number that prick from Colorado gave you?”

“In-in the trash,” I stutter as fear takes over.

“Not in your pocket?”

I threw it away the minute we got back to the RV tonight. “No.”

“I don’t believe you.” He lets go of my foot, kneeling beside me.

His angry face gets closer and closer. Survival instinct takes over. I fist my hand and punch him in the nose with all the strength I have. He growls, falling back. Somehow I scramble to my feet and tumble down the steps, landing on the hard ground outside. Cool air fills my lungs and I shake my head. That pain at the base of my skull quickly reminds me where I am. I get up and run for the fire to join the others. Halfway there, I hear Connor’s heavy footsteps somewhere behind me. Oh God. This is it. I’m going to die tonight.

Breathless and exhausted, I fall to my knees hearing voices and see dozens of feet standing around me. The heat from the flames feels so good against my chilled skin. That’s the effect my boyfriend has on me; it’s 60 degrees outside and I’m as cold as a corpse.

“Karlie,” Connor calls, his boots coming into view in my periphery. “Don’t make this into something it doesn’t need to be. Get up—we’ll talk this out. In private.”

I don’t move. I can’t speak. I’m too busy worshipping the goddamned ground I’m kneeling on, thrilled to be free. Yet I fear that freedom will be short-lived. We’re a tight-knit group, but certain things are taboo in the racing community, interfering with relationship stuff being one of the biggest. And Connor Seville is a hero, a three-time American Motorcycle Association champion; the fact that he graces these unsanctioned races with his presence is reason enough for everyone to overlook his temper. He only participates for the extra money and to keep his local fans happy. His real passion is the national circuit, where television cameras and sports journalists chase him down for interviews.

He slides around me, resting his hand on my shoulder. I look up, meeting his blue gaze, the firelight making him look ominous. “No,” I say confidently. “We’ll never discuss anything again.”

{ review } .

This was my first Violetta Rand story and I had been anxiously holding off on reading it until the tour was rescheduled -- the synopsis was on point and definitely drew me in. The writing style of Ms. Rand is well-done, too; the plot is thought out, the dialogue feels real, the descriptions are well-written.

When Karlie finally has enough of her boyfriend, she decides to move out and on with the help of her friends. Lucas, a cop who meets Karlie at a race, has a negative history with his own ex, and as such, tries to keep Karlie at arm's length.

Altogether, I enjoyed Lucas's character (I tend to like the males more than the females...).

Karlie... Karlie, Karlie, Karlie... She grew up in foster care and as such, she definitely has the characteristic to hold on to love that's not necessarily there any longer. That said, she drove me absolutely nuts with the fact that she stuck with Connor as long as she did.

I felt that Karlie's personality was accurate for her history and her age. I would have liked to see more true to age growth with her, as well as a pause between one relationship and the other. She starts out as an abused significant other who continuously allows it. She acts her age in those situations. But at the end, she's a very settled, confident woman -- almost as if she were then a late-twenty something.

The other point that many people will make is the insta-love one. As someone who has friends who've been insta-lovers who have been married for five, ten years, I know this type of relationship can happen, but with Karlie's history, I do question it.

In the end, this was a great effort; the side characters were as interesting as our key players and I feel that the series has potential.

for other reviews & tour goodies,

{ giveaway } .

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