Friday, September 20, 2013

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Man On by Liz Crowe

Man On by Liz Crowe

Book Synopsis:

Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.

Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.

Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.

All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins.

My Review:

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of sports-themed plots in movies and books, so I jumped at the opportunity to read MAN ON, a book about a newly formed professional soccer team with male players who were likely to have as much fun in the locker-room shower as they would playing the game itself.  Sweaty bodies…  flailing limbs… balls… the Black Jacks soccer team nicknaming themselves BJs…  I mean, how can you resist?    I had never read anything by Liz Crowe before, but I thought that this series would be a good place to start with a new author based on the theme.

I was a little puzzled when the hero introduced in the first few pages, Nicolas Garza, decided to finger-fuck a complete stranger on a plane, let alone a female character.  Where were the other passengers?   How did they not get arrested as the plane landed?  I guess I went into the book expecting gay characters, not men that were going to have sex with women as well.  Not that there’s anything wrong with bisexuals (I’m bisexual myself, so I can hardly hold it against a character).   However, I’m not too keen on my heroes in a romance sleeping around at random, especially if it’s pretty clear that they’re having sex with someone that they have no connection with whatsoever – a throwaway character, if you will.  In defense of the author in this regard, Nicolas does struggle throughout the book with sexual addiction.  So, it wasn’t completely random after all - it just felt that way when the story started.

The other hero, Parker Rollings, was an interesting, closeted guy who was torn between his love of the game and his family and girlfriend and their ideal view of him as a future doctor.   Once again, the hero was bisexual, but the females that he was intimate with felt like throwaway characters to me as well. The author piqued my interest when she seemed to indicate that Nicolas and Parker would be competing for the same position on the newly formed team, despite their instant sexual attraction when they met.  Unfortunately, I felt that portion of the story was glossed over and wasn’t delved into the way I would have liked to see.  Too bad.

Getting back to the instant sexual attraction between Parker and Nicolas, I really was perplexed because on their first encounter, Nico’s scalp tingled at the sight of Parker.  All I could think when I read this was that Nico had been abusing his dandruff shampoo.    I can’t say that I have ever in my life had my scalp tingle.   I laughed it off and was prepared to let it go, but I found that the author had a fascination with describing the feelings of her characters’ scalps.   One time, even the phone ringing caused someone’s scalp to tingle.   I ended up counting more than a handful of times where the zing of scalps was described.  EEK!   I asked my husband if his scalp ever tingled or zinged when he was aroused. His response was of course not and clearly the characters in the book were likely aliens.   I admit my husband’s logic may be a bit flawed, but I might just have to agree with him.

Though I liked the characters of Nico and Parker and found their attraction to be sexually charged, there was a scene in the book that really pulled me out of relationship.   I’ll paraphrase (if you read this out loud, be sure to use a ridiculous Spanish accent a la Antonio Banderas as that is how it sounded in my head):

  • Fuck Me.
  • No, I’m no good for you. 
  • Fuck Me.
  • No, but I will make love to you.
  • If you don’t fuck me right now, I will be pissed.
  • No, I need to watch your face while we make love.
  • Shut up and fuck me.

I happen to have a big prejudice to the ‘make-love’ vs. ‘fuck’ thing in my books, so I was very distracted by that sort of dialogue.  I guess I just wanted to tell the one character to shut up and pound the fuck out of the other guy (especially because he was begging for it!)  *grumble* ☺

I was slightly disappointed that the author would at times focus attention away from the two heroes and switch perspectives to the coach and his family.  I didn’t really feel invested in the coach, so I found it distracting when she did that.

Re-reading this review so far, I realized it sounds like I didn’t like the book and all I am doing is complaining or mocking.   I thought I better qualify to say that I definitely didn’t dislike MAN ON.   It kept my interest and I enjoyed reading it.  I liked how author, Liz Crowe wasn’t afraid to focus on sports; it wasn’t merely a backdrop to the book.  I liked how the characters interacted with each other.  I thought most of the sex scenes were interesting to read.   I can just get nit-picky at times.   I definitely plan to continue the series, as I would like to read more about the Black Jacks to see where things go.

✳✳ Copy provided by the author/publisher for an honest review.

✳✳ Reviewed on I ♥ Bookie Nookie Reviews by Guest Reviewer, FlibBityFLooB


His first session with the psychologist, an earnest, nerdy-looking guy with square glasses and a cleft chin, had been brutal. But Nicco knew he’d been deflecting, pretending, and to his credit, the shrink had let him front and show off for a full hour.
Then, just as he was getting up to leave, convinced the whole thing had been a total waste, the guy looked up at him, pinning him with eyes so sharp and clear they made Nicco gasp in spite of himself. “Nicco,” he’d said. “When you’re ready to face up to your addiction, I’m here to listen. I know you have a problem with sex. You know you have a problem with sex. I’m glad you made this appointment. Next time, let’s make it more useful, shall we? And for the record, I did not support the concept of putting you out there as poster boy for gay rights or gay athletes.”
The man had removed his glasses, still staring Nicco down as if he could see into his very soul. “I am gay. I have been with the same partner, a man I love dearly for six years. I understand, on a certain level, what you’re dealing with. So,” he’d put the glasses back on and glanced down at his tablet computer. “When will I see you next?”
Now, he pulled the card from his pocket and stared at the therapist’s name and phone number. Then he ripped it into small pieces as the rest of the new team filed into the room. He noted two German players he’d had run-ins with in World Cup play, a South African player who must have cost the casino owners a pretty penny, at least three Brits, a Welsh guy or maybe Irish, and two South Americans whose dark, intense good looks made him shiver with memory.
A handful of fresh-faced young Americans interspersed in the group made him feel old. And that pissed him off. What was that Inez pup thinking anyway? There were two per position in the room, two strong players for each spot—except his. He sipped his water bottle and glared at the Germans. Nervous tension gnawed at his gut but he kept his face calm. Finally when their new coach showed up and flipped the blinds closed, he relaxed.
So everyone in the room has to fight for their spot except me? That works. He dropped his feet to the floor at Rafe’s pointed glance and propped his elbows on the table prepared to ignore the forthcoming pep talk.
He’d already made plans for the night and wanted to rest up before hand anyway. This goofy welcome pep talk would be as good a time as any. Letting his thoughts wander to the nightclub catering to gay men and promising full discretion, he forced himself to stop obsessing over the failed therapy session.
The door clicked open and all eyes landed on the tall, blond man who snuck in, backpack on his shoulder, dressed to play. Nicco’s scalp tingled at the sight of him—strong torso, long legs, firm jaw covered with several days’ worth of fuzz. Good Christ but he was a perfect specimen. Nicco kept his casual stance but startled when the kid’s bright blue eyes and huge white smile landed on him.
He resisted the urge to smile back. Something about the man made Nicco distinctly uncomfortable but horny at the same time. He suddenly wished he’d held onto the shrink’s business card.
“And Parker will be working with you, Nicco.”
Nicco sat up, knocking his water to the floor as Rafe’s words got his immediate attention. What the fuck? He stared at the polite hand the kid stuck in his face then over at Rafe. His throat closed up between the proximity of the impossibly handsome man and realization of the fact that the vision of masculine perfection he’d lusted after for the last few seconds wanted to take his spot on the field.
Oh hell no. He leaned back again and ignored his brain that clamored for him to be nice, to take the kid’s hand. To smile and act like an adult.
Instead, he smirked, ignored him, and turned to face their coach as if suddenly fascinated by what the guy had to say. Parker stood a minute, and Nicco watched his face turn red before he sat in the one empty chair nearest the door.
Rafe passed out new phones, instructed them that they were obliged to “tweet” and “post profile updates” on Facebook at least three times a day. All shit that Nicco already knew. Rafe’s hot young lady assistant issued key cards to the ones who’d just arrived, including the kid Nicco studiously ignored but whose very presence was making the front of his jeans uncomfortable.
He shifted in his seat, trying to get control of himself, a bizarre combination of anger and lust spinning around his brain. The room rose, and Nicco joined them making their way out into the hallway.
A gaggle of kids and parents awaited them, and the team spent about an hour signing soccer balls, slips of paper, jerseys, getting photos for camera phones. Nicco joined in to prove his ability to schmooze like a pro. At one point he caught sight of his new young coach with his arm around a tall, attractive, pregnant woman with coal black hair. Rafe caught his eye and beckoned him over.
“Nicolas Garza, this is Maureen, my wife and her son, Adam.” A dark-skinned teenager next to the stunning woman stuck out a hand. Nicco took it, noting the kid’s own club kit and backpack. He took Maureen’s hand, kissed it, and eyeballed Rafe.
“Well done, young Rafe. What a vision. How did a loser like yourself rate such beauty?”
Maureen frowned but her eyes sparkled. “Spare me, Nicco. I’ve heard all about you.”
“I have no doubt of that lovely lady.” He gave a short bow. “But may I also say, congratulations on the coming joy.”
She smiled at him, and he mirrored her liking her already. He valued women who took no shit from him. He winked at Rafe and made his way back into the teeming throng after nodding at the woman’s son who didn’t look that much younger than his mother’s new husband. But when he turned he immediately locked gazes with the blond American usurper and his throat closed up. The man stared at him wide-eyed and innocent, and Nicco had to grip the back of a chair to keep from saying something utterly stupid.
He’d wager his left nut that young Parker had never been with a man, but the sheer sexual energy that poured off him was intoxicating. His fresh, clean good looks spoke of a typical American, upper class upbringing, expensive soccer clubs and college scholarships. Shit that Nicco usually despised and denigrated.
He broke the eye contact and set his jaw. The kid had another think coming if he honestly believed he’d be taking Nicolas Garza’s place on the team. Pure and simple, no matter how fevered his sudden fantasy over popping the kid’s cherry. He ran a hand down his face and swallowed hard. Things had certainly gotten complicated and then some. But he knew that he had a focus now—keeping his starting spot ahead of the delectable Parker.


About the Author:

Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town.  Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as erotic romance author.

When she isn’t sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.

Her groundbreaking romance subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)

Her beer blog is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices.  Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury. 

Social Links:

Goodreads  Website ● Twitter  Amazon


Unknown said...

This sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway.

I ♥ Bookie Nookie said...

Good Luck Lisa!!

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