Blog Tour, Reviews and Giveaway: Intoxicate: Tessa Teevan

Intoxicate (Explosive #4)
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Marry me. 

Two words Kalli Montgomery never expected to say out loud to Xavier Cruz, even though she's been in love with the sexy, single father for as long as she can remember. Unfortunately, she hasn't just been friend-zoned for the past ten years. No, even worse, he's treated her like a little sister, no matter how hard she tried to prove she could be so much more. When she agrees to spend the summer as the caregiver for his daughter, Lily, she knows it's her last chance to finally make him take notice. 

As unexpected circumstances threaten to disrupt his home life, Xavier's desperate to keep his family together. He'll do whatever it takes, even if it means marrying a woman he doesn't love. For Xavier and Lily, Kalli will do just about anything, even at the risk of getting her heart broken in the process. 

Little does she know, sometimes love isn't quite as unrequited as one may think. Xavier sees her-he always has. And the vow he made all those years ago never to go there with his best friend's little sister is wavering, and it's wavering fast. When they come up with a plan that leads to wedding bells, it's a no brainer. 

This marriage of convenience has one rule: absolutely no falling in love. 

Easier said than done. Throw together a girl who believes rules are meant to be broken, and a man whose whole career revolves around following orders and you get a recipe for disaster. What could possibly go wrong?

Shooting a glare at him, I throw my hands up in exasperation. “Are you telling me that this whole anticipation thing is one-sided? Is it that easy for you to resist? I really need to step up my game.”
      Xavier’s eyes fall to my lips for a quick moment before he looks back up at me. I see the desire in his expression, and without him even saying a word, I know he wants this, too. So why is he making me wait?
      “You have no idea how much I want to kiss you right now. How many times I’ve thought of doing just that. Every time you were curled up against me on the couch, I wanted to kiss you.  Every morning when you showed up, I wanted to kiss you. Every time you said goodnight to Lily and then slipped out my door? I wanted to kiss you before you left. It’s not a new development. The first time I ever saw you, Kalli, I wanted to kiss you. And I’ve wanted to ever since.”
      His admission floors me. He’s told me before that he “saw” me, but I had no clue it was from the very beginning. I’m not really sure how to process it. In fact, he beats me to the punch.
      “So now you know. This will be just as hard for me, but it will be so damn worth it. Because when you’ve wanted something for as long as I’ve wanted you? It’ll be the best feeling in the world when I finally get it.”
      “Our first kiss will be that epic?”
      “A first kiss to rival them all,” he quips, grinning at me. He holds his arms out wide. “Now, we’ll start with a hug and work our way up.”
      “I feel like I’m sixteen again,” I tell him as I wrap my arms around his waist.
      His hands come down to my back and he gives me a big squeeze, my head pressing against his firm chest. I love this feeling of being in his arms, him holding me close. There’s nowhere on the planet I’d rather be than right here with him. As much as I want him, I know he’s right. I don’t care when it comes. Because when it does, our first kiss will be unforgettable.
      His chest rumbles as he chuckles. He squeezes me tight one last time before letting me go. “And it’s only just the beginning,” he tells me. “Have a good night, crazy girl.”

I have been dying for more of Xavier and Kalli since Inflame. And this one starts off with a big revelation (Bam!) then takes us back to follow their story more from the beginning.

Kale's best friend Xavier Cruz and his sister Kalli have been admiring each other for over ten years and not doing as good a job of hiding it as they think. But Xavier has had his hands full being a single father to his ten year old daughter, Lily, and his best friend's little sister should be off limits. But when Kalli moves to Tennessee to be closer to her brother and his family, and ends up as Xavier's summer nanny, they finally start to entertain the possibility of more.

It's no secret, Kalli's inserted herself into our lives, burrowed in deep and changed the Cruz family forever. There's just one question left to answer. What am I going to do about it?

But Xavier...bless him...moves at a snail's pace. He has his reasons, but I found myself wanting to push him along. But I loved their witty, flirty rapport and their connection based on mutual attraction, friendship, admiration, and a true sense of family that only comes with having history with someone. Kalli is literally a breath of fresh air in their lives.  And she scares the crap out of Xavier.

Xavier's life has kept him on constant alert and protector mode since becoming a young father, being hurt by someone he cared about, and dealing with the stress of Army Life. His life has not been his own and has revolved around just taking care of his daughter and mother. He is so out of his element, so unaware of his own emotions and hers, so vulnerable, and so afraid. He fumbles, he stalls, he denies, he can be clueless, he acts like a bone head, but then he tries to fix it. But he is also protective, possessive, sexually charged, and oh-so-sexy especially when he pulls out the Spanish phrases. 

"With my job, I'm usually in complete control...We work through every possible scenario, every outcome. It's ingrained in me to do that. Expect the worst. Hope for the best. It's how I work, and it's how I live my life. Carefully. Cautiously. Knowing just what I'm getting into."

Kalli is sassy, strong, sweet, nurturing, and so very patient with Mr. Cautious. But she does not hide the fact that she is not that sweet and wants more with the desirable Dad. The sexual tension and chemistry just sizzled. Talk about a sloooooooow burn...the anticipation was excruciating at times. 

"We haven't even kissed, Lucy. We've been doing this ridiculous song and dance...and I haven't even made it to first base with the guy. Hell, I'm not even up to the plate!"

Just when they would begin to start moving in the right direction, life changes would throw them curve balls that they had to continually dodge. This couple would take one step forward and two steps back. Not only due to their own fears, insecurities, doubts, and miscommunication, but also due to circumstances around them. This was a story that completely illustrated the "push and pull" and "fight or flight" responses. My heart broke for them over and over when they would make an advancement only to have something else interfere with it. But all along I felt their true compatibility, care, and devotion they had for each other, their families, and his daughter. And also their longing and need for not only a physical, but also a true emotional relationship.

But in an atypical move, they do something that no one expects for their own reasons. Some of them seem like the right ones and some are not so clear, but they shock everyone by saying "I do" before they really can truly even admit that "they do" like, lust, or love each other.

She was finally mine. Yet she wasn't. Not really. And dammit, that bothers me more than it should.

But that is not the end or the beginning of the story. We get the full story from past to present, to what led them to this decision, and the after effects. And if you think all of their problems will easily go away, well think again. This is spontaneous, feisty Kalli and broody, loner, rule follower, Xavier. They have a lot to fight, not only with themselves, each other, and with outside influences. But eventually it has to come down to facing fears and learning to trust and rely on someone.

I loved hanging out with their families: her brother, Kale and his wife Lucy, Kalli's mischievous twin Kaylie, and their effervescent Moms Ginger and Anna. Xavier's precocious daughter, Lily stole most of her scenes. She was such a sweet, inquisitive, adoring tween who was very loved and had so much love to give. I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Kalli blossom as much as I did Kalli and Xavier's. And the longtime brotherly bond between Xavier and Kale and the intermingling of their families made me love them all even more. They truly were there for each other  and also provided humor as they could tease each other like only people that know each other so well can.

I was completely engaged in this couple from the beginning. And even though the pacing of their relationship moved slowly and had false starts, it did not change how much I liked it. I felt it was true to Xavier's cautious nature. And there was enough tension and things happening to keep me engaged. And I think the anticipation did make it all the more special when things not only progressed more physically, but also more emotionally as well.

It was fun, frustrating,  steamy, sweet, emotional, and swoony. I was so happy to get both of their points of view so we could feel everything they did. I totally love this couple! I have enjoyed each book in both the Explosive and The Wellingtons series and this one was no exception. The vibe was different...not as angsty or angry or full on steamy up front, but maybe that made me connect even more emotionally with them. Tessa knows how to write alpha men that have hearts of gold and women who are as strong as they are sweet. This couple and family touched my heart and their full story met my high expectations. I would love to see more about her twin sister, Kaylie. She deserves to find some love too.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

“But I’m telling you, here and now. Kalliope, I am going to kiss you. And when I do, it will be when when you least expect it. It may be soft and slow. It may be hard and fast. But rest assured, it will happen.”

Oh my word. I love Xavier and Kalli.

Xavier Cruz is a single father, so devoted to his daughter and career that for ten years he hasn’t taken time to consider that his best friend’s sister is all grown up. The sister he noticed when he was a 21 year old new father, who he promptly realized was off limits not because she was his friend’s sister, but because she was only 16 years old.

Kalliope Montgomery is a free spirit, as all the Montgomery women tend to be. Not worried about marriage or a family of her own, she has decided it’s finally time to move out from under her mother’s wing. Moving to Kentucky to be nearer to her brother and nephew, it doesn’t hurt that Xavier also lives there and she has crushed on him since she was 16.

I loved these two together. Xavier was hesitant to let anyone in. But he had met his match in Kalli’s strength and determination to not let him keep her out.

This was a slow burn, but not a slow story. The progression of the relationship shows the depth of feeling growing between them, and though they are both adults, there were several issues that had to be worked through before they could be happy together. This was a little un-traditional in the order of relationship milestones that absolutely worked for these characters and the journey they were on.

I loved the roles the mother’s played in this story as well. It was subtle, fun, and added sweetness and depth that would have been missing without. But it also added extra emotion as the reason behind the meddling came to light.

Kale, Lucy, Knox, Charlie, and Kalli’s twin Kaylie provide encouragement, humor, and a swift kick when necessary. Because of the way the story is told, we know some of where Kalli and Xavier end up before the whole story comes out. The early scenes with the whole group had me grinning as events unfolded in the present, and before the flashback began I was out and out giggling at the situation.

This was a great read from start to finish. Kalli’s feisty nature, Xavier’s vulnerability, and Lily’s sweetness made for a perfect story. Lily served as the perfect bridge between Xavier and Kalli, at least in the beginning when they were both tip-toeing around each other. As a continuation of the Explosive series, I loved everything about this.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Explosive series
Ignite (Explosive #1) -  Amazon B&N
Incinerate (Explosive #2) -  Amazon | B&N
Inflame (Explosive #3) - Amazon | B&N

The Wellingtons series 
(a spin off of the Explosive series)
Combust (The Wellingtons #1) - Amazon | B&N
Conflagration (The Wellingtons #2) - Amazon
 | B&N
Tessa Teevan_Author PhotoTessa Teevan   
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
I'm a twenty something book junkie who is also obsessed with sports. Bengals, Buckeyes, Reds are my teams! I work for the government during the day, hang out with Air National Guard on the weekends, and have been married to my own book boyfriend for over seven years. We currently live right outside of Dayton, OH with our two cats.       

If I’m not writing or looking through tons of photos of hot men, all in the name of research, then you can probably find me curled up with my Kindle, ignoring the rest of the world. I love my sports almost as much as I love my books. My other obsessions include red wine, hot men, country music, and all things Grace Potter.   

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