Blog Tour and Giveaway: Cement Heart: Beth Ehemann

Beth Ehemann
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Released March 15, 2015
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Lawrence Finkle, known simply to his die-hard Minnesota Wild fans as Viper, isn’t used to hearing the word no. He lives his whole life just a little on the reckless side. After all, life is just one big game, right?


When what was supposed to be an innocent bet goes horribly wrong, he’s left to deal with the aftermath— and the guilt. In an effort to make things right the best way he can, he ends up falling for the one person on the planet he never should have.

The old saying goes that two wrongs don’t make a right . . . or do they?

I found a bench right outside the door at the very moment my legs decided to give out. Who knew a hard-ass concrete bench could be so comforting? I ran my hands through my hair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the concrete slab below me. An ant slowly walked up to my foot and stopped. I wondered what it was like to be an ant. Did they have friends and families? Did they accidentally hurt each other? Did they feel guilt? I’d fought like hell my whole life to keep my feelings in check and never let people see them, but the last two days were testing that more than any other time in my life. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep it together.

Praying was something we never did in my house growing up, but at that moment I felt the overwhelming urge to talk out loud to . . . someone.
Looking around to make sure I was alone, I took a deep breath and puffed my cheeks out, exhaling slowly.
I glanced up at the sky for just a second, quickly deciding I probably looked like a moron and that whoever I was going to talk to would probably hear me no matter where I was looking.
“Hey, whoever’s up there. My name is Lawrence Finkle, but you probably know me as Viper. Anyway—” I cleared my throat, suddenly feeling very stupid that I was talking to myself, but so desperate I was willing to do anything. “—we’ve never had what I would call an active relationship, but right now I’m feeling pretty alone down here. I’ve fucked up a lot in my life, as you probably know, but I’ve always been able to talk myself out of any trouble I got into. Well, I’ve finally done something I can’t fix. It was an accident, but I still can’t fix it, and I could really use it at the moment. I don’t really know how this works, but I’m willing to bargain. I’ll do anything—go to church, donate time and money, stop fucking strangers. I mean it, anything . . . just please . . . save my best friend. He’s a good man with a wife and kids who need him. If you need to take someone, take me. No one gives a shit whether I’m here or not.” My eyes started to feel hot and sting as I took another shaky breath.
“Mr. Finkle?”
Startled at the sound of my name, I stood and turned as a camera flashed in my eyes. Squinting and holding my hand up, I tried to block out another flash. “What the fuck?” I growled.
“Hi, Mr. Finkle. I’m Warren Sanders with the Star Tribune here in Minneapolis.” He held his hand out for me to shake. I glared down at it and then back up at him without saying a word. He quickly pulled his hand back and continued, “We heard about what happened yesterday and we were just wondering if we could ask you a few questions. Like, maybe what exactly happened? What’s his current condition? Anything you’re willing to give us.” He held a microphone in my face as the cameraman lifted a different camera onto his shoulder to film me.
Rage shot through me like a bullet shoots out of a gun.
“You want anything I’m willing to give you?” I asked coldly. “Well, I’m going to give you ten seconds to get that motherfucking camera out of my face before I shove that mic up your ass.”
“Uh . . .” he stammered. “We won’t keep you for long. We just want a quick statement.”

Without hesitation, I took three steps and grabbed the camera from the guy behind him, lifted it above my head, and smashed it on the concrete. They both jumped back, their mouths hanging open as they stared at the ground.

“There!” I pointed to the shattered camera as I walked away. “There’s your fucking statement.”

I am major, major girl crushing right now. Beth Ehemann has taken over the second spot on my six star shelf this year, as well as a spot as one of my top five favorite authors. 

For those wondering, Cement Heart can be read as a standalone. Even though this is technically part of a series, you will not feel lost in the least bit. It just has some connecting characters. Also, you meet Viper within the Cranberry Inn series, and to be honest, I don't even really remember Viper from Brody's book. This didn't stunt my understanding at all or make me feel the need to go back and reread for that reason. 

I don't want to giveaway anything in the story, so I am going to stay very vague here. In my humble opinion, readers need to read Viper with little to no real info. When I started this book, I hadn't even read the synopsis. I went in completely blind, and I am so thankful for it. This book ran me through a gamut of feelings. My heart fricken ached tremendously. Cement Heart is undeniably not all sunshine and rainbows. I bawled my eyes out for at least 60% of the book, and then I was smiling like a damn fool for the rest. I was surprised I didn't wake my hubby up with all my sniffling. I even found myself giggling like a schoolgirl. 

Our hero was an enigma. A man so closed off to anything more than a one-night stand. He had his rules and he followed them to the "T." Viper's #1 rule—no expectations. I thought it was going to be hard to gauge my thoughts towards this tatted up “man-whore," but Beth wrote one hell of a multifaceted character. What you saw wasn’t always what you got. Whom he portrayed on the outside was not anywhere close to all there was to this fun, loving rogue. Everything about him screamed wickedly delicious trouble. However, he surprisingly had many more layers, and I absolutely adored the way Ms. Ehemann unraveled them. She knew exactly what she was doing as she exposed Viper's true nature. She certainly left me begging for more! I promise you will fall head over heels for this bad boy. Our boy may have been impish, but he was one of the biggest sweethearts you will ever get to know between the pages. 

I really adored the mystery surrounding Viper's love interest; though, it wasn't long before I began to put the pieces together and figure it out. From that point on, I rooted like hell for them to find what it was they both so desperately needed—love, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Viper had my utmost attention the moment my eyes hit the end of the prologue. It was then I realized light and fluffy had flown out the window. His story was nothing like I was expecting. Nothing. I'm not quite sure what I thought Beth would give us, but it definitely wasn’t that. One thing, I can say is I wasn’t expecting to be kept up all night, that’s for sure. My intentions were to read a chapter or two and head to bed. Yeah, that did not happen. I could not put down Cement Heart. Viper decided he was going to hold me hostage, and he refused to let me go anywhere else until I was done with his story. The thing is, even when I was done, I wasn’t really done. I am still thinking back on him. Small things here and there make me think back with a sigh and a smile. There have even been instances I started to tear up again. I utterly love when the character/characters or book leaves me reminiscing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us more Brody and Kacie!!! For me, there's nothing like getting a piece of your old love and your new love all in one book. Double the fun. Double the obsessing.

I fell in love with Ms. Ehemann’s writing when I came across her Cranberry Inn series during a slump. I was addicted to the one and only Mr. #30. Brody was exactly what I had needed at that moment. Once I finished, I truly thought no other hero of Beth’s could come close to matching Brody’s sweetness or his “twinkies.” However, Ms. Ehemann proved me hella wrong; it is safe to say, I have fallen head over heels in love with this author. Seems not only can she write charmingly sweet, but she can also write her ass off about a tatted, bad boy who has some serious commitment issues. And when I say serious, I mean SERIOUS! From this point on, if she writes it, I will be devouring it. Hell, for her, I would even venture into zombie land (I do not EVER do zombies…too far out of my comfort zone).

Thank you, Beth Ehemann, for the complimentary copy of Cement Heart.

I have always had a soft spot for Lawrence Finkle aka Viper...the crazy, outspoken, wild friend and team mate of Brody in the The Cranberry Inn Series. I have been so excited to read his story. I had no idea that Beth Ehemann would take his story in the direction she did, but she surprised me and I loved it! I am going to be vague as to not post spoilers.

Even though Viper's friends are settling down with wives and kids, he is happy with his single status, one-night stands, and hook-ups. He's arrogant, cocky, and thinks he has everything he needs in life--a place on the Minnesota Wild hockey team, fame, fortune, girls, great friends, and his grandmother "Gam". 

"I'm not sweet, Gam. I'm barely sour. In fact most days I'm downright inedible altogether."

But it just takes one instant to change it all.

Viper is forced to take a look at his life. He's guilt ridden, in pain, isolating himself, and lost. His whole life has imploded around him and he is sinking fast. My heart broke for him. He is a guy with a big heart and his emotions run deep especially with those he cares about. But seeing how lives can change quickly has him looking at his own life and what is truly important. But he is not used to dealing with tough emotional situations and guilt.

I stared at my reflection in the mirror. The reflection of a man who was desperately trying to change, trying to find himself but didn't know how.

I have to say that this book was nothing like I expected and that made it even better. Based on events in the Cranberry Inn series I expected this to be about certain characters getting together and getting past their issues, some angst, and moving on. But the plot, the heart break, the woman, and the whole journey of Viper surprised me in a good way. I loved how it was not clear who was going to end up stealing his heart until later in the story. Many women wanted him so there were options along the way, but the one who caught his eye was the one that was probably the most challenging. We get to see him move through his life and trying to be a better man and how the right woman just kind of just snuck into his life and heart. I enjoyed seeing Viper begin to face his fears and push himself to change. It was hard seeing him break down and struggle and it was definitely a process for him, but I loved seeing how he took to the challenge. 

For the first time in my life, I'd met a woman who I wanted to hang out with constantly, wanted to know every single thing I could about her, wanted to protect her fiercely, yet she was untouchable.

I really liked the way his romance developed. This book did not rely on sex to show a connection. The true connection built slowly over time and was perfectly paced for the situation. I enjoyed their rapport, support, and the way they fit into each other's lives. Viper's story was shocking, heartbreaking, humorous, and sweet. It kept me guessing and thinking along the way about how it was going to all end up. I loved all the sides of Viper: playful, cocky, sexy, protective, caring, romantic, and emotional. There was so much more to Viper than we have ever seen before, but I always knew he had potential.

In some ways it was a comfy read since it is in Beth Ehemann's engaging style that drew me right in, and old friends are back. I loved getting more with Brody, Kacie, Darla, Mike, Michelle, Louie, Andy, and the kids. The friendships are deep and they all share a good rapport and understanding of each other. I totally laughed in every scene Viper's Gam was in. Their interactions were just so unfiltered and hilarious, but also had some good advice thrown in under the curse words and sass. My heart melted seeing  him relate with the kids, especially Matthew. It showed another side to his personality.

There were moments where I held my breath, my heart shattered, and I could totally feel all of the emotions swirling around in Viper. But there were also sweet, funny, and tender moments too. I felt it was realistic, and at the same time the story was unique and unexpected. I totally adored Viper and enjoyed seeing his cement heart break down. He was raw, real, unfiltered, and an unlikely hero. I loved that most of the book was in his point of view with just enough of his female protagonist to keep up with her thoughts and feelings. I did not think it was possible, but Viper stepped up and is now standing toe to toe with Brody. Fans of the The Cranberry Inn Series will cheer for Viper and be glad to revisit old friends, but it can also easily be read as a stand-alone story since it is a spin-off. I think Beth Ehemann completely did Viper's story justice and I enjoyed every page of it. 

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

[She] had waves. I had doors. Maybe we could sit on my door and float on top of those waves together.

Lawrence “Viper” Finkle is a well known womanizer and has no intention of changing his ways, settling down, or starting a family. It’s not that he doesn’t like kids, as he is fantastic with his teammates’ kids (when he remembers not to swear around them). His friends watch his actions and accept him as he is. Do they always agree? No, but he is unapologetically himself at all times. 

In the Cranberry Inn series, he offered some hilarious moments as he adjusted to Kacie and the twins as part of Brody’s life, and I am so glad his story came out here. 

I’m not including very much plot description as part of this review on purpose. You won’t see the name of the woman who catches his eye, nor am I going to share how they met, or anything about their journey. Why? Because not knowing makes this reading experience so much more emotional. I spent the first part of the book watching his interactions with the women around him wondering which one would cause him to begin breaking his rules, and that mystery made it even better than if I had been waiting for a specific woman to walk through his door. 

Could we make it work? Could we both let go just enough to make it possible without letting go completely?

I loved the way this story built. By the time it was clear who the woman was going to be, I was so emotionally invested in this story that my heart broke with every new scene. Every new detail. I shed plenty of tears over the course of this book, from sadness to happiness. There was so many emotions tied up in this story I couldn’t help but have them spill out of my eyes.

I loved getting inside Viper’s head so much more than I could have imagined. There is so much more to his backstory that a simple self-proclaimed perpetual bachelor. His walls and rules were solid, but the right woman slipped right in without him even realizing she had broken through. And getting him to admit she was inside his walls was an even tougher change for him to make. 

“I have thought about it, and it kills me every single time, because while I can’t imagine my past without him, I don’t want to imagine my future without you.”

The journey each of the main characters take is emotional. With promises made, walls erected, and pain to overcome, there are some wrenching moments. I loved every minute of this read, and found myself unable to put it down at several points. I didn’t know I NEEDED Viper’s story until I was finished with the 9 sentence prologue. But from that point on, this story was a necessity. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Although this is a spin-off and can be read as a stand alone, we first met Viper in The Cranberry Inn Series as he is Brody's best friend and team mate

Room for You

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Beth Ehemann
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Beth Ehemann lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago with her husband and four children. When she's not sitting in front of her computer writing, or on Pinterest, she loves reading, photography, martinis and all things Chicago Cubs. She's represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
5 signed paperbacks of Cement Heart (open international) and a $50 Amazon gift card.
 6 winners
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