November 2, 2015

RELEASE DAY REVIEW, EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Leveled (Saints of Denver #0.5)

I'm so excited to share Jay Crownover's new novella LEVELED with you. It was so incredible, and such a great introduction to Jay's new Saints of Denver series. Read on for an excerpt from Leveled and then enter the giveaway!

Leveled (Saints of Denver #0.5), by Jay Crownover
Publish Date: November 2, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) We all need a hero...let the Saints of Denver begin

Orlando Frederick knows what it is to be leveled by pain. Instead of focusing on his own, he’s made it his mission to help others: sports stars, wounded war vets, survivors of all kinds. But when Dom, a rugged, damaged, sinfully attractive cop, makes his way into Lando’s physical therapy practice, he might be the biggest challenge yet. Lando loved one stubborn man before and barely survived the fallout. He’s not sure he can do it again.

Dominic Voss is a protector. The police badge he wears is not only his job, it’s his identity, so when he’s sidelined because of an injury, the only thing he cares about is getting back on the force. He expects Lando to mend his body, he just doesn’t realize the trainer will also have him working toward a hell of a lot more. As attraction simmers and flares, Dom sees that Lando needs repair of his own...if only the man will let him close enough to mend what's broken.

We met Dom in Asa's book - he's Royal's partner, and in the last Marked Men book, he was involved in a case that went bad and ended him in the hospital on medical leave. Dom is a strong, domineering man that hates to be sidelined from his job as a cop. So, because he has a friend who knows a friend, he ends up seeking out the help of Lando Frederick - renowned physical therapist and former boyfriend to Remy Archer. 

Lando we met way back in Rule - the very first Marked Men book. You might not even remember him, since he only was introduced at the end, and he hasn't been mentioned much in the subsequent books. But, Lando's presence packed a huge punch in Rule, and ever since then, I've wanted to know more about him. Thank you so much, Jay, for giving me my wish.

Lando and Dom are both floundering, although for very different reasons. Dom is struggling with the fact that he might never be physically capable of being a cop again. Lando is still struggling to get back to a semblance of normalcy in his life after the love of his life, Remy, died in a car accident several years earlier. An accident that he still thinks of as his fault. I think Dom and Lando found each other at the most important moments of their lives. 

The chemistry between these two was crazy good right from the very beginning. Of course, both try to deny it at first - Dom because he has other things he needs to be focusing on and Lando because he doesn't feel capable of loving someone again, especially someone with as dangerous a job as Dom has. Losing Remy nearly killed him - he doesn't think he could go through that again and make it out on the other side. 

I get Lando's hang-ups. I understand why he doesn't want to put himself out there again like that. But, this is DOM. He is like a bull in a china shop. He rushes in and throws his weight around and takes charge of matters. He's a force to be reckoned with, and he has set his sights on Lando. How can Lando deny him anything? 

What I appreciated most was that there was a level of communication we see between these two that you don't usually see. Except for Lando keeping the reason for Remy's absence from his life, both of them shared their reservations, their expectations and their feelings with each other. I was happy about that. 

There's a lot packed into Leveled. It almost felt like I was reading a full-length novel. There was the meeting of the two men, the casual run-ins and the intense flirting, the stupid hot sex, the relationship issues... it was all there. And, none of it felt rushed or contrived like many novellas do. Lando's and Dom's relationship was natural and real. 

And, we also got another peek at Sayer and Zeb, the focus of the first Saints of Denver novel. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of Lando and Dom in that book, which will be a lot of fun. January is still so far away!

He reached out and shut the medical file in front of him and leaned back in his chair. His eyebrows arched up, and he laced his fingers together and put his index fingers under his chin.

“What exactly are you after, Mr. Voss?” His voice was smooth and modulated. I was a disaster, a bundle of nerves and anxiety, and this dude was acting like we were talking about the weather, not my entire life and everything I had ever worked my ass off for.

Defiantly I spread my legs apart and slumped back in the chair across from him, making it a point to affect a posture that was as casual as his was professional. I had on a faded DPD T-shirt and a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee, and both were a little baggy since I’d lost some of my bulk being laid up in the hospital after the accident. If the guy across from me was a cherry-red Ferrari, then I was a rusted-out and battered John Deere tractor in comparison.

“I want my life back, Mr. Frederick. I want to be able to move the way I used to. I want to pass the department physical so I can go back on patrol. I want to be able to walk without needing a crutch or a cane. I want to be the way I was before I got hurt.” I was asking for the impossible and I knew it. “And please call me Dom.”

He dipped his chin down a little, and the edge of his mouth tilted up in a slight grin. Damn the man was good-looking. I blew out a breath and lifted up my hands to run them over the top of my shorn hair. I was hanging on to my sanity by a thread and my unexpected reaction to the guy that I was hanging every hope I had left on wasn’t helping matters.

“All right, Dom. You can call me Lando. That’s what my friends call me.”

I felt one of my eyebrows shoot up. “Are we going to be friends?”

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.


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Deanne Patterson said...

You better believe I've been LEVELED by love before. I've been married for 23 years so I've had some wonderfully tender moments and mostly hot passionate moments,

Brandi Swendt said...

i definitely have been LEVELED in love. met my guy in the 9th grade. been together since ( 24 yrs) and it took being LEVELED on order to see it for the awesomec way it was supposed to be

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