May 4, 2015

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Tessa Ever After (Caged In Winter) & Brighton Walsh Interview

I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for TESSA EVER AFTER by Brighton Walsh. This series... OMG, I love it so much. Read on for my review, and then keep going for an interview with Brighton Walsh.

Tessa Ever After (Caged In Winter #2), by Brighton Walsh
Publish Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre:  new adult contemporary romance
To Buy:
Amazon * Barnes and Noble * iBooks

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) In this grippingly emotional New Adult novel from the author of Caged in Winter, what you want isn’t always what you need…

Jason’s been living (and loving) the rich playboy lifestyle for five years, but now his parents are pressuring him to get involved in the family business. The last thing he wants is another obligation, but when his best friend moves out of state and asks Jason to look after his sister, he can’t just say no.

Tessa had to grow up way too soon. After dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ deaths, then becoming a teenage mom, she knows the meaning of responsibility. Which is why, at twenty-two, she’s looking for so much more than a party boy. She’s looking for someone who can stand by her and her daughter…forever.

A relationship between them is doomed from the start, but who says they can’t have a little fun? But as Jason gets closer to Tessa—and her daughter—fun starts to turn into something else… Something Jason’s not sure he’s ready for.

We met Tessa, her daughter Haley and Jason in Caged in Winter. Tessa is Cage's sister and Jason is one of Cage's best friends. When Cage and Winter left for a life in Chicago, you might remember that he was concerned about leaving Tessa and Haley behind since they relied on him for a lot of support and help. So, he asked Jason to step in and help. I'm sure you can see where this is going. And, it's every bit as awesome as you would think. 

Tessa, Cage and Jason have been friends forever, but Tessa has often wanted to be more than that with Jason. For Jason, these feelings of more are a recent development, but no less real. The problem is... families. Cage isn't too thrilled about his manwhore BFF dating his sister. And, Jason's awful, overbearing and distant parents want nothing more than to make Tessa and Haley into Jason's trophy family in an effort to make them look better. 

In addition, Haley is the most important person in Tessa's life, and the person she always has to think of first. Given Jason's noncommittal past, Tessa has a very real concern that if she lets him into hers and Haley's life, and he bails on them when things get too real, that it won't be just Tessa that gets hurt. I get her concern, and I respect it a lot. A little girl wouldn't understand if a man who had become entrenched in her life suddenly just disappeared without a word. 

Tessa's lost her way a bit, though. She seems to have forgotten that the key to a happy life isn't just one thing, like stability or money. She's out there looking for what she thinks is the "perfect man" - one who has a good job and a house and a car and a 401K. These guys bore her to tears. They're not Jason. But, she dates them anyway because they fit in her image of the right guy. And, she's really feeling the burden of being a single mom and sees the benefit of having a steady someone in her life to help her out. And, in the process of her overthinking, she misses what's right in front of her. 

I love her and would give my life for her. The times we spend together are my favorite in the world. But at the end of the day, when she's in bed, it's just me. 

It's just me, and I can't help but want something more. 

Jason may be a manwhore, but Tessa seems to have missed the fact that he's been reformed, thanks to her and Haley. Jason, in doing what Cage asked of him and hanging around more to help out, sees all the wonderful qualities in Tessa that most people overlook. And he sees what a joy Haley is to his life, which is otherwise devoid of happiness and light. Jason starts to imagine a life with her in it, and he can't shake that image. It starts a slippery slope of wants and dreams that encourage him to go after what he really wants. 

I think for a second, what is she were mine. If both of them were mine. And I wonder if this is what my grandfather had always talked about - the kind of family that's worth something. The kind of family that's worth everything

I seriously loved this book. Hard. I think I liked it more than Caged in Winter. Maybe that's because I'm a mom and Tessa is a mom. Maybe it's because there's just something about a big, sexy man who willingly dons a feather boa and has a tea party with a little girl just to see her smile. Yeah - I think that's it. Jason just took my breath away with his sheer awesomeness. They way he cared for Tessa and Haley was the stuff heroes are made of. That and the hard choices he had to make. There is no way you will not finish this book and not love Jason.

Thank goodness for the dual POV. Jason's chapters were my favorite. There was a lot to his thoughts on his relationship with his parents that factored into how he grew up to be the kind of man he is now. It lent a lot to this story. The pacing was perfect. The chemistry was smoking. The ending was all I needed it to be. I need more from Brighton Walsh like this. 

Thank you so much for talking with me today, Brighton. I can imagine this is an exciting time for you, as two different series are getting into the hands of readers everywhere. Back when you began writing, did you ever see yourself here? What has been the biggest surprise to you in your career so far?

Thanks for having me! And, yes, this has been a crazy ride. Of course, I dreamed I’d be here someday, but actually being here? Crazy. The biggest surprise has been getting Captive picked up by Target. That’s one off the bucket list, baby!

Describe Jason, Tessa Ever After’s hero, in five words. 

Sexy, dirty, funny, crude, playful.

Of the two heroines we’ve met so far in the Caged in Winter series – Winter and Tessa – do you identify more with one over the other?

Yeah, I think I probably identify with Tessa more, just because we’re both moms, so I can relate to the struggles she’s gone through.

Tessa lost her parents and is now raising her four-year-old daughter practically on her own. Jason’s parents are cold and distant and not very present in his life. If you had to be either Tessa or Jason, which would you choose?

That’s a tough one! I think I’d say Tessa. Yes, she lost her parents, but she grew up in a loving family, and she still has her brother who’d do anything for her.

So far in this series, we have the stalwart, responsible chef Cade and the complicated, artistic ladies-man Jason. Do either of them represent your ideal book boyfriend?

I actually have yet to write my ideal book boyfriend. Mostly because I just realized what totally makes me all gooey-mushy: a total badass, takes no prisoners kind of guy who is totally gone over his girl. There is something about that juxtaposition of a guy who could do some serious damage, but who treats his woman with gentle hands (or not so gentle, depending on *cough* what she likes).

How many books are planned in the Caged in Winter series? Might we see one for Adam and Paige next, perhaps (please say yes, please say yes…)?

My book deal with Berkley was for two books—Caged in Winter and Tessa Ever After. I’d definitely love the chance to tell Paige’s story, though!

You’re currently in the middle of two series – Caged in Winter and Captive. Do you find that it gets confusing, having all these different characters, places and situations living inside your head?

One would think it would, right? But, no, it doesn’t. I think because they are two very different worlds and they both have such a different feel. If they were both straight contemporary romance or both romantic suspense, I think I’d have a hard time, but right now, it’s very easy to differentiate between them.

Does your husband read your books? How about your parents? 

My husband has read some of my stuff, but he’s behind (as I pointed out to him a couple weeks ago). Although he did read a chapter in Captive at my *ahem* suggestion. LOL. My parents… Lord. My dad has read (after my repeated requests that he never ever ever open one), and said, “It wasn’t even that bad.” And also, “I hope you didn’t think I thought you were a virgin.” So those were great convos to have. LOL My mom, however, won’t read. One of her girlfriends trapped her on a girls’ weekend and proceeded to read random sex scenes to her, and she said it totally weirded her out. My grandma read CiW on a plane and told me it wasn’t dirty enough. So you see what kind of family I come from, hah!

One final question. Rollercoasters – yay or nay?

YAY! (Also, really weird because in another interview it asked for a fun fact about me and I said I’d never met a rollercoaster I didn’t love.)

Thank you so much, Brighton, for taking the time to answer my questions about you and Tessa Ever After. I’m so excited to see what else you have planned for us!

Thank you for having me!

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Learn more about Brighton Walsh --> Website / Facebook / Twitter 

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