Tuesday, October 23, 2012
VBT/Review Paradise Hops by Liz Crowe
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A brutal attack left Lori Brockton convinced she was damaged goods. By the time she emerges from hiding two years later, ready to run her family's famous brewery, she's determined to be independent--never rely on anyone ever again. Nearly a year of working in every corner of Brockton Brewing Company, from warehouse to pub, front office to kitchen, teaches her all she needs to know about the business.
Then, she comes face-to-face with masculine perfection in a suit and her world is rocked in more ways than one. Garret Hunter is the new Brockton business manager who takes one look at the beautiful, sad young woman and his entire existence coalesces around winning her heart.
But standing between Garrett and what he believes is his true love, is a six-feet six-inch blond-haired bad boy brewer.
Eli Buchannan is a craft beer rock star, recently hired by Brockton to drag the company into the 21st century. He brings innovation and attitude plus a prima donna ladies man reputation. But he's sworn off anything resembling commitment, personal or professional, after getting burned at his last job on both fronts.
Garret Hunter is “The Perfect Man” -- handsome, successful, stable, eager to settle down. Eli Buchannan... is not. Compelling, smoking hot, creative and elusive, he represents everything Lori Brockton should avoid. But just as she makes a difficult choice, a drastic life-changing shift occurs, and nothing is ever the same again.
Lori wrestled open the back brewery door, ears already ringing from the curses that echoed through the large, brightly lit room. The brewery boys, and three second brewers stood in a line, like they were in a marine barracks all looking as nervous as mice observed by a very hungry cat.
“And who the fuck,” boomed a voice, “might you be? No one told me there was a girl brewer in this place.”
As a reflex, Lori looked around, seeking out the girl who’d pissed off the faceless angry voice that must belong to Eli Buchanan their new master brewer. She’d been instrumental in convincing her father to hire the guy. He was a brewing celebrity, a genius, temperamental and prone to quit perfectly good breweries if the mood suited him. He was exactly what Brockton needed. They had to to get past their staid, complacent attitude in a rapidly changing craft beer environment.
“Yeah, I’m talking to you. The one who showed up fifteen minutes late for my morning staff meeting.” She flushed, frowning at the line of men, many of whom had worked for her father for years as they shuffled their feet and wouldn’t meet her eyes. “Who the hell are you, and why are you on my brewery floor?”
She cleared her throat, squared her shoulders and channeled the anger building in her chest. “I’m Lori. Lori Brockton. This is the first day of my brewery rotation.” She hated how thin her voice sounded.
“Your brewery rotation eh?” She stepped back at the vision that emerged from between towering stainless steel fermentation vessels. “What is this? Brewing Day Camp? I’m supposed to babysit the Brockton kids?” He glared at her, making her blink in the glare of his bright, steely blue gaze. Eli Buchanan was larger than life. At least six foot five, with long blonde hair held back by a small piece of leather. Clad in light blue jeans and a Brockton Brewing grey t-shirt, the span of his shoulders and definition of his torso forced an exhale from Lori’s lips. He kept quiet as her eyes took him in, from rubber boot clad feet to the light red hair covering his jaw. “Well? See anything you like?”
“Uh, no, I mean, it’s not camp. I mean, you are…I’m…” she stuttered, then stopped. The man stood stock still, glaring as if challenging her. She stood up straighter. “I’m here for the next six months to learn this part of the business. You know, so I can be your boss someday.” The man frowned at her. She frowned back.
Then he tilted his head back and laughed, stepped into her personal space and smacked her ass so hard she yelped. “I look forward to that day girl Brockton. Yes, I do.” A couple of the men started forward as if to protect her but she waved them back. This asshole had another thing coming if he thought she’d be intimidated by him. As much as she might have been at one point, something about him was as non-threatening as Garrett, but in a different way—a much more spine-tingling way.
The following ten hours of back breaking work nearly made her throw in the towel. But after an hour scraping out the last of a twenty barrel’s worth of wet, heavy spent mash—the leftover grains from a batch of beer made on their smaller system, she felt sore as hell, but invigorated. The smells, sounds and sights of this place, the heartbeat of the entire operation, the reason all three hundred of her father’s employees came to work every day, this she loved.
“Brockton!” An angry voice behind her made her jump and turn. Wet, sticky malt grains dripped from her face where she’d accidently splashed some onto herself as she cleaned out the large vessel. She swiped at them, smearing even more of the mess across her cheeks. Without warning, Eli wiped her face with a clean white towel, his touch surprisingly tender, lingering longer than necessary. But his frown stayed stuck in place. She stepped away from him even though her body reacted, compelling her to move closer.
“Some guy in a tie is looking for you,” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder but didn’t move. Lori had no experience with hypnosis, but she’d swear at that moment he’d done it to her. They locked eyes, then the sound of harder heeled shoes on the concrete floor forced her look past him. Garrett’s bright smile was familiar, yet strange in the highly charged environment.
“I’m actually here to see you, Eli.” Garrett stuck out a hand and the other man looked at it, glancing over to Lori then back over before gripping it without a smile. “Glad to have you on board.”
Eli took his hand back, and swiped at it with the towel he’d used on her face. If he noticed the rude gesture, Garrett didn’t indicate it in the slightest. Impressed, Lori moved a step closer to him and glared at the tall, blonde man.
Eli shot her an unfathomable look, but spoke to Garrett. “Sorry, but no suits in the brewery. Wouldn’t want to get you messy.” He walked away, waving over his shoulder. “Glad to be on board, boss, thanks.” The sarcasm dripped from his words like venom. Garrett turned to her, his handsome face calm, as if the odd exchange with the rude employee had never happened.
Paradise Hops is a thoroughly delightful contemporary romance that is had me laughing and crying as I read. Ms. Crowe writes a more true to life romance about 3 damaged souls who find themselves in a love triangle. The book has steamy sex scenes, poignant moments where each character has some part of the past they must overcome and a few tear jerker moments as well.
I Liked Lori and I liked Garrett but I fell in love with Eli right away. I have a soft spot for the bad boy in every story and Eli fits the bill to a T.
I enjoyed this book a great deal and sat down and devoured the entire book in one day. I loved the way you could feel a family connection when Ms. Crowe wrote about the family run micro-brewery and the people who worked there. I loved following the story as Lori overcame past issues and had to deal with new ones, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how this could have a HEA.
I give Paradise Hops red roses!
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 a2beerwench.com 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.