Blog Tour Review: Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton

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Cocktail series, #2
In this sequel to Wallbanger, the second book in the Cocktail series, fan favorites Caroline and Simon negotiate the rollercoaster of their new relationship while house-sitting in San Francisco.

Playing house was never so much fun—or so confusing. With her boss on her honeymoon, Caroline’s working crazy long hours to keep the interior design company running—especially since she’s also the lead designer for the renovation of a gorgeous old hotel on Sausalito. So with her hotshot photographer boyfriend gallivanting all over the world for his job, she and Simon are heavy-duty into “absence makes the heart grow fonder” mode. Neither has any complaints about the great reunion sex, though! Then Simon decides he’s tired of so much travelling, and he’s suddenly home more. A lot more. And wanting Caroline home more, too. Though their friends’ romantic lives provide plenty of welcome distraction, eventually Caroline and Simon have to sort their relationship out. Neither wants “out of sight, out of mind,” but can they create their own happy mid-ground cliché?
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5 STARS
Perched on the counter, wearing an apron, a grin, and six-inch heels, was moi. Holding an apple pie on my lap.
Ah, yesss! The Return of the Baked Goods Foreplay! Oh, you know you were looking forward to it as soon as this sequel was announced. ;)
 
I would call this a perfect "Summer beach read", but that title wouldn't do Rusty Nailed proper justice. This is a you-can-enjoy-it-everywhere-so-don't-wait-for-a-beach read! I had Simon and Caroline with me on a hammock in the backyard, with an afternoon breeze. I had them with me curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine. I had them with me while waiting in a super long line at Costco. I never wanted it to stop. Like the feeling I got with the first book--a feeling perfectly continued in this sequel, I just wanted to exist in Wallbanger and Nightie Girl's universe. House-sit for my friends from Planet Money and Galaxy Ridiculous. Have gossip-y breakfast with Mimi and Sophia....Make Simon beg for my goodies...baked...goodies.
We toured cities and villages, sandy beaches and quiet mountaintops. We ate amazing food every day, and loved our way through every night.
*dreamiest sigh ever* This book had more food and travel porn moments than I could count on my fingers. As someone who writes about food and travel as their day job, these were two things that made me love Wallbanger in the first place...Caroline adores her KitchenAid mixer? Me too. Caroline adores Ina Garten!? ME TOO. Yes, that's my apple pie recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style. ;) And Simon, the globetrotting photographer? How about the city of San Francisco itself, The City that owns my heart?! These were all details that made me want to jump in the book and live side by side with these characters! The food, the scenery, the ambience...again, Alice Clayton delivers it all in Rusty Nailed! It was music-to-my-ears bliss!

And you know what else was music to my ears? The return of Caroline's BFF's, Mimi and Sophia. I fell so hard for this best-friend-sistership...sisterhood...from the snarky banter to the more tender bonding moments. They're the kind of girlfriends that every woman deserves, the ones that you keep on speed-dial, who'd answer your call at 3 in the morning if you needed them. Especially when you add Jillian and Benjamin to the mix, Alice gives you warm and fuzzies on a silver platter, the feeling you get when you know the supporting cast was written just as wonderfully as the main characters!
"You're fucking hot, and you're fucking great, you're a fucking catch...because you're fucking awesome," I finished.  
"Fuck yeah!" was Mimi's contribution.
Aside from all of the fun and fun-ny moments, though, there was so much to love about the evolution of Simon and Caroline. As a couple, and as individuals.
 
I loved this relationship more and more with every turn of the page. Even as the months passed, they never lost their spark, the fevered rush. Their scenes were still hotdamn sexy! In the beginning, you see Simon providing Caroline with the relief. He gives her what she needs in that moment. Sweet or filthy. Gentle or rough. Later on, there's a big full-circle exchange when it's Caroline's turn to take care of him, and I loved that we get to see she's just as capable of doing it, having just as much of the power and control to soothe him.

But while it felt like heaven most of the time, there were certainly things that grounded Simon and Caroline firmly back on Earth. (An angry Simon is so rare that I couldn't help but get a little excited...) Disagreements amongst friends. Busy work schedules. Misunderstandings between each other. Alice Clayton took normal relationship tics and real-life struggles/arguments, but she wrapped them up in her signature style, humor, and wit. Every character and turn of events were fascinating...moments that were wildly entertaining or catch-you-off-guard heartwarming!

Separately, too, Simon and Caroline went through and realized a lot of things. We found out in the first book that Simon lost his parents at a very young age and at a very important stage of his life. In this book, we finally get to see Simon confront that past. (Yes, I might've even gotten a little weepy-eyed...) I absolutely loved getting to know more about that part of Simon Parker. To see a different side of him. What happens when he, the former owner of a harem, starts to think about having a home and family again? It. Is. Interesting. ;)
"Anything. You can have anything you want. Don't you know that?...I just need you." His eyes burned into mine, stormy and full of want. "You--I need you."
As for Caroline, this time around, we see her handle her job at its busiest, her best friend at her lowest, and her boyfriend at his most vulnerable. This book shows us that Caroline Reynolds is a helluva force to be reckoned with! She's strong and determined, all on her own. It takes her a lot of hard work and time to sort out her life, personally and professionally, but that's what also makes the wait and reward so worth it! By the end, I felt just as satisfied as she did!
"Come on, Wallbanger, show me off," I teased, and he grinned.
Simon and Caroline slowly, but surely, built towards their future together. When mistakes were made, or the wrong thing was said, they went back...did it over again...They fixed it. No one else was going to hold their hand through it. If one of their stars got knocked out of alignment, they depended on themselves to put it back where it belonged.
"Caroline, I love the shit out of you. So calm down and just tell me what you need. No more holding back. And then I'll tell you want I need, and we'll figure out how to work it out."
It made their story so easy to hold on to and to just enjoy the ride. Were there times when I got a little flustered or riled up? Yes. But did Simon and Caroline make it all better in the end? Yes! Rusty Nailed amused me, pleased me...*squee*...I fell in wholehearted book-love! Fantastic voice, amazing characters! I can't wait for the rest of this series! :)


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PURCHASE


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Novelist Alice Clayton makes her home in St. Louis where she enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up after, and is trying desperately to get her long-time boyfriend to make her an honest woman–and please buy her a Bernese Mountain dog.

After working for years in the cosmetics industry as a makeup artist, esthetician, and educator, Alice picked up a pen (read laptop) for the first time at 33 to begin a new career: author. Having never written anything longer than a grocery list, she soon found writing to be the creative outlet she’d been missing since walking away from the theater 10 years before.

She has a great time combining her love of storytelling with a sense of silly, and she was shocked and awed to be nominated for a Goodreads Author award in 2010 for her debut novels, the first two installments of The Redhead Series–The Unidentified Redhead and The Redhead Revealed. Her latest novel Wallbanger is a return to her trademark comedic erotica, or funny smut, that Alice has become known for.

Additionally, Alice loves spending time with her besties on Not Your Mother’s Podcast (check them out on iTunes) and has recently partnered with actor Greg Grunberg, blogger Brittany Gibbons, and actress Keili Lefkovitz on a new travel show that will begin filming in January.

Alice enjoys pickles, Bloody Marys, eight hours of sleep and a good pounding.


*** ARC provided by author in exchange for honest review ***