Book Review: Mai Tai'd Up by Alice Clayton

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Cocktail, #4
Looking for the perfect mix of smart, sexy, and sassy? Mai Tai’d Up continues New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton’s Cocktail series, which began with Wallbanger and continued with Rusty Nailed and Screwdrivered.

The gossip mill in the seaside community of Monterey is churning about Chloe Patterson, the newcomer who is starting a sanctuary for rescued pit bulls. It’s rumored that she’s a former beauty queen (true) who ditched her fiancé the morning of their wedding (also true). And that while she’s not looking for a new man, the good-looking local veterinarian has his eye on her. Absolutely, positively true.

When Lucas Campbell isn’t at the family veterinary clinic, he’s paddle boarding in Monterey Bay. Recently single, he’s definitely not in the market for a new relationship, but he still can’t resist taking a second, third, and fourth look at the recent arrival of Miss Golden State.

Neither Lucas nor Chloe has any interest in being tied down. Being tied up, however—now there’s a thought. But are a few Mai Tais, a moonlit night, and the music of Frank Sinatra enough to allow them both to forget their past? Let’s hope Ol’ Blue Eyes knows what he’s doing.

Mix one part tiki, one part kinky, and a splash of old black magic matchmaking, and it’s time to be . . . Mai Tai’d Up.
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PURCHASE


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4 STARS


From the moment I started reading, I was drawn to Chloe! I adore the classic story about a young character breaking free of others' expectations and figuring out their own goals, and I enjoy following along as they journey towards independence. In Chloe Patterson's case, the journey is about breaking free from her mother's stifling control and the mindless routine of high society living. She's a former pageant queen, getting ready to marry San Diego's seemingly most eligible bachelor, and has the "perfect" future already meticulously planned out for her. Chloe actually feels like a puppet when we first meet her. Until she realizes that she isn't doing what she wants and finally makes the bold move to cut those puppet strings. But this wasn't something to scoff at and go Well, poor little rich girl, boo hoo. Alice Clayton made me feel everything Chloe was going through, and her point of view was easy to relate to, to sympathize with, and I was immediately rooting for her!
Pretty didn't have to mean fake. It just did where I was concerned. My family had been pretty, and bickery. I knew full well how something could look pretty on the outside, and be wasp-nasty on the inside.
I couldn't wait to see what changes were in store for Chloe! By the time she moved out of her mother's house and took those first steps to truly being on her own, I was aching for this girl to have a little adventure! Freedom! Coastal Monterey provided that much-needed change in scenery! Its quaint charm brought warmth--a stark contrast to the place Chloe comes from--and a sense of liberation. The ranch Chloe moves into may be--in fact--an older place and outdated in decor, but it's a fresh start and represents a new chapter! I loved all of the details as Chloe really connected with her new home and the town!

I admired how she settled into a life in Monterey all on her own and ultimately reached a more confident and happy place. In an effort to obtain a real paying job, Chloe connects with an organization she became familiar with during her pageant charity work, which rescues neglected and abused pit bulls. Her work with these helpless dogs showed her growth and her soul so well! It showed the girl brave enough to live on her own, to stand on her own two feet, and to open up her heart. She showed compassion, generosity, and genuine kindness. There was nothing fake or phony about her. Throughout all of this, her relationship with her mom shifts accordingly, with Chloe realizing what's really meaningful in her life and voicing her opinions. I loved how Chloe wrapped up that part of her life. She didn't want the country club lifestyle, to be defined by her tiaras and titles, or to spend a lifetime posturing just for others' benefit. Just as we learn with the pit bulls Chloe helps, appearances and reputation aren't everything. Beauty and worth is in the soul, not on the surface, and second chances are possible!
I was excited to think of this becoming something real. Something that was mine, that I'd worked hard for.
Not only does Chloe build a new life, she finds a second chance at love, as well! Chloe meets Lucas Campbell, a local veterinarian. Smart, handsome, and totally amazing with animals? *swoon* It's clear that they're attracted to each other, but they also really get to know one another. I liked the building of Lucas and Chloe's friendship! I definitely felt the spark...the flirrrrrting *happy sigh*...but there's also a casual ease between the two of them. I laughed and super-grinned. It definitely had shades of Wallbanger in this sense. Alice Clayton makes you become best friends with her characters, makes you adore the sweet, humorous, and light-hearted side of their relationship first.

I liked the little bit of angst provided because of how much time they took to get close. And there are specific reasons they don't rush into a relationship! ;) *squeeee* I wanted to see them together, but I also understood what was holding them back from being more than friends. It made watching them fall for each other, the anticipation of what could happen next, and the satisfied feeling when they finally gave in sooo goood! However, towards the very end of the book, I encountered the one and only real hiccup to the story. I had been really into it, until the last 5% threw me off. I felt like something was missing, somewhere between the romantic conflict and resolution.
"I want it all. I want all encompassing, knock your socks off, can't live without you, can't be in a room without wanting you naked, love," I said, closing my eyes and smiling as I said the words.
Something is revealed and comes between Lucas and Chloe. As a result, there's disagreement and upheaval. *stomach sinks* So much time was spent building up Lucas and Chloe, and the other aspects of Chloe's story were written so well, that I had huge hopes for the payoff. And, ultimately, it didn't quite hit that bar. A part of me felt like the initial "happy couple glow" was so short-lived, ripped away, then all too quickly and easily given back again. I would've like to see more of a problem-solving stage.

There *is* a happily ever after for Lucas and Chloe, though. I may have craved a few more pages on how they got there, but the end is definitely a bright and happy one for this couple. Although I wasn't quite swept off my feet during the finale, this was still a sweet and heartwarming read overall! I always enjoy Alice Clayton's writing, with characters that feel candid and real, and a story that's entertaining and heartfelt all at the same time! Mai Tai'd Up was a great addition to the Cocktail series!

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MORE FROM THE COCKTAIL SERIES

| Rusty Nailed - My Review |

| Last Call - Excerpt

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AUTHOR LINKS



*** ARC provided in exchange for an honest review ***