Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn't provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can't deny his protective instincts.
Samantha Waverly's brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke-for show, of course. She doesn't make promises-she knows too well how easily they can be broken-and this is no exception.
As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha's marriage is only for show...or is it?
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Read an Excerpt
A Made in Jersey Novel
By Tessa Bailey, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Tessa Bailey
All rights reserved.
It was the type of place Samantha Waverly usually avoided.
Precisely why she was going in.
As always, when Sam encountered a dose of inconvenient nerves — a frequent occurrence of late — she reached into her brown leather satchel and ran a thumb over the spiraling metal holding her sketchpad together. By the end of summer, she'd have calluses on top of her existing calluses. Ones wrought by hours of holding pencils and charcoal. Or joy wounds, as she secretly referred to them, since they'd been formed doing what she loved. Drawing.
The urge to whip out her sketchpad and illustrate the dilapidated bar across the street was fierce, but night had fallen and standing by herself in the strange neighborhood of Hook, New Jersey too long didn't seem wise. What was the name of the bar? She squinted through the darkness at the worn, unlit sign. The Third Shift.
Lordy, the place was a dive. Even an inexperienced bar patron, such as herself, knew the neon bar signs were relics from the eighties. The music followed suit, a young Springsteen crooning about being born to run from inside the small establishment, masculine voices chanting along, occasionally stopping to cheer, presumably at the baseball game also being played at full volume, loud enough that Samantha could hear it thirty yards away.
She just prayed their air conditioning worked. Beneath her feet, the concrete still retained the day's excessive warmth, making her shift side to side in her sandals. After the mere five-block jaunt from the bus station, sweat already beaded her forehead, humidity curling the ends of her hair.
The busted door opened and slapped shut, two men in cut off T-shirts splitting a match to light their cigarettes. One nudged the other, both of their attention cutting to where she stood.
"Who's 'at?" one called.
Who's that? It was the kind of question one asked when one was acquainted with every single soul in town and expected to know her, too, as soon as she stepped from the shadows. From what little her stepbrother, Renner, had told her about Hook, the majority of its residents had been born at the local hospital and rarely, if ever, left town. Samantha, on the other hand, only had the weekend. An unexpected turn of events.
She'd been one bus stop away from Hook when the text from Renner hit her phone. Negotiations have been extended. Won't be in Jersey until Monday. Make yourself comfortable at the apartment. Frankly, she'd been relieved instead of irritated. Anything to put off the meeting with Renner, the man she considered her closest family member. So close, she'd stopped calling him her stepbrother long ago, referring to him only as "brother." That closeness hadn't saved her stomach from being tied into knots on the ride from Manhattan. And the combination of having them loosened, while landing in such an unfamiliar place ... made Samantha feel like stretching her legs a little.
Or a lot. Depending on your definition of stretching. Samantha's life was her job and she loved, adored, celebrated her fulfilling profession as a children's book illustrator. Colors and shapes flitted through her mind, sending tingles to her fingers. She'd filled every corner of her life with work, and she preferred it that way. After all, drawing, unlike people, couldn't abandon you when the going got tough.
She might never cross paths with anyone in Hook again after this. Maybe that possibility accounted for the excitement prickling up her spine.
She'd left the bright lights of Manhattan for adventure ... in the sleepy factory town of Hook. Ironic, sure. But to Samantha, it made perfect sense.
Curling her right hand around the strap of her satchel, she trudged across the street, lifting a tentative hand to wave at the smokers. Maybe if she pretended she belonged, they would just go with it. "It's just me. Sam."
The men traded a glance. "Sam who?"
"Antha." No reaction. "Sam-antha," she mumbled, sliding into the bar. Apparently she couldn't be in a new town longer than ten minutes without earning her usual reputation for bad jokes.
Hoping her embarrassment would subside once inside the loud, anonymous bar, Samantha cleared the threshold ... and saw that dream crumble. She was given no time to savor the cool wall of air inside The Third Shift, before every head in the place turned in her direction.
"Who's 'at?" someone asked, just above the din of baseball and Springsteen.
Forcing her shoulders back, Samantha scoped a seat at the bar and made a beeline for the rickety stool. She climbed onto the creaking wood, satchel hugged tight in her lap. With her head down, she could see perspiration rolling down her chest and disappearing into her cleavage — courtesy of the heat wave bearing down on the Northeast — and rifled through her bag for tissues. When she located them, she shot the other patrons a look, praying they'd gone back to their conversations and she could mop up her sweat in relative privacy. No such luck. Everyone still stared at Samantha over their beer bottles, men and women alike. Not in a hostile way. More in a did-an-alien-spaceship-just-land-outside kind of way.
She started, losing her grip on the tissue packet, which hit the floor with a smack, her attention flying to the older gentleman behind the bar. The bartender, Sam. "Um. Er —" Her gaze fell to the closest glass sitting on the bar, property of the woman to her right. "I'll have one of those ... a martini ..."
"Olive or twist?"
A laugh trickled past Samantha's lips, but the bartender only cocked an eyebrow.
His hard tone had Sam shifting in her seat. "You know that joke. Charles Dickens walks into a bar ..." She swallowed hard when the man only stared. "A-And the bartender asks if he'd like an olive or twist —"
The older man walked away before Samantha was finished explaining. Feeling a flush rise clear to her hairline, she attempted to hide the dangling sentence with a cough, but if the sympathetic glance from her seat neighbor was an indication, she'd had no success. Okay. New tactic.
Samantha slid off her seat to retrieve the dropped tissues, staying hidden way longer than necessary. "Come on," she whispered. "You're a twenty-five-year-old woman in a bar. Stop telling stupid jokes and you'll have a chance of appearing normal." Nodding once for good measure, she straightened — and whacked her head on the bar. "Son of a bitch."
Melting back into her seat, trying desperately to pretend there wasn't a throb at her right temple, Samantha took a long sip from the rim of her martini. And so it was through blurry vision and bluebirds circling her head that Samantha saw Goliath.
Were her eyes playing games with her? She closed the left one, trying to narrow her vision from double to single, but Goliath remained, the width of his shoulders taking up two seat lengths on the opposite end of the bar. If she weren't watching closely, she would never have believed how the wood actually sagged beneath his elbows as he leaned forward ... watching her? Watching her.
A drop of sweat slid down between her breasts. She heard, felt, sensed the drop of moisture absorb into the material of her bra. The slow motion glide of it caused a quickening sensation in her stomach, and suddenly, there was no baseball or classic rock. Just her breath, her heartbeat. The large man pinning her under a look, making the air conditioner useless for all the heat generated by his ... interest.
Could she even call it that? He wasn't smiling, was giving no indication he planned to approach her. And ho-boy, that was a definite frown moving over his craggy features. Yes, craggy. He wasn't a good-looking man. Nope, he was not. He resembled a villain from a gladiator movie. The one everyone fears and who never gets beaten ... until the underdog steps in and saves mankind, standing over the fallen behemoth while dust settles around them.
Samantha had removed her sketchpad and a pencil from the satchel before her brain registered the action. Draw him. She had to draw him. Just the bare bones, so she could fill in the rest later, when she got back to Renner's place. Angling her body so the surface of her pad couldn't be viewed by the surrounding patrons, Samantha outlined Goliath, shading his cheeks to indicate the blood of his enemies. She penciled in battle armor, leather crisscrossing his barrel chest, so tight the straps risked snapping in half with one swing of his sword. He would have hair beneath that leather ... hair everywhere. The thought made something unexpected sink in her belly.
Right. Add the hair later.
Unfortunately, the same hot slide occurred below the belt when she moved the pencil to form his thighs. Sturdy, rough-hewn legs. Big enough to support two people with no resulting exertion ...
A glance from beneath her eyelashes made Samantha aware of Goliath's change in demeanor. He still frowned, but not at her. At someone behind her. More than one someone, it sounded like. Were they talking to her? When someone tapped Samantha on the shoulder, she shoved the sketchpad into her bag and looked back. Two toothy grins greeted her. They were attached to the men she'd passed on the way in, and while part of Samantha wished they'd leave her in peace with her sketchpad, another part hoped one of her jokes had finally charmed someone.
"So, Sam-antha. Haven't seen you in here before."
Behind her, Samantha heard a glass hit the bar. "Can we buy you that drink?"
"Uhhh." She glanced at the woman beside her for help but only got an amused shrug before her potential ally went back to watching baseball. What did it mean when someone accepted a drink from a man in a bar? Would she be obligated to have a conversation with them? What if they asked her to list her top five favorite Springsteen songs? She could only name two. "I guess —"
"All right, you two knuckleheads." A new voice joined the scene, reminding her of a rusty anchor being dragged up the side of an ancient boat. "Fuck off."
* * *
Unbelievable. First, Duke couldn't get a damn moment of peace in his house, now his only refuge, The Third Shift, had been invaded. Was it so much to ask in life for a sporting event to go uninterrupted by a woman? Granted, the doe-eyed brunette hadn't asked for his assistance — and she was a far cry from the four sisters terrorizing his household indefinitely — but an interruption was an interruption, no matter how you sliced it.
He couldn't help but notice this particular disruption was ... pretty. Too pretty for him. Not that her appearance mattered one way or another to Duke. Facts were facts, though. She had a way of moving. Long, graceful moves that ran smack into uncertainty. As if she kept forming courses of action only to change her mind halfway through the execution stage. Ask him why he'd taken the time to form such a detailed observation and his answer probably wouldn't make much sense. Unfortunately, noticing her way of operating had led to ... other observations. Impolite ones that would've surrounded the freckles on her cheeks with pink instead of flawless ivory.
Good thing he wasn't looking for a woman. Not for one night. Not for nothing.
With resolve firm in his mind, Duke focused on the problem at hand. Namely, the issue distracting him from America's game. The two men harassing Doe Eyes were machinery mechanics who worked under him at the factory, and after his brief directive to fuck off, they wasted no time shuffling away, beer bottles held up like little white flags.
"No problem, Duke."
He grunted, watching them enviously as they rejoined their friends in front of the giant flat-screen. At least someone would get to watch baseball now, huh? As for him, he appeared to be stuck. For as long as Doe Eyes graced The Third Shift with her not-from-around-here presence, that is. Because if it wasn't the knuckleheads looking to purchase her drinks, it would be someone else. And after he'd watched her flounder over a simple drink order and whack her noggin on the bar, he figured she deserved some peace and quiet.
Which she would get, so long as she let him watch the motherloving game.
Duke grabbed the closest stool, flipping it around and repositioning it behind Doe Eyes. Trying not to wince over the loud creaking as he climbed on, Duke crossed his arms and went back to watching the game, bottle of Bud in hand.
He should have known the silence wouldn't last. It never did.
"Did you just ... set yourself up as a roadblock?"
Duke grimaced into a sip of beer. Damn. She just had to have a sexy voice to match the smooth, tidy curves of her figure. He didn't want to notice ... but as she spoke her tits swelled against the dress's neckline, still dewy from being outside in the high temperature, and heat trailed like fingertips down his belly. "Seems that way."
She opened her mouth to speak then shut it — damn near ten times — before finally addressing him again. "You're being very presumptuous, Duke." Her drink remained untouched on the bar. "Do you do this type of thing often?"
As if she'd misplaced something, she glanced in several directions, including toward the ceiling. "Should I be flattered?"
Duke had four divorcee sisters living under his roof at the moment, so he knew goddamn well when the subject needed to be changed. "What were you doing earlier? In that book of yours."
Her hesitation was brief. "Sketching you as an evil gladiator villain."
The bottle of Bud paused halfway to Duke's mouth. Wasn't every day someone caught him off guard, but this pretty girl whose voice oozed education, this girl with the stubborn — and ... fuck it, cute — nose, had unsettled his stomach ever since gliding into the bar. Like a bad omen. He should go back to his end of the bar and stop feeding this unusual curiosity she'd inspired. Yeah, that's exactly what he should do. "Show me."
She chewed her upper lip a beat then straightened her shoulders, pressing those perspiration-slick tits against the already-stressed buttons of her dress. For one fleeting moment, the fog of arousal enveloped his brain, making him wonder if his command of show me had been misinterpreted. For the love of everything holy, this — this — was his worst nightmare. Sprouting wood in The Third Shift during a baseball game like some horny kid ordering his first beer.
As Doe Eyes rooted through her bag for the book, Duke did something for the first time in his life. He watched the game without really seeing it. The effort to keep his gaze off her jiggling breasts and pressed-together knees as she went through the bag garnered all his concentration, blurring the action on the screen like it was happening under a foot of water. When she finally pulled the book out, Duke slowly returned his attention to her, watching her down the neck of his Bud as he sipped.
"Would you say you offend easily?"
Mouth full of beer, Duke shook his head.
Still, she hesitated. "Really I didn't even get started — "
"Let's see it." When she bristled at his tone, Duke sighed, knowing he needed a new tactic if he wanted his curiosity appeased. "What's your name?"
Now, why the hell did her name make his cock feel chafed inside the denim of his jeans? Somehow it did, though. Made him think of her naked on dark blue, silk sheets, high heels dangling off her toes before falling, knocked free by a man's thrusts. His. Goddammit, this wasn't convenient whatsoever. The sooner she moved on — went back to whatever upscale neighborhood she'd come from — the better. "Look, Sam." She tilted her head over the nickname, sliding thick chocolate hair over one shoulder. "You can't just tell a man you drew him as an evil gladiator villain and not cough up the goods."
Duke swallowed when a light came on in her eyes, a corner of her mouth ticking up.
"Because it sounds badass." Duke realized he was massaging his right knee — the old injury tended to act up when he sat too long. "Most men would have a hard time being offended by someone drawing them that way."
Excerpted from Worked Up by Tessa Bailey, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2016 Tessa Bailey. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tessa Bailey is great and she created two beloved characters in this book. Tough Alpha Duke and awkward, sweet Samantha. I have read this cute story twice now and it just gets cuter.
This was hard to get into as it was slow moving with the main char mumbling stuff that didn't make much sense and a weird set-up. I almost tossed it but I saw the potential and wadded through it. The author spent way too much time telling instead of SHOWING. Half of the introspective, mostly irrelevant blah blah which was so not necessary could have been chopped out, more dialog added with showing and this story could have been so much more! You can tug a readers heart strings without getting lost like that. Still its a different kind of story with lots of potential. Duke was a different kind of hero; it seemed to me the author couldn't decide whether to make him intelligent or brutishly caveman and not so bright which bothered me. I wanted him to be intelligent and he was....sometimes. It's really a 2.5 star kinda book and that only because it IS so different.
Samantha loved drawing. Renner was Samantha’s step brother yet she considered him her closest family member. Samantha was a childhood book illustrator and loved her job. She felt drawing didn’t abandon you like people did when the going got tough. Samantha came to Hook- a sleepy factory town for some adventure. She went into a dive bar called The Third Shift and ordered a martini. Samantha smacked her head on the bar and was having some double vision and at the opposite end of the bar was a guy Sam nicknamed Goliath he was huge and not exactly handsome. Goliath was watching her but didn’t have a smile on his face. Samantha decided she had to draw him- just the bare bones she could fill in the rest when she got back to Renner’s apartment. Goliath’s real name was Duke and told the two guys that offered to buy Sam a drink to get lost. Duke had left his house as he could not get any peace with his four divorced sisters there that he was letting stay with him.Now he felt his only refuge had been invaded by Samantha. All Duke wanted was to watch Sportscenter in peace. He hadn’t got to watch any sporting events lately at home.Duke was not into commitments and neither was Sam. Duke doesn’t talk or date much. Duke works in the factory as a machine mechanic that Renner owns. Sam and Duke has an instant attraction and they end up giving into it. Sam awakes possessiveness and a need to protect Sam in Duke. Sam has a secret passion she wants to make come true and Renner holds the key as her loan contract broker. But Renner threw in Sam had to be married. When Sam was talking to duke about and the part about having to be married Duke offers a marriage of convenience. I really enjoyed this insta lust/love story. I usually don’t like the insta love stories but this one just seemed to work for Duke and Samantha and didn’t seem to bother me. Duke was so sweet and I want a Duke type man in my life. Anyway I loved how Duke and Sam interacted with each other. Duke’s dirty mouth wasn’t as turn off either. Duke seemed to be protective of Sam right from the start when he told the two other men to get lost while at the bar. Poor Duke taking into his home four divorced sisters. That of course were down talking men. I felt for Duke but he was a good man. I didn’t care for Renner who didn’t really seem to care for Samantha for how she felt he was family. But now she had Duke… Anyway I loved the characters and ins and outs and I recommend.
Insta-love (and lust), and at least one major plot point that made no sense to me (why, exactly does Samantha have to marry someone to help her brother's business? No matter how many times it came up, I still didn't get it. Okay, he's gay--so...?) but somehow, I. Didn't. Care. I couldn't put this one down--I loved Sam and Duke together (the puns! The bad jokes! and OMG, the sex...), and have been dying for Duke to find an HEA since we met the poor guy and his hundreds of sisters (okay, four. But it felt like more to me, and they're not even my sisters!) in the last book ( Thrown Down ). So much fun to read--definitely my favorite of the series so far! I don't know how Ms. Bailey made me disregard things that are normally my triggers, but holy schmoly, did she ever! Renner and Milo are next--yeeeeeeessssss! :) Rating: 4 stars / B+ I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Goid story even though everything happened so fast!
Great story...enjoy this series
we went from meeting in a bar to madly in love and shagging like rabbits in less than a week. Normally i love her books but this one left lots to be desired.
Let's start with how unbelievably HAWT Duke is for being a not so typical hero. He's a terse, mountain of a man who isn't built or handsome in the traditional hero way (he's even hairy with a bit of a paunch), but there's just something about him. For all his gruffness, he's protective, hard working and dedicated to his friends and family. And he's got a mouth on him ... oh, man, does he know how to speak the dirty talk! Knows how to back it up too - whew, baby! I think that some may find his high-handedness a little off-putting but it works for him and Samantha, which is all that matters. The insta-attraction might also be a no-no but I think that Bailey makes it work. While the timeline is very short, there's something really believable about their interactions, developing feelings and motivations. The other thing that definitely works is how absolutely adorable Samantha is. She's quirky, funny and, while she's distrustful of relationships, she had a huge heart that yearns for family. Meeting big softy Duke, who would do just about anything for his sisters and who takes her under his wing, has her conflicted on getting involved. While they get together under unusual circumstances, Duke and Samantha quickly find themselves in a situation that is not what they expected ... and maybe more they can handle. Funny, touching, sexy and sweet, Worked Up is a fantastically fun read that had me by the heart from the very first and never let go. (Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review)
This is actually the first Tessa Bailey book I've ever read, and I am very happy to say it won't be the last! I absolutely loved this one! Worked Up is the third book of Tessa Bailey's Made In Jersey series. It can be read as a stand alone but you do see characters from the first two books. After reading this one, I am definitely going to go back and read the other two, while anxiously awaiting the next in the series. Samantha is a commitment-phobe that has some emotional baggage from her past. She is awkwardly adorable at times and has a habit of trying to break the ice with really cheesy jokes. Sam is also an artist, so the artist in me was really excited to read about her art. Duke is seriously swoon worthy and so perfect. He is the perfect mixture of gruff dirty talker and sweet caretaker. I'm pretty sure he is my new book crush. I really loved that he wasn't described as this perfectly chiseled model type. He was the average looking guy with the beginnings of a beer gut, which I thought made it even better. The chemistry between the two of them was off the charts! Tessa Bailey definitely knows how to write sizzling sex scene. I also LOVED Duke's speech towards the end. It. was. SO. Good! I can't say enough good things about this one. **I was given a free copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. **
Duke is a veteran/factory mechanic who lives at home with his 4 divorced sisters. Samantha is a socialite looking for an escape from family demands. Neither is looking for a relationship, but both are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Duke is used to taking care of everyone and he is blow away by how Samantha cares for him. How will Sam's brother who owns the factory where Duke is employed when he learns they have run off and gotten married? Be warned, this book is smoking hot and Duke is the perfect alpha male with a heart of gold! I love how Ms. Bailey balanced the story with the steam! I was very lucky to receive a free copy for an honest review.
Sweet Baby Jesus I want Tessa Bailey to "Weird Science" me a Hero of my own!!! I do love her Dirty Talking Alpha Men Heroes and "Worked Up" gives up one of the sexiest beasts yet! Tessa Bailey never disappoints if you want to read a Super Racy Romance with colorful characters and a storyline that's as smooth as an inner tube ride in a creek. The Hero, Duke Crawford, is the beleaguered single male in a household of four divorced sisters who all run their hair dryers at the same time, blowing fuses, and complain about their exes. All he wants to do is sit in his own living room and watch ESPN's Sports Center but he's "forced" out of his home to watch the ball games at the local dive bar. Since he's gotten back from Afghanistan he's been working as the head factory mechanic at the city's main industry, he's the lynchpin, making sure that the facility runs whether the administration acknowledges it or not. The Heroine, Samantha Waverly, is an unusually introverted and down-to-earth Manhattan-ite who has grown up knowing everything comes with strings attached - even among family members - that and everyone eventually abandons you. She's a children's book illustrator with a borderline unhealthy attachment to her sketchbook that actually unlocks her timid nature drawing (no pun intended) people to her. Samantha also has an addiction to bad jokes and puns. She's come across the bridge to Hook, New Jersey to meet with her brother to negotiate an agreement they had so she can get the loan she needs for her dream business. The hero and heroine are both commitment phobic however their sexual chemistry is off the chart from the moment their eyes meet a head banging local bar meet cute. The story line doesn't have an urgent conflict, however it is powerful enough that it razes so many dreams and trusts. As in most all Tessa Bailey books the sex scenes are insanely Hot and Spicy Erotic. A dirty talking Goliath, Warrior, Pirate Captain, Super Hero #PoutyBear of an Alpha Hero is the star of this novel. "Worked Up" is a Steamy late Summer read that is hands down an incredibly fantastic book. It's undeniably Hot. Duke is definitely one of my fantasy Heroes. Sam is a perfectly quirky Heroine - with her adorable bad jokes, klutziness, and the way she has no idea she drives Duke insane. I'm a character-driven reader and that's what this book is - the conflict is more mental, preying on insecurities and guilt. I'm also a lover of no-holds-barred sex and boy howdy this book has it by the bushel. If you like your Heroes fluent in Dirty Talk and your Sex rough enough to knock pictures off the wall and neighbor call the cops then buy this book!!! To read the entire review please visit: http://wp.me/p4XqxF-1iL This novel was provided in exchange for an unbiased review
Aw yeah, Tessa Bailey bringing the SAWOON! I absolutely ADORED Duke! He was such a bear of a man but had the heart of a puppy. I am such a sucker for gruff, grumpy guys too. This was my first Made in Jersey novel and I really enjoyed it! It was sexy, fun, and sweet. I also enjoyed Samantha's character too. She is only in Hook to meet up with her brother, but stumbles across Duke her first night in town. Duke, being the alpha caveman he is, lays eyes on her and bam! He's a goner. We do have your typical 'doesn't do relationships' in this story, as is the case for both Duke and Sam. Duke is too busy with work and taking care of his sisters to bother with them. His four sisters all live with him after they have divorced, so he has seen firsthand how love can wreck a person. Sam on the other hand, has not seen an example of love actually working, so she is pretty skeptical. Together, the two are a bit of a mess, but man did I love them together. Duke's friends River and Vaughn are great too, and I definitely want to go back and read their story soon. I wasn't the biggest fan of Renner, Sam's stepbrother, but he did redeem himself in the end. I'm looking forward to seeing how his story plays out! Overall, this was definitely a fun read for me. I really enjoyed the storyline, Duke and Sam's characters, their chemistry.... it had everything I could want in a Brazen!
Ms Tessa has once again accomplised the amazing talents of her craft. She has brought forth the wonderful characters that live inside her mind. Every book of hers that I open to read, I fall in love with her charcters, rejoicing with them, crying with them, even wanting to jump with them. Tessa Bailey is phenomeal and amazing and just unbelievebly one of the most talented, greatest and just amazing writers I have ever encountered. The heroine she uses here is just so very much reltable-to me- that I have to love her for everything that she is. One day, I hope to find my own version of the hero, but until then I just read of Ms Tessa's heroes.
I love the chemistry in Tessa's books. This was another terrific story in her repertoire.
On a visit to her brother’s company in Hook, New Jersey, commitment-phobe Samantha meets fellow commitment-phobe Duke. Duke is a mountain of a man who seems rough around the edges. In fact, Duke is a gentle giant who willingly takes the weight of the world on his substantial shoulders. Duke is instantly smitten with Sam when she gets out her sketchpad in the middle of a dive bar and begins drawing him as different characters. Of course, neither one of them is willing to accept that they could possibly have a relationship. Someone always gets hurt in a relationship, and Duke and Sam both state clearly that they are not interested. When Samantha needs a husband to help fulfill a business commitment to her brother and earn the funding needed to make her dream of bringing art to children a reality, Duke’s protective and possessive instincts come to the fore. He wants to help Sam, but he also can’t stand the thought of her marrying another man, touching another man, or even having any other man look at her or laugh at her truly bad jokes. How can this marriage of convenience possibly stay convenient? Worked Up is a great story. Sam is a hoot. She tells the most god-awful jokes and sees things through her own unique artist’s lens. The contrast with big, growly, sometimes grumpy Duke was great. I found myself laughing out loud several times. I absolutely fell in love with Duke. His heart is huge, just like the rest of him. Duke is the kind of man who would fix my wonky front door and change my air conditioning filter without me even asking. Then he’d cook me a steak on the grill. Really, you couldn’t find a better man. To make things even better, he’s sexy as hell and has a dirty mouth that will get your motor going. The chemistry between Duke and Sam is off the charts hot, and the romance is heart-warming and beautiful.
3.75 stars--WORKED UP is the third installment in Tessa Bailey’s contemporary, adut MADE IN JERSEY erotic, romance series. This is factory mechanic Duke Crawford, and artist / children’s book illustrator Samantha Waverly’s story line. WORKED UP can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any information from previous story line is revealed where necessary. The reader was first introduced to Duke and his four ‘divorced’ sisters in book two-THROWN DOWN. Told from dual third person perspectives WORKED UP focuses on the marriage of convenience between two commitment phobes -artist Samantha Waverly, and Duke Crawford. To appease her brother Renner, the owner of the factory where most of the town of Jersey is employed, Samantha needs to get married to present a unified front to the board of directors. When Samantha’s ‘fiance’ of three years has yet to return home from his trip abroad, Duke Crawford offers Samantha his hand in marriage for all the wrong reasons, and in doing so finds himself falling in love with the spunky artist who is his perfect match both in and out of the bedroom. Duke Crawford is a bear of a man: he is tall, dark and brooding with a need to help those in trouble. Samantha is a woman torn between what it is she wants to do and the contract that ties her future to that of a promise made to her brother. What ensues is the quick building relationship between Duke and Samantha that ends disastrously when Samantha’s brother adds another caveat to his contract with his sister. The $ex scenes are erotic, intense and aggressive. Duke is a dirty talker in the bedroom ; the sexual chemistry is hot and heavy. There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including River and Vaughn (Thrown Down), Duke’s four divorced sisters who all live with their brother, and Samantha’s brother and factory owner Renner who is one of the most despised men in the town. The world building continues to look at the blue-collar town, and the people who work at the local factory in Hook, New Jersey. WORKED UP is a fast paced story of insta-lust between two unlikely people in a town where everybody knows your name. The premise is enjoyable and fun; the characters are spirited and heartwarming; the romance is passionate and a quick build to forever with a couple of bumps along the way.
Another must-read scorcher from the empress of white-hot contemporary romance! 4/4.5 Stars | Hot Steam Lighter in tone than the previous Made in Jersey novels, series standout WORKED UP is page-turning bliss to read. Unlike the three previous couples before them, Samantha and Duke collide as strangers—giving us oodles of sunny and exciting firsts without the weighty baggage of previous wrongs. Additionally, this time around, we are given a more hopeful view of Hook, NJ. Duke’s Hook is a comfortable, tight-knit community where friends and families support each other and stay to live a good life. Samantha couldn’t have been a more charming or adorable heroine. Smart, quirky, independent, fun, and endlessly endearing, she’s the perfect match for Duke. Duke… Sigh… From the moment that Samantha noticed him—the arrestingly masculine behemoth at the bar—I was in lust. Within that very same scene, I fell madly in love with him. Larger than life, strong, surly, commanding, uncomplicated without being simple, and unimaginably sexy, he is the dream—a dirty-talking man-bear with a heart of gold. It doesn’t take long for Samantha to discover that beneath his imposing mountain range of male magnificence is a sensitive alpha whose soul is filled with warmth, kindness, compassion, and the rare capacity to love deeply and truly. He’s the best of the best and I savored every furry inch of him. I adored this couple. I seriously could have read volumes upon volumes of Samantha and Duke falling for each other. Their connection felt unique, authentic, and their chemistry was off-the-charts explosive. With its amazing characters, delightful whirlwind plot, sparkling dialog, and bounty of steamy sex scenes so wickedly provocative and singularly satisfying, WORKED UP will, no doubt, win a coveted spot on your keeper shelf as it did on mine. Complimentary copy received in exchange for an honest review.
Duke, Duke, Duke.... This dirty talking bear has stalkerish tendencies and control issues that just won't quit. With the gift of gab from growing up with four sisters, this dude knows how to handle women and that is just what he does with Sam. She comes off ditzy in many ways and her dorky sense of humor comes out when she is uncomfortable. But that what makes her more endearing to Duke. His protective, all consuming nature is screaming out loud and she doesn't know what hit her when he ramps it up. I have not had the pleasure of reading any of the other books in the series, but this read is a scorcher! You can read it as a stand alone without many issues, but I know for one, I am checking out the others in the series! Tessa Bailey brings the heat in this one and personally, I cannot wait to read the next installment that is set up in this book! Wowza!
4.5 stars Worked Up was such a fun, sweet and hot read, loved it. I had a great time reading Worked Up, it was one of those books once you start it you can't put it down. Sam and Duke were wonderful characters, that will entertaining you with their love story. I loved them together. If you're in the mood for a sweet, hot, dirty talking and sexy male who falls hard for a smart, quirky and funny girl then you will love Worked Up. I've enjoyed all the books from the Made in Jersey series and highly recommend them.
I loved everything about this book. Tessa Bailey is one of my favorite authors. But this book was a little different feel for me. Duke was so intense, so raw, such a beautiful soul. Sam was such a fun, sweet, yet self protective. She was whimsical to me, seeing art everywhere she went. I absolutely loved that. It made her unique and utterly irresistible to Duke. Their immediate connection was intense and powerful. The words the man spoke were so comforting, protective and safe but so arousing. Such a wonderful read that I could not put down and left me wanting more of Duke and Samantha. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Duke Crawford is a man of few words and even fewer wants, in fact all he actually wants is a quiet life looking after what’s his (namely, four sisters, all divorced and who now all lived with him!) and watching Sportscenter in peace with a beer in his hand. And while all this may seem like an easy ask for this gentle giant, in truth it was far from it. So having escaped the mayhem of home in a bid to watch the game at the bar, Duke’s peace was short lived when Samantha Waverly pushed the door open and made herself comfortable at the furthest end, not that he was looking for a hook up or anything, not in the slightest, a committed, commitment-phobe, he just wanted to watch the game but when he spies her being harangued by a few of the guys from the factory, he just had to step up, that and the fact that his curiosity was killing him, she had been scribbling away on her sketchpad for what seemed like an age and this gave him the perfect opportunity to sneak a peek. Sam (Samantha) was biding her time until she had to meet up with her brother, shame his business ventures meant that we would be in arriving until Monday and now she had the whole weekend to kill. Making a decision to stay put in Hook and wait it out until her brother arrived she had one thing on her mind before heading to his house, she need feeding! Hence her current location. From that initial meeting, they just never looked back…. or did they and I say that because the author surprised me later in the book when the path they were on took a turn that I really hadn’t expected and didn’t particularly like… you are a cruel woman Ms Bailey, I was desperate for them to get over the hiccup you planted in their path, it consumed me but I was able to breathe easy when the story was complete so all is forgiven! Once Duke Crawford puts his mind to something nothing is going to get in his way, so when Sam explains her reason for being in Hook, the fact that she has called time on her relationship and the consequences that, that action are going to have he has a solution but can he convince her that it is a good one – I mean they have only just met! I know you are wondering what the heck I am banging on about but while I wasn’t sure that two people so fervently opposed to commitment could possibly get together, I was also sure that they were right for each other, they were the perfect fit. Duke was not your typical book boyfriend but he was everything you would want in real life, he was a good man, with a heart of gold, a working guy who just wanted to be there for Sam, he was so bashful in many ways that I wanted him for myself, Samantha was a very lucky woman because while he may have lacked the social airs and graces that someone like her ex did , he had one thing going for him that was priceless, he had a dirty mouth and a dominant streak that liked to just waggle its finger every now and then! A spritely read, one that didn’t dither and never held back on it incessant drive to get them where they both needed to be. Full of super characters and some wonderful descriptive notes that encouraged my imagination – the thought of Duke sorting out his sisters and reminding them to schedule their use of their hairdryers to prevent the power going out will live long in my memory and continue to bring a smile to my face! This was an all’s well that ends well story and I finished it happy in that knowledge
Samantha and Duke really do feel sparks fly almost the minute they meet. Samantha was a bit of an odd-ball and did like to make puns a little too much, but she was endearing. Duke was as anti-love and commitment as you could get. Samantha had her own issues with the thought of happily ever-after. They both swear off relationships and love and just try to survive in their worlds. Samantha came to town to have a meeting with her brother, Renner, who owns the factory where Duke works. Duke figures out pretty quickly who she is and is still intrigued. He knows he starts to have feelings for her. It was interesting to see him try to figure out the best way to keep her in his life while trying not to acknowledge his true motives and feelings. Samantha was just plain scared of almost anything to do with a relationship and tried to bolt several times in the early part of their relationship. Samantha was burned by her parents and step-parents but she never really gave Duke a chance. It was nice to see him figure out how to get what he wanted and acknowledge mistakes when they were made. I did want to see more of the same from Sam and was disheartened by her behavior at times. She did really need a huge wake-up call in order to get his head on straight. Overall a good book and a great addition to this series.
Anything she writes is awesome but this is one of my favorites so far!
4.5 Pouty Man Bear Stars! I love a big ol grumpy, surly, cranky teddy bear. That is the first impression we get of Duke. But he is also protective, loyal, thoughtful and wants to fix everything for everyone. When beautiful, clumsy, Samantha walks into the bar alone, he is instantly attracted and protective of her. She is funny, and an extremely talented artist. She 'gets' the real him immediately and sketches Duke in 3 different and revealing characters. He 'gets' her as well with her funny puns and quirky way of looking at the world....and him. They both are flawed and have their protective walls but are helpless against the explosive chemistry they share. Duke is a refreshing and real hero that I loved reading about. Sam is a perfect match with her strength and quirkiness. I love them together, their banter is hilarious, and their passion is off the charts. I was laughing one minute and fanning myself the next! Ms Bailey is a master at creating dirty talk and fiery passion in an intriguing and heartfelt story. There are great secondary characters that add depth, fun, and tension. This is the 3rd book in the Made in Jersey series but can be read as a standalone. I hadn't read the first 2 books but that did not take away from my enjoyment at all. I highly recommend this provocative, hilarious and exhilarating romance, it will totally capture your heart!