Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Release Day Blitz - I Want Crazy by Codi Gary





I Want Crazy
by Codi Gary
Series: Loco, Texas, #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 8, 2014





Alfred “Red” Calhoun is in a rut so big, he doesn't know how to climb out of it. After his second best-selling romance novel, Red signed a contract for three more books, but now he’s having trouble finding his romantic mojo. To top it all off, his favorite bar has been bought by a woman who wants to close down and re-vamp it. With his favorite place gone, Red is looking for a distraction…just not the kind that the bar-ruining Jessie Dale has to offer, no matter how hot she may look in a pair of paint-covered overalls…

Jessie has been running away from trouble since the time she was a kid and now that she’s decided to make a place in Loco, Texas, she’ll be damned if she’s going to let a pain in the rear cowboy with too blue eyes chase her out of town. As Red and Jessie go toe to toe in an epic battle of wills, Jessie finds it hard to stay mad when Red’s kisses make her want to forget her trust issues…and take him home for a test drive.

But when Jessie’s pissed-off ex comes to town to make trouble, Red finds himself playing a hero in his own life and can’t seem to stay away from the her. But will he be able to handle all the crazy baggage Jessie’s been hauling around, or will these two miss out on the greatest adventure of all…falling in love?





Click here to read my review of I Want Crazy.







CHAPTER ONE

Red Calhoun was having a shit day. It was like the sky had opened up over his head and started raining shit all over him and he couldn't find an umbrella. 

First he'd gone into his part time mechanic's job at Jose's Auto Body but Jose hadn't had any work for him. It wouldn't have been so bad, except he wanted the distraction of a car engine. He needed something to keep him busy so he could stop stressing about his looming deadline.

Who would have ever thought when he'd gotten Mono his Freshman year of high school, reading one of his mother's romance novel would have led to him writing them? He had been miserable and bored, having only one TV in their house and most of the time, his mother was watching her "stories" on it, so he was stuck in his room. He had picked up one of her books with a shirtless guy and a woman with her breasts popping out of her dress and started reading for a laugh. Before he knew it, he's spent the next two months he was home devouring every book on his mother's shelf. He'd always been good at English, and when he'd gone back to school, he'd found himself writing short stories in his spare time, stories filled with romance, passion, and happily ever afters.

It wasn't until he'd come home after losing his scholarship and seriously started writing, under the radar of course. He'd joined Lovers of Romance, an organization dedicated to the romance genre, and the people who read and wrote it. He'd taken some online workshops to hone his craft and even joined an online critique group, using his own name since he figured no one would ever believe that it was him. By the time he'd started submitting his work, he'd been seriously writing for four years. And when he'd been picked up by Everly Publishing, one of the biggest houses in New York, he'd been floored. He'd had a few conditions about his publication, mainly that his true identity remain under wraps. Although he still used Red Calhoun as his pen name, his editor had been more than willing to provide him with an avatar and elusive author bio that put him in upstate New York and talks about how he enjoys a sugar free vanilla latte or some bullshit like that. He wasn't worried about anyone in Loco tying the books back to him, because really, who would ever believe that he wrote romances? 

Of course, his sisters' got a kick out of reading his reviews to him and their favorite one, that they'd actually had framed for him, read, "Red's heroes are realistic and to die for. This is one author who definitely has a glimpse into what makes a real man." 

MJ, his oldest sister, took a break from her giggles to squeal, "Oh, she has no idea."

He didn't mind their teasing, especially since every one of them had read his first book, Kiss Me Again, and sworn they loved it. Even Rand, one of his best friends, who wasn't much of a reader, had read and reread it a handful of times, so many she could quote the book.

Which brought him to shit storm number two. His editor, Elizabeth O'Neil, had called to let him know his second book, His To Hold, had just made the New York Times Bestseller List. His first book, Kiss Me Again, had made the list last year and he'd been pumped about having two best sellers under his belt.

Until she'd asked, "So how's the next manuscript coming?"

The truth was, it wasn't coming. He had been staring at his laptop for over a week and had one sentence. Whitney Easton hated parties. That was it. That was his grand opening line meant to suck the reader in and hook them beyond measure. He had his outline and knew where he wanted the story to go, he just couldn't seem to write it. He was officially in a rut.

He hadn't said that to Elizabeth though. He'd assured her it would be in on the first of November, three and a half weeks away. 

Which led him to now. He had driven across town, only to find his favorite bar, The Watering Hole, looking very unwelcoming and all his stress, anger, and frustration piled into one huge mountain of irritation as he stared at the old cedar building. The irritation started to boil under his skin, making him hot and itchy until he was in a full on rage. The heavy door was closed, unusual for this time of day and the parking lot around him was empty. His large hands fisted as he focused on the white sign with red writing that taunted him.

Under new ownership. Closed for renovations. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Of course it was closed today, the one day when he really needed a few cold longnecks and some conversation. The day he needed to listen to other men's problems, so he could forget about his own.

Glaring at the sign, his thoughts fueled the fire of loathing for the unknown person who had just put the cherry on top of his crap-tastic day.

Who the hell had bought The Watering Hole and worse, what kind of "renovations" were they talking about? The place was a little rough around the edges but the creaky wood floors and cedar walls were familiar and the d├ęcor screamed "Redneck's welcome", which is exactly how he liked it. He couldn't imagine anything making the bar any more comfortable, unless they planned on opening up the kitchen again, but why did they have to shut down completely to renovate the kitchen?

He could hear music playing behind the double doors, so someone had to be in there. 
Without thinking it through, he climbed the stairs until he stood on the wide, front porch. The music sounded like pop or rock instead of the usual country that most of the locals blasted and his mind flashed through several different owner possibilities, all of them setting his teeth on edge. Before he knew what he wanted to say, he banged on the heavy wood door and yelled, "Open up! I want to talk to you!"

The music continued to blare. All out of patience, he hit the door so hard it shook under his fist. "Hey! I said get your ass out here and give me some answers, asshole!"
Suddenly, it was silent inside and now that he had their attention, he shouted, "I want to know exactly what you think you're doing shutting down the bar without any kind of notice! People have been coming here for thirty years!" No one answered and he slammed his palm against the door, sweat trailing down the back of his neck at the exertion and his temper, in spite of the cool autumn air. "I am talking to you!"

Then he heard footsteps, the familiar slap of soles on the wood planks revving his temper again. It was probably some sissy from California, here to civilize the locals. He probably planned on cocktail hours and girly drinks. Well, if that was his game, Red was going to teach him a little something about what flies in a town like Loco. And if the candy ass thought he was going to get away with ruining a town landmark, he was about to find out what "Don't Mess With Texas" really meant.

The door opened and Red gaped as his preconceived notions flew out the window. Standing in front of him was a beautiful, buxom blond woman sporting a pair of paint covered overalls giving him the stink eye with a pair of gorgeous green eyes.

"We're closed. Can't you read," she asked, folding her arms over her chest, and Red's gaze drifted down to where her breasts pushed up above the neckline of her black long sleeved shirt.

"Hey, eyes up here, jack ass."

Red jerked his head up, was speechless for a half a second, until her accent sank in. "You're from California?"

"Wow, how'd you guess that one? Was it the way I said jackass?" she asked.

She sure had a smart mouth.

"Or the fact that you have the manners of a rabid wolf," Red snapped, scowling.

"Me?" Her look clearly said she thought he was out of his mind, and he felt unease settle over him. 

"You're the one who goes around banging on doors and making demands," she said, poking him in the chest with her finger.  "If you want people to talk to you nicely, maybe you should start off the conversation right."

Damn, she had a point. This close, he got a really good look at her eyes, which were a pretty mix of green and gold, matching her shiny golden hair trailing out the back of the bandana she had on her head. If his mother had been standing here next to him, she would have slapped him upside the head and lectured him on his behavior.

Taking a different approach, he tapped the brim of his ball cap. "Apologies, ma'am. I am just having a bad day, and I'm sorry for dragging you into it."

He watched her lips turn up in a half smile. "My, that was charming. I see what people say about southern drawls."

Red returned her smile and held his hand out. "Red."

She surprised him by laughing. "Seriously? Your name is Red."

He dropped his hand, his irritation back in full force. "It's a nick name."

"Because of your hair?"

He kept his hair short so it wouldn't be so telling, but even then, people didn't make fun of his hair. 

"It's short for Alfred," he said crossly. "I was named after my dad."

"Oh man," she said, her voice filled with mock sympathy. "You must have been in a lot of fights as a kid. Why didn't they call you Fred or Freddy?"

It was true he had been in fights, but she didn't need to know that.

"My sister had a problem with the letter F, and it always came out as "sred". So, they just shortened it to Red and it stuck," he said. "But, it didn't stop people from commenting on the color of my hair."

"I can see why," she said, smirking.

Tired of being the butt of her jokes, he added, "People don't normally make fun of me, especially when I don't even know their name."

"I'm Jessie. And I'm guessing people probably don't make fun of you because you intimidate most people," she said, looking him up and down and added, "I mean, I'd call you Jolly Green Giant, but the color doesn't fit."

He caught the twinkle in her eye, and had a feeling she already had a nickname for him. "Obviously I don't intimidate you."

He saw the twisted tattoo that started on her inner wrist as she pushed a few loose strands of hair back under the bandana, and his mind went to a dark place. I wonder how many tattoos I can't see.

He shook his head to get rid of those thoughts. Do not go there with her. This woman is the enemy!

"Oh, sweetie," she said, her voice oozing sweetness.  "I've met bigger and badder men than you."

He leaned down until they were almost nose to nose. "California, you don't know who you're messing with."

Despite his best "I'm the boss" voice, she snorted in his face. "Well, Alfred, as charming as this little interlude has been, I need to get back to painting, so-"

He didn't even have time to bristle at the use of his full name before the last word pierced his brain like an arrow. Painting? 

Red pushed past her inside, ignoring her, "Hey," and sucked in his breath at the plastic covering most of the floor. Sure enough, everything was off the walls and the counters of the bar were pulled off. She had already started covering the wood walls with some kind of plaster.

"What the hell are you doing?" he shouted.

"You! Get the hell out of my bar and go take your meds!" she yelled back, picking up a paint brush and flinging it at him.

Leaning to the left, the brush whizzed by his shoulder. "You're calling me crazy? You're covering cedar walls with cement! You're fucking crazy!"

"I'm calling the cops," she said, heading for the bar.

"Good, cause I want to file a restraining order!" He knew he had no legal recourse, but there had to be something to stop her from ruining his second home. Okay, maybe third home.

"A restraining order against me? This is my bar!" She had picked up the phone and was pointing at her chest, and Red tried not to lose track of his mission, but damn, she was stacked. Why did someone that hot have to be so disagreeable?

"Lady, this bar has been the same for over thirty years and if there's one thing the people of Loco hate, it's change."

"Which is probably why I got such a great deal. Because this place is a run down piece of-

"Why you-"

She picked up the phone, dialing loudly. "Yes, this is Jessie Dale, I just bought the..." her lips thinned as she paused, probably listening to the person on the other end, "yeah I'm the flat-landing hippie from California."

Red didn't even bother smothering his laugh and earned a killing glare from her.

"I've got some crazy guy that won't leave my bar and I need someone to...well he's huge and says his name is Red..." she waited a second, then held the phone out to him, "he wants to talk to you."

Red walked over the plastic covered floor and took the phone. "Hello."

"Red, are you trespassing?" the amused voice asked, and Red recognized Finn Meyer's low tones. They were friends and had grown up together, but Finn was a cop first.

"No, I was just admiring the way Ms. Dale was plastering over the cedar planks," Red growled. "She's ruining the Watering Hole!"

"Regardless of how much you hate her decorating style, it's her bar now," Finn said, making him feel like a child. 

"But, you don't know-"

"Don't make us waste a trip down there to put you in hand cuffs," Finn said, his tone amused, but there was enough weight behind the threat that made Red believe him.

Disloyal son of a bitch.

Red slammed down the phone and faced off with her. Her triumphant little smirk would have made him stand his ground, except for the first time in days, he felt inspired.
With a grin, he leaned over the bar towards her. "This ain't over, California. Not by a long shot."

He turned to walk away, but her voice stopped him. "I look forward to it, Alfred."

Gritting his teeth he walked out and headed for his Dodge Charger. 

Oh, honey. You picked the wrong bear to poke.

*****

Jessie Dale wiped her hands off on the overalls and admired her work. She had dreamed of owning her own sports bar and grill, and everything that had happened over the last couple of years finally gave her the chance and excuse to do it. The minute she had seen the pictures of The Watering Hole online, she had wanted it.  It was exactly like the places her dad used to take her when they'd watch the 49ers on Sunday and Mondays, filling up on hot wings and root beer.  Those were her favorite days, and she remembered them all.

Pulling a long neck from the fridge, she sat down on one of the stools. She hardly remembered her mom at all. She had left when she was barely two, and although her dad always told her it had nothing to do with her, she had a pretty good feeling it had to do with her realizing motherhood didn't suit her. It was fine though. Her dad had been her hero. He had helped her with homework, and never hesitated to tell her when he got a bad feeling about one of her friends, or even her boyfriends. The first time he'd met her ex-boyfriend, Will Archer, he had said, "That guy is a bum."

Sighing, she took a long pull of her beer. She missed her dad, well, she missed the way things used to be before he'd remarried. It had always been the two of them, and they had done everything together. She'd known he'd gone out with women, but he'd never brought any home to meet her. At least, not until high school. He'd brought over a sweet faced, tall woman who was reed thin and wanted to be her friend. And Jessie had hated her on sight. At first she'd tried to talk to her dad, to break them up, but they had already been seeing each other for a year, and he had met her girls. He was really serious about her.

When her dad had married Silvie, she'd been a senior, and it had thoroughly rocked her and their close relationship. Especially since Silvie brought along two other daughters a few years younger than Jessie. It was bad enough sharing her dad with another woman, but sharing him with two step siblings had been too much. Her dad had talked about her going to University of Davis since she was five, where he'd gone to school, but she was so mad, she wanted to hurt him. She knew it had been a selfish dick move, but she had taken the scholarship to the University of LA and hadn't bothered coming home for several years. 

Her dad had been hurt, but she had pretended not to care. He had taken on a whole new family, a family she hardly knew, without asking her, and she was supposed to just be okay with it? 

Two years after leaving home she met Will and he was hot. Smoky grey eyes, black hair and tattoos, he had been gorgeous and deep. When she'd finally gone home for Thanksgiving three years after leaving home, and brought Will with her, her dad had hated him on sight. It had caused a huge fight between them and they'd left, but she had felt sick the whole drive back to LA. It had taken over a month for her to get up the courage to apologize to her dad, but even then, things had been different. And when her world had come crashing down two years later, she had ended up with a money settlement and a thrashed reputation.

Her dad had wanted her to move home for a while, but she had never felt like she fit in with Silvie and her two perfect princesses. So, she'd traveled for a year and finally started looking for a place to settle down. When she'd arrived in Loco two weeks ago, she'd paid cash for The Watering Hole and taken the keys with excitement.  The only thing he hadn't warned her about was the rough cowboys she'd met in the tiny grocery story and local shops, who tended to sneer at her when they found out she was from California.
Like Big Red.

Grinning at the nickname, she had to admit the crazy man was a good-looking guy, especially when he smiled. He wasn't her type though, even if she had been interested in men. She liked men who were handsome without being muscle bound gym monkeys, who liked the same kind of music and movies. Art school types....

Which worked out so well for you last time, right?

Thus, why she should avoid men of all sorts, because she tended to attract crazy assholes. Her instincts could not be trusted.








Book 1: Make Me Crazy




An obsessive bookworm, Codi Gary likes to write sexy small-town contemporary romances with humor, grand gestures, and blush-worthy moments. When she's not writing, she can be found reading her favorite authors, squealing over her must-watch shows, and playing with her children. She lives in Idaho with her family.






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I Want Crazy by Codi Gary

I Want Crazy

by Codi Gary

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