Thank you to Literati Author Services for allowing me to be a part of Liz Crowe's blog tour. Liz is a unique author, her books are so realistic a reader feels like the stories are being drawn right from their own lives. Liz's books are so special, she is the only author of "realistic" romance I will read. That's a big deal for someone like me who prefers fluffier romances with a HEA.
I'm happy to have had the chance to read and review Red Card, the second book from her Black Jack Gentlemen series. So read on and don't forget to enter the giveaway!
About Liz Crowe:
Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. While working as a successful Realtor, Liz made the leap into writing novels about the same time she agreed to take on marketing and sales for the Wolverine State Brewing Company.
Most days find her sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, unless she’s writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more “character-driven fiction,” while remaining very much “real life.”
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and many times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate, and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
If you are in the Ann Arbor area, be sure and stop into the Wolverine State Brewing Co. Tap Room—but don’t ask her for anything “like” a Bud Light, or risk serious injury.
Find Liz Crowe:
Title: Red Card (Black Jack Gentlemen #2)
Author: Liz Crowe
Genre: General Fiction, Adult
Publication Date: August 14, 2013
Cover Design: Mina Carter
Publisher: Tri Destiny Publishing
Event organized by: Literati Author Services
Free will makes us human.
Choice makes us individuals.
Love makes us unique.
Metin Sevim has it all. At the pinnacle of international soccer playing success, he has managed to craft a perfect world for himself along the way.
When fate strips him of free will and the ability to choose his own path, he retreats from everyone and everything, destroying his hard-won career in the process.
Dragged back from the brink by his desperate family, Metin reluctantly agrees to coach the Black Jack Gentlemen Detroit soccer team but remains debilitated by memories and loss. When a surprising friendship emerges, it renews his passion for life, providing much needed solace… and extreme complications.
A saga of family dynamics and gender politics that cuts across cultures and circumstance, Red Card illustrates the human capacity for forgiveness through the life of one man as he attempts to rebuild his shattered existence.
I've never had to work so hard to write a spoiler free review!
Red Card is just classic Liz Crowe. Emotionally engaging, jealousy, anger, and bitterness war against love, forgiveness and passion and in true Liz fashion, it's anyone's guess as to which emotion will win out at the end of the book. What makes this book so addictive is not so much the characters but their stories. As a reader I relate to them in all their flawed glory and every mistake they make, even when I want to strangle them, makes them more "touchable" as characters.
Metin is a mess throughout most of the book. He's another one of those real life men that just doesn't know how to handle the good things that come his way. Though he can be an epic pain in the ass sometimes, I felt for this man and his demons, they were powerful vices he was battling and like in real life, that battle will continue for the rest of his life. What made him admirable is his unwillingness to give up. Metin isn't the "roll over and die" type. He might sink to untold depths of despair but he's not about to let any one get the best of him.
Mel was a little harder for me to relate to, she was just such a hard ass sometimes that I wanted to shout "Woman, where's your humanity?!" Of course, after I first had that thought I realized that she and I had more in common than I'd like to admit and stopped putting together the "I hate Mel" signs. She shuts herself down and absorbs negativity like a sponge, lashing out at any one with whom she doesn't see eye to eye with. She definitely sabotages her chances at happiness and strikes fear into the heart of her own father with her stubborn attitude and quick temper. She has a big mouth and an even badder attitude that, while I can't claim to love, I did understand.
Liz's stories don't begin, develop and end in a few days, the conflicts sometimes take years to solve and even while the characters are working out their main conflicts, like in life, a few more always pop up along the way. Red Card is takes place over a time period of a few years, to allow the characters to screw up, deny it, throw tantrums over their screw ups, grow up, screw up again and eventually patch things up. I love how Red Card, much like all of Liz's books, doesn't rush through the conflicts or try and sugar coat them. Basically? They're front and center forcing the characters and the reader to acknowledge them and deal with them.
All of Liz Crowe's books are sexually charged, with the characters comfortable and bold in their sexuality and their needs. Red Card's sex scenes are definitely not for the faint of heart. They're hot, sweaty, dirty and oh so erotic.
One thing I had trouble with? The sports lingo. I'm not a sports fan at all so I don't know anything about soccer, much less the terminology used to describe the game. However, it didn't bother me at all because Liz Crowe didn't saturate the entire story with soccer scenes, she put just enough soccer in it to add dimension to her characters' backgrounds, after all both Metin and Mel have deep roots in soccer.
Red Card may technically be a romance novel, as there isn't an official sub-genre for books like Liz's (Yet. But I still have hope there will be), but I can say with all honesty that this is a book that men can enjoy as well.
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More about The Black Jack Gentlemen series:
A city and a sport with something to prove—Meet the men who take that challenge.
The Black Jack Gentlemen—Detroit’s expansion soccer team.
They play hard. And live harder.
The Black Jack Gentlemen
The newest series by Liz Crowe
Book 1: Man On (August 2013)
Book 2: Red Card (August 2013)
Book 3: Shut Out (September 2013)
And Coming Soon…
Book 4: Set Piece
Book 5: Hat Trick
Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.
Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.
Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.
All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins.