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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Conditional Offer by Liz Crowe

Format: epub (provided by publisher)
Release Date: August 23, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Craig Robinson and Suzanne Baxter had no reason to meet, no real excuse to be friends. But when heart calls to heart…blood to blood…should two people who seem destined to be together heed the spin of Fate’s wheel?

Craig spent years floating through life on cruise control, using directionless jobs, his rock band, swimming, and a string of older women in his bed to smother feelings of loneliness and loss. He finally thought he had found his true love in one Sara Thornton — A sexy, beautiful, fellow real estate agent and mentor. But his self-doubt and innate sense of failure is only reinforced when he realizes her heart belongs to another man.

When Sara introduces him to Suzanne, a woman fighting her own demons from an abusive marriage and subsequent feelings of inadequacy and deep unhappiness, that simple, chance moment snaps Craig’s hazy existence into crystal-clear focus. A bond of instant physical attraction, nurtured by time and shared experience, and plenty of erotic energy, is born.
As Suzanne’s past continues to haunt her, making her push Craig away just as he thinks he’s getting closer, each of them must come to terms with their true selves and face their ultimate realities. 

Normally I'd be a little bored by the 5th book in a series and would need to take a break and read another author, but not with Liz Crowe. I find myself extremely attached to all the characters in the series, even ones who normally wouldn't catch my attention. She just has a way of drawing a reader into this fictional, but based on reality world that makes a reader like myself not want to leave.

Because I am a serious reader (thinker and over-analyze things to death) and treat characters as if they were real, Liz's books have been both a blessing and a curse. I love these books because they are so well written and developed but at the same time they draw me in so deeply that I forget about my surroundings and force me to look at my own life and see just how much of these characters' lives and personalities mirror my own.

Conditional Offer
by Liz Crowe, while a separate book in series, is not meant to be read as a standalone, none of them are unless you like being confused and missing out on the whole picture. There are scenes from the previous books that are revisited from another character's point of view and if a reader hasn't read the previous books, then Conditional Offer will leave them confused, lost, frustrated and without the full enjoyment that I've obtained from reading the series in order.

In Conditional Offer it's Craig Robinson and Suzanne Baxter's turn in the spotlight, with some "back up" from the usual suspects. From the moment Craig entered the picture, I knew he wasn't a "bad guy" in the traditional sense of the phrase and while Jack Gordon may have gotten the girl and have rowdier fans, Craig is no slouch in the fan department (don't ask me which "Team" I'm on, I can't decide). When I first met Craig he struck me as a young, carefree beach bum wannabe with hidden layers to him. I was right about the layers.

It was really great to revisit scenes from previous books and see them from a different perspective. It was almost like a brand new scene each time and I felt a little spoiled by author Liz Crowe. I love that she gave fans of her books a chance to see previous scenes from a different angle, allowing us a chance to "re-meet" Craig and get to know him better through the events of the past. It was a great way to lead up to the present and his relationship with Suzanne because it provided more background information than all the previous books combined.

Suzanne, to me, truly represents battered women in the AFTERMATH of it all. Struggling with self doubt, feelings of loneliness, fear and the emotional backlash of having lived and survived abuse. It plays hell on relationships, and not just the romantic ones either. Suzanne may have at times sounded as a heartless, unfeeling bitch due to her past involvement in Blake Thorton's life and again it would be easy to cast a Liz Crowe character as a villain just based on the above information. It is human nature after all to cast hasty judgments without having all the necessary information. However, if you've been reading Liz's books from the beginning then you should know that first impressions are DEFINITELY not accurate with any of her characters. That saying about it just being "the tip of the iceberg" definitely applies when reading a Liz Crowe book.

Having said that, Craig and Suzanne face a lot of obstacles, both separately and together while both the past and the present conspire to keep them apart. It was nerve-wracking to watch because Liz Crowe can be quite unpredictable with her characters, much like real life is.

Conditional Offer
, though the 5th book of a series, does not fail to define Liz Crowe's "Romance for Real Life" sub-genre, so concerns about a "slump" or the series losing "steam" and becoming repetitive are not a concern here. There's plenty of wounds, new and old that need to be worked on, and as in real life, even those relationships that have come "full circle" *cough* Jack and Sara *cough* still need work and are NEVER 100% fail proof. If they were, divorce wouldn't exist.

If you're a reader looking for angst, drama and more than a little dose of reality in your next erotic read, please check out the first in the Stewart Realty series, Floor Time.


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