Excerpt & Review: Tonic by Staci Hart

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author:  Staci Hart
Release Date: October 13, 2016


Joel Anderson doesn’t take anything seriously.

Not his relationships, which have been few and far between since his brutal divorce. Not the drama of working in a tattoo parlor, which seems to be around every corner. When things get him down, he smiles and cracks a joke. But he’s not the kind of man you cross, or you’ll find yourself at the wrong end of his fists.

Annika Belousov takes everything seriously.

Like her job as a reality television producer, given that she typically has something to prove. Or her love life, which is defined by a series of requirements — affluent, ambitious, accomplished, to name a few. Definitely her family, who worked their whole lives to afford her every opportunity, a sacrifice she doesn’t take lightly. When she’s tapped to produce a reality show at Joel’s shop, she doesn’t think twice, just goes in for the kill, as if there were any other way.

The second Annika walks into Joel’s shop, he makes it his mission to crack her open, but she’s not having it. He’s all wrong — too crass, too hairy, too un-serious. But it doesn’t take her long to find out there’s more to him than smirks and tattoos. And what she finds could put her career and his heart on the line.

Not that Joel cares. Because for the first time in a long time, he’s found his tonic.

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tonic-wrap Excerpt

“Let me see it.”

“What?” I blustered, caught off guard.

“Stand up and turn around. I want to see it.” I was too surprised and caught up in the moment to refuse, so I stood and turned, laying my palms on the armrests as I faced the back of the chair.

One hand rested on my hip.

My heart stopped as I wondered what the hell I’d gotten myself into.

I glanced over my shoulder, my gaze bouncing between his face —turned down too much to read —and his reflection in the speckled, antique mirror, which I couldn’t see much of either. His free hand moved to the waistband of my tailored pants, and his fingers hooked and tugged, pulling the band down low.

His thumb ran over where I knew the tattoo was, and I felt his breath. Every place where we connected spoke to me of ownership.

“You got this done here? In New York?” His voice was rough.

Mine wasn’t much better. “Yeah. In Brooklyn.”

“Let me cover it up for you. Give you something you’re proud of. Your skin …” He paused, and I wished I could see his face, read his mind. “This shouldn’t be here, not on you. Let me … I want to …” He had moved closer, his hand on my hip pulling me back into him slightly enough for me to not have noticed that the backs of my thighs were touching his, my back arched just enough, his breath hot.

And then, he disappeared. I stood, finding my hands were trembling, wondering where I was and how I’d gotten there. The shop was mostly empty —no one had seen, not that it would have looked like much from the outside. But from where I stood, I felt every single deliberate move like a telegraph, telling me exactly what he wanted to do without him having to finish the sentence.

His back was to me when I turned around, his face down —I couldn’t see it in the mirror over his cabinet of ink and needles as he dug around in the drawers, seemingly for nothing in particular.

“Let me know if you want me to draw something up.”

“Okay, I will.” I paused, not knowing what else to say, feeling like I should say something. But there was nothing that I could say. “Well, have a good night, Joel. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He nodded, glancing at me in the mirror. “See you, Annika.”

I tried not to bolt out of the shop, but once outside, I admit it —I took off. I hauled up the stairs and into the office to grab my bag, grateful that Laney was already gone, and I texted my driver, asking him to pick me up a few blocks away so I could walk, put some distance between me and Joel, get the energy out of my body, through my legs and feet, into the pavement.


Review-DGR5 starsMy heart! Staci, what have you done with my heart?! And my cheeks…..I’m going to need my cheeks back because they have melted off my face with all of the smiling. I’m just a pile of goop.
à la Mode St. » fashion

…his dark skin against my white, the ink of him against the cream of me, the marked and the blank…

à la Mode St. » fashionStaci….effing…..Hart. Where have you been all my life?! This is my first Staci Hart book, and I am never looking back. I will be purchasing this gorgeous paperback and keeping it on my bookshelf forever. This review might be a little random, but I just FEEL so GOOD after this book that I’m a little crazy right now. Staci’s words. All of Staci’s words. It’s not just the story or characters that I loved so much….it’s her words.

This book killed me….with BEAUTIFUL WORDS. I loved this so much, I literally grabbed a napkin while reading it and started writing down notes for my review.

Joel & Annika:

 : Joel (aka Hairy) is a tattoo artist….a hairy tattoo artist. He owns the tattoo shop, Tonic, which is getting its own reality tv show. He isn’t excited about it, but he realizes he would rather be the show on tv than the competition to get the show. When he first meets Annika…..FIRE! I LOVED the animosity between the two right away. Annika tries to give him the cold, but his fire is so hot that she cannot resist him. I’ll take a little bit of THIS and THAT.
à la Mode St. » fashion

”I’m not supposed to want you. You…you make me mad and you make me laugh and you make me crazy, and I’m not supposed to want you, but I do. What am I supposed to do? What do you want? You want me to throw away my career? How about you? Should I use you up and toss you out too? Or maybe you’ll do the same to me. I don’t know, because I don’t know you. But that hasn’t stopped me from wanting you, not since the first time I ever saw your stupid, hairy face. I hate you, and I want you, and I hate that I want you. But I do.”

à la Mode St. » fashionAnnika is the ice queen, known for her ability to scare men away with a glare, but Joel is resistant to her ice. Annika is a producer of the reality show, so she know it would not be a good idea for her to get involved with Joel. He is all hairy smirks and jokes. He knows right away that he wants Annika, wants to figure her out and break through that ice.
à la Mode St. » fashion

Her eyes finally snapped to mine, and I tried to melt her panties off with my mind.

à la Mode St. » fashionI loved that there was low drama, despite the reality show setting. I loved loved loved all of the side characters. I cannot wait wait wait to read MORE OF STACI HART. Always more Staci Hart.
About the AuthorStaci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey.

From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.


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  1. Honestly, it’s seldom I go straight to Amazon and click a book based on one review. However, I’m off to one-click this one. Great review. And now I’m planning some real down time, just me and my Kindle. 😉

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