Tuesday, May 30, 2017

NetGalley REVIEW - Virtual Tour w/Interview - Called Out (Calling It, #3) by Jen Doyle

Called Out
Calling It, #3
by Jen Doyle
Releasing May 29th 2017
Carina Press
The Book Junkie Reads . . . Review of . . . CALLED OUT (Calling It, #3) . . . Kids do the darnedest things. This was no different when it came to this read with Lola and Jack and of course Lola’s boys. This was the first read this year that show a real single parent that had the resposiblitlies of truly taking on a family. Lola was the single mother to four boys. She was doing it and let nothing get in her way. She was determined not to allow for some ball player to change any of that. Being a single parent is hard. Being a single parent of four boys in this world could be considered a monumental task. Lola tackled it like a champ.

Jack was a man on a mission. He had done something wrong that he cannot remember doing but has been told that he did in fact do it. He needs to apologize for the incident and regain his friendship and respect in his profession. Taking this journey for him was more than just about apologizing. It was his chance to redeem himself to himself. He has never thought much about who or what he did. His actions had consequences. He learned on his journey that there are more ways to make an impact on one’s life. He becomes a man in more ways that just being the man of the moment, to the ladies or the fans. He becomes a man that he could be proud of.

There are many things that occur during this read that shows you the evolution of Jack when he comes to town and in the end. Lola, her boys, and Nate all play an impactful part in helping Jack learn more about himself. This for me was a romance for a single mother and her boys. While at the same time being the opportune read for a man learning more about himself.

I very much enjoyed this read. I found it to be the perfect addition to the series. It progressed in a manner that allowed for you to read it as a stand along but still had you wanting to know more about Nate and his journey towards Dorie. If you have had the pleasure of reading just one book in this series, pick up this one. If you need a place to start, then start right here.

Calling It series:
Calling It – Calling It, #1
Called Up – Calling It, #2
Last Call – Calling It, #2.5
Called Out – Calling It, #3

BlurbJack "Ox" Oxford is used to being alone. Granted, when you screw over your friends, being alone isn't always a choice. Playing for the Chicago Watchmen is a last-ditch effort to save his career…and right some of his past wrongs. He's not expecting a warm reception, but he's also not expecting a flat tire to change everything.

Recovering control freak, single mom and semiprofessional chaos wrangler Lola Deacon McIntire doesn't need an arrogant ballplayer to swoop in and save her from anything, much less her flat tire. And she definitely doesn't need her body to betray her and decide this is the guy to wake up her rusty libido. She isn't about to upset her sons' lives for any man—much less one who so clearly doesn't think he's dad material.

Jack never thought he'd find someone who wanted to build a life with him, but the more time he spends with Lola and her boys, the more it starts to feel permanent. Even tough-as-nails Lola concedes there just might be a future here—the big, beautiful, messy future neither of them was looking for—but only if Jack will accept he deserves it.

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The only person who didn’t seem to notice was Jack. She didn’t particularly expect any special treatment, and it was clear he wasn’t interested in a long, happy life together any more than she was. But when he pushed his plate aside and started to say his goodbyes, she did have to turn her back to make sure her face didn’t betray her disappointment.
When he did finally come up behind her to say goodbye, it was without leaning in and whispering in her ear, and he kept his hands far away from her. It was clear that whatever had happened between him and Deke—and Lola could read a room enough to know that something had happened—meant things were about to come to an end.
Lola was okay with that. She hadn’t really expected anything after the other morning anyway. Still, it was an effort to plaster a smile on her face, especially when he nodded his head toward the hallway. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Lola sighed. “Cover me?” she said to Mary. And then she turned to move past him and walked straight ahead.
“So,” she said when they got to the back hallway. She didn’t think it counted as breaking up when they weren’t together, but she’d never actually been broken up with before so she wasn’t sure. And although she wasn’t willing to make it easier for him, she wasn’t about to make it hard.
“So,” he said. He was nervous. This was going to be worse than Lola had thought.
Well, it wasn’t going to be worse than having Tuck show up in his police uniform the night of the accident, or spending all those long lonely nights when Dave was deployed wondering whether he was still alive.
“Obviously,” Jack said, “we have two very different lives.”
Yep. Lola nodded for him to go on.
“And we both know I am not by any means a catch.”
It kind of depended on how you defined it, but this wasn’t the time to agree or disagree. She clasped her hands behind her back.
“This is probably a really, really bad idea.” He ran his hands through his hair and Lola tried not to think about how cute he was. How cute it was, to have the big, bad Iceman be so nervous because of her. Even if it was because he was about to tell her that he never wanted to see her again.
“But how would you feel about seeing me tonight after you get off?”
“I’m sorry?” That was not what she’d expected him to say. 
He closed his eyes and shook his head. “Not get off. That innuendo was not intentional. I meant after you’re done with your shift.”
Wow. He wasn’t even making double entendre jokes. This was seriously strange. And not how she’d expected this to go.
He started pacing.
 “I, uh” He cleared his throat. “Jules mentioned the babysitter puts your kids to bed and stays over on the nights you work late.”
“She did?” Jules was so much more of a troublemaker than she led anyone to believe.
Jack nodded. “I was thinking maybe I could pick you up and take you to dinner somewhere.”
And now Lola was irritated. Never mind that ten o’clock was too late to have dinner. “Seriously? We’re doing the dating thing?” She may have had her breakdown earlier, but it didn’t change her overall goal. “What part of ‘fuck me against the wall’ did you not understand?” Lola was fairly certain she’d been clear on that.
Jack tensed before straightening up to his full height. Then the Jack she knew was back and in front of her—crowding right up against her, pinning her between him and the wall. This time his grin was natural and easy and entirely carnal—just the way she liked it. “I never said fucking against the wall was off the table. I just thought maybe you’d like to grab a bite first.”
Resisting the impulse to say that she would, actually, like to take a bite out of something first, she set her lips in a grim line. Was this truly what he wanted? Or was it just what he thought she wanted, despite what she’d said? Trying to keep the frustration out of her voice, she said, “I don’t want to go on dates, Jack. I don’t want a boyfriend. I don’t want another thing to add to the list.” She wasn’t pulling punches. Not today.
Although he winced and said, “Ouch, babe. That was harsh,” he didn’t seem overly upset. Especially not as he slid his thigh between her legs, looking entirely as if he were going to eat her up. “I don’t want to go on dates, Lola.” He brought his hand up between them. “And I really don’t want a girlfriend.” Though he seemed utterly calm, she could feel his heart beating as rapidly as hers was. “But I do have a list, and it includes fucking you repeatedly, and not just against the wall.” Then his hand closed over her breast, and he pinched the increasingly sensitive tip, and to her annoyance, she couldn’t hold back her gasp. Right here in the hallway of her family’s restaurant.
“I do, however,” he said, “have higher standards than an unheated, unfinished farmhouse.” Her breath hitched as he rolled her nipple between his thumb and forefinger, twisting just enough for a moan to make its way out of her throat.
“Hey,” she managed to say. “That’s my unheated, unfinished farmhouse you’re talking about. Be careful what you say.”
He smiled but didn’t reply. Unless you counted taking her earlobe between his teeth and giving enough of a tug for her to feel it shoot down to her core.
“Okay.” She needed to work at not being quite so easy. “I suppose that could be added to my list, too.”
“Great.” His voice low and raspy, he didn’t pull back. “So what do you say?”
She let her head fall back against the wall as she closed her eyes. Dorie was right. The date itself didn’t matter. She had no illusions about Jack and she wasn’t looking for a replacement for Dave. But she was a thirty-six-year-old woman who had a whole lot of living left to do. She took a deep breath as she opened her eyes, “Okay.”
In a startlingly gentle way, he brushed her cheek with his thumb as he smiled. “I’ll be back at ten to pick you up.”
Keeping the wall at her back, she nodded. “It’s not a date.”
“Not a date,” he repeated, bending down and touching his lips to hers, giving the slightest of reminders as to what his mouth was truly capable of. Then he backed away, keeping his eyes on her until he disappeared from sight.
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Author Info
A big believer in happily ever afters, Jen Doyle decided it was high time she started creating some. She has an M.S. in Library and Information Science and, in addition to her work as a librarian, has worked as a conference and events planner as well as a Communications and Enrollment administrator in both preschool and higher education environments (although some might say that there is very little difference between the two; Jen has no comment regarding whether she is one of the “some”).

How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?

Sexy, sweet, emotional and humorous. Someone recently said that there’s a thread of dark humor that surprised her, given the blurb (and, I’m guessing, the small town Iowa setting, LOL)—which was awesome, because I try to tell people that, but they don’t always believe me. I like to think that if you took Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars and crossed that with Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series—with dashes of Jill Shalvis, Shannon Stacey, and Marina Adair thrown in—you’d get my books. (I might be the only one who thinks that but I’m standing by it.) 

What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?


I was mentioning to someone that I feel this journey really began in January 2016 when I hunkered down with the CALLING IT edits that were a result of my first contract with Carina, and then the writing of CALLED UP followed immediately thereafter. And then it occurred to me that, holy hell, that essentially means I’ve written three books and three novellas in a year and a half. After basically taking ten years to write my first manuscript (which, granted was a 350K epic that didn’t have anything to do with the books I actually published, but still), I am exhausted! Depleted. Friendless. (Just kidding on that last part, although a HUMONGOUS shout-out to the family and friends of any writer, because, seriously, you all put up with a lot.) So I had a deadline this past week and the second I turned it in, I refused to think about writing for, well, it was going to be two weeks, but I just heard that my edits may be back within the next few days so perhaps that will just remain in wishing territory, LOL. 


I have to be honest, this last manuscript I turned in was really difficult to write (see paragraph re. exhaustion above). I found myself procrastinating a lot. And when I procrastinate, I watch music videos. Look at Stu Reardon pictures. Watch some more videos. Closely examine Stu Reardon pictures. And then I found myself inspired. Incredibly so. I therefore have declared that, going forward, I will consider this not procrastinating, but a highly crucial part of my writing process. 


It’s funny, because as soon as I allowed myself a mental break—which was also partly a result of that crushing fear that I’d never have anything to write ever again, especially after putting my six stories out into the world, LOL—the ideas began to flow again. Yes, that was partly due to the inspirational research as noted above, but I also found that once I allowed myself to not worry about the writing, new characters and stories began to come to me again. And now I’m having to tell myself that we will NOT have another year like this one and it’s imperative to pace myself, and yet I have at least three more novellas I’m thinking about, plus at least the first book of a spinoff series. 

Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?

I still don’t have a regular writing routine, which I think has been one of the biggest challenges for me during this past year. I tend to see pictures and scenes in my head and then try to get them written down as soon as possible. So in that sense it flows naturally. Because of the way I came into writing, i.e., taking 10 years to write the first manuscript and then doing 6 in a year and a half, it’s been more of a holy-crap-I-have-a-deadline-and-there’s-no-way-I’m-going-to-make-it feeling of craziness, followed by doing not nearly enough until the next deadline looms. I guess I’d therefore add goal #4 to the list above: make it a routine. 

Nora Roberts is famous for saying you just need to put your butt in a chair and write. Perhaps I will do so with that picture of Stu Reardon hanging over my desk. (Except that doesn’t always work out when the kids are in and out of my office. Sigh…) 

Do you have a character that you have been working on for a long time that still isn't quite ready, but fills you with excitement to work on the story?

A few actually. Although I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I really love those series that are built on a group of people so intrinsically connected that it is nearly impossible to have one without all the others. Nate Hawkins, my hero in CALLING IT (book #1) is, yes, a major league baseball player, but he comes back to the hometown where he originally rose to fame as part of a storied high school basketball team. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted six books: one for each of the 5 original basketball team members, plus Lola, the sister of the hero in book #2 (hers is CALLED OUT and, as you well know or else I wouldn’t be here ;) out this week). So although Nate, Deke, and, now, Lola have their books, there are still three to go. These books aren’t even plotted yet, but I have a vision of Cal Sparks, the character we know least about because he’s serving overseas and has only so far been referred to, walking back into town, hobo-style. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have a hero’s welcome, returning home from the Army and all, but there you have it. I can’t wait to discover his story.  

If you could spend one-week with 5 fictional characters, who would they be?

Um, I’m allowed to choose my own, right? Because, honestly, after having living and breathing them for the last year and a half, I would so very much like to just hang out with Nate and Dorie, Fitz and Deke, and Lola and Jack. But if I’m only allowed to be with five of them, I’ll tell Jack that he’s got to take care of the kids because Lola, single mom of four, hasn’t had a vacation in a Very. Long. Time. 

Where would you spend one full year, if you could go ANYWhere? What would you do with this time?

I think I would actually like to travel EVERYwhere, LOL. And I’d love to do it with as many members of my family as I possibly could. I grew up as the daughter of two college professors, so although we weren’t exactly swimming in money, we had the luxury of time and were able to take long (as in 5 or 6 week) vacations. Not that we did that regularly, but I remember an epic cross-country train trip when I was around ten, and a 5-week trip to Europe when I was 14. Although my husband and I don’t have that kind of time, unfortunately (this whole two weeks of vacation thing is uncivilized, I tell you!), we were able to manage a 3.5 week cross-country train/driving trip with our own kids a few years back. Between those trips and all of the amazing road trips I’ve been on both as a child and an adult, I think my fantasy year would involve traveling with my husband by car, train, and boat wherever the feeling takes us. (I would very much like to avoid planes, LOL, but I’d do it if I had to.) We’d need to wait until the kids are all out of the house, I suppose, but I’d love for them to join us for weeks at a time. Add in my mom, sisters and their families, aunts/uncles/cousins and their families, plus some good friends along the way and that would be perfect. 

Can you share you next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?

Yes! Thank you for asking! 

The manuscript I just turned in is a novella called Holiday House Call and will be out in late October. It was actually somewhat inspired by real life events, and therefore very personal and emotional for me, which did definitely add to the exhaustion part that I was talking about above. But when I typed “The End” in that first draft, it was incredible to see the story that had evolved between neurosurgeon Dr. Karen Carmichael and Officer John “Tuck” Tucker, who is a secondary character in the CALLING IT novels. Some familiar characters play a role, but it is a completely standalone story and not at all baseball-related. (Although this one does have basketball in it, so the sports overtones are still there.) For me, it’s really about the town of Inspiration, the connections we make (or sometimes choose not to), and the way love, which can be devastating, is the ultimate source of healing and strength. 

With that said, I wanted to thank you so much for having me! I hope that everyone loves CALLED OUT! Happy reading! 

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