Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alexi Lawless Complicated Creatures Blog Tour Review

Complicated Creatures 

(Part One)



What happens when curiosity becomes obsession? And when that obsession leads to an unstoppable journey you could never have imagined?

Luck is Jack Roman's middle name— and Chicago is his Empire. He lives to work, loves to play, and makes no commitments. But when the mysterious S. Wyatt moves into the adjoining penthouse, he's immediately drawn to her, a striking, elusive woman who transitions seamlessly from wood-paneled board rooms to high-stakes, high-risk rescue operations in the most dangerous parts of the world.

Intrigued by her self-possession, aroused by her incredible passion, and disarmed by a vulnerability she cannot hide, Jack pursues her into the nexus of her dangerous present and her enigmatic past. An entire world is revealed to Jack, where living for pleasure becomes fighting for survival. And the only woman he wants may be the one he cannot have...

COMPLICATED CREATURES is a mesmerizing, labyrinthine romantic suspense that will leave you wondering: Do you really want to know everything about the one you love?

Note to the Reader: Complicated Creatures is the first ebook in a series of erotic romantic-suspense fiction. It is recommended for readers 18+ for mature content… these are not your mother’s romance novels!

Preview Excerpt

Derrick Markham paused at the sweeping expanse of windows overlooking the city. The late afternoon sun burnished the massive construction site below, workers crawling over steel beams and raised earth like arthropods. Derrick imagined his nearly finished skyscraper resembling a hot orange spire rising out of the dense Jakartan cityscape.
“What a beautiful day to close a deal,” he murmured, smoothing his tie into place. Today, he didn’t want one distracting stitch out of place. He reminded himself that this afternoon’s meeting should go off without a hitch. All that hard work, preparation, and negotiation was finally going to culminate in a crisp, satisfying finish.
A brisk knock sounded at his office door before it opened. Turning, he saw his attorney and lead negotiator slip through, carrying a sheaf of papers in a portfolio. Derrick liked the sleek, polished look of her in an elegantly feminine three-piece suit. Samantha was a beauty, certainly, but only a fool would be taken in by her looks. In the time they’d worked together to finalize this deal, he’d become acutely aware that her appearance only distracted from the acuity of her mind. Her eyes gave her away. That cool, obsidian gaze took in everything.
She stopped near him, glancing over his appearance, her brief assessment resulting in a pleased smile. “You look dapper, Derrick. The chairman will appreciate your choice in tie color.”
“China red. Not too obvious, you think?” He fiddled momentarily with his cufflinks.
“No, he’ll appreciate the nod,” she said. “Here are the contracts with the adjustments you agreed on last week.” She flipped open the portfolio. “Note the chops for your signature are here. Make sure the insignia faces down, like so.” Taking out the marble chop, she showed him deftly which side to press first. “Chow may ask for a clause adjustment on the payment terms, but don’t waver. His modus operandi suggests he’ll test your mettle by playing hard ball in the eleventh hour to see what competitive offers you may have.”
Derrick thought on that a moment. “How do you know that will be his approach?”
Her mouth curved slightly. “Rumor has it.”
Derrick tutted while he moved toward his desk to pick up his mobile phone. He’d worked with her long enough to know anything she told him would be founded in far more than mere rumor. Samantha was nothing if not thorough. He appreciated having a partner-in-crime who could help anticipate the chess moves while he focused on finishing the construction of the skyscraper. Derrick could already taste the finish with the conclusion of today’s deal, and he felt the impatience to get started flitting at the edge of his concentration. He could hardly wait to board the jet home later tonight. It had been nearly two months since he’d seen his family. He turned on his phone, glancing at the picture of his son on the screen.
“Don’t worry.” Sam spoke up beside him, snapping the folio shut. “You’ll be back in California for your son’s baseball game by this time tomorrow.”
Derrick smiled at the thought. “I was thinking I’d take him to the game in the T-Bird. Let him show off a little to his friends afterward.”
“My guess is all little boys like to be driven around town by their dads after they win their little league trophy,” she smiled, laughing softly.
“That they do,” Derrick agreed, enjoying the image in his mind’s eye. He could almost feel the dry California sun on his skin, so different from the stifling humidity he’d gotten so used to in Indonesia. “And where will you be this time tomorrow?” he asked.
“Sitting by the beach in Bali, God willing.”
“Good plan.” Derrick briefly imagined that svelte figure of hers in a bikini.
Sam moved toward the door, refocusing him. “Ready to do this?”
Derrick nodded, slipping the phone into his pocket, his mind shifting to the meeting. He watched Sam touch the earpiece under her dark hair, murmuring to an unseen listener that they were heading toward the conference room. His bodyguard, Carey Nelson, stepped out in front of him as they left the office. Carey had the build of a lineman, easily over six-foot-five, with solid, broadly packed muscle. He had an agility of movement and speed that belied his size. They’d worked out together often enough over the past few weeks that Derrick knew Carey was swift, his movements spare and efficient.
They took a short walk down the hall toward an impressive conference room with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of downtown Jakarta and a massive, highly-polished table that could easily seat at least thirty people. The typically unrelenting sun was just beginning to wane into a late afternoon haze, casting a pleasant glow over wood-paneled walls. The Chow Yun group was already gathered at the conference table, his own team also in place, making small talk. After a round of obligatory handshakes, Derrick settled into the chair at the opposite end of the table from their leader, Edward Chow.
“First, let me say how thrilled I am that we are so close to completion on the construction of the Fortune Tower,” Derrick began, his voice confident. “This skyscraper will be home to the new Southeast Asian headquarters for Chow Yun Industries and Markham International. I’d like to personally thank Mr. Edward Chow for his vision in the completion of this project—”
A sudden, resounding boom rocked the room as glass shattered. Derrick felt his neck squeezed as a hand jerked him back and forced him to the floor. He turned, disoriented, trying to fend off an attack when he saw Carey pushing him further under the conference table. He felt two strong arms hook under his armpits and drag him backward. There was a cacophony of sound, discordant edges blurred by the gusts of wind rattling through the blown-open window and muting shocked screams.
We’re forty stories up, Derrick thought, dazed. He could hear glass crunching, the crack of more gun shots, shouts, people scrambling.
A voice sounded close to his ear, “I need you to crawl low with me, Derrick. I’m going to get you out of here, but you listen to me. Don’t deviate.”
He blinked as Sam let go of his arms to jerk out of her suit jacket. She slid backwards and turned to her side, pulling a 9mm from her back, the holster hidden beneath her dark vest. She thumbed off the safety as chaos exploded around them.
“Derrick, can you handle a gun?” she asked calmly, reaching down her leg to pull another from a holster strapped to her ankle.
“Jesus Chr—” Derrick found a small revolver thrust into his hand.
“We crawl quick and low now. You follow me close. Carey’s on your six.”
“Carey’s on my…” Derrick wondered distantly how she could talk to him in her work voice as if they were still standing in his office.
Are we still in my office? Am I imagining this?
He opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. In shock, he registered the hysterical screams and the jolting staccato of high-powered rifle rounds hitting the walls amidst the rush of wind pummeling through the once-pristine conference room.
Derrick. Derrick, open your eyes and follow me.” He heard Sam speak to him, her voice calm but urgent. He blinked open his eyes. She stared at him hard before flipping fluidly and belly crawling under the table, knocking a chair out of the way as she neared the entrance to the conference room. There was a flurry of commotion around them, men shouting in Mandarin, Indonesian and English. He couldn’t make sense of it; couldn’t process anything outside of survival.
Sam touched her earpiece. “Where’s the shooter, Talon?”
Another crack sounded, and he saw one of Chow’s men go down, blood flowing from his mouth as he grasped the side of his chest. Derrick stopped, fixated on the dying man’s face only a handful of feet from his own, his eyes vacant.
Sam turned around. “Carey, can you knock the table over and block the door while I get Derrick out?”
“You got it,” Carey replied, maneuvering deftly.
Another crack sounded, then panic as Chow’s men dragged someone back. Pools of smeared blood drenched the ivory travertine floor. Derrick blinked, staring at the man who’d been shot.
“Chow. Oh my God, is that Chow?”
He watched the blood pooling, transfixed, the color shocking and vivid against the pale limestone.
Derrick!” Samantha grabbed him, smacking his face hard, jolting him from his daze. “Look at me, Derrick. Focus. We’re getting you out.” Carey overturned the conference table with a crash, giving them a barricade. “One of my men is locating the shooter. Another is flying a chopper to this tower right now. Keep it together, Derrick. You stick close to me, and this time tomorrow you’re in California.”
Derrick nodded, his throat working as he swallowed back panic. He looked down at the gun she’d put in his hand. An eerie calm settled over him.
“The sniper still has the door,” Carey told her.
Derrick heard another crack, watching with widened eyes as another man from Chow’s group slumped to the ground during a bid to get to the conference room entrance. He couldn’t tell if Chow was still alive or if anyone on his own team had been hit. People were crouching behind the table with them, some shocked silent, others crying or shouting into mobile phones. His hand squeezed around the reassuring weight of the gun she’d put in his hand.
Sam pressed her earpiece again. “Talon, status!” she barked over the noise and chaos.
It could have been minutes; it could have been seconds. He saw Sam nod to Carey, felt Carey grab his shoulder, urging him forward toward the door. He wondered minutely if he was crawling toward his death. He found himself praying, his whispered psalm disembodied and distant, as if it were someone else speaking it.
And yea, though I walk through the valley of shadow and death…
“Almost there.” Samantha stopped mid-crouch, her head cocked as if she were listening for something.
Her head came up.
She and Carey looked at each other at the same moment.
Suddenly, Carey picked him up by the neck and the back of his suit jacket, flinging him across the open space not blocked by the conference table. His shoulder slammed into the wall from the force of Carey’s throw. Dazed, Derrick winced as he glanced around the hallway, trying to sit up. He couldn’t believe they’d walked down this wide, wood-paneled hall so casually only minutes ago, thinking of nothing but closing this deal and heading home. How self-assured he’d felt. How cocky. What a fucking joke.
He saw a couple of Chow’s men managed to drag him into the hallway, cradling his body in their arms, shaking, petting the older man anxiously. Chow was covered in blood but appeared to be alive, barely conscious as he muttered something unintelligible, a rivulet of blood trailing from his mouth. Sam crouched near him, speaking to his men urgently in Mandarin as she hastily looked over his wounds. One of them answered her as she asked questions, pointing down the hall toward the bank of stainless steel elevators.
“What is she saying? What’s happening? Is Chow okay?” Derrick struggled to ask as Carey helped him up and began pushing him past the group.
“She’s asking where Chow’s head of security is. More of his men are on their way. They’re coming up from the parking garage,” Carey answered, pushing him down the hall toward the stairwell.
“What about my team?” Derrick sputtered, trying to glance back over his shoulder.
“One of our men just shot the sniper. A secondary team is seeing to the people left in the conference room, and they’ll get everyone to safety. Our job is to get you out,” Carey answered calmly, urging Derrick up the steps.
Sam burst into the stairwell behind them, lithely bounding past Carey and Derrick. “Chow’s passed out,” she shouted over her shoulder. “Looks like he took one to the chest and another in the arm, but he’s alive.”
Carey hustled him up the metal stairs. As Sam pushed open the door to the rooftop helipad, Derrick felt thewhump whump whump of helicopter blades slicing through the thick humidity of the late afternoon heat. A dark Sikorsky landed, the wind whipping at his hair and clothes. Derrick watched a man jump out to swing open one of the back doors. Sam and Carey hustled him to the chopper, bodily lifting him in. She pushed him into the seat, snapping a harness around him while Carey crawled in, shutting the door behind his broad frame. The chopper lifted off before the door was even closed. Sam glanced down at the skyscraper they were sweeping away from in a wide arc, hawk-eyed, watching for any signs of trouble. Carey settled in beside him.
Distantly, Derrick realized he was still clutching the handgun Sam had handed him in the conference room. He stared down at his hand, aware the last fifteen minutes of his life was the closest brush with imminent death he had ever experienced. He saw Sam’s hand cover his own. Mute, he looked up into her alert dark eyes, watching him as she carefully withdrew the gun from his hand. Derrick realized belatedly his hands were shaking.
“What just happened?” he managed to croak out.
Sam holstered the gun on her ankle, smoothing her suit leg over it as if she were adjusting a trouser sock. Derrick blinked, feeling more disconcerted as the chopper veered heavily, the skyline tilting.
“Not your typical day at the office, Derrick?” Sam asked, her mouth arranged into a consoling smile.
Derrick’s hands shook harder. He tried and failed to quell the burst of emotion rioting through his body as he grasped the situation.
“What the fuck just happened?” he shouted suddenly, anxiety crawling up his throat as the shock and adrenaline wore off. His hands clenched into tight fists as he fought for control.
“Calm down, Derrick,” she told him. “You’re all right.” Sam slipped her hand over his with a pat of comfort. “The worst is over.”
“What—” Derrick took a deep breath as his voice broke. “What was that—” His throat worked. He tried vainly to swallow.
Sam smiled gently, squeezing his hand again before letting go. “That was an assassination attempt on Mr. Chow. And possibly you, since the sniper didn’t stop after he hit Chow. I don’t have an immediate update on Chow’s status, but I believe he’s still alive.” She produced a small bottle of water, handing it to him. Derrick gulped it down gratefully. “We have three confirmed dead, all Chow’s men,” she continued. “Your team is rattled, but only Garrison took a shot to the shoulder.”
“Second chopper just landed,” Carey spoke up, his finger at his earpiece. He looked at Derrick. “We’re medevac’ing Garrison and Chow to the hospital. Garrison will get patched up. Shot went clean through. Nothing vital hit.”
“Nothing vital…?” Derrick mumbled, closing his eyes. He felt achy and exhausted. “Who would want to kill me or Chow?”
“He’s made a lot of enemies since leaving Shanghai. A lot of bad land deals. He’s got some unresolved karma,” he heard Sam answer, her voice wry. “I doubt you were a target, but we’ll know more as soon as we identify the sniper and figure out who he was working for.”
“Jesus,” Derrick muttered, opening his eyes. He glanced out the window toward the sun setting on the horizon. “Did you know this would happen today?” he asked.
“No, Derrick.” Samantha shook her head. “Chow was a risky partner from the get-go, and we knew the odds of something going down while you were in the same room seemed higher. We’ll be able to illuminate you and your Board with the details here by the time you’re stateside.”
“Stateside?” Derrick blinked.
“We’re flying you out to the jet now,” Samantha confirmed. “Like I said, by this time tomorrow, you’ll be back home in California.” Sam touched her earpiece briefly, listening. “My men found the sniper’s spotter and backup trying to slip out of the building,” she informed him after a moment. “We’ll interrogate him after we get you on the flight.”
Derrick glanced up. “I thought you were just a negotiator. Where the hell did you learn how to do that?”
Sam glanced at him. “Which part?”
“Don’t bullshit me,” Derrick snapped, realizing distantly his sudden fury was misplaced. But he couldn’t seem to stop himself, his words erupting from him. “An hour ago you were drafting fucking contracts for chrissakes! Now you’ve got a 9mm under your suit and you’re interrogating would-be assassins. Who the hell are you?”
Derrick saw a brief flash of her teeth as she grinned. “I’m still Sam, Derrick. The only difference between me and typical corporate counsel is that I don’t just push around paper.” She leaned forward, extending her hand. “Formerly Lieutenant Commander Samantha Wyatt of the United States Navy. Now it’s just Esquire,” she smiled reassuringly. “Pleasure protecting you today, Mr. Markham.”
Derrick shook that slender, manicured hand, still feeling dazed and confused. “You saved my ass,” he breathed.
“Well, I sure as hell wasn’t gonna leave you there,” she teased, her eyes gentling.
Derrick nodded before he sat back, allowing his head to fall against the headrest as his eyes closed. “I was almost shot today, and now I find out my general counsel can kill people with her thumbs,” he muttered, trying to calm down.
“True story,” Carey grunted next to him.
Derrick’s head whipped around. “Seriously?”
Carey shrugged.
“I was kidding. You were kidding, right?” Derrick asked, looking back at Sam.
Her dark eyes lit with amusement, as she tried to suppress a smile. “I find weapons more effective, but I can use my thumbs in a pinch,” she replied, leaning back to examine her silky dress shirt. She noticed blood on one of the cuffs, cursing. “Damn. I love this shirt,” she muttered.
Derrick looked to Carey again. “I thought you were the one in the military.”
Carey snorted. “I followed her. This one makes GI Jane look like a Cabbage Patch doll.” He smirked, watching Sam roll up the sleeves of her blouse.
“You said you were going to interrogate the sniper’s backup?” Derrick asked. “The spotter?”
Sam nodded. “I’ll find out as much as I can and let you know more.”
“Are you turning him in? To the Jakarta police?”
Carey laughed softly beside him. “Derrick, I doubt he’s Indonesian, based on the physical descriptions our men have given us. These assassins were highly trained marksmen. It’s a friggin’ miracle Chow didn’t die in that conference room. My guess is they’re wanted for crimes in other countries. Jakarta police will be the least of their worries, trust me.”
Sam nodded in agreement. “Like I said, we’ll let you know more when we know more. You have my word on that.”
Derrick remained silent for the rest of the short flight. When the chopper landed near a private jet on a quiet airstrip, he exhaled a relieved breath. A man in fatigues approached the chopper as it landed. Before he opened the door, Derrick gripped Sam’s arm.
“Samantha, thank you. Seriously,” he told her, releasing a shaky breath. “You saved my life.”
She smiled, patting his hand gently. “You’re welcome, Derrick. Now giddy up. Your jet is waiting.”
“I can never repay you—”
“Sure you can,” she replied. “Invoice is in the mail.” The door to the helicopter opened. “You’ll be home in no time, Derrick. Enjoy your family.”
With that, Sam hopped out before Carey escorted him toward the waiting jet. Derrick glanced back one last time as he reached the stairs to the aircraft. The sun had set, the darkening skyline ablaze in cinnabar and orange. Jakarta looked like it was on fire in the distance. Derrick realized again how much had happened since he’d stood at his windows, looking down at it all, oblivious of the sudden impact in the minutes to come.
“I could have died,” he murmured to himself.
“But you didn’t,” Carey replied from beside him.
“I had no idea she was capable of that.” Derrick shook his head, wiping an unsteady hand down his face. “But thank Christ for it,” he murmured as he paused at the steps of the waiting jet. Derrick’s eyes found her again. Samantha leaned against the Sikorsky, conferring with the man in fatigues, hand tucked into her trouser pocket, poise relaxed.
“She’s impressive, that one.”
Carey laughed softly behind him. “You don’t know the half, Mr. Markham. You don’t even know the half.”

The Complicated Creatures series release dates:

Part 1: Available Now
Part 1.5: (Slated for sometime July for website followers)
Part 2: (Slated for the end of summer)
Part 2.5: (Slated for the end of fall)
The Prequel: (Will be a full lengths YA slated around Christmas/New Years)
Part 3: (The conclusion to the series slated for sometime next year)

About Lexi Lawless
I live to read, and I wanted heroines who were strong, powerful women in charge of their kingdoms, dreams, and destinies. So I began to write characters I wanted to read, and as soon as I opened that Pandora's Box-- well, it became a passion. The kind you quit your 9-5 to devote your life to. The kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night to write. I hope you enjoy these characters as much as I enjoy writing their stories.
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You can find Alexi on her Website or on her Facebook page, she loves to hear from her fans.

You can buy a copy of Complicated Creatures from these bookstores:

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Release Date
(April 23, 2014)

My Rating
5 Stars

My Review


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