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THE TOTAL PACKAGE
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
Releasing March 15th, 2016
Smart and sexy Dani Carr knows as much about football as any man–maybe more. It’s always been her dream to make a living talking about the game she loves. But Dani’s not interested in being just the usual eye-candy sideline reporter; she wants to be the first woman analyst on a pre-game show, the ultimate in exclusive boys-club jobs. And it turns out, that despite the odds, she has the talent to get her there.
Star quarterback-and heartthrob–Tyson Palmer always did things in spectacular fashion, including ruining his career after debuting as a first-round draft pick. When the head coach of the Austin Mavericks refuses to let him waste his million dollar arm, Tyson makes a Hail Mary pass at redemption and succeeds with everyone…except Dani, who appears to be using her high-profile commentator job to make a name for herself at his expense.
Dani refuses to let anyone forget about Tyson’s transgressions….and for good reason. There’s history between these two, sizzling history that dates back to their college days, and it ended in another spectacular flame-out of Tyson’s. He’s conveniently forgotten all about that episode because Dani is no longer the cute girl next door he barely remembers–she’s a bombshell with huge ratings and a long memory.
But can a woman trying to claw her way to the top and a quarterback who knows all about rock bottom make it to the Super Bowl without destroying each other in the process? And what will happen when Tyson-riding high on his career comeback-realizes he needs to make an even more important comeback with Dani?
Tyson Palmer’s story starts with him hitting rock bottom before he is mercifully given another chance to be the player and the person he was meant to be before he let himself lose control. We follow Tyson as he is helped up and changes himself and tries to make amends for his past. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Tyson pushing and redeeming himself. The story was more effective for showing us Tyson at his worst and then rising up to become the man everyone knew he could be.
Dani was also very a interesting character. Her tenacity and determination made her equal to Tyson, but she was more than that. I loved that she was often flustered around Tyson. It made her easy to relate to as well as showing her human side. We didn’t get her side until much further into the story, as Evanovich used the first quarter of the book letting us get to know Tyson, but it did not mean that Dani’s side was lacking.
This book was truly fun to read and hard to put down. I love Evanovich’s storytelling and how it differs slightly from most contemporary romances, and even if she does utilize a particular trope that I find hard to swallow sometimes, I enjoyed watching the show, as it was. There’s a big pay off here for the reader because we are pulling for Tyson even as we are feel connected to Dani (at least I did), despite the fact that they both pretty much screw each other over at one point or another.
I really enjoy Evanovich’s books. This is the third connected book but they can all be read as stand-alones and aren’t a “series”. The steamy romance combined with the sports theme and fantastic characters have made me add Stephanie Evanovich to the top of my favorite author list. I can’t wait for her to write more.
Tyson scowled defensively, before leaning his forearms down on the table between them. “Then I guess there really isn’t any story left to tell. Sounds like you know it all.” He was sorry he had offered her a seat, much less his drink.
“I told you, Tyson, I want to try to help you,” she reiterated.
“Because I believe in you,” Ella stated with conviction, as if that was enough to earn his trust. But Tyson Palmer was long past trusting anyone, including himself.
“Why?” he repeated, now angry.
Ella looked down at the table for a moment, then said quietly, “Because I remember the guy I tutored. Who was serious about his game and never had a problem taking no for an answer.”
He wanted to laugh in her naïve face. To mockingly tell her at the time she hadn’t been worth the pursuit, if for no other reason than to get her to leave him alone. He wanted her to stop looking at him in the way she was, like he was not a total disaster. But most of all, he no longer wanted to be reminded of when he was in control and held the world in the palm of his football-throwing hand.
“That kid doesn’t exist anymore. When you graduate and join the real world, you’ll realize that people change, usually not for the better,” he spat out cynically.
“I refuse to believe that.”
Tyson sighed and ran his hand through the shaggy brown hair that had outgrown his clean cut months ago. She was being way too persistent, but her sincerity was admirable, and part of him wanted to believe her.
“Okay. We’re friends, now what?”
She brightened with his acquiescence. And she really did have a pretty smile. “Now you let me be a good friend and help take care of you. You look so tired. ”
This time he didn’t hold back the laugh, and while it wasn’t exactly harsh, it still was hollow. She wasn’t able to help him any more than he could help himself. And she made it sound so easy, like she could perform some sort of exorcism and all his demons would flee. The more likely story was she was trying to get close to him under the misguided impression that he had something left to offer.
“You’re good, Mother Teresa. Why don’t we go someplace quiet where I can confess my sins and you can absolve me? Make sure you turn your phone on to record, so you don’t miss the good stuff.”
“You’re wrong, but I understand you being leery,” she patiently explained. “I . . . I always liked you, Tyson, and you were always so nice to me. You deserve to have someone on your side. I know this is all just your circumstances talking.”
“Sorry, not interested.” Tyson took back his now-empty glass and went back to sucking the last remnants of Gentleman Jack off the ice. Damn his mouth was dry, always so dry. As far as he was concerned, the conversation was closed. He wanted her to get out before he settled back into the dark side.
“What would it take for me to get you interested? For you to consider coming home with me, at least for a decent night’s sleep?”
Maybe it was the way she asked it, completely oblivious to the fact that the question itself made her sound like a hooker. Maybe it was the pity or her dogged insistence that he see himself for something other than he was, which was a lost cause. And then, like a lighthouse shining through the fog in his brain, it dawned on him. His cute little virtuous tutor had joined the ranks of pleasure seekers and was trying to get him into bed. At least that explanation turned the exchange from ludicrous to one that made sense.
“You still a virgin, Ella Bella?” He answered her question with one of his own, accompanied by a smile of complete impropriety.
Finally she blinked. Her grip tightened around the handle of the purse in her lap, and she stared at it before looking back up at him and meeting his gaze head-on.
“Yes.” She spoke her one-word answer unemotionally, even as the flush crept up to her cheeks.
Tyson sat back in his chair, the recesses of his drug-addled mind jarred. Wrong answer. She was supposed to have forsaken her outdated notion of chastity. She was supposed to have been tainted by now, like everyone he knew. As corrupted as he was.
“Hey Ella Bella, what do you say to you and me going someplace to get freaky?” Part of it was said in jest, trying to recover from just how badly she managed to throw him. Another part of him longed to engage in just a little bit of the same harmless banter from the days when she was a sweetheart and he was a hero.
“Your place or mine?” Her answer was so unexpected and sounded just as foreign to his ears.
New York Times Bestselling Author, Stephanie Evanovich is
a full-fledged Jersey girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while
waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She attended
New York’s School of Film and Television and acted in several improvisational
troupes and a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job
she ever had, raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid
sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.
Stephanie, with THE SWEET SPOT, and now with THE TOTAL PACKAGE, you write heroes within the sports world (Baseball for TSS and Football for TTP). What aspects of that lifestyle makes for writing a great hero? And as with Tyson, what aspects of that lifestyle can make for great drama/character development? Sports heroes are fun because it’s easy to picture them having lots of attitude. Also, they are disciplined when it comes to their bodies, which really helps ratchet up the hotness. And if they are at the top of their games, they usually have lots of disposable income. In Tyson’s particular case, it all sort of worked against him, because it was that very lifestyle that caused him to implode.
You write heroines that any reader can not only relate to, but could consider that woman a best friend, as with Dani from THE TOTAL PACKAGE. Do you find qualities of yourself if any of your heroines or do you write them based on someone you know? Holly from Big Girl Panties shares the most of my views and personality traits, so thanks for the compliment! Amanda from The Sweet Spot has the full on sass I always wish I had. Dani Carr? (Heavy sigh). There were times I actually hated her, because she made some really bad decisions that I wouldn’t personally make in a million years. I can remember at one point calling my editor in tears and telling her I can’t write this woman anymore. My editor was thrilled and told me it showed real growth. Geez. Talk about growing pains.
If you could cast Tyson and Dani with any celebrity, who would you choose? Any reason why? I would love to see Billy Miller as Tyson. For folks out there that may know him, he plays Jason Morgan on General Hospital. Excuse me, make that the NEW Jason Morgan, taking over for Steve Burton. The fact that Billy got me to forget about Steve is a coup in and of itself. I’m a huge GH fan, and for a long time I shook my fist in the air and shouted – “There is only one Jason Morgan!” Billy is adorable and does vulnerable so well. And has the killer blue eyes. While I was writing The Total Package, I would often picture Kaley Couco. Or maybe I was just watching a lot of Big Bang Theory. But she is totally my pick for Dani.
What is your favorite romance troupe to write? (Second Chance Romance, Opposites Attract, etc)? Since The Total Package is only my third book, I’m not sure I have enough experience to give that question an honest answer. But now I suddenly feel like trying to write an opposites attracting, second chance romance.
Which was your favorite book to write? And which couple was your favorite to write? Yikes! Why do I feel like you’ve just asked me to choose a favorite child? Haha. But seriously, each book offered me the opportunity to meet new people and continue this amazing adventure, not to mention try and grow as a writer. In all honestly I think the book that is my favorite will always be the book the am working on at the time. It keeps me focused and in the moment.
Of course all your readers want to know what you have in the works for your next release? I’m currently working on a younger man/slightly more mature woman story with a martial arts backdrop. I’m even venturing into first person with this one. I was always the kid that just jumped into the deep end of the pool and my days alternate between thinking I’m having the time of my life and ordering a straight jacket. Some days, those thoughts alternate hourly.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today!! Thanks so much for having me. It’s been a real pleasure. Bring on the Ides of March!