Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Shaken and Stirred by Kathleen O'Reilly

As a student and part-time bartender in Manhattan, Tessa Hart has found that a succession of roomies and cramped apartments are necessary evils in her life. Until she's out on the street and Gabe O'Sullivan, her mentor, boss and certified babe-magnet, steps in.

Any other woman would die to share his apartment--not to mention his bed--but Tessa's determined that they should stay just friends. The fiercely independent mixologist has to prove to their skeptical coworkers at Prime--the O'Sullivans' hot Manhattan bar--that the arrangement is strictly hands-off! But Tessa has trouble adhering to her own "no touching" rule when the actual sharing of close quarters day and night leaves her shaken and stirred....
Oh boy! This book has one of the best male protagonists around. Gabe O'Sullivan is one of those hot, sexy, sweet, understanding, lovable guys that are just total keepers, in and out of bed.

Tessa and Gabe are friends. They've been friends ever since Tessa hit New York City after a disastrous affair left her homeless and jobless in Florida and she decided that Manhattan was the place for her. Gabe gave Tess her first job as a bartender at Prime -- his family's bar -- and has always been there for her with words of encouragement, advice and a shoulder to cry on. Although Gabe is a gorgeous piece of eye candy, Tess sees him as the only dependable man she knows not as someone she would date.

Gabe is a happy man who has everything he wants out of life. His bar Prime is successful and he's about to expand to make it even better. He's single and has no problems finding women when he wants them, plus his two brothers are there to help him if or when he needs them. His only preoccupation seems to be his friend Tessa who is in trouble again. Her roommate bailed out on her and with five days to find an apartment with a roommate, she's about to go on the streets. He's not about to let his friend become homeless, especially since he has an extra room at his apartment. But when Gabe's naughty brother Sean O'Sullivan starts a bet at the bar assuring everyone that these two won't be able to keep their hands off each other, the long-time friends begin to see each other in an entirely different light.

I love the premise of this story, the friends to lovers trope and I absolutely fell in love with Gabe, there's no question about that. He not only gives Tess a place to live, but once the two of them do have their first hot sexual encounter and Tess freaks out, he gives her understanding and goes along with all of her fantastical requests. As the story goes along and Tess makes more and more unreasonable requests of Gabe, even after he tells her that he loves her, he still gives his lover and friend the benefit of the doubt along with passion, love and understanding. He's a keeper all the way, but... Tessa? I had a few problems with Tessa.

Tessa, Tessa, Tessa... what was wrong with you? I wanted to shake her. She begins as a likable character with possibilities then slowly deteriorates. Tessa is scared because of her past relationship, and for her it's all about making it on her own. Which is fine and dandy, except that she goes far in her quest, blindly too far in my opinion, to gain this independence as she lies and manipulates her friend and lover to get there. Although Tessa comes to the right conclusions by the end, I'm afraid that by then she was not a favorite.

What saved this book for me? Well, Gabe. Gabe and the fact that as O'Reilly is developing the relationship between the protagonists, there's in-depth character development. She also includes some intensely hot sexual scenes throughout the story, plus the other sexy O'Sullivans are woven into the plot, giving the story depth and making it tough to put the book down. The story gave Gabe his happy ending and I was glad for him, although I'm not ashamed to say that I wish he'd made Tessa suffer... at least a tini-tiny little bit before the end.

I have the other two books of the series in my TBR thanks to Tabitha who sent them to me, and I'm really looking forward to reading them. Despite my troubles with Tessa as a character, I can tell you that O'Reilly writes one sexy Blaze!

Category: Contemporary Romance (Category)
Series: Those Sexy O'Sullivans
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin Blaze, March 1, 2008
Source: Received this book from Tabitha
Grade: B

Visit Kathleen O'Reilly here.

Shaken and Stirred, Book 1
Sex Straight Up, Book 2
Nightcap, Book 3


  1. Oh I've had this one for forever and haven't ever read it - bad Tracy!

    You may have pushed me into pulling it up on my ereader. lol

  2. Reading your review, I'm thinking how come I don't remember this book? I thought I read the entire series but my spreadsheet shows that I've read the 2nd and 3rd book in this series but not the first. Lol. I'm glad you enjoyed this one for me! hehe

  3. Tracy, I definitely enjoyed the beginning of this series. O'Reilly focuses on the H/H and writes a complete category romance. I will definitely read the other two books in the series too. :D

    Tabitha, LOL! You missed Gabe? I can't wait to read Daniel's story, but Gabe's going to be a tough one to beat (from the brothers). I DID enjoy it! Thank you so much!

  4. Man, I know I read this one, but right now, I can barely remember a thing of it ^_^; Bad sign, right?

  5. I'd read this just for the hero. Plus, I love the friend to lovers trope. Thanks for the review Hils. :)

  6. LOL Nath, it happens. ;P I'm going to remember Gabe.

    Leslie, for him it's worth it, plus well... there are other reasons, lol! I'm reading the rest of the series. :D

  7. Tessa ruined this book for me. I did not like her. And it's such a shame because the set up is something I would usually enjoy.

    Sex, Straight Up is good and I re-read it from time to time.

  8. Ames, Tessa... sigh... she went too far. By the time she came around, I had absolutely no love for her either. But I loved Gabe. And I'll definitely read the next book since I really liked the writing. :)

  9. I haven't read a Blaze in ages...I wonder if my library has this? Thanks Hils!

  10. Orannia, I love, love Blazes! I don't indulge in them often enough. ;P

  11. I loved this trilogy! Very fun and sexy.

  12. I'm so glad to hear that, Christine! I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.


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