//Tonic by Staci Hart//
Welcome to the world of reality TV. Where the lighting and make-up are always on point, a place where a regular Joe can become an Hollywood sensation overnight, reality is staged, secrets and mistakes from the past will come back to haunt you, and the gossip is juicier that an update from Gossip Girl herself. Strap on your seat belts, book worms, and get ready for one hell of a ride. In the latest novel by Staci Hart, we get an exclusive behind the scenes look at the inner workings of a reality show through the eyes of Joel Anderson, the hottest up and comer of the reality TV circuit and who happens to be the most sought after tattoo artist in all of NYC, and Annika Belousov, the ice queen TV producer.
Reluctant to even join the show, Joel Anderson eventually goes against his better judgment and agrees knowing that this is the one thing that his brother and co-workers want. And the fact that he gets to see Annika everyday makes the decision a little easier. Joel is definitely my type of guy. Tall, dark, bearded, ripped, and covered in ink, but his outer appearance is only half of his appeal. He’s charming, fiercely loyal to those he loves, protective, passionate about his work and business, and is a sexy, swoon worthy alpha male that leaves you fanning yourself just listening to him speak. Since his divorce he has been closed off and hesitant of his relationships. Now, instead, choosing the love ’em and leave ’em approach. Well, that is until Annika walks through the doors of his tattoo parlor where he wastes no time making his interest known.
Annika is a fiercely independent, witty, steadfast, and stubborn TV producer. To most, she is seen as an uptight ice queen who is all business and no play, but not to Joel. No, he sees underneath that cold exterior she shows the rest of the world, down to her true self. He notices her caring heart, contagious smile, and loyalty to her family. Which instantly she shies away from when she feels herself getting too close. Desperately trying to stay indifferent when it comes to Joel. Clinging to the fact that if anything were to happen between them, it would just be a fling and it’s not worth the risk of putting her job or her heart on the line, so she pushes him away. Telling herself she doesn’t have time for an irresistible, hairy, tattoo artist with a heart of gold. Nope, absolutely no time.
Put these two together and you have the perfect mixture of rugged sexiness and pristine sweetness that sparks to life when they share a page in the form of witty banter, heart stopping dialogue and pulse pounding angst. They are perfect together, and while they may seem like opposites on the surface, the surface is only skin deep. You have to look closer to see how much they are alike and how their differences tie them together to form an inseparable bond. Tonic is a story of second chances, of two broken people searching for their other half completed with moments of crippling drama and moments of sweet and tender care. It’s about two people who have both been hurt, experienced failure and heartbreak. Who have learned that sometimes in order to get what your heart and soul truly desires, you have to sacrifice something that you cherish.
Hart’s talents truly shine in Tonic, and it is hands down her best book yet. The original spin on classic tale held the qualities of a signature Staci Hart novel with characters that are sassy, sexy, charming and passionate with just the right amount of dramatic flare. Tonic is a brilliant romantic comedy that leaves your heart racing with a smile on your face.
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.
Staci 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, even 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. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.
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 sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.