Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Tour for Turning It On by Elizabeth Harmon (Review & GIVEAWAY)

After my enjoyment in reading the previous installment in the Red Hot Russians series I was thrilled to get my hands on this release along with its delicious hero.  Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of Turning It On by Elizabeth Harmon, along with my impressions of it.  Learn Ms. Harmon's thoughts on reality TV which plays a big role in this story and learn other tidbits about this book by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  To celebrate this book fill out the form for the chance to win e-copies of both titles in this series along with a $10 Amazon GC!

Keeping It Real on Reality TV
Who would do this? And for money, no less?
That’s the question asked by Hannah Levinson, an engaged book editor about to become a reluctant reality TV star, as she imagines the men and women who have been invited as potential last flings for her, her fiancé, and another couple about to tie the knot.
Little does Hannah know, she’s about to fall in love with one of them.
Some of my favorite romance novels not only offer an unforgettable love story, they also offer a peak behind the scenes of settings we might not know much about.  As an author, it’s a blast to learn more about the worlds my characters occupy. In “Pairing Off,” it was Olympic-level figure skating. In “Turning It On” (Red Hot Russians #2), my new Carina Press release, it’s reality TV.
I’ve often wondered about the people who become reality show cast members. What’s it like to live under the microscope of a TV camera and have one’s life and character dissected for entertainment?  Are they as conniving or clueless as they seem, or does the show’s storyline present them as characters far removed from who they really are?  
These were just a few of the questions turning in my mind as I dreamed up the story of a shy geek-girl suddenly thrust into the spotlight with a cast of scheming sexpots, and washed-up starlets. Hannah watches in dismay as her fiancé Jack turns into a Hollywood wanna-be she doesn’t even recognize. The only person who seems to be genuinely in her corner is the show’s villain, a Russian male stripper called Vlad the Bad.  But everything Hannah sees on camera suggests she shouldn’t trust Vlad at all.
To research Turning It On I studied reality TV industry guides, gossipy tell-all books, behind the scenes blogs, and even a cool little manual for potential contestants offering advice on how to make love on camera, eat a bug, form alliances, and conduct secret conversations while miked.  I also came to realize that unscripted TV is a lot more scripted than viewers, or sometimes even the cast members, think. To take readers behind the scenes, I included one of the show’s producers as a point-of-view character. 
Going in, Hannah is far from the cocky reality TV contestant, but ten weeks on Last Fling changes not only how others see her, but how she sees herself.  She also discovers that real, genuine love can blossom in the middle of the most unreal places of all.

Book editor Hannah Levinson couldn’t be happier. This “Nice Jewish Girl” is ready to marry the man she’s longed after for half her life. When her fiancé suggests they audition for Last Fling, a steamy new reality show for engaged couples, she lets herself be swayed. Maybe she’ll learn a thing or two.
Vlad Shustov’s fall from a once-bright career as a competitive figure skater was swift. Now trapped by a shameful past and an uncertain future, “Vlad the Bad” strips for cash. Joining the cast of Last Fling could earn him a fortune—or at least enough to finally leave stripping. But to win the show’s prize, he must seduce an engaged woman, something he can't even bear the thought of.
Hannah's not like any woman Vlad's met before. Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and relegated to the ugly-duckling role she’d worked so hard to shed, can she trust there’s more to Vlad than meets the eye? With sleazy TV tactics shattering the last shreds of the contestants' confidence, they'll have to believe true happiness is not only may be looking right at them.


Hannah sighed and shook her head. “I’m not usually such an emotional mess. It’s just this show. This whole situation! Back there…” she flung her arm wide, in the direction of the mainland. “I’m successful. Accomplished. I have a great job. I live in New York City. Here, all anyone cares about is how hot I am. Or more to the point, how hot I’m not!
Vlad nodded sympathetically. “It’s TV. Unfortunately, sex sells better than other good qualities.”
“Exactly! I can’t compete. I’m not like those other women, and I don’t even want to be. But I have no choice. Not unless I want to lose my fiancé to a scheming bimbo and have the entire nation talking about what a pathetic loser I am. It’s humiliating.”
“You can always learn to be sexy.” Vlad looked her over. “You’ve got the right equipment. All you need is to learn to use it. I am around sexy women all the time. I could coach you. You know…sexy lessons.”
“Sexy lessons?” She had to laugh at that. “I’ve never thought of sexy as a learned skill.”
“It is, though. All about how you carry yourself.” He adjusted his posture and the set of his broad shoulders conveyed a confidence that was undeniably hot.
“And who better to teach me than a guy named Vlad the Bad who takes off his clothes for a living?”
“As Uncle Ivan used to say, it pays to work with best coach you can find.”
She laughed again, but didn’t entirely dismiss the idea. Putting a little strut in her stuff held surprising appeal. Yet what was the catch? A guy who willingly signed on for a trashy show like Last Fling must want something. “And in return?”
He thought a moment and Hannah tensed, afraid of what he might ask. Then he gave a decisive nod. “I want you to read my book. Not just query, synopsis, sorry not right for us, but the whole thing. You don’t have to buy, but I want honest, professional critique of how to make it better.”
Honest and professional? Yikes. What would she say if the book was god-awful, which it likely was? He’d pinned so much hope to it, she couldn’t bear to be the one to discourage him. On the other hand, at least she would be gentle and constructive. And if it was good, this was a chance to help him achieve his dream. She imagined taking the book to her boss. Sales and Marketing would drool over this hot Russian male stripper–turned-literary sensation. As would everyone else.  And if it kept Jack from Robynne’s clutches, it was worth the risk.
Vlad narrowed his eyes. “So do we have a deal?”
A bit more certain, Hannah laughed and stuck out her hand. “Deal.”





After reading Ms. Harmon's engaging Pairing Off I knew I'd found a series, and author, to keep an eye on.  While this book doesn't reach the heights of that release it still presents readers with a delicious hero that I'm still dreaming of. With its intriguing premise and diverse cast of characters the stage is set for a rocky road to HEA for a woman who thinks her life is perfect and the handsome Russian stripper who longs for more out of life.  When a scandalous reality show brings them in close contact though neither will ever be the same.

Hannah's the good girl who's always faded into the background.  For years she harbored a crush on the too-perfect Jack and is surprisingly now engaged to him with a career she loves and is good at.  When an old friend asks the couple to be on his new reality show her feelings are put to the test as Jack's subtle signs of unhappiness become more blatant.  While I admired Hannah's talent and drive, it's her personal life and low self-esteem that frustrated me.  Before she and Jack went on the TV show it was clear he was unhappy and unsupportive yet Hannah continually made excuses for his bad behavior.  She allowed herself to be walked on time and again before finally listening to her own heart and mind.

Jack and Eric were both smarmy men and repeatedly made Hannah their door mat through lies and manipulations.  They projected their faults on her and used the resulting guilt to get what they wanted.  Jack never truly deserved Hannah's loyalty and his infantile behavior was annoying and spoke volumes as to his character.  There was some attempt to redeem Eric through his experiencing love but I never bought into it as his manipulations forever tarnished him in my eyes.

Whereas the other characters left me cold, Vlad the Bad definitely made me hot! He was a stripper with a kind heart and mind that most people never bothered discovering as they focused on his looks.  Their combined love of books had him making a connection with Hannah as his sweet and sexy side showed her what she'd really been missing when it comes to relationships.  Vlad had a very difficult past full of darkness and shame that he never let corrupt him and it showed a strength of character to rise above what befell him and was yet another reason why I adored him.

Ms. Harmon gave fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations of reality TV and how un-real it all really is.  She inhabited this world with an intriguing and colorful cast of characters who unfortunately got lost in the shuffle in a storyline that went on a bit too long.  This left the sweet and sensual relationship between Hannah and Vlad hanging until almost the end of the story to reach a satisfying conclusion.  As they were a delightful match I wish more time had been spent letting them get to know one another, and interact with each other.  On a whole, while the premise was intriguing, some of the characters left me disappointed with what could've been.  What kept me reading until the end though is her delightful hero.  Vlad is drool-worthy inside and out. He's strong-willed yet sensitive and supportive and is every girl's dream and it's for Vlad entirely that I recommend this book!

My rating for this is a C+

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I'm a happy girl.
I read a variety of genres-- romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.
When I'm not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.



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  1. Jody, Thanks so much for having me as a guest on WOW and for taking the time to review TURNING IT ON. I'm thrilled you found Vlad to be a dreamy, drool-worthy hero, and he was a lot of fun to write. I loved the idea of the shy wallflower who is totally out of her element on realityTV rising to the challenge with the help of show's bad guy character, who's actually a good guy. Since male strippers are very much front and center this week, thanks to Magic Mike XXL, I'll leave you with one of Vlad's strip songs from the book, Hard to Handle by the Black Crowes. Picture a steamy tropical night, a sexy guy dancing just for you, and enjoy.

    1. Thank YOU for stopping by & for giving us Vlad! I absolutely adored him (my love of Magic Mike contributed to my love for him! Like Anton in the previous book, you sure know how to craft some delicious Russian heroes and I hope there's more to come! There are more to come, right?

      The Scarf Princess

  2. Thank you for hosting TURNING IT ON!!

  3. Yes, there is another Red Hot Russian in the works-- Mikhail Zaitsev, a former men's singles figure skater determined to become a champion once more. "Getting It Back" comes out in March, 2016 and I'll let you know when pre-orders go up! Thanks for asking.

    1. Oooohhhhh, AWESOME! I love that you're going back to the ice skating world as it provides extra drama with the dichotomy of artistic yet cutthroat interactions. After Anton & Vlad I'm looking forward to adding yet another delicious Russian hero to my nightly dreams too!

      The Scarf Princess

  4. I'm reading Pairing Off right now and loving it. Looking forward to reading this 2nd installment in the series on my book vacation. :-)