Wednesday, January 21, 2009

REVIEW: Shaken And Stirred by Kathleen O'Reilly

Published March 1, 2008
TBR Challenge Review

For more information on the TBR Challenge, visit

Shaken and Stirred is the first book in the Harlequin Blaze trilogy titled "Those SEXY O'Sullivans" by Kathleen O'Reilly. Each of the three books center around one of three O'Sullivan brothers whose stories are intertwined through brotherly bonds as well as through their famous Manhattan family owned bar called Prime. Shaken and Stirred is the love story of the youngest O'Sullivan, Gabe who is the owner of Prime, and Tessa Hart, who is a college student by day and Prime bartender by night. Tessa Hart left her Florida hometown four years ago after being unexpectedly dumped by her then boyfriend Denny Ericcson. The break up was a huge blow to Tessa, namely because she put off college, career or any goals for herself after high school because Denny promised her an easy future with him in which she didn't have to worry about anything. Desolated but not broken, Tessa took off for New York City to make it on her own. Determined to forge her way to complete independence, Tessa has avoided intimate relationships with guys and has been flitting between roommates and apartments, all the while struggling with keeping ends met and studying accounting at a community college. The only thing that Tessa has been able to rely on in her four years in the Big Apple is tending bar at Prime and her boss and mentor, Gabe O'Sullivan. Now Tessa finds herself with a mere five days to find a new place to stay and is offered a room by Gabe. Tessa reluctantly accepts the offer, hesitant to do anything that would change their easy, comfortable relationship as boss and friend. Of course, things get shaken and stirred between Tessa and Gabe the very first night, and their road to their happily ever after is sexy, fun, and at times on the rocks, as Tessa insists on her independence when all Gabe wants to do is take her in forever.

Shaken And Stirred is such a fun romance! I was drawn in to the setting, the cast of characters, and the story line from the very first few pages. Firstly, the setting of the story is perfect. New York City is lively, interesting, and dramatic in and of itself and the perfect compliment to a sexy romance between the owner of a bar and his best bartender and friend. The entire cast of characters, including secondary and trivial characters, are realistic and unique, just as you'd expect at a real life family owned bar.

Although the book is relatively short at 214 pages, Ms. O'Reilly does a wonderful job at developing the individual personalities of her characters, including their flaws and weaknesses. Gabe is protective of Tessa, yet respects her need to survive on her own. Well, he tries his best, anyway. There's only so patient and understanding a guy can be when the woman he loves wants her independence more than anything else. Tessa is confident and determined.... but not. She's still young, a bit naive, a bit skittish, and I think deep down inside loves the idea of having a man take care of her, which completely contradicts her resolve to be completely self reliant. Shaken And Stirred is almost a coming of age story for Tessa as she tries to figure out what's truly important for her present and future success and happiness.

The story line of Shaken And Stirred is at times fun and then at times very serious. The dialogue and pace of the story is excellent, and of course the intimacy shared between Gabe and Tessa is very steamy. I thought the relationship between Gabe and Tessa was realistic, as was the way they fell in love. I understood Tessa's need to have her independence, but at the same time I wanted her to just fall into the security of Gabe. There was a brief part at which I was skeptical of how quickly Gabe's resolve to not wait for Tessa wavered. One moment he was adamant about not waiting around for her, and then the next moment he was ready to wait forever for her. But young love is confusing, and it's easy to say one thing and then do another, so I got over it. The story was just so sweet and sexy, I couldn't help but love it. It's a friends to lovers romance that had me rooting for a happily ever after for Gabe and Tessa from the very beginning. I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy, which are both in my TBR pile, so stay tuned!


Unfortunately, Shaken And Stirred is no longer available to purchase new in paperback. It is, however, available in Kindle edition at Amazon HERE or in ebook format at eharlequin HERE.

Visit Kathleen O'Reilly at her website:


  1. I've only read a couple of Chrismas Blazes and I liked the ones I read. They were quick and fun reads. None of them were too serious. I have about 6 other Blazes in the TBR.

    Great review, Christine :).

  2. Christine:

    What a great review! Like Amy I have a few Blaze books in my pile and I enjoy pulling them out for a nice "filler" read.

    This one sounds really good and fun as you indicated.

    I read one before Christmas that I really liked too called "Restless" by Tori Carrington.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Great choice of book for your challenge. ;)

    I liked Shaken and Stirred, and I like what you said about this being almost a coming of age story. There's something at the end of the story that irritated me, though. I loved the next one, Sex, Straight Up, but I still need to read the third book.

    Great review. :)

  4. Ok I've never read a Blaze before but I just might have to now that I've read your review. It's sounds so cute and I love the short quick reads. Great review!

  5. Great review. I read this, too, btw! That is too funny. The pacing was excellent, the writing was great but I always have issues with "perfect" people aka heroes being gorgeous with no flaws but Gabe did eek out one. I didn't like the resolution but still, I will press forward! Must ask: didn't you think that Gabe should have been the one who defaulted?


  6. This has been in my Fictionwise wish list for ages. Time to move it to my cart. Great review, thanks!

    And no progress today on The Book, LOL! But I promise to get to it later tonight when the rest of the house is safely abed.

  7. Great review, Christine! I love that the Challenge as resulted in more than one review of this book. It's great to read yours and Keishon's perspectives. :-)

  8. I just read Keishon's review too! I can't remember that happening before on TBR day.

    I hadn't read a Blaze in a while when I read O'Reilly's Sullivan trilogy last year. They were a rec from another reader and I'm so glad I took the plunge.

  9. Amy C:: The Blaze books are a lot of fun! I have about six more in my TBR pile, too. :)

    Lea:: I'll have to check out Restless when I run out of category romances from my TBR. I'm going to need to pick up a few more by the end of the year for the Category Romance Reading Challenge I'm in. Ha!

    Taja:: I'm curious what it was at the end that annoyed you, so please share! You can comment here with ***SPOILER*** at the beginning of your comment or send me an email.

    Tracy:: Oh! I hope you read this. It's a fun, sexy quick read that I think you'd enjoy.

  10. Keishon :: Oh that is so cool that we both read the same book for your TBR Challenge!

    I agree with you that Gabe came across too perfect. But that's my husband's name, and I think he's pretty damn awesome, maybe I let the character's perfection slide a bit this time around. ;) Seriously, though, I liked that he got all pissy and depressed when Tessa put her career and independent living goals ahead of him. Like you said, he seemed so perfect, that maybe it was time he didn't get exactly what he wanted for a change. And that brings me back to your point, doesn't it? That he should have been the one to default? Hmm...

    **** SLIGHT SPOILER****
    I understand what you mean, but I also understand his hurt and need to not be second rate to a piece of real estate. Even the perfect, confident, have-it-all get-what-he-wants kind of guys have pride and deserve to be top priority to the woman he loves. So even though I understand and can even agree with you, that part of the story still worked for me because I wanted Tessa to figure out that his love was the most important part of her future--not where she lived. And I wanted her to figure that out on her own.

    Good discussion point, though. Thanks! :)

    *****END SPOILER******

  11. Phyl:: Oh you should read Shaken And Stirred! I have a feeling I'm going to love this whole trilogy, actually. The next story is Daniel O'Sullivan's story and he lost his wife in the 9/11 tragedy, so I expect his story to be a bit emotional... but still fun and sexy.

    Renee:: I think that's so cool that Keishon and I read the same book. And I see from the comments at Keishon's blog that someone else also read the same book as you! Wow! That's Twilight Zone like!

    Rosie:: Hi! Firstly, I'm so sorry I never emailed you about Stranger like I said I would. Ack! Please accept my apology!

    Secondly, I'm so glad you enjoyed the O'Sullivan trilogy. I'm really looking forward to Daniel and Sean's stories! Both should be very interesting.

  12. *waving* Hi, there!

    I have these three in my TBR mountain range, courtesy of an online friend, and I certainly must get to them soon.

    Thank you, Christine.

    oh, how's the house going? (pictures, woman, pictures! :grin: )

  13. You know, as of a few months ago I hadn't read a Harlequin romance. Once I did, I feel in love! They are wonderful! Relatively short reads but not at all lacking!

    Wonderful review, Christine :)

  14. I liked this but the next book, 'Sex, Straight Up', Daniel's is just fantastic.

  15. Christine, my problem basically had to do with what you and Keishon talked about (I looked at my comment about the book, this really annoyed me, LOL.) But you make a very good point about Tessa. There's something to think about, enough that I'm tempted to read this novel again with that in mind. :) Thanks.


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