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Our Own Private Identity Crises

Some of you may recall that while I was on holiday in the States this summer, I ran a series of posts called, “first in series.” They were little posts about the first books in each of the series I’d written as well as a spicy excerpt. Well, I’m over first books now. Time to move on to second. This little post and excerpt is from Identity Crisis, the second book in the Executive Decisions series.

 

 

I’m sure we’ve all undergone some sort of identity crisis at some point in our lives, and let’s face it, in the world in which we live, we’re always juggling roles. We all wear lots of hats, and some of those hats are drastically different. For those of us who are writers, we can add to that identity crisis the identities of all of our characters, with whom we live twenty-four seven when we’re writing. For us, it sometimes gets a bit confusing as to who’s real and who isn’t. I doubt if I’m the first writer to fall in love with one of her characters. For those of us who are avid readers, who doesn’t want to crawl inside their favourite characters and embrace them and embody them and live out their adventure – especially when there’s hot romance involved and the hero is larger than life, sexy, flawed and in need of a heroine to make it all better?

Isn’t that a big part of what makes reading so wonderful?

Since writers are also readers, that means we’ve got LOTS of possibilities. Our imaginations allow us to be so many different people in so many different situations. With Identity Crisis, which is book two of the Executive Decisions trilogy, I wanted to play around with the idea of all the people who live inside each of us, and I wanted to seriously up the ante.

Garrett Thorne has a unique identity crisis. Garrett writes very popular romance novels, but he doesn’t write them under his own name. He writes them as Tess Delaney and, because Garrett is very good at keeping his secret life secret, every reader of romance is speculating wildly about the mysterious, reclusive Tess Delaney, who no one has ever seen. Everyone, however, has seen business tycoon, Ellison Thorne’s, bad-boy younger brother, Garrett, and everyone is convinced of what a ne’er do-well he is.

Garrett okay with that. It covers his romance-writing tracks nicely, and he manages to juggle living as two people very well until Tess Delaney is nominated for the coveted Golden Kiss Award for romance writing, and suddenly there’s a real threat that Tess’s true identity will be discovered. That kind of exposure, Garrett doesn’t want, so against his better judgement, and because he has little choice, he hires PR person extraordinaire, Kendra Davis to play the role of Tess Delaney for the ceremony. But Kendra’s identity crisis is even bigger than Garrett’s. Throw in a stalker and a love-hate relationship sizzling enough to set the whole Northwest Coast on fire, and let the adventure begin!

Identity Crisis Blurb:
PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

 

Identity Crisis Excerpt:
She cocked her head and looked at him in a way that made him think she was expecting to find something, something he was hiding. But just when he was beginning to feel defensive, she shoved her iPad back into her bag and stood. ‘Alright then. That’s all I need today.’

‘Wait a minute.’ He said following her to the door. ‘Don’t we need to … I don’t know … Practice? I mean I barely know you and you said we need to be comfortable with each other.’

She turned so quickly he nearly ran into her. ‘You don’t have to be comfortable with Kendra Davis, Garret. You have to be comfortable with Tess Delaney, and I promise you will be.’ She looked up at him with a smile that might have been teasing, might have been a smirk. Whichever it was, the small alcove where they now stood suddenly seemed even tighter fitting than it actually was. ‘If it’ll help,’ she said, ‘you can kiss me good-bye.’

‘That’s not very professional,’ he managed, feeling like the breath had been squeezed out of him as he fumbled to help her into her jacket.

Her smile was warm, reassuring. ‘Actually, in our case it’s very professional.’ She rose on her toes and brushed a kiss across his lips. ‘Very professional, indeed.’
And before she could pull away he scooped her into his arms, feeling her little gasp of surprise as he took her mouth. What had only been intended to show her he was up for it, very quickly changed to something else, and suddenly they were clawing at each other, hands grabbing collars and hair and anything else to get closer to each other. Clothing brushed against clothing until friction mounted and body heat radiated through. And God, her mouth was sweeter than anything, full lips so soft one second and so hard and demanding the next, parted to allow him access to her tongue and her hard pallet, to her warm humid breath coming faster and faster as her fist clenched in his hair and her own tongue battled for supremacy. And her body, Jesus, her body was hard pressed and tight and mounded and undulating and he’d never felt so much fire just beneath the surface.

But she was Kendra Davis. And just when he was ready to scoop her up and carry her off to his bedroom. Just when he was ready to hold her captive there for the next three of four or more hours, she stepped back with a little sigh and caught her breath. She raised a hand to her lips, almost but not quite covering her teasing smile and said. ‘You get an A Plus for practice, Garrett Thorne. You just convinced the hell out of me.’ Still breathing hard, she ran a hand through his hair, brushed a quick kiss across his lips and let herself out, leaving him leaning against the wall barely able to stand. For the very first time, he allowed himself to think that not only might they be able to pull this whole charade off, but he might actually enjoy it.

 

First in Series Part 3: An Executive Decision

Hi everyone! Reading any good series I should know about??? In the third week of the First in Series Series, I not only try my hand at contemporary romance, but I take off my KDG hat and don my Grace Marshall hat for The Executive Decision Series. As a testament to my love for series, The Executive Decisions series started out as a trilogy, but then readers insisted on knowing Wade’s story too, so Interviewing Wade became the fourth book in the trilogy. Today’s excerpt is from the first book in the series, An Executive Decision. And today I’m feeling generous, so you get one of my favourite excerpts from the novel. It’s long, it’s juicy, and it’s fun. Enjoy! And do let me know if you’re reading a great series you think I shouldn’t miss out on.

 

Book One of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click here for Book Two |
Book Three  Interviewing Wade )

Sex in the contract – it’s the only way super-focused, over-worked CEO, Ellison Thorne, is ever going to get laid. That’s what his retiring business partner and secret match-maker, Beverly Neumann, thinks. She’s convinced no-strings, stress-free sex in certain employee contracts would raise productivity and minimize stress — perfect for a busy executive like Ellis. But she’s joking, right?

Enter her hand-picked replacement, Dee Henning. Young, hungry, gifted, Dee is the queen of no time for sex. When negotiations on a major project break down, and Dee and Ellis end up in each other’s arms, the Executive Sex Clause suddenly becomes more than a joke. In fact hot executive sex just might be the ultimate secret weapon for success. But secrets seldom remain secret, and Dee and Ellis soon learn there’s no such thing as no-strings where the heart is concerned.

 

 

 

I can handle it if you can

 

‘What the hell are you doing in Beverly’s office?’

A hard hand on her arm spun her around none too gently, and she found herself face to face with Ellison Thorne, who was clearly not pleased to see her. In fact, the powerful grip on her arm, the storm cloud look on his face made her knees weak and her voice difficult to find.

Just then, Beverly’s secretary burst in. ‘Ellis! That’s Dee Henning.’ She laid a gentle hand on the man’s arm. ‘Ellis, it’s all right. Dee had an appointment with Beverly. She doesn’t know.’

‘Doesn’t know what?’

The knot growing in her stomach suddenly tightened like a fist as the secretary turned her attention to Dee, her face drawn, her always square shoulders tight. ‘I’m sorry, Dee. I would have let you know, but we couldn’t get hold of you.’

‘Let me know what? I was out of the country. I told Beverly. What’s going on? Where is she?’ It was then she noticed Ellis was in khaki walking trousers and a rumpled matching shirt. The man, who had never looked anything other than pristine in his photos, wore several days’ growth of beard, and even from behind his glasses, she could tell he hadn’t slept. He still didn’t release her arm.

He held her gaze as though he were searching for something in her face, then he drew a breath that sounded like he’d just come up from the depths. ‘Beverly’s gone missing.’

The room spun slightly, and the buzzing in her ears made everything sound far off, even her own voice. She jerked her arm away, nearly toppling back into Beverly’s plants. ‘What do you mean she’s gone missing? How can she have? She was with the best. She assured me the people she was with were the best in their field. She said she’d be safe. She promised me she’d be safe.’

This time Ellis took her by the shoulders and gave a gentle shake. ‘She’s missing, Dee. That’s all. We’ve lost contact. That’s all. We’ll find her.’

She stepped back and ran a hand through her hair, a little embarrassed by her outburst, but it was Beverly they were talking about. ‘What happened?’

‘There was a tropical storm. Unseasonal. The outfitters lost contact with the expedition.’ He looked down at the clothes he wore. ‘The storm was supposed to break. I went down to look for her, but the weather got worse, and I had to come back.’

‘You went to look for her?’ Dee said. ‘Are you out of your mind?’

The secretary fidgeted uncomfortably, but Ellis offered her what might have almost been half a smile. ‘Probably, but I went anyway.’ Then he heaved a sigh. ‘Look I really need a shower. Sandra’s ordered Chinese. I need to eat, she says, and I know better than to argue with Sandra. I’m sure she’ll have ordered enough for a family of six.’ He nodded to the door. ‘If you’d like to join me, I’ll tell you everything.’

Ellis’s office was nothing like she expected. It was much more like an apartment than the lair of one of the most progressive businessmen in the US. He led her away from the big oak desk that sat, with its full complement of office furnishings and necessities, in front of a wall of glass looking out on to Mount Hood. He led her down a short hallway into a lounge that could have easily passed for a library in an Edwardian manor house. The blue leather furnishings were dwarfed by bookcases full to capacity, and the coffee table in front of it was strewn with an eclectic disarray of books from poetry of the English Romantics to modern theories of cosmology to Stephen King and everything in between.

It didn’t take him long to shower. He returned in jeans and blue cotton shirt open at the neck, sleeves rolled carelessly halfway up his forearms. He was once again clean shaven and his short hair was still damp. As Sandra arrived with the Chinese food, he shoved the books off onto the floor and made room for dinner. The secretary left for the day, and Dee silently helped him spread the meal, feeling shy and almost embarrassed to have seen beyond the man’s

façade, to be sharing such an intimate view of him, the man who, in her mind’s eye, was always so much larger than life. When the meal was spread, he smiled up at her, his glasses slipping down the bridge of his nose, and her stomach did a little somersault at the sight of him like this. She blushed. It embarrassed her that she did so, but she did.

She was taller than he had expected. In the black heels she almost stood nose to nose with him. And her eyes, her eyes were even bluer than they were in the photo. The contrast with her nearly black hair and her pale skin was stunning. And the way she talked; it wasn’t the antiseptic elocution he had grown used to hearing from women in the business world. There was something interesting about her barely perceptible accent. He wondered if she owed that to her French father. The last thing he wanted was to entertain. The last thing he wanted was to make nicey-nice, and yet he had invited her to join him, and when his arm brushed hers, when the silence between them seemed strangely comfortable, he wasn’t sorry for her company.

When at last they were seated, Dee spoke without preamble. ‘What happened?’ she said around a mouthful of spring roll, covering her lips daintily with one hand. Ellis could instantly see why Beverly was impressed. There was no nonsense about this woman. No subterfuge. But then to have earned such high praise and respect from Beverly, he would have expected nothing less. Even more importantly, she was Beverly’s friend. She must feel as gutted as he did right now.

‘The guides had taken her into the rainforest,’ he said by way of explanation. ‘Some really remote area, where there was a nest of harpy eagles.’

Dee nodded. ‘She told me she had her heart set on seeing harpy eagles.’

Ellis continued. ‘I knew they’d be out of contact while they were there. And she promised me it was no big deal, that this was a regular expedition for the outfitters. She promised that she was in the best possible hands. Then the storm came in. They were supposed to have been back before it hit. Damn it!’ He tossed down his chopsticks and stood to pace. ‘Why the hell couldn’t she just go to the zoo to see harpy eagles, or watch them on YouTube like everyone else does?’

‘You know why not.’ Dee nodded to his plate. ‘Sit down and eat.’

‘Jesus –’ he grumped ‘– you’re damn near as bossy as Beverly.’

She blushed – a beautiful pink blush – and fidgeted in her seat, no doubt remembering that this was his domain, and she was still trying to decide if she were here on business or not. When she squared her shoulders and nodded to the sofa, he figured she’d decided she wasn’t. He was glad.

He dropped down beside her, picked up the chopsticks, and stuffed his mouth full of Singapore noodles, more because he could tell it pleased her than because he had anything resembling an appetite right now.

He swallowed his noodles without chewing, and continued. ‘I waited until I got word that there was a lull in the storm, and I could actually fly in. I barely got there before things picked up again.’
Her full lips were a tight line, as though she were making every effort to keep her mouth shut, to keep her disapproval to herself. But she failed.

‘What did you expect you could do down there on your own besides put your life at risk along with Beverly’s?’

‘I wasn’t alone. And my team’s at least as good as Beverly’s. They know the area like the back of their hand. If anyone could have gone in and found her, they could.’

She raised an eyebrow. ‘And all that with the added responsibility of keeping the CEO of Pneuma Inc. safe. Nice.’

‘I happen to know a good bit about trekking in the rain forests, Dee. I would have been just fine.’

‘I know what an outdoorsman you are, Mr Thorne. Everyone in the Northwest knows that.’

‘It’s Ellis,’ he interrupted her.

She bit at a prawn as though it had somehow offended her. ‘The point is, Ellis, your team would have gone in level-headed and calm. They would have gone in without any personal feelings one way or the other. I doubt you’d have been able to do that. I know I wouldn’t have.’

He shrugged. ‘Anyway, it doesn’t matter because no one was going anywhere, and in the end I was lucky to get a flight out before the airport shut down again. I would have stayed, but Beverly has an important meeting tomorrow. She’ll tear me a new one if it gets cancelled.’ He felt helpless anger bubble up into his chest as though it would strangle him. ‘Damn it, I don’t have time to do her job and mine. The woman’s 63 years old. She shouldn’t be traipsing around in the rainforest out of contact with everyone like some stupid teenager.’

Dee studied him over the top of her chopsticks. ‘She deserved a vacation. Besides, she was doing what she wanted.’

‘I know that, but I need her here, and I need her safe. In spite of the woman’s bossy, crazy wackiness, I need her. I need her.’

‘I know,’ Dee said. ‘I need her too. My visits with her keep me sane, and the nuttier she is, the more sense everything makes.’ She laid down her chopsticks, folded her arms across her chest, and held herself as though she were suddenly cold. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so airy-fairy. Beverly would laugh her ass off. She’s far more concerned with getting me laid than keeping me sane.’ She cocked her head to one side, her lips curving upward in a little quirk of a smile. ‘Though I suppose she probably wouldn’t see much difference in the two, really.’

‘Her Executive Sex Clause?’ he asked.

She nodded, and he thought he saw a whisper of a blush cross her cheeks. ‘Not likely to happen at Jasper and McDowell, though. In fact, the thought makes me a little queasy. But still, I won’t deny that it’s an intriguing idea under the right circumstances.’

He chuckled. ‘Believe me, I hear about it ad nauseum, along with all her other hair-brained schemes, and I won’t complain again about any of them once she’s back here safe and sound.’

‘Yes you will,’ Dee said. ‘It wouldn’t be nearly so much fun for either of you if you didn’t.’

Before he could agree with her, his phone rang and he grabbed it from the book shelf behind the sofa. ‘It’s from Brazil,’ he said, feeling the muscles in his shoulders tighten and his stomach clench. She was on the edge of the sofa next to him in an instant, her eyes locked on him. The call took less than ten seconds. It jump-started his brain back into the hyper-alert state it had been in since Beverly’s disappearance, the state it had only just come down from in Dee Henning’s comforting presence.

‘Storm’s breaking.’ He mouthed the words to her. She moved still closer, trying to overhear the conversation. He placed a finger to his lips and strained to hear. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘I’m on my way.’ He disconnected and all but catapulted off the sofa. ‘That’s the outfitters. I made them promise to call me the minute they knew anything.’

She was off the sofa too, following him to where his backpack leaned against a wing-backed chair. He’d had Harold prepare it and deliver it to the office just in case.

‘And?’

‘I’m going back. Jeffries is on standby with the limo. The plane is fuelled and ready. I figure we can be at PDX in 30 minutes, if traffic’s not too bad.’

She grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop. ‘You can’t go back without at least a night’s rest, Ellis. You’re exhausted, and what about Beverly’s important meeting?’

He jerked away from her and hefted the pack onto one shoulder. ‘Fuck her meeting. I just want her safe.’

‘Ellis, be reasonable. As soon as things settle, you could get a phone call from Beverly laughing the whole thing off. Do you know how upset she’d be if she knew you’d put yourself in danger traipsing down there when there was no need? Please.’ She grabbed the backpack and wrestled it off his shoulder. ‘You know I’m right. Just rest. Just for tonight, and then tomorrow …’ She stepped into his personal space and placed a hand on his biceps. ‘Tomorrow I’ll go with you.’

‘Are you crazy?’ He jerked his arm away. ‘You can’t go with me, Dee. It’s awful down there, flooding, wind damage … It was bad where I was and I wasn’t anywhere near the worst of it.’

‘I’ve just spent a week in the Andes working for Sportwide Extreme Adventure. I can handle it if you can.’

He held her gaze. ‘And were there bodies floating in the streets where you were?’

She caught her breath, grabbed for the back of the chair, and nearly stumbled. All the beautiful colour went out of her face, and he was sorry he’d said anything.

‘Bodies, you didn’t say anything about bodies, Ellis. Why the hell didn’t you tell me there were bodies? Jesus!’ She ran a hand through her hair and looked around the room wildly. ‘Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?’

He took both her arms and steadied her, looking down into those deep, serious eyes. ‘I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to worry you. Christ, it’s bad enough for those pictures to be going through one of our brains, let alone both.’

She straightened her shoulders, nodded, and stepped back. ‘All right, but that’s in the towns, isn’t it? I mean we’re talking the rain forest; trees, tall trees, lots of them. That’s where Beverly’ll be. It’ll be better there, surely it will be. And no people. No bodies.’

‘I didn’t get that far. I don’t know what to expect, and we don’t know where Beverly was when the outfitters lost contact. I don’t want you there, Dee. And neither would she. Don’t you understand?’

But of course she didn’t understand, and he really didn’t expect her to. God, she was as stubborn and pig-headed as Beverly. She held him in a hard blue gaze. ‘She wouldn’t want you there either, damn it.’

‘Don’t tell me what she would want. I don’t care what she would want. I’m going, you’re staying. That’s final.’

Dee shoved both her hands onto her hips and glared at him, her eyes suddenly like raw heat. ‘You’re not my boss, and I do what I want, and right now I’m telling you you’re being an idiot.’

It came as a total shock when he grabbed her. He didn’t see it coming. He didn’t see any of it coming. Before she could do more than utter a gasp of surprise, he pulled her to him so hard that he feared he’d given her whiplash, then he did the unthinkable. He kissed her. He kissed her hard. His mouth was bruising and tyrannical against hers, like he’d forgotten how to be gentle, like he’d forgotten how to be civilised. He swallowed her breath even as she fought to swallow his. At first she pushed

him, pushed him as hard as she could, and he thought she was pushing him away, but her mouth sparred with his for still more contact. He only yielded enough to step back, pulling her with him, kissing her harder, holding her tighter, tight enough to crush her breasts against his chest. She bit and nipped at him like an angry wolf, with him yanking and shoving her jacket off her shoulders and going to work on her buttons while she pushed and shoved and clawed.

There was ripping and tearing. At least one button went flying. He wasn’t sure whose. He didn’t care. He’d fucking buy her a new suit if he had to.

With one hand he tugged and yanked her skirt up over her hips, with the other he shoved down the straps of her bra and kneaded and cupped until his thumb raked her nipples into heavy, responsive peaks.

She managed to force his trousers down over his hips as he figured out how to release the front catch on her bra. ‘Wait, wait,’ he said, struggling to breathe in the charged atmosphere, trying to keep his head clear. He nearly elbowed her as he tugged his wallet from his pocket.

In his distracted efforts, he stumbled backward over the backpack, pulling her down on top of him, forcing the breath from his lungs with a grunt.

‘Oh my God!’ she cried out. They landed in a heap sprawled across the soft carpet. With her sitting astraddle him, he yanked and tugged at his wallet, money, credit cards, and receipts falling like confetti until he found the silver foil packet, which he ripped open, launching the condom into the air in

his frenzied efforts.
‘Shit,’ they both cursed at the same time. She

was already tugging at his boxers as he grabbed up the rogue condom, rolled it down over his arcing erection, and thrust up into it, nearly bucking her off his thighs with the effort. He tugged the crotch of her panties aside. For a second he glimpsed the warm depths of her before they clawed and shifted and positioned to get what, until now, neither of them had known they needed so desperately.

Once he pushed into her, it was his turn to cry out. ‘Oh God, Dee! I can’t stand it!’ He grabbed her hips and held her tight. ‘Hold still. Don’t move. Give me a second.’

It had been a long time since he’d had any sex other than with his own fist, and his sensitivity was astounding, embarrassing actually. His chest rose and fell like bellows. Dee sat impaled, eyes closed, hands cupping her breasts, breathing like there was fire in her chest. She felt stretched exquisitely tight and warm and tetchy around his girth, and the few seconds he held her there seemed an eternity, suspended in the delicious agony of needing to thrust, but knowing to wait. Just a few more seconds until he felt in better control

When he was certain he wouldn’t embarrass himself, he gathered her to him, feeling the carpet abrade his elbows as he rolled on top of her, still buried to the hilt. And he began to thrust. She tightened her legs around his hips and rose in rhythm to meet his efforts, growling at him as he growled back, balling her fists against his back, straining upward onto her impaler, meeting strength

with strength. And her strength was impressive. She was all muscle and sinew, rounded and softened with delicious curves engulfing him in the feel and the power and the scent of femaleness, the tidal scent of steamy summer, the scent of lust tightly controlled. No doubt some of that was his own. And the blending of the two was intoxicating.

It was all over in a few minutes. They exploded into release like glass shattering on concrete. He came with a heavy groan and collapsed on top of her while she convulsed in orgasm. Surely he was dreaming. Surely he was asleep, and his psyche had fabricated the whole experience in an effort to relieve stress. Surely it couldn’t be real. He’d wake up soon.

They lay panting on the floor in a tangle of discarded clothing and trembling limbs, as his brain gradually regained control. In his fantasies, he always made it last, lingering to tease and pleasure Dee their first time together. And it was true; he actually had fantasised about her, about the woman he’d never met, the woman whose photo was in the dossier Beverly had put together. He’d fantasised about her from his first glance at Beverly’s wild concoction of a resume. And he had no doubt that had been a part of Beverly’s scheme.

But he was always a good lover in his fantasies; no awkward moments, no clumsy efforts. In his fantasies he always pleasured her like she’d never been pleasured before. He never imagined he’d take her with such force. He never imagined he’d take her at all, at least not in the real world. God, what must she think? He found himself remembering

Beverly’s Executive Sex Clause. No doubt this situation would meet with her approval, but at the moment, he wasn’t sure what he felt, other than dismayed that he’d lost control.

Finally he found the breath to speak. ‘Dee, are you all right? I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me; I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t mean to be such an animal.’

‘I like animals.’ She spoke around laboured breath.

The sting her nails had left across his shoulders and back convinced him she might be a bit of an animal herself, a thought that brought with it a new wave of arousal, which he tried to suppress. ‘Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I want you to know that I never, that I wouldn’t –’

‘I know. Me neither,’ she said.

Neither of them made any effort to get up or to move out of each other’s arms. In fact, the feel of her so close was worth hanging on to. He’d rest for a little while with her so nicely wrapped around him. Just for a few minutes, then he’d call Jeffries to take him to the airport. Just a little while longer, close to her warmth. That was all he needed. Just a few more delicious minutes.

 

The Executive Decisions Boxed Set

 

 

 

 

Out Now—Fluffy by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor) #romance #romcom

FLUFFY

Author: Julia Kent

Release date:  April 30, 2019

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer:  Hang Le

Editor: Elisa Reed

Audiobook narrator: Erin Mallon

 

Description:

An all-new STANDALONE from New York Times bestselling author Julia Kent

It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.

I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.

Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.

See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.

Until it was too late.

The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day.

The perfect job!

Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.

They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.

The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is — it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.

Oh, man…

And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.

By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed naked star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.

My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?

Having all my dreams come true.

Buy links:

AmazonUS: http://mybook.to/fluffy

AmazonUK: http://smarturl.it/fluffyAMZuk

AmazonCA: http://smarturl.it/fluffyAMZca

AmazonAU: http://smarturl.it/fluffyAMZau

Nook/BN: http://bit.ly/2CGtnBE

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2RmE159

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2BjWvxL

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2COKLmQ

Audible: https://adbl.co/2KRgFGR

Print: http://mybook.to/fluffy

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2TjDjqS

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2ThoLrZ

*****

Excerpt:

“You’re changing the subject.”

“How do you know that’s what I’m doing?”

“Because you have this thing you do when you get nervous. You did it in high school and you’re doing it now.”

“What’s that?”

“You start cracking your knuckles. One by one.”

He halts mid-crack on his ring finger. His bare ring finger.

Will looks down. A slow smile pulls at his lips. “You’re right. I do.” Our eyes meet. “How did you know?”

“I sat behind you in nearly every honors class, Will. I’ve watched you answer countless questions from teachers. And every time you didn’t know the answer, you cracked your knuckles. One”–I crack my index finger–“by”–I crack my middle finger–“one.” My ring finger won’t snap.

He waits.

“You spent a lot of time paying attention to me, Mallory.”

“I sat behind you. It’s not like I could stare at your ass all day. I had to have something else to look at.”

“You stared at my ass?”

“It was two feet in front of me! Four classes a day!” I start to sweat. The memory of him in football uniform pants. Oh, sweet ice cream fairy, deliver me from evil.

“You okay? You look,” he says, stepping closer, “a little disturbed.”

“I’m fine.”

“Hot, even.” The rise and fall of his chest pauses after those words, as if he’s holding his breath, too.

*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Cover Reveal—Fluffy by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)

Release date:  April 30, 2019

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Fluffy

Description:

An all-new STANDALONE from New York Times bestselling author Julia Kent

It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.

I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.

Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.

See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.

Until it was too late.

The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day.

The perfect job!

Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.

They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.

The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is — it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.

Oh, man…

And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.

By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed naked star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.

My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?

Having all my dreams come true.

Pre-order:

AmazonUS: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZus

AmazonUK: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZuk

AmazonCA: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZca

AmazonAU: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZau

Nook/BN: smarturl.it/fluffyBN

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2RmE159

Kobo: smarturl.it/fluffyKobo

Google Play: smarturl.it/fluffyGP

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2TjDjqS

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2ThoLrZ

*****

Excerpt:

“It is time to DANCE! Find a partner and hold each other’s hands, facing one another.”

Five women start walking toward Will.

“Mal?” Shyness infuses his question, sending chills up and down my arms and legs. They settle at the base of my neck, riding shotgun next to the arousal centers of my nervous system. He’s adorable, one hand out to me, eyebrows slightly up, blue-green eyes asking to dance with me but hinting at more.

Or… am I inventing that part?

“Sure,” I say, instantly regretting my answer. Does it sound grudging? He doesn’t seem to think so as I take his hand and stand before him, tall in my high heels but he’s even taller. Looking at him from this height makes him even more human, more masculine, more real.

My heart skips a beat.

But the music sure doesn’t.

“Now, the ‘man,’” Philippe starts, using finger quotes because there are several female-only couples in the class, “puts one hand on the woman’s waist. The right hand.”

Will complies.

It’s like sticking my finger in a light socket and orgasming at the same time.

His left hand takes my right hand and he holds it, strong and firm, smiling at me with a boyish grin that makes me feel instant remorse for hurting him today.

“I’m sorry I bashed your head in,” I whisper, moving near his ear, our mouths inches apart.

There is a gap between us. My lungs live there, in that space. They breathe. I don’t make a move. My autonomic nervous system works without intention. If it didn’t, I’d die.

Because I would hold my breath forever in Will’s arms.

Philippe is moving from couple to couple, adjusting positions, commenting and correcting.

“Closer,” Philippe says right behind me, the press of his firm palm against my lower back a shock as he pushes me into Will, closing that gap.

My autonomic nervous system gives up entirely.

“Look into each other’s eyes,” Philippe commands, his accent making this even sexier. “When you dance, you show your love with your hips, your eyes, your languid grace. You are making love in public with your bodies, fully clothed.”

Is Will holding his breath, too?

“Your hand goes here, Mallory,” the teacher says, taking my left hand and putting it on Will’s shoulder. My breasts brush against his chest, our breathing ragged. I try to look away, but we’re too close. All I can do is look at his eyes or his mouth, and right now, both are so, so dangerous.

No one else in the room exists. The light that bounces off the polished floors is ours. The murmurs and giggles in the background are ours. The way he breathes my air and I inhale him is ours, too. We’re touching, my thigh against his, and every warm part of Will Lotham’s front half that is decent to display in public is rubbing against me.

Except his lips.

“Now, take one step forward,” Philippe says. “Together.”

Will steps on my foot. Hard.

I make a very unfeminine sound and start to pitch backwards. Tightening his grip on my waist, his hand sliding, open and splayed, across the small of my back, he saves me from a complete wipeout.

But that save has its costs.

In an instant, all traces of that teenage girl in me are gone, disintegrating, turned to stardust that sweeps off me like a fine spring breeze. I am all woman now, mature and wanting.

All I want is this. Now. The man before me, his arms warm and assured, grasp confident and bold.

And very much wanting me back.

*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

 

Cover reveal organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Good With His Hands by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #romance #steamy #shortstory

Blurb

Layla is enjoying a beautiful moorland walk in the English countryside when suddenly, clouds start to roll in. The weather was forecast to be fine all day, so Layla is woefully unprepared when the heavens open and her visibility is reduced to next to nothing. Trying hard not to panic, she carefully makes her way towards a remote hut she spotted before the fog descended. When she arrives, though, she discovers park ranger Stuart already there, and luckily for her, he’s much more prepared than she is, and they soon find a way to pass the time until the storm blows over.

Note: Good With His Hands was previously published in the Down and Dirty boxed set.

Buy links

Amazon: http://mybook.to/goodwithhishands

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/good-with-his-hands-lucy-felthouse/1129960024

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/good-with-his-hands/id1445209735?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/good-with-his-hands-15

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/910076?ref=cw1985

*****

Excerpt:

Anticipation seeped into Layla’s body, increasing with every second that ticked by. Each handhold she groped for, each push off with her feet brought her that bit closer to the moorland plateau she’d been wanting to explore ever since she’d seen photos of it in a Facebook group a few weeks ago. She was a keen hiker—or walker, she’d never really understood what the difference was between the two—but she’d always stuck to places she knew well, or had at least visited a couple of times before, mainly because she always walked alone, and getting lost was bad enough without doing it by yourself.

But one Sunday evening, after a flurry of yet more stunning photographs of the area had been uploaded to the group, Layla made up her mind. The following Sunday, she would join the seemingly scores of people that headed up to the dramatic-looking gritstone edge in Derbyshire’s Peak District every weekend, no matter the weather. Hikers, climbers, fell runners… they all raved about the place, despite the crowds. And if she did get lost, well, she’d just ask one of them for directions. No problem. Then, providing it was indeed as amazing as the photo-uploaders proclaimed it to be, she’d add it to her list of regular haunts. It’d make a refreshing change from her usual low-level trail walks.

Now she was beginning to understand what all the fuss was about, and she wasn’t even at the top yet. After leaving the relative familiarity of the car park, she’d trekked up a slight incline through some dense woods—surprised to pass only one or two small groups of people on the way. She’d expected it to look like London’s Oxford Street but with outdoorsy types in hefty boots and backpacks instead of shoppers with umbrellas and carrier bags. The moment she’d stepped from the shadow of the woods, the landscape had opened up in front of her and she’d got a real sense of how special it was. Then she’d glanced up and to her right and, taking in the height of the edge she had yet to climb, realised she hadn’t seen the half of it yet.

With one last push to get her onto a particularly large boulder, then a small step, she was there. On the gritstone edge, the moorland plateau—whatever you wanted to call it. As she took a couple of tentative steps forward and looked around, she decided she wanted to call it heaven. It was like nowhere she’d ever been before—so removed from everyday life that she was half convinced she’d stepped onto the moon, except it was unmistakably England. Wild, untamed, rugged, but England nonetheless. How had she never been up here before? And were there more places like it? She suddenly felt like the worst kind of ignorant city dweller—her walks up until now had made a mockery of wearing walking boots. She may as well have done it in flip flops.

She turned at the sound of voices behind her, and moved aside to let a group of three men in their early twenties pass. They had enormous, weirdly-shaped bags strapped to their backs, and yet strode along—exchanging smiles and nods with her when they drew level—as though their burdens weighed nothing.

Layla shook her head incredulously and started to follow in their footsteps. She didn’t need to consult her walk instructions yet—there was only one path, deliberately keeping footfall to a dedicated area for conservation purposes, according to a snippet of text she remembered reading on her printout. The trail stayed close to the edge—not so close as to be dangerous, but close enough to afford the most amazing views. The ground beneath her feet was made up of mud, rough grasses, rocks and boulders in shades of grey, brown, and black, scrubby bushes, and what she suspected was heather. To her left, the stunning countryside went on for as far as the eye could see, with delightfully twisted trees in the foreground, followed by brown and green fields, woodlands, moorlands, and more fields, broken up only very occasionally by a road—often only identifiable by the moving glint of light that passed along them—vehicles highlighted by the reflection of the sun off their metalwork. It’d be incredibly easy to forget civilisation even existed while she was up here.

 

*****

Bio

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 
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