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Let’s Talk Erotic Romance Novels and Birth Control

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Erotic Romance, Sex, Condoms and Birth Control by T.D. Hassett

 

I was recently reading another bog (http://romancenovelsforfeminists.blogspot.com/2013/01/romancing-condom-contraception-use-in.html) about romance novels and contraception and did some reflecting on my own writing. I admit it, I have read many a romance novel and made note of the use of or even mention of birth control and can tell you that it is a contentious topic. Some of the issues involve a creepy double standard that few authors want to mess with. So I thought today I would write about this whole conundrum and let readers post their thoughts.

 

What about condoms?

As a romance novelist I want to write hot and exciting love scenes without having to feel like a public health lecturer. I don’t want to have to describe in a love scene how the condom was correctly put on or what lubricants could interfere with the efficacy of the condom. I might also want the freedom to have spontaneous encounters between the hero and heroine without making either of them appear to be planning for sex. I know, we should all celebrate people being safe and prepared but that’s when the double standard comes in. If I write about a condom carrying heroine then I am sending a message to readers that this is a woman who is on the prowl or worse, “loose”. Notice that in many novels if the heroine is on the pill it is usually explained that she was prescribed the pill to avoid some sort of menstrual issue rather than her need for effective birth control. I like the idea of sexually responsible and assertive women but that is not usually a winning formula for romance novels, even the really erotic ones. If you question this simply read the wildly popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its entire ilk and you will notice that the heroine generally has little or no sexual experience and condoms are ditched a.s.a.p.

 

I will also posit another reason for my own use of the “I’m clean conversation” or HIV test as a means of getting rid of the condom for most love scenes. Most romance readers are women between 30 and 60 years of age, grown women who have had actual sex. Most couples that worry only about pregnancy prefer almost any other form of birth control to the condom. In fact according to the Guttmacher Institute (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html), only 16% of women who utilize contraception report using the male condom with the majority relying on hormonal birth control or sterilization. Probably not a big surprise since the condom has an actual use failure rate of 18%. I included both the “I’m clean” conversation and an HIV test in my recent novel “Isabel’s Awakening”. I wanted to be able to show the couple had moved to a new level of intimacy and I also wished to avoid rehashing the “putting the condom on step” for subsequent scenes. Finally, I believe that as authors we like to have lots of options for our plot twists and the surprise pregnancy is a classic in the romance genre.

Please share your thoughts. Do we need to be more explicit about condom usage? How do your favorite books handle the contentious issue of contraception?

 

Isabel’s Awakening Blurb

 

It’s been five busy years, and Newcastle-born singer/guitarist Thomas Morgan is still punishing himself for his younger brother’s death.

Thomas’s young, fashion-model wife once led her husband’s idolizing brother, Chris, into both drugs and an adulterous relationship. The loss of his brother and total destruction of his marriage destroyed Thomas. To avoid entanglements with others, even his young son, Thomas focused on promoting his music and the management of his now highly profitable record company. He thought he had everything at a safe distance, at least until Isabel literally slammed into his life.

High school teacher, Isabel Warren, finds herself falling head over heels in love with the sexy-as-sin guitarist for the rock band Becket. Soon Isabel’s orderly world of lesson plans, thesis writing, and student loan debt is competing against desire, passion, and her vulnerable heart.

Isabel struggles to navigate her newly stirred passions with her rising academic career and independent nature. As the sex sizzles, the two lovers will have to decide which parts of their dreams they will sacrifice for their fledgling relationship.

Can Thomas ever trust and love again, and will the young woman he meets ever have the confidence and strength to be with him?

 

Tag: Isabel’s Awakening; TD Hassett; Erotic Contemporary Romance; Rock Star Romance

Keywords: Isabel’s Awakening; TD Hassett; Erotic Contemporary Romance; Rock Star Romance

 

Excerpt:

 

It was well after midnight, and Isabel felt the buzz of concert beer and party wine. Thomas had been working the room steadily and checking back to ensure she was chatting happily with a group. She saw him cornered with a radio show producer he’d introduced her to earlier. Thomas had a tortured expression on his beautiful face. She finally understood why the whole band didn’t show up at these things.

The ladies she’d been chatting with were working up a sweat on the dance floor, and part of her longed to join them. The rational side won out. She really couldn’t dance and preferred others not to know how clumsy she could be, especially after a few drinks. Isabel parked herself by the bar and prepared to enjoy some people-watching. She couldn’t believe how packed the place was. She did meet some really nice people and only got snubbed by a few drunken idiots who must have been trawling for celebrities. Part of her was disappointed it was time to go when Thomas returned from his latest round of shop talk and asked if she was ready to head out.

Thomas escorted her to the elevator while tapping out a message on his iPhone. He was letting the hotel’s driver know they were ready to go and where to meet them. They stepped into the mirror-lined elevator and headed down to the lobby level. Suddenly, Isabel was nervous, and not in a front-door-kiss-or-no-kiss-end-of-the-date sort of way. She hadn’t had the talk with herself about this date because it just all sort of happened. She had really expected just to go to the show and then be home by ten thirty, reading thesis notes and petting her cat. Even at the backstage party, she’d still thought she’d get to chat with him for a few minutes and then be dismissed with the rest of the hordes. Why did he want to be with her when there were so many other girls? Insecurities washed over her.

Thomas overwhelmed her. He was so out of Isabel’s little world. On Monday, she would teach the Crusades to disinterested seventeen-year-olds, and he would be many miles away somewhere, crooning out megahits to a stadium filled with adoring fans. Oh my God. What was she even pretending to do?

Her disparaging thoughts suddenly flew totally out of her head. Thomas looked right into her eyes and stroked her lower lip.

“You did great tonight. I’m really glad you came,” he huskily whispered. Before she could ask for clarification, he continued. “I saw you talking and laughing with the staff from Marketing and Planning, and I liked that. In my line of work, you get a little sick of people always brown-nosing the celebrities and forgetting who’s responsible for the whole fuckin’ operation.”

It sounded as though he was about to say more, but the elevator jerked to a stop, and the lights went out, only to flicker back on seconds later. Must have been a power surge and the backup generators were kicking on.

Isabel stared back, wide-eyed and openmouthed. He leaned closer, and without any further hesitation, his lips met hers.

This was a kiss, a real, soul-sucking and tongue-sliding-over-her-lips kiss, the kiss of all kisses. Oh my.

One of his hands slid from her jawline to the back of her neck and pushed her lips into harder contact with his own. The other hand gently tugged her jaw down so her mouth opened slightly. His tongue slipped into her mouth and tickled her inner lip. He swirled his tongue around and caressed hers. She tasted the heady mix of wine and good stout on their mingling breaths. Before she could stop herself, she let a little moan escape. Their mouths became even hungrier for each other, and she pressed her breasts to his chest. He nibbled her lip a bit and then resumed the dueling of tongues deep in her mouth. The hand on her neck dropped down and gently squeezed her ass, pushing her harder into him. She felt his erection against her lower belly, and very wicked parts of her longed to pull his leather pants down and stroke him. Isabel rolled her hips against him and was rewarded with a wonderful growl.

He slid his hand up her clingy tank top and cupped her breast. She wanted more. Her breasts swelled, and her core became soaked with just the rhythm of his tongue in her mouth, sliding in and out and around. His slender fingers slid their way under her bra, and finally, he stroked one engorged nipple. The blood in her body flooded to two very special spots.

Isabel strained against his fingers, wanting him to pinch and stroke her nipple more. Hell, she wanted him to slide his other hand up and play with both breasts. He ground against her, and she responded with animal like mewling noises. This was not the teacher her students would even realize existed.

The elevator shook and resumed its downward journey, jolting both of them apart. Cool air flowed against her heated skin, and they each took a deep breath. Thomas stepped sideways a bit. He smiled like a male model and said simply, “Wow.”

She couldn’t help replying, “Wow to you too.”

 

Review:

Leslie Ferdinand rated it 5 of 5 stars

Shelves: arr, rock-star-hero

Isabel Warren and Thomas Morgan are worlds apart. She’s a high-school teacher at a school filled with at-risk teens. He’s the singer/guitarist fof the world famous rock group, Becket.

 

Isabel and Thomas meet by chance when Izzy stops in at the local bookstore and her inner klutz comes out. They meet when she falls into his arms. Sparks fly immediately and Thomas is impressed at how unimpressed Izzy is of him. But Izzy’s world consists of teaching her kids and completing her thesis, so she doesn’t know who Thomas is or the extent of his fame. Once she hears him singing, however, she realizes she’s familiar with his music, just unfamiliar with individual members of his group.

 

Izzy doesn’t know she’s in for the ride of her life, both on Thomas and with him. Though she’s afraid she’ll get hurt in the end, she refuses to eschew her opportunity to really live for once in her twenty-four years.

 

Isabel’s Awakening was romantic, wicked and fun. Izzy was a strong heroine with spirit and independence. The awkwardness and uncertainty most of us feel at the beginning of a new relationship was realistic, allowing me to connect even more with her. Hot British Guy, Sex God, Sci-fi Fan, and “Mere Mortal”, Thomas is a dream and he was more than happy to show Izzy all sides of himself.

 

http://www.lsbooks.com/isabels-awakening-p779.php

http://www.amazon.com/Isabels-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00CH675ZI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366903862&sr=8-1&keywords=isabels+awakening

 

 

Blog: https://naughtyandniceromance.wordpress.com

Facebook: tdhassett.facebook.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7063843.T_D_Hassett

Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/T.D.-Hassett/e/B00CJE2MPQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

 

Author Biography

T.D. Hassett grew up reading the romance greats, Jackie Collins, Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught. She was certain that life should be like a romance novel, lots of passion, some incredible adventures and a guaranteed happily ever after. She attended college in New England earning a B.A. in history and a M.S. degree in clinical psychology before changing her mind again and studying education. Currently Ms. Hassett lives in Connecticut with her very patient husband and two young children. Her rambunctious family shares their home with 3 crazy cats and a darling golden retriever named Delilah. Her eccentric relatives and their quest to make her feel like the only normal nut in the family tree inspire her writing.

 

Sizzling Late in Life Romance

Thank you to T.D. for inviting me to share my just-released sizzling hot story from Liquid Silver Books, The Caretaker’s Lady. While the story sizzles, it’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia where the cool weather has begun and the trees are donning their autumn cloaks. The area boasts magnificent mountain vistas, orchards and farms, and year-round festivals celebrating harvests, arts and crafts, and mountain life.

While writing The Caretaker’s Lady, I needed a magical place for famous romance author Cathy Morrow to rediscover her muse. Where better than a mountain resort? So… In a luxurious resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia where the trees stand cloaked in fall colors, the apples and pumpkins are ripe for harvest, and pots of apple cider simmer beside the fireplace, a couple in the autumn of their lives surrender to lust and discover love.

caretakerslady 600x900

Pass the grits and call me y’all. Jasmine Bloom, queen of the bodice rippers for three decades, never thought she would become a victim of writer’s block. When family stress causes Cathy Morrow, who writes as Jasmine Bloom, to miss a deadline, Blaylock Publishing accepts a mysterious invitation for Cathy to visit The Mountain Ridge Resort to revive her muse.

Divorced for two decades with three grown children and two grandsons living in her home, Cathy can’t find the inspiration she needs to write the sizzling-hot romances that gained her fame and fortune. At the resort, Cathy meets a hot maintenance worker who warms the cool nights. Will she be content to role-play his favorite scorching-hot love scenes from her novels then return home to her dull routine?

The caretaker’s job at the resort allows billionaire John Murdock to live the life he loves in the Blue Ridge Mountains and keep a centuries-old family vow. When Cathy Morrow arrives at the resort, she lights a fire he’d banked years ago. Will she look beyond his white hair and menial job to appreciate what he offers—passion with the prospect for love?

EXCERPT

Cathy sipped her cider. “It gets chilly up here, doesn’t it?”

“Cold enough to freeze your nuts.” John started. “Shit, Cathy. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m not used to talking to ladies. I apologize.”

“Apology accepted. I might save that one for one of my novels.”

“Really? I have all of them. I’m used to talking to men. The content of men’s conversations is different and the language more graphic than women.”

Very perceptive of him. “I try to reflect that in my novels.”

“Come to think of it, that’s probably why we liked them so much.”

“We?”

“Julia and I read all your novels together. We even played out some of the scenes.”

He moved away. “I shouldn’t have mentioned that either. I’ve never told anyone before. It was personal between us. I’m sorry I brought it up.”

She crawled across the mattress and sat beside him. “John. It’s okay. Remember what we said about people our age having histories? You were married to Julia for years. Being her husband is part of what and who you are. No one should take that away from you. For your information, it’s not all that uncommon for couples to role play scenes out of novels. When I do book signings, you would be amazed at some things people confide while I’m autographing their books.”

She moved closer and rested a hand on the inside of his thigh. “For now, though, I’m far more interested in the present.”

* * * *

The shell he’d built around his heart to protect himself from being hurt again shattered. Cathy understood him. Understood that Julia would always own a piece of his heart. She didn’t consider his past with his deceased wife a personal insult to herself or a danger to her present with him. He pulled her into his lap and crushed her against him.

Cathy patted his cheek. “John. John. Are you okay?”

He kissed her palm. “I’m much better than okay, Cathy. See?” He guided her hand to his cock straining against the soft fabric of his jeans.

“Very impressive, sir. Do you have anything in mind?”

“Absolutely. How about sex outdoors in the Georgia sunshine, my lady of the mountain?”

She bit her bottom lip. “Are we alone here? We wouldn’t be giving anyone a show?”

Cathy was a walking contradiction—an author of scorching hot romances who was often shy and overly concerned about propriety. Maybe she might be up to a game. “As I recall that’s exactly what happened in The Forest Queen.”

She brightened. “You really have read my books. But the forest queen was bathing in a river when the Earl of Shelton discovered her on his way to meet his betrothed.”

“As I recall, she disappeared after they made love, and he spent months looking for her while Lady Celeste, his betrothed, sat on her ass waiting for him to claim her.”

Cathy laughed and clapped her hands. “He finally gave up and returned to meet Lady Celeste, who was also his forest queen. They lived happily ever after. A silly story.”

“What’s wrong with a happily ever after, Cathy?”

“Nothing, but I don’t want to put on a show for anyone. I’m no—”

“Slut.”

“Exactly, John.”

He wasn’t getting anywhere with her. Maybe he would need to share more information “There won’t be a show. The area beyond the locked gate is off-limits to guests and staff. It’s reserved for the use of the owners.”

“And you brought me here because…”

“I’m the caretaker. I have free run of the resort and all its properties. No one would ever come here. It’s one of the few grounds for immediate termination.”

“Oh.”

“So you, my lady of the mountain are my captive.” He hugged her close. “Mine to do with as I will.”

She slapped his chest. “I don’t write bodice rippers anymore. There’s not much of a market for them.”

He kissed her cheek. “All right, darling. You’re mine to do with as I will, with your permission.”

Her hand drifted to his cock. “Permission granted. Do you have anything in mind?”

“Many things, my lady. But how about some hot sex with a cool view?”

Rita Bay happily writes sizzling contemporary M/M and M/F stories (Liquid Silver Books, Secret Cravings Publishing); historical romance sagas (Siren BookStrand); and shapeshifter stories, vampire tales, and humorous mythology-based erotic romps (Champagne Book Group). Her stories are set near her home in Atlanta, along the Gulf Coast, and in picturesque locales across Europe. Her webpage/blog (http://ritabay.com) offers more info about Rita and her stories, as well as risqué, macabre, and extraordinary posts about the history and culture of Western Europe and the United States.

https://www.facebook.com/ritabayauthor

https://twitter.com/ritabayauthor

http://www.amazon.com/Rita-Bay/e/B0083WWI7U/

http://www.lsbooks.com/the-caretaker-s-lady-p944.php

http://www.amazon.com/Caretakers-Lady-Rita-Bay-ebook/dp/B00N2F30JS/

Fall Into Romance and win!!

Participate in a hop with over 100 romance authors between September 1st and the 30th. Let’s say goodbye to summer and hello fall with a bang. And for those of you who are trying to win a free copy of my newest release, Darling’s Desire, look for the answer in the blurb and cover snap below.

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Blurb

Darling Roberts is going back to the lake house her mother disappeared from thirteen years ago. She needs to decide to stay or sell. The locals believe the place cursed, but her best friend thinks it would be a blast to spend the weekend there before heading to Europe. BFF Madison is determined to set Darling up even if that means dragging a recently widowed rock-and-roll drummer to the scene of a murder.

Ross Daniels has a secret. He can’t stand the pitying looks well-wishers have given him since his wife’s accidental death. The European leg of the Becket tour can’t come soon enough. A weekend stay at a mutual friend’s lake house seems like a decent way to kill a couple of days before hopping a plane, at least until he spends some time with temptation herself. Passions ignite and Ross feels his heart beginning to beat again. Darling isn’t who he thought she was and he can’t get enough of her sweet soul and lush curves.

Darling is determined to take charge of her life and the lake house is just the place to begin. Ross is a scrumptious distraction but she knows she has to keep things in perspective. Why would a world famous drummer want to hang out with her in a small town that even the locals want her run out of? Contains explicit sex, murder, suspense and laugh out loud dialog.

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShop

Buy This Book

Publisher : http://www.lsbooks.com/darling-s-desire-p916.php

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L18MWO2/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d1_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1GXQ5Q2N2WDHV8ZPJDD6&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846

Barnes and Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/darlings-desire-td-hassett/1119722876?ean=9781622101122

Kobo : http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/darling-s-desire

The Shore Thing: Alpha Males and Baby Dolphins, Oh My.

Thank you so much, T.D., for hosting me on your blog. Liquid Silver Books will release my new contemporary romance novel, The Shore Thing, on Monday, Sept. 1. It’s the first book in a series set in the fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, where you’ll feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and a sea breeze ruffling your hair.
       You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy. 
     You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.
      You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.

Here’s what The Shore Thing is about:

Danielle “Dani” Davidson vows to just say no to workplace romances after her first post-college job is soured by a messy breakup with a manipulative coworker at a fish hatchery.       That’s just one reason she doesn’t trust any man with her heart, let alone one who swims with sharks for a living. So why can’t she get cameraman Evan Sanders out of her mind? 
       Evan is twice shy, too, after an alluring but self-absorbed colleague at Gulf Shore Aquarium takes a bite out of his heart. Thought he’s dead set against dating anyone else he works with, he’s intrigued by Dani’s shyness and tempted by her intelligence and low-key sexiness.

Dani leads tours and educates guests, and Evan is the chief photographer/videographer at the aquarium and marine animal hospital in Gulf Shore. Their attraction smolders until an unfortunate encounter with a stingray sends Dani to the emergency room, and Evan steps up to help her through her recovery.

The two also bond over the rescue of an orphaned baby dolphin. But will Evan’s vindictive ex-lover, his career ambitions, and Dani’s inhibitions tear the young lovers apart?

 HRtheshorething

Here’s an excerpt:

Evan Sanders felt his swim fins touch bottom as he settled into position with his camera pointed at the two ten-foot nurse sharks circling above him. It was feeding time, and Fred and Barney were restless and hungry. Evan watched as black drum, striped mullet, mangrove snapper, and other smaller fish scurried out of the predators’ way.

He was in full scuba gear and had only his camera for protection, but he wasn’t worried. He’d shot still photos and video in Gulf Shore Aquarium’s Florida Fishes tank many times, and the nurse sharks hadn’t shown the slightest interest in him.

Still, the usually sluggish bottom-dwellers did have thousands of tiny, serrated teeth capable of crushing shellfish and delivering a nasty bite to errant hands or feet, so Evan couldn’t afford to be careless.

Leaning against the clear face of the tank for support, he noticed an attractive young woman watching him. She had her long chestnut hair pulled back in a neat ponytail and wore khaki slacks and the aquarium’s standard-issue teal polo shirt with the GSA logo. A small crowd gathered around her, and Evan knew she was regaling them with facts about how nurse sharks in the wild use vacuum-like suction to snatch fish, mollusks, and crustaceans from their hiding places, sometimes even yanking a sea snail right out of its shell.

He wished he had time to take a closer look at her because he liked what he could see. But duty called.

Evan zoomed in and fired off frame after frame as Fred sucked a freshly thawed herring from the stainless steel grilling tongs a trainer held just beneath the water’s surface. He tracked Fred with his camera as the shark circled around for another handout.

Suddenly, Evan’s peripheral vision picked up a hulking shape closing in fast on his right. He pivoted to find Barney’s snout within inches of the camera lens.

Pulse pounding, Evan barely had time to react. He bumped the shark’s nose just hard enough to discourage him from coming closer. The lumbering fish veered away at the last second and swam up to a second trainer, who enticed him with a hunk of squid.

On the dry side of the Plexiglas, the young woman stared wide-eyed. Evan gave an exaggerated shudder and patted his chest over his heart. She laughed, and he grinned around his regulator mouthpiece and wiggled his fingers. She waved back.

As Evan held her gaze for a moment longer, the young woman blushed.

 

* * * *

 

Fifteen minutes earlier, Danielle “Dani” Davidson had returned from an early dinner break to see the diver standing on the concrete deck of the tank, looking like he belonged on the cover of Hot Hunks Monthly. He checked his air tank and hoses, spit in his mask to keep it from fogging, and collected his camera gear. He’d zipped up his wet suit only as far as his flat waist, and it was only natural for Dani to pause and admire the wide set of his shoulders and the muscles rippling over his tanned arms and chest.

Just then, he raised his head as if he felt her gaze roaming his body and, face reddening, she hurried toward the stairs. She stopped on the top step, hidden by a sign identifying the animals in the tank, and watched as he worked his arms down the sleeves of his wet suit and then zipped it closed.

The show over, she headed down to the underwater viewing area to narrate the nurse shark feeding.

Now, as Dani’s heartbeat returned to normal, the guests gave her an expectant look, obviously waiting to hear what she had to say about the diver’s close call.

“Barney was just making sure our photographer got a nice close-up of his handsome face,” she ad-libbed, adding a reassuring smile for good measure.

“You wouldn’t catch me in the water with those monsters,” one woman proclaimed.

“Sharks are awesome!” the boy with her enthused. “During Shark Week on TV, they showed a great white leaping out of the water with a seal in its jaws, and the seal was all bloody and flopping around and stuff, and its guts were hanging out, too. It was so cool!”

“Eeeewww,” a girl behind him squealed. “That’s totally disgusting.”

“Well—” Dani began, but was interrupted by the man beside her.

“So, would that shark have bitten that diver just now?” he asked.

“Nurse sharks usually aren’t aggressive and are tolerant of people,” she told him. “Unless, of course, someone is careless enough to step on the shark or foolish enough to pull its tail. Our diver is anything but an inattentive imbecile.”

Several people laughed.

“Then why did that shark charge him?” the man pressed.

“‘Charge’ is an overstatement. Sharks are attracted by bright and shiny objects, like a camera flash.”

“Won’t they eat those other fish in there?” someone else asked, setting off a flurry of questions from the group.

“Not as long as we keep Fred and Barney well-fed,” Dani said. “Nurse sharks are lazy hunters who forage at night when their prey is resting.”

“How often do you feed them?”

“Four times a week.”

“Why don’t you just throw the food in there instead of using tongs?”

“The trainers need to keep track of how much fish and squid each shark eats,” she explained. “And they also get vitamin supplements in their food.”

“How big do nurse sharks get?”

“They average seven to nine feet, but it’s possible they can reach fourteen feet.”

“How long do they live?”

“About twenty-five years in human care.”

“Human care? Let’s call it what it is—captivity.”

“Well—”

“Are these, like, the only sharks you have? Because they’re, like, totally lame,” said a bored-looking teenage girl.

“We have a lot of other species at Shark Pier, which is near the back of the property,” Dani answered.

“So, um, why are these here, then?”

“Fred and Barney came to us before we built Shark Pier. A local man had them at his home and gave them to us after they outgrew every tank he bought. They’ve settled in here, so why move them again? Think of them as the aquarium’s greeters, like the ones at Walmart, but with much sharper teeth.”

Dani smiled, but the teenager stayed stone-faced.

“What’s the most bloodthirsty shark in this part of Florida?” asked a man wearing a floppy fishing hat and a sticky layer of coconut-scented suntan lotion.

“We prefer not to use words like bloodthirsty and vicious. Yes, they’re top predators, but sharks don’t hunt humans. Of the more than three hundred and fifty species, fewer than ten are considered dangerous to people.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” the man accused, his hands folded across his chest. Then he spoke with a deliberate pause between each word, as if she had rocks for brains. “Which sharks should we be most afraid of when we’re in local waters?”

“Bull sharks. They’re aggressive and unpredictable.” Dani’s smile wavered, but she kept it pasted on her face.

“Anybody been attacked?”

“Off Gulf Shore? No. None reported, anyway. South of here, in the Tampa Bay area? Yes, but not many. You don’t have to worry. I swim in the Gulf all the time.”

“Hey, it only takes one bite! What happened with those attacks? This is stuff we have a right to know!”

“Yes, sir, absolutely,” she agreed. “Nobody’s trying to keep secrets. In 2000, a nine-foot bull shark feeding on mullet killed a retiree who jumped off his dock near St. Pete Beach and Gulfport.”

Several guests gasped, and someone muttered, “Good Lord!”

“That happened in Boca Ciega Bay, where nine years later a teenage girl was swimming—”

“Wait a minute. Boca Ciega Bay? Oh! My! God! We’re staying right near there!” shrieked an older woman who looked like she’d just come off the beach and now regretted sticking even a toe in the surf.

“Did that girl get eaten?” the young Shark Week fan asked before Dani could say anything else.

“No, she was bitten just below the knee. It was serious but not life-threatening.”

“We need to stay someplace else if there are killer sharks in that bay,” the woman insisted, on the verge of a full-blown frenzy.

“Ma’am, sharks are found in every major body of saltwater in the world,” Dani said.

“Is that supposed to make me feel better, young lady?”

Dani’s shirt was sticky with sweat. “Your chances of being attacked are about one in eleven million,” she assured the woman. That didn’t seem to satisfy her, so Dani launched into tips for lessening that already minuscule risk.

“Don’t swim alone, at twilight, after dark, or if you’re bleeding. Don’t wear shiny jewelry. Be extra cautious in murky water. Don’t splash a lot or let pets in the water with you. Avoid going in the water where people are fishing.”

The woman’s face looked like she’d just sucked on a lemon, and the man who’d raised the specter of shark attack gave an impatient huff.

Geez, what’s with these people? Dani thought, sneaking another look at the diver with the camera. I’d be safer in there with him, not to mention with Barney and Fred.

 

 

The Shore Thing is available for pre-order from Liquid Silver Books at www.lsbooks.com/pre-order-coming-soon-romance-books-c322.php. Order now and buy the book for $3.99, which is 20 percent off the regular cover price.

 

 

Now, a little about me. I’m a veteran of some 30 years of newspaper work in the Tampa area, most of it with The Tampa Tribune, and work as a freelance editor in addition to writing books.

In July 2013, I published the e-novella Getting Her Money’s Worth, inspired by and dedicated to a close friend who died in June 2012 after a failed bone marrow transplant.

In my spare time, I greet and educate the public as a volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to movie star dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films.  

I also enjoy reading; riding on the back of my husband’s Harley-Davidson; playing with my pets; and cheering for my favorite NASCAR drivers and Tampa Bay area sports teams.

 photo

Visit me at my website, www.AnnetteMardis.com, my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnetteMardis and my Pinterest boards at www.pinterest.com/annettemardis/the-shore-thing/ and www.pinterest.com/annettemardis/getting-her-moneys-worth/. Follow me on twitter: @AnnetteMardis48.

I also post book reviews, publishing news and other reader-friendly content through a public forum at www.facebook.com/PostHereReaders.

Fall Into Romance – and win $100 gift card!

Participate in a hop with over 100 romance authors between September 1st and the 30th. Let’s say goodbye to summer and hello fall with a bang. And for those of you who are trying to win a free copy of my newest release, Darling’s Desire, look for the answer in the blurb and cover snap below.

fil2014

 

Blurb

Darling Roberts is going back to the lake house her mother disappeared from thirteen years ago. She needs to decide to stay or sell. The locals believe the place cursed, but her best friend thinks it would be a blast to spend the weekend there before heading to Europe. BFF Madison is determined to set Darling up even if that means dragging a recently widowed rock-and-roll drummer to the scene of a murder.

Ross Daniels has a secret. He can’t stand the pitying looks well-wishers have given him since his wife’s accidental death. The European leg of the Becket tour can’t come soon enough. A weekend stay at a mutual friend’s lake house seems like a decent way to kill a couple of days before hopping a plane, at least until he spends some time with temptation herself. Passions ignite and Ross feels his heart beginning to beat again. Darling isn’t who he thought she was and he can’t get enough of her sweet soul and lush curves.

Darling is determined to take charge of her life and the lake house is just the place to begin. Ross is a scrumptious distraction but she knows she has to keep things in perspective. Why would a world famous drummer want to hang out with her in a small town that even the locals want her run out of? Contains explicit sex, murder, suspense and laugh out loud dialog.

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShop

Buy This Book

 

Publisher : http://www.lsbooks.com/darling-s-desire-p916.php

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L18MWO2/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d1_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1GXQ5Q2N2WDHV8ZPJDD6&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846

 

Barnes and Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/darlings-desire-td-hassett/1119722876?ean=9781622101122

 

Kobo : http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/darling-s-desire

 

 

First Choice, Second Chance, Great Read

First Choice, Second Chance
Lynn Rae stopped by to tell us a little tiny bit about her newest release, First Choice, Second Chance. Enjoy the teaser and consider picking up your copy today. Buy links below.FirstChoiceSecondChance

Blurb:
Conscientious Emily Fontaine is on a mission to prove her marketing and public relations skills. When she volunteers to restore a historic statue, she isn’t prepared for her attraction to one of her fellow committee members.
Paul Ellison has stayed out of circulation since his wife’s death, but once he meets Emily, he can’t resist her quiet allure, despite the difference in their age.
When the statue which brought them together is vandalized, and both Paul’s daughter and sister strenuously object to their burgeoning relationship, Paul and Emily realize the sacrifices they’ll have to make for each other. Will Paul have a second chance at love?

Buy Links:
http://www.amazon.com/Choice-Second-Chance-Around-Corner-ebook/dp/B00M6GH5CM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406596181&sr=8-1&keywords=first+choice+second+chance
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-firstchoicesecondchance-1580253-149.html
http://www.lsbooks.com/first-choice-second-chance-p927.php

Lynn Rae bio:
Lynn Rae makes her home in land-locked central Ohio after time spent in the former Great Black Swamp, beside the Ohio River, and along the Miami and Erie Canal. With professional experience in fields ranging from contract archaeology to librarianship along with making donuts and teaching museum studies, Lynn enjoys incorporating her quirky sense of humor and real-life adventures into her writing (except the naughty bits). She writes sci-fi, contemporary, and historical romances.

Sotia Lazu Talks Wet Sex and a Giveaway

Welcome to fellow romance author Sotia Lazu. She has a great giveaway below and a steamy M/F/M scene to share from a work in progress.

Hi, and thank you so much for having me and The Tenant over today!

So you asked for a post about sex in water, and that’s what you’ll get. Sort of.

????????????

 

The Tenant has several steamy sex scenes, if I say so myself (and how can you agree or disagree unless you read it? 😉 ) What it doesn’t have is a sex in water scene. I wanted to have Derek take Amanda in the shower, but I’ve already written that in Cherry Stem, and then there’s this little thing that Amanda’s best friend, Becca wakes up to in her own book, coming next summer. Warning: it’s not safe for work.

 

Becca woke up feeling pleasantly sore and sated.

She stretched languidly in all directions, expecting to feel the bodies of her lovers on either side, and was surprised to find no one in bed with her.

 

She hadn’t expected her boys to be able to stand, after the previous night, let alone walk out of the room.

 

The sound of running water reached her ears. Shower. That was a good idea. She briefly wondered if she’d find Colin on Brad in the bathroom. The two avoided being naked together when she didn’t act as a buffer between them. It was odd after what they shared—her, namely—on an almost nightly basis. She’d joked about the two of them pleasing each other while she watched, and had seen the longing in Colin’s gaze when Brad wasn’t looking. Earlier in their relationship, Brad had drunkenly confessed that if he ever “did a dude,” it’d be his best friend, but had remained silent while Colin gave all sorts of excuses as to why it wouldn’t be the best of ideas for them to be together without her.

 

Which showed he’d considered the idea.

 

Becca would have to figure a way to get them to open up about it. But first, she’d hop in the shower with whoever cared to keep her company.


She jumped out of bed and all but skipped to the bathroom, mindless of how her naked feet slid on the marble floor. Her momentum almost brought her head-first through the bathroom door, as she skidded to a halt at the sight before her.

Colin was fucking Brad.

Colin was fucking Brad, and they both seemed to love it. Of course there was nothing not to love from where she stood.

Hard, muscled bodies pushed against each other, muscles flexing and rippling. Large palms gripped shoulders, hips, trying for purchase on wet flesh or the wall against which Brad now leaned, eyes closed as he pushed back, meeting every one of Colin’s thrusts.


She cautiously moved a little to the side from her standpoint behind the two, absorbing every detail of their coupling. The room grew hotter and hotter with her rising desire for the two men.

Colin’s face was pinched in concentration, his movements measured, as though he was afraid to hurt his best friend. No. As if he was afraid Brad would change his mind and leave. He wouldn’t worry, if he could see the silent ‘O’ Brad’s lips formed every time the long, thick cock disappeared fully inside him.

 

Becca knew how that felt; she’d had Colin inside her hours earlied and could still feel the double pounding her beautiful boys had given her.

 

Beautiful.

 

Soap suds and water didn’t mask the beautiful contrast of Colin’s pale skin against Brad’s tanned one. Their wet hair clinging to their faces made that contrast even starker. Steam rose around them, giving them halos, but she knew they were no angels. She wouldn’t want them so much if they were.

 

But Becca and her boys are another story—or three. 😉

 

The Tenant by Sotia Lazu

The_Tenant-Sotia_Lazu-500x800

Blurb

In hopes of getting her fiancé to consummate their relationship before the wedding, Amanda convinces him they should check out the apartment her father gave her as a gift for their upcoming nuptials. Darkness and privacy are supposed to work in her favor, but there is one parameter she doesn’t know about: the apartment is not empty yet, and the current tenant has no plans of moving.

Derek has had a hell of a few months. His girlfriend turned out to be a cheater and then stole his restaurant. He’s not about to also give up the place he’s called home for three years—even if his hot but infuriating landlady threatens to move in by the end of the week.

When her own lease is up, Amanda is forced to make good on her threat. As if life isn’t already hard enough, her tenant-turned-roommate is as sexy as he is annoying, and her fiancé is caught with a half-naked woman.

Now she and Derek need to find a way to survive their forced cohabitation. They soon discover sleeping with the enemy can be fun.

 

Excerpt

 

Hushed voices. There were people whispering inside his home, and—

 

Something crashed.

 

It might have been fury at whoever dared vandalize his home that drove his feet from bathroom to bedroom, naked as the day he was born. It could have been hope he’d finally get out some of his frustration that curled his fingers around the baseball bat lying beneath his bed and led him the rest of the distance to his living room in the pitch black.

 

Weighing the bat in one hand, he pressed the fingers of the other to the light switch he knew to be at his left, and took in the lit room.

 

A couple was making out on his floor. By his overturned table and his smashed lamp.

 

He scowled so hard his forehead hurt, but it was all he could do not to charge them and bash their heads in.

 

“What the fuck are you doing in my place?” he asked the kneeling hulk. He’d heard about people making out in parks, playgrounds, even cemeteries, but breaking into someone’s home to get some was unbelievable.

 

The small blonde lying on the floor sat upright, eyes blazing. “Your place? My father gave me this apartment!”

 

Her boyfriend simply blinked at him.

 

Was it Derek’s imagination, or was the blonde having a hard time looking him in the eye? He was tempted to mention his face was an entire torso—and then some—higher than what she was staring at, but his ego needed some stroking, so he let her take all of him in, while his mind caught up to what she’d just said.

 

“You’re Kenneth’s daughter?” he finally asked, the bat only slightly lowered. Alice’s sister. This one was shorter, and Alice dyed her hair dark brown these days, but Derek could see the resemblance.

 

She finally lifted her gaze to meet his, and her eyes were the same bright green as her sister’s. “You’re the guy who’s supposed to be gone?”

 

He could apologize and say he’d forgotten because of the rain of utter shit falling on him lately.

 

He could ask for a bit more time until he’d found a new place.

 

Or he could be an ass. Nobody else seemed to think twice about being an ass to him. “Hardly,” he said with a snort. “I’m supposed to be right where I am. You, on the other hand, are trespassing. Or is it breaking and entering?”

 

The young woman scrunched her nose, which was adorable in a snooty, bratty way. “No breaking. I’ve got a key.” She narrowed her eyes. “When Mason and I were first engaged, Dad said he asked you to move. That was three months ago.”

 

Mason. That was the silent brute’s name. “I remember no such thing, and” —he looked pointedly at the remains of his favorite lamp— “there has definitely been some breaking.”

 

Blondie bounced up and glared. Funny, but she was intimidating despite her small stature. Maybe that was why Mason stood back and let her handle things. “Dad bought the place for me, to begin with,” she said. “You knew when you first moved in that I was eventually going to be needing it.”

 

That was true. Derek had heard all about how this was one day going to be a wedding present for Kenneth’s oldest daughter—and what was her name, again?—though said daughter hadn’t even been dating back then. Kenneth said his daughter was picky and needed a man with serious backbone before she settled down.

 

Things had apparently changed.

 

Derek considered waving the bat to see if the big guy would flinch, but decided to be the bigger man—and wasn’t that ironic, when Mason had at least four inches on him? “Kenneth mentioned something, but he didn’t give me the sixty days notice he was supposed to.” Blondie opened her mouth, probably to repeat her father let him know three months ago. Now was time for the coup de grace, and Derek somehow knew he’d love watching her squirm. “As you know, the notice is supposed to be in writing or it doesn’t count,” he said.

 

And smirked.

 

And winked.

 

Mason grabbed Blondie’s shoulder, flexing his arm in the process. The look on his face indicated that Derek’s nudity might have offended him more than Derek’s intention to not vacate the premises for at least two more months. “Let’s go, Mandi.” Ah, that was her name. “We’ll talk to your father. He’ll know what to do.”

 

Her gaze said she knew what to do too, and it involved the painful insertion of the baseball bat in Derek’s most private orifice.

 

Derek’s smirk widened into a grin. “And now get out of here, before I have to call the police and report you for harassment on top of everything else.”

 

Mandi stared him down for a split second, but when Derek swung his bat in the air, her overly inflated toy boy all but dragged her out the door.

 

Derek propped his weapon on his shoulder, grabbed a bottle of scotch, and went to bed. He sensed his swagger had returned. Maybe that was because he’d actually felt he had balls, for the first time in days.

 

Odd way for his day to improve, but it had. He would give anything for another opportunity to bait Mandi Murphy. If he couldn’t torture the woman who’d hurt him, he’d torture the one who wanted to evict him. He had to be subtle about it, though. He didn’t want to make Kenneth mad at him.

 

About the Author


Sotia’s making do with Greek reality, while writing and mostly thinking in English.

She loves romances with a twist and urban fantasy novels, always with vivid erotic elements. Her favorite characters to write are not conventional hero-material at first glance, and she enjoys making them fight for their happiness.

 Sotia shares her life and living quarters with her husband, their son, and two rescue dogs, one of which may be part-pony. Sappy movies make her bawl like a baby, and she wishes she could take in all the stray dogs in the world.

 Also, she hates mornings!


Sotia’s books:
Amazon | B & N | Smashwords | Apple | Kobo
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tenant-Sotia-Lazu-ebook/dp/B00MG4C1EQ

Contact Sotia:

Website
Blog
Twitter
Goodreads

Or write to her at author@sotialazu.com

 

GIVEAWAY

How do you feel about this trope and why? Tell me in a comment, and make sure to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win an e-copy of The Tenant or some Author Swag!


NOTE: The giveaway is for Adults Only. Please do not enter if you’re below your country’s legal age.

WordPress won’t let me embed the Rafflecopter, so click on the link to open it in a new page.

>>a Rafflecopter giveaway<<

 

AND THAT’S NOT ALL!

Until the 11th of the month, you have the chance for several more entries. Just stop by the following blogs, and leave me a comment:

 

August 8th

Gina Henning Blog

http://www.ginahenning.com/blog/

August 8th

Barbara Elsborg – Barbara‘s Blog

http://www.barbaraelsborg.com/blogposts/

August 8th

The Naughty and Nice of Romance

https://naughtyandniceromance.wordpress.com

August 9th

Ana Blaze

http://anablaze.blogspot.com/

August 9th

Apathy’s Hero

http://blog.apathyshero.com

August 10th

Megan O’Russell

http://meganorussell.com

August 10th

Blame It On The Muse

http://blameitonthemuse.com/

August 10th

History in the Hot Lane

http://shilohsaddler.blogspot.com

August 10th

A Pen Named Brock

http://www.tabrockbooks.com

August 10th

Diane Saxon Blog Spot

http://www.dianesaxon.com/blogspot.html

August 11th

Tara Quan

http://www.taraquan.com/

August 11th

Writery

http://writery.wordpress.com/

August 11th

Vincent Morrone

http://vincentmorrone.com/

August 11th

Daisy Banks Blog

http://daisybanks.wordpress.com/

Sweaty and Sexy? Sizzling Summer Nights Blog Hop

What more could we ask for than what is looking back at you from the left? Okay, winning that kindle fire would be sweet too!

I love summer – although this one has not been nearly as hot and sweaty as previous years. So, to solve the problem I had to get a little more salacious in my writing. My most recent release, Darling’s Desire, is a mix of mystery at the lake, murder, rock and roll angst and sizzling sex.  The reviews have been great and I hope some of you will give the book a read and a review. I am giving away one free copy but sure hope a few readers will pick up theirs from amazon:

Here is the blurb:  When world-famous drummer Ross Daniels agrees to spend the weekend at Darling Roberts’ lake house, he becomes a distraction she doesn’t need … her cursed house is distraction enough! A secluded lake house with a dark history … a rock star and a sheltered young woman … you’ll find all the passion and suspense you could wish for in T. D. Hassett’s hot new romance Darling’s Desire.

Darling Roberts is going back to the lake house her mother disappeared from thirteen years ago. She needs to decide to stay or sell. The locals believe the place cursed, but her best friend thinks it would be a blast to spend the weekend there before heading to Europe. BFF Madison is determined to set Darling up, even if that means dragging a recently widowed rock-and-roll drummer to the scene of a murder.

Ross Daniels has a secret. He can’t stand the pitying looks well-wishers have given him since his wife’s accidental death. The European leg of the Becket tour can’t come soon enough. A weekend stay at a mutual friend’s lake house seems like a decent way to kill a couple of days before hopping a plane, at least until he spends some time with temptation herself.

Passions ignite and Ross feels his heart beginning to beat again. Darling isn’t who he thought she was, and he can’t get enough of her sweet soul and lush curves. Darling is determined to take charge of her life, and the lake house is just the place to begin. Ross is a scrumptious distraction, but she knows she has to keep things in perspective. Why would a world-famous drummer want to hang out with her in a small town even the locals want her run out of?

Tara Quan’s Operation Owl Tour of the Capital – Snagging Discounted Tickets

Image I owe Tiffany a huge thank you for hosting me today. I’m trying something new, which is to chat up my book prior to getting a firm release date. Because of my impending move to Rome, I may soon experience a prolonged Internet blackout and have prescheduled my stops. To the best of my knowledge, my latest multicultural romance from Decadent Publishing comes out some time in July 2014 (so, depending on when you stumble upon this blog, it might be available now). For updates as well as a chance to win a $25 gift card, drop by my website: TaraQuan.com/Owl

In honor of the place I consider home (what the government terms the National Capital Area), I’m dedicating the posts on this tour to Washington, D.C. and its surrounding suburbs. The romantic comedy I’m very blatantly promoting is set entirely in the US capital. A Beyond Fairytales adaptation of The Owl by Brothers Grimm, Operation Owl features a geeky hacker hero and his bookish best friend. They team up to expose a cyber conspiracy at the heart of the US government and end up indulging in some other equally exciting activities.

Waypoint: Snagging Discounted Tickets

Since my lovely hostess is a fan of reading and writing rocker romances, I thought it appropriate to highlight some ways to get discounted tickets to shows in Washington, D.C. While the capital pales in comparison to New York, Chicago, or Boston when it comes to live entertainment options, the Kennedy and Verizon centers usually have something interesting on offer.

If you’re between 18-30 years old (or are serving in the military), then you’re eligible for MyTix, the Kennedy Center’s effort to attract Millenials and active-duty patrons (you must show a valid government-issued ID at will call to confirm your age/military service status). One I.D. can buy 2 lower-priced seats, which helps if, like me, you have a spouse who is over thirty.

If you’re looking at shows outside the Kennedy Center (or do not have someone in your party who fits the requirement), the Goldstar website and the iPhone app Applauze are both good tools for deal searching in the district. Applauze can also help with suggestions for free things to do around town.

And thus concludes my Capital Area tip for the day. Follow along at TaraQuan.com/Owl as I continue my tour at the blogs of some awesome romance authors.

 

Operation Owl

Five years ago, Maya Jain kissed her best friend only to have him run out of her dorm room and leave the state. When he shows up in Washington, D.C., a wanted fugitive sought after by every branch of the US government, she can’t bring herself to ignore his plight. As their physical relationship picks up where it left off, she decides it’s time to make him see her as more than the bespectacled, bookish girl he once called “Owl.”

After being accused of espionage and treason, Zack Strong needs a forensic accountant to help clear his name. Not knowing who he can trust, this white-hat hacker has no choice but to ask his former best friend and math tutor for help. Together they unravel a cyber conspiracy at the Barn, an NSA facility tasked to intercept electronic communications. But as they traverse the nation’s capital to avoid capture, Maya insists on letting their simmering sexual tension take its natural course. Even though he’s never been able to shake the memory of their one kiss, he refuses to let her give up her life for a man with no future.

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy, Multicultural

 Rafflecopter Giveaway – $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash http://www.taraquan.com/owl

About Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, her characters are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at www.taraquan.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

Website                  http://www.taraquan.com/

FB                          https://www.facebook.com/taraquanauthor

Twitter                    https://twitter.com/LaylaTarar

Google+                 https://plus.google.com/+TaraQuan

GoodReads            https://www.goodreads.com/taraquan

Pinterest                 http://www.pinterest.com/taraquan/

Amazon                  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00B19HWJQ

 

Inspired by a Grimm’s fairy tale, Operation Owl is a multicultural romantic comedy featuring a pair of best friends—a geek hero and bookish heroine—who work together to expose cyber conspiracy at the heart of the US government.

Excerpt

Hesitating at the threshold of stalker-like activity, the logical part of his brain made one last-ditch attempt to stall his fingers. This wasn’t acceptable behavior, not by any stretch of the imagination. He should wait and see what happened. If push came to shove, he could always abandon his post and knock on her door.

But he’d been sitting there for ages, an abnormal amount of time for anyone to spend in the bathroom. She could have passed out in there, and then where would they be? His brain’s paranoid frontal lobe ended up winning the battle. He needed a quick peek, a brief glance to confirm her location. If the trick gave him a glimpse of her in the shower, the curtain would obscure his view. If he saw even a hint of skin, he’d shut the damn feed off. No harm could come of this.

He accessed her webcam and turned it on. As luck would have it, the computer was angled at the open bathroom door, the only part of her apartment he couldn’t see into from the street. With the wall-to-wall mirror completely visible on screen, it wouldn’t be hard to ascertain her presence. A few keystrokes allowed him to enhance the high definition feed and zoom in. A light coating of condensation blurred the reflection by a fraction, but the open doors allowed most of it to dissipate. The reflected image was clear enough to make out shapes and colors.

The footage presented a profile view of Maya lying in a bathtub. Since he could only make out her face, neck, and left arm, he didn’t see an immediate need to cease and desist. Her head rested against the tub’s lip, cushioned by her long, dark hair. With her eyes closed and lips parted, he couldn’t tell if she was conscious. What if she had slipped in the shower and hit her head?

He cranked up the microphone’s sensitivity. The great thing about modern-day computers was their much-improved capability to process audio and video. As soon as she made a sound or moved, he’d stop watching.

A soft, throaty moan crackled over the speakers. Her left hand lifted in the air before clenching over the side of the tub. Her back and neck arched.

“Shit.”

Slapping down his laptop screen, Zack leaned back against the leather headrest and massaged his temples. Struggling not to draw any conclusions, he muttered, “Don’t go there, man. Just don’t go there.”