Jacinta Howard has been a favorite of mine since I read ‘Better Than Okay’ and I’ve read everything of hers since. Her novels are populated with young, hip, urban professionals trying to make sense of life and love, making mistakes and eventually finding their way. I credit her work with helping remind me why I like new adult fiction, and inspiring me to finish something of my own that had been languishing for literally years. So it’s my pleasure to feature her book on my blog this Saturday. This is one I’ve been looking forward to …
About ‘Less Than Forever’: Raven Daniels and Dorian Thomas have been best friends since college. But while the free-spirited bond they share holds their relationship together, it’s also the reason they both know they’re better off as friends—flirty friends, but friends.
So when Raven decides to leave her old life and cheating ex behind in Fort Worth, TX and move to Dorian’s turf in sunny Miami to take a job as a middle school art teacher, they’re both excited about the prospect of being around one another full-time. As the social media manger at a prominent company, Dorian knows his city, and he’s eager to show his girl the ropes.
But one night, emotions run high and everything about their platonic relationship is put to the test. A series of events is set in motion that neither one of them is prepared for, events that force them to answer the question… is love always worth it?
From ‘Less Than Forever’:
“I guess this is the part where we talk about what happened and what it means,” he said as they were getting dressed, after their third session.
She didn’t look at him, fluffing her hair in the mirror that was across from the very unmade bed.
“We don’t have to talk about anything,” she returned, too casually.
“I didn’t mean that how it sounded,” he said, bending to tie his sneakers. He stood and grabbed his Suns baseball cap off the bed, placing it backwards on his head, before perching on the edge of the desk that was pushed against the wall near the TV. She stared at him and then looked away.
“How did you mean it then?” She sat down on the bed, pulling on her strappy black heels, still refusing to look at him.
“Raven, come on. Don’t put this all on me.” She looked at him then, growing agitated.
“Put what all on you?”
“This,” he said, waving a hand between them. “Like I’m the only one required to offer an explanation. Or a solution. Or to know where we go from here.”
She finished with her shoes and sighed, running her fingers through her hair.
“Okay. So…” she shrugged and stared at him. As prepared as she was to get upset with him for not having any, she didn’t have answers either.
“I know we can’t do the shit where we pretend to be ‘just friends,’” he offered, raising his cap and scratching his head. “And I know I can’t do the thing where I pretend that this one time, that last night was even close to being enough for me either.”
His voice lowered and he stared at her, his eyes soaking her up and making her fidgety and hot all over again.
“Are you ready to be in a committed relationship?” she asked.
“I asked first,” she responded.
He rolled his eyes, his dimples blaring as he frowned. “So we’re twelve now?”
She sighed, tapping her foot against the carpet. “I don’t know what I’m ready for, Dorian.”
“And you’re not gonna be pissed at me for not knowing either, right?”
She looked up and he met her eyes deliberately. She turned away again and he sighed.
“We shouldn’t have even…” she started, but his head snapped up and he stared at her.
“Don’t go there. I don’t regret this. At all,” he said. His eyes traveled over her. “And if you’re real, you don’t either.”
There it was. That brazen confidence that she loved so much but infuriated her at the same time.
“I know you were emotional and probably overwhelmed by everything,” he paused and she lowered her eyes to the floor. “But what happened last night was about more than that, Raven. You know it and I know it. It was only a matter of time before we acted on what’s been there for a while now.”
She released a breath, still studying the floor. “But that’s the problem,” she admitted, meeting his eyes. “I know you, Dorian. We didn’t act on it for a reason.”
“What’s that mean?”
He stared at her like he might’ve been angry and she leveled a look at him. He sighed.
“Look, Chipmunk,” he said, pushing himself off of the corner of the cheap hotel desk and crossing the room to sit beside her on the bed, “I don’t even think I have the words for what last night was…or this morning.”
He reached and twirled a strand of her hair around his index finger and she couldn’t help but smile at him. He grinned too, then leaned toward her, brushing her temple with his nose before kissing the same spot. Her eyes drifted closed and he dropped a kiss on the corner of her mouth.
“We obviously had a lot of pent up shit we needed to… express.”
“That’s what that was? Us expressing ourselves?” She arched an eyebrow and he grinned.
“Hell yeah,” he said, biting his lip as he smiled, causing her breath to catch in her throat. “I was expressing the hell out of myself. I’d say you were too.”
Her face heated and he grinned again, chuckling softly at her expression. His hand trailed to her waist and he pushed her back gently onto the bed, and leaned over her, balancing his weight on his forearms. His brown eyes were serious as stared down at her. She couldn’t stop her eyes from trailing to his lips, those lips that had touched every inch of her body last night. He was so sexy it almost hurt to look at him. He grinned at her as she took him, no doubt reading her thoughts, because she felt the beginnings of his erection against her abdomen.
“I’m not gonna pretend that last night was less than it was,” he told her. “And you shouldn’t either,” he tacked on when she started to speak. “I think we should just see what’s up with us, you know? Explore the possibility with no pressure.”
“And by ‘no pressure’ you mean while you continue to screw everything that moves?”
She stared up at him pointedly and he rolled his eyes, shaking his head. He pushed himself off her and slowly, she sat up beside him. Their shoulders were touching and she looked up at him.
“I’m not sharing you Dorian,” she said quietly. “I can’t share you.”
The admission made her insides hot. It was embarrassing how territorial she already was. He grinned slightly.
“I don’t want to share you either, Raven. Especially with those off brand dudes you always seem to like and attract.”
“I do not.”
“You do,” he countered.
“So, what?” she asked, ignoring him. She stood because she couldn’t sit still any longer. “We’re not ready to be committed but we don’t want each other seeing anyone else? What does that even mean? We can’t be just friends anymore but we can’t be not just friends any more?”
He stared at the floor, narrowing his eyes as he shook his head. He looked up at her.
“I guess we don’t need to figure everything out this second, right?”
She released a breath and stopped pacing.
They stared at each other for a full minute, both of them knowing they’d reached another turning point and neither of them willing to make the decision to bend.
About the Author:
Jacinta Howard is the author of new adult and contemporary romance with a real-life edge. Since 2014, she’s released three novels, including the well-received Love Always Series which includes the titles ‘Better Than Okay‘, ‘More Than Always’ and the final installment, ‘Less Than Forever’. She also released the USA TODAY Must-Read Romance, ‘Happiness in Jersey’.