BLOG STOP: Jacinta Howard, author of ‘Less Than Forever’

JHoward

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?

Less Than ForeverFrom ‘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.

“Are you?”

“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.

“I guess.”

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’.

COMING SOON: ‘The Right Kind of Love’ by Roxy Wilson!

Right Kind of Love coverNew Yorker Sloane Saunders has just about given up on love. She’s thirty-something and very single. A magazine article jolts her from her malaise and motivates her to do something she’s never tried before: online dating, and firstmeet.com is the website of choice.

Attending his brother’s bachelor party was the wake-up call Blake Morrison needed. Memories of a passionate relationship from his past drive him to return to claim his woman. Sloane. Despite the sizzling chemistry between them, it’s not as easy as he thought. With a family crisis and Sloane’s preconceived notions about love and relationships getting in the way, can Blake convince Sloane they have the right kind of love and that a love like theirs can last?

From ‘The Right Kind of Love’:

“Why am I doing this, again?”

Sloane stared at the matchmaking website. Firstmeet.com. It promised to make falling in love easy. Then why was her chest so tight? Why did she feel like Atlas, with the weight of the heavens on her shoulders? Were these signs that her foray into online dating could turn out to be one of the horror stories she’d heard on the news? With her luck she’d end up meeting a catfish who created a false identity and made a complete fool of her. Not in a million years would she have believed she would resort to this.

Do I really need to do this? Is it worth the risk? No. Maybe I shouldn’t bother. I should just be content living alone, and using my Hitachi Magic Wand when I feel the need for some adventure in the bedroom.

“You know what?” Sloane moved the cursor to the Log Out icon. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.” Just when she was about to click on the icon, Harper’s words came swimming up to the surface of her consciousness—Open yourself up to new possibilities, and maybe, just maybe, you might get your happily-ever-after.

Sloane lifted her eyes toward the ceiling. “Harper, you’re not even here, and you’re messing with my head.” She looked at the monitor and saw she had a million questions to answer before she completed her profile.

She inhaled a deep breath. “Okay, here goes.”

The questionnaire was exasperating. She couldn’t believe it went so far as to ask her to select what she’d do if she won the state lottery. How about all of the above? Sheesh. Sloane used the Eeny meeny miny moe rhyme to choose an answer, since all of the above wasn’t one of the options.

Twenty minutes later, Sloane completed the online form and paid the subscription fee. She took her shower and was just about to wrap the bath towel around her body, when she heard the doorbell. She wasn’t in the mood for visitors. Not when she needed to get ready to head out in a few minutes. The NHL games attracted large crowds, so everyone knew how important it was to arrive there early to get the coveted seats. Whoever was outside continued to press the doorbell, making Sloane more and more irritated by the second.

“Enough already, I’m coming,” Sloane muttered. She dried her skin briskly. Who could possibly be disturbing her peace this early on a Sunday morning? Don’t people understand the concept of weekends? It’s Sunday, for crying out loud. She rushed to her drawer and grabbed some clothing, along with her under-things. It didn’t seem as if Sloane could put her clothes on fast enough for her impatient, unwelcome guest.

By the time Sloane reached the hallway, the shrill sounds of the doorbell seemed to touch the most sensitive part of her nerves. She barely restrained herself from shoving her fist into her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Sloane opened the door, not too gently. Belatedly, she thought how foolish it was to not check the peephole before opening the door. When she saw the man standing before her, her last-minute fear vanished.

The first thing that caught her attention was the width of his shoulders. It was one of the things about a man’s physique that got her going. Sloane believed only other full-figured women would understand the rare delight she felt in the moment, to be standing next to a man with such broad shoulders. Sloane was sure she would feel protected, and oh-so-delicate, if he wrapped his arms around her. It was a sensation she didn’t often enjoy with the opposite sex. It would feel so good to be an elf, a dainty little thing, needing protection, in his presence. Sloane mentally shook herself out of the fixation on the man’s shoulders, and allowed her eyes to track upwards.

“What the—” Her voice trailed off as she peered into cyan-blue eyes. She felt like her eyes were going to pop out of her head, as she looked into the all-too-familiar crooked, dimpled smile of the man who’d haunted her naughtiest dreams for ages.

“Blake?”

‘The Right Kind of Love’ can be purchased now at Secret Cravings Publishing.Available at other outlets like Amazon, B&N, et al on December 30, 2013.

About the Author:

Roxy Wilson is a self-professed junkie whose excessive consumption of traditional and electronic books is legendary.

As a graduate with a degree in Education, she writes blogs which help readers to think critically about and appreciate poetry. In July, 2012, however, she decided to delve into the world of writing romance stories.

When she is not reading or writing, she spends her time cooking, listening to music and visiting the various islands of the Caribbean.

To find Roxy Wilson in cyberspace:

Website/Blog – http://roxywilson.wordpress.com/

Facebook

Facebook fan page

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter: roxywilson17

Every Book I’ve Ever Read . . .

For the remainder of this year, I’ve decided to go on a quest to recall and catalog every book I’ve ever read. With the help of Goodreads and the onset of colder weather in my part of the world, I think I can probably find time to comb through my memory banks, my bookshelves and the internet to remember each and every book I started and completed without skimming or any other little tricks.

The last I heard, the average person reads only about 100 books in their lifetime. I don’t believe this can possibly be true. Of course, “the average person” is highly contextual. The average person in America? In the “developed” world? In countries where women are not subject to restrictions on learning and access to information? The list could go on forever. So, I’m going to assume that this 100 books rule applies to Americans. Still sounds a little low to me. I’ve asked around and a couple people have told me I’m naive, and that the average person probably reads only as many books as they are required to read for school and work, with one or two culturally mandated reads thrown in there, like the Harry Potters and Fifty Shades. God I hope that’s not true.

At the National Book Festival this past weekend, I was struck by how many people braved the heat (yes, it was hot in Washington DC this past weekend) and the chill (it was also a little chilly in Washington DC this weekend; hey, climate change) just for a chance to look through and buy books, and possibly catch a glimpse of their favorite author. Even in a time of e-books and Kindles, Nooks and iPads, thousands turned out to look at books!

I know that Washington DC is probably the part of the country that is less representative of “real America” than just about any other place, but my optimistic nature makes me want to believe that had the festival been in Des Moines, Iowa, the turnout would have been just as great. Still, in DC we are blessed with many esteemed colleges and universities and virtually all of the “think tanks” of note in the nation. Not to mention countless not-for-profit organizations whose sole purpose is to educate and advocate for current and emerging issues. So I suppose there is an argument to be made that in this city, there is a proliferation of people who read and think about stuff all day long just because they get paid to do so.

Anyway, enough about Washington DC, otherwise I run the risk of slipping into a political diatribe of some sort.

So, back to my quest: as I embark on this journey of cataloging every book I’ve ever read, I invite anyone who’s interested to join in and do the same on Goodreads or Shelfari and to friend me. I don’t just want to remember what I’ve read, I would love to see what other folks are reading as well. Happy Reading!

-Nia-

Is My Kindle Making me Stupid?

Last week, I hit the ‘Buy’ button on Amazon.com, completing my purchase of a book titled The Inconvenient Mistress of an Italian (not the precise name, but very close). Now, under normal circumstances and in my right mind, I would never consider buying an actual hard copy book with such a title. But it was an e-book, AND free, so I consummated the “purchase” and put it in my Kindle collection entitled “Trashy Romances” (not to be confused with my also burgeoning collection of “Trashy Romantic Erotica”). By trashy, I don’t mean that it uses “naughty” words; naughty words are important and fun, and I use them frequently in my own writing. By trashy, I mean that these books are like candy: pleasant to taste but with no nutritive value whatsoever. In this case, however, it is not my body, but my brain that may be malnourished. When I go to Goodreads and peruse the books I’ve read, I’ll be honest, I feel a little self-satisfied. All of the so-called classics are there, many Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and more than a few obscure but stunningly talented writers. And when I buy books by authors such as these, I tend to want the hard copy. I like the feel of the pages between my fingers, the quiet whisper they give as I turn them. And perhaps most of all, I like later looking at the book on my shelves and having a memory of how it felt to discover it and enjoy it. It is as comforting a ritual as visiting old friends.

The e-books on my Kindle are different. They are like my dirty little secrets; books about women who “surrender” to something or “succumb” or “give in” which is curious because women who “give in” are a particular pet peeve of mine in real life. On my e-reader, I also have a fair number of books about monsters and vampires, killers and miscreants of various stripes. And lately, I have been devouring all of these genres, sometimes at a rate of three per week because they are so easy to consume. In fact, Amazon sells about one and a half times more e-books than they do hard copies, according to 2010 figures. But if my personal experience is any indication (and it may not be) I don’t think we should take this as evidence that we have a more literate society or anything. If anything, I’ve learned that men in erotic fiction are as likely to “growl” as they are to speak, and that the women will “squeal” and “whimper” quite a bit. I’ve also learned that there are many, many euphemisms for the female anatomy that I would never have even considered.

And most of all, I’ve learned that there is a fair chance that when you pay $0.99 for a book, that’s about all it’s worth. But as a self-pubbed writer myself who hesitates to charge more than $4.99, I don’t knock it. I love that publishing has become a super-democratic process where readers get to make their own choices about the value of someone’s writing, and that mammoth publishing houses no longer get to be the arbiters of what the reading public should have access to, because for sure I’ve discovered a few gems, countless diamonds still in the rough and one or two writers whose lack of a six-figure book deal is a travesty.

Still, there is that part of me drawn to the illicit hunt specifically for corny, poorly-written fiction which I devour at 3 a.m. both fascinated and repulsed. Oh, it’s all in good fun I tell myself. But I wonder, ultimately, is my Kindle making me stupid?