Friday, March 16, 2018

Exposed: A Romance Anthology ~ Excerpt

EXPOSED: A Romance Anthology - Excerpt for Stuck in Books

Karen Booth

Jobless and painfully single, Samantha agrees to drive musician Duncan to a photo shoot. He’s in town for only five days, so sexy, and she’s eager for a no-strings fling. But Duncan shoots straight for the heart, making her unsure how she’ll ever survive his goodbye.

Note from the author:
This is the scene where Samantha, an unemployed writer, gives musician/filmmaker Duncan a ride to his photo shoot for the charity calendar. Duncan has just discovered that she was dumped by her boyfriend and is more than a bit curious.

"Tell me about the guy." Not my most subtle attempt, but there’s no telling if I'll have another chance.
I hold up a hand. “Okay, wait. Michael or Mike?”
“Michael. Always. He insisted.”
“Never trust a dude named Michael. Every Michael I have never known has been a total douchebag.”
“That's silly. What about Michael Jordan?"
“Don’t know him.”
She grins and slaps my thigh with the back of her hand. My dick is jumping to all sorts of conclusions. “Not what I mean. Surely Michael Jordan is not a douchebag.”
I shake my head because I’ll do anything to keep her smiling the way she is right now. "Can't trust him."
"You're telling me that if Michael Jordan were here in this car, you wouldn't trust him with your wallet or your guitar?"
"I mostly just wouldn't trust him with you."
By the way her head moves, I can tell she’s rolling her eyes. It’s adorable. "I can guarantee Michael Jordan would not make a pass at me."
“You’re wrong.” I take a drink of the bottle of water I brought with me. I need to slow down or calm down or something. I can’t keep up.
“No. I’m not.”
"We'll have to debate this some other time because I want to hear about your Michael. Michael, the idiot."
“Do you really want to insult one of your own? Michael’s a musician. Plays guitar. In a band. Just like you. Don’t you guys all stick together?”
I’m guessing by the way she says “musician” that she gives a guy zero credit for being one. It’s refreshing. “Depends. We can be just as good at turning on each other.” 
“Ah. You mean your band. I heard about how they turned on you after you made your film.”
Hearing anyone say it so matter-of-fact is painful. Like a blade plunged deep into my heart. “Yes. That’s a good example.”
“Well, in Michael’s case, his band stuck together. None of them had a problem covering up the fact that he was fucking a bunch of other women.”
It’s such a cliché, I almost want to laugh, but I know firsthand how often this shit happens. “I’m so sorry. Guys suck. Big time.”
 She drums her thumbs on the steering wheel. “Is this the part where I say that not all guys are terrible?”
“Nope. You will not hear any excuses from me. Only my condolences. And maybe you should give me Michael’s address so I can punch him in the face the next time I’m in New York.”
“Don’t bother. I don’t want anyone to waste any time or energy on him. He was a mistake. One of many. I need to stop making poor choices.”
“That’s pretty insightful considering this happened a few days ago.”
“I had a lot of time to think about it in the truck on the drive down. Now that I’m past the initial shock, I know that I just need a break from relationships.”
That’s as definitive a message as I could possibly get from the universe. Sam is a no-go. Now I just need to figure out how to be around her and not lose my mind.
"What about you?" she asks.
“What?” I’ve totally lost track of where we were in the conversation.
“Relationships. Your love life.”
This is a messy subject. Long-term and happiness are two things that don’t coexist in my world. I always find a way to sabotage it. "Too many things that didn't last. But it's not easy being with me. I'm no picnic."
She casts her sights over at me for an instant. "Why should anyone have to be a picnic? You are who you are. I'm sure I'm not much fun, either."
I like her response, but I'm not sure she means it. "People say that, but when the reality hits that they're in a relationship with someone who isn't home for two-thirds of the year and who can't sit still or can't stop creating, it eventually becomes exhausting."
"Is it exhausting for you? Being that way?"
“No one has ever asked me that before.” I feel a little bit like I can’t breathe. How did she get to the guts of it so quickly? “It is exhausting. My brain just won’t shut down a lot of the time. I feel bad for anyone who ever gets in the way.”
“My brain isn’t very quiet either. But that’s part of my problem with my writing. I get a shiny new idea and I chase it for a little bit, then I get bored and start something new.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. I have had a million false starts. Plenty of stuff gets thrown out. The important thing is to keep moving forward. I think you should keep writing.”
She sighs. “That’s nice of you to say, but you haven’t actually read any of my work. I think it’s time for me to try something new.”
I look out the car window as the never-ending stand of towering pine trees whizzes by. We pass the first sign for Raleigh. Almost there. A million things are tumbling through my head right now—how someone can be so cool, but still stick up for the fact that she did a job that involved horrible things. How drawn I am to her and how it’s clear that she doesn’t buy half the shit I say. How she’s putting love and relationships on the back burner.
We pull up to the James B. Hunt library on the NC State Campus. It’s a massive glass and metal structure standing alone, like a ship plopped down in the middle of dry land. It’s brand new and shiny, with silver louvers that go back and forth in undulating waves across the facade. It’s beautiful and impressive in a very clean, modern way.
“You said this is for a literacy calendar?” she asks as we climb out of the car.
“Yeah. It’s a charity project.”
She closes her door and stares at me. “I don’t get it. Is it rock stars reading books?”
“No. They picked guys from 30 under 30 lists. There’s a calendar of women, too. I was on a list for film, so they asked me.”
“But what’s the angle? If you’re going to sell a calendar and raise money, you need a hook.”
I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to actually explain this, but better now in the parking lot than inside in front of the photographer and anyone else working on the shoot. “Naked is the hook.”
Samantha props her sunglasses on top of her head and bugs her big blue eyes at me. “Naked.”
“Yes. The slogan is, ‘Expose yourself to a good book’.”
She’s eying me with her eyebrows raised. I am way too turned on. “Well, they chose well with you. I’ll give them that much.” She puts her sunglasses back on and marches ahead of me. I try so damn hard not to be happy, but I am. Don’t be happy. Stop fucking smiling.

About Karen Booth:
Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ‘80s music, and forever envious of Judy Blume. She is the author of more than twenty sexy contemporary romances.

Title: EXPOSED: A Romance Anthology

Publisher: Karen Stivali

Release Date (Print & Ebook): March 13, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): ~400k words

Subgenre: contemporary romance/mixed pairings

Of note: This collection contains m/f, m/m, f/f and menage stories, some of which contain BDSM


Book blurb:
Hot. Naked. Guys. Reading.
When the sexiest Top 30 Under 30 men agree to pose naked for the "Expose Yourself To A Good Book" charity calendar, their hot bodies aren't the only thing that gets EXPOSED. Nine brand new romances with M/F, M/M, F/F and menage pairings from bestselling and award winning authors, there's something for everyone in this limited release anthology.

Annabeth Albert

When Landon, a genius physicist, is picked for a charity calendar, he must deal with an inconvenient attraction to Bailey, his rising-star photographer. Can he slay enough demons from his past to ensure a future together with him?

Karen Booth

Jobless and painfully single, Samantha agrees to drive musician Duncan to a photo shoot. He’s in town for only five days, so sexy, and she’s eager for a no-strings fling. But Duncan shoots straight for the heart, making her unsure how she’ll ever survive his goodbye.

Amy Jo Cousins

Garden center manager Kate Rhee is on a mission. No more hook ups with women or second-guessing her recent break up with an unavailable man. Too bad the foxy, pink-haired bar owner she meets at a naked calendar photo shoot has sworn off girlfriends. Because Kate isn’t doing casual. She can totally resist that temptation. Totally.

Robin Covington

Oliver Burns publicly bragged he’d sign the reclusive artist “G”- creator of the First Nations graphic novel, Ghost Warriors - to his comic publishing company. But that gets tough when “G” is Gareth Rain – the man he pulled a post-one-night-stand runner on years ago and the man he’s never forgotten.

Vanessa North

For Kaitlyn, seeing her best friend Gordon naked is no big deal—until watching Sean tie him up changes everything.

Tamsen Parker

Teague has been License to Game’s bassist for over a decade, during which time he’s slept with almost everyone in his path. But it’s always felt like going through the motions. Until he sees his bandmate Christian naked at a charity photoshoot and suddenly, he knows what it is to want.

Roan Parrish

When buttoned-up botanist Stefan Albemarle meets freewheeling urban gardener Milo Rios, it’s hatred at first sight. But hatred quickly turns to lust as Milo shows him how exquisite it can feel to lose control. When opposites attract, love blooms in unexpected places.

Tiffany Reisz

Jason "Still" Waters' life looks perfect from the outside—money, fame, and the words "World Champion Bull-Rider" after his name. But Jason has a secret, one he never planned on telling anybody...until he meets Simone. She's the kinky girl of his dreams...and his conservative family's worst nightmare.

Karen Stivali

When organizing a naked charity calendar puts Rose's tenure bid in jeopardy, the last person she wants help from is Michael, the gorgeous, arrogant lawyer she butted heads with during his shoot. He'll defend her for free, but if their secrets come out they could both pay with their hearts.

“The authors of this anthology are hoping to show readers that romance series, like the real world, should reflect our society and should feature the stories of people falling in love without regard to their gender and sexuality. That is why you’ll find m/f, m/m, f/f and menage stories all within this collection.” --Karen Stivali, Curator and Publisher, Exposed: A Romance Anthology
One of my favorite things about my friends in the romance community, aside from their stellar writing skills, is their passionate commitment to having romance novels depict healthy, loving relationships featuring people of all orientations falling in love in varied combinations. The premise for this anthology is that indie bookstore owner Emma Davis and her best friend, college professor Rose Everheart, both owe a debt of gratitude to the literacy foundation that changed their lives. When they’re trying to come up with an idea to raise money for the foundation, they combine the viral popularity of Hot Dudes Reading with the enormous success of the Naked Rowers charity calendars and the idea for Hot Naked Guys Reading is born.” --Karen Stivali, Curator and Publisher, Exposed: A Romance Anthology
“The calendar will feature men who are not only irresistibly sexy, but have been named to Top 30 Under 30 lists in their respective fields, posed in famous libraries throughout the country. The Expose Yourself to a Good Book campaign draws the attention of photographers, reporters and other professionals. People often find love where they least expect it, when they’re not looking for it, so this anthology explores the journeys of not only the models but the crew, the organizers and all the people brought together in the creation of this charity calendar. Readers will find m/f, m/m, f/f and ménage stories, told by award-winning and bestselling authors from the romance community in this limited-release collection.” --Karen Stivali, Curator and Publisher, Exposed: A Romance Anthology

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