Thursday, March 28, 2013

Author #14: Insatiable Reads Book Tour and Giveaway: Maliciously Obedient by Julia Kent...

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Maliciously Obedient (BBW Erotic Romance)Maliciously Obedient (BBW Erotic Romance)Maliciously Obedient (BBW Erotic Romance)

The First Kiss by Julia Kent
Writing tension between two characters is hard. You have to make sure they're both likeable, and that the chemistry is obvious, and yet there has to be a reason why they're not together, right? Otherwise they'd be all over each other the second they first meet and life would be rainbows and unicorns forever. What kind of romance novel would that be? The spice comes from conflict, and as we all know from real life, conflict might suck, but in fiction it's what makes things happen.

In Maliciously Obedient, though, the tension between Matt/Mike and Lydia comes from the normal tension between two people who are wildly attracted to each other but who just can't give in – and also from that whole messy secret identity issue. The CEO of his company, Mike is pretending to be Matt Jones, a guy Lydia loves to hate, because he took the job she wanted.

The fact that she has no idea he's really Michael Bournham plays into the tension (and comedy) throughout the book, making their first kiss all the more sparked with questions and relief. While most first kisses are the opening of a wedge in what seems like an impossible conflict, in this scene, the kiss represents so much more, hidden away from the cameras and in a place that represents Lydia's feeling of being in a dead-end job.

She's just made a huge marketing pitch to her new boss, Matt, and their boss, Dave – a guy who led her on without telling her he was married, the short relationship well in the past – shot her down. Disappointment drives her, but what drives Matt/Mike is a sense of outrage that Dave, his own employee, would crush such initiative. 
A taste of protectiveness adds to the flavor of the scene:

Way back in eighth grade, Lydia had asked Joe Stillman to go to the Valentine’s Day dance with her. She was thirteen and had a mouth full of silver and a little bit of pudge around her waist that later became more pudge, and a bright smile, with an eager attitude of optimism. It was a Sadie Hawkins dance, so girls had to ask guys and Sandy and Pete had spent the better part of two weeks helping to shore up her confidence because of course Joey Stillman would say “yes”.
Of course he would.
Walking down the hallway to her office, holding it together so she could go find some quiet little dark cave burrowed out in the middle of steel and carpet corporate land, this moment reminded her of how it felt after Joey had pointed at her and laughed in front of all his friends and said, “Why would I want to go to a dance with you, Lydia chlamydia?” How she’d had to run past all the other kids at recess, lined up and laughing at her, sprinting as fast as she could for the safety of the girls room.
Hold it together Lydia, hold it together, she told herself and overall, she was. She was breathing in, she was breathing out, left foot forward, right foot forward. Body was in check, her emotions were held at bay, she was carrying her professional supplies and had the countenance of someone who was composed, who was calm, who had had a meeting that went poorly, right?
It happens all the time.
No big deal.
Brush it off, move on, next project.
Except Dave hadn’t even listened – that was clear. Matt surprised her, turning into quite an ally. A healthy dose of poor me and she could feel Eeyore Syndrome infecting her, the sob building in her chest, behind her very professional white shirt under her very professional Jones New York navy blue suit jacket and it rose up past her throat, past the pearls that Sandy had given her when she graduated high school, past the flush rising up her neck behind her ears, making her inner ears itch and her eyes about to start pouring tears out of a choked eyelid. If she didn’t find someplace safe soon, she was going to blow – and it was going to be bad.
Setting her paperwork down at her desk, she looked around. One of the big disadvantages of working in a cubicle farm was that there was absolutely no privacy. If you were going to break down you needed to find a bathroom stall or a supply closet or borrow someone’s empty office to do it. She knew, though, that there was no time. And then, she noticed the note, a post-it, Dave’s horrible scrawl:
I need my travel arrangements printed on blue copy paper, not white, so that I can color code everything for my trip.
The sigh that emerged from her felt like a roar. You have got to be fucking kidding me! she thought. This was how he was. He would make her take two hours to change the color schematics on a PowerPoint presentation. Dave had asked her, once, to fetch her coffee and she had shot him down, citing gender dynamics and the fact that it wasn’t in her job description. At the time, he'd respected that, but immediately had her work on changing the colors for his deck of slides. Wasting two hours of company time choosing between magenta and fuchsia was an absolutely critical aspect in raising the quality of his presentations.
And she had seen his presentations – he was right. They were so bad that the color scheme was pretty much the only thing that was remotely attractive or appealing or insightful. This kind of treatment was mind numbing and it turned her into a petulant, territorial office worker, the kind of woman she never wanted to become. Rising up the ranks – well, that’s what this presentation had been about and he didn’t even give her a chance, dismissing it out of hand.
He'd won on the damn coffee issue, too, about a year ago. Getting that double soy latte most days was so petty, but she turned it to her advantage, taking a half hour or more to just go for a walk and get away from it all. Dave only cared that he got what he wanted. He didn't notice her prolonged absence. She was just a tool.
Matt had taken the flash drive, but for what reason? Probably to steal her idea, right? No. No. Her mouth filled with salty saliva, the first warning that she was about to cry. No, because the presentation wasn’t even good enough for Dave to let her finish. So how could Matt use that against her? Why did he ask for the thumb drive?
Could it be that he actually cared? That he really thought there was merit to what she had poured herself into?
Damn it! If they had just listened she could have told them about the coalition of bloggers and independent bookstores and how she was close to getting a chance with the big booksellers online. Of small blogs, and big blogs, of writer co-ops and online forums where romance and erotic romance writers all joined together and worked to help each other. Of grabbing ad buys on those sites. Of planning Google words campaigns.
Of all of the different ways that Bournham Industries could help big business and could help to grab part of the sales that these women – that these voracious readers – produced.
But no. She had been given a pat on the head and a “that’s nice” and had been dismissed back to the kid’s table. The reality of that started to sink in and she could feel her ribcage shake, the hollowed out, gnawing pain in her gut, her hipbones pressing against the tightness of her tailored skirt, the despair seeping out – and could hear Sandy’s voice saying, “Oh, honey, just come home. We love you. We know you’re good, come work for us. Come back and be where you belong.”
That thought tipped her over.
Sprinting wasn’t an option in high heels and it would make a scene, just like sprinting had, in fact, made a scene back in eighth grade. Lydia chlamydia had stuck with her for a year and a half even though Joey Stillman had no idea what chlamydia was. He later owned up to the fact that he thought it just meant that she was fat.
“Fat?” she threw back at Joey their senior year in high school when they were all drinking out in his dad’s field and she had let the resentment (well, most of it) fade for the purposes of hanging out in the same group, of companionship, of having a clique of her own in high school that she couldn’t get kicked out of.
“Well, yeah you know, dude, I was thirteen. Don’t over analyze this Lyd.”
Walking on unsteady feet to get the damn blue copier paper to put in her printer to reproduce work that she had already done successfully for Dave, to meet his micro-managing, petty, delicate standards, she was never so grateful for the click of a door closing and for the deathly darkness of the supply closet.
The tears came fast, furious, and she pulled out a tissue that she had had stuffed in a breast pocket just in case. Lydia would leave here with red eyes and puffy circles above her cheekbones but she didn’t care, because right now she needed to get out months and months of hope. Exorcise it from her system. Kill it, burn it, destroy it, drive it out – because it was her biggest enemy right now.
Not Matt. Not Dave. Not her mother. Not Joey Stillman.

If he hadn’t seen her make a break for the supply room, he would have left it alone. If he hadn’t heard the tiniest of hitches in her breath as that door closed, he would have left it alone. If he hadn’t seen how her shoulders were slumped, how she carried the weight of the burden of her own expectations – a weight he understood all too well and that had grooved itself deep into his own shoulders and neck – he would have left it alone.
But he had seen all that, and so he couldn’t leave her alone.
He didn’t bother to knock when he approached the door, just opening it carefully, surprised to find the room pitch black. Fumbling for where he imagined the light switch would be, he heard her breath hitch in surprise. Fingers found the switch and he flipped it.
Funny – his own building and he didn’t know such a simple detail. One that allowed him to see her and allowed him to offer whatever comfort, as feeble as it might be, he could give. What he saw made his blood boil, made him rise up, made every animal instinct in him swell, his chest and shoulders squaring and spreading – because this was a woman wronged. A woman hurting, and in emotional pain because of a guy he employed. Because of a system that he led, that he was in charge of, that fed into this machinery of shame, preserving people who could play the game.
Rewarding them. Promoting them.
Instead, here she sat, curled up into a tiny little kitten ball, crying into a ream of paper.
“Oh God, not you,” she said, her voice shaky and dripping with contempt. “Really, as if my day hadn’t gone bad enough!” Lydia stumbled over her words, grasping to find whatever it was that she was searching for, eyes red-rimmed and teary, mascara that had been so meticulously set earlier now smeared. Her lips were raw from rubbing.
How he wished to make them raw from his own.
“I, Lydia, I just – I saw you – I didn’t...” His turn to stumble. He wasn’t a fumbler for words, not a hesitant man, and yet this new identity had him reeling. It dawned on him that there were no cameras rolling in this closet, no Jonah to worry about, no posturing. He could be himself – but not really. That was the problem with the game that he was playing. Maybe he and Dave weren’t so different after all. Both were poseurs.
None of that mattered, though, because what was important was that a woman he had an undeniable attraction to, who he couldn’t get out of his mind, who intrigued him more than half a dozen – as Jeremy put it – “toothpicks with boobs” had ever, ever done.
Mike knelt down and she flinched – flinched! – at the touch of his fingertips on her elbow. Reaching down, he offered his hand. “No!” She snatched her elbow back. “Leave me alone. If I want to sit on the floor and cry like a wimp, I’m going to and you can just...well, you can’t do anything about it!”
“You’re smearing mascara all over the binder clips.”
“I ordered those binder clips. At a discount by the way. Forty-three percent off. Saved Michael Bournham some money.” The cackling laugh was one of over the top outrage, a tone that said is this really happening to me? and that made him cringe.
“I don’t think Michael Bournham cares how much you spent on alligator clips,” he said. “I think he cares more that his employees feel comfortable presenting new ideas to their bosses, that they value initiative, and that no one is left cowering in a dark supply closet after giving a professional presentation that would blow the socks off of people two levels above you, Lydia. Dave is an idiot.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“I think I just did.”
“What? You think I don’t know that Dave is an idiot?”
“No, I think you don’t know just how incredible the presentation is.” He pulled the thumb drive out of his pants pocket and dangled it over her, now crouching down, his knees inches from her body. His hand itched to touch her but he held back, knowing that she was the human equivalent of an injured animal and that he could either bond with her by gaining her trust right now – or threaten her and watch her shut down.
“I’m sure that when I look at your presentation, the full presentation that Dave didn’t let you give, that what I said a moment ago will be truer than ever. You’ve got great ideas. It’s a shame that no one at this company values them.”
“I could have told you that a long time ago,” she said, running her hands through her hair, the effect so sensual that he felt himself get rock hard instantly – and realized just how vulnerable she was.
She tilted her face up to him, eyes wide, body relaxed, the weeping gone, the pity party over, her face softening and asked, “Was it really that good, Matt?”
Her honest yearning broke that thin thread of restraint, that hand-tailored, bespoke, homespun thread and he leaned forward and answered her with a kiss.

All kisses are so much more than the press of lips against lips, the searching of tongues for answers in another person's gateway to the soul and heart, but when deception is at the core of the story, a kiss can be a taste of tension with an exotic flavor you can't quite name, with promises of so much more.

Maliciously Obedient (BBW Erotic Romance)
Getting caught reading Fifty Shades of Grey in the parking lot at work wasn't the best way for 25-year-old Lydia Charles to meet her boss. A boss she didn't know she had. Matt Jones now had the job she had been waiting to apply for (and win) for the past year, and to add insult to injury, he's the kind of guy her parents would adore.Damn it.
The only kid of six to choose to run off to Boston and leave behind her idyllic family in Maine, Lydia's determined to prove herself in the big city, but she has to keep Matt at arm's length. After a steamy elevator encounter that leaves her missing her panties – and most of her resolve – she decides that maybe it's time to let him get inside her. 
In more ways than one. 
But when Matt suddenly closes off she's upset and confused. When he also acts like he owns the place, she decides that malicious obedience – following his every command to the letter – will prove how much the department needs her creativity after he insists he knows best.
What Lydia doesn't know is that “Matt” is really Michael Bournham, the CEO of the company, part of an undercover reality television stunt. Keeping his hands off Lydia's luscious curves was becoming an exercise in restraint, but what was harder? Keeping his heart from her. 
For Michael, Lydia's malicious obedience ignited a night of unbridled passion in the office that made him forget everything – including the rolling cameras – until it was too late. When unscrupulous producers make their lovemaking viral, Michael pulls out all the stops and calls in every favor as Lydia...maliciously obeys.

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Julia Kent turned to writing romance novels after learning that she could not work as a fighter pilot because her fear of flying disqualified her. Turning to her second love, she became a dog groomer, but had to abandon that job after adopting too many strays. Writing about very real, very flawed people is a natural extension of her life and, well, her. She lives on the east coast with her partner, two small children, seventeen dogs that weigh less than fifteen pounds each, and a monthly consumption of Nutella, brie and french bread that makes cardiologists cringe.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at, on Twitter @jkentauthor and on Facebook (Like me!) at

Julia is currently on virtual tour with 15 other awesome romance authors as part of the Insatiable Reads Book Tour. From March 4-31st, readers will be invited to enter for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, free books, and other fun goodies. Readers will also be able to participate in author chats, get insights into writing and publishing romance, and collect story swag.

This week, Julia is touring with Melanie Marchande, Selena Kitt, and Tanya Korval.

To enter giveaways and meet the other writers, follow us at: 

Insatiable Reads Book Tour

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