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A Place for All Women
By Annabeth Leong
I'm here today to talk about Design and Scandal, a Rubenesque erotic romance that I wrote for Ellora's Cave's Curve Appeal series. I believe so passionately in the idea behind this series—our society desperately needs a broader understanding of what beauty is. It can't always be about being as thin and young as possible, and yet that's what's so often in magazines.
On the other hand, I'm bothered by anything that pits women against each other. As a feminist, I believe that all women ought to have a place at the table. I didn't want to write a book that lifted up curvy women at the expense of slim women—I don't think it needs to be like that.
Since this is an erotic romance, the most important relationship is between the heroine, Kahala Lin, and the hero, James Corwin (a delicious A-list movie star, by the way). A close second, however, is the relationship between Kahala and Madison Marin, a skinny blonde movie star who is Kahala's rival for the hero's affections.
At first, Kahala and Madison see each other as enemies. Kahala, who is a costume designer, isn't interested in designing clothes for someone with Madison's body type. Madison is incredulous and hurt that James might be interested in Kahala instead of her. I don't want to give away the plot, but as I was writing the book, I realized I wouldn't be satisfied if one of these women wound up as the "winner." Too often, this sort of thing becomes a zero sum game, and women turn against each other when they could be supporting each other.
The point is that the societal standards that hurt Kahala hurt Madison, too, and the only way out of that is for them to move beyond the artificial battle they're enacting and think about what each of them really wants.
Design and Scandal is first and foremost about the hot and enduring connection between Kahala and James. But it's also about Kahala and Madison, who begin as enemies and rivals and slowly learn to respect each other.
Annabeth Leong has written erotica of many flavors. She loves shoes, stockings, cooking and excellent bass lines. She always keeps a new e-book loaded on her phone and a paperback stashed in her purse, but her eyes are still bigger than her stomach whenever she visits a bookseller. She blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong . Watch for her next contemporary erotic romance from Ellora's Cave, Heated Leather Lover.
Costume designer Kahala Lin didn't get into her line of work to make clothes for tiny models. She dreams of creating high-fashion masterpieces for BBWs such as herself. When she's hired to work on costumes for the science fiction movie Laser Sentinel, she passes up the opportunity to dress the film's heroine and ends up with the hardest job on set—pleasing the demanding and devastatingly handsome star, James Corwin.
James is one of Hollywood's best known actors, but he's in trouble when he's forced into working on this dud of a movie. James can't relax and enjoy the shoot on Hawaii's black sand beaches. He needs to prevent this film from becoming an embarrassment, starting with making sure he's not shot wearing nothing but spandex, a headdress and a ray gun. His collaboration with the new costume designer starts out promising, but soon he's so busy taking off her clothes that he's hardly thinking about what he'll wear at all.
The press, however, discovers their relationship almost before it begins, and the resulting scandal threatens both their livelihoods and James' chances with Kahala.
A Romantica® contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Kahala wanted to present a smooth, confident image to Madison Marin, but by the time the actress’s private plane touched down in LA, she was shaking. She didn’t think she’d been followed or watched at the Honolulu airport but she couldn’t imagine a way to avoid it once she deplaned in California and made contact with the movie star.
She would be photographed, no question.
Kahala thought she’d made peace with that possibility when she decided to accept the invitation, but seconds from stepping out onto the tarmac, she wasn’t so sure. She handed her water glass to the flight attendant and collected the book she hadn’t been able to concentrate on reading.
She tugged at the dress she wore. One of her most recent creations, it took strong cues from the ideas she’d given Lawrence for Laser Sentinel. There was nothing retiring or shy about the garment. Color blocking laser-beam red with the black of volcanic rock and a bright, retro gold, any woman wearing it had to be willing to command attention. Kahala had put it on as a sort of dare to herself but now she doubted whether she could really live up to the dress’s bold promise.
Seeking comfort, she touched the kukui nut lei Lani had given her at the airport. Its polished brown surfaces provided nice accents to her dress and reminded her of home. They also symbolized protection and peace.
She hadn’t come this far to turn back now. Kahala rose to her feet and stepped out of the plane.
She recognized Madison Marin immediately, even though the actress had worn bulky clothes, a floppy hat and dark sunglasses. Kahala had considered a similar disguise but the thought of being photographed in a ridiculous getup bothered her even more than the idea of her image being captured in the first place. If she did end up having to endure more scrutiny, she wanted to look damn good in the pictures.
Kahala waved in Madison’s direction and the tiny woman ran to meet her, accompanied by two burly, black-suited bodyguards. They hesitated awkwardly for a moment when they actually got in range of each other but Kahala consciously kept her body language open. Madison came in for a quick hug that felt less uncomfortable than Kahala would have expected.
“We can talk in the car. I brought my best driver. He’s usually really good at losing the paparazzi.”
She and the bodyguards hustled Kahala to a black limousine with windows tinted almost the same color as its paint. By the time they arrived, Kahala had to focus all her effort on not panting or obviously displaying signs of the effort it had taken to keep up with them. She slid into the car across from Madison, patting her upper lip with a tissue as surreptitiously as she could.
Madison Marin, however, shamelessly pulled out a towel from behind the seat, yanked off her sunglasses and mopped at her face. Sweat poured down her cheeks and forehead, smearing her makeup and flattening her hair. The car began to move, faster than Kahala was used to and turning often and sharply.
“This 007 stuff always totally stresses me out,” Madison said.
Kahala stared for a moment, then snorted her amusement. “I always thought you Hollywood girls worked out for vanity, but now I see you really need to be able to run fast in LA.”
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-designandscandal-1303171-369.html?referrer=6bdb1f9160564c0525b41f36e51861a0
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EAV3RPK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EAV3RPK&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00EAV3RPK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00EAV3RPK&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/design-and-scandal-annabeth-leong/1116524070?ean=9781419947018
Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/design-and-scandal.html
Check out the rafflecopters below for information on how to win one of my giveaways! For the all-digital giveaway, I'm offering a $5 gift card to Ellora's Cave, and digital downloads of two of my other EC titles. For the goodie bag, I've got some fun swag from EC's Romanticon 2013 (the physical prize is US only due to the cost of mailing—apologies to my international friends and fans). Good luck!