My Sexy Saturday – Casey’s Choice *New Release*


Greetings, Sexy Saturday friends! It’s Alexis Alvarez with a brand new erotic/kinky romance novel, Casey’s Choice. It’s sexy and alluring and dirty as hell, and it just released from Stormy Night Publications.  I know you’re going to love it.


Blurb: When Trendy young artist Casey Reilly sneaks into Chicago’s most exclusive club under a fake name, it isn’t long before two rich, handsome men are vying for her attention. The club’s owner, billionaire Jax Hunter, is the first to make his move, but when he discovers her deception he has difficulty forgiving Casey.

After Hunter’s cold response to the truth about Casey’s identity leaves her dejected, Max Abbott doesn’t waste time in stepping in to pick up the pieces, and he promptly gets to work on mending her broken heart. But when Hunter decides to try to win her back, Casey will have to make the most important choice of her life.


“Good.” He smiled.  “Walk over to the dresser and open the second drawer.  Take out the black wooden hairbrush. Bring it here.”

She gasped. “A – what? You’re going to use that on me?”

“Yes, I am. And you’re going to like it.” He touched her chin. “Don’t argue, Sofia.”

“But I-”

“It will hurt, but I won’t harm you. In here, with me, your obedience is required.  Hesitation and arguments will result in longer discipline. That’s the point – the way I’ll train you to my desires.”

“What if I don’t want to be trained.” But a surge of moisture between her legs told her otherwise.

“Then you wouldn’t be here, would you?” His voice held a smile. “Fetch the brown leather crop in addition to the hairbrush. You’ll get a taste of that for arguing with me and forgetting to say Sir.”

Buy Links:

Amazon US:   

Amazon UK:

caseys-choice-4Please visit the other authors in this blog hop. You can find them below.

Thanks and happy reading! XOXO, Alexis












New from Jane Henry & Maisy Archer!

Greetings! It’s Alexis Alvarez here with an excerpt from a new release. Two of my author friends have a new spanky book out, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about it. It’s called Her Protector, and if you like kinky, spanky books with heart, you’re going to love it.

her protector

About Her Protector

Tony Angelico thinks he knows all about Dominants and submissives. After all, his two brothers are unapologetic Dominants with long-term submissive partners. Tony also knows that Tessa, the woman who works for him… the one girl he can’t get out of his mind… is interested in the lifestyle. But he wants no part of bossing women around, let alone dominating them.

Tessa Damon craves the attention and discipline of a strong, dominant alpha male, but she’s not been able to find what she’s looking for. She’s attracted to Tony, and can’t help fantasizing about being taken over his knee for a sound spanking. She longs for the release and comfort of submitting to a man she can trust.

The night Tony decides to give it a shot, everything changes. But can Tessa be healed from her abusive past, and find that she’s worthy of love? Can they find a path that works for both of them? Will Tony finally understand that there is no one definition to cover every nuance of what being a Dominant means – not when his heart and soul know that he wants nothing more than to assume the role of Tessa’s protector?

DISCLAIMER: This book contains explicit themes, including the spanking of adult women and other BDSM scenarios. The book also includes a self-harm scene involving “cutting”. If such material is likely to offend or trigger you in some way, please do not read.


“Tell me what you need,” he said, his voice so gentle, it seemed almost ironic he was talking about spanking her. His gentleness made the tears threaten to fall again, her throat clogged with them. She’d been bossed around and tied up, ordered into submission and whipped, but never had any of the men she was with asked her not only what she wanted, but what she needed.

“A real spanking,” she whispered. “One that hurts. I want to feel your strength.”

One of his hands wrapped around her waist, and her hand instinctively flew back. He grasped it, holding her hand, a gesture that was at once intimate and assuring, pressing her hand, engulfed in his large one, into the small of her back as the first smack of his hand fell. Her panties were thin and his hand large; the sting from the single swat hurt more than she’d expected.

“Ow,” she said in a little voice.

“Too hard?” he asked, squeezing her hand in the small of her back.

“Noooo, no no no, please, Tony,” she said. “Not too hard. That’s perfect.”

Another sound smack jolted her, and now he was spanking her in earnest, his palm rising and descending, and the heat of each spank warmed her skin, beginning with a jolt of pain that quickly spread to warmth, and her clit zinged with each stroke…

Buy Her Protector:




Jane Henry

Jane has been writing since her early teens, dabbling in short stories and poetry. When she married and began having children, her pen was laid to rest for several years, until the National Novel Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) in 2010 awakened in her the desire to write again. That year, she wrote her first novel, and has been writing ever since. In 2012, she became interested in the d/s lifestyle, and has discovered her love for writing romance with a d/s twist. With a houseful of children, she finds time to write in the early hours of the morning, squirreled away with a laptop, blanket, and cup of hot coffee. Years ago, she heard the wise advice, “Write the book you want to read,” and has taken it to heart. She sincerely hopes you also enjoy the books she likes to read.

Maisy Archer

 Maisy is an unabashed book nerd who has been in love with romance since reading her first Julie Garwood novel at the tender age of 12. After a decade as a technical writer, she finally made the leap into writing fiction several years ago and has never looked back. Like her other great loves – coffee, caramel, beach vacations, yoga pants, and her amazing family – her love of words has only continued to grow… in a manner inversely proportional to her love of exercise, house cleaning, and large social gatherings. She loves to hear from fellow romance lovers, and is always on the hunt for her next great read.

Follow us!

Maisy Archer:



Maisy’s Amazon Author Page

Jane Henry:



Jane’s Amazon Author Page

Jane and Maisy’s Blog

Thanks for reading, and best of luck to you, Jane and Maisy, on the new release! Congrats.  🙂

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Capturing Kate – NEW! ***


Dear readers, greetings from Alexis, and welcome to WIP it up Wednesday! This is a blog hop where authors share an excerpt from their steamy, kinky and/or spanky novels.  I recently released Capturing Kate from Stormy Night Publications, and I’m excited to share my blurb and a snippet of the book with you. 

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“Let’s get one thing straight,” Sloan told her. “I’m in charge right now. Not you. You’re going to do what I say, when I say it, and that will save both of our lives.”

“What will you do if I don’t?”

He looked at her for a long second, and Kate almost thought he was going to grab her and throw her on the bed and kiss her senseless. She’d felt a rush of attraction to him in the coffee shop, and despite the situation, it was still there. She was sure she saw the same desire in his face. Or maybe that’s what she wanted, and because of it, she saw the reflection of her need in his eyes. Still, something burned there, something hot and bright and dangerous.

He tilted his head. “What do you think I should do?” His voice was stern and a little husky.

She sucked in her breath. “What do I think?” Her face grew hot and she put a hand to her cheek. “I—I…”

She wanted something bad and dirty, something that had nothing to do with the awful situation at hand. She wanted what she felt back in the coffee shop, before any of this, when he was a handsome, broad-shouldered man with strong hands and a sexy mouth. She didn’t know why these feeling were here, pushing aside the anxiety and fear and anger. But there they were, bold and strong.

“I think…” There was no way to say he needed to fuck her brains out, drive into her body and fill her so far up with pleasure that all of the pain and fear had nowhere to go but out. She couldn’t ask him to put his tongue into her mouth and his dick into her body and his strength into her soul, to seal up her cracks with his presence, his movements, his touch. That he needed to be a living poem, writing the words of salvation and relief into her skin with his skin, that he needed to touch every inch of her body with every centimeter of his until all she could think of was nothing, nothing, blessed nothing.

So she said nothing. But she couldn’t look away. He read her face with his eyes, she thought, learning it, memorizing it, figuring something out. Surely he couldn’t see her thoughts from her expressions?

He smiled, nodded, as if he was right about something. Then he raised one eyebrow. “If it’s necessary, I’ll tie you back up, like I said. But first, I’ll do something else.”

“What—else?” She whispered the words, suddenly sure he had read her mind and knew exactly what she wanted from him, and the thought made her burn.

“I’ll turn you over my lap and spank you so hard that you won’t sit comfortably all day tomorrow.” He pierced her with his gaze.

“You can’t do that!” She jumped to her feet, stepping back, alarm bells tripping over the butterflies in her belly. “You said you weren’t going to torture me!” This wasn’t what she had in mind—

“A spanking’s not torture. In fact, it can even be a lot of fun, under the right circumstances.” He flexed the fingers of one hand. “But if I need to punish you, it’s definitely going to hurt. No permanent injuries, but you’ll have a thoroughly sore ass. And then you’ll listen.”

“No! I won’t let you.”

“Oh, you won’t?” He raised one eyebrow and stepped forward and her heart accelerated in her chest. For some reason, though, she also felt spires of desire flow through her abdomen. The thought of those strong hands on her naked ass made her blush. “I don’t think you have a choice.”



Twenty-eight-year-old journalist Kate Klein knew reporting on a powerful businessman’s disregard for the safety of the local water supply was a dangerous assignment, but she is nonetheless shocked when she is suddenly taken captive, bound, and brought to a remote cabin.

Her gruff yet undeniably handsome captor turns out to be a man named Sloan who claims he is an undercover FBI agent investigating the same organization she has been trying to expose. Kate is unsure whether Sloan can be trusted, but he makes it clear that he plans to do whatever is necessary to protect her, whether she likes it or not. If keeping her safe requires taking her over his knee for a stern punishment to ensure her obedience, then so be it.

When Kate keeps some critical information from Sloan, a long, hard spanking on her bare bottom quickly proves that his warning was not a bluff. To her surprise, however, the painful, embarrassing chastisement leaves Kate not only promising to be good but also yearning for Sloan to take her in his arms and claim her thoroughly.

Sloan’s skilled, dominant lovemaking is unlike anything Kate has ever experienced before, and she finds her desire for him growing more intense by the hour. But when something goes terribly wrong and the entire investigation is put in jeopardy, can Sloan prove to Kate that she is not just a means to an end for him?

Publisher’s Note: Capturing Kate is an erotic romance novel that includes spankings, sexual scenes, elements of BDSM, and more. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.


Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK


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Thanks for reading! Remember, this is a blog hop, and there are other authors who want to share their kinky goodness with you. Please find them below.

Thanks, and happy reading!


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Capturing Kate – new from Alexis Alvarez


Greetings, everyone!  It’s Alexis Alvarez with a new book for the SatSpanks blog hop! My latest novel has released through Stormy Night Publications and is available on Amazon and other platforms. It’s called Capturing Kate, and it’s a spanky, sexy adventure story about a feisty reporter and the handsome FBI agent who keeps her safe.




Journalist Kate Klein knew reporting on a powerful businessman’s disregard for the safety of the local water supply was a dangerous assignment, but she is nonetheless shocked when she is taken captive, bound, and brought to a remote cabin. Her gruff yet undeniably handsome captor turns out to be a man named Sloan Masters who claims he is an undercover FBI agent investigating the same organization she has been trying to expose. Kate is unsure whether Sloan can be trusted, but he makes it clear that he plans to do whatever is necessary to protect her, whether she likes it or not. If keeping her safe requires taking her over his knee for a stern punishment to ensure her obedience, then so be it.

When Kate keeps some critical information from Sloan, a long, hard spanking on her bare bottom quickly proves that his warning was not a bluff. To her surprise, however, the painful, embarrassing chastisement leaves Kate not only promising to be good but also yearning for Sloan to take her in his arms and claim her thoroughly.

Sloan’s skilled, dominant lovemaking is unlike anything Kate has ever experienced before, and she finds her desire for him growing more intense by the hour, but she cannot help wondering if she is just a means to an end for him. When something goes terribly wrong and the entire investigation is put in jeopardy, can Sloan prove to Kate that she belongs to him no matter what?

Publisher’s Note: Capturing Kate is an erotic romance novel that includes spankings, sexual scenes, elements of BDSM, and more. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.


“Who are you, and why am I here?” She snuck a look up at him.

“I’m a FBI agent. I’m part of a team that’s working undercover.” He put down his wipes, and smoothed a piece of gauze over the cut. “My team has been working to infiltrate Mancini’s organization for the past year.” He ripped a long piece of white tape and attached the gauze at top and bottom. “There. That should hold you for a while. I’ll put some healing gel and gauze on your wrists, too, as soon I undo your hands. I’m sorry about the rope burns. And your face.” He winced as he looked at her, and brushed his fingers across her cheek. “Connor told me he slapped your cheek so he could tie you up.”  He hesitated, and his voice was low when he spoke again. “You’re damn lucky that Mancini called on one of our men to take you out.”


Buy Links

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

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Are you ready?

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One more teaser….

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Please visit the other authors participating in this blog hop. Their links are below. Thanks!


Apocalypse Playlist

Hey! It’s Maria Monroe here to share the playlist I put together for Afterglow, my apocalypse romance.

When I was writing Afterglow, I compiled what I think is the perfect Apocalypse Playlist. (Yeah. In a real apocalypse nobody would be playing anything, except beat up guitars around garbage can fires.) It ended up being a really eclectic mix of songs, like all my playlists are. And a few of the songs have nothing to do with an apocalypse, but they are mentioned in the book. Or are ironic. Or inspired me. Or just have the right feel. Lots of these songs I had playing on repeat while I wrote this book. I hope you enjoy it!

If you’ve got any other ideas for my Apocalypse Playlist, let me know!




Capturing Kate – New from Alexis Alvarez


Greetings! It’s Alexis Alvarez, and I have a new book coming from Stormy Night Publications on Friday, July 8th.  Capturing Kate is a thrilling, sexy novel about a feisty woman named Kate, and the FBI agent who needs to keep her safe.  It’s a full-length novel with an HEA and scenes so steamy they’ll melt your Kindle.

Excerpt from Capturing Kate

He smiled, nodded, as if he were right about something. Then he raised one eyebrow.  “If it’s necessary, I’ll tie you back up, like I said. But first, I’ll do something else.”

“What – else?” She whispered the words, suddenly sure he had read her mind and knew exactly what she wanted from him, and the thought made her burn.

“I’ll turn you over my lap and spank you so hard that you won’t sit comfortably all day tomorrow.”  He pierced her with his gaze.

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Kate’s a determined reporter looking into corruption, and her whistle-blower source  is about to hand over the most critical information.  But when she ends up being kidnapped instead, it’s up to undercover FBI agent Sloan to keep her safe until the investigation is over.  Sloan’s chiseled abs and handsome face have her heart skipping beats, and even his non-traditional methods of keeping her in-line with his orders are sexy.  The days they spend hiding in his cabin safe house are exhilarating.  But the danger is very real, and when chaos erupts, they’ll have to work together to save their lives…and their hearts.

The book is full of steamy, explicit sex and elements of consensual BDSM, so it’s only for the 18+ crowd who enjoy reading about these kinds of things.  🙂

Stay tuned for the cover reveal and more excerpts here on my blog and on my Facebook author page. Please follow me for all the latest.  And thanks for reading!

Alexis on Facebook

Please visit the other authors participating in this blog hop.

Saturday+SpankingsThere are many other book snippets to enjoy! Happy reading.



I’m super excited to announce the upcoming release of my latest book, Afterglow! It’s an apocalypse romance (heavy on the romance, lighter on the sci fi).



The cover’s still a secret, and I can’t wait for the cover reveal. Pre-order links will be available soon. Until then, here’s some  more info about Afterglow.





Who knew the apocalypse could be so sexy?

Nina can shoot a gun, start a fire, and kick some serious ass. So when a killer virus and solar storm decimate the country, she’s as prepared as possible to survive. She just needs a motorcycle to navigate the cluttered roads and meet up with her family.

Creed, former Marine, is tattooed and tough. He’s scarred inside and out. Loss is no stranger to him, and he avoids getting close to anyone at all costs.

When Nina tries to steal his motorcycle they have a vicious fight, but necessity and attraction force them into an uneasy alliance. They travel together through the dangerous landscape, where trouble lurks around every corner and they need each other to survive.

But the biggest danger just might be falling in love.

The Perfect Sentence

Writing & Editing – Creating the Perfect Sentence

By Alexis Alvarez

I can still see the excitement in my German teacher’s face, how he radiated enthusiasm through his hands. His gestures grew like waves in a storm.  “This is one of the most perfect sentences ever written!” he declared. “And you are lucky to read and understand it in the author’s original voice.”

His gray curls bobbed.  “Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.”

Light streamed in through the paned Barnard windows and I saw tiny flecks of spit hurtling like diamonds through the dusty air, and this accentuated his immense delight in the way the words moved in his mouth. He had us recite it aloud together, and we agreed on the perfection, the way it slid off the tongue, The German guttural and slick at once.

kafka book with quote

“Memorize it!” he exhorted us, and I did, the words ingrained in my brain after that one reading, my mind mesmerized with the cadence.

My German teacher’s  name was Marvin Shulman.  He was five feet something tall, and his energy for German, his love for words, radiated from his pores.  My mental image attached to his name is this: Seeing him lean forward in emphasis, as if only by approaching us with the words could he hurl them into our souls.


He spoke about something I’d felt in small bursts while reading – the joy of finding lines where the words fit together like puzzle pieces, as if they were meant to belong in that order, and the author was the first one who discovered it.

Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for other perfect sentences, and sometimes I write them down in notebooks, so I can enjoy them later like mind candy.

“Like a cat in the dark, your whisker touched something the wrong way and you backed out.”

-Mary Gaitskill, Veronica

“In the water, a dark plume of blood blossomed by her foot; as I looked, a thin red tendril spiraled up and curled over her pale toes, undulating in the water like a thread of crimson smoke.”

-Donna Tartt, The Secret History

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Every Author is a Translator

In her New Yorker article Teach Yourself Italian,” author Jhumpa Lahiri talks about the difficulties of learning a new language as an adult, and trying to become not just proficient, but expert enough to write in the new language, beautifully.   She studies Italian for years in America, but it is only when she moves to Rome that she begins to think in Italian and to reinvent herself as an author who can write in Italian.  In the beginning, it’s a torturous process full of gaps and halts, but the sentences she writes to describe it are so lovely that they shine, notebook worthy.

“I write in a terrible, embarrassing Italian, full of mistakes. Without correcting, without a dictionary, by instinct alone. I grope my way, like a child, like a semiliterate. I am ashamed of writing like this. I don’t understand this mysterious impulse, which emerges out of nowhere. I can’t stop.

It’s as if I were writing with my left hand, my weak hand, the one I’m not supposed to write with. It seems a transgression, a rebellion, an act of stupidity.”

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She is determined to master the language to the point where the words work for her, within her, so that she can think in effortless Italian and make beautiful, perfect sentences in this new language that calls to her heart.

She does it: She learns to write so well in Italian that she doesn’t need to think of the words in English and translate in her mind into Italian; she does the more fundamental translation, that of images right into Italian.

Because all writers are translators.  We are learning the language of our own mind and soul, and finding a way to get the thoughts out in a way that other people can understand. Whether we do it in our native tongue or a new one, it’s a steep mountain to climb: how do you take the ephemeral wraiths in your brain and implant them into someone else’s head?

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It’s a laborious process. Often I feel the way she did, writing in English, my native tongue. We have to translate our thoughts into words, and organize the words into something sensible and lovely; then the other person must read and interpret them.

It reminds me of Escher’s drawing of the hands drawing each other, turning from three dimensional to two dimensional and back: It’s something alive that gets flattened out, smashed into print before it’s resurrected in another body, and only the excellent writers create words that can send thoughts across this journey without being irreparably damaged in the process.


There’s no simple secret on how to do this.  But it’s possible to improve any writing through editing. The more we observe our work dispassionately, the harder we strive to improve our sentences, the better we’ll become at our craft.  And with practice, we can write some perfect sentences of our own.

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How To Start

Stop worrying about perfection and write what flows into your brain and out of your fingers.  Give your wordless images words; allow them ugly life, then you can mold them back into the images you see in your brain.  You can’t edit an empty page. There are some writers who don’t revise at all, but it’s rare.  Most authors find editing to be the most painful and most fruitful part of the  process.

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It’s like assembling a box of old bones into some new animal the world has never seen, not even me. At first there’s a rough scaffolding of a shape, but it’s wrong: I have too many ribs, an ankle attached to a wrist, a sad leg dangling uselessly into space, a spine that diverges into two necks, one of which I must sever.  Over time, with great effort, I reassemble, remove, revise, until the beast stand firm, a shape emerged.  Only then can I start putting on the skin and the color, the delicate eyelashes and the sparkling teeth, the eyes that glance and burn.

When I have the animal, I can show it to other readers and allow them to tell me where it’s still wrong.  These people, my writer’s group and my beta readers, look at my creation and tell me where it’s broken, bleeding, dull, hollow.

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This part is the hardest part of my writing process, because sometimes significant changes are necessary, and they are difficult.  I feel like I’m doing brain surgery on most delicate tissue, trying to improve and refine without killing the host.  It would be easier to pretend the thing is  fine and  publish, but that’s the bigger misstep, because once it’s out there in the world, ready to roar out its presence, those flaws will make me wince every time I see it.

It’s not even that the editing process makes it perfect, it just makes it better.  Each thing I write, each edit I perform, I improve my skills. Malcolm Gladwell proposes in his 2008 book Outliers, and several follow-up articles, that it can take up to ten thousand hours to become an expert in many fields. He points to certain musical virtuosi, computing geniuses, and sports stars who put in significant amounts of time – nearly ten thousand hours each –  before becoming the master of their craft. 

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He reminds the reader that a certain amount of natural skill is necessary, and passion is what will keep you interested over the long haul– but for most people, putting in the time is fundamental.  People who skip past the practice right to the perfection are the exception, not the rule.

Don’t shy away from the hours your writing and editing take. Count them all as worthy steps toward your goal, although, of course, writers don’t always have discrete goals, but long, winding paths that last our entire lives.

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Common Writing Rules

How do you know what to cut, what to keep?  My process is this: Rules and readers.  I go through my work several times first, using basic rules of thumb to shorten and streamline, then I ask others to read it and give feedback on things big and small.  My writing group will pick out missing commas and redundant language as well as bigger plot inconsistencies, and my two sisters will give me gut-wrenching feedback about the story as a whole and what needs to change to improve it.

Some common rules that writers follow

  • Show, don’t tell
  • Avoid adverbs when modifying the word “said”
  • Limit adverbs everywhere else
  • Be succinct
  • Alternate long sentences with short
  • Use concrete rather than vague language
  • Avoid passive voice
  • Reduce “ing” verbs. (Ex: Use she looked instead of she was looking.)
  • Don’t repeat words too often
  • Cut the stuff that readers skip
  • Use outside eyes to help edit

There are more.  These can, and should be broken as necessary, but they’re a starting point, a good one.  In the rest of the article I’ll focus on avoiding adverbs, being succinct, “ing” words, and outside eyes for editing.

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Favorite Writing Rules: Avoid Adverbs — “Show, Don’t Tell”

For me, “show, don’t tell” and “use concrete language” are the most important ones; the “avoiding adverbs” –my current favorite — is part of that.

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When I learned we’re supposed to be sparing with adverbs, I was sad. Obsequiously. Intermittently. Spasmodically.  Unskillfully.  You could  assemble a list of them and it would be a poem.

When I read the why behind it, I understood.  An adverb is often a short-cut that replaces details.  If you force yourself to eliminate certain adverbs, you will need to fill in the gap with a specific description, and this makes your story interesting and vivid.  Sometimes as the author you want and need your reader to fill in gaps, to make up their own mind about your characters, but it’s usually not in places where you’re clarifying something important about a character’s appearance, thoughts or actions.

No, you want to save that for places where they’ll catch hidden meanings or put together some clues you’ve scattered throughout the text.  Let them work for the intellectual, challenging connections. But for the fundamentals of your story? Those should be crystal.


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If you overuse them, adverbs hide what’s really happening. Compare the two versions below.


He shouted loudly, gesturing wildly with his hands. His hair blew crazily in the wind, and even though she leaned forward intently she couldn’t understand a single word. Below them, the ocean churned.


He shouted, gestured, and it looked as though he were trying to shake water from his fingers. She couldn’t understand a thing. The wind tossed his hair over his face like a dancing veil. It seized his words and tumbled them down the rock wall to the sea, where they sucked under and drowned.

Maybe to you, gesturing “wildly” means waving your hands to and fro for emphasis. Maybe it means pointing a finger and shaking it, or slamming one fist into a palm. If I want the reader to see exactly what I see, I need to tell them. If I don’t want them to see exactly what I see – why not?  Is there a reason?

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For me, it was a shortcut. I was trying to get the pictures out of my  head and onto paper, and in order to do that before the ideas faded, I used adverbs as placeholders.

When I went back to edit, I replaced them with the more specific images. This made the passage longer, which is opposite of the “being succinct” rule. To make up for it, I went through the manuscript and cut out words elsewhere that added bulk without beauty.

Sometimes adverbs are the perfect fit for your passage, and if that’s so, use them proudly and unapologetically. Authors mix in a deliberate ratio of adverbs for emphasis, perhaps because they love the sound, perhaps because they want to grant the reader poetic license to see their own vision.

Some writers have such intricate prose and vivid descriptions that an adverb here and there is good; it’s a breath between thoughts, it’s the oil that glides the story forward.

Take this example from Robert Hellenga’s The Fall of a Sparrow:

“The guitar had tremendous power and volume, tremendous resonance and sustain, more than Woody had been able to control; but the man skillfully damped the strings, now with his left hand, now with his right, so that the sound that came through was clean and penetrating, free from the resonator rattling Woody’d been aware of when he was playing. He didn’t know what to say.

‘Guitar like this can change your life,’ the clerk said when he’d finished the song. You don’t have to play it; just show it to people, let them look at it.”

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When a great author mixes in a few adverbs with his or her gorgeous description, it’s almost like a compliment to the reader:  “I trust you to fill in the details. You get me.” The use of ‘skillfully’ here doesn’t hurt the passage. It provides a little bit of “you figure it out on your own” help, and that’s effective, because Hellenga’s words are rich and luxurious, and the additional of a bland helper now and then works.  He doesn’t just convince you that he’s heard this guitar; he convinces you that you have.

Here’s an example from Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, by Geoff Dyer:

“A dusty pole of sunlight poked in from the outside, illuminating a piece of Sanskrit written on a wall.  The boy pointed at the light, which pointed at the sacred text like the finger of a slow reader moving across the page of a difficult book. I continued moving too and the boy tagged along, keeping fractionally ahead of me, thereby subtly suggesting that he was being employed to guide me.”

His style is unique, his words gorgeous.  The adverbs  keep us moving along so we can see more poles of sunlight and hear the bells ringing.  Unpacking these particular adverbs into longer exposition would spoil the passage.

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Some authors use adverbs all over the pages, tons of them, and still write best-sellers.  Donna Tartt’s book The Secret History is a favorite of mine, even though she shot her adverbs at it with a BB gun. She uses Greek mythology and  purple-tinged prose that hangs just on the right side of beautiful, and that makes it possible to forgive her for sentences like these:

“I know what he wants,” Charles said bleakly. “He wants us to come over to his hotel and have dinner.”

“Suddenly, his face changed. To my great surprise he cursed loudly and slammed down the receiver so hard it jangled.”

“Isn’t that interesting,” he said coolly. “I’m really not attracted to you, either.”

I don’t mind because she has glorious lines like these: “When I got to my room it was silver and alien with moonlight, the window still open and the Parmenides open on the desk where I had left it; a half-drunk coffee from the snack bar stood beside it, cold in its Styrofoam cup.”

mittelmark on adverbs

Maybe because Tartt uses so many adverbs from the very start, and because her book is  larger than life, a Greek tragedy come alive, it’s appropriate to have the characters overact their emotions.  Her adverbs are like stage directions for the mind. We imagine what to see as the storyteller narrates.

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Fans of J.K. Rowling may note the abundance of adverbs in her writing, adverbs which in no way hindered her stratospheric success.  People love her plot and her characters so much that they care little about her adverb usage.

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More about Adverbs: Don’t Let Them Mar Your Translation

If you use too many adverbs, you don’t thoroughly describe the images in your mind, and the reader misses the path you worked so hard to create. Yet if you unravel every adverb with a long explanation, you can end up with unwieldy text, top heavy and boring.  Sometimes it’s necessary to rewrite an entire passage when you eliminate adverbs.

Here’s a paragraph I wrote after interviewing a provocative local artist.

This is how I felt when I saw his shop

His art workshop was impeccably organized and obviously styled; more like a gallery than a place of labor, it was instantly obvious that he was abundantly in  need of praise, as much from himself as from others.  The works of art in progress were discomfiting and strange, everything designed to provoke unease. Even the way he organized his books spoke to his need for  grandiosity. 

Arranged as they were in shelves, in such a fashion that a single book could not be extricated without sending the rest tumbling, his organization let any guest know that he was so incredibly smart about art that he’d never need to read such a book again. They were not worth his time.  It reminded me of a person so rich that he had no use for the dollar bills that we peons coveted.  There was nothing humble about his space.


Soup-can-shaped containers waited in silent precision. Four feet tall, wiggly and large enough to hide a crouching human, they rippled at a finger touch. A white, powder-coated body exposed wires from a leg, a thigh, the torso, dripping them onto the shiny steel table across from his desk. This view was equally intimate and disturbing: his signature.  A hundred glossy hard-cover art books, arranged  in an intricate pattern of piles and floating shelving from which a single volume could not be extricated without disrupting dozens, were themselves an exhibit.

I once saw a picture of a wealthy man who lacquered an entire room in gold and hundred dollar bills, and it struck me that Tonnesen had a similar narcissistic arrogance; so convinced was he of his superiority that books on the subject, with nothing left to teach him, were best used as self-congratulatory décor.


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 The thing with adverbs is to use them with intent — verify that they’re the best option to make your sentence complete.  No published author has a perfect manuscript, so don’t use their mistakes and shortcuts as a justification for your own. Make your writing as strong as you can. In the long run, it will serve you well.

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Be Careful With “ing” Verbs

Renee Rose, USA Today best selling author of romance and erotic fiction, gave me an example of a before/after paragraph from one of her best-selling novels.


“No,” he said and then had to lunge to catch her as she tried to escape. He wrapped both arms around her and held her tightly against his body. “No, Celia. I would never do that. Angelina was talking about you because she’s jealous.”

He could feel the shape of her firm breasts pressing against his chest through her thin robe and the image of their naked glory rose in his mind. His eyes strayed down to her lips again. She was looking at him full in the face, studying him as if to determine whether he spoke the truth.


“No.” He lunged to catch her as she tried to escape. With both arms wrapped around her, he held her tight against his body. “No, Celia. I would never do that. Angelina was talking about you because she’s jealous.”

Her firm breasts pressed against his chest through her thin robe and the image of their naked glory rose in his mind. His eyes strayed down to her lips again. She looked at him full in the face, as if to determine whether he spoke the truth.

Renee did a few things to clean up the passage.  She eliminated several “ing” words (progressive verbs).  By replacing “She was looking” with “she looked” she made the sentence crisper.

Sometimes the sense of motion or time passing is necessary to the story, or to your character’s voice, and if that’s the case, don’t hesitate to use an “ing.” However, many times authors use it as a habit. Be aware of when you’re using an “ing” instead of an “ed” and make it a deliberate choice. Overuse of “ing” words makes a passage fuzzy – a matted dog that needs a haircut.

Authors use “ing” words because they worry that time will snap by, sharp, and slingshot the action ahead of itself. That’s not the case. Readers know to extend or compress time using context. They don’t need a constant flurry of “ings” to remind them about it.

Too many “ing” words:

She  kept looking out at the sea during her coffee break while she was eating her sandwich.

Revision without “ings” makes it stronger:

During her coffee break, she ate the sandwich without taking her eyes from the sea once.

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Beta Readers Provide Valuable Input

My sisters are my two best beta-readers. They read my entire novel from start to finish.  Because they see the whole manuscript, they can give me overriding feedback about a character’s development and where it falls flat. In addition, they give me detailed critiques of sentences and paragraphs that should be fixed.

Here are some examples that Maria did for my novel in progress, Boston. She highlights the comments that need help, and puts her thoughts in a comment to the right.  I usually take all of my sisters’ suggestions, because they make sense.  (Don’t worry; many adverbs were harmed in the making of this story.)

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She points out places where the language is clunky or offensive.

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Writing Groups Are Golden!

My writer’s group provides feedback on a chapter by chapter basis. During a typical meeting, each person takes a turn reading their segment aloud while the others follow along on hands-outs and take notes. The written-up hands-outs go back to the original author, who can use the comment to make improvements.

I’ve scanned several hand-outs with comments from my group. In each case, I used the feedback to make changes.  Some of the changes may seem small. Added together, these comments work together to make a book streamlined and sleek.

Bren commented on my excessive use of the word “I”.  My book is written in the first person, and it’s imperative to break up the “I-fest” and come up with creative ways to tell the story without inundating the reader.

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Edits from Bren

Angela always gets on me for my excessive use of semicolons. What can I say; I love the dang things.  She  pointed out my over-reliance on the word sex(y). When I edited, I found new words and maybe even got rid of a few semicolons; a sad process, but critical.

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Edits from Angela

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Edits from Angela


We point out things that work with a smile or an LOL, and are honest about things that don’t work. Jill gave me a smiley for a  good line, and suggested eliminating an entire paragraph, which I did. She gave me an idea for a better phrase, and I used it.

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Edit from Jill

Adriana asked for more detail on perfume; when I rewrote, I added in the exact scent (Light Blue, by D&G.)  She suggested ways to streamline and I took many of them.

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Edits from Adriana

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Edits from Adriana

Kacey pointed out that I used a lot of run-on sentences, something I want to fix.  Her reminder stayed in my head while I edited, and I was careful to mix it up — some long sentences, some shorter, for variety.

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Edits from Kacey

Group members are honest when they find a phrase that sounds out of place or awkward.

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I removed the “whore” reference. It didn’t work.

Make Your Editing Process Your Own

Your editing process might not involve beta readers or friends from a writer’s group, but no matter what you do, it’s critical to revise and improve your work. Sometimes, time itself is a wonderful editor.  Let the manuscript sit for a week or a month, then re-read.  After some distance, you may be able to make changes that would have scared or hurt you the first time through.  The point is to do what it takes to make our work better, to turn it into something that captures readers.

My favorite books are ones where I read something and exclaim, “Yes! She gets it. I feel this way. I am this way.” Or, “This is really what life is like.”  When you find an author who shines a light into your soul and illuminates something, not just in you but across humanity, showing you that a part of you which you considered fundamentally different is actually intrinsic to a greater population, it’s better than any magic trick in the world.   Words are finite, but some authors make them sing.

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Franz Kafka, author of The Metamorphosis, supposedly said about writing:

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

The interesting part is that sometimes our writing comes out muddy and watered down, and it’s only through editing that we get it clear and perfect.  Jhumpa Lahiri used all of Italy, the country, as her editor, while she was in the process of learning Italian.  We, too, can use everything at our disposal here at home:  Writer’s groups, beta readers, and self-reflection. 

Lahiri never stopped; just like Malcolm Gladwell’s “ten thousand hour” experts, she pushed on, day after day.  So do that.

The more we revise and edit, the closer we come to making perfect sentences of our own.

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Bibliography / Credits

Kafka, Franz with  Ian Johnston. Die Vervandlung – Metamorphosis (German-English Parallel Text).  London: JiaHu Books, 2014.

Gaitskill, Mary.  Veronica. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.

Tartt, Donna. The Secret History.  New York: The Ballantine Publishing Group, 1992.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. “Teach Yourself Italian.” The New Yorker Magazine. December 7th, 2015 Issue. (With translator Ann Goldstein.)

Gladwell, Malcolm.  “Complexity and the Ten Thousand Hour Rule.” The New Yorker Magazine. August 21st, 2013 issue. 

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers. The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.

Dyer, Geoff.  Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. New York, Vintage Books, 2010.

Hellenga, Robert. The Fall of a Sparrow.  New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1999.

Quote by Parmenides:

Photography:  All pictures are owned and copyrighted by Alexis Alvarez.

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I have hundreds of ebooks, but I still love my paperback versions!



Dream Girl Excerpt

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Get the novel that makes reality TV shows come alive! Dream Girl is a contemporary romance with passion, humor, and an HEA.  It’s 85K words of pure fun with spicy heat and a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

“Writing is brilliant, and I loved these clever, hilarious scenes mixed in with super hot Dominic sexiness.”

“If you like witty, character driven, romances then you’ll love this book.”

“This book is “call into work sick in order to finish” worthy.”

“Fantastic story featuring real woman who are sexy & smart! Plenty of heat & drama!”

Chloe signs up for the Dream Girl reality TV dating show for adventure, not to fall in love with handsome bachelor Dominic and his chiseled abs. And his kissable lips. And the dirty, dirty promises he keeps whispering into her ear. But somewhere between a California fishing boat disaster and her daring escape from a boring fashion show in Rome, Chloe gives him her heart.  They sneak some time alone, and the passion blows her mind. Dominic promises he’ll choose her in the end, but things aren’t always as they seem on these reality TV shows…people have secrets, and plots have twists.  And the road to true love turns out to be the most complicated path of all.

Get Dream Girl today and find out why a reviewer says “The plot is funny and has enough twists to keep you reading right through to the end. This is one of those books where I’m torn between wanting to read until I’m done but also wanting to slow down so I can enjoy it longer. It’s so good!”

Buy on Amazon, or read for free on Kindle Unlimited:

Amazon US

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Excerpt from Dream Girl:

Muffled giggles peppered the silence before Dominic said firmly, “Chloe. Would you look at me for a minute?”

In the background, Kyle’s voice rang out: “Camera one, stay on Chloe. Camera two, you’re on Britt. We’ll edit out what we don’t need.”

Chloe ignored that and looked up at Dominic, finally, to find that his eyes were crinkled, his lips curved into a small smile. “Just say it,” she demanded. “It was fun. Have a nice life, right? I hope you all have a super time in Rome.”

“Oh, that’s how it is now?” said Dominic. “I don’t even get a chance to speak?”

“Fine. Speak,” Chloe ordered.

Dominic thrust a cloud stick at her. “Do you want to come to Rome or not?”

“You’re inviting me?” Chloe’s voice was full of disbelief. “After what I told you upstairs?”

“Yes.” Dominic was impatient. “So are you coming or not?”

“Why should I?” Chloe demanded.

Dominic paused. “Why should you? Well, damn it, Chloe, you told me you were dying to go to Rome. To take pictures. To see the architecture… or so you say.” He raised one eyebrow at her and gave her a wicked grin. “So you tell me. Why wouldn’t you want to go?”

Chloe glared at him. Dominic stepped closer and murmured, “You need more convincing? I want you to come. I want to get to know you better. That’s why you should come.” Then he added softly, “You’re going to kiss me in Rome, Trip. I’m going to make damn sure of it. I’ll find a private moment and rock your world.”

“Oh, really?” said Chloe, as her heart leapt and hammered in her chest. “Keep dreaming, Tools. I already told you my terms.”

“Who said I didn’t agree to your terms? That might be just what I want, too,” murmured Dominic, making her jump in surprise and blush. “And,” he added casually, “Even if you don’t kiss me, you still get to see your precious Colosseum.”

“You’re just lucky they don’t accept sacrificial slaves anymore,” retorted Chloe. “Or I’d be severely tempted to hand you over to fight a vicious lion.” She bit back a smile, trying to figure out if he was serious or just teasing about what he’d just said.

“Who needs a vicious lion when you’re around?” countered Dominic. His voice was stern, but his mouth twitched. “So are you going?”

“Fine!” yelped Chloe. “I’ll go. Okay?”

“Okay.” Dominic rolled his eyes.

“Are you happy?” Chloe’s voice was raised.

“I’m frickin’ overjoyed.”

They started at each other for a long minute. Dominic suddenly grinned and pulled her closer by the arms and spoke into her ear. “See you in Rome. I’m looking forward to starting our new agreement. That is, if you don’t break the plane.”

“What?” Chloe was scandalized.

“Well, you broke your shoe. And the gnome. And the bathroom. Face it; things aren’t exactly safe around you.”

Me break the plane?” Chloe repeated. “Please. I just hope the plane doesn’t get all cock-eyed in the sky from the mile-high antics you’re probably going to get up to. Pun intended, by the way.”

“Only if it’s with you, Trip,” whispered Dominic, making her flush red. He leaned in and let his lips hover over her jawline, and without meaning to, she leaned into his body and made a soft breathy noise. He chuckled and whispered, “We’re going to get along just fine in Rome.” He touched her neck softly. “More than fine, Chloe.”

Excerpt from Dream Girl:

When they entered her room, Dominic took off his jacket and tossed it to the chair. He looked her in the eyes and began to deliberately unbutton his shirt. Chloe felt her face redden and she sucked in a breath as his magnificent chest came into view. She waited for him to keep going, but he smiled at her and nodded his head.

“Your turn, Chloe. The shirt.” He crossed his arms, his shirt open. His voice was dominant, and the tone—so masterful and deep—gave her shivers. She licked her lip, watching a muscle twitch in his cheek, and slowly used both hands to raise her shirt and pull it over her head. When she was standing there in just her lacy bra, she tilted her head.

“Like what you see?” Her voice came out husky.

“Damn straight.” His was hoarse. He sat down on the bed, legs spread, and leaned back on his elbows. Chloe let her eyes dart over the cut muscles in his stomach, which rippled as he moved.

“Pants.” His eyes were dark.

Chloe felt a smile tugging at her lips, and she deliberately unbuttoned her pants and stepped out of them. Her panties matched her bra and she felt her nipples peak under his gaze.

“Nice,” he murmured, his body taut, his face focused on hers. “Now the bra.”

Chloe sucked in her breath. “Um…”

He smiled a dangerous grin. “Didn’t you say you wanted to play my game?”

She nodded, hesitant, but still didn’t move to undress further.

“Maybe you need help?” suggested Dominic, getting to his feet. “First-timers sometimes need a little… assistance.” His voice was low and sexy. “Come here.” He gestured with his finger, and pointed to the floor in front of his feet.


And as promised, an excerpt with the “dirty” Italian phrase…and many more!

The plane didn’t break, and nobody got up to any extracurricular activity, partly because it was a red-eye and partly because Dominic flew separately. Chloe sat with Eris, Devin, and Bella in a four-across middle row of the large jet, trying to teach everyone critical phrases from her Dangerously Italian Phrases book, which she’d found in the L.A. airport in a small book kiosk.

She poked her friends and spoke eagerly. “Oh! Here’s one that we might need in the hotel in case our reservations aren’t right. Say this: In questo caso, credo che ci limiteremo a dormire nella hall.”

The other three chorused it back to her in a poor imitation. “What does it mean?” asked Bella.

“In that case, we will just sleep here in the lobby,” answered Chloe in a sanguine tone. “Oh, and I’m sure every woman wants to hear this from a handsome Italian man. I tuoi occhi sono bellissimi al chiaro di luna. Your eyes look beautiful in the moonlight.”

The women giggled and pushed to look at the book, and Chloe continued, “And this one is the best! Posso mostrarti la mia Colonna Traiana? May I show you my Trajan Column? I think we all know what that means!”

Eris snorted and Bella blushed, putting one hand over her mouth. “I get it! Funny!”

Chloe pointed at the page. “Oh. Here’s how to tell a guy that he turns you on. Mi fai impazzire. Am I saying this right? Mee fie im-pots-ear-ray?”

A well-dressed, clean-cut man with a faint five o’clock shadow turned in his seat with a faint smile. “Scusa, Bella, your try was close, but you would say it like this. Mi fai impazzire. Or you could also say, mi fai deventare matto.” His smile was charming, full of white gleaming teeth. “But it would generally be spoken in a voice full of passion, and in a place more romantic than these airplane seats.” He had dimples and an impish grin.

“Well, grazie mille!” said Chloe, grinning back at him. She turned back to her friends and grabbed Eris’ arm with mock passion. “Oh, take me to your place and make sweet love to me all night long. Save me from the boredom and banality that plague me. Oh, amore mio, mi fai impazzire, mi fai deventare matto!”

The handsome Italian laughed. “Molto bene!” Then he lowered his voice and winked at her. “If you would like a private language lesson, I’d be happy to help. I am a very experienced teacher.” He handed her his business card. “You can call me any time.” His dark eyes shone and his clear olive skin gleamed in the low light. He was sexy, but Chloe wished it were Dominic sitting there, picking her for flirtation.

Chloe flushed. “Oh, thanks, but I’m sort of not available—”

“Ah, I see. You are with someone already?” the Italian asked. He looked curiously at the girls.

“In a manner of speaking. Except,” Chloe decided it was too difficult to explain about the show, “he’s also dating a bunch of other women.”

“Perhaps you wish to even the playing field?” offered her new friend, making sizzling eye contact. “My name is Alessandro.” He offered his hand and Chloe took it. She did not care that the stupid Dream Girl camera tech was filming even now, with a small hand-held camera. Or that she was not, technically, supposed to be talking to strangers. Marlie, who was right there next the cameraman, wasn’t yelling at her, right? So it must be okay?

“I’m Chloe. Nice to meet you,” she said to Alessandro, giving him a sultry glance. She had no plans to call him, but would it hurt to just flirt for a few minutes? A male flight attendant broke in, offering extra water and dimpled grins. He was very handsome too, and Chloe giggled as he exchanged flirtatious looks with Devin and Bella.

“Ah, perhaps I have competition already?” joked her new friend Alessandro, after the flight attendant moved on. “Do you also like this handsome man? Perhaps this is your idea of male perfection?”

“He is pretty fine,” observed Eris, following him with her eyes.

Chloe laughed and said, “Come on. He’s like, the last man on earth I’d ever want to be with. What a vacuous playboy.”

“I will have to work hard to disguise the fact that I, too, am a vacuous playboy,” said Alessandro in a mock serious voice. “That is, when I am not involved in my extremely successful investment banking company and making a lot of money.”

Another time, Chloe would have easily allowed herself to fall for his self-deprecating yet flirtatious manner. Today, though, she only wanted a few minutes of easy flirtation, perhaps to stroke her ego. And there was only one hot investment expert who had a place in her heart.

When they landed, Alessandro murmured, “I would love to hear from you, Chloe bella,” before he smiled and merged into the exiting crowd. Chloe sighed.

“Look at you,” observed Eris. “Already charming the locals.”

“I guess I’ve still got it,” joked Chloe, licking her finger and touching her butt. “Tssssss!” she exclaimed, with no small amount of pride.

“You going to call him?” joked Eris.

Chloe laughed. “If you like him so much, you can have him,” she replied. “He’s not my type for sure. Too cocky and sure of himself. But you know, knock yourself out if you want.”  She dropped the business card into Eris’ lap.

Eris poked her. “Nice way to give me your backwash. Remind me never to share a Coke with you.”

Chloe giggled. “I can’t believe he chose me to flirt with, though, instead of one of you all. Maybe he needs some radial keratotomy or something, but hey, I’ll take it. I mean, I’m leaving it, but I’ll take it.”

“Chloe!” Bella was dismayed. “I can’t believe you said that about yourself. And just so you know, I think Wavefront Lasik is far better than RK if someone is going to consider eye surgery. Safer and fewer side-effects. Just saying.”

Chloe smiled. “Oh, Bella, you always know how to cheer me up. Listen, everyone likes to flirt now and then and have some meaningless fun. But I’m saving my heart for someone really special, you know?” An image of Dominic filled her mind. She paused and turned to her right. “Marlie, do you mind? You’re crowding me. Again.” She raised her eyebrows and shot her chin forward at Kyle’s number one assistant and the woman holding the hand-held video device, using the universal gesture for Back off. “Do you really need to record every single thing we say, every belch we make, every piece of crud we pick out of our eyes?”

Buy on Amazon, or read for free on Kindle Unlimited. Thanks!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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I hope you enjoyed the excerpts. Thanks for stopping by!

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