She Knows She's Beautiful
By Annabeth Leong
Erzabet, thanks so much for hosting me again! It's great to be here.
My favorite review of Design and Scandal so far said, "Kahala Lin is the type of woman I’ve always aspired to be" (and thanks for that, Pauline Michael at Night Owl Reviews). I'm so proud the reviewer felt that way, especially because it wasn't easy for me to write Kahala. It brought up a lot of my own issues, in fact.
I knew when I started writing the book that I wanted Kahala to be proud of herself and her body. I wanted her to be on the other side of the societal shame about being a curvy girl—full of acceptance, owning her sexuality, and okay with being different from the mainstream concept of beauty.
I had no idea how hard that was going to be for me to write. Honestly, that's not at all how I think about my own body. Too often, the sight of myself in the mirror brings a sort of sick, hopeless feeling. Just last night, I was out shopping for bras. It wasn't a good night for that (sometimes it just seems like insecurity is in the air), and the way I looked under the dressing room lights was making me tear up. I ended up leaving the store empty-handed, to the disappointment of my husband, who gets excited about the idea of picking out pretty lingerie.
I remember how it felt to write the sex scenes in Design and Scandal. Normally, I turn myself on when I write sex, and I do it with exuberance. When I wrote these scenes, I was cringing inside. I worked hard to allow Kahala to be herself and to be unashamed, but she turned out to be farther down that path than I was. I made sure that James was not just accepting but crazy about her, but I had trouble believing the things he said. I edited the first few chapters over and over again, trying to get the tone right. After I turned the book in to my editor, I felt a backlash of shame. I was so sure she was going to come back to me and say that my scenes weren't good.
On the contrary, my editor was excited about the heat of the book and the confidence of the main character. And a funny thing happened as I was working on my edits—coming at my sex scenes as a reader and editor rather than as a writer, I found they had been transformed. I saw the affirmation, the sexiness, and the sense of connection gleaming out of them. I saw the beauty that I knew Kahala ought to have. I'd managed to give it to her despite my battles with my own insecurities, and that made me so happy.
This is what amazes me about writing. My characters can go beyond what I'm able to actually do and feel. They can be better, wiser people. Writing can present a vision, a possibility. Kahala isn't perfect, and she can be shaken. Her attitudes about women's bodies change over the course of the story. In the end, however, I wrote a character who's a lot stronger and braver than I am.
I'm not exactly sure which parts of Kahala touched the reviewer I mentioned at the beginning. She may admire her for different reasons. But Kahala is the type of woman that I, too, aspire to be. Someday, I want to look at my body with the same confidence that she has. Songs frequently celebrate the idea of a woman who doesn't know she's beautiful, but I say, forget that. Someday, I want to know I'm beautiful the way Kahala does.
“I said I wouldn’t bother you,” James said slowly.
“What if you’re not bothering me?”
James allowed his fingers to dart out and brush the palm of her hand. Kahala closed her eyes. Her face looked even softer when she relaxed. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to her cheek. Her hair smelled like pikake flowers, sweet and clear. He whispered in her ear. “I’ve never seen a woman more my type than you.”
She turned her head until his mouth touched not her cheek but her hot, plush lips. They stayed still that way for a moment, her breath tickling his upper lip. Then James lifted his hands to her shoulders and pulled her close. Against his, her body was all curves, all woman, all flesh he wanted to explore with fingers and tongue. Her mouth opened to him and he forgot himself in the flavor of her kiss.
“I love this dress but I want to tear it off you.”
He felt her lips curve. “Well, don’t do that.” She guided his hand to a set of laces running down the left side of her body.
His fingers closed around a bow tied at the bottom of her thigh. He tugged one tail of it experimentally. “Am I allowed to do this?”
“I locked the trailer door when I came in.”
James took that as permission. He pulled the bow apart and touched the bare brown flesh the action revealed. He kissed the base of her throat and cupped the side of her thigh, massaging a little. Kahala’s flesh yielded to his touch, molding itself to the palm of his hand. James slipped the laces open farther, tracing the webbed pattern they made over the upper part of her leg.
He wanted her so much that his throat felt tight. She felt right under his fingers, under his lips, like everything he’d been missing through months of travel and publicity appearances. “I don’t know if I can go slow,” he confessed.
“I don’t want to go slow,” Kahala said. “Finish pulling out those laces.”
James didn’t need to be asked twice. He undid the rest of them, his heart pounding as more of her body spilled out of the dress and into his hands. He slipped the fabric out of the way, thinking he wanted to get her naked as soon as possible.
That was before he saw her underwear. James actually stood back and gaped. Her red bra did not attempt to contain her large, delicious breasts. Instead, it only lifted them, making her curves even rounder and more alluring. The garment projected a lazy, sensual air, like a thing strapped halfway on for a brief foray out in the middle of a day in bed. It covered her nipples only partially, the dark, puckered flesh peeking out above scalloped lace. A red thong framed her generous ass and cupped her mound, revealing hints of the shape of the lips beneath. But where most thongs resorted to elastic strings for the waistband, this rose into a wreath of lace that cupped the lower part of her stomach and emphasized how every curve of her body flowed into every other—breasts to stomach to hips to thighs. The sight left him torn between touching her and gazing at her.
When he managed to meet her eyes again, Kahala was grinning. “I made those, too,” she said.
“I’ve got no worries about what you’ll do with me,” James said, remembering the costume she was supposed to be designing.
Kahala’s wink made him forget it again. “Good,” she said, “because I plan to do plenty with you.” She glanced toward the bed in the back of the trailer. “Why don’t you get on that?”
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
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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.
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!
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