- By Lorelai LaBelle
- Editions: eBook & Paperback
- Published: July 10th 2014
- Source: Review by Request
- Genre: Contemporary Romance & Humor
- In a Flutter: Sweet & Fun
There’s nothing more beautiful than love. There’s also nothing more dangerous . . .
Bakery owner Maci Goodwin is 25 and has never experienced the big O. Not once. She’s been with five guys—and five duds. Sexually reserved, Maci finds herself paralyzed when it comes to bedroom exploration, despite the unbridled encouragement from her enlightened friends.
Then, after a spell of failed online dating, Maci meets Vince Forte and everything changes. He’s a man who has it all—looks, brains, and billions in the bank. The fierce attraction between them is undeniable, which ignites feelings Maci has never felt before, and she realizes she can’t get enough. After composing a list of their secret sex fantasies, the two set out on a series of kinky adventures, where they discover a world neither of them has ever imagined. It is a world of lust and love, pleasure and patience, and unexpected deviance . . . But will the list bring them together like they hope, or will it send Maci running back to her prudish, O-less life?
Nothing More Beautiful is a sensuous journey of experimentation, romance, and passion. Featuring spurned friends, long-lost lovers, deranged ex-business partners, and not-so-natural disasters, Maci’s story takes the reader on a fun, sexy tromp through the City of Roses, craft beer, and sexual freedom.
A quirky and unexpected contemporary romance…
There was a lot packed into the 440+ pages of this book, so let’s get started…
Very Portland, Oregon
Very Hipster Chick
Very Craft Beer
I believe the stand-out feature of this book was that it stared two charmingly awkward characters.
Maci is half-owner of a Bakery. She loves her work, craft beer, her cat Colby Jack, and yoga pants…
She also has terrible luck with relationships and all things sexual. She is not a virgin, but her past experience in the bedroom ranges from disappointing to dismal.
At the age of twenty-five, she has never had an orgasm, and was ready to swear off relationships forever… Lucky for Maci, her friends keep pressuring her into being more assertive…
Vince is the underdog Billionaire (I just made up that phrase but it fits) his start-up made him obscenely wealthy but didn’t do much for his social skills.
He’s not the usual Billionaire which pops up in modern romance – He’s sweet and nerdy – not your usual black-hearted, manipulative, and domineering Billionaire…
It was the blind leading the blind in the bedroom, so the couple picked out a self-help book on human sexuality, opened up an honest line of communication, and made a list of sexual fantasies which they began crossing off one by one.
At times it felt like the screenplay of a naughty indie rom-com..
The details had a cinematic quality about them – That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it gives you an idea of the level of detail which was put into this book – At 441 pages, I would expect nothing less.
Overall I thought this was an entertaining read, and an amazing novel when one considers that it is the work of a debut author. There are several things which I wish were smoothed out a bit more, but this book is lovely and special.
When Danielle swung by to pick me up, it was 5:30. I told her about the visit and the money. “That’s perfect!” she shouted. “Use the hundred to buy the lingerie.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It feels dirty.” I threw up my hand before she contradicted what I meant. “And not dirty in a good way.”
“He’s wealthy, Maci. If you continue to see him, you’ll have to get used to him lavishing you with gifts.” She put the car in drive and headed home.
“You make it sound so petty that I don’t want to take his money.” I played with the Benjamin as she drove. “I prefer to earn my money.”
“Yeah, you’re stubborn like that,” she said, cross. “If Ashley and I were like that, neither of us would ever get anything.”
“I think it’s a little different when the other person is about a million tiers above your income bracket.”
“Maybe, maybe not. Give it to Bridgett then, or one of your employees as a bonus.” She glared at me for an instant, disapproval written on her face. “If you didn’t want it, why’d you take it?”
“I don’t know.” Because I liked the thought that it was in Vince’s hand, and if I imagined hard enough, it smelled like him, a sweet tropical deodorant. “Will you come with me to pick it out?”
“Where do you want to go? My favorite place is Spartacus downtown.” Her voice lightened, and I could hear her excitement in sharing this part of my life with her for the first time. It had always felt so personal talking about specifics, but also so closed off, isolating. She had fed me way more information than I had about our sex lives, and I don’t think she ever understood why—writing it off as a product of my prudish sensibilities. In any case, she was more than ready to join me on this journey. “Or how about Lovers?” she added, as I considered the options.
“I was thinking something more like Victoria’s Secret or Fredericks.”
“To Lloyd Center then?”
I nodded. “You really think this will heat up the sex?”
She turned up 12th Avenue. “Like I said, trust me on this. I may not know guys well, but I know what they want, because really, our tastes don’t differ much.” She gave me a pretend concupiscent smile. We parked in front of Marshalls, and then roamed around the mall, stopping at a few different stores, until we stumbled on Victoria’s Secret.
Danielle picked up a shopping bag. “Plan on trying a lot on?” I asked.
“I need a new bra,” she said, circling a display of panties. “A few of mine have started to poke me. I also need new underwear: some thongs, really. But first, let’s get you some seductive lingerie—something irresistible.”
We browsed the walls and racks of lingerie. “I like this one.” I held up a silky purple nightie.
She smirked. “Sweetie, that’s sleepwear, not sexwear. You need something like this.” She grabbed a black lacy top with red bows. Seeing my frown, she replaced it on the rack. “Or this.” She held up a red corset with segmented frills spanning the center from where the cups connected to the garment’s bottom. A row of fake buttons ran down the middle of the frills with a big red bow centered at the waist that halved the frill segments.
“Now that I like,” I said, taking the lingerie from her and holding it up to my figure. “What do you think?”
“Perfect,” she purred. “Go try it on. If it fits, take some pictures.”
I inspected the tag. “This one is a 34C. Is there a B?”
She scanned through the rack and pulled out a duplicate. “34B.”
We traded and I headed for the fitting room before I realized I’d need matching bottoms. I found a pair of satin panties that looked like they completed the set. As I started off again, Danielle stopped me. “Don’t forget these.” She handed me a matching pair of lace thigh-highs that would attach to the garters.
“Gee, thanks,” I said sarcastically, thinking it was a bit over the top. She only grinned in return. The woman standing at the back took my name and size, wrote it on a card, and pointed out an available room.
“Let me know if you need anything else, hon.” I could hear her put the card on the door.
After hanging up the clothing, I stared at the mirror, mentally preparing myself. I had never worn anything so overtly sexy before. Ryan had tried several times to get me to wear lingerie, going so far as to buy me a kinky outfit for my birthday, but it didn’t fit right. I stripped off my clothes and put on the panties first, then the main piece, which, oddly enough, fit perfectly, as if it were made for me specifically—which had to be a first.
Scrutinizing the outfit, the lingerie made me feel confident, sexy, even bold. It was amazing. I actually felt hot. I grabbed the package of thigh-highs and thought twice about slipping them on in the store. My phone lay hidden in my clutch, and I fumbled to retrieve it, the thought that I was doing something naughty forefront in my mind. I mean, lots of people sent racy lingerie selfies to their lovers, right? Then how come I felt so devious and sneaky? Like I was the only person in the world who had stood in front of a Victoria’s Secret mirror holding a camera.
Opening the camera app, I raised my phone to the mirror, watching the live screen, and then snapped a shot. It looked nothing like how I felt. The angle was weird and unflattering. I took several more, all with the same result. Every angle seemed wrong, unnatural. My lips were somehow unconsciously pouty, but not in an attractive way, not in my eyes anyway. I lost track of time in my attempt to get the dream photo. It never came.
I settled on cutting off my head and legs and focusing on my breasts. They were what really shined in the lingerie anyway, and that way it would be more of a teaser, or so I reasoned. I rejoined Danielle in the “pink” section of the store.
“I take it the top fit?”
“What do you mean?”
“You were in there for like twenty minutes,” she said, checking her phone. “Everything work out?”
“Yeah, it all fit,” I replied, following her as she headed for the checkout line. “Well, I didn’t try on the thigh-highs. I’ll just buy them.”
“Did you get a good pic?”
“I think so. It’s just of my boobs.”
“A sneak peek.”
She laughed. “Did you send it?”
“Not yet,” I answered, stepping into the short line.
“Ooh, you have to let me help you write the caption.” She nearly tossed her bag as she threw up her arms in excitement. “I’m pretty good at writing dirty notes.”
“I can imagine,” I said, walking up to the counter and laying the outfit down. Swiping my card, we were in and out in a flash, Danielle using all her coupons on a full bag of underwear and bras. “Migration isn’t far, you want to go there for dinner?” I asked, climbing into the Crosstrek.
“Only if you say I can help write the message,” she negotiated.
I put on my “really?” face and stared at her. Why did she want to be so involved? I contemplated for a moment. “Deal. But nothing too gross. I don’t want him to think I’m a perv.”
“Or do you?” she joked. “Okay, okay, relax,” she added when I glared over at her. “Let’s see, nothing too obscene, eh? Hmm . . . Maybe write, ‘Turn you on?’ below the pic.”
“That’s it,” I said, grinning with surprise. “I thought you said you were good at this.” I laughed, digging out my phone and opening up the pictures. I had saved a few but only planned on using the one close-up shot.
“Hey, I’m just warming up, all right? It’s a process.”
“How about ‘Making you hard yet?’” I wrote out the caption to see how well it went.
“Speaking of his hard-ons, how big was it?” Danielle asked, a bit more curious than I would have thought. “I guess it wasn’t that impressive, since, well . . .”
“God, Danielle, can’t leave anything to the imagination with you.” I shook my head. “What if we end up seriously dating? I don’t want you blabbing to the entire world about his dong.”
“You mean cock,” she said with a wry smile.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get it out of you one of these days.”
“You keep telling yourself that,” I said, erasing the stupid line from the phone.
“Does that mean you’re not going to tell me?” She made a sad-puppy-dog face with her huge brown eyes.
“When has that face ever worked on me?” I asked, pushing her face away as she leaned over.
“When has it ever not worked?”
“Are you trying to kill us?” I screamed.
She corrected the car, which had swayed over the white line. “Four inches? Five? Six? Seven? Eight? Was it one of those monster dicks—is that why you didn’t like it?”
“I’m pretty sure I said the opposite of not liking it,” I countered. “I just didn’t have an orgasm. Now, can we get back to the message?”
“Sure, I’ll find out eventually,” she said, confident. “Why don’t you just say ‘I’m wet.’ It’s short, simple, and it will definitely turn him on.”
I wrote it in. “It’s a little dirtier than what I was thinking, but I like it.” My finger paused over the send key. “You really think this is a good idea?” I asked, having last-minute doubts.
“Would you just send it already?” she shouted, pulling headfirst into a spot on Glisan.
“Okay, okay.” I hit the button. “Sent.”
“Great, now let’s get something to eat before I die.” She practically ran into the building, leaving me far behind.
THE REST OF THE night she pestered me for his length, which I never gave up despite her relentlessness. I had checked my phone every five seconds, looking for a reply, but one never came, and when I finally crashed for the night, worry plagued my mind. What did his silence mean? I conjured up a million answers. Maybe he was really a playboy out on another date, having sex with another woman, duping me just like every other man I’d met. I hoped the reality was that his phone had died and he hadn’t seen the text yet. It was about the only answer that didn’t twist my stomach.
The first thing I did when I woke the next morning was check my texts, ignoring the alarm. I sighed when I saw there weren’t any new texts. What was he trying to do to me? The silence was as torturous as a rejection, if not worse. A small depression set in, the lack of acknowledgement eating at my nerves.
The work day drifted by, agonizingly so. I locked my phone in my desk, too obsessed with it. My irrational compulsion was out of control. At 2:45, well past two hours since last I’d checked, I unlocked everything. My inbox was still shy one new message. I just about ripped out my hair at that point.
I debated about making the trip to the gym for a good twenty minutes, finally deciding just to go and get it over with. No use wasting the membership. Nearly swooning, I struggled up the stairs when I spotted Vince working out on the second floor. Another debate emerged on whether to confront or ignore him. My boiling blood chose the former.
“What the hell?” I spat, speed walking up to him.
He was sitting on one of the benches at an angle, pushing weights into the air. Terrance was beside him, leading Vince in the same exercise. Vince glanced over and rested the weights on the floor. “Maci,” he said, standing up.
“You’ve got some ego,” I growled, poking his chest.
Terrance was rushing to his aid a breath later. Vince waved him off. “Ego?”
I poked him again. “Yeah, ego. I send you a picture like that and you don’t even have the courtesy to respond.”
“I’m sorry. I’m in the process of updating my phone to some special prototype from a company I’ve invested in.” He stepped back to avoid another jab. “I haven’t had access to my phone since yesterday morning.”
“Since yesterday morning?”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “I’ve only been able to check my emails.”
“Oh.” My voice broke. “No texts?”
“No texts, honest.” He stared at me in confusion. “Was this about tonight? Because I was planning on calling you after my workout.”
“Um—kinda.” I hesitated to say more with so many people around. “I, uh, sent you a text and was anxious for a reply.”
He laughed. “I can see that.”
“It had a certain type of pic attached to it,” I said, hoping he’d get the hint. By his puzzled expression it was clear he didn’t. “When will you get your phone back?”
He turned to his bodyguard. “Terrance, when will my phone be ready?”
“I picked it up before I met you here, sir,” he replied. “I’m sorry I didn’t say anything. It slipped my mind. It’s in the trunk on my motorcycle. Would you like me to retrieve it?”
“NO!” I screamed. They both looked at me, alarmed. “You—you should get it first,” I said, almost whispering, overcompensating for the outburst.
“I see. Terrance, your keys please.” He held out his hand, waiting.
“Sir?” The bodyguard’s voice was deep and scratchy.
“I’d like to get the phone myself.”
“Sure.” He dug a set of keys out of his pocket and handed them to Vince.
“Would you like to come with me?” Vince asked.
I considered the offer. Would it detract from the sexiness of the selfie if he opened the pic in front of me? It really seemed like it would. “No,” I declined. “Why don’t you just text me later about tonight? I think I’m going to go out for a run.”
He was definitely baffled by my behavior. “Can I walk you to the door?”
I nodded. The short trip to the main exit was a bit uncomfortable, but also so relieving that it hadn’t been one of those brutal outcomes my mind had concocted. He kissed me shyly on the cheek and waved as I walked down the sidewalk back to Friends.
My phone vibrated halfway home. I opened the text and my eyes nearly popped out of my head in surprise. He had sent a picture of the tip of his penis with the caption “Takeout, my place, 7?” He clearly was even worse at this than I was. I replied with a simple smiley face.
Q&A with Lorelai LaBelle
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
What would you say inspired you to write it?
A lack of genuine, get-to-know-the-other-person love stories. So many books that I’ve read feature the insta-love plot that I’ve become sick of it, and I wanted to write something that started out slow between the couple and then picked up the pace in a realistic fashion. But really, the idea of a couple crossing off a kinky sex list was the true inspiration, before I had any notion of characters, settings, or plots. Now if I could only recall where the idea of the list came from . . . it just sorta popped out of nowhere one day and BAM, off to the keyboard!
At over 400 pages, this is a rather large novel, especially for a debut author. What made you decide to release this book as a single novel, rather than splitting it up in to a duet or trilogy?
In hindsight, I probably should’ve split it up, as is the current trend for self-published authors, from a words/price ratio, but I really wanted it to be one complete novel without tie-ups or cliffhangers. And to be honest, I just wanted to hold the whole thing in my hands as a single piece of writing. I also didn’t know a whole lot about the publishing side of the industry, not realizing that readers enjoy reading serials more than standalones.
What was the source of inspiration for Maci Goodwin?
I spent some time working at a bakery while I earned my undergrad, and I wanted to write about a strong woman, but one with a hard obstacle to overcome. Finding one’s sexuality is a long road for many, and statically, most women don’t begin to really explore what they truly like in the bedroom until their late twenties/early thirties, and I wanted Maci’s story to reflect on that. I pulled from a lot of sources of inspiration in creating Maci, but her headstrong attitude comes from a friend, who hates taking handouts and thinks she has to do everything on her own (for the most part). This quality just seemed to be Maci’s character, which would allow her to co-run a bakery at only 25, and, in my mind, set up the story perfectly.
How about Vince Forte?
At the time, I was tired of all the need-to-be-changed assholes that are swelling the market, and I wanted to write about a guy who is actually nice. I get the whole bad boy thing (of which I’m a fan), but it’s almost as if writers/readers have gotten stuck in the notion that nice guys can’t be hot and sexy & they have gym memberships too! So with Vince I wanted to bring out strong passion mixed with a delicate touch, and for a woman like Macy, who has had a terrible sex life, really allows the two to grow together (start soft, get rougher) and explore what’s out there in the world of sex.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
I actually didn’t suffer from writer’s block while writing Nothing More Beautiful. Some days were slower than others, but overall, the ideas just kept flowing.
What is your all time favorite book?
Tough, tough question. I just love Harry Potter and the memories reading the series while growing up. Now my tastes have changed, but I really loved Bossypants. Tina Fey can make milk shoot out my nose, she’s too damn funny.
What made you pick that one above all others?
I love to laugh, and she has a masterful talent for comedy.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Five months, I think.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Of course. It’s made me a lot more expressive with words. It has also challenged me to get more creative when describing relatively the same thing.
Was there ever a time, during your work for this book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Not once. I had fun with this project from start to finish.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
Working full-time during the week and writing at night and on the weekends.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I remind myself that everybody has a different perspective in life, from the retired 80-year-old reader to the struggling teenager, all with different beliefs and fixed opinions on how people talk, behave, think, and how they react, not to mention what they want out of their reading experience. Some just want sex, some want a solid plot too; some want a dark, troubled man, while others want a gorgeous out-going comedian that can banter back and forth. With so many variables that influence a reader, I tell myself that it’s impossible for everyone to like what I write. My advice? I’m too young to give advice, I’ll leave that for those with more wisdom.
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next?
I am planning a book with a clash between two dominants (not necessarily BDSM Doms), just two people who like to be in control and go head-to-head. It will be completely different from Nothing More Beautiful. I don’t want to end up writing the same thing over and over & sex.
What made you decide to become an Author?
I love telling stories and I think I have a voice worth sharing with others, and hopefully others think so too, and enjoy my style and characterization.
What would you say was the toughest part?
Changing up the sex scenes was by far the hardest part. There are only so many descriptors of how a man can stick his P in the V, lol. I had a lot of help with this part of my writing.
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
One piece of advice that I took away from multiple sources was to hire a professional editor and skipping this would be a grave mistake. I took that a advice, but I learned how to format and did the cover myself, with some help from my husband.
How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
I wanted to hire someone local, and I found Bridgetown Editing here in Portland, owned by Rachel Guerin, who edits romance among her many talents. After a few emails I knew she was the one for the project. She did a spectacular job and I will definitely be hiring her in the future.
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to when you hit ‘Publish’?
From conception to production took from February of this year (2014) to June 10th (2014) when I released the eBook.
Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AREbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
I use Smashwords to distribute to all eTailers, except of course Amazon. I liked Smashwords setup, and found the formatting guide easy, so I went with them.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I’ve thought that maybe the title is too out there, and that maybe a title like “The Sex List” would’ve been better. I’m not sure if I would actually change it though. Also, I would contemplate splitting the book in two parts more than I did.
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one item you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
A blowup raft so I could get the hell off that island.
Name your favorite fruit.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Fall; love wearing scarfs!
How about favorite time of the day?
Were you a Girl Scout?
Favorite food for breakfast?
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
I definitely collect shoes. Besides that, I used to collect movie stubs but not so much anymore.
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Tie between yellow and purple.
Drama or comedy?
Do you have a favorite quote or personal motto?
“What do we say to Death? Not today.”
Cats or dogs?
I love both!
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight.
Do you have a favorite Book Boyfriend?
I’m not very good at picking favorites . . . maybe Colton Donovan from Driven?
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Game of Thrones (my husband got me hooked!)
About the Author
Lorelai was born in 1989. She is a bookworm who loves writing erotic contemporary works that push boundaries and have a touch of mystery/suspense. She also enjoys writing paranormal and dystopian when the mood strikes her. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, their chubby cat, and two birds. In her spare time she likes to bike, hike, and drink craft brews, like many Portlanders do, and watch movies in the dark.
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