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The Great Recession. Reality TV. Luxury cosmetics. And a basset hound named Botox. What do all these things have in common?
They’re all essential story components in BEAUTY SECRETS, a sexy romantic comedy novel, written in a style best described as “Jennifer Weiner meets E. L. James.”
Amanda Brown is a high-flying cosmetics executive for Revina Corporation, the oldest and most venerable cosmetics company in America. She comes from a good “old money” family, she went to Swarthmore, and she lives in a beautiful penthouse apartment in NYC’s Meatpacking District. But she’s only successful on the surface—-like many New Yorkers, she’s also financially overextended. Her parents are dead, her trust fund is gone, and when the Great Recession hammers her company, like millions of people across America she suddenly finds her job hanging by a thread.
Enter George Watson, a hedge-fund manager and self-made man from the Midwest who swoops in from Indiana to rebuild Revina Corporation from the ground up. Even if he fired everyone else at the company, he decides to keep Amanda on for her expertise. The two of them are from different worlds, and they can’t stand each other. But that doesn’t stop them from having wild no-holds-barred sex on their first meeting—-for reasons neither of them fully understand.
But this is no ordinary corporate takeover, and the unlikely romance between George and Amanda is no ordinary love story. It involves corporate greed, undercover investigative reporters, a sleazy reality TV producer who puts George and Amanda’s sexual relationship on national television, dark family secrets—-and a dog named Botox.
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Amanda took a brief tour of the store. It had been so long since she’d done her own shopping — she even had her groceries delivered, not that she cooked very often — that the very act of trolling the aisles was a novelty. She walked up and down past racks of shampoo and conditioner (not her brand), bins of empty plastic spray bottles (what on earth were those for, anyway?) and the baby-formula section, finally ending up at a display of condoms next to the pharmacy counter.
Amanda stared at the rows of brightly colored packaging in wonder. She’d never considered the idea that people actually went into stores and bought condoms. All the men she had dated over the past several years produced them as if out of thin air when they were already naked in her bed. Her college sorority house had kept a jar of them in the communal bathroom, though she’d never taken any. Condoms were something that just seemed to appear when required, not something that you went out and purchased like batteries and pantyhose.
Her eyes scanned the racks, noticing that some of the selections on offer featured silhouettes of slender, naked couples in sensual embraces, while others had “special vibrating rings for extra fun.” There were even flavored lubricants and serums that promised to add “heat” and “wow factor.”
Amanda closed her eyes and felt herself blush. What kind of place was this? She felt like she’d stumbled into some kind of X-rated store on the side of the interstate, not a respectable-if-low-end Duane Reed. How on earth was stuff like this sold out in the open? Shouldn’t it be locked behind a counter or something?
Still, she couldn’t help but be intrigued, even a little titillated. Amanda’s sex life was nil at the moment, not that she cared all that much. But one should always be prepared, right? You just never knew what might happen. She selected a magenta box of Trojans with Vibrating Ring For Extra Fun and a tube of Wow Factor. Then she walked straight to the pharmacy counter to pay for them, too embarrassed to be seen carrying the racy items around the store. Once they were safely tucked in a plain white paper bag (stapled shut, for extra privacy), she headed to the front of the store to conduct a little market research.
It is my pleasure to interview Jill Elaine Hughes, author of Beauty Secrets. Welcome to Room With Books.
What sparked your interest in becoming a romance writer?
I think it was because I always loved reading romance, from Jane Austen up to modern erotica. I’m always a sucker for a good love story. Even if I already know how it will end, I love the wild ride!
What was the first romance novel you read that made an impression on you?
Probably Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, which I read in college. I’d read scores of romances prior to that, both modern-day and from the literary canon, but that one really stuck with me and I always remember it. I think it sets the bar for the whole genre. I’m also a sucker for Jane Eyre and anything by Jennifer Weiner.
Tell us 5 surprising things about yourself.
- I’m an Irish-Catholic who converted to Buddhism. And I’m married to a Chinese guy who was born and raised Buddhist but converted to Catholicism. Weird, huh?
- I hate mashed potatoes.
- I’m dangerously allergic to bee stings.
- I have naturally curly hair.
- I’m a triathlete.
What is your writing environment?
I write full-time (I’m a freelance journalist as well as a novelist) and the entire third floor of my house is my writing studio.
One of your favorite quotes.
“If you got paid to write something, and you paid the light bill with the money, then I consider you talented.”—Stephen King
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
I like heroes who are strong and successful, yet mysterious. I like them to have some kind of dark past that involves deep personal flaws that they have overcome at least somewhat, but still contribute some quirkiness to their character. This is what intrigues readers and also keeps me engaged when writing.
Which authors have caught your interest lately? Why?
There are too many to name! Of late I’ve liked Avery Aster’s MANHATTANITES series with Ellora’s Cave, J.L. Mac’s WRECK ME series, anything by Sylvia Day, and of course EL James!
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I have written almost 20 books, of many different types and subgenres, so there aren’t many types I haven’t written yet. But I DO want to eventually write a New York Times bestseller!
Who are your dream dinner party guests? All authors! (and a little eye candy)
EL James, Jane Austen, Jennifer Weiner, Sara Gruen, D.H. Lawrence, and Charlie Hunnam!
What’s the last movie you watched and loved?
Probably FLIGHT, with Denzel Washington. Good film with a good message. Plus you get to see Denzel naked, so there’s that.
Most nerdy in high school. (popular, nerdy, sporty…) Why?
I was senior class valedictorian.
Top three things on your bucket list.
- Go to India.
- Go to Ireland.
- Go to Africa.
Which actor or book character do you have a crush on?
Hugh Jackman, Colin Firth, and Mr. Darcy.
What’s your favorite body part of the opposite sex?
Aside from the obvious (snark), eyes.
What does love feel like?
Knowing that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person.
Hey, baby! What’s your sign?
When was your last kiss?
What’s an absolute no-no in a relationship?
Cheating, lying, and violence.
How did you meet your significant other?
We actually met online!
What’s your idea of a perfect date?
Dinner and a movie without the kids!
If you could take a romantic trip, where would it be?
I’ve traveled a lot already, but I’ve always wanted to spend a week in Hawaii. Preferably on Maui or Kauai, they are more secluded.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Boxers or Briefs? Boxers
Facial hair or clean shaven? Stubble
Alpha or Beta? Alpha
Planner or Panster? Panster
White wine or red? Red
Coffee or tea? Tea
Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla
Sweet or salty? Both, at the same time!
Sleep in or get up early? Sleep in
Laptop or desktop? laptop
Beach or mountains? Mountains
Winter or summer? Winter
Cat or dog? Dog
Twilight or Fifty Shades? Definitely Fifty Shades!
Spotlight or In the Shadows? Spotlight
City or Country? City
Clubbing or candlelight dinner? Candelight dinner
Backpacking or luxury hotel? Hotel
Morning or night person? Night
Christmas or Halloween? Halloween
Optimist or pessimist? Optimist