After the Kiss: A Sex, Love & Stiletto Novel

After the Kiss: A Sex, Love & Stiletto Novel

by Lauren Layne

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345547255
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/26/2013
Series: Sex, Love, & Stiletto Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 180
Sales rank: 17,483
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Lauren Layne is a New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance novels. Prior to becoming a writer, she worked in e-commerce and Web marketing. In 2011 Lauren and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where she decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite Lauren’s ardent assurances to her husband that it would take only three). Since then, she’s gone on to publish ten books, including those in the bestselling Sex, Love & Stiletto series, with more stories always in the works. Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and their spoiled Pomeranian. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Julie Greene had built a career out of falling in love. Staying in love? Not so much.

Julie’s boss apparently hadn’t gotten the memo.

“I’m confused,” Julie said slowly, leaning forward with a placating smile. “You want me to write what?”

Translation: You’re confused. I don’t write that shit.

Camille Bishop leaned back in her chair and studied Julie with puzzled eyes. “I’d have thought you’d be jumping at the chance to have such a simple assignment after last month.”

Julie pursed her lips together and considered. Last month’s assignment had been exhausting. Documenting the seven kinds of first kisses had required a lot of research.

Pleasant research.

But this? A two-page spread, to be called “How to Take Relationships to the Next Level”?

What was Camille thinking? This was Stiletto magazine, not Dr. Phil. Stiletto was sex and high heels, not companionship and freaking clogs.

The rocky post-honeymoon period just wasn’t Julie’s scene. Which is not to say she didn’t have plenty of other skills.

The first date? She had men begging for it.

The first kiss? An art form she’d long since mastered.

The first time you lost your panties in his sheets? Soooo not a problem.

This wasn’t to say that Julie had perfected only the major, most obvious dating milestones, however. She also knew how to finesse the subtler moments—those key moments where the breath caught and you thought, Yes, this. Julie could explain every single nuance, from the toe-curling euphoria when his hand brushed yours to the tingle when eyes held for just a beat too long. And then there was her personal favorite moment: the bone-deep satisfaction when you made him laugh for the first time—a real laugh.

Most women thought these moments just happened. Julie Greene knew better. These moments were created.
As for what happened after all that good stuff?

Julie couldn’t care less. She had no need for the first fight, no desire to meet the parents. No interest in finding dirty boxers in her hamper or making room in her bathroom for a man’s razor. That was all a one-way trip to Julie’s personal vision of hell: couples movie night.

Julie had found that the women of New York City erroneously used movie night as a yardstick of how close to the altar he was. After all, if he was satisfied to spend a Friday night at home instead of at a strip club, he must be whipped, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

Movie night was just another way of saying that you didn’t want to bother dressing up for him and that he didn’t care. Julie lived in fear of the moment when fancy dinners and cocktail parties would be a thing of the past, and the highlight of the weekend would be lounging in yoga pants and watching car chases or beautiful people making out on-screen.

The sexiest part of that scenario was the butter on the popcorn.

She shuddered. Julie Greene didn’t do movie night.

“Camille, look,” she tried again. “It’s not that I don’t respect your suggestions . . .”

“Oh?” Camille tilted her head, making her chemically straightened bob sway ever so slightly, and Julie froze. Over the years, Julie had come to think of Camille’s usually immobile hair as her “tell”—when it moved, someone’s life was about to get really messy.

Up until now, it had never been Julie’s life.

In the six years that she’d been working for Camille as a full-time columnist, this was the first time Julie had received a direct order on a story topic. Even when Julie had been fresh out of college with nothing but a handful of internships under her belt, Camille had given her wide latitude on what to write about.

Julie knew that Camille trusted her judgment. So what was with the sudden power trip?

It didn’t make sense. Julie was one of Stiletto’s best columnists, and they both knew it. And Camille had always encouraged her writers to play to their strengths. Julie’s niche was the single readers with the dream of falling in love. After that, they were on their own.

Julie sat up straighter. Wait, no. That wasn’t entirely true. Readers did have someplace to go once they got past the fun part of dating.

Grace Brighton.

“Why not have Grace do it?” Julie asked excitedly. “She’s your relationship guru.”

“And here I thought you and Grace were both my relationship gurus.”

“We are,” Julie agreed quickly. “It’s just that we each have our own expertise. Anything having to do with long-term relationships is Grace’s.”

Camille pursed her lips, painted today in a rather shocking coral. “And how would you describe yourself?”

Julie’s heel jittered beneath the desk in frustration. Camille knew full well what Julie’s expertise was. Everyone at the Stiletto office did. Heck, half the women in Manhattan knew Julie by name. Knew what she stood for. Stiletto was the magazine to work at. The Dating, Love, and Sex department was the department to work in. And Julie, Grace Brighton, and Riley McKenna were Dating, Love, and Sex, respectively.

Julie answered slowly. “I’m all about butterflies, first kiss, getting him to call. You know, dating.”

“Mm-hmm, and how is it that a woman goes from those giddy first few dates to the comfortable, committed stuff that Grace writes about?”

Julie’s mind went blank. There was really no good way to tell the editor in chief of the country’s largest women’s magazine that you’d never bothered to think about what happened after. And sure, maybe some people might think Julie a little insubstantial. But she was willing to bet those same people were perpetually dateless. Or entrenched in yoga pants and movie nights.

“Um, well . . . I guess it sort of evolves?” Julie replied finally.

“How?”

“With the right person, it just happens. That’s the mystery of what makes true love so special.” Gawd, I almost made myself vomit.

Camille shook her head. “Not good enough. You’ve seen the letters from our readers. They want to know the specifics. These are women who’ve already had the third date. They’ve even been on the seventh. But then what? How do they move forward?”

Julie’s sleeveless Kate Spade turtleneck dress suddenly felt a little tight around her throat.

“If not Grace, Riley could write it,” Julie said, grasping at straws. “You know, I actually think she’s been looking for a way to broaden her focus and take a break from the sex stuff for a while. Can’t you just see it? ‘Outside the Bedroom’ or something like that.”

“Julie,” Camille said with a sigh, “Grace and Riley have their stories figured out for the next few issues. I’ve already okayed them.”

“If you want a schedule of my future story ideas, I’d be happy to—”

“My mind’s made up.”

Okay, so Camille wasn’t going to be persuaded with reason. Time to go for the editor’s soft spot: Stiletto itself.

“I’m not sure this is what’s best for the magazine,” Julie said demurely. “I just don’t have any experience with the . . . you know . . . long-term stuff.”

But Camille wasn’t biting. “So? You think every writer in this office has personal experience with everything they write about?”

I do, Julie thought. Or at least I did.

“Julie, look around. What does this look like to you?”

“Um, an office?” More accurately, a high-tech, state-of-the-art, killer corner office with a view of Central Park South.

“Exactly. It’s an office of a magazine company. This is journalism, not your pink fuzzy diary,” Camille snapped. “If you haven’t been there yourself, talk to women who are going through that stage. Do what you always do—dive into our readers’ heads and answer the hard stuff for them.”

Julie bit back a sigh, knowing the battle was lost. Temporarily. Camille was one of those scary women who had made her way to the top of the food chain by having steel ovaries and a penchant for making people cry. Julie had always figured that if they’d made a movie about Camille’s life she’d be played by either a stern Katharine Hepburn type or an intensely scary Robert De Niro on crack. She was about as soft as a hammerhead shark and half as friendly.

Still, Camille was right about one thing: this article could be done with a little bit of strategic networking. A major in journalism from the University of Southern California had taught Julie that media was more about whom you knew than what you knew. But Julie had developed her own type of journalism over the years, one that involved a distinctly personal voice. And she hated the idea that she couldn’t speak personally to a topic.

“So we’re good?” Camille asked, standing to indicate that the conversation was over.

Not even close. “Definitely,” Julie replied with a confident smile.

Customer Reviews

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After the Kiss: A Sex, Love & Stiletto Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haven't read a book that i have enjoyed this much in a long time! Great banter , sex and friendship! Would recommend as long as you have several uninterupted hours to spend because you won 't beable to put it down!!!!
The_Book_Goddess More than 1 year ago
I receieved a copy of this title from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review What a fun new series! I was pretty excited to get a copy of this book to review and I certainly was not disappointed. Lauren Layne created characters that were instantly likeable and interesting. The chemistry between Julie and Mitchell was intense and made for a fabulous read. The book was funny and steamy...my favorite combination in a romance novel. The writing was clever and fluid and the story was engaging. The plot reminded me of two movies: How to Lose a Guy in 10 days and Never Been Kissed. As a romantic, I was impressed by how accurately the author captured the process of transitioning from dating to a relationship. This was a fun and quick read and I am eager to follow the series to see how Grace and Riley fair in the game of love. This is the perfect weekend read to entertain you and make you swoon. I know I certainly want my own Mitchell after reading this story. I would highly recommend this book!
IvyD More than 1 year ago
Julie Greene has been commanded by her boss Camille, via the hair sway, to write beyond the first date, the first kiss, to go deeper.  Deeper isn’t Julie’s thing, she thrives on the first, knows the rules and is a pro at the game.  She doesn’t want to meet parents or, God forbid, do a movie night.  Julie does the fun dating stuff, not actual relationships.  Shallow?  Guilty as charged but it’s a lot more fun this way.   That’s not the half of it though…. Camille has assigned her nemesis, Kelli, as an alternate. Over her dead body is the only way that’s happening. Stiletto Magazine is the magazine and Julie, Grace Brighton and Riley McKenna are, quite literally, the Dating, Love, and Sex Department.   While making a charity appearance at the MoMA Julie, Grace, and Riley, hatch what they consider a brilliant plan.  Julie will find a man to start a pretend relationship with that goes beyond a few weeks of dates.  In fact, Grace knows the perfect man. Mitchell Forbes.  Mitchell is a Wall Street colleague of Grace’s boyfriend, Greg, and just broke up with his girlfriend of two years, Evelyn. Mitchell Forbes is predictable. He’s never had a fling or one night stand. His colleague, Colin, bets him half his Yankee season tickets that he can’t do a fling.  Now that things are over with Evelyn it’s just what he needs isn’t it?  Can he do it? Mitchell’s thoughts on first seeing Julie… She looked like California chic had collided with East Coast reserve and gotten it all wrong. Julie’s thoughts on Mitchell.. Pinstripes. Good Lord. Ten bucks says he has a pocket protector. Let the games begin… Hilarious. I laughed my way through the first part of AFTER THE KISS.  Mitchell keeps Julie off center, never being quite what she expects and blowing her away with the “kiss from the gods.”, among other things. Julie gives up all pretenses and practiced moves with Mitchell, surprising him by actually having depth, intelligence, and a personality.   Neither is what the other expected.  Having their misconceptions blown away while they truly get to know the person beneath the public facade is loaded with humor and fun.   Julie wanted an article out of this “relationship” and Mitchell wanted Yankee tickets for half the season, they’re both getting exactly what they weren’t looking for and didn’t want.  You can see the train wreck coming.   Ms. Layne’s writing snagged me from the beginning.  Mitchell and Julie’s lively banter complete with snarky asides and thoughts, their believable evolution to a real couple and dreading the moment they discover the original reasons each sought the other made AFTER THE KISS hard to put down.  Despite having a good idea of how things would play out I was still 100% vested.  The whole package blends wonderfully to make AFTER THE KISS an addictive delight.  Looking forward to Grace’s story, Love the One You’re With.  I’m fairly confident Riley will have her book but sincerely have my fingers crossed that Camille will get her HEA.   Reviewed by IvyD for Miss Ivy's Book Nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book kept me 100% entertained
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the stiletto series!!! Definitely a page turner!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my the second half is better than the first. I reviewed it before I got to the end. The first half is funny and fun to read. The second have was heartbreaking but with a great ending!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gran6 More than 1 year ago
A fun, sexy little series. Recommend this one as well as the others in the series.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3 1/2 stars. It was a cute, fun read. However, it too closely mirrored the storyline from the movie, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." This is the first book I've read by this author. I'm hoping the next one I read is a bit more original, but I will read her work again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very cute story, easy read. I would recommend this book. A little sexy without being porn. I liked it. Look forward to reading the next in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
onlyminordetails More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts: This one was surprisingly a lot better than I expected it would be. The premise is very How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (as others have pointed out), but I think this one goes a lot deeper. And I liked that, a lot. There was more to the relationship than meets the eye. Julie is the type who fights a relationship where you're settled down and comfortable, where it goes beyond the first moments. Seeing her struggle to fight while wanting a real relationship was impressively balanced. And Mitchell, well, it's hard to imagine a girl not desiring more than just a couple dates. He's the type to want more than just a fling, but he's trying to prove he can have a fling. But the chemistry between Julie and Mitchell is beyond what either of them expected and not at all what they planned. After the Kiss showed the line between truth and pretending. Julie and Mitchell managed to discover where they really stand despite the games being played in the background. I liked how Lauren Layne got me invested in their relationship and I can't wait to see what's in store for the others in the rest of the series, including the next story, Love the One You're With. My Rating: Exceptional
slz52 More than 1 year ago
Good read, it was a decent length, although I wish it could have been longer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters. Look forward to reading more from this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first I kept thinking "this is going go be like 'how to lose a guy in 10 days'" but as I kept reading, I changed my mind. Its funny how the two think of each other at first and thrn all of a sudden they are like "well.." it has its heart felt moments, its a good love story. The sex scenes aren't terrible either!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a trite rendition of " How to Loose a Guy in Ten Days". 164 nook pages of shallowness. Other books by this author are pretty good, but this one is not