A sexy category romance novella from Entangled's Brazen imprint...
No more Mr. Nice Guy...
For the last decade, Tucker Lamb has been a nice, respectable, science teacher. No one needs to know about his past, especially not the hot little firecracker who teaches human sexuality next door. When temptation-and his imagination-prove too much, Tucker realizes it's time to revive his old, bad-boy grifter self, just long enough to seduce Cricket Malloy...
Sex is Cricket's comfort zone. When Tucker proposes a joint project for their classes, she's delighted-and even suggests they do their own project on aphrodisiacs. But Tucker isn't quite the staid, conservative guy she thought. In fact, Mr. Lamb is starting to look more like the sexy bad wolf. And she's about to play right into his hands...unless she beats him at his own game.
Previously released on Entangled's Flaunt imprint - November 2013
About the Author
Christine Bell is one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn't like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold 'Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate...or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun and adventure-filled romance stories, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons. Christine also writes erotic romance under the pen name Chloe Cole.
Christine loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to get in touch with her via her website www.christine-bell.com
Read an Excerpt
By Christine Bell, Kerri-Leigh Grady, Allison Blisard, Thinkstock
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Christine Bell
All rights reserved.
"Oh my God. Oh, God. Yeah. Yeah, right there. Yes. Yes!"
For the first half a minute, Professor Tucker Lamb had tried to muscle through, but the sounds coming from the adjacent classroom had escalated and were now too distracting to ignore. His inseam was feeling decidedly shorter than it had a minute ago, and his students couldn't mask their reactions any longer.
Most of the girls wrinkled their noses and laughed softly to one another, leaning across the aisles between the rows of silver desks. Some of the guys tried to follow suit, but their halfhearted attempts came off as wooden. They couldn't hide their fascination or their extreme interest in finding out who was behind the very vocal "O" coming through the wall.
Tuck knew exactly who was responsible. Fortunately, his students were freshmen, so most probably hadn't met the Human Sexuality professor, Dr. Eleanor Malloy. And it was a good thing because if they had, there would have been a stampede to get out of his classroom and into hers.
She didn't look like any "Eleanor" he'd ever seen and went by Cricket instead. When they'd got to talking at the staff Christmas party last year, she'd explained that her dad had given her the nickname when she was a child because she never liked to sleep. She made noise all night long. He had to bite his tongue to keep from asking her if that was still the case and if she'd give him a shot to be the guy behind all the noise.
"Okay, guys. It sounds like Dr. Malloy's lesson is winding down now, so let's try to focus," he said with a smile he hoped didn't look as pained as it felt.
He wondered how many times she'd been slapped on the wrist for her outrageous classroom antics. Still, she was well known for making the material relatable and easy to understand, so the students loved her. Moreover, he respected her because she practiced what she preached. She defended her subject of expertise like a wolverine and was very vocal about her view of human sexuality as an integral part of life. There was nothing dirty or tawdry about it, thank you very much. Her attitude came through in her teaching, and no subject was taboo. She was fearless, and he admired that.
But that fearlessness came with a price. In Cricket's case, it made her a target for the school's administrators. Tuck suspected that her appearance did little to help her case. Five foot nothing, a hundred and thirty-five pounds comprised almost entirely of tits and ass, she was like something from a tractor-trailer's mud flap. A sailor's bawdy tattoo. Or a science professor's wet dream.
She was hell on wheels and exactly the kind of woman he would have gone for before ...
"I think I want to change majors," one of the kids in the back row said, dragging him back to reality.
The other students chuckled, some nodding their agreement.
"Hey, hey. Science can be just as fun as human sexuality," Tuck protested.
"Yeah, right. Even you don't believe that, Prof."
"Seriously. The two subjects actually go hand in hand in a lot of ways. For instance, attraction, or what people refer to as 'chemistry'? Those are measurable physical manifestations of hormones in your bodies. That's all science."
His class seemed riveted now, and he continued, their enthusiasm fueling his. "You wouldn't even feel that attraction if it weren't for those natural chemicals running through your bloodstream. Then neurotransmitters take the wheel and start firing all over the place. Adrenaline pounds through your veins from the rush. Dopamine and serotonin flood in from all the pleasure. Oxytocin is released as you complete the" — he cleared his throat — "act."
Again, his students laughed.
"Then finally vasopressin sneaks in, making you want to snuggle and maybe stick around for the long haul."
"I don't think I have any of the last kind," one of the boys in the front row deadpanned to another round of chuckles.
"Maybe you just suppress yours, Baxter. Okay," Tuck continued, enamored with the topic as the kernel of an idea formed. "I'm liking the track we're on, and it's clear you guys are more interested in this discussion than any we've had so far, so let's explore those connections in a deeper way. As you all know, the syllabus calls for a research paper next month."
He put up a hand to silence the chorus of groans.
"I know, I know, so here's what we'll do. Let's make it a research project instead. A project that will help us explore the relationship between science and human sexuality." And more importantly, help him explore a relationship between him and Dr. Cricket Malloy. It was asking for trouble, but now that the thought had wormed its way in, there was no stopping it. "If you still want to do a paper, go for it. If not, use your imagination. You can do a PowerPoint presentation, charts and graphs, create a survey or a video."
Snickers swept the room, and he rolled his eyes.
"Not that kind of video. I mean a video chronicling your research. I'll allow you to work in groups if you'd like, no more than three members per group so we still get a wide variety of topics and mediums. You'll have three weeks to work on your projects and then we'll spend the fourth week on presenting them to the class so we can all benefit from one another's efforts." He smiled at them and spread his arms wide. "This time next month, we'll all be enlightened."
The students chattered excitedly about their new assignment. While over the past six months he'd managed to build a reputation as a "nice" professor, he wasn't on the short list of "cool" ones, so they were clearly all amped about this turn of events.
"Each group should come to our next class with three possible ideas for my approval, and we'll go from there."
As the students talked, Tuck's thoughts flipped again to the doctor in the next room. Now that he was out of that life and on the up and up, she was exactly the kind of woman he needed to steer clear of. The kind of woman who stuck in deep and wouldn't let go, like a barbed hook in a trout's gullet. And after ten long years of struggling, he'd finally become a man he could be proud of, and he needed some time to settle into it. To make sure it stuck. Not to mention, they were coworkers. Nothing like stirring up some uncomfortable workplace drama if and when things didn't work out when he was just finally feeling at home here.
She was driving him bananas. Absolutely fucking crazy. Aside from a couple impromptu lunches when they ran into each other in the professors' lounge, he rarely saw her for more than a passing hello, but every time he did, he had to avert his eyes. It was that or walk around campus sporting a massive boner. Not okay. But he'd managed to avoid making a play at her because most of the time she was out of sight, if not totally out of mind. Now, though, with her right in his face day in, day out? It was nearly impossible to stop thinking about her.
Totally wrong for you. Stop this before you even start.
In spite of every instinct warning him off, the prospect of getting close to Cricket Malloy sent a familiar surge of power thrumming in his blood. The riot of heady sensations assailed him, pulling at him, urging him to get closer to the forbidden prize ... sensations he hadn't felt since the last time he was on the grift.
A plan came into sharp focus. And damn, it felt good.
* * *
Cricket splashed some Irish creamer into her coffee and gave it a stir. Today's lesson had been a fun one. The students had really seemed to get it, too, which was always validating. After two years she felt at home at Westfield and, for the first time in her adult life, thought she might want to stay in one place for a while.
"Hello there, Dr. Malloy, welcome to Adams Hall."
She turned to see Professor Tucker Lamb stroll into the staff lounge area. "Hello, yourself. And thanks for the welcome." She glanced around at the sparsely furnished room. Three square tables were lined up in a neat row, each fitted out with utilitarian, dark wood chairs. If she was going to be here for more than a week, she'd have to bring in some colorful tablecloths and a vase filled with flowers to add some cheer to the seventeenth-century Puritan chic. "It's not the same as home, but it beats the hell out of getting stung to death."
The Facilities Department had cordoned off the Psych building that housed her classroom while a crew of exterminators dealt with an infestation of hornets. The department was scattered throughout the campus now, set up in every available classroom until they got the all-clear. She'd lucked out, landing herself the last room in the Math and Science building.
"Agreed," he said with a warm smile.
A little over six feet tall, with sandy hair and nice hazel eyes, he was pretty cute. With any effort, he could have had the better part of the school's female population, students and teachers alike, wrapped around his finger. But he seemed entirely unaware of his appearance and was pretty much all business, so the initial response to his looks wore off fast. Instead of campus hottie, he was known as a good, solid professor. Polite, but reserved. Almost shy.
She eyed him speculatively and wondered if he ever let loose, took off the tie, and maybe used it on a pretty woman's wrists. God, he'd probably be mortified by that thought. She could almost picture his face flushing with embarrassment.
Despite her lascivious thoughts, she vowed to be on her best behavior and not tease him. He wasn't her type, anyway. She didn't like jerks, but she did like 'em bad. Not "cheat on a woman with her sister" or "steal her life's savings" bad. More like "spank her ass" or "ride a Harley" bad. It was a real shame that bad boys also seemed to be bad boyfriends long-term.
"Death by bees is not on my top ten list of ways to go." He cleared his throat. "So, we, ah, heard your lesson today ..." He trailed off, shifting his gaze away from hers.
She smothered a chuckle at his obvious discomfort and put him out of his misery. "Oh, that wasn't me. I was giving a lesson on the psychology of the fake orgasm. I rolled out the DVD of When Harry Met Sally ... and let Meg Ryan help me with the last part. That scene is classic and the boys' faces were priceless. Up until that moment, I think they honestly believed they'd never had a girl fake it with them."
His cheeks did flush then, but he gave her a polite smile anyway. The devil in her smacked down the angel, who had just convinced her to be good. "Did you know studies show that eighty percent of women have faked orgasm? And fifty percent admit to doing it on a regular basis?"
"I, uh, I did not know that. Interesting." He pulled up a chair and eased his long frame into it. "And the psychology behind it?" He leaned in, as if he was truly interested in her answer.
She warmed to her subject quickly. "Surprisingly, or maybe not, a woman's need to nurture often comes into play. She doesn't want to hurt her man's pride. Then again, sometimes it's just that she wants to get it over with. Maybe she's tired but didn't want to disappoint her lover by saying no. There are a lot of different reasons." She shrugged. "Suffice it to say, it happens. A lot."
"And what about you, Professor?" He snagged her gaze with his own and a jolt ran through her. "Do you think those are valid reasons?"
For a second, she wondered if he was flirting with her. If so, he was better at it than she would've thought. Why hadn't she ever noticed how downright soulful his hazel eyes were? Probably because he'd never looked directly at her before. He'd always seemed a little hesitant. Nervous, even. He sure didn't look nervous now. Very interesting.
She took a long sip of her coffee before responding, but that damned devil took hold of her tongue once again. "I don't think there is a valid reason. And, in case you were wondering, I don't fake it." She lifted her chin and stared him down. "Ever."
He didn't break eye contact this time though, and she swore she saw something in his face. Not embarrassment, but something hot. She looked harder, and it was gone.
He sat back with an affable grin. "Yes, well, it does seem counterproductive. And you're a smart lady, so it stands to reason that you wouldn't."
She'd wondered if he would take the bait, but he'd chosen to retreat instead. It was kind of a letdown, but kind of cute at the same time. He was a bit of a puzzle, and damn if that didn't have her heart kicking up a notch.
She almost laughed out loud at her own reaction. She knew a sign when she saw one, and if a nerdy professor not flirting with her was getting her all hot and bothered, she had obviously gone without a man for too long.
Mentally, she started to calculate the months and was on eleven when Tucker spoke again.
"Actually, I'm glad I ran into you. I have a proposition," he said.
Her eyes snapped back to his. Maybe he was going to surprise her after all.
"Do you have any wiggle room in your syllabus?"
Okay, so maybe not.
"Your lesson got my students talking. They were so animated and engaged for the first time this semester. I felt like I needed to seize the opportunity to have a real moment with them." He scrubbed at the beginnings of five o'clock bristle on his chin absently. "I've challenged them to do a project on the correlation between human sexuality and science. I wanted them to see that science is a huge field and can be applied to almost any discipline. They were so enthralled by what was going on in your classroom, I figured what better way to make my point than with a topic they're so enthusiastic about."
A tickle of excitement at the idea of a fresh, new project ran through her. This was her favorite part of teaching. "I'm intrigued."
"I was thinking maybe we could do companion lessons. So your class could do the same type of project. Then we could get the classes together to share presentations and see how the classes differ in their approaches, do some cross-pollination, so to speak. What do you say?"
She took a deep sip of her coffee as she mulled over his proposition. It could be a great experience for the students. And if she was being totally honest with herself, she had to admit she was more intrigued by Tucker Lamb with every passing minute. It couldn't hurt to spend some time around a nice guy for a change, could it?
Oh, what the hell.
"It sounds like fun, and both classes will probably learn something new and different. I'm in."
It did sound fun, and she was always down to shake things up a little. And along the vein of shaking things up a little ...
"Hey, maybe we should do one, too. A project, I mean."
He stared at her for a second, nonplussed.
She tried to keep a straight face as she continued. "We'll do one together. To present to the kids. Show 'em how it's done. What about ... myths and truths of aphrodisiacs? I've always been fascinated with them, truth be told, and it could be really interesting."
"What —" He paused and cleared his throat. "What would our research consist of?"
She was definitely getting to him now. The pulse in his neck beat strong, and she quelled the urge to close her teeth over that spot.
Oh yeah, way too long.
"We could set up controlled experiments in the science lab using stimuli purported to create or increase sexual arousal. Sounds, tastes, smells, and so on. We'll measure deviations in pupil dilation, vitals, and other data, depending on what equipment we can wrangle up. Obviously, we won't tell the students who the test subjects were," she said with a chuckle. "That would only start tongues a-wagging. But even at that, they'll get a kick out of the results. And don't worry, we'll keep it very scientific so as not to offend your modesty." She shot him a grin. "So, what do you say?"
She wet her lips as a bout of nerves set her stomach jiggling. His hazel eyes had darkened to the color of a stormy summer sky, and the sudden heat they gave off settled in the cradle of her thighs.
Tucker stared at her mouth for a long moment before responding.
"Yes. I say yes."
Excerpted from Conned by Christine Bell, Kerri-Leigh Grady, Allison Blisard, Thinkstock. Copyright © 2013 Christine Bell. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a HOT, HOT, HOT! For the number of pages I can clearly say this one burned my kindle. Cricket was a super fun girl and the best part, she’s not afraid of sharing a great night with someone. I really liked the way these two acted as grown up and decided their sexual life without embarrassment and drama, plus their test made everything more fun. Tucker for me started a little slow, but he grew in this book and there’s another story that was a bit excessive for me and strange, so the reason for the 4 stars.
Isn't the saying "Watch out for the quiet ones."? Cricket Malloy thinks she has Tucker Lamb pegged as a "good guy" and has no qualms about agreeing to team up for a joint project between their classes. Who knew science and human sexuality could go hand in hand? Conned is a short and super hot novella that mixes sex and science perfectly. Cricket and Tucker have a convincing chemistry and reading Tucker argue his points is scorching. There was a twist at the end that threw me off at first but it did bring the characters together in a way they were struggling with so it worked in a way. Overall is was a good read and a great start for the Flaunt Series.
got this after reading Just One Night (which was sooooo good), and was glad I did. For the .99 it was a super fun short read. The characters had a great chemistry. I liked it so much I went and got the anthology it was also in (Undercover Lovers) to see how the other authors handled the "character with a secret" theme. Recommended read if you like them steamy.
Good story, short read, around 70 pages.
Phew--this one had some steamy, steamy scenes! Their initial experiment was geekily sexy--and a whole lot of fun. Don't even get me started on the dare...whoa. :) I especially loved the character of Tuck; it was a bit harder to really connect with Cricket, but overall I enjoyed reading both of their perspectives here. My only real complaint is that this really could (and should) be expended into a longer book--I'd love to see their research continue, for one, but also Tuck's backstory really deserves longer treatment. If this book were expanded into a full-size novel, I'd be snapping it up in a heartbeat. As it stands, it's definitely a fun, quick read to help warm you up on a cold winter morning. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is a really sexy and cute read that features a human sexuality professor and a buttoned-up science teacher. The characters are so well described that they seem real. I loved the hero Tucker Lamb and his little secret. The tension between the heroine, Cricket Malloy and hero, Tucker is awesome. The writing is great, hot and an easy read. The little twist with Tucker being placed in the witness protection program is great. As mentioned, this is a great read. * Received ARC from Publisher for an honest and unbiased review *
"I received this book in an exchange for an honest review. This was a very quick hot and spicy read. I loved the chemistry between Cricket and Tucker. It was interesting to see their reactions to their tests and how they became the opposites of their normal behavior. The little twist towards the end threw me for a second but I liked the way it helped solidify their feelings and realizations. Wished it would have been a little longer though. "
A great short read. It had some steamy scenes and some scenes to make you laugh. I only wish it was longer
*rolls his eyes and ignores sideswipe and walks away*
GO OPENS THE CAGE RUN . STEALS ALL THE WEAPONS AND TECH AND HIDES THEM AT HAPPY FIRST RESULT THEN HEADS BACK TO BASE