Talking Dirty With the Boss by Jackie Ashenden:
Marisa Clair wants to get her artist dreams back on track after a life detour. That means no partying, no shopping…and definitely no men to distract her. Should be easy, but there's something about her hot and exceedingly uptight boss and she can't seem to stop herself from ruffling Mr. Tall, Dark and Irritating.
Financial consultant Luke McNamara lives his life strictly by schedule – his OCD simply won't allow him to do anything else. And the very last thing he needs is a sassy blonde putting lipstick on his collar and messing with his routine. She annoys the hell out of him so why can't he stop thinking about the color of her panties…and how free he feels when he's with her?
Marisa and Luke's plans to steer clear of one another are shot to hell after a hot office encounter. Now the two of them will have to learn to get along as they face a much more permanent reminder of their lack of self-control – a pregnancy.
About the Author
At the age of twelve Jackie decided she wanted to be a writer. Twenty years, two university degrees, one husband, and two kids later, she finally managed to achieve her dream. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her wonderful family. After giving up her library career, she now writes romance full time and thinks it's just about the best job in the world.
Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, and their two kids and two cats. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.
Jackie writes dark, sexy contemporary romance for St Martin’s Press, the titles Mine To Take, Make You Mine, and You Are Mine.
Read an Excerpt
"So. Would you like to dance?"
Marisa, leaning up against a pillar in the hotel ballroom, didn't turn around. She knew exactly who that deep, dark masculine voice belonged to. The man Caleb had just dumped on her before he walked off not ten minutes earlier. The man she'd been trying to avoid for the past few hectic days leading up to Christie and Joseph's wedding.
The man with the biggest stick up his butt she'd ever seen.
Luke McNamara, owner of the media company that had bought Total Tech, the magazine where she worked, only last month.
She'd tried to make nice after Caleb had abandoned her because (1) since Compass Media had bought Total Tech, that made Luke the big boss and she couldn't ignore him, and (2) he was Caleb Steele and Joseph Ashton's friend and since this was Joseph's wedding, she couldn't blow him off, no matter how awful the conversation.
But after five minutes of feeling as if she were playing a one-way tennis match, where she kept serving conversational balls without any answering volley, she'd given up and turned around to watch the dance floor instead.
The guy might have been sexy as all hell, but quite frankly there was only so long a girl could stand there admiring him.
The waterfront hotel where her best friend, Christie, and her tech billionaire husband were having their reception was beautiful. The lights of Auckland's harbor were visible through the big windows that lined one side of it, small twinkles of color that echoed the fairy lights strung around the interior of the ballroom.
Not far away from where she stood was the head table where Christie was sitting, currently sending meaningful glances her way.
Probably wanting her to dance with Luke. Bah. She didn't want to dance with Mr. Smiling-Will-Kill-Me. He'd given a very stiff and not particularly engaging speech the day his company had taken over Total Tech. A speech that mainly seemed to be concerned with all the new rules he was going to institute. Such as crackdowns on e-mail and Internet usage. On punctuality. Some completely stupid restriction on workplace relationships. She hadn't paid much attention initially — at least until the tersely worded e-mail from HR had arrived telling her to cease and desist the mild flirtation she'd been having with one of the seriously hot IT guys. Then to make matters worse, a couple of days earlier he'd instituted regulations about skirt length and "revealing attire." And sure enough, another tersely worded HR e-mail had found its way into her in-box, detailing her "breach" of the new regulations with the cute dress she'd bought only last week. Sure, maybe it was a little short and maybe the neckline was a bit low, but it could hardly be termed "revealing."
The first e-mail had been annoying. The second had been more personal and that in itself was enough to make her dislike him.
Then they'd been formally introduced at Christie's little pre-wedding get-together and her initial dislike had cemented into disdain. He'd been so formal and unfriendly. And now she couldn't really be bothered with making an effort. She was only a tiny cog in the vast wheel of his company anyway, and life was too short to spend time with a guy you didn't like, right?
Then again, you didn't say no to the bride.
Behind her, Luke McNamara let out an impatient breath. "I said, would you like to dance?"
Christie's expression was pleading. Clearly all the "the guy's a tool" comments Marisa had made to her friend didn't count.
She rolled her eyes and Christie mouthed, "Do it. For me."
Dammit. Christie was the only real friend she'd ever had. And sometimes you just had to suck it up and deal for your friends.
Even do something she didn't want to do, such as dance with Luke McNamara.
Marisa braced herself. Pasted on her trademark sweet-with-a-touch-of-sauce smile and turned around.
Luke was standing behind her, looking as if he'd been born in a three-piece suit. The tux he wore was pristine, not a speck on it. Every lock of his ink-black hair in place. His bow tie straight, immaculately placed.
He was as perfect as a doll just taken out of its box and not yet played with.
Her fingers itched. For all his stiffness, he was damn sexy. All broad shoulders and lean hips, with a dark, brooding kind of vibe going on. It made her want to play with him just a little bit. Because she did like men in suits. Especially tall, powerful, buttoned-up type of men. Men just begging to have their ties tweaked, their hair ruffled. Lipstick on their collar ...
Dear God, girl. You don't like him, so quit it with the ruffling fantasies. And anyway, he's your boss.
Luke's attention was on the phone he held, long fingers working the screen. Each time she'd seen him, he'd had that thing in his hands. Maybe it was surgically attached.
"Perhaps you'd like to dance with your phone instead?" Marisa observed sweetly.
Black brows twitched and he lifted his gaze from the phone. His eyes were gray. Cool and crystalline. He gave her a glance that took in every inch of her, from the top of her blond head to the green silk high-heeled sandals that matched her bridesmaid's dress. Normally when men looked at her like that it meant something like "you're hot." Or "I want to take you home." Or "I want to see you naked."
Luke's was more like, "What is this ... thing?"
It made her feel ten inches tall.
"That doesn't make any sense," Luke said flatly. "Why would I want to dance with my phone?"
"Sarcasm. I presume you've heard of it?"
"Oh, was that what it was?" With a quick movement, he put the phone away in his pocket, then twitched the cuffs of his jacket. "Do you want to dance or not?"
"A please would be nice."
Irritation crossed his — it had to be said — rather ridiculously handsome face. Marisa tried not to scowl at the awareness that lingered in the back of her mind.
Handsome. Sure. If you liked perfect cheekbones. And straight noses. And beautifully carved mouths. Which she did. Just not on her anally retentive, rule-loving new über-boss.
"Way to go. You remembered my name."
"Of course I remembered your name. I remember everything."
"Why would I lie?"
"I dunno. To get me into bed?"
He frowned. "I don't want to sleep with you. You're with Total Tech. Which makes you an employee of mine. And I don't sleep with my employees, especially junior ones."
That he'd somehow remembered just how minor her role was in his organization didn't make her any more inclined to be nice to him. "Well, that's good. Because I don't sleep with people I work with, either."
His brows descended. "I have to dance with you."
Marisa folded her arms. "Have to?" "The groomsmen and the bridesmaids have to dance together at least once."
Damn. She'd managed to avoid it so far — couldn't she just keep on doing so?
Christie was getting up from the table, her arm around her new husband. She glanced over at Marisa and gave her a discreet thumbs-up. Marisa could also see Caleb and Judith, Joseph's sister and Christie's other "best woman," already dancing together, too, Judith scowling at Caleb.
Bugger this. Why couldn't they have swapped partners? Judith probably wouldn't have minded, and Marisa would have much preferred to dance with Cal. He was fun to be with. Gorgeous, too. But oh no. She had to get stuck with Luke.
"Come on. The music's starting." His fingers wrapped around her wrist. A gentle but irresistible force tugging her toward the ballroom's dance floor.
"Hey," she began.
But before she could really protest, she found herself swept in among the dancers, his arm around her waist, his hand at her hip, her fingers laced with his.
It all happened so fast. One minute she was standing there wishing she could dance with just about anyone else. The next she was in his arms.
She glared up at him. "What. The. Hell. McNamara?"
His attention wasn't on her — as per usual — his gaze fixed on some point over her shoulder. Frowning in fierce concentration.
"Hello?" Marisa persisted. "This is your partner speaking. What the bloody hell are you doing?"
Luke gave his head a minute shake and said nothing. His movements were a touch wooden, the expression on his face becoming fiercer.
Jesus, what was wrong with him? He didn't seem like the type of guy who danced, anyway. Come to think of it, given the jerky way they were moving, he wasn't the type of guy who danced at all.
"Hey," Marisa said. "What are you — ow!" A large foot knocked her ankle and she stumbled.
The arm around her waist tightened to stop her from falling and she was suddenly pressed hard up against six foot three inches of solid male. One of her hands was trapped between them, her palm against his chest.
"Be quiet," Luke said. "If you talk, I can't count."
"You can't count? What —"
"If I can't count, I can't dance. And if I can't dance, I'll stand on your foot again. So be quiet and let me count."
Marisa opened her mouth to argue. Then thought better of it. What was the point? Better just to be quiet and yeah, suck it up. A dance was only a few minutes and then it would be over.
She let out a breath, stared at the pristine whiteness of his shirt. Beneath her palm, squashed against his chest, she could feel hard muscle.
Wow, the guy was seriously built. He almost felt ... good. And he smelled quite nice, too. Not at all like the guys she normally dated, the ones who drenched themselves in expensive aftershave. Luke smelled clean and fresh. A hint of soap. The lightest of aftershaves. Like water, or the ocean. Or rain.
She became suddenly aware of his hand sitting in the small of her back. The heat of it. The pressure of it through the silk. The sensation of his body against her front. So tall.
Muscular through the wool and cotton of his groomsman's tux.
A flush swept over her skin.
Oh no. No way. This could not be attraction. Not to him. Not to Mr. Controlling Über-Boss. No effing way.
She glanced up, hoping a glimpse of the guy's too-handsome face would annoy her so much she'd forget about it.
He was still frowning and he looked sort of like an angel. The really stern kind that usually sat on the top of tombs. The ones with swords in their hands that seemed like they'd cut you down without a thought.
Why is that hot?
Yeah. Seriously. Why?
Luke happened to glance down right at that moment, meeting her gaze.
His eyes were an amazing color. A pure, clear gray, darkening toward the center, becoming charcoal. There was an intentness to them, a focus that sharpened the longer he stared at her. His frown deepened.
And she realized two things. One: they'd stopped moving. And two: she was staring at him like a moron. Which she mostly never did. And she'd been with a lot of guys.
Nothing much flustered Marisa, especially men. But hell, she was all blushing and breathless now.
Luke's expression had become ferocious. As if he'd felt this heat between them, too, and liked it as little as she did.
"Why have you stopped?" he asked.
"Because this dance is over." She tried to push him away but it was like pushing against a wall. A brick wall.
"No it's not. The music's still playing."
"We can't stop in the middle of a dance," he said with finality. Then he moved again, pulling her closer.
Struggling would be undignified. As would letting physical attraction get the better of her. Weird. Just weird. Why was it this guy, out of all the dates she'd had over the course of the last couple of years, who had to be the one to make her break out in a sweat? Not only was he her boss, but according to office gossip, he was a bit of a womanizer, too. Two weeks, that's all his girlfriends lasted, and if the uptightness of the man wasn't red flag enough already, that certainly was. The whole thing just pissed her off.
"You don't want to dance with me, just like I really don't want to dance with you," she muttered. "Why not call it quits now?"
"Because the dance isn't over," he said with maddening logic. "We can't stop till it's finished."
He glared over her shoulder. "I don't care whether it's stupid or not, we don't stop until the dance is over."
"You don't like me."
"No, I don't. But that's got nothing to do with it. Joseph wanted us all to dance together so that's what we're doing."
Marisa set her jaw. She didn't care whether he liked her not, of course she didn't. "Why not? Oh, wait a second, I know. It's my clothes, isn't it?"
"Apparently they're 'not appropriate for a workplace environment.' And I suppose I get another black mark for flirting with Leonard in IT, right? Since the 'interaction' doesn't 'promote collegial relationships.'"
Luke scowled. "Workplace rules haven't got anything to do with me liking you or otherwise. Can we have this discussion at another time? I have to —"
"Count. Yeah, I get you have to count. Why don't you let me lead and I'll do the freaking counting."
He glanced down at her again, his expression all intense glare and stern mouth. And she had the insane urge to pull his bow tie. Mess him up. Rumple him in some way.
"I'm leading," he said in a tone that suggested the conversation was over. "So unless you want your foot to be stepped on again, I suggest you keep quiet and let me count. At least until this is over." A pause. "Please."
The please did nothing for her temper. She didn't want to stay dancing with him, pressed up against him. His hand on her back. Hers on his chest. Touching.
This attraction was already making her breathless, and the longer she stayed like this, the more uncomfortable it was going to get. When it came to men, she preferred to be the one in control because there was only one end to chemistry like this. She'd been there before and it was bad. Very bad. Attractive, womanizing men were right at the top of her list of things to avoid like the plague. Especially attractive, womanizing men who were also her uptight boss.
Marisa stared at his shirt, contemplating her options. The cotton was very white. Snowy, it could be said. Her gaze followed the line of buttons to his throat, where his bow tie rested, straight and begging to be tweaked.
She slid her hand up his chest. Took one end of the tie in her fingers. Pulled.
Luke instantly looked down. "What are you doing?"
Maris ignored the demand in his tone. Slowly she flicked open the buttons of his shirt, one by one, exposing smooth, brown skin.
Oh yeah. Hot. So hot.
He'd come to a dead stop. "Marisa? What are you —"
She rose up on her tiptoes, leaned forward, and pressed a kiss onto the lapel of his shirt. Her signature deep red contrasted beautifully with the white cotton.
Abruptly, Luke let her go, and she wasn't slightly disappointed at the loss. Oh no, she wasn't.
"What the hell?" He was staring down at the mark her mouth had left, growing horror on his face.
Ah, finally, signs of life. "I'm making sure you look like someone's been playing with you."
Anger flashed in his eyes. "You put lipstick on my goddamn shirt."
"It's just a little lipstick."
"Just a little —"
"Hey, I told you I didn't want to dance, okay? So when I'm done dancing, I'm done dancing."
Luke opened his mouth, probably to argue, but she'd made her point. She was over it.
And the quicker she got away from him the better.
Marisa smiled, blew him a kiss, then turned on her heel and walked off the dance floor.
There was lipstick on his collar. Lipstick. On his collar.
For a minute Luke just stared at Marisa Clair's retreating green figure, too angry to do anything.
He hadn't paid much attention to her since they'd been introduced at the pre-wedding party, although he already knew who she was since Compass, his media company, had taken over Total Tech and he didn't forget a name. He hadn't seen any real need to get to know her. She was the PA to the Total Tech editor in chief, far down in the pecking order, and besides, she seemed to be the pretty blond type who sometimes threw themselves at him. The kind who got off on his money or the fact that he was CEO of one of Auckland's biggest financial companies. He didn't pay those kind of women much attention.
He preferred serious, intellectual women, and Marisa struck him as neither serious nor particularly intellectual. She'd already been caught breaking several of his new rules, including the one against workplace relationships, which showed him exactly how seriously she took her job. Which was not at all.
Excerpted from "Talking Dirty With the Boss"
Copyright © 2013 Jackie Ashenden.
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
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Best intimiate scenes in the series. Its like the author matured in this book.
I really enjoyed the romance of this book between a very uptight hero and a heroine who is a bit outrageous and not use to being taken seriously. His OCD makes for an engaging conflict and I adored watching them fall in love. I like romances set in New Zealand and this is a very sexy love story. Car bonnet. Grr. It has a lot of trite troupes done well insta lust, unplanned pregnancy, no fraternization clause, and opposites attract that are weaved into the lens of OCD giving us something fresh, compelling, and touching. My only complaint--The heroine's character development is a bit of a mess in places--she wants to stand on her own two feet, she is overly snarky, she is very self protective. Sometimes, this makes sense and sometimes she does the opposite and since we have a little space in this romance we don't get her arc as much and things seem rushed. I liked it. It is a great category romance. I need to read the 2nd one in the series. The first was great as well. I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it!
I had a hard time connecting with Marisa. Overall, a cute, sweet romance; not my favorite from this series (that would be Talking Dirty with the Player, 4 1/2 stars!) but still enjoyable. I still recommend this author to anyone looking for a little heat, a little sweet, and a solid story. 3 STARS! ~ * ~ * ~ For other reviews, including favorite book quotes, please visit my blog, TBQ's Book Palace. I received this book from the author, in exchange for my honest opinion. TheBookQueen
Yesterday, I finished Talking Dirty with the Boss by Jackie Ashenden. All right I have been waiting sometime for this story, because I have enjoyed the other books. I have to say that I did like the story. Like Joseph, Luke McNamara has a bit of quirk. He isn't your typical hero. No, he suffers from OCD, but he doesn't want anyone to know that he suffers from it. I guess when he was younger he was shamed into thinking it was bad. So, he figure the best way is to hide it from everyone. Trying to hide his condition, he became a serial dater, which gave the image he was a player. Now Marisa Clair does come off flighty and a bimbo at times. However, I thinks she's a bit clever for her own good, because she knows what guys tend to look at when they see a pretty blond with great assets. Yet, this combination gets her in a bit of trouble, and she has a hard time learning her lessons. You know some people are like that. Basically, Luke and Marisa have this instant chemistry, since Luke has OCD and needs to follow order this is a bad idea. However, somehow he overcomes it and they have crazy heat between them. In a way to cope with the situation, Luke figures that it would be best to keep their relationship a secret. This makes Marisa feel like a dirty little secret, and it has to do with a past relationship (go figure). All right, I have to say it's kind of unique to find an author who's willing to take a chance on a hero and not make him like every other hero. I think that makes the Talking Dirty books interesting, because it's not your same old stuff. Some people may have a hard time with it. Honestly, it makes these stories standout more. So, yes, I did like Luke's quirkiness. I think him and Marisa are one hot couple. So, if you are looking for a book without a typical hero, you might like Talking Dirty with the Boss. Copy provided by the publisher
I feel like this is book 1 with the names exchanged. Joseph has ADHD and Luke has OCD. The both have these issues they use as excuses for everything. Again, just as in the 1st book, this hero says unforgivable things that are then blamed on his disorder. Not great.
You’ll find Talking Dirty with the Boss to be an interesting new take on the unplanned pregnancy romance – with a flawed hero and heroine who just need someone to see who they are underneath and love them anyway. (I was SO captivated by the idea of a gorgeous, sexy man having to live with OCD.) Sharp and witty writing, combined with interesting and troubled characters, make this a can’t-miss read for romance lovers everywhere. - Full review available at Romantic Reads and Such on wordpress or BookTrib's website .
Marisa Clair is a very beautiful and very stubborn woman. She doesn't care for sexy Luke McNamara. He is the 'big boss' and she works for him but they have a love-hate relationship. Their attraction is strong but they constantly fight. Their one sexual encounter, leads to Marisa becoming pregnant. What do they do now? Jackie Ashenden not only writes a sexy, hot romance but she gives us characters who have real problems. Luke has obsessive-compulsive disorder while Marisa is afraid to love because of insecurities caused by a lying ex-lover. The emotions that Luke and Marisa feel and how they deal with them had me shedding a few tears. I wanted this couple to find love and happiness. This author just keeps getting better. I felt it was the best book in her Talking Dirty series. This is a wonderful and very emotional romance.
I've read all 3 in the series, and although book 1 is still my fav, I really liked this book. The author has a quirky/dirty sense of humor and I love it! We've been introduced to these characters previously so it was nice to get their full story. One thing that I really did like about the way the author handled the series was that the stories were that books 2 and 3 were set at the same time. What I mean by that is that things were mentioned like Caleb professing his love for Judith during the auction in a present tense. I doubt I'm explaining this easily, but basically I liked that Caleb & Judith's story was basically going on at the same time as Marisa and Luke's. (ok I give up trying to explain, I'm just over complicating it!) Let just say, I like the author's style. In this book we follow Marisa (whom I loved in book 1) as she's trying to deal with the fact that her best friend has married the best friend of her boss, a man she can't stand because of his need for rules and order. Things that Marisa's never been really good at. She may not like his rules, but she likes looking at him. Luke doesn't understand Marisa. He doesn't particularly want to. He wants to do his obligatory dance with her (as a member of the wedding party) and be done with it. She tests his patience with her rule breaking emails, her rule breaking outfits, and her general wild ways. After she pushes, and pushes, and pushes his buttons he reacts and kisses her. It just snowballs from there. I have to say I was really happy with the way Marisa's story panned out. I liked that she proved him wrong. I liked that she showed she was more than a pretty face. I liked that she was the one person who didn't look at him differently. There were a few times I cringed at what Luke said to her, but he finally redeemed himself. I'll definitely read the authors work again. She never fails to entertain. If this is the 1st book you've stumbled on of hers, I recommend checking out Talking Dirty to the CEO (Book 1). You'll be laughing your ass off before you're even done with the 1st page.
Talk about Mr. Tall, Dark and Irritating! As I started reading this book I was ready to strangle Luke until I discovered his secret. Then I understood him and fell in love with him. We have here a story that tactfully and a sexy spin deals with a condition that we as a society do not face very ofter. I am sure we know people with this condition, but we are so unaware of it, we tend to judge and dismiss them rather to support and help them. This story is delightfully on target. Marissa is perfect for Luke... she is his direct opposite. She has a big heart and once she is aware of Luke's condition, she is willing to accept him and help him. Who knew a one-night-stand would develop into such a complicated and delightful story!
I have to say I have loved the 'Talking Dirty' series; the characters, their quirks, traits and personalities and their budding romances have made each endearing and realistic in their own way. Talking Dirty with the Boss is a good addition to the series, but it just didn't grab me in the same way as the previous books did. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it was in a similar vain to the first book in that our hero has a behavioural disorder (which once again is handled sensitively). It could be read as a standalone as the previous characters aren't overly present and there no real evolving of their stories this time around. Luke and Marisa. Polar opposites. He's serious, she's fun. He's neat, she's messy. He's the boss, she a member of staff and he's tactless whilst she is sarcastic. But both have hearts of gold and an errant (and hilarious) cheeky email, a pair of panties and a stationary cupboard later leaves them with a little more than either bargained on. Their chemistry runs deeper that lust and there are some touching moments along with those that tug on the heartstrings. Add in the humour and steamy time and it's an easy-read romance that's not unrealistic. I liked them both and Luke is very sexy in that slightly tortured and vulnerable way. Marisa surprised me; she's a firecracker, but has a wonderful caring side. It simply has a 3 star rating as I gave it's predecessors 4 & 5 and they pipped it for me. I believe it's the last in the series so I would have liked a little more from our previous couples, but it's still a book/series I'd recommend. (although I have to say I'm not keen on the cover, I know you shouldn't judge a book etc. but it doesn't really match what this romance is for me nor Marisa or Luke as characters.) I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest and unbiaised opinion.
"My name is Ebony."