|Publisher:||Start Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Kristina Wright (kristinawright.com) is the editor of over a dozen published and forthcoming Cleis Press anthologies, including the best-selling Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women. Other titles include: Dream Lover: Paranormal Tales of Erotic Romance; Steamlust: Steampunk Erotic Romance; Lustfully Ever After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance; Duty and Desire: Military Erotic Romance; xoxo: Sweet and Sexy Romance, and the Best Erotic Romance series. She is also the author/editor of the cross-genre Bedded Bliss: A Couple's Guide to Lust Ever After for Cleis Press. Her fiction has been published in over one hundred anthologies and her nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications, both print and online. She holds degrees in English and humanities and has taught composition and world mythology at the college level. Originally from South Florida, Kristina is living happily ever after in Virginia with her husband, Jay, and their two little boys.
Read an Excerpt
Friend of the Court
It was after seven. Custodians had turned off some of the office lights and a vacuum cleaner hummed down the hall. Koryn’s phone blinked with an unchecked voicemail message. Under the desk, she’d kicked off her high heels. Her lower back ached from sitting all day.
But she stayed late because Craig was staying late.
His office nameplate read “Craig Malcolm, Criminal Defense Attorney,” and Koryn’s skin crawled when she heard even snippets of conversations about his cases. Husbands who beat their wives to death. Men caught with hard drives full of material Koryn could hardly imagine, let alone examine as evidence. She imagined that was why his jaw seemed so stiff and his blue eyes so hard. He had short blond hair, a closet full of Armani suits and a body like a runner. And he was older than her. A lot older.
Koryn was 23. Craig had turned 37 earlier that week, a fact he only acknowledged after she sent him a text message asking if he wanted to have dinner. They always had dinner in his office, never outside of work. He never had time for a restaurant, and she didn’t want to ask for fear of it sounding like a date. For his birthday, she’d brought two cartons of food and two sets of chopsticks from a Thai place near her apartment. He’d unwrapped the chopsticks and tried them for a minute before tossing them aside. His fuse was too shorthis impatience too triedto bother with the extra hassle.
She rubbed her feet against the carpet and hit the button to illuminate her iPhone. When Craig needed her, he’d send a text from his Blackberry like he did during his meetings or between court appearances. When the latter happened, she liked to imagine him sitting in a row of lawyers in the courtroom, the waiting public slumped in the gallery behind him until they heard the words, “All rise.”
But right now, her iPhone only showed her the wallpaper image of her cat. She glanced back through the darkened desks and saw his closed office door. By her calculation, three associates were still at work, but none of them worked for Craig. They sat in cubicles down partially illuminated hallways, people Koryn only saw when they walked past her to the elevator, keys jingling as they barely looked at her.
She tapped the Facebook icon on her phone and checked her messages there. A guy she’d met at a bar six months ago with her friend Tamara had sent her a smiley face. Koryn had been too polite to decline his Facebook friend request. Even as she’d chatted with him at the bar that night, she’d remembered a time when Craig had taken her in the back seat of his Lexus.
She scrolled to a new message from Tamara. What color is your boyfriend’s tie today? Koryn smiled. She had told Tamara once, in a moment of weakness, that she wanted Craig to invite her to dinnerjust some hint that she represented something other than casual sex. And he always had a different colored tie. She’d touched his ties several times, sliding them out of their knots and discarding them before she undressed the rest of him.
The phone vibrated beneath her fingertip, shivering in its sleek black case. She closed the Facebook app and saw a text from Craig. Come in if you’re not busy.
She palmed the phone and slipped her feet back into her shoes, heading across the carpet to his office and opening the door.
Craig sat at his desk, his head in his hand as he looked at the glowing screen. He liked to keep the overhead light off, illuminating the room with only a lamp by his computer. He’d cleared his desk of papers and folders. He’d even tucked the framed photo of his daughterthe product of a distant divorceinto one of his drawers.
“Long day?” she asked.
He took a noticeable breath and swiveled his chair away from the computer. “Yeah. You?”
“I answer the phones. How long can my day be?”
He sat back in his chair, folding his hands in front of him as she felt the weight of his blue gaze on her. His face visibly softened when he looked her over like this. She saw it in the way his brow stopped furrowing and a small smile played on his lips. “Come here.”
Her heels clacked on the floor as she walked around and leaned against the desk in front of him. He ran his hands up her legs, under the hem of her skirt, and rested them on her hips. His eyes looked large and different. Softer somehow.
He reached her pantiesred lace especially for this, for himand slid them down her legs. Neither of them spoke. She stepped out of them, one foot at a time, before he lifted her and she sat on the edge of the desk.
No words were necessary as he pulled her forward so she fell back onto her elbows. She kept her eyes on him as he shoved her skirt to her hips, planting a stream of kisses along the inside of her thigh.
Already she breathed heavier. Already she bit the inside of her lip in anticipation. A dozen guys hitting on her at bars couldn’t match this moment. She knew what his tongue would feel like when it reached between her legs and she held her breath when his mouth hovered over her.
“Come on,” she hissed.
A light, slick flick of his tongue over her clit rewarded her, moving in little teasing circles.
She dropped her elbows out from under her and arched her back against the desk until her hair hung over the edge of the desk. He parted her legs and forced them into a V in the air. He always made her come like this. He insisted, even. Koryn secretly thought he loved the controlthe ability to see how, in that moment, he’d won even when he lost in court.
He slipped two fingers inside of her, moving them rhythmically as she felt that familiar feeling of him licking her to orgasm. A quiet, breathy moan felt heavy in her chest, but when it reached the air, it barely materialized. She wondered sometimes if she ever dripped on his desk, marking important documents with their secret. She’d certainly been wet enough, and undressed enough, and both were his fault.
Her thighs trembled when she came, and she gathered her breath to slide off the desk and drop to her knees. She always reciprocated for just as long, if not longer.
But there wasn’t time. She felt his erection slip easily into her, pushing all the way to the hilt and causing another moan.
“I needed this,” he whispered. “I needed to see you.”
She opened her mouth to respond but he’d already established a rhythm, knocking his hips against her as she fondled her breasts through her dress. She kept her eyes closed, but she could feel his, taking her in with that blue gaze as she arched her hips and prayed for more.
It always felt deeper on the desksmoother and more on target than anywhere else. The computer monitor blinked in her peripheral vision. She tilted her head and looked back at the blinds as she felt him dig his fingers into her hips and come deep inside of her.
They only waited a moment before she sat up. Even after work hours, they didn’t stay like this for long. As she pulled on her underwear and watched him adjust his tie. It was crimson today. Crimson like a rose petal.
She reached out and undid the knot, sliding off the tie and dropping it on the desk. “Work is over, you know.”
He looked at the tie, his jaw firm, his hands drifting up and down her legs as if he needed the soft skin-on-skin contact. When he looked up at her, she tilted forward and kissed him. The softness sparked nerve endings, marking the dawn of new need.
He looked at her in close proximity. Koryn cleared her throat and willed herself to maintain eye contact. She wouldn’t shy away from it. Not today.
“I want to go out for dinner this time,” she said. “Not just sex. I want to date you.”
His gaze slipped away from her and back again before he answered. For a long, tense moment, her heart beat heavy in her chest. No, she thought. The answer is no.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve probably always wanted to ask you that.”
Both of their smiles grew as she slid off the desk, waiting for him to grab his jacket before she took his hand and led him to the door.
“Down the street,” she said. “I feel like Thai tonight.”
Table of Contents
Introduction: Love Bites
Soldier Boy Sommer Marsden
Anniversary Wrappings Kathleen Tudor
Because He Knows Her So Well Saskia Walker
Control A.J. Lyle
Unsnubbed Jeremy Edwards
Designated Driver Heidi Champa
Friend of the Court Kelly Rand
Ouch! Lily K. Cho
Steam Mariposa Cruz
The War at Home Giselle Renarde
By the Sea Angela R Sargenti
Gargoyle Lovers Sacchi Green
Best Friends Catherine Paulssen
Dirty Laundry Martha Davis
Night Moves Christine d’Abo
Miss Organized Elizabeth Coldwell
When the Vacation is Over Annabeth Leong
The “Tilly” Crown Affair Michael M. Jones
Gentle Teasing Raelynn MacDonald
Eighty Cupcakes Neve Black
Imagination at Play Brighton Walsh
In the Dark Heidi Champa
Bathroom Play Catherine Paulssen
Company Picnic Anya M. Wassenberg
Homecoming Jenna Bright
Steal the Key Amy Glances
Simmering Down Kathleen Tudor
Nailed Giselle Renarde
Perk of the Job Cheyenne Blue
A.M. Wood Rosalía Zizzo
One Hot Wet Night Veronica Wilde
The Distraction Louise Hooker
Connecting Flight Salome Wilde
Wild Naked Bandits Flee the Square Conspiracy Nikki Magennis
Faded Goods Vida Bailey
Puzzle Pieces Rachel Kramer Bussel
Very, Very Well Kristina Wright
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Despite its title, this book has not been sugar coated. The stories are steamy and succeed in exciting the senses. There is enough content within each story to get you where you want to be. Or, you can read on, keep the fires simmering, savoring the tingle until the last page is turned.
I personally appreciated how short the stories in this anthology are. Sometimes, you don't have time to read a long, drawn-out "short story" when that story is actually 20 pages long. With xoxo, it's possible to read any of the stories in one sitting; it only took me about an hour to get through half the book! Concision makes a story all the sexier; the subpar stories don't seem to drag on, while the magnificent ones leave a quick, cutting mark. Below, I've spotlighted four exceptional stories that stood out to me. It was hard picking just a few to feature, but I hope they give you a sense of what this anthology is like! "Anniversary Wrappings" by Kathleen Tudor A couple's one-year anniversary starts out with a sweet gift that ends in kinky pleasure. The simplicity of this story really made me connect with each of the characters, and the writing is fluid, readable. The scenario isn't outlandish and ridiculous like a porn plot (which isn't uncommon in erotic anthologies), and is a situation you could totally find yourself in in everyday life. "Dirty Laundry" by Martha Davis This one is on the more extreme end because of how aggressive the sex is, but it's SUPER hot. It features ultimate alpha male Josh Moran, whom, even when domesticated, has the ability to start a five-alarm fire. Comforting story not only about spontaneous sex, but also about cohabitation, about making even daily household chores like laundry mind-blowing, as long it's with the one you love. "Night Moves" by Christine d'Abo When plagued by incomprehensible night terrors, the protagonist turns to the solace of her husband's arms. In this dark, lingering hour of frenzy, fright, and complete need, the two find each other with familiarity and ease, with practiced hands and experienced hearts. I loved the middle-of-the-night sex scene, but it's the beauty of how well a married couple can know and understand each other d'Abo portrays, that really blew me away. "Wild Naked Bandits Flee the Square Conspiracy" by Nikki Magennis 1. A mediocre costume party—how the night starts off 2. A wild, skintight leggings-clad bandit—how the night becomes interesting 3. And a thrilling escapade—how our night ends Narrated in a wry, engaging voice that I immediately liked, this story is hardly a romance—it's spur-of-the-moment, fantastical, and even a little eccentric, but oddly enough, that's what makes it so sweepingly romantic. You would not expect an erotic story about a hookup at a party to be so vivid, so entertaining, but Nikki Magennis's characters exude sex, subtlety, and charm that culminate in a very whimsical roleplay. By far my favorite story in the anthology; five stars for being all of smart, playful, and incredibly comical—in the bests of ways—while still provocative. Pros: High-quality writing // Each story is only 4-6 pages on average, so very easy to get through them // Lots of variety // Perfect blend of sweet and sensual stories with hot and heavy stories // Each story has something incredibly romantic about it; this isn't just about sex // Read "Wild Naked Bandits Flee the Square Conspiracy" if nothing else! Cons: A few stories that I didn't like that much Verdict: This collection of 38 short and sweet stories will both light your heart up and light it on fire. Like a Valentine's Day candy sampler, each is delectable and unique; put together, xoxo: Sweet and Sexy Romance makes for a passionate, completely satisfying treat. The range of subjects and storylines is vast, featuring the kinky and vanilla, the sensual and scorching, the routine and spontaneous, the heterosexual and lesbian... so much variety! You definitely won't grow bored with Kristina Wright's latest anthology because there are so many different types of story to keep you entertained, each with special romantic flair that will make you melt. Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended. Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Cleis!).
XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance is another fantastic anthology from Cleis Press. Thirty-eight contributions promise something for everyone: Married couples, friends to lovers, reunited lovers, lesbian couples, May-December, interracial couples, kinky sex, and exhibitionism, just to name a few. Not every story was my cup of tea. I found a few to be a little too rushed, others were just weird and didn’t read “romance” to me, but I found some standouts and have every intention of looking into those authors for more of their work. My top picks: Midnight by Emerald – For the past six years, this married couple upholds their kinky tradition to ring in their birthdays. Romantic and very sexy. By the Sea by Angela R. Sargenti – Wow! This story deserves a medal for hottest sexual encounter on a beach! I think this made the list on quite a few reviews. Involves facesitting. This was hot! Dirty Laundry by Martha Davis – The heroine knows how to manipulate her burly, manly firefighter into doing housework which ends in mutual satisfaction. Hot! Imagination at Play by Brighton Walsh – A couple fantasizes about a threesome without having to cross that line. Very hot with a dirty talking hero and heroine. One Hot Wet Night by Veronica Wilde – Two divorcees, a skinny dip and possibly the beginning of a new relationship status. Very sexy read. Wild Naked Bandits Flee the Square Conspiracy by Nikki Magennis – This was probably the most memorable, even though I have no idea how to sum this up in one sentence. I have no idea if Gabriel was a loon or just really clever at playing one to intrigue a woman. This was engaging, sexy and some parts were hilarious. “We may have been on the point of being eviscerated by a couple of rabid Alsatians, but for the moment I was as stuffed as a Kalamata olive and thoroughly enjoying myself.” Very, Very Well by Kristina Wright – This couple gets kinky in a dressing room. Good introduction to the couple and what they’re into sexually. A very hot and steamy read that didn’t feel rushed. A very nice and satisfying read to end the anthology. Other very enjoyable stories: Control by A.J. Lyle – On their wedding night, the groom coaxes his blushing bride into submitting. Friend of the Court by Kelly Rand – In this May to December romance, Koryn was fine with the secret relationship and casual sex with the hot DA, but now she wants more. Can Craig give her what she wants? Designated Driver by Heidi Champa – A married couple gets adventurous in this sexy tale when they need to sober up before driving home. How will they pass the time? Ouch! by Lily K. Cho – Sexy, playful retaliation between lovers. Eighty Cupcakes by Neve Black – A quick shopping trip turns into foreplay and leads to a hot car tryst. Quick and sweetly sexy. A.M. Wood by Rosalia Zizzo – After twenty years of marriage, this couple still has it. Sensual. The Distraction by Louise Hooker – A husband helps his wife take her mind off conceiving difficulties. Sweet and romantic. Puzzle Pieces by Rachel Kramer Bussel – Bending over a jigsaw puzzle leads to some sexy times for this couple. It’s evident how well they know each other and what works so well for them. They just fit. Sensual and sexy. Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. The views and opinions expressed in this review are my own, and in no way represent the views or opinions of the publisher/distributor.