I’m thrilled that Katrina Jackson has asked me to host a giveaway as a way to celebrate some of her books coming out in paperback! She is generously offering a set of two signed paperbacks, the first two books in her The Spies Who Loved Her series, Pink Slip, and Private Eye. This giveaway is open internationally.
A Bit About Katrina
Katrina is a college professor by day who writes romances by weekend when her cats allow. She writes high heat, diverse and mostly queer erotic romances and erotica. She also likes sleep, salt-and-pepper beards, and sunshine. You can find her on twitter @katrinajax.
I’m really excited about this giveaway because I love this series to pieces, and these books are two of my favorite romances ever. Pink Slip is this lovely romp of a spy story with an extremely hot polyamorous f/f/m romance at the center of it, and Private Eye is a swoony m/f romance that has glorious fat representation and is one of my most favorite romances with a sex worker MC ever; it’s got a lot of heat and heart, and is one of my top recs for 2019 romance novels.
Note: I am using affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money on that sale (which I plan to use to buy more books to review), but it will not add any to the cost of your product. It comes out of the company’s profits.
More About Pink Slip
Kierra was a poor poet looking for a job while she worked toward her dream of becoming a published poet. One day she accidentally becomes the personal assistant to married spies. For the last three years she’s lusted after them, not very secretively, until finally she decides it’s time to move on with her life and gives her notice.
During her last week of work, her bosses whisk her away to Serbia for a top secret mission that only she can help them complete. And in the middle of dispatching a European dictator, Kierra and her bosses give in to their deepest desires.
Pink Slip is the first in an erotic/suspense/spy/comedy series that wonders what James Bond’s receptionist’s life might have been like. If James Bond had a wife and they both wanted to shag the receptionist. But the dirty American version of that. And all of the possible entanglements in between.
More About Private Eye
Every Thursday night Kenny logs into Maya’s camroom for a private, steamy session that leaves them both giddy, breathless and hungry for more. Their online relationship is complicated. She’s a sex worker and he’s her client. He’s a spy and she was once his surveillance subject. Technically there are only two degrees of separation between them, but only Kenny knows that. What works online could never work in the real world. That’s why they have to keep it a secret – even from each other – that their feelings run much deeper than they should.
When Kenny finally gets the chance to train under Monica, this career-defining opportunity comes with a catch: he has to tell Maya who he is and confess his deception, because the spies need her to bring down an international arms ring. Maya is heartbroken to find out that Kenny has been deceiving her for months. She struggles to reconcile the man she used to fantasize about and the one in front of her. But she agrees to help him for one reason: she needs the money. Or at least that’s what she tells herself.
The entire mission hinges on the two of them being a believable couple in Maya’s camroom to lure an Albanian mobster into a trap. In the process, they find that their online connection is even stronger offline. But is it strong enough to keep them alive when they have to walk into the mobster’s lair and put on the performance of their lives?
Private Eye is the second book in The Spies Who Loved Her series. These erotic romantic suspense novels are about sexy secret agents and the civilians who bring them to their knees.
How To Enter The Giveaway
As both novels have a bisexual heroine, we are asking you to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on this blog post with your own recommendation for a romance with a bisexual heroine. (Any pairing or grouping, any subgenre.)
The giveaway is open internationally, which I’m especially excited about as international giveaways for print books are not that common. You have until midnight PST on 6/29/19 to enter, and we will be announcing the winner here and on Twitter on Saturday 6/30/19.
I’ve got an excerpt to share from Private Eye that will give you a glimpse of all the MCs from both books!
An Excerpt from Private Eye
Maya hopped onto the kitchen counter, her cell phone in one hand. Technically, she wasn’t supposed to be online this afternoon. She’d put in a couple of hours on her channel this morning as she usually did on Tuesdays. A little sexy chat time, maybe a flashed boob here or there; nothing much, but just enough to keep her subscribers interested.
This was her half day off. She was supposed to be vegging out on the couch, watching the most recent episode of the Swedish mystery show she loved. That had been her plan all weekend long. But then MasquerAsiaN had logged into her chatroom for literally a minute and suddenly her plans changed. There was always something so beautifully disorienting about seeing his screen name on a day or at a time she didn’t expect. It made her skin tingle and her stomach do flips and it was honestly the corniest thing in the world, but she couldn’t help it.
She’d logged out of her chatroom at the regular time only to log back in on the secret account she used to check out her competitors’ rooms and lightly stalk her favorite customer. She was about to waste the rest of her regular free day scrolling and refreshing the site, hoping desperately that he might appear again. Waiting for him like a lovesick fool.
Her front door opened and she sighed. “In the kitchen,” she yelled to Kierra.
“Maya, can you come to the living room?” Kierra called back.
“I could, but I’m in the kitchen.”
Her head lifted at the urgency in Kierra’s voice. “Fine,” she called back, jumping from the counter.
Their kitchen was a small hole of a room, with a half wall behind their sink and an overhang counter for a breakfast bar, so it only took two steps for Maya to see that Kierra wasn’t alone. Her eyebrows lifted. She didn’t have to guess that the tall man and woman standing behind Kierra like sentries were her bosses. She’d always wondered what kind of people could have piqued Kierra’s interests so intensely that she’d essentially put her poetry career on hold to get them coffee. And seeing the Amazon’s intense brown gaze and the easy, rakish charm of the man next to her put all of those questions to bed. Maya would have splayed herself on their desks every day for three years too if they’d looked at her with even half the intensity they were aiming at the back of Kierra’s head.
Maya smiled at Kierra and wondered if this was the formal introduction to her best friend’s boyfriend… and girlfriend. If so, it was about time, since Kierra was abandoning her to live with them. But Maya noticed the tension just at the corners of Kierra’s eyes and the way her body was rigid, a clear indicator that she was pissed.
That’s when she noticed him standing by the front door, as if he was too afraid to fully enter their apartment. Maya unconsciously held her breath as her eyes travelled down his tall frame. She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth as she took in his broad chest, lean waist and large hands. His very large hands. Her gaze traveled back up his body and she smiled at his strong, angular jaw and full lips.
“Maya, I have to tell you something,” Kierra said.
Maya nodded absently and made eye contact with him. She almost smiled, her bottom lip still in her mouth. He swallowed hard. She did smile then, letting her wet bottom lip fall from between her teeth.
“Maya,” Kierra said in that urgent tone again.
Maya reluctantly tore her eyes away from him and focused on Kierra. “What? Just tell me. Spit it out.”
“Maybe you should come sit down,” the man behind Kierra said in a not unpleasant Southern accent.
Maya raised one eyebrow at him. “I’ll pass.” And then she turned to Kierra. “Spill, short stack. You’re scaring me.”
Kierra took a deep breath. “So, first of all, these are my bosses,” she said gesturing behind her.
Maya noted the way she emphasized the word ‘bosses’ as if Maya didn’t know she’d been sleeping with them for months. They’d never talked about it explicitly, unfortunately, but Kierra had quit her job, pined for months and gone to an Irish writing retreat, only to come back and announce she was going back to her old job and moving in with her bosses because “the job is very demanding.”
Maya looked around Kierra at the woman’s solid hips and strong arms. Yep, she bet the job was very demanding.
“I guessed that,” she responded.
“So you know how I’ve never said exactly what they did?”
Maya had to really think about that. Had Kierra never actually told her about her employers’ job? Had Maya ever asked? Did she care? “Does it matter?” she asked honestly. “You’re their PA.”
“Fair. And it shouldn’t matter except they’re spies.”
Maya put her hand on her hip and squinted at her best friend, roommate, and maybe future mental health patient. “Girl, what are you talking about?”
“They’re spies. How else am I supposed to say that? Is there another word?” She shrugged and turned to the other three for help.
“I don’t know. But try saying it in a way that makes sense,” Maya replied, getting a little annoyed.
“They’re international spies. Espionage. James Bond. Hell, Mr. Bean. Girl, what else do you want me to say?”
“Was Mr. Bean a spy?” Maya asked, ready to really consider that when Southern accent cut in.
“Not on purpose,” he replied helpfully. The woman next to him rolled her eyes.
“Okay, well, why the hell are you telling me this? Whatever security clearance I need for this info, I don’t have and I don’t want.” She made eye contact with Southern accent to underscore the point.
“Agreed,” Kierra said. “And if I’d known that my job would put you in the middle of this, I wouldn’t have taken it.”
Maya noted that the woman’s eyes skirted to Kierra and then drifted to the floor. Oh, Maya thought, they’re fighting.
She backed away, waving her hands in front of her. “Well girl, you and your boos can take your spy drama to their house since you’re about to move out.”
“I’m not moving out actually.”
Maya stilled. “Excuse me? I have been interviewing people for two weeks. What the hell do you mean you’re not moving out?”
“That’s why we’re here,” Kierra said in a small voice.
“What is why you’re here? What is this entire strange ass conversation? Are you in danger? Do you need help? Blink once slowly for yes and I’ll call the police right now,” Maya said, holding up her phone.
“Alright,” Southern accent said. “Here’s the deal, darlin’.”
“My name’s Maya. Call me anything but my government name again and spy or not, I’ll knee you in the balls.”
The man by the door snorted softly and Southern accent turned to him, “Well damn if I don’t like her already.”
“Get on with it,” the woman behind Kierra said.
“Alright,” Southern accent said, “so the deal is that an emissary from an Albanian mob syndicate has been using cam models’ chatrooms on ChatBot to conduct illegal weapons deals and we’d like to use your channel for a sting operation.”
Maya laughed. “Is that it? Go ahead. Have fun. You all sound deranged, by the way.”
“That’s not it,” the woman behind Kierra said.
“I’m sorry, what’s your name?” Maya asked her.
“You can call me Monica,” she said in a hard monotone. It was terrible timing, but Maya wondered if she used that voice in bed. And then she felt terrible for the inappropriate thought. And then she filed away a mental note to ask Kierra later because nosy best friend was nosy.
“Is that your real name or…?”
“It’s unclear,” Kierra answered.
“Girl, what have you gotten yourself into?”
“Also unclear,” she replied sadly.
Maya wanted to go to her and hug her. She clearly needed it. But there was still so much happening. “And your name?” she aimed at Southern accent.
“Lane,” he said simply.
“Oh okay, so yeah, these are fake names. Got it.”
He rolled his eyes and let out a breath. The man by the door snorted another laugh that Maya realized she very much liked the sound of.
Lane said to Monica, “I can see why they’re friends.”
Maya rolled her eyes and turned to the cute one by the door. “And your name?” She made sure to arch her right eyebrow at him – which was incidentally her best eyebrow according to the woman who waxed her. She lowered her voice to a sultry whisper, which usually pulled anyone she wanted to flirt with down to their knees. Where they could be most useful.
His cheeks reddened and he swallowed loudly again. Got him, Maya thought in triumph.
“We’ll get to him,” Lane said. “Can we focus?”
Maya turned to him and frowned. “You want to use my chatroom? It’s yours.”
“We also need to use you,” he said.
And maybe it was because she’d spent the entire morning thinking about MasquerAsiaN. Or maybe because she hadn’t been fucked by anyone but herself in eight months. But Maya’s mind suddenly conjured the dirtiest fantasy of all of them – Kierra too – in a pile on a big bed when Lane said “use you.” She wanted to live inside that fantasy forever. Or at least longer than the two seconds Lane allowed.
“Not like that,” he said. “Jesus, you and Kierra might as well be the same person.”
“My ass is bigger,” Maya said automatically.
“My titties are better,” Kierra shot back.
“What the hell kind of-” Lane started, but Monica cut him off.
“The Albanian arms dealer has been in your chatroom a few times already. We need you to draw him there regularly so that we can put a sting in place.”
“Fine. What do you want me to do? And how much are you going to pay me to do it?”
“Pay you? You don’t-”
“Lemme stop you right there tall, gorgeous and menacing. I have student loans, credit card debt, barely any savings, and a younger brother and sister who still haven’t learned how to budget. If you’re not paying me, we’re done.” Maya started to walk out of the kitchen to underscore her point when Lane put out a palm to stop her.
“We’ll tell you what we need you to do and then you tell us your price. How does that sound?”
“Like I’m getting out of debt,” she said blithely, with a sarcastic smile on her face and a lift of her best eyebrow. She watched them all, including Kierra, smile back at her.
“I like her so much,” Lane said to cute, silent and unnamed by the door.
“Alright, how do you want me to get your Algerian-”
“Albanian,” Kierra corrected.
“Is that a different place?”
“I’m actually going to fight you when this is over,” Kierra said in a playful, but disgusted, tone.
“Anytime, small fry.” She turned back to Lane. “How do you want me to get this guy into my chatroom?”
“He has a type,” Lane said. “Curvy and Black.”
Maya stuck her hip out and smiled. “I am she.”
“That you are,” Monica said. “And that’s why he’s been visiting your channel sporadically. But he hasn’t stayed because you’re alone.”
“He likes cam models with boyfriends. Couple play.”
Maya pursed her lips and shook her head; her fleeting fantasies of financial freedom evaporating. “Well, I’ve got bad news for you, him and my bank account. I’m single.”
“We know,” Lane said and then he turned to look at the door. “This is Kenny.”
Maya shook her head. “Oh no. You’re cute and all, but every sex worker sets their boundaries and a pretty common one is that no one touches us unless we say a very unambiguous yes.”
Cute and silent by the door began to shake his head as well. And then he finally spoke. “I don’t have to touch you. He doesn’t need the boyfriend to always be involved, he just seems to like knowing they’re there.”
Maya tried to ignore the way his deep voice washed over her like a shot of bourbon after the worst day. It made her nipples harden and her stomach clench. But still, limits. “So you’ll just be there in the room with me while I’m showing off on my webcam?”
“Won’t that be weird for you?”
Kierra laughed. But it was her angry laugh, the one Maya was used to hearing when she was supremely pissed and trying to keep her temper at bay. “Tell her,” she ground out.
Maya turned to Kierra and saw that she was looking at Kenny with fury written on her face. She turned back to him, the question clear in her eyes and voice, “Tell me what?”
He swallowed. Took a deep breath. Ran a hand back and forth over his short, cropped hair and then finally spoke. “I’m MasquerAsiaN.”
And then Maya was laughing, probably hysterically, shaking her head in disbelief. This was not how she’d planned to meet him. This was not the scenario she’d been dreaming about at all. She shook her head. “I don’t understand.”
“Tell her everything,” Kierra hissed.
“I…” Kenny swallowed again. “A few months ago, Monica and Lane thought Kierra was in danger.”
“She was in danger,” Monica said.
Maya turned to see that she’d leaned forward, aiming her words at the side of Kierra’s head. Kierra’s face was pinched with pain. She closed her eyes briefly and looked away. Maya wasn’t sure if whatever was going on with them was connected to MasquerAsiaN so she turned back to him.
His voice was shaky as if he was terrified. “I was supposed to just make sure that your cam channel wasn’t a liability. I watched you for a few days and marked you as safe.”
“Of course it’s safe. I would be stupid to give any personal information about my life. Including Kierra,” Maya said.
“I know. That’s what I said in my report,” MasquerAsiaN said.
Maya shook her head and reminded herself that his name was Kenny. “How long did it take you to confirm that?”
His cheeks reddened. “A couple of days. A week max.”
Maya processed what he said, her brain whirring and trying to make sense of it all. And when she did, she was furious. Her jaw clenched, “You’ve been coming into my chatroom for six months. We’ve been having private video chats for almost as long.”
“And what are those?” Lane asked.
Kierra shushed him.
“Was that part of your job?” She asked, trying to fight the pressure of tears in her eyes.
He shook his head quickly, “No. Absolutely not.”
It was her turn to shake her head. “Then what the fuck is going on here?”
“I wasn’t… I told you that I couldn’t tell you who I was.”
“Because he wasn’t supposed to be in your chatroom. He couldn’t tell you who he was and he never told anyone that he was visiting your channel, because he was breaking half a dozen rules to do it. Who knows how many rules he broke for the private chats.”
“We won’t know,” Lane said, “until you tell me what those are. And in explicit detail, please.”
“Lane,” Monica said.
He smiled and shrugged, “I had to try.”
“Why?” Maya whispered, her eyes trained on Kenny.
He shook his head and sighed, “Because you were so fucking beautiful and I couldn’t stay away.”
A few hours ago, that would have been the most romantic thing she’d ever heard. A few hours ago, she would have melted into a puddle to hear her favorite customer say those words. But something stuck in her head that ruined the moment.
“You knew who I was,” she said. “You knew where I lived. You knew my best friend. You knew everything about me, but every time I asked about you, you gave me crumbs.” As she spoke, the shock turned to anger, “You wouldn’t even let me see you. Were you ever going to tell me who you were?”
“He couldn’t,” Lane said. “Not if he wanted to keep his job.”
“I’m not asking you,” Maya said, her eyes never leaving Kenny. “Were you?”
He swallowed again and shook his head.
“Fuck you,” she screamed and turned to stomp down the short hallway to her bedroom. She slammed the door behind her. And then she turned, opened the door, and slammed it again. It felt good. She considered slamming it one more time, but then she remembered that she wasn’t a child anymore and she paid rent here. This was her home. So she pulled her bedroom door open, and stomped back into the living room.
Lane arched one eyebrow at her but she didn’t care.
She turned to Kenny and hated the way her stomach flipped at seeing his face after months of daydreaming about it. She hated that he was even sexier than she’d imagined. But she swallowed that attraction and glared at him.
He winced, “Let me explain.”
“No,” she yelled. “Out. Everybody get out.”
Kierra opened her mouth to speak but stopped when she saw Maya’s furious and determined glare. She held her hands up and backed down. Monica and Lane turned to Kierra, clearly expecting her to intervene, but she shrugged and looked away from them. Lane sighed and placed a hand on Monica’s back, trying to usher her away.
“Maya, please,” Kenny said.
“Abso-fucking-lutely not. If you want to talk to me, you’ll pay for it. Now get out of my fucking apartment.” She wanted to scream each word at him at the top of her lungs, but she fought to keep herself under control, afraid that if she didn’t, she’d dissolve into tears. And she refused to give him the satisfaction. She didn’t know him in person so she wasn’t entirely sure, but she thought she could see the frustration on his face. Good, she thought, it was only a fraction of what he deserved. He turned and pulled open the front door and stormed through it, slamming it behind him.
Maya reared back, her mouth opening in shock. She turned to Lane, who was slowly coaxing Monica toward the door, even though she clearly didn’t want to leave. “Tell your little friend not to slam my door again.”
Lane nodded, “Yes ma’am.”
At the door Monica turned from his grasp and said, “Kierra,” in a desperate voice that might have broken Maya’s heart if it weren’t already in pieces.
Maya turned to Kierra, who was turned away from them all. She was playing with her hair so that it covered her face, a move Maya recognized. She was instantly reminded of the first day they’d met, a week before classes started their freshman year of college.
Maya had said goodbye to her mother and siblings the day before when she’d hopped on a flight from SFO to Newark. She’d gotten all of her crying out on the plane and the previous night alone in her new dorm room. So she’d recognized the soft rise and fall of someone crying, but trying to hide it, when she’d spotted the girl sitting in the back of the orientation hall. She was sitting alone, turned away from the room, using her hair to hide her face. Maya had sat down next to that girl. She didn’t speak, but she hoped that her presence was reassuring nonetheless.
Maya turned to Monica and Lane and the sadness in Monica’s face made her anger evaporate. She’d assumed that Kierra was just fucking her bosses, but anyone who looked at her best friend the way Monica was looking at her now clearly loved her; or was well on their way to it. It made Maya’s heart ache. Because she wanted that. She’d foolishly wanted that with MasquerAsiaN. Not that she’d ever admit it to another living soul now.
“Leave her alone,” Maya said in a soft voice. “Give her space.”
Monica didn’t look at her or even acknowledge that she heard Maya’s voice. But when she finally turned away, Lane caught Maya’s eye. He nodded once, before softly closing the door behind him.
“How long have you known who he was?” Maya wanted to console her friend, but her own broken heart needed answers.
“They told me today,” Kierra whispered, her hand moving, Maya guessed, to wipe her tears away. When she turned to Maya, her eyes were red. “I told them they had to tell you. It wasn’t right.”
Kierra sighed. “But if you’d asked me before today, I’d have said that Kenny seemed like a really good guy. If it matters.”
Maya took a deep breath in and shook her head. She couldn’t handle hearing that he might be the kind of man she’d been fantasizing about for six months. Not right now. “It doesn’t.”
Kierra nodded. “Tequila?”
Ah, Maya thought, now this was something she could deal with.