Nothing More Beautiful by Lorelai LaBelle
Source: Review by Request
Copy Provided by the Author
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
There’s nothing more beautiful than love. There’s also nothing more dangerous . . .
Bakery owner Maci Goodwin is 25 and has never experienced the big O. Not once. She’s been with five guys—and five duds. Sexually reserved, Maci finds herself paralyzed when it comes to bedroom exploration, despite the unbridled encouragement from her enlightened friends.
Then, after a spell of failed online dating, Maci meets Vince Forte and everything changes. He’s a man who has it all—looks, brains, and billions in the bank. The fierce attraction between them is undeniable, which ignites feelings Maci has never felt before, and she realizes she can’t get enough. After composing a list of their secret sex fantasies, the two set out on a series of kinky adventures, where they discover a world neither of them has ever imagined. It is a world of lust and love, pleasure and patience, and unexpected deviance . . . But will the list bring them together like they hope, or will it send Maci running back to her prudish, O-less life?
Nothing More Beautiful is a sensuous journey of experimentation, romance, and passion. Featuring spurned friends, long-lost lovers, deranged ex-business partners, and not-so-natural disasters, Maci’s story takes the reader on a fun, sexy tromp through the City of Roses, craft beer, and sexual freedom.
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A quirky and unexpected contemporary romance…
There was a lot packed into the 440+ pages of this book, so let’s get started…
Very Portland, Oregon
Very Hipster Chick
Very Craft Beer
I believe the stand-out feature of this book was that it stared two charmingly awkward characters.
And that ended another disappointingly orgasm-less night in the ongoing string of letdowns.
Maci is half-owner of a Bakery. She loves her work, craft beer, her cat Colby Jack, and yoga pants…
She also has terrible luck with relationships and all things sexual. She is not a virgin, but her past experience in the bedroom ranges from disappointing to dismal.
At the age of twenty-five, she has never had an orgasm, and was ready to swear off relationships forever… Lucky for Maci, her friends keep pressuring her into being more assertive…
This book had an excruciatingly slow start which had me nervous – the reader is dragged through a string of failed dates and run-ins with the mysterious Vince before the plot ever gets rolling… Even though the book is about the relationship between Vince and Maci, the reader has to make it to the 24% mark before either character works up the courage to ask the other out on a date…
“Ooh, Maci, look who’s here,” Ashley said without delay. “Calling Mr. Right to Maci’s vag.”
“Ashley!” I growled. “Shut up. God! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Vince is the underdog Billionaire (I just made up that phrase but it fits) his start-up made him obscenely wealthy but didn’t do much for his social skills.
He’s not the usual Billionaire which pops up in modern romance – He’s sweet and nerdy – not your usual black-hearted, manipulative, and domineering Billionaire…
It was the blind leading the blind in the bedroom, so the couple picked out a self-help book on human sexuality, opened up an honest line of communication, and made a list of sexual fantasies which they began crossing off one by one.
At times it felt like the screenplay of a naughty indie rom-com..
The details had a cinematic quality about them – That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it gives you an idea of the level of detail which was put into this book – At 441 pages, I would expect nothing less.
But it wasn’t all Lovely…
The Pacing – I mentioned how slow and unnecessary the buildup was – Let’s be honest, that’s going to cause a lot of DNFs from the average reader. Though it does gain momentum eventually.
The main characters were in their mid-twenties, but this book screamed New Adult – nothing wrong with NA Romances, but I mention this aspect because neither of the characters were particularly mature. Maci was prone to unnecessary freak-outs, constantly caved to peer pressure, and was incredibly naive.
The transitions were as awkward as the characters, but infinitely less charming. I found myself flipping back to the previous page thinking that I had missed something, but no… Sometimes the book jumped forward without a satisfactory resolution on individual plot-points.
Here’s my main issue
This book started out so sweetly original with it’s cast and hipster vibe, but then something weird started happening… It was as though every stereotypical plot twist in a Billionaire Romance had to be checked off of some sort of list…
– Sassy gay best friend
– Business partner who doesn’t approve of the relationship
– The haunted past which keeps the male MC from having meaningful relationships
– The violent stalker
– The “How dare you try to give me money” freak out
– The obligatory character waking up in a hospital bed
Quite frankly, there were some darker elements at play in the last quarter of the book which didn’t quite balance with the rest of the story. I think it tried to be too many things at once…
Overall I thought this was an entertaining read, and an amazing novel when one considers that it is the work of a debut author. There are several things which I wish were smoothed out a bit more, but I wouldn’t have taken the time to list those items if I didn’t think this book was something special.
Nearing the front entrance, I noticed that most of the lights were off even though the gym never closed. Taped to the door, a sign informed members that it was shut down for maintenance, and apologized for the inconvenience.
Confused, I swiped my card anyway, and sure enough the light turned green and the door unlocked. Inside, I found the place deserted. A bag lay on the front counter with a note on it that said “MACI.” I withdrew a white sports bra. Only it wasn’t a full bra. Holding it up to my chest, it reached halfway down my boobs. The second article was a pair of white underwear.
A trail of rose pedals led me to the bathroom, a clear indicator that I was supposed to change into the new outfit. The panties covered half my cheeks, exposing most of my ass. When I put on the bra, I understood its design and purpose. It covered my breasts until just past my nipples, revealing the flesh under my boobs. I didn’t grasp the sexiness of the top, except for the easy access, but clearly Vince had fantasized about this for a while. The tight material of the bra pressed my boobs together, with a different type of seductive cleavage.
Leaving the bathroom, I climbed the stairs to the second floor, where I’d seen Vince most often and expected him to be. As I ascended, the air grew hotter, as if the heat had been turned way up. When my eyes peeked over the floor, I saw a thousand white candles spread out before me, all flickering with life.
I sighted Vince at the centermost bench, doing arm curls, shirtless. My quiet footsteps went unheard, but my image in the floor-to-ceiling mirror made me easy to spot. He dropped the weights and stood, whistling as he eyed me up and down. “You are one sexy lady,” he said, breathing hard. His body glistened with sweat, his muscles bulging from the workout.
“And you’re one sweaty man,” I returned, eyeing his arms with lust. I wanted to eat each of his defined ab muscles, but I supposed licking them would also do.
He glanced down at his arms and chest, then back at me. “My goal is to make you one sweaty woman.” He grinned, alluring me, seducing me. My knees nearly buckled.
I sucked on my lip in a way that said, “I can’t wait.”
“I know it’s not silky lingerie, but how do you like the outfit?”
I pressed my boobs together, creating more cleavage. “I like that you like it.” I slid my hand down his gym shorts to his rock-hard cock.
He cupped my breasts, bending over to shove his face in them. He spent a minute inhaling with his nose in my cleavage, then he straightened up, his hands reaching around to my ass, squeezing, caressing. Suddenly our mouths connected, tongues swirling, wet and exhilarating.
He slapped my ass and my heart jumped. Pulling away, he flattened the inclined bench he’d been working out on, and turned it lengthwise so that it ran parallel to the mirror. He eased me on to my back and when I glanced at the mirror, I could see the full length of our bodies.
Biting his lip and on his knees, he ran his fingers from my feet, up my thighs, and to my ass. I rested my feet on the ground as he spread my legs, his nose skimming from one thigh, over my panties, to the other.
The soft nuzzle tantalized all my nerves. With every pass, he drew closer to my clit, but never touched it, teasing me. “God, you’re so sexy,” he whispered. “And you smell so delicious.”
I lifted my hips, wiggling them, begging him. He relented. Moving aside the panties, his tongue swept over my clit, down to my pussy. He licked up in broad strokes. I gasped. He removed my panties in one swift motion. Free of holding my underwear, his hands fondled my exposed breasts while his tongue continued to glide up and down.
“You taste so sweet,” he murmured. “I could do this all day.”
I writhed in pleasure, unable to contain myself. Eventually, he concentrated on my clit, pressing a finger under the bundle as his tongue twirled. He licked a finger and slid it inside me. My stomach contracted, and my legs pressed in, crushing his head. His left hand clenched my thighs as his tongue increased speed.
Then he bit down. A gentle nibble at first, adding more suction.
I screamed. I could feel the wetness flowing out of me as my hips convulsed. My muscles contracted in waves, and eventually I released my thighs that hugged Vince’s face. How did I not suffocate him? I wondered in a distant dream. I noticed his dripping wet curls as I raked his scalp. My eyes came back into focus, and I glanced down at Vince, who was looking at me with burning eyes. He wiped his mouth, coming up for a kiss.
“I love the way you taste,” he said, massaging my clit with two fingers, our eyes locked, intense.
I flexed up for another kiss.
The heat from Vince, combined with the candles, had bathed my body in sweat. The atmosphere created a mood that I’d never experienced before, slick and hot and intimate. The dim candlelight was intoxicating—stimulating. Romantic.
Vince knelt beside the bench. With his other hand, he grazed my skin, skimming a finger under my breasts, around my stomach, and down my thighs. It felt like he was everywhere on my body. Everywhere but in me.
“I want to feel you inside me,” I said, rubbing his chest, sliding my finger up his neck and through his hair again. He stood up, slipped off his gym shorts, and helped me up. Behind us sat another bench, its design angled so that a person’s head was near the floor as they did crunches. Swinging the bench to make it parallel to the mirror just like the other one, he raised the angle of the back so that it sloped a tiny bit in the other direction, forming an open “V” with the butt cushion.
I stepped in front of it, about to lie on my back, when he started turning me around. Realizing what he wanted, I stopped him. “I want to see you.”
“You can, in the mirror,” he replied, compelling me to turn with his strong arms. He bent me over the bench. Its sturdiness easily held my weight. I grasped the sides of the seat cushion for support. “See?”
I peered at the mirror and could see Vince’s hand sliding up my legs to my ass. I hadn’t even noticed that he had moved the weights that normally sat in front of the mirror, giving both of us a clear view of each other.
I shook my ass for him to enter.
He took his cock and played with my lips for a minute, until he was nice and wet and ready. My lips parted and he gently eased into me. I watched as he slowly thrust in and out: my own private, erotic show. His hand holding my hips, he gradually increased his pace, his muscles flexing, shimmering with sweat.
He was also regarding the mirror, watching as my boobs bounced, the undersides smacking my ribs. That drove him wild with lust, and he began pumping hard, slamming against my ass. I moaned as his balls slapped back and forth. He was gasping and grunting, but the sound of him driving into me was even louder, and I loved it, loved how wet and delicious it was.
Watching his cock glide in and out, his balls swaying out of control, while listening to the sexy noises—all of it converged as he came, pushing the sweet sensation deep inside me and out to my fingers and toes. My toes curled as Vince stilled. I let out a long exhale as my head swirled in bliss.
“You’re so beautiful,” he breathed. He palmed my ass, leaning into me.
I craned back to kiss him. Recovering my breath, I withdrew, gulping for air. Then, with Vince still throbbing inside me, unfiltered and unplanned, an impulse took over and I whispered, “I love you, Vince.”
Gazing at me with those soft, warm eyes, he whispered back, “I love you, too.”
Interview with Lorelai LaBelle
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
What would you say inspired you to write it?
A lack of genuine, get-to-know-the-other-person love stories. So many books that I’ve read feature the insta-love plot that I’ve become sick of it, and I wanted to write something that started out slow between the couple and then picked up the pace in a realistic fashion. But really, the idea of a couple crossing off a kinky sex list was the true inspiration, before I had any notion of characters, settings, or plots. Now if I could only recall where the idea of the list came from . . . it just sorta popped out of nowhere one day and BAM, off to the keyboard!
At over 400 pages, this is a rather large novel, especially for a debut author. What made you decide to release this book as a single novel, rather than splitting it up in to a duet or trilogy?
In hindsight, I probably should’ve split it up, as is the current trend for self-published authors, from a words/price ratio, but I really wanted it to be one complete novel without tie-ups or cliffhangers. And to be honest, I just wanted to hold the whole thing in my hands as a single piece of writing. I also didn’t know a whole lot about the publishing side of the industry, not realizing that readers enjoy reading serials more than standalones.
What was the source of inspiration for Maci Goodwin?
I spent some time working at a bakery while I earned my undergrad, and I wanted to write about a strong woman, but one with a hard obstacle to overcome. Finding one’s sexuality is a long road for many, and statically, most women don’t begin to really explore what they truly like in the bedroom until their late twenties/early thirties, and I wanted Maci’s story to reflect on that. I pulled from a lot of sources of inspiration in creating Maci, but her headstrong attitude comes from a friend, who hates taking handouts and thinks she has to do everything on her own (for the most part). This quality just seemed to be Maci’s character, which would allow her to co-run a bakery at only 25, and, in my mind, set up the story perfectly.
How about Vince Forte?
At the time, I was tired of all the need-to-be-changed assholes that are swelling the market, and I wanted to write about a guy who is actually nice. I get the whole bad boy thing (of which I’m a fan), but it’s almost as if writers/readers have gotten stuck in the notion that nice guys can’t be hot and sexy & they have gym memberships too! So with Vince I wanted to bring out strong passion mixed with a delicate touch, and for a woman like Macy, who has had a terrible sex life, really allows the two to grow together (start soft, get rougher) and explore what’s out there in the world of sex.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
I actually didn’t suffer from writer’s block while writing Nothing More Beautiful. Some days were slower than others, but overall, the ideas just kept flowing.
What is your all time favorite book?
Tough, tough question. I just love Harry Potter and the memories reading the series while growing up. Now my tastes have changed, but I really loved Bossypants. Tina Fey can make milk shoot out my nose, she’s too damn funny.
What made you pick that one above all others?
I love to laugh, and she has a masterful talent for comedy.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Five months, I think.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Of course. It’s made me a lot more expressive with words. It has also challenged me to get more creative when describing relatively the same thing.
Was there ever a time, during your work for this book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Not once. I had fun with this project from start to finish.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
Working full-time during the week and writing at night and on the weekends.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I remind myself that everybody has a different perspective in life, from the retired 80-year-old reader to the struggling teenager, all with different beliefs and fixed opinions on how people talk, behave, think, and how they react, not to mention what they want out of their reading experience. Some just want sex, some want a solid plot too; some want a dark, troubled man, while others want a gorgeous out-going comedian that can banter back and forth. With so many variables that influence a reader, I tell myself that it’s impossible for everyone to like what I write. My advice? I’m too young to give advice, I’ll leave that for those with more wisdom.
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next?
I am planning a book with a clash between two dominants (not necessarily BDSM Doms), just two people who like to be in control and go head-to-head. It will be completely different from Nothing More Beautiful. I don’t want to end up writing the same thing over and over & sex.
What made you decide to become an Author?
I love telling stories and I think I have a voice worth sharing with others, and hopefully others think so too, and enjoy my style and characterization.
What would you say was the toughest part?
Changing up the sex scenes was by far the hardest part. There are only so many descriptors of how a man can stick his P in the V, lol. I had a lot of help with this part of my writing.
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
One piece of advice that I took away from multiple sources was to hire a professional editor and skipping this would be a grave mistake. I took that a advice, but I learned how to format and did the cover myself, with some help from my husband.
How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
I wanted to hire someone local, and I found Bridgetown Editing here in Portland, owned by Rachel Guerin, who edits romance among her many talents. After a few emails I knew she was the one for the project. She did a spectacular job and I will definitely be hiring her in the future.
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to when you hit ‘Publish’?
From conception to production took from February of this year (2014) to June 10th (2014) when I released the eBook.
Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AREbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
I use Smashwords to distribute to all eTailers, except of course Amazon. I liked Smashwords setup, and found the formatting guide easy, so I went with them.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I’ve thought that maybe the title is too out there, and that maybe a title like “The Sex List” would’ve been better. I’m not sure if I would actually change it though. Also, I would contemplate splitting the book in two parts more than I did.
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one item you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
A blowup raft so I could get the hell off that island.
Name your favorite fruit.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Fall; love wearing scarfs!
How about favorite time of the day?
Were you a Girl Scout?
Favorite food for breakfast?
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
I definitely collect shoes. Besides that, I used to collect movie stubs but not so much anymore.
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Tie between yellow and purple.
Drama or comedy?
Do you have a favorite quote or personal motto?
“What do we say to Death? Not today.”
Cats or dogs?
I love both!
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight.
Do you have a favorite Book Boyfriend?
I’m not very good at picking favorites . . . maybe Colton Donovan from Driven?
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Game of Thrones (my husband got me hooked!)
Lorelai LaBelle is Giving Away one Paperback Copy of Nothing More Beautiful to one lucky Smutsonian Reader! Enter here:
About the Author
Lorelai was born in 1989. She is a bookworm who loves writing erotic contemporary works that push boundaries and have a touch of mystery/suspense. She also enjoys writing paranormal and dystopian when the mood strikes her. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, their chubby cat, and two birds. In her spare time she likes to bike, hike, and drink craft brews, like many Portlanders do, and watch movies in the dark.