Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spotlight: Julian & Lia by Maria Monroe

Freshman Lia is sure moving into a coed dorm was a mistake. It's a few weeks into her first year of college, and she's miserable and homesick. That's about to change, though, as soon as she meets college senior Julian, the confident bad-boy she can't get out of her head. She's sure he's out of her league, but when he agrees to give her ""lessons"" outside of class, her college experience is about to get way more exciting.

What she's not prepared for, though, is to fall in love. Hard.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of JULIAN & LIA

I push through the crowd dancing in the living room until I reach the front door. On the front porch, I take in a deep breath, and my nausea disappears almost instantly. I don't even mind being chilly; I'm just so glad to be outside and away from everything. All the people who were outside partying on the porch earlier are gone, probably to avoid the cold, except for one lone guy sitting on the bottom stair. 

My gaze fixes on him. “Julian,” I gasp, then wrap my arms around myself to stave off the cold that I'm starting to feel. 

He stands and turns, leaning against the hand rail, a wry and cocky look on his face.

“Hi,” I continue. “I'm, you know, at this party? I'm just getting some fresh air?” I hate that when I'm nervous so many of my sentences end up sounding like questions, the way Greer always talks. I think it makes me seem dumb, but I can't help the things that come out of my mouth when I feel panicked. Like I do right now.

Julian cocks his head and says nothing, but his eyes are this weird mixture of emotions, like he's laughing at me while being angry too.

“It's hot in there, and you know, I just needed a break.” I'm babbling. Again. 

“Good party?” he asks.

“Yep. It's great.”

“You really think so? Because I've been to my share of parties like that. They get old pretty fast.”

“Yeah, well, you had your chance to be a freshman. This is my chance. And obviously you couldn't handle it or you wouldn't have failed Film Studies.” I practically gasp as the words leave my mouth, realizing how antagonistic and rude they are, but Julian seems unfazed.

“I could handle myself,” he says. “You? You don't even look like yourself.”

He noticed how I look! I try to put my arms down at my sides so he can really see me, but I'm shivering now in the cold night air.

“I think I look pretty good,” I say. 

“I think you've been drinking.”

“So you don't think I look good?” I know I sound like a petulant child, but I can't help myself.

“Right now, I don’t really care how you look,” he says, and I only focus on the “right now” part. Does that mean that at other times he does care how I look? And what does that mean? 

“Here, put this on,” he continues, taking off his hoodie and handing it to me just as Joel comes out with Greer and her boyfriend.

“There you are, Lia,” says Joel, his gaze settling on Julian. Slowly, I insert my arms into Julian's sweatshirt and pull it around me, my fingers cold as I zipper it up. It's so warm, and I think about how the warmth lingering in the fabric is actually heat from his body. 

“Let's go back to the party,” says Joel, stepping down another stair closer to me.

“Lia was just leaving,” says Julian.

"She's here with me," says Joel, but his voice is slightly whiny, and I can tell he's intimidated by Julian. With the two of them standing near each other, it's obvious how much older Julian looks and seems than Joel and Danny.

"Yeah, well, she's leaving with me." Julian grabs my forearm somewhat possessively, and a jolt of excitement courses through me. 

"Whatever," says Joel, giving me a dirty look and heading back inside.

"Let me say bye to my roommate," I whisper to Julian, and he lets go of my arm.

"Greer," I say quietly to her as Joel and Danny head back inside. "I'm sorry. I'm just really tired and . . . "

"Oh. My. God," she whispers. "Who is that guy? He is so freaking hot." She stares at Julian for a few seconds, then her eyes settle on me with a new respect, like she's suddenly seen me in a completely new light. 

"He's just . . . from one of my classes," I reply. "He's just going to walk me back to the dorms."

"Maybe I better sleep at Danny's tonight," she says with a wink. It takes me a second to understand what she's getting at. Then she too disappears into the house before I can reiterate the fact that Julian and I are, in fact, only friends. If even that.

"What are you even doing here?" I ask Julian.

"Waiting for you."

Oh my god. "What are you talking about?" 

He shrugs. "I saw you walking by earlier with your roommate. I had a feeling you wouldn't stay long. Vanessa said I should take you home."

I sigh, deflated. Of course Vanessa was involved; Julian wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. But despite feeling a little disappointed, it makes me happy too that she cares enough to be worried about me.

"Let's go," he says, and I meekly follow him down the stairs.

"Where are we going?" I ask. I’m walking as fast as I can to keep up with his long stride, and I can’t help entertaining the thought that maybe Julian will take me to his house. It would be the perfect place to warm up.

"I'm walking you back to your dorm," he says, the "duh" unspoken but definitely clear.

"Oh." Of course he's taking me back to my dorm. It was ridiculous to think he’d take me back to his place. I look good tonight, but I’m not tall or leggy or blond like the girl in his room the other day.

We walk in silence the few blocks back to the building where I live. I expect him to leave me at the front door, but instead he waits till I key in, then follows me up the stairs and down the hallway to my room. Outside my door I look at him, trying to gauge his expression, but I can't figure him out. The best I can tell is that he looks mad, like I've done something wrong. Whatever. Let him be weird and pouty.

"Oh," I say, remembering his sweatshirt. With regret, I unzip it and slide my arms out, handing it to him. "Here." When he takes it, I feel goosebumps on my arms and rub them, trying to warm myself up. "You can come in," I say as I open my door, and as soon as the words are out of my mouth, I wish I could take them back. Why would Julian want to come into my room?

"I shouldn’t," he says, but then I hear the door close, and when I turn to look he's in my room.

I left my desk lamp on, and it's the only light in here, casting a warm glow but leaving shadows in all the corners, and I stand next to my bed, nervous and excited. Why is Julian in my room? And: Holy crap! Julian's in my room!

"Look," he says in a harsh voice, "you need to be careful. Parties and drinking are fun, but there are a lot of assholes out there."

Yeah, like you, I think. "What, are you the president of the campus Safety Patrol or something? I can take care of myself," I reply in a bold outburst. Maybe it's the punch making me more outspoken than usual, but there's something else, something rising inside of me, a mix of anger and desire and confusion about what to do with it all.

"Really." It's not a question. "I'm willing to bet anything that this is the first time you've ever had anything to drink."


"So, that guy you were with? He would have taken advantage of you the first second he got an opportunity."

"I wouldn't have given him one," I reply indignantly.

"Just . . . don't be stupid."

"Whatever. Anyway, guys aren't interested in me like that. Ever. So check that off your list of worries for tonight." I'm coming off the alcohol, and I feel sad and tired, the excitement of my first real college experience contrasting with reality in a nasty way.

"Lia?" he says slowly, "you have no idea what you're talking about." His voice is so low, and his eyes, those green eyes, are staring right at me. If I didn't know better, I might think it's desire I see in them, but obviously that can't be right. Not Julian. Still, I feel something change in the room, an energy I've never felt before. He's only a few steps away from me, and something about his physical closeness makes me nervous, even though absolutely nothing is happening.

"You have no idea what you're talking about," I mutter.

"Didn't you see the way that guy was looking at you at the party? Everyone was. The way you look right now . . . "

"Oh please. Guys don't check me out. Trust me. I've never had a boyfriend. And you don't have to worry about me getting drunk and, like, sleeping around. As a matter of fact? I've never even . . . " I stop short. Great. I practically just told him I'm a virgin. Not like he couldn't figure it out on his own, but still.

"I don't need to hear this," he says, but he takes a step closer to where I stand next to my bed. "I just wanted to make sure you got back to your room safely."

"I'm not your little sister."

"I never said you were." He takes another step closer with his long legs so he's standing right in front of me, so near I can feel the heat from his body even though not a single part of him is touching me. I inhale his scent, like soap or deodorant or some other mysterious male smell I can’t identify. 

Neither of us moves for a few seconds; we just stare at each other, like we're in some sort of standoff. My heart's pounding. I lick my lips nervously, and I hear him breathe in sharply. Because I licked my lips? I open my mouth slightly, just the tiniest bit, to see what effect that has. This time he breathes out a low growl.

"I shouldn't be here right now." The words are gruff, but his fingers gently finding my wrist say otherwise, running up the inside of my arm, and I shiver from his touch, from the sudden spiral of desire spinning inside me. Then he leans down, his body still a few inches from me, and lowers his lips to mine softly. For a second, our lips touch, nothing more.

He pulls away slightly and licks his lips, starts to turn, as if to leave the room. But then he stops and stands completely still, indecision written in the hard set of his jaw as he hesitates. 

He's going to go, I think, disappointment crushing me.

Then, suddenly, he moves quickly back toward me.

"Fuck it," he growls and his hands are on my lower back, his mouth on mine again but harder now, forceful. Tentatively I step forward so our bodies are touching and feel, to my shock and new desire, how hard he is as he presses into my stomach. He takes my face in his hands as he kisses me, his lips hungry. My mouth opens to his searching tongue. He tastes like dark chocolate and mint.
I’m weightless, dizzy with desire and disbelief. This is happening. This is really happening!

Without warning, he lets go and steps backward. When he looks at me, his face is tight and angry again.

"Julian," I whisper. "That . . . "

He interrupts. "Is never going to happen again."

And he leaves, slamming the door behind him.

Why New Adult? Thoughts from Maria Monroe

People have asked me why I like to write erotic romance in the genre (or sub-genre, I suppose) of New Adult, and there are several reasons. First, I think people that age (18-24), real people as well as characters, are extremely driven by sexuality and sexual awakening. It's compelling. There's nothing quite like feeling of unavoidable addictive attraction between two young people. That's what I strive to capture when I write new adult (or any, really) romance books and stories.

I also like the wide range of experience that people in that age group can have, which can make for interesting match-ups when I'm creating characters and writing. In Julian & Lia, it was fun to have Lila be the virginal freshman and Julian and experienced bad-boy who was going to teach her all sorts of fun things! The concept might not be new, but the way I tell the story hopefully is unique as seen through my characters, each of whom has a unique outlook on sex.

Additionally, I'm interested in the idea of a sexual awakening for a character, either a virgin or someone who is being exposed to something new and exciting that she may have fantasized about previously but was never sure she would actually try. Granted, this can happen at any age, but is perhaps more likely for a younger person.

I'd say the biggest difficulty writing New Adult is understanding and keeping up to date on current culture!

Find Julian & Lia and Maria Monroe Online:
Amazon ♥ Website ♥ Twitter

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