The rules are simple. Be quiet, look sexy, follow orders.
Caroline's plans for maintaining a harem of eager young men are going as smooth as could be, until a troublesome newcomer arrives and throws her tidy kingdom into disorder. He seems perfect at first. Breathtaking eyes, gorgeous face, a body custom-made to keep a greedy woman up nights.
But Sean's got something else too--the will and the power to get under Caroline's skin in a way she can't stand. And can't stay away from. He's too disobedient to work out as a disposable toy in her harem, but it'd be a shame to waste a willing body as fine as his... Perhaps all the man needs is a little discipline.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Brazen by Cara McKenna
He was trouble the moment Will hired him.
Now to his credit, Will never once batted an eye in the four years he's been my assistant. And that includes the day I said, "Will, I need you to screen men for me. For a harem."
"A harem? Where are we going to fit a harem?" he asked, as if we were discussing the logistics of a dinner party.
"Right here in the brownstone," I said. "It's getting lonely around here."
That was a couple years ago and two years after my divorce. One year after I suspected I should be ready to start dating again but found the idea left me nauseous. And now this old house, for many months too empty to contemplate without risking self-pity, has come alive again, with the smells and the energy of eager young men. Not the sounds, however--silence is one of the requirements of the job.
Over coffee that morning I explained to Will--who enthusiastically shares my love of eager young men, in case you were curious--what exactly I envisioned. It was one of those idyllic, Boston spring days. I believe it was Easter, actually. A day for vibrant rebirth, for the resurrection of my sexuality.
"So," he said, tapping his pencil eraser on the tile of the breakfast bar. "We need a bunch of young men. Give me details. Give me specs." I should mention that Will is also my interior designer.
"Not too young," I said. "How about...twenty to twenty-eight. Tall, five-ten to six-two or thereabouts. Gorgeous, muscular but not too beefy--"
"What's too beefy? Is Hugh Jackman too beefy?"
"I wouldn't kick him out of bed," I said. "But that's as beefy as I'd prefer."
"Who's your ideal body then?" Will's manicured hand hovered, poised to record my every whim. Bless him.
"Ideally," I said, thinking. "David Beckham?"
Will jotted this down. "So trim but built."
"Precisely. But not too slender. I'm thinking surfer-type bodies. Swimmers. Dancers but masculine, obviously. No wrestlers or linebackers." I had given myself permission to be choosy. If my husband taught me nothing else in our twelve mutually miserable years of marriage, he did drive home the importance of only paying for the best.
"Beckham body," Will said, making notes. "Whose face, Madam Photographer?"
"I'm actually not too picky there," I said, picturing poor Will holding a photo of Jakob Dylan up beside each of the candidates before shaking his head and turning them away. "If the vision's too ideal we'll never find anyone. Just nice-looking men. Dark hair is best."
"Right. So, Caroline..." Will trailed off, eyes rolling thoughtfully up to stare at the ceiling.
His gaze fell to mine. "What about...you know. Downstairs?"
"Sizeable," I said.
"I won't discriminate," I said, feeling gracious. "But they'll all need clean bills of health from within a week of the day they start, and they should be able to perform on command. This is a fantasy after all."
"Any shaving requirements?" Will asked studiously, scribbling.
"Down below? No. Just not messy. And no elaborate topiaries. And no one completely shaved," I added. "That's creepy. Ditto piercings."
"What about tattoos?"
"Use your discretion. Chest hair's fine, either way, but no back hair please. Facial hair's probably okay. Sideburns are a plus," I added. "Take headshots of everyone for me to approve."
"Good thinking," Will said. "Now how many, do you think?" He offered me the face he makes when we're both torn between the same two fabric swatches.
"I don't think I want more than four or five in the house at a time," I said. "And not twenty-four/seven, obviously. This is a hobby, not a lifestyle.