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The Big Oof by Teri Anne Stanley

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Why do people read romance? Well, I don’t know why other people read it, but I read it for the “oof.”

Yeah, the “Oh, my!” parts can be nice, too, when they’re well done and not all throbbing love nubs and dripping lady-flowers. Believe me. I love a good “Oh, my!” as much as the next person.
But it’s the “oof” that makes a romance worthwhile. It’s that feeling in my gut—kind of a solar-plexus spasm (sounds pleasant, doesn’t it?)— when two people connect—usually when the hero lays it all out there, or the heroine sees what he’s unwilling to lay out there—that’s when I get the “oof.”

It’s that part of LOVER AWAKENED by JR Ward, where Bella finds Zsadist in the shower, trying to scrub his own skin off, because he wants to be worthy of her, to be clean enough to be with her. *sigh* Golly, I love a good, screwed up hero, and Zsadist is my all time prize winner on that score.

It’s that part of every one of Suzanne Brockmann’s books, but if you need an example, how’s about  HOT TARGET when Jane realizes that Cosmo isn’t at her house because he doesn’t like her, he’s avoiding her because he does like her?

And just saying it like that—“because he does like her”— doesn’t get it for you, does it? Nope. You’ve gotta read the whole first half of the book. You’ve got to see how much Cosmo and Jane struggle through getting off on the wrong foot, to earning each other’s respect, to seeing big, strong silent Cosmo have to reveal his feelings. That’s where the “oof” comes from.
Tell me what your favorite “oof” moments are. I’m planning to fall and break an ankle so I can spend a month on the couch reading and dissecting books to see if I can find the formula for the “oof.”


Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon--though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri's first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols.  She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!).  Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled with love, angst, and nekkid parts.

Teri's career has included sex therapy for rats, making posing suits for female body builders, and helping amputee amphibians recover to their full potential. She currently supplements her writing income as a neuroscience research assistant.  Along with a variety of teenagers and dogs, she and Mr. Stanley live just outside of Sugartit, which is—honest to God—between Beaverlick, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. 

 

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Former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been lying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother's pasts, are about to be brought to light. 

Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what's going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives. 


Excerpt

He was not for her. Nerdy scientist girls had to stay away from hot guys with big, muscle-y arms and white smiles. So why the heck couldn’t she stop looking back at the biology building?

She shook herself. What was wrong with her? She had to get out of here. She could lust after him from a distance. That would be fine. Safe. He could be her pretend lover. She turned the key and threw the car into gear. With one last glance over her shoulder toward her new imaginary boyfriend, she stomped her foot on the accelerator. And promptly shot backward over the curb, knocking over a trash can, which wound up wedged under the rear bumper.

“Gack!” She put the car in park and jumped out to survey the damage. Rounding the back end and seeing the trash can, she shrieked and stepped out of the way of a family of possums—a mom and three…teenagers? They tottered about, blinking in the bright morning sunshine.

“Whoa, careful!” Maintenance Man Mike was suddenly there, grabbing Lauren’s upper arms and shifting

her out of the way of the scraggly little things. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “But the kids—I ran over their house!” One of the little ones clung to its mother’s fur, but two others careened blindly away from the scene of the home wrecking.

“I tell you what,” Mike said. “You pull your car forward, off the trash can, then we’ll see if we can’t help ’em out.”

“Okay.” Lauren’s heartbeat started to slow and beat a regular rhythm. Except where Mike had touched her arms. There, her skin seemed to be throbbing and tingling.

Sheesh.

She moved her car forward and off of the sidewalk, then went back to Mike and the possum. Fortunately, there were no other faculty members’ cars in the lot yet. What would she have told them? No, I wasn’t texting anddriving. I was mentally undressing a stranger.

Please, God…don’t let it be her drug they were talking about on the news. After Crawford left, Mike stopped fiddling with settings on the centrifuge. He straightened and turned to lean against a clean section of counter. Crossing his arms, he glared at Lauren.

“What?” She realized she’d crossed her arms, too, and stood with a hip cocked out. Defensive much? “Let’s have it.”

“You lied.”

“About what?”

“What’s missing. Those pellet things you showed me yesterday. They’re all gone.”

Damn.

“Yeah. You wanna start talking?” He uncrossed his arms and moved toward Lauren. He smelled of fabric softener again, like the day before. What single guy used fabric softener?

“Are you married?” Ugh. Did she really say that?

That slowed him down, though. “What? No. I live with my brother. I told you that last night.” He took another step into her personal space. “Why did you lie?”

Instead of feeling intimidated, she found herself uncrossing her arms and putting her hands behind her to hold on to the ledge. “How’s the cat doing?”

“Howled all night. Dylan threatened to poison it.”

“Dylan did? But he’s such an animal lover!”

“Shows you how much of a head case that cat is.” He pinned her in place with that dark stare. “Why did you lie?”

He was so close that she could feel his heat. How much closer was he going to get? When she took a  deep breath, her breasts brushed his chest. Which caused her to take another deep breath. Not on purpose, of course. His eyes heated. She could smell coffee now. She licked her lips, and his nostrils flared. He bent his head closer. She needed to answer his question, but what should she say? If she didn’t answer, would he…what, kiss it out of her? He should work for the CIA. Or the FBI. As part of the Threaten to Kiss Information From Witnesses Unit -

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