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Before the First Kiss by Tamara Hogan

I have to be honest and reveal that my first kiss kind of sucked. (In the bad way.) Not that the kisser wasn't a perfectly delightful boy... but that boy was a friend, not a boyfriend, and as readers of our blog certainly realize, this is a critical distinction. So when he laid the kiss on me - wholly unexpected, all tongue, and no technique - I thought kissing was eww, gross.

You'll be happy to know that I have since changed my mind.  Ahem.

While Taste Me's hero, incubus security guru Lukas Sebastiani, may not have given siren rock star Scarlett Fontaine her first kiss, he was definitely her first lover--and as the tagline on the cover of the book says, "When your first lover's a sex demon, it's all downhill from there." After spending a single, rock-my-world night together, Lukas, guilt-stricken, walked away without saying a word, leaving Scarlett wondering what she'd done wrong.  Years later, she's never had a lover to match him, and she's...pissed. Coming home burned out after a year on tour with her band, she's determined to get some answers - and to move on with her life, either with him or without him.

Here's their first meeting - and their almost kiss: (spicy language dead ahead)

As Lukas left the conference room, he ran into Scarlett—literally bumping into her, full body contact. She ricocheted against the wall.

“Jesus.” He instinctively yanked her to his body as she rebounded, and every inch of her, from her knees on up to her torso, imprinted itself on his body.

The seconds hung. She finally shoved back—hard, like she’d been defibrillated—but he didn’t let go of her arms. “Are you hurt?” The taste of flat orange soda swam onto his taste buds. What the hell? What happened to the mandarin champagne that tingled on his tongue whenever Scarlett was in the vicinity? She was barely registering, her energy pulsing so low he literally had not sensed her coming.

His fingers nearly met his thumb as he grasped her upper arms. When she continued to struggle, he loosened his grip slightly but didn’t let go, half-convinced her knees would crumple if he did.

Lukas tried to assess her appearance objectively: the dark circles under her eyes. The freckles sprinkled across her nose, stark against her chalky pale complexion. The sagging neckline of the sweatshirt exposed collarbones pushing up against the backside of her skin. The black sweatpants she wore bagged at the ass. Even her blazing red hair seemed dim and dull.

What was wrong with her? What the hell had she been doing to wreak such damage? “Watch where you’re going,” he growled, giving her a soft shake. “Did I hurt you?”

It seemed to take forever for her to lift her head and meet his eyes. And… yes, there she was. He surreptitiously swirled his tongue as mandarin oranges crept onto his taste buds, as her green eyes sparked to life. Even if her annoyance and anger were targeted at him, he’d take it. But she hadn’t answered his question. “Did I hurt you?”



“Why ask if you’re not going to listen to my answer? Stop manhandling me and move out of my way,” Scarlett snapped, twisting her arms out of his hands and rubbing at them. “I’m late for a meeting.”

He gestured to her damp hair, pulled back in a messy ponytail. “Yeah, I can see what a priority it was for you. Lounging in the tub, making everyone wait. Jack and Sasha have a lot more patience with your crap than I do.”

Her delicious fury spiked. She stepped up to him and poked him in the chest with a finger whose nail was bitten to the quick. “F*** you.”

His most fervent wish, put into words. Lukas grinned nastily. “Again? Hey, I’m game if you are.”

He felt his words hit, saw her lips wobble before she firmed them back up. What the hell was he doing? By unspoken accord, neither of them ever referred to the single, incendiary night they’d spent together so many years ago. Nope, it was the elephant in the living room that only they could see, and they ignored it with impunity. But with his unthinking, dick-addled words, he’d swung a f***ing sledgehammer at the foundation of their carefully constructed d├ętente.

Instead of turning her back on him, or flipping him off and stalking down the hall, she tipped her head to the side and just gazed at him. Like she actually might be… considering it.

Sweet zombie Jesus, what had he done?

She must be at the end of her rope, absolutely exhausted, because her eyes were taking the long route over his body instead of focusing on some far point over his shoulder, like she typically did when they couldn’t avoid talking to each other. Her gaze stroked him like a fingertip.

“So, you’re game?” she breathed. She sidled closer, stopping when her stomach was a mere molecule away from his violently aroused flesh. Her hands lifted, poised tantalizingly over his abs.

Lukas held his breath. Was she going to do this? Was he going to let her? Yes and yes. He bit back a groan as she leaned her slight weight against him. His dick cuddled into the layers of clothing covering her flat stomach, her hipbones digging into his upper thighs like tiny fingers. As he lost the battle and reached for her ass, to drag her more firmly against him, she slithered around him instead.

“As the great philosopher Mick Jagger once said, ‘You can’t always get what you want.’”

In this excerpt, Scarlett and Lukas almost kiss. Aah, the almost kiss. Fun to write, and to experience! There are all kinds of kisses...what's your favorite kind, and why?  

I hope you enjoy reading Taste Me as much as I enjoyed writing it. Want to read it for free? ;-) Today, I'm giving away a free copy to one randomly selected commenter. 

Don't forget about Valentine's with the CasaBabes!  Leave a comment on our blog and you'll be entered to win drawings throughout the month of February.   


  1. awe such a tease!

    Kissing in the theater with my husband. I'm not much of a PDA person at all, but there is something about dark theaters and being secretive in a public place. So I love kissing my husband in the theater.

  2. I like the fire between this couple. Lots of sparks, both kinds, and I love that. I have to say my favorite kisses are not the deep passionate ones. I love light, nibbling, teasing kisses. Ooh makes my toes curl just thinking about it.

  3. I like this couple! I want to see what happens next. My favorite kisses are the ones that occur after the couple has been separated for a while. Reconnecting kisses are the best!

  4. I like the kisses that surprise the couple while the reader is thinking, "And finally!!!" I like this almost-kiss too, a great way to build tension and set the stage for reflection and MORE ACTION...

  5. cant wait to read this. my favorite type of kissing is light kisses that some time turn deep in the right moment.

  6. LOL! "But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need!" Which I assume they do eventually. Great excerpt!

  7. Oh my. That's H-O-T! Thanks for warming up a frosty February morning, Tamara. And I just love that cover!! You go, girl!

  8. @Kristina - I love writing sexual tension! ;-) And movie theatres? what a great place to kiss.

    @Anita - I heartily agree with you about light, nibbling kisses. Young men, read and learn!

    @Stacie - Lukas and Scarlett are definitely reconnecting in a big way - but it's only happening because Scarlett is sick and tired of their status quo. That doesn't mean that she's going to make it easy.

    @Grace - yes, definitely more "action" to come!

    @Terry, glad you like the excerpt. I really enjoy writing male POV; it feels quite natural. Not surprising, since more than one man I've been involved with has told me that, emotionally, I seem to be wired more stereotypically male than female. Talk? About emotions? Horrors!

    @Cheryl - glad you caught the subtext. ;-) Music lyrics play a huge role in the evolution of Scarlett and Lukas's relationship - right down to the song selection in the set Scarlett performs mid-book.

  9. Excerpt singed the corners of my computer. Fire extinguisher out of date. Had to blow on it and my breath was too hot to do any good after reading the excerpt. Lots of underlying heat! Great job, Tamara!

  10. Love the chemistry between Lukas and Scarlett,definitely want to read what happens

    I think I like the kisses that are unexpected...that surprise both the hero and the heroine.....

  11. @Carolyn - thanks! One of the things I've realized about my writing is that I like to see how much tension and heat I can create without the characters even touching - more through thoughts and physical reactions. One of the advantages of writing in deep third is that the writer has intimate access to that layer of interaction.

    @Maria, Thanks! And yes, unexpected kisses are great - if they're bestowed by someone you love.

  12. Tamara, that was fabulous! I feel like I know your characters already, espcially Scarlett. Great tension - and you're right, that's the best kind of kiss. They will, they won't, they will - ahh!
    And Carolyn, you're funny! But we knew that:)

  13. Oh such a tease - I wanted to read about the kiss but great build up lol.

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  15. I love the last line. I'd read the book just for it!

  16. Ah, so tempting. That was more than an almost kiss, I'd say.

  17. I love reading those totally unexepected, knocks you outta your socks, right out of the blue kisses! The tension explodes leaving the main characters thinking WTH just happened, then having to deal with the fall out is always fun.
    You have a great excerpt here thanks for sharing it!

  18. @Cat - Yes, isn't the cover just great? I wish I knew the names of the artists who worked on it so I could thank them properly. Thanks, Sourcebooks cover wizards!

    @Joanne - Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. And yes, they will. ;-)

    @catslady, thanks! I had to end the excerpt there, but...they'll get to it sooner or later!

    @Shana - one of the things I enjoyed about writing this book was incorporating musical references wherever possible. It just...seemed like something Scarlett woudl say.

    @Lil - yes, they're barely touching, but the air is about t o combust. Aaah. My work here is done. ;-)

  19. @Stephanie, so glad you enjoyed it. I'm still so hungry for feedback on this book. I think 5? people read the manuscript cover to cover before Deb acquired it for Sourcebooks; I pretty much wrote it under the cover of darkness in case it sucked. The reviews coming in now are pretty much the first reader feedback I'm getting, so I value each one.

  20. OMG, a friend of mine just emailed me that she'd received her copy of TASTE ME from

    It's...out there in the world.

  21. What fun! You know I love musicians.

    And congrats on your book being out there in the world!

  22. Oohh, this book looks really good. I like when there are sparks between the characters.

  23. @Olivia - girl, we need to get together and talk. ;-)

    @Danielle - Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy the book.

  24. Ooh...good for her! I think he may need a cold shower after that!

  25. I love slow deep kisses like Kevin Costner talked about in Bull Durem.

  26. I enjoy the ones that start out easy and end up very passionate. :-)


  27. @Cindy - it was important to me that I show that, even though Scarlett's burned out, she can still keep Lukas on his toes - and yes, needing a cold shower!

    @Virginia - Oh, heck yeah. Wasn't that scene fabulous? Young men should watch that movie to learn how women want to be kissed.

    @Larena - Yes, there's something to be said for a slow build-up.

  28. And the winner is... catslady!

    If you would be so kind as to visit my webpage, and use the "Contact Me" form to send me an email with your snail mail address, I’ll get your autographed copy of TASTE ME in the mail right away.

    Thanks for being part of the Casa community!

  29. Thank you so much for the win. Will send my info now:)

  30. Okay. My new fave exclamation is now. Sweet zombie Jesus. Great scene.

  31. The 'almost-kiss'! Great concept, and great excerpt, Tamara!


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