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Open Invitation Paperback – December 5, 2006


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First in the four-edition The Hacker Series: Successful high-tech entrepreneur Erica Hathaway's life becomes entangled with that of billionaire Blake Landon's. Learn more about author, Meredith Wild

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jasmine Haynes lives in the California mountains with her husband. She loves writing hot, sexy romances.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Invitation to Pleasure

CHAPTER ONE

Yesterday, she was Virginia Hansen, three-time loser at love. Tomorrow, she’d be Mrs. Brett Branoff, wife to a handsome, intelligent man. But tonight, at The Sex Club, she was Regina, a sexy, desirable woman who could have her pick of men.

She knew she was desired by more than one man tonight. She could feel it. Beneath her tailored silk suit, her body spoke to her. One couldn’t wander The Sex Club without feeling the heat, without succumbing to its allure. The demure lines of her suit only enhanced the appeal, contrasting with the sexy lace garter and stockings under the sober facade.

Many eyes had touched her tonight. Many more would. Later. She’d come to The Sex Club tonight to shock and titillate herself. And she’d definitely done that so far. For now, though, Virginia and Stacy were taking a respite in one of the club’s bars.

Music drifted over them from the dance floor. Tables ringed the dance floor, love seats and chairs on the outside flanking the walls. Stools lined a mahogany bar outfitted with every libation imaginable. The music wasn’t loud enough to make conversation impossible, and candles burned on each table, scenting the air with a light cinnamon perfume.

“You know, it’s not like what I expected,” Virginia mused. Sure there was rampant sexual activity, and the scent of pheromones heating the air. “It’s sort of tame, in a way. I mean, the champagne, the mood lighting, and everyone’s dressed so--” she shrugged trying to find the right word “--nicely.” It was inadequate, but she’d seen ball gowns, cocktail dresses, tuxedos, suits. Even those attired less modestly, women in tight skirts or low-necked outfits, were nonetheless...neat. She leaned forward. “I mean, where are the nipple rings and black lipstick and spiked hair?”

Stacy rolled her eyes. “That is so stereotypical.”

“Maybe. But I really thought it would be more kinky, more crass and crude, you know, whips and chains, lots of leather, mesh, studs, risqué outfits, but this is classy.”

“That’s because of Jud McCord. He caters to more refined tastes, to an affluent community. It’s the contrast that turns on his clientele, the cocktail party surroundings, with the kink layered beneath.” Stacy smiled. “And believe me, there’s a lot of kink going on.”

Virginia had seen plenty of that, too. She and Stacy had observed in several rooms, including Orgy Galore and The Massage Parlor. The name of the game there was to find a unique way to employ a vibrator, by yourself or with a partner. There’d definitely been unique uses. Virginia wasn’t sure she was dexterous enough to try them all.

“People come here looking to let go of their inhibitions,” Stacy went on. “It’s about sensuality as much as it is about sex. I don’t want to feel as if I’m coming to some dirty back alley dungeon and playing with a bunch of creeps.”

“Well, I’m still not sure I like the idea of Debbie wandering around by herself.”

Stacy flapped a hand. “She’s fine. Don’t worry about her. Jud has rules, and all she has to do is call a passing waiter and any problems are nipped in the bud. Trust me, she’s a big girl, and she can handle herself.”

They were all big girls. Virginia had turned forty almost six months ago, and Stacy had just hit forty-five. Debbie was only a year younger than Virginia.

Debbie. She’d seemed a little downcast at their last couple of dinners, and tonight she’d disappeared into the crowd soon after they’d arrived. Something was up with that woman. “Is she okay? I’ve been worried about her.”

Stacy glanced at her champagne glass, twirled it by the stem. “I’m sure she’ll work out whatever’s bothering her.” She added nothing else.

That’s what Virginia liked the most about Stacy. The three of them, Stacy, Debbie, and Virginia, had known each other for years, having at one time worked for the same corporation. They kept in touch even as their lives moved on, and still got together regularly. But Stacy, privy to all their secrets laid bare over a good manicure, never revealed what was talked about. Virginia knew Debbie wasn’t happy, but Stacy never breathed a word of what Debbie was going through. Virginia was glad, since it meant her own secrets were safe with Stacy. She didn’t care for anyone else, not even Debbie, to know how debilitating it had been stumbling through divorce court three times.

“You can call off the wedding, you know.”

That’s what she liked the least. Stacy always knew when Virginia had a bad thought and zeroed right in on the cause.

“I have no intention of calling it off.” Brett was perfect for her fourth, and last, trip down the aisle. “He’s considerate and respectful.” With hair as dark as midnight and a strong, aristocratic face, Brett was handsome, but more importantly, he exuded the strong qualities she’d been searching for in a man. “And I like him, believe it or not.”

“You talk about him like he’s a warm coat you can take out of the closet when there’s a chill.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Everything. Let’s talk about your criteria for marrying him.”

“The most important was that I knew him before I jumped into the relationship.” Brett’s company had become a supplier of Virginia’s firm eighteen months ago. She’d worked with him for a year before they even started dating. She’d ferreted out the man he was instead of jumping in headfirst with her eyes closed. This time she was not letting lust impair her judgment. “He is the most ethical businessman I’ve ever encountered.”

Stacy snorted. “Observing how he directs his business affairs has nothing to do with how he’ll act in a marriage.”

“You’re wrong on that one, Stace. How a man conducts himself in a stressful business meeting shows exactly what kind of person he is.” Brett was commanding, his temper never rose, even when one of the VPs harangued him. He had all the answers, and the ability to bring calm to a heated exchange. If she were honest, his handling of volatile situations had actually turned her on.

“It’s one element, sure. But you approached the whole relationship like you were conducting a job interview.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“Oh no, I’m not. Look at what you did.” Stacy raised a hand and started keeping count on her fingers. “Five dates at fancy restaurants, each discuss your previous marriages on the sixth date, sex after the seventh date, introduce him to your friends at the three-month mark, then get engaged. It’s like an old-fashioned arranged marriage except that you did the arranging.”

“I just don’t want any big surprises.”

“You can’t choose a husband based on a checklist.” Stacy mimicked writing on the table. “Must be stable, check, sensible, check, handsome, check, ambitious, check, civilized, check, a good companion, check, decent bank balance, check.”

“I never asked what his bank balance was, and it’s not his wealth I care about.” She wasn’t simply being materialistic.

“No, you want security. And I understand that completely.”

She wanted a partner, not a man who became a boy the moment life threw a few curves. In her experience, when the going got tough, the so-called tough started to whine. She wanted someone to share problems with, a helpmate, not a hanger-on who drained her energy reserves and her savings.

“But where’s all the emotional high in that little checklist of yours, Virginia?”

Virginia shook her head. “That’s what I don’t want.” She had the highs, only to have them snowed under by the lows.

“Look, I know you haven’t had the best luck in men.”

“The best luck?” She blew out a disgusted breath. “Thanks for putting it so diplomatically, but I freely admit I used bad judgment.” She’d jumped into marriage before she really knew the man she was marrying. Not just once, but three damn times.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Stacy said sagely.

Virginia wasn’t about to go into the whole thing again. Stacy had seen her through two of the divorces. “The important thing is that Brett wants the same things I want.” Peace and companionship. He’d had an unpredictable marriage to a volatile wife, and that was putting it mildly.

“But you can’t give up fantastic sex because it wasn’t on your freaking checklist.”

The sex wasn’t bad. It might not be earth-shattering, but it was good enough. Brett made love the same way he entered a business meeting, civilized and controlled. She had to admit, in his bed she was a bit controlled herself. He wanted calm and serene, and that’s what she gave him. It was almost frightening to think of giving more. She might actually start expecting more, and that would make her vulnerable. In this marriage, she was not going to allow a speck of vulnerability.

But Stacy didn’t let the issue drop. “Six months, a year from now, you’re going to start wanting more. For God’s sake, Virginia, you chose to spend your last night of freedom at a sex club fulfilling your final fantasies. Don’t tell me you can live with boring, comfortable lovemaking for the rest of your life.”

Once Stacy started talking about her escapades at The S...

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (December 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425213609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425213605
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jasmine Haynes is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 35 classy, sensual romance tales. Look for more in the sensual West Coast series. She's also the author of the award-winning Max Starr psychic mystery series. And don't miss her writing as Jennifer Skully, KOD Daphne du Maurier award-winning author of contemporary romance, bringing you poignant tales peopled with hilarious characters that will make you laugh and make you cry. A brand new Cottonmouth adventure available now, Can't Forget You. And look for many of your favorite Jasmine Haynes and Jennifer Skully books in audiobook.

A sexy new West Coast series offering available now. Book 5, Pleasing Mr. Sutton.

Jasmine lives in the foothills of a gorgeous California mountain range, the perfect setting for writing erotic romance, chilling mystery or something guaranteed to make you laugh. Jasmine and her husband have a recent addition to the household, an 8-month old nuisance, oops, adorable little kitten named Wrigley! She's the cutest little thing!

Read more about Jasmine Haynes and Jennifer Skully at www.jasminehaynes.com, and visit her blog www.jasminehaynes.blogspot.com!

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Yau on December 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you have not read Jasmine Haynes, go buy her book now. Stop. Do not pass go. Instead, take a moment to press that buy button. Then when you get her book, curl up in your favorite chair and get ready for a sizzling hot, delicious read. The words that go through my mind when reading her anthologies (Twin Peaks with Susan Johnson, Somebody's lover, or this book) are believable characters, sexy, and total satisfaction. Jasmine Haynes effectively motivates the characters to the point that even if that character or the hero doesn't have the exact physical characteristics I'm typically attracted to, I'm still seduced along with her heroine. I completely buy into the motivations and reactions she gives her characters. Plus, she sets up the stories wonderfully so that her novellas have intertwining story lines and have heroines who are sexy women I can identify with; not just twenty-something ingénues. It's rare that I read a book with an older character (a real woman; not just someone in their late teens as in historical romances or in their twenties or early thirties at the most) who I can identify with, is well motivated, and I still think is sexy. Authors seem to forget that pre-menopausal over 35 are still interesting protagonists.

In Open Invitation, the first story follows the sexual awakening of a Debbie Carter, who's been in a sex-less, passion-less marriage. She and her two friends go to a sex club with the superficial purpose of celebrating her one friend's impending fourth time down the aisle. She comes to learn that she deserves love, passion, respect, and someone who is committed to her happiness - that mediocrity and "oh, well" attitude is not enough. She's worth more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By puccagirl73 VINE VOICE on December 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Many people say that 40 is now the new 30. Well in Open Invitation, it is true. This novel is definitely HOT and SPICY. It starts with a Bachelorette Party between forty-something friends and then moves on to the romantic and sexy adventures that happen after. Jasmine Haynes, who is also Jennifer Skully, has done it again with another anthology of steamy contemporaries. I definitely recommend having a cold Aquafina on hand when you read this anthology, it's fun and it sizzles.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tracey West on January 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
In what I think is probably Jasmine Haynes best, and hottest, title yet, "Open Invitation" will thrill women everywhere.

In these three stories, tied together by their experience at "The Sex Club", excitement, real living and spontaneity don't begin until after turning forty. With failed marriages, turning forty, lack of self confidence, sexual hunger, Jasmine Haynes brings real life issues to the forefront that many women today face. With realism, identifiable characters, as well as hot, steamy love scenes, Open Invitation delivers ten-fold.

There was no one particular favorite for me in this anthology. Debbie, Virginia and Stacy are all women I could identify with-even though I haven't hit forty myself-but they all wanted the same thing that most women want - the one man to settle down with (finally!), have a healthy, loving and active sex life, be accepted for who they are and the chance to enjoy life. These are all things that Ms. Haynes consistently and wonderfully pens in this anthology. It comes through loud and clear.

Open Invitation is a memorable read. Bravo to Ms. Haynes for writing a story women can really identify with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ana Devine on March 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I normally don't pick up novella compilations, but I couldn't be more glad that I did. I enjoyed the fact that the three stories were linked via the three main characters and the sex club. These are extremely likeable characters...I could admire and relate to...and with each story, really want to be.

Debbie's restlessness (Invitation to Seduction) is something a lot of us can relate to, along with the guilt she feels when trying to alleviate it. Her husband is good man but willing to wallow in the sexless rut their lives have become. Debbie, at her sexual peak not only needs fulfillment but passion. She finds that passion in a stranger at the club. She becomes torn between guilt and the discovery of intense passion she's never experienced. An unexpected twist forces her to evaluate her life and what she wants out of it. Ultimately, she finds her strength and stays true to herself and her ultimate happiness.

People marry for a lot of reasons, and being gun shy of passion dictates Virginia's choice of 4th husband (Invitation to Pleasure). Rather than allowing her heart to lead her, she, like many of us, gives in to fear and picks what she believes is the safe choice. Thankfully, she is pleasurably surprised by her new husband! The two of the start out leading dual lives as a couple--pleasant but dull at home, hot and sexy at the club. The discovery of jealously, a new sensation in what they both thought was a 'business arrangement of a marriage, sparks a steamy breakthrough that melds their two lives into one.

Stacy is resistant to monogamy (Invitation to Passion) believing it will always lead to the ultimate in dull and predictable. Again, something many can relate to, unfortunately.
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