(The Pennymaker Tales #3)
by Tara Lain
Is beauty only skin deep?
Chemist Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre loves flowers, green trees, his best friend Judy, and “his baby”: the new face cream he developed to help put his father’s small cosmetics company on the map. Sadly he gets no help from his alcoholic, gambling-addicted father who loses Belle in a poker game to Magnus Strong, the CEO of Beauty, Inc. the largest American cosmetics company—a man infamous for his scarred ugliness.
Belle finds himself uprooted from his home, living in a wildly crazy apartment in New York owned by Mr. Pennymaker, and completely unprepared for his mad attraction to the charismatic Strong. Feeling like a traitor, Belle fights his passion only to see more and more of the goodness and humility hidden by Strong’s ugly face. But when Belle’s family starts manipulating his life again, the odds turn against happiness for beautiful Belle and his beloved beast.
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Writing the Contemporary Fairy Tale
Hi. I’m so happy to be here today to celebrate the release of my new fairy tale romance, BEAUTY, INC. I’m Tara Lain and I write the Beautiful Boys of Romance.
Since I love happy-ever-afters in the extreme, I decided a couple years ago that I should try to base a contemporary MM romance on a classic fairy tale. In truth, this is an odd decision since classic fairy tales are often horrifically violent and agonizingly not happy! But by the time Disney got done with them, they became the model for all things going well. I decided to try it. For my first book, I chose, duh, Cinderella. What else? It was easy to imagine a contemporary “prince” – a very rich and eligible bachelor that all the mothers want their daughters to marry. My hero, on the other hand, would be a poor boy who works hard to keep body and soul together. I called the book Sinders and Ash.
I enjoyed the experience so much, I decided to try again, this time with Snow White. Snow White is a pretty complex story packed with the beautiful Snow White, her hapless father, the evil queen, the huntsman who’s supposed to kill her, the 7 dwarves who save her, and more. This was a challenging but very fun story I ultimately called Driven Snow.
That brings us to book 3 in this series – Beauty, Inc. Compared to Snow White, Beauty and the Beast is a relatively simple story. A formerly wealthy man with 3 daughters loses his money. As he’s traveling, he stumbles upon a beautiful castle and goes inside where he finds delicious food and a place to sleep. While there, he picks a beautiful rose and is confronted by the castle’s horrific owner, the beast, who accuses him of being au ungrateful guest. There are various versions, but generally the father must send back his lovely daughter Belle to save his own skin. She goes willingly to save her father and is treated very well by the beast, but gradually becomes homesick. The beast allows her to visit home, but while she is gone he sickens unto death. She realizes her love for him, rushes back and saves him, only to have him turn into a handsome prince. It was a unique challenge for me since I tend to write really beautiful heroes and clearly, I needed a beast. I don’t even remember how I decided to set the story in the cosmetics industry, but it worked so well I was inspired. Of all three tales, my beta readers tell me this has the most heart of all.
The three books are all stand-alone and are tied together only by one character – Mr. Pennymaker. He’s described as a tiny, almost elfin man who, in Sinders and Ash, fulfills the role of the fairy godmother. In the other books that don’t exactly have fairy godmothers or good witches, Mr. P simply represents the magical and mysterious in life. He’s happy-ever-after made manifest.
I hope you’ll like BEAUTY, INC. I certainly liked writing it for you.
“Looking for someone?”
“Yes. Judy. My friend. I thought she was coming here.”
“Oh yes. She has her apartment on the ground floor. Mr. Strong thought it would be best if she didn’t have to climb too many stairs while she’s being treated.”
Belle just stared. He felt the tears welling in his eyes but couldn’t stop them. Limb by limb, he collapsed to the floor like an old plastic bag. His own father hadn’t even paid attention, and Magnus Strong put Judy on the ground floor to keep her from having to climb stairs.
Mr. P closed the door and flopped down beside him. “So, my dear, what seems to be the trouble?”
Belle shook his head and snuffled.
“I did a really bad thing.”
“What might that have been, my dear?”
He sniffed. “I humped my boss.”
“Hmm. Humped. I’m failing to get a mental image.”
Belle sighed. “It’s probably just as well. I got overzealous and threw myself on Magnus Strong. That might have been okay, but then I—” He dropped his face in his hand. “Oh God.”
“I’m starting to get an image. Continue.”
He popped his head up. “I kissed him, okay? And then, as if that wasn’t the stupidest thing ever done since W said “mission accomplished,” I managed to get my penis in contact with his and—humped. Now do you get the picture?”
Mr. P clapped his hands. “Perfect.”
“Oh, so far from perfect.” He fell back against the large Asian throw rug. “Why did I do it? Why?”
“Excellent question. Why did you do it?”
“He turns me on.”
Belle sat up, in his best Frankenstein’s monster imitation. “He turns me on like a large neon light.”
“Because he helped your friend?”
“Way before he helped Judy. Before he helped me, in fact.”
Mr. P smiled. “So you acknowledge that he’s helped you?”
“Oh hell, Mr. P, I’m so confused. I mean, getting won in a poker game doesn’t exactly kick a relationship off on a sterling foot. Plus, that was after he seemed to be stalking me. I assumed he was trying to get me here to—you know—screw me instead of my father.”
“Ah, I see. And now you’ve thrown at him the very thing you assumed he wanted—and he refused it.”
“In a word—yes. I don’t know what to think.”
“There’s only one answer, my dear. Outside the box.”
The Pennymaker Tales Series
(The Pennymaker Tales Series, #1)
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(The Pennymaker Tales, #2)
by Tara Lain
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Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her bestselling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soulmate husband and her soulmate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at