Beauty Bites

Beauty Bites

Beauty is skin deep…but the beast goes all the way.

Biting Love Book 6

Print Amazon, BN, Samhain

When top Minneapolis ad man Ric Holiday is asked to design a campaign for a quaint little town, his first reaction is absolutely not. Meiers Corners is too near Chicago, home of the vampire who turned him as an orphaned boy.

Then the city sends an angel-faced med student with a body made for sin to plead their case. Synnove Byornsson is the ray of sunshine Ric hasn’t felt since he was human.

Armed with determination and a micro miniskirt, Synnove is prepared to crash Holiday’s penthouse cocktail party—and to dislike him on sight. But Mr. All-Style-No-Substance turns out to have a deadly smile, a barely restrained, feral strength, and piercing blue eyes that look at her—not at her cleavage.

Unfortunately Synnove has competition in the form of a sly temptress with a counterproposal. For the first time in her life, Synnove must cash in her genetic lottery ticket and fire back with some sizzle of her own—or her beloved Meiers Corners could become the new Sin City.

Warning: Contains a doctor with a bod for sin, an ad exec with a chip on his shoulder, sarcasm, sex, and a cabin full of annoying friends. Secrets are revealed. One heart-stopping, horrific moment leads to the ultimate of happily-ever-afters.

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Reviews for Beauty Bites

"Hot vampire sex, hysterical humor, funny sassy heroines (seriously, you cannot help but LOVE Synnove spouting off medical facts randomly), and fast-paced fun plots.... ummmm... why aren't you already reading this one?" ~Ellie for Love N. Books

A True Gem"So, what did I love most about “Beauty Bites”? Well, of course, there’s hot vampire sex [] I adored how the whole story was built around “Beauty and the Beast” and all the references to fairy tales. And, then there’s Synnove – she was a hysterical. Whenever she got nervous, she started sprouting “Grey’s Anatomy” lines [...] Ric turned out to be one of the most loveable vampires ever. He never thought he would find someone like Synnove and wanted nothing more than to love, cherish and protect her in the end. So, Aiden, are you next? I hope so! [...] I love the writing of Mary Hughes. I can always depend on her to lift my spirits, take away my worries and just make me laugh. [] funny, fast-paced, and so very easy to read. If you haven’t read the whole series, I strongly suggest that you do." ~Kitty for Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

Recommended Read"If you haven’t picked up a copy of Mary Hughes’ spellbinding series, Biting Love, then you’re definitely missing out. The small town antics, fast-paced action, quick wit, sarcastic humor, and explosive sexual chemistry would make an awesome television series. I’d watch each week like an addict trying to get her next fix chocolate because it’s that darn good and I love, love, love me some chocolate. :) So pick up a copy of Beauty Bites today and discover what you’ve been missing." ~AJ for Blackraven's Reviews

Recommended Read Harlie's Reviews"Ms. Hughes can write some the hottest snark in the business and it truly shines in this book.  Another thing is the affection that the hero and heroine have for each other.  They make each other better people who makes for a stronger couple.  Ms. Hughes does this in every book that she writes and I love it. [
] Run, don’t even think about it…buy this series!  You will not be disappointed at all.  Just be prepared to laugh out loud, sigh, cry and feel completely satisfied when the story is over." ~Harlie for Harlie's Books

5 LoveYas5 Kisses "Beauty Bites (How beauty Saved Meiers Corners and Won the Hot Vampire)--I spent much of this book clenching a tissue to stem the flow of tears from the laughter, and fanning myself from the heat raised by Synnove and Ric. This one is super hot, funny and delicious and I recommend it to all who like their romance Type O with a side of hot and sexy." ~Nancy G for My Odd Little World

"What is NOT to like with the Biting Love series by Mary Hughes?  I f**king love this series. [
] Hot vampire sex, hysterical humor, funny sassy heroines (seriously, you cannot help but LOVE Synnove spouting off medical facts randomly), and fast-paced fun plots…. ummmm… why aren’t you already reading this one?" ~Ellie for Love N. Books

", quirky and entertaining...there’s just something so appealing about the people from this little town that every time a new book comes out I have to read it. This time, it’s Ric and Synnove and their bantering dialogue and sizzling sexual tension I can’t get enough of." ~Dragon Minx for Literary Nymphs

"In the sixth book in the Biting Love series, Mary Hughes pits a vampire ad man against a sharp-witted human with a body made for sin. Another tale of biting humor, this one is sure to make you grin." ~Joyce Lamb, USA Today Happy Ever After

"This was pure fun and sass.  Loved that Synnove was uber intelligent and spouts off the most random medical facts.  Ric is a sensual character, he is magnetic and reluctant to get involved with Synnove even though she is too tempting to resist.  Excellent read." ~Em for Musings From An Addicted Reader

"Let me start off by saying I have not read the other books in this series but plan on it after reading this one." ~Olivia for First Class Books

"I really enjoyed this latest entry in the series although it did serve as a reminder that I missed a short story and another full length one somehow.  I’m going to have to go back and grab it so I can make sure not to miss a second of the craziness that is Meiers Corners." ~Steph for Book-A-Holic Anon

"I'm eager to read the succeeding books." ~Braine for TalkSupe

"Hughes' Beauty Bites is a fun story populated by well-drawn, quirky characters." ~Alexandra Kay,
4 Stars, RT Book Reviews

" Biting Love character Aiden (Ric’s best friend) stole a lot of the scenes he was in and I can’t wait to read his story...a solid installment to the Biting Love series and I finished it eager to read the next book, Downbeat." ~ Shayna for Joyfully Reviewed

An excerpt from

Beauty Bites

Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
A shiver hit me at Ric Holiday’s hot, promising smile. Testosterone plays a starring role in sexual arousal in males, but in women its purpose is less clear…

Argh. What was wrong with me? No lusting, especially after the opposition. My cousin had charged me with a job, and while I wasn’t against sex overlapping with work per se, I’d seen it cause aggravated stupidity too often. Extended bathroom breaks and three-hour lunches, sneaking around like nobody knows when in fact everybody does and resents the extra work.

Holiday’s smile sharpened, a wicked glint of teeth edging it like a knife. Pure lust shimmered through me. Oh yeah. Lubrication is followed by vasocongestion of the vaginal walls…crap.

I had to escape that promising smile, stat.

But the path to the study was clogged with people. I was screwed, and not in the good way.

Then Ric “Moses” Holiday extended one elegant hand toward his study. The sea of black, gold and silver miraculously parted. “Off you go now.”

All that, with just the force of his personality. Ooh.

Before I got too girly over it, I paused to wonder if he had any real character to back it up. I heard sizzle. Didn’t mean he had the steak.

His smile broadened. His eyes twinkled with an I have all the steak you need.

I gasped and escaped into Holiday’s study.

It was an upscale man cave—walnut wainscoting, leather couches and recliners, a leather-and-oak wet bar, and a seventy-inch smart TV, the ultimate in flickering fires. Its impressiveness was kicked stratospheric by the 7.1 surround sound, eight speakers’ worth of movie-quality goodness.

But an upscale man cave is still a man cave, and I’m not much into sitting on skinned cow. I crossed the room to a set of French doors cracked open to an evening breeze.

My breasts tightened. Not arousal but simple chill; I’d let go of the suit coat. I pulled it closed. Maybe Holiday made a habit of loaning articles of clothing to women. None of my business, but strangely, the thought bothered me. As if, for some reason, I wanted to be special to him. Had to be hormones making my brain mushier than normal. Stupid norepinephrine. I shook it off.

Nudging the French doors wider, I inhaled. The air, lightly scented with petunias, reminded me of home, back before my mother and father sold the house to travel the world, currently in Turkey or Abu Dhabi or something. Under the floral odor was a darker scent, mellow wood smoke with the tang of something spicy, elusive but mouthwatering. Unconsciously I turned my head to take the scent deeper—and buried my nose in the shoulder of Holiday’s suit jacket.

My cheeks burned. The cooler outside air seemed less a treat and more a necessity now—nothing to do with Mr. Flamingly Handsome Holiday. But of course I was lying to myself.

Didn’t matter. Uncomfortable was uncomfortable. I slipped outside. And stopped when my mandible hit the floor.

The terrace—it was too large and elegant to be a simple porch—was the size of my whole student apartment. Its black basalt surface was swept clean. An artful scattering of potted trees and graceful, discreet statuary merely enhanced the terrace’s stark elegance.

I crossed to the far side.

The edge was safeguarded by a heavily lacquered oak railing supported by worked iron spindles. I ran one hand along the rail’s silky smooth surface. This wasn’t conspicuous consumption supported by a maxed-out credit card. This was a sign of solid wealth. Advertising sizzle apparently paid better than I knew.

The cooler air, combined with the railing’s smooth feel, soothed me. Tensions I’d carried since even before the elevator incident drained out of my muscles. What a mess my life had become, that even that obnoxious incident seemed mostly an annoyance.

Leaning elbows on the railing, I looked out onto the Minneapolis-St. Paul night. Holiday’s penthouse was high enough that the view was rooftops and stars instead of the sides of buildings. Random fireworks burst in the air. Below me, streetlights blazed. The lamps were so distant they might have been stars.

What the heck was I doing here in Rich Man’s Canyon? Despite my runway looks, I was a hometown girl, raised in the small German-immigrant-settled city of Meiers Corners, Illinois. Ric Holiday’s rich penthouse and vast terrace made my tummy shimmy. If I hadn’t heard the desperation in Twyla’s voice, I’d have thought she’d reverted to another of her endless childhood pranks on me.

But she had been desperate, and I loved her like a sister. Besides, she invoked You Owe Me A Favor, calling due everything from when I’d borrowed her best suit for my med school interviews to covering for me the time I’d broken her Grandma Tafel’s reading glasses using them to magnify bugs. Although I put my foot down when Twyla added twenty years of interest. Favor interest, really. Everyone knows you have to call “Bank” or it doesn’t count.

Twyla was actually my second cousin, our grandmothers being sisters, although Meiers Corners was so insular I was related to half the population. If my father had been a native too, that percentage would have been higher.

But Twyla had a problem. Meiers Corners’s local economy was too local; the city was in danger of going bankrupt. The solution? Tourism. The single benefit of straitjacket insularity is that we’re steeped in local flavor. We have Quaint Local Shoppes coming out Ye Olde Sphincter.

So tourism seemed a natural fit, and was indeed working great, except for getting the word out. After all, tourism without tourists was, um…M.

Which was where Ric Holiday came in. Holiday Buzz International was the Número Uno ad shop for innovative campaigns. Holiday thought so outside the box that even circles were too square. Meiers Corners needed that desperately. We’re hard workers but tend to think right angles are the epitome of chic.

So Twyla, wearing her city admin hat, called Holiday. But he said no.

So the mayor called him. Holiday said no. Our chief of police called him. Holiday said no. The mayor’s secretary Heidi called, cracking her whip. Holiday said something unprintable that translated to no. Then our top lawyer and prime negotiator Julian Emerson called.

Holiday wouldn’t even speak to him.

Twyla said enough. Time to meet Holiday face to face, to find out what the sticking point was. Then she could apply either carrot (the mayor) or stick (Heidi) as necessary.

Time, Twyla said, to confront the lion in his den.

If she’d met lithe, tawny, forceful Ric Holiday in person, she couldn’t have gotten that any more right.

I fingered the expensive material of his suit coat. There was something untamed about him, sinewy strength barely civilized by suit and tie.

A bolt of lust sheared through me, so long and hard that I shuddered.

Which was of course when the French doors behind me opened.

“Here you are. Escaping the heat? I knew you were beautiful, but now I see you’re smart too.”

I spun to behold the owner of that deep voice. He’d changed into another suit, this one a charcoal gray that contrasted sharply with his azure eyes. In even those few moments I’d forgotten how handsome he was—so gorgeous he made my eyes hurt, my only excuse for blurting, “Did you know that seeing a good-looking person of the opposite sex makes the brain release dopamine which triggers pupil dilation?”

I slammed my stupid dopamine-dilated eyes shut. This was my opponent. I tugged his coat tighter, thought constricting thoughts, opened my eyes and tried again. “If I were smart, I wouldn’t have gotten my blouse torn.”

He glided closer. “The smartest move of all. Not your fault and yet effective, since you’re here to ask a favor. Visual aids are always useful in negotiations.” His eyes, sparkling with sensual intent, dipped to where his coat covered my cleavage. A smile, full of promise, curved his lips.

That wicked smile was a pilot light to the broiler of my body, igniting every cell, whoosh. I flushed hot, shivered with it.

But my brain wasn’t all that charmed. “Visual aids? Implying I should use sex to negotiate? That was beneath you.”

His smile pursed. “The bra isn’t a Temptress Siren Special? Retail $199. A thirty-six D unless I miss my guess, but a bit too small for you.” His eyebrows rose. “It’s not yours, is it?”

“I find it disturbing that you observed all that in a glance.” I’d thought his gaze had been on my face in the lobby.

“Good peripheral vision.” He quirked a grin. Devastatingly handsome morphed to boyishly attractive, actually even more devastating.

I squashed a groan. “Then what were you suggesting with the ‘visual aids’ crack?”

“My dear Synnove, I wasn’t suggesting anything. Merely observing.” He handed me a champagne flute. “Housekeeping is bringing you another blouse.”

I clamped the coat with one hand to accept the cut crystal with the other.

“And in observing, I find myself curious.” He sipped his champagne. “A beautiful woman from out of state attends my third annual Christmas-in-July house party, bearing a gift no less, but not because she wants something? I’m not sure I quite believe that.”

I sipped champagne too, ended up with my lips in my esophagus. The stuff was dry. “You invited me.” The words rasped like sandpaper. I coughed and tried again. “Do you always invite strangers to your house party?” Better.

“I’m in advertising. Even the people I know are strangers. But in this case, my admin handled the invites.”

Which reminded me that, though we were strangers, he’d named me on sight. I again opened my mouth to ask how the hell he knew, when he hit me with those startlingly blue eyes and drilled both question and oxygen from me.

He wedged his own question into the gap. “Why go to so much trouble to see me?”

It took a few quick breaths to pump up air for an incautious answer. “You’re a hard man to see.” Hard. I clutched my champagne and dredged my brain up from the gutter of my hormones. “You’re something of an enigma, Mr. Holiday. We want to negotiate, so we want to get to know you better.”

“We? I’m disappointed. I was so hoping this was about you.” Lean fingers slid under my chin, raising my face.

Our eyes collided. His sparkled with intelligence and confidence and a sexuality so blistering I couldn’t breathe. My body flooded with begging-for-sex estrogen. “M…me?”

“Yes. Your partners have sent the perfect leverage. The perfect female.” His voice deepened, husky. “You.”

“I’m…I’m not…” I cleared my throat.

He bent closer until his mouth hovered over mine. “You’re not perfect?” His breath heated my lips.

Desire arrowed straight through me, sudden and splashing and hot.

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