Exclusive Excerpt + Signed Giveaway: SMUT by Karina Halle

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Everyone seems to be talking about Karina Halle’s latest—SMUT! Touted as irresistibly funny and impossible to stop reading, this book seems to have everyone talking… and giggling! I can’t wait to read it!!!!

I’m so excited to share with you an excerpt from this must-read recent release, plus your first opportunity to win a signed paperback—check it out below! You won’t want to miss this!

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Synopsis

SmutWhat happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?

All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.

What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is an arrogant jerk (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her (tight, round) bottom, they fight tooth and nail. That is until they discover they write well together. They also might find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.

When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot but at least there’s make-up sex now.

But even as they fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed or are happily-ever-afters just a work of fiction?

Excerpt

We take our usual seats near the front as I scan the room. Sure enough, Blake is in his corner, headphones on, and grinning at his phone. Probably watching a YouTube video on how to be a douchebag.

I can’t stand his grin. In fact, I hate everything about him. I know, I don’t really know him and hate’s a strong word, but I have my reasons. He’s the type of guy who would have made my high school years a living hell, only now I get to deal with his immaturity in university. Thank god I only have one class with him, otherwise all my time would be spent thinking of witty comebacks to his insults and insinuations.

I don’t even know why he’s in the class at all, mind you. He’s a third year student and transferred from England last year, getting his business degree. Not sure how writing plays into any of it, but however it does, he doesn’t take anything seriously. It’s like writing and books and literature are one big joke, and I’m not the kind of person to take that lightly. Sure, maybe I get a bit too serious at times, whether it comes to writing or school, but that’s because, well…I need to.

Then there’s the fact that he’s a self-proclaimed sex god that every girl seems to lose their damn head over. It’s like the sight of him causes any vestiges of self-respect to evaporate, and girls practically throw themselves at his feet. I’ve seen it happen in this class—first with Monique, then Lisa, then Kendra, now Ali. The only upside to this continuous classmate walk of shame is that at least it makes class more interesting when every tragic poem and angry short story seems to be directed at Blake. It’s like watching one of those train wreck reality shows unfold before your very eyes.

I just don’t get it. Surely they can all see it’s an act. Even if he’s good in bed, how the hell does he even get you there?

Okay, well maybe it’s because he’s not exactly hard on the eyes. I’d be blind if I said Blake wasn’t good looking. He is. I can admit it. I can find men attractive without actually being attracted to them (I used to think that about Brad Pitt, but he’s changing my mind as he gets older). Blake is tall and lean with just the right amount of muscle, thick dark hair that’s always a bit rumpled, and deep blue eyes that sometimes seem black. You know, the kind of looks that most girls want. Maybe even the kind that might blind you to the point of making a string of unhealthy decisions that ultimately help fuel their writing goals. I don’t know.

Unfortunately, all of his beauty is spoiled by his shit-eating grin, which, as I said earlier, is probably his best and worst feature. Best because he flashes it all over the place and women spontaneously combust like matches are struck on their ovaries. Worst because I know what that grin represents: cockiness, arrogance, and one hell of an ego. There’s nothing that bothers me more than guys who think you’d be lucky to have them, though now when I think about it, that’s pretty much Alan to a tee. He was a lot subtler about it, but he did have this air of denigration that made me think he was taking pity on me half the time. Maybe that’s why Blake bugs me so much.

Or maybe it’s because he’s an ass.

“All right everyone.” Marie enters the room with a tepid grin, taking her place behind her desk, her long fringed shawl and beaded bracelets rattling as she puts her hands together and does this thing where she tries to look everyone in the class right in the eye. Marie is pretty much the stereotype of a creative writing professor. Her hair is waist-length and steel grey, she’s always wearing some sort of heavy gemstone around her neck, and she smells vaguely of patchouli. Sometimes marijuana. As I mentioned before, she’s a stickler for certain rules and can turn hard on a dime, even though she speaks with a fairy-like quality and her view toward life is one of both a free spirit and a bleeding heart.

“Who here is excited for your final assignment?”

“Me!” I say a little too loudly. I have to supress myself from raising my arm like some kind of keener. Still, I refuse to look sheepish about it. Everyone here knows that about me by now.

Especially Blake. I can’t help but look over in his direction, and lo and behold he’s rolling his eyes. He doesn’t even glance my way to see if I notice; it’s like an automatic reaction for him.

“Well,” Marie says as she walks around the front of her desk. “I should let you all know that this assignment is a deviation from what you’ve been given so far.” She leans back against the desk and folds her arms, her smile soft and somewhat pitying. Unease prickles the back of my neck. “Being a writer is hard work. Harder than you’ll ever think possible. What makes it even worse is the fact that right now, for nearly all of you, writing is easy. You write down what comes from your heart. All struggle is rooted in the outcome, the fear of the grade, the pressure of the deadline. But not in putting down the words, not in telling the story. At this stage, all of you can just, as Hemingway once said, sit down at the typewriter and bleed. But for many writers, and to borrow a popular cliché, it’s like getting blood from a stone. You have the want and the desire, but with experience and time, your self-doubt becomes louder and your inner critic comes out to play. It silences your creativity. You feel you aren’t allowed to make mistakes.”

Marie’s tone is so serious that even Blake has stopped looking at his phone and is watching her with a furrowed brow.

“Writing is hard,” she continues. “It gets harder when it becomes your career, your job, because it’s no longer a hobby, it’s no longer a manuscript hidden in your desk drawer. It becomes a platform from which the world can judge you. Your soul becomes target practice, and the critics hold the arrows. I’m not saying this to scare or discourage you, because I’ve been teaching this class a long time and I know nothing will discourage a wannabe writer more than harsh reality. I don’t have to say a word. If it’s in you, it’s in you, and you will persevere no matter the cost, no matter how hard it is, because that’s what you are born to do. To throw another cliché your way, the only way to fail is to quit.”

She lets out a long breath of air and stares down at her wrists, adjusting her bracelets. “That all said, you need to know that this class, so far, has been a breeze. This has been about exploring your creativity without fear of judgement or mistakes. It’s been about honing your skills, the craft, about improvement. I have not touched on the actual challenges of writing in the real world…but with this last assignment I will do just that.”

I exchange a quick glance with Rio. She looks just as worried as I do. I hope we don’t have to submit a story for a contest or a newspaper or something that will be printed in public because Marie is right, I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. Baring all to the classroom and sharing our work with each other so far has been hard enough, even though I know I write better than most of them.

“For this last assignment,” Marie says, standing up straighter, “I have decided to push you out of your comfort zone. To force you to take risks. And most of all, to teach you to embrace something, a skill that will become crucial as you make writing your career, even though it seems to go against every anti-social, introverted bone in your body. I know a lot of you in here wouldn’t classify yourselves as such.” She nods at Rio and Blake and a few others, who don’t exactly fit the image of a quiet, lonely writer. “But when it comes to writing, we all shut down and internalize everything. That’s the nature of the game. We reach deep within ourselves to pull up all the muck and the dirt and the roots of who we are. But when you’re working with editors and publishers and marketers and librarians and whomever else comes your way, you realize that though writing is a lonely, isolating, primarily selfish profession, you need to be able to work well with others in order to make this your job.”

“What if we don’t want to make it our job?” Camelia Parsons says, raising her hand. I swear this girl is half the reason why book pirating is so rampant. “Making money has never been an issue. It’s not why I write. I write to bare my soul, regardless if it sells or who reads it.”

Marie shoots her a placating smile. “Then all the power to you. But if that’s all you envision, writing for a hobby, then you can’t truly care about bettering yourself, about learning the craft. We learn so that we may succeed, and that goes for anything in life, including the arts. It’s a falsity that the moment we earn money or wish to earn money for our creations that it ceases to become art. If that’s truly what you believe, that sales don’t matter, then you need to question what you hope to get out of this. After all, art isn’t just about creating. It’s about sharing. And whether you want the sales or don’t need the money at all, what you do need is all eyes on your work. You want to be recognized. You want to be seen.”

“No disrespect, Professor,” Blake says in his British accent, biting his lip for a moment. All eyes in the class swivel toward him. I know that he can’t possibly be one of the artists that Marie is talking about—he’s just another college kid looking for an easy elective to get his final grade. “But I’m curious as to what you’re getting at. Just tell us. We can take it. After all, we’ve survived this long with you as our teacher.”

Marie raises a bushy eyebrow but that’s the extent of her reaction. How he doesn’t get a rise out of her, I don’t know. Marie is always a lot tougher on the guys in the class than the girls, but with Blake she seems to let things slide.

“Right you are, Mr. Crawford,” she says. That’s the other thing. Always calling him Mr. Crawford, as if he’s not just another college student. Must be the accent. It gives him an air of respectability that fogs out all of his other shortcomings.

She clears her throat and eyes us all. “Excuse me. You know I’m prone to a tangent with the best of them. The point of the final assignment is this—to make writing hard. To force you to think outside the box. And to ensure you learn to work well with others. Your final assignment is to write a twenty to thirty-thousand-word novella with another person in class.”

There are a few gasps. I look over at Rio with wide eyes, hoping we can pick our partners. Writing with someone has never been on my agenda, but I think if writing with Rio were an option, we could really make it work. We’re on opposite sides of the spectrum, but that might just bring out the best in both of us.

Marie goes on. “I know you have a short time span, but this will also help hone writing under a deadline. My hope for all of you is to share the work evenly. Whether you trade off chapters or point of views, or collaborate on each and every sentence, you should hope to contribute ten to fifteen thousand words each, which is about the same length as the last assignment. The only caveat here is…” She pauses, and this is when her sympathetic smile comes back into play. “That you don’t get to choose your partner. I will choose them for you.”

Ah. Shit. Rio grimaces, even though I know it’s more for me than for her. She has this easy ability to get along with almost everyone, girls, guys, animals, plants. Me, on the other hand, I’m not so lucky. I’m not socially awkward, but to be honest, most people are total morons, and my tolerance for them isn’t very high. Some have patience. I do not. And especially not when it comes to writing.

Marie twists behind her and picks up a piece of paper, clearing her throat before she starts going down the list. Rio gets paired with Ali, who of course isn’t here. She’s lucky though—Ali is one of the smart ones, and after whatever happened with Blake, she probably has enough emotional torment driving her to take on the whole project by herself.

“Holly McGuire, your partner will be Alice Oakes,” Marie says, and while those two come to terms with it, her eyes meet mine, and not only do I know I’m next, I know I’m in deep shit. “Amanda Newland,” she says, drawing out the pause, “your writing partner for this assignment will be Blake Crawford.”

Silence sinks over the room.

Then someone titters.

“Oh, this should be lovely,” Blake says from across the room, his voice dripping with sarcasm, his accent somehow amplifying it.

I can’t even look at him though. I’m frozen in place, stuck staring at Marie with my mouth open a few inches. She can’t be serious. There has to be some mistake.

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