Jun 2 2014 5:15pm
More Than a Cup of Sugar: M.Q. Barber’s Neighborly Affection Series
Today Heroes and Heartbreakers is pleased to welcome M.Q. Barber, who is here to introduce her Neighborly Affection series, the latest novel in which is Healing the Wounds, out tomorrow. The series explores what happens when a woman ends up playing—in many ways—with her next-door neighbors. The first book in the series, Playing the Game, introduced Alice, Henry, and Jay, and how the three of them intersect in life and in bed. The relationship is a m/m/f menage, and explores sexual play, including BDSM, bondage and spanking. But in addition to that, Barber takes on the emotional and psychological ramifications of this type of relationship. Thanks, M.Q.!
An intelligent, practical woman, Alice shuns the drama and baggage long-term entanglements with men bring. But her competitive streak won’t let her resist a challenge, and her attraction to her neighbors Henry and Jay has had her running hot since the day they met. When the guys offer her more than friendship, the opportunity to share their bed is too good to pass up.
A psychological seduction wrapped in sex, the Neighborly Affection series exposes the evolution of an unconventional relationship. What begins as a purely sexual arrangement for Alice — a chance to learn more about her own sexual triggers from dominant Henry and submissive Jay — grows into something far greater.
The characters drive the series forward in each book. Henry, Alice, and Jay are realistic people with real emotions sorting out how their three-sided relationship will stay balanced and give them all what they need from each other. Yes, some nights what they need involves power and obedience and bondage and flogging. But every night involves trust and understanding and caring, even when their personal flaws get in the way of their happiness.
Henry, Alice, and Jay’s story unfolds over time in the way most stable relationships do, with deepening bonds and greater trust in each adventure. Their affection for each other must be enough to pierce Henry’s authoritative reserve, to heal Jay’s shame, and to show Alice the strength in surrender. Over the course of the series, they laugh together and cry together and explore pleasure together.
As an author, I love writing erotic romance about Henry, Alice, and Jay because the sex is never just about sex. What the three of them do in bed (or elsewhere) shifts pieces in the puzzle of their overall relationship.
In the first book, Playing the Game, the trio has a structured arrangement that suits Alice’s need for control even as she learns to let go and find freedom in submission. In the second book, Crossing the Lines, emotional needs push at the edges of what the arrangement can provide, and chaos slips in. The third book, Healing the Wounds, carries the trio through the fallout of their choices as they regroup.
I hope you’ll enjoy letting Henry, Alice, and Jay lead you into their world of Neighborly Affection as much as I do.
M.Q. Barber’s Neighborly Affection series (in reading order):
And now, check out an excerpt from Chapter 3 of M.Q. Barber's USA Today bestseller Playing the Game, Book 1 in the Neighborly Affection series:
“We’re on Henry’s turf now, Alice. He’s the culinary genius. I just do what I’m told.”
She stood in Henry and Jay’s kitchen enjoying Jay’s chatter and Henry’s quiet expertise. Henry had heightened his polite reserve for this moving-in anniversary dinner. A chaperone, almost, for a weird date with Jay.
Yeah, keep dreaming, girl.
Despite the backless halter she’d worn, a flowing, flirty, knee-length black dress, this was not a date. Dinner, yes. Date, no. Just her considerate, across-the-hall neighbors inviting her to their apartment for a celebratory meal.
Even if Jay went out with women. Even if maybe Henry had been kind of dating her last month with the dinner and fireworks. This was not a date. Henry was not setting her up with his boyfriend. Probably.
Henry spoke while he worked. “Jay, open the wine, please. It needs a few minutes to breathe.”
Jay carried the bottle to the table, raising his eyebrows as he passed her.
“See what I mean?” Jay whispered, but she caught the small twist in Henry’s lips.
He stood behind the kitchen island, a commander overseeing the final inspection of his troops, adjusting this dish and that one. He had beautiful hands, long, slender fingers, nimble and strong.
She jerked her head up. Henry no longer hid his smile.
“I…everything looks fantastic. I can’t wait to eat.”
“Ah. Of course. Excellent timing, my dear. If you’ll allow me to escort you?”
She worked to bring her heart rate down as he approached.
“You’ve selected a beautiful dress, Alice. Entirely too fine for Jay’s benefit, I’m afraid. He’s rather immune to fashion.” He threaded her hand through his arm and led her to the table. “Myself, on the other hand…Mmm. Let’s just say I appreciate the thought that went into your choice, hmm?”
Oh God. She’d been way too obvious with the dress and the staring, and he’d tired of her attention whore routine.
“Uh, I, it’s not often a girl has the chance to dress up for dinner.”
Henry clicked his tongue. “Jay and I have both noticed your interest, Alice. It’s nothing of which you need be ashamed. We’re flattered.”
She waited for his gentle brush-off. God, why couldn’t she meet any available nice guys? Ones who could dress themselves in the morning and put a meal on the table once in a while? Ones who could hold her attention for more than three dates but wouldn’t pressure her for commitment?
“Definitely flattered,” Jay chimed in. His gaze raked over her body.
The move might’ve earned a stranger a drink in the face, but not Jay, her de facto best friend. His look was what she’d wanted when she put the dress on. Even if he was untouchable.
No rule against fantasizing. She’d apologize and promise to rein it in and everything would be fine.
“Manners, Jay.” Henry released her arm to pull out her chair. “I won’t tolerate such boorish behavior. Alice deserves more dignified attentions.”
She studied her sandals against the dining room rug. Dignified, undignified…hell, she liked ’em both.
“She wants to play, Henry. You know she does, even if she hasn’t said so.”
Jay rarely sounded so serious. She opened her mouth to ask about their game when Henry spoke.
“Enough, Jay. Sit down and keep your eyes on your plate if you can’t be polite.”
Jay’s eyes, defiant, lusting, caught hers. And then he sat and stared at his plate. What the hell had she walked into tonight?
“Alice. Please accept my apologies for Jay’s rather forward behavior.” Henry took a softer tone with her than with Jay, gentler, and his hand grazed her bare back. “The young are always in such a rush.”
She would’ve smiled if she weren’t so confused by their behavior tonight. Jay might have her birthday beat by eighteen months, but the impatience and immaturity she had shed still clung to him. Henry had a decade on Jay, but age wasn’t what set him apart. She imagined him mature and controlled even as a child. Dignified.
Henry tipped his head and captured her gaze. He was taller than she was. Not much. She might match him in heels, not that it mattered, since they weren’t dating and never would be. His height hit the sweet spot that made standing beside him exquisite, even if she’d never admit it aloud to the ones she turned down, the ones who weren’t the perfect fit.
Henry’s fingertips trailed over her spine, and she shivered.
“Except when they’re a bit skittish,” he murmured. “Is that what you are, Alice? Perhaps you’re feeling unsure of your place here?”
She couldn’t meet his gaze for long. His eyes invited her to drown in tender concern, implied an intimacy that made her nervous and needy. Jay proved no help, his focus locked to his plate.
“If you don’t wish to play, my dear, that’s fine. We three may still have a lovely dinner, and your longing looks will be no less welcome for the declined invitation.”
Her gaze flicked back to Henry’s. She wet her lips. Beneath the nerves welled a thrilling jolt, an anticipatory burst of glee.
“But there could be more if I want it?”
Copyright © 2013 by M.Q. Barber
Like what you read? Learn more or order a copy of Playing the Game (Neighborly Affection #1) by MQ Barber, out now:
All caught up? Here's more about the brand-new release, Healing the Wounds (Neighborly Affection #3), out now:
M.Q. Barber likes to get lost in thought. She writes things down so she can find herself again.
Often found staring off into space or frantically scratching words on post-it notes, M.Q. lives with one very tolerant, easily amused husband and one very tolerant, easily amused puppy.
She has a soft spot for romances that explore the inner workings of the heart and mind alongside all that steamy physical exertion. She loves memorable characters, witty banter, and heartfelt emotion in any genre.