Spotlight & Giveaway: Living in Sin by Jackie Ashenden

Posted November 17th, 2014 by in Blog, Spotlight / 51 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome romance author Jackie Ashenden to HJ!

Hi Jackie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Living in Sin!

Thanks so much for having me, Sara.

Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:

Living in SinHot older man meets snarky young ballet dancer. Sexy shenanigans involving naked ballet dancing ensue…

Please share the opening line of this book:

“She’s here again.”
“Oh fuck, really?” Kahu Winter leaned back in his office chair and stared at Mike, the bouncer who’d been working the door at the Auckland Club for the last five years.

Please share a few Random facts about this book…

When I first had the idea for this book, Lily wasn’t a ballet dancer. I knew she was a cancer survivor but just thought she was a student of some kind. When I thought more about what kind of thing she was studying, I got kind of fixated on ballet for some reason.And iIt suddenly all fit. Her driven nature and her desire to succeed, her physical toughness. She was a dancer and it turned out she wasn’t studying at all. Which meant I then had to do some research!

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Lily was very straight up, though I kind of expected that. She’s twenty and is in remission from cancer and she really has no patience with anyone’s crap, including Kahu’s.
Kahu was a lot more guarded than I thought – but then again, he’d had a very hard early life so I guess that’s to be expected.

What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?

Well, there’s naked ballet dancing for a start. And it’s set in New Zealand. And there’s lot of angst…. Is that a genre?

The First kiss…

“Don’t move,” he murmured, as if he could sense the restlessness and nervous tension inside her and knew what she was desperate to do.
So she stood her ground, not knowing where to put her hands so keeping them tightly clutching onto her coat.
Then he cupped her face between his palms.
Any air that had been in her lungs rushed out of it as the heat of his skin met hers.
And she trembled all over. She couldn’t look away from the inky blackness of his eyes, the darkness seeming to pull her in, suck her under.
“Breathe, Lily,” he whispered.
She inhaled, sucking down a breath like he’d told her.
And then his mouth covered hers.

Did any scene have you crying or laughing while writing it?

Kahu is very much the jaded playboy and I really enjoyed writing him. I wasn’t exactly laughing but I was highly amused at him. And then she came right back and showed him how what she was made of. 🙂

“Sweetheart, I hate to break this to you but you’re only twenty. You barely even know you’re alive.”
And sitting in the armchair cross-legged, tight strawberry curls cascading over her black T-shirt, small and slender, she certainly looked every inch a girl. Part of that was her build, of course, but there was an innocence to her. Though perhaps that was the innocence of youth.
He sat back and took another sip of his scotch, meeting her annoyed gaze.
“You’re really quite an arrogant shithead, aren’t you?” she said.
It wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before. “It’s part of my charm.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t know everything.”
“Of course I don’t. That’s apparently the privilege of the young.”He wanted to smile again at the scowl on her face. It was kind of adorable. Teasing her could become quite addictive if he wasn’t careful.
“Oh, so now I’m the one who’s being arrogant?” She leaned on the arm of the chair, the light of the fire making the blonde strands in her hair seem like bright gold thread.
He tilted his head. “I didn’t say that. I was merely making a comment on the differences in our ages and experiences.” She was quite a pretty little thing. And maybe, if she hadn’t been eighteen years younger than him and the daughter of a friend, he might have enjoyed a flirtation at least.
But she was both of those things. Alas.
“You say that like you’re sixty and I’m ten.” She reached out and moved a knight. To the wrong square.
Kahu let out a breath and shifted it to the right one. “Jesus, do you even know how to play this game?”
“Mostly. Don’t keep putting me in a box, Kahu.”
He kept his attention on the board. There was a confrontational note in her voice that he didn’t like. Mainly because it sounded like a challenge to him and he’d always been attracted to challenges. They were like rules. They made him want to break them.
“I’m not putting you in a box. I’m only stating reality.”
“That I’m a little girl who doesn’t know she’s alive?” Again that confrontational note and far more obvious this time.
He moved his queen then looked up. There was an emerald spark of anger in her eyes. A very real anger.
Kahu sat back. “Oh dear. You don’t like that particular reality?”
“I know I’m alive,” she said, flat and hard. “Do you?”

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters? 

This is a pivotal moment for these two and the heroine has to be fearless, plus chemistry:

“No.” Slowly, he walked over to the chair and rested his hands on the back of it. “What’s going on? What’s with the shoes and the makeup?”
She shifted on her feet, restless and nervous looking, then stopped, her shoulders hunching. “Like I said, I need help with my audition. And since you haven’t seen me dance yet…”
Lily. Dancing. His heartbeat sped up for no goddamned reason that he could see. “I’m not a dancer or whatever. I won’t be able to offer you any advice, if that’s what you’re after.”
“I know that. But if nothing else, it’ll be good practice before the audition. I need an audience.”
He sighed and came around the side of the chair, dropping down into it. “Fine.” There wasn’t any harm in it and besides he could admit to himself he was curious. “Dance then.”
She turned away, going over to the side table where a couple of portable speakers were sitting, an MP3 player plugged into them. A tumbler sat next to the speakers. An empty tumbler.
Kahu frowned. Jesus, she must have been nervous if she’d had her scotch already. Did she normally get stage fright? In front of one person?
She bent over the MP3 player and pressed a button. Then she straightened and began undoing the buttons of her coat. She didn’t look at him as she did so but it wasn’t until she’d taken it off that he realized why.
She wore nothing underneath it.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?

For Lily: Don’t do the obvious (because he’s seen it all before).
For Kahu: Never underestimate a woman just because she’s young. (because she’s hiding her own scars).

What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2015?

I’m currently working on the third book of my Nine Circles series (first one is out on the 25th of November).

Next up from me:

Living in Secret – February
Make You Mine – May
Hold Me Down – Fall 2015

And hopefully a few others!

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

Giveaway: An digital copy of Living in Sin and a $10 Amazon gift card.

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What do you think of the older man/younger woman dynamic? Is it for you or not?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


“She’s here again.”

“Oh fuck, really?” Kahu Winter leaned back in his office chair and stared at Mike, the bouncer who’d been working the door at the Auckland Club for the last five years.

Mike, a huge Tongan guy who used to do a lot of pro-wrestling, folded his arms. “Yeah. And she says she wants to see you.”

Since that’s what she’d been saying for the past couple of nights, Kahu wasn’t surprised. Jesus Christ. What a pain in the ass.

He had more important things to do than fuck about dealing with Rob’s daughter. The guy was Kahu’s business partner and would not be happy at the thought of his twenty-year-old daughter hassling for entry into one of Auckland’s most exclusive private-member’s clubs.

What the hell was she doing here? What the hell did she want?

“That’s the third time this week.” Kahu threw the pen he’d been toying with back down on his desk. “And I’m getting pretty fucking sick of it.”

Mike was unimpressed. “Perhaps if you go out and see what she wants, she’ll go away,” he pointed out.

Not what Kahu wanted to hear. Christ, the last two nights he’d paid for a taxi to take her home and if she kept this up, it was going to start getting expensive.

Of course, he could go out there and speak to her. But he liked being manipulated even less than he liked being told what to do. And he hated being told what to do. Especially when the person doing the telling was a spoiled little twenty-year-old on some mysterious mission she wouldn’t talk to anyone about other than him.

Jesus, it made him feel tired. And pretty fucking old.

“Goddamn. I’m going to have to speak to her, aren’t I?”

Mike lifted a shoulder. “Up to you, boss.”

Yeah, he was going to have to.

Cursing, Kahu shoved his chair back and got up. The work he was doing, going over the club’s accounts, could wait. And he probably needed a break anyway.

In the corridor outside his office, he could hear the sounds of conversation from the Ivy Room, the club’s main bar and dining area. Friday night and the place was packed with members having a post-work drink or seven.

The sound of success. Anita would have been so proud.

Yeah, but not so proud of the fact you’re planning on ditching it, huh?

No, probably not. She’d left him the club thirteen years ago, when she’d first realized she was getting sick. A gift he’d promptly thrown back in her face by fucking off overseas, refusing to accept the responsibility or the reality of her illness. It had taken him five years to come to terms with it. To come back to New Zealand, to take on the club, and most importantly, to care for her. The lover who’d rescued him from the streets and given him the stars.

On the other hand, Anita was six months dead and what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.

As he approached the club’s entrance—a vaulted hallway with stairs leading to the upper floors, a parquet floor, and a chandelier dominating the space like a massive, glittering sun—people greeted him. Since he granted all memberships to the club personally, he knew everyone. Some more than others, of course, but he prided himself on the fact that he knew everyone’s names at least.

He ostentatiously kissed the hand of a politician’s wife, slapped the back of a well-known actor, air-kissed with a socialite and shook hands with an awestruck nobody. But then that’s what the Auckland Club was like. Nobodies and somebodies, all mixing together. It appealed to his sense of irony. And, fuck, it was a nice distraction if nothing else.

Kahu pushed open the big blue door that was the club’s famous entrance and stood in the doorway, looking down the stairs to the sidewalk. There were no lines of people waiting to get into the club since it was members only, but tonight a lone figure sat on the bottom step, her back to him.

It was mid-winter and cold, his breath like a dragon’s, a white cloud in the night.

Not as cold as London, though.

A random memory drifted through his head, of the European “cultural” trip with Anita. Of being in London in February during a snowstorm, and she’d tried to insist on going to some kind of classical music concert at Covent Garden. He’d seduced her in their fancy Claridges hotel room instead and they’d spent the rest of the evening in bed, away from the storm and the cold…

Kahu let out another cloudy breath, trying to shake the memories away.

He’d grieved when Anita had died. But the woman in that chair in the rest home wasn’t the Anita he’d known and loved. That woman had died a long time ago.

The person sitting down on the bottom step suddenly turned and his drifting thoughts scattered. A pale, pointed face and eyes an indeterminate color between green and gray looked back at him. A familiar face.

He knew her, of course. Had known her since she was about five years old, her father Rob being a close friend of Anita’s, and who’d managed the club while Kahu had been sulking overseas. Who’d become a valued business partner since.

A quiet, watchful girl who stayed out of the way and did what she was told, if he remembered right. He hadn’t seen her for five years, though, and clearly things had changed. Namely that she didn’t do as she was told anymore.

Lily stood and turned around. She was wearing a black duffel coat, the hood pulled up against the cold, and dark skinny jeans, a pair of Chuck Taylors covered with Union Jacks on her feet. And a very determined look on her face.

“Lily Andrews, as I live and breathe,” Kahu said lazily, standing in the doorway of his club and crossing his arms. “Does your father know you’ve been sitting on the steps of my club for the past three nights straight?”

Her hands pushed into the pockets of her coat, brows the color of bright flames descending into a frown. “If you’d spoken to me earlier it wouldn’t have been three nights.”

“I have a phone. Though perhaps young people these days don’t use such outdated technology.”

“What I want to ask you is better done in person.”

“That sounds portentous. Come on then, don’t keep me in suspense. What do you want?”

She didn’t speak immediately, her mouth tightening, her eyes narrowing. As if she was steeling herself for something.

Jesus, whatever it was it had better be good. He had shit to do.

After a brief, silent moment, Lily walked up the steps, coming to stand in front of him. The light coming from the club’s doorway shone directly on her face. She wore no makeup, her skin white, almost translucent and gleaming with freckles like little specks of gold. She looked sixteen if she was a day.

“Can I come in? I don’t want to ask you out here.”

“What, into the club? Sorry, love, but it’s members only.”

She shifted restlessly on her feet. “So can I be a member then?”

“Are you kidding? You think I just hand out membership to any fool that comes to my door?”

Her forehead creased into a scowl. “I’m not a fool.”

“If you’re not a fool, then you’ll understand that there’s a reason it’s taken me three days to speak to you.”

“I just want to ask you a question. Nothing else.”

“Then send me an e-mail or a text like any normal teenager. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a few things I—”

“I’m not a teenager, for Christ’s sake. And what I want to talk to you about is…personal.”

Kahu leaned against the doorframe, eyeing her. “If it’s personal then why aren’t you talking to your dad or a friend or whatever? You hardly know me.”

Rob had been Anita’s lawyer as well as her friend. Kahu had met him in the context of dinners, where Anita had brought Kahu along and he’d sat there silently at the table while she and Rob talked, unable to join in because he didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about—the dumb, uneducated Maori kid from the streets.

Sometimes at those dinners Lily had been there, a small seven-year-old with big eyes, whom he’d ignored mainly because she was a child and he had nothing to say to a privileged white kid from Remuera, born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

Then, after he’d come back from overseas and had reconnected with Rob over the management of the Auckland Club, he’d sometimes see her as he talked business with her father. A slender teen with a sulky mouth, who appeared to lurk permanently in the hallway whenever he arrived or left, big gray-green eyes following him when she thought he wouldn’t notice.

She’d grown up a bit since then, the rounded features of adolescence morphing into the more defined lines of adulthood. But that mouth of hers was still sulky and she was still small and slender. And her eyes were still wide and big as they met his.

“Yeah, I realize that. But…” She shifted again, nervous. “What I want to ask concerns you in particular.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Me, huh? Well, spit it out then.”

A crowd of people came up the steps behind her, laughing and talking. Kahu moved out of the way as they approached the door, greeting them all by name and holding out his arm to usher them inside.

Once they’d all gone in, he turned back to Lily, who remained standing there with her hands in the pockets of her coat, glaring at him almost accusingly.

He could not, for the life of him, work out what her problem was, but one thing was for sure: he was getting bloody sick of standing there while she continued to dance around the subject.

“Okay,” he said, glancing at his watch. “You’ve got ten seconds. If you haven’t told me what you’re doing here by then, I’m going to go inside and ring your father, and ask him to come and get you.”

“All right, Jesus,” Lily muttered. “You don’t have to be such a dick about it.”

Kahu refrained from rolling his eyes. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…”

She turned her head, looking back down the steps, clearly checking to make sure there was no one around.

“…six, five, four, three—”

“I was kind of wondering if you could perhaps seduce me.”

Book Info:

Her temptation…his salvation.

At twenty, Lily Andrews has already lived a lifetime. Her battle with leukemia put her three years behind her ballet career, and now that the grueling treatment is behind her, she’s eager to put her dancing shoes back on—literally and figuratively.

One man has been her personal light at the end of her tunnel, the one man she’s sure will help her rekindle her passion for life. Kahu Winter. And she’ll let nothing stand in the way of having him—not even Kahu himself.

When Kahu catches Lily sneaking into his club, the desire in her eyes tells him it’s more than a delayed act of youthful rebellion. Her lively spirit calls to him, but Kahu is too cynical, too jaded, too broken for a sweet young thing like her.

But Lily won’t take no for answer so he’ll make her a deal: She’s got one month to seduce him and after that, he’s moving on—figuratively and literally.

There’s just one thing he forgot to keep out of her reach. His heart…

Warning: This book contains a hot older man in need of some anti-cynicism pills, a snarky younger woman who’s going to get past his defenses and make him beg, more forbidden lust, and naked ballet dancing. Advanced WTFery for experienced users only.
Book Links:

Meet the Author:

Jackie AJackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax, two kids, two cats and two rats. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

To keep up to date with Jackie’s new releases and other news, you can sign up to her newsletter at
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51 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Living in Sin by Jackie Ashenden”

  1. Trudy Dowling

    Since my late husband was almost 17 years older than me, I have nothing against it. It does take a special dynamic to make it work though.

  2. Janine

    As long as they aren’t too young. I do like the older man/younger woman stories much better then the older woman/younger man ones. The whole cougar thing turns me off.

  3. infinitieh

    Weren’t classic romances or even literary fiction full of older man/younger woman setups? It’s fine. I think it’s that way a lot of times in real life.

  4. Glenda

    Honestly, it all depends on the characters and the situation. If we are talking contemporaries and young teen with much older man – just no. But other wise it really depends.

  5. DJ Sakata

    it is obviously me, my husband is 15 years older than I am and we have been married for 31 years – so guess it works 😉

  6. ELF

    I think that as long as each can bring something to the relationship, age is somewhat irrelevant, but there are definitely going to societal pressures if there is a large difference.

  7. Janie McGaugh

    As long as they’re consenting adults and love each other, any age difference is fine.

  8. erinf1

    depends on how old the younger one is. I don’t really feel comfortable w/ a big age difference under the age of 25 b/c it seems like early 20’s still aren’t mature enough to handle life it seems. But I leave it in the hands of the author to make me believe in the romance 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  9. Terri Shortell

    I don’t see anything wrong with it. I’ve always been attracted to older men. The book sounds great. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

  10. kateivan

    May-December romances generally don’t bother me one whit … if the parties are consenting adults and the relationship is indeed a romance (not gold digging or fame mongering).

  11. mrsmac19

    I don’t mind an older man/younger woman dynamic. I can’t imagine being with a man significantly older than me. My husband’s 3 years older and that works just fine 🙂

  12. ksb1954

    As long as everyone is legal, I see no problem. I do feel an older male by 15 or less years is ok for a mature 20something female. For a female over 30 … I personally feel a younger male is beneficial!! 🙂

  13. Elena Lim

    Depends on the age but usually I don’t like it. I feel like I’m reading about my father’s age or something. Weird. Can’t help it.

  14. laurieg72

    I don’t mind 10 15 year old age differences in books. My parents were 8 years apart and my brother and his second wife are 15. AS long as they care for and respect each other I don’t have a problem with experienced, older men and young women.

    I find the 80 yo and 20 yo too extreme for me.

  15. Taswmom

    It depends more on the characters and how they act, how they’re written, than their age. As long as they’re both at least legal age. It’s really creepy to me to have an older man or woman with a teenager.
    I actually know several couples who are 15 to 20 years apart who are very devoted to each other, and very happy. So that doesn’t bother me.

  16. Ashleigh Downes

    I think it’s better than an older female younger male. I guess it depends on the age gap. But yes I think it’s for me. You can’t help who you like!!

  17. Inga

    I find that it is common for the hero to be older than the female. So, it’s something that doesn’t surprise me. I have no issues with it.

  18. Kai W.

    I don’t have a preference when it comes to older men and younger women as long as the story works.

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