Ratcheting up the Romance: First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony. Blog Tour Stop with Guestpost, Giveaway and Exclusive Excerpt.
Thank you, Rainbow Gold, for hosting the First Comes Marriage book tour! For those readers who may not already know, First Comes Marriage is the second book in the brand new Dreamspun Desires line of gay category romances from Dreamspinner Press. Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for an excerpt from the book, as well as the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a dozen red roses for your sweetheart or yourself!
First Comes Marriage is available from Dreamspinner Press! You can buy it alone, or you can subscribe to the Dreamspun Desires line and get two books a month at a significant discount (ebook and paperback). Read down for an excerpt and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! -Shira
What’s a “category” romance? I didn’t know the term myself until a few years ago, but I knew the books! These were the Harlequin, Silhouette, Boon & Mills books many of our mothers read. You remember, the ones that came four to a box and were shipped every month? The covers all looked the same, and many were numbered sequentially, like magazines. They were called category romances because they were all from the same category of feel-good stories, all of a certain length (shorter novel), and were very formulaic or, what I might call tropey.
For me, writing a category romance meant letting go of the angst I usually write about and focusing on romance for romance’s sake. And while writing a classic romance doesn’t mean you can forget about characters and character growth, it helped me think outside my usual box a bit when creating the tension in the story.
For those readers unfamiliar with my books, let’s just say that the majority of them feature damaged men who are able to move forward with their lives through the love of another man. Often, both characters have lived through hell. And I often put them through more. If my characters ever came to life, they’d probably strangle me! Some might see it as torture. I prefer to see it as trial by fire and character driven tension.
Regardless, every story, however feel-good and happy, needs tension or readers would be bored out of their minds (and the writer, too!). In a category romance, that tension comes from the familiar sources: an antagonist who wants to keep the characters apart, the characters not wanting to fit into a stereotype or not feeling they’re ready for commitment, or just circumstances beyond their control. The struggles tend to be more external. Easier to overcome.
The tensions in First Comes Marriage are both internal and external. Internally, both Jesse and Chris are conflicted. They genuinely like each other, but each has his own reasons why the marriage should stay just what it is: a fake. The external tensions in the story come from two places: Jesse’s stepgrandmother, who will inherit control of the family fortune if Jesse doesn’t stay married for a year, and Moira, Jesse’s sometime girlfriend and her mother, Clara, who sees Jesse as a meal ticket. These tensions, combined with the sexual tension that amps up between Jesse and Chris in a scorching hot slow burn, drive the romance forward.
Exactly what I loved to read when I would sit up way past midnight to read those old Harlequins.
I’ll leave you with a little taste of the external tension as Clara inserts herself between Jesse and Chris at a party to celebrate their marriage. It’s pretty up there with the sexual tension as well, and it’s a scene that’s a big turning point in the story. I hope you enjoy it! –Shira
Their marriage was supposed to be all business….
When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!
Jesse’s in a pinch. To keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal: in exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million-dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?
Exclusive Excerpt from Chapter Twenty-five:
Chris pulled Jesse toward him and kissed him hard. Jesse responded with equal abandon, putting his hands to Chris’s face so that Chris sighed. Chris had meant the kiss to be all about the show, the pièce de résistance in an evening choreographed to put an end to the rumors about their marriage. But the feel of Jesse’s fingers on his cheeks and the heady rush of desire that slammed into Chris like a hurricane made him forget they were standing in the middle of the ballroom with a hundred people watching.
His body responded, his cock hardening even though his brain screamed at him that this was a dangerous game. But as their tongues tangled and his heart pounded, Chris knew he’d already lost this fight. They’d been together less than two months and his self-control was toast. He wanted Jesse so badly he couldn’t think straight.
Jesse gasped as the kiss ended and the music started up again, slower this time. “Another dance?”
Chris pulled him close and leaned his head into the crook of Jesse’s shoulder. Bad idea. Jesse’s spicy cologne smelled way too good. They moved slowly about the dance floor, joined once again by other couples. Chris gave himself over to the comfortable warmth of Jesse’s body and tried not to focus on anything else.
When the dance ended, Chris kissed Jesse lightly on the lips, then made a beeline for the nearest waiter carrying glasses of champagne and snagged two. When he turned back to the dance floor, he saw Jesse speaking with someone in the corner of the room. He drank half of his own glass and walked over to give Jesse the other. But before he could reach Jesse, Clara Kensington stepped in front of him.
“A word, Mr. Valentine.” She frowned at him, her cheeks flushed.
The last thing Chris wanted. “Of course,” he said affably.
“I don’t know what you’ve done to him,” she said in a low voice that reeked with disdain, “but your little game will be up soon.”
“It isn’t a game, Mrs. Kensington. And it’s none of your business.”
“Is there a problem?” a voice behind Chris asked.
“Mom?” Chris blinked his surprise. “You don’t need to get involved.”
Marjorie put her hand on his arm. “I’m fine, sweetheart,” she said before turning her attention to Clara and smiling. Chris knew that smile—he’d seen it when he was a boy. She’d taken his part when the principal at his middle school had threatened to expel him for knocking another boy to the ground to prevent him from beating up a classmate.
“His mother?” Clara raised her eyebrows and let out a soft snort that reminded Chris of a horse.
“Last I heard,” Marjorie said as she stepped closer to Clara, “this was a party to celebrate my son’s marriage to Jesse. You are here—” She paused for effect. “—because these two wonderful men invited you. I won’t have you trash-talking either of them.”
“Speak ill of Jesse?” Clara stared at his mother. “I’d never do such a thing.”
“Clara,” Jesse said as he took Chris’s hand and nearly made him jump, “if you’re saying anything uncomplimentary about my husband, I’d consider that trash-talking me as well. I think maybe it’s time you left.” He kissed Chris on the cheek and shot Marjorie a smile.
“Me? Leave? But—”
“Please, Clara, before I have to ask one of the staff to escort you out.” Jesse squeezed Chris’s hand and offered Clara a bland smile Chris wouldn’t have wished on his worst enemy.
Clara huffed loudly, then spun on her heels and nearly knocked a very bewildered-looking Moira off her feet. Moira said nothing but followed her mother from the room.
“Nicely done,” Chris said after he was sure Moira and Clara were out of earshot. “Both of you.”
Shira Anthony is a complete sucker for a happily-ever-after, and rarely reads or writes a story without one. Never a fan of instalove, Shira likes to write stories about real men with real issues making real relationships work.
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. Her Blue Notes Series is loosely based upon her own experiences as a professional musician.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Interested in hearing Shira sing? Here’s a link to a live performance of Shira singing an aria from Puccini’s “Tosca”:
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Where you can find Shira
Twitter: Follow @WriterShira
First Comes Marriage is all above love and romance, and Shira’s grand prize is a dozen red roses for your sweetheart
(or whoever you think deserves it!). First prize is a $10 Dreamspinner Gift Certificate.
Blog Tour Information