I’d like to thank the lovely Ms. Bristol for turning her blog over to me for the day. Thanks, Sid! We’ve known each other for about a year now, having met on Twitter around the time my first novella, Always You, released last September. Now we not only both write for Ellora’s Cave, but we also have short stories in the same Foreign Affairs Anthology.
The stories in the anthology are all romances starring sexy foreign men. My story, ALL I NEED, is actually a prequel to my first full length novel which officially releases today. (Squee!) Daniel, my charming, witty, utterly irresistible, adorably British main character is without question my favorite of all the characters I’ve ever written, which probably explains why I’ve spent two novels and two short stories telling his tale. And, truth be told, I may not be done with him yet.
MEANT TO BE is women’s fiction with strong romantic elements. It’s a friends-to- lovers story with a bit of a twist. I’ll be honest, it’s on the steamy side for women’s fiction, but it’s not as spicy as my erotic romances. No matter what genre I’m writing I focus on the relationships, and adult relationships involve sex, so that’s a feature in all of my stories. Fade-to-black sex scenes always leave me wanting to know what happened, so you won’t find those in my books.
Karen has offered to give away a copy of the anthology, Foreign Affairs. Contest will run until Wednesday, when the comments will close and I will select one winner at random. Simply answer the question: What is your favorite romance trope?
Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.
When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti.
She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.
Marienne watched as Daniel grabbed a bottle of Coke out of her fridge.
He unscrewed the cap and took a drink. “It’s quite difficult to understand American slang when English isn’t your native tongue.”
He continued speaking but Marienne’s mind was caught on the words native tongue. Or, more specifically, tongue. More precisely still, Daniel’s tongue. She’d always loved the sound of his voice, the expressiveness of his choice of words, but sometimes she just enjoyed watching his mouth. This was one of those times. She studied his tongue as it moved to form his words, as it licked his lips when he paused to think, as it pressed against the Coke bottle when he drank. Heat prickled through her.
Is it hot in here or is it him? She was unable to focus on the thought as once again she was mesmerized. Now it was curved upward, pressing against the back of his top teeth as he looked at her, eyes narrowed.
“Are you all right?” he asked. The concern in his voice caught her attention as did the puzzled look on his face.
“What?” She no longer remembered what they’d been discussing.
“You’re not listening to a word I say, and that’s not like you. I’ve been speaking total gibberish and you didn’t even react. Are you okay? You’re all flushed.”
She tried to think of a way to explain to her best friend that she’d been too busy obsessing to concentrate. He’s divorced. Frank’s gone. Maybe I should. Her heart galloped.
He leaned over and felt her forehead. She held her breath, dizzy from his touch. She wanted to scoot forward and kiss him, hard, on the lips, but didn’t dare to move. Thoughts of the kiss, and his tongue, flashed through her mind.
“You’re really warm.” His hand trailed to her cheek, flipping over so he could assess her with the back of his fingers. They felt cool and silky along the contours of her face and she pressed against them.
His brow furrowed. “You’ve got a fever.”
What? Her hand flew to her forehead. “Shit,” she said, as even she could feel the burning warmth.
He grabbed a glass from her cupboard and held it beneath the ice dispenser. The crystal chunks tumbled into it. “You must have finally caught whatever Ella had last weekend.” He filled it with water and handed it to her.
“Oh, God. You’re right.” Ella had come home sick from preschool three days ago and that was the standard grace period Marienne usually got before catching things from her daughter. She rested her head on the kitchen table.
Daniel smiled at Marienne’s whining; she was acting like Ella.
“Drink your water.” He opened another cabinet and reached for the Tylenol. He shook out two and returned the bottle to the top shelf.
“Here.” He rubbed his knuckles against the top of her hand. “Take these.”
“Take them.” He nudged a second time. Heat radiated from her skin. Enticing. Alluring. He shuddered, trying to shake the thoughts from his mind. “Come on now, be a good girl.”
She sat up and scowled. He smiled and dropped the tablets into her upturned hand. The backs of his fingers grazed her palm and a tingling flush rippled through him.
She stared at him, eyes defiant, then popped the pills into her mouth and took a sip of water. She flipped her head back and swallowed hard, an action that caused Daniel to gulp as well. He wanted nothing more than to swoop down and kiss her with total abandon, to feel her overheated body, to be immersed inside her.
He said the only words he could think: “Let’s get you up to bed.”
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.
Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic love stories filled with sarcasm and sexy details.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005KWSFGO