Friday, January 22, 2016

New & Notable: First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony

Realism in Classic Romance A Guest Post by Shira Anthony

Thank you Rick, for hosting the First Comes Marriage book tour! Word has it that you may have your own Dreamspun Desires offering coming soon—I can’t wait to read it. [Note: My collarboration with Vivien Dean, STRANDED WITH DESIRE will be out in August!]

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 for the book tour. You could win a dozen red roses for your sweetheart or yourself!

First Comes Marriage is an honest to goodness “category romance,” reworked for a 21st Century audience, and of course with two male main characters. The term “category romance” comes from the old tradition of publishing a certain number of books on a monthly basis in a certain category. I bet you remember these. When I was a kid, they were the Harlequin and Silhouette romances that were shipped, 4 books a month, on subscription. I’m sure you also remember the tropes: Cinderellas (rich/poor), arranged marriages, mistaken identity, enemies to lovers, and so many more I couldn’t possibly list them all. These tropes are all based in some part on something real that we, as readers, can relate to.

First Comes Marriage is a combination of a few of these tried and true tropes: marriage of convenience (will provision, anyone?) and rich man/poor man (Cinderfella, in this case). Now contrary to popular belief, writers are hardly rich (I know you’re shocked to hear that!). So I can’t claim to have a lot of experience living like billionaire Jesse Donovan does, with an apartment in Manhattan and a huge estate on the ocean in Connecticut. But I visited those kinds of places when I used to sing opera professionally.

The people who own houses like Jesse’s often sponsored the local opera companies in the Northeast, and we performed at fundraisers at these estates. We’re talking enormous Tudor and colonial style mansions with coach houses larger than any home I’ve ever owned. Gorgeous, perfectly furnished interiors. Glass enclosed conservatories filled with amazing flowering trees and plants.

No billionaire would be complete without fancy cars and a boat or two, right? And while I don’t own a classic car, or even a motorcycle like Jesse does, I’ve taken a ride or two in them. Growing up, my parents had friends who owned a Bentley and an old MG Midget (red and totally drool-worthy).

As for boats, Jesse’s family business builds them. So he has the use of a huge yacht. But instead of having Jesse and Chris spend a romantic weekend on a yacht, they instead sail to a nearby island in a catamaran sailboat I named, Land’s Zen (named after my own, slightly less fancy catamaran). This one is straight out of my own fantasy: it’s a 44 foot long Leopard. Gorgeous and incredibly expensive. A boat I hope to own someday (albeit a used model!), when I retire.

Dreamspun Desires are all about romantic fantasy, from the setting to the tropey, feel good story. I’ll leave you with a taste of First Comes Marriage from when Jesse takes Chris to the docks before they sail. Can you smell the ocean breeze? I sure can. 

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?

“These are the company’s private docks,” Jesse said as he wrapped an arm around Chris’s waist and pulled him in for a kiss. “Like what you see?”

“Whoa.” Chris pointed at the enormous boat docked in front of them, a sleek yacht that looked like something from a James Bond movie, with its tinted windows, hot tub aft, and a large dinghy hoist on the upper deck. “That’s yours?”

“It belongs to the company,” Jesse said. “But I’ve sailed on her a few times.”

“Is that seventy-five feet?”

“It’s a Windview100. Our flagship model, although we do some special orders for larger cruisers.”

“Whoa,” Chris repeated. “One hundred feet? So we’re sailing on our mini honeymoon?”

Jesse nodded. “Do you trust me?”

“To sail that thing, you mean?”

Jesse laughed and shook his head. “I wouldn’t attempt it. We have a crew, including a captain for the yacht. I mean, do you trust me with our honeymoon.”

Chris frowned. “What are you up to, Donovan?”

Jesse barely repressed a smirk. “Why would you think I’m up to something?”

“I’ve seen that expression before,” Chris replied, unconvinced. “So what do you have planned? A trip to Antarctica? Australia? Because telling me to pack for a long weekend won’t cut it, and you’re not buying me a completely new wardrobe.”



“Okay, okay.” Jesse grinned. “But it’s fun to tease you.” He put his arm around Chris’s shoulder and turned him so they faced a smaller piece that jutted out from the dock where the yacht was tied. “I wanted to take you somewhere exotic. I admit it. But with Wenda challenging the will, exotic isn’t feasible. So, this is my boat.” Jesse pointed to the sailboat directly in front of them, a gorgeous catamaran Chris guessed was at least forty feet long.

“Another Windview?”

“I haven’t found a design I like enough yet to consider making cats,” Jesse said. “This one’s a Leopard 44.” He walked over to a cleat to release tension on the ropes. The boat floated up against the dock, and Jesse stepped on board. “Join me?” he asked as he offered Chris his hand.

Chris climbed aboard and followed Jesse around as he opened up the hatches to let the air inside. “She’s a beauty. What’s her name?”

“Land’s Zen. She was a gift from my grandfather when I turned twenty-five.” Jesse ran his fingers lovingly over the hull. “Three cabins and a fourth I converted into an office. I don’t get to take her out as much as I’d like.”

“Where are we headed?”

“Fishers Island. My parents owned a cottage there years ago. My grandfather sold it after they died, but we used to sail there together when I was little.” Jesse’s entire demeanor changed when he spoke, his shoulders relaxing and the tension in his jaw abating. He looked… happy.

All about Shira
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

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.

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