First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony Book Tour

Cooking Up a Classic Category Romance:
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony

Thank you Divine and Jo & Isa 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 an honest to goodness “category romance.” The term comes from the old tradition of publishing a certain number of books on a monthly basis in a certain category. You remember these. When I was a kid, they were the Harlequin and Silhouette romances that were shipped, 4 books a month, on subscription.
Category romances were sweet, sometimes funny, standalone stories with a yummy happy ending. These were romances that made you feel good. For me, I remember being an angsty teen and reading these books. They made my heart pound, made my arms ache, and gave me that rush of “oh yeah!” at the end of the story that made me want to devour more romances.
When I was working on First Comes Marriage, I did a lot of thinking about what makes a classic category romance make me feel so damn good. I read a few of the old romances, and I really thought about what makes them work for a reader like me. My husband, the scientist, would call that “reverse engineering.” It was a bit like eating a really good piece of cake and figuring out what ingredients went into it because you don’t have the recipe!
So what’s the recipe?
Take two main characters and ratchet up the heat. I’m talking a very slow burn that builds until you are fanning yourself and ready to scream, “Tell him you love him already!” Or at least, “Tell him you want to have sex with him already!” Stir in something that presents a bit of a sticking point for both characters and threatens to keep them apart. Nothing too angsty here, just something they have to overcome separately or, even better, together. Add a secondary character or two who just might derail the budding romance or help it happen for our main characters. Add doubts and stir again. Little niggles or fears. Maybe sprinkle a little misunderstanding in while you’re at it.
Pour all the ingredients into a pan and bake it at high temperature. What do you get? Sexy, sweet, and spicy romance that tastes as good as tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold day, or maybe some really good mac ‘n cheese. We’re not talking prime rib that you eat with expensive French wine, but the kind of meal that leaves you satisfied and smiling. Simply fun and feel-good fare.
First Comes Marriage releases this Friday 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

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?
Excerpt from Chapter Six:
Now, standing in the conference room of Windview Enterprises’ corporate headquarters near South Ferry in Manhattan, one of the matching platinum bands Jesse had bought for them in his pants pocket, Chris wondered if he’d wake up from the dream. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out over Wall Street and the East River through the forest of high-rise buildings.
“Do you, Jesse Chase Donovan, take Christopher James Valentine to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?” the judge asked.
“I do.” As Jesse slipped the ring on Chris’s finger, he met Chris’s gaze with such intensity that for an instant, Chris could almost forget the entire ceremony was a ruse to ensure the future of Windview remained firmly in Jesse’s control. Damn the man for being so attractive. Damn him for being a nice guy, because that was the worst part of it. And the part that had you agreeing.
“And do you, Christopher James Valentine, take Jesse Chase Donovan to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?”
Chris swallowed hard and prayed he didn’t look as incredibly nervous as he felt. “I do.” His hand shook as he took Jesse’s hand and put the ring on his finger.
“Congratulations, Chris and Jesse,” the judge said.
Chris caught Val’s eye for a split second, and he half expected her to urge him to kiss Jesse. But it was Jesse who took charge and blindsided Chris with a kiss.
It started sweetly enough, just Jesse’s lips against his, but instead of releasing Chris, Jesse pulled him tighter against him and pressed his tongue into his mouth. Jesse tasted fucking amazing. Chris didn’t hesitate—their tongues tangled and danced. This close, Jesse smelled good and felt even better. Chris was barely aware of slipping his hands around Jesse’s back before resting them on lean hips. He didn’t think twice as his body and Jesse’s responded in kind.
Someone giggled—Chris recognized Val’s voice—and Jesse pulled abruptly away. Their eyes met for a split second, and Chris thought he saw a mixture of desire and surprise in Jesse’s deep blue eyes. The next thing Chris knew, Val had thrown her arms around him and only his racing heart and tingling lips told him he hadn’t imagined the entire thing.
“Oh, Chris,” Val cooed. “You really did it!”
“Yeah” was the only response Chris could manage. He was still thinking about Jesse’s mouth.
“I guess I was wrong about him being straight,” she whispered mischievously.
Chris was thrilled when Terry grabbed him in a bear hug, because he had no idea how to respond to Val’s comment. He also wasn’t sure if he should be pissed off with Jesse for the show. He supposed if this was going to work, Jesse needed to make the marriage look real. Still, how difficult would it have been to warn Chris that he had that up his sleeve?
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." rel="nofollow" data-raflid="cf0ba94914" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_2okgozw7">a Rafflecopter giveaway

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