Thursday, 7 November 2013

Guest post by Christi Barth + Giveaway

I am incredibly happy to welcome back to Ex Libris contemporary romance author Christi Barth who is here celebrating the release of Friends To Lovers, the third book in her Aisle Bound contemporary romance series focused around weddings and the people in the business (previous books featured a wedding planner and a baker/chocolatier, this time it is the florist's time to shine). So take a seat and let's hear about the crazy things Christi had to research for the story! :-)

You’d think writing a contemporary romance would be a piece of cake – no research required, right? Since I wear the same clothes as my characters, use the same slang, eat the same food, etc? Wrong! In my latest release, Friends To Lovers, I spent an inordinate amount of time doing research. Sometimes for authenticity, sometimes for a laugh, sometimes for the plot. Here’s a quick rundown:

The book starts at a Filipino wedding. Since I used to be a wedding planner, I had the ethnic details covered, such as a forty-five person bridal party. Or so I thought, until I got about one page into the manuscript. And realized the fact that it was New Year’s Eve changed everything. I had to hit the Internet:

“There are a ton of Filipino superstitions about New Year’s Eve. We incorporated most of them. For example, they make as much noise as possible to scare away evil spirits. That’s why they keep banging on the gong.” Ivy pointed to the bowls of shiny purple grapes on every table. “You’re supposed to have a grape in your mouth at the stroke of midnight.”
“Doesn’t that make it hard to kiss?”

I got about one page further before coming to another dead stop. I had to describe what the hero’s cologne smelled like – and ‘sexy’ didn’t really cut it. Suddenly I learned more than I ever wanted to know about base notes and scents. At this point, I really, really just wanted to keep writing.

It was not to be. Because at this wedding, there were, naturally centerpieces on the tables. Since my heroine was a florist, they had to be spectacular. I spent hours trawling the web for interesting centerpieces and floral arrangements. Mind you, I’m not complaining about that. It was so much fun that I had to force myself to stop looking at all the gorgeous flowers. From adding them to my Pinterest page.

I made it to Chapter Two before grinding to a halt yet again. The Victorian Language of Flowers plays a huge role in this book. Or, it did once I learned about it. Then it was a rush to discover an almost fatal illness that requires a liver or bone marrow transplant (I swear this is a comedy!), aphrodisiacs, football coaching hierarchy, the convoluted ins and outs of British nobility, the House of Lords, and citizenship (I got to correspond with the British embassy on that one, which was super fun).

My hero is British. I tried to capture his voice by watching endless episodes of Doctor Who and a Harry Potter marathon. Didn’t quite do the trick. Had to resort to the Internet again to learn about British slang:

He sat on the bench to put on his running trainers. “You’re right. And you’ve stopped me from making a total cock-up.”
“What the hell?” Ben’s startled gaze swung straight to Gib’s groin. “Since when is your cock up, and why are we talking about it?”
Barking out a laugh, Gib fig-leafed his hands. “Sorry. Don’t wig out on me. It’s slang. The British version, at any rate. A cock-up is a big mess.”
“Huh. I’d recommend you never, ever use that phrase in a locker room again.”

You get the picture. Lots of tiny details to be painstakingly researched (American Psychiatric Association rules on sleeping with ex-patients, organic alfalfa farming and the best champagne vintages, to name a few more). But the time was well spent. It makes for a more layered and colorful book. I do it all for my readers, in the hopes that they get an extra giggle out of it. Contemporary romance research is probably more fun than studying the political machinations of ancient Rome. But it is just as thorough and demanding. And I hope you’ll all go read Friends To Lovers to see how I wove that disparate information together and made it sexy and sassy!

Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband. Friends To Lovers is book 3 in her 4 book Aisle Bound series.

Find out more about Christi and her books at her website - BlogTwitter - Goodreads

Friends to Lovers by Christi Barth

Book #3 in the Aisle Bound series

As florist and co-owner of a successful Chicago wedding planning business, Daphne Lovell has been there for the happiest days of other people's lives. As for her own life? Well, it's hard to be perfectly happy when you're carrying a torch for your sexy, womanizing and oblivious best friend. So when the lights go out on New Year's Eve, she seizes the opportunity to kiss him senseless.

British expat Gibson Moore has a lot on his plate. The hotel he manages is being bought out, his family is crazy and someone just kissed him in the dark. When the lights go on, he searches the room, trying to find the mystery pair of lips. Only, he never thinks to ask the woman standing by his side. He's shocked when he discovers that Daphne is the woman he's been searching for. But Gib's also eager to act upon the attraction for her he's always fought to ignore.

It takes trust to move from friends to lovers, and as Gib's work situation worsens, he is no longer sure he can risk the friendship he relies on most. It's up to Daphne to convince him that some things are worth fighting for…

“How long are you going to make me wait?” Daphne asked, her voice low and breathy.

Gib gave a swift glance up and down the hallway. Had anyone else heard her plea? She couldn’t be asking what he thought. Could she? He tried to back away, but his heel barely moved before hitting the kick guard on the bathroom door. “Pardon me?”

Closing the already-narrow gap between them, Daphne put both hands on his lapels. Then she stroked around in a tight circle. “Come on, Gib. Are you really going to make me beg for it?” Her right hand dropped to his hip. It slid down his thigh, moved inward just enough that in another second she’d feel his cock twitch at the unexpected visit.

Enough was enough. Daphne was his best friend. Of course he wouldn’t make her beg—unless she was naked. Different rules applied in bed. Now that she’d opened this particular Pandora’s box, the possibilities raced into his brain. In fact, he’d like nothing more than to lick her all over until she begged him to crawl on top of her. Crawl into her.

But for right now, he’d settle for a taste of her. Enough to take the edge of the lust rampant enough to drive Daphne to feel him up in the hallway. Gib grabbed her neck with one hand, her waist with the other, and reversed their positions. He drove her against the wall. Tried not to notice how well he fit into the notch between her thighs. And then he kissed her. Just like she wanted.

Gib unzipped her lips with a single swipe of his tongue. She opened to him, giving access to the hot silk of her mouth. The firm grip he had at her neck allowed him to angle her head up to meet him. Fingers thrust deep into the dandelion-soft glory of her hair. He heard the soft, mewling noise coming from the back of her throat, the rasp of her god-awful skirt against his trousers, the muted buzz of the meeting trickling into the hallway.

But mostly, Gib felt. Felt his cock swell. Her pulse galloping beneath his thumb. The slick mating dance of tongue against tongue a tease for what he now knew to be inevitable. Every stroke a fiery arrow straight to his crotch. Every new inch of her flesh he tasted thickening him, exciting him. Her arms cinched tight around his back, pulling him impossibly closer. This wasn’t a hi, how’s your day kiss. This was a launch sequence countdown begun kiss. Neither of them held back anything.

If Gib didn’t stop right now, he’d push her through that bathroom door. Hitch up that oh-so-handy skirt. Hike her legs around his waist. Take her in a stall until she screamed so loud the front desk would have to come investigate. And Gib was fairly certain that didn’t fall under the parameters Milo had laid out for treating Daphne to a real date.

So he backed off. Reluctantly. With a final, bruising brush of lips. Enough to swell her mouth so she’d run her finger over it in an hour, and think of him. Gib planted one hand on the wall, boxing her in to keep Daphne right where he wanted her. With his other, he stroked the edge of her cheekbone, following the path of summer freckles that refused to fade. “Is that what you wanted?”

She blinked a couple of times. Fast. “No.”

The woman was insatiable! Just the way he liked it. “I can’t give you any more, pet, unless we blow off this meeting. There are about five hundred hotel rooms on top of us. Not as good as mine, naturally. But they’ve all got locks on the doors, which is all we’ll need.” Gib regretted the offer immediately. Now it hung out there, like an X-rated thought balloon over a cartoon character.

The agenda for tonight, for once in his life, did not contain sex. He and Milo had laid out a painstaking plan. A decent amount of flattery as a base. A tip of the hat to their close friendship. Cap it off with the dazzling offer to wine and dine her. No mention of the kiss they’d shared. Milo predicted his roommate to be incapable of physical restraint if it came up. After all, an old dog can’t learn new tricks in a day. Gib had tried to resist. But when a woman rubbed herself on him, why wouldn’t he kiss her?

“Whoa. Did you just offer to do me? And in a rival hotel, of all places?” She cocked her head to the side. Wrinkled her nose. “I’m not sure which I find more insulting.”

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Carina Press


Christi has generously offered an ebook copy of Friends to Lovers to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just leave a comment and answer Christi's question: My hero rocks the sexy British accent in this book, which makes me knees melt. What turns yours to jelly - Southern? French? Irish? Australian?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 22 November 2013!

Good luck!

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