Happy Turkey Day to all our US readers, and welcome to our
Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing and talented
In today's post, we'll ask Shira a bunch of questions, plus take a look at A Solitary Man (co-written with Aisling Mancy), The Trust (co-written with Venona Keyes), and First Comes Marriage, including the cover reveal and an exclusive excerpt. This book is expected to release in January 2016 as one of the first novels in a new Dreamspinner Press series called Dreamspun Desires. And, of course, there'll be one more chance to win!
Let's start with A Solitary Man
Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare's Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.
Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the eleven-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in the heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.
The man flagged down the bartender, who had just set Evan’s second shot in front of him. “Two of what he’s drinking, on me.”
“Thanks.” Evan set his empty on the bar and leaned languidly on the edge.
“Chance,” Evan said.
Xav chuckled. “You’re serious?”
Evan nodded. He only used the name at bars, but it was his first name. “My mother had a twisted sense of humor.” And a serious coke addiction, but he wasn’t going to share that.
Xav raised a quizzical eyebrow. Evan didn’t care if Xav wanted to know more. He downed the second shot and shed his Evan persona the way he’d shed his suit. For tonight, he was Chance. Evan and all his crap could wait until the morning.
“You from around here?” Chance asked as he sat next to Xav.
“No.” Xav didn’t elaborate.
Chance could work with that. Didn’t matter given his no-repeat policy.
“Grew up in Bertie,” Chance said truthfully. “Near the Virginia border.”
The bartender set their drinks in front of them. “Never heard of it.” Xav’s words didn’t seem to judge, just state a fact.
“Half the people in the state haven’t.” Chance picked up one of the beer bottles and handed it to Xav, the brush of his fingertips against Xav’s calculated. Xav’s short intake of breath pleased him, Xav’s fingers lingering just slightly too long against Chance’s. Years ago, Chance might have looked away. But he’d come to enjoy the self-confidence and power he felt when he didn’t back down, much as he’d come to enjoy locking horns with defense counsel in court.
Xav didn’t look away either.
Nice. His past few hookups here had been low-key—translate: jejune. This one held more promise.
“I’m staying at Wrightsville Beach,” Xav said. Chance repressed a laugh. Yep. Surfer. “I’ve got a few beers and a day-old pizza.” The edges of Xav’s very kissable mouth quirked upward and his thigh brushed Chance’s.
Someone at one of the tables laughed, and the sound of a guitar being tuned mingled with the clanking of beer bottles. Chance hoped they’d be out of there before the music started. He wasn’t in the mood.
Chance went to pull his wallet from his pocket, but Xav stood and leaned over him and handed the bartender a few bills before Chance could extricate it. Nicely done. Chance caught a whiff of cologne, subtle and citrusy. From his close vantage point, Chance watched the rhythmic pulse of a vein beneath Xav’s chin.
Chance stood straighter. “Thanks.”
Xav didn’t cede any territory as Chance stood, his shoulder pressing against Xav’s chest. Chance hadn’t realized the man stood nearly half a head taller. Chance clenched his jaw and felt his shoulders and neck tense as he fought the urge to shove Xav out of his personal space. He didn’t like it when people got too close to him. The only exception was when he was getting laid. He took a slow breath, met Xav’s eyes, then moved away and downed his second beer. “I’ll follow you,” he said.
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Also by Shira Anthony, co-written with Venona Keyes, The Trust
Eight years ago, Jake Anders was a college kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Then Trace Michelson recruited him into The Trust, a CIA-backed agency whose "executives" eliminate rogue biotechnology operations. Trace was everything Jake ever wanted in a man: powerful, brilliant, and gorgeous. But Jake never admitted his attraction to his mentor, and Trace always kept Jake at arm's length. Now Trace is dead and Jake is one of The Trust's best operatives, highly skilled and loyal to the organization. But the secret agent has his own secret: six years ago, before he was assassinated, Trace designed a Sim chip containing his memories and experiences-and now that chip is part of Jake. It's just data, designed to augment Jake's knowledge, but when Sim becomes reality, Jake wonders if Trace is still alive or if Jake really is going crazy like everyone claims. He doesn't know if he can trust himself, let alone anyone else. To learn the truth about Trace and the chip, Jake embarks on a dangerous mission-except he's not the only one looking for the information. Some of the answers are locked in his head, and unless he finds the key, he'll be killed for the technology that's become a part of him. Now, more than ever, Jake wishes Trace were here to guide him. Too bad he's dead... right?
The doctor smiled at him. “Jake, I really can’t tell you how impressed I am with the skills you exhibited under the extreme pressure of the situation.”
“I had help.”
“The Trace Sim. He told me to slow down my breathing and meditate. I imagined my artery knitting itself back together.”
“Impressive. I didn’t think the simulation microchips were so detailed in their programming.”
Jake shrugged. “Neither did I. It’s like he was right there in front of me.”
She offered him a sympathetic smile. “You need to rest.” She checked the IV and made a notation on the chart at the foot of his bed.
She turned to leave, then paused as if considering something. “You know, Jake,” she said with a contemplative hand to her chin, “applying a tourniquet made from the toilet roll spindle and your torn shirt was quite remarkable, given the extent of your injury. But you didn’t really need it—the artery had already begun to heal on its own. It appears Dr. Michelson’s techniques are more effective than we originally thought. Quite fascinating.”
“Tourniquet?” It was the second time someone had mentioned it since he’d regained consciousness. But he didn’t remember a tourniquet, let alone applying one to himself in the heat of the moment.
“The one you placed on your leg before you lost consciousness.”
“I don’t remember that. The last thing I remember is Trace.”
“Writing the time you placed the tourniquet on your leg required true presence of mind, Jake,” she continued, undaunted. “We were able to quickly ascertain how long the circulation had been compromised.”
“I don’t remember that either.” He frowned.
She gave him another reassuring smile. “You really must get some rest now. I’ll be back to check on you later. Would you like something to drink?”
“Something more than ice chips?” he asked with a hopeful expression.
“I’ll see that you get some water.”
“Thanks.” He closed his eyes. He heard her walk out of the room and close the door behind her.
Tourniquet? Writing the time on my leg? And who killed Sandoval? I couldn’t have shot him; I didn’t have my gun….
It made no sense. An image of the man with dark hair and slate-blue eyes filled Jake’s mind. He’d seen that face many times while training with his Sim. He had known the real man himself years before—Trace Michelson had recruited Jake into the Trust. But for years, it had been only a virtual Trace who had inhabited his mind, training him, sharing his knowledge with his host as all Sims did.
This was different. He was so… real.
He forced his eyes open again and stared up at the ceiling. The gray acoustic tiles provided him with no answers.
“Idiot,” he muttered as he fought the overwhelming urge to sleep. “Of course he wasn’t there. He’s been dead for nearly five years.”
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And now, an exclusive first look at First Comes Marriage
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?
Dreamspun Desires novels are offered as a subscription service where you get two novels each month for the price of one!
“I… I have a business proposition for you.” A slight hesitation. Not quite a stutter, but Jesse definitely looked nervous.
“Business? Thinking of buying a publishing company to add to your collection?” Chris joked.
Jesse laughed and pushed his glasses up with his forefinger. “N-no. But you might think this is a lot stranger.”
“I need to get married,” Jesse said, as if this explained everything.
“Good for you. I hope you’ll both be happy.” Chris shoved the image of Jesse with one of the women from the gossip pages from his mind. He hoped Jesse wasn’t going to ask him to write their vows.
“Sorry,” Jesse said, clearly frustrated. “I know it’s a strange topic. Let me rephrase that.” He inhaled an audible breath and said, “I… I want you to marry me.”
Chris was sure he’d misheard. “You… what?”
“I want to marry you.” No hesitation this time, and Jesse’s eyes shone with a look of keen determination. As if he’d shifted from geek to overdrive.
“Good one!” Chris laughed and shook his head. “Next you’re going to tell me I’ve been nominated for a Pulitzer.”
Jesse blanched where Chris had expected a good-natured laugh in response. “I’m not joking.” He set his glasses on the table and leaned in, giving Chris the impression that he’d unwittingly stumbled into a business negotiation and Jesse ran the show.
Chris swallowed hard. “Jesse, you’ve totally lost me here. We’ve known each other a whopping two weeks, you’re straight, and you tell me you want to marry me. I mean… are you fucking nuts?”
“I deserve that.” Jesse pressed his lips together in a tight line. “And maybe I am crazy. But I’m not joking.”
“Okay. So why don’t you tell me what’s going on here.”
“It’s… complicated.” Jesse raised his chin and sat straighter in his chair, as if willing his confident persona not to hightail it out of the coffee shop. Damn, the man was sexy even when he looked completely lost.
Chris chuckled. “I get that, seeing as you’ve lost me.”
Jesse rallied, infused once again with what Chris had begun to think of as his Wall Street confidence. “I have to get married or I’ll lose my inheritance,” he explained.
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Our Q&A with Shira:
1. What inspires you? What gets you writing?
Just about anything inspires me! Reading a book, watching a movie, watching anime (my guilty pleasure), a dream, a news article—all have inspired books, whether they’re fantasy, sci fi, or contemporary romance. I tend to mull things I’ve seen and heard during the day over as I’m about to fall asleep, and I’ve had more than a few ideas for stories become clear in my mind once I close my eyes. As a writer, I try to be open-minded and let my muse roll with ideas. They don’t always gel into a fully-fledged story, but that’s okay too.
2. What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
It depends. For more complicated plots like my Mermen of Ea Series, I have notes, spreadsheets, and even a hand-drawn map (which became a professionally drawn map included in the final mermen series book!).
Usually, though, I’m a cross between a pantser and a plotter. I draw up a general outline with a beginning, middle, and end, then fill in the basic construction of the book. Nothing too detailed usually. While I’m writing, I take notes about things in the plot to keep track of them, but I generally write as it comes to me at that point.
Whatever I do, I always listen to my muse and my characters. I’ve had more than a few stories that started out with one plot and ended up veering off the game plan part way through. My main merman in Stealing the Wind, Taren, started out as just a human boy kidnapped by pirates. Part way through that story, he announced to me that he was a merman! I didn’t fight the direction that book took, and I’m so pleased with the outcome.
3. Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
That’s a really tough call, because the answer is usually one of the characters from my current WIP. Current WIP aside, though, I admit I have a thing for David Somers, the richer-than-god conductor who is a mentor and friend to most of the musicians in the Blue Notes Series. David is sexy, he’s survived a painful childhood, and he took a chance on opening his heart to his partner, Alex Bishop, even knowing that he could be hurt again. He’s supremely gifted, and he has a gentle and giving heart. He’s also hotter than Hades and has a voice that would charm your socks off!
4. Which character is your least favorite, and why?
I’d have to go with Cam Sherrington’s uncle in Dissonance, one of the Blue Notes books. Without spoiling the plot of that book, suffice it to say he is truly a monster. I’ve written my share of bad men and women, but Duncan Sherrington is unrepentant and evil. And while if he’d shown up in a fantasy book, I probably would have killed him off, since Dissonance is supposed to be realistic, he doesn’t die (although he certainly gets punished).
5. If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
Honestly, I try not to look back! I did put out a 2nd edition of the original Blue Notes, though, partly because I wanted to clean up some “new writer” issues that book (my first novel) included, but also because I wanted to include more backstory for one of the MCs. The result is a cleaner, tighter version of the story, and one that explains about Jason Greene’s interest in men growing up, something he never acted upon.
6. What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
I hope readers think it is! I’ve just shipped off final edits for First Comes Marriage, which will be released on January 15, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press as part of its Dreamspun Desires imprint. It’s a sweet, tropey romance about a marriage of convenience. Jesse Donovan, a billionaire, must marry in order to maintain control of his family’s business. Struggling novelist Chris Valentine doesn’t know what hit him when supposedly straight Jesse proposes. The story is plenty sexy, but it also has the classic romance vibe of the traditional romances I used to read as a kid. I had so much fun writing it!
7. Anything else you'd like to share with your readers?
Thank you!!! Without my readers, I’d really be lost. You are the reason I write down the stories in my head. You guys are the best!
More 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".
You can subscribe to Shira's monthly newsletter for updates, free fiction, and subscriber-only contests.
Thank you for celebrating with us! We hope you found a few new favorite books and enjoyed learning more about Shira Anthony.
We're taking a break from our Author of the Month celebrations in December, but we'll be back in 2016 with lots more fabulous authors to celebrate!
Until next time, happy reading!