Another fab guest post from one of the Love Finds A Way Boxset I featured a couple of weeks ago now... This time you lucky readers can also read an excerpt from Karen's book: Meant To Be!
LOVE FINDS A WAY is a very fitting title for this boxed set of unconventional love stories. Every book in this collection explores the path to love for its characters and, as in real life, that path isn’t always smooth. There are more than a few bumps and twists and roadblocks in the way, but in the end, love finds a way. We’re all just lucky enough to go along for the journey.
MEANT TO BE is a story that lived in my imagination for over eight years before I wrote the first words. Once I started writing it, the whole story just poured out and even when Meant To Be “ended” I knew I wasn’t done with the characters, so I wrote the sequel, HOLDING ON.
The premise for Meant To Be comes from the saying that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I was thinking about that and realized that, while it’s true, you never know who’s there for which purpose. People who you expect to have in your life forever can wind up being there only a short time while others, who you may have thought were only temporary—a neighbor or co-worker---can wind up becoming the most important people in your world. When Daniel and Marienne meet they have no idea the impact they’ll have on one another. That’s what fascinated me about their story. They didn’t know it, but they were meant to be.
I’ve written multiple contemporary and erotic romance novels over the years. All of my stories, regardless of genre, are love stories. Most of them, including Meant To Be, are friends to lovers stories. It’s my favorite trope to write. I love exploring the change in dynamics as friends become something more. In the case of Daniel and Marienne, their friendship is unique and special all on its own. Theirs is an unconventional path to love because they have so many obstacles along the way and because they’re both unwilling to do anything to risk compromising the friendship they’ve grown to depend on. That just makes the pay off that much more sweet when they finally decide to take a chance on love.
Here’s the official blurb and a tiny excerpt so you can meet Daniel and Marienne…
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.”
Author Info for Karen Stivali:
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. She is a multiple award winning author of contemporary and erotic romances for Ellora's Cave, Turquoise Morning Press and Samhain Publishing.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/karen-stivali