Jen: Today we welcome Christi Barth to Romancing the Book. Christi, will you share a short bio with us?
Christi: 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. A Fine Romance is book 2 in her 4 book Aisle Bound series.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Christi: When I was a wedding planner in Chicago, I came up with the idea of a romance store. It required a lot less start-up cash to create in a novel than creating it in real life. Sticking it into my book was definitely the way to go.
They say you form your first impression of someone within thirty seconds of meeting them. Or, in Mira Parrish’s case, within thirty minutes of not meeting them, when said person is supposed to pick you up from the airport and never shows. This is not a perfect start to her new life. Her friend Ivy is depending on her to run a new romance store, and Mira can’t afford to let her down.
Sam Lyons should probably apologize. But every time he sees Mira—which is often, since his family owns the bakery next to her shop—he can’t resist antagonizing her. There’s something about the sexy, straitlaced woman that drives him crazy. He can’t get involved, though. He has too much baggage to be any good in a serious relationship.
Despite his teasing attitude, Mira finds Sam too sweet to resist. (His hot body may be a factor.) But if there’s going to be anything permanent between them, they’ll need to let go of their pasts and look to the future…
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Christi: Plotter. Absolute plotter. Even to the point where I plot out in detail on the treadmill the pages I plan to write that night. If you know where you’re going, the words just fly out.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Christi: Sassy. Descriptive. Funny.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Christi: I write them down. And I always have something with me for just that eventuality. Because I was once at the symphony, and had a flash of brilliant dialogue. Not a lot of empty room on programs, so I had to scribble in the narrow margin of six pages to write it down. Ever since that night, I always have a small pad of paper in my bag – even my beach bag when I’m at the shore!
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Christi: Ah, that’s easy. Olivia Wilde for Mira and Dylan McDermott for Sam. One of the best parts of my job is surfing the web for appropriately hot guys when I start fleshing out a new hero. There are pictures of them on my Pinterest page, for those who are interested, along with pix of the characters from the rest of the series.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Christi: Christie Ridgway, Nora Roberts, Darynda Jones, Victoria Dahl, Jessica Andersen.
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Christi: The first time I received an email from a reader. I loved getting my first contract, and royalty check, and good reviews. But the fact that someone chose to spend their hard-earned money on my book, and then enjoyed it enough to take the time to reach out and tell me? That was utterly magical. And continues to be, with every fan email I receive.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Christi: I just began writing A Matchless Romance, book 4 in the Aisle Bound series. The heroine’s a matchmaker who is convinced she knows everything about men because she was raised in a brothel. The hero is a video game designer who channels all his sexual energy into training for triathlons. That is, he used to…. But the next thing readers should watch for is in July. I’m releasing a funny, sexy beach-fling beach-read called Love at High Tide. Then book 3 in the Aisle Bound series, Friends to Lovers, releases in October, with book 4 following in early 2014.
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And here’s a little teaser from A Fine Romance:
“Are we done yet?” Ben Westcott wore the downtrodden air of a man being marched to his own execution. Head bowed, his feet barely shuffled, his eyes were downcast, and an unattractive grimace marred his otherwise handsome face.
Gib, moving beside him with the effortless grace of a panther, snorted. “We’ve been jogging for five whole minutes. And calling it jogging is generous, as two power walkers just passed us. You’re an embarrassment, Westcott. I don’t know why I bother with you.”
“I’m confused.” Mira bumped her way in between the two men. It was a beautiful morning for a jog. With the sun glinting off of it, Lake Michigan was the color of a Tiffany’s box. A wide swath of white sand bordered their running path. Loads of toned, muscular men passed them with regularity, giving her plenty of eye candy to distract her from the repetitive slap of her shoes against the blacktop. Of course, none of them was as attractive as Sam, but she was trying not to sully her brain with thoughts of that mama’s boy.
“Ben, you look like you’re about to need an oxygen tank.” She’d hoped to take advantage of this time to get to know Ivy’s fiancé better. Hard to do if they’d have to haul him to the nearest emergency room to check on his imminent heart attack. Ben’s entire face was the same color as the tomato atop her morning breakfast bagel. “But when you invited me to come running with you, I got the impression it was a regular thing.” Or could this be an initiation ritual? In order to be accepted by Ivy’s friends, did she have to pass a test? Were they going to push her in the lake? Run away and make her find her way home?
“Oh, indeed it is. You’ll find me running along here at least twice a week,” Gib said. He waved a hand down the expanse of his torso. Being shirtless, the move showed off every rippling muscle, and there were plenty. “One of the many ways I keep myself in performance-ready shape. Because you—”
Ben interrupted. “Because you never know when a beautiful woman will need a round of slap-and-tickle. We’ve heard you say it a million times.”
“See, when you say it, Ben, you sound ridiculous. But I bet if Gib said it in that lovely, plummy accent of his, I might very well be interested.” Mira gave him an exaggerated, Marx brothers leer. He responded with a dexterous eyebrow waggle.
“Stupid British euphemisms,” Ben groused. “Your people are always trying to make things sound proper, even when they aren’t. Why is it, in your country, you politely pinch things instead of stealing them? Or go to see a man about a dog, instead of admitting you’re headed to the bathroom. Mira’s a big girl. Tell her what you really mean. You exercise twenty-five hours out of the day in case a hot chick—”
“—needs a shag?” Gib finished the sentence for him.
These guys were funny. Mira could picture them leaning against a fireplace mantel, dressed in tuxedos, each holding a scotch and hurling wisecracks at each other. Gib’s dark hair set off eyes a deep indigo. Even though he’d been in this country more than ten years, he still had the classic pale English complexion. Ben projected an air of careless ease with shaggy blond hair and a tan that could fit in on the beaches of Saint-Tropez. The contrast between the two gorgeous specimens, both showing off more muscles than she could count, would make any girl’s thoughts head straight to the bedroom. Or at least, any girl who hadn’t been kissed boneless by Sam Lyons.