Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guest Blog and Giveaway with Karen Stivali!

Hello to you, my friends, fans, fellow readers, and authors! We have a very special guest here at the ol' blog today. She's my pal, Karen Stivali! Let me tell you something about Karen: she's an incredible writer! Trust me, I know. I've totally read her stuff and my face looked like this after: :D So please join me in offering her a warm welcome! And make sure to leave a comment for your chance to win an e-copy of one of her books! Details at the end of this post!

This is Karen!

Friends to lovers. It’s not only one of my favorite writing tropes, it’s how I’ve started relationships with almost everyone I ever dated. It wasn’t intentional. Sometimes it actually came as quite a shock. But there’s no denying that friends can sometimes turn into much more. That’s a common theme in my novels, and Meant To Be, my latest release is most definitely a friends to lovers story, with an unconventional twist. Daniel and Marienne start off as neighbors, become the best of friends and then…well, I’ll let you read the blurb and excerpt for a peek at what happens. 

Here's the blurb!            

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.

How awesome does this book sound? And because Karen is such a tease, she's giving us a teaser too! :D 

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.”

She groaned.                           

“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.”

For more information on this book and my other novels, please visit my website: (You’ll also find some yummy recipes there for foods that are mentioned in the book!)
I can also be found at the following places:

Author Bio:            
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.

Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic love stories filled with sarcasm and sexy details. 

This is Karen's book!

Buy links for Meant To Be:

Are you a fan of friends to lovers stories? Did a special friend in your life suddenly become much more? Leave a comment and tell me! One lucky commenter will win his/her choice of either a free e-copy of my first friends to lovers story, Always You, or an e-copy of Foreign Affairs (a romance anthology that features my short story All I Need, a prequel to Meant To Be) . Tell me your story!

:) :( ;) :D :-/ :x :P :-* =(( :-0 X( :7 B-) #:-S :(( :)) =)) :-B :-c :)] ~x( :-h I-) =D7 @-) :-w 7:P 2):) :!! \m/ :-q :-bd ^#(^


  1. I LOVE a friends to lovers story. There's something about shifting already established affection into intimacy that gets me every time. No need to enter me in the contest. I have alredy read and loved Meant To Be!

    1. I am so with you. And I'm reminded of the classic Michael Bolton song, 'How can we be lovers if we can't be friends?' :D I'll try to refrain from singing it. Thanks for commenting, Mags!

  2. I really enjoy friends to lovers stories. My favorite tv show, Gilmore Girls, had two characters going from friends to lovers. It really is a special bond. Read your entry in Foreign Affairs, now that I see that it was a prequel to Meant to Be, my gut reaction was correct. haven't read Meant to Be yet.

    1. I love, love, love Gilmore Girls! I was hooked from the get-go because of the possibility of my favourite couple shifting from friends to lovers. Stay tuned for results, Laurie! The contest closes at midnight. :)

  3. I love, love friends to lovers stories! It's one of my favorite themes in romance novels. I've read all of Karen's books & loved every single one of them. Next up is Meant to Be. Judging from the excerpt, this is going to be another of Karen's books that I will devour. No need to enter me in the contest. I already have all of Karen's books & Meant to Be! :D

    1. Karen is a lucky girl to have such a devoted fan in you! I can't wait to dive into my copy of Meant to Be! Then we can have a squee party after. :D