I’m so thrilled to have Christi Barth with us today to answer a few questions and give us a look into her newest Shore Secrets book – Back to Us. I’ve read it – what did I think? Check out the review below to find out.
*What do you like the most (or least) about writing romances?
Shock of shocks, my least favorite thing is writing the sex scene. Too much worrying about how many times I say caressed versus stroked versus fingered. I power through for the readers, though! My fave? Every gushingly, over-the-top romantic moment that makes a reader clutch a hand to their chest and sigh (I do that when I’m writing that, too).
*What is your favorite romantic story (movie/book, fact/fiction)?
Factual? King Edward forfeiting his throne for the love of Wallace Simpson. You can’t get more romantic than that. Any movie that ends in a proposal is guaranteed to make me bawl.
*If you could be any romantic character, who would it be and why?
That’s easy. Eve Dallas from the In Death series. She gets to be kick-ass in all the ways I am not during the day, and then goes home to the richest and sexiest man on the planet at night. That would be super-fun to actually live (without all her near-fatal wounds, of course).
*Which of your characters was the most fun to write?
Gibson Moore from Friends to Lovers in the Aisle Bound series. He was an unapologetic Casanova who was more shocked than anyone to realized he’d fallen in love. (I just started writing another womanizer I’m going to have to reform in book two of my Naked Men series, and I think he’s going to even more fun).
*If you weren’t a writer and could be anything you want, what would it be?
I was convinced for several years that I wanted to be an FBI agent. But I’m a big softee and far from subtle and probably would not be able to pull it off. I do like the idea of clandestine meetings in a trenchcoat, however.
Shore Secrets series
by Christi Barth
Ward Cantrell always went for the long shot. But that recklessness cost him his college scholarship and his chance to play pro ball, and—worst of all—it ended his relationship with the girl next door. Neither the town nor the girl has ever forgiven him. Now he’s taking one last long shot by opening a boutique distillery on the family farm he inherited.
Piper Morrissey spent high school in Ward’s shadow, but she’s come into her own in the years since. Maintaining her spotless image, and that of her family’s winery, is priority number one. Nobody knows that she still yearns for her golden-boy ex. Or at least they didn’t—until Ward agrees to sell Piper the land she needs to start her precious port line. The caveat? She’ll need to date him for one month.
Ward hopes a month is all it’ll take to convince his former sweetheart that while he’s changed, his love for her hasn’t. But when the chance arises to thumb his nose at the town that turned its back on him, he can’t afford not to reject Piper’s offer. Will that make her reject him and his love—for good?
“Don’t you ever go with your gut?” He sauntered closer.
A devilish smile flashed across his face. “That’s the fun part.”
“We can argue over business strategies—or lack thereof—later,” she said archly, giving him a disapproving glare down her nose. “I’m going to have to insist on time to weigh the pros and cons.”
“It’s Wednesday. I’ll give you until this time on Friday.” He closed the distance between them in one long stride. “I’ll give you something to start off that pro/con list with too.”
Ward bent, putting his lips on hers before Piper could decide whether to scoot out of reach or not. Probably because a part of her couldn’t believe it was actually happening. There was a very strong possibility she’d passed out from exhaustion and this whole thing was a dream. It was the likeliest explanation for the morning’s strange turn of events.
But the warm slide of his lips pulled her straight out of her head and rooted her firmly in the moment. This moment. What she’d dreamed about and hoped for didn’t hold a candle to the reality of Ward, her Ward, finally claiming her again with a kiss that seared her down to her core.
He planted his hands at her waist and lifted, lips never breaking contact. Lips, heck—tongue never breaking contact. Even as he raised her high enough that her feet left the floor, Ward’s tongue swept around every inch of her mouth. Every nerve-laden inch. Every sensitive, tingling inch.
Piper needed to touch. Needed to greedily take him with the same heat he was lavishing upon her. Her hands fisted in his hair. Ward nipped at her bottom lip in response. So she wrapped her legs around his waist. That elicited a growl, and Ward braced her back against the wall. Then he pushed close. Pushed that muscled chest and those ripped abs against her body. Canted his hips to push something else even harder against the vee where her legs met. At that, they both moaned.
The rasping brush of his stubble burned in an oh-so-sexy way as Ward angled down her neck. At her indrawn breath, he paused to suck and lick at the spot right on top of where her pulse fluttered rapidly. Because, oh, the things he did to her. The shivers that raced through her just from the strong, wide span of his hands at her waist. The way he crowded out all thought as he crowded his body against hers.
Even the roughness, the harsh press of his jeans inseam and the scrape of the hair on his chin and the hard grind of hip against hip surged a sexy thrill from her head to her toes. Piper couldn’t squeeze her legs tight enough, couldn’t rake her nails down the back of his shirt hard enough, couldn’t recapture his mouth fast enough. Nothing was enough.
On a gasp, Ward pulled away. His eyes had darkened to midnight and a satisfied smile played at the edges of his mouth. And when had his hands shifted down to support her ass?
“That’s my pitch.”
She tried—and probably failed—to sound aggrieved. “That? A kiss was your pitch?” Best. Marketing. Ever.
“No. The pitch was my carefully laid-out reasons why a month of your time is more than reasonable to secure the land you need.” Another flash of that wicked grin that would’ve turned her knees to jelly if she’d been standing. “The kiss was my closer.”
I’m really disappointed to say this is the first of the Shore Secrets series that I’ve read because these friends are fantastic together. They are so supportive and caring for each other, but they aren’t afraid to give each other a hard time when needed (and sometimes when not 🙂 ). You can definitely read Back To Us as a standalone – there are a few references to the previous stories … but they just taunted me with the goodness that I had missed.
Barth could have easily been lazy on the relationship between Piper and Ward, using their history as an excuse to not craft decent interactions between the two, but lucky for us she doesn’t. We don’t get the back and forth of them getting to know each other, but she’s able to show their connection and attraction. As they tiptoe closer, I found myself happier and happier for them, waiting for them to get to a point when they finally bury their past and look toward a future together.
I think my only complaint is how much both Ward and Piper let that past influence their choices now. I’m going to tell you what he did so if you don’t want to know then stop reading now … last chance …. He kissed another girl, when he was 18, on his own for the first time at college, feeling lonely, and Piper saw it … Yes, I’m sure that was awful – they’d been friends for ages and he broke her heart, plus the wounds at that age can definitely have far reaching effects – but it was just a kiss. Granted they never talked about it, so she didn’t know that was all it was. He did, though, and should have manned up and taken care of this before now. Except they let it fester and turn into a big deal and now they have to work thru it. Maybe this is where not having the history of the other books plays against me because I’m sure that Ward and Piper and their feelings are a pretty big part in the other stories considering how close these friends are. I will say that Barth does a fantastic job setting it up and having them work thru it. So while I think that they allowed themselves to blow it all out of proportion, the trust issue is handled very realistically and she gets them to a satisfying HEA.
If this is your first Shore Secrets (and you don’t want to go back and start at the beginning), you’ll be OK but based on what I see here I think you’ll want to get the other two as well, just so you can spend more time with this great group of people.
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 lives in Maryland with her husband.