Today I am so pleased to welcome Shira Anthony to Joyfully Jay. Shira has come to talk to us about her latest release, First Comes Marriage. She has also brought along some great giveaways. Please join me in giving Shira a big welcome!

First Comes Marriage

Writing Secondary Characters: It’s All About the Details

Thank you Jay, for hosting the First Comes Marriage book tour! For those readers who may not already know, First Comes Marriage is the second book in the brand new Dreamspun Desires line of gay category romances from Dreamspinner Press. Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for an excerpt from the book, as well as the Rafflecopter giveaway for the book tour. You could win a dozen red roses for your sweetheart or yourself! I’ve also got a special giveaway for Joyfully Jay that you’ll find at the end of the post, so be sure to enter.

First Comes Marriage is an honest to goodness “category romance.” The term comes from the old tradition of publishing a certain number of books on a monthly basis in a certain category. You remember these. When I was a kid, they were the Harlequin and Silhouette romances that were shipped, 4 books a month, on subscription.

Book Tour InformationPart of the recipe for writing a classic romance is creating tension that builds like a crescendo up to the point where the main characters finally get together. We call these “slow burn” romances. There are different ways to create that tension, but one of my favorites is through the use of secondary characters. These can be antagonists, but they can also be characters we’re not really sure about. Those are the most fun to write.

In First Comes Marriage, the key secondary character is billionaire Jesse Donovan’s stepgrandmother, Wenda. Jesse’s grandfather raised him after Jesse’s parents died, so Jesse always saw his grandfather as a father figure. When Wenda came into the picture, Jesse was about eleven years old. Needless to say, he didn’t take having to share his grandfather with someone else very well.

Jesse and Wenda effectively avoid each other until Jesse’s grandfather dies and his will provides that if Jesse doesn’t marry within a year, Wenda will inherit control of the family business. So Jesse marries Chris. It’s a marriage of convenience and nothing more. At least, that’s how it starts out.

Wenda is a no-nonsense, intelligent, tell-it-like-she-sees-it woman. Jesse sees her as a road block to his control of the business. Chris, on the other hand, comes to genuinely like her. Which doesn’t make Jesse very happy. To add insult to injury, Wenda decides to contest the will provision, arguing that Jesse and Chris’s marriage is a sham.

Suffice it to say that Wenda’s actions push Chris and Jesse closer together. They have to show the world that their marriage is for real, and as they do so, they grow more and more fond of each other. Will Wenda win her fight over the will? Will Jesse and Chris realize their marriage can be something real? Those are questions you’ll have to read the book to answer. No spoilers here!

I’ll leave you with an excerpt (a little taste of the first time Chris encounters Wenda) and a special giveaway just for Joyfully Jay. Happy reading and good luck! –Shira


Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen:

That night Chris settled for yet another dinner alone in the Red Room, the smaller of two dining rooms at the estate. The day before, he’d asked Marcie to join him, but she’d flatly refused. “After his grandfather died, I told Mr. Donovan that if I was going to stay on, I wanted him to keep things the way they’d always been.” In spite of this, she’d still ended up chatting with him over coffee after she served him a delicious dinner of freshly caught bass and vegetables she’d grown in the garden on the side of the house.

Tonight, however, after Marcie cleared what was left of Chris’s meal, it was not she who walked into the Red Room ten minutes later but an attractive middle-aged woman with a shoulder-length blonde bob. Dressed in a well-tailored linen pantsuit that wore its myriad wrinkles well, she looked as though she’d just flown in from somewhere tropical. Which, apparently, she had, since Marcie came chasing after her, saying, “Mrs. Donovan, you must be tired from the flight. I’d be happy to serve you some dinner in your rooms, if you’d—”

You’re the wife?” the woman said. Chris knew she had to be Jesse’s stepgrandmother, Wenda.

“Wrong plumbing,” Chris joked, hoping to ease the tension.

“Was that supposed to be a joke?” Wenda countered.

Not much for humor. “Chris Valentine.” Chris stood and offered her his hand. “Husband.”

She didn’t shake his hand but took her measure of him, eyeing him from head to toe. The scrutiny made Chris want to squirm, but he schooled his expression and willed his face not to twitch. “I didn’t know Jesse had any interests outside the usual,” she said. “Then again, you’re far easier on the eyes than the usual.”

Chris chuckled. “Thank you. I think.” So maybe she does have a sense of humor. Dry as the Sahara, but….

She narrowed her eyes and turned to Marcie, whom Chris had nearly forgotten was still standing there. “I’d like some dinner, unless that’s a problem.”

Marcie squeaked, “No, of course not, Mrs. Donovan,” then skittered off to the kitchen.

“Long flight?” Chris asked and pulled a chair out from the table.

Wenda raised a questioning eyebrow, then sat heavily. “Missed my connection in Puerto Rico. I should have taken the company jet.”

“Why didn’t you?”

Her eyes grew wide. Had she expected him to just roll over and play dead? “I… I prefer not to. It’s a waste if it’s only me.”

This doubly surprised Chris, that she’d consider the expense and that she’d admit it. “Sounds reasonable.”

“You’re not what I expected,” she said.

“Glad to hear it. What did you expect?” he countered.


First Comes MarriageTheir marriage was supposed to be all business….

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?


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 here:


Where you can find Shira:


Shira has brought a $10 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, January 21st at 11:59 pm EST.

Shira also has two tourwide giveaways. First Comes Marriage is all above love and romance, and Shira’s grand prize is a dozen red roses for your sweetheart (or whoever you think deserves it!). First prize is a $10 Dreamspinner Gift Certificate. You can enter to win these prizes by following the Rafflecopter link below. 

Rafflecopter giveaway

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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