Order. Attention to detail. Never leaving anything to chance. These are the qualities that make Riley Ness such a terrific federal agent . . . and a pain in the ass to everyone else. The only time Riley lets loose is when he’s hanging out with his closest pals. So when he’s thrown together with gorgeous, flighty Summer Sheridan, Riley’s brain tells him she’s a ticking time bomb—but his body doesn’t want to play by the rules.
Riley has to be the most irritating man Summer has ever met. The brooding hunk thinks he needs to teach her a few lessons about real life, while she’d rather show him how to enjoy it. But her BFF’s all but engaged to Riley’s best friend, and besides, their intense physical chemistry is all too real. Summer just needs Riley to try to meet her halfway and take a chance with the one thing that matters: his heart
USA Today bestselling author 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 award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.
Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.
“Living forever’s only fun if you truly live.”
That jab stung. Because it was the same riff the guys threw at him, over and over again. “I live. I just follow the rules. Obey the speed limit. Turn off my phone before the plane starts to taxi.”
Summer tossed her cloud of hair back. Gave him a knowing look. No, a knowing smirk. “Oh, I get it now.”
“You’re not uptight. You’re chicken.”
The woman had crossed a line. He’d gone through wilderness training and survival training. He’d climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Become a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He’d pushed himself to physical and mental limits most men wouldn’t be able to attain. Being sensible? In no fucking way was it comparable to being scared.
Riley’s long strides ate up the distance between them. Furious, he spat out, “You want me to try something risky?”
“Yes. Just once. But I don’t think you’ve got the balls,” she taunted.
Riley grabbed her face with both hands. Her lips parted in surprise. And he swooped right onto them.
Her lips were soft. So soft and pliable it almost deterred him. But then . . . they were so soft and pliable that he couldn’t possibly stop. Instead of holding her still, his hands curved to cup the back of her head, his thumbs caressing those impossibly high cheekbones that gave her the look of someone made to walk a runway.
Riley nipped at her wide bottom lip. Soothed it with a stroke of his tongue that savored the sweet, lingering tang of the orange cream cheese icing on the cinnamon rolls from brunch. He wanted to keep going. To nip and bite and lick down her neck, over the side of the breasts she flashed at him all day. To gobble down her sweetness and spice just like he had those rolls.
Her moan refocused him. This wasn’t just following through on a dare anymore. This was a real kiss. A real moment of pure, physical pleasure. So he dropped his hands to the small of her back and hauled Summer tight against him.
Thanks to her ridiculous—and ridiculously sexy—high heels, everything lined up right. The notch between her thighs ground right against his dick behind the suddenly too-tight fly of his shorts. Breasts plumped against his chest. Breasts he was pretty sure he could fit entirely into his mouth . . . since he might have pictured them a time or ten since meeting her in the spring. Tight nipples insistently poked at his pecs.
The kiss kept going. Ry slipped his tongue in as she let out a kittenish purr. God, it was the sexiest sound he’d ever heard. The soft, tiny mewl fired through his blood. Fired him up. His tongue tangled with hers. Like they were two swords, fencing for the win. Because there would damn sure be a winner. The way they were grappling at each other? It wasn’t just fun. It was about proving something.
Her mouth—made for kissing. And more. His tongue slid deep. Felt her wetness. And Riley couldn’t help imagining how all that warm wetness would feel locked around another part of his body. Summer’s hands came up to fist in his shirt. Shit—for a second, he worried she’d push him away. But then those fists pulled him even closer. One smooth calf twined around his. He wanted to walk her back ten steps to the nearest tree and just sink into her.
Which was crazy. Riley didn’t even like this woman. He’d kissed her to save his pride. To defend his honor. To get her off his back. And now he wanted to put Summer on hers, spread her thighs, and—
That was it. Riley let go. Let go of the sweet ass he didn’t even remember moving down to squeeze. Let go of those luscious lips. Yanked his head back and deliberately stepped out of the semicircle of her curved leg.
“You and I both know that was the riskiest damn thing I could possibly do today.” Riley looked at her still unfocused eyes, her kiss-swollen lips. Proof that she’d enjoyed it every bit as much as he had. “Oh, and you also know now that I’ve got the balls. I’ve got the whole package.”
Tasty Q&A with Christie Barth
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
“I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” from the musical South Pacific.
Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
Lipstick. Seriously. Even to go to the gym. Even when I used to leave at 5 a.m. to drive for 8 hours across the desert to get to college (while my BFF made fun of me all the way), I’d be fully made up. You never know who you might run into. Looking good makes me feel good. Oh, and the brighter color, the better!
If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
The Duchess of Cambridge. Because in actuality, I don’t want to have my most important contribution in life to be birthing an heir. But I do want to wear a tiara for a day and have someone at my beck and call. I think it’d be fabulous. Or at least, the clothes would be….
A la Twitter style, please describe your book in 140 characters or less.
Sexy. Sassy. Funny. Heartfelt. You’ll fall in love with the characters while watching them do it. True love makes everything better.
What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?
I love, love, love the flirt scenes. If I could write a book that is 100% witty banter and zero drama, I’d be thrilled. Oh, wait. I also love bromance scenes. The depth of friendship (or, in my next series, Bad Boys Gone Good, actual brotherly love) that shines through ordinary exchanges can be so magical and heartwarming.
Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉
Summer lives in the moment – to a crazy extent. It’d be a spoiler to tell you why, but let’s just say she has a reason to appreciate every second more than the average person. She’d need to take an absolutely fabulous sun dress to the island. Riley is uber-careful, thanks to a horrific experience in high school with his best friends. He’s willing to try lots of things, from climbing glaciers to scuba-diving, but only after taking every possible precaution and calculating every possible bad outcome. So he’d probably take water purification tablets. Unless he knew that Summer would be on the island with him. Then he’d take condoms.
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
Here’s the flat out truth – I was more than a little tipsy when the idea for my Naked Men series originated. I was at a wine tasting at Fleming’s Steakhouse (twenty-five wines in two hours – hence the tipsiness!). The idea of a series revolving around five guys who share a blog seemed like a winner. Okay, lots of hysterical things seemed like a winner that night, but this one really had legs. Like the wine (that’s a joke only for wine snobs, but I promise they’ll be ROFL over it). Obviously the guys all had to be different. I still have the paper with the original scribbled ideas: the jock, the jerk, the manwhore, the smooth talker, the big business tycoon. Then I drank more cabernet. You know – to celebrate having an awesome idea!
So the next day – after much water was consumed – I had to figure out how to turn a fun idea into a book. Because five guys typing a blog post on their laptops is, in fact, not a viable idea. The incredibly talented Sue Grafton said, “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” Now, I’m not sure what makes being a sheep that much better than a goat, seeing as how I could eat goat cheese all day long. But you get the point. The hard part is the execution.
There had to be drama (don’t worry – there is lots of sex, too). So I turned the five guys into high school friends who survived a near-fatal accident. The three days they spent struggling to survive turned them into the men who became my heroes. It turned Riley Ness, the hero of Trying It All, into a safety-obsessed NTSB agent.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
They say ‘write what you know’. And I did that. I used to be an actress, and I wrote a backstage romance. I used to be a wedding planner, so I wrote a four book wedding planning series. But I’m on book #24 now – readers would be bored to tears if I kept writing only what I know.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
OMG, yes – you almost can’t shut me up when I get near an aspiring writer! Treat it like a job, not a hobby. You’ve had your entire life to write your first book – but your publisher may want your second book in only four months. You need to set that discipline now. Remember the old saying ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’? Well, write for the job you want. Write as though you already have three contracts. Set a daily or weekly word count and force yourself to stick to it. You can still have fun, but you need to take writing seriously to turn it into a career. If you watch Twitter and Facebook, most romance authors are writing 6-7 days a week. Despite illness, kid drama, broken air-conditioning, you name it. The words do not write themselves.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My next release after Trying It All is Bad For Her, book 1 in the Bad Boys Gone Good series. Three big city, bad boy brothers hiding from their mobster pasts struggle to fit into a small town but danger follows, putting their new futures – and their new relationships – at risk. There is a lot of sexy fun to be had with WITSEC (not that the US Marshals service puts it that way) and fish out of water scenarios…not to mention the angst of lying to everyone you know about everything 24/7. That, um, complicates a burgeoning romantic relationship, I promise you!