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.”
“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.”
There’s no question that the friends-to-lovers theme is one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching movies like When Harry Met Sally and shows like FRIENDS, or maybe it’s because I’ve had more than my share of male friends who’ve gone on to become more-than-friends. Whatever the reason, it’s a trope I always enjoy reading and often find myself writing.
What is it about friends-to-lovers stories that’s so appealing? Lots of things. Friendships are close relationships. They’re fun. They’re intense. They’re playful. They’re serious. Friends are the people who know your secrets and like you anyway. You can depend on them. Call them when you’re in crisis. Count on them to cheer you up and want to be there when they need you. There’s an intimacy to friendship that is as personal, deep and bonding as any aspect of a lover’s relationship. So, when someone you’re friends with suddenly (or not so suddenly) seems attractive in addition to all the other things you already adore about the person, the result can be earth shattering.
Realizing that someone you’re such close friends with is someone you’re thinking about in a more-than-friendly way is something that can shake anyone to their core. Everything between you and that friend takes on new meaning. Double meaning. Meaning that keeps you up nights questioning its significance. Did he always hug me so long? Was he watching as I walked away? What did it mean when he said he loves me? Simple things become complex. Possibilities become endless.
Friends who become lovers have a head start in the intensity department because there’s already a level of closeness and caring that isn’t present in brand new relationships. It adds a whole new dimension to what you already shared. That can be exhilarating, terrifying, overwhelming, or more typically some combination of all three.
That’s what makes the friends to lovers storyline so intriguing to me. The dynamics of a friendship are already so complicated and layered I love writing them. Adding the extra ingredients of love, lust and attraction just take that over the top. In a deliciously wonderful way. I love watching it happen with real life friends, I’ve adored the times it’s happened in my own life, and when it happens between characters I’ve created it’s downright magical.
Meant To Be is, in many ways, my version of the ultimate friends to lovers tale. Their friendship builds slowly and neither of them ever expects it will be anything but a friendship. They’re both married and they each take that commitment very seriously. As they grow to know one another the things they have in common—likes, dislikes, past experiences, hopes for the future—draw them closer together. As their marriages unravel their friendship becomes more and more important. Neither of them has ever had a closer friend or anyone else who’s cared for or about them so much.
A lot of people ask me if this is a book about infidelity and it’s not, at all. It’s about commitment and love and staying in relationships long past the point where they’re no longer viable. It’s a story of what it means to be a true friend and putting the needs and happiness of others before your own. Even after Daniel and Marienne are both single and available they struggle with the decision to express their feelings to one another because neither of them wants to jeopardize the friendship that’s become the most significant relationship in their lives. When feelings are that strong, though, it’s worth the risk. Friendships can be destined to become more. And some couples are just meant to be.
Meant to Be hit home for me. My own love life is a true life friends to lovers story. I met my husband on December 31, 1999 at a hockey game. I completely resisted him as more than friends for 4 long years…according to him. 🙂 One day it just clicked with me. He was meant for me so why did I resist? Neither one of us was married/divorced/seeing other people, for me its our age difference. I’m 7 years older than him and I thought that was huge. The first time we kissed (July 3, 2003), I knew that he was the man I was going to marry. Fast forward to September 4, 2004 and we were married.
Meant to Be was a well written characterization about what happens when you met the person that you are supposed to be with but can’t. The friendship between Daniel and Marianne is beautiful in its complexity. True friends are hard to find and keep. Daniel and Marianne know this and treasure it. Through the ups and downs of their own marriages, they have each other to lean on and support. In their own minds, they feel the growing love between them but respect their marriages too much to act on it.
As Karen stated above, this is not about infidelity, in fact its quite the opposite. Both Daniel and Marianne value their marraiges until the unthinkable happens to both of them. Not willing to risk their friendship, neither one of them pursues the other romantically. I loved that; its a slow build romantically, not rushed.
The humor and dialgoue had me from the beginning. In some parts it was a bit slow for me but the payoff was swoon worthy. I have read Karen’s other works and for me, this is her best one to date. She delivers a heartwarming, friends to lovers story that is believable, funny and romantic.
5 Hearts and a highly recommend read
Reviewed by Marika
*book was recieved through a blog tour and I was not paid for my review*
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.
Karen has published three erotic romances with Ellora’s Cave: Marry Me (June 2012), Long-Distance Lovers (co-written with Karen Booth, March 2012) and Always You (Passionate Plume First Place Novella Winner, RWA 2012).
Karen’s first full-length novel, Meant To Be, will be published by Turquoise Morning Press on August 26, 2012. Its sequel, Holding On, will be released on November 26, 2012. A prequel to these novels, the short story All I Need, appears in the Foreign Affairs Anthology (Turquoise Morning Press, August 2012).
Coming in 2013 Karen will have several contemporary romances releasing from Samhain Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press.
For more information about my current and upcoming projects please visit my website: Author Website
I can also be found on:
Twitter: Author Twitter Link
Facebook: Author Facebook Link
Goodreads: Goodreads Author link
Amazon: Amazon Author Link
Buy links for Meant To Be:
Turquoise Morning Press: Publisher’s Site
Karen will give one of her back list for each tour stop. She will also be doing a Grand Prize, $20 Amazon or B&N gift card, at the end of the tour, winner will be selected from all of the commenters throughout the tour.