Valentine’s Bloghop Day Two: Stages of Love

Welcome everyone to day two of the Swept Away Valentine’s Day Bloghop!  Just as a reminder, I’ll be giving away the following prizes at the end of the hop:  1) an autographed paperback copy of any of my Dreamspinner Press novels (doesn’t include novellas, since those are only in ebook format) OR an ebook copy of any of my Dreamspinner titles (format of your choice); 2) a t-shirt of your choice of my Blue Notes Series covers, including the latest book, “Aria”, and 3) a $10 Amazon gift certificate.  I’ll pick three winners on February 18th from among those people who comment on my blog .  Be sure to check out all the amazing authors participating by clicking here or on the blog hop graphic to check out the list.

Each day of the hop, I’m blogging about the stages of love with excerpts from my published works or works in progress (WIPs) to illustrate each stage.  I’ve chosen four stages:  1) infatuation; 2) exploration; 3) commitment; and 4) happily ever after (HEA).  Today I’ll be talking about one of my favorite stages:  exploration.  That’s the time in your relationship when you unwrap the mystery that is your lover and discover what s/he has inside.  The exploration can be both sexual and emotional, of course.

Today’s excerpt is from my upcoming release, “Prelude (Blue Notes #4),” and is a never before seen preview of the novel.  In this scene, conductor David Somers and violinist Alex Bishop have been dancing around their mutual attraction for weeks.  It’s not only their busy schedules that have kept them apart–it’s David’s hesitation and a disaster of a first date.  In this scene, David and Alex have just shared an airplane ride home to Chicago from Paris, and David finally gets up the nerve to ask Alex to have dinner with him at his home.  Dinner, however, isn’t the main course…


Blurb: David Somers, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is one of the best-known conductors in the classical music world. He helps young performers like Cary Redding (The Melody Thief) and Aiden Lind (Aria) with their careers. He’s sophisticated, richer than God, handsome, and outrageously successful. But there’s something about David that his public personality doesn’t come close to hinting at: underneath it all, he’s insecure.

When crossover violinist Alex Bishop fills in at the last minute on a CSO concert, David isn’t expecting much. After all, Alex has long hair, tattoos, and plays rock ‘n roll when he’s not playing Beethoven. But when David hears Alex perform, he begins to wonder if he hasn’t underestimated the man.

It takes some time, but the two men fall hard for each other. But each has his own measure of pain to shoulder, and when David’s insecurities threaten to tear them apart, it’s up to Alex to show David that not all love is conditional.


Excerpt from “Prelude (Blue Notes #4), by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

Tentative Release Date:  April, 2013 (Dreamspinner Press)

Warning:  NSFW, 18+ Excerpt, pre-publication (final text may change)


Alex took a deep breath, stood up and walked behind David, then put his hands on his shoulders.  David’s muscles were tense, as if ready to do battle.  Without really thinking, Alex began to work his fingers into the tightness, his thumbs pressing into David’s back.

David’s stuttered breath was audible.

For a few minutes, Alex just massaged David’s shoulders in silence.  Beneath his fingers, David’s cashmere sweater was soft.  Alex imagined what David’s skin might feel like beneath the buttery yarn.  “Are you always this tense?” he murmured.

“I’m afraid yes.”  David’s voice had a slightly throaty quality to it. 

Alex trailed a finger over David’s jaw, then offered his hand.  “The couch would be more comfortable.”  David followed Alex silently into the living room.  A moment later they were seated on the couch and Alex’s hands found David’s shoulders once more.

“May I take off your sweater?” Alex asked.   He had little doubt how he hoped the evening would end, but David still seemed hesitant, and the last thing he wanted was to push David away. 


Alex ghosted his hands over David’s back before finding the hem of his sweater and slowly lifting it over David’s head.  He had to remember to breathe as he took in the smooth skin.  “Beautiful,” he whispered as his palms made contact with David’s bare arms.  He wanted to bite and suck at that deliciously pale skin, but he fought the urge, instead returning to David’s shoulders once more.

“I’m sorry,” David said in a low voice.  “I’m not very good at this.”

The vulnerability David’s words revealed only served to renew Alex’s determination to take things one step at a time.  He found David’s vulnerability both unexpected and attractive, responding to it by running his hands up David’s arms and turning David’s face toward him.

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” His eyes met David’s.

Before David could reply, Alex brushed his lips over David’s cheek.  The skin there was freshly shaved and smelled faintly of sandalwood and soap.  Alex breathed deeply, inhaling the scent and closing his eyes.  He fought the urge to rush, instead slowing the contact, allowing himself a moment to let his physical need subside.

David found his mouth with a determination so fierce it took Alex by surprise.  Alex opened his lips to David’s slight pressure.  David’s mouth was warm and tasted of wine.  He pulled Alex closer.

“God, David,” Alex said, gasping for air as the kiss broke.  “I’ve wanted to kiss you for so long.”

“I should have done that in Paris.” The corners of David’s mouth edged upward with the admission.  “I don’t know why I hesitated.”

“You weren’t the only one,” Alex reminded him, thinking that David’s hesitation seemed to have dissolved into quite the opposite.

“I’m glad to hear it.  I had hoped that was the case.” 

David leaned forward, slipped his fingers through Alex’s hair and stole another kiss, rougher than the last, more demanding too.  Holy fuck!  When had David gone from hesitant to taking charge?  Not that Alex was complaining, but the sudden shift in roles nearly took his breath away. 

And that mouth! David had a wicked mouth, Alex decided as David’s tongue danced around his own, teasing and exploring.  The man was wicked—superbly controlled to the outside world, and yet here, when it was just the two of them, there was only uninhibited sexual energy.  What would David have been without his grandfather’s interference?  He knew it was wrong, but he hated the old man for it.

David reached for Alex’s shirt, his lean fingers making quick work of the buttons.  No hesitation.  Just raw need.  Still, Alex was sure he hadn’t imagined David’s hands trembling with the effort, at least until Alex moaned his pleasure.  David’s fingers explored his chest before he pushed the shirt off Alex’s shoulders.  What an incredible mass of contradictions this man was—a realization that made Alex want David even more.

“Smooth,” David murmured appreciatively as his hands boldly found the outer edge of Alex’s tattoos and traced them from Alex’s shoulders to his neck.  He followed the pattern downward, pausing at a spot about an inch above Alex’s heart.  “But not here.”

Alex considered for a moment how to respond.  He hadn’t lied when he’d explained the designs were meant as a rite of passage.  He also hadn’t been completely forthcoming about them. 

“That’s a scar,” he finally said.  “A little something I picked up at my last foster placement.  Before I found Rachel.”  David leaned down and outlined the scar with his lips and tongue.  Alex forgot to breathe, the contact was so unexpected.

“It’s why you got the tattoo.”

“Yes.”  Alex wasn’t sure why he’d admitted it; he never told anyone else the truth.  Maybe it was the dreamlike state in which he found himself as David continued to lave the scar, or maybe it was that sinful hand tweaking his nipple just shy of too hard.

“It’s mesmerizing.”  David sat back, his expression almost serene, as if Alex’s admission had given him the reassurance he had been seeking all evening.  “I never thought a tattoo was a thing of art.  But on you….”  David pushed Alex down and bent over him, licking circles on the skin at Alex’s neck and shoulders and working his way down the lines.  David’s tongue found a pebbled nipple and nipped at it as Alex arched his back in a silent plea for more.  David slipped his hands beneath Alex, supporting his body as he sucked harder and flicked his tongue in insistent circles.

“Damn,” Alex gasped.  He opened his eyes long enough to see the closest thing to a grin he’d ever seen on David’s face.

“Should I stop?”

“You better not.”  Having David take control was the hottest thing he could imagine.  Unexpected.  Then again, so much about David was unexpected.

David appeared to search Alex’s face for just a moment, then licked a line from one nipple to the other to give it equal attention, all the while pressing his thumbs along Alex’s spine.  David radiated the calm confidence Alex had seen when he conducted.  David’s hands no longer shook as they massaged Alex’s back, and when their eyes met again, David’s simmered with obvious lust. 

“Oh, shit,” Alex groaned as David’s teeth pulled the peaked flesh and released it, and repeated the gesture again.  A few minutes later, David withdrew, leaving Alex bereft and moaning the loss of that hot mouth on his skin.  He needn’t have worried—David’s hands were now at his waist, easing open the buckle on Alex’s belt, unzipping his pants to free his erection and pushing them down to his thighs.  Another quick glance upward—perhaps to reassure himself that Alex wanted this, too—and David had taken him in his mouth.

“God.  David.  Feels so good.”  Understatement of the century!  Every inch of Alex’s body vibrated with heat, like a violin string long after the bow had set it into motion.

Alex could swear David was grinning now, but before he could be sure, David swallowed him to the root, sucking and pulling, making him hiss with pleasure.

He’d need to thank Marla and Rachel, even if it meant admitting they’d been right all along. The thought made him chuckle.  David’ responded by running the edge of his teeth underneath his cock.  The chuckle became a throaty growl as his hands moved of their own accord to feel the silk of David’s hair. David, in turn, slipped his hands to cup Alex’s ass and knead the muscle there.

“God.  David.  I’m gonna come if you keep this up.”

David released Alex from his mouth.  “Do you want to?”

Damn, but for just an instant David looked like a little kid caught with his fingers in the cake batter.  Devilish.  A little playful, even?

“Not unless you’re inside me.”

This time, it was David whose breath stuttered as the weight of Alex’s words sank in.  “Bedroom, then,” he said with a glint of mischief in his deep blue eyes.  He got up off the couch and gestured to the hallway.

Alex smiled and stood up, allowing his pants to fall to his ankles and stepping out of them.  David reached out and traced the tattoos again, this time following them down below Alex’s waist.  The horizontal lines ended there, but wisps of pattern trailed down his abdomen and the tops of his thighs like tiny rivulets of ink.  David’s fingers touching him made Alex shiver.

“It’s cold here,” David said in an undertone, his fingers still grazing Alex’s skin as he spoke.

Alex exhaled softly, unwilling to break the spell.  In the end, it was David who dragged his fingertips up Alex’s chest and cupped Alex’s chin before whispering, “Come.”  Alex followed him silently down the hallway to the bedroom, his heart pounding.


Enjoy the excerpt?  You can purchase the first three Blue Notes Series books at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other outlets.  Don’t forget to comment to be entered to win one of the giveaways! -Shira


  1. shirley frances - Reply

    Oh wow! Now that’s thw way to start a Friday. David and Alex together also piqued my curiosity. I can’t wait to read their story. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shira - Reply

      Thanks so much, Shirley! This may be my favorite pairing so far in the series. I love dark, handsome, and brooding (David Somers). 😉 Hope you enjoy their story! -Shira

  2. Linda - Reply

    You’re stories are like magic to me. Whisking me away to Europe, I just love your books.

    Please enter me in your contest

    yinyang1062 at yahoo dot com


  3. Susan - Reply

    Part of the reason I love your books so much is they take me back to places I’ve visited, both in Europe and here in the U.S. Can’t wait for this one!

    • Shira - Reply

      Thanks, Susan! I was just thinking how much I NEED to go back to Paris. It’s only been a year or two, but it feels like an eternity. *sighs*

  4. Patricia Nelson - Reply

    I’ve read the first three books and I absolutely loved them. I can’t wait to read this one! =)

  5. Shadow - Reply

    Definitely need to catch up on this series! Sounds awesome! Thank you for the awesome hop and giveaway!!! 🙂

  6. Juliana - Reply

    I cannot wait for this book! David so deserves his own HEA! This whole series is a must read.
    OceanAkers @

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