Marianne Rice. At First Blush.

Book Title: At First Blush

Series: A Well Paired Novel
Genre: Romantic Women’s Fiction
Date of release: 1/23/2018

Book Blurb:

Alexis Le Blanc enjoys her simple life in Crystal Cove, Maine. After taking a chance on romance and getting rejected, she has given up on love. Now she devotes all her time to running her family’s winery, Coastal Vines. She wants to keep it small and traditional, but her parents have other ideas—hence why they hire some big-shot marketing executive from Napa Valley to rev up business.

When Benito Martelli shows up in her family’s tasting room, she’s more than stunned to discover he’s the man who wined and dined her the night before. Alexis is beyond peeved at his deception in trying to get into her good graces for the sake of making money on her winery. At first, she wants nothing to do with him or his big business ideas, but she’s pleasantly surprised when they come to a compromise, and even more surprised when she gives in to the sparks between them.

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and Alexis is faced with complications she never could have predicted. Promises and secrets unravel, and she must decide if love and wine are as well paired as she hoped.
















Book + Main:



Marianne Rice writes contemporary romantic fiction set in small New England towns. She loves high heels, reading romance, scarfing down dark chocolate, gulping wine, and Chris Hemsworth. Oh, and her husband and three children. You can follow her all over social media, and keep up to tabs with her latest releases on her website:


“You want brutal honesty?”

“That would be nice. For once.”

Ben grabbed the collar of her jacket and jerked her toward him, their faces inches apart. “I want you. In my bed. Underneath me. On top of me. But I also don’t want to hurt you. I’m letting you go because I don’t want to be a selfish bastard. There are things you don’t know…”

“I seem to go for selfish bastards so…” She licked her lips, hoping for one more kiss. Hoping he’d ask her to stay. Hoping he’d let her go.

“You’re too…special.”

“I’m not special.” Alexis lowered her eyes and shook her head. More lies to get her into bed. Only he didn’t want her in his bed. Her mind raced searching for answers, yet she didn’t even know the questions. It was all too much.

The way her heart raced when he was near. The way her legs trembled when his dimple appeared as if just for her. The way her mind went dizzy with longing when his stunning eyes were so intently focused on her.

“See, and then you do that vulnerable thing and I just want to…”

A spark ignited inside. She was not weak. “I’m not vulnerable.” She lifted her gaze to his and studied the intensity in his eyes, the seriousness in his jaw.

“I like that you are, and that you think you aren’t.”

“I think I should go.” She was smart enough and strong enough to walk away before she’d get emotionally attached and have her heart broken.

“I’ll follow you home.”

“When was the last time you drove in the snow?” Ben didn’t reply, his gaze still on her lips. “I didn’t think so. I don’t want to have to haul your ass out of a ditch so stay here. Play on your laptop. Style your hair. Go be sexy. Whatever it is you do at night.”

Alexis frowned when she pulled away from him so easily, and let herself out, driving home in silence and confusion.

Leaving her hot and horny and alone on a cold night, Ben was right about one thing. He was a total selfish bastard.


Trust in yourself. Trust in your manuscript. #amwriting.

Lately, in an attempt to stretch out my sore shoulder and neck, I’ve been doing yoga.  A colleague told me about “Yoga With Adriene” on YouTube and it’s really been helping.

One of the lessons Adriene imparts is to trust. Trust that you are doing what you need to be doing. Trust that there’s a reason you are on this journey.

The same can be said for our manuscripts.

Very often, usually once I reach the dreaded middle part of the book, I begin to doubt. Did I plot with enough detail? Should I have plotted less? Are my conflicts genuine? That sort of stuff. I try to write through it, but the stress is real. It has even stalled me at times.

But here’s the thing. It always works out.

No matter how a plot may derail, no matter if I suddenly decide I hate all my characters and they need to endure savage torments to appease my anger, it always works out. I try to trust I’m on this journey for a reason.

That trust usually brings about one of two outcomes. Outcome one? I finish the book.

Outcome two? I realize there’s a problem with the book.

Either way, I can work with it. Obviously, outcome one is the preferred one, but outcome two isn’t so bad. We want to recognize the problems with our stories, right? Otherwise, how else can we fix them?

Any time I have doubted myself or my manuscript, I enter a period of uncertainty. I may have to step away from my book for a while to clear my head. However, every time I trust that I’m supposed to be writing and that I’m supposed to be telling this story, I manage to work out the kinks. Sometimes it takes a while and that’s okay. I firmly believe you can’t rush a book.

With every book I’ve written, I always reach a “Eureka” moment. Suddenly, I can breathe again and everything makes sense. I know I get to that place because of my sense of trust. It guides me and it helps me correct my mistakes. I try to take that trust into every aspect of my life, and when I can, I’m a lot happier.

I trust I am on the right path. I trust my decisions will result in lessons I need to learn.

I trust in myself and in my manuscript.


The Practice of Learning Dialogue

Love this post on dialogue from Kimberly Bell. I hope you will too!

Romance Writers Chat

This coming Sunday, January 15th we’re doing a chat all about dialogue, and our co-host, Kimberly Bell, has lots to share about her process of learning to write authentic conversation.


I get a lot of compliments on my dialogue. In fact, some of the best early advice I got in my career was that my dialogue was my strength, so I should let it shine. But why is it a strength? How? What, exactly, do I do?

I don’t know.

I wish I had a better answer than that. What I do have are some aspects of my life that I think have contributed.

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A sneak peek at “Al Dente.”

As I mentioned not long ago, my short story “Al Dente” was recently accepted to be part of the sexy anthology, Craving: One Night, coming to Crave Publishing this spring.

I couldn’t resist giving you a sneak peek. My hero is a famous Italian chef by the name of Matteo Rinaldi and my heroine is a Toronto food blogger named Ruby Zhang. The story begins with Ruby winning tickets to be part of a private couple’s cooking class with Chef Matteo.

Only she loses the other half of her couple right before the event.

Please enjoy this excerpt!

“Al Dente”

It wasn’t so much that her boyfriend had taken dick pics.

It was more the fact he’d sent them to the entire internet.

Not the entire internet, of course, Ruby Zhang corrected herself. Just about half of it. The female half.

At least she assumed Steve hadn’t sent photos of “Moose” to the male half. If he had, that opened up a whole can of worms she wasn’t prepared to confront. It was bad enough knowing he’d cheated.

“I didn’t cheat, babe, I swear.” Steve had tried to justify his actions once discovered. “You went away for the weekend with your sisters and I drank too much. I was just bored one night. Those women meant nothing to me.”

“Wow,” she’d countered. “You actually think that qualifies as an excuse.”

He might as well have cheated and probably had. It was the only reasonable assumption, although she hadn’t stuck around long enough to ascertain the particulars.

Either way, he’d unleashed Moose. That was his pet name for his dick, given to him by an ex because of its admirable dimensions. He’d liked it so much he’d kept it and used it as much as possible. At first, Ruby had thought it was cute. Now, it made her want to vomit.

Eighteen months with a man who likened himself to a huge mammal known for its annoying moans and inability to sustain its energy after rutting.

Yup, that was Steve in a nutshell.

Still, they’d talked marriage … that is, they’d talked about it being a possibility one day. Those plans were over. Less than two weeks later, Ruby was still reeling.

However, life would have to go on.

That was why she now stood in front of Toronto’s Ristorante Al Dente. Although it was Valentine’s Day evening, the restaurant was closed to the public for a special event. And not just any special event.

Months ago, Ruby had entered a draw to win a private couple’s cooking class with famed Italian chef Matteo Rinaldi. As a food blogger, Ruby had followed Rinaldi’s career and tried many of the recipes featured in his popular cookbooks. In fact, she owned the entire collection of books and most of the pages were dog-eared and covered in splotches of sauce because they were such a treasured feature in her kitchen. The handsome chef wasn’t just an author, though. He’d hosted numerous cooking specials on TV and Ruby had been glued to every single one.

Matteo Rinaldi might possess some incredible knife skills but he was also so gorgeous most soap opera actors would hurl themselves over the nearest cliff out of insecurity.

Meeting the chef would be a dream come true.

Learning to cook with his instruction would be heaven.

When she won the tickets, she’d been over the moon, despite Steve’s indifference. When she broke up with Steve, she’d contemplated giving the tickets to some friends. After all, it was supposed to be a couple’s cooking class and she was no longer part of a couple.

Ruby had waffled for all of five minutes. After a short period of wallowing, she’d cuddled her aging pet rabbit Shania and said, “Fuck that shit.”

Shania always helped her channel her inner badass. The rabbit was the equivalent of one hundred human years old and had that effect on people.

Only now, standing in front of Al Dente on a cold February night, Ruby was losing her courage. What would Chef Matteo say? On TV, he seemed like a nice man but what if he was haughty and disparaging in real life? Ruby had met a lot of chefs in her line of work. They weren’t always known for their humility.

The wind whipped through her, compelling her to make a decision. She took a deep breath.

Resolved, she grabbed the door handle and walked inside.


Like the excerpt? Don’t forget my latest contemporary romance A Good Man, Handymen 1, is currently available. Click here for more!


“Al Dente,” a spicy romance novella…coming soon!

A short time ago, I received word that one of my submissions would be included in a spring anthology coming to Crave Publishing.

Craving: One Night is going to be a hot anthology featuring some memorable one-night stands. I’m excited that my novella “Al Dente” will be part of it.

I thought this would be an intriguing exercise for me because, believe it or not, I’ve never written a one-night stand before. Because I firmly believe in bringing my readers a “happily ever after” with each story, this novella will be no different. “Al Dente” might begin with a moment of lust but it will end with a commitment.

So what is this one about? Here’s a short blurb for you:

When celebrity chef Matteo Rinaldi announced he would visit Toronto on his latest book tour, food blogger and fan Ruby Zhang knew she had to be in the audience. The best part? Chef Matteo will be teaching a Valentine’s Day couples cooking class and Ruby has scored tickets for her and her boyfriend Steve.

Unfortunately, a week before the class, Ruby learns Steve has been “cooking with gas” with numerous other women. Determined not to let his betrayal impact her plans, Ruby attends the couples cooking class. Alone.

Chef Matteo notices Ruby on her own and invites her to be his “partner” for the class. Flattered by the handsome chef’s attention, Ruby decides it’s time she turned up the heat as well. A casual flirtation over the squid-ink linguine flares into red-hot need and a wild night in Matteo’s hotel room.

Come morning, will Ruby and Matteo find a way to continue their culinary adventures?

I can’t wait to share more about this one in the days to come. Please stay tuned or subscribe to my newsletter for all the latest.

My year of saying “yes.” #amwriting #UpbeatAuthors

First of all, allow me to wish you a very happy new year! I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you.

I don’t make resolutions but when my peeps at #UpbeatAuthors chose resolutions as a topic for this week’s post, it got me thinking. I decided I need to say “yes” more often.

I say “no” a lot. This isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it wasn’t long ago I was celebrating the fact I can say “no” a lot easier now. It’s not easy for everyone. There’s a measure of guilt involved when you shake your head. Sometimes I say “no” out of self-preservation and rightly so. We can’t do everything and we can’t be everything to everyone. We all need a hard limit.

But it occurred to me I might be missing out by not saying “yes” more. One of my characters is going through a similar epiphany right now. Dana Hamill, the heroine Covet, Vegas Sins 2, has just had a life-changing experience and decides she needs a “week of yesses.” In other words, she will remain open to anything fun that might happen. (You’ll hear more about Dana soon – stay tuned!)

I don’t think I’m as open as I should be. Much of that stems from fatigue and commitments. My weeks are always busy between work and family life. At the end of the week, saying “no” feels luxurious. It feels justified. I sometimes close down when I should be opening myself up to new experiences.

So I’m going to try it. As a writer, I should be willing to explore and make new memories. Exploration leads to plot bunnies and plot bunnies lead to new books. Whenever I am tempted to close up shop, I am going to ask myself, “Could this be good for you? Could this be an adventure?”

Wherever possible, I will say “yes.”

I hope 2018 brings you lots of adventure as well.