Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Impressive or Way Too Much? On Grand Gestures in Romance Novels by Melanie Marchande + Giveaway!

This is my last stop for the Insatiable Reads Book Tour. I can't believe it's almost over... it's been such a thrill hosting some of the marvelous authors and their sizzling new releases this month. This week, the incredible Melanie Marchande is on tour with contemporary debut, I Married a Billionaire, and will be sharing a fun, flirty guest article about grand romantic gestures in romance at Books à la Mode today. Stay tuned for a chance to win a print copy AND some gorgeous themed jewelry! Readers, please help me welcome Melanie to the blog!

Fly Me to the Moon: Walking the Fine Line Between Impressive and Overboard

Who doesn't love a grand romantic gesture? A private boat ride, your name spelled out in flower petals, standing outside your window with a boom box... yeah, the line between "grand romantic gesture" and "intensely weird" can actually be pretty fine. Sure, all of those things are probably just fine in an established relationship, but now just picture that creepy guy at work doing one of those things for you.


Sure, context is king. But you never want to end up as that person who gives a gift that is so lavish that it comes across as inappropriate and over-the-top. In I Married a Billionaire, Daniel Thorne walks a fine, fine line. His perspective is a bit skewed, being a billionaire and all. The whole thing starts with him offering his employee, Maddy, two million dollars for pretending to be his wife for a year, so he can stay in the country. Which would be a pretty lavish gift, if he weren't asking her to commit marriage fraud in exchange for it. After giving Maddy an expensive pen and buying her new clothes and a new car, his crowning achievement is their "honeymoon" trip to NASA headquarters, where they get to preview a new moon landing simulator. By this time, Maddy has grown used to him, and she's not surprised that he remembered her talking about how she'd always wanted to go to the moon. But if he'd somehow managed to cobble together an actual moon landing, that might have been a bit much.

Although we see the story from Maddy's perspective—right from agreeing to marry Daniel for money, to... well, I won't spoil it. But it's a romance novel, so you can draw your own conclusions. Anyway, although we don't really know for sure what Daniel's thinking, at a certain point, it becomes clear that he's getting swept up in his feelings a bit. He wants to impress her. Sometimes, he might go too far. But overall, he keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground. In my opinion, quite a few men out there would do well to learn from Daniel, even in small ways. Let me give you some examples.

Scenario: She loves dolphins.
Appropriate: Take her on a surprise trip to SeaWorld.
Inappropriate: Buy her a dolphin.

Scenario: She's a wine aficionado.
Appropriate: Buy her a wine-of-the-month membership.
Inappropriate: Buy her a vineyard.

Scenario: Diamonds are a girl's best friend—particularly hers.
Appropriate: Buy her a small pair of diamond earrings.
Inappropriate: Engagement ring. I mean, unless you're already at that point in your relationship. But probably not, you know, on the third date.

Okay, I'm being a little silly. But I think a lot of women reading this will be able to testify: some guys get so wrapped up in their feelings for someone that they lose sight of what's actually, you know, not intensely overblown for the situation. Somewhere in here, there's a very serious lesson buried. Give her a moon landing, if you must. But don't actually send her to the moon.

I mean, unless it's your fiftieth anniversary or something. Then, all bets are off.

Melanie, you're a hoot! Thank you for such a fun post about something every romance reader/writer should keep in mind.

As for I Married a Billionaire, it sounds like an equally fun read! I love Harlequin Presents, so I'm really eager to give this one a try. Readers, here's a little bit about the book...
Maddy Wainright has given up on marriage—and men. After dating way too many losers who aren't capable of appreciating her for who she is, she's about ready to resign herself to a life of spinsterhood. Until her insanely rich boss Daniel Thorne comes along with an offer she simply can't refuse.

He proposes a marriage of convenience, one that would allow Maddy to live in the lap of luxury for a year, and Mr. Thorne to stay in the country that has become his home. At the end of their arrangement, Maddy will walk away with a cool two million dollars. All she has to do is move into his mansion, put on a convincing show in public, and endure a few INS interviews, for which she will be thoroughly prepped. It's a big risk, but one Maddy might just be willing to take, considering the payoff.

At first, it's all business. But when the gentle touches, passionate kisses, and lingering looks they have to give each other in public start spilling over into their private life, Daniel and his devious mind take Maddy to heights of pleasure she's never experienced. And the more she gets to know him, the more she feels that wistful tug in her chest every time he puts his arm around her in public. Before long, she finds herself wishing it were real.

As time goes on, Maddy finds herself wondering if two million dollars will be enough to cover the cost of repairing a broken heart. But Mr. Thorne may have yet another secret in store...

Click "read more" for a special excerpt, as well as a crazy-good giveaway you don't want to miss!

Well, this was going fantastic. If this were a real first date, I would have blown it completely. I hunched over the table, staring down into the steaming cup of organic free trade gourmet roasted coffee that I hadn't touched. Daniel was waving the server down for the check.

Once he'd filled it out with his own elegant pen, produced from an inner jacket pocket, he leaned over the table again and spoke in soft murmur.

"I think it's best, for appearance's sake, if we leave in the same car. And I would appreciate it very much if you would come home with me and spend the night."

My throat tightened. "So soon?"

"Well, by this time, we've been having an affair for a few weeks now. It only makes sense you would come home with me after our 'first date,' if only because it's hardly our first date."

"Fine," I said.

He was almost whispering now. "You can stay in your own room." He smiled. "With a lock on the door. I have no plans to take advantage of you. Right now, everyone here thinks I'm telling you about all the naughty things I'm going to do to you, when we get back. Smile back. Smile back."

I did, even as goose bumps rose all over my skin. "It's a good thing the acoustics are so bad in here," I purred, slipping my foot out of my shoe and resting it lightly on top of his. It was dark, but the tablecloths were certainly short enough that someone might see, if they happened to look. His eyebrows went up a fraction of an inch. I wasn't sure if it was the situation, or the man, or the wine, or some combination of all three, but I felt bold. 

"I hope their imaginations are sufficiently filthy to put the right words in my mouth," I said, slowly stroking the small part of his leg I could reach with my toe under the cuff of his pants. It was the first time we'd touched, other than shaking hands. I could feel his eyes on me—and the eyes of a few other patrons as well—but I refused to look up, instead pouring a little cream into my coffee, stirring it, and then raising the spoon to my mouth. I slid it into my mouth and licked it clean with an exaggerated gesture. It would be laughable under normal circumstances, but I hoped the alcohol and the atmosphere would work in my favor. If I could at least make Daniel half as uncomfortable as he was making me, then I would win.

Of course, it was backfiring horribly as well. I couldn't tell if the look on his face was entirely acting or not, but I was tingling all over. Even through my pantyhose and the fabric of his sock, I could feel the heat of his skin on my foot. Suddenly, my mouth was very dry.

In the low light, his eyes looked dark. It was impossible to tell if his pupils had really grown large, or if perhaps something else was growing—

No, no no. Snap out of it, Maddy!

I pulled my foot away abruptly, clearing my throat and straightening up in my chair. The spell was broken.

His car arrived a few minutes later, and I let him lift me to my feet and lead me outside, his hand resting on the small of my back. Yes. There it was. And so soon, too.

Later on, our relationship would be described as "whirlwind." I was sure of it.

He had a place downtown, at one of those high-rise buildings with a doorman. An actual doorman. In this day and age. I caught his eye and nodded, tittering and leaning on Daniel's arm. Playing just slightly more drunk than I really was. The doorman nodded and favored me with a knowing smile.

The elevator ride seemed to take ages. A heavy silence permeated the car. I ran my fingers through my hair, my head still buzzing with the wine and the thrill of deception. The doorman thought we were an item. Everyone was going to think we were an item. There was a certain perverse joy in the whole thing, I had to admit.

"What's so funny?" Daniel said, and I realized I was grinning like an idiot.

"I don't know," I said. "Just, everything."

About the Author

Melanie Marchande is a young writer who loves creating fun, flirty, and occasionally steamy stories about two people realizing they just can't live without each other. She's just released her Kindle Top 100 bestselling debut novel, I Married a Billionaire, about a struggling graphic designer and her billionaire boss who pays her to pretend to be his wife for year.

Her favorite love stories include Pride and Prejudice, The Princess Bride, and Much Ado About Nothing. It goes without saying that she prefers her romances to have both heart and humor. What better way to show your affection for someone than through a battle of wits?

Melanie loves to connect with readers, so be sure to get in touch with her through the following sites:

Website Blog Facebook | Twitter Google+ Goodreads | Pinterest | Mailing List | Tour Page | Purchase

Melanie is currently on virtual tour with 15 other awesome romance authors as part of the Insatiable Reads Book Tour. From March 4th-31st, readers will be invited to enter for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, free books, and other fun goodies. Readers will also be able to participate in author chats, get insights into writing and publishing romance, and collect story swag.

This week, Melanie is touring with Selena Kitt, Julia Kent, and Tanya Korval.

To enter the giveaways and meet the other writers, you can follow the tour on the following sites:


I love Maddy's playful voice—it really reflects how entertaining the book is, as a whole.

Melanie is an absolute goddess and has offered a fabulous giveaway exclusive to Books à la Mode readers. One lucky winner will win not only an autographed paperback copy of I Married a Billionaire, but also a hand-crafted necklace + earrings set from Silver Bliss by Youphoric that is featured in the book!

Is the jewelry absolutely gorgeous or what?? To whomever the winner turns out to be: ya lucky bitch! To enter, all you have to do is tell us: what's the craziest, most over-the-top thing you've ever done for love? I wanna hear what you've got! We want thoughtful, relevant responses, here... comments like "Thanks for the giveaway" and "I don't know, but great excerpt" will not be eligible for the contest!

In fact, the commenter with the best or most convincing response—judged by both Melanie and me—will take home the prizes. So make your words count!

As for me? Hmmmmm answering this question is kind of embarrassing because I'm literally love's biggest fool. But I guess one crazy incident act of love was when I showed set photographs, paintings, and sketches I'd done of my then-boyfriend at one of my course galleries. I mean, these were intimate drawings (not like nudes or anything... but art, at the risk of sounding pathetic, from the soul) and I was displaying them for a school exhibit. He was flattered as hell and the critics/advisors were impressed (I aced the semester, ha!) but in hindsight, it was way too much, not to mention unprofessional. There are some things you should keep private in a relationship and artwork of each other is one of them... at least I think so (after having been burned LOL).

What's yours?

You can gain additional entries by following Melanie or the blog. Please fill out this Rafflecopter form below to keep track of all of them:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
In addition, there is a tour-wide giveaway for a Kindle Paperwhite and copies of all sixteen books on tour. You don't want to miss out! Don't forget to follow the tour, and enter the combined giveaway below:
Rules and Disclosure:
The featured giveaway ends Aprill 11th, while the tour-wide giveaway ends March 31st at 11.59 (your time).
While the Kindle is eligible for US/CAN readers only, everything else is open for international readers! Woohooo!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.
Although I do select winners for my giveaways, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Please show your gratitude and follow Melanie or the tour in some way, as she has been generous enough to provide this fabulous prize.
Good luck!