First Comes Marriage (Gigi’s Review)

First Come MarriageTitle: First Comes Marriage
Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 15, 2016
Genre(s): Arranged Marriage/Contemporary
Page Count: 262
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Their marriage was supposed to be all business…

When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!

Jesse’s in a pinch: to keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal. In exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?

My first of Dreamspinner Press’s new Dreamspun Desires novel is First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony. Dreamspun Desires is explained as such:

Dreamspun Desires are contemporary category romance novels, complete with your favorite heartwarming heroes, captivating plots, and exotic settings. These titles are all about happily ever afters that leave you with a satisfied smile for days.

They are packaged to look like your mom’s Harlequin romance novels from back-in-the-day.


And, oh, this has gotten off to a great start because First Comes Marriage was spectacular!

I have been a huge fan of gay romance with Forced/Arranged Marriage/Mating/Bonding themes since I first read Heart of Texas by R.J. Scott back in 2012. The soap-opera style drama swept me off my feet and it made me feel like I was watching Dallas with my mom and sisters back in the 80’s. First Comes Marriage gave me very similar feelings, but the main difference between the two is that while Heart of Texas has peril of the villain sort with conspiracies and murder and back-stabbing at every turn, First Comes Marriage is a romance with no anticipation of bodily harm. Emotional harm? You betcha!
Chris is a struggling writer, working as a barista to make ends meet while he works on his novels. Jesse is a business man, working in the family business, Windview Enterprises, that his great-great grandfather started. It is now very successful and Jesse is a millionaire many times over.

For reasons initially unknown, Jesse’s grandfather put a stipulation in his will that Jesse had to be married, for a least a year, before he can inherit Windview Enterprises. If he does not marry, the majority of the business shares will go to his grandfather’s second wife, Wenda, Jesse’s step-grandmother that he has a tumultuous relationship with.

Chris finally agrees, Jesse and Chris marry and begin the happily-married-couple charade by moving Chris into Jesse’s sprawling mansion, Windmere, with a breathtaking ocean view and elaborate gardens. Despite Chris, who is gay, feeling a strong sexual attraction for a very straight Jesse, things start out pretty well for the couple.

But, all is not as it seems at Windmere and several of the occupants have dark, deeply hidden secrets they don’t want seeing the light of day. Jesse is harboring one of the biggest, and when his secret is finally revealed at about 50%, the book goes from first person (Chris) POV to multiple POVs. Now we get a good look into Jesse’s mind and life and what motivates him to do the things he does.

I am going to stop there with the summary because there are some delicious twists and turns and revelations that are best kept under wraps so you can enjoy them yourself as you read.

First Comes Marriage is romantic, emotional, sexy, heart warming, sad at times and a brilliant soap-opera style story. I absolutely ate-it-up and cannot WAIT to read the rest of the novels in the Dreamspun Desires collection.


Dreamspun Desires Series

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Advance Review Copy

Galley copy of First Comes Marriage provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.