First Kisses of the RITA Best First Book Finalists

A Fiesta of Firsts with the RITA Best First Book Finalists

Welcome to Week 3 of the Fiesta of Firsts! I’m honored to be among the authors nominated for the RITA award for Best First Book, and we’ve decided to come together and share seven weeks of “firsts” with you in an event we’re calling “A Fiesta of Firsts.” Every time I type that on my phone, it autocorrects to “A Fiesta of Fists,” which is an entirely different event that I think involves cage-match fighting.

RITA Award
The RITA award

If you’ve never heard of the RITAs, they’re awards given to the best of the best romance novels each year. There are genre categories as well as the “best first book” category, which we’re celebrating here. It’s like the Oscars, but with less Neil Patrick Harris. (We should remedy that, though. Seriously.)

Each week of the Fiesta of Firsts is hosted by a different “Best First Book” finalist on her blog. You can see a new post every Friday until the RITA awards on July 25th. We’re giving away a big basket of books at the end of the fiesta: some of our books as well as our favorite books. There’s a Rafflecopter at the end of this post that you can use to enter this giveaway, and really, you should. Because free books. Also, one lucky commenter this week will receive a free copy of my latest novel, Combustion, a Steampunk erotic romance.

If you’re just joining us now, here’s the fiesta so far:

Week 1: Our First Book Crushes
Week 2: Favorite Firsts from our RITA finalist books

Which brings us to Week 3…

Week 3: Our First Kisses

That’s right. I asked these other authors to dish about their own first kisses… and dish they did!

AE Jones

AE Jones When I was in sixth grade a boy in my class asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. And like that, we were a ‘couple’. As his girlfriend I got to hang around with him on the playground and hold his hand at the roller-skating rink. This made me ridiculously happy because 1) I had a boyfriend and EVERYONE knew it and 2) he held me up as we skated (I was a terrible skater). He was a sweet boy and he gave me a heart-shaped locket and I wore it while we were an item. We shared a quick kiss one day at the roller rink. More of a peck than anything, but we were twelve and since he was a head shorter than me, I had to bend down to kiss him! That was my first kiss. My first ‘real’ kiss is a story for another day! Mind Sweeper

Alyssa Alexander

Alyssa Alexander My first kiss was at a high school Valentine’s Day dance. I was considered old in comparison to my friends’ first kisses, being just shy of 16. And though I don’t remember much of it, I do remember that little flutter and the red hearts taped everywhere in the gym. I also remember wearing one of my first formal dresses, a pretty corsage on my wrist and flying high on the fact that my crush had asked me to the dance. The Smuggler Wore Silk

Clara Kensie

Clara Kensie My first kiss went to a cute boy I met at the clubhouse of my dad’s new apartment complex. My dad was busy unpacking, so I went to explore. The boy was hanging out at the clubhouse, and he showed me around the grounds– the pool, the tennis court, the convenience store, and back to the clubhouse. He was very chivalrous and I was very flattered, and when it was time for me to go, he suddenly leaned in and kissed me. I think he was even more surprised than I was! The kiss was clumsy and awkward, but also romantic and sweet. The follow-up: I saw him (ahem… kissed him) a few more times when I visited my dad, but then he moved away and we never saw each other again. We didn’t have a romance novel’s Happily Ever After ending, but it was nice while it lasted! Run To You

Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev Groan. I’ve been dreading this question. Because really, it’s a bit of an icky story. Despite my best attempts to be otherwise, I was a pathetically goody-two-shoes teenager and my first and only boyfriend was worse. So a lot of longing and no real liplocking happened. Tragically enough, it was the opposite with this guy I was set up with as part of my real life arranged marriage saga: none of the longing and some rather unfortunate liplocking. The poor guy went through all this trouble to take me to this beautiful park in Mumbai and tried to be all romantic. But in the end there was much moisture and no fire (told you it was icky). Needless to say it turned out to be the (ahem) kiss of death for that particular matrimonial liaison. A Bollywood Affair

Natalie Meg Evans

Natalie Meg Evans I was a pretty late starter and that first kiss began to feel like a social test that I was never going to be asked to show up for. Other girls in my year had boyfriends and went out on dates. They got valentine cards by the trailer-load. I got none. So when a boy I didn’t like very much got his friend to ask me out, I said, ‘All right’ while my head shouted, ‘No!’ He was goofy, wore blue specs and had teeth like all three of the BeeGees glued together. His friend, Glynn, kept teasing us, ‘Have you snogged yet?’ I’d been holding off. I knew what was coming. One afternoon, the boyfriend, let’s call him Andy, picked me up from school and I hustled him away so none of my friends would see him. We went to the town park and sat together on the grass and he said, ‘I suppose we’d better get on with it, then.’ We did and the clashing of front teeth was the only part I remember but I obviously couldn’t face a second go because I ditched him shortly after. His friend Glynn wrote me a letter telling me I was a horrible girl and I was very upset. Trouble was, I fancied Glynn, of course. He was dark and muscly and went on to be a fireman. Life, ha? The Dress Thief

Elia Winters

Elia Winters My first kiss was when I was 15. Nowadays, that feels really young, but back when I was 15 it felt like I was the last person on earth to be kissed. I had a boyfriend named Scott – who’s still my Facebook friend and will probably cringe upon reading this – and we’d been dating for FOREVER (two months, maybe three?) and he hadn’t kissed me. Finally, we were both over my friend Jen’s house and she shoved us out the back door and said, “There’s a pretty marsh behind my house! Go look at it.” So we tromped dutifully down to the marsh, and stood there awkwardly until finally he made a move and kissed me. It was really sweet, actually. I remember thinking he smelled nice. Purely Professional


This Week’s Finalist Spotlight: Purely Professional

Purely Professional

Columnist Bridget Hartwell agrees to write about BDSM to impress her new executive editor at Sultry, the “sex-positive magazine for sex-positive women.” Unfortunately, it’s a topic she knows absolutely nothing about…but if she ever wants that promotion, she’ll need to learn the ropes, fast.

English professor Max Harlow is active in the Dom/sub scene, but only for casual play—he’s never found his ideal partner: a woman who is his equal, but sexually submissive. When he’s asked to explain the lifestyle to his cute but obviously inexperienced neighbor, Max is certain it’s best to approach it academically—to keep things purely professional.

Until Bridget’s first article is a huge hit, giving her the perfect excuse to delve deeper into the naturally submissive side of her sexuality. But as their encounters intensify and each of her boundaries is skillfully pushed, Bridget must decide what this all means… for her identity, her career, and, most importantly, her future with Max.

Amazon | BN


What about you, readers? If you’re feeling brave, share your first kiss in the comments! Or just tell us what you thought of ours. One lucky commenter this week will win a copy of Combustion.


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32 thoughts on “First Kisses of the RITA Best First Book Finalists

  1. Oh, I just loved this! Thanks so much for sharing the good and not so good about that huge first milestone. And many congrats to all of you on your RITA noms!

    1. Thank you for commenting, Miranda! I loved reading all the other first kisses, even the not-so-good ones. And thank you for the congratulations!

    2. Thanks, Miranda! I really enjoyed the stories this week. Felt like I got to know these ladies so much better.


    3. It’s is such a milestone, isn’t it? Always memorable–good, bad, awkward or sweet. And thank you, Miranda!

    1. Definitely fun! So many differences from person to person, yet we all have that first, don’t we? It’s a fun ‘first’ to share!

  2. Aww, ladies! My heart swoons and breaks with these first kisses… Love them!

    Mine was at a middle school dance. I wore a pink dress with black polkadots and probably some amazing jelly shoes. The boy had blond hair, a perpetual blush, and was in dire need of chapstick (a fact figured out post-kiss). Ten years later…he came out. 🙂 I suspect he now has a better lip regime, but still gels his hair to perfection. 😉

    1. Oh, jelly shoes, how I remember thee… they were horribly uncomfortable, and in the middle of summer the smell could not be eradicated, but they were certainly the height of fashion.

      Thanks for sharing!

    2. Darcy, now there’s a story! Can’t wait to read more about it in your own Fiesta of Firsts when you final in the RITA’s next year! 🙂


    3. LOL! Sweet first kiss, though, Darcy! But oh, the jelly shoes. I never had a pair, and I was so desperate to have some. All my friends did, and though I had jelly bracelets, I never had shoes. I’ll have to live vicariously through you!

  3. You are all so gracious, especially those whose first kisses weren’t the best.

    However, AE having to duck down to kiss him, made me chuckle.


    1. Di R & Elia –

      Glad I was able to give you a chuckle on that! I was taller than all the boys except one in grade school. But then they all started to grow in high school – thank goodness!


    2. I giggled a bit at that too! Thanks for stopping by, Di!

  4. So mine was at a friends birthday party when one of the guys came up with the idea of playing spin the bottle. The guy was never my favorite person and I remember the kiss being really wet and gross. 🙁

    1. All these stories remind me how much kissing, like everything else, is generally terrible but improves with practice.

    2. Hi Glenda!
      Everyone needs one wet and gross one to really enjoy all the good ones.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. This was a really fun post! Particularly enjoyed reading about Sonali’s engagement-killing kiss. 😉 My first was in 8th grade with a boy I met at Six Flags over Texas. I think his name was Brad. My friend Julie and I had gone to the park together and he was her boyfriend’s best friend. We rode rides, watched shows. Naturally, feelings developed. LOL. Toward the end of the day, we stepped into the vacant skyride shelter, and magic ensued. Well, maybe not magic, but there was tongue. Alas, I never saw him again. And didn’t receive another kiss for until 2 years later!

    1. Thanks, Amy! Glad you enjoyed my pathos 🙂 Although, we never made it to the engagement stage, thank the stars!
      Yours sounds like the kind of first kiss everyone should have. Sigh.


    2. Oh, that’s so sweet! And magic, tongue, rollercoasters…what’s the difference? 🙂

  6. Great blog, ladies! I can’t remember my first kiss, but I remember the first person who taught me HOW to really kiss. Happened in a club in London and led not to romance but to a lifelong friendship. Thanks Natalie for reminding me of the word “snog” – it always make me smile 🙂 Congrats to you all on your RITA nominations!

    1. Jacqui –
      Thanks for sharing your first kiss story with us! And pretty cool you are still friends.

  7. What a fun subject! I’m impressed you all remembered your first kiss in so much detail. Best of luck in the Ritas!


    1. Lark –
      As you can tell we had fun on this post! It was great of Elia to choose it as our topic!

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