Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I’m hosting USA Today bestselling author Christi Barth’s latest release Escaping Valentine’s Day, a contemporary romance.  Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.


Title: Escaping Valentine’s Day
Series: N/A
Author: Christi Barth
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: February 2, 2023

An Italian romance is on the menu, but is she ready to order?

Content creator Rory Hibbert knows Valentine’s Day is only fun for couples and chocolatiers. For singles like her, it’s a day of disappointment. And that’s why her new marketing agency client has arranged a tour of Italy crammed full of activities to distract from the holiday. This trip is a test for Rory—if it goes well, it will jump-start her new social media career.

There’s just one snag: the ex she never got over is also on staff.

Huck Cranshaw walked away from the love of his life for a huge opportunity on a cooking competition show. At least, that’s the excuse he gave Rory at the time—and he’s regretted it for five years. Cooking for tourists was supposed to be a stopgap between restaurant positions. Now it could be much, much more: a chance to fix the past.

But when an Italian prince catches sight of Rory, Huck’s not the only one vying for her heart this time. Can Cupid still steal Rory’s heart when the truth finally comes out?

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Ciao,” said a voice smoother than brushed satin.

It was the prince. What was she supposed to do? Bow? Curtsey? Nod? Rory remembered that officially all the Italian royalty was declared done by the end of Mussolini’s reign of terror. But if the man walked like a prince and got introduced as a prince…she’d better play it safe and not accidentally insult the man.

“Oh, um, goodbye,” she said with a nod and an uncomfortable sort of sideways knee bend.

“Leaving so soon?”

“Aren’t you? You said goodbye.”

“Ah. Ciao is used for both hello and goodbye.” He beamed down at her, with crinkles of sincerity bracketing his eyes. “And I quite intended it as a hello to you.”

Other women would be in a puddle on the floor by now.

There was the dreamy Italian accent, the way he used the word “quite” that always sounded like royalty talking, and his overall warmth—that wasn’t even taking into account the whole package of runway looks and custom tailoring.

Rory, however, was not “other women.” An Italian prince wasn’t going to fall head over heels for her after one look. Especially not today.

She had on jeans and sneakers for comfort, and a pink cabled cardigan over a tank. Her only jewelry was an old ladybug pendant. One that Huck gave to her, so she’d always have one to make a wish on. She’d never stopped wearing it—although Rory was less than thrilled to be wearing it in front of him. It didn’t mean anything anymore.

Or so she’d insist if he made mention of it.

Overall? Her outfit was nothing special. Definitely nothing sexy or fancy enough to catch the eye of a prince. No, this was probably his sales shtick. The same personal attention he ladled upon every wide-eyed tourist who entered his store.

It was generous of Nic to host the tour group for the week. Kind, while obviously profitable for him. But she’d draw a line that indicated he didn’t need to waste his charm on her.

“Well, thank you for the vocabulary lesson.”

“You were busy filming before. I noticed you. In case you missed it, I’m Nic. And you are…?”

“Rory Hibbert.” She held out her hand to shake.

Nic didn’t take the cue. Instead, he lifted it and brushed a featherlight kiss to the back of it. “Piacere di conoscerti.” While still bent over her hand, his eyes dragged up to meet Rory’s. “Nice to meet you.”


Oh God. ‘Ditto’? Seriously? She had a college degree. Prided herself on her writing and grammar—hence the semi-confidence that she had what it would take to be a brand’s content creator.

“Would you like me to show you around the shop?” He crooked his arm, as if about to escort her into a ball.


“Thank you, but no. I’m working. Ah, documenting the trip for Josie. I’m sure any actual member of the tour group would appreciate a personal tour, though.”

“They might.” Nic shrugged. “But I would appreciate the chance to give one to you. To share my passion with you.”

That was a million times more suggestive than any pickup line Rory had ever heard in a bar or even in a rom-com. Despite her plan to remain unaffected by His Royal Hotness, her heart sped up. A lot. “Look, Your Highness—”

“Just Nic, please. It is a courtesy title. One that is good for business. But I don’t stand on ceremony. I’m a businessman. I’ve put in the hard work to—” his perfectly sculpted lips pursed and his hand circled in the air as he tried to come up with the right word “—nurture this place. To make it welcoming and interesting.”

“You created it? You didn’t inherit it?”

His darker blond eyebrow shot up. “Americans are not the only ones with a work ethic, signorina.”

Great. She was teetering on the cusp of an international incident. Insulting a prince? Insulting their host? What was wrong with her? Josie and Rowan would kill her. And Huck…

Where was he, anyway?

First things first. Apologize to the charming prince.

“I’m sorry, Nic. That was rude. Josie said you had several businesses. Running one by myself is a daunting prospect. A considerable time suck. I just assumed you inherited this.” How else could she strive to dig herself out of this conversational ditch? Waving an arm from his abs to his biceps, she added, “You don’t look like you’ve got a stack of cookbooks on your nightstand.”


USA TODAY bestseller Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.

Follow Christi:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


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