MONROE, NJ - With another Valentine’s Day in the books and wedding season about to roll, isn’t it time to get intoxicated on love if you’re not already? Well, that’s exactly what 20 romance authors are counting on with the release of their sexy and sassy wedding-themed short story collection, “Drunk In Love: A Wedding Anthology of Sweet and Steamy Romantic Stories.” The majority of the authors are from the Tri-State area, including local romance writer, Kristen Luciani.

Luciani was born and raised in Long Island, but has made Monroe her home along with her husband and three children. The writer and entrepreneur came to be an author via an interesting path, a failed handbag business.

“I started a handbag business with a friend way back when in 2004,” Luciani explained in a recent interview. “We had a lot of success with it, but it wasn’t quite enough to maintain the kind of momentum we needed to stay in business.”

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However, the trials and tribulations of the venture led Luciani to the writing table where she put together a non-fiction book of her experiences that highlighted the pitfalls to avoid when starting a business. She never published the book though the project pushed the avid reader and blogger to try her hand at fiction. The result was her inaugural romance novel “Unlikely Venture.” It is the first in a four book series that centers around eight characters that are interconnected through life, love and the office. While the novels are a romantic series, each story also stands alone. Her latest sensuous tale is a slight departure from her previous works. “Plowed” is a sultry story of romance and suspense with the rock music industry as a backdrop that Luciani collaborated on with Rebecca Manuel. She also has another romantic suspense short story coming out in the spring.

Luciani’s other newest project is “Drunk In Love: A Wedding Anthology of Sweet and Steamy Romantic Short Stories.” The e-book, which features 20 well-known romance writers, will be released on March 13 and is a labor of love for the author.

“The idea for the anthology was actually born out of a lunch conversation I’d been having with a friend of mine who is a prominent book blogger,” Luciani said. “We were talking about gathering a number of authors to put together an anthology.”

The pair began the process in June of 2016 and handpicked the ladies spotlighted in the short story collection. Each author was given a flexible 3,000-5,000 word count guideline with which to create a story within the wedding-based theme. The result is an eclectic mix of tales that range from provocative and luscious to sweet and heartwarming.

However, these hot and seductive wedding tales are also backed by a charitable cause. All of the digital proceeds from “Drunk In Love” will benefit the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The hospital was founded by entertainer, Danny Thomas, in 1962 to provide state-of-the-art pediatric treatment and research for childhood cancers and other catastrophic illnesses affecting youngsters.

When the two women were discussing possible charitable recipients for their anthology, St. Jude’s was the first organization to come to mind for both ladies since the hospital works to provide care for the patient and the family as well without charging for services.

“In my opinion, there is no better charity to donate to. I respect everything that they do,” Luciani said of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. 

“Drunk In Love” is available for pre-order on Amazon in addition to other online retailers prior to its official launch date on March 13.

Luciani is excited about the anthology which highlights the romantic voice and style of each individual author.

“Some of them (the authors) choose to use characters from existing published works and some of them created brand new,” Luciani explained. “Some of them (the characters) will be used in future books. It also gives the readers an idea of the styles they expect from all of these authors.

Readers can look forward to a number of online events in the upcoming weeks to promote the anthology, including a take-over party on Facebook. For more information on Luciani and “Drunk In Love: A Wedding Anthology of Sweet and Steamy Romantic Short Stories,” visit her website. Romance lovers can also connect with the other writers featured in the anthology on Luciani’s blog.