Welcome to The Happy Birthday Bloghop with Carrie Ann Ryan. Thanks for stopping by. To celebrate, I’m giving away an ebook copy of my new f/m contemporary erotic DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE to a commenter. Bonus entries go to those you sign up for my newsletter.
Here’s a character interview with the heroine, Campbell Layne…
Hi Campbell, can you tell our readers a little about DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE?
Sure, but first let me say how glad I am to be here! DWAM is about this Southern belle and rising star of the Manhattan Ballet Theatre, providing she lands the upcoming principal role. Um, yeah, that’s me. I’m totally stressing about an audition that could change my life. All I want to do is stay focused on my career, and I’ll be dog-gone, that’s when Rod Carrington steps into the picture. OMG. The man is freakin’ gorgeous and a total ego-maniac. He simply will not go away, though, as proven when he volunteers to substitute this law school class I’m taking in my spare time. (I’m on the nerdy side, and this is how I like to spend my time – don’t judge). Anyway, against my better judgment, we go to dinner. Basically, I drink too much, embarrass the fool out of myself, and assume that’s the end of it. Oh no. Rod then whisks me off to his Italian villa and helps me become quite the vixen. (No complaining here.) I’m completely smitten until I find out he used his powerful influence to secure the lead role for me. Now I’ll never know if my talent was real or “bought” by the man I thought was the love of her life.
How did you get into ballet?
The story my folks tell is that when I was about two, we were all at my uncle’s horse pasture. (I’m from this tiny town in rural South Alabama.) When Mama wasn’t looking, I climbed up onto the fence and was standing on one of the rails. She knew then that with all that balance I’d either be a ballet dancer or a tight-rope walker. The next week, she enrolled me in dance class.
What’s your favorite part of dance?
Definitely, my most favorite part is getting lost in the music. It transports me into a world all my own, like I’m in this bubble where I feel nothing but the rhythm of the orchestra. Tchaikovsky is my favorite composer and takes me to that sphere like no other. Yes, there are others, composers who reveled in the uniqueness of their music or intricacies of the composition, but no one does it for me like the great Russian magician. His sound is immediately recognizable, too. The peppy theme of The Nutcracker would put the grumpiest of Scrooges in the Christmas spirit. Sleeping Beauty’s “Waltz of the Flowers” causes me to sway in serenity while Swan Lake’s “Dying Swan” exhausts me with grief.
Rod wine and dines at some pretty fantasy restaurants then you turn the tables and cook him a home-cooked meal. Tell us about that.
Our first date is at Jean Georges in New York City. I have sea bass and Rod has beef Wellington. Delish! When we are Italy, I think I gain ten pounds from the manicotti, tiramisu, and gelato. Mama taught me how to cook so I finally show off my culinary skills with fried chicken, cornbread, collard greens, grits, mash potatoes, and a carrot casserole. Plus, I bake an apple pie. Rod, I’m proud to say, loved it. In fact, here is my jalapeno grits recipe (as if the book isn’t hot enough):
Jalapeno Cheese Grits
2 cups quick-cooking grits
2 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
3 large eggs, well beaten
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1/4 cup canned chopped green chiles
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the grits according to the directions on the back of the package. Remove from the heat and add next 6 ingredients (Cheddar through chilies). Stir well and season with garlic salt, to taste. Pour into a buttered 9-inch baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Tell us about your trip to Italy.
Rod, bless his heart, whisks me off on his private jet to the resort town of Bellagio, Italy, on Lake Como. The Swiss Alp Mountains, the lake, all the yellow and cream stucco buildings with orange terracotta tile roofs, and the cobblestone paths were incredible to see. Rod’s home turns out to be a mansion he’s renovating. I love it because it is warm and welcoming and “him.” Bellagio is known for upscale boutiques, antiques, and art galleries. As great as the shopping was, I have to admit, the best part was seeing how the relaxation Italy offered created this new side of Rod I’d yet to see.
Finally, how about giving us a sneak peek at DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE?
“Thank you for attending the performance and for your generous donation to MBT.” His dark eyebrows shot up a notch, highlighting a definite mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Why did they have to be the exact shade of turquoise as the Caribbean Ocean at sunset? Stunning.
“That’s well-rehearsed, Miss Layne. Tell me, though, do you turn on the Southern belle charm for all your fans or only the male ones?”
Her mouth fell open, but thank goodness she had the presence of mind to snap it shut. “How dare you? First of all, I’m from Alabama which makes the accent genuine, and secondly, that’s…that’s the rudest, most ungentlemanly thing to say.”
“I never said I was a gentleman and readily admit to be undeserving of your sweet façade. I’d much prefer the real you.”
She propped her hands on her hips. “And precisely what, may I ask, do you assume to be the real me, seeing as our acquaintance has a life span of what? Thirty seconds?”
Rod glanced at an expensive-looking gold watch. “Forty-five.” He stepped closer.
She did not see that coming and stumbled back only to become trapped between the wall and his body. The hard, cold stone competed against his warm, harder presence. Damn it, the latter won out. She ground her traitorous fingertips into her palms in an effort to prevent them from brushing away the stray curl that fell across his forehead.
The hem of his jacket brushed her hip as he moved in to splay his hand over her waist. The pressure built as he gathered her an inch closer. She caught a faint whiff of his cologne. The clean, fresh scent permeated the air and reminded her of the Southern pines back home, but this was not the time to reminisce.
“In fact, I’d like to get to know every inch of you.” Another sharp tug had her chest pressed against his rock solid form.
Her blood boiled in a delicious rhythm. Obviously, the vibrator thing was getting old if this jerk was turning her on. She made a mental note to ask her best friend, Heidi, to set her up on a date. Any man would do—as long as it was not Rod.
She flexed her fingers and pushed against his shoulders. “Let go of me, you arrogant pig.” A lion, cougar, leopard—anything powerful—seemed a more apt description though.
Rod chuckled and loosened his hold. A fraction. Enough to insert his finger between them. It followed the line of fabric at her shoulder slowly, very slowly, across her chest. As he glided over her cleavage, he said, “But, my dear, you’re mistaken. It’s confidence I possess.”
“More like cockiness.” Even as she said it, Bella couldn’t take her gaze off his finger or steer her attention from the intense hunger sweeping through her. She instinctively arched her back, lifting her breasts to silently beg for more.
“Either way, but I always get what I want, and in case you need me to spell it out”—he slid his finger up her throat to tilt her chin, forcing her to look at him—“I. Want. You.”
He uttered the words with such conviction, her breath hitched. No, stopped. She literally thought she might pass out. Swoon, like one of those Regency ladies she’d thought of a moment ago, only she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
Feigning haughty sophistication was not in her repertoire, but there was a first time for everything. She raised a brow and allowed her gaze to wander his body as he’d done to her. The black tux cut a dashing figure, making her mouth water for a taste of what lay beneath. She imagined herself undoing each of the black buttons on his starched, white shirt. His bowtie was a little askew. She reached to straighten it, brushing against his neck. She heard his breathing deepen, sensed, rather than saw, the quickening of his jaw. She inwardly smiled and wiggled her toes in a victory dance, but those stupid, treacherous fingers battled back, wanting to still the muscle with a gentle caress. She balled her fists in reprimand, uncaring that her short nails dug into her palms.
When she reintroduced her eyes to his, she shot him what she hoped was a contemptuous glare. “Take your hand off me,” she said slowly and deliberately. She made a dramatic showing of enclosing her fingers, one at a time, around his wrist and tugged his finger away from her boobs.
Nothing happened. Well, almost nothing. He managed to do that trick when one eyebrow lifts higher than the other.
She sighed loudly and exceedingly unladylike. Then she pulled. Hard.
Finally, he broke contact by approximately six inches when twelve would have been much closer to the acceptable personal space limit. Too late to hide her puckered nipples, she still folded her arms across her chest and tapped her foot in perfect tempo with her index finger. “An apology would be appropriate at this time.”
“Ah, but then I’d have to, in fact, be sorry.”
He said that? Seriously? She just stood there, gaping. It would’ve been so nice to find the words, any words to speak, but nope. A boa constrictor squeezed her throat.
“What? No response? I assume that negates the possibility of you actually wanting an apology.”
Again, robbed of speech. She felt like a fool, but her mind remained as blank as the sky on a cloudy night. So much for feigning haughty sophistication.
“Um…” Jackpot! At last. Okay, it wasn’t a three-point goal in the final seconds of the game, but her voice hit a few decibels nevertheless.
Rod’s deep chuckle reverberated throughout the alcove as he captured both of her shoulders. He laughed at her. Worse, he was going to kiss her. She knew it. Right here, right now. In front of everyone. A complete stranger. Well, not completely, she knew his name at least. Knowing the first name made it all right, didn’t it?
Lord, what am I thinking? She did not go around kissing strangers. Hell, she didn’t go around kissing people she knew. What would her mama think? She’d die of shame, that’s what.
But heaven knew she wanted to taste those beautiful, full lips. She purely ached to run her fingers through his wavy, chestnut hair and slide her hands inside his coat to see if his abs were as hard as she imagined they would be. She closed her eyes and barely swallowed the lump stuck in her throat before licking her lips, preparing for the inevitable.
Any thoughts? Got a good Southern dish you like? Ever been to Italy? What’s your favorite style of dance? I’d love to hear from you!
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DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE EXCERPTS
2011 LRC Best Contemporary CAN’T FAKE THIS buy Kindle version on Amazon and all versions at Loose, Id.
CAN’T FAKE THIS Excerpt
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