Thanks, Melissa, for offering me this opportunity to talk about my latest release, Saved by the Salsa, just out yesterday. This blog article was a different experience for me, examining a particular scene in the book in-depth. I hope your readers think I picked a particularly compelling scene and will be enticed to read more.
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date Published: August 8, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 82,300
Junior architect Lacey Rogers welcomes the opportunity to work with Jack Dalton, the firm’s golden boy, that is, until her hormones can’t resist his charm and spectacular looks. How can she keep her mind on their design project when her most potent designs are on him?
Jack Dalton has always worked alone. Now he’s got a partner. Is he losing his touch? Is that why he hasn’t been named principal yet? To make matters worse, he can’t take his eyes off the petite piece of fluff. If he can’t find some way to cool his jets, he won’t be able to keep his hands off her either.
But on the dance floor, their mutual resistance melts as their bodies meet in the vibes of the Salsa. Can the dance keep them collaborating after the music ends?
“J-J-Jack!” Her voice came in a hoarse whisper. “Don’t move!”
“Huh? Can’t hear you.” What was up? Had she stumbled across one of those ground creatures after all?
“Lose the notepad and start backing up the hill as nonchalantly and quickly as you can.”
“Do as I say, okay? We’re not alone. Hurry!”
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“What do you mean not a—” Over his shoulder, he saw what she meant. A scruffy-looking bull stood no more than thirty feet away, pawing the ground. The animal didn’t look the least bit happy to have company. Jack tried to swallow and nearly choked, his heart hammered so furiously. Where had the beast come from? He must have been hidden behind the trees on the other side of the hill.
“Don’t look directly at him!” Lacey commanded in a lowered tone. “Go!”
Warned not to, he resisted a powerful urge to stare down the animal. But he couldn’t get his feet to budge, no matter how much he willed them to. “I-I-I can’t move,” he hissed. How much longer before the bull decided to rush? Couldn’t be long. “Get out of here, Lacey. I’ll distract him for you.”
“I won’t leave you!”
She backed up the hill a few steps at a time. He waited until she reached the crest and disappeared down the way they’d come. Then he began his own retreat. Bulls weren’t typically part of the knowledge base of townies like him. Did you stare down the beast or pretend it didn’t exist?
The debate came to an abrupt halt when the bull snorted, stopped his pawing and raised his enormous head. When he saw Jack, he snorted again.
Jack continued backpedaling up the grassy slope, keeping the bull in sight without looking him directly in the eye. As Jack arrived at the top of the hill, he chanced a glimpse of the other side to check Lacey’s position. She’d reached the bottom and was making her way to the fence.
Time to make his escape. Could he outrun a bull? No time like the present to find out. Adrenaline he didn’t know he possessed shot through him, propelling him down the slope. He sprinted like he was back on the high school track team, stumbling a few times, but staying erect. He didn’t dare look back until he’d almost caught up with Lacey.
His flight wasn’t in vain. The bull was cutting the distance between them with each leap. “Go faster, Lacey,” he shouted. With the bull in pursuit, whispering was superfluous.
She jerked her head around. In doing so, she missed her footing and tripped. She went flying, landing face down, arms akimbo.
No time to spare. He caught up with her, swooped down, picked her up and flung her over his shoulder like a rag doll. Picking up his pace, he made the distance to the fence in four strides. He hoisted her over and out of danger.
The author explains what's happening in the scene:
Having been assigned to work as a team to develop a design concept for this new residential community for baby boomers, my two architects, Lacey Rogers, the newbie, and Jack Dalton, the firm’s golden boy, who’s not used to working with a partner and has resented Lacey’s presence from the start, have set out to do a site inspection after their first trip proved disastrous. The site is still lush farmland, which is part of the rolling prairie several miles outside Des Moines. It is early spring. Though their first several days working together were difficult due to their different work styles and Jack’s unstated concern that having been set up with a partner, he’s losing his touch, which may be the reason he hasn’t been named the firm’s principal yet, they’ve reached a sort of truce by this point. In fact, Jack has included an impromptu picnic lunch, which they’ve just finished. During their meal, he’s had to keep reminding himself she’s his work partner and nothing else. He suggests they explore the property, in particular, a copse of trees she noted on their earlier visit. Their search has taken them up, then down a small hill, where she’s revealed her ability to witch water. Suddenly, Lacey realizes they’re not alone.
The central Iowa countryside isn’t flat. It’s rolling prairie dotted with trees flanking the fields of crops.
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Third character in this scene, the bull:
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Reese Witherspoon was always the actress I had in mind as I developed my heroine, Lacey Rogers. Think the Reese Witherspoon of the film “Sweet Home, Alabama” where she’s a high profile fashion designer. Though petite, Lacey still is well endowed. Blonde hair, blue eyes. She also has a bit of sass to her. She’s developed a great rep for designing single family houses, but this assignment could be the turning point of her career. She’s not going to be cowed by Jack’s refusal to treat her as an equal. I saw a lot of this in Reese’s SHA character.
I decided on Zachary Levi as the actor to play Jack only recently. I have trouble getting past casting my heroes with anyone other than George Clooney, although George tends to be the go-to actor for many romance novelists’ inspiration. I wanted someone who was tall and darkish, but I also wanted someone who displayed a certain bon vivant, Cary-Grantish wit. My selection of Levi came from watching talk shows on which he’s appeared. He came across just shy of irreverent. I wanted that for Jack, because he’s a man floundering who refuses to let anyone else know. More than anything, he wants his parents’ love and approval. Self-made millionaires, they always seem to heading off to new jet-setting adventures, too busy for him. He sees himself as a mere footnote in their biographies, although, of course, he’s wrong. He’s also somewhat shaken because, as the firm’s golden boy, he’s expected to be named principal by now and that title hasn’t materialized.
The author explains what she really loves about the scene.
I don’t purposely set out to include physical comedy in my writing. Years of addiction to “I Love Lucy,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and “The Nanny” simply slip into my subconscious and I find myself throwing my characters into crazy physical situations. I prefer witty dialogue and in-depth character exploration, but this stuff just won’t let up. So I try to use it to forward the story or make some kind of point. In this case, the relief both characters experience having escaped the bull causes them to let down their defenses momentarily and admit to their mutual attraction. Jack is supposedly seeing Lacey’s best friend, although this is just a ruse to make the best friend’s former boyfriend, Lacey’s brother, jealous enough to come back to her. Jack knows this, and Lacey knows this, but Jack doesn’t know Lacey knows although she knows he knows. Still with me? I needed a way for them to at least temporarily get past Jack’s pretend courtship of the friend so they’d both feel comfortable giving in to their desire. Their first love scene follows, although it only goes so far. But don’t blame the bull. I hope your readers will check out the book to see what interrupts it and how these two finally do get together.
Barbara Barrett spent her professional career as a human resources analyst for Iowa state government, and that training has stayed with her in her writing of contemporary romance fiction. Now retired, Barbara spends her winters basking in the Florida sunshine and returns to her home state of Iowa in the summer to “stay cool.” Married to the man she met her senior year at the University of Iowa, they have two grown children and seven grandchildren. Saved by the Salsa is her third romance novel published by The Wild Rose Press and her first in the “Sullivan’s Creek Series.” Her previous works were And He Cooks Too and Driven to Matrimony. She recently signed with TWRP for a fourth book, The Sleepover Clause, first in “The Matchmaking Motor Coach Series.”
Website and blog: http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com
Barbara Barrett is holding a giveaway for a pin of two dancers. (U.S. shipping only). Please leave a comment for a chance to win.