A Very Fond Farewell to 2017
Promised Land …
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*** Happy New Year, New Orleans ***
Rue St. Pierre…
Lock leaned against an arched doorway as security shooed tipsy guests from Steven’s apartment. “Gentlemen, one last sweep for stragglers.” He snapped his fingers. “At Mr. Banitierre’s standing request.”
The guards finished scurrying and stood at attention. “All clear, boss.”
“Always remember.” Lock pointed at Steven, obsessively straightening bottles behind the bar. “He, is the boss.”
“Brilliant. I’ll see everyone again on…” Steven sighed at the silence when the door finally clicked shut. He slouched his shoulders and dragged his feet into the bedroom. “On Thursday evening. Can’t wait.”
“That look on your face.” Lock took measured steps across the stone floor. “Makes me want to cry.”
“I loathe these parties.” Steven unsnapped cufflinks and flung them in a drawer. “Juggling maniacs and their fragile egos—”
“Building alliances. We’ll need them when Sorcha comes home.”
Steven ripped his tie off and slumped against the antique armoire. “I lost her.”
“She’s not lost.” Lock place his hand on Steven’s shoulder and squeezed. “Just hiding, for now.”
“I didn’t sleep a wink yesterday. This place reminds me of family…especially during the holidays.”
Lock straightened Steven’s collar. “My apartment is just across the square.”
“Can I just shower first?”
“You smell delicious. But, come over whenever you’re ready. I have a surprise.”
Steven’s eyes followed the vapor trail of energy left when Lock flashed out of the room.
On this longest night of the year, darkness was still waltzing in her own glory when Steven stepped into deserted Jackson Square. Sharp wind swirling down the alleys reminded him of the damp red curls around his neck. He savored rare crisp air while his eyes roamed galleries ringing both Pontalba buildings and holly wreaths adorning empty flower boxes.
This used to be my favorite season. Steven strolled around a wrought iron fence decorated with red bows, and stared up at the spires of St. Louis Cathedral framed by a steel-grey sky.
The best view in the world. His mind flashed back to evenings when he walked the flagstones with an armful of friends and family.
Not a care in the world except shopping and celebrating.
Until the sky fell.
A closer look at the iron barrier revealed crooked and charred rails. Ugly scars left over from that fateful night.
Sorcha’s cape. The Allemand’s spell.
The first shots of a war that crashed an empire.
Exploding Christmas trees. A murdered nun.
Without Raimond, our family will never be…
“Damn it.” Steven collapsed against the fence and coughed so hard, he wheezed.
That was years ago.
He swiped a blood-tinged tear from his cheek and flashed to Lock’s apartment on Rue Ste. Anne. Beyond the plain white door, spiral stairs loomed at the end of a dark and silent corridor.
All right, Lock Dorge. Surprise me.
To Be Continued…
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When their worlds collide, neither will be left unscarred. Suffocated by her small-town life, Maggie Hale runs away to Las Vegas to pursue her dream as a contemporary dancer. But Vegas doesn’t turn out like she imagined. She doesn’t make it into Essence Dance Theater and the only job she can find is working in a greasy diner—again.
Jay Thornton wants to quit enforcing and own his own boxing gym one day. But his loan shark boss saved him from the streets as a kid and he owes the man everything. Cutting ties isn’t so simple.
When Maggie pledges to pay back a friend’s loan, she becomes Jay’s next mark. Sparks fly between them, but choosing each other could mean the end of both their dreams.
COLLIDE by Melanie Burt Standford, is inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s NORTH & SOUTH.
Thanks Anne Marie, for having me today! And thank you for the idea to post about my Top 10 Inspirations!
I’m so excited that COLLIDE, my second Romance Revisited novel, is finally out! It’s about Maggie, a small-town girl who runs away to Vegas to pursue her dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer, and Jay, a loan shark’s enforcer who wants to own his own boxing gym one day. Naturally, when they meet sparks fly. It wouldn’t be a romance otherwise, now would it!
So here are my Top 10 Inspirations for COLLIDE:
1. North & South. COLLIDE is inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel. I wouldn’t call it a retelling because I make quite a few changes, but I wouldn’t have written COLLIDE without Gaskell’s beloved novel. There are so many great things about this book, and while it wasn’t easy putting it into a modern-day setting, I had a fun time trying!
2. Small-town living. In the original, Margaret Hale and her parents move from a small town in the South to a bustling, enterprising city in the North. In COLLIDE, Maggie is from Hillstone, a fictitious small town that’s inspired by where I live right now mixed with a healthy dose of idealising what a small town should be like. Maggie needed to come from somewhere so different from Vegas, and from Jay, that I really amped up Hillstone’s charm.
3. The BBC movie (or miniseries, or whatever it’s called- there are four parts). I watched this before I ever read the book and it is FANTASTIC. (In fact, I like it better than the book, but don’t tell anyone.) One of my favorite things is how the actors do so well with their facial expressions that words aren’t necessary to know exactly what they’re thinking. It’s a must-watch for period drama fans.
4. “Jungle” by X Ambassadors. I talk playlist at another blog tour stop, but when I heard this song, it evoked exactly how Maggie feels about Vegas. Before she goes she’s thinking it’s going to be beautiful and exciting, but it doesn’t turn out that way. One lyric especially really sums up Vegas for her: “…ain’t no God on these streets/In the heart of the jungle.”
5. Richard Armitage. His brooding stare, his smolder, the proposal and then his rebuttal. The end scene on the train platform *dies*. And, of course, one of my favorite lines from the movie, “Look back. Look back at me.”
6. Muay Thai. When I decided Jay was going to be an enforcer, I also wanted him to want to be better, do something different with his life. So I gave him a job at a boxing gym—he’s a good fighter after all—and an ambition to own it one day. A lot of the scenes at the gym were inspired by the years my son took Muay Thai classes.
7. Being Erica. So you’ll probably wonder why this short-lived Canadian TV show would have any bearing on my modern N&S romance. Here’s the deal. In the original story, Mr. Thornton is a mill owner. In the movie, Margaret first meets Mr. Thornton at the mill where he’s beating up one of his workers who was smoking near the cotton. Margaret is of course horrified, and Mr. Thornton wants her out of there. This scene stuck with me when I was considering what job to give my character Jay. At the same time as I was planning the novel, I was watching Being Erica. In season three, Erica starts dating Adam, a loan shark’s enforcer… you see where this is going. I guess the job sorta stuck with me.
8. My own upbringing. They say write what you know. Well, my dad has never been a “preacher,” but he held various religious positions in his life. I grew up in a very religious household. That being said, Maggie is not me and her parents are not my parents. But it wasn’t hard to write characters where religion is the backbone of who they are.
9. So You Think You Can Dance. SYTYCD is one of my favorite reality shows. I’ve watched it faithfully since season one. So when I was considering what Maggie’s “dream” would be, dance was an easy choice. I chose contemporary dance specifically because it’s such a beautiful art form, and often misunderstood or underappreciated. SYTYCD has some of the best contemporary choreography I have ever seen. (Melanie and Neil’s routine to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is my all-time fave.)
10. Las Vegas. In my very first draft, Maggie moves from Hillstone to Milton, the name of the city in Gaskell’s original work. I quickly decided to change that to a real setting. I’ve been to Vegas multiple times. It’s both beautiful and ugly, exciting and boring, dangerous and drab. Most cities are probably like this, but Vegas is over-the-top this. I did consider LA, but I’d already set SWAY there, and New York, but New York felt too big, both in size and as a dream for Maggie. Vegas felt like the perfect place for Maggie to run to, for her parents to object to, and for Jay to have grown up in.
So there you have it. The Top 10 things that inspired my novel COLLIDE. Hope this inspires you to pick up a copy!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melanie Stanford writes romance and YA of different genres. Her first novel, SWAY, a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, debuted December 2015 from Samhain Publishing and was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Since Samhain’s closure, Melanie decided to republish SWAY herself, along with the rest of her Romance Revisited series: CLASH, a Romance Revisited novella, COLLIDE, and a third novel coming 2018. She also has short stories featured in the Austenesque anthologies THE DARCY MONOLOGUES and THEN COMES WINTER.
Melanie reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, four kids, and ridiculous amounts of snow.
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