It's the day the world over celebrates romance so to be asked to
write a story involving St. Valentine's Day was a gift for any romance writer! And the best excuse I've ever had to write the kind of scene I've loved the very idea of since I was a little girl...
“Dance with me.”
His hand felt wonderful. And yes, she was fully aware that he’d just walked in unannounced looking the way he did and she’d reacted like a shy teenager with a crush, but she needed the physical contact. She needed to be able to be with him like this, to let her guard down enough to prove to herself that she could still get along with him, spend time with him, and not allow the fact that she was in love with him to get in the way.
So she turned her head and looked up at him with a challenging quirk of her eyebrows, “How do I even know you can dance? You might have two left feet.”
Kane turned round, switching his hands as he leaned a little closer to her face, his deep voice low and deliciously seductive, “Let’s find out shall we?”
Her One And Only Valentine is set in an old Irish Country House, so it was the perfect setting for a Valentine's Day Ball. Flowers, candlelight, couples all around highlighting my heroines sense of heartache that she isn't able to tell the man she loves how she feels. Sigh. And dancing...
Oh the dancing.
When I was a child my mother was a fan of musicals and classic old movies. The first time I saw Fred Astaire dance with Ginger Rodgers I was transported. So I guess I can thank Mum for the number of times any of my characters have danced together in my books. In Her One and Only Valentine it's a theme the characters themselves think about:
“See, I don’t have two left feet.”
She smiled back at him, “Its early days.”
“Time will tell,” He leaned a little closer, “How come we’ve never danced together before?”
Oh they’d danced. They’d danced more than he probably realized. It felt like she’d spent most of her life dancing with him and around him.
It takes St. Valentine's Day to make these two strong willed people finally give in to something that was inevitable for them a decade before the story begins. And in that sense I've been thinking recently about Pride & Prejudice; the standard to which all romance novels are continually held up. In a way I guess Her One And Only Valentine is my modern day version of that story. Pride gets in the way so much, neither of them willing to be the first one to take a second chance on the other and prejudice not only getting in the way at the beginning of the book but proving a barrier between them for such a long time. I wonder sometimes if Jane Austen could have had any idea of how her themes would carry all the way into the 21st Century... And there were so many wonderful ballroom scenes in that story too, weren't there?
Gentlemen filling the ladies's dance cards, bowing, this their one chance for physical contact - even if it was merely the brushing of fingertips. Romance personified really. And romance like that on St Valentine's Day? How could a girl resist? Even if my poor heroine made her realizations looking in from the edges of the crowd while my hero and their daughter took to the dancefloor:
He bowed, Lizzie giggled and Rhiannon smiled affectionately at them both. They were just so very alike, the two people she loved the most.
She swallowed hard, tears stinging her eyes again while Kane lifted Lizzie up into his arms, her slender arms around his neck and legs swinging below his waist as they started to dance. It was the most beautiful thing Rhiannon had ever seen, heartbreakingly beautiful. And agonizing - because the need to walk over and join them, to dance with Kane with Lizzie held between them - was so strong it almost killed her.
This was the way her life was going to be from now on; standing on the outside looking in.
I think one of the best things about the Harlequin Romance line is that we can take the elements of classical romance into modern times and show that the value of love hasn't diminished any. We celebrate romance every month with six wonderful stories - not just the one day of the year for us, oh no. And that's just a little bit wonderful, isn't it? So while I leave you with the music I listened to while writing the ballroom scene in Her One And Only Valentine I say a heartfelt THANK YOU here on St. Valentine's Day to all the writers and readers who help us celebrate romance every day of the year. May we never lose the stars from our eyes. Or forget to dance every time we get a chance...
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
So She Dances
Trish Wylie is the only Irish Author for Harlequin Romance and her first book for the line won a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award in 2005. She has also been nominated for a 2007 Reviewer's Choice Award for Rescued: Mother to Be. The magazine had this to say about Her One And Only Valentine:
Inheriting an old country house gives Rhiannon McNally a purpose -- and a place to start over with her daughter, Lizzie. Then Rhiannon finds out Lizzie's father, wealthy businessman Kane Healey, owns the property the house stands on. Rhiannon's hated Kane for a decade, thinking he abandoned her while she was pregnant, but Kane never received the letter she left for him. So they both have negative feelings to overcome, for Lizzie's sake. Rekindling their passion is unexpected -- as is falling in love, again. Trish Wylie's Her One and Only Valentine (4) has excellent characters -- particularly the larger-than-life hero. It also has charm and wit to spare.
And don't forget to enter our contest to win a copy of EXECUTIVE MOTHER-TO-BE by Nicola Marsh. Just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and put NICOLA in the subject line! We'll be drawing on LEAP DAY!