Eight years ago, Lisa Darby’s dancing partner and first love, Redmond Carrington, left London for a fun summer on the cruise ships – and never came back. Lisa’s grown up a bit since then, and she’d like to think she’s prepared for anything, but when Red comes back from America with a proposal for her, she’s not sure she’s ready for what he’s suggesting.
A TV studio is filming a knockout competition of six of the world’s best couples – each of them partners both on and off the dance floor. Redmond wants Lisa to pose as his girlfriend so that they can compete. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for an aspiring professional dancer, and the spectacular prize money would help save Lisa’s beloved dance studio, which is in need of major renovation. Scooping the prize is going to take the performance of a lifetime from Lisa and Redmond, but with the sizzling tension between them, they might just pull it off.
It turns out that putting on an act for the cameras is the least of Lisa’s worries. As time goes on and she rediscovers her feelings for Redmond, she’s left questioning what’s really behind his offer, and where their partnership is heading this time.
Targeted Age Group:
Romance has to keep the focus on the hero and heroine and, unlike in other genres, the journey isn’t one that a character can take alone. It’s all about how they influence each other, solve problems together, and ultimately learn that facing the world with The One beside you is so much better than facing it alone… even if the person beside you isn’t the one you expected to choose! Because romances operate in a very predictable framework – boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl – it’s all about keeping the relationship unpredictable. So I tried to keep the reader guessing just what’s motivating Redmond to do everything for Lisa. Is he truly smitten, or just making sure they’re heading to the top of the competition leader table?
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Like many writers, the main piece of advice I give is to read a lot, both inside and beyond the genre you like to write in. I’d add to that, make sure you’re reading with the eyes of a writer, to see what you can take from the writing style, techniques and ideas, and how you can combine it with different things you’ve read, or that have happened to you, to make something unique. It’s by bringing your own angle to the things you’ve read that you’ll create something that’s all your own.
Stephanie Cage is a British romance writer, author of ‘Perfect Partners’ (Crimson Romance) and ‘Desperate Bid (The Wild Rose Press). She studied English Literature at Oxford University and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She combines writing with a day job in administration and a passion for dance and musical theatre. One of her most exciting writing moments was winning a holiday to Sicily in the Woman’s Own Short Story Competition. More recently she won the Yorkshire Ridings Magazine’s Romance Story competition. Oddly, both short stories were set in the same location in Yorkshire, her beloved adopted county.
It all started with black and white films and Come Dancing on TV. This was way before Strictly and Dancing with the Stars, so ballroom dancing was not something teenagers did in a small market town in England. It wasn’t until I went to university that I got the chance to try a bit of waltz and quickstep, and although I wasn’t much good, I was instantly smitten. Whiling away the time on the sidelines at competitions and at the back of lectures, I began to ponder how things might be different today for a girl like Ginger Rogers, looking for her Fred Astaire. That’s how the story of Perfect Partners first came into being.
The other ingredient which would help Perfect Partners take shape didn’t arrive until years later when, several series into my favourite show, Strictly Come Dancing had become one of Britain’s must-watch Saturday night treats. Suddenly the tabloids were a hotbed of SCD-related gossip. The obscure sport I’d been dreaming about all those years was now cool, and the whole world wanted to know the stories of the stars whose lives were being changed by dance.
As I watched the celebrities and their partnerships grow and change over the course of the series, I realised that my heroine, Lisa, would take part in a reality show for dancers. The story would follow all the friendships and rivalries that shape her journey through a glamorous world of dancing and romancing most of us can only dream of. Of course she had to find a hero to dream of too, in the form of talented, driven Redmond, who took off eight years earlier to chase a dream of dancing across the world, only to discover that maybe he left what mattered most behind.