I’m so excited that Dance the Tide is officially out in the world! The beautiful cover pictured here was designed by the talented Brandi at eBook Cover Designs, and was revealed at Austenesque Reviews last week. (If you missed the reveal, click here to check it out).
In my visit to Austenesque Reviews, I mentioned that for each of my book covers, I’ve tried to select a certain moment from the story, or a certain location. This time, the image shows a pair of Adirondack chairs with the beach in the background, with Will Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet wandering off to take a stroll.
The Adirondack chairs pop up throughout Dance the Tide. They’re located at Will’s beachfront property, and I can just imagine sitting there and watching the sunset, the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore and the cry of the sea gulls calling to me. Blissful, right? That locale figures into Will and Elizabeth’s first date (reminiscent of the swing on the cover of Volume 1 of Sanctuary), and is also the location for many other scenes throughout the story.
The excerpt I’ve included today features the end of that date, when our favorite (new) couple decides to spend some time in those chairs, enjoying the moonlight and each other’s company. They are slowly feeling each other out and trying to see beyond their initial (horrible) impressions of each other, and Elizabeth sweetly persuades Will to sing for her.
Yes, you read that correctly: Will sings for her. When Dance the Tide was posted at a couple of online fan fiction sites (ten-plus years ago), both Will’s love for music and his talent as a guitarist were heavily emphasized. He was always playing and singing—sometimes serenading his Elizabeth during remarkably intimate moments—and bits of songs were included throughout the story. But when it came time to publish, many references to songs, and all of the lyrics, had to disappear. I worried, initially, that the image of my romantic, swoony, musical Will would suffer a bit with the lack of that material, but I’ve been assured by early readers that I’ve no need to worry!
Will plays guitar when he’s stressed out or disappears too far inside his head, and it’s a part of him that he’s always kept to himself. It hasn’t necessarily been hidden; his close friends and family know he has that musical side. But other than his immediate circle, it’s something he doesn’t put out there; it’s private. So what makes this moment between Will and Elizabeth so striking—to him—is that he’s already feeling comfortable enough with her to share something so intensely personal.
As for where I decided to place those Adirondack chairs…it was a no-brainer to set the story where I live. Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, is its own little slice of heaven. The quaint villages and towns and the beautiful coast with its many beaches all contribute to the ideal setting for a love story.
Elizabeth lives in a tiny beach house in Falmouth, overlooking Vineyard Sound. In the distance is Nobska Lighthouse, and about three miles offshore is the island of Martha’s Vineyard. For Will, I knew the affluent community of New Seabury, a small village in Mashpee located about ten miles from Falmouth, was the ideal place for him. The waterfront homes there are quite large and posh, and perfectly depict what could be a modern-day Pemberley.
Elizabeth’s career has her spending a lot of time in Woods Hole, a small village southwest of Falmouth. She rides her bike to work quite a bit, which allowed me to incorporate the Shining Sea Bike Path into the story. It features some of the most beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife in Falmouth. And Woods Hole isn’t just a charming little village filled with unique shops and fabulous restaurants; it’s also a noteworthy hub for scientific research and marine study, so of course, it was the perfect place for Elizabeth—an ecohydrologist—to work.
Will’s work as the owner of a corporate real estate firm has him traveling a lot, but mostly between Boston and New Seabury. As Boston used to be his home base, he has a beautiful brownstone there, but has mostly been working from his home in New Seabury…for reasons I won’t say here! Suffice it to say there has been some trauma, and he’s been tucked away with his sister Georgiana on Cape Cod.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the scenery from the story, please follow me on Facebook or Instagram! There are links to both at the bottom of the home page. I regularly post images related to Dance the Tide to the stories feature on both platforms, at least a few times during the week, and hope to continue doing so throughout the summer.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and when you’re finished, please continue reading for more about Dance the Tide’s music and a giveaway! And you can purchase Dance the Tide here. It’s also available in KU.
The walk back to Will’s house was like a scene from a movie. The silvery moonlight played on the ocean, and the waves gently lapped against the shore. He reached for Elizabeth’s hand, and was pleased when she took hold of his without hesitation.
“You and Georgiana seem very close,” she said.
“She’s lucky to have you.”
He frowned. “I do my best. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough.”
He abruptly changed the subject, asking her about Martha’s Vineyard, the lights of which could be seen twinkling in the distance. She was shocked to learn he’d never visited the island, and told him she’d be happy to play tour guide sometime this summer.
They arrived at his house and decided to enjoy the clear, moonlit night from the Adirondack chairs in his yard.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some music?” she asked, smiling charmingly.
He grinned and squeezed her hand. “Very subtle. I’ll be right back.”
He walked up to the house and returned a few minutes later, carrying a guitar and his old Harvard sweatshirt.
“Will this do?”
“Sure. I was hoping you had a music app on your phone or something, but I guess the guitar is okay.”
His eyes roamed her face, tilted up to his and wearing a mischievous smile, and he battled the sudden urge to kiss her. Instead he handed her the sweatshirt, and when she pulled it over her head, it hung down to the tops of her thighs, and she had to roll the sleeves back several times.
He repositioned the chairs so they were facing each other, and she sat with her bare feet curled under her.
He lightly strummed the strings. “Any requests?”
“Hm. Are you going to sing too?”
He groaned playfully. “All right. What would you like to hear?”
“I don’t know. Play something you enjoy playing.”
He’d never done this before, never played his guitar or sang for a woman other than his mother and Georgie, yet here he was, ready to do so without hesitation. He began with an old song he used to sing to Georgie all the time; the lyrics were especially meaningful, and he could play and sing it in his sleep.
Elizabeth quietly applauded when he was done. “That was wonderful. One more? Please?”
He paused. “One more…for a kiss? A kiss for a song?” He felt like he was moving too quickly—for both of them—but he was having a hard time not kissing her.
She stared at him, her gaze unwavering. “You want to kiss me?”
“Yes. Very much.”
His heart thudded heavily as he waited for her to make her decision. When she untucked her legs and scooted forward on the chair, he set his guitar down and moved toward her until their knees bumped. He smiled softly, his eyes on hers, and raised his hands to gently hold her face. His thumbs traced over the softness of her cheeks, and then he kissed her slowly, lightly caressing her lips with his.
When they separated, he leaned back slightly and they stared at each other, but neither spoke a word. She settled back in the chair, once again curling her legs underneath her. After taking a steadying breath, he picked up his guitar, then cleared his throat.
“Um, this is one of my favorite songs. It’s just instrumental. No lyrics.” He didn’t tell her it was a love song written by the artist for his wife.
Her eyes drifted closed as he played, and he felt a surge of warmth. She was so appealing, curled up in the chair and wearing his sweatshirt, her hair shining in the moonlight. He finished the song, and when she didn’t open her eyes right away, he rose and rested his hands on the arms of her chair. She finally opened her eyes and lifted her face, and he kissed her once again. After a moment she slowly pulled away from him, and he reached for her hands and helped her stand.
Neither spoke as they made their way back to the house hand in hand, and after he put away his guitar, he walked her out to her car.
She leaned back against it and stared up at him. “Thank you for dinner. It was nice.”
She laughed then and shook her head, and he looked at her questioningly.
“Sorry. That was such an understatement.” She grew serious. “The whole night was perfect. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I enjoyed it too.”
She stood on her tiptoes to kiss him, and he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer. She swayed into him, deepening the kiss, and he eagerly followed her lead. Her lips were soft and sweet, and he weaved his hands into her hair as he kissed her over and over.
When they finally broke apart, he lowered his forehead to hers and tried to slow his pounding heart.
“By the way…I’m keeping the sweatshirt,” she said, her voice rough. “It smells like you.”
“I hope that’s a good thing.”
“It’s a very good thing.”
With one last kiss, she climbed into her Jeep.
“Will you text me to let me know you made it home?” he asked.
“Sure. Good night, Will.”
“Good night, Elizabeth.”
When her Jeep disappeared from sight, he went back into the house, grabbed his guitar and his cell phone, and went to sit on the deck. He stared out at the water, mindlessly playing different songs while he waited to hear from her.
He was thrilled at the turn of events. The thought of spending more time with her and getting to know her… It excited him. He felt like he was about to embark on a very important journey.
But how can I feel this way already?
He had no concrete answer; it was just intuition, a gut feeling, but it was something he was remarkably sure of.
His past relationships had been few and far between and felt more like business arrangements. He’d always liked the women well enough—he would never be with someone he didn’t like or respect—but he was never foolish enough to believe their interests went beyond his name and his wallet. Most of the time it was enough; it meant having someone to take to the dreaded social engagements, and having a warm body in his bed when he wanted one. He didn’t share much more than that with any of them, and thankfully, they returned the favor.
Looking back on it now, it all seemed so crass and cheap. He wanted more, but the thought of letting his heart and his feelings guide him… He’d never done it before, had never trusted anyone enough to let himself be vulnerable, and it scared the hell out of him.
He took a deep breath, trying not to get too far ahead of himself, and his cell phone chirped with a text message.
Home safe and sound
He smiled. Glad to hear it. Thanks for indulging me
My pleasure. Miss me yet?
He laughed. Yes. What time will you be home from work tomorrow?
Can I call you?
He smiled. Talk to you then. Sweet dreams
You too. Good night
He grinned as he walked back into the house. Sweet dreams indeed.
I hope you enjoyed that little glimpse into Will and Elizabeth’s first foray into dating. And in case you’re wondering, the first song he sang is called “The Heart of Life,” by John Mayer. The second song is called “Always With Me, Always With You,” an instrumental by Joe Satriani.
And that leads me to the music! In the past, I’ve written blog posts about how much music influences my writing and my characters, and I’ve included playlists in those blog posts. This time, I’m trying something different… Instead of just giving a list of songs, I’ve created playlists at Spotify that are public and available for anyone to download! You only need the Spotify app, which is free, and can be downloaded to your mobile device or laptop. Once you’re on Spotify, search for my profile (Cat_A_auth), and you’ll find the playlists (I would have liked to put them on Apple Music as well, but there are no free plans!). To save you some time, the Spotify links are below.
An Unexpected harvest: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4RxLHwN6hZw5PoxookiK1h?si=96b4e8fe3f794d35
…the giveaway! I’m offering eBooks to 2 readers who comment on today’s post! The giveaway is open to US residents, and will end June 17. And don’t forget to follow along on the rest of the blog tour! There will be more deleted scenes and excerpts, as well as additional eBook giveaways.
Thanks for visiting my blog today! I hope you take a chance with Dance the Tide, and I hope to see you at other stops on the blog tour!
Purchase Dance the Tide here.