by Wren Valentino
Date of Publication: May 29th 2020
Publisher: Blue Dasher Press
Cover Artist: James at GoOnWrite.com
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 15,000
After her long-time dance partner Tony is injured, Cassidy Downs has only a matter of weeks to find a new partner to remain eligible to compete in the All City Dance Off.
When she discovers Giovanni, a talented and classically trained member of a dance conservatory, Cassidy convinces him to become her new partner despite his reluctance to do so.
As the competition nears, neither Cassidy nor Giovanni can deny the strong attraction building between them.
The text message came in right at the end of the lunch rush. Cassidy felt her phone buzz in the front pocket of her apron. She reached for it on instinct. She glanced down, saw the words, and stopped in her tracks.
Come quickly. Tony is hurt.
Ducking out of view of the slow-eating customers, Cassidy sought refuge in the cluttered breakroom, which consisted of nothing more than a rickety table, two beaten-up chairs, and a dead clock on the wall that hadn’t told time in over a year.
Too nervous to sit, Cassidy paced while waiting for Tasha to answer her phone. Tension filled her muscles as she moved.
Cassidy froze. “Tasha? What happened? Is he okay?”
“No,” she said. “No, he’s not. It’s bad.” Knowing Tasha for most of her life, Cassidy knew it was a serious situation from the wavering tone in Tasha’s voice.
Cassidy tightened her grip on the phone. “Tell me,” she said. Her breath felt like it was caught in her lungs. She closed her eyes, imagining the worst but hoping for the best.
“You’re not going to believe this, but he got jumped.”
Cassidy opened her eyes. “What? By who?”
“Who do you think? It was The Firemakers.”
“Are you sure?”
“Cassidy, he had over two hundred bucks in cash on him. They didn’t touch the money. They went for his knee. They wanted to make sure he’d never dance again. And he won’t. Tony didn’t deserve this. We both know he’s a good guy.”
“He’s my best friend,” Cassidy said. A wave of emotion crept into her throat. Her eyes filled with tears. Not one to show her feelings, she stopped herself from crying. “And the best dance partner I’ve ever had. What am I gonna do? The competition is in two weeks.”
“He’s asking for you,” Tasha said. “We’re at County. How fast can you get here?”
Cassidy let out a long breath. Her body was still tense, but shock was setting in. How could this happen? “I’ll ask April to cover the rest of my shift,” she explained. “She still owes me from Christmas Eve.”
“Time to collect,” said Tasha. “And probably time to find a new partner.”
Cassidy shook her head. “I can’t.” she said. “That’s impossible.”
Tasha took a breath before she spoke. “Is it?”
Wren Valentino is an author, playwright, poet, and screenwriter. He writes in multiple genres, primarily contemporary romance with an international setting. Wren graduated magna cum laude from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and English. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He is a member of Gothic Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. He loves film noir, white chocolate, classic cartoons, koalas, Julie London records, Nancy Drew, the Peanuts gang, Disney villains, all things Tiki, Italy, and everything written by Jane Austen.
The Book Junkie Reads . . . Interview with Wren Valentino . . .
How would you describe you style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
I write about seemingly ordinary people experiencing extraordinary moments in their lives.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character(s)? If so which one(s)?
In Fast Beat, I really connected with my main character, Cassidy. Her determination continued to inspire me during the writing process. I can definitely identify with coming from a place of limitation and working hard for a better life.
Can you share your next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?
I’m currently working on a baseball-themed romance called Pitchout. It’s been a lot of fun to write. I’ve really enjoyed the research process and now know more about minor league baseball than I ever knew before. I’m also working on summer romance titled All You Could Ever Want. It’s about two people who accidentally find each other after drifting apart years ago.
If you could spend one-week with 5 fictional characters, who would they be and where would you spend that time?
I would love to spend a week on a tropical island with Nancy Drew, Blanche DuBois, Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Macbeth, and Cruella De Vil.
Where would you spend one full year, if you could go ANYWhere, money is not a concern? What would you do with this time?
I would love to spend a year living in Italy, specifically San Benedetto del Tronto. During that year, I would learn as much as I could about life in Italy, including Italian cinema and the history of it. My favorite film is Cinema Paradiso. From the time I saw it, I’ve wanted to live in Italy.