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Monday, September 16, 2013

Shoes Can Change Your Life by Joan Reeves

The right pair of shoes can change your life. Just ask Cinderella.

Although that may not be a strong enough rationalization for buying a pair Jimmy Choo's, I sometimes wonder if the whole Cinderella/Glass Slipper thing is responsible for my shoe addiction.

(NOTE: A friend pointed out that I did not put a closing date for the Swag Bag Giveaway and Free Book offer mentioned at the end of the post. Ack! Sorry about that. The contest is open until Sept. 20 at 4pm CDT.)

The Cinderella story was my favorite fairy tale when I was a kid, and I've probably scene every big screen adaptation of the myth. (Ever After starring gorgeous Dougray Scott and Drew Barrymore is my favorite.)

I've also written several romantic comedies that mine the Cinderella myth.

My Cinderella Stories

In fact, I'm finishing up another Cinderella story this month. Cinderella Blue, Book 2 in my San Antone Two-Step series, is all about a woman who finds her Prince Charming—even though she's not looking for one, doesn't want one, and can't figure out to do with him when she finds him. (Look for Cinderella Blue on September 30, 2013.)

The first book in the San Antone Two-Step Series was Nobody's Cinderella, and I have to admit that it is one of my favorite books that I've written. There's just something about that Cinderella myth that never loses its attraction.

The Cinderella Myth

Did you know that the Cinderella myth is still one of the most popular folk tales worldwide? You'll find it in not only European countries but also in India, Vietnam, and Africa. In truth, it crosses all cultural lines. There are hundreds of folk tale versions of the Cinderella story in just about every culture.

One of the earliest recorded versions comes from China. According to the Chinese story, the heroine doesn't have a fairy godmother, but a magical fish who helps her. However, a golden shoe leads a prince to her, and they marry. Some sources say the story actually originated in Greece even earlier.

Nearly 1200 years later, Cinderella is still having her story told by countless authors – including me. Don't let the title , Nobody's Cinderella, fool you. Heroine Darcy Benton is indeed a Cinderella who wishes on a Christmas star. She already knows who her prince is—Chase Whitaker, her boss. Unfortunately, Chase doesn't know she's alive—outside of the office, that is. She's not even a blip on his radar.

Where's a fairy godmother when you need one? Aha! Nobody's Cinderella has a fairy godmother, but she's a he, and he looks a lot like Santa.

Of course, the cover of Nobody's Cinderella features pretty shoes. After all, what is Cinderella without a pair of knock 'em dead shoes?

Most Cinderella stories don't show Cindy and her prince living happily ever after, but I do. You'll see Darcy and Chase again in Cinderella Blue, (Book 2 of San Antone Two-Step), because I like to see love validated. Isn't that what a sequel is for? Book 2 stars Darcy's brother Bruce. You'll meet him in Nobody's Cinderella, and he'll meet his match in Cinderella Blue.

Excerpt, Nobody's Cinderella
Copyright ©2011 by Joan Reeves

Darcy Benton wondered if she needed to check into a hospital. Her nervous system seemed to have shorted out, producing feet that felt like blocks of ice and hands that perspired as if it were July rather than December. Her heart raced faster than a quarter horse, and her face felt as warm as a passive solar collector at the end of a hot Texas day.

Releasing her white-knuckled grip on the strap of her new black leather handbag, Darcy opened it and fished out one of the tissues she'd stashed inside.

Hoping that the man who'd created this shock to her system was still engrossed in reading her resume, she furtively wiped her palms. For good measure, she blotted her damp forehead.

Her eyes strayed to the man on the power side of the mahogany desk. Chase Whitaker was the owner of Sunbelt Oil Producers, one of the many small independent energy companies in San Antonio. His attention remained fixed on the paper he held.

Chase. She tried the name out in her mind. She liked it. It was unusual and suited him perfectly. She'd researched him online so she knew he was only twenty-eight and had already made his mark in the volatile exploration and production side of the oil business.

Feeling hot and cold by turns, Darcy examined his features as intently as he studied her resume. His face easily rivaled any male heart throb on the silver screen. To characterize his dark blue eyes as bedroom eyes was an old cliche, but it was certainly true. Bedroom eyes. The phrase made Darcy tingle.

His thick ebony hair made her fingers itch with the desire to slide through the silky black strands. Just thinking about touching him made her sigh. And his mouth! Oh, my goodness! Darcy couldn't even put words to the feelings incited by his full, chiseled lips. Another sigh escaped her. At the soft sound, Chase shifted. His eyes flickered to her then back to her resume.

Darcy felt the blush begin beneath her prim white blouse and creep upwards until it reached her face. This would never do. She blotted her forehead again, surprised at how damp the tissue felt.

Frowning, she looked at it. Her eyes widened in shock. Blue ink practically dripped from the sodden wad of tissue. Horrified, she stared dumbly at the blue ink that colored her finger tips and rimmed her unpainted nails.

If any of her three brothers had been in the room, she'd have accused them of playing another of their dumb practical jokes. But this time, she only had herself—and a cheap ballpoint pen that had leaked over the contents of her expensive new purse—to blame for her failure to achieve the sophisticated femininity she wanted. Somehow, she thought in despair, she always ended up feeling and looking like the gangly kid who'd tried to outdo her older siblings in every sport.

Resigned, Darcy opened both palms. Blue ink—indelible blue at that—mottled her pale skin. She looked at the shiny brass and glass table next to her chair, with the ridiculous hope that there would be a box of tissues beneath the small Christmas tree decorated with tiny gold oil wells. No such luck. Desperate, she wiped her palms up and down the sides of her navy skirt.

With a prayer on her lips, Darcy looked at her hands again. The mottling had been replaced by wide smeary streaks. Great! Just great! It was no use. The ink wasn't going anywhere. She closed her hands into tight fists, trying to hide the stains.

Why had this happened when she wanted so desperately to make an impression on Chase Whitaker? And not just because she wanted him to hire her. The man stirred something inside her that she'd never felt in all her twenty-three years. Just looking at his hands made her quiver like a taut wire on a piano.

Her music teacher mother would describe his large, well-formed hands with long, shapely fingers, as pianist hands. The bronze of his hands contrasted sharply with the turned up cuffs of his starched white shirt. The thing Darcy liked most about his hands was the absence of a wedding ring on his left hand.

That brought her up short. Get a grip, Darcy Benton, she scolded herself. You're here for a job—not a romantic entanglement. As if she would know how to have a romantic entanglement. Even if the opportunity presented itself. She needed to stifle her overactive imagination.

She found herself praying that she would get this accounting position. And not just because she had to start repaying her student loans. She wanted it because of him. She looked at Chase Whitaker again. Another sigh escaped her. Chase glanced up, his dark blue eyes sharp and penetrating. He frowned. Surely, he couldn't know what she'd been thinking? She felt her blush intensify. As she watched, he slowly wiped his hand across his forehead. His hand. Those bedroom eyes. He mesmerized Darcy. Feeling light-headed, she uncrossed her legs, knocking over her briefcase. "Sorry," she mumbled. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling in disgust. Could she possibly be more clumsy?

Then she realized that he seemed to look, not at her eyes, but about an inch above them. His irresistible mouth twitched as if a smile struggled to break free of restraint. He stood, and Darcy's mouth went dry as her gaze climbed his tall, broad-shouldered frame.

When she'd first entered his office, she'd had the unusual pleasure of looking up to meet his eyes, rather than down, as she usually did. She felt absurdly pleased that he was a few inches taller than her five feet eleven inches.

He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a snowy white square of linen and walked around the desk and offered it to her. "This should help."

Taken aback, she frowned. He touched his forehead again, making a wiping motion. Suddenly, horrified understanding flooded her. Quickly, she swiped the handkerchief across her forehead and wasn't surprised to see it come away streaked in blue. She didn't even want to think about what her she must look like.

She returned his handkerchief. Chase carefully folded it and laid it on his desk top. He remained standing, towering over her. She wished he would go back to his chair.

"Thank you, Mr. Whitaker," she said, acting as if nothing were wrong. Her voice was brisk and cool. She was afraid to let any warmth creep into her voice for fear she'd cry, or worse, that he'd discover how breathless she felt with him so near.

Each time she looked at him, she felt so peculiar, like the time her three brothers had dared her to climb the giant pine tree in the back yard, and she'd fallen, knocking the breath out of her.

Belatedly, she realized that he was talking. She focused hard and caught the end of his sentence. "—give you a chance. We'd wanted someone with experience, but we're willing to take you on, though we try not to hire straight out of college. However, your class standing was excellent, and you seem like a mature, sober young woman."

His eyes swept her up and down, from the tight knot of hair forced into submission by half a tube of gel, to the black, square-framed glasses. Those sexy eyes of his quickly took in the severe navy suit, pristine white blouse, and floppy navy bow tie.

The book she'd read on dressing for success had said this was the outfit professional women wore. She'd plunked down her credit card in hopes that the severe clothing would change her image from a basketball-playing tomboy to a stunning corporate diva. Maybe she should have checked the copyright date in the book, she thought, feeling uncertain.

His sexy eyes reached her size ten feet clad in sensible, low-heeled shoes—ugly black patent leather flats that, Darcy knew, no fashionable woman her age would be caught dead wearing. But Darcy had thought they'd be perfect in case the owner of Sunbelt Oil turned out to be on the short side.

Chase cleared his throat. "And you are obviously sensible and practical." He smiled.

Mature? Sober? Sensible? Practical?

Why didn't he just say she was so undesirable that a man ship-wrecked on a desert island for twenty years wouldn't put the moves on her? Darcy fumed, insulted by his assessment.

The rest of what he said faded into the background. Just once, why couldn't she be seen as incredibly sexy and completely irresistible! Why couldn't he be as attracted to her as she was to him?

When he offered her the accounting position for which she had applied, Darcy coolly thanked him. She knew she was being ridiculous, acting like a starry-eyed teenager in the throes of infatuation, but she couldn't help it. She hadn't had enough experience with infatuation to become blase about it.

She tried to work up some satisfaction at landing her first real job, but she felt more depressed than elated. Just get over it, she told herself. Even had she managed to attract Chase's attention, she'd never have stood a chance.

Although she had limited experience with the opposite sex, Darcy recognized the kind of man Chase Whitaker was—a real heartbreaker. It was stamped on him as indelibly as the ink that stained her fingers. He was completely out of her league—from his sexy blue eyes to his delectable mouth.

"Welcome to Sunbelt Oil," he said, offering his hand to her. Pulse pounding, Darcy stood and stepped toward him. She'd forgotten about her briefcase, but it hadn't forgotten about her, she thought, as she stumbled over it.

Momentum pitched her toward Chase. He reached up and grabbed her hands, catching her before she did a half-gainer and landed face first at his feet.

Smoothly, his grip changed to a handshake. Laughter danced in his sexy eyes. "Again, welcome to Sunbelt," he said smoothly.

"Thank you, Mr. Whitaker." His touch was everything she had imagined it would be. His skin was warm to her icy hand. Her pulse beat erratically. The touch of his palm to hers was flame to dry tinder. Suddenly, Darcy fully understood the meaning of desire. Her pulse throbbed in places she hadn't suspected could throb.

Mortified by her discovery, she jerked her hand back. She'd die if he ever knew how she felt! Determined that he never know how he affected her, she thanked him in a brisk, cool voice. She might as well squelch her hopeless romantic notions, Darcy told herself, because she knew that Chase Whitaker saw nothing, absolutely nothing, that attracted him.

Why couldn't she be petite, cute, and sexy—with a flair for fashion rather than a killer hoop shot? Why did she have to be a tomboy who towered over nearly every man even in a state full of long, tall Texans?

Darcy managed a few strangled words conveying her pleasure at joining his company even as a horrible suspicion began forming in her mind. She rejected the idea. It was unthinkable! Perfectly ridiculous!

When Chase touched her elbow, Darcy knew she was a goner. He led her to the door, which was a good thing, because the way her head was spinning, she'd never have found it on her own.

Somehow, she found her way back to her little blue car in the parking lot. She was in such a hurry that she nearly knocked down an elderly white-haired man, bundled up in a red ski parka trimmed in white faux fur. Absently, she smiled at the white-bearded man and mumbled an apology. If she hadn't been so shaken by her encounter with Chase Whitaker, she'd have been amused that he looked like Santa Clause. As it was, his appearance hardly made an impression because she was too busy bemoaning life's cruel sense of humor.

In her car, huddled on the cold blue vinyl seat, Darcy stared at the office building and wondered which window was Chase's? Softly, desperately, she asked, "What am I going to do?"

The icy temperatures made her breath visible, as if her plaintive question hung in the cold air. Working near Chase Whitaker, who had looked at her as if she were another piece of office furniture that he'd just acquired, was going to be impossible.

Darcy pounded the steering wheel with her cold, blue-stained hands. Crazy as it seemed, she had fallen in love at first sight with her handsome new boss.

Win A Prize

Leave a comment and your email address and win a free Smashwords copy of Nobody's Cinderella. No limit to the winners.

One (1) Swag Bag to be given away. Sorry, but this is limited to readers in the Continental U.S. Open to anyone who has not previously won a prize, other than a book, from me.

Leave a comment with your email and be entered to win the Swag Bag. The winner's name will be drawn and contacted by email for the snail mail address.

Post Script

Do you like the Cinderella myth? How do you like to see it re-imagined?

Nobody's Cinderella: Availability

Audiobook at Audible and iTunes.

eBook worldwide at most booksellers, including:
All Romance eBooks
Amazon
iTunes/Apple Books
Kobo
Nook
Joan Reeves is a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet who—no, wait, that's someone else. Seriously? Okay, if we must be serious. Joan Reeves is a multi-published author. Her books are available in ebook, audio, and print editions from all major retailers. Joan's Motto: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

Joan Online: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Twitter * YouTube

31 comments:

  1. Great post, Joan. I had no idea the Cinderella story was worldwide. Best luck.

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    1. Thanks, Rose. The history of Cinderella is really fascinating.

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  2. Great excerpt. I couldn't resist coming over to see this when it mentioned shoes. I'm a shoe whore or at least I used to be before I broke my ankle. :-( A great pair of shoes will still get me to turn my head and drool. Cindy
    woolfcindy@aol.com

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    1. I'm always looking for a pair of drool-worthy shoes that are also comfortable. Not easy to find and usually VERY expensive.

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  3. What a fabulous fun theme for books. They sound like fantastic reads. And um - what do you mean - getting the right pair of shoes may change your life but that might not be a good enough reason to buy some Jimmy Choo's!!!!!!
    victoriaadams_romancewriter@yahoo.ca (I can't be in draw for swag - I live in Canada)
    tweeted

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    1. Victoria, I'm happy to send you a coupon for a free copy of NOBODY'S CINDERELLA. Will get that in the email to you tomorrow.

      I visited my son and daughter in law over Labor Day weekend. You should have seen the pair of leopard-print shoes she had! Totally drool-worthy.

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  4. Interesting myth. Like any kind of retelling
    US
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey! Great to hear from you again. Hope you are having a good post-summer/pre-fall!

      I'll be sending you a free copy of NOBODY'S CINDERELLA tomorrow also.

      Unfortunately, you won Starbucks Gift Card last month so you're not eligible for the Swag Bag.

      Delete
  5. Fun post, Joan. Love your books. Thanks for the free book.

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    1. My pleasure, Caroline. Free NOBODY'S CINDERELLA heading your way tomorrow.

      Delete
  6. The Cinderella theme is one of my favorites also. Love Ever After, have seen it multiple times. Love it when she picks him up & carries him away!

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    1. Hey, Pamela. Yes, Ever After is a movie I can watch again and again. Love the scene where it says, "I don't believe you've met ... my wife." Gives me goosebumps, the way he says it and the way he looks at Barrymore in that instant.

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  7. Email address is pgjames1959@gmail.com

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    1. Free book headed your way tomorrow and entered you in the Swag Bag drawing.

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  8. I love Cinderella too, never tire of that theme, and enjoyed your post.

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  9. I saw your post on the self-pub Yahoo loop and had to come check this out -- Cinderella stories are my favorite! Great post, Joan, and I look forward to reading it! - Audra, a.h.mackenna@gmail.com

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    1. Hey, Audra. Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the post. Free book winging its way to you tomorrow. If you're in Continental US, you're entered.

      Delete
  10. Well, here I go again! I will get the hang of this yet! I loved your blog and can't wait to read the book. I love Cinderella stories! Karrenlucas@hotmail.com

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    1. Hey, you did it! So glad you liked the blog. Free book headed toward you tomorrow & Swag Bag entry made.

      Delete
  11. A week ago, I bought two new pairs of shoes -- one boots. I haven't had a decent pair of boots in years. I'm afraid shoes are my downfall. But I had to look up high heel platform pumps for a WIP. I didn't know what they were called. Sure look uncomfortable. I'm not into fashion any more. Simply comfort.

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    1. Hello, Jan! Funny. I can wear heels but have never been able to wear boots comfortably. Maybe I'm too claustrophobic.

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  12. I love Cinderella stories, Joan, but I have to admit, my personal shoe style is decidedly comfortable. ☺

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    1. Hi, Jacquie! I'm waiting for the day when some genius invents a high heel that feels like a sneaker. If they can put a man on the moon then why can't they do that?

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  13. What a fantastic book cover, Joan. Did you make it yourself? I love Cinderella stories and no matter how many different angles the stories take, each of them is special. Like Cindy, I was addicted to wearing drool-worthy shoes until I broke my ankle. Never could wear them properly again... still get swept away at the sight of an amazing pair of shoes, though. Awesome blog post!

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    1. Hi, Gemma. Thanks. All my book covers are created by my daughter Adina Mayo (www.adinamayo.com -- adinamayo at hotmail dot com). She's a graphic artist and does amazing work -- and she's inexpensive!

      I guess I'll have to blog about purses next. I hate to admit that I am just as infatuated with a beautiful handbag as with a pair of shoes.

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  14. Loved the history on Cinderella and the cute excerpt. I don't find it hard to believe at all that Cinderella is one of the most beloved fairy tales. What little girl doesn't want a Prince Charming?

    Well done, and I love the web site too, Best, Keta
    ketadiablo@yahoo.com

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    1. Hey, Keta. Thanks so much. Free book headed your way and you're entered in the Swag Bag drawing.

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  15. Cinderella's one of my favorites, but I had no idea of its history!

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    1. Good morning, Liz. You're up early. I too was ignorant of the historical legacy of this folk tale. Made for some fascinating research.

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  16. Audra (A.H. MacKenna) is the winner of the SWAG BAG.

    Audra, check your Inbox for an email from me. Thanks for reading and commenting, and congratulations!

    ReplyDelete

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