Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spotlight & Guest Post - To The Breaking Pointe by Cindy McDonald

To the Breaking Pointe
by Cindy McDonald
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Pages: 250
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle

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Pushed to the breaking pointe!

Five years ago First Force operative, Grant Ketchum, let the ballerina of his dreams dance right of his life. Silja Ramsay returned to her birthplace, Russia, to take the position of principal dancer for the Novikov Ballet Company.

The owner and director of the ballet company, Natalia Novikov, has a dark secret: her beloved ballet company is almost broke. Natalia forces her dancers to prostitute themselves to financial contributors at exclusive after-show parties. Silja has been exempt and kept in the dark about the parties—until an American financier offers to bail the failing ballet company out. His prerequisite: Silja must become his personal companion, live in his home, and fulfill his every desire. Against her will, Silja is taken to the American's mansion, but before she goes she manages to send a text to the only man who can save her, Grant: HELP!

Now Grant is on a mission to find his lost ballerina and rescue her from this powerful man's subjugation. He will do anything to get her out alive. If they survive, will he let her chasse out of his life again?

Book Excerpt:
“Where is Silja?” Ballard Crafton asked Natalia as he searched the reception room in the basement of the theatre. The room wasn’t particularly large, yet it was quite elegant with red velvet swags hung in the archways, gilded crown moldings, and crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. A bar was set up in one corner while a violinist played softly in another. The room was filled with men, a few older women, and most of the dancers from the Novikov Ballet Company. Only one dancer in particular was missing... Silja Ramsay.
Natalia picked up her glass of wine from the bar. “Silja is not ready to attend our little soiree yet. She hasn’t been informed of my... financial situation.”
Ballard pulled a bracelet from his suit jacket. “Silja doesn’t like diamonds?” Natalia huffed at the sight of the bracelet that she thought she had convinced Silja to keep. He continued, “She had this returned to me by messenger this afternoon. Doesn’t she...don’t you understand just how wealthy I am?”
Natalia took a sip of her cabernet. “She still believes in love, Ballard—“
“I am in love with her!” he bellowed.
Taken aback by the sudden outburst, the crowd hushed, looking in their direction. Natalia forced a laugh, waving her hands carelessly at the crowd. She spoke to them in Russian, “Mingle, mingle, get to know our beautiful dancers.” With hesitant glances at Ballard, the crowd returned to their conversations. The women in attendance ran their hands up and down the male dancers’ muscled arms, while the men flirted mercilessly with the ballerinas.
“You told me that she would be here tonight, Natalia.” Ballard said, more hushed.
“As always, there are plenty of lovely ballerinas here to choose from this evening, Ballard. Forget Silja for now. I will keep working to make her come around. She still... how do you say... pines for another.”
“I do not know this. Be patient. Pick another for this evening. Here...” Natalia gestured to the bartender. He retrieved a box from behind the bar. Natalia took the box and offered it to Ballard. Lifting a brow, she said, “You may have first pick tonight, yes?”
“No. I am tired of spending time with ballerinas that I don’t want. I only fantasize that she is Silja. I want Silja!” Ballard said.
Natalia set the box on the bar. Slowly she dragged her gaze to meet his. He was like a spoiled child who had not received the gift that he desired on Christmas morning. No, he was worse—much worse. Finally she decided to put Ballard Crafton in his place. “I am quite aware of what it is that you want, Ballard. But I must wonder...will Silja meet the same fate as your other lovers?” His eyes widened in raw indignation, except Natalia did not allow his glare to dissuade her. “The opera singer from New York who no longer sings—instead she sits in a home with head injuries so severe that she can barely speak, or the concert pianist whose fingers are now crippled from the hammer that was used on them? What could these women have done to make you so angry, Ballard? What kind of monster lies within? I am desperate to save The Novikov Ballet Company, this is true. But I won’t let you destroy a beautiful dancer in her prime. How do you Americans say...we understand each other, yes?”
Ballard’s hands curled into fists of righteous agitation. The red flush started above the Armani tie that he wore around his neck and crept to his cheeks. He spun on his heels and marched out of the gathering.
Letting out a relieved breath, Natalia looked into the box which was filled with pointe shoes. Each shoe had the signature of the dancer from the Novikov Company to whom it had belonged. Her nerves tightened the knot in her stomach and shame swelled in her chest. She took another long drink of the wine, and then she managed a faux smile for the crowd, who anxiously anticipated the beginning of the evening’s event.
Natalia called out in Russian, “Who will be first to choose a pair of shoes tonight?” She held the box up high, shaking it. “Edvar! Where is Edvar?”
From the far corner of the room the ballet company’s dance instructor and choreographer, Edvar Kozlovski, brushed his fingers through ballet dancer Dominik Potrovic’s hair. After a whispered promise of return, he raised his hand calling back in their native Russian, “Here I am! Are you ready, Natalia?”
The crowd buzzed with excitement. The dancers exchanged nervous glances. All eyes were on Natalia. She said, “Yes! Who is our highest bidder this evening? Who will get first pick of the shoes?”
Edvar fished a paper from the pocket of his jacket, and then he announced, “Ballard Crafton!”
Everyone searched the room waiting for Ballard to come forward to choose a shoe for his evening of sultry delight, with the ballerina whose name was on the shoe.
Natalia shook her head. “No. He had to leave. Who is the second?”
Edvar squinted in a big show of reading the next name on the list. He proclaimed, “Belsky!”
From the back of the crowd, a tubby man merrily trotted forward to where Natalia stood. He could barely contain his excitement. He danced in place from one foot to the other. The ballerinas were now exchanging curled lips of derision hoping that he would not pull their shoe from the box.
He wiggled his fingers in anticipation of what lovely, well-toned ballerina would be his for the night. Belsky reached into the box and snatched a pair of worn European pink pointe shoes. The crowd tensed waiting for a name to be called as he handed the shoe to Natalia.
“Anna Antkowiak!” Natalia called out. The young girl from Poland shoulders drooped. Her face dropped. She was the newest member of the company. She hadn’t signed on for this. She had heard whispers among the dancers that Natalia’s ballet company was almost broke and about the after-performance requirements: prostituting the dancers for contributions to keep the ballet company above water. Tonight was her fist time to be summoned by Natalia to the contributors’ party. She could barely breathe as she watched Belsky’s eyes scanning the crowd for her.
Locking eyes with the innocent girl, Natalia crooked her index finger at the ballerina to come forward to claim her date. Trepidation filled Anna’s face. Her stomach twisted into a tangle of knots as she looked at the other dancers, who silently urged her to do as Natalia requested. When Anna suddenly noticed the bulge in Belsky’s trousers, she kept her head bowed, as she slowly crept through the crowd. Belsky grabbed her by the hand to hurry her out the door.
Natalia clapped her hands. “Another happy contributor to the Novikov Ballet Company! I’m sure Anna will make his night!” She shook the box again. “Who will be next to choose, Edvar?” 


About the Author: 

For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance: she was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered!) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series so far.

Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one, Into the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force.

People are always asking Cindy: do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.

Her latest book is the romantic suspense, To the Breaking Pointe.

For More Information:

If you read my bio it says that my life whirled around a song and a dance for twenty-six years. That’s right; I was a professional dancer/choreographer. I loved my dance school, and when I made the decision to retire from dance to write, it was a heart-wrenching decision indeed.
Over those twenty-six years I’d like to think that I touched a lot of young girls lives. I’d like to think that I helped form them into the lovely young women that many of them became: mothers, lawyers, physical therapists, teachers, and the like. When I bump into my former students they throw their arms around me, kiss me on the cheek, and say things like: Oh Miss Cindy, I’m so happy to see you! I miss you so much and I miss dance so much. It was the best time of my life.
The feeling is most mutual. But the very best part of choreographing was the ballets that we performed. I produced many: The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Firebird—my second favorite. But it was Coppelia that was my absolute favorite ballet that my dance school performed.
The year was 2005. I struggled that year to produce my show. We had lost my father very unexpectedly on Valentines Day that year—he simply dropped dead in his chair after breakfast. Needless to say my focus was a little off. I had girls counting on me to put on a great show and I’m not one to let anyone down regardless of the circumstances.
I had chosen Coppelia to be our ballet production that year and I dug in with everything I had to choreograph the ballet. When the costumes arrived in March they were fantastic! A good friend of mine, John, who directed many of the musicals that I choreographed locally, had agreed to play the role of Dr. Coppelius. John is an older man and he was fabulous with a fun sense of humor—the girls all loved him.
Coppelia was a great success and the ballet holds a special place in my heart as does the entire cast. To the Breaking Pointe is dedicated to that cast—the ballet is featured in the book. As I wrote the story—especially the parts where the ballet is mentioned—I could hear the music. I could see the costumes, and I could see the girls in my mind’s eye dancing about the stage. I could see John with a pair of faux bifocals parked at the edge of his nose, chasing Swan Hilda around the shop as Dr. Coppelius.
I have so many warm memories of my dance school, but this ballet was so very special to me and so is To the Breaking Pointe.

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