Dancing in the Sand
by Maria Imbalzano
An accomplished dance major in New York City, Ava Woodward is pursuing her dream of becoming a professional in a national dance company. But a celebratory weekend in Newport, where she meets the man of her fantasies, has devastating consequences that change her life forever.
Brian Stanhope, a Harvard graduate, poised to join his father’s company, suffers a brain injury in a horseback riding accident, which affects his memory. He has no recollection of his graduation party weekend or the beautiful dancer who turned his head and stole his heart.
When they reunite eight years later, the magic of their powerful attraction binds them together, but the past holds a secret that even love may not be able to overcome.
Approaching his sister’s dance studio to the right, he heard a pounding beat, not at all similar to the classical music that fueled Carrie’s usual dance practices. He stopped to watch through a small square window off to the side. Ava, dressed in a black leotard and tights, leaped and twirled through the air like a spinning top, set on its course around the circumference of the room while Carrie spun in a more confined area in the center of the room.
Brian’s eyes sought Ava as her tight body coiled and released, coiled and released. Her arms were at once fragile and muscled, highlighting biceps and long, graceful fingers, sweeping through the air to mirror her legs. Her leaps were huge, with powerful extension and maximum air between her and the floor. No sooner would she land than she’d pull her limbs into herself and pirouette on her toes, spinning fast enough to make him question the physics of it all. This was no prissy ballet. This was fast and furious modern dance where you could feel the beat in your throat. Okay, maybe he’d experienced a little too much dance in his life, but this was definitely as good as anything he’d seen on the New York stage. Ava was even better than his sister.
What happened to the shy, vulnerable girl he’d just met? On the dance floor, she was a powerhouse. Full of confidence, energy, and magnetism.
When the music ended, he stood rooted to the floor, and his hands came up in a spontaneous clap.
“Who’s out there?” Carrie flung open the door to reveal their intruder.
“Brian, what are you doing here? I thought you were playing tennis.”
“I am. I was. I-I had to come in for more balls.”
He stared at Ava, with her dark brown hair pulled tight in a bun at the nape of her neck, drops of sweat beading on her chest just above the scoop of her leotard and above her full upper lip. Hot and sexy. He swallowed, fantasizing about licking the moisture from her mouth, her neck, molding that cute little powerful body into his.
“Then why are you just standing there?” Carrie placed her hands on her hips, challenging him to stop staring at her friend and walk away.
“I’m going.” He backed away from the door, but couldn’t seem to make his body turn and move down the hall.
Until Carrie slammed the door in his face.
Talking with author Maria Imbalzano!
What is your writing environment?
I have a great home office on the second floor with a curved desk, many drawers for files, and a window that looks out onto our back yard. There is a couch where I can sit to edit hard copies of my manuscript pages, and an elliptical machine to get the blood flowing. The desk was purchased by my husband as his. But within days of its delivery, I shamelessly took over the space (as I do everywhere else in the house) and it’s been mine ever since.
Who is your perfect heroine and why?
I love strong, independent, self-sufficient women who don’t need a man to survive. My heroine in “Unchained Memories” is a medical malpractice lawyer who moved from California to Princeton, NJ to help her sister through a traumatic event. My heroine in “Dancing in the Sand” was a ballet dancer who became an environmental lawyer in NYC. The lawyer theme is evident in all my books because I’m a lawyer and I write what I know.
What author has caught your interest lately and why?
I just read “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. I have always liked her books about relationships between friends or sisters, but this book was totally different from her others. It was the story of two sisters who lived through the German occupation of France during World War II. The research that had to go into this book to make it historically accurate amazes me and the story, although depressing, was also inspiring. I also have another tie to Ms. Hannah. She was a judge many years ago for NJ Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book Contest and I won first place for my manuscript “Weekend Diaries.” She met with me that weekend and encouraged me to keep writing.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I am writing the type of book I’ve always wanted to. I love contemporary, single title romance. It’s closer to real life and it’s easier to draw from real life experiences – whether my own or someone else’s. While I will read historical, I know nothing about that era’s lifestyles and it would take an enormous amount of research and studying to learn it enough to write about it. I suppose I don’t have enough creativity to write paranormal since I would have to build my own world. Besides, I don’t like to read paranormal, so I know I wouldn’t want to write it. Contemporary romance is the place for me.
Top 3 things on your bucket list.
Retire from my career as a divorce lawyer in a few years and write full time
Travel to as many states in the US as possible. I’ve only been to 16 so I have a way to go.
Learn ballroom dancing.
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
The premise for this book came to me in a dream. Young, passionate love exploded over the course of a weekend–the kind of forbidden, but oh so exciting love. Horseback riding was involved along with an accident. The dream was so vivid and so romantic (and a little disturbing). I wrote it down the second I woke up. From there, I created the heroine to be a dance major at NYU. I love dance and took lessons for years including ballet, tap and modern jazz. I suppose Ava is my alter-ego. I chose NYC as the setting since NYU has an excellent dance program and many great dance companies call the City home. I had also lived and worked in NYC for seven years after college and have many experiences and memories to draw upon.
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
The hero of my story, Brian Stanhope, had a brain injury when he fell from his horse shortly after meeting Ava. Years later, they reconnect and Brian has flashbacks of having spent time with her. My favorite is a flashback of him spying on Ava and his sister as they practice a powerful modern ballet at his family’s Newport home. He is mesmerized by the beauty and athleticism of their dance as they leap, spin and play off each other.
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
I am working on a series called “Weekend Diaries.” The series is about four high school girlfriends who are now in their early thirties, with each of them going through a life changing event. The first book, “Changing Tides” is just about done. The second book, tentatively called “Nicki’s Story” because I haven’t come up with a better title yet, is done in first draft but needs a lot of work. As soon as I sync the timelines in the two books and make sure I’m not going to change anything else that would affect the first book, I will send it to my publisher for consideration. My goal is to make this a four book series.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Working as a divorce lawyer takes up most of my time, so when I’m not working I try to write. During those times when I am neither working nor writing, I love to read, walk on the beach, and spend time with my husband and two daughters.
What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
My guilty pleasure is watching “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” I not only love to watch dance, I love to dance myself. My exercise routine is Jazzercise, which I go to at least three times a week and I choreographed a dance for my daughter’s wedding for the bridesmaids and moms. We danced to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift and surprised everyone with our great dance moves.~~~~~~~~~~~~~
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Maria Imbalzano is a matrimonial lawyer in central New Jersey where she not only uses her law degree to navigate her clients through the court system, but her psychology degree to guide them through their personal struggles. While writing motions, legal memoranda, and briefs is fascinating, it pales in comparison to creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys.
In addition to practicing law and writing fiction, Maria enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters either at home or at the Jersey Shore.
Visit Maria at www.mariaimbalzano.com
Maria Imbalzano will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow the tour HERE