By: Hope Tarr
Congratulations to "Ada", the winner of Hope's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
Now that my Suddenly Cinderella Series has concluded, I thought it would be fun and informative to celebrate a year of friendships forged—and Happily Ever Afters (HEAs) found—with my four intrepid heroines: Macie (Operation Cinderella, now optioned by Fox as a feature film), Francesca (The Cinderella Makeover), Starr (A Cinderella Christmas Carol) and Stefanie (The Cinderella Seduction). Good sports that they are, they all agreed! Recently we sat down over a scrumptious potluck brunch of huevos rancheros (Macie), Pimm’s Cocktail (Francesca), home-baked baklava (Stefanie), and bagels and cream cheese (Starr). My assistant transcribed our session as follows.
STARR: (Spreading chive cream cheese on a sesame bagel): Murray’s—best bagel and shmear in the city.
HOPE: You should know, Starr. You’re the native New Yorker among us. Francesca and I are just transplants.”
FRANCESCA (sipping her Pimm’s): Born a Brit, always a Brit.
HOPE: And now that Macie has defected to DC—
MACIE: Hey, I never defected anywhere. Can I help it you chose to set most of Operation Cinderella in Washington—and that the HEA you wrote for me was with a Texan!?! I mean seriously, Hope, who meets a Texas good old boy in the nation’s capital?
HOPE (sounding slightly defensive): It could happen.
STARR: Sure it could happen but really what are the odds? Talk about shoe horning a plot point—
STEFANIE: Have some baklava, everyone. It’s still warm. (Passes around tray; everyone grabs a gooey wedge of the honey-drenched Greek pastry. For the next several seconds, oohs and ahs and chewing sounds fill the breakfast nook).
HOPE (recovering though blushing slightly): Since the subject of…shoes has been brought up, how do you all feel m/our version of Cinderella slippers, vintage red-velvet heels from the 1930s, worked for bringing about the HEA in each of your stories?
FRANCESCA: The vintage shoes were sheer brilliance, darling. Really you outdid yourself.
STARR: Though it was a little weird how they always seemed to “magically” fit each of us when it was our turn for a HEA—quelle convenient.
HOPE (blush deepening): Well, er, that’s the point. They’re magic, handed down from a legendary silver screen era starlet to be passed among you four in turn.
FRANCESCA (shooting Starr a look): Really, there is such a thing as ‘artistic license.’ You’ve certainly employed sufficient of it in your magazine over the years.
STARR: Hey, what’s that supposed to—
MACIE: Have some of these Tex Mex eggs before they get cold. (Forks up another bite of spicy eggs before continuing) If pants can travel among—and fit—multiple young women, why not shoes?
STEFANIE (sighs): Slipping on those vintage shoes made me feel like a fairytale princess for the first time in my life—and seeing myself that way seemed to make it easier for Nick to see me that way, too.
MACIE (rolling eyes): Wearing the shoes helped resolve things between you two, no doubt about it, but even before you put them on, it was pretty plain Nick was smitten—plain to everyone but you.
STEFANIE (laughs): I guess I figured he was just doing what players do best: flirt. Now I know better, of course. (Smiles down at the diamond on her left hand)
FRANCESCA: As a fashion photographer, I own far too many accessories as it is, so when my turn came for a HEA, I was admittedly skeptical. But once I slipped on that first shoe, it wasn’t long before I became a believer.
STARR (lets out a snort): I liquored her up with scotch and all but shoved the shoes onto her feet—for which I’ve never received an actual word of thanks, come to think of it. (Turns to Francesca) No worries, you and Greg can name your firstborn after me.
FRANCESCA (laughs nervously): Right, well, grant me time to launch Samantha off to university first and then perhaps I’ll consider a second child.
HOPE: Speaking of Samantha—Sam—at the end of the final book, she was eyeing those vintage shoes pretty closely. Think I should give her a turn at them to win her own HEA someday?
(Macie and Francesca exchange fraught looks).
MACIE: Francesca is the mom here but as Sam’s stepmom, I’d say let’s keep any future romantic plans for her strictly under wraps for now. She’s tried on those shoes twice—and both times her dad, Ross, almost imploded.
FRANCESCA (nodding): And she absolute must finish school first, possibly pursue graduate studies, then there’s always the obligatory year abroad and—
HOPE: Got it. No worries, I’m not rushing anyone. For now, think of Sam’s HEA as…a definite maybe.
(Macie and Francesca exhale relieved breaths).
HOPE: So final question: since the series has wrapped, I’m wondering how you each feel about your HEAs. Were they everything you hoped—and be honest?
(Smiles make the rounds)
MACIE: A love story based on opposites’ attracting comes with certain…challenges—and plenty of sexual tension. But this former Goth girl wouldn’t trade her conservative Texas good ole boy for anything—even if he does watch way too much Fox News. (Grins)
FRANCESCA: Nor would I relinquish my techno geek Silicon Valley CEO for all the Prada on the planet—though he does sometimes still wear track pants to brunch, mainly to annoy me, of course.
STARR (expression softening): I don’t know that Matt and I are opposites—but he’s definitely my better half. If he hadn’t brought me to my senses in that crazy Christmas-themed dream Hope wrote for us, I don’t know where I’d be right now. Actually I do know where I’d be—and it’s pretty freakin’ scary.
STEFANIE (biting lip): Like the rest of you, I’d given up on finding True Love—until a certain Greek tycoon literally showed up on my doorstep.
MACIE (turning to Hope with a grin): I think it’s safe to say we’re all pretty pleased.
FRANCESCA: Quite. (Lifting cocktail) Huzzah and Happily Ever After to us all—and to Cinderellas everywhere.
((Glasses clink in toast))
HOPE: To all of you who have read, reviewed, Tweeted, added our Suddenly Cinderella titles to your Goodreads shelves, and otherwise cheered us on for the past year+, we wish you a 2014 filled with much love, laughter—and fairytale dreams come true.
Excerpt from OPERATION CINDERELLA (Suddenly Cinderella Book #1, Optioned to Twentieth Century Fox as a feature film)
Kennedy Center Terrace, Washington, DC
Ross gave Macie’s hand a light squeeze. “Seriously, I want to thank you for tonight and…for helping me remember what it feels like to feel.”
His raw honesty melted the last of Macie’s reserve. “That is quite possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
Gaze locked on hers, he lifted the hand he still held and turned it over. “A woman like you should only ever have sweet things said to her, especially when they’re all true.”
The press of his mouth to her palm was shockingly erotic and sinfully sweet, and when the balcony seemed to sway, Macie knew that her champagne buzz was in no way to blame. “Dr. Mannon?”
“It’s not midnight yet. You promised to call me Ross.” Releasing her, he slid his scarred workman’s knuckles beneath her chin and tipped her face up to his.
He bent to her, closing the space between them. His breath was a cinnamon-spiced breeze against her cheek, his gaze moving over her the closest she’d come in a while to being caressed. At the first soft meeting of their mouths, a hot shiver shot through her. She shuddered, the motion sending his jacket slipping. His hands found the tops of her bare shoulders, the heat of his palms searing. She reached between them and wrapped an arm about his neck; the other took possession of his hard-muscled shoulder, her kneading fingers bunching the fine shirt fabric.
His hands slipped lower to the dress’s plunging back, his fingers following the triangle cutout to the zipper. One tiny tug on the tab was all that it would take to free her.
“MJ,” he breathed into her parted mouth, and the way he said the shortened version of her name sounded almost like a prayer—sanctified and serene, a promise that would carry them beyond the remaining minutes to midnight.
In the distance, a church bell chimed, one, two, three…
It was pumpkin time, or certainly a call back to sanity. Macie broke off the kiss and stepped away, her arm slipping from his shoulder and pushing against the hard beating heart on the left side of his chest.
“I’m sorry, I can’t.”
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