Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Spotlight: Come Dancing by Leslie Wells


Julia is a book-loving publisher’s assistant.  Jack is a famous British rock star.
“Opposites attract” is an understatement.
It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in enticing but edgy Manhattan, where rent is cheap and being young and gifted is enough to get ahead. Witty, hard-working and intelligent, Julia is determined to make her mark in book publishing, and dreams of being an editor. Her greatest fear is having to return, tail between her legs, to her small hometown where her mother is waiting to say “I told you so”.
Julia likes to blow off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a famous bad-boy British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack seems to pursue Julia—but she isn’t interested in a one-night-stand with an arrogant rock star. Intrigued by her resistance, Jack persists, and they get to know each other through their mutual love of music. When the two finally do come together, the built-up heat is lightning-hot.
Jack exposes Julia to the trappings of fame and fortune, from mind-bending recording sessions to mind-wasting backstage parties; from gritty SoHo punk-rock clubs, to luxurious hotel rooms barraged by screaming fans. Yet Julia is afraid to lose her heart to someone with such a shady past. As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s tempestuous relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never dreamed of.
Sensual and captivating, Come Dancing recalls the vibrant fashion and music milieu in a time of leather skirts, rubber bracelets, bright punk colors, and funky street earrings. With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is hilarious, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.
Author Bio: Leslie Wells left her small Southern town in 1979 for graduate school in Manhattan, after which she got her first job in book publishing. She has edited forty-eight New York Times bestsellers in her over thirty-year career, including thirteen number one New York Times bestsellers. Leslie has worked with numerous internationally known authors, musicians, actors, actresses, television and radio personalities, athletes, and coaches. She lives on Long Island, New York.

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Chapter 1

One Way or Another

“Are you ever getting out of there?” my friend Vicky complained.
I crooked the receiver in my shoulder, scrabbling papers together. “I’m heading out now. Harvey dumped a bunch of stuff on me right before he took off.” My boss, the publisher, liked to clear his desk at the end of the week—which meant I got to stay late every Friday night.
“About time. I’ll see you at your place in an hour.”
“We’re going to stick together tonight, right? Avoid the meat market?” I loved dancing off my pent-up energy from long hours sitting at my desk. Vicky saw it more as a smorgasbord of men, served up buffet-style.
“Depends what’s on the menu. See you in a few.”
The minute she hung up, my line rang again. “Is this Julia?” a familiar voice screeched.
“Hi, Louise. How’s it going in Seattle?” Our high-strung author was on a twelve-city tour for her new thriller, and the campaign had been plagued with problems. A celebrated Texas crime reporter, she had braved drug dealers’ bullets but couldn’t cope with delayed flights and lumpy hotel pillows. Harvey had stopped taking her calls a week ago, and ever since she’d been haranguing me.
“The escort hasn’t shown up yet. Why can’t these people be prompt?” Louise fretted.
I held back from pointing out that it was over three hours until her event. “Let me see if anyone’s left in publicity; maybe they can locate her.”
I scurried around the corner to the desolate PR department. The lights in Erin’s cubicle were still on, which gave me hope. A few doors down, I found her on her knees in front of the copy machine. Erin looked up at me and smiled. “Got it!” she exclaimed, extracting an inky wad.
“Could you come and deal with Louise? She’s all pumped up for her signing, but the escort has gone awol.” I rolled my eyes.
“God forbid she should ask the front desk to call her a cab,” Erin grumbled as she followed me down the hall. “She’s stared down gun-toting Mafiosi, but on the road she turns into a quivering mass of jelly.”
“Typical of her,” I said. Most of our authors were great, but a few were real doozies. “Do you want to come out with me and Vicky later? We’re going to hit the Palladium around eleven.”
“I have to finish a press release for that astrology guide. Another glam night in the big city.”
“Okay, be that way. Call me if you change your mind.” I ducked into my office and switched Louise over to Erin, covered my typewriter, then crammed my weekend reading into my backpack.
I sprinted down the deserted hall past shelves overflowing with manuscripts, a few framed awards gathering dust. Our titles ranged from literary to pure fluff; with the economy still in the pits, we were hawking anything from pop psychology to diet fads. This had been a shock when I’d arrived as a starry-eyed editorial assistant after a brief stint in grad school, thinking I’d be spending my weekends holed up with hot talent from The New Yorker. But now I was seasoned enough to plow through the B-list celebrity memoirs and breastfeeding manuals, while relishing any good novels that came my way.
I caught the elevator with a jittery messenger who bounced his bike tire, making the floor shimmy. I waved to the security guard and headed down lower Park Avenue in the balmy air. Usually I walked home to save money on subway tokens; I figured I had time tonight since my best friend was probably still primping.
Vicky had left the company a few months ago to join the publicity department of a larger midtown publisher. I missed her at the office, and I was also envious of her escape from assistantdom. But we still got together on weekends, and now I couldn’t wait to go to our favorite club. We liked the Palladium for its edgy mix of punks, rockers, and regular people like us.
I wove through some guys hissing “Sens, sensimilla!” in Washington Square and stopped at a street vendor selling earrings. A pair with long strands of beads and feathers caught my eye. I fingered them for a minute, calculating. Seven bucks for drinks; three for a cab home tonight … Reluctantly I put them back.
Halfway down MacDougal, I came to a screeching halt. An absolutely perfect small table was sitting right in the middle of the sidewalk. I stepped close for a better look. Gold leaf curlicues adorned its surface, and ornate lion heads were carved into its corners. I gave it a shake to see if the legs were loose, but it didn’t even wobble. I couldn’t believe someone had thrown out something this nice—it wasn’t even large garbage night! At last I could get rid of the stacked milk crates I ate on.
Now I just had to get it home. My place on Broome Street was eight blocks away, and the table was about three feet square. Maybe if I swung my backpack around to the front and hoisted the table on my back …
As I stood there considering, a guy in a dirty tee-shirt approached, holding a can of beer. “You need some help with that?” he asked, swaying a little.
“I think I can get it. Thanks anyway.”
The man leaned against the brick wall of the apartment building to watch. Turning around, I backed up to the table. I tried to reach behind and grasp its sides, but I couldn’t bend back far enough—why I’d always stunk at the limbo-la. Maybe if I bent lower … I crouched down, the backpack wedged against my belly like an unwanted pregnancy, and strained to get a grip on its legs.
Suddenly a woman ran screeching out of the building. “Stop that! What are you doing with my table?”
I stared at her. “This is yours? I thought somebody was throwing it away.”
“Are you kidding? This is an antique! You couldn’t have thought it was being thrown out.” The woman glared at me, hand on her hip.
Oh my god, how embarrassing. “I didn’t realize—I mean, it was sitting here all by itself with no note on it or anything. I thought it was meant for the garbage.”
“The garbage!” the woman shrieked. “I paid six hundred dollars for that! I was waiting for my husband to bring it upstairs! You should keep your paws off things that aren’t yours,” she huffed as she flounced back inside.
The man in the tee-shirt smiled and took a gulp of beer. “Baby, you just took a bite of the B-i-i-i-g Apple.”
“Actually, I think it just bit me.”

Praise for Come Dancing

Wells builds an emotionally poignant love story, abounding with romance and humor.”
—Smexy Book Reviews

Sometimes a book like this comes along and takes me out of the niche reading that I tend to find myself in.... I am in love.”
—Must Read Books or Die
It reads like a very, very good romantic comedy movie.”
—Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks

“Like a well-oiled machine or a well-tuned guitar, Julia and friends work their way into your heart.”
—Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Hot, sexy, and combustible.”
—Blushing Divas Book Reviews

Once you start, you are completely unable to put it down.”
—Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews

Meet the Author
Growing up in my small town in Virginia, I always had my nose stuck in a book. I devoured everything on my parents’ bookshelves and pillaged our local library. In college, I double majored in English and Music (classical, piano). When I was a senior, my advisor suggested I apply to graduate school in New York City, and then afterwards, maybe I could think about going into book publishing.

Publishing! The minute he said that, it was as if a light bulb exploded over my head. My Master’s at Columbia only took a year, and then I landed my first job as an editorial assistant. The hours were long, you had to do all the editing on nights and weekends, and the pay was abysmal—but I was getting paid to read! Eventually I became a Senior Editor, and later, an Executive Editor. I worked at three publishing houses over two decades, after which I started my own business. Editing is my day job, and I still love it.
I began writing Come Dancing in 2009, on the thirtieth anniversary of my arrival in Manhattan. I wanted to describe what it was like in the years 1979-1981, when the city was still rough along the edges. And when nightclubs like the Palladium, the Roxy, Danceteria, and the Mudd Club attracted a huge mix of people from many different strata of society.
Back then, you could go out dancing and run into just about anyone: actors, politicians, rock musicians. Celebrities weren’t surrounded by bodyguards; the assumption was that if you were allowed into a club, you were cool. No one was going to harass anybody; after all, this was downtown. And there were no cell phones back then. People didn’t walk around with a camera in their pockets 24/7—so if you were famous, you didn’t have to worry about being photographed every time you turned around. That made for a much more open atmosphere, where regular people rubbed shoulders with the glitterati as everyone cut loose on the dance floor.
I also wanted to write about book publishing before the advent of e-readers and computers, when we were all lugging home 400-page manuscripts every night. As with the music biz, the changes have been seismic. Over the years, many people have asked me what editorial meetings are really like—so I’ve included some of those in my novel.
I hope you’ll enjoy Come Dancing, and if you do, please post a review on Amazon. Thank you for reading my book!

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