Sleight of Hand, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Brittle Divinity Press
Date of Publication: October 13, 2014
Number of pages: 60
Word Count: 17,000
Ellaine Greene has simple desires. She just wants to do her best as the event coordinator for the local aquarium, to support environmental conservation efforts, and to keep immature man-children out of her life.
So when a major donor to the aquarium demands Ellaine find a magician for her granddaughter's birthday party, all she can imagine is a long line of card chuckers and coin flippers wearing cheesy sequined vests.
Instead, she gets Xander Hollatz, a sophisticated, powerful man in a crisp suit, with nimble fingers and a warm smile.
He's the man for the job, no doubt. And, to her surprise, she realizes he might be the man for her, too. Will she let her doubts get in the way of their feelings for each other?
And when everything goes wrong at the birthday party, will he be able to perform a miracle to save the day?
Sleight of Hand #1: Private Performance is a 17,000-word novella, introducing readers to Ellaine and Xander's passionate and tender romance, to the fascinating wildlife inhabiting the aquarium, and to the mysterious world of professional magicians
Waiting for Xander didn’t do anything to relieve her tension either. Between the meeting with Josiah and the three cups of coffee she’d already downed, she couldn’t sit still in her chair. She got up and paced her office, small as it was. She thought about taking a walk around the aquarium, maybe drop in on the octopus for a visit, a creature she found weirdly hilarious. Or she could stop by the coral reef exhibit, which always calmed her and made her a little sad, too, so fragile, so endangered — a strange, surprising, and almost alien beauty in its chaotic structure — but she realized she only had a few more minutes before Xander was scheduled to arrive.
She found herself grieving for the state of the Great Barrier Reef. She began organizing the pens on her desk. I’m going out of my mind, she realized. The room felt stifling all of a sudden. She crossed to the window and lifted it open.
A knock at her open door. She looked over her shoulder. Her breath caught in her throat as she beheld Xander in the threshold. He filled out his suit so nicely.
She realized he was studying her too — then she realized the sun coming through the window was shining through her white cotton blouse, giving him an eyeful. She stepped away from the window, retreating to her desk. Her heart was beating like a terrified rabbit’s.
“Xander,” she said. “Thank you for coming back in.”
“Thank you for the second chance. I’m afraid I didn’t make a very good impression last time.” He walked swiftly to the seat across from hers. “I’d like to apologize for something I said. Last time I noticed you didn’t have any pictures of family on your desk, and I assumed it meant you… preferred animals to people. That was presumptuous of me. I’m sorry.”
The frightened little rabbit inside of her stopped quivering quite so much. His voice was so soothing. “There’s no need to apologize. I do like animals. It’s no big deal.”
He nodded, looked as though he were about to add something. Then he cleared his throat and said, “Let’s jump right in then. Is there… a kind of magic trick you hate less than other kinds?”
“I don’t hate magic,” she told him. “I just… nothing it.” She remembered that Brissa, earlier that morning, had made her promise to be nicer this time, so she added, “I don’t like tricks that go on forever, if that helps. Where the magician tells a million corny jokes?”
He was grinning and nodding. “We call that ‘patter.’ And, yeah, I totally agree. Too many magicians are in love with the sound of their own voice.”
“I don’t mind yours.” She blushed, hard. Why couldn’t she find a happy medium between hard-ass employer and shameless flirt? “I mean, it’s not awful. Is what I mean. To say.”
“I don’t mind yours either.” His eyes were shining with amusement, but she knew he wasn’t mocking her. “Do you sing?”
“Not… no, not since high school.”
“Not even in the car?”
She laughed. “Usually in the shower.”
“For me, it’s the car. Did you do show choir in high school?”
She shook her head. “Church choir.”
“That sounds… less fun,” he ventured.
“Not really any fun at all, no.” They shared a moment, enjoying the mutual agreement. “I’m guessing it was theater, for you?”
Xander laughed. “Everyone always thinks so. Nope, I was a shop class kid.”
He nodded. “How did you get to magic from shop class? Or were you doing magic before then?”
“Oh, I was doing magic since I was just a little kid. Learned one trick from my uncle, got hooked for life. But a lot of the same things that appeal to me about magic appealed to me as a shop kid. Planning ahead. Taking a picture I have in my mind and making something real out of it. Being good with my hands.”
As he spoke, he took a pack of cards from his jacket pocket. Oh no. Here she was, enjoying his company, and he was about to ruin it by telling her to pick a card.
But he didn’t.
To her surprise, he started building a card castle on her desk. He placed three cards down, all leaning against one another, and then placed a fourth card, an ace, on top of them.
“A table,” he announced with a wry smile.
“You learned that in shop class?”
“In a way. Shop class teaches you to look down, to pay attention to what’s holding everything up. The legs of a table, for instance.” He gestured at the three cards holding up the ace. “Or the foundation of this building, its load-bearing walls. Or the animals at the bottom of the food chain, feeding the animals at the top. How many minnows do you all go through in a week?”
It was a rhetorical question, but Ellaine was disappointed to realize she had no idea. She shook her head.
“A lot,” she said, feebly.
“I can’t imagine!” he agreed. She was grateful he ignored the gap in her knowledge. She couldn’t believe she didn’t know the answer to that question. Why didn’t she know? When had she stopped being curious about things like that?
Xander went on. “And yourself, too, and everyone else who works here. You’re all supporting the animals. I want to join you. I want to help you hold the animals up. Like the minnows. Shop class didn’t just teach me to look at what’s holding everything up, but to value it too. To see… a real kind of beauty in it. Before that, I was just doing magic tricks to impress people. To impress girls, frankly. But after I started to see the beauty in the world around me, then all of a sudden I wanted to show people what I could see. And since nobody cares about minnows, since nobody cares about the legs of a table, I show them magic instead. I show them this.”
He swept his hand under the ace, toppling all the cards beneath it.
The ace remained in the air, hovering just a few inches above her desk.
“Every minnow you’ve ever seen is a miracle. Every table, too.”
He snapped his fingers, and the card fell, joining the others on the desk.
“What I do with magic is show people the beauty around them.” Then, gazing into her eyes, he breathed, “Surprising beauty.”
A long, silent moment passed as they studied each other. Then she whispered, “I like this kind of magic.”
“Good,” he replied with a smile. “It’s my specialty.”
Today, we welcome Reese Galloway to Musings and Ramblings. Let's all give a big Geeky welcome!
Hello! I'm honored to be here.
Let's start with some writer specific questions before moving into the fun stuff. That way everyone can really get to know the person behind the writer. We will finish things off with a round of Think Fast. Ready for the interrogation to begin?
Ready and willing.
1. When is your favorite time/place to write? Do you write structured or patchworked?
I love to write while I'm eating, particularly in the evening when I can have an IPA with the meal. Things get a little more patchworky after a few pints.
2. How do you deal with Writer's Block?
When I get blocked, it's a motivational issue. So I ask my writing buddy, Ava, to yell at me. She usually doesn't have a problem doing that.
3. How involved are you with Social Media and self-promotion?
I love chatting with fans. I respond best through email and my Facebook page. I'm still figuring out how to dedicate a little time to blogging, because I'd usually rather work on a book than write about myself, my day, & what I've been reading lately.
4. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I became a homeowner recently, so I'm teaching myself how to nest. I've got a couple home improvement projects coming up, in fact. Rewiring a faulty light switch, stuff like that. I like being handy.
5. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism came from my own brain. There's honestly nothing you could say about my writing I haven't said myself. The trick is figuring out which criticisms are going to help the story and which aren't.
But the best compliment? I have a moment toward the end of Private Perfomance that I love, personally -- but I wasn't sure whether my writing captured the moment. So I had my friend Ava read it and asked her to tell me what she thought of the story. She disappeared into her room while I chilled on the couch with her husband, watching some basketball (go Thunder). When she got to that moment, she walked out of her room with a big smile on her face and said, "The candles..." And that was the proudest I've ever been of something I've written.
1. What was the last movie/concert/show that you saw?
Don Jon. For some reason I thought it was going to be a lighthearted rom com but that's not what I got. Still, I thought it was a really good movie. I'd have a hard time figuring out how to recommend it to, though.
2. What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who talk about themselves too much. Oh... um... so how are you doing?
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, fictional or real, who would it be and why?
Amy Poehler. I would ask her thoughtful, reflective questions about her experiences in Second City, her opinions on Disney princesses, her wine preferences. I'd be freaking out inside, but, hey, you gotta play it cool.
4. What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
My favorite IPA, from Marshall's Brewery, and a stout the guy at the store recommended. I've got some staples, too: jam, milk, lemon juice, salad dressing.
5. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
This Is All My Faults. Self-depricating, yet clever.
1. Meat or Veggies? Veggies. *hides hamburger behind back*
2. Italian or Chinese? Italian.
3. Summer or Winter? Winter.
4. Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the morning, iced tea in the afternoon.
5. Cake or Pie? Pie.
Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us.
My pleasure. Thank you for letting me stop by.
Have you ever wished before starting a new author or series that if only you could have a sneak peek, or a taste test, you might decide to give them a try? I know I have. My free time and my funds are both valuable enough that I don't want to waste them on something that just doesn't suit me. The beauty of what Reese Galloway has done with the start of this series is to give us just that... A sneaky little taste of the goodness that is sure to follow in this new series.
The first book is a novella, basically the meet-cute for the couple. We get the front row seat as Ellaine, the event coordinator for an aquarium, meets the mysterious Xander, magician extraordinaire. For some reason, in my head, I had magician synonymous with dominating alpha like personality, aka Mr. Macho. But he wasn't that. Confident? Yes. Jerk? No. He showed a more sensitive side that was a nice compliment to Ellaine's hesitance. There is an extremely sexy scene near the end of this story and it was interesting knowing a man had written it through Ellaine's POV. We get to know Ellaine fairly well, while Xander remains, largely, a man of mystery. I look forward to learning more about him in the coming books.
By reading, (and enjoying) this first novella, I feel rather confident in continuing the series, certain I will enjoy it. If the blurb interests you, I encourage you to grab this first book and give it your own taste test. You might just find a new author to enjoy. My taste test rating? 3 stars.
Sleight of Hand, #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Brittle Divinity Press
Date of Publication: October 27, 2014
Number of pages: 239
Word Count: 74,000
Ellaine Greene has a new man in her life, the famous magician Xander Hollatz. He's ripped, kind, and mysterious -- nothing like her ex-husband. He has even volunteered to perform at her aquarium's annual fundraising gala. But she's still having trouble leaving the past behind, especially when her ex shows up to beg for money.
Before the new couple knows it, someone's trying to break into Xander's mansion to steal the secrets of his many famous illusions. Ellaine's ex becomes their prime suspect. But maybe it's actually the up-and-coming street magician they've befriended. Or maybe it's even someone from Xander's mysterious past.
Whoever the thief is, if he uncovers and reveals the secret of Xander's newest illusion for the fundraiser, the event will be a disaster. Ellaine may lose her job.
And there's a still greater question: Is this feeling they share together just lust -- or is it something more?
Find out in this 74,000-word book, the second volume in the Sleight of Hand series.
(2) $10 Amazon Gift Cards
(5) eCopies of both Private and Repeat Performance
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