Friday, December 7, 2012

LAUNCH PARTY & GIVEAWAY: Waltz with a Stranger by Pamela Sherwood

Hello, again! I’m delighted to be back to celebrate the official launch of Waltz with a Stranger this week!

When I hear the word “launch,” I think of rockets awaiting the countdown that will blast them into outer space, or majestic ocean liners setting out for the open sea. In which case I can only hope that my book proves to be more like the Queen Mary than the Titanic!

Apropos of which . . . between the 1870s and the 1910s, posh ocean liners like the Queen Mary ferried rich, ambitious, confident American heiresses--many of them snubbed by hidebound, old-money society at home--across the Atlantic in search of titled husbands in England and Europe. 

One of the more famous buccaneers, Consuelo Vanderbilt, the duke she bagged (the 9th Duke of Marlborough), their heir, John, and their spare, Ivor. Painted by John Singer-Sargent.

In Waltz with a Stranger, New York shipping heiresses Amy and Aurelia Newbold are among the latest wave of “buccaneers” to make that journey--at least, Amy is. Aurelia comes along mainly to provide companionship for her beloved twin sister, hoping to escape notice herself because of her lingering injuries from a riding accident.

But one night, while hiding in a moonlit conservatory during a ball, Aurelia has an encounter with a stranger--as tall, dark, and handsome as a gypsy fortuneteller’s prediction--that changes her life forever.



            “Miss Newbold, may I have this dance?”
            Aurelia whipped her head around, astonished. “Dance? Pray do not mock me, sir.”
            Dark eyes gazed steadily into hers. “I have never been more serious in my life. You have a fine sense of rhythm--I noticed that when first I saw you. Are you fond of the waltz?”
             “Well, yes,” she admitted, after a moment; there’d been a time when she loved nothing better than to whirl about the floor in her partner’s arms. “That is, I was before. But my limp--”           
            “A limp is surely no worse than two left feet--and the latter affliction has not prevented quite a number of people from dancing tonight.”
            A breath of unwilling laughter escaped her; Mr. Trelawney’s eyes seemed to warm at the sound. He held out his hand.  “I do not ask this out of mockery--or pity,” he added, with a perception that surprised her. “Will you not indulge me?  We need not return to the ballroom--we can have our dance here, unseen, among the flowers. Unless you find it too physically taxing?’
            He’d just handed her the perfect excuse. All she had to do was plead fatigue or discomfort, and Mr. Trelawney, gentleman that he was, would surely let her retire and not importune her further.  Instead, she stepped forward--and placed her hand in his.
            He smiled at her and her knees wanted to buckle; she made herself stand fast and look him in the eye. She could feel the warmth of his hand through the evening gloves they both wore, and smell his cologne, an appealing blend of citrus and clove. Then he drew her to him, his hand resting lightly on the small of her back, and led her into their dance.
            Her first steps were halting, hesitant, and she felt her face flaming anew, but Mr. Trelawney took her clumsiness in stride, adjusting his movements to hers.  A few more bars and Aurelia found herself dancing more easily, as if some purely physical memory had taken over, leaving her mind free to concentrate on the beauty of the moonlit conservatory and the light pressure of Mr. Trelawney’s arms enfolding her as gently as if she were made of porcelain.
            Together, they waltzed along the paved walkways, around benches and garden beds, beneath the light of the moon and stars.  With each circling turn, Aurelia felt her spirits rise, a sensation that had become as alien to her as a man’s touch. Mr. Trelawney danced with an easy assurance that seemed of a piece with his forthright manner and confident air.  No other man she’d waltzed with had ever made her feel this safe--not Papa, not Andrew . . . not even Charlie.
            That last realization was so startling that she almost stumbled; Mr. Trelawney steadied her at once, concern in his eyes. Aurelia summoned a smile that surprised her as much as it did her partner, and they waltzed on, whirling back towards the center of the conservatory and the pool of moonlight on the tiled floor.
            The music ended, the last chords quavering into silence, and Mr. Trelawney swirled them both to a stop.  Aurelia stifled a pang of regret at how quickly the time had passed. 
            “Thank you,” she said, and meant it. She was slightly breathless, and her bad leg twinged after the unaccustomed exercise; it would be worse in the morning, but she felt not even a particle of regret.
            He gave her that knee-weakening smile again. “The pleasure was mine, Miss Newbold.”

Interested, dear readers? If so, please save a place on your dance card for Waltz with a Stranger.

Apropos of which, my author copies are now here, and I will be giving away three--signed, if you'd like--to commenters. Winners of the draw to be determined on Sunday night.

Thank you all for your attention and for making me feel welcome!

Last Thoughts: Five Random Things I Learned While Writing My Book

1. Dancing is visual shorthand for making love. Which is probably something everyone who's watched an Astaire-Rogers film or one of the great MGM musicals already knows.

2. "Can't Buy Me Love" could be the theme song for the transatlantic marriage market.

3. Professional beauties were the Kardashians of their day, celebrated, feted, and adored for little more than having an exceptionally pretty and photogenic face.

4. Swinburne's Tristram of Lyonesse is one of the swooniest, most sensual poems the Victorian Age ever produced.

5. Gunter's creations would put Baskin-Robbins' to shame. Below is a Neapolitan, a layered confection of vanilla, pistachio, and strawberry ice creams, topped with rosettes of red currant water ice. My heroine actually gets to eat one.

Image courtesy of Historic Foods

Link to my website:

Link to the stops on my "virtual tour" this month:


  1. Pamela, congrats on your release. The cover is so pretty. Sourcebooks does such a great job with covers. Thanks for sharing all your fun facts. I love all those historical tidbits.

  2. Congratulations on the release of your book!

    I enjoyed reading the excerpt and +1 to what Shana said -- the cover is lovely!

  3. Nice to actually see a picture of something from Gunter's. Looks great, and so does your book! Congrats!

  4. Shana, Thank you. I like the cover too--and historical tidbits aren't just fun, they can also be the seeds for an entire plot.

    Tin, thank you. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt!

    Cheryl, thank you. The historic food link takes you to a whole page of Gunter's ices. The Neapolitan is just one of the more elaborate ones.

  5. I have to agree about the cover - it's just so lovely. I definitely would pick this book up for that alone! But it sounds wonderful too!


  6. I loved reading the excerpt, it is so charming. And I must admit that I am quite taken by that ice cream dessert you mention on your list. Sounds delicious.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  7. Catslady, thank you! Glad that you like the cover--I definitely lucked out there--and enjoy the excerpt.

    Lil, glad you liked the excerpt. And that ice cream does look good. The description reminded me of spumoni, which I'm very fond of. The Old Spaghetti Factory used to serve it for dessert as part of every meal.

  8. Congrats! Fascinating research.


  9. What a beautifully written excerpt. It made me wish the dance had lasted longer!
    And yum, what a delicious looking picture. Ice cream anyone?

    Congrats on the release!

    eyesofblueice (at) gmail

  10. bn100, thanks--research is where it's at, for a historical writer!

    Lexi, glad you enjoyed the excerpt. And yes, that Neapolitan sure looks good! Wish I could think of a modern ice cream parlor that made that sort of thing.

  11. I loved the excerpt and I think Waltz With a Stranger sounds like a wonderful story. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  12. Congrats on your debut release, Pamela! Hope you enjoy your release week :)


  13. Barbara E., so glad you liked the excerpt! I hope you enjoy the rest of the book as well.

    Win, thank you! The first week of release has been certainly been an eye-opening experience.

  14. Great excerpt! This Ida a fascinating time in history. I'm excited to read more about it!

  15. Amanda, thanks! Yes, the Victorian Age is fascinating to read about. More than six decades long, and you can find something exciting happening in any of them.

  16. Congrats on the release, I loved the was a beautiful description of a romantic moment. And, it's wonderful to actually see what a Gunter's ice looks like...thank you so much for sharing!

    elewkf1 at yahoo dot com

  17. Elf2060, glad you found the excerpt romantic! And that Gunter's ice does look good--it's always nice to be able to see what fictional charcters get to eat and enjoy!