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30 April 2012

Cat Fight! Clash of the Leading Ladies

I don't know about you, but there are some things I like in a fictional heroine and things I don't like. I like to see a woman who I can relate to but also admire. Someone I want to root for, who makes me think or inspires  me to do better. Someone witty or charming or magnetic in some way. I don't want to see someone who is defined by being whiny, grumpy, weak, ungrateful, or stupid. I may be all those things sometimes, but I don't want to be reminded of it! It's not always important that the girl be like me. Even if the main character is vastly different from myself, that's okay. Just make me believe. Place her in my living room with me.(Or me in hers!) Make me see her, know her, feel her. From there I can find some common ground and set out on a 300 page journey with her. :)

So for that reason, introductions are important. You never have a second chance to make a first impression, right? If you've ever been a teenager (ahem), you have undoubtedly been in a crowd of peers at some point and noticed a strange phenomenon. Almost without exception, one or two people come onto the scene and command the spotlight, seemingly without trying. They carry themselves just right, have something interesting to say (or better yet make you feel good about what you have to say), their eyes light up when they see you, they laugh, somehow they draw you and everybody else in. It's the same when we pick up a book. Some characters just sweep onto the scene--literally--and captivate us. We can't always put our finger on the reason why. We just love it when they do that.

Below are two excerpts from our two anonymous books, introducing their female lead. Which one captures your attention the most? Please read and vote for your favorite. Then introduce them to your best friend, your neighbor, your grandma, your chiropractor, your pastor's wife, your mother-in-law, your father-in-law. Every intro you facilitate between COTT and your circle of friends earns you an entry to our book drawing. So don't be shy! Mother's Day is right around the corner and a new book makes a fantastic gift (didn't say it couldn't be for YOU!)  You get entries for voting (leave your email in the comments after you've voted) and for tweeting or FB'ing the link to this page. "Like" us, follow us, put our badge on your site, then drop your name in the box for each of those things by saying so in the comments. Now on with the Intro's!

Excerpt A

“Slice the dough thinner, Em-i-ly.” I mimicked Grandma’s heavy Italian accent and gestured wildly with my hands. “Spa-ghetti, not fett-u-ccine!”
Sergei stopped drinking mid-sip and coughed, his coffee rattling in his throat. His shoulders shook with laughter, and he pounded a fist to his chest, his breathing steadying with each thump.
“You don’t look Italian at all,” he said, still chuckling at my imitation of my mother and late grandmother teaching me how to make spaghetti from scratch.
“Because I have blond hair and blue eyes?” I smiled and tugged on one of my dark blond locks. “You’ve seen my dad. I got all his features and none of my mom’s. Got my athletic genes from him, too. My mom is ridiculously uncoordinated.”
“Remind me to thank him for that,” Sergei said.
He pushed his chair away from the table, and my heart clouded over, as it did every day when we’d emptied our cups. Our coffee shop chats were the highlight of my days. The lush greenery of summer had faded into autumn, but my thoughts about Sergei had grown even more vibrant. We’d discovered our shared love for literature–classics for him, contemporary for me–and our obsession with Italian food.
We stepped outside, and I squinted from the late afternoon sun. Sergei slipped his aviator shades over his nose. “Do you have any exciting plans this weekend?”
“Aubrey and I are cooking and having a few friends over tomorrow night. Or rather, I’m cooking and Aubrey is cleaning the kitchen. That’s our standard arrangement.”
“Are you making Italian?”
“I am. My grandmother’s spinach lasagna recipe.”
“From scratch?” he asked with a teasing smile.
“Of course.”
The tip of his tongue moistened his lips. “Sounds delicious.”
The opening was too perfect. Since the concert, Sergei and I hadn’t seen each other outside the rink and the coffee shop, and my sensible side told me to keep it that way. But my swirling emotions overpowered my usual sensibility.
“Why don’t you come over tomorrow night and find out?” My invite came out in a rush. “You know everyone who’ll be there–Chris, Marley, Trevor.”
An immediate grin appeared. “I can’t pass up homemade pasta.”
“We’ll see you at eight then.”
He jangled his keys and walked backward toward his SUV. “So, should I expect master chef level cooking?”
I gave him my best I-mean-business face. “Oh, prepare to be blown away.”
“You know I’m not easy to please.”
“And you know not to doubt me.” I smiled and opened the door of my sedan.
He laughed. “Very true.I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I didn’t stop grinning the entire drive home. Knowing Aubrey was going to give me a hard time about inviting Sergei, I planned to keep that information to myself until tomorrow night, leaving her little time to lecture me.

Excerpt B

Jason blinked as Nicki slapped her palms on the table with an unladylike growl and stood. Her voice quavered as she spoke. “¡Este hombre! ¡Dispense! Excuse me! Ron, Conner, will you excuse us for a minute?” Nicki glared at Jason, jerking one finger toward the door. “¡Ben a fuera de la casa!” She spun and marched outside, not bothering to interpret for him but clearly expecting him to follow.
Jason glanced from Ron to Conner. Both men, suddenly extremely interested in their pie, tried to keep straight faces. Tilly and Sawyer had both stopped playing with the blocks and were staring at the door, befuddled. Jason sipped his coffee, eyeing the low door Nicki had just slammed. He smirked at the fleeting thought that he hoped she wasn’t waiting for him on the other side with a loaded shotgun. Then, rising slowly, he removed his hat from its peg and eyed the three adult occupants of the room. Conner and Tilly grinned unrepentantly and humor danced in Ron’s eyes.
“A lot of help you three are,” Jason said, pushing his hat back onto his head. As he shut the door, he heard a burst of laughter from all three.
Nicki waited for him, arms folded against the chill, one small foot tapping the snow, her skirts blowing around her ankles.
Seeing she had not brought her jacket, Jason ducked back inside and spoke to Tilly. “Where’s her coat?”
Tilly indicated one hanging on a peg by the door and he took it down. Going back out, he held it out to her with a grin—a peace offering.
She snatched it from him with a glare and tossed it around her slender shoulders. “You have no idea what I am going through, Señor. If I leave this place, two good men lose their jobs and those who are trying to scare me off win.” She turned sparking black eyes on him. “And Conner and Tilly, they have eyes for each other. What will happen to them if I leave? I want to stay! I just don’t see a way. I am not giving up too easily! I have thought of every option, yet you think you can come here and, in one day, fix all my problems?”

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Item Reviewed: Cat Fight! Clash of the Leading Ladies Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Massaro