Authors: Dakota Cassidy
Waltz This Way
My Way to Hell
“This amusing urban fantasy romance brings together a lead pair that fans of the saga will appreciate … Fans will enjoy that Marcella is back burning tamales and peanut butter as only a retired sexagenarian former demon could when she becomes a not so average woman in love.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“A hysterically touching sequel … Marcella is the kind of protagonist who gets readers rooting and keeping their fingers crossed for the next book … A quick page-turner for even a novice to Cassidy’s fast-paced fiction.”
Kiss & Hell
“A fun, lighthearted paranormal romance that will keep readers entertained. Ms. Cassidy fills the pages of her book with nonstop banter, ghostly activity, and steamy romance.”
“Delaney, with her amusing sarcastic asides, makes for an entertaining romantic fantasy with a wonderful mystery subplot … Readers will relish this lighthearted, jocular frolic.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“Cassidy has created a hilarious lead in Delaney Markham. Readers will run through all types of emotions while enjoying laugh-out-loud moments, desperate passion, wacky and fun characters, pop-culture references, and one intense mystery. The book’s charm is apparent from the first page, but the twisted mystery tangled throughout will keep the pages turning.”
The Accidental Human
“I highly enjoyed every moment of Dakota Cassidy’s The Accidental Human … A paranormal romance with a strong dose of humor.”
—Errant Dreams Reviews
“A delightful, at times droll, contemporary tale starring a decidedly human heroine … Dakota Cassidy provides a fitting, twisted ending to this amusingly warm urban romantic fantasy.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“The final member of Cassidy’s trio of decidedly offbeat friends faces her toughest challenge, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t humor to spare! With emotion, laughter, and some pathos, Cassidy serves up another winner!”
“A laugh-out-loud follow-up to The Accidental Werewolf, and it’s a winner … Ms. Cassidy is an up-and-comer in the world of paranormal romance.”
“An enjoyable, humorous satire that takes a bite out of the vampire romance subgenre … Fans will appreciate the nonstop hilarity.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
The Accidental Werewolf
“Cassidy, a prolific author of erotica, has ventured into MaryJanice Davidson territory with a humorous, sexy tale.”
“If Bridget Jones became a lycanthrope, she might be Marty. Fun and flirty humor is cleverly interspersed with dramatic mystery and action. It’s hard to know which character to love best, though: Keegan or Muffin, the toy poodle that steals more than one scene.”
—The Eternal Night
“A riot! Marty’s internal dialogue will have you howling, and her antics will keep the laughs coming. If you love paranormal with a comedic twist, you’ll love this book.”
“A lighthearted romp … [An] entertaining tale with an alpha twist.”
—Midwest Book Review
More praise for the novels of Dakota Cassidy
“The fictional equivalent of the little black dress— every reader should have one!”
“Serious, laugh-out-loud humor with heart, the kind of love story that leaves you rooting for the heroine, sighing for the hero, and looking for your own significant other at the same time.”
“Expect great things from Cassidy.”
“Very fun, sexy. Five stars!”
—Affaire de Coeur
“Dakota Cassidy is going on my must-read list!”
“If you’re looking for some steamy romance with something that will have you smiling, you have to read [Dakota Cassidy].”
—The Best Reviews
Berkley Sensation titles by Dakota Cassidy
YOU DROPPED A BLONDE ON ME
BURNING DOWN THE SPOUSE
WALTZ THIS WAY
KISS & HELL
MY WAY TO HELL
THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF
THE ACCIDENTAL HUMAN
Waltz This Way
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi— 110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2012 by Dakota Cassidy.
Cover illustration by Craig White.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / March 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Cassidy, Dakota.
Waltz this way / Dakota Cassidy.
ISBN 978-0-425-24550-7 (pbk.)
1. Women dancers
—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3603. A8685W35 2012
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First, a quick thank-you to Myriam Hernandez, who was the inspiration for the hero’s Aunt Myriam. You rock, sistah!
I’m an insane fan of Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, which inspired this particular book. But it wasn’t just the latest crop of TV shows that made me decide to create a heroine who’s a dancer.
I loved to spin in circles as a kid, and— much to my parent’s amazement— I got so good at it I stopped getting dizzy. It was my dad who found a way to put all that twirling to good use. It was also my dad who showed me the ways of Lawrence Welk and ballroom dancing.
There really was— in my young world, anyway— nothing like some Lawrence on PBS, and the sound of the words “And a one, and a two, and a three!” I loved ballroom dancing long before it was hip, and I followed that passion, along with my deep love of ballet, contemporary, and jazz for nearly thirteen years of my childhood and well into my teen years.
And I danced because my dad introduced me to the quiet, gentle beauty of a waltz; the sizzling excitement of a smoldering paso doble; the torrid passion of Swan Lake; and okay, the lure of floaty, swirly dresses with lots of dramatic makeup and hair that flowed down my back. He took me to endless dance classes when he was tired, and he never missed a performance. Not since I was four.
Oh, to fouetté and relevé in a pink tutu again without pulling a hip muscle. You know, that spinny thing you do while you’re in fourth position? I hope I’ve used that correctly in a sentence. My addiction to spinning didn’t necessarily require me to spell the spin.
So this is for my dad— miss you much down here.
Also note, I’ve obviously taken artistic license with the various titles of ballroom championships for fictional purposes. Just so all you die-hard ballroom fans and those who’ve practiced the sport don’t take offense.
Riverbend, New Jersey, is a fictional town made up in my pea brain.
The first rule of the ex-princess club? Suck. It. Up.
Melina Cherkasov smiled distractedly at the sound of her father’s voice, tucking her cell phone beneath her chin while she tried her key in the lock of her small dance studio for the second time that morning. If one more thing had to be replaced, her husband, Stan, would blow a nut. “Hi, Daddy. How are you feeling?”
His grunt, gruff and short, made her smile. “I’m fine. Jake’s fine. Still shits big, my Jake, the damn mutt. Everything’s fine here in Jersey. I wanna know how you’re feelin’, spaghetti and meatballs?”
For as long as she could remember, whenever her father referred to her, his pride and joy, he always used endearments that involved food. It had become a game that had made her giggle as a child, and still filled her heart with warmth as an adult. Joe Hodge was big, loud, and without censor or, as some might say, class, but he loved his little girl like no other.
Mel’s stiff fingers jammed the key into the lock again and twisted hard. “What do you mean how do I feel, Dad? I feel fine.” She gave a perplexed glance at the door and fought a curse word, catching a glimpse of herself in her studio’s glass window. She blew out a disgusted breath.
Her brown-black hair pulled back so severely in a tight ponytail made her need for a touch-up painfully evident in the early morning sunlight. And she noted her olive complexion was looking a little wan today sans makeup. Maybe that was because she hadn’t heard from her husband in three solid days, and she’d spent half the night trying to reach him.
“Where’s that sissy-pants husband of yours?” her father barked.
Mel winced, giving up on the door to lean against the brick front of the old building with a huff. There was no love lost between her husband, Stan, and her father. Stan was older than Mel by twenty-two years. Something her father had made no bones about disliking from the moment he’d been introduced to Stanislov Cherkasov when Mel was just nineteen. That he was an infamous Russian ballet choreographer slash ballroom aficionado and now a national celebrity as a judge on Dude, You Can Dance meant squat to Joe.
Joe had often grumbled about paying for all those expensive ballroom lessons that had led Mel to three junior championships, two U.S. titles, and the opportunity to pursue her dreams in the big city only for her to end up married to a man who was as unsightly as a wart on his ass.
A geriatric wart, at that.
Joe called Stan Twinkle Toes or, while he twirled around with a finger over his head and cackled, the Ballerina.
Often. Mostly directly in Stan’s face over some holiday dinner until Stan had refused to even consider getting on a plane to the East Coast to endure, in her husband’s words, “the stoopid American’s free turkey dinner.”
She chose to ignore the possibility that her father would go off on one of his tangents about men in tights and sought a cheery approach to her husband’s whereabouts instead. “Stan’s in—” She paused a moment. Where was Stan, and why couldn’t she get into her dance studio? “Oh! He’s in Wisconsin, Dad, auditioning contestants for the show.”