Videos: Another hot hot HOT rugby player will waltz his way into your heart

My long-time readers will remember that last year I shared videos of the absolutely lovely Ben Cohen dancing on Strictly Come Dancing (the British version of Dancing With The Stars). Despite being profoundly deaf, he took on the challenge of learning how to dance ON NATIONAL TV to raise awareness of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which does amazing work to combat bullying and promote equality. Brave, brave, brave.

I was lucky enough to meet Ben a few weeks ago, and he is genuinely kind and funny. I’ve done some volunteering for his foundation, and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a charity or foundation to support. (You can now preorder his 2015 calendar in the U.S. and in the U.K. It has a centerfold and would make a perfect Christmas gift for your friends, sisters, mom, or your favorite rugby-loving romance novelist. Just sayin’.)

Should we remind ourselves of his dances? Why the hell not? Here he is doing one of my favorite routines.

That right there is a romance novelist’s DREAM COME TRUE.

This year there’s a new gorgeous rugby player strutting his stuff across the Strictly stage, which means…weekly videos!

Ladies and (perhaps one or two) gentlemen, meet Thom Evans.

Not hot enough for you? Try this one.

Be honest: How badly do you want to be Iveta in that video? I’d happily get into distress at that beach.

We all know I’m a sucker for a man with a nice accent, so let’s hear Thom speak. Here he is in his first week of practice, showing off his good humor and his ability to bite his tongue when a beautiful woman tells him not to deflate.

Thom Evans played for Glasgow Warriors and Scotland until a horrific neck injury ended his rugby career when he was just 24. I wanted to show you what Thom has overcome because I think it’s incredible. Warning: This interview from a few years ago shows the moment he got injured. It’s not bloody, but it made me feel sick — especially when they showed his mum in the audience. I can only imagine how she must’ve felt.

What an inspiration to suffer such a terrifying injury and come back to perform the physical feats that Strictly will require. Thom is now a model (because, seriously, wouldn’t you be?) I wonder if he would ever consider modeling for a rugby-themed romance novel cover. Hmmm…

Weirdly, when I had just sent in the final draft of Tempting the Player to my editor, I went to Pinterest and built a board for the book. I never have real people in mind as I’m writing, but after I finish writing I like to build pin boards that keep me inspired during the long wait between turning in the draft and finally seeing it published. Looking for someone who might resemble my hero, Matt Ogden, I typed in a highbrow search term (“super sexy rugby players”) and Thom Evans came up. (So did Ben Cohen, unsurprisingly.) I don’t remember ever watching Thom play, but as soon as I saw his photo I thought, “That’s Matt!”

Ready for more hotness? Grab a fan, ladies and gents.

Follow Kat Latham’s board Tempting the Player on Pinterest.

Thom, best of luck in Strictly. You seem very sweet in your interviews, and I hope you stay on my TV screen for a very long time.

Tempting The Player by Kat LathamFor those of you who are eagerly awaiting Tempting the Player, it’ll be here in just over a month! You can preorder it now, but how about I share a little teaser?

Here’s what you need to know. Matt Ogden is a professional rugby player whose career has hit the skids. Part of the problem is his debilitating fear of flying. Every time he has to fly for a match, he suffers a panic attack that leaves him worthless on the rugby pitch. Desperate to save his career, he asks his best friend, Libby Hart, to teach him how to fly. She’s a commercial airline pilot who’s been in love with Matt since they first met. They live in the same building and even share custody of a teacup Chihuahua, but Libby has had to settle for being just friends.

In this scene, Matt’s team has left him behind in London. Libby finds a way to console him (in the shower) and then takes him and their dog Princess to the airfield where her dad’s four-seater Piper Warrior plane waits for them.

Enjoy!

“Step one,” Libby said, “approach the plane.”

He held Princess’s crate in one hand and grabbed Libby’s hand with the other. He tried to muster a smile but feared it was more a gurn than a grin. “I can do this.”

“I know you can.” She squeezed his hand and led him to Piper, and he set Princess down. This time, Libby didn’t talk him through all of the preflight checks. They didn’t have time to make this a lesson. But he followed behind her and ran his hands over Piper, doing his own inspection as Libby did her much more thorough one.

When she was finished, she untied the plane and slid her arms around Matt’s waist. “This flight might be a little different.”

“You mean because it’s pitch-black out? Or because we’re going to cross the Irish Sea? Or the fact that my team have no idea I’m going to turn up—if I even manage to do this without passing out—and when I get there I’ll probably find out my contract’s being suspended earlier than I think?”

Her brows drew down. “Your contract?”

“It’s this piece of paper I signed saying I’ll play rugby in exchange for money.”

Libby tried to pinch his back, but her fingertips just slid over his suit jacket. “Damn it,” she muttered, “you’ve got, like, no body fat.”

“Cheers. I’ve been working out.”

She rolled her eyes. “Tell me more about your contract.”

“It’s up for renewal at the end of the season—if I make it that long.”

Squaring her shoulders, she made herself as big as a shortie could. “You’re going to make it that long. You’re getting in this plane with me, we’re flying to Ireland, and you’re going to talk to your coach. He can’t get rid of you just because you have a phobia. I don’t know anything about employment law, but I’m sure that’s against it.”

Matt wasn’t so sure, but he also wasn’t going to argue with her. “Then let’s get going.”

They climbed into the plane, strapped Princess’s carrier into the backseat and all too soon had clearance for takeoff. But before Libby advanced the throttle, she slid her hand over his thigh. Suddenly, he was right back in his shower with her kneeling between his feet, rubbing his quads as she gazed up at him and told him more with her eyes than she’d probably wanted to.

“You’re so tense,” she said. “This’ll sound stupid, but maybe it’ll help if you find a happy place during takeoff.”

“Hart, I’m tense because you’re stroking my leg. If you want me to find a happy place, keep on stroking.”

Preorder Tempting the Player now

Who’s watching Strictly Come Dancing? Do you have a favorite couple yet? Who’s looking forward to Tempting the Player? And how cute is Thom Evans?

It’s a happy Thanksgiving for the winner of Ben Cohen’s calendar

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the U.S.! I always get a bit sad about being abroad at Thanksgiving. I love it just as much as Christmas, since it’s a time to be with family without the worry of finding the right gift.

Ben Cohen 2014 calendarSpeaking of gifts, one of you won Ben Cohen’s 2014 calendar. Huzzah! Here’s the original post where I announced the giveaway. Even though it’s too late to enter, I recommend reading the post. There are some videos of lovely Ben Cohen talking about his StandUp Foundation – and videos of him dancing and working out. Seriously. If you need a break from your family today, lock yourself in a room with those videos. He’s a stunning example of humanity!

Right…who won the calendar? It’s…Helen L!

Congrats, Helen! Please email me your mailing address: romancingkatrina[at]gmail[dot]com

If you didn’t win, you can support Ben’s work fighting bullying and homophobia by buying the calendar, women’s T-shirts, men’s T-shirts, and body products guaranteed to make your man look like Ben. (Don’t hold me to that last promise.)

Reviewers, download Mine Under The Mistletoe now

If you have a book review website, you can download Mine Under The Mistletoe from NetGalley now.

The other holiday romance novellas published by Carina Press are also available for download.

Escape from your family for a while or take a break from shopping tomorrow to load up your ereader!

Pre-order Mine Under The Mistletoe

While you’re doing your holiday shopping, make sure you pre-order Mine Under The Mistletoe. It comes out a week from today, so it’ll be a special treat to help you relax after an exhausting Thanksgiving weekend!

Blog tour starts tomorrow!

Brighton Walsh, Christi Barth and I are doing a blog tour together to promote our Christmas novellas and the anthology we’re all in together. There will be a giveaway!

Come back tomorrow and I’ll publish the schedule.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving!

Mine Under The Mistletoe by Kat Latham

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat LathamThanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

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Read Chapter One

Buy it at: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | More buying options

Also available in All I’m Asking For: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology

All I'm Asking For: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology by Brighton Walsh, Kat Latham and Christi BarthThis Christmas, the producer of a small town holiday spectacular is swept away by a handsome Hollywood director. Being stranded in a snowstorm offers a couple a second chance at a future together. And an American in London helps a brooding Brit put the ghosts of Christmas past behind him.

Wherever you are, however you celebrate, this collection of three festive novellas will bring warmth to your holiday season.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

Tinsel My Heart by Christi Barth
Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh
Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | B&N | Goodreads | Audible | More options

Win Christmas romance novellas & see Ben Cohen’s very last Strictly dance

It was a sad night, friends. Ben Cohen was knocked out of Strictly Come Dancing. 🙁

Honest to God, I’m gobsmacked. I’m no dancer, but I thought his Charleston was great. It was definitely the most fun dance of the night.

So here it is…his last dance on Strictly. Pat L, this is particularly for you. A moment of silence, please, to appreciate the beauty, wonder and huge personality that is Ben Cohen.

My seven-month-old baby and I have been doing our own interpretation of Ben and Kristina’s dances every Monday. (I play Ben. When Doodle Bug played Ben during our American Smooth routine, she dropped me.) I’m sad there won’t be any new dances for us to do together. She laughs hysterically when I do bicep curls with her.

Ben, I said weeks ago that I hoped you did really well on Strictly but, more than that, I hoped StandUp Foundation did well at making the world a kinder, gentler place. Obviously that fight is nowhere near over, but you’ve done an incredible job at inspiring people and introducing your work to millions of new fans. I really hope you’re proud of what you’ve achieved. You should be.

I stand up with Ben CohenAs both a charity communications specialist and a romance novelist, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about people who show heroic qualities – people who are faced with unthinkable tragedy yet turn their own loss into action so that no one else has to face what they have. I don’t work for the StandUp Foundation (thought I’d love to volunteer, if they needed me), but I’m really impressed and inspired by their work, so I hope you’ll take a moment to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and on their website.

Okay, moving on…all is not lost because I’m still giving away Ben’s calendar, which benefits his foundation. Here’s the post you need to comment on. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday. Good luck!

Win Christmas romance novellas!

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat LathamMine Under The Mistletoe comes out in less than two weeks! Gah!

Five of my fellow authors and I are giving you a chance to win our novellas. Since our stories are set across the U.S. and (in my case) London, I put together this fun map quiz. Go answer the questions and you could win some steamy romance from me, Christi Barth, Brighton Walsh, Alison Packard, Kinley Cade or Shari Mikels!

I’ll choose the winners one week from today!

Hope you all have a fantabulous week!

Giveaway: Rugby player Ben Cohen will hang out at your house all year

I missed a very important date last Thursday. I mentioned it on Twitter, but I’d wanted to mark it on this blog, too. My excuse is that Thursday was my first day home after five days in Ethiopia and two days running workshops for the charity partners funded by the foundation I work for. I spent Thursday getting a week’s worth of baby cuddles and slobber kisses (from Doodle Bug, not my husband. Thankfully, he doesn’t slobber.) and blowing a thousand tummy raspberries (that was for my husband. :))

Last Thursday (November 14) was StandUp Day, a day with a tragic origin but a really important message. It was the anniversary of Ben Cohen’s father’s death. Peter Cohen had courageously tried to protect an employee in his nightclub who was being attacked. He was savagely beaten into a coma and later died.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that Ben went on to found the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation after he retired from rugby. His foundation funds organizations that are fighting bullying and homophobia, and he marked the anniversary of his father’s death by asking people worldwide to stand up against bullying.

He’s also taking part in Strictly Come Dancing to raise awareness of the issues surrounding bullying. Here’s his latest beautiful dance.

I mentioned in my first post about him that I’m awed by gentle men, but especially by big men for whom gentleness seems to come naturally. That dance – to one of my favorite songs – makes me want to weep.

It occurred to me that those of you who only know about Ben from this blog might never have heard him speak about his foundation. I found this video very moving, especially the part where he talks about what he wants for his daughters since, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the main thing I want for my own daughter is love.

Ben Cohen 2014 calendarI tried to think of what I could do to mark StandUp Day, even if I’m a few days late. Then I realized that this week is Anti-Bullying Week in the UK, so I’m really not that late at all.

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give away twelve months of Ben Cohen to someone who leaves a comment on this blog.

Sadly, I can’t give you the real Ben Cohen. But I can give you his calendar. Throughout 2014, Ben will hang out – in his skimpies – in your kitchen, living room, office or bedroom.

Don’t let the fully dressed cover fool you. I haven’t seen inside the calendar myself, but I have seen the making-of video. Here’s what the lucky winner is in store for.

My only question after watching that is: How do I change careers from charity work to spraybottle operator?

Here’s how you can win Ben Cohen’s calendar

I’ll choose one person who leaves a comment on this post to win the calendar. The winner will be announced on Thursday, November 28 – American Thanksgiving.

You can leave one comment a day, but please make it a thoughtful comment. Don’t spam me, please.

You can either leave a thoughtful comment of your own or answer these questions:

1. If you were to make a calendar, what would it show you doing? (My ideal calendar would show me in a different country every month. Realistically, though, I fear it would show me eating twelve kinds of cakes.)

2. What’s one thing you can do to make your world a kinder, gentler place? (I’ve noticed my tendency to call politicians bad names when I see them on TV. I’m trying to stop that because I want my daughter to know it’s never okay to call people names. We can disagree with policies and decisions, but I’m editing the personal insults out of my life.)

Good luck, and if Ben reads this, please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. I’m sure he’d be bursting with pride at how you’ve turned your personal tragedy into hope for millions of people.

Ben Cohen shakes his groove thang for equality

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Ben Cohen, a hugely successful English rugby player who’s taking part in the British TV show Strictly Come Dancing. He’s doing it to raise awareness of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which funds organizations that are fighting homophobia and bullying.

He’s also ridiculously cute. But that’s not important. Here’s his latest dance.

I know what you’re thinking as you watch that video. “Wow, what an amazing philanthropist. I want to rub my hands all over his firm stance on equality.”

Hey, you’re only human.

When this season of Strictly started, my husband and I were talking about what a shame it is that no one is paired up with a same-sex partner. Some of the male dancers and celebrities are openly gay (I don’t know about the women, but presumably some of them are too), yet they still dance with someone of the opposite sex.

I recently read an article that Ben Cohen felt the same way. In fact, even though he’s straight, he apparently wanted to be paired up with Robin Windsor, my favorite dancer on the show.

I know most of you are in the U.S. and might not be familiar with Robin Windsor, so let me tell you about him. Robin Windsor is built like a brick shithouse – but he’s not afraid to get a bit tearful when he and his partner are eliminated from the competition.

Big men with big hearts. They get me every time.

Because Robin’s so strong, he’s usually paired with celebrities who are average size or larger. If I were on Strictly, I would probably be paired with him.

But that’s not why I’m so fond of him. I love him because every year when he finds out who his partner will be, he looks like he can hardly believe his good luck. I can practically hear him thinking, “Score! *fist pump* No waif for me! Baby, you’re gonna learn how to dance!”

And because I can put myself in those women’s shoes (or Spanx, as the case may be), I can imagine how reassuring it would be to receive that look when standing next to a woman whose body will stop doing the cha-cha when the music stops, whereas my boobs and bum would keep on groovin’.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be worth a million, at least. Here’s Robin doing one of my favorite dance routines with his partner Lisa Riley last year. Make sure you watch all the way to the end. It’s brilliant.

I would looove to see Ben and Robin dance together, and not for some voyeuristic guy-on-guy fantasy, either (Really. Not at all. Seriously.). I’d love to see them dance together because the more we break down stereotypes, gender roles and unfounded fears surrounding homosexuality, the better our world will be.

Homophobia is pervasive and destructive. It creeps into even the most innocent conversations and touches people of all ages. My little girl, Doodle Bug (not her real name), is only six months old, but I’ve already been asked by two people how I’ll feel if she grows up to be gay.

Seriously? Why is this still a question?

Here’s my answer: I would love, LOVE for her to grow up and fall in love. More than that, I want her to fall in love with someone who loves and respects her in return. Whether that person’s plumbing is indoor or outdoor makes jack-all difference to me.

When I think about the qualities I hope she’ll find attractive in people – compassion, humor, intelligence – the nature of their genitals is nowhere on the list. I couldn’t care less if their genitals hang low, if they wobble to and fro, if they can be tied in a knot or indeed in a bow. Couldn’t. Care. Less.

I have friends whose husbands have slapped and punched them. I have friends whose husbands have told them they’re nothing. NOTHING. I have friends whose husbands coerced them into consenting to sex, which is not consent but rape. I have friends whose husbands have said, “I’ll kill you if you ever leave me.” I have friends who have been abused, defiled and threatened by the men who swore in front of their families and friends to love, honor and cherish them forever.

I have a friend who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. She was an aid worker and a rugby player. She was wickedly funny, brilliant, fearless and passionate. She’d just returned from a dangerous posting in Pakistan and was murdered in her own home by someone she’d once trusted.

Ask me again how I’ll feel if my baby falls in love with a woman who loves and respects her.

How many kids out there hear their parents asked that same stupid question but get a different answer? How many hear, “I’d be horrified if my child were gay.” How many are damaged by shame or by feeling like they’re alone in the way they feel?

While part of me knows that it wouldn’t be hugely groundbreaking to see two men dance together on TV, another part of me can’t recall seeing it happen when it wasn’t played for laughs (“Look at how uncomfortable the straight guy is, haha.”). And I can’t remember seeing two women dancing together when it wasn’t done for the titillation of straight men.

Me and Doodle Bug in LondonI want my daughter to grow up believing that everyone deserves respect. I want her to see healthy interactions between people who respect each other – whether they’re the same sex or not. I want her to watch Ben and Robin waltz together because I want her to grow up thinking that men dancing together is unremarkable.

Of course, she probably wouldn’t pay any attention. Right now her idea of a good time is being able to gum her own foot – or any foot close enough to divebomb mouth first. But if they waltzed barefoot, she’d be riveted.

You know what I really want? I want Doodle Bug to come to me in twenty years and say, “Mom/Mum, what was the big deal about Ben Cohen?” Then I can explain to her that it used to be remarkable for a straight athlete to stand up for equality, respect and basic human dignity – and we can both marvel at how far the world has come.

Right. I’ve never been too comfortable around horses, so I’m going to slide off the high one I’ve been on since I started writing this post. If you have time, go check out the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. Maybe support them by buying a T-shirt or making a donation. If you don’t have spare cash, then do something for free: tell your friends about them on Facebook or Twitter.

Do it to support a whole load of organizations that’re fighting bullying and homophobia. Do it for Ben’s chest. (There’s no connection, but look at that chest. Did you notice it? You might need another look. Go on, I’ll wait.)

Dancing in Ethiopia

I’m going to Ethiopia for work this weekend, so since I’ve been thinking about my coming trip to Ethiopia – and dancing – here’s a video I took when I went to Ethiopia last year. It’s in a dance club in Bahir Dar, a city along the Blue Nile.

Ethiopian dancing is so freaking cool that I think we should campaign to get it added to Strictly. I may not be able to watch Ben and Robin waltz together (such a shame!) but maybe they could stand next to each other and bust a few of these moves. (If you don’t have ten minutes to spare, fast forward to 7min 30sec and watch till the end. Those are the moves I want to see busted.)

In other news, I handed in the final edits for the second book in my London Legends rugby club series. Yay! Playing It Close comes out on April 14, and it stars Liam, the team’s fly half. I really, really enjoyed writing his book, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Also, don’t forget that my Christmas novella, Mine Under the Mistletoe, comes out on December 5th. You can pre-order it now.

In fact, I think I’ll give away a copy of Mine Under the Mistletoe to someone who leaves a comment on this blog post – a reward for reading all the way to the end! I’ll choose a winner when I’m back next week.

That’s it from me! I’m off to Ethiopia, where I’ll be training African journalists who cover HIV issues, helping them improve their writing, blogging and social media skills. One of my key messages is to keep their articles short and to the point. Ha!

Have a great week everyone!

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