Why Sunday was the worst night in British TV history EVER

You guys, Thom Evans is off Strictly.

I know you can’t see my face, but it’s impossible for me to even type those words without getting teary-eyed. I’m not joking, either. I absolutely LOVED watching him dance. He was so natural, fun and joyful, and he and Iveta were brilliant together. But this weekend, in a massively huge shock that makes me think democracy should be repealed in Britain because people OBVIOUSLY can’t handle it, Thom Evans ended up in the dance-off against another fantastic dancer, even though there are people on the show who would struggle to walk straight.

I don’t get it. I seriously don’t get it. All I can think is that people decided he was safe so they didn’t vote for him. To comfort myself, I’ve put together this post of all of Thom’s dances. This is what I’ll be watching every Saturday night instead of Strictly (not that I’m obsessive or anything).

Friends, I hope you’ll watch these and tell Thom which is your favorite. (A girl can dream about Thom Evans reading her blog, right?) Thom, if you are reading this, you should have gotten to the final. And I’m so sorry you didn’t. Please give yourself a big, comforting hug from me. (A really long hug, maybe with grabby hands.)

Here he is, ladies and gentlemen — the remarkable Thom Evans.

I’m not sure I can choose a favorite. Can you? My daughter, who turned 18 months today, had a brilliant time dancing to the videos, though. And she thought his chest shimmies to Hot, Hot, Hot were HYSTERICAL. I’m still holding out hope that Thom will star in the show that Quinn suggested, Rugby: The Musical.

In other news, I have two books coming out in less than two weeks. Gah! This must explain why my skin looks like a 14-year-old’s. (You’re no longer reading, right Thom?) Here’s more info about each of the books. I hope you love reading them as much as I loved writing them. (They were probably my two favorite books to write so far. So much sexiness and so much fun.)

Tempting the Player
London Legends #3

Tempting The Player by Kat LathamBest friends make the best lovers.

Libby Hart and Matt Ogden are perfect for each other—as friends. They’ve known each other for ages. They act as each other’s plus-ones. They even share custody of a dog. And if there’s always been a little spark between them, so what? It’s never been worth jeopardizing their friendship.

Professional rugby player Matt is fighting for a starter position with the London Legends—and that’s not the only thing he’s fighting. A crippling fear of flying means he’s struggling to get his career off the ground. He has no time for a relationship, even if Libby does make him ache. As an airline pilot, Libby’s looking for a stay-at-home husband so she can have a family without sacrificing her high-flying career. Matt’s certainly not that man.

But just because they don’t have a future together doesn’t mean they can’t have a right now. When Matt asks Libby for help overcoming his fear, they agree to take a vacation from their platonic relationship—whenever they fly together, they can have sex. It’s the perfect way to resolve all that built-up tension. As long as they can avoid getting a little too comfortable…
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Unwrapping Her Perfect Match
London Legends #3.5

Unwrapping Her Perfect Match’Twas a week before Christmas, and at the auction house…

At six foot one, Gwen Chambers has felt like a giant her whole life. She’s a calm, capable nurse saving lives in a busy London hospital, but healthy men give her heart palpitations. When larger-than-life rugby player “Little” John Sheldon convinces her to bid on him in his team’s fundraising auction, she discovers how pleasurable heart palpitations can be.

A rugby player was stirring, with desire no one could douse…

John has wanted Gwen since he first saw her, but when he’s injured in a match just before Christmas he suddenly needs her too. Not only can the sexy nurse help him recover, but she might be able to help him look after his daughter—a shy ten-year-old who speaks only French.

But will it be a Happy Christmas for all, and for all a good night?

From decorating the Christmas tree to ice skating at the Tower of London, Gwen helps father and daughter open up and bond with each other—and she bonds right along with them. But when John’s agent calls with a life-changing offer, Gwen has to decide how far she’s willing to go for her perfect match. Will their first Noël also be their last?

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Video: Rugby star Thom Evans channels Gene Kelly & makes me swoon

I feel like I need to start this post with a little confession. It’s something no one knows — not even my husband. I’ve had a crush on Gene Kelly ever since I saw Singin’ In The Rain on the big screen in L.A. when I was in college.

It’s a totally innocent crush. Sometimes I imagine what it would’ve been like to dance with him — but I have to picture myself being a little kid and dancing with him because my dance moves are so crap that they’d only look cute if I were about four years old.

So how excited was I this weekend when Thom Evans did his best Gene Kelly impersonation while doing the Charleston to “New York, New York” from On the Town?

Answer: VERY.

The boy’s got rhythm! He’s got music! And he’s got this gal rooting for him. Who could ask for anything more?

I watched this dance right after coming home from seeing Gone Girl with my husband. Without giving anything away, it’s not the cheeriest film. This dance lifted my spirits immensely. Hope it does the same for your Monday morning.

Here’s an interview with Thom from the start of Strictly, where he admits loving musicals. Seriously, I don’t know why he would have to hide that as a rugby player. Don’t most rugby training sessions start with a stirring rendition of “Good Morning” and a choreographed dance around the changing room?

Or maybe that’s just my fantasy again.

Happy Monday, everyone! Are you enjoying the Strictly Come Dancing videos?

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?

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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