I am happy to be able to help Stephanie Cage celebrate the anniversary of her title, Perfect Partners. Stephanie was gracious enough to share some of her thoughts about her contemporary romance tale...and here are a few words from her...
Fred and Ginger. Vernon and Irene. Redmond and Lisa. I wonder how many of these perfect partnerships you recognise? The first is a pretty safe bet, but the second and third… Well, if you’re a huge fan of ballroom dance, you might recognise the names of Vernon and Irene Castle, the real-life couple whose story Fred and Ginger told so movingly in their 1939 biopic The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. But not many people know how much influence this film had on the third pairing on this list: Redmond Carrington and Lisa Darby, the dancing couple who star in my contemporary romance, Perfect Partners.
I didn’t realise it myself until I sat down the other day to watch some of the old movies clogging up my hard drive, and came across this gem of a weepie, which I watched for the first time in my early teens. I’ve loved every Fred and Ginger film I’ve ever watched, but it was this one, with its rags-to-riches fairy tale storyline and superbly glamorous costumes, which cemented the connection in my mind between dancing and romance. As Astaire’s character, vaudeville comedian-turned-dancer Vernon Castle, woos and tutors the would-be starlet Irene Foote, Irene gradually turns from a starstruck stage-school pupil to a charismatic star in her own right.
The film packs an unusually long time-frame into its 93 minutes, covering the years of their rising stardom in a series of innovative montages, including one fabulous one where the couple dance across a giant map of America, trailing other tiny dancing couples in their wake.
It’s difficult to discuss the ending without introducing a massive spoiler, so I’ll stick to the part of the film that most influenced me when I was writing Perfect Partners: Vernon and Irene’s early days of dancing in Paris. Here we see a young couple finding their way in the cutthroat world of showbiz, supported by friends, envied by rivals, and mentored by a successful older woman. Many of these elements are picked up in Redmond and Lisa’s story. I had great fun writing Jerry, Lisa’s gay ex-dancing partner, and Mark and Elaine, the dance school owners who are almost like parents to Lisa. But the element of The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle that made the most difference, both to my life and to my book, is the sheer infectious passion for dancing. Until I started watching films like this, I had no idea I would love to dance. If my book could do that for even one person, I’d be happy!
Perfect Partners (Crimson Romance)