cover reveal: Crossing Hearts

Hello faithful readers! The new Atlanta Skyline soccer romance series is moving along apace, with the manuscript for book #2 in my editor’s inbox and the final proofread for book #1 underway. Book #1 – now titled Crossing Hearts – hits digital shelves on 21 March. In the meantime, though, here’s a super sexy cover to whet your appetite!

crossinghearts_rebeccacrowley_final

New to the U.S. soccer scene, not to mention the English language, compact yet explosive Chilean soccer legend Rio Vidal is driven to define a role on his new team, Atlanta Skyline. But he must also adapt to a new culture—and accept that he can’t do it alone. His beautiful interpreter, Eva, has been his voice, his refuge. But she is becoming so much more. If only he could convince her he isn’t like the other men she’s worked with, players on—and off—the field.

As a translator for pro athletes, Eva Torres is used to dealing with self-interested super stars. But Rio seems different, and she’s blindsided when he locks eyes with her across a church pew. By now, after weeks of close contact with the endearing athlete with whom she shares a language, her thoughts are far from holy. She must remind herself flirtation is probably just his default style. Plus, she’s the only one he can really talk to. But when his ambition threatens to derail his career—and their deepening connection—they’ll both have to lay their hearts on the center line.

Now available for pre-order at Amazon!

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copa mundial 2014

Ah, the World Cup: full of patriotism and passion, dramas and controversies, the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat. For one month every four years the world comes together in celebration of this truly global, egalitarian sport.

I’ve been reflecting on the last few World Cups as we approach Sunday’s final, and I realized how perfectly memories of this tournament illustrate different stages of my life. There’s always one standout moment, and these are some of mine:

South Korea 2002: Ireland vs. Spain

I know I’m not the only football fan for whom this was a momentous match. 2002 was the first time I watched the World Cup, having only really gotten into football over the previous 18 months (a fledgling Manchester City fan in the Stuart Pearce era!). I had finished my first year at college in New York City, and was back in Kansas for the summer. It would be the last time I would spend more than a couple of weeks in my hometown, and was my last real goof-off student summer, as the following year I stayed in NYC and worked full-time. Underdog Ireland played with so much heart, and after spending the whole match 1-0 down, Robbie Keane scored in the 90th minute. I remember sitting bolt upright in my little desk chair, pulled right up to the TV in my bedroom, as the match progressed to penalties. Spain defeated Ireland 3-2, and in that instant I understood the tribal, soul-deep love that football seems to inspire in its fans. I was so invested, so devastated, yet so proud of Ireland’s effort. I was hooked.

Germany 2006: England vs. Ecuador

I supported England in the 2006 World Cup, during which I was living and working in New York City, having graduated from college a year earlier. The time difference meant many of the matches were on in the morning or at midday, and England vs. Ecuador started at around 10 AM on a Saturday. I remember this match not for Beckham’s winning goal, but for the venue where I watched it: 11th Street Pub in the East Village, a small, innocuous-looking bar that is in fact the meeting place for a rabid bunch of Liverpool FC fans. They showed the match on a big screen at the back and a half-and-half mix of Brits and Americans gathered around communal tables, making friends, sharing snacks, cheering and booing in unison. The atmosphere was awesome, and illustrated one of the great things about the World Cup: the way the sport brings together complete strangers, who for two hours have nothing more in common than the ferocious desire for a ball to find its way into a net.

South Africa 2010: Spain vs. Netherlands

I know, choosing a final seems like a cop-out, but it’s nonetheless the most memorable match, for me, of 2010. By this time I’d been living in England for almost three years, and experiencing a World Cup in Europe, where everyone lives and breathes football all year long, made a brilliant contrast to the relatively niche fandom one finds in the US. We were in the process of moving from Camden Town to Belsize Park during the tournament, and were lucky to have a slight overlap in our lease because, in typical British fashion, it took ages to get our internet up and running in the new flat. On the Sunday night my now-husband and I trekked back down to our empty Camden Town flat armed with a laptop so we could watch the match. We sat on the floor, cheering on Spain via an occasionally stuttering web broadcast. It was on a couple seconds’ delay so we would hear huge cheers or groans from the pub down the road before we saw the goal/foul/chance that prompted them. The match finished, Spain were the victors, and we took the Tube two stops back up to Belsize Park…where we rode the lift with a handful of depressed-looking Dutchmen in orange jerseys.

Brazil 2014: USA vs. Belgium

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In the 12 years I’ve been able to truly call myself a soccer fan, I’ve loved watching the sport evolve in my home country. I love seeing more American players in the Premier League, I love the constantly improving quality of MLS games, and I loved all the news reports of the fan support for USMNT this year (and tried to ignore the pang at being 9,000 miles away!). I won’t remember USA vs. Belgium because it’s the game that knocked the US out of the World Cup – I’ll remember it for the unparalleled commitment, ferocity, and determination with which USMNT played. I was emotionally prepared for it being the USA’s last match of the tournament, but I had no idea it would be so hard-won. Every year the USA creeps that little bit further through the stages, and I can’t wait to see them in a quarter-final in 2018.

I’m excited for the 2014 World Cup final on Sunday night, but I’m also a little sad that come Monday, this sporting whirlwind will be over for another four years. I’m going to miss tuning in almost every night and arbitrarily picking a country to root for, and I’m going to miss the morning-after dissection of attempts, chances, and dives. I’m even going to miss the crazy stories, like the Black Stars’ cash-filled plane and Suarez’s bite marks. But I suppose much of the romance of football is down to its fugaciousness: today you’re a champion, but tomorrow someone’ll be doing everything they can to take that title away. Winners and losers, dreams and failures, it really is the beautiful game.

Bunker-Play Blog Hop

I’m not going to lie to y’all – I’m not a huge fan of professional golf. It takes ages, winners and losers are often determined long before the game is finished, and how seriously can you take a sport where guys like Angel Cabrera can become champions?

Angel enjoys a performance-reducing drug.

I always groan when golf is the sport du jour on the gym TV screens…yet I don’t mind playing a bit of mini-golf or even hitting a few balls at a driving range. Just recently I found myself taking a couple of swings at a golf course here in Johannesburg, and with a cloudless blue sky and incredible highveld vistas I suddenly understood why so many people love to play.

Which brings me to that essential distinction: sports we love to watch vs. sports we love to play.

bunkerhop2I’m a fairly committed middle-distance runner, always training for the next 10K or half-marathon. A colleague recently asked whether I was interested in joining her harriers club, and as I analyzed what turned me off about the prospect I realized that what makes running my favorite activity is that it’s completely solitary. Every run comes down to me versus my personal goals, and having to make conversation or keep up with a group is the last thing I want.

On the flip side, one of my favorite sports to watch – but not play – is football (or soccer for my fellow North American natives). Weirdly, what I love most about it is the team dynamic! I find it fascinating that a player can be a superstar on one team yet become shockingly bad when he moves to the next, or the way the addition of a new player can transform the cohesion of a side. And let’s not forget those on-pitch moments that are practically soap operatic with thrown-up palms and angry pointing!

The Striker's Chance by Rebecca CrowleyHow do your preferences shake out when it comes to playing versus watching? Are there any sports you love to do but can’t bear to sit through on TV? Tell me which sports you love and loathe and why, and one lucky commenter will win a copy of THE STRIKER’S CHANCE, my Carina Press debut about a sexy soccer superstar who joins a failing team and meets his match in – and loses his heart to – the ambitious publicist assigned to revamp his image.

BUT WAIT! As part of the Bunker-Play Blog Hop you also have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway including some awesome swag from author Lily Malone whose latest, Fairway to Heaven, is available now! Follow the links below for the giveaway and to visit the other amazing bloggers, and be sure to check back here on January 15th to see whether THE STRIKER’S CHANCE will be winging its way to an eReader near you!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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