Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friday's special is...The Desert Prince's Proposal

The Desert Prince's Proposal by Nicola Marsh


Click here to order from Amazon

Nicola's web site and blog

It's Friday, so it's time to move Downunder with Shona. This Friday I'm delighted because my author, Nicola Marsh, also lives in Australia.

Let me tell you a little about Nicola. She worked as a physio, before finally giving in to her lifelong urge to write in 2001. Her was first book was accepted for publication in 2003 and won the CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Harlequin Romance 2004.

After that, there was no stopping her and Nicola now writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance and Modern Heat/Presents series, has published 17 books and sold over a million copies worldwide.

The excerpt below comes from 'The Desert Prince's Proposal', Nicola's latest novel, published in the UK and the US in July, and coming out in Australia in August.

Read the excerpt and answer the three questions below for your chance to win a copy of 'The Desert Prince's Proposal' - hot off the press in so many ways...

***

"Welcome to the prince's private dining room." Hakim opened the door with a flourish to Bria's tentative knock. "He is waiting for you."

"Thanks," she said, her tummy tumbling with nervous anticipation as she stepped into a room taken straight from Arabian Nights.

"Enjoy your meal."

Hakim bowed and stepped out of the room, closing the door softly, leaving her trying not to gawk at her surroundings.

Everything was done in the palest shades of green, from the ice mint walls to the tiny mosaic tiles framing the traditional dome shaped windows, the low-lying sofas to the marble tiles. It had a cooling affect, like stepping into the lushest rainforest and she moved further into the room, tilting her head to absorb the impact of the ceiling.

"Beautiful."

Her head snapped back, barely giving her enough time to absorb the hand-painted mural of a dusk sky with a sprinkling of early stars scattered like diamonds across mauve silk.

However, Sam wasn't talking about the ceiling.

She could see it in every tense line of his body, from his rigid shoulders to his clenched fists, in the admiration shining clearly from his eyes and she smiled, empowered by the thought she could set him on edge this much.

"This room is beautiful," she said, wondering if he'd pick her up on the clarification.

He inclined his head as if agreeing with her though his mesmerising coal-black eyes never left her face for an instant as he crossed the room to stand in front of her.

"You are right. The room is beautiful. You are exquisite."

Her heart fluttered like a caged bird as he picked up her hand and placed a barely-there kiss on the back of it.

The kiss was nothing like the heated, erotic kiss he'd pressed to her palm at the market yesterday but the mere touch of his lips anywhere near her skin set off a chain reaction within her body as nerve endings hotwired, her skin tingled and her pulse skittered out of control.

"Did you choose that outfit especially for me?"

"I dress for myself, not to impress any man."

His mouth kicked up in a cynical smile that said he didn't believe her for a second.

"But I'm not just any man, am I?"

***

Questions
1) What is Bria's reply to Sam?
2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?
3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

107 comments:

Shona Snowden said...

Just a minute while I dim the lights...light a few candles...mmm, scented...now, let's cuddle up and talk romance...

Roast Master Shona

Renee Knowles said...

Loved the excerpt, Nicola! Sounds like a fabulous read :)

Renee
www.reneeknowles.com

Phoenix said...

Ooh, looks like we'll be turning the heat up on this one ... and I don't mean on the grill.

17 books in 5 years, huh? When does Nicola get any time for any romance of her own???

--Sous Chef Phoenix

Ashley Ladd said...

Great excerpt. It didn't seem like a roast though. Nothing to really roast, I imagine.

ChrisEldin said...

LOL at Phoenix!

Have you been to her site? I think there's time...
;*)

Nicola Marsh said...

Oooooh...candles Shona...very romantic ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

Thanks Renee!

Nicola Marsh said...

That's a question hubby asks all the time, Phoenix ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

I'm sure the gang here will think of something, Ashley :)

I have a feeling they're just getting warmed up...

Nicola Marsh said...

Good one, Chris :)

One of the results of all that 'research' is crawling around at my feet as we speak ;)

Chumplet said...

Welcome, Nicola! I suppose it's already tomorrow in your neck of the woods.

A bit of trivia for you -- the newspaper I work for and Harlequin are both owned by the same company! I'm still trying to figure out how to sneak a manuscript in through the side door (heh heh...)

I'll give this a shot:

1) What is Bria's reply to Sam?

Well, if I was Bria, I'd say, "You give yourself too much credit."

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?

A leafy bower with sunshine peeking through.

3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

Just a wild guess, but perhaps during a picnic in the Outback?

Nicola Marsh said...

Wow Chumplet,

with those romantic answers to 2 & 3, you should definitely be writing for Harlequin :)

Nicola Marsh said...

And yeah, it's 1.40pm here on Friday now...which means I'll be dashing off in 20 minutes to pick up kinder kid.

Ah...the glamorous life of an author :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Right,
I'm ducking out of the oven while the going's good.
Will be back in a few hours (when you guys will probably all be asleep!)

See you later!

Charles Gramlich said...

1) What is Bria's reply to Sam?

Answer: And I'm not just any woman.

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?

Answer, an aphrodisiac symbol.

3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

In the library, with a rope.

Nicola Marsh said...

An aphrodisiac symbol, Charles?

I like how your mind works!

Eric said...

Wow Nicola from down under, how interesting. A true story, some months ago I received a surprise parcel. A lovely lady posted it. I suspect the objective was to sensitize me towards the path leading to an all-caring new age guy. The parcel actually contained four Nicola Marsh novels and a pen. I clicked the pen twice and dreamed a little then put it down where it remains today. I read the novels, and fell in love with fine literature and quality writing. (Thank you. I’m a fan.)


1) I’m thinking Bria raised an eyebrow and smothered her cheeky smile by offered a light kiss to the tip of her own finger.

2) Something conservative and unusual. Probably and airbrush of the Collins street trees by night (or the milky way)

3) I’m sure he decided at the football. As for timing, he knows his stuff, the tramcar restaurant (at least).

Eric

Nicola Marsh said...

Eric,
I'm blushing profusely.

I think you could rival Sam, the desert prince, for total smoothness :)

(And can I say the visual of Collins Street trees at night is suberb? Brilliant!)

Shona Snowden said...

It's early evening Friday downunder, and I just woke from an extended nap on the sofa (I wasn't joking at the end of the last thread when I said I was sick), ready to warm up with a little romance.

And it's here! After Phoenix and Chris got a little cheeky, in came a man to raise the tone. Eric, that is such a romantic story. Even though the lady is only peripheral – I'm assuming you only fell in love with the books and not with her. It's lovely to hear from a man who likes to read romance.

Nicola, do you have many male readers?

Nicola Marsh said...

Hope you feel better after the nap, Shona.

I have a few males who subscribe to my newsletter so I probably do have a few clever male readers :)

Shona Snowden said...

LOL, 'clever'!

I wonder if they would all admit to being romance readers? I know some romance writers are men, but many use pseudonyms. I think there is still an expectation that romance readers, and writers, should be women.

Nicola Marsh said...

M&B recently launched in India and interestingly, market research shows that many men there read romances, for the tips on how to woo women!

Shona Snowden said...

Ever practical males using M&B as a handbook!

Liz Fielding said...

Terrific excerpt, Nic. The tbr pile just gets higher and higher...

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Nic,
Hope this finds you well.Great excerpt. Book No 17, wow, you have accomplished that so quickly, and you've got your three gorgeous men to look after as well. How do you do it.
Regards
Margaret

Nicola Marsh said...

Some guys could do worse than using M&B as a handbook ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

Thanks Liz.

I know what you mean. My TBR pile is staggering now...need more hours in the day, preferably several uninterrupted to read.

A gal can always dream, right? ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

Hi Margaret!

Want to know my secret?

No sleep ;)
Speaking of which, bub down, one other little man to go...the big guy can take himself off to bed :)

Ashlyn Chase said...

1) What is Bria's reply to Sam?

I think it's time for a compliment. After all, she's his guest. I'd say, "Your right about that."

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?

A mirror with a perfect version of herself. (At least that's what I'd paint above my bed! LOL)

3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

I'll say at a busy street corner, on bended knee. Total surprise. (My friend's proposal came that way and I though it was just the most romantic thing ever.)

Nicola Marsh said...

Ashlyn,
unfortunately, Bria's not that nice considering Sam's 'proposal' before this :)

Mirror, huh? Kinky...

Surprise proposal is romantic...my prince strung me along!

ChrisEldin said...

It's quite fun to wake up to a party in full swing. It feels like you all have been up all night!

And by the way, Nicola---checking our stats, seems you have all of Australia following you. Hmmm....

:-)

Nicola Marsh said...

LOL Chris.

I did mention it to just a 'few' people...on a few loops...and my blog...

Didn't know how hot it was going to get in the oven, thought I might need a few gentle oven mitts :)

Stephen Parrish said...

Who let all the Australians in? There goes the neighborhood!

About men reading romance novels: at least one source estimates 22 percent of romance readers are male.

Quite a smaller percentage admit it.

Nicola Marsh said...

Just wait till we start up the 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi' chant, Stephen. That'll really shake up your neighbourhood!

22% is impressive. I chuckled when the article mentioned some of them subscribe to book clubs in their wives' names to hide their 'secret' from the mailman.

Come on, guys.
Say it loud, say it proud.
"I READ ROMANCE!"

Nicola Marsh said...

Like Eric, my hero :)

Stephen Parrish said...

Come on, guys.
Say it loud, say it proud.


And admit to things we do when we're alone? Never!

Nicola Marsh said...

Ah...secret men's business...

laughingwolf said...

1. bria: no, sam... you're just another jerk from some backwater kingdom, despite your fab bod and ill-begotten gazillions of dollars! :O lol

2. nicola would paint her own version of hell on earth, so as to stop looking up there... and rather concentrate on her own 'prince'! ;)

3. she was proposed to in the wilds of borneo, during a week-long downpour, when, down on both knees in foot-deep water, he said the totally unexpected: marry me, and let me take you away from all this.... :O hee hee

Eric said...

Shona,

The lady didn’t love me. She was being kind and grows by sharing what she represents. I didn’t love her. I was being polite and supporting how she cares.

Lots of guys are involved in romance, it should come as no surprise many extend their interest to taking moments from the printed page.

I have a question. Do you think men and women can be friends? (or is the conflict of a romance novel for real)

Eric

ChrisEldin said...

Good morning again!

Just wanted to drop a reminder saying that Friday roasts are special.
:-)

We'll be open until 9am Saturday, Eastern US time.

Eric, sounds like your last post is the beginning of a novel-- The lady didn't love me

Nicola Marsh said...

Laughing wolf,
you're good!

Love that line for Bria :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Tough question, Eric.

Depends so much on circumstances, the people involved, etc...

I reckon guys and gals can be just friends but honestly? I reckon one party on either side usually tends to have a little 'thing' for the other.
IMHO :)

Nicola Marsh said...

That's great, Chris, because I'll be heading off to bed soon.

These revisions are doing my head in, bub just woke and once he's back to sleep, I think that's my cue for a date with the Sandman...

Nicola Marsh said...

Right, heading towards midnight here so I'll pop out of the oven and be back in about 8 hours.

Keep those roasting forks nice and sharp :)

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

I love the what happens next question. This is better than most braintsorming sessions... ill-begotten gazillions of dollars is my fave thus far.

laughingwolf said...

thx nic, been around the block... a bit ;) lol

ChrisEldin said...

Keep the comments coming in!

The U.S. chefs are just waking up...

:-)

laughingwolf said...

jenna, thank you... i think! :O lol

mlh said...

I'm not very good with answering romantic questions, but I'll certainly give it a shot.

1) What is Bria's reply to Sam?

"No, but then again, why would I show up for any ordinary man?

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?

Strawberries dipped in chocolate.

3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

Out on the balocany as he threatened to jump off if she said no. Then a bat flew by and scared him back into the house as she fell down laughing.

jason evans said...

Morning, Nicola!

Love the pacing of your excerpt. It's got such an engine behind it.

One question about the coal eyes, though. Given the global warming sensitivity these days, would you consider perhaps reducing your story's carbon footprint by talking about solar panel eyes in the future?

*As he plops half a bag more charcoal briquettes on the grill*

--Sous Chef Jason

Sandy said...

Hey, Sweet Nicola, sorry I'm late to the roast. I enjoyed your excerpt very much.

Sandy

Precie said...

Oh, dear. My glasses are fogging. Ahem.

Questions
1) What is Bria's reply to Sam?

"Men never think they are."

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?

Rainbows.

3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

Hmm. Just when she'd had enough of him stringing her along and opened the door to walk out for good, she was met by a violinist in a tuxedo. Followed immediately by the delivery of bushels of gardenias. Then, of course, hubby-to-be did the whole down-on-one-knee proposal. :)

Gina said...

Hi Nicola, the net was down a while by me so l am a bit late. I"ll take a try at this

1) What is Bria's reply to Sam
"you really have to work on being more sensetive"

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?
Hearts and roses

3)Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?
A picture perfect lake, with just the two of them, walking hand in hand, then he drops to his knees and proposes while professing his love.

Sarah Hina said...

Great excerpt, Nicola! Yum...

1) "Prove it."

2) Something to shoot for. Like the moon.

3) In the parking lot of a fancy restaurant. Because he couldn't wait until they got inside.

Nicola Marsh said...

'Morning all.

A quick pop in before the troops start demanding brekkie.

Waving to Jenna :)

Nicola Marsh said...

MLH,

you're good. Very good :)

Nicola Marsh said...

ROTFL Jason :)

Are you wearing green and hessian at the moment by any chance? ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

Never too late, Sandy.

I'm still here.

These good folks are going to have a hard time getting rid of me.
They've all been too kind so far!

And here I was thinking I'd be overdone!!!

Nicola Marsh said...

Precie,
we can't have foggy glasses.

May as well take them off, get comfortable and hold the book nice and close to your face and really get steamed up ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

A true romantic, Gina :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Thanks Sarah :)

I've actually used the line 'prove it' by a heroine out next March is 'Two Weeks in the Magnate's Bed'. The hero really deserved it and boy, does he set about 'proving it'.

No prizes for guessing what that book's about ;)

Phoenix said...

So, Nicola, having published on multiple continents, do you have any observations about your audiences in the different countries? Do, say, Americans have more of a taste for the bold and spicy, Brits for fire and feist, and Aussies for sugar and sweetness? Or are we all, after all, dining at the same buffet?

Nicola Marsh said...

Great question, Phoenix!

Basically, readers all over the world are dining from the same buffet.

If they fancy hot, they go for the 'spicier' romance series (like Harlequin Modern Heat I also write for) or if they prefer sweeter, they stick with Harlequin Romance.

That's the beauty of Harlequin. With their many series, they cater for all tastes (suspense, paranormal, medical, family drama, hot stuff, erotica...you name it, they do it!)

Shona Snowden said...

Um, morning all. Ten thirty am here, almost lunch time. Applied the whisky cure last night. Not cured yet. Say no more.

Some great answers here; love the way you are all interpreting 'what happens next'!

I'd like to go back to the 'can men and women be friends' question that Eric set, and my honest answer is 'yes, although it becomes difficult once either is married'. That's personal experience. I still have male friends, but the closeness I had with them pre-marriage is gone. And when I make new male friends the relationship is less deep than before. A little sad, but I think it is just the dynamics of life.

laughingwolf said...

so true, shona... those gold bands alter all kinds of relationships

ChrisEldin said...

Morning to the Aussies!

I'd like to know what kind of male character *wouldn't* be found in these romance stories.

A "Honey, grab me a beer and scrub my feet" guy wouldn't be, I imagine.
heh heh

Nicola Marsh said...

Shona,

darn the whiskey didn't cure you...but bet you felt good for a while there :)

Nicola Marsh said...

And good point about the gold bands.

Eric said...

Shona, --- We agree a lot. Men and women inter-reaction is quite dynamic (over time), changing expectation dramatically with age and a variety of status shifts. When I read the likes of Nicola (or perform tricks around the house), my mind overflows with perception, a hunting search of observation for reasons. I still don’t know whether I truly vacuum to simply clean, or create harmony.

A partner can draw all kind of emotions across such a wide spectrum. We’d never tolerate such an ambivalent ride from a friend.

Which leaves me wondering if the dynamics of gender division is covered well in (romance) literature. I’m not at all sure it is.

Thank you for the chat. --- Eric

Nicola Marsh said...

Chris,

I tell my husband this.

"I write these novels for women who are married to guys like you."

LOL

Nicola Marsh said...

Have I shattered your Prince Charming illusion now? ;)

Shona Snowden said...

Aha. I think it is true that women are often similar to those in romance novels, but I'm not so sure that the same is always true of the men. They are, I think, what we would like them to be!

Or is that always true?

Let's go back to India for a moment. All the Indian men I have met have been extremely polite - a little old-fashioned in some ways, but always polite. It's hard to imagine many of them behaving in the 'alpha male' way of many romantic heroes. I hope that they read their M&B only to learn about women - and don't think that the only way for a man to behave is with square-jawed strength! Although it might be nice if the 'scrub my feet and grab me a beer' kind of a guy realized that there is another kind of man to be...

Shona Snowden said...

A partner can draw all kind of emotions across such a wide spectrum. We’d never tolerate such an ambivalent ride from a friend.

Very well put, Eric. You can get away from friends, but you can't get away from family. Which is what that gold band symbolises - the creation, the foundation, of a family.

Romance literature usually (I know I'm being a bit sweeping here) covers the lead up to that point. After that, I think relationships become both deeper and more difficult to handle, and to write about. It's also not always a pleasure to read. So it's a whole other type of literature, I think. I'm not sure that it has a name. Kitchen sink dramas/Aga sagas don't do it, I don't think. I suppose it's covered by 'contemporary literature', but so are many other things, so that doesn't tell us much.

This may be the fever talking, so correct me, somebody, if you can!

Nicola Marsh said...

Interesting discussion, Shona.

I think many modern romance novels tend to feature more beta than alpha heroes.
The kind of men who are strong yet not afraid of their metro side either.

I read romance (all genres in fact) for the escapist quality, to be swept away into another world and while some guys may pick up tips from romance novels, I think they're smart enough to know the difference between escapism and what a real woman would want. :)

Nicola Marsh said...

And you're spot on with your observation that romance covers the lead up to the 'gold band'.

Many of us know from personal experience that the every day stuff of relationships isn't quite as glamorous as the lead up ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

Forgot to say that genres like mommy-lit and hen-lit (hate that term!) are becoming more popular these days, so I guess we also like to read about the reality/trials and tribulations of every day life too :)

Eric said...

Nicola (and Shona) I don't think the women in romance are any more realistic that the guys. I don't think people want ordinary. I think they want a little release. --- But then what would I know. ---- Eric :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Good point, Eric.

I guess the key is the escapism. While we sympathise with a 'real' heroine and all her associated problems, it's nice to pick up a book and feel we're as gorgeous as the almost perfect heroine, that the hero can't help but sweep us off our feet. :)

Robyn Grady said...

Nic, what a fabulous excerpt!! I'm in love with your desert prince already.

Robbie

Nicola Marsh said...

Thanks Robbie,
He's my first desert prince so I have a soft spot for him :)

Shona Snowden said...

Re. realism: there does seem to be a higher proportion of red-headed girls in romantic literature than in real life!

Yes, I think romance is all about escapism. Much of the entire act of reading fiction is about placing yourself in another world. The difference is that in the case of romance, it's a world, meaning feelings, that most people would actually like to experience.

Wouldn't you rather find yourself in the middle of a romance, than a horror story or a police procedural (especially if you were the victim)?

Nicola Marsh said...

Considering the heroine I'm currently revising is on a cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific with a very charming, very sexy guy, yeah, I think I'd like to be there :)

laughingwolf said...

i'll always have a soft spot for redheaded women, since my first 'love' was one... my mother! :O

Nicola Marsh said...

Awwww.... :)

Serena said...

Well lucky me not only knows Nic very well, but I've also read The Desert Prince's Proposal - see it's not what you know....

I won't enter the comp (already have my copy!!) but I can still play:

2) If Nicola were to paint something on the ceiling above her bed, what would it be?

Hmmm a lifesize portrait on Rodrigo Santoro?? Or maybe of her very own gorgeous Dark Hero.

3) Where and how did Nicola's own Prince propose to her?

Maybe in the back seat of his ute?? (LOL FYI for the uninitiated - Utes don't have a back seat!)

Hugs
Serena

Nicola Marsh said...

Rodrigo, huh, Serena?
Ah...you know me too well :)

Phoenix said...

Wow, Nicola, you're up late! Because we don't want Nicola trying to choose a winner when she's half-asleep (although that may actually be the best way to choose our winners!), we'll delay posting the winner by a few hours. Oh, the anticipation! Please check back around 5:00 PM ET and see if Shona and Nicola are awake yet ;o).

Nicola Marsh said...

No rest for the wicked, Phoenix!

Actually, it's these wicked characters that are keeping me up burning the midnight oil.
Revisions and copy edits wait for no woman :)

ChrisEldin said...

Wow! Fascinating discussion!
And I have never heard of mommy-lit. Hmmm.... not sure if I'd buy something that closely mirrors my own life. But there you go, something for everybody out there.

Anticipation. It's a good word. Let's think about its layers as we wait for Nicola to announce the winner. Anytime. Now, or later.

heh heh

Just kidding folks! Please keep checking! There is the time difference...

:-)

Nicola Marsh said...

Yep, head definitely too fuzzy to pick a winner now...eyelids drooping...time to call it a night.

Will be back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning :)

laughingwolf said...

have a good rest, nic....

Nicola Marsh said...

Right, I'm back.

'Morning all!

Without further ado, the winner of The Desert Prince's Proposal is...

Laughing wolf!

I'm still chuckling over your version of Bria's response to Sam :)

So that's me done.
Basted, roasted, toasted.

Thanks for having me, it's been a blast!

laughingwolf said...

nicola, thank you!

i'm so thrilled, you would not believe me!

what more can i say?

i'm walking on air!

laughingwolf said...

if you give me your email, i can send you my snail mail address

i'm: sinner1man@gmail.com

Chumplet said...

Hooray for LW! Enjoy the book and thanks, Nicola for joining us!

laughingwolf said...

thank you, sandra... i'm sure i'll enjoy it! :)

ChrisEldin said...

Nicola,
Thanks so much!!! You've been a wonderful guest!

I'll be looking for your books in the stores, now that I'm acquainted with this genre. Best of luck with sales!

Congratulations to LW!! I'm very very happy for you!

And thanks to everyone who stopped by our blog. We hope to keep you coming back for more. Your support keeps us going.

:-)

laughingwolf said...

thx chris... i'm still floating around ;)

Shona Snowden said...

Ahem, back a bit late to the party. Thank you so much Nicola, I hope you enjoyed the roast. All that remains is to wipe the gravy off the plate...

Congratulations, Laughing Wolf!

And I'd also like to thank Eric for his input into the discussions as well as his support for men who read romance and aren't ashamed to admit it!

laughingwolf said...

thx shona, still elated... but am off to bed, going on 1:30am halifax, nova scotia time

see you all later! :)

Serena said...

Congrats Laughing Wolf...OK Nic, so what are the answers to 2 and 3????


Hugs
Serena
xx

laughingwolf said...

serena, thank you :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Shall be in touch, Laughing Wolf :)

And Chris, new fans always appreciated :)

As for answers to questions, Serena...hmm, now that would be telling!!! ;)

laughingwolf said...

got your email, nic... thank you

mlh said...

Congratulations, Laughing Wolf!

laughingwolf said...

thank you, mlh :)

laughingwolf said...

nic sent me my signed copy [thx], i read it a few days ago, and it's a keeper!