I’ll name Monday’s winner at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, welcome my an old friend of mine from Texas, Meg Benjamin! Here’s what she has to say about her latest release:
As I’ve said before, probably way too many times by now, I can’t listen to music while I write. Wish I could, but I can’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to listen to music while I’m doing other things, however. In fact, one of the things I really miss about Texas is the great music you hear all the time. Texas musicians just rock, and no matter where you live in the state, there’s always a road house around the bend somewhere. You know how there are some songs that just kind of wash over you, like audible warm water, and some songs that make you just want to, well, move? Texas musicians specialize in the latter.
Which brings me to my subject—James McMurtry’s song “Red Dress.” Now McMurtry is one of my all-time favorite Texas musicians, probably best known for his “Choctaw Bingo,” which is a real rave-up. But “Red Dress” is one of those songs that makes you want to do a little hip swinging. Every time I hear it, I end up swaying in my seat. It’s slow, sensuous, with a really heavy beat and oddly ominous lyrics (you get the feeling the singer is going to be ripping that red dress to shreds any minute). And it haunted my thoughts when I was writing Wedding Bell Blues. I wanted a scene where my heroine, a “good girl” named Janie Dupree, could cut loose and give some hints about the bad girl that lies beneath the surface. That gave me the idea for a scene where Janie and her friends danced to McMurtry’s “Red Dress” while the hero, Pete Toleffson, watched. I have to say, every time I worked on this scene, I started by playing “Red Dress” to get myself in the mood. Here’s an excerpt. If you want to judge how well the song fits the action, there’s always iTunes!
A series of guitar chords, rhythmically hypnotic, came over the sound system. Docia jumped to her feet. “Come on, ladies, let’s do it,” she called, heading for the concrete slab. Allie trooped behind her, as Janie turned to beckon to Bethany.
“Oh, Christ,” Cal murmured. “Here we go.”
“Here goes what?”
Cal shook his head. “You’ll see.”
The song had something to do with a red dress. Pete managed to get his brain to register that much. The singer seemed to be upset because his girlfriend was wearing a red dress he didn’t recognize and he figured she was playing around.
The slow, sensuous rhythm of the guitar and bass filled the air and the four women moved their bodies more or less in unison, like some cowgirl chorus line.
Pete glanced at Wonder and saw him swallow hard as he watched Allie.
Then he looked back at the women again.
Janie Dupree moved in a graceful swaying motion, her eyes closed, as if she were dancing for herself alone. She raised her arms above her head and moved her body back and forth, the most elegant bump and grind he’d ever seen.
Every muscle in his lower body went on high alert. “They do this a lot?” he managed to ask.
Cal’s gaze was locked on Docia. “Only when they’ve had a couple of margaritas. And when the right song comes on. My guess is Docia made sure the right song would come on this time.”
“I don’t know what you’ve got goin’ on…” the singer crooned. The four women gyrated harder.
Pete’s blood roared in his ears.
“Did we ever remember to send James McMurtry a thank-you note for that song?” Wonder croaked.
“Thank you note, nothing. Let’s bring him to town and buy him a beer. Or a case. Or maybe the whole Dew Drop.”
Back on the concrete slab, the women had joined hands and were shimmying back and forth as the singer asked his girlfriend again where she’d gotten her red dress.
Pete couldn’t take his eyes off Janie Dupree.
Docia was a seventies fashion model, all long hair and muscled thighs. Bethany Kronk was a good-natured country girl having the time of her life. Allie Maldonado was a Rubensesque vision of generous breasts and thighs. But Janie was like nothing he had a label for. Small and curvy, moving like a beam of light. Like something not exactly of this earth. Maybe that was what sylphs were supposed to look like.
Assuming that sylphs were the kind of creatures you wanted to jump, which he definitely did at this point.
She threw her head back and laughed from pure joy, stamping her feet and undulating her marvelous body to the final strains of the music.
Bethany and Allie applauded. “Go, Janie,” Docia yelled.
Pete discovered he was holding his breath. He exhaled in a single whoosh as the song drew to a close. “Interesting,” he croaked.
The women’s laughter fluttered over him like Luna moths as they walked back to the tables. Somewhere in the distance a dog barked as the music segued into something bland and mainstream. Olive’s cold nose pressed against the back of Pete’s hand.
He couldn’t take his gaze away from Janie Dupree.
She stood next to Otto Friedrich’s chair. “Dance with me?” she asked.
Friedrich pumped his fist in the air as someone made a touchdown on the television set. He glanced up at Janie in surprise. “Say again?”
“Dance with me.” Pete thought she narrowed her eyes.
Friedrich shrugged and got to his feet, towing Janie to the concrete slab.
Pete was suddenly absolutely certain that Otto hadn’t seen Janie dance. Either that or he had no functioning body parts below the waist, which was always a possibility, given his steroid-fueled muscles.
Otto pulled Janie into his arms and moved somewhat jerkily around the concrete slab. Pete shook his head. Did he even know what kind of woman he was dealing with? Apparently not.
The blurb for Wedding Bell Blues (now available in print):
Who knew you could find the love of your life at the wedding from hell…
Konigsburg, Book 2
Janie Dupree will do anything to make sure her best friend has the wedding of her dreams, even if it means relinquishing what every bridesmaid covets and never gets—the perfect maid-of-honor dress. Problem is, family drama as tangled as a clump of Texas prickly pear cactus threatens to send the skittish bride hopping aboard the elopement express.
Janie could use a hand, but the best man’s “help” is only making things worse.
Pete Toleffson just wants to get through his brother’s wedding and get back to his county attorney job in Des Moines. He never expected to be the engineer on a wedding train that’s derailing straight toward hell. Janie’s the kind of girl he’d like to get close to—but her self-induced role as “Miss Fix-It” is as infuriating as it is adorable.
If they can just fend off meddling parents, vindictive in-laws, spiteful ex-boyfriends, and a greyhound named Olive long enough to achieve matrimonial lift-off, maybe they can admit they’re head-over-heels in love.
Warning: Contains hot steamy sex, wedding-based cussing, drunken revelry, dart assaults, Momzillas, and the most beautiful bridesmaid dress ever.
Wedding Bell Blues Buy Link
By random number generator, the winner of the signed copy of Tempted by a Cowboy is…Sue Brandes! Sue, send me an email with your snail mail address.