My fifth Konigsburg book, Brand New Me, (released this week by Samhain) contains my very first makeover scene. My heroine, Deirdre Brandenburg, comes to Konigsburg hoping to open a coffee roaster, but her billionaire daddy has cut off her bank accounts and charge cards in a fit of pique over her quitting her job in his company. To pay the rent, Deirdre takes a job as a barmaid at the Faro tavern (which happens to be next door to her coffee roaster location and also happens to be owned by my hero, Tom Ames). But Deirdre still dresses like the corporate executive she used to be, and her khakis and polo shirts don’t exactly work at the Faro. Her new BFF, Clem Rodriguez, the Faro’s chef, takes her shopping at the local consignment store for a new wardrobe on the cheap.
I’m not sure what it is about makeover scenes, but I usually love them. Maybe it’s the idea of transformation—all you need is the right set of clothes, and bingo, you’re somebody new. I know the automatic response here: that it’s pretty shallow to think you can become a new and better person just by buying a new outfit, and (sigh) I know that’s true. Still, I think the whole makeover mystique plays into an almost universal experience—the longing for the perfect outfit.
You know what that is. The dress or pair of jeans or T-shirt that makes you feel like you really do look okay. More than okay. You really look pretty special. We’ve all had that experience, and we all know what that feels like. I think that’s what makeover scenes pick up on, the feeling that clothes may not make the man, but they sure as hell can make the man feel better.
I remember once walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans with the DH, wearing a certain black pants suit (now long gone to Goodwill) and gold jewelry and feeling absolutely top of the trees. A passerby actually grinned at us and said “Y’all sure look nice together.” Bliss!
So okay, you can’t buy character, and the state of your clothes doesn’t necessarily indicate the state of your soul. Still, that feeling you get when you know you look your best is hard to beat. If that makes me shallow, so be it.
So what outfit does it for you? What’s your favorite wardrobe memory? And by the way, anyone who comments today is entered in a drawing for three copies of Brand New Me (please include your email address so I can reach you).
Brand New Me blurb:
If any man wants more than a dance with her, they’ll have to get past him…
Konigsberg, Texas, Book 5
Deirdre Brandenburg has an MBA and a dream to become the coffee supplier for Konigsburg’s growing restaurant industry. What she doesn’t have is money, courtesy of her billionaire father’s scheme to make her come home. All she needs is three months until her trust fund kicks in. Until then, she needs a job.
Hiring the new girl next door is a no-brainer for ex-gambler Tom Ames. He’s already succeeded in making his bar, The Faro, a growing tourist draw. Deirdre’s beauty will pull in the locals—particularly every red-blooded male in the Hill Country. As he watches her transform from tentative business wonk to confident, sassy barmaid, he realizes he wants first crack at her heart.
When Big John Brandenburg sends Deirdre’s ex-boyfriend to drag her home, the plan backfires, leaving Tom’s bar in shambles and Deirdre kidnapped by a band of loony Texas secessionists.
Things are looking pretty bleak—except the good people of Konigsburg have no intention of giving Deirdre up, either. Even if it takes every Faro employee, every last Toleffson, and one cranky iguana to give the honky-tonk lovebirds a chance at forever.
Warning: Contains dirty dancing, hot summer sex, a honky-tonk makeover, and one nippy iguana.
A brief excerpt from my makeover scene, or rather the results of the makeover as seen in Tom Ames’s reaction:
Considering that it was a weeknight, business was surprisingly brisk that evening. Tom did a quick head count—two or three empty tables, and a couple of groups of six. He checked his watch. Deirdre was a few minutes late, which didn’t seem like her. But Tom figured she was entitled to the occasional messed-up day, as long as she didn’t make a habit of it. Besides, she’d stayed late with the lunch shift today.
Fortunately, Sylvia was on time for once. And making sure everybody knew it. “Where is that Deirdre, anyway? I can’t take care of all these tables by myself.”
“She’ll be here. Have Chico carry the drinks over for you.”
Sylvia pouted in his general direction before flouncing back to her tables, giving her hips an extra flip in his direction. Tom made a show of not noticing. He hadn’t taken Sylvia up on any of her earlier implied offers, and he wasn’t interested in starting now. He mixed a couple of whiskey sours and checked his watch again.
“I’m here,” Deirdre panted behind him. “I’m sorry. I got held up.”
Tom turned toward her and froze, staring.
Her jeans were like a second skin that fit better than most people’s first one did. Her bright red T-shirt looked to be maybe a half-size too small—it hugged the curves of her breasts lovingly. She’d pulled her long black hair up in a topknot, but a few strands lapped against her neck and the golden hoops at her ears. And her lips were pinker than usual, as if she’d been chewing on them.
She was, without doubt, the hottest woman he’d seen within the last month. Possibly year. Possibly decade.
Tom squinted at the black printing across her chest. “Liddy Brenner Festival 2007?” Somehow he managed to keep his voice from shaking.
“It was one of the ones in the back room at the shop. I hope you don’t mind.” Deirdre chewed her lip for a moment and Tom felt all the blood leave his brain, heading south.
“That’s okay,” he croaked. “Use them any way you want.”
“All right. Could I get some change?”
Tom went on staring at her, trying to get his brain back in gear again. “Change?”
“My ten dollars in singles?” Deirdre’s brow furrowed. “Are you feeling okay?”
He closed his eyes for a moment. “Never better. Ten dollars, coming up.” He turned hurriedly toward the cash register. Anything to get away from staring at the honky-tonk vision in front of the bar. She’d probably have to slug him in another minute or so.
When he turned back again, Deirdre gave him a dazzling smile that had his groin throbbing. “Thanks.”
She started to tuck the money into her jeans pocket, then paused, sliding her fingers in slowly so that she could work the dollar bills under the skin-tight fabric.
Amazing. He hadn’t thought it was still possible for him to get this hard this fast.
Deirdre gave him another bright smile then and headed for her first table.
Tom blew out a breath as he watched her. Something told him it was going to be a very interesting night.