Friday, March 25, 2011

Miss Delacourt Has Her Day...and Her Roses

A little over two years ago, when my life felt like someone had just pulled the rug out from under us and the world was rocking off its foundation, I found an online friend who had undergone similar crises with grace and humor: Miss Heidi Ashworth. Heidi had written some beautiful posts like this one that gave me hope and perspective. Heidi also had something that many of us merely dream of...a little widget in the upper corner of her blog counting down the actual days until her publisher released her first novel, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind !

Of course I was among the first to order it. I LOVED the title. I LOVED Heidi. And I LOVED the idea of reading a book written by someone I actually KNEW...even if it was just through blogging. As I read Heidi’s book, literally chuckling on every page, and delighting at the witty banter, I kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe Heidi wrote this!” when what I was really thinking was, “I can’t believe I actually know someone this clever and talented and amazing--a nationally published author of a book I am thoroughly enjoying!” Because, while Regency Romance is not a genre I’d put at the top of my list (it probably wouldn’t make the list at all) Heidi’s book read like a romantic comedy. There was no stuffiness, sappiness, or sexual steaminess. Just a very clever plot with lots of witty banter...which just happened to take place in Jane Austen’s era. :) It read like a Regency version of “It Happened One Night”, --that classic Clark Gable movie where two attractive characters are trapped on a road trip together, pretending to hate each other, but their witty banter whips up so much chemistry between them they actually end up...well, that would be a spoiler now, wouldn’t it? You’ll have to rent it on Netflix instead.

Altruistically wanting to help promote Heidi’s new book, and selfishly wanting very much to meet her in person, I arranged to host a live reading in my home. I enlisted my book group—and asked my friend Kazzy and her book group to join us as well—in hopes of giving Heidi a hearty roomful of adoring fans (and lots of new book sales).

Since roses figure prominently in Heidi’s book, I had placed a giant bouquet of multicolored roses as a centerpiece on the table with all the lovely snacks. At the end of the evening, as the last guests said their goodbyes, clutching their books to their hearts, I wished there was a way to package up the whole experience and save it forever. I glanced at the roses on the table, and was so enamored with all those perfect buds, I determined to paint them. And I created this watercolor, entitled “Miss Delacourt’s Roses”:

I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Heidi had written a SEQUEL to that first delicious romp! I was quite literally counting the days until it arrived. As soon as I opened the package I quite literally (and this speaks VOLUMES) set aside the latest Leif Enger novel I was reading and dove into Miss Delacourt Has Her Day. (Yes, I also LOVE this title! I have a thing for titles.) The graphic designer in me also LOVES the cover! So beautiful! (And yes, I DO judge books by them!) Surprise number one: Little old me was mentioned in the acknowledgments. Woohoo! I of course expected to read more about the lovely Miss Delacourt and the dashing Sir Anthony and the dowager duchess. But right away came surprise number two: There was an enormous plot twist right in the prologue! We’re talking page one-and-a half. I didn’t have to turn very many more pages to discover that the hilariously annoying buffoons, Lord Avery and Lucinda, reemerge in the sequel, adding a never-ending sprinkling of humor and foolishness. AND there’s a villainess. A rich, beautiful, widowed villainess. GRRR.... Needless to say I romped through the sequel in what seemed like no time at all. It's a fast, fun read. The book is very well researched, but that doesn’t get in the way of the plot or the humor. There was no road trip this time--no quarantine either--but they’re replaced with a boxing match, an Italian butler, a chariot-race (of sorts) and a hot air balloon ride! What could be more fun? Or, dare I say, ROMANTIC? And while I anticipated the ending, I enjoyed it down to the very last, um, I mean lift.

Congratulations, Heidi!

This time around I’m once again wishing Heidi much success with her new novel. Instead of hosting a live reading in my living room, though, I’m offering three wonderful gifts for stopping by today: I’m purchasing a copy of Miss Delacourt Has Her Day for you to read and enjoy, and a set of notecards of Miss Delacourt’s Roses for you to pretend you’re all regency and send pretty notes to people. :) In addition, I have donated the ORIGINAL 9 x 12 watercolor, valued at $530, to Heidi’s giveaway. I urge you to head right over there and participate. Then come back here and tell me what you did, (facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, etc.) and I’ll enter you in my drawing too.

So. To be perfectly clear:

1 - Leave a comment here.
2 - Participate in Heidi’s giveaway there.
3 - Come back here and leave a comment telling me what you did there.
4 - Win big. (I’m crossing my fingers for you.)