Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Makeovers and Transformations

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.


Terri said...

Makeovers do more than change your surface. They change your attitude, which can be a very good thing! This excerpt is great, and I can't wait to read the book. :)

Ivelisse said...

I love makeovers. The outfit that does it for me I actually wore a couple of Sundays ago, a sheer black peasant like top, short shorts, printed black tights and my thigh high boots. I got compliments the whole night with those boots, I felt so good.

Cara Bristol said...

It's all about attitude and the way you feel about yourself. When you feel like you look good, you feel good and that changes how you deal with the world.

One of my all-time favorite dresses was a cornflower blue, jacquard print silk dress. OMG I loved that dress. I wore it until it was a rag.

flchen1 said...

How cool, Meg! I love the idea of makeovers, I think partly because it's fun to be reminded of the you that you WANT to be and that sometimes with a little help, you can look AND feel every bit as awesome as you think you are :D And certain outfits really do that ;)

I know that there are a few outfits that fit really well and are the right color that tend to have me holding my head high. And I don't know if it's how I'm carrying myself or if it's the actual outfit, but people respond better :)

Can't wait to read more about Deirdre's transformation!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Sharon said...

Sometimes an outfit's nothing special to anyone else, except you and someone you love. I have a sweatshirt with a sparkly Christmas tree on the front. My grandkids love that sparkly Christmas tree. They always ask me to pick them up so they can run their hands across the sparkles and then they hug me hard and lay their head on my shoulder with their hand resting on that tree. I wear that sweatshirt almost every time I see them during the holiday season because it reminds me that they love me and of course, that I'd do anything for them too. I know I'll hate the day when it becomes too raggedy to wear, but shoot, I may just put it on anyway.

Kelly said...

Makeovers are great! They can make you feel like a brand new person or like someone else altogether. I love watching them on TV and seeing the difference in the way the person feels about themselves afterward. A great outfit can do the same thing. Your excerpt has her in jeans and t-shirt when Tom sees the "new" Deirdre..most men see that as the ultimate outfit on a woman (don't know why).

I have a suit that I bought a few years ago, something I had never owned before, but when I put it on to show my husband he just looked at me and said "wow"! That was it! Every time I wore it I got compliments..makes you want to wear it every day.

Thanks for the great week of stories and excerpts from the new book.

kittykelly28 said...

I have a pair of dark jeans that fit pretty well and ride a little low and this black top with metal accents around the bottom. The shirt covers me completely (which is kind of odd since my boobs are huge lol) and I like to add some sparkly silver earrings, my black boots, and that's it. I feel great when I wear that outfit. :)

kittykelly28 @

kittykelly28 said...

I also forgot to mention that I can't wait to read this book!!! :) I had no idea you were planning a nother until a few months ago and I felt like Xmas had come early. :)


*yadkny* said...

I went through a personal makeover myself... in high school I was not one of those kids that was all into fashion, so I pretty much wore things that didn't make me stand out, but now... watch out:) I love pairing some skin tight jeans with boots over the top and a kinda rocker t-shirt, so I'm comfortable and stylish.

Loved the excerpt!!!

Meg Benjamin said...

Thanks, y'all. This was so much fun!