Message From The Author
TEXAN-STYLE ROMANCES WITH A HINT OF LAUGHTER
By Faygie Levy
When Geralyn Dawson wrote about widower Trace McBride and his new love, Jenny Fortune, in The Bad Luck Wedding Dress (Bantam, 1996) she hoped readers would enjoy the story. She never imagined that the characters, especially Trace's three young
daughters, known as the McBride Menaces, would resonate so strongly with readers.
And she definitely didn't plan to be telling Mari's, Emma's and Kat's
tales nearly 10 years later. But
that's exactly what she's doing
with the Bad Luck Brides series for Harlequin's HQN imprint. The first book in that series, Her Bodyguard (HQN, June), followed Mari's romantic adventure; while book two, Her Scoundrel (HQN, Dec.), features Kat's attempts to resist the
lure of treasure hunter Jake Kimball. (Emma's
story is still in the works.)
The Bad Luck Wedding Dress "was the fourth book I wrote, and I think at that point I found my voice as a writer," says Dawson. "I think [having a unique storytelling tone]
is what sets writers apart from one another, and something about my voice in that book and the world I created appealed to the reader."
She adds that "it's so satisfying to me that readers
enjoy going back to that world even all these years later."
Not bad for a woman who first sat down to write as a
way to keep her sanity while dealing with an infant and
two rambunctious preschool-age boys.
She chose to write romances because of her love of
the genre and a story with a happy ending. As for choosing
historical romances, she explains, "I'm a sucker for for
history. I love Texas' history; there's a real mythology to
Texas that's perfect for romances. All that made it a no-brainer that I'd write romances."
That's not to say things always went well, especially with the good ol' boys. To learn her craft, she joined a critique group in Fort Worth, Texas, that was open to writers of any genre. When she got to the first meeting, she discovered that she was the only one writing romances.
The room was filled with "crusty older men writing westerns" and literary highbrows, all of whom thumbed their noses at "bodice-ripper" novels.
Undeterred, Dawson stood up at each meeting and read the 12 to 14 pages she'd written that week. The first time she heard them laugh at something, she knew they were hooked.
"I made them laugh," she recalls. "I entertained them with my characters. I intrigued them with my plot and I showed them there's more to romance novels than sex -- but they liked the sex too." And she managed to do one more thing that made the group sit up and take notice: She sold her first book, The Texan's Bride.
Since that 1993 debut, Dawson has written nearly a dozen historicals and three contemporary romances. She's also changed publishers several times, starting her career at Bantam before moving on to Pocket Books, where she wrote both historical and contemporary romances.
"After having written historicals for 10 years, it was
really exciting to go and write in a new time period -- contemporary. I'm able to give the reader a better finished product because I'm energized and it's exciting to do something different. Yet I found that when I quit writing historicals I missed them."
Dawson eventually reacquired the publishing rights to
The Bad Luck Wedding Dress and, in part due to the strong interest of her fans, was contemplating writing another McBride story. When word of the move got to Harlequin, the publisher expressed interest in the stories. And the Bad Luck Bride series was born. Shortly thereafter Dawson also signed
a deal with yet another publisher, this time NAL, to do more contemporary stories.
The impetus from Harlequin, not to mention the break she took from historicals, reinvigorated her writing, and the author says that the new McBride stories are the "best historicals I've ever written. I don't know if it's because I've grown as a writer and have gotten better at the craft, but I think it's because I took a break and wrote something different."
That may explain why the author is branching out even further and will write two books each year: a historical romance
for HQN and a contemporary series about the bad-boy Callahan brothers for NAL starting in 2006.
Doing two completely different types of books, she says, "makes writing more fun, and the more fun writing is for me, the better my books are and the better story I give to my readers."
It also gives the author room to explore some issues that face
the modern family, like the empty-nest syndrome, which Dawson, a mother of three kids between the ages of 17 and 24,
will face next year when her youngest child goes off to college.
She is already dreading that day.
"I'm just starting to go into the paranoia of it. It's the
biggest life change my husband and I have faced since my
[oldest child] was born." She adds that "it's a little intimidating, and yet a little exciting. My children and family are so important to me, I would rather it not happen." But, of
course, Dawson understands that it's a rite of passage every family faces.
When asked what readers would be most surprised to learn about her, Dawson pauses and then, with a little hint of a laugh, she acknowledges that her fans already know most everything about her simply by reading her books.
"I pretty much write who I am," she explains. "I put a lot of myself in my books, and I think if someone has read me over the last 10 years or longer, they know a lot about me because my family is the center of my life. I like to think I'm a strong, intelligent woman like the heroines I write. My heroines and I know how to work, but we also to know how to play."
"And," she adds with glee, "I'm Texan."
But she does have a few surprises -- namely her love of waterskiing, her house by the lake and college football, particularly the Texas AandM University team, the Texas Aggies (she and her husband have season tickets to all the games).
With the fervor of a true fan, Dawson notes that she dreams
of a "national championship. We've had our ups and downs,
and we have a new coach that I think can really build us to a championship. We've had a few down years and it's time for
us to come back."
Maybe all the Aggies need is a running back like Dawson, whose career and books continue to score touchdowns with fans.
Excerpt from HER SCOUNDREL
Galveston Island, Texas, 1891:
He stood waist deep in water,
shirtless. Broad of shoulder and
corded with muscle, his deeply tanned skin glistening beneath the
winter sunshine. His dark hair was
sun-bleached and shaggy, and hung
over his face as he gazed down
at the object he carefully washed
in sea water.
"Is that him?" Kat McBride asked her brother-in-law, Luke Garrett. "Is that Jake Kimball?"
"I think so. I only met him in person once, and at the time he was knee-deep in women and drowning in alcohol." Scowling, Luke added, "He looked different then. He had clothes on."
Seated beside Luke in the carriage, Kat's flamboyant grandmother, renowned sculptress Monique Day, winked at Kat. "Aren't we the lucky ones."
Kat didn't care if the man was naked or dressed or wearing a dress, she intended to have a chat with Mr. Jake Kimball. The newspaper might call him an adventurer, a treasure-hunter, or an explorer, but she knew
better. Jake Kimball was a scalawag and a thief.
But he was also the man who would make things
right for the fatherless child Kat carried in her womb.
Kat wrapped her woolen shawl securely around her shoulders, climbed down from the carriage, and stepped
to the edge of the grass-covered dune. "Mr. Kimball?"
The man looked up, and Kat caught her breath. Kimball's scruffy beard didn't hide the rugged, masculine beauty of his sharp jaw, thin straight nose and eyes as blue and hard as her sister's sapphire necklace. Kat clutched her shawl closer.
"Well, now." Monique clucked her tongue. "Isn't he
a fine specimen? Reminds me of my bronze Apollo."
Kat thought he looked more like a pirate than a Greek god, especially with the gold hoop earring dangling from one ear and a jeweled knife in his hand.
"Yeah?" His mouth lifted in a slow smile as he studied her face. "I'm Kimball."
Then his gaze slipped lower, locked on Kat's belly. He frowned, and a hint of alarm entered his eyes. His gaze flew back to her face and he re-examined her features.
No, I am not a ruined lover come to seek the father of my babe.
Relief gleamed in his eyes. "What can I do for you?"
You could put a shirt on. Kat was annoyed that she found the man appealing. He was a means to an end
for her, that's all.
She'd had her fill of scoundrels.
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