Contemporary romance author Meg Benjamin takes readers on a guided tour of the fictional Texas town of Konigsburg. Her latest Konigsburg-set novel, Long Time Gone, won the author a nomination for Best Small Press Romance in the 2010 RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards. And don't miss the excerpt of Long Time Gone at the end of the post!
William Faulkner used to have a sign in his study: “Yoknapatawpha County, William Faulkner, Sole Owner and Proprietor.” That’s sort of the way I feel about Konigsburg, Texas, the Texas Hill Country town I created for my first novel with Samhain Publishing, Venus In Blue Jeans. I’ve returned to Konigsburg several times since then, for Wedding Bell Blues, Be My Baby, and Long Time Gone, which was a Contemporary Romance RT Book Reviews Top Pick! in the December issue. My fifth Konigsburg book, Brand New Me, will be published by Samhain on December 7.
Konigsburg resembles other Hill Country towns like Kerrville, Marble Falls, Fredericksburg, and Boerne. But it’s unique in that (besides being mythical), it’s home to the Toleffson brothers and their families.
The town’s major industry is tourism (the Hill Country is one of Texas’s favorite vacation spots), which means Konigsburg is filled with restaurants, bed and breakfasts, bars, and gift stores. So it’s not surprising that many of my characters are associated with various tourist services. The heroine in Venus, Docia Kent Toleffson, owns the only bookstore in town, Kent’s Hill Country Books, assisted by the heroine of Wedding Bell Blues, Janie Dupree Toleffson. Morgan Barrett Toleffson (heroine of Long Time Gone) is the manager of the Cedar Creek Winery just outside town that supplies premium wines to the restaurant trade, along with a wine Morgan named herself, Bored Ducks (well, a lot of people can’t pronounce Bordeaux, she explains). And Jessamyn Carroll Toleffson, of Be My Baby, managed the Lone Oak Bed and Breakfast before marrying the Toleffson of her dreams.
Other characters besides my heroes and heroines are also in the tourist trade. Margaret Hastings, who bedeviled the characters in Venus in Blue Jeans, Long Time Gone, and Brand New Me, owns a gift store that specializes in angels (yes, there is some irony there). Allie Maldonado, a much more sympathetic character, owns Sweet Thing Bakery and Café, where her scones are legendary (I have a free download, “Love and Scones,” featuring Allie and her significant other, Wonder Dentist, on my website). Lee Contreras and his partner Ken Crowder own Brenner’s, the best restaurant in town and scene of several memorable dates and a couple of even more memorable parties (particularly the rehearsal dinner in Wedding Bell Blues that ended with a well-deserved dust-up in the parking lot). And then there’s the Dew Drop Inn, the seedy bar that all the characters frequent, although many of them wonder exactly why they do. It’s sure not the beer, the barmaids (including the terrifying Ruby) or the dartboard—scene of Pete Toleffson’s legendary darting of Otto Friedrich in Wedding Bell Blues.
But not everyone in Konigsburg is taken up with the tourist trade—the people who live there year round need services too. Cal Toleffson, hero of Venus In Blue Jeans and the groom of Wedding Bell Blues, is a veterinarian and partner in Rankin’s Animal Hospital (his partner, Horace Rankin, is also a member of the Konigsburg City Council and plays a major role in Long Time Gone). Cal’s best friend, Steve Kleinschmidt, is known as Wonder Dentist in his professional life. And Lars Toleffson of Be My Baby is an accountant and a single father to the redoubtable Daisy.
And then there’s law enforcement, which the Toleffson’s have covered. Pete Toleffson, hero of Wedding Bell Blues, is an assistant county attorney, which gives him the chops to help Jess and Lars fight off a kidnapper in Be My Baby. Erik Toleffson, the oldest of the four brothers, is a city cop who becomes Chief of Police in Long Time Gone. He also manages to counter the machinations of Konigsburg’s corrupt mayor Hilton Pittman.
So what’s next for my little town? Well, life goes on, even in Konigsburg. In Brand New Me, Konigsburg acquires a new bar, the Faro, to compete with the Dew Drop Inn. My hero, Tom Ames, owns the bar and is a reformed professional gambler (look for him to use some of his previous skills in a high stakes game of sevens). And there’s a new coffee shop starting up right next door to the Faro, managed by Docia’s cousin Deirdre Brandenburg. Life goes on in Konigsburg, even though all the Toleffsons are now taken. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You can take your own trip through Konigsburg with this EXCERPT of Long Time Gone, pick up your own copy and don't forget to plan your return trip on December 7th, when Benjamin’s Brand New Me hits stores!