Life, Art, and Contrarywise

(I wrote this on Friday, but wasn’t able to post it until today–AK)

I finished reading Jude Deveraux‘s Heartwishes this afternoon. It was the very definition of a treat. Jude Deveraux is one of my favorite authors of all time, and when I saw her book on the New Arrivals table, I snapped it up. Her Knight in Shining Armor is pretty much the reason I fell in love with the romance genre (apart from those fairy tales I happen to adore so much). In the middle of crazy weather, stressful bosses, and a packed schedule (and since I’m ahead on my IGMS book reviews) Heartwishes was the perfect escape.

Almost like I’d wished for it.

My best friend Casey and I loved Jude’s books. LOVED them. We bought them all and read them multiple times. Her characters were just so incredibly brazen and loveable and her dialogue was so real and alive. We wanted to write just like her, and made several failed attempts at our own [horrible] romantic stories. We would discuss at length whether our perfect man was an aristocratic Montgomery or a down-to-earth Taggert. Casey was definitely of the brawny Taggert persuasion. I was a brainy Montgomery girl, no question about it.

Many diehard Jude Deveraux fans began to be disappointed not long after Knight in Shining Armor was released, as she began to stray further and further from her beloved Montgomery family. I stuck like glue to her books, bought all the short story anthologies, and then in 2003 I threw Holly against the wall. I was disappointed with The Summerhouse. The Endenton Series had potential, but still fell flat. I honestly began to wonder if someone else was writing her books.

It wasn’t until late 2009, when I picked up Lavender Morning and Days of Gold that I began to consider Jude’s return to her heyday. The books center around a place called Edilean, a small town just outside Williamsburg, Virginia. With a new origin story came new families, including that of the famous Edilean after whom the town was named. As before, Jude has all of time to play with. There is the settling of Edilean, and how that all came about. There is the ancestor who dressed as a boy and trekked through Key West as artistic companion to a naturalist. And there are the modern day families–the Fraziers and the Shaws and the Harcourts–about whom there have already been a great many adventures. Jude’s reader is treated once again to true love across time and, best of all, her fabulous snappy dialogue and crazy-stunt-pulling characters are as loveable as ever.

I can’t even tell you how wonderful this new series has been for me. But I thought maybe I could tell Jude…so I looked her up online, found her website, and wrote her a very long overdue fan letter. You can too. It’s easy! (When was the last time you wrote an author thanking him or her for thoroughly enjoying a book? Hmm?)

As I was writing my fan letter, I was telling Jude about Casey and me being her biggest fans, and I realized something. Casey dated a Taggert-type boy for a really long time, but if you ask me, she ended up with a Montgomery.

I, on the other hand, somehow missed out on boys of either persuasion, utterly failing in fulfilling a successful (or timely) romantic trilogy with Casey and our other Musketeer, Margo. They married a lawyer and a doctor, respectively. They have two lovely children, a boy and a girl, each. I have a failed engagement under my belt, and a shelf full of books with my name on them is my only progeny.

And yet, I am currently dating a very tall, very wonderful man who fought hard to win me. He has two amazing teenage daughters and has made me a part of a family I thought I’d never have. Coincidentally enough, his parents live in a town just outside Williamsburg, Virginia.

How about that…