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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Theme Songs and Heartbreakers

Each of my Konigsburg books (Book 5, Brand New Me, is now available from Samhain) has a theme song. I didn’t plan it this way, believe me, it just happened. I love Texas music, particularly Americana, and the songs just crept in when I wasn’t looking. Still, I’m glad they did since it gave me a chance to suggest songs people might like to hear and that gave some musical ambience to the books.
For Venus In Blue Jeans the song was “Midnight On the Water,” a lovely old waltz that summed up the essence of Cal Toleffson’s affection for Konigsburg, Texas. Cal was a newly arrived emigrant from Iowa, and Konigsburg taught him to dance and showed him the love of his life. For Wedding Bell Blues, it was James McMurtry’s sultry rocker “Red Dress.” Pete Toleffson got a good look at Janie Dupree’s real, sexy self when she danced to that song, and it was the moment he decided they needed to be more than just friends. For Be My Baby, it was the title song, which can be both love song and lullaby (check out the version by Linda Ronstadt to see how it works) and sums up the love story between two struggling single parents. For Long Time Gone, it was “Jolie Blonde,” that mainstay of Cajun and Tejano musicians that plays at the end when everyone is finally together (just before they have to rush off for the next crisis).
For Brand New Me, the theme song is “Volver, Volver.” Choosing this song for the first dance between the hero and heroine, Tom and Deirdre, wasn’t easy but it was automatic. When I think of a hot slow dance tune, “Volver, Volver” is up there in the top ten. There were some problems, though. First of all, although it’s a very popular song in Mexico and South Texas, it may not be as well known in the rest of the country. More seriously, though, there are two versions of “Volver, Volver,” and I was only interested in one of them. The song was originally written as a fifties-style love song, and that’s the version you get from the song’s composer, the legendary Vicente Fernandez. But it’s also evolved into a fantastically sexy bar song. You can hear that version best in Jon Dee Graham’s growler, and Los Lobos has a live version that’s along the same lines. That’s the one I’m thinking of when the band leader in Brand New Me refers to the song as a “crotch rubber.” Trust me, it is!

Like my other theme songs, this one sums up what’s going on between the heroine and the hero. In this case they’re an unlikely couple, a bar owner and an MBA who’s down on her luck. But music and crotch rubbing tend to minimize differences.
Here’s the blurb:

Here’s the blurb for Brand New Me:

If any man wants more than a dance with her, they’ll have to get past him…
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.

And here’s a bit of the crotch rubbing:

The singer leaned forward, crooning, “Este amor apasionado…” He sounded a lot more like Jon Dee Graham than Vicente Fernandez, but Deirdre didn’t care. Neither did the crowd. They roared their approval, then began moving to the slow beat. She turned to watch. The dancers moved unhurriedly across the floor, laughing and dipping to the beat. A couple of them were dancing so close Deirdre was half afraid they might set the place on fire. She began to sway along with the music, half-closing her eyes and humming along.

Someone pulled on her tray, and she looked over her shoulder to see Tom, smiling at her. He set her tray on the bar counter, then placed his hand at her waist, nudging her gently out onto the dance floor.

Deirdre’s stomach immediately clenched itself into a knot. Dance? Here? Now? In front of everybody? Tom grasped her other hand in his, the arm around her waist pulling her closer. His thigh brushed against hers and she rested her hand on his arm, feeling the hard muscle of his biceps beneath her fingertips.

Y volver, volver, volver…” the singer growled.

Tom turned them in a slow curve, his feet moving hers. Deirdre swayed against him as the drumbeat sounded behind them. Suddenly, she was resting her cheek against his, feeling the slight prickle of his beard against her skin. They turned again, and she drew back a little, wishing that her heart weren’t thumping quite so loudly. She only hoped Tom didn’t hear it above the sound of the music.

Y volver, volver, volver…” The whole band was singing now, along with at least half of the audience.

Tom maneuvered her expertly around a swaying couple, his hand moving down slightly to the side of her hip. She could feel the warmth of his palm against her skin where her T-shirt had pulled up.

Every inch of her body was suddenly sweltering, infected by the heat of his hand. Deirdre felt a clenching deep in her body that had nothing to do with nervousness and everything to do with how close his body was to hers as they made one more turn across the dance floor.
She closed her eyes. Oh god, oh god, oh god. This really wasn’t supposed to happen. At least not like this. Not with him. Not right now.

Meg Benjamin spent twenty-plus years teaching writing and Web design in South Texas before pulling up roots and starting all over again on the Colorado Front Range. Her comic romances are set in the Texas Hill Country in the mythical town of Konigsburg, which gave her a chance to sample some great Texas wine and some wonderful Texas food (research—it’s all research!). She can be found at her web site,, as well as on Facebook ( and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at Brand New Me is her fifth title for Samhain.


Judy said...

Brand New Me sounds like a great read!


Pearl said...

So romantic and the link to Jon Dee Graham singing "Volver" made the piece come alive more in my minds eye. Definitely have to get this book, thanks for sharing!

Meg Benjamin said...

Thanks guys! And Pearl, glad you liked Jon Dee--one of the things I miss in Colorado.

booklover0226 said...

Loved the blurb, Meg. I'm adding this to my must have list!

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

katsrus said...

Your book sounds wonderful! I love the cover.
Sue B

Na said...

When I read books I always try to find a song to connect a song with it, maybe not the entire book but for important moments. Every time I hear a song the moment in the story always comes back to me and I feel that more connected to the characters. It's kind of lik every time I hear "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion, I get an immediate sense of "Titanic".

Meg Benjamin said...

Sue, I love the cover too. It's by Natalie Winters, who's done all of my covers.

Toni said...

I wish I listened to more country music. I don't recognize any of the songs. I have a couple books that when a song comes on I instantly think of them and want to such home to read them.


Meg Benjamin said...

Interestingly enough, these songs don't really qualify as country music for a lot of people. Most of them are from Texas artists and they're in the "outlaw" or "alt country" category. Which means you never know where they'll show up in music stores!

Anonymous said...

Dierdre sounds like a lucky girl. Great excerpt!

User1123 AT comcast DOT net

Robin said...

I like that there are theme songs and I love music!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

Tanya Hanson said...

Truly awesome cover and great subject! The right music really adds so much.