Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Break-up

Break-ups. They happen to everyone. We all handle them differently. They come in all sizes and shapes. You’ve got the discreet break-up. Reese, you showed amazing grace, and I really hope the second one works out. The out-of-left-field break-up. Will we ever know what happened between Tim and Susan? The serial break up—J Lo and husband No. 1 (the chef), husband No. 2 (the dancer), the almost-husband (the actor), and husband No. 3 (the singer). The break-ups that don’t stick the first few times. A classic example is Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. For a more contemporary one, look no further than Sean Penn and Robin Wright. Then there are the train wreck break-ups: the ones we want to look away from, but just can’t. Sandra, no one deserves that kind of break-up, least of all America’s sweetheart. 

There are the break-ups that break our hearts. Yeah, I’m talking about you, Jen Aniston. Five years later, and I still haven’t forgiven Brangelina. There's the break-ups that defy description. I could write a story about a female protagonist, let’s make her an astronaut, who puts on a pair of diapers and drives 18 hours to kill her boyfriend. No one would believe it. And yet, that story is true. It has even been immortalized in song by Ben Folds. But today I'm blogging on a different kind of break-up. It’s the one you experience when your favorite series of books come to an end. It’s painful. It’s depressing. And, for me, there’s usually some anger involved.

The year was 2002. It was coming up on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. I was looking for a light-hearted story to escape into. And I found Maggie Needs an Alibi by Kasey Michaels. I’d read Michaels’ historical romances, but this book was her first foray into a new genre—the comedic mystery. It was just what the doctor ordered. The premise was intriguing. The heroine, Maggie Kelly, finds herself accused of murdering her publisher. (How many authors dream of doing that?) Maggie’s allies in proving her innocence—the two main characters in her best-selling mystery series: the mouth-watering Alexandre Blake, Viscount St. Just, and his naïve, slightly overweight sidekick, Sterling Balder.

What? How? Easy. The two characters simply show up in Maggie’s New York apartment one day—alive, thankful to Maggie for creating them, and, in the case of St. Just, a Regency-era James Bond, looking to solve a crime and get his flirt on. Of course, Maggie thinks she’s either lost her mind or fallen victim to an elaborate hoax. In fact, Maggie is a bit of a neurotic mess. Her main sources of entertainment are lounging around in her pajamas, playing “Lemmings” on her computer, and smoking. She doesn’t get out much, avoids her family at all costs, and her love life can best be described as non-existent. All of which beg the question: how did Maggie create such a fascinating character as the delectable St. Just? Debonair, clever, and charmingly sardonic, St. Just is the epitome of the romantic regency hero. And his looks are nothing to sneeze at either. Maggie has given St. Just Paul Newman’s blue eyes, Val Kilmer’s sensuous pout, Peter O’Toole’s aristocratic nose, Sean Connery’s “slightly more British, bedroom voice” and “hair as black as midnight, casually rumpled in its windswept style, à la Beau Brummell.”

We’ve covered the mystery and the (potential for) romance. So what about the comedy I promised? Well, just try and imagine the high jinks that might ensue if an 18th century aristocrat was somehow transported to modern day New York City. Reading how St. Just and Sterling acclimate is totally hysterical. How does Maggie tell Sterling, who’s crushing on the housekeeper in The Brady Bunch, that Alice is merely a character in a TV show? How does St. Just adapt to modern day menswear? Hint: he doesn’t give up his cravat without a fight? How does Maggie explain St. Just to her cynical, often inebriated agent? After all, St. Just is the spitting image of the main character in Maggie’s books. How do St. Just and Sterling survive with no money, no social security numbers, and no place to lay their top hats? Not all these questions are answered in the first book. Instead, you'll have to follow Maggie, St. Just, and Sterling, through the other five books in the series: Maggie by the Book, Maggie Without a Clue, High Heels and Homicide, High Heels and Holidays, and Bowled Over. And hopefully you’ll fall in love with the characters as I did.

Unfortunately, falling in love makes breaking up even harder to do. And that is where I stand today with my beloved series. In the last book, published in 2007, the commitment-phobic Maggie and the reformed-rake St. Just had finally succumbed to what I knew all along was “True Love.” After solving yet another mystery, a bowling-related murder involving Maggie’s father, Maggie and St. Just were engaged and moving into their dream home. And then…nothing! After waiting anxiously for the next book in the series, I logged onto Kasey Michael’s website and found this curt (and heart-breaking) message:

Don’t want the Maggie Kelly series to end? Proclaim your love for Maggie by writing to: Ms. Laurie Parkin, VP and Publisher, Kensington Publishing Corp., 850 Third Ave., New York, New York 10022.

So don’t get too attached to your favorite characters, cause you never know when you’re going to be dumped cold—stone cold.

No comments:

Post a Comment