Barnes & Noble
Published by: Avon A
Release Date: February 27, 2007
The author of Play Dates tackles the classic conversational taboos-sex, politics, religion, and the merits of Star Trek-in a delicious new novel full of New York wit and Irish charm.
Who says forty isn’t fabulous?
Tessa Craig thinks she’s finally got it all-or most of it, anyway: a glamorous job as a political speechwriter, a glamorous Manhattan duplex, and a glamorous boyfriend, Congressman David Weyburn, whose populist views, integrity, charisma-and looks-have made him his party’s rising star. But when scandal strikes, her seemingly happy love life and her successful career collapse like a house of cards. Tessa’s subsequent search for self-discovery and renewed fulfillment takes her on a magical journey, leading her into unimagined directions. She makes new friends, unexpectedly adopts a new family, discovers unanticipated love . . . and most importantly . . . makes that uphill climb over the rainbow to find the ultimate pot of gold: HERSELF.
[Carroll’s] endearingly quirky cast and . . . snappy dialogue should keep readers rooting for Tessa up to the tears-of-joy ending.
I wanted to write an urban fairytale with a classic “happily-ever-after.” After three novels that focused primarily on interrelationships among female family members, I wanted to return to a more traditional love story.
I grew up hitting the pavement for various politicians, mostly in my childhood stomping grounds of the North Bronx, so local politics was in my blood. Not enough to run for office, but enough to write about it. So that became a key element of the story. Then I peppered it with fictionalized life experiences, my own impressions during a much-needed head-clearing trip to Dublin and its environs, and created the first hero I’ve ever fallen in love with. Sure, I enjoyed writing about “Bear” in Miss Match and Jack in Reality Check, and they possessed qualities that I admire. But I really fell head over heels for Jamie, and had to keep reminding myself that he’s a fictional character because I kept expecting to run into a man like that. And yet if you were to ask me to imagine the ultimate film cast for Herself, Jamie is the one character I can’t pigeonhole. And perhaps that’s the way he should be; maybe every reader should envision their own Jamie from the character I created on the page—although I still wouldn’t mind that film contract.
Oddly enough, while Herself was in the publishing pipeline, I met a man with a wry sense of humor, a generous soul, and a twinkle in his eye; a man who was not merely willing, but eager, to find a way to fit his life into mine-even if it meant crossing half the world to be together-rather than the other way around. Not only that, soon after we met, he was absolutely sure I was the woman for him, and just like Herself‘s protagonist, Tessa, it took a bit of convincing before I came around.And so, dear reader, I married him.
“A snake can’t strike more than half its length.”
David’s talking in his sleep again. “Honey . . . ? You’re lying on my hair.” If I try any harder to reach the crowing clock, I risk whiplash. “David . . . ? Hey! Sleeping Congressman at six o’clock!” I whisper.
David grumbles and shifts almost imperceptibly. “I’ll’mm nevermm be a mmmorning person,” he mumbles. He’s in the here and now, now: all nightmares vanquished or vanished. His arm, draped protectively over my chest, pulls me toward him.
“Listen, I’d love to snuggle all day, but you’re doing a meet and greet at the Metropolitan Health Club at eight. Freddy will be waiting outside your place at seven-thirty with the black car to take you there. So up and at ’em, chief!”
Congressman David Weyburn blinks open his sleep-encrusted lids and rolls over just far enough for me to switch off the alarm clock. How do some men sleep through that kind of noise? But heck, they sleep through arguments and filibusters on the floor of the House of Representatives, so I suppose nothing should surprise me. “What the hell time is it, Tess?”
“6:04. You could have grabbed some extra z’s if you weren’t perpetually freaked out about someone learning that you’ve been sleeping with your head speechwriter. For three years.” I lean over and kiss him gently on the mouth. Screw morning breath; we both had it. “Keeping separate apartments all this time is your idea, remember?”
David grunts his acknowledgment and swivels his feet onto the hardwood floor. “I’ve never been a morning person,” he sighs.
“Take your shower here; it’ll help wake you up.”
He shakes his head. “I’ll only have to do it again when I stop off at my place.”
“Why?” I slide over and kneel on the mattress, kissing the back of his neck. “It’s important to start the day off right, which, in my book, has very little to do with eating breakfast.” I caress the planes of his chest and lean over him, the better to snake my hand down his body. “What do you say we hit the showers?” I murmur.
I feel David stiffen beneath my hand. “You’re a very persuasive woman, Tessa Craig.”
“Isn’t that why you hired me?”
Following a highly satisfying sojourn in my bathroom, I kiss David good-bye with a “See you at 7:45; don’t forget your bathing suit and a pair of flip-flops” and send him down to the street, where his driver’s town car whisks him off to his own apartment, three-quarters of a mile away.
I sip a glass of iced coffee as I dress in a simple skirt and knit top—innocuous personal appearance uniform number 4a—and apply minimal makeup, since I’ll be exercising in a swimming pool in just a couple of hours. Then I double-check the contents of my gym bag and take my coffee into my home office. Seating myself at the desk, I remove my daily journal and my favorite green pen from the center drawer. Pathetic how chewed the end of it is. I should be ashamed of myself. I glance at the print facing me on the opposite wall, a lithograph of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Four Organic Commandments: Love is the virtue of the Heart; Sincerity is the virtue of the Mind; Decision is the virtue of the Will; Courage is the virtue of the Spirit.
Absentmindedly, I gaze at the quote for a few seconds before putting pen to paper.
I’ve never been angling for a ring-once you’ve been married, somehow it seems like less of a Big Deal—but I figured that after three years of dating, David would have at least been amenable to cohabitating. Our professional life got personal after we’d been working together for two years and by now, I suppose I should know him well enough to realize that getting a commitment out of him might be tough. After all, he’s a politician.
But he’s irresistible. He’s got the whole package.
Media pundits have characterized Congressman David Weyburn as having the charm of a Clinton (Bill, obviously—though I’d say it’s a lot more like Cary Grant’s), the charisma of a Kennedy (Jack or Bobby—take your pick), and the looks of a Clooney (George, of course, not Rosemary). They don’t make ’em any more telegenic. Not only that, David Weyburn has the ethics of . . . well, come to think of it, neither a politician nor a movie star spring to mind as a template for David’s ethics. What I’m trying to say is that he’s got ’em. And not only is this paragon my boyfriend; he’s also my boss. Everybody knows the latter part of the equation. No one knows about the former except our mothers, a few good friends of mine, and a couple of close friends of David’s-plus his campaign manager Gus Trumbo, and his limo driver, Freddy-all of whom have been sworn to silence. A couple of my girlfriends hate the idea of me being David’s “dirty little secret,” particularly since neither one of us has anything to hide. They call me “The Beret.” And as time goes on, I’ve become less amenable to pretending that David and I are merely colleagues. I’m not asking for a round of tongue hockey in the Capitol rotunda—believe me, I understand the concept of discretion—but conducting this relationship entirely on his terms has become harder and harder the more I’ve come to care about him. I want to be acknowledged as his woman, without worrying about his poll numbers among females from eighteen to eighty-four. Sometimes I feel like Dracula, all hidden away until after sunset; and even then, if we go to a restaurant it has to look like we’re still talking shop. Frankly, I’d like to step out of the shadows and into the light.