When the economy tanked, my personal finances followed suit. Winter of 2009 approached, and I was digging the spare change out of the couch cushions, Coinstar-ring the grocery runs, and rationing shampoo. Bills were paid at the last minute, if not late, and I was reminded of my dad’s philosophy for forestalling unneeded acquisition: Can I do without? Can I use something else? Can I fix what I’ve got? If yes to any of the foregoing, don’t buy it.
Also too broke to buy books.
Off to my keeper shelf I did go: Mary Balogh’s entire Slightly series, start to finish came first, then my wonderful Judith Ivory collection. From there I mined my very favorite Loretta Chase titles, my Julie Anne Long’s, and whatever I had on hand from Jo Bourne, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Carolyn Jewel.
This was… bliss. A reunion of old friends, and a recollection of all the times in my life when I’ve turned to books for solace and fortification. One of my all time favorites is Loretta Chase’s “Not Quite A Lady,” which is not a big book, but it’s a book with a big heart.
“Not Quite A Lady” has a simple premise: A marquis’ daughter who managed to deliver a secret baby at age sixteen has made a career out of discouraging the attentions of appropriate men, lest any of them learn of her lapse. When Darius Carsington moves in next door, Charlotte is equally attracted to and exasperated by him, wanting very much the passion he offers, but unable to trust him to protect her confidences…
Darius is a hyper-rational natural scientist who views reproductive urges as so much biology, until Charlotte’s courage and vulnerability engender feelings he eventually admits are worthy of the label, “attached.” And once he falls, Darius becomes Charlotte’s champion in all things, even to healing the loss she endured years earlier.
The book is tender, humorous, steamy, and fast paced. I find something new to admire about it every time I read it.
And that was just one of the old friends I found on my keeper shelf. I’ve decided the word “keeper” does not refer to my maintaining ownership of favorite books. The term refers to the books that have kept me sane, coping, hoping, and functioning at times in my life when all temptation was to the contrary.
What about you? What’s the book that never fails to cheer you along, to provide consolation in the tough times, and new pleasures in each reading?
To three commenters, I’ll send copies of “Not Quite A Lady,” and please recall that if you left a comment on my blog about Sarge a couple weeks ago, I’ll send you a copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid,” if you’ll send me your snail mail addy.