Only in Novels
When a simple mistake lands bookstore owner Lannie Maxwell with the wrong author for her book signing, she wonders if her tiny business is destined to fail. Instead of Ms. Modern Homemaker-an author sure to multiply the bookstore's gross revenue-Lannie finds herself stuck with D.E. Hensen, an unorthodox and infuriating adventure novelist. The dashing D.E. is determined to help Lannie rescue her struggling business, but his outlandish ideas threaten to turn her world upside down. Can the two put aside their differences to save the store-and find their own version of happily-ever-after?
“Is it ten o’ clock, yet?” Lannie Maxwell glanced at her teenage assistant and pulled a stack of books from beneath the counter. “This display’s only half-ready, and she’ll be here any minute.”
The display consisted of two card tables covered with a sheet and several glossy hardbacks. A banner proclaiming “Welcome Ms. Modern Homemaker!” fluttered from the bookstore’s upstairs balcony. Gwen, Lannie’s freckle-faced assistant, was busy stacking copies of the Ms. Modern Homemaker series: recipe books, sewing manuals, covers featuring big balls of yarn and knitting needles.
“Relax Lannie,” Gwen said, checking her wrist watch. “She won’t expect us to be ready for at least thirty minutes.”
The “she” in question being Dora Eve Hensen, the author of the hottest-selling title in how-to and crafts. In fact, the only hot-selling title in the Bayside Bookstore.
“You’re just nervous, that’s all,” Gwen added, stepping back to inspect a paper poster with Ms. Modern Homemaker’s beaming image.
“Of course I am,” Lannie snapped as she clipped her hair out of the way with a barrette. A second later, she regretted her tone. “It’s just…you know, if this doesn’t work out, there’s no Plan B. That’s it.”
No need to explain what that meant; they both knew. No more Bayside Bookstore. No Jane Austen book nook upstairs, no rows of Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.
Gwen gave Lannie a reassuring look. “In the letter I got from the booking agency, they promised ten o’ clock on the dot.”
With a deep breath and a prayer for courage, Lannie forced her lips into a smile. “Right. I know that.” The clock on the counter chimed the half-hour. Nine-thirty and counting until she could save her business from ruin.
The sound of a roaring engine distracted her from the clock. Glancing out the window, she watched as a motorcycle gunned up the street and swung into a parking space opposite the store. A man in leather climbed off, removing a helmet to release dark, shaggy hair from beneath.
Tall. Dark. Rippling muscles beneath a fitted jacket. What was someone like that doing on old-fashioned Bay Street? Or prowling the streets of sleepy Macasia, New Hampshire, for that matter.
The motorcyclist looped his helmet over the handlebars and strode across the street, one hand smoothing his ruffled mane. Through the open jacket, she glimpsed a graphic tee shirt and a cross necklace made from nails.
“Um, is he coming here?” she asked. As the man’s hand reached for the locked bookstore door. The entrance bell clanked slightly as he pulled. Scrambling from behind the display, she cracked the door open.
“Sorry, we’re not open until ten,” she said.
“Yeah, I know. I’m here for the book signing.” He flashed a crooked smile.
She sensed admiration in his glance, and a warm blush climbed her cheeks as she returned his stare. Her voice had taken a momentary vacation. “Excuse me?” she croaked.
He drummed his fingers softly on the door handle. “The book signing is today right?”
“Yes, it’s today,” she answered. “You’re here for Ms. Modern Homemaker?” She tried to keep the incredulity out of her voice. Was he serious?
The man in leather’s smile grew confused. “No. I’m D.E. Hensen. I’m here to sign books.”
It took Lannie a moment to put it all together. Her eyes widened with horror as she realized what he said. She pulled the door open quickly, causing the overhead bell to jangle frantically.
“Come in,” she said, slamming the door behind him. “Look, Mr. Hensen, there’s some mistake. Maybe you’ve got the wrong bookstore or something. We’re expecting—”
“I’ve got your letter right here.” His long, tan fingers slipped inside the leather jacket and pulled out an envelope. “See? The Bayside Bookstore. That’s your address, isn’t it?”
From the corner of her eye, Lannie saw Gwen’s jaw drop.
“Would you excuse me?” Slipping past him, she grabbed Gwen by her shoulders and propelled her down the nearest aisle.
“D.E. Hensen?” She stared at Gwen’s blank face, waiting for an explanation. None came.
“Gwen, you told me you contacted the booking agency and arranged all this!” She tried to whisper, but her voice sounded harsh and echoing among the shelves.
“I wrote them,” Gwen whispered back. “I used the contact information in the computer system.”
“Are you sure you looked up the right author? Dora Hensen, right?”
Gwen gave her a pathetic look. “The database said ‘D.E. Hensen.’ I just assumed—”
Q1. When Lannie automatically assumes D.E. Hensen isn't the answer to her business's prayers, she "judges a book by its cover"-- does this reveal a flaw in Lannie's own character?
A1. Lannie's quick judgement of Dex tells readers that she's locked into certain perspectives and must work hard to change them in order to save her business and discover all the reasons Dex has entered her life. Because she doesn't approve of his books, she has a hard time taking his ideas for the store seriously. It takes her awhile to recognize the real Dex, the one who shares her passion for reading and literature.
Q2. Is Dex too controlling when it comes to the bookstore's campaign for success? Is Lannie too resistant to his successful ideas?
A2. Dex fails to understand Lannie's fears that her business is slipping away from her each time he adds a new idea to the campaign. Her response is to resist Dex's plans, even though she knows it jeopardizes her bookstore's future. They must learn to work together and appreciate each other's ideas in order for the bookstore--and their relationship--to truly thrive the way God intended it to.
Q3. Is Lannie's impromptu appearance at Dex's book signing an indication that she's willing to give up her preconceived notions -- and her heart?
A3. When Lannie shows up at the book signing, Dex knows she's taken a big step. Rekindling their partnership and their romance is a sign that Lannie has surrendered her pride and self-focus to follow God's will for their lives. This doesn't mean she plans on letting Dex run the business exclusively. In the end, she and Dex find a way to combine their separate visions for the store.
Q4. Lannie is obviously a "book snob" compared to laid-back Dex the adventure writer. How much of their relationship tension stems from an "oil and water" scenario?
A4. A log of Dex and Lannie's relationship is defined by their differences. But as they struggle to appreciate each othe's unique tastes and styles, they find common ground for their relationship. From the adventures of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy to the heroic truths of the Bible, they share a number of story connections that kindle their relationship despite the literature differences that divide them. Lannie comes to realize that she and Dex have the same motivation---to rekindle the community's love for reading, thus saving the Bayside Bookstore from ruin.
A quick read, this story by Ms Briggs focuses on what happens when the wrong author is booked for a book signing. The story moves at a relatively...