Last week, I attended my very first “online book launch party.” I’ve seen invitations for these through social media channels a number of times and even signed up to attend a few. But I never seemed to be online at the right time and missed them.
This time, all the “stars aligned,” and I was online and had time to attend. It was for a writer I had met at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference last year. Her name is Pepper Basham, and she writes historical and contemporary romance.
Her latest book, “Just the Way You Are,” is what she has coined as “Britallachian,” which is a culture clash of British and Appalachian. Pepper is from the area of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Trail. Appalachian culture is a thing all its own, if you’ve never experienced it. Part Southern gentility, part “redneck,” steeped in the rich history of this country with ancestry from Great Britain, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. Appalachian families are colorful, proudly American, and fiercely protective of their own. I know, because this is MY family’s ancestry.
So when I heard a bit about Pepper’s new book, I wanted to be a part of her online book launch party. It was a lot of fun, once I got the hang of how it worked. They set up a Facebook event page, and all the attendees were “online” at the appointed time. They had a moderator who made posts about the book and invited the attendees to respond to questions and games related to the book. Having the moderator allowed Pepper to spend her time responding and engaging with her “guests.”
They had quotes from the book and showed some pictures of actors and famous places that inspired the characters and locations of the book. We even got to put together an online puzzle with a quote from the book. So much fun!
There were also giveaways for special prize packages, including gifts related to the book as well as signed copies of the book. The names were drawn at random from those who responded to the posts. And guess what? I won a prize! It’s on its way to me by mail soon. It wasn’t a copy of the book, though, but I was so intrigued by the things that were said about the book that I had to go buy my own electronic copy to put on my Kindle.
I started reading the book on Saturday morning, and I couldn’t put it down and finished it on Sunday evening. I haven’t read a book that quickly since Hunger Games!
The characters drew me into the story from the first lines. The heroine, Eisley Barrett (pronounced “Eyes-Lee”) is quirky and fun and oh, so relatable! A single mother of three, she comes with her own package of past hurts and insecurities. I related so well to her love of chocolate and imperfect body image. She was funny, open, honest, and just precious.
The hero, Wes Harrison was – as Eisley called him – Ghirardelli chocolate in human form. A true British dream boat, Wes was bitter and jaded by his past and his distrust of people. What better heroine to change his heart than someone as open and honest as Eisley! Their romance sizzled from the moment they met, and their love was so honest, pure, and sweet! “Swoony” was the word Pepper used, and she was right!
But it wasn’t just the “swoony” romance that kept my attention. A family ancestral mystery had me turning pages to find out what happened. And the spiritual truths woven through this enjoyable tale were so rich and deep, and eye-opening! I gained some insights about myself by seeing what Eisley and Wes were going through in their own spiritual lives.
And then there were the secondary characters – as I told my mom, “I KNOW these people!” They were so real and added so much to the story. And the humor had me literally laughing out loud!
All I can say is, “Thank you, Pepper Basham, for wrecking my weekend!” And quite possibly the rest of my life! Spending time in Eisley and Wes’s worlds has quite possibly ruined me for “ordinary life” forever.
Okay, your turn – what are you reading this week? Have you ever read a book that had characters who reminded you of people you knew in real life? What’s a character you’ve related to and why? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.