By: Kelsey Browning
Congratulations to "Amber", the winner of Kelsey's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
“Many Texas barbecue fanatics have a strong belief in the beneficial properties of accumulated grease.”
—Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker
I write Texas settings because I’m a bred and born Texan, and although I’ve lived all over the world and the US, it’s home in a way no other place will ever be. Some readers expect only cowboys and ranches from a Texas-set story, and don’t get me wrong, I do love me a guy in tight Wranglers, but I tend to create small towns and characters that reflect the combination of what Texas is and what people think Texas is. In my debut contemporary romance, Personal Assets, I wove in many details without conscious thought, but when I returned to the book later, I clearly saw how those tidbits could help a reader understand my Texas, what I consider the real Texas.
Today, I’m sharing three of those details with you, and since I love to eat, it’s no surprise they’re all related to Texas food and drink!
Dairy Queen - While my hero and heroine are “parking” at an old drive-in, Allie asks Cameron if she should’ve bought him a Hungr-Buster from Dairy Queen before their date so he’d be more inclined to “put out.” During copyedits, I went hunting for the correct spelling of Hungr-Buster on the DQ website and freaked a little when I couldn’t find it listed on the menu. Had DQ done away with the burger I considered an institution? To my relief, the answer was no, but I did discover that Dairy Queen offers a totally separate menu in Texas. And yes, the Hungr-buster (a one-patty hamburger) is still on it - whew!
Barbecue - During an early scene in Personal Assets, Beck Childress, the Crockett County Chief Deputy, brings a sack full of barbecue to Cameron’s garage. Texas barbecue is world famous and for damn good reason. We don’t play around when it comes to meat. Texas barbecue is always beef.
Cameron adjusted the radio so Rush’s “Working Man” rasped out at a reasonable volume. He grabbed a paper plate and slapped together a sliced beef sandwich doused with sauce and topped with pickles and jalapeños, along with sides of ribs and potato salad. He gestured to a small cooler next to his desk. “Got beer or Coke.”
If you’ve never eaten melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket, tomato-based barbecue sauce or jalapeño sausage, you’ve never truly experienced Texas.
Shiner Bock - All of the three men you meet in Personal Assets—Cameron, his brother Jamie, and Beck—have a thing for this delicious Texas-produced dark beer. If you’re not familiar with bock beer, this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
“Traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong (6.3%–7.2% by volume), lightly hopped lager. The beer should be clear, and colour can range from light copper to brown, with a bountiful and persistent off-white head. The aroma should be malty and toasty, possibly with hints of alcohol, but no detectable hops or fruitiness. The mouthfeel is smooth, with low to moderate carbonation and no astringency. The taste is rich and toasty, sometimes with a bit of caramel.”
Seriously—alcohol and caramel in one mouthful? Now that’s heaven on earth right there.
Is it any coincidence that food is such an essential part of a Texas (or any) story setting? I don’t think so. Because food feeds our character—and us—physically, viscerally and emotionally.
As a reader, does reading about the local food help ground you in the story and connect you to the characters? Have you ever tried a food or drink after reading about it in a novel?
PERSONAL ASSETS - Excerpt
Allie stepped over the front seat. She snuggled into the backseat and rubbed her back against the creamy leather seat covers he’d spent a fortune on. Cash well spent, by the smile on her face. Watching her enjoy the sensation of the fabric gliding over her skin, he was tempted to jump back there and finish what they’d started. Jump, hell, he could pole vault over the seat with this Olympic gold medal erection. Allie’s half-closed lids and delicious little breasts didn’t help the pressure behind his fly.
“Come on. Don’t be a spoilsport.” She patted the seat. “I promise I won’t take advantage of you. We won’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.”
Now she’d stooped to insulting him. “Alice Ann Shelby, I have a good mind to come back there and spank your backside.”
“Well, at least I’d be getting some action.”
Damned if she didn’t make him want to beat his head against hard objects at least once a day. “Against my better judgment, I’ll come back there but only for a few minutes.”
“I know. You don’t want to get the reputation for putting out on the first date.”
He opened his door and eased to the back. There was no way he could’ve done that climbing-over-the-seat trick and held on to the option of someday fathering children.
“I could’ve treated you to a Dairy Queen Hungr-Buster earlier.” She scooted over to give him room on the bench seat. “Then you wouldn’t feel so cheap.”
Sexy and a sense of humor. The combination was hard to resist. Maybe there was no reason to, but he was thirty years old for God’s sake. Thirty-year-old men did not have to have sex in a car.
He leaned back against the smooth leather, warm from her body, and gave in to his urge to laugh. “Haven’t you heard it takes more than a burger and basket of fries these days? No way will I have sex with you unless you spring for the Cherry Coke and Dilly Bar too.”
Today, Kelsey is giving away a copy of her debut contemporary romance, Personal Assets, in e-book to one lucky commenter!