Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Today's Special - - Rose Lerner


Today, we welcome Rose Lerner back to The Romance Dish. Rose's new book, Listen to the Moon is the third installment in her Lively St. Lemeston historical romance series. Janga and I both highly recommend her books. (Read Janga's review of Listen to the Moon) If you haven't read her books yet, the first two in the Lively St. Lemeston series are currently on sale in e-book format. Download Sweet Disorder at $0.99 and True Pretenses at $1.99. Sign up for Rose Lerner's mailing list at http://bit.ly/roselist. Connect with her at Twitter and Facebook



Hi everyone! So excited to be back at the Dish. Today Im talking about makeovers!

Theres a scene in my new valet/maid Regency romance, Listen to the Moon, where my heroine Sukey decides to splurge on dressing up for the New Years servants ball in Lively St. Lemeston. She wants to impress her new husband John:

Shed never much minded wearing her only gown before. When you dressed for coal-stains and dust every day, it was exciting enough to be clean and curl your hair and leave off  your cap and neckerchief. Shed always felt pretty. But she hadnt been married then. She had nobody to impress.

John had laughed up his sleeve at her when shed bragged of Lively St. Lemeston servants
balls. God only knew what the servants hed been used to living among got up to at the New
Year. They drank champagne, most likely. They owned evening gloves and dancing slippers.

She was tired of feeling small and young and country mouse, and as if John had done  her a favor by condescending to marry her. She wanted him to pay her court, and feel smug about his luck. She wanted to be better than pretty. She wanted to be beautiful.

There is something about a makeover scene that is so satisfying! That moment when one protagonist sees the other dressed up, really dressed up, for the first time (often at the top or bottom of a staircase), and their jaw drops to the floor...I love it every time! I love it when:

       someone says, You do clean up well
       the buddy cops have to dress up for a case and see each other in a tux/dress/whatever for the first time (in fact, I love formalwear episodes of every kind)
       someone takes the shy debutante under their wing and teaches her to dress to flatter her figure/face
       someone tugs uncomfortably at their tie/the neckline of their stunning gown/dress uniform because they are a rough-and-tumble person, really--but damn they look incredible right now

I COULD GO ON.

So, ten of my favorite fictional makeover/dressing-to-impress scenes and stories!

1. Iron Man, when Tony sees Pepper in that sea-green dress and for a second he doesnt recognize herand then he does and hes so, so happy!


Tony already thinks Pepper is the most perfect, beautiful person in existence, but something about her being at a party (even if its an office party) and wearing a fancy dress gives him permission to shift things in a romantic directionand it makes Pepper feel brave enough to think about letting him. Every line of this scene makes me squee.

2. Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare is one of my favorite Pygmalion romances. I still think about the dowager duchesss advice for walking in heels every single time I wear them, which is not often (imagine theres a thread attached to your navel pulling you forward).

The scene where Halford sees Pauline in her duchess get-up for the first time during a fencing lesson and is so distracted he falters and gets cut is amazing, even though the fencer in me is screaming WHY ARENT YOU WEARING A DAMN HELMET? WHY ARENT THERE BUTTONS ON YOUR FOIL?

3. Laurel Lance dressing up for Tommys fundraiser in Arrow (episode 1x6). Hes throwing the fundraiser for her law clinic because he lurrrrves her, so shes dressing up for the law clinic...but also to say thank you to Tommy. Her willingness to abandon her flats for a night is a signal to him that shes willing to give their relationship a chance.



4. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev. Mili can barely pay rent. Her wardrobe consists of the same cheap t-shirt in ten colors, so when her friend Ridhi loans her a sexy churidar suit for her wedding...well, Ill let Samir tell you:

It had been hard enough when she wore those boxlike T-shirts on her unboxlike body...[T]he last thing he needed to see, to know, was that she blushed with her entire body, that the glistening luminosity of her skin wasnt restricted to her face, to her arms. Shit, he was thinking about the skin on her arms. And he couldnt believe how bloody erotic the thought was.

Yes, yes, and yes. Of course Mili falls down the staircase into Samirs arms instead of gracefully descending it, but hey, thats still part of the fantasy, isnt it? Im still my normal dorky self under all this silk.

5. Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers, when Harriet wears the wine-colored frock. I love everything about this scene: that Peter told her he wanted to see her in a wine-colored frock because it would suit her honey-colored skin; that she ran back to the car to ask him what kind of wine; that he answered with a vintage and year (Château Margaux 1893); that she actually bought the dress because she is totally softening towards him; that when they dance Harriet is totally caught up in the romantic fantasy of the makeover/party while Peter (either out of gentlemanliness or obsession) restricts his conversation entirely to the case; that her feelings are hurt (Wimsey had never danced with her, never held her in his arms before. It should have been an epoch-making moment for him); that he SEES that her feelings are hurt and he is SO FLATTERED; and that, best of all, he lavishes theatrically-overdone-but-entirely-sincere compliments on her, including:

I have waited a thousand years to see you dance in that frock.

My darlings. MY HEART.

6. 12 Monkeys (the Syfy series), pretty much every time Cole and Cassie have to go to a fancy party as part of their mission--but especially in the pilot, where they attend their first gala at an art gallery. The makeover moment is especially amazing because time-traveler Cole is from a violent, impoverished dystopian future where having really clean clothes, enough to eat, or even just five minutes to relax is an idle fantasy. He loves his suit, he loves her dress, he loves looking at art, he loves dancing, he loves dancing with Cassie, and hed really like to just take a moment to enjoy the party with her. Cassie is very goal-oriented and doesnt let him slack for long, but they do get a lovely dance in...



7. Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly OKeefe, in which TV morning show host Maddie has to give her ex-husband Billy, a fighting hockey superstar, a makeover on camera. My favorite thing about this was how the new clothes and look gave Billy a new sense of worth and potential. Hes used to thinking about his body as something thats just for fighting, that isnt valuable or worth protecting or paying attention to, and seeing him put on a nice soft sweater and think that maybe hes more than that...Im kind of tearing up writing this sentence, actually.

8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This show is actually pretty giving when it comes to both formalwear and dress uniforms (as is Arrow), but I think the time in the season 1 finale when Jake and Amy had to go undercover as competitive ballroom dancers is particularly worthy of note. Jake blurts out that Amys dress made her look like a mermaid (it did) and then he teaches her to dance!













9. Rebecca. Okay this is not really the trope but its such a beautiful subversion of it that I had to include it. The second Mrs. de Winter is so desperate to impress her husband with how well she hostesses their big masquerade ball, and she sends away to have the outfit in one of the family portraits copied (at the suggestion of evil housekeeper Mrs. Danvers). She descends the stairs, gleefully anticipating Maxs reaction...




only to have him practically throw up and demand that she change her clothes. Oops! Turns out his dead first wife Rebecca wore that costume at the last ball! Max also hates it when she orders new clothes from London. He doesnt want her to look grown-up and sophisticated and like a member of his own class; instead, he wants her to stay a grubby poor child he can control. Because Rebecca is not a romance! Seriously, I love Gothics so much. The real villain is always the patriarchy.

10. Jeannie Lins My Fair Concubine, another wonderful Pygmalion story. Like Max de Winter, Fei Long doesnt like watching Yan Lings transformation from tea girl to noblewoman...but its because he misses her bold outspokenness, now buried under a layer of manners and propriety.

When she and her new maidservant Dao experiment with makeup, Yan Ling loves how different it makes her feel. Shes crushed when Fei Long reacts with shock and criticism...but he is only masking how overcome he is by attraction! As she tries to scrub the makeup off, mortified, he seizes her in his arms and kisses her for the first time:

[H]is kiss soothed over lips still sensitive from the rough scouring shed given them.

Mmm. You know how sports fans watch TV, shouting at the screen? Thats me reading this scene: MAKE OUT! MAKE OUUUUUUT! Wooooo!


Whats your favorite makeover moment?

Rose is giving away an e-copy of Listen to the Moon to one person who leaves a comment on today's post. 

John Toogood dreamed of being valet to a great man...before he was laid off and blacklisted. Now he's stuck in small-town Lively St. Lemeston until London's Season opens and he can begin his embarrassing job hunt.
His instant attraction to happy-go-lucky maid Sukey Grimes couldn't come at a worse time. Her manners are provincial, her respect for authority nonexistent, and her outdated cleaning methods--well, the less said about them, the better.
Behind John's austere façade, Sukey catches tantalizing glimpses of a lonely man with a gift for laughter. Yet her heart warns her not to fall for a man with one foot out the door, no matter how devastating his kiss.
Then he lands a butler job in town--but there's a catch. His employer, the vicar, insists Toogood be respectably married. Against both their better judgments, he and Sukey come to an arrangement. But the knot is barely tied when Sukey realizes she underestimated just how vexing it can be to be married to the boss...

Warning: Contains a butler with a protective streak a mile wide, and a maid who enjoys messing up the bed a whole lot more than making it.

28 comments:

  1. I know Pretty Woman was basically about Julia Roberts' makeover, but Richard Gere's makeover was prevalent too. At the end of the movie where his chauffeur drives him to her apartment (instead of the airport), I feel this is HIS pivotal moment of transformation. Richard Gere climbed up the fire escape (even though he was afraid of heights), with roses clutched between his teeth in order to woo her. By jumping out of the white limousine and then climbing the fire escape, he is like a knight on a white horse who is rescuing the princess from the tower (the childhood fantasy she had told him about). The film ends shortly thereafter. Sigh.

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    1. Aw, yes! Metaphorical makeovers count too!

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    2. One of my all-time favorite scenes!

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  2. Legally blonde has one that I love, because it's her becoming a dedicated student makeover scene, but like, the music, and the fimling and editing is done like she's learning to do her makeup? Also she has the cutest laptop ever. Um, Enchanted! That's another great one. But I'm just so glad that Harriet Vane and Lord Peter are on this list, they're one of my all time favorite couples in literature. Gaudy Night, like... swoonworthy imo.

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    1. Ooh, yes! I should really watch Legally Blonde again, it's been YEARS and I loved it so much.

      \punting/

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    2. Legally Blonde is a great choice! I just caught the last part of it on TV the other day. Always makes me smile. :)

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  3. As we are including films I would mention 'My Fair Lady' with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. The whole musical is one big transformation from flower girl to grand lady but I particularly liked the end where Eliza finally recognises that professor Higgins is not going to change so she goes back to him 'warts and all' ....I also enjoyed the play pygmalion which I saw at the Old Vic theatre while a student in London.

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    1. How can we have a makeover post and not include My Fair Lady/Pygmalion! How wonderful to have had the opportunity to see the play at the Old Vic. London. ::sigh:: One of these days...

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    2. What a lovely choice! Although I will admit that like George Bernard Shaw, I always kind of shipped Eliza/Freddy...

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  4. Just yesterday I opened The Ugly Duckling by Eloisa James to check a detail for a piece I was writing, and two hours later . . . It is definitely high on my list of favorite makeovers. I also love Julie Anne Long's To Catch a Thief and Susan Wiggs's The Charm School, although they are more process makeovers than dramatic moments. I'm also a big fan of the male makeover, having fallen in love with Georgette Heyer's Powder and Patch at an early age. Judith Ivory's The Proposition and Miranda Neville's The Dangerous Viscount are other favorites, and I think I would include The Ugly Duchess in this list too. I have a special affection for romances that twist a time-honored trope (as Listen to the Moon does with the MOC). Thus, I love Edith Layton's To Wed a Stranger, a reverse makeover in which a beauty loses her looks, discovers her real worth, and gain's the hero's love.

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    1. Ooh, I love Powder and Patch! I haven't read it since high school, though...I have it on the shelf, I should give it another read.

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  5. Romancing the Stone had a good make-over scene after days in the jungle. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was the scene where Angel saw Buffy in her prom dress.

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    1. And...now I'm getting confused about when Buffy went to prom. Was it prom in the season 1 finale when she died? But then there was the time they gave her that umbrella, after Angel was already planning to leave, and I'm pretty sure that was also prom...

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  6. Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock struts out after the make up but then trips after flippng her hair :) Congrats on the new release!!! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Aw, yes!!! I really loved Miss Congeniality. Sandra Bullock was so adorable in it! Although I actually really liked her styling before the makeover, her glasses were so cute!

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  7. One of my favorite books of 2015 featured a street urchin who becomes a lady--Shana Galen's Earls Just Want to Have Fun. Thanks for another great post.

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    1. That one's on my TBR! What a great title. :)

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  8. In "These Old Shades", when Léonie makes her first appearance dressed as a woman, not a page boy.

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    1. Huh! I don't actually remember that moment. But I do remember Mary's makeover in Devil's Cub, which was also fantastic!!

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  9. Cinderella? Scarlett O'Hara wear her momma's portieres-turned-dress? Moonstruck?

    denise

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    1. Aw, Cinderella! I loved that movie so much when I was a kid...although I liked her first pink dress that got torn apart better than her fairy dress.

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  10. I have to go with MY FAIR LADY. I adore Audrey Hepburn in this. I love the Cockney flower seller and then the transformation. The race course scene is just delicious.

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  11. Will I sound as if I am regressing to adolescence if I say I loved Hermione's appearance at the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (both the book and the movie)?

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    1. Awww! I mostly remember being sad that she felt like she had to magically change her teeth, honestly. But I'm glad she showed those boys what for, because they were such jerks about that whole party.

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  12. I liked the transformation of Mia in Princess Diaries. Se went from a geeky girl to a beautiful princess. Also Pretty Woman (both of their transformations), and My Fair Lady.

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    1. I've only read the Princess Diaries books...I don't think there was a makeover in those. Should I check out the movie?

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  13. Miss Congeniality was the first make over I could think of and now my brain is stuck on that. I can't think of anymore except Cinderella. I was a children's librarian, so that is natural, I guess. I collected many wonderful variations on the story, including BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE which has a delightful make-over theme as does the original. Neighboring rancher (very Dolly Partonesque) falls for him instantly, and is still interested even after the clock strikes mid-night and he turns back into his tattered ranching clothes. She know she has found her a real cowboy to partner with for life. The role reversals are such fun.
    It is nice to see stories that focus on someone other than the aristocracy. The serving class certainly has their own drama and romance. I look forward to reading this series.

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    1. Bubba, the Cowboy Prince sounds DELIGHTFUL! ::makes note::

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