Songs for Every Second
For the last several days, Elvis Presley has lived in my head, singing the same song over and over. The song is “Honkytonk Angel,” and I doubt it’s the first song true Elvis fans choose when they let him occupy their brain. I’m not a huge Elvis fan (not a detractor, either) but the song sort of makes sense.
My new release for Crimson Romance, His Temporary Wife, lets Esmeralda Salinas go a little wild in tiny Truth, Texas. She likes men, but she loves her country music. And karaoke. And Rafael Benton, but that’s not the point here.
My on-off love of country music sort of demanded I acknowledge it publicly, so it popped up as Esme’s second love interest in her story. She dances it, breathes it, embraces it, even though friends are into rock or rap or classical music—the girl is country, even if her roots aren’t.
So while I was figuring Esme out, I listened to, remembered, and sang country music even more than usual. I realized again that there’s a country song for absolutely everything—from women lamenting shaving their legs to a celebration of “badonkadonk,” slang for a slang word. There’s a country song glorifying red plastic cups, and more singing, cheating and rain songs than you can shake a stick at, even when sober.
Now maybe rock has all that, and maybe it doesn’t—I wouldn’t know. My siblings and I were not allowed to listen to the Beatles or rock of any kind, and when I left home, I didn’t get it and I’m not crazy about noise. My idea of being hip—true story—were the solid navy blue vest and headband I made in Home Ec in the late 60s. (I had to do the math to be sure it was the sixties.)
My father also didn’t want us to listen to country—he ridiculed the twanginess and said “educated” kids didn’t listen to that kind of trash. Fortunately, I gravitated in that direction anyway, with a gentle push from my mother. Cue your favorite artist performing “How Great Thou Art” : “Then sings my soul…”
I’ve had other musical influences on my life, most notably Spanish pop, which is how I learned Spanish. (I remember hearing the word león once in my small town in Georgia, and being proud of myself for knowing what the word meant.) And yeah, there was a crush on a Spanish speaking singer involved.
But country always fills my heart, makes me laugh, or helps me create a character I hope readcrs will remember and root for.
Usually, it’s today’s country I revel in—my father’s bashing of the original, twangy songs must haunt me even now.
But Elvis won’t get the heck out of my head. Yeah, I guess maybe Esme’s a little bit to blame, although I knew an older, alcoholic couple I must write about someday; they were both sad and romantic. They were Texas country and swing, and they knew honkytonks in their younger days—they were honkytonk angels, whereas you’ll have to make up your mind about Esme.
Louis and Laura, gone now, were the only couple in a very bigoted county who would stand up at our wedding when my Mexican husband and I married.
And they reminded me of those old, old sparring tunes, Hank Williams Sr.’s “The Wild Side of Life” and Kitty Wells “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkytonk Angels.” I love Kitty’s putdown, given the inequality of women in those days, and how often, even now, women can be labeled when they’re innocent of any wrongdoing at all.
Which reminds me that Trace Adkins had a song about marrying for money. And that brings us back to His Temporary Wife, and how much I hope that you’ll let me share it with you, and that you’ll like it. Because as Ronnie Milsap would muse, that would be “almost like a song.”
His Temporary Wife
When Esmeralda Salinas left her childhood home, she left behind the judgmental lectures and cold, unaffectionate parents who never found her good enough to compete with her brother Beto. Esme fashions herself into her own woman, and refuses to let others dictate her behavior or her dreams. After a love affair goes wrong in Rose Creek, Texas, she packs up her horse and moves to even tinier Truth, Texas.
When Esme finds herself singing country karaoke in her aunt’s bar, she can deal with that. But when Tía demands that Esme consider a job offer from devastatingly sexy Rafael Benton, Esme realizes that the small town of Truth might harbor some horrific lies revolving around Rafael and his recently deceased sister Cody, who had reached the pinnacle of the country music season only to crash and burn.
Still, Esme listens to Rafael’s sales pitch and can’t believe what he offers: almost a quarter million dollars to marry him for the summer.
Rafael talks a good game, and Esme knows she could enjoy the benefits of marriage to him, with or without the formalities and pre-nuptials and pretense. But sleeping with a man for the thrill is one thing. Marrying him for money is another. Can she accept a job that would make her rich but might destroy all she holds sacred?
Author and educator Leslie P. Garcia spent much of her childhood moving from one state to another with her six siblings. She thought her family had settled in rural Georgia permanently, and had big plans for the roadside amusement park she and her brothers and sisters created in the middle of nowhere, but when her parents moved once again, she oversaw dispersal of the animals and went west again.
After a stint in the hill country, she married and moved to south Texas, where she has been for the last 30 or so years of her life, surrounded by a large family and annoying animals.
Love of family and animals make appearances in many of her works, including her current titles with Crimson Romance, His Temporary Wife, Wildflower Redemption, Unattainable, and Take Me Out.
Contact Leslie at email@example.com or at Return to Rio, where you can find additional information about her stories.
Leslie P. García on Amazon: amazon.com/author/lgarcia
On Twitter: @LesliePGarcia
Read essays and poetry at AuthorsDen: www.authorsden.com/lesliepgarcia