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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Valerie Bowman on Luaus and Serendipity (Giveaway)

Ok, I admit it. I’m a bit o’ a perfectionist. I’m a list-maker, an i-dotter, and a planner extraordinaire. I also like to travel, so, as you can imagine, when I am planning a trip, I make sure the entire thing is plotted to the smallest detail. Don’t get me started on my trip to Italy in 2007. That thing was choreographed like Swan Lake. (Aside: If you’re going to Rome and need a tip to get past the impossibly long lines at the Vatican, email me. Seriously.)

But it’s not my trip to Italy that taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. No, in fact, it was a trip that was meant to be a bit more leisurely. It was My 2005 trip to Maui, Hawaii. There were four of us on that journey and I soon became the self-appointed planner, laying out a plethora of hotel and restaurant choices in a grid-like map. My sister (one of the other trip goers) and I spent hours on the phone weighing the pros and cons of the weather patterns across the island. How else were we to decide if we should stay up in the north where it rains more frequently or in the south where the skies were sunnier? (We picked sunny, by the way.)

And what first time trip to the Hawaiian islands would be complete without the obligatory luau? Oh, we were going to a luau, dang it. And it was going to be the best dang luau experience EVER!
I extensively researched every single luau venue available including prices, food, entertainment, and location. I settled on one that came highly recommended. It was not, however, cheap. Far from it. But how often do you fly all the way to Hawaii? My travel companions and I all agreed to splurge.
I soon learned that the luau was seated on a “first come, first serve” basis in order of how the reservations were received. What? I needed to call ASAP. I wanted the best seats in the house! Our trip was months away, but I dialed up immediately.

“You’re the first reservation for that date and time,” the helpful luau reservationist informed me.
I hung up with a smile on my face. First reservation obviously meant best seats! Yay!
Flash forward months later to our big night. We arrived ahead of time and waited patiently to be allowed inside the venue. They put us in a line based on the order of our reservations, and just as expected, my little party was first. My traveling companions complemented me on my reservation prowess.

“I called months ago,” I informed them with a nod.

Moments later, we proudly marched into the luau venue along the gorgeous beachfront. Many small finely appointed tables lined the space with candles twinkling and lovely vases of flowers resting quietly atop them.

The employees pointed to the first table.

This is yours,” they informed us.

I stopped in my tracks. “What!?” The table they’d pointed to was right in front of the band, underneath a palm tree, on the side of the stage. I’d expected to be front and center.

“There must be some mistake,” I told them. “I called first. Can’t we seat over there?” I pointed hopefully toward the front middle of the stage.

Mr. Luau shook his head. “No, this is how we seat people,” he replied firmly. “No switching.”

No. No. No. I couldn’t let my dream of the perfect seat slip away so easily. While my semi-embarrassed friends sat at the table they’d given us, I marched up to “speak with the manager.”

“But I called first,” I explained. “Months ago.”

The manager gave me a shrug leaving me with the distinct impression that this was not the first time he’d dealt with a pushy mainlander wanting another seat at his carefully choreographed luau. The seats are already assigned,” he repeated. “No switching.”

Grrr. Why wouldn’t that contrary man let me switch our seats? I huffed back to my table where my friends proceeded to calm me down. “It’s fine,” they said. “Have a drink. It’s not that bad here. We’re still in the front row.”

“But I called months ago.” I repeated softly, sadly even as I sucked down my first pina colada. “I spent so much time planning all of this to be perfect.”

Not being generally petulant, I soon got over my snit and when the courses arrived and the performance began, I was captivated by the lovely dancing, music, and artistry that is a Hawaiian luau.

Then something completely unexpected happened. The luau was about halfway through when the skies darkened and rain began pouring over the entire beachfront. The waiters began busily handing out plastic ponchos to all of the dinner guests who quickly tugged them on over their heads.

The rain spared no one.

No one, that is, except me and my three friends who just happened to be sitting at the only table that was shielded from the rain by a set of palm trees. The employees handed us ponchos too, but we didn’t even need to use them. And while everyone else had huge raindrops plopping into their poi, we enjoyed a perfectly lovely dry table.

I like to imagine that I looked over at the manager and he nodded at me. He’s probably experienced this gratifying moment time and again with the pushiest early caller at every one of his luaus. No doubt it makes his evening. Turns out it rains nearly every night at the luau. I, like a fool, had seen clear skies and assumed we got the one night that would be perfect. : )

That night taught me a lesson in serendipity that I will never forget. The perfection of a moment isn’t always readily apparent until much, much later. Don’t stress out over details you cannot control. Sometimes you need to just sit in the seat under the palm trees and expect rain.

I’m a great believer in serendipity. My debut Regency romance novel, SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT, is the story of a widow who writes a scandalous pamphlet and her ex-flame, a man who challenges her to write a retraction or prepare to be seduced. There’s a hint of serendipity that reunites my hero and heroine after five long years.

So, tell me, do you believe in serendipity? Have you had a serendipitous moment like my luau epiphany? Do tell. I’ll be giving away a copy of Secrets of a Wedding Night to one commenter. The Lady Scribes and our guests love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a relevant comment and your email address to be entered into the drawing for Valerie's wonderful book.  

Young, widowed, and penniless, Lily Andrews, the Countess of Merrill, has strong opinions on marriage. When she spots a certain engagement announcement in The Times, she decides to take action. She will not allow another hapless girl to fall prey to a man—particularly the scoundrel who broke her heart five years ago. Anonymously she writes and distributes a pamphlet entitled “Secrets of a Wedding Night,” knowing it will find its way into his intended’s innocent hands…

Devon Morgan, the Marquis of Colton, desires a good wife and mother to his son—someone completely unlike Lily Andrews, the heartless beauty who led him on a merry chase five years ago only to reject him. When Devon’s new fiancée cries off after reading a certain scandalous pamphlet, he vows to track down the author and make her pay. But when he learns it’s his former fiancée Lily, he issues a challenge: write a retraction—or prepare to be seduced—to find out how wonderful a wedding night can be…

is the most charming and clever debut I've read in years! ”
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas

Valerie Bowman writes racy Regency romps with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging storylines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands! Publishers Weekly calls Secrets of a Wedding Night, an “enchanting, engaging debut that will have readers seeking future installments” and Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “This fast-paced, charming debut, sparkling with witty dialogue and engaging characters, marks Bowman for stardom.Booklist gave the story a starred review! You can find Valerie on the web at www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Buy Links for Secrets of a Wedding Night: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books a Million


  1. Serendipity played a role in my life. I was listening to a news report once and changed my career. I am so glad I did. I always used to plan but then everything went wrong anyway. So why bother?
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. Valerie,
    It's great to have you as our guest today. I just finished reading Secrets of a Wedding Night last night. What a fun read!

    Serendipity seems to play a role in my life all the time, but I usually think of it as dodging a bullet. LOL. One situation that comes to mind immediately is a contest I was in where I was so close to being in the final until the very last minute. (It was one of those voting ones.) I was so disappointed because I wanted to work with one of the editors for that publisher, and of course I really wanted to be published. Later that publisher had financial problems and closed. But you want to know what's really cool? The editor I liked moved to my publisher, and we just started working together a few months ago. :)

  3. Ooh, I LOVE stories of serendipity. Thanks for sharing, Debby. And Samantha, yours is fantastic! Thank you so much for having me today. So glad you enjoyed Secrets of a Wedding Night!

  4. Hi Valerie,

    Congrts on your new release. I do believe with Serendipity like as i think about how it's nice if i can eat cake or got anything that quite hard to find but then the things suddenly come to me :). Or meet with someone that for many years i dont meet him/her :)

  5. You're book sounds wonderful, Valerie! I can't wait to read it. Oh, and I defintely believe in Serendipity!

  6. Ah, serendipity. Not only do I love it, I love the word, lol. And I have to say, I plan trips like I plan books: I know where I'm going and I know a few high points, but I'll figure everything else out as I go :)

  7. Congratulations on your release, Valerie! I've bought it, but haven't had time to delve in and read it yet. After I meet this deadline. :) I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of planning too much on vacations. In my estimation, it only leads to stress, when the timing of things don't work out just exactly perfectly, etc. We go in with a few things we want to do, and then we just see what happens.

  8. Thank you, Julie and Eli! And Erin and Catherine, you're so right. I need to plan less. On books AND trips! : )

  9. Your book sounds fab. And yes, I'm a planner, months out for vacations, even for day trips, a big fan of lists, outlines, the whole thing. My biggest serendipitous moment was probably how I ended up with my husband. But, it's a long story :-) Much success to you!

    1. Thanks, Sandra! I need to hear your "How I ended up with my husband" story sometime!

  10. Congrats on your debut release. I do believe in serendipity. I went to a luau on the Big Island, but no serendipitous moment for me.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

  11. Hi Jane! I hope you didn't get rained on. : )

  12. Welcome, Valerie! I loved your luau story and I'm looking forward to the book!

  13. I've had some moments that turned out much better than expected despite my efforts, so yes, I believe in serendipity. I don't have any examples to share off the top of my head though. Congrats on the release of Secrets of a Wedding Night, it sounds like a wonderful story.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  14. Well, meeting my husband was seredipity, I think. We met at the right time when I just came out of a really bad relationship.

  15. I believe in serendipity, but haven't experienced it.


  16. Thank you so much to Samantha and the rest of the Lady Scribes! I love this blog and had a great time sharing my serendipitous tale with you all. Happy Reading!

  17. Congratulations to Debby! You are the winner of Valerie's fun book SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT!