Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Blog Tour - The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

Y'all, let me tell you how absolutely thrilled I am to get to tell you about The Grace Kelly Dress as today's stop on its blog tour! This is one that was so unexpected (in such a good way), and I am excited I get to spend some time raving all about it.

The Grace Kelly Dress is the story of three generations of women connected by one dress. You should know (and if you've seen my reviews it's no secret) I LOVE dual narrators as a storytelling device, and I just cannot get enough of how their stories weave together. Having this as three stories in one was then just totally my jam from the get go.

The first story is about the creation of the dress. This is in the late 1950s where everyone wants a dress just like Princess Grace. The story focuses on a seamstress who works for a prestigious designer. With that work, there are some pretty huge secrets at play. Additionally, while working on a variation of the Grace Kelly dress for a bride from a wealthy family, the seamstress finds herself drawn to the bride's brother. She knows he's off limits, but she can't deny their connection and dreaming about what could never be.

The next story is Joan in the 1980s. In the present day, Joan is the mother of the bride, but in this story, she is the bride. The story focuses on Joan being given the dress to wear by her mother. What should be a happy, joyous time is infused with other emotions that Joan is trying to work through. Joan also is learning things she was told are not true, and navigating these family secrets is some tough stuff.

Finally, there is Rocky. Rocky is a bride in present day. She's creative and unique, and she's not sure the dress fits her style. She feels the pressure to wear it from her mother, and the thought of telling her she isn't something she's emotionally ready to do. Part of this is Rocky just doesn't get why her mom is so focused on having this dress be part of Rocky's wedding day.

The story alternates between each of these three stories. Each woman has her own secrets, her own passions, and her own love she is navigating, as well as her relationship to the dress and the upcoming wedding. With each chapter, truths are revealed about each character in a slow burn that is so, so good. At its core, this is also one about relationships. The way these are written and used as plot devices is masterful. There are twists and reveals throughout through these, and because of the way this story is built, I did not see them coming.

This is overall a beautiful story of family, of love, and the things that connect us all. I devoured this one as I wanted to know what was going to happen with each of these women. I also loved how developed each woman was as a character. While the backdrop of a wedding was obviously a key player, this was at its core the story of three generations of women. Each had their own story, and as the book went, the story of the connections of these women started to weave together in that way I always love.

I owe a big thanks to Harlequin Trade Publishing for letting me part of this tour. Oh, and the best news? This book is out TODAY, so you can (and should) go get this book right now!

But wait, before you go!

I have the opportunity to share an excerpt of this book with you to further draw you into this beautiful story:

The mother of the bride, as a bride herself

Long Island, 1982
She loved the dress. She loved the veil that went with it, too, though she wasn’t sure if it could be salvaged. It was showing signs of age, its edges curling and tinged with brown. But that wouldn’t dull her excitement.
Today was the day she would be trying on her mother’s wedding dress. Even though Joanie had tried it on countless times as a child—it was a favorite rainy-day activity with her mother—today felt different. She was engaged, just like she’d dreamed about ever since she could remember. When she tried the dress on this time, it was for keeps. She was completely in love with the dress.
“Let me help you get it on,” Joanie’s mother said, her French accent coming through. It was always more pronounced when she was feeling emotional. With her American friends, Joanie noticed, her mother always tried to sound “American,” softening her accent and using American expressions. But when they were alone, she could be herself. Let her guard down. Joanie knew exactly who her mother was, and she loved her for it.
Her mother handed Joanie a pair of white cotton gloves and then put on her own set. The first step in trying the dress on, always, so that the oils in their hands wouldn’t defile the fabric. She laid the large box on her bed and nodded her head at her husband, her signal to give them privacy. The door closed to Joanie’s childhood bedroom, and she and her mother were alone.
The white cotton gloves were cool and smooth on her skin. Joanie opened the box slowly. So slowly. It was sealed with a special plastic that was supposed to keep it airtight so that the dress would not oxidize and turn yellow. She and her mother laughed as they struggled to set the dress free. The last time she tried the dress on was the summer before her sister died. It was after Michele’s death that her mother brought the dress into the city so that it might be cleaned properly and preserved for just this day. At the time, Joanie hadn’t understood the connection between her sister’s sudden death and her mother’s tight grip on family heirlooms, but now, a year into her psychology degree at NYC University, she understood. It was so hard to hold on to things that were important to you, things that mattered, and preserving her wedding dress, this memory, was her mother’s way of taking control of something. It was something she could save.
The dress was just as beautiful as she’d remembered. Crafted from rose point lace, the same lace used on Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, it was delicate and classic and chic and a million other things Joanie couldn’t even articulate.
“Go on,” her mother said, holding the first part of the dress—the bodice with the attached underbodice, skirt support, and slip—out for her to take. As a child, it had thrilled Joanie to no end that the wedding dress her mother wore was actually made up of four separate pieces. It was like a secret that a bride could have on her special day, something that no one else knew.
“I couldn’t,” Joanie said, hands at her side. Knowing how carefully preserved the dress had been, what the dress had meant to her mother, it was hard for Joanie to touch it. She didn’t want to get it dirty, sully its memory. “It’s just so beautiful.”
“It’s yours now,” her mother said, smiling warmly. “The dress belongs to you. Put it on.”
Joanie kicked off her ballerina flats, and her mother helped her ease the bodice on. Joanie stood at attention as her mother snapped the skirt into place, and wrapped the cummerbund around her waist. Joanie held her hands high above her head, not wanting to get in the way of her mother’s expert hands, hands that knew exactly where to go, fingers that knew exactly what to do.
“You ready in there, Birdie?” her father yelled from the hallway, impatient, his French accent just as strong as the day he left France. Joanie always loved how her father had a special nickname for her mother. When they first married, he would call her mother GracieBird, a nickname of Grace Kelly’s, because of the Grace Kelly–inspired wedding gown she wore on their wedding day. Eventually, it was shortened to Bird, and then over time, it became Birdie. What would Joanie’s fiancé call her?
Joanie inspected her reflection in the mirror. Her shoulder-length blond hair, recently permed, looked messy. Her pink eye shadow, which had always seemed so grown-up on her sister, made her appear tired and puffy-eyed. But the dress? The dress was perfect.
Her mother opened the door slowly, and her father’s face came into view. His expression softened as he saw his daughter in the wedding dress. She walked out into the hallway, towards him, and she could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye.
She turned to her mother, about to tell her that Daddy was crying, when she saw that her mother, too, had teared up. Joanie couldn’t help it—seeing her mother and father cry, she began to cry as well. She could never keep a dry eye when someone else was crying, least of all her parents, ex-pats from Europe who hardly ever cried.
Michele’s presence floated in the air like a haze, but no one would say it. No one dared mention that she would have worn the dress first. Should have worn the dress first.
“And look at us,” her mother said, her hands reaching out and grabbing for her husband and daughter. “All of us crying like little babies.”
All three embraced—carefully, of course, so as not to ruin the dress.
Her father kissed the top of her head. “Give us a twirl.”
Joanie obliged. The dress moved gracefully as she spun. Joanie curtsied, and her father gently took her hand and kissed it.
“I know what you’re thinking,” her mother said, her voice a song.
“What?” Joanie asked absentmindedly, while staring at her reflection in the mirror. She knew the first thing she’d change—the sleeves. The dress needed big, voluminous sleeves, just like Princess Diana had worn on her wedding day.
“Or I should say who you’re thinking about,” her mother said, a gentle tease.
“Who?” Joanie asked, under her breath, twirling from side to side in front of the mirror, watching the dress move.
“Your fiancé,” her mother said, furrowing her brow. “Remember him?”
“For sure,” Joanie said, spinning around to face her mother. “My fiancé. Yes. I knew that. And, yes. I was.” But the truth was, she had completely forgotten.
Excerpted from The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz. Copyright © 2020 by Brenda Janowitz. Published by Graydon House Books. 


Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.


Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda's work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

Facebook: @BrendaJanowitz
Twitter: @BrendaJanowitz
Instagram: @brendajanowitzwriter