We're wrapping up release week for When the Lights Come On today, which also means we're wrapping up the whole Barflies series. I am feeling all the feels! We've been with these characters for well over a year now, and while I'm looking forward to what's ahead for my writing, it's almost surreal to think that Barflies is well and truly done.
This little dive bar gang started off as a few side characters in Your Chorus, the last book in my Sherbrooke Station series. I knew before I'd even finished the first draft that the chronicles of Taverne Toulouse were going to need their own books. It's bittersweet to know all the characters have been given their happy endings, but the great thing about stories is that you can always go back!
Today, I'm doing just that and taking us on a little trip down memory lane to revisit some of my favourite parts of the series that do a great job of celebrating what Taverne Toulouse (and these books!) are all about.
Let's start things off with The Bar Next Door:
“This wall,” he says, knocking on the plaster beside him, “is my dilemma.”
We’re silent enough now that I notice the thumping of the music in Taverne Toulouse for the first time. If I strain my ears enough, I can hear people laughing. I can imagine Dylan singing rap songs to himself in the kitchen. I can see DeeDee dancing around behind the bar in her crop top, pouring shots and giving her famous order for anyone leaving to do ‘one for the road.’ I can picture Zach staring at her like she’s the sun.
And here on the other side, I’ve just spent a half hour piling up boxes with a man who has a dangerous ability to make me forget about all of them.
That wall is my dilemma too.
Oh, these two! I love this quote because it perfectly summarizes what the bar means to Monroe and why she's willing to fight for it while also making it clear Julien is starting to mean something to her too. Swoon!
Next up is Glass Half Full:
When I dropped my resume off, the place was still under renovation, and I didn’t even get to come inside. Everything in sight is shiny and brand new, which makes it extra surprising that the space feels so homey, so worn-in. Mismatched couches and dark wooden coffee tables make up most of the seating, with a tiny stage tucked away in one corner surrounded by some empty space for dancing. The atmosphere is like walking straight into an old friend’s living room, somewhere you can plop down on the sofa and kick your shoes off while complaining about how much you need a beer.
It’s a dive bar, that much is clear, but it’s not the grimy get-smashed-and-go-hard student bar this place used to have a reputation as. This room feels like a place to relax, a place you can laugh or rant or dance like no one’s watching. It’s the kind of space you go to meet old friends and end up making new ones too.
It feels like a bar that was built for being yourself.
If only I knew who ‘myself’ was.
Joining Renee on her journey to rebuild and find herself was such a gratifying part of writing this book, and I loved exploring the role Taverne Toulouse and her job there played in that. This story is a perfect example of how an ordinary place can become something life changing.
Now we have One for the Road:
“DeeDee, I had no idea...”
“Of course you did not.” She barks a laugh. “I’m pretty good at hiding it, hein? When I started working at Taverne Toulouse, I was broken. It felt like I would never laugh or feel safe again. It felt like my whole future was gone. I couldn’t go to haircutting school, of course. I still can’t. It...It’s too hard without her, but when I met Monroe, and Roxy, and...and you, it made me feel okay. It felt like having a pack. It felt like having the friends I was always looking for in Trois-Rivières, and it didn’t matter if any of my maudit boyfriends ever worked out, because I had my little family of barflies there for me.”
“DeeDee.” I shift so I’m completely facing her. “I’m not some maudit boyfriend, okay? I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to make you believe it.”
This quote hits me right in the feels! Telling DeeDee's story and exploring the sides of her that go beyond just the 'party girl' persona she shows to most of the world was something I'd been looking forward to since before even starting the series. Like Renee and Monroe, DeeDee finds a safe place in Taverne Toulouse and a makeshift 'little family of Barflies.'
And finally, When the Lights Come On:
My throat starts to get thick, and I turn to blink away the burning in my eyes.
I’ve never had friends like this before.
“Hey.” He comes to stand beside me. “I’m sorry if it’s too much. I could just—”
“It’s perfect.” I turn back around and smile at him. “It’s so perfect.”
I lead the way to the door and pull it open. I just have time to register the crowd milling around inside before someone screams, “SHE’S HERE!”
DeeDee’s by my side in an instant, dragging me up to the bar as everyone claps and cheers. The faces around me are mostly a blur, but I spot Zach, Ingrid, her whole band, and pretty much all of the Taverne Toulouse staff.
My eyes sting as I look at them. It’s cheesy, but what the staff say about this place is true: Taverne Toulouse really is a family.
Awww! Seeing stony, silent Paige transform into a *slightly* less stony and silent person ready top open herself up to friendship and love had me so emotional. I knew right from the start that this book needed to end with a classic Taverne Toulouse surprise party, and I can't think of a better sendoff for the whole series.
Thank you SO much for joining me on this ride. Whether you've been with the books since the beginning or you're just jumping on the Barflies bandwagon now, it's an honor to have you.
P.S. If you'd like to keep up with what's next for me, the best way to do it is by joining Club Katia! This is where I share updates and exclusive sneak peeks. I've also got a secret library of bonus content just for CK members, so skedaddle on on over to get in on it!