Friday, February 20, 2009

Review: Stand-In Groom

I don't normally read straight romance, but the cover of this book captured me. Then the writing and characters did. Professional wedding planner Anne Hawthorne may be 35 and single, but she's built a life that she loves. Everything's going well until a client walks in and she feels attracted to him. The only problem is the attraction is mutual.

George Laurence has signed a contract that prohibits him from telling Anne who the real groom is, so he has to play along. Even when it goes against his faith.

This book is a delight to read. From the first pages you are plucked down in Louisiana. I pulled for Anne and George from their first encounter, and wondered how they would end up together. Even though I anticipated one of the twists, it didn't cause me to put the book down. Instead, the pages turned faster as I couldn't wait to see how the author would resolve the dilemma.

Each of the main characters have a real faith and are confronted by needs to change as the story evolves. Yet the faith element flows naturally through the story.

This book is a delightful romance. It has just the right notes to keep a romance reader happy, and to pull in someone like me who usually avoids the romance only books.

Now for the interview with debut author Kaye Dacus. This is your first book. Tell us about your journey to publication.

I’ve been writing since I was thirteen or fourteen years old. I did not seriously begin to pursue writing for publication, however, until 2001, when I attended my first writers’ conference and joined ACRW. But I’ve always known that writing stories was my future, especially after taking my first Creative Writing class as a senior in high school. Though my first time in college, when I majored in Creative Writing, didn’t go well, I eventually finished my undergraduate degree and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction in 2006.

I started writing Stand-In Groom in 2003. After several restarts (rewriting the first ten chapters three times!), I finally finished the manuscript in May 2005. Because it was my master’s thesis for graduate school, over the next year, it went through four revisions before it was complete in June 2006. In September 2006, it placed 2nd in the contemporary romance category of the Genesis contest. I submitted it to a couple of agents, and signed with Chip MacGregor a few months later. Then, at the 2007 ACFW conference, my only appointment was with Rebecca Germany. Chip and I couldn’t remember if Barbour had gotten back to us on the proposal we’d submitted earlier in the year, so I talked to her about it in that appointment. A few weeks later, she asked for the full manuscript; so after one more revision, we submitted it in mid-October. After that, it wasn’t very long before we had the contract!

How did you come up with the concept of a wedding planner and stand-in groom?

The inspiration for Stand-In Groom came to me after watching the movie The Wedding Planner. I wasn’t happy with the way that the romance in that story revolved around the breakup of an engagement. As a writer, most of my ideas come from asking “what if” questions. What if a wedding planner thought she was falling in love with the groom of the biggest wedding she’s ever planned . . . but then he turned out not to be the groom? And the story grew from there.

What did you learn as you wrote this book?

Not being married myself, I was amazed to find out just exactly how many little tiny details there are that go into planning a wedding. When I get married, I’m definitely hiring a wedding planner—or eloping! But it also made me seriously look at my own life, to see if I was holding on to any bitterness or pain from the past that I needed to deal with, and it made me look at my own sense of ethics and values and make sure that I am the best worker, the best representative of God, that I can be in all my business dealings.

There are strong spiritual threads in this book. Why did you pick the ones you did for Anne and George?

I can't really say that I "chose" the spiritual threads for them. When I write, the spiritual threads usually develop as the characters develop throughout the course of the story. As I grew to know the characters, their spiritual issues became quite clear to me: a Christian who's chosen to lie about who he is would naturally struggle with his sense of ethics and morals. Anne's conflict arose out of her past. What happened to her parents and then later with her previous relationship had to have not just an emotional but also a spiritual impact on who she is as a person and how she relates to the world. I think we've all been angry with God over bad things that have happened in our lives, so I drew on my own experiences with that for Anne's spiritual conflict.

Okay, final question. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and who would you take with you?

Right now, I'm really itching to go to Britain, and I'd love to take my fellow lover of all things British, Ruth, with me. Because Jane Austen is my favorite author, I'd love to visit all the Jane Austen-ite haunts. I'd also love to spend some quality time conducting research on the early-nineteenth-century Royal Navy for my historical series, the Ransome Trilogy. But I'm also from Scottish heritage, so I'd love to explore that part of the country as well.


Sabrina L. Fox said...

I enjoyed this book very much. I too gave it a great review. And the cover was awesome. They did a great job with it.

Linda said...

Some of the joys of a wedding is the planning of it. You get to add what's YOU. I'd love to see how you did that in your book.


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