In 2003, standing in a checkout line at a grocery store, I saw Kimberly Williams Paisley on the cover of a Woman’s Day magazine. I liked her and I liked Brad Paisley, her husband, and just tossed the magazine onto the conveyor belt with the rest of my groceries. Eventually, I settled down with a cup of coffee and a five-minute break at work and read the article. In it, she talked about how she and her husband surprised their friends and family by having a real wedding in what was supposed to be the wedding rehearsal. They did it to throw off the press who hounded them about their nuptials. Only their parents and two ministers knew what was happening. Kimberly wore her wedding dress under a trench coat, and when it was time, she threw the coat off and revealed her dress and people started to realize what was going on.
I loved that so much.
I wrote Sapphire Ice, which was the love story between a barmaid who was the daughter of a heroin addict prostitute Robin and billionaire Tony. It was a story about redemption, and God’s love and amazing grace, and how all of us are worthy. I finished it with Tony on one knee, proposing to Robin on a Florida beach on Christmas Eve. I’d dreamt of that proposal from the moment I started writing the book. I had no intention of going beyond her, “I do.” The next book in the series was Robin’s sister Maxine and Tony’s best friend Barry and their love story.
When Sapphire Ice was published, my (at the time) 15-year-old daughter read it. Actually, she inhaled it, binge-reading it over the course of a weekend. At the end of the book, she screamed, “That’s it!?” and threw the book across the room.
I was shocked. I asked what the issue was and she said, “I’ve waited the entire book for her billionaire wedding. You totally cheated me out of that experience.”
Obviously, that wasn’t going to do. So, I sat down to write Greater Than Rubies, all about the wedding Tony gave Robin. It ended up being more than just the fluffy wedding story and became a powerful novel of forgiveness and trust. But, it was also about the wedding. As I wrote toward it, all I could think about was that article I’d read ten years before, about how Kimberly wore her wedding dress under her coat and whipped it off at just the moment of surprise. I had no hesitation as I worked that into my story. Robin had a terrific reason for wanting to get married the day before the big “Boston’s Royal Wedding Extravaganza”. Tony had absolutely no reason not to indulge her in her desires. They still had the big royal wedding, but did it as husband and wife.
It was so much fun. I only wish I’d done something silly like mailed Kimberly Williams Paisley a copy of the book so that she’d know how her article inspired one of the best selling books in my history.
Have you ever encountered something in real life that you thought would have an amazing place in a romance story? One commenter will receive autographed copies of Sapphire Ice and Greater Than Rubies. I will pick a name on Friday, April 24th, at 5pm EST. International entries are welcome.