Don’t you just love a good wedding? I love weddings so much that my second book, A Man Like That, begins and ends with two weddings—of the same couple—five months apart.
The opening lines explain why:
Clusters of yellow chrysanthemums glowed on the altar. Organ music piped in the background. Wedding guests murmured in the sanctuary. Every detail was perfect, except one.
Hoops swaying beneath her ivory silk gown, Jessamine Randall paced the length of the tiny anteroom of the Weston Baptist Church clutching the mass of limp threads that had once been her favorite lace handkerchief. Every few steps, she paused to bat at the lone copper curl that escaped its pin and dangled in front of her nose.
Back and forth, Jessy marched past the other two occupants of the room without acknowledging their presence. She caught her lower lip between her teeth and turned her head toward the door. The muffled din of the guests in the sanctuary had grown to a jabbering chorus. She stopped pacing.
Where in heaven’s name was Morgan?
You guessed it. She’s been stood up at the altar. Now some young women might withdraw into seclusion to lick their wounds, but not Jessy. She takes off alone in the middle of the night, headed deep into the Ozark Mountains in pursuit of the ex-outlaw she knows is her perfect match, even if he refuses to admit it.
She catches up with Morgan, but he resists because he believes Jessy is much too good for a man like him. She eventually gives in to frustration and discouragement and returns to her parents. When Morgan realizes what he’s lost and comes after her, she initially refuses him.
He reached out and pulled her into his arms. “You’ve been trying to bully me since the day I first laid eyes on you.”
She wriggled against his embrace. “I have—”
“—and I expect you to keep it up every day for the rest of our lives. His lips came down on hers, silencing her protest. They lingered and caressed, promised and enticed.
“I love you, Jessy,” he whispered next to her ear. “I fought it, but you’ve known all along, haven’t you?”
“I was afraid I might be wrong.” Her response was breathless because he was kissing the soft skin of her neck beneath her ear.
“You were wrong, wrong to fall in love with a worthless, no-good outlaw like me. But you were never wrong about my feelings for you. Never….Jessy, I was nothing before I met you. I was less than nothing. If there’s any good in me at all, it’s because of you. You make me want to be more than I’ve ever been. I want to be good, good enough for you.”
I ask you, what woman wouldn’t want to hear that? Of course, Jessy is persuaded and they marry the next day.
I read romance for the happily-ever-after endings, and I write it for the same reason. As a reader, I feel that some authors give the ending short shrift, almost as if it’s a given so why bother. I like to take my time with the conclusion. After all, by that time, the reader has been through hundreds of pages of ups and downs with the characters. Everyone (including me!) deserves to savor their final happiness. And how better to do that than with a wedding?