Monday, January 19, 2009

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

I don't read a lot of straight-up contemporary romance novels. Not because I don't believe in romance--I certainly do!--but because it seems many stories are awkward at finding the right balance. I mean, we all know the plot pattern, right? Boy meets girl, there's some almost insurmountable bumps in the road, it all comes out fine, and the ending is HEA (happily ever after). Because we know that they'll get each other in the end, the wrap-up is never in doubt. We don't read romance for the ending but for the path.

My personal opinion is that it's hard to find believable conflicts to put in the path of these two characters who are obviously going to end up together. Conflicts that are significant enough that it's not some silly misunderstanding that could've been cleared up on page ten and saved us all from thinking "If they only talked to each other!!!" Because I'm a writer myself and have penned one contemporary romance (alongside a pile of fantasy novels), I've brainstormed a lot of conflicts in search of ones that are realistic and workable. It's not as easy as writers like Kaye Dacus make it look. I'd say she nailed the conflict department. The premise of Stand-In Groom?

When professional wedding planner Anne Hawthorne first meets the handsome Englishman George Laurence, she wonders if God has finally answered her prayers for a husband. But when the "best man" for her turns out to be a client--and someone else's to-have-and-to-hold--Anne quickly realizes that planning his wedding will be no honeymoon. Can she remain professional while falling for the groom?

A personal assistant for a wealthy man who wishes to keep his identity--and his engagement--a secret, George Laurence has come to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. Not only is this a challenge to the tenets of his Christian faith, but he can't stand the fact that he's deceiving Anne, the first woman who ever made his heart really sing. Will George ultimately risk his career to keep the woman he loves?

And what will happen when Anne finds out the groom's true identity? Can Anne and George find a way to a happy ending, or will this "I do" ruse destroy their chance at love?

Having an evening with no real plans and no real energy this past week, I read this novel published by Barbour Books in one sitting. And I quite enjoyed it. I'll be happy to read subsequent books in this series.

If you're interested in reading the first chapter, click here.

No comments: