The absolutely adorable Amber Leigh Williams not only brings us the last book for today but also a delightfully charming look at her own life and how she draws on it for inspiration.
There’s a scene in the first segment of Wooing the Wedding Planner where the heroine, Roxie, and the hero, Byron, get into a lively…we’ll say “debate.” This “debate” takes place in the kitchen. The subject is knives and how to use the various selection of blades from the butcher block. Trivial, you say? Who fights over something as silly as how to use a knife? However, some might find this passage interesting or, er, familiar. By some, I mean one person, specifically. My spouse. He and I have squabbled over the same subject for years. We’ve had this “debate” over and over for well on a decade. Perhaps because of his repeated instruction on how to use a paring knife versus a boning knife and the multitude of band-aids I’ve gone through as a result of accidental nicks and slices I’ve given myself because I refuse to admit that he is…perhaps…somewhat (arg!) right, that I chose to immortalize this argument in print as well as some other notable kitchen disasters of which I am now fond.
Like Roxie, the wedding planner, I never learned to cook. For years, I planted myself firmly at the writing desk at dinnertime and let the aforementioned spouse cook for both of us. Then something happened, or someone. He was a beautiful, alien creature. Seven pounds; twelve ounces of squalling newborn perfection. When I met my son, something happened to me. There were endorphins. There was panic. There was delight. I learned that you could laugh/cry/snort/sob all at the same time – and often. And there was something else; something the mountains of parenting and birthing books hadn’t warned me of. The sudden overwhelming desire to COOK for this creature. And, weirdly enough, his father. I grew up at my mother’s table where there were delicious home-brewed meals aplenty. The idea of letting my boy grow up eating freezer meals sent me scrambling for the library in haste. I devoured cookbooks. I read Julia Child’s My Life in France again and again, making notes in the margins. I joined Pinterest. And, through years of stops and starts, successes and failures, I became something of a decent cuisinier.
Often as writers, we draw on personal experience to flesh out our characters and bring weight to their experience. While writing the first draft for Wooing the Wedding Planner, I saw Roxie starting a new life after her divorce. I saw her desperately trying to reinvigorate her thirst for independence and learn a new normal. I also saw that she was oh-abouts thirty. “Throw away the take-out menus and buy yourself an apron,” I told her. “You’re in for a foodie adventure!” (Yes, I have conversations with imaginary people. Why do you ask?)
The scene where Byron walks in on Roxie in the first of many cooking disasters as well as the one where she stays up through the night trying to cull the perfect apple pie from her oven is dedicated to the harried bathrobe-clad woman my sleepy and baffled husband has been known to find standing over the stove at 3 a.m. “What are you doing?” he asks me, shaking his head. “I’m cooking,” I respond as I stir the hambone soup I’ll still be standing over at noon the next day. I still don’t know where it comes from. It’s more than the domestic chore or duty of a bygone era of housewives. I adore cooking for my family. I love providing enjoyment over a meal as well as sustenance. In its own way, it’s an expression of love, appreciation, even gratitude for their presence in my life.
Yet, through the years, something else happened. Something funny. For some, cooking comes naturally. For others, it’s like learning a foreign language. For Roxie and me, it was the latter. Why do we persist? Because we grow through it. We improve upon ourselves. Because, believe it or not, we enjoy it for ourselves – the challenge of it. For us, cooking is love, as is food. And the fact that the brave men in our lives spend a few extra minutes exercising everyday so that they may test our various carbo-loaded and dessert-laden wares is the essence of requital. A toast to them both and to us!
For the latest news on Roxie, Byron, and my latest Harlequin Superromance as well as all the latest foodie adventures from yours truly, find me at www.amberleighwilliams.com
by Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin (Superromance)
Genre: Series Romance/Contemporary Romance/Superromance
No more wedding marches for her!
Wedding planner Roxie Honeycutt can make happy-ever-after come true for anyone except herself. Freshly divorced and done with love, she’s okay with watching clients walk down the aisle. What’s not okay? Sharing a charming Victorian house with accountant Byron Strong. He’s frustratingly sexy and determined to keep her confused.
Roxie thought Byron’s expertise was numbers, yet somehow he sees her for who she really is. Somehow he understands the hurt she hides behind a trademark smile. Suddenly romance is tempting again, even if it means risking another heartbreak.
“What was wrong with the old Roxie?”
His words stuck with her. And his kiss.
It was difficult to forget a kiss like that, especially coming from someone…well, someone like Byron. Roxie had spent more time than she’d like to admit trying not to think about the kiss – about how sweet it was. She’d forgotten kisses could be so sweet. She’d tried extra hard to forget how his lips had lingered. And how in lingering he’d awakened starbursts inside her. Starbursts of eternity.
She frowned deeply. Being touched…it had been so long since she had really been touched. The hollowness in her had turned into a resounding ache, and for a few moments she’d thought about bringing Byron’s mouth back down to hers. For a few moments, she’d craved more than his companionship. She’d craved the contact. The promise of heat that came with it.
But had she wanted it – had she wanted him – for the single reason that heat could erode loneliness? There was trust there. There was affection. For those small starbursts of eternity, there had been longing and the promise of flame. It had been too long since she’d felt the sheer, electrical pulse of new chemistry.
Why had Byron’s kiss made it seem like so long since she’d felt the flame? The passion?
Amber Leigh Williams is a Harlequin romance writer who lives on the US Gulf Coast. She lives for beach days, the smell of real books, and spending time with her husband and their two young children. When she’s not keeping up with rambunctious little ones (and two large dogs), she can usually be found reading a good book or indulging her inner foodie. Amber is represented by the D4EO Literary Agency.
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