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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Win a Book & Read an Excerpt from Liz Fielding!

Read on for a great guest blog from Liz Fielding...and a chance to win a book!

THE BRIDE'S BABY, Liz Fielding's 50th Harlequin Romance is published this month as the first book in a four-part mini series, A Bride for All Seasons. The heroine, Sylvie Duchamp Smith, is an events planner, but she knows that a wedding is a never-to-be-repeated occasion that has to be perfect and it's her attention to detail, her determination to deliver the perfect day that has made her the top of every A-list bride's wish-list. Now, in the cause of a charity founded by her mother, she's been asked to show the world what her own fantasy day would be like.

Hi, I'm Sylvie Smith. Thank you so much for inviting me to visit this wonderful Wedding Planners blog.

I have to admit that planning a fantasy wedding was the very last thing on my mind when I was asked to help publicise a fund-raising Wedding Fayre for the Pink Ribbon Club. Five months pregnant, my thoughts were running more to layettes than wedding gowns.

Worse still, the event was being it was being held at Longbourne Court. Once my home, I hadn't been back there for ten years. Not since my world fell apart just as I was putting the finishing touches to my real fantasy wedding. This was going to be it's last outing before some billionaire turned it into a conference centre.

I really didn't want to play but as Hon Pres of the Pink Ribbon Club, a charity founded by my mother, and with lifestyle magazine Celebrity offering a huge donation as well a full coverage, I didn't have much choice. Even when the noblesse has gone well and truly down the pan, the oblige just refuses to quit.

My first mistake was neglecting to ask which billionaire had bought Longbourne Court. Honestly, as if things weren't already bad enough, running into Tom McFarlane, the father of the baby I was, so obviously, carrying before me --a man who'd left me in no doubt that fatherhood was off his personal agenda -- did not improve matters. This fantasy, dredging up painful memories, was already difficult enough.

Ten years ago, nineteen years old and about to marry my childhood sweetheart, I chosen a colour scheme based on the primroses blooming in the hedgerows and I'd planned to wear my great-grandmother's wedding gown. It was still wrapped in tissue in the attic at Longbourne Court, but that virginal veil was scarcely appropriate - even in the wildest of fantasies -- for a woman shortly about to become a single mother.

Just when I was in despair, however, I saw the shoes. Rich dark purple, embroidered and beaded. The colour of the violets carpeting the woods. I had my colour scheme, I had a dress designer who sketched me a dress and a loose three-quarter length jacket, appliquéd and embroidered to match the shoes. So far, so good. But I needed a theme, something vivid, something fresh and new that would ignite my imagination, thrill the readers of Celebrity. Without a bride to drive that, without a groom of my own, I was all out of ideas.

It was Tom, amazingly, who came to the rescue. Who came up with the idea of a proper old-fashioned country fair, with rides driven by vintage traction engines, sideshows and carnival food.

Tom, who in the firelight of the library, had me spilling my secrets. Who spilled out his own…

Tom pushed open the library door and stopped as he saw Sylvie stretched out in one of the fireside chairs, limbs relaxed, eyes closed, head propped against the broad wing.

Fast asleep, utterly defenceless and, in contrast to the hot desire he'd done his best to drown in a torrent of cold water, he was overwhelmed by a great rush of protectiveness that welled up in him.

Utterly different to anything he'd ever felt for anyone before.

Was that love?

How did you know?

As quietly as he could, so as not to disturb her, he placed the tray on a nearby table and then took the chair opposite her, content just to watch the gentle rise and fall of her breathing.
Content to stay like that for ever.

But nothing was forever and after a few minutes her eyelids flickered. He saw the moment of confusion as she surfaced, then the smile as she realised where she was.

A smile that faded she saw him and, embarrassed at being caught sleeping, struggled to sit up.
'Oh, lord, please tell me I wasn't drooling.'

'Hardly at all,' he reassured her, getting up and placing a cup on the table beside her. 'And you snore really quietly.'

'Really? At home the neighbours complain.'

'Oh, well, I was being kind…' He offered her a plate of some home made biscuits he'd found as she laughed. Teasing her could be fun… 'Have one of these.'

'Mrs Kennedy's cure-alls? Who could resist?'

'Not me,' he said, taking one himself. Then, as it melted in his mouth, 'I can see how they got their name. Maybe she should market them? A whole rang of Longbourne Court Originals?'

'With a picture of the house on the wrapper? Perfect for the nostalgia market. Except, of course, that there won't be Longbourne Court for much longer. Longbourne Conference Centre Originals doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?'

He didn't immediately answer. And when he did, he didn't answer the question she'd asked.
'When you asked me if I bought the house for Candy, I may have left you with the wrong impression.'

The words just tumbled out. He hadn't known he was going to say them. Only that they were true.

'You always intended to convert it?'

'No!' He shook his head. 'No. I told myself I was buying it for her. The ultimate wedding present. But when I walked into the house, it was like walking into the dream I'd always had of what a family home should be like. There were old wax jackets hanging in the mud room. Wellington boots that looked as if somebody had just kicked them off. Every rug looked as if the dog had been sleeping there just a moment before.'

'And all the furniture in "country house" condition. In other words tatty,' Sylvie said.

'Comfortable. Homely. Lived in.'

'It's certainly that.'

'Candy would have wanted to change everything wouldn't she? Get some fancy designer in from London to rip it all out and start from scratch.'

'Probably. It scarcely matters now does it?' She lifted a brow, but when he didn't respond, subsided back into the comfort of the chair, 'This is total bliss,' she said, nibbling on the biscuit.

'Every winter Sunday afternoon of childhood rolled into one.' Then, glancing at him, 'Is it raining?'


'Your hair seems to be dripping down your collar.'

'Oh, that. It's nothing. I missed the kettle and the water squirted up at me,' he lied.

'And only got your hair?' That eyebrow was working overtime. 'How did you get so lucky? When that happens to me, I always get it full in the face and chest.'

'Well, as you've already noticed, I've got a damp collar, if that helps.'

'You think I'm that heartless? Come closer to the fire or you'll catch a chill.'

He didn't need a second invitation, but took another biscuit and settled on the rug with his back propped up against the chair on the far side of fireplace.

'Tell me about your winter Sundays, Sylvie.'

'I'd much rather hear about yours.'

'No, believe me, you wouldn't. They are definitely nothing to get nostalgic over.' Then, because he didn't even want to think about them, 'Come on. I want everything, from the brown bread and butter to three choices of cake.'

'We never had three choices of cake,' she declared, in mock outrage. 'According to my mother only spoilt children had three kinds of cake.'

'I'll bet you had toasted teacakes. Or was it muffins?'

'Crumpets. It was always crumpets,' she said, still resisting him. 'I will have your story.'

'You'll be sorry if you do.' But for just a moment he was tempted by something in her eyes. Tempted to unburden himself, share every painful moment. But he knew that once he'd done that, she'd own him, he'd be tied to her forever …

For more excerpts, pictures and background to the books in this series, visit http://abrideforallseasons.blogspot.com/ and http://www.lizfielding.com/

Now for the contest. We'll draw a winner from all comments!

"Sylvie confronted the wedding planner's worst nightmare when the bride did a runner with one of her assistants. In the book she lists the top five disasters.

For a chance to win a signed copy of The Bride's Baby, what would be the very worst thing -- short of the bride or groom not turning up -- that could happen on the big day?"

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Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks for blogging, Liz! Sylvie sounds like a great heroine! And bride! Thanks for sharing the excerpt with us!

April 8, 2008 at 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderfully fun book! I'm already hooked on this series.
As for disasters, with my daughter's wedding two years ago, I found out that we'd have 30 more guests at the reception late the night before the wedding! During the rehearsal dinner, the groom mentioned that a number of his rock band friends had announced they were bringing friends! Seems that wedding protocol was missing from their education. So, at 1:00 a.m. I e-mailed the reception hall that we needed three more tables of ten and I scrambled to print out a new seating chart and new place cards. Many of these guests had only first names or initials.

As if this wasn't enough of a surprise, the florist left all of the reception flowers at the small church. I had to have the ushers put 21 centerpieces along with all the church altar flowers in the back of my van, drive like crazy to get to the reception hall half an hour away, and have my dear friends help me unload them and put them around. GRRRR!! Believe me, this did nothing for my composure.
All said and done, the wedding ceremony was special and the reception went smoothly, even the vegan food was a hit! The rock band unfortunately left the older guests with nothing to dance to.
Oh, well, at least the groom cut off his mohawk hairstyle before the wedding.
And did you know you can get polyester tuxes for the vegan wedding party? They don't wear leather or wool. So they wore matching Doc Marten gym shoes.
This is not fiction, and I have the pictures to prove it!!

April 8, 2008 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Hi Melissa!

Oh, Sherry! With my own daughter's wedding later this year -- and rock musicians being among the guests -- your story really strikes home!

And what on earth was the florist thinking of? Sylvie would have set her own punk, Doc Marten wearing assistant, Jodie, on her!

Congratulations on keeping your head and cool. It sounds as if it was a very special -- if slightly fraught -- day.

April 8, 2008 at 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Linda g said...

Sherry, what a great story! It's those crazy little things that make weddings memorable.

Liz, the book (and the series) wounds awesome! Can't wait to get it.)

I'm betting the worse thing that could happen maybe is to lose the rings??

April 8, 2008 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the exerpt is great, except that now I want more!

as for what could be worse than bride or groom missing... well, a missing minister comes to mind. in the case of my sister's wedding, it was someone forgetting the groom's ring locked away about 20 minutes from the location where the ceremony was to occur. of course, this was discovered about the same time that "here comes the bride" started playing.
before my sister could faint from horror, the matron of honor slipped off her wedding band (no diamond on it) for use as a proxy ring during the ceremony (amazingly, the groom had skinny fingers, so it fit).

April 8, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger windycindy said...

Greetings, My idea of a wedding disaster would be the booked photographer not showing up for your special day. Please enter me in your drawing. Thanks,Cindi

April 8, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

This series sounds like such fun.. and with both Liz and Shirley writing, how can it be anything but hysterical?

For the worst thing, I would say a medical emergency with one of the wedding party... a parent with a heart attack, or a best man going into shock over a bee sting.. .etc.
Luckily, I have not attended an event with this problem ... yet!


April 8, 2008 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Faye said...

Your story sounds great. Can't wait to read the book.

Lucky for me I didn't have any big disasters. My wedding party color was teal and we had everyone's shoes dyed to match. My college roommate lived hours from the church and forgot her shoes. She only had a pair of bright red heels. Thankfully their dresses were floor length so they only peeped out when she walked down the aisle. But seriously of all the shoe colors did they have to be bright red? LOL.

April 8, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Dru said...

my idea of a wedding disaster is if no one shows up.

April 8, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

The worst nightmare of a wedding would be>>>>>>>>>>>>> a HURRICANE OR TORNADO. And yes I know a wedding that had to be canceled because of a hurricane suddenly taking a turn in that direction.

April 8, 2008 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Anita Mae said...

Oooh, I want to read this series. I love books about weddings and the stories that go along with them.
As for a wedding disaster, my own wedding dress almost didn't make it in time! I was a Private and my fiancee was a Corporal when we got married. We paid for our own wedding and on our salaries, we didn't have much to spend. A girlfriend made my dress but it took longer than she planned. She finished it the day before the big event and sent it off to be dry cleaned at a place that specialized in 'one hour service'. I was in panic mode when the place closed and the dress wasn't ready, but they promised it'd be ready first thing in the morning. The ceremony was set for 4 pm and I finally rec'd my dress at 2 o'clock! What a rush!

April 8, 2008 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous michelle Douglas said...

Liz, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book - the excerpt has me hooked already.

Worse wedding day disasters - nothing can beat death and destruction (but I think they've already been mentioned). I think it would be heartbreaking if the dress of the bride's dreams was ruined at the last moment. Or, and this is really awful, if the bride threw up on the groom at the end of the wedding march.

April 8, 2008 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I love reading all these comments. Great question, Liz! I had to run one of my cats to the vet this morning so just did a quick pop in earlier!

I'd say if someone (father/mother/grandparent/sibling) died the day of the wedding.

My future father-in-law died a couple weeks before we got married. It wasn't unexpected, but needless to say it was very difficult. The first time I walked down the aisle in the church we were getting married at was following his casket not on our wedding day. At the funeral they played one of the songs, On Eagles Wings, that we were planning to use at our ceremony so we had to make a new choice. We had to make the decision whether to postpone or go ahead with the wedding. We went ahead with it.

April 8, 2008 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

I would think that the worse thing that could happen is if the prest didn't show up.

April 8, 2008 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger teachtoreach said...

This question makes me think of mildly funny things. Think 80's hair and candelabras. Think Mexican food at the rehearsal dinner. [Was that a bridesmaid?] Think tux pants hemmed WAY too short! Maybe the bride/groom says the wrong name during the vows. Maybe the preacher says the wrong names during the ceremony (this one happened to me). One party's family decides NOT to come, but doesn't let them know ahead of time. Ok, that one's not funny. I could go on and on!

April 8, 2008 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger Myrna said...

Oh, I love all the stories! And Liz, your book sounds fantastic.

I don't remember anything awful happening at my wedding, but I once was a bridesmaid for a bride who turned into a mini-bridezilla on her wedding day (must have been the stress).

The attendants were all at her house very early and the wedding wasn't until the afternoon, but she wouldn't let us eat because she was afraid we would get food in our teeth and mess up her wedding pictures (I'm sure we could have brushed our teeth, though).

Anyway, somehow we all made it down the aisle without fainting from hunger, but at the reception the bride began loudly berating her mother because she didn't like the way the poor woman was trying to help her with her train. I couldn't believe it. It's really sad that what I remember most about this woman's wedding was that she yelled at her mother. (Hmm, wonder if that ended up on the wedding video).

On the other hand, there was a great band. LOL

April 8, 2008 at 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Three weeks before our morning wedding, we discovered the reception hall had booked us for the evening. And the invitations were already printed. And sent. And we had to resend them because the hall couldn't accomodate the change to the original time.

Never plan a wedding long distance.

April 8, 2008 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Ann M. said...

One thing that almost happened for my sister's wedding. Planning an outdoor wedding and not having a back up if it rained.

April 8, 2008 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Wow -- I just got up and found the world has visited!

Linda, losing the rings -- I can't help thinking about that scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral where the bride ended up with a plastic ring and the groom had a skull ring... Loved that movie!

April 8, 2008 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Crystal -- I'm pretty sure that Sylvie listed the "heart attack" option on her list of the five worst things.

April 8, 2008 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Ellen -- a hurricane. Well that would do it. Fortunately, we tend not to have that kind of extreme weather, although last years floods probably caused problems. (Hot plot moment!)

To be honest, the weather here doesn't lend itself to planning outdoor weddings, although most people like a venue with a garden so that it the sun does shine we have the best of both worlds.

April 8, 2008 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Jennifer! Red shoes... what a nightmare. But at least they could be tucked out of sight for the photographs.

That's if the photographer showed up, nmr8r67.

I'm really beginning to worry now. There are so many things that can go wrong!

April 8, 2008 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Michelle -- the ruined dress. Gulp.

And Myrna, that bridezilla experience was horrendous. Obviously the poor girl was wrecked with nerves. How sad.

April 8, 2008 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Uh-oh, Amy. My daughter is organising her wedding long distance. She's in London, the wedding is on the island of Guernsey, just off the French coast, which is her grooms family home. You're right. Don't do it!

My biggest fear is that his parents (divorced and both remarried) are going to be a problem. To say there is animosity would be classic British understatement. :(

There's no going to be a pre-wedding family dinner, that's for sure!

April 8, 2008 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

You're right Liz I was thinking with my American coastal mind. Some years you better not plan a summer wedding without taking the weather into consideration.

April 8, 2008 at 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Cathy S. said...

I don't have any real disasters. Years ago, for my cousin's February wedding in Indiana, a ton of snow fell. It was tough for the guests to get there and flights were nearly delayed.

At a friend's wedding, he went to put the ring on her finger and couldn't get it up past her knuckle. He kept trying and everyone could see. Finally, he took her hand and handed it back to her, letting her know she'd have to get it on there herself!

April 9, 2008 at 3:05 AM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Cathy, that reminds me of heroine of mine with a "trick" knuckle that caused all kinds of problems!

I'm hoping we won't have snow in September.

April 9, 2008 at 4:43 AM  
Blogger Shirley Jump said...

I love watching that "Whose Wedding is it Anyway?" show on Style Network to see where weddings can go awry. Except for my veil catching on fire ;-) (which I write about in the Dear Reader of my book) and the little snafu at my stepmother's wedding (also in my DR), all the weddings I've been at have been relatively disaster free! *I* seem to be the common disaster in those two, LOL.


April 9, 2008 at 5:57 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

At my nephew's wedding, the bride's grandmother fell at the church and broke her hip just before the ceremony.

I think it would be horrible if someone stood up and stated a reason why a couple should not be married.

April 9, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Ouch! Poor lady. I hope she got over it. That is such a dangerous thing to happen.

As for someone making that declaration -- horrible in real life, but great in fiction. Think of Jane Eyre.

Shirley? You veil caught fire? I do hope you weren't singed!

April 9, 2008 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Nathalie said...

I think if the wedding dress happens to have an accident... it happened to a cousin, where white became more of pinkish because some pastries fell over it... how horrible!

April 9, 2008 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Melissa Leavitt said...

Wedding disasters! Hmmm... how about being locked out of the reception hall?

My sister's wedding: her Croatian MIL wanted to do her hair, in "old croatian princess" style. It was truly horrid; sort of old "scary spice" meets Lady Diana.

My sister insisted on having a trumpeter and organist play "Pachebel's Cannon" as she walked down the isle. The trumpeter came highly recommended, but on the day of the wedding, he choked. Sounded like a swan dying a hideous death. And the worst part was he wouldn't stop playing! She laughed hysterically all the way down the isle.

My brother's wedding:
His wife's grandmother fell and broke her hip at the wedding reception. Lucky for her, there were many off duty parametics/military parametics in the crowd.

My wedding:
One hour before the ceremony I realized I forgot to get a bridal bouquet. I wanted one of those Martha Steward-y ones that are all roses and round with ribbon wrapped stems. I called a local florist and nearly fainted at the 350.00 quote. I hopped in the car, drove to the local supermarket that sold roses and made my own out of two dozen table roses in 15 minutes flat! Its surprising what a girl can do with a glue gun, ribbons, and straight pins while wearing a cathedral style wedding gown!

April 9, 2008 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Melissa, that last one sounds like a scene out of romance -- only maybe the Wedding Planners are doing the panic stuff!

April 9, 2008 at 11:48 PM  
Blogger Dena said...

I think it would be the worst thing if the mother-in-law stood up at the part where the preacher says is there anyone that objects to this union, and she says to the bride you can't have him he's mine he always will be, you can never do for him what I do! I would be horrified!

April 10, 2008 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Melissa Leavitt said...

OMG Dena, that would be horrid!!!! LOL!!!

April 10, 2008 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

I suspect an awful lot of them would like to! I fear that my dd's future mil is a little like that. She's the sort that runs her finger along the skirting board when she visits them. If only she knew the danger she was in!

April 10, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Linda g said...

teachtoreach, fabulous news for you, girl! You are the winner of Liz's contest. Contact either Liz Fielding or me linda@lindagoodnight.com with your address so we can get that terrific prize headed your way!!

April 18, 2008 at 2:57 PM  

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