Peggy released three (3!) holiday-themed books this season - color me impressed by her energy and talent! I read (and loved!) DEARLY BELOVED on a plane ride to a wedding this past month (it seemed fitting) and am excited to share Peggy's thoughts about her theme and her main characters.
Way easier said than done.
When the concept for Dearly Beloved bloomed in my head, I wanted to tie the lives of the Colleen and Slade together with a common theme. Since they are such opposites in nearly every way – economically, socially, even the way they were raised – they needed some kind of story arc that would serve as a basis toward their HEA.
Forgiveness jumped into my mind because at the time I was struggling with my own decision to forgive someone who had hurt me tremendously. What would it cost me, I pondered, to forgive the person fully and just walk away from the hurt? First of all, could I even do that? And if I did, what would the aftermath look like?
That got me to thinking about my hero and heroine and the people that had hurt them.
Colleen caught her fiancé in bed with one of her co-workers. When she then dumped him, her life changed dramatically from what she was envisioning it was going to be. Would she be able to forgive him for not only cheating, but for destroying the dreams she so desperately wanted to come true? And what about her parents? They’d deserted the family when Colleen’s younger sister died of breast cancer, leaving behind the three girls to grieve together without their parents guiding and helping them through it. Could Colleen find it in her heart to forgive them for abandoning the family?
Slade’s life was set on a certain course that changed overnight when he had to take control of the family business because his father was ruining it with his numerous ill advised marriages and the subsequent expensive divorces. Would Slade be able to find it in his heart to forgive his father for his transgressions and for cheating him out of the life he wanted to live?
So much needed forgiving in this story, I worried it was too much for a reader to connect to on an entertainment level. But then I remembered something, something crucial, that my faith has taught me: Forgiveness is never for the person who is being forgiven and totally for the one who is doing the forgiving. The forgiveness benefits the forgiver waaaaaay more than the person who has sinned.
That little tenant made it easier for me to write the story. What didn’t hurt also, is that I could slip in as much humor and humorous pathos as I could fit in to temper the heaviness of the subject matter. I could find a way for both Colleen and Slade to move on with their lives – and with each other – without the hurts of their pasts and lives intruding on their HEA.
Considering the theme of forgiveness as a running plot point in the book helped me deal with my own ability to forgive the person who had so hurt me and done so much damage to my life. I think it made me better person, in the end, to forgive for forgiveness sake.
And I totally think it made me a better writer.
Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she's worried she’ll never find Mr. Right.Grab your copy on AMAZON
Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He'll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn’t plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though.
When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.