Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writing a Wedding Themed Series || Jana Richards || Left at the Altar Series

Recently, on Contemporary Romance Café, a group blog I belong to, we had a discussion about weddings. About the cost of weddings, especially the dresses (anyone here watch Say Yes to the Dress?), and the emphasis that so many people place on the wedding, instead of the marriage. Most of the writers said they didn’t feel the need to end a book with a marriage to have a happily ever after.

Neither do I. But I had a burning desire to explore what happens to individuals who experience the worst humiliation it’s possible to have on the way to say ‘I do’ – being left at the altar. I wanted to know how they dealt with the humiliation and embarrassment, and more importantly, I wanted to know how they would pick themselves up and start over again. How would they let themselves love again?

In real life, there are several reasons someone might not go through with a wedding. According to Health-How Stuff Works, the top ten reasons someone might get cold feet and bolt from a wedding are:

10.  Disagreement on major issues, such as children, politics or where to live.

9.   Fear of lifestyle change, such as not wanting to give up a carefree bachelorhood.

8.   Not over the ex.

7.   Too much pressure to get married, from the fiancé or from families.

6.   Immaturity.

5.   Fear of loss of sexual freedom.

4.   Too much difference between the couples’ ages.

3.   Money problems, and differences in money spending styles.

2.   Trust issues. If you’ve been burned before, you may have trouble trusting again.

1.   Too much emotional baggage, either from a previous relationship, or from a rocky childhood.

In the first book of my Left at the Altar series, HER BEST MAN, Sarah’s fiancé falls victim to reason number eight – he’s not truly over his ex.  When Sarah met him, he had just broken up with a long-time girlfriend. He and Sarah hit it off, and within a few months were heading down the aisle. But he didn’t give himself enough time to get over his first love. Sarah should have been his rebound girl, not his fiancée. Consequently, he can’t go through with the marriage and leaves Sarah high and dry.

In THERE GOES THE GROOM, Olivia and Tony face a variety of problems that cause Tony to leave her at the altar. At barely twenty, neither of them is mature enough to deal with serious problems. When Olivia gets caught up in the emotional baggage of her parents’ rocky relationship, she doesn’t trust Tony with the truth, causing him to believe she doesn’t want to go through with the wedding.  

In ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, Zach’s ex-fiancée Chantal lacks maturity, to say the least. She also has a bad case of Reason Number Five – fear of losing sexual freedom. She has a hard time being true to anyone. He needs a woman who’s true blue, but finds it difficult to trust again. It’ll take a special woman to make him fall in love again.

It may take the added maturity of a few years, lots of therapy, or finding the right person, but eventually it’s possible to move past the pain to learn to love again. In my Left at the Altar series, Sarah, Olivia and Zach find that the humiliation they went through was painful, but it allowed them to discover who they’re really meant to spend their lives with.

Have you ever been at a wedding where someone gets left at the altar? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen happen at a wedding? What’s the funniest thing?

Sarah Stevens experiences a bride's worst nightmare; being dumped at the altar.  When she goes on the Caribbean cruise meant to be her honeymoon in order to lick her wounds, she discovers her ex-fiancé has sent his brother, Will Marshall, the former best man, on the cruise as well.  Everyone on board thinks they're newlyweds, and Sarah is too embarrassed to set them straight.  How is she supposed to share a tiny cabin with a man she barely knows?  Even worse, how is she supposed to pretend that she and Will are on their honeymoon?  Sarah discovers the best man for her really is the best man.

Her Best Man, Book one –
 Eight years ago Tony left Olivia at the altar. He was sure she didn't really want to marry him. Now he's back, and they're forced to work together.

Coming home isn't easy for Tony, because his father wanted him to work at a trade instead of going off to college. Their relationship is still unsteady. Even before Tony's return, Olivia began questioning the depth of her love for her fiancé, a man she chose because he was safe and reliable. The last thing she wants is a loveless, faithless marriage like the one her parents suffered through. 

When Tony, who never stopped loving her, insists her fiancé is the wrong man for her, Olivia sets out to prove him wrong. But the sexual chemistry between them is still strong, and so are her feelings for him. Even so, how can she break her engagement, hurt her fiancé as she was once hurt? And how can she trust Tony not to abandon her like he did before?

If anyone does the jilting this time, she will.

There Goes the Groom – Book Two

Dani Dipietro has always considered herself an ugly duckling in a family of swans. She's the bridesmaid her friends count on, but never the woman any man wants for his bride. So she plays the funny girl and guards her emotions, and her secrets, closely.

When Zach Morrison was dumped at his wedding, Dani was there to help him through the humiliation. A year later they meet again and once more Zach needs her help. To fend off the unwanted attentions of his former fiancé, he asks Dani to pretend to be his girlfriend. They play their roles a little too well, and make believe turns into reality. But their relationship comes crashing down around them when Zach's trust issues cause him to accuse Dani of cheating. Telling the truth means that Dani will betray a friend, something she will never do. But keeping her secrets means she may be destined to remain a bridesmaid forever. 


The door swung open, and for a moment Dani could only stare. Zach Morrison stood holding the door and looking even more handsome then he had a year ago. She’d learned from Fiona that he’d be here, that they’d be paired together in the wedding party. But even though he’d had a starring role in her fantasies for the last year, she hadn’t expected her insides to go all mushy at the sight of him.

Finally, she remembered her manners and held out her hand. “It’s nice to see you again, Zach.”

He took her hand and held it tightly. “It’s nice to see you, too. In fact, I’m really glad you’re here.”

Her mouth went instantly dry. “You are?”

“Yeah.” He squeezed her fingers, the look on his face intense. “I know we don’t know each other well, but I have a favor I need to ask you. A really big favor.”

“Okay.” She couldn’t imagine what kind of favor he’d want from her. “Why don’t I come inside and you can tell me about it.”

He looked furtively over his shoulder. “I haven’t forgotten your kindness when I saw you last. My mother told me how considerate you were to her and Camp as well. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. But I really didn’t do anything.” Her heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it.

“It meant a lot to me. Listen, there’s not much time. I wanted to ask you–”

“Zach! Who’s at the door?”

Dani started. She knew that voice. Chantal.

Zach visibly shuddered at the demanding tone in his ex-fiancé’s voice. His blue eyes implored her.

“Please, play along with me. I’ll make it worth your while.”


“Daniella, help me, please!” he whispered.

How could she say no to a handsome man asking for her help?

“Okay, but–”

Before she could articulate a question, he pulled her into his arms, his mouth descending on hers. Dani was too shocked to object. For a full ten seconds she remained rigid and unyielding. Then she relaxed slightly, sighing at the sweet sensation of his lips touching hers. Her hands seemed to move on their own accord, first exploring his muscular chest, then winding around his neck. Her body trembled as it molded itself against his.

“Dani? Is that you?”

Chantal’s voice doused the pleasant awareness. She stepped back with a jolt, shocked that she’d been so intimate with someone she hardly knew. She cringed. And in front of an audience, too.

Zach put his arm around her waist, pulling her against him and kissing her cheek. “Just follow my lead. Please,” he whispered urgently in her ear. Dani looked up into his eyes and saw his desperation. Without thinking, she gave an imperceptible nod. He grinned and turned to face Chantal.

“I was just saying hello to Daniella.”

Chantal looked her up and down. “Since when do you say hello to Dani by sticking your tongue down her throat?”
ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID releases January 17, 2014.

Author Bio:
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

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  1. Hi Jana, Welcome and thanks for sharing your series with us today. I've gotta admit--I'm a sucker for weddings. I noticed that your book concepts seem to mirror items from the list. Are you planning on writing a story for each "number"? :-)

    1. No, I've always envisioned this as a three book series. I actually came across that article in Health-How Stuff Works in the course of writing this article. Funny how some of the reasons coincided with the reasons in my books! Totally unplanned, but they make perfect sense.

  2. What a wonderful idea for a series, Jana. So many possibilities! My second book started with the heroine left at the altar, but for none of the reasons you cited. It's a great opening hook. Best of luck with your books!

  3. Hello, Jana--I like your top ten reasons. All of them good ones. Good luck with your series. . .and write on!

    1. Thank you, Judy. I definitely will write on!

  4. This sounds like a fun series. I really enjoyed reading this blog post.