Guest Post with Kathleen Irene PaterkaI’ve been fascinated with the British royal family since I was in my teens. I was right there watching the telly (ooh, how British!) with 750 million other people on July 29, 1981 as 20 year old Lady Diana Spencer walked the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral on her father’s arm to where 32 yr. old Prince Charles waited at the altar.
But Charles had a secret…he was in love with another woman, his mistress Camilla, and he had no intention of giving her up. Diana discovered proof of their notorious affair two days before the royal wedding. As she later commented to friends, “My wedding day was the worst day of my life… I felt like a lamb being led to the slaughter.” No wonder. Charles and Diana had only been out together on thirteen dates before they married. Her sisters stopped her from calling everything off. “Too late… your face is on the tea towel. You can’t chicken out.” And so Diana married her prince. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said at their wedding, “Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made.”
Unfortunately, we now know how it was a fractured fairy tale, one which ended in despair, divorce, and ultimately, Diana’s death on August 31, 1997. The world mourned its princess, and grieved along with Diana’s two young sons, Prince William (15) and Prince Harry (12). Royalty watchers the world over rejoiced on April 29, 2011, as William married his Kate at Westminster Abbey. As I write this, there is still a ‘royal baby watch’ on the way… and so the royal saga continues.
Whether you’re like me, a true royal watcher, there’s no denying that the British royal family is the ultimate when it comes to putting on a wedding. I love brides and weddings. My day job as staff writer at a real American castle which hosts numerous weddings (nearly 200 last year) feeds my fix for royalty and romance. When I began daydreaming about a plot for a new book, my love for all things royal and weddings came into play. But it wasn’t until my daughter and her husband settled in Las Vegas a few years ago that I really started thinking. Las Vegas, the wedding capital of the world. Voila! The framework for a new story was born.
About the book:Royal Secrets was released on July 1, 2013. It’s the story of the Royal Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, and of Lily Lavender, whose family is distantly descended from the British royal family. Immersed in the regal world of weddings and romance, Lily grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. It seemed her destiny and royal birthright to someday assume a position as wedding coordinator in their family-owned wedding chapel business. But when her mother Mimi’s third marriage eventually fails, Lily’s dreams of her own happily-ever-after quickly fade. She’s no longer interested in a life of assisting brides walk down the aisle into a life of disillusionment and possible divorce. Lily turns her back on The Royal Wedding Chapel and leaves Las Vegas to fashion a life of her own. Years later, Lily—now a single mom—discovers her teenage daughter has run off to Las Vegas, lured by Mimi to help run the chapel. Determined to save her daughter from the broken dreams of Sin City and the nonsensical world of which family fairy tales are made, Lily returns to Las Vegas. But nothing prepares Lily for the royal drama which awaits her… or the sins and secrets she stumbles across that threaten to close the chapel and ruin her family forever.
Sound interesting? Read on for the Prologue…
Excerpt from Royal Secrets
There’s a reason they call this town Sin City, my mother told me long ago when I questioned her about something I’d heard at school that day. But when I asked about the secrets part, Mimi had refused to explain. “You’re much too young to hear about such things, Lily,” she said and left it at that.
I wandered away, a confused eight-year-old, my head filled with even more questions. How could Las Vegas be full of sin and secrets when it was filled with so much sunshine? Growing up in this town, in the ornate, spacious villa behind Mimi’s Royal Wedding Chapel near the center of the Strip, I saw the glitz and glamour. It shimmered and sparkled like the beautiful brides in their wedding gowns gracing the aisles of the chapel. Peeking around the pews, I saw their glowing faces, heard the vows exchanged, witnessed the beginnings of so many happily-ever-afters.
And then I grew up.
It took a while—around the time Mimi’s third marriage, the one to Jack’s father, collapsed—for me to discover the truth. Las Vegas is full of sin and secrets. Most of them stay in Vegas, left behind to be cleaned up by maids and blackjack dealers who sweep away the debris. Others get carried home like guilty luggage, busting up marriages and businesses and causing bankruptcy.
I’m forty years old, and that naïve little girl I used to be disappeared long ago. She learned that happily ever after is merely an illusion and that sins and secrets can weigh just as heavy on your heart as our family’s heirloom tiara can weigh on your head. The dazzling crown, in the special display case behind bulletproof glass in the lobby of the Royal Wedding Chapel, gleams like the fortune it is worth. But the antique combs pinch and the diamond diadem is a burden. How my grandmother managed to keep the jewel-encrusted crown on her head when presented to the Queen is the stuff of which family legends are made. With my grandfather descended from British nobility and in distant line for the throne, the tiara is a priceless treasure, proof of our family’s heritage.
As far as I’m concerned, though, that tiara is exactly where it belongs: safely behind glass, viewed from a distance. It glitters and sparkles, but the pain isn’t worth it. Dare to wear it, as I did once, and—just like the secrets hidden in Sin City—the pain and guilt will tear you down. I’m lucky I managed to yank it off in time.
And I refuse to allow that tiara to ruin my daughter’s life the way it almost ruined mine.
Blog Tour:July 22 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
July 23 – Chick Lit Chit Chat – Excerpt
July 24 – Amie’s Reviews – Review
July 26 – Everything Books & Authors – Q&A
July 29 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
July 30- Samantha March – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 31 – Amie’s Reviews – Review
August 1 – Forget the Housework, I’m Reading! - Excerpt
August 5 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
August 5 – A Blue Million Books – Guest Post, Q&A & Excerpt
August 6 – Chick Lit Goddess – Review & Q&A
August 8 – Brooke Blogs – Review & Excerpt
August 9 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
August 12 - The Hopeless Romantics Book Blog – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
Don't forget to leave a comment on Kathleen's tour page for a chance to win a copy of the book!
About Kathleen:Kathleen Irene Paterka is the author of numerous women’s fiction novels which embrace universal themes of home, family life and love, including Royal Secrets and the James Bay series (Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy and For I Have Sinned). Kathleen is the resident staff writer for Castle Farms, a world renowned castle listed on the National Historic Register, and co-author of the non-fiction book For The Love of a Castle, published in 2012. Having lived and studied abroad, Kathleen's educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Michigan University. She and her husband live in the beautiful north country of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
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