Patty Cason has always packed a few extra pounds. Even though she’s a successful college campus minister in L.A., this is her private struggle, something she’s tried to keep hidden from her friends and family while it slowly erodes her confidence and social life. It doesn’t help that she’s been privately crushing on Reverend Duke Carlson for months, a doctoral student who hardly seems to notice her existence.
When her campus co-pastor’s fiancee, Tanya, invites her to serve as her maid of honor at their wedding in Wyoming, Patty is forced to face her biggest fears all at once. Not only does she have to fly commercial to the Broken J Ranch, she ends up sitting next to Duke the entire trip, because he’s agreed to serve as their best man.
To make matters even more stressful, Tanya and her fiancé have coaxed the painfully bashful minister into having Patty serve as his Plus One during the wedding festivities. Now, she’ll more or less be dating the guy of her dreams for the week. There’s only one problem with that plan: Duke has no idea he’s the guy of her dreams. What could possibly go wrong with an arrangement like that?
Targeted Age Group:: Women 18-65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This is an inspirational story where I grapple with some of my own biggest life struggles — weight loss and fear of heights — through my delightful main character, Pastor Patty Cason. Nearly every woman I know can relate to Patty. She's bubbly and outgoing on the outside but struggles with confidence and body image issues every day on the inside. It's a story about hope, second chances, overcoming, victory, and love!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I was raised as preacher's kid, so I ended up writing a whole lot about my own journey through Patty Cason, my heroine — my hopes, dreams, and career aspirations when I was back in my mid-twenties. Since many of my readers are either in the ministry in some capacity or church goers themselves, I knew they would be able to relate to her and enjoy her many (and sometimes humorous) struggles. My hero, Duke Carlson, is the perfect hero for Patty, specifically tailored to meet Patty in her biggest crises, a God-sent hero. He is patient and understanding, a pretty lonely guy after spending so much time on the missionairy field, and is looking for far more important things in the woman of his dreams than her dress size. This comes as a huge suprise to Patty — the fact that the things she's worried the most about all her life don't even matter to a man of his spiritual maturity.
“You and Wes asked who to be your best man?” Patty Cason’s voice rose to a near-shriek. Hands on her hips, she faced her dearest friend. I can’t believe this is happening to me. Why are things like this always happening to me?
Tanya Bullock treated her to a benign smile that indicated she was immune to outbursts like this. Then again, working for the LAPD probably made her immune to just about everything that didn’t involve blood or bullets.
“Oh, come on!” She bent her head to noisily slurp the remaining drops of her chocolate shake through a straw. “You had to have known Wes was going to ask him. They’re like…” She shook her head, making her long blonde hair fan around her slender shoulders. “Really tight.”
Patty looked away from her innocent blue stare, unable to bear the sight of her pencil-thin friend downing a full-sized tumbler of ice cream in front of her and still remaining pencil-thin. Some girls had all the luck! Unlike herself. She’d been born with dimples and curves and possessed a full, hour-glass figure at age twenty-five. All the ice cream she ate seemed to land on her hips. Ugh!
She unconsciously smoothed a hand down the front of her sleeveless, hot pink tunic, thankful for its empire waist and flowing lines that camouflaged what she inwardly referred to as her problem areas, i.e. her belly, hips, and thighs. It did not, however, camouflage her generous bosom. Nope. That blessing she got to live with in plain view — always.
“You know how I feel about him,” she said miserably in a voice barely above a whisper. “And as your maid of honor, he and I will be thrown together a lot over the next few days.” Too much!
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.” Tanya looked slightly uncomfortable. “I mean, considering the fact you’re secretly crushing on him and all.” Her voice dwindled at Patty’s aghast expression.
Her words were a jolting reminder of how out of touch she was with simple girl chats. As far as Patty knew, she was Tanya’s only gal pal. The woman otherwise ate, drank, and slept her work as a police officer. She’d worked her way up in the narcotics division with some pretty impressive drug busts.
“It’s a completely horrible thing!” Patty announced emphatically. How could she possibly make someone like Tanya understand? Guys noticed girls like her; they didn’t notice girls like Patty. “Yes, I’m secretly swooning night and day over his dreamy self, while he barely acknowledges my existence. It’s humiliating and stressful and…” I think I’m going to die right here, right now, just thinking about having to work so closely with him! “You do realize I’m going to have to walk down the aisle with him, right?”
Tanya snorted out a laugh. “I may have never been a bridesmaid, but I get the gist of how wedding ceremonies work, yes.”
No, you don’t. You don’t understand a thing, because you paired me up for the week with Duke Carlson. Patty dragged her fork around her bowl, picking at the weedy looking green things. She wished more than anything it was a bowl overflowing with salty fries. Eating healthy wasn’t near as much fun as her nutritionist made it look in her full-color flyers. They were at her favorite diner in the city, for crying out loud! Instead of a burger meal, here she was choking down lettuce leaves.
“So you purchased him a plane seat right next to mine, huh?” She bit her lower lip. You could have at least warned me first.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” Tanya pushed away her empty ice cream tumbler and rolled her eyes. “Would you rather me stick him in the back of the plane? There might still be time to swap out his seat.” There was a teasing light in her eyes.
Yes! Maybe…okay, I don’t know, but…
“Then again, that would look a little odd having him sit so far away from the rest of our wedding party.”
Patty wadded up her white straw wrapper and tossed it at her friend. “Do not stoop to employing annoying things like logic and good sense. You’re my best friend. That means you’re supposed to wallow alongside me in all my angst and self doubt.”
“You’re right.” Tanya smothered a grin and faked a pose of distress with one hand plastered to her forehead. “Oh, no! What are we going to do? You’ll be hanging out with the hunky Reverend Duke Carlson for an entire week, a complete scallawag of a man who’s focused on stuff like saving souls. The horror!”
“That’s more like it.” Patty giggled and forked another bite of salad into her mouth, forcing herself to chew and swallow. “A little sympathy goes a long way with me.”
“And you’re going to enjoy every minute of your time with him!” Tanya finished with an unholy glint in her eyes. When Patty’s lips parted in protest, she held up a hand. “I mean it. Something tells me your natural fountain of friendliness and cheer is going to be just the thing to nudge quiet ol’ Duke Carlson out of his pious bubble. Mark my words.” She nodded in satisfaction and stood.
Patty stared after her, open-mouthed, as her friend snatched up both their lunch tickets and made her way to the cash register to pay for them.
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