Bookish Musings, Banter & More
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
About the Author:
Author Kaye Dacus enjoyed her visits to a local television station while researching this book. She likes to say she writes â€œinspirational romance with a sense of humor.â€ She lives in Nashville and graduated from Seton Hill Universityâ€™s Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. She is an active member and former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). (ISBN#9781602604568, 320pp, $10.97)
Forbes Guidry sank into the tall-backed leather chair, extremities numb, and stared at the couple sitting across the desk from him. As a partner in the largest law firm in Bonneterre, Louisiana, heâ€™d heard a lot of shocking things over the fourteen years heâ€™d been practicing. But nothing had hit him quite like this.
â€œWe eloped.â€ His sister held up her left hand where a diamond wedding band had been added below the antique engagement ring sheâ€™d sported for the past three months. â€œI know you were looking forward to being Majorâ€™s best man, which is why weâ€™re telling you before breaking it to the rest of the family.â€
He hardly spared a glance at his best friendâ€”now his brother-in-lawâ€”before pinning his gaze on his sister. â€œMeredith, this is a joke, right? What about the meeting Monday with Anneâ€”the plans we discussed?â€ Sure, Meredith had been a little too quiet during that meeting, had voiced concerns about how big the wedding seemed to be growing, but sheâ€™d been coming off working a huge event that weekend and had been tired. . .hadnâ€™t she?
â€œThings were getting out of handâ€”had already gone too far.â€
â€œStop.â€ Forbes fought the urge to press his hands over his ears. â€œWay too much information.â€
Major chuckled; Meredith frowned at both of them. â€œOh, for mercyâ€™s sake. Iâ€™m talking about the wedding plans. Neither of us wanted a big wedding, but every time we met with Anneâ€”or you, or anyone in the familyâ€”it grew exponentially. Especially once Mom and Dad stuck their oars in and started making lists of all of their business acquaintances that needed to be invited.â€
Forbes stared at his sister, dumbfounded. He prided himself on knowing exactly what each member of his family was thinking before they ever thought it. How had this blindsided him so completely?
He finally turned his attention on Major. â€œWhen you came in Tuesday to talk about the restaurant, did you already have this planned?â€
â€œNo. Not planned. Weâ€™d discussed it, but it wasnâ€™t until that night when we made the decision.â€ Major had the good grace to look abashed.
And you didnâ€™t call me? Forbes reined in the childish words with a tight fist of control. He faced his sister again. â€œWhen and where did you get married?â€
â€œYesterday, when Mom and Dad met us at Beausoleil Pointe Center for lunch with Majorâ€™s mom. Weâ€™d asked the chaplain to perform the ceremony, and we got married in the pavilion where Major proposed to me.â€
Forbes turned away from the dewy-eyed look Meredith gave her new husband, feeling ill. That would explain why Meredith hadnâ€™t shown up for dinner with the siblings and cousins last night. Heâ€™d just assumed she was working overtime preparing for an event this weekend.
When the silence stretched, Forbes looked at them again.
Meredithâ€™s eyes narrowed speculatively at Forbes. â€œMajor, would you mind if I had a private word with my brother?â€
â€œSure. No problem.â€ Major stood, smoothing the front of his chinos. â€œIâ€“Iâ€™ll wait for you out in the car.â€
â€œThanks.â€ Meredith never pulled her gaze away from Forbesâ€”giving him the look that had always been able to make him squirm.
Forbes watched his friend leave the office, then pressed his lips together and faced his sister again.
â€œWhat is it that bothers you most? That you arenâ€™t going to be best man, that you donâ€™t get to be involved and have a say in the wedding plans, or that you didnâ€™t see this coming?â€ Meredith crossed her legs and clasped her hands around her knee, her expression betraying smugness and amusement.
What bothered him most was that over the past six or eight months, Meredith had slowly been pulling away from the family. Ever since sheâ€™d bought that house against hisâ€”and their parentsâ€™â€”advice, sheâ€™d started keeping secrets, spending less time with them. As the oldest, it was his responsibility to keep his six brothers and sisters in line, to watch out for and protect them, and to guide them in making their decisions. Mom and Dad had laid that burden on him early in life, and heâ€™d gladly carried it. But how could he express that to Meredith without coming across sounding like a little boy who hadnâ€™t gotten his way?
â€œIâ€™m not bothered, just surprised. Youâ€™re the last person in the family Iâ€™d expect to do something without planning it out well in advance.â€ He gave her his most charming grin. â€œIt is what you do for a living, after all.â€
She responded with a half smile. â€œAnd thus the reason for eloping. Between the busiest event-load weâ€™ve ever had, the Warehouse Row project, and Major getting ready for the groundbreaking on the restaurant, we were just tired of schedules and checklists and menus and seating charts. Now Marci wonâ€™t feel like her wedding is being overshadowed by her oldest sisterâ€™s, since she decided to plan a Christmas wedding and we didnâ€™t want to wait that long.â€
He could see her point, but. . . â€œDonâ€™t you feel like youâ€™ve cheated yourself out of the wedding you always wanted? Growing up, you and Anne used to talk about your dream weddings.â€
Meredith shrugged. â€œAnne always had the ideas. I guess thatâ€™s why sheâ€™s been such a great success as a wedding plannerâ€”every week she had bigger and grander ideas. Whenever I really thought about it, I couldnâ€™t imagine myself in the big dress, my hair all done up, standing there in front of that many people. I guess I never dreamed about a weddingâ€”I just dreamed about falling in love and being married.â€
Come to think about it, Forbes couldnâ€™t picture his jeansâ€“andâ€“T-shirt sister in a fluffy white gown, either. He ran his finger along the edge of the desk blotter.
â€œAnd look at the bright side: Now you donâ€™t have to find a date for the wedding.â€
He released a derisive sound in the back of his throat. â€œYes, since that worked out so well at Anneâ€™s weddingâ€”for my date, anyway.â€
â€œHow do you always manage to find these women whoâ€™re just trying to make their boyfriends jealous?â€
â€œYou know, I know someone I think would be perfect for you, if youâ€™d like me to see if sheâ€™d be agreeable to being set up on a blind date with you.â€
His insides quivered at the idea. â€œThank you kindly, but Iâ€™ll have to pass and just leave it up to chance. As I told George Laurence a long time ago, when Godâ€™s ready for me to fall in love, Heâ€™ll throw the right woman into my path.â€
â€œUh, did you think that maybe your sistersâ€™ and cousinsâ€™ attempts to set you up on dates might be Godâ€™s way of throwing the right woman in your path?â€
â€œNot unless Heâ€™s shared something with you He hasnâ€™t told me.â€ Forbes rounded the desk and held out his hand to his sister. She rose, and he pulled her into a hug. â€œCongratulations, Sis. Iâ€™m confident that you and Major will be happier together than you can even imagine.â€
â€œI know we will be.â€
â€œIâ€™ll walk you out.â€
Halfway down the stairs, he paused. â€œWhat about a honeymoon? Donâ€™t tell me youâ€™re going to just drop everything and take a two-week vacation that hasnâ€™t been on the schedule for the past six months.â€
â€œNo. Since the events next week can be handled by our assistants, weâ€™re leaving next Wednesday for a long weekend in Colorado. Amazing how this managed to coincide with the Aspen Food and Wine Classic that Majorâ€™s always wanted to go to, huh?â€ But from the smile on her face, he could tell she didnâ€™t begrudge indulging Majorâ€™s wishes in the least.
Heading back to his office after seeing his sister and brother-in-law offâ€”would he ever get used to that?â€”Forbes feigned harriedness to keep anyone from trying to stop him for a chat.
â€œSamantha, no calls for the next half hour, please,â€ he told his secretary on his way past her desk.
â€œYes, Mr. Guidry.â€
He leaned against his door after closing it. His office, with its walls of built-in, dark wood cabinets and bookcases, seemed to press in around him.
What heâ€™d told Meredith was true; he was absolutely certain that she and Major would have a happy marriage. Both of them were easygoing, almost too eager to give up what they wanted to make someone else happy. Forbes had learned a long time ago that he didnâ€™t have the right personality to get married. Every girl heâ€™d dated in high school or college had wanted to go out with him because of his looks. And every one of them had eventually broken up with him for one of two reasons: Either she thought he was selfish and didnâ€™t pay enough attention to her, or she thought he was too controlling and tried to smother her.
Heâ€™d completely given up on dating after his ten-year high school class reunion, at which heâ€™d overheard two of his ex-girlfriends having a laugh about how it was no surprise to them that he wasnâ€™t married yet.
He crossed to the window behind his desk and leaned against the frame, staring down at the visitor parking lot. His twenty-year reunion was coming up in the fall. And while heâ€™d love to find some ravishing beauty to take to it to shut up all those exes, he didnâ€™t want the hassle of expectations that came from taking someone out on a date.
When the thirty minutes heâ€™d given himself to brood expired, he opened the office door and asked Samantha to come in to review his schedule for the remainder of the day.
He made several notes in his PDA while she reviewed the afternoonâ€™s appointments and meetings. When she finished and closed her planner, she hesitated, biting her lips.
â€œWhat is it?â€ He leaned back in his chair, curious. Sheâ€™d never acted in the least intimidated or scared of him before. Sheâ€™d worked for him a little less than a year, but she was the first secretary heâ€™d had who didnâ€™t seem to mind a boss others had called a micromanagerâ€”had even stood up to him a time or two.
â€œSomeone from Bonneterre Lifestyles called a little while ago. It seems you didnâ€™t RSVP for the dinner tonight.â€
Forbes groaned. Ever since heâ€™d assisted in partner Tess Folseâ€™s run for city council five years agoâ€”during which heâ€™d given many speeches, appeared on all the local channelsâ€™ news broadcasts, and had his photo in the paper multiple timesâ€”heâ€™d been a fixture on the magazineâ€™s beefcake list, having garnered enough votes to win and get his face on the front cover twice.
â€œI suppose itâ€™s black tie?â€
Samantha nodded. â€œThatâ€™s what the gal said.â€
â€œThey offered a carâ€”a limoâ€”for you, if you want.â€
He pressed his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose. The three other partnersâ€”all womenâ€”were thrilled every year when he told them of his inclusion on the list. The articles enumerating his accomplishments were good exposure for the firm, theyâ€™d say. Up until now, heâ€™d found some excuse or another to avoid the dinner. This year, Tess, Sandra, and Esther had strongly suggested he make an appearance at the magazineâ€™s big publicity event at which the magazineâ€™s cover would be revealed and the top five bachelors named and recognized with awards.
He glanced over Samanthaâ€™s head at the three plaques and two glass trophies on a display shelf. Maybe they needed to give him a new awardâ€”Bonneterreâ€™s Most Perpetual Bachelor. He hoped this year he wasnâ€™t again the oldest man on the list.
â€œCall them back and tell them Iâ€™d be delighted to attend, but Iâ€™ll drive myself.â€
â€œWill do, boss.â€ Samantha scooped up her planner and the folders Forbes had given her to refile, and crossed to the door. â€œAnd Mr. Guidry?â€
â€œDo try to have fun tonight, okay?â€
â€œUh-huh. As fun as jumping into a pool full of thumbtacks.â€
Samanthaâ€™s laughter followed her out of the room.
His gaze flickered back to the emblems of his perpetual singleness. Heâ€™d heard the magazine always invited the yearâ€™s Most Eligible Bachelorettes to the dinnerâ€”possibly hoping to set up a relationship and eventual wedding they could report in their pages. Maybe he could find someone there to take to the reunionâ€”so long as she understood there were no strings attached.
Alaine Delacroix scrubbed off her on-air makeup. â€œMatt, have you seen Pricilla since I went off air? I need to talk to her about the event tonight.â€
The intern frowned. â€œI thought you were a guest at the thing, not covering it.â€
â€œWho else is going to cover something like that other than me? Iâ€™m the only reporter at this station who covers the social scene.â€ Not that she wanted to anymore. But until the news director actually looked at the hard-news pieces sheâ€™d been doing on her own time, sheâ€™d be stuck covering the fluff stories as she had for the past decade of her life.
â€œIf I see her, Iâ€™ll tell her you need to talk to her.â€ The college student waved and left the small prep room.
Alaine turned to check her appearance in the large mirror to make sure she didnâ€™t have mascara smeared down her cheeks. She made the inspection as quick as possible, hating to see her own reflection with no makeup. Even with her shoulder-length black hair still styled from her noon broadcast, with no makeup on, all she saw in the mirror were flawsâ€”dark circles under her eyes, freckles scattered across her nose and cheeks, and the bumps on her forehead that never seemed to go away.
She applied concealer under her eyes, powder all over her face, and a touch of eye makeup, blush, and lip gloss before returning to her desk in the newsroom. Once upon a time, Alaine Delacroix would have thought nothing of walking around with no makeup on. But that had been a very long time ago; sheâ€™d been a different person then.
An envelope with the stationâ€™s logo and return address in the top left corner sat on her chair when she got back to her cubicle, bearing her name in handwriting she didnâ€™t recognize. She opened itâ€”and smiled. Sheâ€™d hoped the marketing director would be able to come through for her.
She picked up her phone and dialed a number from memory.
â€œBoudreaux-Guidry Enterprises, Events and Facilities, this is Meredith.â€
â€œHey, girl. Itâ€™s Alaine.â€
â€œOhâ€”hi.â€ Meredith sounded funny. â€œWhatâ€™s up?â€
Alaine laughed. â€œI canâ€™t believe youâ€™re going to pretend you donâ€™t know why Iâ€™m calling you.â€
â€œYouâ€”how did you find out?â€
All traces of amusement evaporated, her reporterâ€™s instincts kicking in. Meredith sounded like someone who had a secret. â€œYou know a journalist canâ€™t reveal her sources. So? Spill it. I want details.â€
â€œI havenâ€™t told most of my family yet. If I give you details, you have to promise you wonâ€™t say anything to anyone until after Sunday. Weâ€™re telling the family at dinner after church.â€
â€œStrictly off the record.â€ Alaine picked up a pen and steno pad, but forced herself to put them down again and rotate in her chair so that her back was to the desk.
â€œWe had the chaplain at Beausoleil Pointe Center marry us yesterday afternoon. We surprised our parents.â€
All the air in Alaineâ€™s lungs froze solid. Meredith Guidry and Major Oâ€™Hara had eloped? â€œBut I thought you were having your cousin Anne plan a big wedding for you. I was hoping to cover it, since Major has become quite the celebrity, what with his cooking segments on my show.â€
â€œWe decided we were just too busy to try to plan a big wedding. And weâ€™ve already wasted eight years. Why put it off any longer?â€
A flash-fire of jealousy forced the air out of Alaineâ€™s lungs. Meredith had been one of her few friends who was still unmarriedâ€”and the only true friend Alaine had had in years. She hated being single; even more than becoming a serious journalist, getting married was the one thing she wanted most in life. Yet at thirty-two years old, she was starting to worry that the chances of either dream coming true were not just slipping, but sprinting, away.
Alaine had to swallow past the huge lump in her throat to make her voice work. â€œCongratulations, Mere. Iâ€™m really happy for you.â€ She glanced down at the envelope crumpled in her fist. â€œOh, I got the passes for the Art without Limits exhibit preview and fundraiser at the Beausoleil Fine Arts Center, if youâ€™re still interested in going.â€
â€œOf course I am. And since Majorâ€™s catering it, I wonâ€™t have to feel guilty about going off and leaving him home alone. Thanks again for thinking of me.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know anyone else who likes art, and I hate going to those things by myself.â€ She twisted the spiral cord around her finger tightly, trying to see if the slight pain would help squeeze out her envy.
â€œSame hereâ€”oh, my other line just lit up. Iâ€™ll talk to you later.â€
â€œOkay. Bye.â€ Alaine turned around to hang up the receiver, then put her head down on her folded arms atop the desk. God, why is everyone I know married or engaged? Am I the last old maid left in Bonneterre?
She knew the answer to that, of course. Twenty-four other â€œeligible bachelorettesâ€ would be at the Bonneterre Lifestyles dinner along with her, if they all showed up. And who wouldnâ€™t, when theyâ€™d have VIP access to the handsomest, wealthiest, highest-profile single men in town for the evening?
Motherâ€™s constant harping on her to get marriedâ€”and soonâ€”was starting to make Alaine feel like something was wrong with her for still being single at her age. The facts that Joe and his wife couldnâ€™t have kids and that Tony, at age twenty-six, wasnâ€™t anywhere near ready to settle down put all the pressure of producing grandchildren anytime soon on Alaine. And she wasnâ€™t even sure she wanted kids.
She sat up and tried to run her fingers through her hairâ€”before remembering it was still shellacked with hair spray.
Maybe tonight sheâ€™d give those bachelors more than just a professional glance. Maybe it was time to get a little arm candy to show her parentsâ€”and anyone else who might be lookingâ€”that she was at least trying. And she never knew: Mr. Right could be Bachelor Number One, Two, or Twenty-Five.
Click the bookcover or title for more info or to purchase a copy. Look for other FIRST Wildcard member posts and opinions also. Don’t forget to click the author’s name or photo to visit her website. My review is coming soon. Thanks to Barbour for a review copy.