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A CASE FOR LOVE: The Inspiration

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In a book like Stand-In Groom with hidden identities and secret celebrity weddings, I needed a puppet-master, someone local who knew all the players and was in a position of power to be able to pull their strings. Enter Forbes Guidry.

Even before I knew that George would be keeping his true identity secret from Anne, I needed him to have a local point of contact—someone else who worked for George’s employer who could help George with things he needed to be able to do while in Bonneterre planning his boss’s wedding. And he needed to be someone who knew Anne—who knew Anne well. Then, once I came up with the idea for George pretending to be the groom, I knew this puppet master had to be someone who was always in control, always one step ahead of everyone else—and who knew how to get people to do what he wanted.

The idea for a character like Forbes didn’t start with Stand-In Groom however.

Before I ever had the idea for a story about a wedding planner falling in love, I had an idea that I might one day write a contemporary-set story loosely based on the storyline of Pride and Prejudice (this was around the same time I came up with the idea for the story that would become Love Remains, loosely based on Persuasion, but that’s a tale for another time). The hero would be a local politician running for state office—orchestrated by his wealthy aunt—and the heroine would be someone who worked for some kind of advocacy group that was trying to either get him on board with the worthy cause they advocated or get him defeated. But then I came up with the idea of Love Remains and this P&P storyline fell by the wayside . . . for the most part. But when it came time to come up with two follow-up books to Stand-In Groom (when it was still entitled Happy Endings Inc. and Menu for Romance was A Major Event Inc.) I sent in this blurb for what I tentatively entitled Forbes Guidry Inc.:

When Forbes Guidry agreed to run for state senate, he never imagined everyone around him would stop seeing him as a person and treat him as a commodity to be bought and sold by businesses and lobbyists. Historic architecture preservationist Elaine d’Arcement sees Forbes Guidry as a person—a person whose political career must end before it begins, if Bonneterre is to continue to be the charming town she loves. As election day approaches, can Ellie see beyond the fancy suits and expensive haircuts to the man of God Forbes claims to be? Can Forbes give up the luxuries of wealth, power, and popularity to choose love over his career?

I had no idea who Elaine d’Arcement was (beyond the fact that she was part of one of the larger families populating Bonneterre)—because I came up with her name and occupation on the fly when I needed something to turn in as part of a three-book proposal when I first submitted to my agent in late 2006.

But, at the beginning of 2008, just when everything started getting super contentious in the national political scene, Barbour asked if I could come up with a storyline that didn’t involve politics.

Fortunately, by this time, not only had I come up with the more solid storyline of Menu for Romance, I had a better feeling for who Forbes was from his involvement in MFR . . . and I had introduced a secondary character in Menu who I knew would be the perfect foil for Forbes—TV society reporter Alaine Delacroix.

When Alaine first came on the scene in Menu for Romance it was in the role of the vixen—the woman who was going to deliberately set out to come between Meredith and Major. (And back then, I was debating whether to make her Ward’s sister or ex-fiancée, until she informed me she was neither.) But the more scenes I put Alaine in, the more I realized that she was simply misunderstood—and that she was someone who could give Forbes lots of grief. So when Barbour asked for a new proposal for the third book in the series (which I was even then trying to rename each of the books), I realized that by choosing Alaine as the heroine of the book, and by coming up with a legal case that would involve both of them, I had the perfect setup for Forbes:

The Alaine Delacroix that all of Bonneterre knows is the carefully polished image she puts forth every day on her noontime news-magazine program. When her parents’ home and small business is threatened by the biggest corporation in town, Alaine is forced to choose between her image and fighting for the life her family has built.

Lawyer Forbes Guidry is used to making things go his way. But when he’s asked to take on a pro bono case for a colleague, he’ll learn that he can’t control everything—including his feelings for his new client: Alaine Delacroix.

Alaine’s only option to help her family is hiring Forbes, but can she bring herself to trust the handsome, disarmingly charming lawyer? And will Forbes Guidry be able to make a case for love before losing his job and family? Can both trust that God will present a solution before it’s too late?

As I did with Menu for Romance and Ransome’s Honor last summer, I’m going to feature a series of posts about A Case for Love over the next few weeks. I have ideas for what I’m going to write about . . . but what do you want to know about the book? What questions do you have about this book? this series?

  1. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 11:36 am

    Are there other lawyer characters you’ve read or seen in the past that influenced your depiction of Forbes?


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 11:37 am

      Yes . . . but you’ll have to wait to find out!


  2. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 11:58 am

    And I for one can’t wait to find out who your inspiration is!

    I fell in love with the folks in “Bonterre” in “Stand-In Groom,” and hate to think about this being the last of the series. So here’s a question for you – Any chance of taking the series beyond 3 books (Hey, it worked for Janette Oke and Dee Henderson!), or perhaps another series as an off-shoot?

    Inquiring minds want to know . . . 😉


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 12:08 pm

      As I mentioned to someone in the comments on the series page, there are three more people (Rafe, Jason, and Jenn) who’ve been secondary characters in this series who could possibly be featured in a second trilogy . . . after, of course, the Matchmakers series, and if I haven’t figured out something else I want to write by then. 8)


  3. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 12:30 pm

    Regina stole my question LOL so I’m going to ask this, how about a historical series set in Bonneterre?



  4. Jess permalink
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 12:30 pm

    I know you spent a day at a local news show to learn about Alaine’s job, but how much research did you have to do in the legal field?


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:13 pm

      Good question . . . which will be covered in my “Research” post!


  5. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:15 pm

    From the first, I liked Forbes, the puppet master, the guy who seemed to glue all the other characters together, even if exactly how had yet to be known. And I’d love to see Rafe’s and Jenn’s stories. (I don’t remember Jason so I have to go back and find him before I read ACFL.)

    Why is Forbes an attorney, and why is he the particular type of lawyer that he is? Forbes is buttoned-up but mysterious. What’s beneath that polished veneer? (These are probably story questions, not book questions so I hope to find out when I read ACFL.)

    A book question might be how’d you choose Alaine’s new profession. What type of person might go into that profession and how will that play into the story?


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:19 pm

      Wow–y’all are giving me all kinds of ideas of topics I need to cover in my “behind the scenes” posts this month!


  6. Amee permalink
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:33 pm

    I’m really curious to just read the book and find out how Forbes might also lose his family! They were so close in Stand In Groom (haven’t gotten around to Menu for Romance…yet!) that it must be something major for there to be a rift in the family like that.


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:36 pm

      You may want to read Menu for Romance before A Case for Love—I started hinting that things in the Guidry family might not be as perfect as they seemed in Meredith’s story.


  7. Adrienne permalink
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:37 pm

    My question with this series was similar to one before me but how did you acquaint yourself with all your characters professions? I’m sure it had to be difficult because when I read Stand-In Groom their professions were such a part of the storyline and not just mentioned here or there.


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:42 pm

      With the older characters I write—especially my heroines who are all career women, as I am—having their jobs be a big part of their lives is important to me, because it makes them more realistic, whether they like their jobs/careers or not. I get annoyed whenever I read a romance novel in which the hero/heroine is given a job title but they’re never actually seen working that job (or they’re independently wealthy without having to work for it). Real people have to work to pay their mortgages/rent and buy groceries and other stuff.

      Right now, the heroine I’m writing, who works for a non-profit/government-funded historic-site preservation agency, is saving money to buy a new dishwasher for her house—which means there are certain things she’s going to have to sacrifice, certain activities she isn’t going to be able to go do, because she can’t/doesn’t want to spend the money. (And she’s about to go on a job interview . . . I’ve got to get that scene written today!)


  8. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:58 pm

    I enjoyed reading the history behind A Case For Love. I loved the first two books and I’m looking forward to ACFL. The folk of Bonneterre, and the place, are so vivid it seems they surely must exist, like I met them on a trip back east, or maybe they’re my distant cousins I hear about through the family grapevine, who lead the most interesting lives of us all.


    • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 2:01 pm

      You know, after using the setting of Bonneterre for so long (including the few manuscripts I wrote before SIG, along with my “epic” unfinished manuscript I started way back in the early 1990s), I’m now having trouble incorporating Nashville as the setting of my current novel without it feeling like I’m “name dropping” by putting in the names of actual sites and areas of Nashville.


      • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 2:53 pm

        I can imagine. My WIP has one real place, and one fictional place based on the combination of the community where I grew up and the town where I live, now. Trouble is, the REAL place is not a place I’ve lived, but visited, so it’s easier to “fictionalize” that one than the FICTIONAL one! LOL


        • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 2:57 pm

          Apparently, according to the very unscientific survey I did a month or so ago (on Twitter) asking people what they’d expect to “see” in a book set in Nashville, I’m not “Nashville enough,” even though I’ve lived here fourteen years. I don’t want to go for the stereotype (country music, cowboy boots/hats, and stars on every corner), but I don’t want to get reviews saying that readers didn’t feel the setting was realistic either.


        • Wednesday, January 6, 2010 5:17 pm

          I remember that. I’ve been to Nashville numerous times. Personally, and maybe it’s the areas I’ve been in, I’ve not seen people decked out in rinestones wearing cowboy hats. Mostly what I think of are traffic and HILLS! LOL

          Oh, and when I write about people from Kentucky, they don’t ALL live in the mountains, Bowling Green isn’t, to me anyway, WESTERN Kentucky, and most of us wear shoes . . .


        • Thursday, January 7, 2010 11:09 am

          If any of the stories take place in late April, you should incorporate the Country Music Marathon. Everyone I know in Nashville talks about it. Actually, I think everyone I know in Nashville RUNS in it.


        • Thursday, January 7, 2010 12:45 pm

          Actually, Becky, NOT everyone you know in Nashville runs in it . . . because I definitely DON’T.

          When I had the book starting Memorial Day weekend, I did mention that her cousin and his band had played at one of the bandstands along the race near where she lives. But now that I’ve moved this particular book in the series to opening on Labor Day weekend, I’ll have to take that reference out. But it’ll probably get a mention in one of the other two books.


  9. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 3:17 pm

    I always love reading about the inspiration behind your stories! 🙂 And thanks so much for posting your book lists for 2010. We both have a few in common ~ my biggest goal is to read through the Bible {hopefully in the first 90 days!}.

    I had to laugh when I think about the initial book titles that you had and what they ended up being. It’s like naming a child and then looking back at some of the names you had been tossing around and thinking ~ “Oh, they DEFINITELY aren’t a John….or a David.” The titles that you have now fit the books so well! 🙂 Love ’em!


  10. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 7:17 pm

    You answered the first question–what about Jen??? I REALLY want to find out about her.

    I read your first page at…not sure where, but someone was interviewing you (sorry, it was like, a week ago or something). WOWEE! Don’t want to give anything away to anyone else, but I’m SUPER excited.

    I have to admit, I didn’t care for Forbes in the first book, I hated how he came between George and Anne. I started liking him more in MFR. I’m REALLY interested in seeing inside his head in ACFL.

    I also loved Alaine from the first time I saw her (although it did help that I knew that she’d be the heroine later on). Can’t wait!!!

    Let’s see, questions…I’d love to see how you research for contemporaries. I’m doing that right now, and it’s amazing HOW HARD research can be! You know, you think of contemporaries and it’s like, “That’s easy, it’s right now, what’s to research,” and then you realize HOW MUCH! 😉


  11. Thursday, January 7, 2010 9:25 am

    Hmm…. I think everyone else already mentioned what I’m curious about. I defintetly wouldn’t mind seeing another casting page *G*


  12. Thursday, January 7, 2010 1:24 pm

    I love the “research” topic, I can’t wait to read more about how you learn about your characters. It cracks me up how you talk about your characters. “She informed me…” I know exactly what you mean.

    My husband and I were “what if-ing” this Christmas and together we came up with a story premise I’m really excited about the problem is my characters are people whom I don’t have a clue about. One a foreigner with completely different culture, religion and traditions that me, another has a profession I don’t know much about. Wow, where to begin! It’s funny though how they “reveal” themselves! I’ve actually been fighting with the two (haha) because each time I start to write the beginning they fight over who is the main protagonist as well as how the one (who is winning against my better judgement 😉 )wants to start! Hahaha, it sounds so crazy!


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