written by Kathleen Irene Paterka
published by Kathleen Irene Paterka
I am really enjoying this book! I can’t wait to see how it ends. I will post my review as soon as I finish it.
About the book – from Goodreads: The Royal Wedding Chapel of Las Vegas
Where dreams come true
and are just as easily destroyed…
Immersed in the regal world of weddings and romance, Lily Lavender grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. A direct descendent of the British royals, 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.
Please enjoy the following excerpt from Royal Secrets.
Keep calm and carry on. That’s what the English people were told during World War II. Too bad Mimi never embraced that as her motto. Perhaps if she had, she would have stayed in the kitchen with Francesca, finished her tea, and none of this would have happened. Plus, Mimi wasn’t even born until after WWII. She didn’t visit London until the late 60s while on a whirlwind backpacking trip through Europe. It was during the height of flower power and free love that she met my father, Lawrence Lavender, Husband Number One. He swept her off her feet and within a matter of days convinced her to marry him. Always one to do exactly as she pleased, she quickly accepted and lived in England for nearly a year… until the fatal car accident that robbed a pregnant Mimi of her husband and me of the father I would never know. Then, in true Mimi fashion, she picked up the pieces and left the country that is half my heritage, never looking back, never to return.
“And what about tomorrow?” Francesca says. “We have two weddings booked.”
“Only two? But tomorrow is Saturday.” When I was growing up, Saturdays meant a whirlwind of weddings. The chapel is open throughout the week, but Saturday still remains the day most brides choose to be married.
“Things have been slow lately,” she says. “I’ve told Mimi we should advertise more, maybe update our website. But she refuses. She says the chapel is doing fine and that we will carry on with business as usual.” Her voice drops. “But I think she’s wrong. Things aren’t fine.”
Only two brides on a Saturday in June? I don’t think things are fine, either.
“The other chapels in town don’t seem to have a problem,” she continues. “Then again, their websites are nicer than ours. Or maybe it’s because they have a younger staff. Of course, we still have our reputation, which brings in some business, and we still get phone calls. But so many of the brides I talk to on the phone end up not booking. And some of those girls are so rude; they hang up without bothering to say thank you or good-bye.” She bites her lip. “I try not to take it personally, but I feel bad for Mimi. The chapel is her life, and she’s losing business. Girls are still getting married, but they’re not getting married at Mimi’s chapel.”
The Royal Wedding Chapel has been a fixture in the Vegas community for decades, and its reputation for elegance and opulence has served Mimi and the business well. When I was in my mid-teens, she recruited me every weekend. Forced to man the reception desk, I answered the phones and worked with the walk-ins while she and Francesca handled the ceremonies. But once I started college, Ed stepped in and pled my case, and for whatever reason, Mimi listened. Thus ended my career in the family wedding business.
I’m still not sure why she allowed me to step aside. Even after Ed moved out and they divorced, she never pressed me back into service. Nowadays, Jaabir chauffeurs bridal couples to and from their hotels in the stretch limo while Francesca runs the music and Mimi officiates at each ceremony.
And if my mother gets her way, she’ll have Tori behind the reception counter, working the phones, handling the appointments, and serving as a licensed minister as soon as she reaches legal age.
“What about Tori?” I ask as the limo speeds along the side streets. “Does she know about Mimi?”
Francesca nods. “I phoned after the ambulance left. She’s probably already at the hospital.”
Tori and who else? The mere thought of Jack being with her starts a slow burn simmering in my stomach. Hopefully Ed had the sense to accompany them or we could be facing fireworks in the waiting room. I love Ed, and I’m always glad to see him, but his son Jack is a different story.
“I suppose we’ll have no choice but to call in a substitute minister.” Francesca pauses, worry clouding her eyes. “I hope we’ll be able to find someone. And what if Mimi isn’t well enough to do the weddings next week?” Her face is in another free fall. “What if—”
“What if you quit worrying about things?” The last thing I need is Francesca worrying herself sick over minor details. “Everything will work out.”
She tsks-tsks her way out of silence. “Mimi will hate paying the extra money for a substitute minister, but I suppose it can’t be helped. This is an emergency.”
“Mimi will understand.” And if she doesn’t, I’ll make sure she does. When you’re in the bridal business, the first rule of order is to make sure emergencies are covered by a backup plan. Las Vegas means brides—all kinds of brides. Plain or gorgeous, sweet or demanding, drunk or sober, when a bride and her groom show up at the Royal Wedding Chapel, they expect a minister on site who will be able to marry them. The bridal business can be messy, but you don’t mess with brides. A bride in meltdown-mode is not a pretty sight.
“Tomorrow’s weddings will go smoothly,” I assure her. “Wait and see.”
She squeezes my hand. “I can’t imagine what we would do without you. You are such a blessing.”
Poor Francesca. She has no clue. Things are calm for now, but the who-what-when-where-and-howwe’ll get through tomorrow’s weddings is beyond me. We can’t cancel the bookings, and I’m not licensed to conduct the ceremonies. Mimi tried every trick in the book when I turned eighteen to get me to apply for a certified officiate’s license. Just in case, she insisted, but I wouldn’t budge.
I still don’t think I would have had the courage to stand up to Mimi if it hadn’t been for Ed. His advice to follow my heart and get out of the wedding business paid off with me graduating summa cum laude with a degree in finance. I was recruited straight out of university into their corporate training program by the international casket company I’m still with today.
Coffins? Funeral parlors? Mimi accuses me of mocking her happily-ever-after business by having allowed myself to be hired into the death business. But I’m happy where I am. I’m head of my department and successful at what I do. I’ve always preferred dealing with numbers; you can trust them. Unlike people, they don’t cheat, steal or lie.
There’s a good reason I’ve never been married. I’m the last person who should stand before two people, urge them to join hands, and pronounce them husband and wife. Let someone else handle the happily-ever-after nonsense. As for the Royal Wedding Chapel, it’s Mimi’s passion, Francesca’s paycheck, and—if Mimi gets her way—Tori’s inheritance. But the last thing I want is Tori making the same mistakes I did. I love Ed bunches, but hanging around Mimi too long can break your heart.
So can hanging around Jack.
About the author: 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.
Find Ms. Paterka here: web, blog, Facebook, Goodreads
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!