That's exactly the dilemma that Keara and Elam Jensen face when the kiss shared on their wedding day turns their decision marry for "non-romantic" reasons on its head.
The Wedding Kiss, set in Eureka Springs, Ark., is a sweet tale, filled with love, kindness and a twist of suspense - which Hannah Alexander is known for in their novels.
The novel opens with Keara needing to marry her friend Elam out of convenience - she needs a place to live - after her father loses the farm. He also needs someone to care for his children following his wife Gloria's death.
At first it seems like the perfect solution. Then an unexpected visitor (Gloria's sister) and the mysterious happenings in the countryside help Keara and Elam take a deeper look at their friendship - and ultimately - love.
I really liked The Wedding Kiss (and not just because I call Hannah Alexander - a.k.a. Cheryl Hodde a friend.) It's a nice story that weaves together love, suspense and a bit of Arkansas history.
The characters are vividly drawn - so you feel like they could literally walk off the pages. You'll find yourself cheering for Keara and Elem as their relationship deepens and becomes stronger - through adversity and trials. It will also make you slow down and savor the storyline as you dive into life in turn of the century Eureka Springs.
In all, picking up this book is like meeting a friend for coffee. It's warm, cozy and will leave you feeling happy at the end.
I give this book a solid four out of five. If you are looking for a nice "snowy day" read, then pick up The Wedding Kiss.
A Q&A With Hannah Alexander
1) Why a book set outside of Eureka Springs? What do you like about this setting?
I have been taking day trips to Eureka Springs for over thirty years. It is, literally, a small town on a hillside, with curving roads and horse-drawn buggies and Victorian homes.
Enchanting, with gardens and springs all over the town. I love the beauty of this place, which, in the setting of the book, was one of the three largest cities in Arkansas.
2) Why this time period?
This particular time period was when the railroad extended on from Eureka Springs, and therefore they had more conflict at that time. Books work on conflict.
3) Why do you like to write historical novels?
I love traveling back in time to get away from the stress of the day. I know there was stress during every time in history, but when folks talk about the "good old days" they feel more peaceful.
I feel more peaceful when I think about days in the past when I didn't have to answer the phone or keep up with all my deadlines. Of course, I might not have been a writer then, I might have been an explorer, or I might have taken a train west. Who knows? So many things to dream about.
4) How did you decide to turn Keara's idea of a "practical" wedding/marriage into something else?
When two good, kindhearted people who both dearly love the children and the mother who bore them, are placed together every day to keep a household going, they have enough in common for true love to develop between them. Besides, seeing Elam's devotion to his dead wife made Keara fall in love with him.
5) What is the one thing you hope readers take away from this novel?
True beauty comes from a heart of kindness and compassion, not from the clothing a woman wears or pretentious social skills.
6) Who is your favorite character and why?
That's a difficult choice. I began writing the book with Keara's difficult situation in mind, driven by her love for her best friend's children. Her love for those children was what gave her the courage to ask Elam to marry her. And Elam's compassion for her, and his desire for her to find true love in a real marriage were his reason for turning her down.
Both made their decisions out of compassion for one another. Of course, Susanna was the one who risked her life to save hundreds from genocide. She, too, was driven by compassion for others. In the end, though, I believe Keara is the character with whom I most identified.
7) What do you like most about this book?
I love to write about horses, so that was the easy part to write for me.
On March 1, Hannah Alexander will release their latest novel, Eye of the Storm, published by Love Inspired Suspense. Read an online except here. Find Eye of the Storm at Amazon.com
9) Anything else you want to add?
I would love to tell everyone how we met, Kaylea. You came to one of my speaking engagements at a local library, where you were researching the path of the 2004 tornado that destroyed our hometown, Pierce City. We really hit it off and saw each other at several meetings afterward, and have kept in touch--though not as much as we would like--ever since. Blessings to you!
More About The Book
A kiss can be life-changing. When Keara and Elam Jensen share their first kiss on their wedding day, a marriage of convenience becomes much less convenient! It also becomes more than they expected when God shows them what He really has in store for their lives.
Will their mysteriously injured visitor ruin their future, or will her influence—and her personal battle—draw them into deadly danger?
Visit Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in 1901, and discover for yourself what excitement and romance await along the White River Hollow.
More About The Authors
Hannah Alexander is the pen name for the writing collaboration of Cheryl and Mel Hodde. They chose the name "Hannah Alexander" to incorporate their two names into one.
They have read that Hannah means "her hope is in the Lord," and Alexander means, "servant of mankind."
Mel and Cheryl live in the Missouri Ozarks, where they like to set the majority of their books.
Find out more online @ http://www.hannahalexander.com
Note: As a freelance journalist, I am often provided a copy of books for review. However I purchased this book gladly at Barnes & Noble. I will say that I consider Cheryl Hodde to be a good friend, but this review was not influenced by that friendship - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.