When Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date hit shelves in early 2018, it sported a colorful illustrated cover. That now-iconic look helped launch a new generation of sharply written romantic comedies that not only returned the fun to roller-coaster relationships but headlined rom-coms with people of color.
Later in 2018, Reese Witherspoon picked Guillory’s second novel, The Proposal, for her Hello Sunshine Book Club, delivering another wave of happy readers to Guillory’s funny yet vulnerable romances.
This year, Guillory releases two books—The Wedding Party (July 16) and Royal Holiday (October 1)—that delicately weave in and out of her previous novels while giving struggling but funny new couples their due.
While in New York at BookExpo, the annual book industry conference, we grabbed the opportunity to sit down and talk with Jasmine Guillory about The Wedding Party, which we picked as one of the best romances of July.
The Wedding Party opens at Theo’s birthday party in a bar in San Francisco—a scene originally featured in The Wedding Date. While Alexa reunites with her boyfriend, Theo and Alexa’s friend Maddie call a temporary truce in their hate-hate relationship.
Said Guillory about that scene, “When I wrote that scene in The Wedding Date, what I didn’t expect to happen was to realize while I was writing, Oh, wait a minute. I think there might be something with Maddie and Theo. And so I kept that germ in my head through the rest of that book and then through The Proposal.” For readers new to Guillory, reading her first two books isn’t necessary for enjoying the third. “Alexa and Drew do appear in the book, as do Carlos and Nik from The Proposal, but if you come into it blind, you’ll still understand everything.”
Tension is required in a good romance, and the tension between Maddie and Theo has been there since their first encounter. Explained Guillory, “Maddie and Theo got the wrong impression of each other in their first meeting, and then they’re both so entrenched in their ideas of who that other person was that they never stopped to think, Could I like that person? Are they a different person than I thought they were?”
Even after Theo and Maddie’s relationship goes through a significant and sexy pivot, neither is willing to trust that the change could be permanent. “They try to stay away from each other for a while, but they have to keep coming back together for [Alexa’s] engagement party and for all of the bridal stuff, and that keeps their relationship going.... They’re also trying to keep [their relationship] a secret the whole time from their best friend, Alexa, because they don’t want her to get excited about it. I found it really fun to write about how they tried to keep those secrets, about what their feelings were about the secret, and why each of them wanted to keep that secret.”
Like Maddie and Theo, Guillory felt no certainty when she started writing that there would be a happy ending in store for them. “When I wrote The Wedding Date, I knew when I wrote that scene [at Theo’s birthday party] that at some point I wanted to write Maddie and Theo’s story, and I knew I wanted to write something for Carlos. But I wrote The Wedding Date before I’d gotten published. I mean, I didn’t have an agent; I didn’t have a publishing house. I was just writing this book for fun. I had no idea what was going to happen in my writing and publishing life. So I’m thrilled that they have all gotten their stories.”
Readers and would-be writers can often think that a published author’s life is an easy one. Sure, writing can be hard, but not all that hard, right?
Not quite—even for an author whose first book has been a success.
When I told Guillory that one of my favorite scenes in The Wedding Party was when Theo comes over to Alexa’s house to make homemade margaritas for her and Maddie, Guillory smiled and said, “I’m glad to hear that. I really loved that scene. When I was working on the book, I had hit a dead zone right there. I was approaching the middle of the book, and I had a lot going on. I was still working full time, The Proposal was coming out soon, and I was stressed about the draft of this book. Then I thought, ‘You know, I just need to remember why I love these characters. I’m just going to write a scene that is not going to end up in the book of them just sitting around and drinking margaritas together—and have some fun with it.’ And so I wrote that scene and I loved it so much, I knew I needed to find a way to keep it in the book.” The scene turned into a critical one in which Maddie and Theo test whether Alexa suspects that their enemies-to-frenemies relationship is actually something more… and I won’t share more details than that at risk of spoiling the ending.
Maddie’s story isn’t completely done, though. In October, Guillory’s next book, Royal Holiday, sees Maddie and her mother, Vivian, heading unexpectedly to England when Maddie is hired at the last minute to style a member of the royal family. “Vivian meets the queen’s private secretary, who is there also for the holiday week, and they have a little fling and then they fall in love,” said Guillory.
October 1 can’t come fast enough.
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- Best books of 2019 so far
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- The 2019 RITA Award Finalists for Romance Writing
- Best romances of 2018
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