In the much anticipated follow-up to Once in a Lifetime, full-figured caterer Velma Brighton is constantly comparing herself to her thin, beautiful sister, Alexis, who seems to have everything. On Alexis's wedding day, Velma's insecurity kicks into overdrive when she puts on a formfitting maid-of-honor gown that reveals all of her curves. Worse still, the man who makes her heart race will be escorting her down the aisle. How will he react to her very shapely physique?
Rugged, tough and a loner, Russ Harrington is every woman's dream. And Velma is his type of woman. He fell for her--beautiful curves and all. But he has little patience with her lack of self-esteem. Setting aside his concerns, Russ pursues Velma...until she tries to undergo a complete makeover. Ironically, Velma's attempt to attract Russ could cause her to lose the very thing she wants the most--his love.
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May 31, 2011
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Excerpt from After the Loving by Gwynne Forster
Velma Brighton zipped up the mauve-colored, strapless silk-and-lace gown, fastened a strand of eight-millimeter pearls at her neck, and forced herself to look in the floor-length mirror that leaned against the wall. Grimacing at the sight of her more than amply rounded figure in the fitted gown, she cringed with embarrassment.
"Now, he'll know what I really look like," she said to herself, lamenting the fact that she couldn't wear her usual caftan and wishing that she was tall and slender. As she stared at the mirror, she saw not only her own likeness, but a reflection of the groves of snow and icicle-laden trees on the north side of Harrington House that created an idyllic dream world. For a better look, she walked over to the window of the guest room she occupied and fixed her gaze on the broad expanse of snow-covered beauty, shaking her head in wonder at the sunlight dancing against the icicles. No bride could ask for a more beautiful wedding day.
This was her fifth or sixth visit to Harrington House, an enormous red-brick colonial set off by a great circular driveway, dominating John Brown Drive in Eagle Park, Maryland. She first visited it in order to be with her sister, Alexis, but on each subsequent trip to visit her sister, her heart had fluttered wildly in her eagerness to see Russ Harrington again. And though he always welcomed her, often being especially attentive, she didn't think she'd made much headway with him.
She checked her hair and make-up and went downstairs to the rooms her sister occupied with her five-year-old daughter, Tara.
"How do I look, Aunt Velma?" Tara asked the minute Velma walked into the room.
"Beautiful. You'll be the perfect flower girl."
Smiles enveloped Tara's face. "My mummy said I looked, uh...spec...spec...what, Mummy?"
Velma regarded her sister--tall, willowy and beautiful in the ivory-colored silk-satin-and-lace wedding gown. "I was a little surprise when you said you'd wear white, but I'm glad you did."
"Telford asked if I would--he wanted a traditional wedding. I wasn't going to deny him because of a foolish convention that a divorced or widowed woman shouldn't wear white at a subsequent marriage. Brides wore white traditionally because they were virgins. Honey, that was then. Telford's never been married, and he deserves a good old-fashioned wedding if that's to his liking."
"You're the most beautiful woman I ever saw," Velma said. "Just wait till Telford sees you. The poor man's heart will jump right out of his chest."
"I certainly hope not," Alexis said, adjusting her tiara. "I haven't seen him since last night, and it seems like years."
"You're not supposed to see the groom on your wedding day until you meet him at the altar. You know that."
"I do know it. I just wish I could see him. Velma, I can't believe this is happening to me. I'm.I'm so happy. If I'm not careful, I'll bawl."
"You won't. It's not your style." She reached up to Alexis with open arms. "I'm happy for you, sis. After all you suffered with Jack, you deserve this wonderful man. Turn around and let me fasten these buttons. I never could figure out why they put these tiny things on the back of a wedding dress, unless it's to frustrate the groom when he tries to get the gown off the bride."
She loved Alexis's low, sultry laugh when she said, "I hope to have him in such a state that he'll rip 'em off."
Velma stopped her task and wondered aloud, "Would he do that? Good Lord, how exciting! I would never have believed him capable of it."
"Can't judge a book by its...