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Archive for April 9th, 2009

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mmd_sealedwithapromise

He’ll do anything to move the mission forward, no matter the cost…
Navy SEAL Caleb Delaude is deadly charming. When he discovers that professor Emmie Caddington’s personal connections can help him get the dirty work done, he sets out to win her over. But her quick intelligence and quirky personality sure do start to get under his skin…

She may just be the key to his salvation…
Emmie’s smart and independent and isn’t looking for a brawny guy to take over her life. But this rugged Navy SEAL, who seems so determined to get close to her, hides a fi erce intelligence and deep sensitivity.

When plans go wrong and a child’s life is on the line, Emmie learns what it means to be a SEAL in action, and Caleb discovers that even a hero can get hurt sometimes…

To See Ourselves

By Mary Margret Daughtridge

“O wad some power the giftie gie us/

To see oursels as ithers see us.”

Bobbie Burns

People often ask me about how I research my SEALs. I work hard not to make them stock action figures, but real people whose character is molded by being SEALs. I depend heavily on autobiographies and interviews because I want to know how they see themselves, as well as how others see them.

However, I don’t plot. I write by the seat of my pants and don’t always know what research will be required until the need for it appears. To research SEALed With A Promise, I watched a lot of TV makeover shows.

I liked them anyway, but I started watching makeover shows in earnest when Emelina Caddington, PhD showed up as the heroine for SEALed With A Promise.

She was the maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding, the same wedding a Navy SEAL named Caleb “Do-Lord” Dulaude was the best man for. It was the perfect romance setup—they’d be thrown together for three days.

But let me tell you, this girl was not romance-ready.

Oh she had potential. Those who loved her could see it. She was very, very bright, unconventional, and blessed with a truly original sense of humor. She was also kind, honorable, and loyal. Physically, she had pretty eyes, perfect skin, and the kind of slender shapeliness that makes almost any style wearable. Unfortunately she dressed in clothes that would be age-appropriate*—but still boring—on a woman twenty years her senior. Worst of all, except among people she knew well, she was stiff and awkward.

That’s not the way the heroine of a romance is supposed to be! She’s supposed to be beautiful and confident and gutsy. Ready to kick ass and take names.

If Emmie was going to take on the role of heroine in a romance of her own, she needed a makeover. Big time. So there I was, watching TV and taking notes to learn exactly how blind spots are overcome and a makeover is done.

Here’s what I learned. Fashion failures pick their clothes with some criteria—other than how they look—in mind.

See, that’s Emmie. She doesn’t get ‘style’ and she knows it, so her watchword is efficiency. She orders from classic sportswear catalogues and buys beige. The clothes are never out of style (never in style either.) Fit isn’t a problem—the clothes are designed to fit loosely—and everything matches. Voila! What could be easier? And while she’s not going to rock anybody’s world, she doesn’t get negative feedback on the college campus where she’s a junior faculty member. Some people feel a professor should look a little dowdy.

Some of the style-challenged appearing on TV are trying to disguise what they perceive as a figure-flaw. That’s Emmie too. She’s worn a bust minimizer since she was thirteen. She never wears anything that shows the shape of her breasts.

The show’s guests are also working from ideas about who they are that haven’t been updated. The forty-year-old in a midriff-baring sweater. Or the rising lawyer who still dresses like a college kid.

That’s Emmie too. She gave up on style when she was a twelve-year-old, suddenly separated from her missionary parents, and sent “home” to a place she’d never been before, to live with an elderly grandmother and go to public school—something else she never did before. Everything about the kids she was thrown in with was foreign to her. Their slang, the unwritten rules governing acceptance, their dress code. At an age when fitting in is the whole point of existence, she was clueless as to how to go about it. To make it worse she was several years ahead of her schoolmates scholastically. She was a misfit even among the deliberate nonconformists.

In romance novels where the heroine is a plain Jane, lots of times the heroine gets her makeover through the largesse or the gentle encouragement of the hero. But I wasn’t many pages into the story before I realized I had a hard case on my hands. Emmie had the biggest barrier to changing that there is: she thought accepting help made her weak.

I really loved Emmie by then. I could see that no small part of her problem was that she wasn’t shallow. The virtues she prized were much more enduring than fashion. She had a true heart and a quirky sense of humor. But she was going to lose out unless something explosive shook up her wrong ideas about herself.

It was clear Emmie was going to require the next TV makeover step: Shock Therapy. The guest is forced to see themselves as others see them.

What better people to deliver an explosion than a couple of SEALs?

On TV the happy ending comes once the guest has some new clothes, hairdo, and makeup. There’s the *Big Reveal, everybody cries and says they look great. But I always want more. I want to know if the makeover made any real difference. So in my book there’s lots more that happens before we learn if the Promise implied by the makeover is SEALed.

*Research in action: I learned words like age-appropriate and reveal (the noun) from TV. 🙂

What do you think? Do clothes make the woman? How important is it to see yourself as others see you?

You can learn more about SEALed With a Promise, and me, at http://marymargretdaughtridge.com and I blog frequently with other Casablanca authors at http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

— Mary Margret

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of SEALed WITH A PROMISE. Good Luck! 🙂

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