ROYAL SECRETS is the story of the Royal Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, and of Lily Lavender, whose family is distantly descended from the British royal family. Immersed in the regal world of weddings and romance, Lily grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. 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.
Sound interesting? Read on for the Prologue…
There’s a reason they call this town Sin City, my mother told me long ago when I questioned her about something I’d heard at school that day. But when I asked about the secrets part, Mimi had refused to explain. “You’re much too young to hear about such things, Lily,” she said and left it at that.
I wandered away, a confused eight-year-old, my head filled with even more questions. How could Las Vegas be full of sin and secrets when it was filled with so much sunshine? Growing up in this town, in the ornate, spacious villa behind Mimi’s Royal Wedding Chapel near the center of the Strip, I saw the glitz and glamour. It shimmered and sparkled like the beautiful brides in their wedding gowns gracing the aisles of the chapel. Peeking around the pews, I saw their glowing faces, heard the vows exchanged, witnessed the beginnings of so many happily-ever-afters.
And then I grew up.
It took a while—around the time Mimi’s third marriage, the one to Jack’s father, collapsed—for me to discover the truth. Las Vegas is full of sin and secrets. Most of them stay in Vegas, left behind to be cleaned up by maids and blackjack dealers who sweep away the debris. Others get carried home like guilty luggage, busting up marriages and businesses and causing bankruptcy.
I’m forty years old, and that naïve little girl I used to be disappeared long ago. She learned that happily ever after is merely an illusion and that sins and secrets can weigh just as heavy on your heart as our family’s heirloom tiara can weigh on your head. The dazzling crown, in the special display case behind bulletproof glass in the lobby of the Royal Wedding Chapel, gleams like the fortune it is worth. But the antique combs pinch and the diamond diadem is a burden. How my grandmother managed to keep the jewel-encrusted crown on her head when presented to the Queen is the stuff of which family legends are made. With my grandfather descended from British nobility and in distant line for the throne, the tiara is a priceless treasure, proof of our family’s heritage.
As far as I’m concerned, though, that tiara is exactly where it belongs: safely behind glass, viewed from a distance. It glitters and sparkles, but the pain isn’t worth it. Dare to wear it, as I did once, and—just like the secrets hidden in Sin City—the pain and guilt will tear you down. I’m lucky I managed to yank it off in time.
And I refuse to allow that tiara to ruin my daughter’s life the way it almost ruined mine.
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.
Royal Secrets is more than a story about a Vegas wedding chapel and the notion of romance. Royal Secrets is about families and the ties that bind. Not everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and Lily Lavender soon finds that out. When she was a teenager, there was nothing more she wanted than to get away from the Royal Wedding Chapel. When she ends up pregnant, this only fuels her desire to put as much distance between her and Las Vegas as she can. She works and raises her daughter, Tori, in San Diego.
Shortly before Tori turns 18, she leaves and drives to Las Vegas. Lily has to fly out to Vegas to try to reason with Tori and bring her back to San Diego. As soon as she arrives, she learns the unexpected has happened. Family problems trump Lily’s desire to flee back to San Diego. She soon learns that things aren’t always what they seem. Long-buried family secrets begin to come to light, and Lily’s loyalty is tested more than ever.
This was a really great read. Lily is a strong, stubborn, single mom. Though she may be just a little too protective of her heart for her own good. I felt like this was a nicely developed story and it flowed really well. Lily has to learn to let her walls down…to learn to let people in and accept help. It’s a journey for her, through her past up until the present, and she has to make choices about her future. I enjoyed going on that journey with her.