Monday, June 28, 2021

Is it all about the (wedding) dress? by Jean Rabe

Wedding dresses in window

I’d never been much for writing romance; I was more into bullets flying, bombs exploding, swords slashing, and dangerous chase scenes. I love pyrotechnics. Die Hard is my idea of a chic flick.

And yet … I saw this wedding dress in the window of an antique store in Rockport, IN. I’d stopped in Spencer County several years ago because I was setting a murder mystery there. I wanted to get a flavor of the county and its little towns, chat with some locals, and learn about the sheriff’s department—which I fictionalized for my story.

The sheriff’s department is in downtown Rockport, and the antique store is not far away. It wasn’t open; I learned the owner kept varied hours. But I took a few pictures of the shop, deciding I could use something about it in my story. My sheriff walks by it occasionally.

Wedding dresses hanging

In my version of Spencer County, the sheriff is twenty-four-years old, served in the Army right out of high school, solves a brutal serial killer case her first month on the job … and meets the owner of a quick stop.

I hadn’t intended for Sheriff Piper Blackwell to fall in love. She’d planned on re-enlisting in the Army when she’d finished her four-year term in office, seeing the world, and having a grand adventure.

But I made the owner of the quick stop smart, complex, and a little too interesting. She—and I—fell for him.

Couple on coffee date

They hit it off pretty much right away, set up a dinner date before the first book ended. And now I’m writing book five in the series—The Dead of Hallows’ Eve—and Piper is looking at the wedding dress in the antique store window with serious intent. The dress is still there … at least in my version of Spencer County. Is she going to buy it? Is this the dress?

I haven’t decided yet, as I’m just into Chapter One, and Piper is presented with a murder to investigate. Murders trump wedding plans.

Should I give Piper that happy ending? Let her “tie the knot”? Most of my readers are in favor of that, even sending me suggestions for honeymoon destinations … where maybe she can come across yet another crime to solve. Sheesh … I’ve even sent away for touristy brochures and maps from a couple of the locations; maps are especially important if I’m having characters traipse around.

Man holding gun

One of my readers suggested I kill Nang and have Piper work his murder case. She said “don’t let Piper have a happy ending.” Often the heroes in my fantasy novels didn’t get a happy ending. I leaned toward tragedy back then.

But I’ve put Piper through so many awful things in the first four books that I think she deserves one.

Still, I can put off that decision for another book, as the wedding can’t happen until Piper has been in office at least a year and has some vacation time to spend on a honeymoon. She took office in January in The Dead of Winter, and in The Dead of Hallows’ Eve, it’s just into early November … I’ve a couple of months to mull things over before she hits the one-year mark.


In the meantime, she’s been gifted with assorted bridal magazines, stares at her engagement ring, and walks by the antique store with the beautiful dress in the window—when she’s not engrossed in the murder case.

I guess I can write romance … provided I intersperse it with bullets, car chases, and grisly death scenes.

It really is a pretty dress.

The first four Piper Blackwell mysteries are:

The Dead of Winter by Jean Rabe
The Dead Of Winter

The Dead of Night by Jean Rabe
The Dead Of Night

The Dead of Summer by Jean Rabe
The Dead Of Summer

The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge by Jean Rabe
The Dead Of Jerusalem Ridge

About the author

Jean Rabe

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  1. Sounds good, I would give her a HEA I do love a good romance :)

    Have Fun


    1. I'm the same. I would want them to have a HEA.

  2. Yes, def a HEA, or even HFN, otherwise it's not a romance

    1. Definitely. My vote is a HEA too. Poo on the person who suggested killing off the love interest.