The Story Behind “The Worst-Kept Secret”

Welcome back. If you missed yesterday’s post about this whole week-long event, opportunity to win a book, and why we’re celebrating, I’d encourage you to stop right now and read it, then come back and continue.

The idea for The Worst-Kept Secret is sort of autobiographical, in that I’m an introvert and my hubby is an extrovert. I can see that this combination works in our marriage, because I’m the one who builds relationships with people we meet through getting comfortable enough to talk to them by asking questions, while hubby does the meeting and introductions. I suspected we weren’t unique in our personality types, so decided to try this pairing in a story.

One of my goals was that neither of my characters would be considered drop-dead-gorgeous, and for sure, neither would be perfect, even at those things they were good at. Add to the mix their faith walk, which for me and hubby is an ongoing, growing part of our lives and marriage.

It seems that many books I’ve read lately have characters who are trim, beautiful/handsome, lithe, and perfect in every way. I’m not built like that personally, and I wanted characters where none of the story depended on their ideal physical attributes. Plus, our characters are a little older—in their mid-thirties—rather than in their twenties. While I didn’t want to paint a picture of a biological clock ticking down or of matrimonial desperation, my goal was to show that when a relationship is in God’s timing, age doesn’t matter. I think part of this stems from the fact that I didn’t marry until I was 40.

My skillset includes organization and management with a dose of accounting and clerical, so that’s how I came up with Cassie’s role in the company. Having Brady be a supplier for the company seemed  a good way to integrate him into the story and give him a life beyond the wedding planning but still keep him connected.

A good romance needs romantic tension, and one of the best ways is if each character has a secret they’re trying to keep from the love interest and from others. Since this is a faith-based book, I didn’t want that secret to be something so serious as to call into question their salvation, so I based the secrets on struggles they were already having in their own lives.

I think a good romance also needs a few light moments. From the disastrous limo interview, to the puking pastor, to the coffee debacle, and even the car accident, while each of these were serious moments, I hoped to create an atmosphere of “what more could go wrong?” for both the reader and the characters.

Cassie and Brady both needed to grow spiritually and trust in God more, as do all of us, so I hope I presented their struggles realistically as she sought counsel from a partner and he chose to mentor under his pastor. Cassie’s closest friend in the agency, Kiki, was actually written by a close friend of mine who has a talent for mining the deeper meaning of the situation. This friendship made the scenes I wrote between Cassie and Kiki feel like RL and I were sitting in a coffeeshop, talking about life.


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Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels.

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