Guest Post: Amber Leigh Williams, Wooing the Wedding Planner

There’s a scene in the first segment of Wooing the Wedding Planner where the heroine, Roxie, and the hero, Byron, get into a lively…we’ll say “debate.” This “debate” takes place in the kitchen. The subject is knives and how to use the various selection of blades from the butcher block. Trivial, you say? Who fights over something as silly as how to use a knife? However, some might find this passage interesting or, er, familiar. By some, I mean one person, specifically. My spouse. He and I have squabbled over the same subject for years. We’ve had this “debate” over and over for well on a decade. Perhaps because of his repeated instruction on how to use a paring knife versus a boning knife and the multitude of band-aids I’ve gone through as a result of accidental nicks and slices I’ve given myself because I refuse to admit that he is…perhaps…somewhat (arg!) right, that I chose to immortalize this argument in print as well as some other notable kitchen disasters of which I am now fond.

Like Roxie, the wedding planner, I never learned to cook. For years, I planted myself firmly at the writing desk at dinnertime and let the aforementioned spouse cook for both of us. Then something happened, or someone. He was a beautiful, alien creature. Seven pounds; twelve ounces of squalling newborn perfection. When I met my son, something happened to me. There were endorphins. There was panic. There was delight. I learned that you could laugh/cry/snort/sob all at the same time – and often. And there was something else; something the mountains of parenting and birthing books hadn’t warned me of. The sudden overwhelming desire to COOK for this creature. And, weirdly enough, his father. I grew up at my mother’s table where there were delicious home-brewed meals aplenty. The idea of letting my boy grow up eating freezer meals sent me scrambling for the library in haste. I devoured cookbooks. I read Julia Child’s My Life in France again and again, making notes in the margins. I joined Pinterest. And, through years of stops and starts, successes and failures, I became something of a decent cuisinier. 

Often as writers, we draw on personal experience to flesh out our characters and bring weight to their experience. While writing the first draft for Wooing the Wedding Planner, I saw Roxie starting a new life after her divorce. I saw her desperately trying to reinvigorate her thirst for independence and learn a new normal. I also saw that she was oh-abouts thirty. “Throw away the take-out menus and buy yourself an apron,” I told her. “You’re in for a foodie adventure!” (Yes, I have conversations with imaginary people. Why do you ask?) 

The scene where Byron walks in on Roxie in the first of many cooking disasters as well as the one where she stays up through the night trying to cull the perfect apple pie from her oven is dedicated to the harried bathrobe-clad woman my sleepy and baffled husband has been known to find standing over the stove at 3 a.m. “What are you doing?” he asks me, shaking his head. “I’m cooking,” I respond as I stir the hambone soup I’ll still be standing over at noon the next day. I still don’t know where it comes from. It’s more than the domestic chore or duty of a bygone era of housewives. I adore cooking for my family. I love providing enjoyment over a meal as well as sustenance. In its own way, it’s an expression of love, appreciation, even gratitude for their presence in my life. 

Yet, through the years, something else happened. Something funny. For some, cooking comes naturally. For others, it’s like learning a foreign language. For Roxie and me, it was the latter. Why do we persist? Because we grow through it. We improve upon ourselves. Because, believe it or not, we enjoy it for ourselves – the challenge of it. For us, cooking is love, as is food. And the fact that the brave men in our lives spend a few extra minutes exercising everyday so that they may test our various carbo-loaded and dessert-laden wares is the essence of requital. A toast to them both and to us! 

For the latest news on Roxie, Byron, and my latest Harlequin Superromance as well as all the latest foodie adventures from yours truly, find me at