A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas [Book]

A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas is a 2012 romance novel by Arkansas writer Annalisa Daughety, published by Barbour Publishing, an outlet for Christian fiction and devotionals. The plot involves a young single woman finding unexpected love as she tries to secure a date for her sister’s wedding in Hot Springs (Garland County).

Violet Matthews, a graduate of Harding University in Searcy (White County) and the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County), works at the family law firm, now led by her father Sampson Matthews, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She is expecting to be made a partner in the firm, but that honor goes to Landry Baxter, the love interest of her sister, Amber. At a family party honoring Landry that evening, Amber announces that the two are engaged, which motivates Violet to find a date for the wedding. She hires a matchmaker for the job and ends up paired with an old college classmate, Jackson Stratford, whose shenanigans during a class project had caused the two to take an incomplete for the semester, much to Violet’s chagrin. He now works for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and has just been named Alumnus of the Year for the Brookwood Christian School, an honor to be presented during the school’s homecoming, an event for which, being in need of a date, he had enlisted the help of the same matchmaker.

Jackson suggests that the two serve as each other’s dates for these events, but Violet is skeptical. She soon spontaneously quits her job after her father reprimands her for taking on so much pro bono work. Friends urge her to open the bakery she always wanted to run, and as it happens, a spot has just opened up in Hot Springs, where her grandparents live. Her grandparents had recently taken in a sixteen-year-old girl named Shadow following Shadow’s mother’s death. Jackson lets Violet stay at his Lake Hamilton vacation home for a visit there to assess the future bakery, located near Bathhouse Row. He visits her there, and together they negotiate a contract to be each other’s pretend partner through the rest of the year, divvying up family events to make their fake relationship seem more real.

Violet buys the site of her future bakery and starts planning a move to Hot Springs, and she and Jackson begin their series of charade dates to get to know each other better before their respective social events. Shadow’s grandmother owns the antique store next to the bakery site, and Shadow begins working at the bakery, christened Central Avenue Cupcakes, as it gets started. As they go through a series of pretend dates, including a Razorback game at War Memorial Stadium, they find themselves becoming closer to each other, and Jackson even confesses to her that he had only been at Harding because his parents wanted him to have a Christian environment after he and some friends at the University of Arkansas (UA) had been in a drunk-driving accident that resulted in Jackson’s girlfriend at the time, Jenna, being killed.

Although they are becoming progressively closer, Jackson overhears a phone conversation between Violet and her best friend, Reagan, in which Violet declaims any growing feelings with Jackson and states that she still remembers all the humiliations she suffered at his hands in college. Jackson ends up being approached by Whitney, an ex-girlfriend of his (and Amber’s maid of honor) and has dinner with her, thinking that there is no future with Violet. Amber inserts a picture of Jackson and Whitney together in a slide show at her rehearsal dinner, causing Violet further humiliation. He shows up later to apologize to her, telling her that he loves her, but she does not believe him at first. However, she later appears unexpectedly at his alumnus banquet and also confesses her love. The book’s epilogue takes place five months later, with Reagan and her husband, Chad, renewing their vows, at which ceremony Jackson proposes to Violet.

For additional information:
Daughety, Annalisa. A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2012.

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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