Because I'm so close to the end and because it's my favorite part, I'm going to wrap up the Once Upon Stilettos reread with commentary today.
First, there's the date with Rod. In my original vision for this series, before I'd even settled on characters and a main plot, when it was just a concept, I had planned on there being a variety of love interests, with maybe the Mr. Right being a slow burn kind of thing on the back burner. In my wildest fantasies, I imagined raging Internet 'shipper wars over which guy Katie would end up with (though at that time, she didn't even have a name). That never happened, in part because it was so clearly Owen from the moment I started writing and in part because I don't think I have a big enough fan base to have factions, and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of Internet discussion about my books. Anyway, while things were being weird in this book, I figured it was a good time to at least touch on some of the possibilities and show the "what if" scenarios.
Normally, Katie wouldn't be interested in Rod, but with her immunity on the blink, she's fallen under his attraction spell, and he doesn't realize that she's affected. Meanwhile, there's also something working on him. The result is a perfect storm of awkwardness (and a good reason not to even try to date a friend you're not usually that attracted to).
And then we get to my favorite scene, the scene that was playing out in my head before I even started writing the book, where Katie ends up at Owen's house, and things are playing out according to her wildest dreams, with a truly dreamy first kiss -- followed by the realization that it was the shoes all along, that they were under an enchantment. That bit is one of my favorite things I've ever written. It's kind of an emotional sucker punch because up to that point, it's pretty swoonworthy, and then the rug is pulled out from under Katie.
By the way, I don't know if my red shoes are under that kind of spell because I've never actually worn them on a date (not that I've had that many dates since I bought them -- I kind of gave up on dating around then).
I also like the follow-up parts a lot -- Katie's embarrassment and awkwardness, and the way that led into her finally confessing her immunity loss to Owen. The kiss may have been magically induced, but there's real intimacy that comes in the aftermath.
I put in a lot of work of setting up the way Katie's immunity might have been compromised and why it took a while to work when the water in her building was drugged. You may recall the scenes of the roommates arguing over who forgot to buy bottled water and Katie just getting water out of the tap. There's also the way the shoes affected her -- she just admired them in a normal way at first, but Ari was present, and so the spell was put on them later when Katie bought them.
Then we have the final showdown at the company holiday party, followed by a real kiss. When I wrote this book, I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue the series, so I wanted to give some sense of resolution. I've sometimes regretted moving the relationship along so quickly since then because it didn't leave me very far to go from there. They were already together, so I had to either just accept the relationship as an established fact with no drama, or I had to find ways to separate them.
Sales of the series dropped significantly after this book, even though I think it had a strong ending that would have made people want another book. I guess people thought the series was over? I don't know. I know that the third book isn't exactly popular, but people would have had to read it to know they didn't like it, and it seems that a significant number of people who read this book didn't go on to the other books.
Next week I'll move on to the next book. It'll be interesting to get a fresh perspective on it now that a decade has passed. It was a difficult book to write, and the process of writing it was kind of a blur.