Authors: Rachel Hauck
One Year Later
t one o’clock in the afternoon, the cathedral bells pealed, chiming glorious sounds through the streets of Hessenberg.
Tell the whole world! Princess Regina Alice Beswick Augustine-Saxon has married Tanner Wingate Burkhardt.
And next month, after the honeymoon, she’d press on to the coronation, becoming Princess Regina, Grand Duchess of Hessenberg.
As she walked the long aisle of St. John’s nave with Tanner in a fitted white gown wearing Gram’s tiara and jewels, Reggie never felt more like a princess.
Love had a way of crowning every woman’s heart.
Tanner whispered, “Happy?”
Bridesmaids Carrie, who married Rafe last year, and Bella and Britta wore cream dresses with burgundy sashes. The twins were beautiful, fun, exasperating, and fully taking up residence in Reggie’s heart.
Emerging from the church into the October sunshine, she
and Tanner stepped into the thunderous cheers and shouts of the Hessenberg people.
“I can barely hear myself think,” she shouted toward him, waving to the crowd, leaning against her man.
At the bottom of the steps, Reggie caught the eye of Hessenberg’s stately Prime Minister Seamus Fitzsimmons, without his pipe between his teeth, looking dapper in a top hat and tails.
“Reggie, look.” Tanner pointed to the Brightonian World War I biplanes flying over, releasing a rainbow shower of confetti.
The throng oohed and aahed, trying to collect the colorful paper marked with Princess Regina’s cipher and the wedding date.
Moments later, a World War II fighter plane passed over, waving its wings and followed by the raucous, stupendous roar of United States F18s flying in formation. A gift to Her Royal Highness from the United States on her wedding day.
Reggie tipped back her head, letting loose her own rebel yell. Such a thrilling sight and sound.
“That’s fantastic,” Tanner yelled.
A row of trumpeters in red knee pants, braided blue coats, and tri-fold hats raised their instruments and blasted a royal declaration.
Taking hold of her hand, Tanner ran Reggie down the steps toward their waiting carriage. But when the security team parted, she found a gleaming red, restored Starfire #89 pulling the carriage instead of matched white horses.
And their chauffeur? Al, standing by the car in his Marine uniform, straight and proud.
“Al!” Forgetting decorum, Reggie broke from Tanner and ran into the man’s embrace. “You came, you came.”
“Ha-ha, my girl, you done good. I hated lying, telling you Miriam and I couldn’t come, but we wanted to surprise you.”
Today was full of joy. And for tears.
On the other side of the car, Bella and Britta gathered with Daddy, who beamed, all sharp and handsome in his tuxedo. “We surprised you, Reg.”
“You sure did, Daddy.”
Sadie wept, wiping her eyes, wearing one of the craziest hats Reggie had ever seen. But she was already Mimi to the twins and Mum to Tanner.
Archbishop and Mrs. Burkhardt beamed standing next to Sadie. Tanner finally came to understand how much his dad loved him and had a standing lunch with him every Thursday.
It had been a busy but incredible year.
“This is unbelievable.” Reggie stepped back to inspect the car while Carrie gathered the hem of her gown to keep it from dragging on the ground. “Does it run?”
“Girl, don’t be talking smack to me when I came all the way over here to drive you on your wedding day.” Chuckling, Al motioned to Tanner. “It was his idea to use the car. He made sure we got it done on time. Helped us find parts, experts, labor, you name it.”
“Happy wedding day.” Tanner slipped his arm around her, kissing her cheek.
“This is the best day ever!” She shot her arms in the air over her head. Come on, now, she couldn’t completely give up her Southern roots.
Tanner helped Reggie into the carriage as Al fired up the Starfire #89. The engine rumbled as the ancient car moved through the cheering crowd, the noise level rising and rising, never letting up.
Photographers raced alongside of the carriage, aiming to capture the photo of the century—a royal Hessenberg wedding.
Reggie slipped her hand into Tanner’s. “Thank you for all of this, Mr. Burkhardt.”
“Couldn’t have done it without you, Mrs. Burkhardt.” He
slipped his arm around her and lowered his lips to hers, kissing her long and sweet.
Reggie Beswick found love by saying yes to her destiny and began her very own once upon a time and happily ever after.
1. Just when Regina started living her dream, God intercepted her. Do you think it’s possible God often waits for us to “move” before he does?
2. Tanner is burdened by his past mistakes and alters his life course. Is there an area of your life you’ve “quit” living because you thought you’d ruined your call?
3. Through Prince Francis, we see how one man’s failures can destroy the destiny of future generations. Yet through another person’s obedience, Regina’s, we see how that destiny is restored. Is there an inheritance in your family or life you need to ask the Lord to restore?
4. Regina has a great life in Tallahassee. One she’s designed for herself. But God sends her on a journey for which she feels ill prepared. Yet he’s made all the provision she needs. Is God asking you to step out in an area in which you feel ill prepared? Can you believe he’ll make a way?
5. So many times in our life, we are comfortable with the familiar—our families, even the dysfunctional ones, our jobs, our churches, and we can resist God’s call to a “higher life.” How does Regina’s journey to follow God inspire you?
6. Tanner has to find courage to face his twin daughters
again. Discuss his dilemma. Do you know someone who walked away from children or family because the pain of the past was too great? Do you see how his willingness to serve Regina ultimately restored his children to him?
7. Princess Alice never told her granddaughter she was a princess. Why do you think she hid the truth? Was the fairy tale really her way of telling Regina her true identity? Is reading the Bible a way to see God’s “story” for us? His personal letter to our hearts?
8. What do you make of the glowing light around the stable in the woods? Is there some “glowing stable” in your life where God is directing your attention?
9. Regina’s ability to restore Hessenberg to its “essence” is demonstrated when she sings the evening song. Discuss times in your life when music or worship has restored your heart to peace or some element of truth.
10. Because of Tanner’s view of himself through the lens of his past mistakes, he believes God, his father, and others see him as a failure. But when he meets the bishop at St. John’s Chapel, he realizes he’s forgiven. It’s a symbolic scene to show God’s forgiveness toward all of us. Can you “see” how Jesus sees you rather than how you see yourself?
11. Regina loves to wear jeans and T-shirts, then cowboy boots with her dresses. She’s unique. What is your favorite type of clothes to wear?
12. Do you think Regina and Tanner will live happily ever after?
love this part of writing a book—saying thanks to everyone who encouraged, blessed, and helped me along the way.
Hessenberg and Brighton Kingdom history, people, and dialog are entirely of my imagination.
Big royal thanks to:
The authors and historians who documented royalty and European history.
My editor, Susan Brower, who took my raw manuscript and gave me wise direction on how to fix it. I love your enthusiasm for this series. Thank you!
Line editor, Jean Bloom. Thank you.
My brother, Danny Hayes, for classic car help and for the idea of the Duesenberg. Any and all mistakes are mine.
Author Davis Bunn, for ideas on how to simplify Hessenberg’s independence issue, and financial planner Sarah Burnett, for help with the financial story thread. Any and ALL mistakes are mine as they relate to the real world. But as they relate to the fiction world, they are all true.
Cheryl Hyatt Smith for once again coming through with a key contact at a key time in the book! You rock, sister!
Moyer Fuel Tank Renu in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, for giving me tips on restoring a fuel tank!
Susie Warren, friend and teacher, brainstormer, writing partner. I wouldn’t be where I am in my writing journey without your wisdom and inspiration. Love you, friend!
Beth Vogt for brainstorming last-minute ideas and cheering me on. Appreciate and love you!
My agent, Chip MacGregor, for your support and wisdom.
My husband, my own prince, my rock, and best friend. You demonstrate amazing grace as you roll with the writer’s life.
Thanks to the entire staff of HarperCollins Christian Fiction: Daisy Hutton, it’s an honor to work with you. Katie Bond, so thrilled we get to keep working together. Ruthie Dean, you bless me so much! Becky Monds for your hard work. Kristen Vasgaard for great cover designs and the rest of the fiction team for
Thanks to Kimberly Buckner for lending me the line about Reggie looking like a lit match. I look forward to holding your book in my hand one day!
Thanks to Darren Plumber for helping me keep Al Lovett real.
And to my neighbors for lending me the cool name Beswick.
Big thanks to all of you readers! Put your name in here: ______________________________. You make this journey worthwhile. Especially on the hardest days. Just when doubt is grabbing hold and I wonder, “Why do I do this?” one of you will post on Facebook or send e-mail with encouraging words, and I realize I’m not alone and that writing a book is about more than me! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Worship leaders Jeremy Riddle and Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger. Thanks for demonstrating your love for Jesus through your songs. I worshiped almost nonstop to the YouTube worship set of “Our God” while finishing this book. At times, the Lord’s abiding presence was so evident I raced toward the deadline knowing He was my inspiration and help.
Jesus the Christ, my life, writing, everything I do is for You and Your name because it’s all meaningless without You. I’m so humbled to call You my Lord and my friend! For Your glory!