Writing three stories set in 1958 was as much a challenge in many ways as it was fun and different. There was so much research to do, despite the fact that I’ve always loved the fifties’ movies and music. I had to learn the slang, the fashions, and all about old-school Las Vegas. I drew on books, websites, and people’s recollections. I thought I’d share a little then vs. now with you today because the second book in my Viva Las Vegas trilogy, My Big Fat Vegas Wedding, is on pre-order and releases Tuesday.
Cool It, Daddio
The way of speaking was very different. People spoke a little more formally in most instances and their slang was very different. We know words like dude, lit, and on fleek. We all know what these words mean–by definition, slang is a shorthand way of speaking that changes the original meaning of the word(s).
Back in the 50s, people didn’t say someone was crazy–they said loony. A depressing person was “bad news,” a cool person was “hip,” and a clock was a “face.” I looked at some of those words and the meanings have changed today (“deuce” was a 1932 Ford) and some have remained the same, like when someone is being a “drag.”
Be a Man
Gender roles. Wow, as much as we bemoan how women haven’t come nearly far enough in equality (and we haven’t), the 1950s were an entirely different beast.
Back then, women went to college mainly to land a husband (if they hadn’t already done so in high school). Their studies weren’t important because they weren’t really expected to work and, if they did, it was usually only until they were married. A woman’s place was in the home, making sure her husband had a hot meal and his slippers. (I’m sorry, but gag me–his slippers!? Okay, back to the post.) Check out Housekeeping Monthly’s “Good Wife’s Guide.”
Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.
Conversely, men were required to be masculine at all times. There was no place for crying or sentimentality in a man’s world. If someone stepped over the line, they were more likely to use violence to settle their differences. I’m definitely glad things have changed since then (albeit, again, not enough).
My Big Fat Vegas Wedding: Viva Las Vegas, Book 2
So, now, let’s talk about the book. It was fun to write alphas who could go a little farther into alpha territory without being a jerk because times were different. People had different expectations and ideas about what was acceptable. In this book, especially, my heroine is very much a woman of her time. Grace is classy, despite being poor, and has ideas about how to behave properly (which Dominic is constantly pushing her beyond). Here’s the blurb:
He needs roots. She needs money. A whirlwind wedding could solve all their problems…if it doesn’t bring the Vegas mob down on their heads.
Grace Winters needs a miracle in the form of cash. A young widow with a stack of bills and a dead-end job, she’d do anything to save herself, her son, and her mother from the street. Anything but gamble—the Vegas vice that got her husband killed.
Dominic Rosas needs a happy family—or at least the appearance of one—to buy out his father’s shares in the Lucky Star Casino, ousting the vicious man and avenging his sister. When he finds himself wildly attracted to a down-on-her-luck waitress with a stubborn will and a sharp sense of humor, a hasty marriage seems the obvious solution to both of their problems.
To Grace, Dominic seems too good to be true, a kind man with money to burn and an inner strength a world away from her gambling-addicted husband. They share a spark she’s never felt before, giving her hope that maybe this time marriage might work. But when she finds out he’s investing in the Lucky Star, the mob casino where her husband gambled away their future, the dream crashes around her. Dominic swears he can invest in the casino, avenge his sister, and keep her safe, but Grace fears she’s placed her bets on the wrong man—again.
Want to pre-order?
An Exclusive Excerpt
The house was small and old. The steps up to the porch were crumbling away. Dominic tried to get his pitch ready in his head, like he would for work, but the words all jumbled together. Odd, because he never got nervous before a big pitch.
Grace came back with two glasses. He took one and sipped because his throat had suddenly gone dry. Water with a faint taste of lemon did nothing for his parched throat. Somehow, he still pushed forward.
“I need roots,” he said.
“I don’t know what that means.” She shook her head. Of course she did, because that didn’t make any sense. He was starting at the end instead of the beginning.
He paused, trying to decide where, exactly, to begin. “Let me sum up what I know about you. Please, Grace.”
With a slow breath, she glanced inside the quiet house, then gave him a terse nod.
Okay, he could do this. “You’re a widow, trying to care for your son and mother. Your son is a handful, probably because he doesn’t have a father around.”
Her eyes flashed. He’d made her angry, but he was too far in to stop now. He went on. “You can’t seem to make ends meet, no matter how hard you try. And you always look fragile and exhausted. Am I wrong?”
“I’m not fragile. If I were fragile, I would’ve broken by now. But other than that…no. You’re not wrong. What is this?”
“Please, listen. Let me tell you about me. I have more capital—money—than I’ll ever use because my grandfather was brilliant at investing it.”
“How lovely for you.”
“And, I’m trying to buy into the company my father uses for income because he tried to steal from my sister. Worse than that. He tried to have her put away.”
“I remember.” Her voice was soft as she picked up her untouched lemonade, then took a drink.
“They turned me down. They want me, but only if I’m married—a family man.” He took a deep breath. This was it. “I want yours. I want you.”
She stood, stumbling a little on the table legs. “That’s crazy. You should go.”
“No, it’s perfect.” He rose and took a step closer. “We each need what the other has. I can take care of all of you. I’ll buy you a nice house. You can pick it out. You said you didn’t want eventful, but I don’t believe you. You need eventful or you won’t make it.”
Still Not Sure?
You can read the first chapter here. Until next month, I’m wishing you all a happy and proper Spring (with maybe a little less snow?)