by Carol Burnside
So, I had this hair color dilemma with Cass, my latest heroine in the Sweetwater Springs series . . .
In Book 1 (A Suitable Wife), Cass was a secondary character I described as petite and blonde. Somewhere in the years between when I wrote that and the current work (Book 3: His Small Town Princess), Cass became a brunette in my head. So much so that I blithely described a brunette heroine to my cover artist and approved cover art based on my vision of her.
Imagine my surprise when I’m looking for some small detail in A Suitable Wife and run across that description. Rut-roh! I went into an OMG-OMG-OMG-WHAT-DO-I-DO? tizzy for a few minutes until my gaze landed on the cover art for Her Unexpected Family and the depiction of Claire. Ah-ha! It was as if Claire winked at me and said, “Remember all my crazy hair colors? Who’s to say Cass is an original blonde?”
I was sure she meant to say “natural blonde,” but you know how Claire tends to mangle normal sayings! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Cass hadn’t been an “original” blonde, but a bleached one. J.T. sometimes thinks of her as a princess, but they come in all hair colors too. Disney princess Snow White was a deep brunette. Real life royal Kate Middleton is technically a duchess, not a princess, but hey . . . royalty and a brunette.
So, I wrote the passage below. In this scene, Cass is playing hooky from work and is shopping for a plant. Mind you, this is unedited copy from His Small Town Princess.
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Within a few minutes, Cass found a delicate, pink flowering cyclamen. Perfect. It would bloom again in the fall. Should she get two?
“Behind you, ma’am.” The polite, male voice competed with the squeaky wheel of a large flat cart. “Don’t step back.”
The squeaky wheel quieted behind her. “Cassandra?”
Feeling very much the schoolgirl playing hooky, Cass turned, then slapped a hand to her chest in relief. It was only her first ever big crush, J.T. Baxter. The hunky, blue-eyed blond also happened to be her family’s landscaper. “J.T. , you startled me. What are you doing here?”
He shrugged, wheeling a cart beside her as they walked. “Needed a few things to finish a commercial flower bed nearby. Makes more sense to buy them than spend the gas driving back home.”
“I see. Well, um . . . Good seeing you. It’s been awhile.” Oh, God. Her smile froze on her face as she realized the last time she’d spoken to him had been at his wife’s funeral. Epic fail, dummy.
“I almost didn’t recognize you. The dark hair threw me.” His gaze roamed over her face and hair, his expression bemused.
“Oh, that. I was ready for a change awhile back and your sister-in-law, Claire, convinced me that my natural color was healthier for my hair than all that bleaching.” She snapped her mouth shut, mortified to have been blathering on so.
“It suits you.”
“Thanks.” When people said that, she always wanted to ask what they meant by it. Was her personality more sensible brunette than ditzy blonde, or had she looked awful before and hadn’t seen it? She pointed to the potted plant in her hand as they arrived at the cashier stand by the front entrance and widened her strained smile. “I was just about to check out.”
Way to state the obvious, Cass. Get a hold of yourself. Why had she become a bumbling idiot at the sight of J.T.?
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Hurray for hair dye! Problem solved.
Have you ever read a book where the hair color or eye color changed on a character within the book or from book to book without an explanation?
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