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Real-life Romance: Anniversary Perfection? An interview by Amy Anguish

Does an anniversary have to be perfect to be romantic? I think you'll discover the answer is a resounding "no." Especially in stories like the one author Shirley Gould shares today. I got a kick out of it, and I think you will too! Also, make sure you scroll all the way down for her new book, which releases 7/25.


Not everyone gets their happily-ever-after ending, but I did. I was abundantly blessed to be married to J.R. Gould for forty years. He was a man’s man with an amazing personality and a winning smile. His ability to proclaim the Word made him a sought-after evangelist around the world. Displaying stellar leadership skills, he was elected to lofty positions among the ministers of our church organization. As a missionary he was exemplary, winning thousands to the Lord. My tall, dark, and handsome man was also hopelessly romantic. He treated me like a queen. We celebrated our anniversaries in special places around the globe such as Paris, Hawaii, Jamaica, Puerta Varrata, and Cancun.


While we were serving as missionaries in Kenya, East Africa for fourteen years, our twenty-fifth anniversary occurred. J.R. planned a romantic dinner cruise on a dhow (an old pirate ship) on the Indian Ocean. It was classic—just like stepping onto a movie set. We walked the plank to board the vessel that moved with the constant waves of the ocean. The captain was dressed like a pirate complete with a parrot on his shoulder while his staff was adorned in swashbuckling attire. The evening included an expensive gift from J.R., a yellow diamond from South Africa for my wedding set, a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, a candlelight dinner of steak and lobster with flan for dessert under a full moon, and a star-strung sky.

Before our dessert was served, J.R. spoke to the leader of the band that serenaded us throughout the evening. He asked him if they knew any Elvis Presley songs. The handsome Kenyan man nodded his head vigorously assuring him at the appropriate time, he would play and sing, I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You for us (our favorite love song) when the Captain of the dhow announced it was our 25th anniversary. Leaving a generous tip in their jar, J.R. returned to our table quite proud of himself. It would be a perfect highlight on our special occasion—the icing on the proverbial cake.

The evening was enchanting. It was perfect fodder for a romance novel. The tops of the waves sparkled like diamonds tossed upon a black velvet cloth as we strolled the deck. He made me feel cherished. Very romantic. It was literally perfect until…all eyes were on us when the moment came for us to be honored for our 25th wedding anniversary and the Kenyan band belted out the only Elvis Presley song they knew…Please Release Me Let Me Go. I Don’t Love You Anymore.

With a spotlight shining upon us, the look on J.R.’s face was priceless. I burst out laughing. The other diners on the dhow joined in the humor of the moment with roars of laughter. They could tell by the shock on his face the band had definitely played the wrong song.

The Captain thanked J.R. for adding a bit of frivolity to the evening’s entertainment as we disembarked the dhow. Other diners asked what was the intended song. He announced to the group, “It was supposed to be I can’t help falling in love with you.” Being a good sport, J.R. took it in stride…but anyone who knew him well laughs when I share this story. Using snippets of our romance in my books makes writing love stories easy…because he gave me so many special moments in time to cherish…forever and a day.

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