Here come the brides

Posted: January 2nd, 2015 | Arts & Entertainment, Books, Features, Top Story | No Comments

By Alex Owens

Downtown living inspires romantic novel

Downtown San Diego can be very romantic and two local authors are proving it with a romance novel set in the area.

Susan Chan and Carol Polakoff are the authors of “The Reluctant Brides of Lily Court Lane,” a new book about the loves and lives of four women who live in Downtown on a fictional street called Lily Court Lane.

“Some of them are young and enjoy going out at night in the Gaslamp, some are older and married or divorced,” Chan said. “San Diego is like a fifth character.”

The plot concerns a year in the lives of these women, with a key point being a painting belonging to a holocaust survivor.

Lily Court Lane at JCCwebwithbook

(l to r) Authors Susan Chan and Carol Polakoff display their book (Courtesy SDAFF/PacArts)

Chan and Polakoff both came to San Diego from back east about a decade ago; New York for Chan, Detroit for Polakoff.

How they met and came to write a book has a certain romantic appeal in itself.

“We both live at the Renaissance in the Marina District and we belonged to a book club there,” Polakoff said. “One day, we both said the book we were discussing was so bad, we could write a better one.”

So they did. Or at least they attempted to.

“The Reluctant Brides Of Lily Court Lane” is actually Chan and Polakoff’s second book, but the first one that has been published. It marks the culmination of a three-year effort.

“The first book took longer because we were learning,” Chan admitted. “After we wrote the second book, it took some time to get it on Amazon.”

The unpublished first book provides much of the back story for “The Reluctant Brides of Lily Court Lane,” as well as a third book, of which the duo have already written about two-thirds of.

The “Lily Court” title was actually a suggestion from a mutual friend, Barbara Fatheree, who died of cancer while the book was being completed.

Chan and Polakoff work on the book together.

“We write one chapter each time we meet,” Chan said. “We discuss the story line and the dialogue and I type it up. Then I proofread it and add things we discussed that didn’t make it in initially.”

Polakoff said she sees their differences as people as complementary.

“Susan is such a positive person, where I will go to the darker side,” she said. “I’m creative and she’s the organizer and the typist.”

Polakoff is also more willing than Chan to admit that parts of the characters may be autobiographical.

“There’s a young woman whose husband leaves her for another man,” she said. “I related to that character very much and there were parts of me in other characters as well.”

lily bookOn the other hand, Chan said the romance scenes were particularly enjoyable to write.

“It was the easiest part,” she laughed. “I had no problem with them.”

Since the characters in the book live Downtown, naturally, local landmarks like Petco Park, the University Club and the Convention Center are important settings, as are Seaport Village and Balboa Park.

Now Chan and Polakoff are trying to get the word out about the book, which they said in some ways, is harder than writing it.

“It’s been difficult trying to figure out how to get the best feedback,” Polakoff said.

Still, Chan said she already feels like a success “just having someone who’s read it and said they enjoyed it.”

The authors hope to stoke greater interest in the book locally when it is featured in the Local Author’s Exhibit at the San Diego Central Library in February.

In the meantime, Polakoff admits she does see the “Lily Court” series as having potential for a TV series and dreams about casting.

Tolakoff was asked, “If San Diego is a character, who would she like to cast in the role”

“Jennifer Lopez,” she said, laughing. “This city has a Latin flair.”

“The Reluctant Brides of Lily Court Lane” is currently available on Amazon in both a print (paperback) and a Kindle edition. The two women have created a Facebook page for the book, called “Lily Court Lane.” To buy the book or read reviews, visit

—Alex Owens is a San Diego-based freelance writer. He can be reached at

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