If you haven't had enough dramatic rose ceremonies for one year, fear not. More are on the way.
And the person propelling them has plenty of recent experience. The second runner-up on the latest edition of "The Bachelor," Ashley Hebert didn't even reach the ceremony that would have denied her a rose, since Brad Womack informed her early that he wouldn't be choosing her. Now Hebert gets to do the choosing among 25 romantic prospects: She becomes "The Bachelorette" when the seventh season of the unscripted ABC series begins Monday, May 23.
"It's actually been great," the spirited Hebert says while taping in Thailand. "Very early on, I had a little up and a little down ... but I guess that makes for a good season, right? I expected that coming in, but I didn't expect it to happen so quickly. I'm in a really great place now, though, so things are looking promising."
A former Junior Miss from Maine who has been completing her dentistry degree in Philadelphia, Hebert claims she "really didn't" have any qualms about going through the "Bachelorette" process shortly after her "Bachelor" stint.
"As soon as I was approached about it, I thought it would be a great thing for me," she says. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I felt like I was at a point in my life where I was ready to find somebody. I think I would be stupid to turn it down.
"My relationship with Brad really primed me for what was yet to come," she adds. "The most important thing I learned was to give everybody a second chance. This is a tough situation to be in, and being on this side, I can appreciate what it's like and how hard it is. I think I have a little more understanding of it than someone like Brad, who's never been on the other side of it."
Second-time "Bachelor" Womack ultimately chose Emily Maynard, but at this writing, it was uncertain whether their engagement was still on."Bachelorette" and "Bachelor" host Chris Harrison says he and Hebert have become friends during her time with the franchise, but he's not surprised Womack didn't pick her.
"I like her so much, it's hard for me to say this, but it was deserved at the time," Harrison says. "It was time for her to go. There were other girls he had much deeper relationships with, but also, she wasn't ready.
"She was a little hung up with really allowing Brad in, and as I told her when we started this, 'You can't go through it like that. You can't keep your guard up the entire time. It's just not the way it works.' You have to be able to make a fool of yourself and let go, and this season, she's been able to do that. With Brad, she wasn't."
There's still a price to be paid, though, which Harrison recognizes. "You'll see, pretty early on, that she gets hurt along the way. That's how it's happened with 'The Bachelorette' lately there's been a lot of heartache to get to a great end result. When you're in the middle, you can already tell if it's going to be a good season. Right now, I know we have a great season. There are several episodes where I don't know how we're going to get it all into two hours."
The results of "The Bachelorette" have been mixed overall. Of Hebert's six predecessors, only two remain in their relationships from the show: First-season "star" Trista Rehn is married to Ryan Sutter, with whom she has two children, and Ali Fedotowsky is still engaged to Roberto Martinez from last season.
If being on "The Bachelor" had a fairy-tale quality for Hebert, she was confident that as the one woman on "The Bachelorette," her return would "surpass it, if anything. I felt like I personally missed out on a lot of the fun, because I had a hard time dating in that situation. Being on this side, it's so much better, and I feel like I'm enjoying it so much more.
"I am slightly more in control, but it's important for people to realize that just because I'm 'The Bachelorette,' it doesn't mean everyone's going to fall in love with me or that I'm right for everyone. I'm just looking to see who I have a connection with."
Seeking such a connection may never be more overwhelming than upon the arrival of all the men at the start of the first episode.
"I had so much anxiety that first night," Hebert admits. "Watching the guys step out of the limo ... on the one hand, I was really nervous and on the other hand, I was really excited. Everything turned out great, so I have no insecurities now. I feel really strongly that this is going to work for me."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun