We have Tawna Fenske with us today chatting about her release, FRISKY BUSINESS. Help me in welcoming Tawna to Cocktails and Books.
Hello everyone, and thanks for inviting me to hang out with you here at Cocktails and Books. Who brought the little umbrellas to put in our drinks?
Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my brand new romantic comedy, Frisky Business. After vowing not to date any more wealthy men, Marley embarks on a quest to date only blue collar guys. While the plan makes it easier for her keep her distance from Will—the quirky, unlikely millionaire she desperately doesn’t want to fall for—it sends Marley down a path of truly terrible dates.
In this scene, Will is out for a walk with his sister and his ex-wife (a woman bizarrely devoted to declaring everything “lovely”) when he runs into Marley in the middle of a date. As you might imagine, things aren’t going very well.
Bethany kicked her hiking boot through a pile of leaves and laughed, and Will felt a pang of fondness for his sister. In spite of everything they’d been through with their parents and Aunt Nancy and April, Will still considered her one of his best friends.
She grabbed his arm, and for a second Will thought it was a sign of mutual fondness. Then she pointed one of her purple-gloved fingers toward a bank of large pine trees. “Is that Marley over there?”
Will felt his whole body lurch pleasantly at the sound of Marley’s name, and it took him a moment to shake the feeling. He looked the direction Bethany was pointing and felt another surge of longing.
Beside him, April smiled. “It sure looks like Marley with that beautiful blond hair and that trim figure. Such a lovely girl.”
Will stopped walking and stared, still breathless at the sight of her. He’d spent the last two days trying to avoid her, tending to volunteer duties that kept him away from Cheez Whiz and away from the temptation of her.
They’d been right to avoid romantic entanglement, he was sure of it. The last thing he needed in his life right now was a woman with a romantic agenda angled the opposite direction of who he was. A woman with text-messaged secrets and unclear motives and a habit of bending who she was to please the people around her.
You don’t need that, he told himself, willing his brain to buy it.
But as he looked at her now across the sprawling park, it was hard to remember. She wore rainbow-patterned mittens and a matching scarf over a fall parka in a shade of green Will knew would bring out the color in her hazel eyes. Her hair fluttered behind her in bright threads of gold, and he could swear he smelled blueberries in the breeze.
His breath caught in his throat, and he fought the urge to sprint for her.
“Who’s that guy she’s with?” Bethany asked.
April cupped a hand over her eyes to shield against the sun’s glare. “And what’s that thing she’s holding?”
Will was aware of a strange buzz in the back of his brain, the sign that he was losing it once and for all. That the women in his life had driven him to the brink of insanity, where he heard voices in his head and buzzing in his skull and had the faint urge to climb Pilot Butte naked, cover his body in peanut butter, and roll down the side of the cinder cone.
“Earth to Will,” Bethany said, jabbing him in the ribs with her elbow.
Will started walking again, his eyes still on Marley. “It’s a remote-controlled airplane,” he said, relieved to realize the buzzing was coming from the sky and not his skull. “Marley’s date is flying it.”
The word date tasted bitter on his tongue, and Will stared at the man, wondering whether he was the plumber or someone else Marley had decided to go out with. He sized the man up, hating the clench of jealousy in his gut, hating the way the guy’s hand lingered on Marley’s as he handed the remote control to her.
“Come on,” Bethany said, grabbing April by one arm and Will by the other. “Let’s stop standing here staring like morons and go say hello.”
“I kinda preferred being a moron,” Will said, but allowed his sister to tow him toward Marley.
The dogs scampered along beside them, thrilled to be heading off on a new adventure. Rosco dropped his tennis ball and picked up a pinecone, prancing like he’d just discovered the holy grail. Polly scooped up the abandoned ball and bounded ahead before turning back to check on Omar.
“She’s such a good girl,” April said.
“What?” Will asked, his eyes still fixed on Marley.
“Polly. Your dog? I love how she’s always looking out for Omar,” April said. “Like she knows he can’t hear, so she wants to make sure he doesn’t wander off. Such a lovely gesture.”
Will nodded, barely hearing her. They were ten feet from Marley now, and Will could see her gloved thumbs working the remote control in her hand.
“Like this?” she asked, blinking up at the burly man beside her in an orange parka.
The man grinned and nodded. “You’re doing great. Good call picking the SkyScout. It’s a great little plane, isn’t it?”
“I love it!” Marley said, her face upturned to watch the small aircraft arc across the sky.
“Hey, guys!” Bethany called. Marley turned at the sound of her voice, her face registering surprise as she spotted Bethany, then April, then Will.
Her eyes lingered longest on Will, and he couldn’t help feeling glad about that.
He also couldn’t help noticing Marley’s date register that detail.
“Watch out!” he said, pulling the remote control out of Marley’s hands. “You’re going to hit the tree with it.”
“What? Oh… sorry about that.” Marley looked at the man’s hands for a moment as he worked the controls on the plane. Then she turned back to Will. “Josh, I’d like you to meet Bethany, April, and Will Barclay. Guys, this is Josh Johnson.”
“Josh Johnson the plumber?” Bethany said. “I see your ads all over town.”
“That’s me,” Josh said proudly, smiling at Bethany before turning his attention back to the model airplane. “I’m also president of the Deschutes Oregon Radio Control Society.”
“DORCS,” Will said slowly, sounding out the acronym. Josh glared, then looked back at the sky, dismissing Will as insignificant.
Will didn’t blame the guy.
Bethany shot Will a warning look before flashing Josh a peacemaker smile. “Cool plane,” she said.
“So lovely,” April exclaimed, beaming up at the sky.
“Marley thought so, too,” Josh said, looking fondly at Marley. “Never met a woman so fascinated by small-scale aviation, but when I told her about this, she was really into it.”
Will raised an eyebrow at Marley, who refused to meet his eyes. Or maybe she really was fascinated by remote-controlled airplanes since her gaze was fixed heavenward. He watched her for a moment, trying not to be distracted by the flashes of silver in her eyes.
“Marley certainly has varied interests,” Will agreed. “Golf, mountain biking, plastic planes—”
“It’s not plastic,” Josh said, frowning at Will as he lowered the remote control. “This here’s the SkyScout P2GO with a multiplex airframe offering the precision of Hitec electronics in a protected-top mounted outrunner motor with optional ailerons.”
“Of course,” Will said. “I stand corrected.”
“It’s a wonder of modern technology,” Josh said, still frowning at Will.
“In that case,” April said, “is it less likely to break if it hits that tree?”
“What?” Josh snapped his attention back to the sky in time to watch a small yellow plane smack nose-first into the trunk of a massive ponderosa.
“Goddammit!” he screamed, hurling his radio controller to the ground and stomping it under his work boot. He stomped it a few more times before turning to Will. “Look what you made me do.”
Will stared at Josh, unsure whether to apologize or to point out the fact that the person holding the remote control was in charge of the aircraft’s flight path. He was saved from making either statement when Marley laid her hand on Josh’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry, it’s my fault. I didn’t mean to distract you with—”
“What’s the first rule of radio-controlled aviation?” Josh barked.
Marley blinked. “Um, don’t take it too seriously?”
Josh growled, not amused. “Always keep your eye on the sky.”
Bethany folded her arms over her chest and leveled a cold stare at Josh. “I need to point out here that the only two people who didn’t have their eyes on the sky were you and Will. And since Will wasn’t in control of an aircraft at the time, let me go out on a limb here and say the rule doesn’t apply to him.”
“He distracted me!” sputtered Josh. “With his stupid comments about radio-control aviation and Marley paying attention to you people instead of the job at hand.”
Marley grimaced. “You know, maybe the job at hand isn’t the right fit for me.”
Will pressed his lips together, fighting hard to control the urge to make a hand job joke. It was best to let Marley handle this on her own.
“Fine,” Josh huffed, shaking his head. “I’m sorry I overreacted. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. Let’s just go get dinner.”
Marley blinked, then forced a smile. “Actually, I’m really tired. I think I’ll skip dinner and call it a night.”
Josh snorted. “You women and your diets. Fine, we’ll skip dinner. Do you want to go catch a movie then? There’s that new one about Amelia Earhart. You’ll like that, being an aviation fan and all.”
“Actually, I think I just want to go home.” Marley’s voice was still calm, but Will could hear an edge to it.
Josh kicked his remote control again. “But what about your plan? You said you wanted to learn more about remote-control aviation.”
“Maybe some other time.” Marley wore her donor relations smile like a shield, but her eyes flashed in warning.
Josh scowled. “You broke my goddamn plane for nothing.”
Will watched as something snapped in Marley’s brain. She crossed her arms over her chest and leveled him with an icy look.
“Actually, you broke your goddamn plane,” she snapped. “And to be perfectly honest, I’m not interested in continuing a date with a grown man who throws tantrums over a toy. And FYI, that orange coat makes you look like a pylon.”
The words hung in the air for a moment, and no one spoke. Beside them, Rosco barked once. Marley looked down at the ground. “A simple ‘thank you for the lovely date and have a nice night’ would have been better, wouldn’t it?”
“Not really,” Will said.
Marley Cartman is fed up with arrogant rich guys who treat her like garbage, so she vows to only date men with modest paychecks and a little dirt under their nails.
Her new boss, William Barclay, is exactly the kind of man she’s trying to avoid: an eccentric millionaire with duct shape shoes and an unexplained vendetta against her.
But as Will and Marley butt heads over grumpy badgers and phallic artifacts, they discover that sometimes the opposite of what you want is exactly what you need.
Tawna Fenske traveled a career path that took her from newspaper reporter to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek to PR manager for her city’s tourism bureau. An avid globetrotter and social media fiend, Tawna is the author of the popular blog, Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing, and a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her fiancé in Bend, Oregon, where she’ll invent any excuse to hike, bike, snowshoe, float the river, or sip wine on her back deck. Tawna has published several romantic comedies with Sourcebooks, including Making Waves and Believe it or Not, as well as the interactive fiction caper, Getting Dumped, with Coliloquy and Marine for Hire with Entangled Brazen. Her latest Sourcebooks release, Frisky Business, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “an appealing blend of lighthearted fun and emotional tenderness.” Tawna’s quirky brand of comedy and romance has earned kudos from RT Book Reviews, which nominated her debut novel for Contemporary Romance of the Year, and from the Chicago Tribune, which noted, “Fenske’s wildly inventive plot & wonderfully quirky characters provide the perfect literary antidote to any romance reader’s summer reading doldrums.”