Monday, November 29, 2010


Today our TKA serial post is hosted by romantic women’s fiction author, Maria Geraci. Her third novel, THE BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB, comes out December 7, 2010.  Enjoy her excerpt below. You can find out more about her books at

CHAPTER ONE -- The Ghost of Boyfriends Past

Grace O’Bryan didn’t believe in ghosts. She also didn’t believe in witches, vampires, love at first sight, that there was anything real about reality TV, or the ridiculous claim that you could lose ten pounds on the three-day cabbage soup diet (she’d tried it twice). If you couldn’t see it, feel it, touch it, or taste it, then in all likelihood it didn’t exist. Which made for some very practical thinking on Grace’s part. Except for the one ripple in the otherwise smooth seas of her personal logic. Like her abuela Graciela—the Cuban grandmother Grace was named after—what she did believe in was curses.

How else could you explain tonight?

She had waited a whopping two months for Brandon Farrell to ask her out, only to wake up this morning on her period. Not that that in itself was a problem. She wasn’t a have-sex-on-the-first-date kind of girl. Nor did she suffer from bad cramps. But she’d also woken up five pounds heavier than she’d been last night (maybe she should have given the cabbage soup diet one more try). So instead of the outfit she’d planned on wearing, she’d ended up borrowing her best friend Sarah’s little black dress. Sarah had excellent taste in clothes—the dress was a winning combination of elegant yet discreetly sexy. Sarah was also a size larger than Grace, and the dress had fit perfectly. At least it had fit perfectly back at Grace’s town house. It wasn’t until Grace had folded herself into her tiny red VW Bug that she’d noticed the dress was a tad too short.

And now, thanks to some heavier than average Saturday evening Daytona Beach traffic, she was late for her date. She tugged on the hem of Sarah’s dress and opened the door to the city’s newest, most exclusive restaurant, Chez Louis, only to find herself nose to aquiline nose with Felix Barberi.

Grace sucked in a breath. It was a Dickensian nightmare. Too bad the man standing in front of her was one hundred percent real. Grace might not subscribe to love at first sight, but substitute lust for love, and in Felix’s case she’d been a firm believer.

At first, Felix had been incredibly charming, despite his annoying habit of wanting to make out to Celine Dion’s number one hit, “My Heart Will Go On.” But Felix worked in the restaurant business and the brutal hours had strained their relationship and tarnished his charm. The ultimate strain had come when Grace had returned early from a business trip to surprise Felix on Valentine’s Day. She’d gone to his apartment with a bottle of red wine and a pepperoni and anchovy pizza, only to catch Felix going at it with a dancer from the Topless-a-Go-Go.

Grace didn’t know which was worse: the fact that Felix had cheated, or that the someone he had cheated with had a rack that must have cost six months’ worth of lap dances. The incident had confirmed however that the St. Valentine’s Day Curse was alive and well.

The St. Valentine’s Day Curse was a long-standing joke among Grace and her friends. Its roots went all the way back to third grade at St. Bernadette’s Catholic School when Grace’s first boyfriend, Richard Kasamati, broke up with her on the playground on Valentine’s Day. The uncanny thing was that over the years, no matter how serious a relationship she seemed to be in, Grace always ended up alone on that day. If Grace began dating a guy in March, the relationship might last a whopping eleven months, and yet she would still find herself flying solo by the first week in February.

But joke or not, finding Felix in flagrante delicto with his topless dancer had been no laughing matter. Grace had driven back to her town house, packed up what few things Felix kept there (including his Celine Dion greatest hits CD), and unceremoniously dumped them on his doorstep.

That was nine months ago and she hadn’t seen Felix since. Although she had to admit the sight of Felix in a tux still made her mouth water. It was Grace’s one fatal flaw. She was hopelessly attracted to hopelessly attractive men.

Felix cleared his throat and straightened to his full height and since Grace was wearing four-inch heels it put them at the exact same level. Felix wasn’t short, but neither was Grace.

“Grace, you look . . .” He paused, taking in the dress, the hair, the makeup. “You look fantastic!”

Felix’s eyes didn’t say fantastic. Felix’s eyes said hot.

Grace felt a moment’s vindication, but then her instinct for survival shifted into overdrive. Felix didn’t hand out compliments without an ulterior motive.

She caught a glimpse of herself in the Versailles rip-off gilt-framed mirror behind the reservation desk. Grace had never thought of herself as beautiful. Her older brother, Charlie, had hogged all the beautiful genes. A better word to describe her was interesting. She’d inherited her mother’s big brown eyes (a plus) and her father’s Irish complexion (a negative—there wasn’t enough sunscreen in the world to keep her from freckling). Her shoulder-length dark hair, usually an asset, wasn’t cooperating tonight. Her upsweep with the side swept bangs was supposed to be going for Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife. But the humidity outside made her look more like Julianna Margulies in ER. She had to admit, though, Sarah was right. Too short or not, the dress did look good on her. Maybe Felix’s compliment was genuine.

“Thanks,” Grace said. “You don’t look too shabby yourself.”

It suddenly occurred to Grace that she’d never worn anything like Sarah’s little black dress when she was dating Felix. She’d always been more of a jeans and sneakers kind of girl. Maybe if she’d dressed sexier, Felix wouldn’t have been tempted to cheat.


It shouldn’t have mattered if she wore granny panties or tiny silk thongs. Cheating was about the cheater, not the person who had been cheated on. How many times had she consoled Sarah with that exact same platitude?

“So, how long have you been working here?” she asked Felix.

Was she really making small talk with Felix Barberi?

“I was hired to open the restaurant. I’m the general manager.” He gave her a funny look.

“Congratulations, Felix. That’s great.” She meant it too. Why should she be a shit just because Felix was one?

“There was a big article in the paper when the restaurant opened last month. Lots of corporate types from all over Florida gunning for the job. My picture was on the front page of the local section. You sure you didn’t see it?”

Grace shook her head. What was she supposed to say to that? Polite small talk was one thing. It meant she was an adult and that she’d moved on. But she wasn’t about to throw her arms around Felix and give him a congratulatory hug.

“How’s your job going?” he asked. “Still working at that tourist shop?”

“Florida Charlie’s is a family business. Of course I still work there.”

“I saw a billboard the other day on I-95 claiming you now have the world’s largest alligator tooth on display.”

The alligator tooth display had been her father’s idea. Grace had found it tacky but she wasn’t about to divulge that to Felix. “It’s pretty cool, actually. You should come by and see it sometime.” Who knows, maybe it belongs to a relative of yours.

Felix came in close. So close she could smell the starch radiating from his crisp white shirt and the expensive Acqua Di Gio cologne he always wore. A vision of writhing naked body parts (his and hers) made Grace’s pulse race. Then she remembered more writhing naked body parts (his and not hers) and her pulse raced again—this time in anger. She hated to admit it, but a part of her was still reeling from Felix’s infidelity. She thought she’d moved on, but seeing him again was like pulling the Band-Aid off an old cut only to find that that you’d accidentally ripped the scab off too.

“Grace,” he said in a low, intimate voice. “It’s me, remember? You don’t have to put on an act. I know how much you hate working for your father.” He placed his hand on her bare elbow. “Baby, you’re better than that. You have to break free. Be all you can be.”

Career advice from Felix Barberi? This was too much. She’d like to break free all right. Free enough to clobber him over the head.

Patience, Grace thought, trying to squelch Mal Genio—which more or less meant “Bad-Tempered One” in Spanish. Her brother had christened her with the nickname at age five when Grace had kicked him in the shin after he’d told her there was no Santa Claus. The temperamental alter ego had proven convenient over the years. Whenever Grace did something she didn’t want to own up to, she’d say, “Mal Genio did it!” It didn’t get her out of any punishments, but psychologically it made her feel better to know she had an inner demon that she couldn’t completely control.

She regretted that she’d confided her job woes to Felix, but she couldn’t let Felix mess with her head. Not before her big date with Brandon. She stepped back to reclaim some of her personal space.

“Felix, I never said I hated working for my father.”

The heavy scent of butter and garlic and freshly baked bread floated through the air. It smelled even better than Felix and his Acqua Di Gio. Grace felt herself sway. Five-pound weight gain or not, she should have eaten today.

“I wish I’d known you were stopping by,” Felix continued. “I’m filling in for Pierre, the maître d’, so I really can’t take a break right now. But maybe in another thirty minutes?”

Stopping by? Did Felix think she’d come here to see him?

“I’m meeting a date,” Grace said. “Maybe you’ve heard of him? Brandon Farrell? He’s been named Daytona Beach’s most eligible bachelor two years in a row by Central Florida Magazine. He’s my new boyfriend.”

Felix raised a brow.

Okay, so maybe that was a little over the top. Since this was their first date, technically Brandon wasn’t her boyfriend. Not yet anyway. But the petty side of her liked rubbing it in Felix’s face. See? I’ve moved on. With a mature man who knows what he wants!

“Of course I know Brandon Farrell. He’s a regular customer,” Felix said. “He also happens to not be here tonight.”

Brandon was running late too? “That’s Saturday night traffic for you,” she said, laughing nervously. “Can you just go ahead and seat me? I’ll wait for him at the table.”

“Sorry but we’re completely booked and there’s no reservation.” Although there was no one around to hear them, he lowered his voice. “When Farrell wants a table he calls ahead and we always accommodate him, regardless of how busy we are. I’ve been manning the phones all night and I can guarantee you he hasn’t called.” He gave her the same consoling look he’d given her earlier when he’d brought up the alligator tooth display.

“There… there must be some sort of mix-up.”

“Grace, you don’t have to make up a story to come see me. The truth is I’ve been thinking about you too.”

“Felix, I really do have a date with Brandon Farrell.”

“Then why don’t you call and find out what’s holding him up?” Felix challenged. “Like I said before, Farrell’s an excellent customer. If he tells me to seat you, there won’t be a problem.”

Only there was a problem because Grace didn’t have Brandon’s phone number. She’d been so giddy when he’d asked her out last Thursday night after Zumba class that she hadn’t thought to get it.

From Maria: I hope you liked this special sneak peek! If you’d like to read more, you can read all of chapter one right here:

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Blogger beck nicholas said...

Interesting excerpt!

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 7:52:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kimila said...

I can associate with this character. I've been late, wore the wrong outfit, tried the cabbage soup diet knowing it's not going to work, and enjoyed the smell of food more than the whiff of a man. Although, men do smell nice most of the time.
After thinking about it, maybe it was a man smelling like supper that I enjoyed so much.
Either way, I enjoyed the excerpt.

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:38:00 PM EST  
Blogger Julie Sarff!!! said...


Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:46:00 PM EST  
Blogger jo robertson said...

Entertaining excerpt. I really like the author's voice.

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 10:44:00 PM EST  
Blogger Brenda Whiteside said...

Enjoyed the excerpt.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 6:26:00 AM EST  
Blogger insecure writer said...

Fun read!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:39:00 AM EST  
Blogger Jerri said...

Very Nice excerpt.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger Shannyn said...

great excerpt!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:52:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read it!
Sharon Wray

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:54:00 AM EST  
Blogger Jamie said...

How many more days until I can read this book? :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:55:00 AM EST  
Blogger AmandaRose said...

I really enjoyed this read! I reviewed it on my blog at, I'm also giving away a copy of the novel if your interested!

Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 5:01:00 PM EST  

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