Love, romance, marriage, and a dark little secret. Shh … Small things let loose can grow out of hand.

Ruth Roth’s new husband can’t keep it in. If only he had all those years ago, things might be different now.

His big mouth sends every family member into hell. Except for Ruth’s late mother. She blows in from there. Seems the woman just won’t die. Or let up. Faaaark!

As if Mama’s earbashing isn’t enough, everyone else needs a scapegoat. Ruth is it. Somehow, this mess is her fault.

With everything falling apart, she feels overwhelmed. Until a hunky celebrity pants man—who clearly wants to get into hers—befriends her and makes her feel all warm and fuzzy. At the same time, an educated silicone seductress has designs on hubby.

Temptation abounds. But it’s overshadowed when a startling discovery throws Ruth and her man into uncharted waters, and life comes crashing down.

Ruth has survived plenty with the help of her friends. And as a writer, her wry wit, dirty muse, and a bent for ancient mythology have sustained her. This, though, might be her undoing.

 

 

Extract

Today I am allowed to share an extract. Enjoy!

***

We got to the restaurant ten minutes early.

Ralph was fidgety, drumming his fingers on the tabletop. Then, like a spectator at a tennis match watching a good, solid rally, his head to-and-froed between the cutlery flanking his plate. He tweaked their placement until he was satisfied they were equidistant from the plate, then he said, ‘Can you please, uh, behave tonight?’

I looked up at him. ‘Excuse me?’

He didn’t answer; didn’t need to—I got his drift. With the intoxication of marriage worn off, it now seemed the uninhibitedness he once loved about me had become a source of irritation.

I looked down again, staring with glazed eyes at the plate in front of me, but the rush of air from the restaurant door opening snapped me out of my abashed frame of mind. A couple stood at the entrance and looked around.

We’d seen a picture of Nick, but how much can a snapshot capture? Still, Ralph and the man locked eyes and knew straight away. They both smiled broadly. Like Beth and Ralph, Nick had a killer smile.

Ralph stood up. I wasn’t sure about gender-based etiquette. Should I stand? Should I remain seated? Did I care about rules of etiquette? Or rules of anything?

I stood as Nick and Donna approached the table.

The atmosphere was electric as the two men shook hands and gazed at each other. Clearly, it was love at first sight and the beginning of a bromantic infatuation. They glowed, their brains lighting up from the dopamine hit. Having a sibling whose head wasn’t untenanted would be a new experience for Ralph.

He introduced me, and Nick introduced Donna, a petite, pretty blondie with a warm handshake. I liked her immediately. If she’d tried to lay a hug on me, it would have been a strike against her. I hated it when people you didn’t know went in for cuddle at first sight.

Nick was a male version of Beth with his blue-green eyes and the same shaped mouth. Like his mother and Ralph, he had the roundish face with the chiselled jawline and subtle chin dimple. Good-looking and with close-cropped black hair, he was about the same height as Ralph.

The four of us sat down and chatted easily, the only lull in conversation was when we were scanning the menus. The waiter came over to take our orders.

Donna had decided on the eye fillet in red wine sauce on a bed of creamy polenta and wilted spinach. I chose the Moroccan spice-rubbed rack of lamb on a bed of sweet potato purée with root vegetables, and Ralph ordered osso bucco on a bed of saffron risotto. Here’s hoping the chef doesn’t go overboard with the saffron and upset the gastronome.

‘And for you, sir?’ the waiter asked Nick.

‘I’ll also have the eye fillet, but, much as I like beds, I prefer to sleep in them, not to have my steak on one. Can you please ask the chef to arrange things next to each other, you know, rather than on top? Steak, polenta and spinach separate, and can I have the red wine sauce on the side?’

The waiter gave him a strange look.

‘I don’t like my food groups touching.’

‘Of course, sir. And how would you like your steak?’

‘Well done, please.’ Presumably, he didn’t want meat juices leaking into the accompaniments.

The waiter was polite, to his face, at least. He was probably busting to tell the kitchen brigade about the whack job at Table 10.

And I was busting to tell Nick I had two Dora The Explorer melamine compartment plates for Luca, and would he maybe like one? But the memory of Ralph’s warning gagged me. He, on the other hand, spoke freely.

‘OCPD?’

Nick nodded and gave Ralph a what-can-you-do? shrug. ‘No doubt you see clients with this disorder?’

‘I have this disorder.’

The three of them laughed. Ha ha ha ha. I couldn’t. If one part’s fettered, other parts are too. But why was I allowing him to censor me?

Kiss my arse, Ralph!

I turned to Nick. ‘Maxi, a dear friend of ours, once told me about a barista who used to secretly spit in people’s coffee if they pissed him off.’ I could feel Ralph cringing next to me, but I kept going. ‘If the chef gets pissed off at your request and there’s a risk he might spit in your food, d’you think it might be an idea to tell the waiter to get the chef to spit next to one of the groups—you know, keep that separate as well?’

Eat that, Ralph!

Thank you, Paula Houseman and RachelsRandomResources

About the author

Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media Links – Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaHousemanAuthor LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman