Ruth Roth is a straight shooter. Pity Cupid’s not.
Smart-mouth Ruth is an inspirational humour columnist for a popular women’s magazine. Recently divorced, she has found the love of her life. Without any help, mind you, from the little fat love god. Ruth has decided she herself is her one and only.
And she’s in a comfy place. Why wouldn’t she be? No need to yell ‘Put the bloody toilet seat down!’ No need to hoover toe-nail clippings off the carpet.
But then a silver-tongued Prince Charming fronts up in his shiny Merc and tickles her discarded, little-girl fantasies. He tells her their love is written in the stars.
It must be a misprint.
A romance with this particular PC is not so PC! Still …
Ruth’s life plays out more like ancient myth than fairytale. And what hot-blooded woman can resist forbidden fruit?
There’s a problem, though. Ruth does not have a hot-blooded mum. Ruth has a pain-in-the-arse mum whose squawking disapproval cranks the taboo up a notch.
All the more reason to take up with the stud! But it means taking on the harpy.
Tensions mount, and even Ruth’s man can’t protect her from the trash-talking voices in her head. It looks like he can’t muzzle his own either. When an earth-shattering revelation causes him to give her grief, it makes her feel like she’s dating her mother.
Taking the kind of advice she doles out to her readers is not so easy, and Ruth wonders if this love can survive. More to the point, is it worth the trouble?
Today I am happy to share an extract. I hope you endjoy it and read the whole book!
Sylvia’s house was eerily quiet. She was sitting on the couch in a stupefied state with Myron on her right and his wife, space-cadet-Tammy, on her left. Rory and Robbie sat on the opposite couch like a pair of blobs, each one chomping away on biscuits. Nothing had changed since infancy (these two hadn’t moved their fat arses until they were fifteen months old, when they went straight from sitting to walking. They never crawled because you can’t eat and crawl at the same time). But I noticed significant changes in Myron from when I last saw him, none particularly flattering. His blue eyes had dulled, his mane of thick blond hair had thinned and darkened into mousy, like his nature. And Chubs had grown an extra chin. He’d always looked like Sylvia’s son. Now he could pass for her younger brother.
Our differences dropped away, though, and we all hugged and cried, except for Rory and Robbie, who looked on as they continued snarfing their cookies. (If they’d tossed them occasionally, they mightn’t have ended up so fat.)
I went into the bedroom to see Joe. He looked like he was just sleeping peacefully. Relieved, maybe. I knelt down next to him and kissed his cool cheek. ‘Oh, Joe …’ I shed silent tears. Then I chuckled and whispered in his ear, ‘The extremes you go to to get away from her.’ I stayed on the floor with him, lost in nothingness until I heard the irritating ding dang ding dong of the doorbell, a sound that seemed so disrespectful under the circumstances. I got up and went back into the lounge.
My parents’ GP was crouched down in front of Sylvia. He held her hand in his and was speaking to her in a muted tone. Distracted by a soft rapping on the front door, he left Sylvia and moved to the bedroom. Ralph let in two men from the Chevra Kadisha (the Jewish Funeral Society). Sympathetic and sombre, they went about their business, but the whole thing felt clinical to me. Joe was now ‘the body’. No longer a person, he was just a thing.
We watched in wide-eyed silence as, a short time later, they took my father away. The doctor had completed the death certificate, but hung back. Once again, he squatted down in front of Sylvia. As he plied her with platitudes, the cliché queen rallied a little, like a participant at an evangelist prayer meeting, but then she sank and started wailing like an air raid siren. It shook everyone up. The doctor murmured some ‘there, there’s’ and rummaged through his bag until he located a blister pack of drug samples. ‘Sedatives,’ he said. He pushed two pills out, pressed them into Sylvia’s hand and asked Myron to fetch her a glass of water. Doc watched her down them and then, in the conciliatory tone of an undertaker, he subjected all of us to his pedestrianism: ‘It was God’s will’; ‘He’s in a better place’; ‘Be strong’; ‘Time will heal’ … yada yada yada.
Dear God, whose will it was to take Joe, please take this man to his car so he can go home and hit the hay, snatch forty winks, go to the land of nod, recharge the batteries … bore himself to sleep.
God complied. Sylvia pushed herself up off the chair and escorted Doc to the door. While they stood there swapping more clichés, Myron said to me, ‘We’re going to sit shiva.’
‘What? Says who?’
‘Mum and I.’
‘Oh, really? Firstly, we’re not religious. Secondly, I have a say too, you know!’
‘Well, it’s been decided.’ He said it like a bossy pants in the schoolyard. ‘And Dad would have wanted it.’
‘Bullshit!’ I hissed.
Myron was miffed. He sniffed his disapproval. ‘It’s not up for discussion. Anyway, Dad would have sat shiva for Mum if she’d gone first.’
Again, ‘Bullshit!’ I gave him the stink eye. He looked away.
Shiva meant the family members had to sit for seven days of formal mourning starting after the funeral. Joe could have easily gone seven days without shaving, not wearing shoes or jewellery and sitting on his arse on a low chair doing nothing. But shiva meant covering all the mirrors in the house. That would have suited me fine, but Joe couldn’t have gone seven days without looking in a mirror. No way. Joe couldn’t have gone one hour without looking in a mirror. He was vain. And also, he’d become no more observant than he was when we were kids—the extent of his religiousness back then included celebrating Christmas and Easter. That was not in any Jewish-way-of-life handbook that I knew of. Sylvia and Myron’s decision to sit shiva was up for discussion, but it would have to keep for now.
Sylvia had let the doctor out. She was headed for the kitchen and told me to follow her. She closed the door behind us.
‘I don’t want Ralph here!’ she fumed.
What? Well, those pills he gave you are fucking useless!
I glared at her. ‘Why not? Ralph’s not a stranger. Joe was his uncle.’
‘Not his real uncle, he’s adopted!’
Oh, really? So NOW he’s adopted. Then I guess it’s okay for me to be sleeping with him? Those sentiments would have to keep for another time and another place. But these wouldn’t: ‘You might not want him here, but I need him here. He stays. Your husband, my father!’ Xena warrior, not so princess-like. Sylvia didn’t argue but she got her wish. Only because I didn’t even want me here.
Thank you, Paula Houseman and RahelsRandomResources
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