Mainstream Contemporary Romance
Vanilla Heart Publishing
Steve and Sally Atwood have some big adjustments to make when they move to River’s Edge. Steve has lost his career in the corporate world and finds work painting houses. Sally flings off her apron and pursues her lifelong dream to be a reporter in the small town with a big heart, where the motto is ‘Kindness to Strangers’.
Afraid he is losing Sally to a more exciting world, Steve panics, but despite Sally’s lecherous new boss, together they rediscover all the love of their thirty-five years together and the excitement that brings.
Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble
"Readers can take a walk on the wild side (not Lou Reedish) in one setting with this quick easy read. Perhaps some readers, such as this reviewer, will consider it a bit “wild” for a couple who have been married for thirty-five years to flirt with infidelity. They will both be tempted. What made me feel this was a bit unusual was that the couple we meet in ""Help Wanted"", is introduced as happy empty-nesters. Couples can appear to be happy to the outside world, but are they really? The plot resonated with me because I shocked friends and family by ending a marriage after twenty-six years and three different marriage counselors. (It had been dead for years, but that’s another story.)
""Help Wanted"" is the second in a trilogy of stories billed as “A River’s Edge Romantic Suspense.” Charmaine Gordon writes books about women, baby boomers, who survive and thrive. Her motto is, “Take one step and then another to leave your past behind and begin again.” Gordon has been busy turning out six books and several short stories in three years. She’s always at work on the next story. Charmaine Gordon may be the hardest working author I know, certainly for a woman whose children are baby boomers.
Meet Steve and Sally Atwood.
He was recently given a golden handshake without the parachute.
Now the white shirt and tie guy is a handyman around town.
She’s looking for work.
She hopes to find an outlet for her creativity and journalistic talents.
Both are surprised when they discover what each really seeks and how their personal needs at this point in their lives converge and diverge.
Therein lies the suspense.
Can they manage what they find out about themselves and each other?
Life throws us curves and fastballs every day. How big is the strike zone and can the Atwoods manage the change-up pitch?
Adult readers of all ages can identify with the Atwoods and will be challenged to question themselves and the decisions they make. Cultural references will certainly appeal to boomers and the author has thoughtfully included explanations for the younger reader to connect.
Readers will also enjoy a vicarious performance for military veterans by canine performers representing Paws for a Cause.
Most baby boomers I know would still be teenagers were it not for mirrors and cameras.
The Atwoods are no different.
Will they have a happy ending?
“Just do it. Suck it up and go,” Sally said to her image in the mirror. Words guaranteed to encourage herself. Dressed down in a white shirt tucked into dark blue tailored pants, at the last minute Sally tied a colorful silk scarf around her neck. She slung the worn leather bag over her shoulder packed with a new camcorder Steve gave her to celebrate the transition from homemaker to reporter. Head held high, Sally drove downtown to the Pet EmporiumABOUT Charmaine Gordon
The bell chimed a cheerful greeting when Sally entered into a chorus of barking dogs and handlers at work. A tall muscular man walked over.
“Hi I’m Scott Dwyer. Welcome to the Pet Emporium.
“I’m Sally Atwood. I’m a reporter. The cable station’s chief Jerald Adams challenged me to get an interview with a prominent woman he calls the dog communicator.” Sally breathed in and out and went on. “He called it an in-depth interview and if I’m able to speak with the famed Grace Trumbull, I’ve got the job.”
Scott Dwyer laughed, covered his mouth and laughed harder while he steered Sally to a small alcove and closed the door. The noise subsided after the door closed. She smelled brownies, hot from the oven and the gurgle of tea from a pitcher pouring over ice. Her host set the beverages and a plate on a round wood table.
“Jerry’s bark is worse than his bite. He’s tough and has to be in the business, Sally. Welcome to River’s Edge, by the way. Claudia Wilcox is a good friend. She said we’d meet you before long. So you’re ready to get a job. Have you worked before?” He poured tea and tapped the brownie plate. “I make these every day. After smelling dogs and cats in soapy water, it’s nice to have a home baked aroma in here.”
She liked the casual way this man spoke with assurance and kindness, not just being nosy. “After raising three kids and being a stay-at-home mom for many years, it’s time. I took some classes in communication, journalism and reporting. I do have a few credentials from work in Rockland County if you’d like to check them out.”
She handed him the dog eared folder, made a mental note to use a new one next time, if there was a next time, and took a bite out of the brownie. Oh my God. The taste of chocolate so sweet, fat free, of course. She grinned. Yeah right. Calm down. She restrained herself from the desire to inhale the entire piece even though it beckoned..
His blue eyes scanned current columns Sally wrote. “Good. I like your style. Warm and friendly, not pretentious. Wait a sec.”
He left the room and in that brief moment, she checked her lipstick, brushed away telltale crumbs. True to his word, Scott returned in a flash just as Sally blotted fresh lipstick.
“You look just right, Sally. You’re in luck. Grace is in a good mood. She says any friend of Claudia’s is a friend of ours and right now she’s in conference with a sad saluki.”
“Yeah, they need gentle training, saluki companions and lots of exercise otherwise the owner should buy a different breed. So take care when you and Steve decide to get a dog or two. “
“You’re getting ahead of us, Scott. First I need a job. Maybe then we’ll talk about a pooch.”
“About the interview, don’t get too close. You have a camcorder?” She nodded and felt so professional. “Good. When I point to you, begin. The idea is to catch the intimate scene. Let’s go.”
Heart hammering with excitement, Sally walked behind Scott to the designated spot and watched, hand held the camera trained on a magnificent medium size dog. He pressed his nose against the cheek of a lean youthful woman, hair swept in a knot at the back of her neck, and the dog let out a low mournful sound. She stroked his head all the way down his back several times murmuring in his ear. They repeated the process over and over. Rubbing his nose against her fingers, a few laps like kisses with his tongue, the silent conversation continued. Grace nodded, listening and gave her full attention to the sleek graceful unhappy dog. When he lifted a paw to her face to pat as if saying thanks, Grace embraced the silky haired canine in need of comfort.
Sally, the observer, felt her own tears fall with the beauty of the moment. A quick blot with her new white shirt sleeve and the atmosphere changed. Abruptly Scott made the cut motion with his finger across his throat. Sally turned off the equipment and hurried to the alcove to wait. The owner of the sad saluki had arrived to discover the results. This had nothing to do with Sally’s business here.
A breathless Grace entered the small room about ten minutes later. “There you are. Thanks for waiting. I refused to let Sammy go home with her until she buys another companion saluki to keep him company. He’s sad and lonely just like a human. Salukis need companionship and lots of exercise. I warned her in the beginning, gave her the name of the best breeder nearby. I make no profit from the sale. This is for the good of the animal.” She sighed. “I hope she takes my advice or she’ll have to sue me for custody.” Grace poured tea, munched on a brownie and smiled. “Now where do we start?”
Sally had to laugh. This dynamo of a woman defied Sally’s expectation. Where to begin? At the beginning, of course, the way reporters do.
Camcorder on, she began. “You found River’s Edge how, if it’s not too personal.”
Grace’s big brown eyes focused on a middle distance and dimpled at the memory. “The kindness of strangers led me here and here I’ve stayed to open the Pet Emporium with Jim Trumbull. Fate guided me and I’m so grateful.” Her working hands gestured to the building.
“And your gift. People call you the ‘dog whisperer or communicator.’ I watched you with the sad saluki and I could swear you understood each other.”
Frowning, a few beats passed before Grace answered. Her face was a study of deep thought and Sally let the camcorder capture her mood.
“I call it a communication just as you and I are doing now. It’s not a mystical talent as far as I’m concerned. I listen and get a sense of what’s going on. We’ve never met before but I feel your anxiety. You need a job to establish yourself. Jerry Abrams waved a carrot in front of your nose by saying get an in-depth interview with the reclusive Grace Trumbull. Delete this part, please. I’m going to knock his socks off with this interview and you’ll get the job. After that, Ms. Atwood, you’re on your own and personally, I know you’ll be great.”
Fortune smiled when Sally checked the equipment to find she had batteries for at least another hour as she learned about Grace and the way she conducted business from day one. At the end of their time together they shook hands. Grace went back to work; Sally headed home happy to know she’d found another friend in River’s Edge.
I kissed my acting career goodbye, leaving on a high note with the lead in an Off Broadway play, “The Fourth Commandment” by author Rich Knipe. “It was great fun and time to move on since my voice was gone, kaput, bye, bye,” Before that, I had a full schedule working on movies like “Working Girl”, “Road to Wellsville” and having the pleasure of Anthony Hopkins’ company at lunch. I worked with Mike Nichols in “Regarding Henry” and sang outside with Harrison Ford during “Working Girl”, cried with Gene Wilder over loss on another set, and sang ‘It Had to be You’ with the whole cast of “When Harry Met Sally”. There were lots of fond memories; “Especially my first job as a stand-in leg model for Geraldine Ferraro in a Diet Pepsi commercial with Secret Service men guarding Ms. Ferraro and her daughters. Eleven years on One Life to Live, a few years on All My Children, Another World kept my calendar full.”
Facebook:authorCharmaineGordon | Google+:authorCharmaineGordon