No More Lonely Nights 99cent Countdown Deal

Romance novel No More Lonely Nights will be on sale for 99 cents, from 1/13/14 through 1/17/14.

To read the first chapter of this book, which starts in the Mad Men -era and spans 20 years, please go to previous post.  Or you can click on cover photo at right, which takes you to the book’s Amazon Kindle page.

Direct link is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CJYQB5S/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

First Chapter of No More Lonely Nights

Here’s Chapter One of my second romance, NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS. If you like it, click on the cover photo at right to link to Amazon.  Once there, check out the 5-star customer reviews.

Chapter 1

Alexandria, Egypt I956

DOMINIQUE had never loved Stephen so much as at that moment, when she knew she would never see him again.

As she approached the top of the gangplank, she pivoted on her high heels and searched the throng on shore, as if she would find him there. But the only familiar figure was that of her mother, Solange, who raised her hand in a regal salute. Dominique raised her own gloved hand in return, trying valiantly to make her wave jaunty. It was hard, though. She was only twenty-one and she was leaving behind . . . everything.

Her eyes panned the raucous harbor, trying to commit it to memory. Against a backdrop of once-grand buildings was a scene that would fit nowhere but the Middle East. White-robed porters shouted to each other as they hauled baggage to the ship. Pushcart vendors — each with an umbrella to keep out the blistering sun — hawked food, copper goods, and Oriental rugs to the milling crowd. Luxurious European cars blew their horns at the donkey wagons that jammed the road.

Amidst the dust, noise, and confusion, the immaculate white cruise ship that would take Dominique to her new life in America seemed strangely alien. As it swayed softly with the incoming tide, Dominique put a hand on the teak railing to keep her balance. She should board, she told herself, but still she lingered on the gangplank. Dominique closed her eyes and inhaled deeply as the scent from afalafel cart wafted up to her. Would she ever again smell the familiar blend of cumin, hot oil, and pepper? Her throat tight with nostalgia, she opened her eyes for one last look.

Suddenly, her body grew rigid as her gaze locked on a man strolling a few yards from the ship — one of the ubiquitous khaki-uniformed soldiers who patrolled the waterfront. At once, Dominique pulled down the net veil of her hat and hurried up the gangplank.

A crew member dressed in crisp whites stepped forward to greet her. With a bow, he offered a steadying hand as Dominique stepped onto the polished deck. Then his eyes landed on the face beneath the veil. There was a barely perceptible pause. Until now, he hadn’t had a good look at her. Having seen her husband, he’d never expected someone so young — certainly not so striking. But it was verboten to stare at attractive passengers — especially when they were married. Recovering quickly, he gave her the deferential smile that he always accorded first class guests.

“Good morning, Mrs. Renard. Welcome aboard the Golden Gate.” He raised his voice to be heard over the celebratory crowd on board. Champagne corks popped and waiters rattled by with glasses and trays. Long, curly streamers sailed through the air and landed unnoticed on richly clad shoulders. Cries of, “I’ll miss you! Don’t forget to write!” Enthusiastic waves to those on shore.

The handsome crewman leaned toward Dominique and said solicitously, “Your husband’s found a place for you at the rail, if you’d like to watch the departure.” He gestured toward the bow of the ship, farther away than the length of a football field. “Would you like someone to show you the way?” He pointed to a column of young men wearing red jackets with brass buttons — like bellhops in fine hotels. They stood at attention, waiting to escort passengers to their staterooms or relieve them of their bon voyage baskets.

Dominique smiled nervously. “Thank you, that won’t be necessary. I’ll find him.” The truth was she felt awkward at the prospect of being alone with the man she had married in a rushed ceremony two hours earlier. As she made her way past the gleaming expanse of polished brass and wood, she wondered about Anton. What would they talk about? She barely knew him.

We’ll manage, Dominique firmly told herself. We’ll be fine. She forced herself to focus on the pleasant excitement around her. The atmosphere was that of a huge, carefree party with hundreds of fascinating strangers. Dominique was already catching bits of conversation in French, English, Arabic, and Italian. She wondered if she and Anton would make new friends on board. She hoped so, for she knew no one in America other than her sister, Danielle.

Finally, Dominique spotted the back of her husband’s sleekly groomed gray head. She eased into the space beside him and murmured a greeting as she pulled a stream of confetti from the shoulder of her silk suit.

He turned to her with a welcoming expression. “You said your good-byes?” Anton Renard spoke to her in French, their native language.

Dominique nodded and returned his smile.

Anton squeezed her elbow in a proprietary way and leaned close. “Ready for your new life in San Francisco, darling?” He brushed a strand of her auburn hair from her face.

Without realizing it, Dominique inched away from him. “Of course!” She tried for enthusiasm. The feeling of strangeness would fade, she reassured herself. It had to. Anton was her future; it was time to let go of her past. Forget Stephen.

The earsplitting shriek of the ship’s klaxon broke into Dominique’s thoughts. She leaned against the rail and longingly focused on her mother as the Golden Gate’s crew pulled up the gangplank.

Solange Avallon waved, a majestic, controlled motion. Even in the heat of the Alexandria sun, she looked cool in her ivory linen suit. She carried in her gloved hands a parasol of matching fabric — nothing frilly for Solange. And it seemed the crowd around her sensed that it was in the presence of someone. No one jostled her. No one stood close to her. She commanded respect. Dominique studied her mother with a mixture of admiration and hurt. Why couldn’t Solange, just once, act as if she would miss her? What a contrast to Dominique’s tearful parting from Nanny. The old woman — more family than servant — had been too overcome with emotion to accompany Dominique to the ship. But if Solange experienced similar feelings, they didn’t show.

Heat stung the inside of Dominique’s eyelids. It was wrenching to leave her mother, even though their relationship had never been harmonious. She bit her lip and stifled her unhappy reflections. Instead, she tried to cheer herself by thinking of her sister. Danielle wrote that she loved America. Eight years before, she had moved to New York with her husband, Ronald Marks, an Americanofficer she’d met on the Avallon family’s annual trip to France. Danielle’s engagement had been as sudden as Dominique’s. But then, Danielle had been in love with her husband.

Well, Dominique would learn to love Anton. She was grateful that he was taking her away from Egypt. She gave him a brief, sidelong glance, then once more turned to gaze at her mother. Why was Solange so determined to stay in Egypt after all that had happened? The country just wasn’t safe for Europeans anymore! But Solange insisted that she wasn’t worried. The deputy minister of Egypt himself was her protector. The ugly incident that was chasing Dominique into exile was an aberration, and Solange would simply be more cautious from now on. Still, she had insisted that Dominique go. And what reason was there to stay, since there was no future with Stephen?

Dominique looked guiltily at her husband, as though he could read her thoughts. But he was absorbed in conversation with the man on the other side of him. So, for just a moment — for the very last time, she vowed — Dominique closed her eyes and allowed herself to succumb to her memories. Memories of Egypt. Memories of Stephen.

Win $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Love Boot Camp: Make Your Man Adore You With Tough Love

Copyright  © 2013 Nicole McGehee

I’m tired of women complaining about men.  Men can be bad and they can be good, but most men are direct.  Women need to also be direct when communicating with men.  For God’s sake, stop making them guess why you’re angry, or sulking, or giving them the silent treatment.  At the same time, stop bad behavior when you first spot it and you’ll quickly weed out the men who are unwilling to accommodate you.  You’ll stop wasting time on men who make you unhappy.

I started a book called Love Boot Camp, but I’m putting in in blog form because I think many women need to hear this.

Introduction

Ana is a striking woman of Hispanic descent.  She’s a tall, lithe ski instructor, not a bit of fat on her even though she’s just past forty.  When she walks into a room, men notice her perma-bronzed skin and black hair.  She steals the limelight from many younger women.  To top it all off, she’s truly, deeply nice, with a great sense of humor.  But she experiences one disappointing relationship after another.  Why?  She picks men based on little more than their looks.  She has sex far too early in her relationships.  She asks for no effort from a man:  no time spent with her doing things she enjoys, no dates, no flowers – nothing.  When her one-night or one-week stands don’t call, she calls them.   When they don’t want to get together with her again, she makes excuses for them. The men change, but the endings are all the same:  tears and self-recrimination.

Maybe you’re saying, “That’s not me!  I’m in a relationship.  I just want a little more consideration from my man.  Granted your problem may not be the same as Ana’s, but the solution is the same:  backbone and clear communication.

In the following chapters, you’ll see how to pick a good guy – your good guy – from the hundreds of possibilities out there.  You’ll use tough love to weed out the rejects before you fall for one.

But what if you’ve already fallen for one?  Tell him what you want and see if he doesn’t give it to you.  Remember, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later that this guy isn’t willing to give his all to keep you.  You’ll either be surprised by how much he cares for you…or by how little he does.

CHAPTER 1 Why are All The Good Ones Taken?

Why are all the good men taken? They’re not.  They’re out there waiting for you, actually looking for you.  It seems like the good ones are taken because another woman saw her man’s potential, then decided to work with him to bring out his best.  You can do it, too!

Wait a minute, you say.  Isn’t it impossible to change another person?  Maybe.  But change your own expectations and, more important, change what you’re willing to accept, and you’ll find you’re no longer wasting time on losers, commitment-phobes, and bad boys.  Most men are well-intentioned, but they don’t know what you want unless you tell them.  What’s more, their “rules” for life are probably not the same as yours, or any woman’s.  Like the Mars-Venus guy says, they speak a different language.  So you have to translate your expectations into direct talk.  No sulking or passive-aggressive behavior, just straight communication of your expectations.  If he likes them, fine.  Otherwise, better to know sooner rather than later.

How many times have you let a relationship drag on because you were scared of being alone?  How much precious time have you wasted?  How many red flags have you ignored?  Stop it right now!  It’s time to invest in a relationship that will get you the respect, companionship and love you deserve.  That means the behavior you have to change is….that’s right – yours.

It’s hard to be alone.  You look around at a world made up of couples.  And it’s no fun to feel excluded on holidays like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.  So it can seem easier to accept inconsiderate or disrespectful treatment than to end an unhealthy relationship.  At least you have a man, right?  Wrong.  If you don’t feel valued, cherished and appreciated, then your relationship is taking from you more than it’s giving.  It’s true that some women — and men — are empty vessels who can’t get enough praise or attention.  If you’re one of those, then you need a different self-help book.  But if you’re a normal woman who just wants to give and receive love, who likes a few compliments and hugs, who sometimes needs a little spoiling and sympathy, then you should settle for no less.  You have to be strong enough to walk away from a man who’s not giving as much as you are.

The good thing about tough love is that you will end up with a guy who is also strong – in all the right ways. That’s because he’ll have the discipline, logic and resolve to recognize that your expectations are reasonable, and he can meet them.

CHAPTER 2 If He’s Late, No Date

You’ve showered, tweezed, styled and tried on enough outfits to cover your bed.  A final spritz of scent and you’re ready – fifteen minutes before your seven o’clock date.  Ten minutes after seven, and he hasn’t shown.  You wonder if he understood your directions.  But if he couldn’t find your place, wouldn’t he call?  You check your phone for dial tone.  Yep, it’s there.  Check your cell’s batteries.  All the bars are filled in.  Look out the front window.  No lurking cars or lost-looking guys.  By now it’s twenty after seven.  You tell yourself it’s his first time to your place, you can cut him some slack.

It’s seven-thirty and now you’re starting to worry.  What if he’s a no-show?  Should you try his cell?  Would that look desperate?  Could he have forgotten, misunderstood the time, the date?  Or maybe you got it wrong. You should really call him just to make sure you’re both on the same page.  You don’t want to text him because you want your tone to be just right – and you want to hear his.  At 7:40, you dial his digits.

“Hey!” he says, his tone casual.

“Um. Weren’t we supposed to get together tonight?”

“Yeah, sure…a buddy of mine dropped by and I kinda lost track of the time.  I’ll be there in a half hour.”

SCREEEECH!   That should be the sound of your mental brakes slamming on.  So stop right now before you agree to something stupid.  Instead, take a page from my friend Cindy’s book. Cindy is a twenty-five year old grad student on the west coast, the land of casual hook-ups.  But Cindy doesn’t do that any more because she got fed up with being disappointed.  Here’s how Cindy handles this kind of guy.

“No, you don’t need to come by.  Our date was at seven and it’s almost eight.”

“Hey, don’t be pissy, I just got into some stuff and forgot the time.  C’mon, I’ll be there in a few and we’ll have fun.”

Cindy, in a calm voice, replies, “By not showing up on time, and not calling, you’re telling me that my time is less important than yours, and I don’t agree.”

There are several ways a man might react to this.

1) He becomes huffy and defensive and ends the relationship – such as it was.

2) Or, he apologizes and asks for another chance.

3) He may even start out huffy and defensive, but then think over your point of view and ask for another chance after some time has passed.

4) Finally, he may show up later that evening with flowers, a bottle of wine and an apology.

This last is what happened to Cindy.  She forgave her date, and they ended up in a long-term relationship.  Was he ever late again?  Not often, and when he was, he called to tell her he was running late. Cindy’s calm logic works whether you’re meeting a date somewhere or waiting for him at home.  You might consider giving a guy twenty minutes grace if you’re meeting him in public.  If he doesn’t show up, by all means call and state your view.  You’ll quickly find out just how interested he is in you.  After all, if he can’t bother to be on time, he is self-absorbed or – to quote a best-selling writer, “He’s just not that into you.”  A third possibility is that he’s testing you in his own passive –aggressive way.  His childish message is, “You’re not the boss of me.”

In the end, though, his reasoning matters less than his actions.  He may not even fully understand his own reasoning, and you may never understand them either.  But his actions affect you.  That’s why it is important that you say something about his being late, not ignore it.  Because if you ignore this first, fundamental discourtesy, you pave the way for many other actions that will make you feel disrespected and unappreciated.

Chapter 3 Tight With a Buck?  He’s Out of Luck

You’re not a gold-digger, are you?  Gold-diggers aren’t nice and they usually end up leading shallow, meaningless, unfulfilled lives.  On the other hand, you don’t want a man so tight with a buck that he won’t ever treat you to dinner, or one who uses a calculator to divide every bill 50/50.  Worse yet, is the man who asks you for money.

There was a time when men had tremendous pride in providing for their wives or girlfriends, but many women earn as much as men or more, and those times seem long gone, at least in the world of dating.  Nevertheless, men should offer to pick up the check on the first few dates.  It is courteous for the person who issues the invitation to foot the bill, and if you made the first move, you, too, should offer to pick up the check.  But if a man is interested in you, he will pay (even if a man isn’t that interested, it’s generally accepted good manners for him to pay on the first date).

In fact, doesn’t it make you feel special when a man makes an extra nice first-date effort? If he springs for something imaginative or romantic like a carriage ride, or something that proves that he listened to your likes and dislikes, such as taking you to hear your favorite local musician, doesn’t that impress you? It doesn’t even have to be expensive to demonstrate effort:  he could take you on a picnic in a place he wants to share with you.  Thoughtfulness and effort count.  They show he holds you in high regard, that he wants to do something to charm you.

His wallet shouldn’t snap shut after the first few dates, but you need to reciprocate.  Buy the movie tickets, cook him dinner, or pick up the check.  But here’s a warning:  DO NOT under any circumstances buy him a gift at the beginning of a relationship or you might scare him off.

Balance is what’s important, not a 50/50 split, but fair balance.  So here are some warning signs that your man is tight with a buck, and will only get tighter as he gets comfortable in your relationship.

1) He never suggests going out.

2) If you do go out, he meticulously scrutinizes a bill, then tells you what you owe.

3) He gets into a lot of arguments with vendors about charges, portion sizes, or value for what he’s spending.

4) He accuses people or vendors of cheating him.

5) When he drives, he asks you to chip in for gas.

6) When paying a bill, he says he’s a little short and asks you for cash  — but, afterward, doesn’t head straight for an ATM to pay you back.

7) He always buys generic.

8) He only buys sale items, including groceries.

But, you say, what if he’s just poor and I like him anyway?  That’s fine if that’s how you want to co-exist with your man, as long as you’re aware that this will be your future once the two of you become accustomed to this behavior.  In any event, if he’s saving pennies because he’s putting himself through medical school, he may do items #7 and #8 listed above, like buying only sale items, but if he’s a tightwad, you’ll see the behaviors listed in items #1 through #6.

Remember, there’s a difference between tightwad and a poor guy cutting costs to reach a greater goal.  You can choose to stick with the latter till times get better, but dump the tightwad because times with him just aren’t getting any better.

CHAPTER 4 More Attached to Electronics Than to You?

A man used to court a woman by looking deeply into her eyes, hanging on her words, and giving her his undivided attention. He still should, despite the plethora of electronic distractions available to him.

When he enters your presence, his cell phone should be off, same with his Blackberry, I-Pod, etc. If not, he’s telling you that you are not as interesting or important to him as the electronic possibilities.

He may claim to have an important deal in the works. You may cut him some slack just this once. Only it never is just once – it’s habit. And soon you’re sidelined, an afterthought whom he glances at or touches occasionally. You see guys like him in every public venue. And you see their women either staring into space or talking on their own cells. So how is this togetherness? How can you communicate and forge a bond?

I’ll tell you how to get his attention. Get up and walk away. Stay gone for a good, long time, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. If he doesn’t even notice, then you know where you stand with him – nowhere. But if he asks about your absence, take the opportunity to tell him how you want to be treated.

“I’ve taken my time to be here with you, and I’d appreciate it if you’d turn everything off so we can talk without distractions. It’s hard to get to know you when you’re on the phone with someone else. It’s kind of like sitting outside your office.”

“But I’m working on…”

“I’m sure you are, so maybe you’d like to get together when you’re not so busy.”

“Man, are you uptight!”

“I just think the person who is with you in the flesh takes precedence over someone on the other end of the line. It’s common courtesy and it shows that you consider my time as important as yours.”

Otherwise, the message he’s sending is, you just sit there and wait till I have time to pay attention to you. Before all these electronics, people conducted business, the world functioned, things got done. Cutting him off – or yourself – from the rest of the world for a couple of hours endangers nothing. His deals will still get done, his schedule will still run, life will go on.

After all, if he doesn’t give you time and attention at the beginning of your relationship, things will only get worse as he gets to know you and takes the relationship for granted.

CHAPTER 5 A Roving Eye, Say Good-bye

Men look at women. That’s just a fact. It has nothing to do with you personally. It doesn’t mean the woman he’s looking at is better-looking than you. If she is better-looking, it doesn’t mean he wants to dump you and be with her. But if a man is with you, he should be subtle about looking at someone else. A sidelong glance is to be expected – whiplash isn’t.

Jen, a pretty brunette in her mid-twenties, was engaged to a Mike, who used to make a big production out of staring at other women, then commenting on their assets. He’d be with Jen, yet turn around to look after a woman passing him on the sidewalk. What’s worse, he’d make his lusty comments in front of their friends.

Jen felt humiliated. She is a striking woman herself, and she resented his ogling of strangers. She knew Mike loved her, was faithful, and was looking forward to their marriage. So here’s what she told him.

“When you make a big show out of staring at other women, it’s like you’re telling me and the world that you’re not satisfied with me – you’re still searching. I know that’s not how you mean it, but that’s how it looks, and I find it embarrassing and disrespectful.”

“I don’t mean anything by it – I’m just looking.”

“And that’s fine. I look at good-looking people of either sex. Everyone does. But, I don’t make it obvious, and I don’t make comments. If you find that you can’t control your reactions, then you’re definitely not ready for marriage.”

“Jen, I love you. You know that!”

“Then it’s time you stopped doing something I find offensive and embarrassing. You can be subtle about looking at other women. You can even tell me if you think someone is pretty or has on a sensational outfit because this isn’t about jealousy. Just don’t do it when we’re with other people and, when you and I are together, be subtle. Don’t let the woman see you looking. Keep it low-key.”

From that day forward, that’s what Mike did. They ended up happily married.

So why was he ogling women if he loved Jen so much? Probably an immature need to demonstrate his machismo. At the time, he was only twenty-six years old. But some men never grow out of this behavior. It becomes a stupid habit. And it’s up to you to make it clear that it offends you and is disrespectful to you.

CHAPTER 6 Do You Take a Back Seat to His Buddies?

It’s healthy for your man to have friends with whom to share “guy time.” Hopefully, you have female friends, too.  Ideally, his friends will like you.  If  they don’t, it could be that the “friend” chemistry isn’t there.  Or, it could be they’re resentful you’re taking away their buddy.

Watch out. They’ll tease your man about you, call him “whipped,” and point out your flaws.

When my friend Ann was dating her soon-to-be husband, one of his buddy’s would drop by unannounced early Saturday mornings and pound on the door till Ann’s boyfriend, Bob, let him in.  Even though buddy boy would find Ann there, he kept doing it for about a month.  After repeated incidents, Ann finally told Bob that if he wanted her to stay over, he’d have to tell his friend to call before coming and –most important to her – to not call until noon.

Bob had to make a choice. Move on with his life so that it included a mate, or remain in the frat house structure.  Bob was 27.  He wanted to marry Ann.  He kept his buddy in his life, but set boundaries so that he could share private time with Ann.

The result?  They often double-dated, the buddy would sometimes join Ann and Bob for some “guy” activities  like pool or TV-football, and all remained friends.

If a buddy can’t handle a woman in his your man’s life, then the choice your man makes will inform you if he’s stuck in bachelorhood or ready to get serious with you.

Here are a few red flags that your man isn’t ready for a serious relationship with you:

  1. He gives up weekend nights with you on a regular basis to go out drinking with the guys.
  2. The majority of his spare time is taken up with either spectator or participatory sports that exclude you.
  3. His workaholic hours mean no time for you, but regular outings with the guys.
  4. He plans regular fishing, golfing, camping trips with the guys, but has never planned a getaway with you.

That said, here’s a caveat:  if you’re not willing to try the sports he loves, to try to learn the ones he watches, to have his friends over, to understand his interests, then you’re definitely not ready for a mature relationship either.  Life isn’t just about what you like to do.  There has to be give and take.   Besides, he may lead you to discover new, fun interests.

CHAPTER 7 Poor Me, Poor Me, Pour Me Another One

It can be hard to distinguish between an alcoholic and a guy who likes the taste and ritual of, say, a cocktail, a cold beer, or a fine wine. Alcoholics are cunning, too. They usually hide how much they’re drinking, or they may try to control it when dating a new person.

My friend, Megan, experienced this firsthand. Her new love interest would intentionally leave liquor in his glass or drink no more than she did. She discovered he was an alcoholic one evening when she walked in on him slugging straight gin from a bottle in the fridge. As this was her first close encounter with an alcoholic, she wanted to believe that AA meetings and firm resolve – along with her support – would solve his problem.  And it did, t some extent.  After a few failed attempts, he got sober.

But she didn’t know about the “dry drunk.” A dry drunk has stopped drinking, but he still has the character traits of an alcoholic. What are they:

  1. Professional victimhood. The drunk is never to blame for conflict, ant-social behavior, or lack of success. He will ascribe shortcomings to circumstances, or other people.
  2. Mood swings. There are theories in medical literature that alcoholics are trying to self-medicate to address anxiety or depression. Even recovering alcoholics can go from charming hilarity to depression with one discouraging event.
  3. Hair-trigger temper. Going back to Megan’s experience, she found that her man would not just fly off the handle. He’d keep talking and yelling until he’d worked himself into such a rage that she could not get in a soothing word edge-wise.  At the fevered climax of his anger, he’d often stomp out of the room – or the house – with slammed doors and squealing tires. Even when his anger was not directed at her, he would yell, curse, and throw things. He never did her bodily harm, but witnessing such displays of temper disturbed and agitated her.
  4. Defensiveness. Megan would often make a comment that she thought was innocuous, only to find that she had offended her boyfriend so much that he would, once again, fly into a rage, misinterpret her meaning, and twist her words.   If she commented on a project that hadn’t gone well by saying something like, “Lesson learned…guess we should try something different next time.”  He’d shoot back with, “So I’m an incompetent loser? That’s what you’re saying?”  Megan would be astonished. She had only meant that by figuring out why a project hadn’t been successful, they could make it work next time.   The upshot was that she found herself walking on eggshells around him lest she unintentionally offend him.

If you find yourself faced with these behaviors, proceed with caution, if at all.  Alcoholics can be charming, brilliant, and fascinating. A person who is genuine in trying to lead a sober life need not necessarily be abandoned.  He may have many good qualities and much to offer.  If you see any of these traits, however, realize that you will have to learn to live with them.  You will have to manage them and yourself with diplomacy and patience.  If you feel up to the task, go for it, but realize that you will have to change your own approach, think carefully before you speak, and be able to maintain your calm in the middle of his storms.

Chapter 8 Dirty, Sloppy Guy Need Not Apply

People aren’t born messy or dirty:  they’re brought up that way. Mama’s boys  who never had to lift a finger at home don’t know how to do laundry, clean toilets, or use a broom.

If you go to his place, and it looks like a crack house from Breaking Bad, realize that he’s used to living this way and he doesn’t care. Realize, too, that he has made no effort to clean up for you.

Many princesses are just as bad because they, too, never had to clean up after themselves.  If that describes you, then a filthy guy might be a match made in heaven, provided no one calls the health department on you.

If he still lives at home and isn’t asked to pitch in for chores, that’s a red flag.  Likewise, if Mom keeps the rest of the house nice, but his room is a pig sty.  That means that even Mom has given up on sonny boy and is hoping that the mess will get to him eventually, and that he’ll clean up.  Fat chance.

A mature man, one who’s ready for a relationship,  will know how to look after himself.  If he’s not even capable of doing that, he’s not ready to be a grown up, not ready for responsibility…not ready for you.  Want a lifelong project?  Want a life of burden and irritation?  Sloppy guy is your man.

First, you’ll try to impress him with how nice you can make his place look with a little elbow grease.  He’ll express appreciation and amazement.  Now, you say, all that’s required is a little maintenance.  If he’s one in a million, maybe you’ve enlightened him.  But chances are you’ve lifted the burden off Mom and taken it on yourself.  Man-child has no incentive or desire to change.

So if housekeeping is your business, or you just love doing it, a man like this may be fine for you, as long as he has other qualities you treasure.  If you’re hoping to change him, however, better keep moving.  Nothing to see here.

Realize, too, that a man who is too immature and/or spoiled to keep his surroundings decent, has probably been pampered in other ways.  He may have a sense of entitlement.  That quickly grows old.  If he doesn’t even bother to impress you at the beginning of the relationship, he’s unlikely to get better.

Still not ready to give up?  Go ahead, talk to him.  Show him what you want. Tell him you like a clean bathroom and kitchen, at the very least.  Give him the tools to do it:  the Scrubbing Bubbles, the scouring powder, the glass cleaner, the sponges.  If his place returns to filthy, you’ll know he’s a hopeless case.

The next move is yours.

Chapter 9 Manners Do Count!

My friend Kate, age 32, is attracted to bad boys, as are so many women.  A little scraggly, a little shady, her boyfriend, Rob, can be mysterious in a spicy way.  He can be loving on rare occasions, but is aloof much of the time.  He’s often unreliable, but reliable enough to keep her hooked.  He smokes, of course, dresses in jeans, old T-shirts and a leather jacket.

Sounds like a typical 20-something, right?  Well, Rob is 41 years old.  He has a cool job as a sous-chef, which means plenty of late nights, lots of drinking, rough language and more than a little misogyny.  There’s a certain glamour to that picture, isn’t there?  At least there was until Kate took Rob home to meet her folks.

His devil-may-care, slicked back hair just looked greasy.  His ripped T-shirt looked sloppy.  His rough language made her parents cringe, and Kate couldn’t ignore the shock and disapproval on their faces.  All of a sudden, she was excruciatingly aware that he smelled like an ashtray.

To make matters worse, he had bad manners.  He nodded upon being introduced to her parents, rather than shaking hands.  He sunk into her father’s easy chair without waiting to be invited to sit down.  He ignored the glass Kate’s mother brought for his beer and drank from the can.  He began eating before his hostess, made no comment on the food, and did not offer to help with clean-up.

Seen through her parents’ eyes, Rob — for the first time — seemed repulsive.  Her parents didn’t need to voice any criticism.  Kate realized for herself that Rob would never fit in with her family. Maybe his demeanor would have been perfectly acceptable in another family, but not in hers.

It’s not so much a matter of  good vs. bad manners, but about having compatible ideas about manners.  Kate never met Rob’s family, but if they were like him, they might have found her uptight and pretentious.

If you’re not comfortable introducing your man to family and friends, then he’s simply not a good fit.  Unless both of you are up for a makeover, best to end the relationship.

Chapter 10 Listen to Your Mama

Up until now, I’ve told you about the dating experiences of my friends. Now, I’m going to tell you about mine.

My late mom could size up a person’s character in five minutes.  She was never wrong.  Never.  I dated men of many colors and nationalities and my mother never made judgments based on culture or color.  That’s not to say that appearances didn’t count.  If a man was polite, well-groomed and well-dressed, he got extra points.

She correctly predicted who would be reliable and who would dump me: her version of, “He’s just not that into you.”  She knew when a guy was lying or making excuses and when he was sincere.  She would say things like, “I just don’t trust him,” or, conversely, “He’s a good boy.”

When I met my future husband, Michael, he immediately began hot pursuit of me.  I just wasn’t that into him.  He wasn’t my type.  My mother knew that my type had thus far proved unreliable and, in her opinion, unworthy of me.  By the time I met Michael, I was 24, and had never really been in love.  I had certainly wanted to be, and had tried to convince myself that I had loved one long-term boyfriend.  The truth was, though, that I was a complete stranger to being in love.

My mother at once recognized that Michael was different from any man I’d previously dated.  He called when he said he would, was always on time, and invited me out often with plenty of advance notice.  I toyed with the idea of breaking up with him because I wasn’t that attracted to him (even though he was handsome.)  My mother said, “Just give him a chance.  You don’t have to marry him.”

She had been right about so many other men that I took her advice.  Michael was a gentleman  and I knew he wouldn’t rush me into a physical relationship, so he unknowingly — or perhaps knowingly — gave me the time and space to grow my feelings for him.  For the first couple of dates, he didn’t even try to kiss me good-bye at the end of our date.  Then, on our third date, we were at the grocery store shopping for a picnic and he gave me a peck on the lips.   I wasn’t expecting it and I was surprised at how pleasant it was.

Well, we went on our picnic.  We kissed in earnest, and I literally seemed to hear bells.  I knew I could love this man, or at least be wildly attracted to him.  His kindness and patience — and his passion for me — made me fall in love with him.

We were married for 14 years, until he died in a car accident (see blog post COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY).  I cannot imagine a happier marriage.

My mom adored him, and she was right.

The fact is, our parents have met many more people than we have.  They’ve been burned, disappointed, cheated and delighted more than we have.  Their experiences make them better judges of character.  So unless your parents hold racial or cultural prejudices for no logical reason, they can probably judge a man’s character better than you can.  At least listen with an open mind.  They could save you plenty of heartache.

From now on, realize that if you put up with unacceptable behavior when the relationship is new, you’ll just get more of the same.

From now on, resolve not to be so desperate for a relationship that you put up with bad behavior.

From now on, resolve to view your relationships with a clear eye. Recognize bad behavior, call it what it is, don’t make excuses for it, and end the relationship as soon as you recognize the behavior won’t change.

From now on, honestly assess if a man likes you or if, instead, “he’s just not that into you.”   If you always have to initiate time together, if you always contact him first, then “he’s just not that into you.” Cut him loose before you really get hurt.

From now on, listen to your friends and family if they criticize a guy you’re dating. They’re more objective than you are.

From now on, resolve that you will not put up with humiliation, unreliability, or rudeness.

From now on, give nice guys a chance as you realize that brooding, bad guys are the most insecure lot out there.

From now on, admit to yourself that there is a difference between men and women, and that men still like a little challenge, a little chase, and firm boundaries. Don’t be so eager, so quick to say  “yes.”

From now on, realize that respecting yourself is the most important step in setting the groundwork for a relationship.

From now on, decide what you want from a relationship, what makes you comfortable, and hold out for a man who wants the same things.  You must decide what you want before you can ask for it.

From now on, ask for it.

For more on the right and wrong way to handle your man, check out my romantic fiction:

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Blog Tour of REGRET NOT A MOMENT, Nov 18-22

bannerSign up for a blog tour of Kindle romance REGRET NOT A MOMENT.  The tour takes place November 18-22 (that’s next Monday for the start date).  To participate, go to hardcovertherapy.com.

Readers are unanimous in giving REGRET a 5-star rating.  In addition, best selling authors Janet Dailey and Jennifer Blake raved about the book.  To buy the book for $3.99, click here www.amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

In conjunction with the tour, we’ll be giving away five copies of my second novel NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS.

lonely nights hi resHere’s a brief description of REGRET NOT A MOMENT: The year is 1930.  Beautiful, witty Devon is the daughter of a prominent Virginia family.  Many men have fallen under her spell, but none has captured her heart, until she meets New York tycoon John Alexander.  Their future seems assured: they will marry, raise a family, turn their country estate into the best Thoroughbred farm in the nation.  But what Devon cannot foresee are the conflicts that will drive away her husband or the tragedy that will devastate their marriage. Be transported from lush Virginia hunt country to sophisticated New York and the embassies of Paris.  Travel from the Hollywood glamour of Hearst castle in its heyday to the turmoil of war-torn Cairo, and the enclaves of aristocratic England. Devon’s tale takes you through the decades from peaceful pre-war America to the danger of World War II, and the racial unrest of the South of the 1950s and’60s.

Best-selling author Jennifer Blake called this book, “as warm and spirited as its heroine, as gracious as its Southern background, a tale rich with insight into the enduring nature of love and desire.  I enjoyed it immensely.”

Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches (made into a classic movie starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey) called Regret not a Moment, “A bewitching book!  You will never forget the captivating Devon Richmond…”

 

 

 

 

The Last True Gentleman? Why My Husband Loves Project Runway’s Tim Gunn

It all started with Heidi Klum, the former Victoria’s Secret Model who hosts Lifetime’s Project Runway.  I wanted to watch the show, so I convinced my husband to watch it with me because I told him he’d enjoy all the gorgeous models.  As a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, I wanted to see the designers at work.  My husband didn’t care much about the process, but he said he would watch the show with me…hmm, not sure why.

The drama between the designers, as well as their wild and creative runway fashions, kind of caught my husband’s interest — and thoroughly absorbed me.  But who really fascinated us most was Tim Gunn, the designers’ mentor and top dog at Parsons School of Design.  Tim Gunn, from the first, struck us as an incredibly nice, thoughtful, and intelligent man.  At each new season of Project Runway, Mr. Gunn further impressed us with his diplomacy in handling temperamental, often catty, designers.

Another unique trait of Mr. Gunn’s is that he always wears a jacket, tie and slacks.  I believe I’ve only seen one episode in which he appeared in casual attire:  a race in Central Park.  Otherwise, whether he’s visiting a designer at a California beach, a Mississippi tract home, or an Ohio farm, he sports formal business attire.  With so many grown men dressing like four year-olds, this is refreshing!  What’s more, he carries it off without appearing snobbish or uptight because his warmth just shines through.

I think my husband recognizes Mr. Gunn’s extraordinary goodness and compassion because he shares those traits [see previous post MY HUSBAND SAVES LIVES].

“What a gentleman!” we marvel when Mr. Gunn smooths over a hissy-fit between two designers without appearing to take sides. His graciousness, his deep concern for people, his kindness, and his sense of honor are all on display in each show.  Could it possibly be an act, we asked each other?  Well, we had our answer today when we read an interview with him in the New York Times.  It’s not an act.  He’s every bit as wonderful in person, according to what I read in an interview.

Tim Gunn is 60 years old now.  I am sorry to hear that because I haven’t seen many gentlemen like him, either in person or in the news, and I wish there were even one 30 year-old to give me hope.  Is there a successor anywhere in the world to this sort of kindness, grooming, taste, diplomacy, intelligence and grace?  Is there anyone else out there without a common, vulgar, or mean bone in his body, but who tolerates the faults of others with such kindness?

Tim Gunn, in your interview, you say you would like to have a platonic companion with whom to grow old.  You don’t care if the person is male or female, and you don’t want the sex, but you want the friendship.

I have an idea:  my husband and I intend to retire in Hawaii, where most houses have separate in-law pavilions (ohana) or guest houses.  We invite you to come and live with us, or at least be our next-door neighbor.  You can split the time between Hawaii and your New York place.  What about it, Tim?  We can’t think of anyone we’d rather be friends with.  I envision lovely gatherings on the lanai, photographic expeditions, Srabble games, reading, and beach picnics (you in your suit and tie?)

Well, in case you don’t take us up on our offer, let me say that I am so glad that we have had the chance to “meet” you, that the world has had a chance to meet you.  I hope others will follow your example.

Here’s the link to the Tim Gunn interview

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My Husband Saves Lives

My husband and I had just put a contract on a new house when my elderly mother, back in Maryland, got lost driving to a place she’d been many times before. I tried to talk her into moving into our Colorado home with us, but she didn’t want to impose. So my husband got on the phone with her and talked her into it.  Then, he packed her decades of belongings and brought her to our new home just 10 days after we, ourselves, had moved in.

 

My mother, the rabble-rouser

My mother and our younger cat

At first, my mom seemed to have her sharpness, perspicacity, and sense of humor intact, but she was almost 90 years old, and her memory wasn’t what it had been.  My husband never gave up on her, though. He would stand in front of her while she sat on the couch and lead her in a little dance.  Really, it was chair aerobics, but it kept her sharp because she had to follow his changing moves, and it got her heart racing.  Most important, it would make her laugh and she loved the attention.

My mother passed away one day before her birthday in 2011, and I believe my husband played a huge part in keeping her alive and relatively healthy for as long as she was.  Her doctor said he’d rarely seen a woman of her age so well cared-for.  She didn’t have a bruise, scratch or rash on her, no breakdown of her skin, and she was coiffed, manicured and pedicured.

No sooner had my mom passed than, in early 2012, my 13 year-old cat developed diabetes.  He drank water non-stop, was ravenous, and peed non-stop, too. He withered away from a plump 14 pounds to 9 pounds.  His hind quarters bent under, as if from arthritis, and he would often fall backward when trying to jump on a chair or table.  He was failing, and I thought he’d be dead in a year.  I was heartbroken.  This cat has been my companion longer than my second husband (my first died in a car accident in 1997 [see COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY this blog]).  My cat obeys me as a dog would. Each morning, he jumps on my bed to snuggle and wake me up.  Each night, he does the same.  When I say, “good night…go lay down,” he jumps off the bed and exits the room.

We began giving him insulin shots.  I should say that it was mostly my husband, as he was more able than I to keep the cat still.  My husband gave him treats after each shot, and he experimented with food in an attempt to make him regain his weight.  My cat has always been an indoor cat, but now that he was so weak, we knew we could leave him on our second floor deck — which has no staircase — without fear of a kitty escape.  The cat loved being outside.  Soon, he was able to jump up on a short stone bench at the end of the deck, and roll around on the sun-warmed stone. Both my husband and I would set aside time each day to take the cat out.

imgp0610[1]Soon, I noticed a change in my cat.  He began to seek out my husband, to sit on his lap, or next to him on the couch, something he had only ever done to me.  And each night, when it was time for his shot, the cat would come and sit at my husband’s feet — not for the shot, but for the treat afterward.

My cat began to gain weight, he became more animated and playful.  He was easily jumping onto my lap again.

Now, when we’re on the deck, we have to keep a careful eye on him because he’ll jump onto the four-inch wide railing and walk the length of the house in perfect balance.  His hips are no longer bowed under.  His coat is thick and silky.

This weekend, my cat demonstrated the full extent of his recovery when he chased our younger cat around the house.  Her escape has always been to jump on a 40 inch wall that separates our upstairs hall from the stairs leading to our lower level.  Well, she jumped, all right, but then so did my 15-year-old male!

My husband, my hero.

For another fun article for cat lovers, check out WALL STREET JOURNAL sports page, A MANAGER AND HIS CATS, about baseball’s Tony La Russa,10/8/2013 http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303492504579111693439287508

To purchase my fiction:

REGRET NOT A MOMENT amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS amzn.com/B00CJYQB5S