Breaking News (Godmothers Series #5)

Breaking News (Godmothers Series #5)

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by Fern Michaels
     
 

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Life Is Full Of Surprises

Teresa "Toots" Amelia Loudenberry has her quirks, but no one--especially not her trusted friends Sophia, Ida, and Mavis--would ever question her loyalty. So it's no surprise when Toots decides to extend her stay in Charleston to help care for her ailing housekeeper.

Though the Charleston air is drenched with azalea andSee more details below

Overview

Life Is Full Of Surprises

Teresa "Toots" Amelia Loudenberry has her quirks, but no one--especially not her trusted friends Sophia, Ida, and Mavis--would ever question her loyalty. So it's no surprise when Toots decides to extend her stay in Charleston to help care for her ailing housekeeper.

Though the Charleston air is drenched with azalea and honeysuckle, and there's always a pitcher of sweet tea close to hand, the ladies have little time for relaxing. Ida's new line of cosmetics is about to launch, and Toots, Mavis, and Sophia are relishing new careers as models. And Abby, Toots's daughter, is getting hitched. In the middle of so much change, Toots is almost too busy to notice her own unexpected romance. After eight husbands, she's sworn never to get involved again. But fate--and her friends--may have other plans. And every godmother, fairy or otherwise, loves a story that ends with happily-ever-after. . .

Praise for Fern Michaels and The Godmothers Series

"Whoever thought the 'golden years' were boring never met the Godmothers." --RT Reviews

"Pure recession-proof fun." --Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Four women in their golden years--a mother of a grown daughter and her lifelong friends, aka The Godmothers--experience new romantic and professional adventures, finding strength, courage and companionship in their bonds. This is the newest addition to Michaels' recent Godmothers series. It follows a group of women in their slightly-past-middle-age years who've been friends since childhood. Toots Loudenberry has moved to Charleston, S.C., to make sure her housekeeper, Bernice, isn't doing any housekeeping--since she nearly died from a massive heart attack and needs to take it easy. Toots' three longtime friends have also moved in temporarily to help. Toots is blessed with more money than she knows what to do with, which is a good thing, since she's recently been able to help her friends start innovative businesses that are thriving, which has given them all a chance at new, prosperous lives. And romance is on the horizon for all of them it seems, particularly Toots, who has "the hots" for Bernice's cardiologist. Toots also recently bought the gossip rag her daughter, Abby, has been working for in LA, allowing Abby to take over as editor. Unfortunately, the circumstances that allowed the purchase created some unknown enemies that will come back to haunt Abby and Toots, putting the daughter in danger and showcasing the mother's feisty, grizzly mama side when something threatens her cub. The premise, storyline and characters show great promise, but getting to the end of the book is a struggle. The older female characters are crass and mean-spirited, so much so that one wonders why they remain friends, except that the author keeps telling us that they are teasing or offers a number of other reasons, via the narrator, that are never actually reflected in characters' dialogue or actions--an enormous weakness that bleeds into every aspect of the book. Information about the present and the past is dumped so awkwardly that even details that should have been interesting are blunted, and the dialogue is too often either unrealistic or a transparent avenue to making sure An Important Piece of Information is delivered. Disappointing.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780758278913
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Series:
Godmothers Series , #5
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
36,513
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Breaking News


By FERN MICHAELS

KENSINGTON BOOKS

Copyright © 2012 MRK Productions
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-6605-7


Chapter One

"Should we wake Bernice?" Ida asked. "I'm only going to tell this story once."

"Leave her alone. She doesn't give a rat's ass what you do," Sophie said. "Hurry it up, Ida. I'm dying to go smoke."

Toots nodded. Though she and Sophie had managed to cut down on their habit, big-time, they both still required a puff or two in the morning. Pretty soon they'd be down to only a single cigarette a day. When that day finally arrived, they had both vowed to toss their cigarettes away for good.

Ida looked down her slim, patrician nose. "All right, I suppose you all have a right to know." She gazed at the three other women seated around the table. "I've just learned that I'm going to have an opportunity to audition my new line of cosmetics for The Home Shopping Club." There, now it was out.

Toots looked at Ida as though she had a horn growing out of her head. Sophie curled her lip in disgust. Even Mavis looked shocked. Jamie, ever the diplomat, busied herself washing the baking sheet.

Toots finally took control. "Ida, darling, I realize how successful you've become, and I completely respect and admire you for all you've achieved." She paused, thinking of what to say next. "But this ... There are limits to one's entrepreneurship! Don't you think this is taking your cosmetics just a bit too far?" For a brief second, Toots had to wonder if Ida had totally lost her marbles.

Ida rolled her eyes. "I am not referring to Drop-Dead Gorgeous. Good grief. Did you actually thing I would ... Oh, never mind. Of course you would think that."

Sophie pulled her chair away from the table and got up. "I'm going outside. Now. Something tells me that whatever is about to come out of her mouth is about as important as this hot smoke I'm about to suck into my lungs."

"Sophie, you're being rude," Mavis said. "Now, sit back down and let us hear what Ida has to say. She would do it for you, wouldn't you, Ida?" Mavis sent an overly sweet smile winging across the table.

Ida raised her perfectly arched eyebrows. "Truthfully? Probably not, so go ahead and blacken your lungs. I want another cup of coffee, anyway." Ida got up and brought the pot of coffee over to the table. Meanwhile, Sophie scurried out the door, where she lit a cigarette and took several quick puffs before stepping back inside.

"Quick, grab a camera," Sophie said as she made her way over to the table. "This must be special, because I don't think I have ever seen Ida carry a coffeepot. Period."

They all laughed. Even Ida smirked as she took her seat again.

"Shut up, Soph. Let's hear what Ida has to say," Toots declared, becoming impatient with the silly bantering.

"Okay, but don't expect a drumroll from me," Sophie said as she plopped back down on her chair.

More rolling of eyes around the table. Jamie, who still had not said a word, continued to scrub the baking sheet until it gleamed.

Ida straightened in her chair and adjusted her shoulders before responding. "You all act like a bunch of teenagers. I swear, it's hard to believe you're as old as you are."

"And you're just as old, so go on. Spit it out. I have things I have to do today," Sophie said, her voice full of annoyance.

"Sophie's right. We all have a busy day ahead. I have to take Bernice to rehab today. Spill it, Ida, so we can all go on with our day."

"The Home Shopping Club is interested in my new line of cosmetics, and before you say another word, they're for the living. The long-lived, actually. I'm going to call the new line Seasons."

For a few seconds, the kitchen was totally silent. Then they all started talking at once.

"When did this happen?"

"How did you manage to do this without our knowing?"

"It's the best news I've heard all day," Mavis finished.

"It's early, Mavis," Sophie added. "Just wait. Maybe they'll find a cure for cancer this afternoon."

Toots actually clapped her hands. "Girls, be quiet! Ida, that's fantastic news. Of course you'll share the details," Toots said, more a question than a statement.

"I've been trying to tell you for the past ten minutes. If someone"—Ida looked across the table at Sophie—"can keep her thoughts to herself for a moment, I will be able to tell you exactly what I know."

The three women and Jamie waited for Ida to continue.

"I've been working with a group of top-notch chemists. We've come up with a line of creams and cosmetics that promises to improve wrinkles."

"Oh, for crying out loud, Ida, there are a gazillion products on the market that make such stupid promises. What makes you think that your cosmetics are any better? You need scientific proof before you can legally make such claims. Doesn't the FDA have some kind of say in these kinds of products? These are for the living, right?" Toots said, all traces of her earlier humor gone. The last thing any of them needed was legal issues.

Sitting on the edges of their seats, Mavis and Sophie waited with bated breath for Ida to explain her new venture to Toots.

"Toots, do I look like an idiot?" Ida asked.

"Oh, is that ever a loaded question," Sophie teased. "And yes, there was a time when you did look like an idiot. Am I the only one who remembers the hot pink hair?"

"Please, don't remind me," Toots said, grinning broadly. Goebel Blevins, a former New York City detective turned private eye, had assisted them in locating Chris Clay, Toots's stepson, when he disappeared after preventing the now-infamous B-grade actress Laura Leighton from setting fire to World Con Studios. The two-bit actress had learned that she would not be reprising the role of Ella Larsen in Bloody Hollow Two, the successor to a teen horror flick that, through a fluke of luck and crazed teenagers, had become one of the hottest movies over the summer. Luckily for Ms. Leighton, her disappearance and the news that she was not to play Ella Larsen again led to her teenage fans picketing the studio, which promptly changed its mind and gave her the part.

Toots had suspected that Ida was planning to seduce Goebel, who'd already laid claim to Sophie. Since his feelings for Sophie were reciprocated, Toots decided that she had to do something. So, she'd called Ida's new hairstylist and asked her to give Ida Hollywood's most popular hairstyle. When Ida returned from the salon a few hours later, she sported spiked hot pink hair.

Ida glared at Sophie. "I knew you would never forget this."

"Stop, girls! Ida has reached another pinnacle on the ladder of success. The least we can do is hear her out," Mavis insisted.

"Mavis is right. Let's listen to what Ida's been up to. I, for one, am curious where she found the time to work on another project," Toots replied.

Jamie chose that moment to place the platter of warm cinnamon rolls on the table, along with plates and forks. "I can leave if you girls need some privacy."

"No, you're family now. Whatever Ida has to say is for your ears, too. Right, Ida?" Toots asked.

Ida looked at Jamie and gave her a genuine smile that reached her eyes. "Of course you can stay. This might be something you'll want to take note of now, while you're still young enough."

Jamie nodded and took a seat beside Toots.

Sophie spoke up. "We're all ears."

Ida cleared her throat and viewed the women as though she were about to address the nation. "Cosmetic companies are not, in point of fact, required to register their cosmetics establishments with the FDA. Even companies that produce cosmetics for the living." Ida stared fiercely at Sophie, as if trying to make sure she was listening to every single word she said.

"Companies are mandated to register their establishments. Once they do that, they then file what's called a Cosmetic Product Ingredient Statement with the FDA's Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program, commonly referred to as VCRP. From there, the FDA often inspects these facilities in order to ensure that the cosmetics are safe and to determine that the cosmetics are not adulterated—"

"What the hell did you just say? Please tell me I heard you wrong? I know you just said something about adultery," Sophie interjected before allowing Ida a chance to finish explaining the ins and outs of her new venture.

Toots burst out laughing. "Sophie! She isn't talking about adultery. It's adulterated, meaning debased by the use of foreign or inferior materials. Right, Ida?"

"Yes, Toots. Sophia Manchester, I know you must be the only woman alive who manages to insinuate something sexual into every conversation you have." Ida's eyes twinkled.

"Oh, shoot, I know. I'm just yanking her chain, okay?" Sophie explained. "I can't help it if she sets herself up for stuff like this."

Toots rolled her eyes. "Go on, Ida. Please finish explaining what this entails." Toots turned to Sophie. "And please, let her speak without interrupting."

"Yes, your frigging highness," Sophie shot back.

Toots flipped Sophie the bird, their usual silent method of communication. Sophie followed suit, using both hands. Jamie laughed out loud. Mavis giggled, and Ida simply pursed her lips.

"If you're going to make fun of me, I'm not going to tell you anything." Ida directed her fiery gaze at Sophie, then Toots.

With mock seriousness, her tone that of a drill sergeant, Toots ordered, "Yes, everyone, let's all be quiet and give Ida the floor."

Immediately, Sophie saluted Toots, letting her know she "got" her. Toots gave a shake that only Sophie could see, then mouthed, "Not now."

When Ida saw she finally had her friends' undivided attention, she resumed her explanation. "I've had a panel of testers trying the products, and they all agree, they're top of the line when it comes to smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines. We've added the secret ingredient to the makeup as well, so the consumer will really be getting much more than just a facial cream. All the lipsticks, eye shadows, blush, and foundations will have it, too. Plus, I've added an SPF factor of fifty. The Home Shopping Club doesn't accept just any company. Their criteria are quite rigorous. Of course, they're aware of the chemists I worked with, so they know that the quality of my cosmetics and creams is outstanding."

"And we would expect nothing less from the queen of beauty," Sophie added. "Dead or alive. So what is your secret ingredient?"

Ida smiled. "Pumpkin."

"OMG, I can just see it all now, women out there during the holidays, trying to watch their weight and resorting to licking the makeup off their faces. Pumpkin pie, yum."

"Sophie! You should be proud of Ida's accomplishments!" Mavis exclaimed in her usual perky voice.

Sophie refilled her mug. "And who says I'm not?"

Mavis appeared crestfallen. "You were ... a bit harsh, that's all. And I've heard pumpkin has wonderful purifying qualities."

"She's a smart-ass to everyone. You should know that by now, Mavis," Toots reminded her friend. "Sophie wouldn't be Sophie if she were nice like the rest of us."

Sophie took a loud slurp of coffee before answering. "Well, you can just kiss my wrinkled old ass! I am, too, nice. Just ask Goebel," Sophie informed them. "He likes me just fine."

"Hey, stop that right this minute! That's my line, and you can't have it," Bernice said as she entered the kitchen.

"Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle," Toots said, a grin the size of the moon on her face. Then, just as quickly as it appeared, a frown took its place. "You are not supposed to come downstairs without assistance. Next thing, you'll have a broken hip. And then we'll be changing your diapers."

Since Bernice's bypass surgery, Toots and the godmothers had been super careful, making sure that Bernice wanted for nothing and did only what the doctor allowed. Walking up and down the staircase was not on the list. A stair lift was going to be a must.

"I wanted a cup of coffee. If I waited on your lazy butts to bring it to me, I'd be as good as dead."

"She's feeling better," Toots said dryly. "And it isn't even dawn." Toots glanced over her shoulder, just to make sure. "Yet. You're supposed to rest today, or did you forget that, too? We have an entire afternoon of rehab ahead of us. You need to be well rested, Miss Smarty Mouth."

"Just think of all the stress and strain you're putting on your wrinkled ass. Maybe with all this rehab, you'll firm it up a bit," Sophie tossed in.

Everyone laughed, including Ida.

"See what I mean? She always has to speak of a ... a body part! You really need to get a life, Sophia," Ida said in her know-it-all voice. "You need something other than ghosts and goblins to occupy your time. Isn't anyone interested in what else I have to say?"

"Nope, not me." Sophie turned to Bernice, who'd seated herself next to Mavis. Jamie poured Bernice's coffee and plated a cinnamon roll for her.

"Did I hurt your feelings, Bernice? Tell the truth." Sophie asked, her voice laced with concern.

"Oh, for crying out loud, you didn't hurt my feelings at all. What hurts my feelings are those dirty plates next to the sink. If someone doesn't hurry up and put them in the dishwasher, I'll have no other choice but to do it myself."

Toots, Sophie, Mavis, and Jamie practically leapt across the kitchen, where they each took turns putting a dirty dish in the dishwasher.

"Thank you. All of you. Well, not all of you," Bernice said, directing her gaze at Ida, who remained at the head of the table, sipping her coffee.

Again, the group of women giggled like a bunch of schoolgirls.

Ida had the grace to appear chagrined. "Just so you know, I did bring the pot of coffee to the table."

Another chorus of laughter.

As was the norm, Toots took control of the conversation. "And it's appreciated, really. Now, I, for one, want to hear more about The Home Shopping Club deal. Who knows what it could lead to? Maybe you'll become famous touting your old-age cosmetics."

"At least they're not for dead people. That's a real bonus," Bernice stated. "How you can put makeup on a dead person is beyond my comprehension." She shook her head and pushed the cinnamon roll aside. "Jamie, you know I can't eat this." Bernice moved her plate across the table, in front of Toots.

Jamie's face reddened. "Oh, Bernie," she said, using her pet name for the older woman, "I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry. I'll make something for you later. A heart-healthy dessert. And I promise not to tempt you again."

Bernice waved her hand in the air. "Forget about it, kid. It's up to me to resist temptation. But for the record, let me know when you're baking. I'll sit on the porch and keep an eye on Mrs. Patterson's place. Something is about to take place over there, and it's not gonna be pretty."

"You've been saying that since you came home from the hospital. What exactly do you mean?" Sophie asked for the millionth time.

Bernice hadn't been herself since the surgery, and they were terribly concerned about her.

Bernice rolled her eyes. "I'm not psychic. That's your gig, Sophia. I've told you all a dozen times. Something big is going on over there. For the hundredth time, I died on that damn operating table, and I don't care what that doctor says. I died and was told to return so that I could keep an eye on that place." Lest anyone doubt which place she meant, Bernice tilted her head toward the large property next door.

"You should let Sophie read the tarot for you. She's good, knows her stuff. If anything is about to take place, she'll know. Right, Soph?" Toots asked.

The old woman shook her head so hard that wisps of gray hair came loose from her tightly wound bun. "No! You know I don't believe in all that mumbo jumbo. I know what I was told to do, and it didn't involve a bunch of crazy old ladies with a deck of cards and a glass."

Mavis giggled.

Ida raised her chin a notch higher.

Toots and Sophie grinned, and Jamie, as usual, didn't utter a word.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Breaking News by FERN MICHAELS Copyright © 2012 by MRK Productions. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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