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Sweet Dreams at the Goodnight Motel

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Looking for Real Life

The scrawled graffito on the bathroom wall might be clichéd, but for Claire Wilder, it's a wake-up call. Divorced from her high school sweetheart, she's lost the flavor of life waiting for Andrew to come back.

So Claire leaves everything behind and ends up in her father's hometown of Valentine, Oklahoma. Before she knows it, an overnight stay at the ...

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Overview

Looking for Real Life

The scrawled graffito on the bathroom wall might be clichéd, but for Claire Wilder, it's a wake-up call. Divorced from her high school sweetheart, she's lost the flavor of life waiting for Andrew to come back.

So Claire leaves everything behind and ends up in her father's hometown of Valentine, Oklahoma. Before she knows it, an overnight stay at the Goodnight Motel has turned into weeks, and she's found something she'd almost forgotten existed--a place to call home. Life is sweet again...until the day her ex-husband arrives in town.

Now Claire has to figure out whether home is truly where the heart is...and if that's with Andrew or in the sleepy town that helped her remember her dreams.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778325482
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.66 (w) x 4.24 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

There's little wonder that acclaimed author Curtiss Ann Matlock developed a creative streak early in life. She was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in an old hospital at the edge of the Pasquotank River, which flows from the great Dismal Swamp bordering Virginia and North Carolina. Slow moving, sultry, and black as pitch, these deep-running waters created an image that still resonates within the writer's very soul.

"When she had me, my Mama's hospital room looked out on the river; I fancy it was one of the first things I saw. Probably that and a book Mama no doubt had in hand."

Curtiss Ann, who comes from fiercely Southern lineage ("tied with family and God, and quite eccentric and rebellious"), learned early that to fit in, she would have to share the family's pervasive love of reading. In fact, Curtiss Ann's mother taught her the joys of reading everything she could get her hands on at a very young age.

"When I begged not to be made to go to kindergarten, she allowed me to stay home, where she read to me everyday, often for hours. I showed up the first day of first grade, able to expound equally on the works of Mark Twain and Humpty Dumpty Magazine!"

Curtiss Ann's family moved often throughout her childhood. Her father was in the Coast Guard, and they lived "almost everywhere, from Florida to Alaska, with a couple of spots in between." Unlike some military children, Curtiss Ann has mostly fond memories of days spent packed in the family car, traveling to a new home. "We saw a lot of Route 66, and I spent the long hours reading, improving my mind but ruining my eyes and having ahorribletime with car sickness."

Three days following her high school graduation, Curtiss Ann married her high school sweetheart, James David Matlock. She was 17, he 19. People often ask her, in an oddly horrified tone, what her parents thought of her marrying so young. "My reply," the author states, "is that they had nothing to say about it. My parents had been unable to guide me about anything for many years. Besides, my mother saw a good thing in my husband!"

From her rich and diverse upbringing springs a wealth of inspiration for the tales that run through Curtiss Ann's head and enliven her dreams. "From all of that — my own Southern family of characters, the traveling and meeting of vastly different people, and a marriage that has lasted 30 years, producing one terrific son — I draw the stories I write. With each novel, I find that I get closer to the bone. I'm finding out who I am by writing my stories, and my readers tell me that by reading them, they can find out a lot about themselves, too."

Curtiss Ann, who enjoys speaking with other authors about motivation and creativity, knows from experience that it is often difficult to become motivated, and creativity doesn't always come naturally. "I had always wanted to write, but writing, like any art, takes confidence, and I had to dig to find that. I managed to find enough courage by 1981 to write an article. It was a tiny thing, about a hundred words, but it was published in a national Sunday school magazine, and I received $15," she relates.

"My courage thus boosted, I wrote a warmhearted piece about my love for my woodstove, sent it off, and back in the mail came a check for $85. Hot dog! I then began writing a novel. Thank goodness it never occurred to me that it was a far distance from a 500-word article to an entire book."

Curtiss Ann sold that book, A Time and a Season, to Silhouette Books, and it was released in 1985. In the following decade and a half, the number of copies of her books in print has reached 6 million. Her work has been published in 20 countries and in 15 languages.

Curtiss Ann and her husband live on 40 acres of green, rolling paradise in a small town about an hour southwest of Oklahoma City. Two years ago, the author transplanted a rose bush her grandmother had originally grown in that thick mud near the Pasquotank River, a cutting taken from her family's home place in High Point.

"I brought a little of the Pasquotank mud with it and mixed it with the Oklahoma red sand. That rose bush not only grew, it flourished bigger and more majestic than it had ever been. Rather like myself, I think — a little Carolina Okie."

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Read an Excerpt

Sweet Dreams At The Goodnight Motel


By Curtiss Matlock

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7783-2091-X


Chapter One

From: Vella Blaine

To:

Sent: May 20, 1997, 6:30 p.m.

Subject: Hello from Valentine

Dear Harold,

I want to say that you pay me a lovely compliment to take the time to let me know of the good that the sore gum remedy I posted on the caretaker list has done your wife. My husband, Perry, was a very fine pharmacist for fifty years and invented the tooth powder for his own uncle's sore gums. We have used that powder on our teeth for thirty years, and we still have every one of them - teeth, not years, although I guess we have those, too.

Of course now, after Perry's stroke, I am the one to use it on his teeth. I guess he'll have his teeth, even if there isn't much left of the rest of him. It worries me that with him like he is, I may not know if he has a toothache, so I like to keep up with his dental hygiene.

And yes, I live in a real town named Valentine. It's in Oklahoma. Some people think the name is romantic, but there was no romance intended; it was simply the name of one of the early families. The town might have ended up being named Blaine, from my husband's family, who were most prominent, but the Valentines were always a pushy bunch and got their way.

Valentine certainly isn't much compared to your Newark, I'm sure, although I have not seen Newark. I have never traveled all that far and wide. I used to go with some regularity to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to buy for our drugstore - Blaine's Drugstore and Soda Fountain, providing a young, upto-date pharmacist an extensive selection of health and beauty aids, and drinks, ice cream and sandwiches. Our store is a town landmark, seventy-five years old, seventy of those in the same place on Main Street, and still going strong. It's harder for me to get away from the store these days, since I have both it and Perry to handle.

One place I went years ago was Galveston. Oh, my, I loved the beach, but Perry wanted to get home, so we didn't get to stay more than three days. That used to be Perry's limit anywhere, three days, and then he quit going at all, even to see his mother after she married for a fourth time and went off to Tulsa. Perry always used to say that Valentine was his home and there was no place like home.

I can agree with that. There likely isn't, or else why would one ever want to get away and see someplace else?

Well, thank you again for letting me know the sore gum remedy helped you and your wife. What is her name? I know your struggle as a caretaker, and it pleases me to think that I helped you in some small way.

Vella, in Valentine.

She pressed the send button, then sat there for a few seconds, staring at the silvery screen of the computer monitor. She always had the odd feeling of wondering where her message went and imagined it disappearing into thin air. She imagined typed words floating out into space. Maybe her message would be stuck with thousands of other messages on one of those countless satellites that she had heard of on CNN, ones that didn't even work anymore but were just space debris.

Who knew what alien might read her message from Valentine and look down on it, a small town in a great big world.

It kind of made her wary of what she said.

Shreveport, Louisiana

Sometimes a person sees or hears something at a particularly pivotal moment. Behind the moment, though, is a lot of time, years maybe, where all manner of unfed desires and dashed dreams have been jammed down and compressed, very much like packing in an explosive. Then comes that particular moment that ignites the fuse. The lid is blown off, and all those desires and dreams come spewing forth, which accounts for all manner of both passionate crimes and daring new lives.

This is what happened one evening to Claire, a lonely but mostly reasonable woman, when she read the words on the bathroom wall: On my way, just passing through, looking for real life - wish her well, this Lily Donnell!

It was on the inside of the stall door of the ladies' room at the truck stop out on I-20, where Claire and R.K. had ended up coming for supper because R.K. loved their ribs and no one bothered him. R.K. was a television weatherman of long-standing for the prime-time news hour - the weatherman with the highest ratings in the market - but most people at the truck stop restaurant were travelers and thus didn't recognize him, and those regulars who did had seen him eat ribs often enough to no longer be impressed by him.

Inside the bathroom stall, Claire studied the comment as she adjusted her black thigh-high panty hose. It was written in blue marker, right between Call Heather for a good time and the phone number, and I love Johnny Deland in Bossier City in a big lipstick heart.

Just passing through ... looking for real life.

"My, Lord, aren't we all? I wish you well, Lily Donnell," Claire muttered.

Her mind went into a buzz as she almost slammed out of the stall, washed her hands at the sink and applied lipstick in the mirror.

She paused and looked at herself. A blank face gazed back at her.

Oh, she was attractive enough. She caught the eye of many a man, and both R.K. and her ex-husband Andrew termed her a good-looking woman. Had she not been, neither of them would have been interested in her; such was their nature, and that was not criticism but truth.

She took the paper towel to the mirror, wondering if it were filmy. It wasn't. The woman looking back at her was gray. She needed something. A new hairdo. A new shade of lipstick.

A life.

She went back to the table, played with her napkin, and broke things off with R.K. She waited for him to finish his ribs, though. After the lengthy months of feeling like she needed to break off with him and not doing it, she didn't see any point now to hurry and ruin his supper.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sweet Dreams At The Goodnight Motel by Curtiss Matlock Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great mainstream fiction

    In Shreveport, Legal Secretary Claire Wilder receives an epiphany when she reads a message on a bathroom door of a truck stop about ¿¿ looking for life¿. Claire concludes she wasted the last two years of her life working for a nasty boss while waiting for Andrew, her former spouse of almost two decades, to realize he made a mistake leaving her for a younger woman. She decides to leave town to find her estranged father who she has not seen since he walked out on her and her mother when Claire was a little girl. Just before leaving Andrew tells her he wants to come back to Claire, but she says she will consider this when she comes back from Oklahoma......................... After quitting her job, she travels to Valentine, Oklahoma, the last place where she knew her dad lived. In Valentine, few people remember her dad and those that do recall very little about him. However, Claire is adopted by nonagenarian Winston Valentine, becomes close friends with septuagenarian drugstore owner Vella Blaine, and ¿adopts¿ abandoned pregnant teen Sherrilyn Earles even as Deputy Sheriff Travis Ford keeps a close eye on her. Claire is happy with her new relationships until Andrew arrives expecting she will take him back.......................... The latest visit to Valentine is a warm tale starring a coming of age (though Claire is middle age) woman seeking a modicum of happiness in a life that she feels has past her by with little contentment. The support cast in Louisiana and Oklahoma enable the reader to see the transformation of Claire through their eyes. The story line is character driven as Claire seeks her roots and finds a life........................ Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2004

    Sweet Dreams

    Proving that inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime, Claire finds hers scrawled across a bathroom wall. Urged to find a life, she takes off to find her long absent father. Shreveport no longer feels like home since her husband dumped her. However, her destination, Valentine, gives her what she was missing- surrogate relatives from parents to a pregnant teen who needs mothering herself, and an interesting man who is interested in her. Just when life has a more rosy tinge, her cheating ex realizes that she was worth holding onto and how foolish he was to let her get away, making her wonder if the way back is the way forward. ................ Eccentrics give the novel color, much like Steel Magnolias or other Southern chick lit might have. The emails between Claire's surrogate mother and her love interest throw the narrative off a bit, however. It does, to on the positive side, have a good heart to power the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun with Geriatrics

    I did not like this book; I don't hate it, but I certainly don't like it. In my kinder moments, I'd excuse the lackluster quality of the plot by saying that the novel may be aimed for a much older crowd and most of the main characters overshadow me by 20-30 years. Maybe it's my idealism -- I'd hope that people in the 40+ club have most of their sh*t together or at least the personal confidence and decisiveness to muddle through any new sh*t that turns up [i.e. what to do with an ex-husband? love him or leave him?]. With the exception of Vella, who really is a wonderfully intriguing character, the interactions between many of the characters fell flat to me. The plot just sort of ambled along, slowwwwly. There were way too many subplots and people I just didn't care about; A romance novel is supposed to be about how 2 ppl fall in love - this book seems to be more about the Town of Valentine and it's old ass inhabitants.

    And yeah, hearing a near 90 year old man declare "she made him get tingles all over, he felt he could almost have an erection" [near enough to the actual quote] while ogling a 40 year old woman is disgusting.

    Before you think I'm guilty of ageism, in my defense I will have to say that I really enjoy work by authors like PC Cast (a paranormal romantic writer) where she focuses on strong willed older women who definitely have it together, but life threw them a curve and the story is about them handling it [and falling in love along the way]. Or another novel, What's Rightfully Mine, [can't recall the author's name] also focused on an older divorcee and gave her a backbone and a decisive brain. I like reading these stories because it makes me feel there's so much more to look forward to in life if I make it as far as these wonderful women.

    Anyway, Sweet Dreams was an interesting read but not the most enjoyable one and I wish I saved my money for something more appealing to me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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