Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town

3.8 45
by Karen Hawkins

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Karen Hawkins pens a delightfully sexy tale of modern love in a small Southern town.

Do Blondes Have More Fun?
Newly divorced Roxie Treymayne is dying to find out. After years of being the perfect Southern lady, all she ended up with was a cheating husband. So she goes bombshell blond, gets a provocatively placed tattoo, and prepares to live it up as

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Karen Hawkins pens a delightfully sexy tale of modern love in a small Southern town.

Do Blondes Have More Fun?
Newly divorced Roxie Treymayne is dying to find out. After years of being the perfect Southern lady, all she ended up with was a cheating husband. So she goes bombshell blond, gets a provocatively placed tattoo, and prepares to live it up as a Bad Girl. But then her mother falls ill...and Roxie is forced to return to Glory, North Carolina.

He'd Love to Know.
Once the town bad boy, Nick Sheppard is now Glory's highly respected sheriff. When the hot blonde he stops for speeding turns out to be formerly prim Homecoming Queen Roxanne Treymayne, Nick doesn't quite know where to look — though he'd like a much closer one at the tattoo peeking from her shorts.

But It Takes Two to Tango.
Roxie and Nick had a steamy fling in high school, but a love affair between a Southern princess and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks was doomed from the start. Now they have a second chance. Can they get it right? Or will they just end up...the talk of the town?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fun and highly entertaining!" — New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.72(h) x 1.15(d)

Read an Excerpt

chapter 1

Dear Bob,

My new girl cheated on me with the guy who came to check the perk on our septic tank. That's the third girlfriend I've had who's done me wrong.

Where can I find one who won't?


Ain't Perking No More

Dear Ain't Perking,

First you need to find yourself a new plumber. A man who'd steal your girl will just as soon cheat you on your pipe work, too.

When you get done missing your girl, join the bowling league. It's where I met Mavis and I've never been sorry. A woman who can bowl without making a single gutter ball will be true to the end.



The Glory Examiner

Aug. 6, section B3

On Monday, Roxanne Lynne Treymayne Parker bleached her hair blonde, had her navel pierced, and got a tattoo on her right ass cheek. And that was all before noon.

It wasn't every day a woman could celebrate shedding two hundred and fifty pounds of worthless husband. Today was Victory Day, and in honor of the occasion she'd ditched her sober navy blue suit and sensible pumps for a pair of dangerous, four-inch do-me heels, black miniskirt, and low-cut top.

She straightened her shoulders before she marched up the courthouse stairs. For once, prim and proper Roxanne Lynne Treymayne Parker wasn't going to stand meekly aside and let life hand her leftovers. This time, she was going to take life by the throat and choke its scrawny ass until it cooked her a four-course meal.

She grabbed the heavy glass door and heaved it open, stepping into the courthouse foyer. She was immediately rewarded when the security guard's eyes widened appreciatively.

She flicked him a smile as she whisked through the metal detector, collected her purse, and headed for the elevator. She'd been sensible her whole life, and look what it had gotten her — a cheating husband, a boatload of pain, and the loss of her sense of femininity. With one bold, selfish move, Brian had snatched it all away while she'd been busy being a "good wife."

To hell with being good. She'd tried it and had gotten nothing in return, so now she was going to be bad. No, bad wasn't enough. She was going to pass bad and jump right into wild. Even better, she was going to do it in a court of law.

The elevator opened and she strutted into the final hearing to end her marriage. Head high, she hid a satisfied smile when her lawyer gasped at the sight of her. Her whole body tingled with bitter happiness when Brian and his lawyer stopped talking in midsentence to stare at her and her incredibly naughty Dolce & Gabbana heels. She took her seat, adjusted her short skirt to an even more scandalous level, and then winked at the judge.

Judge Kempt, who looked to be all of a hundred years old, turned a pleased pink and within twenty minutes had granted her the lion's share of her requests, leering at her greedily while ignoring Brian's lawyer's endless objections.

For Roxie — once Glory High School's most popular Homecoming Queen, the first Glory resident to be voted Raleigh's Debutante of the Year, and current Chair of the Raleigh Lakes Country Club Women's Organization — it was further proof that good girls finished last, while bad girls got whatever their little hearts desired.

As they all waited for the final signatures to be added to the piles of paper that represented the rubble of her marriage, Roxie crossed her legs to make sure Brian saw exactly how short her skirt was, how great her do-me pumps made her calves look, and how her scanty stretch shirt lifted just a bit to reveal her new navel ring.

Maybe she should have gotten her tongue pierced, too. It would have been priceless to stick it out at Brian and see his reaction. But she'd been afraid a tongue-piercing might have made her lisp, which wouldn't have fit with her "badass" image at all.

She sent Brian a glance from under her lashes. He sat rigidly, his manicured hands gripped together in his lap, looking so startled that one good puff of air might topple him over — Armani suit, Prada shoes, Rolex watch, and all.

Good. It was about time someone other than her got shocked by life.

After the last signature had been added to the towering pile of papers, Roxie's lawyer took her arm and practically waltzed her out to the hallway.

There, she turned down a not-very-subtle pass from the heavily cologned man, then clickety-clicked down the hall on her to-die-for heels to the waiting elevator.

She drove straight home, an odd whirling noise in her ears. I've won, she told herself. Soon I'll feel it, and things will be better.

She parked her car, went inside, closed and locked the door, stopped in her huge, Italian marble kitchen to collect every bag of chips in the cupboards, then climbed the grand stairway to her bedroom. Once there, she stripped off her new, uncomfortable clothes, kicked off her tippy shoes, and yanked on her favorite jersey sleep shirt. Then she unplugged the phone from the wall, fell into bed, and piled the bags of chips around her in a protective wall. She ripped one open and ate a handful, savoring their salty comfort.

Somehow she didn't feel like a winner. During the last few weeks, as this day had approached, she'd thought the moment of release would lighten her painful sense of failure. She'd thought that when she won the huge settlement, she'd be vindicated and would no longer feel so... empty.

Instead, sitting in her bed in the middle of her huge, silent house, all she felt was lonely.

A tear landed on her wrist. It was followed by another, and then another. Suddenly the enormity of the last few months hit her, and she pushed away the chips, curled onto her side, and sobbed into her pillows, weeks of anguish pouring out.

Finally, her face salty with tears and chips, she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. She slept for the rest of the day and the entire night. She might have slept for most of the next day, but at ten in the morning she was awakened by the insistent doorbell.

She slowly opened her eyes, aware that something was wrong... oh, yes. The divorce. Her heart sank again, but she refused to cry anymore. She scrubbed her face with the edge of the sheet. The doorbell rang again and her heart leapt with hope. Perhaps one of her neighbors had come to check on her! But no, that would never happen. She might have "won" the divorce and gotten a very generous settlement, but that meant nothing to the inner sanctum of Raleigh society. To the socially elite that made up her snooty neighborhood, Brian was a man with a future, while she was nothing more than an "ex."

Damn it, she had a degree in political science and could have gone to law school herself if she'd wanted; she'd had good grades. But that would take years — and in the interim, she was positioned for a painfully slow social exorcism. Besides, after three months of emotional upheaval, she didn't have the energy to start again. Right now, she barely had the energy to eat chips. Thank God the bags were easy to open.

The doorbell rang again, even longer this time.

Roxie pulled the blankets over her head. I don't need them anyway. I have friends like... like... She bit her lip. The closest thing she had to a friend was her housekeeper, Tundy. Roxie had been too busy being Brian's chief cheerleader to find any real friends.

She swallowed the lump in her throat. "Screw the lot of them!" she told the ceiling defiantly. "Tundy's always been better company than the Raleigh Wives, anyway." Thank God for Tundy. The housekeeper was always cheerful, always ready to help, and — right or wrong — always willing to give her honest opinion. Tundy's frankness was a trusty compass while navigating the unpredictable ocean of guile and Southern politeness that made up the Raleigh Wives.

Brian had snickered when Roxie had named the aimless, avaricious women who populated their exclusive subdivision "the Raleigh Wives." From the tops of their salon-colored hair to the tips of their perfect nails, the Raleigh Wives were worse than Stepford Wives: they were Stepford Wannabes. At first Roxie had avoided them, until Brian had pointed out that it was her duty to help his budding legal career by accumulating "useful friends." Pasting a smile on her face, Roxie had submerged yet another part of her pride and made an entire subdivision-worth of false friends. Mother would have loved every minute of it; they were her sort of people.

But Roxie knew what a vicious gaggle of griping, sniping geese the Raleigh Wives could be. After Brian's defection, far from rallying around her, they had collectively ignored her, all the while continuing to invite Brian to their houses, where, she was sure, they'd cooed over him and offered their "support." She shouldn't have been surprised; they went with the money, and despite the generous settlement, in the long run that would mean Brian.

The doorbell annoyingly rang again. "Go away!" Roxie snuggled deeper into the womb she'd created with 600-thread-count sheets, an embroidered silk comforter, and her wall of chips.

But the doorbell didn't stop. It got more insistent, then more insistent. Roxie glared at the ceiling. Didn't anyone respect anyone's privacy anymore? Didn't people know she had A Situation on her hands that required complete and total despair?

If she left the house from the terrace door, she could drive into town and buy a gun. It was only a fifteen-minute drive. Then she could put a final end to the annoyance.

There was a long silence, then she heard the click of a key in the lock and then her brother's voice, calling from the foyer, "Roxie, I saw your car in the drive! Are you here?"

Damn it, Mark must have heard about the divorce. She hadn't told anyone — not Mark and certainly not Mother. Mark might get angry at Brian, but Mother would have a cow. Treymaynes did not get divorced. Why, when Arlene left Mark, Mother had almost disowned him, saying that if he didn't find Arlene and patch things up, the family name would be "smirched." Though, if anyone had besmirched the family name it was Arlene, who'd ridden off into the sunset with a rodeo rider.

"Roxie?" Mark's voice was on the stairway now.

She struggled to sit up and yelled, "I'm up here. What do you want?"

She should have left straight for Paris yesterday and had a passionate rendezvous with a mysterious Frenchman in a dark café. Or perhaps found a bedroom-eyed Italian to sip wine with in a trattoria in Florence.

Mark appeared in her bedroom doorway, his clothes rumpled, his hair mussed, his tie askew.

He opened his mouth to speak, but his gaze locked onto her hair. He just stood there, mouth ajar.

She frowned. "What?"

He rubbed a hand over his eyes. "You're blonde."

"Did you come to compliment my new 'do, or did you want something?" She dug through the bags of chips, opened a fresh one, and munched a handful. "I suppose you've heard about what's happened?"

He ripped his gaze from her hair with obvious difficulty, coming further into the room, looking relieved. "You already know? That's good."

"Of course I know. How could I not?"

"I don't know. I've been trying to call you since I found out, but no one answered." He frowned. "You seem very calm."

"I am. I'm glad it's over."

He paled. "Over? Mother didn't — "

"Please don't bring Mother into this! It was hard enough going through a divorce, without knowing how Mother was going to take it and — "

"Divorce?" Mark gaped at her. "But... why? You and Brian were the perfect couple!"

"Someone forgot to tell Brian." Roxie forced the words from her stiff lips. "He fell in love with someone else."

Mark winced and suddenly looked exhausted. "Jeez, Roxie. I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry."

"That's OK." Though nothing was OK anymore. She rubbed her forehead with a weary hand. I should miss Brian, but I don't. She frowned. Is that normal? Maybe I don't miss him because I was already sad and lonely when I lived with him. Now I feel angry and betrayed, but that beats sad and lonely by a huge, scary margin. She cleared her throat. "Since you didn't know about the divorce, why did you come?"

Mark rubbed his eyes. "Oh, God. You don't need to hear this, but — Roxie, it's Mother."

Time shuddered to a halt. Roxie clutched her bag of chips like a shield. "What happened?"

"She had a heart attack, but Doc Wilson says she'll be fine."

Roxie breathed a relieved sigh. "Thank God!"

"No kidding. It happened yesterday."

"Why didn't someone call me?"

"I tried! Your phone just rang and rang."

She looked at the cord, where it hung over a chair in the corner of the room. "Oh, yeah. I never thought something might happen."

"None of us did. Doc said it was a very mild attack, but you know how Mother is." Mark sent her a grim look. "Rox, we have to go home to Glory and get her back on track."

Roxie looked down. This certainly put a crimp in her budding plans to be bad, but that was what she got for hesitating. She shoved the chip bags aside and climbed from her bed. "It'll just take me a few minutes to pack."

Mark smiled tiredly. "I don't know how we're going to do this. Mother'll want someone with her night and day, and — " He blinked. "Hey, do you think you could talk Tundy into helping us? She's got more sand than any woman I know."

Roxie paused with one hand on the closet door. "That just might work. Tundy'd do anything if you paid her enough, and she knows Mother from the times she came to visit."

Mark fished his cell phone out of his pocket. "I'll give her a call. What's her number?"

Roxie let Mark make the call. Tundy was a sucker for a smooth man, and when Mark was on his game, no one was better.

Roxie threw clothes into a suitcase; sensible, sober clothes for "With Mother" and fun, playful clothes that showcased the new Roxie for times "Away From Mother."

Frowning, she looked with distaste at a high-necked yellow dress suitable for an episode of Father Knows Best. She set her jaw, then pulled out every last sober and sensible thing she'd packed, leaving nothing but her flirty new clothes. Then, chin high, she zipped up her suitcase. Like it or not, Mother was just going to have to adjust.

It was time someone other than Roxanne Treymayne compromised on life.

Copyright © 2008 by Karen Hawkins

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