Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce is to die for. But right now, Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen--and without a fiancé. Unceremoniously dumped from her place of business and her relationship, Daisy sells her belongings, plus a few of her ex's, and packs her bags. Maybe smashing all the china in her former restaurant was a bad move. Stripped of her Golden Spoon for "un-chef-like" conduct, she is now blacklisted all over Seattle. Her sole job offer is from the Wild Man Lodge…in Otter Bite, Alaska.
Too bad Daisy can't even get out of Dodge without incident. By the time she boards a ship for Alaska, she's got a trail of new troubles behind her, and suddenly Otter Bite is sounding pretty good. But the vessel turns into her own personal Titanic when a series of close encounters confirms her terrible taste in men--including one very good looking bad luck charm named Max Kendall. She vows to dedicate the rest of her days to chowders and brulée. Yet even Alaska isn't far enough away to shake the memories of the sexy shipmate who rocked her cabin--and her world. Thank goodness she's done with surprises--but they may not be done with her…
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By Maggie McConnell
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Margaret Shelton McConnell
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"What'll ya take for this?"
Daisy Moon lifted her glazed eyes from a makeshift plywood table where she had been tidying pieces of her past. She focused on the midlife, mostly brunette whose brassy streaks fit her gravel voice. Backlit by the golden afternoon pushing into the garage, the woman appeared heaven-sent. After a closer look, Daisy knew better.
In her right hand, a cigarette was wedged between two fingers while her left hand strangled a porcelain figurine, its milky pastels and melted contours in unhappy contrast to the black polish on the woman's talons.
"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't smoke," Daisy said politely. "There's a bucket outside —"
Too late. The cigarette was crushed between the sole of one strappy stiletto sandal and the pristine concrete of Daisy's double garage.
"So how much?"
A cloud dulled the sun and the saintly aura faded.
Stepping back to allow yet another stranger to judge the resale value of her life, Daisy answered the brunette. "Doesn't the tag say fifty dollars?" as if she couldn't remember how, in the wee hours of the morning while Lady Antebellum pleaded "Need You Now," she'd painstakingly tied the price tag around the necks of the porcelain lovers.
"Ye-ahh," the woman answered as if Daisy were dense. "But how much will you take?"
"Excuse me," a voice from behind interrupted. "What size is this?"
Daisy turned to a stout woman who held a Kelly-green midcalf skirt and matching short jacket. Daisy loved that suit — it perfectly complemented her Irish genes — but love wasn't a good enough reason to keep something that squeezed the breath from her. "Size six."
"Is there some place I could try it on?"
"Try it on ...?" Daisy imagined popped buttons and exploding seams.
"I'll handle this," Charity Wagstaff whispered, coming through the milling browsers. "You take care of Cruella."
Daisy shot her eyes toward the heavens.
"But remember," her best friend softly chided, "you're turning the page, moving on, taking risks. You're letting go —"
"I know, I know." Forcing a smile, Daisy attended to the brunette. "Make me an offer."
"Ten bucks? That's a Lladró!"
The brunette stared impatiently, as if she were tapping a foot.
"It's a limited edition and it cost $275 last year. They've probably broken the mold."
"Well, if it's so valuable, why're y' selling it?"
Because it was meant to crown the top layer of a fabulous, five-tier Amaretto wedding cake ... "Because I'm moving," Daisy said instead. "And I don't have the room."
The brunette yawned.
"It's like this —" Daisy tried to look pitiful. But it took memories of her long-departed mutt, Sophie, to produce the tears needed for effect. "My husband died and I have to downsize."
"Twenty bucks," countered the dry-eyed shopper.
"She'll take it," Charity said, sneaking up from behind.
Her auburn frizz quivering with indignation, Daisy spun toward the sunny blonde. "Have you lost your mind? It's worth more than twenty dollars. It's worth more than fifty dollars!"
"Let it go."
"It's so beautiful."
"It's only clay. Let it go."
"I don't have all day." The woman held out a rumpled bill. "Y' want the twenty or not?"
Reaching across the plywood, Charity snatched the money.
"I've changed my mind, it's not for sale!" Daisy screamed. Charity blocked her attempt to chase the woman, who fled down the drive like a hyena with carrion.
Daisy wilted, then quickly tensed. The browsing had stopped and all eyes were upon her. A Miss Marple–type linked elbows with her equally tweedy companion and the two scurried out of the garage, pausing briefly at the garden tools displayed along the drive before glancing back and continuing their escape.
Sympathetically, Charity said, "Why don't you take a break? You've been at this for hours."
Daisy took a shuddering breath, the embarrassment and humiliation of the last year dumping on her like a sudden downpour. She didn't even know these people who were picking over the remnants of her life. Why should she care what they thought? It was her garage — for another two weeks. If she wanted, she could be as contrary and unpredictable as the Seattle weather.
"Maybe a short break," Daisy conceded, before wending her way between bookshelves and lamps and a widescreen television marked with a SOLD sign. Who could've predicted that only weeks after Jason had replaced his reliable television with a sleeker state-of-the-art model, he'd do the same with his fiancée?
Certainly not Daisy, who, nonetheless, had taken the high road, thanks to the example set by her mother, a corporate wife who always kept her smile in the face of adversity. With more at stake than just her personal relationship, Daisy had been civil, allowing Jason to move out at his leisure; she had never intended to keep either the television or the telltale Callaway golf clubs until she received the certified letter from Dritz Klak & Smite.
She'd fantasized about bashing the $2,500 television with the $600 driver, but the ever-pragmatic Charity convinced her to sell them instead.
"You'll get the best price on eBay," Charity had told her.
But money was less the objective than expediency; Daisy didn't have time to photograph, upload, monitor, and mail. And fear of another "Craigslist Killer" kept her away from that website. So, the old-fashioned method it was; anything remaining at day's end would be donated to the SPCA thrift shop.
Of course, Jason didn't know his precious belongings were the main course at a garage sale.
Although short-lived, the thought cheered Daisy as she passed from the netherworld of her garage into the haven of her kitchen. But not before fluffing the potpourri of carnation petals strategically placed between a crystal mantel clock and a silver-plated chafing dish.CHAPTER 2
"That poor woman," Maeve Kendall said to her grown son.
"Widowed at such a tender age."
"Uh-huh," Max Kendall agreed, but his attention was on a page from a surprisingly blemish-free 1952 Superman comic book he'd lifted from a stack of twenty. The sign in front read: $2 EACH OR $30 FOR ALL
After flipping through a few more pages, he laid the comic back on the pile, then scrutinized a set of Callaway golf clubs. Removing the driver from its bootie, he gripped Bertha and spread his feet as if he were about to swing.
"She couldn't be much more than thirty ... five? Wouldn't you say, Max? Thirty-five?"
"I'd say she's crazy, whatever her age," proving that he was sort of listening. Raised with four effervescent sisters, Max tuned out most of the chatter that accompanied women. He had learned this skill from his father, who would occasionally smile and agree, then go back to his own thoughts while Maeve kept talking.
"I'm sure you would be emotional, too, if you were selling off your belongings." Maeve scanned the garage. "And she has some lovely items. She's obviously a girl of culture and breeding. Not to mention being tidy and organized. With a nice figure and a sweet face. Don't y' think, Max?"
"These clubs are custom-made graphite. With great balance. They don't look like they've been used. Way too short for me, but they might fit Dad."
"The grrrips are blue," Maeve pointed out, her brogue adding melody to her words.
"A lighter shaft might improve his game," Max joked.
"I bet her people are Irish. Don't you think she has a sweet face? A sweet Irish face?"
He stopped the imaginary swing that had him teeing off at St. Andrews. "What about the redhead?"
"Don't you think she has a sweet face?"
"How should I know? You can barely see it for all that hair." He exchanged the driver for the putter; his fingers curled around the grip. Waggle-waggle. If Max Kendall sinks this putt, he'll be the new grrrrand champion ...
"You should ask her to dinner."
Max lifted his eyes from his winning putt. "I'm getting these for Dad. He can rewrap the grips or sell them in the shop if he doesn't want them."
"Maybe you should go home and shave. I'll wait here."
"Okay." He returned the putter to the butter-soft leather golf bag, then shot his eyes to Maeve. "What?"
"I'll wait here while you go shave."
Max rubbed the stubble on his chin. "Why do I need to shave?"
"So you don't look like a bum when you ask her to dinner."
"Ask who to dinner?"
"The widow selling these golf clubs."
"You mean ... the crazy redhead?"
"Well, why not?"
Max stared at his mother as if she were crazy. "We're total strangers for one —"
"That's why y' have dinner. To get to know one another."
"— And she's crazy."
"All redheads have a fiery temperament." Maeve smiled, remembering her own eruptions.
"I prefer docile blondes." He fidgeted with the clubs. "Where the hell is the price tag?"
"Seriously, Max, it can't be very excitin' sitting around with Da and me each night."
"Visiting your parents isn't supposed to be exciting. Besides, I'm only here until Monday. What would be the point?"
"Not everything has to have a point. Sometimes the best things happen without having a point."
"You'll probably have a great time."
"I just want you to be happy and settled."
"I am happy and settled."
"A man without a wife is not happy and settled."
Max laughed and shook his head. "You have a short memory, Mom."
"That was a long time ago and it was the navy's fault."
Softening, Maeve cupped his face and went eye to eye. "Max, darling, y' can't be dragging around that cross for the rest of your life."
He gently pulled away. "I love you, Mom, but give it a rest."
Maeve shook a finger at his face. "Maxim Avery Kendall, you're more stubborn than your father and you're going to end up alone in a houseful of pigeons just like your Uncle Arvis."
He took a heavy breath, having heard it all before. Although, this was the first time he and the never-wed Arvis had shared the same pigeon fate.
"Oh, never mind. She'd probably turn y' down."
Max frowned. Rejection? From a woman whose flaming hair tugged at her head as if trying to escape? Not likely. And when you factored in her volatility — honestly now, how many offers did a woman like that get?
Max didn't know her, but he knew all about her. This detour in her life was not her idea. She would just about kill to have someone help her steer through it. Rejection? No way.
"Well, just look at you," Maeve said, misinterpreting his frown.
He looked down on his Señorita Largatija Mexican T-shirt with its red-lipped, smiling lizard, frayed hem, and solitary sangria stain, and then to his faded jeans with a small rip in the right knee. "You thought I looked okay when you dragged me out of the house at some ungodly hour to visit every garage sale in the city."
"I was not wantin' to be critical."
"But now ...?"
"You're lookin' a bit too much like Seamus McGrew."
Max turned from his mother, searching again for the price tag. "I don't know Seamus McGrew, Mom."
"Of course y' do. He managed the rendering plant outside Ballyteansa. He was courting your cousin, Kyla. A nice boy underneath those entrails stains. You'll remember if you think about it."
Stopping his search, Max looked at his mother, still formidable in her midsixties, although age had mellowed both her fiery temperament and her fiery hair, now paled to a new-penny copper that layered her head in waves. The same waves that Max had inherited, although his were a perfect match to the once dark brown of his father's.
"I was fourteen, Mom." He did the math — twenty-seven years ago. "And I don't remember Smelly McGrew."
"You two have been over here a while," Charity interrupted. "Is there something I can convince you to buy?"
"My son is interested in the golf clubs."
"Your son has a keen eye. Those clubs are a steal. They're Callaways. The best."
"Some consider TaylorMade the best," Max said.
"A man who knows his golf. Then I'm sure you can appreciate what a bargain these are. They've never been used."
Maeve laid a palm on Charity's forearm. "Tell me, dear, how did the poor man die?"
Charity cocked her head. "What man?"
"Your friend's husband." Lowering her voice, Maeve sounded apologetic. "I overheard her tell that unpleasant woman about her husband's passing."
"Oh, that man. Well, it was quite nasty. Jason — that's his name — he, uhhh, fell into a tree chipper."
Maeve gasped. "A tree chipper? Blessed Mary Mother of Jesus!"
Max cocked one dark brow.
"Shredded him from the waist down. He lingered for days, in the most intense agony you can imagine, until he finally succumbed."
"Oh my! That poor man. Has it been long?"
"Mmmm, about a year," Charity said, trying to remember exactly when her best friend's world turned upside down and inside out. "But please, don't mention it to Daisy."
"What a cheerful name," Maeve said.
"Most of the time it fits her to a T, but she's having a tough time cleaning out the closets."
Charity sighed and slowly shook her head. "When they laid Jason in the coffin, they had to stuff his pants with packing peanuts to fill him out."
Max mentally rolled his eyes. "So how much for the Callaways?"
"I'm sure the price is somewhere." Charity dug into the bag. "Daisy is quite meticulous."
Max could think of another term, less flattering, for the woman who kept her garage swept and dusted. And what was that scent? It reminded him of his mother's living room, all flowery and powdery. Garages were supposed to smell manly! Like gasoline and hot engines and car wax. Even the tables had been draped with burgundy-striped sheets, and every item he'd scanned — save for the golf clubs — had little descriptive stickers accompanying the price. Who, in their right mind, went to this much trouble to sell cast-offs?
Charity came up for air. "Let me get Daisy."
Maeve leaned into Max. "Whatever she's asking, give it to her."
"The poor woman is obviously havin' to sell off her belongings to make ends meet. Didn't y' see the Realtor's SOLD sign in the yard?"
"These are $4,000-dollar clubs! She'd be a fool to ask less than a thousand, and I'm not paying that. You're the one who taught me to haggle."
"Not with widows. It'll come back on y'."
"I guarantee you, Mom, she is not —"
"You were asking about the clubs?" Mother and son separated. "They're Callaways," Daisy said, exhausting her knowledge about Jason's passion.
"We're the Kendalls," Maeve interjected.
"Kendalls?" Daisy looked first at the petite, stylish woman and then at the rumpled, stubbled, stained hunk towering beside her.
"I'm Maeve and this is my son, Max."
"Ohhh. Kendalls. I thought you were talking about golf clubs. Duh." Daisy smiled. "I haven't slept much and I'm a bit ... I'm Daisy."
Nice lips, Max thought without meaning to. The gentle lift of her mouth lit her pale complexion like the soft glow of firelight.
"You're obviously not a golfer," Max said. Her green eyes sparked. Like kryptonite.
"No. That's Jason's hobby. He's always chasing that hole in one."
"You poor dear," Maeve said. "Your darlin' man is still in the present with y'. My aunt Rose talked to her dear departed Henry for twenty-five years before she joined him."
Daisy narrowed her eyes on Maeve as if that would help explain what the hell she was talking about.
"How much for the clubs?" Max asked.
Daisy's smile vanished and the glow died. "I don't care. Make me an offer."
"A thousand," Maeve blurted as if this were a bidding war.
Daisy jerked back. "A thousand ... dollars?"
"They're worth four," Maeve said.
Daisy stared. "I ... guess ..."
"I don't have a thousand dollars on me, Mother."
"How much do y' have, Son?"
"Maybe a few hundred, tops."
Maeve turned to Daisy. "Would you accept a check for the rest, dear?"
"Uh ... sure."
"I didn't bring my checkbook," Max said.
"Well, then," she began as if explaining to a child, "give Daisy what you have and you can bring the rest tonight when you pick her up for dinner."
"Dinner?" Daisy and Max said in unison.
Daisy looked at Max; he shrugged. "Mothers say the darnedest things."
"Oh, Max, you know very well we were just discussing that." Maeve turned to Daisy. "He's a bit shy."
A pained smile crossed Max's lips.
Having been embarrassed by her own mother, Daisy felt genuine sympathy for the man. However, dinner was out of the question.
"I know Max doesn't look like much now," Maeve began, lighting a motherly hand upon Daisy's forearm. "But he cleans up nicely. And he comes from a God-loving family, y' have my word on that. An absolute gentleman. And he's quite successful, but with a kind heart. When he was seven, he raised a nest of sparrows after the mother had been killed by the neighbor's cat."
Excerpted from Spooning Daisy by Maggie McConnell. Copyright © 2016 Margaret Shelton McConnell. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you are looking for a romantic comedy that has a mixture of wit, humor and romance, then look no further, Spooning Daisy is the book for you. In Spooning Daisy, the first book in the Otter Bite Romance Series, author Maggie McConnell weaves a delightfully lighthearted tale set in Otter Bite, Alaska, that follows the unexpected romantic relationship between chef Daisy Moon and Wild Man Lodge owner Max Kendall. Daisy and Max meet at her garage sale in Seattle, where she is getting rid of her ex-fiance's belongings before she starts a new life in Otter Bite, Alaska. But their unexpected meeting leads to more unexpected meetings and hilarious trials and tribulations that follows Daisy and Max from Seattle to Alaska. Along the way, Daisy and Max need to overcome obstacles and mishaps in order to find a common ground that will lead them to a happily ever after ending. Spooning Daisy is an entertaining romantic comedy that will keep the reader in stitches. You can't help but follow Daisy and Max's story as their relationship is full of serendipitous encounters and hilarious misadventures, and cheer them on as they seek common ground and a lasting love. With a quirky cast of characters, witty dialogue and humorous / dramatic interactions, and a richly vivid description of Otter Bite, Alaska, Spooning Daisy is a witty tale that is full of sass and charm, it's tongue-in-cheek humor will keep the reader in stitches, thoroughly engaged, and smiling to the very end. Spooning Daisy is simply rom-com at its very best! Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Just recently I was commiserating with another reader over the fact that romantic comedy author Jennifer Crusie hadn’t penned a book in years and how unfortunately there were very few writers who were capable of writing intelligent, quirky romantic comedies. Enter Spooning Daisy by Maggie McConnell. From the pun in the title to the fast-paced dialogue to the different and compelling storytelling, I was captured and captivated. Neither Daisy nor Max are characters who easily back down or admit they’re wrong so that makes verbal jousting inevitable; the resulting dialogue is witty, and kind of reminded me of old Katharine Hepburn comedies in which the dialogue takes on a rapid fire presentation. It seemed in every way, except for a required HEA, Spooning Daisy defied convention. (Thank you!) Maybe it’s because the characters are slightly older than the 20-somethings I’ve been reading about lately, but Daisy and Max seemed more like real people who knew life existed outside of “finding a mate.” There were no angst moments although there was considerable self-examining. Both have depth, as do all of the other characters in the novel. And, speaking of the other characters, Rita, who works at Wild Man Lodge, and Charity, who is Daisy’s best friend, are great supporting characters. They frequently play devil’s advocate and provide the punchlines. There are many, many funny moments. One which had me laughing out loud was a scene in which Daisy is walking back to her cabin at night and mishears “Yogi go” as yogigo and thinks it might be a Japanese person calling for help. The internal dialogue and musings and then the resulting action are just too funny. Now, I know that this book won’t appeal to all romance readers because I know that there are readers who love the angsty, pity parties that I loathe, but if you’re a reader who doesn’t read romances because most of them are kind of superficial and not directed toward smart women, you might want to give this one a go, especially if you like to laugh, don’t mind a touch of slapstick, and like a world where people might just discuss Roman Emperors. I could definitely go on and on, but won’t. I’m thinking that I will make sure I keep tabs on this author and may even do the inconceivable and read this book again. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Favorite Quotes: Who could've predicted that only weeks after Jason had replaced his reliable television with a sleeker state-of-the-art model, he'd do the same with his fiancée? Daisy caught her reflection in the small mirror. And oh, how she wish she hadn't. She and tears had never gotten along; even happy tears turned her face into a puffy, splotchy mess sure to cause nightmares among young children. Moments like this don't come around all that often. Don't throw it away because you're afraid it won't come again. My Review: Daisy and Max were a bit hard for me to warm up to, both were exceptionally quirky yet neither one was immediately likable as both were rather manipulative, critical, opinionated, and perpetually petty or cranky. Daisy was also vindictive, OCD, full of malice, and had a hot temper to match her fiery red hair. Max was an obvious player and more than a bit of a douche. The couple shared a mutual attraction and explosive chemistry, but their timing was cursed and out of sync - and they could never seem to catch up. They verbally sparred and shredded each other like seasoned gladiators; their rapid-fire banter was clever, humorous, snarky, and highly entertaining. They rubbed each other the right way and then the wrong way, and just couldn't seem to get out of their own way with one amusing misadventure after another. Although among the temper-tantrums and humor, there were also heart squeezes and painful truths. I relished how the story come together, Ms. McConnell prepped the surprise reveal with clever underpinnings.
A great, and quirky, contemporary romance! The storyline of Spooning Daisy is so unique, which was an awesomely refreshing treat for a jaded book-blogger such as myself ;) Parts of it just sucked me right in and, before I knew it, an hour had passed and I wasn't ready to put the book down! That being said, there were some parts that involved, let's just say, atypical "romance hero" behavior. But the chuckles I got throughout and the wonderful ending were well worth the scoffs I gave Max in the beginning. All in all, I really enjoyed this story and its myriad of characters, and I otter be excited about the next Otter Bite novel! ***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
The sweet-simple front cover of this book hardly does justice to the multi-faceted characters, setting, and plot that intertwine on its pages. Daisy and Max grew on me as I got to know them, with their unique skills and talents, their captivating personalities, and their all-too-human foibles. I found myself caught up in their inescapable, off-and-on dance with its surprising twists and turns. I felt their highs and lows, from hilarious to dismaying to breathtakingly sexy--until a perfect ending finally came. Go to Daisy’s yard sale in the first chapter, then take the ferry ride to Otter Bite and hang on for the tantalizing adventure. You’ll stay immersed in this smart, sleek, sophisticated romance and be sorry when it ends.
Cute read about finding love when life seems against you. Daisy has had some setbacks & is moving to Otter Bite Alaska to start over. Once there she finds the man in charge, Max, is someone that she has had a bad encounter with & life gets even more crazy for her. I love the way the story ends...... Max's mom gets the couple back together in the most fun way. Advanced Reader Copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I really wanted to like this book and kept hoping that as read on I would find something that would make the two main characters more likable and appealing. The story revolves around Daisy Moon a four star chef that loses her cool when her fiancee of ten years breaks up with her, causing a nervous breakdown, and her decision to start over in Otter Bite Alaska. While selling her exes possessions in a garage sale, she meets Max Kendell. She agrees to go out on a date with him, which lead to a series of unfortunate events that take most of the book to unravel. I didn't connect with either Max or Daisy and wished that they would both grow up and learn to communicate. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
This was a fun entertaining read that had me chuckling throughout the story. The writing was excellent and very descriptive. The author made the beautiful Alaskan setting come to life for me. The characters were all great. Daisy, Charity, and Rita were a lively trio and kept the pace of the story brisk. Then there was the mysterious Max. He seems to turn up everywhere and then when it turns out he's her new boss, things really get hilarious. This is a wonderful read as you get to go along with Daisy as she bumbles her way to a new life! I would recommend this one. One note - if one of your triggers is the H sleeping with OW - stay clear!