Running a lifestyle business doesn't leave much time for Claire Willoughby to have a lifestyle of her own. But, hey, you've got to give up a little if you want to be revered as the Nigella Lawson of the simplicity set! However, Claire's gotten herself a number-one fan, and this number-one fan has willed everything to Claire.including one Anabel Sage, aged 13 months.
About the Author
Elizabeth Bevarly wrote her first novel when she was twelve years old. It was 32 pages long -- and that was with college rule notebook paper -- and featured three girls named Liz, Marianne and Cheryl who explored the mysteries of a haunted house. Her friends Marianne and Cheryl proclaimed it "Brilliant! Spellbinding! Kept me up till dinnertime reading!" Those rave reviews only kindled the fire inside her to write more.
Since sixth grade, Elizabeth has gone on to complete more than 50 works of contemporary romance. Her novels regularly appear on the USA Today and Waldenbooks bestseller lists, and her last book for Avon, The Thing About Men, was a New York Times Extended List bestseller. She's been nominated for the prestigious RITA Award, has won the coveted National Readers' Choice Award, and Romantic Times magazine has seen fit to honor her with two Career Achievement Awards. There are more than seven million copies of her books in print worldwide. She resides in her native Kentucky with her husband and son, not to mention two very troubled cats.
Read an Excerpt
The Thing About Men
"What do you mean the chicken is still alive?"
Claire Willoughby gaped at her producer in stark-staring terror, her mind racing with all the ramifications the live chicken brought with it. And there were plenty. "It can't still be alive," she said. "I have to cook it on camera in thirty minutes. How's it going to go from cage to frying pan, unless we ... "
The rest of that statement didn't even bear thinking about, let alone speaking aloud. Especially not by a woman wearing beige Ann Taylor separates and ivory Bandolino pumps.
"Sorry, Claire, but there must have been a mix-up in the directions," her producer, Nina Ritchie, replied without a hint of apology as she lit a new cigarette with the still-burning butt of her last one.
The set for the show was supposed to be smoke-free, but the first time Claire had reminded Nina of that, Nina had set fire to a trash can in the women's room in what she swore was an accident that occurred while she was trying to put out the offending cigarette. So Claire didn't mention her producer's cigarette now. She didn't want to put the good people of the Nashville Fire Department through all that trouble again.
"For some reason," the tall, too-slim redhead continued, "they delivered a live chicken instead of a broiler/fryer." She stubbed out the butt on her clipboard, one marked by a variety of small black burn spots, and flicked it away heedlessly -- beaning her production assistant in the side of the head in the process.
Then she inhaled deeply on the new cigarette, until its tip glowed bright orange. Everything about Nina was orangey today, Claire noted, from her hair to her Nehru jacket and sultan's trousers, to her amber beads and earrings, to her copper sandals. "And we're nowhere near a grocery store," she added, "so we don't have time to send someone out for another one. We either have to kill the chicken or kill the segment."
Oh, easy for her to say, Claire thought. Nina's last job had been as an assistant producer for one of those trash-talk day-time TV shows where things like Satanism and alien paternity and family fistfights had been daily staples. A chicken execution would be nothing to her.
Claire tucked a stray strand of pale blond hair back into the otherwise flawless chignon fixed at her nape as she pondered her dilemma. Aunt Halouise's "Red, White, and True Fried Chicken" was the centerpiece of their "Fourth of July Picnic Cookout" feature, and the "Fourth of July Picnic Cookout" feature was the centerpiece of today's show. And the irony was that the theme of Claire's nationally syndicated -- and liveTV show, Simple Pleasures, like the theme of Claire's nationally distributed magazine, also called Simple Pleasures, was "Back to Basics." That was, in fact, pretty much the mission statement of her entire lifestyle business -- to promote a return to the simpler ways of simpler times. Ways and times that had included, for example, raising livestock for the purpose of holiday cuisine.
Not that Claire thought the entire country should return to farming and animal husbandry as a way of life. But everyone at Simple Pleasures, Inc. was a big proponent of self-sustenance. They had to be if they wanted to remain employed. Still, Claire herself had always preferred to focus more on the gardening and sewing and baking sort of self-sustenance than she had the butchering-of-small-animals sort of self-sustenance. After all, there were some simple practices that weren't especially pleasurable. And those were the ones best glossed over and not featured on national daytime television. Especially during the summer, when children were out of school and very likely to be plastered to the family TV.
"No, wait, this could work," Ginny Lymon, Nina's recently beaned assistant, chimed in as she rubbed the side of her forehead. Claire wondered if she should tell the young woman that she'd missed a smudge of cigarette ash near her eye. Then again, Ginny wore so much liner and such dark shadow that an extra smudge of ash was negligible. And considering the fact that she dyed her hair jet-black, wore jet-black nail polish and lipstick, and dressed from head to toe in -- surprise! -- jet black, she'd probably welcome the added darkness. "If we cut the banjo bit," Ginny went on, "and push Dorcas Marcum's peony piece back 'til Monday, we could expand the chicken segment."
Claire eyed the production assistant with horror, worried that she and Ginny were on the same wavelength. Very cautiously, she asked, "And by 'expanding the chicken segment,' you would mean ...?"
Ginny shrugged. "We could kill and pluck it as part of the show."
Claire closed her eyes and willed herself not to pass out. Yep. She and Ginny were on the same wavelength, all right. But not one of those wavelengths that lapped lovingly at a tranquil beach in a soft, reaffirming way. No, this particular wavelength was more of a raging tsunami that threatened to wipe out all of Osaka.
"And after we've dealt with the thousands of letters and e-mails we receive from the ASPCA, PETA, and our animal-loving viewers," Claire said, "we can pack up the set, because the network will have canceled Simple Pleasures. Of course, that will be nothing compared to the angry, torch-bearing mob waiting for us outside the studio, something that will necessitate our running for our lives under cover of darkness."
"Oh, hell, Claire," Ginny said indignantly, her Southern twang more pronounced than usual, because of her irritation, "people who eat chicken know they're eatin' a dead animal. We'll just be showin' 'em how it got that way."The Thing About Men. Copyright © by Elizabeth Bevarly. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was OK but don't expect alot of dialogue. most of the book was just what was going on in the characters head. like one character would say hello and then we would read a good two pages of their thoughts before the other character would respond. This made it really difficult to read.
Elizabeth Bevarly has delivered another keeper romantic comedy that is often laugh-out-loud funny and always a pleasure. Unlike many romance authors who have distilled their books down to dialogue and action only, Bevarly wields her significant command of the English language -- and her sense of whimsy -- in a way that has intelligent readers enjoying every sentence. I highly recommend this book -- which contains a hotter-than-cayenne-pepper love scene -- to anyone who values wit with their romance!
A slightly obsessed fan dies and leaves her baby with a Martha Stewart clone. Enter the Terminator and in less than a week, they're in love?! Give me a break! There is no character development at all. No clear cut reasons are given why these 2 fall in love. Frankly, the courtship between the secondary characters, Olive and Davis, was more realistic and even that relationship wasn't clearly developed. Add in one slightly deranged lawyer and a ratings-hungrey studio flunkie and you have a very mildly entertaining romance. I've read other books by Elizabeth Bevarly, which were much, much better than this one. To say I was disappointed in this book is an understandment! What happened?!