From Alisa Kwitney, the acclaimed author of Sex as a Second Language and The Dominant Blonde, comes a witty, romantic, and compassionate new novel about an urban working mom who leaves the city only to find her talents are no match for country life.
An accomplished journalist, Zo� Goren can't drive and she doesn't cook. But that's never been a problem in Manhattan, where the streets are filled with taxis and takeout restaurants, and a busy single mother can find everything she needs right at her fingertips. In fact, Zo� can't imagine living or working anyplace else. But when Zo�'s daughter is diagnosed with dyslexia, she decides to make the ultimate sacrifice, moving two hours from Manhattan in order to enroll Maya in an excellent school for children with learning differences. Stranded in a rural paradise, Zo� must grapple with isolation, coyote howls, and the lack of good delivery services. But when she decides to overcome her fear of driving and take lessons, she meets Mack, an unnervingly attractive townie, back from the war in Iraq and trying to adjust to civilian life. With a budding new romance and a reporting gig for the local paper, Zo� just might survive in the wilderness of small-town America after all.
One of today's best breakout authors, who has been called "witty, charming, funny, and real" by Carly Phillips, Alisa Kwitney creates authentic characters that women love to read about -- and talk about. Zo� Goren will have them rooting for her all the way.
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August 05, 2007
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Excerpt from Flirting in Cars by Alisa Kwitney
Zo� woke up feeling chilled and groggy, like a bear roused too early from hibernation. She blinked myopically at the light filtering in through the shades, trying to figure out why she was suddenly conscious. Over the background hum of the air conditioner, she became aware of another noise, the clanking, hydraulic wheeze of a garbage truck from ten flights below. Rolling over, she fumbled for her glasses on the bedside table and peered at the clock. Seven fifty-five.
Zo� shuddered and turned off the air conditioner. This wasn't fair. It was Saturday and Maya had spent the night at a preteen slumber party, which meant that Zo� could sleep in as late as she wanted. And since the real estate agent had said he wanted to hold an open house on Sunday, this was probably her last moment of peace before everything imploded. Flopping back onto her stomach, Zo� closed her eyes, trying to imagine herself lying in a still, green valley.
The garbage truck made a series of piercing beeps, which sounded twice as loud without the air conditioner rumbling in the background. Try to ignore it.
Last night Zo� had been up till three am finishing an article on the evolving relationship between the United States and the European Union. In every love affair, she'd written, there comes a point where the balance of power shifts, and the more dominant partner has to cede some control or risk a separation.
This had certainly been true for Zo�, whose last love affair had ended ten months earlier. Glad to have found an attractive man who could make intelligent dinner conversation, she'd put up with Jeremy's plaid shirts, his history professor beard, and his nocturnal blanket hogging. And then, on Halloween, Jeremy had told Zo� that he disapproved of Maya's Disney Cinderella costume, as it branded her as belonging to a vast, patriarchal conglomerate. In that moment, Zo� had realized that life was too short to spend with someone who not only lacked a sense of humor, but also a sense of the absurd. The first was regrettable, the second, unacceptable.
The only thing she missed now was the sex, which had been surprisingly good. No telling when good sex might reenter the picture, either, since Zo� was now intent on holding out for a man who understood the distinction between being politically savvy and being politically correct.
Don't think about that now. Sleep.
Down on Riverside Drive, the garbage truck made a noise halfway between a crunch and a crash, and then there was silence. Zo� groaned, trying to will herself back to drowsiness. No use. Behind her closed lids, the list of everything that remained to be done unscrolled itself. Clean the apartment, contact the bank, hire movers. You're supposed to leave some furniture in place so as not to look desperate, but what if she didn't find a buyer before the end of the month? Rubbing her eyes, Zo� gave a low, humorless laugh. Christ, it was ironic, worrying about not selling her home fast enough, when the thought of losing it still made her feel like rending her garments and throwing ashes on her head. She'd been so touched when she'd inherited this place ten years earlier from Mrs. Erenfeldt, an elderly widow who had rented her a room and then wound up becoming a kind of surrogate mother. Zo� was still amazed that the co-op board had agreed to let her keep the apartment, given her unreliable freelance income and lack of assets. Possibly the fact that she'd been six months pregnant and overcome with grief at the time of her interview had affected their decision.
Oh, God, maybe there was still some way to avoid giving up the place completely. Except that the current co-op board was intent on cracking down on subletters, large dogs, and therapists who worked from home.
Zo� dragged her fingers through her hair. I need to get up, she thought.
No, what she needed now was sleep. Zo� curled onto her left side and her stomach gave an empty gurgle. Or maybe she needed a cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, and then sleep.
Zo� imagined someone bringing her the coffee; a man, telling her he thought she needed this. She could picture him sitting down next to her on the bed, the mattress dipping under his weight. Stroking the tangled hair away from her forehead with one big hand. Pulling the covers over her head, Zo� had the fantasy man place the coffee up on the side table and join her in the bed.
Just as she was about to get kissed, the doorbell rang.
* * *
Zo� opened her front door and automatically said, "Houdini isn't here." But the woman standing on her straw doormat wasn't Nora from 9C, searching for her escaped Siamese. This woman was slender and blond and elegant in her complicated blouse and boutique jeans, the perfect outfit for an autumn day that still felt like summer.