Tuesday, September 10, 2013

VBT: His Fantasy Maid

On the eve of Jake Sinclair’s bachelor party, his best man surprises him with a fantasy maid named Amy. Clad in a bikini, she cleans his house and jump starts his heart. She's beautiful, smart, and compassionate. Why is a woman like this working as a fantasy maid? A few days later, with thoughts still distracted by the enigmatic Amy, Jake crashes his car and wakes in the hospital emergency room where his fantasy maid is now wearing scrubs and wielding a stethoscope. Is she an hallucination, or is his fantasy maid a doctor?

Tell me about yourself, and your writing.
I’m a wife and mother of two grown children (ages 25 and 22).  I write for the sheer pleasure of it, and I also spend a considerable amount of time advocating for gay and lesbian youth through Youth OUTright, a not-for-profit organization on which I serve as vice chair.
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
I’ve been writing all my life.  As a former journalist and political speech writer, I switched to fiction when I retired from my full-time work some seven years ago.  I have eight published books, and they’re all romances.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
My first six books were paranormal and historical, but lately, I’ve been more interested in chick lit.  So these days, I’m inclined to write in a contemporary setting.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
I know where I’m going from the outset, but I don’t plot out the journey.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I’m a morning person, so after my fruit and yogurt, I haul a cup of coffee upstairs and sit at my computer for a couple of hours.  That’s about all I can muster in a good writing day.  I break for exercise, and then the afternoon is usually spent researching and writing technical material for my public relations business.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
I lead two book clubs, so I’m a voracious reader, and my reading is all over the place.  About 1/3 of what I read is romance.  The rest runs the gamut from women’s fiction to non-fiction.  I love Elizabeth Berg’s books.  This past year, I particularly enjoyed The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I need to finish the manuscript I’m working on, but more importantly, I want to write JOYFULLY.  I long gave up making any money with my writing, so if I can’t write with joy, what’s the point?
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
Flight would be spectacular.  No more waiting in line at airports.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I became enthralled with dragons after reading Naomi Novik’s books and continued my admiration for these creatures with Game of Thrones, so I’d LOVE to have a dragon…provided he came with a fire extinguisher.
Tell us a little about your latest release.
Here’s the blurb.
On the eve of Jake Sinclair’s bachelor party, his best man surprises him with a fantasy maid named Amy. Clad in a bikini, she cleans his house and jump starts his heart. She's beautiful, smart, and compassionate. Why is a woman like this working as a fantasy maid? A few days later, with thoughts still distracted by the enigmatic Amy, Jake crashes his car and wakes in the hospital emergency room where his fantasy maid is now wearing scrubs and wielding a stethoscope. Is she an hallucination, or is his fantasy maid a doctor?
What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
(Just so you know, my Chihuahua and cockatiel are family members.)  I cannot live without God, though I sometimes have to remind myself of that fact.
Could you ever co-author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
One of my writing partners, Sallie Bissell, writes mysteries, and I’d love to collaborate with her.  I’d provide the romantic elements.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
I’d really like to know if Elizabeth I was truly the VIRGIN queen.  Do you think I could ask that question and keep my head?
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
I’m a quilter and bird watcher, plus I love my exercise classes at the YMCA, which include Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Nia, and Ballet Fusion.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
One of my favorite books in the last several years (actually, one of my all-time favorites) was Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes.  This heart-wrenching story about a quadriplegic and his caregiver would make a fabulous movie.
What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
I wish I liked to run.  My husband lives for pounding the pavements, but I have never been able to get into the zone.
Favorite color?
It used to be red, but when I let my hair go silver, I had to re-think my wardrobe and dispense with my fire engine apparel.  Now, I would probably vote for turquoise blue.
Weather: Hot or cold?
The older I get, the more I dislike extremes on either end, but if I had to choose, I’d pick cold…but not TOO cold.
Favorite place to read?
Couch in living room…with a glass of wine.
Favorite meal
Grass-fed beef steak, sautéed mushrooms, spinach, crusty French bread.  Dessert not necessary, though a square of dark chocolate is always good.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Can someone make a non-alcoholic martini?   Much as I love the taste, I’d probably miss the buzz. 
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
Travel is my biggest stressor, so let me think about this.  I love going new places, but I hate the getting there.  (I’m not much of a sitter.  Two hours is about my limit.  I even get fidgety in movies.)  That said, while I’ve been to Paris three times, it IS my favorite city, so my choice would be to spend a year there…in a luxury apartment on the Left Bank.


     If I believed the adage, “you are what you do,” my self-concept would be in the toilet, so to speak.  I clean houses in a bikini or French maid get-up, client’s choice, which contributes little to making the world a better place.  As a result, my adage is, “you are what you become,” because I’m becoming a doctor. 
But today, I’m Amy Maitland, fantasy maid.
                My best friend and fellow medical resident, Ellen, knows about my undercover life working for Fantasy Maids, but she’s the only one.  If word got out at the College of Medicine, I’d be the laughingstock of the University of Central Florida.  My five brothers know I work as a housemaid, which they respect as good, honest labor, but they don’t know the fantasy aspect.  Protective (and controlling) men that they are, they’d lock me up.
That being said, it’s not the worst job in the world.  I’ve been a fantasy maid for almost two years, and so far, none of my clients has tried to assault me. But it’s always a possibility, considering Florida’s propensity for perverts.  The company (i.e. Rex, the owner, and a part-time secretary) arms us with pepper spray and an emergency hotline number (Rex’s cell phone), and they screen the customers to make sure no one’s a registered sex offender.  They also arrange our appointments, and Rex is good about following up…within four or five days…to make sure we survived the gig. 
Still, being alone with a strange guy in his apartment is enough to get anyone’s adrenalin pumping, and I never go into a new situation without first sending up a prayer.  I always let Ellen know where I’m going, and I carry a rosary, even though I’m not Catholic.
                Today, I’m heading to a condominium in stylish Winter Park, just north of Orlando.  The address alone is comforting.  It’s just off Park Avenue in a nice neighborhood, and it’s next door to a church.  But, I remind myself, Ted Bundy lived in a nice neighborhood.  Let’s face it; serial killers can look like the boy next door.
                My old white Honda sputters into the church parking lot adjacent to the condominium complex without any signs of cardiac arrest (this I take as a good omen).  A Rambling Waters sign on the wrought iron gate looks welcoming. 
I turn off the ignition, and my ancient car heaves a sigh.  Grabbing my backpack with my stash of costumes, I hop out of my car and punch in the security code at the entrance gate.  It creaks open like the sound at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which my brother Matt plays ad nauseum around Halloween. 
As I enter the property, I notice a network of ponds meandering around the buildings.  I’m sure the landscape architect intended them to be beautiful, but all I see is a maintenance nightmare—all that algae to eradicate.  I shake my head.  I’ve been cleaning too long.
I nod to an elderly couple walking their white miniature poodle.  The dog is decked out in a purple vest and ear bows and looks slightly embarrassed.  Good to know I’m not the only one who wears ridiculous outfits. 
                “Can we help you find something, dear?”  The woman inquires.  Could it be because I’m standing here with the address in one hand and a blank stare on my face?
                We’re supposed to look inconspicuous, so I’m dressed in my usual jeans and t-shirt.  Would she call me dear if she saw me in uniform?
My appointment is for six p.m., and I’m already a few minutes late.  I count seven buildings on the property, with no visible numbers.  Gratefully, I say, “Thank you.  I’m looking for unit Five B.”
                The woman elbows her companion.  “Oh, that’s where that nice young lawyer lives.  What’s his name, Harold?”
                Harold shrugs, and the woman pulls her poodle away from the geranium it’s been nibbling on.  She cups one hand around her mouth and points to Harold with the other. “He’s not very observant.”  She rolls her eyes.  “Building Five is just to the right of the pool, which is straight ahead.”
                “Thanks.”  I head in the direction she indicates.  My sandals crunch as pavement gives way to gravel.  I look down to find strategically-placed stepping stones in the shape of turtles.  Strategically placed for Big Foot, that is.  The stones are way too far apart for my five-foot-three leg span, and I essentially hurtle from turtle to turtle, using my backpack for ballast.  I’m working up a sweat in the May humidity.
                Behind me the woman calls out, “Spending the night?”
                When you reach a certain age, you don’t mince words.  I find that endearing.  It’s one of the reasons I’m leaning toward a specialty in geriatrics.  I stifle a smile and leap on like I don’t hear her. 
I count twenty turtles by the time I find Five B, which is on the second floor.  I squint into the partly cloudy sky and cross myself (maybe I’m a closet Catholic).  My sandals slap the stairs, and the flat surface is comforting after the series of round turtle backs. 
My nerves always wait until the last possible moment to go bonkers, and as I’m standing at the door, poised to knock, my heart begins to pound so loudly I’m not sure I even need to knock.  Besides, I’m more than dewy...more like drenched.  Not exactly the sexy image I’m supposed to project.  It must be ninety degrees.  I dab at my face with my t-shirt, and then fan my hands under my arms to get a breeze going.  I hope my deodorant holds up.
Okay, showtime.
As my fingers reach for the claddagh knocker on the front door, I spot the doorbell and opt for that instead.  The chime rings the theme from “Doctor Zhivago.” As it happens, my mom’s favorite movie, God rest her soul.  I’m caught off-guard, and tears well up.  I’m swiping at my eyes when the door opens.
                The guy across the threshold presses a finger to his lips and pulls me into the condominium.  He sort of props me next to the wall.  “You don’t have a cold, do you?  If you do, I want a discount.”  He backs away and eyes me up and down, and then he grins.  “Good old Claudia would shit a brick if she saw you.”
                “I take it I won’t be meeting good old Claudia?”  I shiver from the blast of air conditioning, though it’s welcome relief.
                “Hell, no, she’s the fiancée…and my sister.  Stay right here.  Don’t move.”  He takes off down a hall.
                “Uh, okay.”  Wherever this is going, all I can think is how grateful I am for the cool air.  I rub my arms and glance around the uncluttered, tasteful living room.  It’s immaculately decorated in beige and chocolate brown, strong masculine colors.  I can’t imagine what I’m going to clean.
As I’m sizing up the job, another guy emerges from the hallway.  One towel wraps around his tight-as-a-drum middle as he dries his hair with another.  My jaw drops.  I almost have to push it closed.  Six feet, wavy dark brown hair, and broad shoulders…my dream formula.  My belly tightens, and I get a little twinge…below my umbilicus.

Author Bio:

Susan Blexrud grew up in Orlando, Florida, and now lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband of 27 years, John, who proposed to her on New Year’s Eve 1985 on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, halfway between Paris and Vienna.  Their son Chris lives and works in Manhattan, and daughter Allison is a college junior. Susan has a Chihuahua named Baby and a cockatiel named Romeo. She is an avid reader, and she leads two monthly book clubs in Asheville.  She is a walker and Yoga enthusiast. She enjoys quilting and bird watching (loves hummingbirds), and most of all, writing her next story.  

Connect with Susan!

Publisher:  www.crimsonromance.com

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks for hosting me, Nikki! Your blog is lovely!

  3. HIS FANTASY MAID sounds like a great read.

  4. Love the excerpt, it sounds like a great read! will add it to my TBR list :)

    - Anna -