Susan Daffron is the author of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies, a series of novels that feature residents of the small town of Alpine Grove and their various quirky dogs and cats. She is also an award-winning author of many nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. She lives in a small town in northern Idaho and shares her life with her husband, two dogs and a cat–the last three, all “rescues.” You can read more about her at her website SusanDaffron.com.
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Librarian Jan Carpenter likes things just so. Nestled in her tidy little cottage on the outskirts of the small hamlet of Alpine Grove, she enjoys her quiet life with her friendly, rotund black lab, Rosa.
Jan’s orderly life is turned upside down when she attends her mother’s latest wedding in San Diego. (Number six…or maybe seven, but who’s counting?) There, Jan encounters Michael Lawson, the obnoxious neighbor kid from twenty years ago. He’s still irritating, but not as annoying as his dog who has a habit of eating…everything. The last thing Jan wants to do is risk heartache on a vacation fling with a smooth-talking serial dater, even if he is sinfully gorgeous and finds her unusual ability to remember obscure facts fascinating.
Amidst wardrobe destruction, canine digestive indiscretions, and episodes of extreme mortification, Jan’s desire to avoid drama may put the brakes on her fiery attraction to Michael. But maybe being cautious and responsible isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
This is part of the scene where the main character, Jan, is on the plane to San Diego. She explains to the person in the seat next to her why she is taking the trip.
Ethel tilted her head, causing the ossified bluish curls on her head to shift in an unnatural way. “Why are you going to San Diego?”
Jan sighed a little too loudly. Maybe Ethel wouldn’t notice. “My mother is getting married.”
Ethel straightened in her seat and leaned closer to Jan. “That’s wonderful! I love weddings. Who is the lucky man? What does he do? Are you excited? It’s beautiful to see such an expression of love. Where are they getting married?”
It was apparent that Ethel had not been retrieving breath mints out of her suitcase. Jan replied slowly, “Well, they are getting married on the beach. The man was actually her next-door neighbor many years ago. I knew him when I was growing up.” Jan shrugged. “I don’t know if I’m excited exactly. But it will probably be interesting.”
“Interesting? But weddings are so gorgeous. The flowers! The lovely food! How can you not just adore that?”
Jan twisted in her seat, leaning her back away toward the window. If she were any farther away from Ethel, she’d be outside the plane. Discussing anything related to her mother was never fun. “My mother tends to do things differently, I guess.”
“What do you mean differently? It’s a wedding! There are traditions. People say vows!”
“Well, I think for one thing, there will be a puppet show.”
The woman looked slightly taken aback, but then smiled knowingly. “Oh, is it one of those sex-puppet shows? I’ve never seen that at a wedding. But it could be fun.”
Jan didn’t know what a sex-puppet show was. And she didn’t want to know. She’d seen way too many puppet shows in her lifetime as it was. “No, no, nothing like that. My mother was on local children’s television for a long time. She was the assistant to The Farmer, the kid’s TV show in San Diego. She did the puppet shows with the sock-puppet farm animals.”
“You mother is the Farm Lady? I loved her. My kids loved her. My grandkids love her in the reruns. Oh my goodness me, I can’t believe I’m sitting next to the daughter of the Farm Lady. This is so exciting! Oh and the Farm Lady is getting married? How wonderful for her! Is she finally marrying the Farmer?”
After so many years, Jan was used to people knowing her mother as the Farm Lady with the sock puppets. And it never failed to embarrass her. Years of being teased at school by other kids making every possible form of revolting farm noise was hard to shake. The pig sounds were to the point that she still couldn’t eat bacon. And what people didn’t know was that the wholesome sweet TV persona was nothing like the real woman, Angie Carpenter. Responsible motherly farm matron, she certainly was not. “Maybe you didn’t hear, but Bob Myers, the Farmer, died a few years ago and the show went off the air. The man my mother is marrying is in the plumbing business.”
Ethel narrowed her eyes and gave Jan a knowing look, “Oh, plumbers make a lot of money. He must be a great catch. How did their love blossom? I’m sure there’s a romantic story there.”
“I don’t know how romantic it is. Like I said, we were neighbors a long time ago, but he was on television, too. They met again recently on a retrospective special that featured stars from old TV shows and commercials. If you saw the ads for the Toilet King years ago, that’s him.”
Ethel clapped her hands together, “My heavens! The Farm Lady is marrying the Toilet King! I can’t wait to tell all my friends. Does he still have purple hair and wear the blue jumpsuit? I just loved those commercials with the swirling and all that.”
“I haven’t seen him in a long time. I live in Alpine Grove now.”