Are you ready for a new book? My very talented friend, Monique McDonell, has just released the fourth book in her Upper Crust series, Any Way You Plan It. Woohoo! Let's start with the synopsis:
Mike warned Marissa back in high school that if they kissed, she’d never get over it. He was joking, but he was also right.
Ten years later and Marissa is well and truly stuck in Mike’s friend-zone and he’s made it very clear that’s where she’s staying. Her love-life isn’t the only part of her life that’s in a rut so when her elderly parents pack up and move South, Marissa admits it’s time to move on with her life.
With the encouragement of her friends Lucy and Cherie, the matchmaker, she updates her wardrobe and her attitude. Lucy’s engagement party is the perfect place to start fresh and find her old self again, the self that likes to dance until dawn. Mike wants Marissa to be happy and he’s convinced he’s not up to the job, but he doesn’t like watching her flirt with other men or worse, dating again. His twin brother, Todd, who is Marissa’s best friend warns him to back off, he’s had his chance.
Is this a case of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone? And if so what is Mike prepared to do to get Marissa back with the whole town there to offer him advice. Will Marissa and Mike get their happily ever after or is it a case of too little too late?
Sounds intriguing, right? I have an excerpt for you right here:
An hour later, she was sitting at the bar at The Pit and was on her third beer. She was tired and emotional and probably—no definitely—should have curled up in bed with a book that promised her a happily ever after.
“Hey there.” Todd Kowalski slid onto the barstool next to her. Todd was Mike’s identical twin brother and one of her oldest friends. The twins looked the same to the untrained eye, but Marissa’s eye was very well trained indeed.
“Hey, Todd. How’s it hanging?”
Marissa knew Todd had a faint scar in his right eyebrow where Mike had hit him with a Frisbee as kids. She knew that when Mike smiled the left side his mouth rose first and the reverse was true for Todd. She knew that her heart beat a bit faster near Mike and inexplicably never had near Todd.
“How’s it hanging?” He raised his eyebrows at her.
“I’m working on some new material,” she replied.
“Keep working.” He raised the beer that had been placed in front of him to her. “Cheers.”
The town thought Todd was a graphic designer, which he was. What they didn’t know was that he had also invented the online gaming app, Jungle Jam, and was currently worth an absolute bucket-load of money. She knew and Mike knew, and well, that was about it.
He nodded. “Yep, nearly done. I’m kind of excited.”
“Good for you,” she said, but her voice sounded flat even to her.
“You don’t seem happy tonight. Anything I can do to cheer you up?”
“I’m just in a funk. My folks are moving, I’ve wasted my twenties, and I’m a lonely librarian . . .”
“Ah, so nothing major.” He gave her a gentle shove with his elbow.
“Exactly.” She took a swig of her beer.
“What number is that, honey?” He pointed to her drink.
“I’ll drive you home.”
“Thanks, Todd. You really should find a nice girl to lavish your kindness on.”
“Yeah, thanks, but no thanks. I’m very happy being single and hanging out with you.”
“Who’s happy being single?” She’d know that voice anywhere. Not that she didn’t hear it practically every day. She looked over her shoulder and took him in. Dark hair, NYU sweatshirt, and jeans. Nothing that should make a girl’s heart flip, and yet hers did an elegant somersault.
“Your brother, of course.”
Mike slid onto the barstool on her other side. It was pretty standard. She was the rose between two thorns. “I see.”
They sat there in amicable silence. Or so it seemed. To the whole town, they were just three friends who hung out. It wasn’t like that, not really. Marissa had been in love with Mike for as long as she could remember, and Todd knew that as well. Meanwhile Mike, the object of her infatuation, acted, or was, oblivious. It was the routine they’d fallen into when they all drifted back to town. Not that Marissa usually drank at The Pit; that alone was out of the ordinary. She was only here because Lucy and Chase were in town. For years, she’d spent her weekends being bossed around by her mother or Patty, an old high school frenemy who bossed half the town around. Lately, she’d withdrawn even more and either went and played video games with Todd or was home with her folks.
Lucy and Chase came in with a whoosh of cool air, and they all moved over to a table.
“How is it at your mom’s?” she asked Lucy.
“It’s nice. That makes it weird in itself. I’m not used to nice.” She eyed Marissa. “Do you usually drink beer?”
“I’m trying new things.” She shrugged.
“How’s that working for you?”
“I’m on my third.” Lucy looked shocked. Even when they’d been at college together, she’d never been a beer drinker or much of a drinker at all. “Todd’s dropping me home. Don’t worry. I’m notoriously sensible.”
“I know. I’m a little worried about you,” her friend said, giving her arm a squeeze.
“I guess I just have some stuff to work out. Like who I am, what I want, and where I’m heading.”
“Just the simple stuff then?”
“That’s what Todd said.” She sighed.
“It is going to be okay, Marissa.” Her friend patted her hand.
“Yeah, if you say so.”
I don't know about you, but my curiosity has been piqued! You can get your hot little hands the first four books currently in the series, but you'll have to wait for the last two!
And it doesn't end there! I also managed to snag a thought-provoking guest post from my busy friend!
Can Men and women be friends?
If you’re reading this blog post I’m going to assume you like chick lit (because that is what the lovely Glynis writes) and therefore I’m going to know you love romantic comedy movies because they go hand in hand right? So then I know without a shadow of a doubt you’ve seen When Harry Met Sally.
We all remember that famous line men and women can’t be friends from the movie when harry says “Men and Women can’t be friends.” His reasoning being someone is always attracted to someone and it gets in the way…and we all know how that movie ends.
Do you agree with that? I have plenty of male friends who I am not the least bit attracted to and while I can’t know for certain I don’t think those boys were ever attracted to me (and I’m not just talking about my gay friends either). And if they were shame on them, I could have used a date or two back in the day, but I digress. So I think men and women can be friends…but…there’s always a but.
If one person in a friendship really is attracted to the other I think that makes it so, so hard.
In Any Way You Plan It, Marissa’s character is friend with twin brothers Mike and Todd. Todd is her buddy. They play poker and watch crime shows. Mike is her friend but she’s in love with him. It’s less natural and just not easy.
Those friendships are harder because there’s an imbalance. Someone wants something they can’t have, someone has something they won’t give. Like with any friendship imbalance leads to complications.
It doesn’t matter that Mike has made it very clear he’s not going to go out with Marissa way back in the day, the longing is still there. When she finally gives up on him, the balance changes and so does the friendship.
I have had that happen to me in real life as well and where one person declared they liked the other and there was a definite power shift and I’m sad to say I’m not friends with those guys anymore (not that I didn’t try to hang on because I’m crazy and tenacious that way). It’s a risk to change the balance in any friendship.
So I do think men and women can be friends but when attraction gets in the mix it’s a complicated journey, which makes it a really fun topic to write a book about. I met the characters in this book at a high school reunion in Any Way You Dream It, Book 2 in the Upper Crust Series and they spoke to me and told me they had stories to tell. I hope they speak to you as well.
Let me know are there circumstances where you think men and women can be friends?
Now let's get to know Ms. McDonell a little better....
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance. I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)
When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since. I am the author of five stand alone novels including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on an Australian characters meeting and visiting US
I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for ten years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia. In 2015 had a piece on writing chicklit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight. I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter where I run a boutique PR consultancy.