Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Things I Do For You by Mary Carter (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Mary Carter, author of The Things I Do For You!

Author Guest Post

Taking Risks
By Mary Carter

In my latest novel, The Things I Do For You, my main male character is always trying (and failing) to get new ventures off the ground. He tries a surf shop in Santa Monica, a sweater shop in Seattle, a coffee house in Colorado, and finally, a lighthouse on the Hudson River that he wants to run as a bed and breakfast. Understandably, his wife, Bailey, is about to lose her mind.

What about you? Are you a dreamer? A self-starter? Or have you always played it safe? Surely you know of others who are just like Brad. I would have to say, I have always been a combination of Bailey and Brad. I love the idea of starting new adventures, but before I commit, my "Bailey" usually kicks in, raking over the pros and cons before I lose my shirt. Writing is a great way of taking risks through your characters. And unlike in life, in novels we want our characters to struggle. It's the only way we'll get to see what they're made of, what they'll do next. 

I recently took a "Brad" type of risk of my own. I started teaching 6-week writing classes in New York City. I have partnered with a man who has taught this writing course in Chicago for the past twenty-six years. Just a few months after I began contemplating doing this, and The Manhattan Writer's Den has been born. I'm sitting here now, writing this post. On Thursday night, I will have a room full of students, eager to learn the craft of writing. The past few months I've spent decorating, preparing, studying, and advertising. I've been through two complete 6-week sessions, and have been amazed at how fast the time flies when you're doing what you love. I put in twelve hour days without a second thought. I wake up excited to go to work.

On the other hand, it's been a bit scary because I've invested a lot into it, and I've had to make sacrifices (such as getting a roommate after twenty-some years of living on my own - not counting the ex-husband) but it's also been one of the most freeing things I've done in a long time. Until you're a best seller, or a movie is made of one of your novels, most writers don't make a fortune. We still need jobs to fall back on. I've spent twelve years doing a job that I liked well enough, but didn't love. Maybe writing The Things I Do For You helped open me up to the possibilities in my life, or maybe it was just time. Either way, I'm now working at something I love, and spending most of my time talking about my passion: writing. Hats off to those who live their dreams. I would advise a balance between daydreaming and planning it out. Most businesses take at least a year to five years to get off the ground. This is where funding and planning come in handy. New ideas are inherently risky, but don't let that stop you from living your dreams, one step at a time. Until then, sit back with The Things I Do For You, and be glad it's not your pocketbook funding Brad's dreams. 

About The Author:

Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. The Things I Do For You, is her sixth novel. Her fifth novel, The Pub Across the Pond, was July’s pick of the month with Barnes and Noble online book club, and is also available as an audiobook through Blackstone Audio. Her other works include: My Sister's Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She'll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged. In addition to her novels she has written three novellas: A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home, and A Kiss Before Midnight (in an anthology collection headlined by Janet Daily) which will be out in the Spring of 2013. Mary is also excited to announce that she has started, The Writers’ Den, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where she will be teaching the exact writing course that helped her write and publish her first novel. Aspiring writers in the New York City area can go to for more information.

Mary Carter's The Things I Do For You Virtual Book Tour Page On Pump Up Your Book!

Book Review

The Things I Do For You by Mary Carter
Published By: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Format: Paperback - 352 pages / Kindle - 655 KB / Nook - 938 KB
ISBN: 0758253370
ASIN: B007C738BC
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: The Things I Do You For

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description: 

What happens to a marriage when a husband buys a lighthouse behind his wife’s back?

Bailey Jordan has loved her husband, Brad, since they were ten years old. She’s followed him on every adventure–opening a sweater store in Seattle, a cafĂ© in Colorado, a surf shop in Santa Monica. Each time, she’s picked up the pieces when things fell apart. But now, it’s her turn. Bailey has a successful real estate career in Manhattan, and she’s eager to start a family–until a car crash leaves Brad in a coma and changes their lives forever.

Awakening after his near-death experience, Brad has a new mission. He buys a lighthouse on the Hudson River, planning to turn it into a B&B. Grateful to have Brad alive, Bailey tries to make his dream her own. The lighthouse is beautiful, but the challenges–renovating, bringing in supplies by boat, navigating the locals and guests–are enormous. And then Bailey discovers a secret in Brad’s past that compels her to question her husband, her marriage, and how far she’ll go to keep them both. . .

Thoughtful and moving, The Things I Do For You exhibits a rare understanding of the joys, compromises, and small rebellions that lie at the heart of every marriage, and of the resilience and surprising power of love.

Book Excerpt:

                                                Chapter One

Bailey Jordan couldn't believe she was going to get away with it. Were they insane? Was she wrong to take advantage of their crippled mental states? If they all survived a plane crash but were stranded on a snow-covered mountaintop without so much as a bag of chips, would she eat them? Could she eat them? She kept waiting for them to tell her it was all a big joke. But they didn't. They kept walking. This was how people got ahead in the world, they bulldozed over friends and family the second they let down their guard. So she would do it. She would not only cross the finish line, she would sprint past it. She would show them. She could not blow this. Because the real reason they were letting her do this, the only reason they were letting her do this, was because they didn't believe she could actually do it.

I could eat you, she repeated to herself. Wouldn't want to—but could. I could eat you, I could eat you, I could eat you.

She was on her way to show an exclusive penthouse overlooking Central Park. It didn't seem real. Yet here she was, strolling down Fifth Avenue. She should be taking deep breaths, visualizing the sale, and soaking up the faint scent of tulips swaying in the warm May breeze. Instead, she was obsessing on eating her mentors. That couldn't be good. She should focus on something else, anything else. How about shadows? There were the shadows of the trees looming over the sidewalk, her long shadow striking out ahead of her, and of course, the two elongated shadows tailing her.

Shadow one, her aunt Faye, owner of Penthouses on Parade. Shadow two, Jason Biggs, an ironically small man and the second in command at the high-paced, high-profile agency. Jason was being a good sport. If Bailey were him, she would hate her. Faye was only letting Bailey do this because she was family. Jason was the one who should be showing the penthouse. He had the experience, and the seniority. Bailey had only had her real estate license less than a year. She didn't deserve this opportunity; she knew it, and everyone else knew it. Losing herself in shadows was the only thing keeping Bailey from shrinking into a ball of nerves and rolling down Fifth Avenue with the rest of the midday traffic. Faye's high heels clicking on the sidewalk and Jason's cell phone constantly beeping were driving her crazy. If only she could figure out how to remain classy, yet firmly kick both of them to the curb.

Instead, she focused on putting one foot in front of the other. She crossed Fifth Avenue, snapped pictures of The Frick Collection (a gorgeous small art museum where her prospective clients had recently married) with her cell phone, and peeked in her purse to make sure the chocolate-chip-scented candle was still in one piece. Then, because Faye and Jason were lagging behind, she stopped and fussed with her hair in the window of an off-duty taxi parked at the curb. Was it her imagination, or had the lovely May breeze just turned into a kite-flying wind? When they finally caught up, Jason's look said it all. It took hours for her stylist to straighten her frizz-prone chestnut hair, still hanging slightly below her breasts despite her stylist's desire to hack it to chin level, but only seconds for the great outdoors to whip it into a frenzy. This afternoon Mother Nature was acting more like Mommie Dearest.

Bailey pulled her hair back, secured it with a rubber band, and practiced the spiel she hoped would cinch the sale of the Fifth Avenue penthouse.

"Imagine, if you lived here, you'd pass the Frick museum every day on your way to work—"

"Don't mention work," Faye interrupted. "You never want them to associate work with home."

"Oh," Bailey said. "Of course." How could she make such a rookie mistake? Because that's what she was, an amateur. She was hardly a cannibal, a disappointment to the tribe. Sweat pooled underneath her armpits, and her new high heels carved blisters into her feet. Why didn't she bring deodorant, or perfume, or Band-Aids, or tequila? "Imagine. If you lived here you'd pass the Frick museum every Saturday on your way to the park for a leisurely afternoon stroll—"

"Rich people don't stroll," Faye said.

"Or go to the park," Jason said.

"They're too busy," Faye said.

"Too busy to stroll or go to the park?" Bailey asked.

"Both," Faye said. "They walk briskly—"

"And gaze at the park from their balconies, marveling at all the tiny people below them," Jason said. He touched his Bluetooth and turned his head. "Penthouses on Parade, Jason Biggs speaking." Two ticks for poverty, Bailey thought. She couldn't imagine a life without strolls through the park. She took a deep breath and started her spiel all over again.

"Imagine, you'll pass the Frick museum every day in your limo and remember where you first made your love legal," Bailey said. She could already see Faye shaking her head.

"That makes it sound like their affair was something illicit," Faye said.

"It kind of was," Bailey said. "But you're right. I won't say it." She took a second deep breath and gestured in the direction of the Frick. "Remember where you first took your holy vows."

"They got married in a museum next to a floor full of koi," Jason said. "How holy could it have been?" Bailey wanted to rip the Bluetooth out of his ear. How could he navigate two conversations at once? Bailey felt her stomach cramp, and she prayed they didn't notice her grimace.

"Relive where you first fell in love," Bailey said. Still not right. Their famous clients, Allissa and Greg, fell in love at first sight on the subway. She was a fashion model who fainted on the uptown four, he the financial mogul who caught her in his arms as she went down. It was Fashion Week in New York, and Allissa hadn't eaten in four days. Neither of them had ever ridden the subway before. She was doing it for a reality television show audition; his Lexus had been hit by a bus. As he cradled her in his arms, his overpowering cologne woke her up. The cameras following Allissa for the reality show had captured it all. It wasn't long before the video went viral, even overtaking the one of the rat on the train, climbing up the arm of a sleeping homeless man. Turns out New Yorkers were softies after all.

The fashionista and the financier. Their day of transit slumming led to a whirlwind romance, nonstop media attention, and marriage. New Yorkers had dubbed them "the Fairytalers" and couldn't get enough of the dynamic duo. And Bailey was the lucky Realtor showing them a penthouse. And not just any penthouse. It was the most beautiful two-bedroom, two-bath Bailey had ever seen. She would die to live in it herself. She couldn't imagine anyone saying no to it. And oh yes, it was just down the block from the Frick museum where the couple got married. It was like winning the lottery.

The opportunity of a lifetime. One she had no intention of squandering. One that would not only skyrocket her reputation and pay handsomely, but a sale that would give Bailey the one thing she wanted more than anything else in the world. A baby.

She was thirty-six; they had to start trying. But her husband, Brad, having grown up with a mother who spent money on gin and cocaine first and incidentals like food, heat, and electricity second, third, and fourth, insisted they not start their family until they were financially secure. And he was talking New York City financially secure, a whole different ballgame than, say, middle-of-nowhere Midwest financially secure. He wanted their child to grow up loved, and fed, and clothed, and educated. So did she.

But so far they slightly disagreed, couldn't quite put their fingers on an amount guaranteeing security. The commission from this sale would definitely do it. She could already feel their baby in her arms, see the two of them strolling through the park. For despite what Jason claimed, when rich, they would still stroll through the park. And play on the playgrounds, and visit the animals in the zoo, and picnic in the meadow, and ride the carousel, and eat hot dogs and ice cream in moderation, and take turns carrying him or her on their shoulders, and watch Little League games, and share a quiet smile when their exhausted but happy child fell asleep on the way home. She could see their entire family life unfolding in the park. She hoped their baby had her olive skin and Brad's dimples, her loyalty and Brad's charm. But, of course, first and foremost, they just wanted a healthy and happy baby.

Seize the day! She'd been repeating it to herself ad nauseam, trying to psych herself up, build up a little momentum. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing building up in her. Gas. Big mistake, having Mexican for lunch. It was all Brad's fault. He just had to call her and rave about the Taco Truck. How he'd seen it on a cooking show, how it was winning all sorts of awards, and how fortuitous it was that today only it would be parked near Faye's office on the Upper East Side. Brad made her swear she'd try it today and report back to him. It was starting to feel like her report was going to be nonverbal: silent but deadly. She was going to kill him. She couldn't lose this sale to flatulence. If she felt something coming on, she was going to have to find an excuse to run out to the balcony. If all else failed, she could always throw herself off it. Death by Taco Truck. Bailey laughed at the thought. Faye shot her a look. Bailey relaxed her lips and donned a more professional expression. The only person she would have shared her crazy thoughts with was Brad.

For the first time in their wild love story, Brad was the one out of work, waiting at home for her. And if she didn't pull off this sale, he would be there to comfort her. He had two bottles of champagne waiting in the fridge. The expensive one in case they were celebrating, and a cheaper one in case they were just drowning their sorrows. It was Brad's idea, and Bailey loved it. Of course she still prayed they'd be popping open the Dom, but knowing they were going to drink champagne either way eased her anxiety. And she had a surprise for him. A silver rattle. It was exquisite. So soft, and slightly heavy, and so comforting cradled in the palm of her hand. It had been expensive, but well worth it. The perfect way to announce it was time. After toasting with the bottle of Dom, he would say, "Speech, speech!" and she would pull out the rattle and clink it on her glass and shake it with a come-hither look. He'd probably rip her clothes off right then and there. Her stomach gurgled. Jason glanced at her and then exchanged a look with Faye. Oh yes, she could eat him. Beano. Why didn't I buy Beano?

"I will do this," Bailey said as they neared the building. "I will make this sale." Faye reached out and grabbed Bailey's arm. For such a tall, slim woman, she had a grip like a linebacker.

"Darling," she said. "You have to know the Fairytalers have no hope in h-e-double-hockey-sticks of ever making up their minds. This is practice. Nothing more."

Faye and Jason had already shown the couple hundreds of hot properties in Manhattan, and they'd snubbed every one of them.

"They're a fairy-tale couple all right," Jason said. "Goldilocks and the Bear. This one's too small. This one's too big. This one's too old." As he prattled on, Faye grabbed Bailey's hands and held them up for inspection.

"I thought you were going to do something about this!" she cried. Bailey yanked her nail-bitten hands away.

"I got my hair done instead," she said. She'd done her best, and clearly, it still wasn't enough. Salon-straightened hair and a new outfit: a pencil-thin gray skirt, matching jacket with just a touch of her black camisole peeking out, classy pearls, barely black hose, and her new black stilettos. Brad had gone with her to pick out the outfit, and even bought himself a new pair of shoes. It tugged on her heartstrings, how happy Brad was with a new pair of shoes. Everything from his childhood was preowned. She hated that he'd had such a tough time as a kid, but she loved the appreciation he had for the things most people took for granted. Who was she kidding? All these years and she was still insanely in love, bordering on obsessed with her husband. Thus, the Taco Truck. One of these days she was going to have to learn how to say no to Brad Jordan. 

"Are you limping?" Faye said. "You look like you're limping."

"New shoes," Bailey said.

"Rookie mistake," Jason said. Bailey ignored them. Despite the pain in her feet and the rumble in her gut, she felt sexy and sophisticated. And afterward, she figured the outfit could do double duty and she'd seduce her handsome husband with her new, sleek self. But she'd forgotten to take into account the wind, both outside and inside. And she hadn't had time to get her nails done. Besides, she didn't want fake nails, and there was nothing she could do but wait for them to grow out, or finally grow up and stop biting them. She certainly didn't expect Faye to examine her so closely. At least she'd removed the silver coyote-head ring she always wore on her middle finger.

"Whatever you do, don't let them see those gnawed-on mitts," Faye said.

"Do you have gloves?" Jason said. He mimed putting on long pairs of gloves like an opera diva.

"Certainly," Bailey said. "And rope, and a stun gun, and duct tape. Everything I need to ensure a sale. Real Estate 101, my friend."

Jason rolled his eyes. "Hold your hands behind your back," he said, demonstrating. "And smile." Bailey smiled. She looked at Jason and stopped. How many condescending expressions did the man have? "That was way too much," he said. "You want to look friendly, but not happy."

"Why wouldn't I want to look happy?"

"Because they're not happy."

"They're not?"

"Of course not. Nobody's happy. So if you look too happy, it's going to depress them."

"So why don't I just not smile?"

"Because you have to pretend to be happy. Just a lot less happy than they are. You want them to think you're secretly miserable but pretending to be happy because you're so jealous of their 'genuine' happiness. My God, Faye, have you taught her nothing?"

"She's stubborn. She gets it from my sister."

Jason shook his head and clicked on his Bluetooth. "Andrew Jackson, assistant to Jason Biggs."

Bailey turned to Faye and raised her eyebrows. Faye smiled and pointed to herself.

I taught him that, she mouthed.

"Sorry, he's not in right now. No, the two-bedroom sold, but there's a lovely loft in Soho that he's just dying to show you. No, there's not, but there's certainly room for one. Of course not! In fact, Jason showed me the place just last night and I thought to myself, what this place needs is a full-sized carousel. I can't believe how you read my mind. Uh-huh. No outdoor space, but the fire escape fits at least six. Pets are a no-go in Soho. A python? I don't know. Does he come when you call him? Then it's probably a pet. Sorry, that's my other line." Jason clicked off. His head began to swivel right and left.

"What's that smell?" he said.

"It must be garbage," Bailey said, clenching her stomach.

As they approached the entrance to the beautiful limestone building where their penthouse awaited, Bailey's attention was arrested by a patch of bright yellow tulips shimmering in the dredges of the afternoon sun. Bailey loved the month of May, littering the city with her favorite color. How simple happiness was sometimes; how free. The color yellow made Bailey happy. It was one of the things Brad loved about her, how much she loved the color yellow.

"Because of you," Brad had said, "I'll never think of yellow the same way again. No matter what." She was twenty-one when he said that to her. First she obsessed on how romantic that was, then she switched to analyzing the "No matter what."

What did he mean by that? Was he already forecasting a future breakup? She'd forever changed his relationship to the color yellow. Was that supposed to be a consolation prize? And if so, was that enough?

"Bails," he said when she complained to him. "Name all the things you can that are yellow. Go."

The sun, flowers, signs, school buses, traffic lights, lemons, plastic squeeze containers of mustard, not to mention the mustard itself, urine—

"Urine?" Brad said. "Urine?!"

Gross maybe, but it still counted, and since he drank a lot of water, always carried around whatever new magic water was on the market, it was a logical choice.

My Book Review:

Can a marriage weather every storm and survive?

Bailey Jordan has loved her husband Brad since they were ten years old. In the twenty-six years that they've been together, of which seven of the years they've been married, Bailey has followed Brad on one adventure to another, from one end of the world to the other. After several failed business ventures: a surf shop in Santa Monica, a sweater shop in Seattle, and a coffee shop in Colorado; Bailey finally put her foot down and they moved to Manhattan where her Aunt Faye taught her about the real estate industry.

Just when Bailey finally gets her shot at selling a prime piece of real estate, a coveted Fifth Avenue penthouse to famous clients, and hopefully have the financial security that will allow them to start a family, Brad is in a fatal car accident. Brad had been clinically dead for thirteen minutes, but when he is brought back to life he is put in an induced coma because of his brain injury. He was a backseat passenger in his eighty-eight year old Aunt Olivia's Cadillac. Olivia had drove through a red light, accelerated, came upon stalled traffic ahead of her, and swerved onto the sidewalk crashing into an electronics store. While Brad had went through the windshield and landed on the sidewalk, Aunt Olivia had died on impact. Brad had an out-of-body experience, he was floating above the accident scene going towards the bright light, when he was given a choice to continue toward the light or to live. Remembering his wife, Brad decides to live and is given a second chance. Having survivor's guilt and distraught over his aunt's death, Brad's personality changes and he becomes a changed man,he is no longer the man that Bailey has known and loved forever.

When Aunt Olivia's will is read, the odd little old lady had her own secret, she was a closet gambler, who left  Brad a half million dollars and a Jaguar. Thinking that they now had enough financial security to start a family, Bailey wants to have a baby, but Brad has other ideas. Without talking things over with Bailey, Brad goes to an auction and buys a lighthouse on the Hudson River. He plans to renovate the lighthouse into a B&B, and once again Bailey finds herself following Brad on another adventure, hoping that this time they'll finally settle down and start a family. But the adventure sure has its challenges: the lighthouse has its secrets and mysterious things occur, they struggle financially to stay afloat and have some non-paying guests that add to their troubles, and Brad has secrets of his own that when revealed will forever change their lives. Will Bailey continue to hold onto their marriage, or has she had enough? Is the power of love strong enough to keep their marriage afloat?

The Things I Do For You is an intriguing look into the journey of a couple's marriage and the challenges that they've overcome to sustain it. Written in a dramatic style, the story is told in the third person narrative, rich in detail and vivid descriptions that engages the reader to follow the dynamics of Bailey and Brad's marriage. The story is full of drama, emotions, suspense, twists and turns ... it takes the reader on a roller coaster ride that keeps you changing your perspective about their marriage. I loved how the author inserted the lighthouse and it's mysteries into the story, it provided a balance to the story and added to its entertainment value. I have to admit that my perspective of Bailey and Brad's marriage ran the gamut of emotions: I laughed at times, felt compassion in others, and even felt anger and dismay towards Bailey and Brad.

The author has provided a cast of characters who are realistic, complex and believable, and easy for the readers to relate to. I was not too fond of Brad, I found his self-centered, selfish and secretive ways too much for my liking. While I admired Bailey's devotion and all consuming love for Brad, I found myself wanting to shake her at times and tell her to stand up to Brad's selfishness, and to stop putting up with his crap, if I had been in her shoes, I would have left him a long time ago. But with that being said, I have to admit that my admiration for Bailey's strength and devotion to sustain the love she has for Brad and their marriage won out!

The Things I Do For You is a story that provides a realistic look into the complexities of a marriage, the power of love, and the ability to weather life's storms in order to sustain the marriage.


No comments:

Post a Comment