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by Lisa Plumley
Description: Jayne Murphy is a woman on top. From trendy haircut to perfect pedicure, she's a vision of city-smart style, wrapped around the brains and intuition that made her very first book a bestseller. The truth is, Jayne's relationship manual, Heartbreak 101, was inspired by her all-to-personal experience with gorgeous, capable--outdoorsy--photojournalist Riley Davis, who stole her heart--and promptly skipped town with it. Now, by way of researching her next project, Jayne's organized a workshop for dump-ees. But it becomes apparent that the "retreat" she's planned could be hell on her high heels--and her heart--when the leader for her group's week-long nature jaunt turns out to be none other than a certain? Riley has no idea he planted the seeds for Heartbreak 101, much less that Jayne's the guru whose devotees he'll be leading through the wilderness. He does know that helping his grandparents run their rustic Arizona lodge is only a temporary respite from the wanderlust that led him away from her, back into a life of nonstop adventure-and loneliness. Jayne's version of "roughing it" reminds Riley all over again how different they are--and how much he's missed her. The challenge now isn't just getting everyone out of the woods in one piece, but making sure that Jayne's next book has a happily-ever-after ending...
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: July 2005
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [408 KB]
Reading time: 252-353 min.
Jayne Murphy hadn't intended to tackle the rugged northern Arizona wilderness armed with not much more than pink stilettos, a tin of Altoids, and two hardcover copies of Heartbreak 101: Getting Over the Good-Bye Guys. But when she arrived at the Hideaway travel adventure lodge shortly after ten on the sunny Monday morning that was to begin her weeklong trip, it became immediately clear to her that intentions didn't necessarily mean a thing.
Reality, on the other hand, did.
And Jayne's reality included none of the things she'd been prepared for. Where were the valets? she wondered as the airport shuttle jolted to a stop in a cloud of red dust. Where were the private spa cabins? The chic outdoorsy patio for dining al fresco? The back-to-nature Jacuzzis?
In their places were a lot of boulders, a hand-lettered "parking" sign, two picnic tables beneath the trees, and a single long, low building accented with smaller outbuildings. It looked like Abe Lincoln's summer home. Like Frontierland come to life. Like, like--Jayne took a deep breath and fought back her panic at being thrust unexpectedly into such hardscrabble surroundings, trying hard to fit the scene into her personal frame of reference--like a grunge-meets-L.L.-Bean ad layout.
Minus the glossiness, of course.
She swiveled in her seat toward the van driver who'd transported her and her five companions from the airport in Sedona.
"Is this the gatehouse? The garage?" She couldn't keep the hopefulness from her voice. Maybe Arizonans envisioned the standard two-and-a-half-car number differently than she did. "Someone's private residence?"
He chuckled. "No, ma'am. This here's the lodge."
"The Hideaway Lodge?"
"The very same."
Jayne frowned in confusion. Her publicist had led her to believe the Hideaway Lodge was about as rustic as the Ralph Lauren department at Macy's. She couldn't help but feel a little misled.
"And home base for you ladies for the next week, I understand." The driver pulled out the keys and tossed them jauntily in the air before catching them. "Welcome to the back country."
His door creaked as he opened it. He jumped out, ostensibly to retrieve their luggage. That was when Jayne realized he wasn't kidding. This really was it.
Faced with the truth--that the research for her next book was going to take place here in Paul Bunyanville and that a compensatory sea salt aromatherapy rub followed by a champagne cooldown was unlikely at most--she rallied her spirits and prepared to make the best of things.
After all, there was a lot riding on this week's activities. Her whole future depended on what happened here in Arizona. And now that she'd discovered where that future lay, Jayne intended to grab every opportunity with both pink-manicured hands. Starting this minute.
"Okay, ladies." Moving into full leadership mode, she raised her voice to gain the attention of the five chattering women on the van's bench seats behind her. Simultaneously, she pulled a compact from her handbag. "This is it. The beginning of the next chapter of your life: breaking free!"
Everyone cheered. The driver, hauling bags from the storage area behind the final seat, shook his head.
"You're about to make your entrance into that new life. Compacts at the ready!" With a swift look, Jayne confirmed that each woman had withdrawn the leopard-print compact she'd been issued. "Okay ... primp!"
Nose-tickling powder pouffed into the air, sent adrift by the force of six puffs diligently in action. Various perfumes filled the spaces between the seats. Lipsticks were passed, mouths puckered, hair fluffed. Finally, Jayne surveyed her own reflection, blew a kiss into the mirror, and snapped her compact shut. A series of echoing clicks followed.
"What's our motto?" she asked.
"If you look good, you feel good!"
The ladies' enthusiastic response made Jayne smile. Obviously, the mini-orientation session she'd held while waiting in Phoenix for their connecting flight had paid off. Satisfied, she complimented everyone on their efforts.
There was nothing better, she thought as she gave her charges a fond look, than helping people in need.
"All right, then. Let's go!"
Ready or not, Jayne led the charge. Opening the van's passenger-side door, she thrust her T-strap stilettos bravely into the high-desert air. She touched the reddish dirt with her toes. She grabbed her handbag and both books she'd brought, then emerged into the sunlight with a smile on her face.
The adventure was about to begin.