Keeping It Casual – Book 3

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untitledTalent manager Alex Appleby needs Geoff McKenna’s help. Her vicious client is threatening the reputation of Alex’s television-star father if Alex can’t convince her stepsister to go along with the client’s demand. Alex turns to Geoff to make the case to her sister.

Geoff has his own proposition for Alex. Thus far, his case of multiple sclerosis has been mild, but he’s unsure of his future. When his girlfriend pushes for a stronger commitment, he enlists Alex as his new pretend love interest so his girlfriend will break things off.

When they discover they actually are attracted to each, they agree to keep things casual, since Alex is only in town briefly and Geoff isn’t interested in anything serious. But fate intervenes as their feelings deepen. Alex must decide whether to relocate to Iowa from LA, and Geoff must place faith in his future.


Was this Graham McKenna? It had been almost a year since she’d last seen him. And then only briefly. She remembered the man being slightly taller and thinner.
His gait was slow, strained. He almost stumbled once, even stopped about ten feet from the door on which she’d pounded a few minutes prior.
When he bent, gripped his thighs, she shot from her car.

“Are you okay?”

He didn’t seem to hear at first, until she realized he was trying to catch his breath.

“Who’re you?” Voice slurred, he attempted another few steps, only to pull up again.

“Let me help you to the door.”

He hesitated briefly, then almost fell into her. Something jabbed her. Keys. He couldn’t be an intruder if he had keys; he had to be one of the McKennas. No time to debate whether she could trust him enough to go inside with him. The man needed help. “Okay if I unlock the door?”

He nodded.

He leaned heavily on her as they made their way into the building. Her white slacks would take a beating, but she didn’t have a choice. He seemed out of it, as if he’d been drugged. He indicated a light switch tucked away on the back wall. She flipped it, illuminating the cavern of a garage. A blue-and-black motor coach occupied the center of the room, although she barely noticed it as he veered off to the right. They came to an interior wall with three doors. “Other key.” He headed to the door closest to the front of the building.

She unlocked this inner door and helped him into the room, then located another light switch inside.

“Thanks,” he got out before he collapsed on the couch.

“You need a blanket.” By the time she’d retrieved an afghan from the back of the sofa, he was out. She covered him, then stepped away to study the man.

A real pretty boy. That type abounded in Los Angeles, her home territory. A long time ago, she’d learned the hard way to avoid the category. Too much into themselves.
She should probably take off and return later, because she was pretty sure this wasn’t Graham McKenna. She was no shrinking violet where men were concerned, but she was also savvy enough to realize lone women should not put themselves at risk around men they didn’t know. But he was so out of it, should she leave him on his own?

The Story Behind the Story

As I was well into drafting the second book of the “Matchmaking Motor Coach” series, Seduction on Wheels, I had one of those moments that changed the course of the third book. Originally, this was going to be the “Clause” series. I kept that concept for Book 1, The Sleepover Clause. Book 2 was going to be The Travel Clause and Book 3, this one, was tentatively titled The Escape Clause. But calling it The Clause Series just didn’t grab me; I thought some might confuse the books with Santa Claus. The Travel Clause just didn’t sound sexy enough. Seduction on Wheels told the reader exactly what the book was about.

With that thinking in mind, I decided The Escape Clause just wasn’t going to work for Book 3, because the clause was between my hero, Geoff McKenna, and his current girlfriend, Eileen Summers, not his new love interest, Alexandra Appleby. I actually started the book with this title, but as I developed the idea of the escape clause they would use to end their relationship, it rang flat. I wanted the title to focus on Geoff and Alex’s story. The agreement to keep whatever develops between them “casual” underlines the whole story, because they eventually reach a point where that no longer makes sense.

I’d also reached the point in the series evolution where I wasn’t quite sure how to incorporate the motor coach into the love story. It is a major character in Books 1 and 2, which dwell on finishing the coach’s interior and getting the finished coach back to California. The motor coach is never present in Book 3, yet it is still a central character as Alex tries to convince her stepsister to lease the coach to Alex’s client.

The Sleepover Clause takes place completely in Burlington, Iowa, my hometown. Seduction on Wheels starts in Burlington, but the last two-thirds of the story occur on the road trip between there and California. I decided to keep most of Keeping It Casual in Burlington again, except for a road trip Alex and Geoff take in the middle of the book to a small town near Sioux City, on the other side of the state. My husband’s hometown is near there; over the years, we’ve taken many a trip across I-80 and up I-29, so I had a pretty good feel for what my two passengers would see along the way.

The stop in Pella, before they even got to I-80, was a personal inclusion. My husband’s family is of Dutch heritage, so Pella is always a fun place to visit. Especially the bakeries. Yum. Fond memories of those Dutch letters.

Since Book 3 is the last in the series, at least at this time, I got to wrap things up at the end, and that includes the stories of Aubrey and Mitch and Jenna and Gray also. I hope my readers will be happy with this resolution of the Matchmaking Motor Coach story.