When her cheating ex absconds with their money, Jenna DiFranco returns to her concert career to support herself and her teenage daughter. But self-doubt has her skipping rehearsals and picking up men in bars to prove she’s still got it. When her daughter runs away to be with her aunt in Iowa, Jenna’s stress level puts her in a near catatonic state as she is about to take the child home. Fearing she won’t follow doctor’s orders for three weeks of rest, her family confines her to their home to prevent her from leaving.
Though he takes an immediate dislike to the tall blonde from L.A., Gray McKenna’s the one she turns to for friendship until her alter ego emerges and takes him to bed. With difficulty, he refuses, but he’s scared what else she might do if allowed to escape on her own, so he agrees to help her get away if she agrees to his conditions.
He keeps her money and phone and requires they return to California in the motor coach he and his brothers have customized for her concert tour. In turn, Jenna makes him promise no matter how much she might come on to him if her other self appears, he won’t follow through. Gray is a man who keeps his promises, even though he finds himself increasingly attracted to the damned woman. Something has to give. Someone has to give in.
She placed a hand on his cheek, then quickly removed it. “You’re a nice guy, in a testy sort of way. You’re not so bad to look at, either. But I can’t risk losing control again. Especially since we’ll be on the road so long.”
“Agreed.” Those condoms in the bottom of his duffle would just have to wait for another woman, another time.
“So I have my own stipulation.”
God, shades of Aubrey. They truly were related. “Oh? What’s that?”
“No matter what I do or say or how either one of us may feel at some point during this trip, no hankypanky. No cuddling, hugging, kissing, and especially, no sex.”
“You forgot handholding.” He kept his expression bland, though it tickled his ego she was worried about resisting him.
She took a step back. “I’m serious, Gray.”
“I get you. No sex. But for the sake of argument, what if I agree to your requirement and somewhere along the way west, one of us wants to drop it?”
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. “You’ve already told me how you feel about me, so that possibility is moot. Even if I got the hots for you— which won’t happen—but say it did, if it’s me and not my dark persona, I can’t allow myself to get serious about any man right now. Don’t know if I ever will again after what happened with Jerry.”
The Story Behind the Story
Seduction on Wheels is the second book in “The Matchmaking Motor Coach” series. The first book, The Sleepover Clause, introduces the reader to the three McKenna brothers of Burlington, Iowa–Mitch, the youngest and hero, Graham/Gray, the oldest and hero of this book, and Geoffrey/Geoff, whose story is currently in progress. A few years earlier, their father died, leaving them to deal with a mass of bills from his ill-fated RV business. The brothers left their careers and joined forces to reinvent their dad’s business into McKenna Custom Coaches. They customize luxury motor coaches for entertainers, sports figures, business tycoons, and others who can afford them.
In The Sleepover Clause, Aubrey Carpenter, an interior decorator who is hiding out from a project gone bad in LA, arrives in town to finish the interior of the coach her half sister, Jenna DiFranco, has purchased to restart her career as a concert pianist. Aubrey immediately tangles with Mitch, who has already begun to finish the coach’s interior. In the course of the story, Jenna’s daughter, Paige, disgruntled because her mother refuses to take her along on her tour, runs away from home and makes her way to Iowa to be with her aunt. At the end of the book, Jenna, also, comes to Iowa, to take her daughter back home.
At the beginning of the second book, the stress of reclaiming a runaway daughter, preparing to go back on the road after over a decade away from the business, and adjusting to life as a single parent whose former spouse made off with most of their money catches up with Jenna and she winds up at the hospital ER in something akin to a catatonic state. Her doctor advises three weeks of complete rest…in town. Jenna resists, feeling the pressure to return home to practice for her upcoming concert tour, so her family and the McKennas make her their “guest” in the McKenna home. But when it becomes apparent she’ll take off on her own at the first opportunity, the conspire to let her “escape” with one of them she thinks she’s talked into helping her. Though he’s taken an immediate dislike to the woman he deems high maintenance, Gray is the driver most likely. And so the journey west, in her own coach, begins.
As the set up for her exit continues, I spend that part of the book in Burlington, my home town in Southeast, Iowa on the Mississippi River, having a great time incorporating local landmarks into the story. I used the band shell, cannons and fountain in Crapo Park, which overlooks the River, the winding Snake Alley, next to the church where I grew up, and O’Connell Island, a sandbar in the River.
Although I’ve been to both California and Arizona in the past, I got there by air. I wanted to correctly reflect the topography of the road west, so last summer, my husband and I returned to our winter home in Florida from Iowa via Arizona. We took I-35 and I-40 and traveled through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona the same as Jenna and Gray. There is beautiful, raw country to be seen and admired on this route, although the traveler also views poverty and desolation in spots, plus traffic all the way. Probably my greatest surprise was the number of trucks on the road with us; shouldn’t have been that big a surprise, because this is one of the most heavily-traveled cross-country routes in the U.S.
The drive south from Flagstaff to Sedona along I-17 is breathtaking. I am so glad I wasn’t behind the wheel, because the road also scares me with the drop-offs and six-percent descents along the way. I used my queasiness and fright to describe Gray’s struggle to overcome his fear of mountain driving as they take the same.