by Maggie McConnell
GENRE: Contemporary romance (romantic comedy)
Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce to die for. But Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen after a “bit of trouble” at her last job. Now blacklisted from Seattle to San Francisco, Daisy’s sole job offer is from Wild Man Lodge in Otter Bite, Alaska, where the end of the road is just her beginning.
Max cocked his head at her. No siree, Bob. Daisy Moon was not easy. She was like a 1500 piece puzzle, where all the pieces are really tiny, and similar in shape and color, but are nonetheless different, and it would take weeks, maybe even months, just to get the edges put together.
“Don’t look so surprised,” she said. “I know I’m not exactly laid back. Okay, maybe that’s being kind,” she responded to Max’s smile. “But I’m an incredible cook. And a really good speller. Not to mention having a humongous vocabulary. I came in fourth in the national spelling bee championship when I was fourteen.”
Without meaning to, Max pictured Daisy at fourteen, in a prim white blouse and a demure plaid skirt with her hair tied back in a ribbon, triumphantly spelling words like…concupiscence.
“Do I know what men want, or what?” Now Daisy smiled…at herself.
Taking the cue, Max leaned into her and spoke sincerely, but resisted the urge to cup her hand.
“Somewhere there is a man who wants a pretty redhead who’s difficult and a great cook with a really humongous vocabulary who can spell…and next time it won’t be a cross-dressing felon.”
Welcome, Maggie. Please tell us a little about yourself.
My bio contains the official (nutshell) version of me. But here are some things not mentioned. During college, I worked as a go-go girl. About that same time, I made bi-weekly appearances on an ABC children’s show called Cactus Pete’s Funny Company. I would bring an adoptable dog or cat from the humane shelter where I volunteered and find homes for them. I once organized a fundraiser with pool great, Minnesota Fats. Before moving to Alaska, I owned a women’s weightlifting gym called The Body Shop. In Alaska, I waitressed at the legendary Mr. Whitekeys’ Fly-By-Night club before I found a “professional” job. I once served 18 months on a Federal grand jury. I adopted my first horse when I was 38; when we went out on trail, I strapped “bear bells” around one of his legs so the bears could hear us coming. I dislocated my right shoulder from a fall while skiing. I’m a (retired) marathon runner. I’ve been a blonde (natural color), brunette, and redhead. I can operate a John Deere tractor. I can relocate rattlesnakes without harming them. I love jewelry and art. I don’t have a tattoo, but I really want one. Can anyone give me encouragement/advice?
Is Spooning Daisy a single title, or part of a series?
It’s the first in a series of books set in Otter Bite, Alaska. The series is a little unusual in that the setting is as equally important as the characters. You might say, the setting is a character as well. While we see some of the same people/animal characters from book to book, the stories aren’t necessarily related (as they might be in a series about a specific family or group of friends).
What were your inspirations for the story?
The original idea (and opening scene) was inspired by my own garage sale, right down to the sheets covering the makeshift plywood tables and the silver-plated chafing dish. As the day progressed, I started thinking “what if…” and the book was born. The primary location of the story, Otter Bite, Alaska is inspired by the very real Kachemak Bay village of Seldovia where I spent summers during my 23 years living in Anchorage. Anyone interested in learning more about this special place can visit Seldovia.com .
When did the writing bug first bite?
Around seven, with a very short story about a donkey, which I also illustrated. So even then I had a Gemini’s inclination for diversity. I haven’t been blessed with a “singular purpose” in life although I do have a few “constants.” That 7-year-old has never stopped writing. Over the years, I’ve taken writing courses, completed manuscripts, attended conferences, entered contests—You Had Me at Habari, set in Kenya, was a 2012 Golden Heart finalist. Now I take one page at a time.
You mention a few “constants” in addition to writing. What are they?
As early as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity with animals. In my family, I was the one who had the menagerie—birds, mice, fish, turtles, hamsters, bunnies, dogs, and cats. If I could get it at Woolworths (I’m dating myself now!) I had it. But that love grew and changed into a philosophy that today I live by. The more I learned about the exploitation of animals, the less I could be complacent and participate in that abuse. Peter Singer’s eye-opening book, Animal Liberation, was a huge influence. Forty years ago, when I became a vegetarian, there was so little public awareness about the cruelty of factory farming; I had to constantly explain why I wasn’t eating animals.
Through the years, I’ve witnessed a positive shift in the public consciousness about animals and also the environment. Two years ago, I became a vegan, which means no dairy. Now, my life has come full circle; living on a ranch, I again have a menagerie—two horses, a dog, a cat and a cornucopia of wild critters.
Do animals influence your writing?
My main characters always have some connection to and affection for animals. In Spooning Daisy, both Daisy and Max have animal companions—revealing more would spoil the surprise. I also like to include a variety of animal characters—domesticated and wild—so that the same dog and cat aren’t always showing up. My animal characters have a role to play; they aren’t there for decoration. Just as I learn from my animals, my hero and heroine learn from theirs.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a PBS junkie, although between ranch and writing I don’t have much spare time. I’m a sucker for everything English, Scottish, and Irish (In fact, I’ve visited England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia). I’m currently hooked on The Great British Baking Show, which sadly, is about to end. Also LOVE Grantchester (not your mom’s vicar!), Call the Midwife, Nature, A Place to Call Home, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, Father Brown, The Coroner, and Murder in Paradise, Last Tango in Halifax, My Mother and Other Strangers, Home Fires, and assorted documentaries that catch my interest AND are often the source of the trivia that appears in my books. If I ever have real spare time again, I love to travel, probably a carryover from my childhood overseas.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
I suppose it would be a rattlesnake climbing a tree. While there are snakes that live in trees, rattlesnakes don’t normally go there. I was in awe. I took a video of this one and posted it on my personal Facebook page.
Any ironies in your life?
I’m not keen on flying and yet I’ve been flying, in all types of aircraft, for over 50 years. For some reason I’ve been surrounded by pilots from my father to boyfriends and finally a husband, son-in-law, and stepson. I can even pilot a plane and yet, I’m not happy in the air.
When you look at your life, what do you think will be your greatest accomplishment?
I hope it will be that I lived courageously, without regrets, and I made a positive contribution.
Thank you for hosting Spooning Daisy!
This book is not what I was expecting. Nope, not all. The tropes are there for me; boss/employee, enemies to lovers (?), and opposites attract but at times I felt like the romance wasn’t there. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Daisy and Max in spades but at times, their romance seemed a little off to me. The comedy is there. The tragic comedy, oh my, is in spades, too. But I felt like the ending is a bit rushed. I would have liked a more solid ending to their romance.
Let me explain…when I read opposites attract or for that matter, an enemies to lovers story, I expect some romance from them. Now, the scenes on the ferry, at least to me, are the true romance parts of the books. This is where Max and Daisy get to know each other and its enduring. Daisy has got some quirks. Like some serious quirks but Max isn’t without his, too. But we don’t get see his until later. True that Max does something that I almost couldn’t forgive him for and for awhile Daisy doesn’t. I loved that she really gave it to him afterward but in the end, Max truly did romance Daisy on the boat.
The tragedies that Daisy had to endure were almost too much. The garage sale and bar scene were PERFECT. I loved that not only was her ex-involved but his new girlfriend, too. Which happened to be Max’s ex-flavor of the month. The dialogue between the four of them is priceless and unfortunately, it doesn’t end well for Max or Daisy. Or when she thought Elizabeth as on a plane. Honestly, my heart was in my throat during that. And yes, I won’t tell you about Elizabeth and I loved her. Again, I expected something else. Nice touch, Ms. McConnell.
Charity, Rita, and Maeve are great secondary characters. They rounded out Max and Daisy when they were having problems with one another. Otter Bite is a character within itself. I can’t wait to get to know it better in future books. I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the inn that Max owns. Wow…once it is revealed to the extent of what the inn means to Max and his guests, I was totally blown away. I just wish I knew about it sooner. I felt like if Daisy knew about it, her feelings would have changed sooner, too.
Overall, I loved Daisy and Max. The book flowed really well and the sex is off the page. Oh, we get the build up but then fade to black. This story didn’t need it. Daisy and Max had some major “growing up” to do in the book for it to work out for them in the end. Daisy especially with all of her quirks and the robbery. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You won’t be sorry.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood overseas as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local humane shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes dog Molly, cat Sara, horses Quinn and Teena, and an ever-growing dynasty of chipmunks. Every year, like the Gray Whale, Maggie returns to Alaska.
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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:
Maggie McConnell will be offering 1) Nordstrom “Daisy” vegan leather clutch, 2) Nordstrom turtle pin, or 3) Rebecca Minkoff star pendant/necklace to 3 randomly drawn winners (US only; international winners will receive a $25 Amazon/BN GC).