**About author, Cat Lavoie: Cat lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat Abbie. She is the author of BREAKING THE RULES, ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN and PERI IN PROGRESS.
If Cat isn’t reading or writing, she’s most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.
Blurb: You know what they say about best-laid plans…
After a disastrous thirty-first birthday party where she gets stood-up by a man she isn’t supposed to be dating, Peri McKenna decides it’s time to change what hasn’t been working—which is pretty much everything. Her love life is going nowhere fast, she’s bored to tears by a job that makes her the office pariah, and the lifelong junk food addiction that used to be somewhat quirky is now positively problematic. To top it all off, her newly-purchased home is falling apart and wishful thinking hasn’t done much to fix the leaky roof.
It’s time be an adult now that she’s officially ‘thirty-something.’
But when the first step of Peri’s self-improvement plan backfires, she starts to wonder if change might be overrated.
Enter Milo Preston, an up-and-coming chef who’s in town to take over a local restaurant. When Peri and Milo begin working together, she finds it hard to ignore his easy charm and captivating emerald-green eyes. Since Milo is her best friend’s estranged brother, Peri has to keep reminding herself that he is completely off-limits. As they grow closer, Milo introduces Peri to new foods, the joy (and pain) of jogging, and makes her think her luck might finally be turning.
But when the past catches up with them, Peri finds herself back at square one. Will she be able to sort herself out—or will the roof cave in on her once and for all?
Describe your new book, PERI IN PROGRESS, in five words: Picky eater meets sexy Chef.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? As long as I can remember. When I was in grade school I used to beg my teacher to let me stay indoors during recess so I could read and I always dreamed of writing my own novels.
Tell us about your writing/editing/publishing process for your books? I’m a very (very!) slow writer, so it takes me forever to finish a first draft. The only good thing about spending so much time on my first draft is that it (usually) ends up being in pretty good shape. I’ll go through some self-edits before sending it to beta-readers. After more edits, I send it over to my publisher.
Is the social media a help or a hinder? Social media is definitely a huge help. I love connecting with readers and other writers… It can also hinder the process, though. I’ve been known to procrastinate on Facebook and Instagram when I should be writing!
Salty or sweet? Can I have both? I love a good salty/sweet combo like potato chips and milk chocolate. Yum!
What is a day like in Cat Lavoie’s world? On a typical weekday, I’ll wake up at 5.30 in the morning and get ready for work. (I’m a health claims analyst for an insurance company.) I’ll sometimes catch up on emails and social media on the bus and subway.
During my lunch break, I try to work on my WIP or blog posts. (Anything to bring a bit of the “dream job” to the sometimes dreary work day.)
My best friend and I work in the same office, so we usually go out for a bite to eat after the day is done. After that, I head home to Abbie the cat and after all the boring chores are done, I get to catch up on some TV, make progress on my WIP and read. (How I wish I could squeeze in a few more hours in the day for all that fun stuff!)
If you could meet any author, who would it be? That is a tough one. I’d have to pick Sophie Kinsella because she’s the reason I started writing chick lit. I would have a total fan girl moment if I ever met her.
What are the similarities and differences between you and Peri? I’m not as big of a picky eater as Peri—but I am definitely picky… and I’m also a fan of junk food! I also think we’re both hopeless romantics. That being said, I don’t think I’d ever let anyone convince me to start jogging—not even chef Milo!
Do you have any writing rituals? Apart from getting something to drink—either coffee or water—and snacks, I have a notebook that needs to be on my desk at all times when I write. It has notes, scene outlines, and book-related to-do list. I would be lost without it and I need to check it before I start writing.
Every writer must have: Awesome writerly friends who can provide advice, encouragement, and support at all hours of the day. I’ve met some amazing people in online writing groups and I’ve learned so much from them over the years.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully, I won’t have run out of ideas and I’ll still be writing. Perhaps I’ll be working part-time at the day job so I can devote more time to my books. I’ve been dreaming of going to Scotland for a long time so, if all goes well, I’ll have enough research notes from that trip to set a novel there.
What are you working on right now? I’m working on my fourth chick lit novel. Like my last two books, it’s going to be set in the fictional town of Messina. It’s too early to go into detail about the story, but I can reveal that my main character is very different from any of my other leading ladies. I’m having a lot of fun with it!
“Hi, is this Peri?”
I knew that voice. It belonged to the man who’d made the chocolate mousse I could still taste on my tongue if I closed my eyes. Why in the world was Milo Preston calling me? “Yes?” I answered, as if I wasn’t sure of my own name.
“How’s it going? This is Milo. From the Messina Grill. Elsa’s brother.”
I nodded but then realized he couldn’t see me. “Yes. How are you?”
“Great. Thanks again for coming to the opening last night. My mom told me you’re a bit of a picky eater, but she said you were a great sport about trying new things.”
I almost dropped the phone. Thanks for embarrassing me, Sylvia. Did she also tell her gorgeous son that I made a fool of myself by declaring my love to a man who pretended he barely knew my name? I moved the phone away from my face for a few seconds and took a deep breath. Sylvia’s over-sharing was not her son’s fault. He was probably going to call and thank everybody who showed up last night. It was a kind gesture. “The food was great. I’d never tried goat’s cheese before, and now I really I like it,” I lied.
“That’s awesome. You really know what to say to flatter a chef. Listen, I wasn’t just calling to thank you for coming . . .”
“Oh.” There goes my theory.
“This is a bit awkward,” he continued. “But my mom told me about what happened with your boss and boyfriend and . . .”
Oh. No. No. No. Sylvia, how could you? I felt like hanging up. Messina was a small town, but there had to be something more newsworthy going on than my pathetic love life. A noise that sounded like a growl escaped my mouth before I could stop it. “Your mother sure is a chatty one.”
Milo laughed. “Yes, and I apologize. Ever since I came back, it’s like she’s been trying to tell me every single thing that’s happened to everyone in the last ten years. Most of the time, she talks about people I don’t know or care about, but I just sit and listen to make her happy. However, I perked up when she mentioned your current predicament.”
“Did you now?” I asked. “One person’s misery is another person’s entertainment, I guess.” I meant it as a joke, but it came out bitter and sad. I suddenly felt tired and wanted nothing more than to take a nap. An exhausting conversation with my mother followed by an awkward conversation with a stranger had drained the life out of me.
“I think that came out wrong. I’m sorry,” Milo said. “It’s just that . . . I need your help.”
The line was silent for about thirty seconds. “Go on,” I finally said.
Milo cleared his throat. “I don’t know if you noticed yesterday but we were understaffed. Sam, my boss, was going crazy in the kitchen.”
And then I lied again when I said, “I didn’t notice anything.”
“Sam would be happy to hear that. But he’s too busy freaking out over the fact that one of our waitresses quit after her shift yesterday. And another quit this morning. We need to replace them as soon as possible. And that’s where you come in.”
“Yes, you. I hear you don’t have a job right now. Would you like one? The pay is not great and the conditions aren’t much better. But you get to work with me and eat some free food now and again. How’s that for an offer you can’t refuse?”
I got up from the bed and paced to the other side of the room. My head was spinning. I’d never worked in the food industry before and had no idea what it took to be a good waitress. I was used to paperwork and cubicles and good old Jeff as my boss—not some hotshot chef who happened to be my best friend’s brother. He probably had groupies waiting for him outside the restaurant and maybe he’d even ask me to collect phone numbers for him. Chefs were the new rock stars now, or so I’d read in a few magazines. “It’s an offer I can definitely refuse,” I answered. “I don’t have any experience being a waitress. I’m sorry.”
“Hmmm,” Milo said. “I still think I should interview you for the position anyway. First question: do you own a pair of black dress pants?”
“Yes,” I said, annoyed. Why couldn’t this guy take no for an answer?
“Okay. This next one is kind of tough. Do you own a white blouse-type garment?”
“Good. This is going really well. Last question. Could you resist the urge to drop a bowl of steaming hot soup in a client’s lap if he called you ‘Darling’ or ‘Sweetheart’ or left a two dollar tip on a fifty dollar tab?”
I laughed despite myself. “Yes, I probably could.”
“Well, then—you’re hired. Congratulations, Peri McKenna! Come on down to the Messina Grill and claim your prize,” he said in his best game show announcer voice.
I shook my head. “Milo . . .”
“Listen,” he said, his voice suddenly serious. “Of course I’d love to hire a person who has experience, but there’s no time. We need you tomorrow. And this is just temporary until we can find someone else who actually wants to work with us. I’m aware I’ve completely bullied you into this. But Sam and I would be so grateful. What do you say?”
If Milo Preston ever felt like a career change, he could surely be a lawyer. He was persistent, a little bit cocky, and he seemed to love the sound of his own voice. Truth be told, I sort of liked it too—because it reminded me of Declan.
“Okay,” I said, against my better judgment. “I’ll be there.”
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