Relationships are complicated even under the best of circumstances. For Varda Dorfman and Tommy Campi, these are the worst of times. Varda, an illegal foods smuggler, has pissed off Anthony Carluccio, the kingpin of the local underground dinner club, and put her plans for the future in serious jeopardy. Her boyfriend Gino won't quit bugging her to get married, even though his mother hates her. Tommy, Gino's brother and the ladies man of the family, can't even introduce the love of his life to anyone: he's secretly gay and dating the son of Carluccio's biggest competition. And now Tommy's getting pressure to go public.
When Carluccio's hit man turns up dead in Varda's closet after snacking on poisonous mushrooms, all hell breaks loose. Varda's running for her life, and since his mother is dating Carluccio, Gino's convinced the only way to save her life is to finally drag her to the altar. And when people start discovering Tommy's hush-hush relationship, things really start to get interesting.
Chasing Fools is not a normal genre for Fictional Candy. However, I have read another book of Aida's, Between Seasons, and I fell in love with it. Aida Brassington is a terrific writer, and after reading more about this book, there was no doubt I wanted to feature it on Fictional Candy. So sit back a spell, check out the excerpt and enter the giveaway! And also check out my review of Between Seasons!
Let’s pretend I’m hosting a potluck dinner party at Fictional Candy. You’re invited, of course. What do you bring? My guess is it won’t be something odd . . . like lightly poached platypus egg on brioche round along with aerated artichoke and Mangalitsa ham. Right? This is exactly one of the courses served at an underground dinner club in my new novel CHASING FOOLS. Weird, sure. But that’s what you get when the main character is Varda Dorfman, an illegal foods smuggler looking to get out of the business to become an artisan cheesemaker and settle down with her long-term boyfriend, Gino Campi.
Thanks to Liz, you get an excerpt from CHASING FOOLS and a chance to win a copy of this genre mashup (dark comedy, family drama, romance, and suspense). In this scene Varda and Gino have just returned from dinner at Gino’s mother’s house, and Gino is begging Varda to marry him for the millionth time while her mind is on a mushroom foraging trip the next day:
“It’s just a piece of paper that’ll change nothing between us. I love you with everything I am, but getting married won’t somehow turn me into one of those schmoopy girls who meets you at the door with a roast or gets your name tattooed on her ass.”
“If you did either of those things, I’d worry for your sanity . . . and mine, because if I wanted a chick like that, I’d have married someone from the neighborhood. You really want to make Ma nuts, by the way, say yes and then demand I convert to Judaism. We’ll have the wedding in a synagogue. We can stomp on the glass. I’ll even wear the beanie.” His chuckle floated up to her from a lower step, his fingers clutching at her hips.
Varda fought a grin. “Nope. Not gonna happen. Although you would look hot in a yarmulke.”
She clicked on the light in their bedroom, a broad space dotted with photographs of the two of them and painted the color of herbs. A new crack in the wall plaster wandered to the wide window next to her side of the bed.
Varda turned and hurled herself into Gino’s arms. He was warm, her nose buried in the hollow of his neck. They called a silent end to the argument, his cheek resting against the top of her head. His lips touched down on her hair before releasing her.
“I have to hit Fairmount Park tomorrow.” She removed Gino’s silver band from the index finger of her right hand—the closest he’d get to putting any kind of ring on her—and set it in the brown ceramic bowl she used for storage. It nestled next to her parents’ wedding jewelry. She’d planted their rings there after the funeral, comforting talismans to ward off the loneliness of having no family . . . again.
She’d been a baby at the time of adoption, so she had no recollections of being given up, but it still bugged her now and then, like she’d forgotten what she had to buy at the grocery store while stalking down the produce aisle. It felt a little like heartburn, truth be told. Sometimes she pretended it was.
Gino was her family now—legally obligated or not—and Tommy was like the little brother she’d never wanted.
“Who you taking with you, mami?” His shoes came off first, each heel thudding on the bare wood floor, followed by socks.
Varda flung her shirt onto the black chair in the corner of the room and fumbled with the button on her pants. “I’m not sure yet, but call me mami again and I might not come back. I’ll run off with the nice Jewish boy your mother’s conjuring for me.”
“Well, don’t go out there alone,” he said. Not like she’d ever leave him, and he knew it. Gino shed his own shirt, hanging it carefully in the shallow closet. “Place is full of freaks, and that’s putting it nicely.”
Just last week the police found three guys wearing gimp masks and body latex cavorting around the grounds of Chamounix Mansion. Far be it from her to poo-poo the sexual peccadilloes of anyone, but that was more than a little odd. Definitely not something she wanted to witness with her own eyes—she’d had enough of seeing terrible things. And, of course, she’d had to endure Tommy’s vivid imagination about the kinds of things Anthony and Flora might get up to, which was nightmare-inducing. She’d probably wake up screaming in a few hours.
CHASING FOOLS is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon
Aida Brassington lives in northeast Pennsylvania. She loves to eat and cook, and was inspired to write CHASING FOOLS by her experiences smuggling illegal cheese into the country from France (small amounts, of course—she has never held a job as an illegal foods smuggler). Her best-selling debut novel, BETWEEN SEASONS, has consistently garnered 4 and 5 star reviews and been called “intriguing,” “compelling,” and “surprising.” You can find her online at her website, Twitter, and Goodreads.
BETWEEN SEASONS, available in paperback and ebookBuy now: Amazon
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