Sunday, December 2, 2012

Madily in Love by Linda Lee Schab

All Madi Lee McCall wants is to fall madly in love again…
with her husband.

After a rough patch, Madi’s determined to get her marriage back on track. She’s even taking a romance class at church and getting great suggestions…that fail miserably. The distractions are plenty. She has just reentered the workplace as a health spa receptionist. Her 16-year-old daughter, Christina, is pushing the limits, and Christina’s twin, Max, has fallen hard for a girl who isn’t Madi’s picture of a perfect match for her son. Even younger daughter, Emily, is developing a teenager-ish attitude.

When her mother-in-law moves in—temporarily, of course—the stress starts to drive Madi a little crazier than normal. What she wants, more than anything, is some peace among the chaos.
About the Author:

Lynda Lee Schab got her writing start in greeting cards (Blue Mountain Arts, Dayspring) and from there went on to write articles and short stories (Mature Living, Christian Home & School) and in many places online. As a freelance writer, she works behind the scenes at and is a regular book reviewer for, as well as a staff writer for Both books in the Madi series have finaled or semi-finaled in various contests, including the ACFW Genesis, the FaithWriters Page Turner contest, and the RWA Get your Stiletto in the Door contest. Lynda admits she has a lot in common with the character of Madi. Not only are they both addicted to ice cream, chocolate, and computer games, they struggle with the same types of insecurities and continually require a hefty dose of God’s grace. Lynda lives with her husband, Rob, and two teenagers in Michigan.



Chapter One

 BUFFET: a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where diners generally serve themselves.

 TRANSLATION: Several enormous troughs from which  diners gorge on ridiculous amounts of food, then sit back, burp, and go up for seconds.

I hate buffets. Not only because I'm on a diet and the temptation to overindulge is irresistible, but because of what I'm witnessing right now. A five-year-old kid stands at eye level with the desserts and sneezes. He moves to the side, grabs a plate holding a brownie and races off. An elderly woman approaches and reaches for the cheesecake now decorated with kindergarten phlegm.

"That is so disgusting!" Christina, my sixteen-year-old daughter, says over my shoulder. "Tell me why we had to come to this place again?"

 I sigh. "You know why."

Our heads turn in the direction of my seventy-five-year-old mother-in-law, Nancy. She and my husband, Rich, stand in front of metal pans stuffed with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and rolls. Nancy holds her plate with her right hand and shoves a handful of butter pats into her cardigan pocket with her left.

"Mother!" Horror darkens Christina’s eyes. "Don't let her do that. How embarrassing." She turns a light shade of pink and glances at her friend Brittany.

Brittany smiles. "I know, right? My grandma is a cheapskate, too. My mom says it’s a result of being poor when she was younger. You should see my grandma’s basement. She has these shelves stockpiled with hundreds of items she’ll never use. But she feels better knowing they’re there."

"It's not fair." Christina whines. "Going out to eat on the last day of school is our family tradition. Why should Grandma have a say in where we go? The rest of us voted for Clementine’s."

My mouth waters at the thought of Clementine's famous onion rings and Sweet Baby Ray's Ribs. Christina has a valid point, but she's apparently forgotten the conversation we all had before piling into the van. Nancy had insisted that Clementine's does bad things to her digestive system. The thought of being trapped in a cramped van during Nancy's intestinal attack was enough for us to comply with her wishes. I offer Christina a sympathetic look. "I know you're disappointed, sweetie. We'll go to Clementine's soon, I promise."

"Whatever." She graces me with an eye roll before she and Brittany trudge off toward the salad bar.

It’s been four months since my mother-in-law took a nasty fall on the ice and came from Cleveland to live with us in South Haven, Michigan. While she'd definitely needed extra care for the first month or two, let's just say I've come to realize that Nancy is an expert milker. And I'm not talking cows. Taking her in was the right thing to do, of course, even if she's wearing out her welcome. And my patience. Rich promises it won't be much longer, but that's what he said two months ago.

"Mom, come on." My youngest daughter, ten-year-old Emily, tugs at my arm and I stumble forward. "Can I start with dessert?" Hopeful blue eyes plead her case.

"Um, no, you may not. Dessert comes after dinner, missy."

 Her face falls. "It was worth a try."

I can't help grinning. "And by the way, no cheesecake, okay?"

She wrinkles her nose. "Yuck. I'm having ice cream. With tons of toppings."

"After dinner," I remind her.

We make our way to the back of the line and by the time we reach the food, my stomach is rumbling from the hodgepodge of aromas that fill the air.

We're here. Might as well make the most of it.

Erasing Sneezy Boy from my mind, I pile my plate with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese, and two rolls. I reach the end of the main feeding trough, scanning the pans for something to fill the tiny space remaining on my plate. I plop a dollop of stuffing between my potatoes and rolls. As I turn to make my way back toward the table, a figure looms in front of me.

I jump.

"Hello, Madison."

A cringe threatens to emerge, so I automatically plaster on a smile. It's Claudia Boeve. Claudia is the always perfectly put-together leader of the Losing Means Winning Workshop. She also heads up a handful of other classes at church that she's constantly begging me to attend. My gaze travels to her plate, which holds a small pile of lettuce, a few carrots and cucumbers, and a side cup of what appears to be Italian dressing. Fat free, I'm sure.

She follows suit and looks down at my plate, overflowing with fat, grease, starch, and lots of fructose corn syrup. Her face registers an eleven on the Disgust-O-Meter. She's probably thinking I'd be better off holding a plate full of lard.

Where is the nearest table to crawl under?

"Claudia. I'm surprised to see you here. I thought you steered clear of buffets." I smile, attempting to lighten the mood.

"Buffets aren't bad, Madison. It's just a matter of discipline and self-control. You know, making the right choices." Her gaze travels again to my plate.

Over her shoulder, Claudia's six-year-old son stuffs a handful of popcorn shrimp into his mouth. He watches his mother out of the corner of his eye, no doubt worried she'll turn around and see him making—as she says—bad choices. I bite my lip to keep from laughing. Guess that goes to show you that kids are kids.

"Well, I'd better get back to my family. Nice to see you." I wait for my nose to start growing.

She sidesteps, blocking my way. "You might be interested to know I'm starting up another Revitalize Your Marriage with Romance workshop at church, a week from Tuesday. I'd love for you to come."

Ah, yes. Of course. Another workshop. I remember seeing an email about this class several months ago. It came when Rich and I were experiencing some major marriage issues. Even my therapist, Sarah Price, suggested I attend, if only to get some ideas on putting the spice back into my then-fizzling relationship with Richard. At the time, I couldn't make myself go. Maybe it's because I didn't want to admit to the likes of Claudia that Rich and I needed more romance in our marriage. Or maybe it was because the thought of Claudia giving me romance advice would be like accepting sex tips from Mother Theresa. Claudia's and my personalities clash worse than my mother-in-law's striped cardigan and paisley pants.

Claudia purses her lips and raises her eyebrows, clearly waiting for an answer.

"Oh, um, I don't know... I don't think Rich and I really need—”

She holds up a French manicured hand. "Rest assured, we're by no means implying that your marriage is in trouble. Even couples who have fabulous relationships can learn something new, right?" She flashes her veneers. "Dave is heading up the guys’ class and I'll be teaching the ladies. Totally separate rooms, to avoid embarrassment or discomfort. As I'm sure you're aware, men and women have different ideas about romance. And this will allow us to discuss gender-related things more freely. It’s only four weeks. Three weeks of individual classes that take us up to Independence Day, and then one final joint get-together-slash-couples-party a week after the Fourth. Those four weeks are guaranteed to change your life."

Hmmm. "I'll think about it."

She cocks her head. "Don't take too long to decide, Madison. Class starts in just over a week." She nods and walks off to eat her one-calorie dinner.

Back at the table, I take a seat next to Rich. Christina and Brittany are checking out a couple of cute busboys clearing the next table over, one who resembles our pastor’s son, Luke. Wait. It is Luke. I raise my hand to call out and say hi, but my arm is quickly slammed to the table.

“Don’t you dare, Mother,” Christina hisses. “You’ll embarrass me.”

I glare at my daughter as I rub my elbow where it connected with the corner of the table. “That was totally uncalled for, Christina. You’re embarrassing yourself by acting like an
eight-year-old brat.”

“Whatever.” She glances back, but Luke has moved on to a table across the room. “Great. Thanks a lot. Now he’s gone.” She and Brittany put their heads together and start whispering, keeping their eyes trained on Luke.

I take a bite of corn and turn my attention to my other two children. Christina's twin, Max, is playfully trying to talk his girlfriend Sam, a newly proclaimed vegetarian, into taking a bite of roast beef. Emily is polishing off her macaroni and cheese like she hasn't eaten in days. She pushes her plate away and races off for more. I tune in to the conversation between Nancy and Rich. Something about senior discounts.

My eyes are drawn to the pocket of Nancy's tan sweater, where a three-inch circular grease mark is visible.

"Nancy, you've got a stain on your cardigan." I point.

"Oh dear." She reaches into her pocket and pulls out several semi-melted butter pats.

Rich frowns. "We have butter at home, Mom."

"Well, we paid for them. Just trying to get my money's worth."

"I'm pretty sure the dinner price only includes what we can eat here at the restaurant. Not whatever we can fit in our pockets," Rich says with a chuckle.

Nancy clucks her tongue. "For the amount of money they charge, we're entitled to a few extras." She swipes at the spot a couple of times before going back to her mashed potatoes.

Rich and I exchange glances. "I'm sure it will come out in the wash, Nancy. I'll put some stain remover on it when we get home,” I say.

We make small talk over dinner. About twenty minutes later, I look at Emily, who's now digging into a gigantic sundae covered with sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate, and candy bar pieces. I shake my head. I'm tempted to go get a dish of ice cream myself, but muster up some of the self-control Claudia mentioned and resist. It's almost bathing suit season and those last five pounds aren't going to fall off by themselves.

Now that summer vacation has officially begun, maybe things will settle down. No more homework or dance lessons or band concerts. Perhaps Rich and I can actually spend more than an hour of interrupted time together. With Nancy staying with us, and the kids' endless activities, we could definitely stand to focus more on us. Maybe we can even start tonight. A leisurely bath, a spritz of Rich's favorite perfume, soft music, and then...

"Mommy?" Emily's quiet voice breaks into my thoughts. "I don’t feel so good." Her face is as white as the yard blanketed with snow last Christmas. She clutches her stomach.

I’ve seen that expression a dozen times before. Springing into action, I grab my purse, tell Rich to meet us at the car, and whisk Emily up out of her seat, cutting a path through the diners like a Tasmanian devil. We push through the doors and into the parking lot, and I shove Emily in front of a large metal trash can that doubles as an ashtray. I recoil as two plate’s worth of food and a giant ice cream sundae reappear, this time looking a lot less appetizing.

What a romantic life I lead.

Purchase Books at:
Lynda's Website  (signed copies at a discount)
Lynda Lee Schab is giving away a copy of Madily in Love. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


cjajsmommy said...

Oh my, that excerpt -- I can sooo relate! And that's all I'll say. I'd love to win a copy of "Madily in Love." djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Read the exerpt from this book and it sounds delightful, light and very positive. I would love to enter for the drawing. As church librarian I am always looking for new authors. I see you started out writing greeting cards with Blue Mountain. I have used their ecards and regular cards for years.God Bless you for "Madly In Love"!!!Pat Hines -

Merry said...

Thanks for a peek at Madily in Love.
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Would love a chance of winning one of your books! Nat

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Linda Kish said...

I would love to win/read this book. It sounds terrific.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a good book to read. Please enter me in the drawing. Maxie ( )

Amy R.S. said...

Buffets. I love and loathe them. Please enter me. Thanks.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Nancee said...

Thank you for the preview of "Madily in Love!" It looks like a great story, and I love the fact that it is based in Michigan. Thanks for offering this contest!

apple blossom said...

thanks for chance to win

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Teela said...

PLEASE PLEASE PICK ME, PICK ME!!! I so want to read Lynda Lee's Book!!!

KayM said...

I love the titles in this series--makes me think the books would be fun to read!

Lynda Lee Schab said...

ACK! So sorry I haven't stopped by before now. Thank you so much to everyone who entered to win a copy of my latest book and for the very kind words. I look forward to seeing who wins!

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