In this fourth book of the Totlandia series, summer sizzles with lies, lawsuits, and love affairs. Will our moms—and dads—be able to take the heat?
As summer sizzles in Totlandia, emotions boil over for the newest members of Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club, whose trust in each other is sorely tempted by Bettina and her club politics.
When Jillian’s vindictive joke backfires, she learns the true meaning of forgiveness.
Jade’s betrayal puts her in a dangerous downward spiral with no bottom in sight—until she finds friendship and redemption where she least expects it.
Lorna faces the biggest trial in her marriage, and makes an important decision that may end it for good.
While Ally may regret the choices she made to get accepted in the club, her exile puts new opportunities in her path, thanks to Brady and his ceaseless desire to win her over—with Barry’s help, who is playing his own little game with the Top Moms Committee.
But it’s Bettina who suffers the ultimate punishment—one that changes her life, and the livelihood of the club, forever.
“Ally Thornton, a word, please.” The chill in Bettina’s voice sent a shiver up Ally’s spine.
She scanned the faces of the other women confronting her: the malicious Mallory Wicket, the clueless Sally Dunder, and the heartless Joanna Blunt.
And then there was Kimberley Savitch.
Brady admitted to Ally that he seduced Kimberley in order to ensure Oliver’s place in the club. Lately, Jade and Kimberley had become good friends, so Ally presumed Jade was clueless about the affair.
The smirk on Kimberley’s face told her all she needed to know: the day she had dreaded had finally come.
The club’s leaders had learned her secrets.
Bettina lived for the fear and trepidation of others. That women quaked in their Louboutins at the sight of her was proof of her power over them.
Granted, Ally Thornton was wearing sneakers now, but that didn’t matter because the effect was the same:
She was scared.
Bettina was tempted to prolong her victim’s agony. How easy it would be to tease Ally with questions tinged with suspicion, to taunt her with vague hints of her hidden life!
But no. Squashing this interloper like a cockroach under her heel was the way to go. It would set the ultimate example:
You cannot cross Bettina Connaught Cross.
Ally forced her lips into a smile, but the effect wasn’t at all what she’d hoped.
Bettina’s eyes narrowed as she bared her teeth. “It has come to our attention that you aren’t who you say you are. That you felt compelled to lie about the fact that you are employed, and that you aren’t even married, albeit you’ve hired some sort of ‘beard’ in order to join the club. Are these allegations true?”
Bettina’s declaration was loud and proud. She wanted all the other club members to hear it, too.
Needless to say, the heads of all the other PHM&T mothers turned toward Ally. Their faces showed one of two emotions: sympathy for Bettina’s latest victim, or relief that they weren’t in Ally’s shoes.
For now, anyway.
“Yes. It’s true,” Ally answered. She was surprised at how steady she was able to keep her voice.
“My God! So, you admit to this disgracefully loathsome behavior.” Bettina’s tone couldn’t have been any more menacing if she’d cornered a burglar in her four-year-old daughter, Lily’s, bedroom. “Shame, shame, shame on you, Ally Thornton! I feel…sullied. And my poor, hardworking vetting committee is bereft. Why, just look at them!”
In truth, the knowing smiles on the women’s faces proved they were anything but. In fact, they seemed titillated.
“I presume you realize you’re no longer welcome in PHM&T,” Bettina sneered.
Ally nodded. She looked at her friends. It comforted her to see the concern on their faces.
Jade stood just beyond them. In the mere second their eyes met, the look on Jade’s face went from triumph to shame and back again.
Ah, so this is Jade’s payback.
In the grand scheme of things, the persona Ally had so carefully crafted out of heartfelt parenting and a few fibs shouldn’t have mattered. But it did—because from now on, she’d be infamous as the single working mother who had faked her way into the Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club.
And Zoe would bear the brunt of it.
Ally’s tears blinded her as she rolled her daughter’s carriage down the hill.
“Please, Ally, wait!” Lorna’s voice followed Ally all the way down the hill.
But she was too ashamed to stop.
A truck rounding the corner and blaring its horn as it barely missed her convinced her otherwise.
She was still shaking when Jillian and Lorna reached her. Jillian grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the curb. “Please don’t be mad at us, too.”
“I’m…I’m not. I just had to get out of there.” Even now, Ally could still feel the stares of the other mothers drilling a hole in the back of her head. No doubt the cackling laughter coming from the top of the hill was at her expense, too.
She steeled herself before turning around. Just beyond Lorna and Jillian, she saw Jade running toward her, too.
Angrily, Ally shook her head. “I don’t believe it!”
Ally waited until Jade came to a stop, in front of her. They stared at each other until, finally, Ally asked, “You told Bettina, didn’t you?”
Lorna’s and Jillian’s jaws dropped. They stared at Jade, but were too shocked to say anything.
Time seemed to stand still. Finally Jade murmured, “Yes.”
Lorna shook her head. “Jade, how could you? We had a pact!”
Josie Brown is the author of these novels:
The Candidate, (Steamy Political Thriller) [2013; Signal Press],
Totlandia, (Novel Series), including Book 1, Fall; Book 2, Winter; Book 3, Spring; Book 4, Summer [2012, 2013, Coliloquy],
The Housewife Assassin Novel Series including: The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook (Book 1), The Housewife Assassin’s Guide to Gracious Killing (Book 2), The Housewife Assassin’s Killer Christmas Tips (Book 3), The Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide (Book 4), The Housewife Assassin’s Vacation to Die for (Book 5), [2011, 2013, Signal Press],
The Baby Planner [2011, Simon & Schuster],
Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives [2010, Simon & Schuster],
Impossibly Tongue-Tied [2006, HarperCollins],
True Hollywood Lies [2005, HarperCollins; 2010 Diversion Books].
Her novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (Simon & Schuster), is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer as a dramatic series.
Josie is also the author of three non-fiction books: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right [Alpha/Pearson]; Marriage Confidential: 102 Honest Answers to the Questions Every Husband Wants to Ask, and Every Wife Needs to Know [Signal Press]; and Last Night I Dreamt of Cosmopolitans: A Modern Girl’s Dream Dictionary [St. Martin’s Press].
As a journalist, Josie’s celebrity interviews and relationship trends articles have been featured in the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, Redbook and Complete Woman magazines, as well as AOL, Yahoo, AskMen.com, Divorce360.com, and SingleMindedWomen.com