Gone Wild by Dakota Madison
Genre: Romantic Comedy
— SYNOPSIS —
Go BACK TO BOOKMAN with USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Dakota Madison's new #LoveinMidlife #ComingofMiddleAge romantic comedy series.
Tenured English professor Bly Daniels believes the short walk from her campus office to the university library is too much exposure to the harsh elements of the outdoors. She would prefer to spend her days (and nights) comfortably seated indoors reading classic literature.
When Bly is arrested for reading one of the great books while driving home, a judge sentences her to thirty days of community service with The Wild Way, a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teens.
There she meets Turner Wild, the owner and operate of the wilderness program. Turner is everything Bly despises: rugged, unrefined and outdoorsy. For Bly a trip to hell sounds more desirable than spending an entire month with Turner and his band of hooligans as they traverse the woods of rural northwest New Jersey communing with nature.
Bly certainly never expects to form a bond with the troubled teens she's been assigned to mentor and forge an unlikely relationship with their fearless leader, Turner Wild.
Each full-length novel in Dakota Madison's LOVE IN MIDLIFE romantic comedy series can be read as a stand-alone or as part of the series. Each story features one of the graduates of Bookman College attending their 25th reunion.
— PURCHASE —
— EXCERPT —
“This is as far as I go,” the crusty old cab driver barks as he stops in front of a long dirt road that disappears into the woods.
“How far is it to the wilderness camp?” I ask.
“Pretty far, I would imagine. It’s not visible from the road at all.”
“And how am I supposed to get there?”
“I guess you’re just going to have to walk.”
I laugh until I realize he’s not joking. He expects me to walk into the woods on a dirt road that is God knows how long.
Then I realize I’ll also have to carry my bag as well. I could barely carry my suitcase to the front stoop for him to place in his truck.
“I can only take the cab on paved roads,” he tells me. “Company rules.”
Is that supposed to make me feel better? It doesn’t.
I heave a huge sigh. “How much do I owe you?”
I hand him three ten dollar bills, plus a five dollar tip.
“Let me get your bag out of the trunk.”
When he exits the cab I take a moment to compose myself. I’m already so far out of my comfort zone I feel like I’m having a panic attack, and I haven’t even made it to the camp yet.
You’re an intelligent woman with a doctoral degree, I remind myself. You can do this.
By the time I exit the cab my bag is already on the side of the road waiting for me.
“Good luck,” the cab driver says.
It probably wasn’t the smartest idea I ever had to wear a dress and pumps. In my defense I don’t have much else in my wardrobe. Work attire and lounging outfits for around the house are about it. When I teach I always wear a dress or a suit with dress shoes. I wouldn’t be caught dead outside of my home in one of my lounging outfits.
Calling the dirt pathway a road is extremely generous. The trail is much rockier and uneven than I initially thought. The shoes I’m wearing are not even close to being appropriate for the conditions. I’ll be lucky if I don’t turn an ankle.
My suitcase is another problem entirely. I can barely make it a few feet before I have to set it down. The muscles in my arms are already throbbing and I haven’t even made it far enough to spot the end of the trail yet.
Luckily it’s still early in the day. I’ve got many hours of sunlight left. Even if it takes me several hours walking a few steps at a time I should make it there before dark.
Unless it’s a few miles to the camp, then I’ll be in a bit of trouble.
Two hours and thirty seven minutes later I’ve had about all that I can take. My feet are blistered and aching. I’m afraid when I finally remove my shoes my feet will be bloody as well.
My arms are so weak I don’t think I can lift the suitcase again.
And I’m on the verge of complete exhaustion.
What was I thinking packing so much stuff? I was thinking I’ll be here an entire month and I need reading materials.
Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road.
Those words from T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ seem appropriate right now. I take a seat on my suitcase and wipe the sweat from my brow with a tissue that I just happened to have shoved in my pocket. I can’t even remember the last time I sweated. It may have been in high school when we were forced to play those utterly horrendous sports in our Physical Education classes.
I was supposed to be at the apex of my career this year. I was finally promoted from Associate to Full Professor. Edgar had been hinting that when he retired I was first in line to take over as Chairperson of the English Department. I was just a few months away from paying off the mortgage on my house.
Now it looks like I might lose everything, and I’m sitting in the middle of the woods helpless to do anything about it. Edgar was not happy when I told him I needed to take a month of personal leave and he’d need to find a substitute to teach my classes. That coupled with the fact that my arrest and conviction has tarnished the reputation of the institution does not bode well for me still having a career upon my return from this journey into the wilderness.
The sun is starting to get higher overhead, and it’s beating down on me. I’m not sure how much of the blistering brightness my pale skin can take. I should probably edge closer to the tree line where it’s shaded, but I’m too exhausted to move.
I’m just about to fall asleep seated on my suitcase when a large pickup truck whizzes by. I try to raise a hand to wave the driver over, but to no avail. My arm won’t lift high enough.
Instead I choke on the dust left in the truck’s wake.
Then to my surprise the trucks comes to a screeching halt, reverses and heads back towards me.
When I rise to greet the driver my legs feel like cooked noodles. They’re so weak I can barely control them as I move towards the truck.
My eyes go wide when I see who has hopped out of the vehicle. The driver is a young, petite woman of Asian descent.
From the neck up she’s beautiful, with long silky dark hair and perfect features. From the neck down she’s dressed like a man. She’s wearing well-worn jeans, black combat boots and a green Army jacket.
“Are you lost?” Her tone is accusatory, definitely not friendly.
I shake my head.
“You know this road leads to a wilderness camp for troubled teens.”
She looks me up and down. “You don’t look like you’re ready for the wilderness, and you’re definitely not a teenager.”
“I’m aware of that.” My voice is weary. “I’m court ordered to be here. Community service.”
She rolls her eyes. “Lucky us.”
“Unfortunately the cab driver wouldn’t take me beyond the main road. I’ve been walking for hours.”
“Would you like a lift?” She raises an eyebrow.
“That would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.”
She lets down the tailgate of the pickup, presumably for me to place my luggage in the empty truck bed.
I do my best to drag the suitcase over to the truck, but I feel like my muscles are on fire. There is no way I’m going to be able to lift the suitcase into the back of the vehicle.