They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Allyson Cunningham, the heroine of my new romantic comedy, Breaking All the Rules, certainly believes it. Her standard breakfast — Cheerios, strawberries and skim milk — comes up more than once.
You see, Allyson is rather particular and very much rules-oriented. She eats her cereal, fruit and milk every morning before work and has brunch with her friend Nikki at IHOP every Saturday. She only eats red meat once a week and avoids carbs whenever possible. (Can’t tell I was doing Atkins when I drafted this story, can you?) She and hero Donovan Marshall clash over her stubborn insistence on sticking to her food rules.
That’s not their only point of disagreement, of course. Van’s relaxed approach to work — and life in general — rankles Allyson.
At the same time, it intrigues her — as it does me. I’ve always been a bit like Allyson — set in my habits and resistant to change. (Except with food. I love trying new restaurants and dishes I’ve never tried before. Among the strangest: alligator and escargot. I’m more likely to try a new flavor combination than a really weird food.)
My boyfriend is more like Van — always ready for adventure, even if it has “DISASTER” flashing on it in 10-foot-tall neon letters. One time, we took off for Phoenix without a hotel reservation and ended up driving home in a snowstorm because all the hotels were booked — even the $28 a night rat-trap motel. I believe it was both the opening weekend for spring training and NASCAR race weekend. Plus, there was a dart or pool tourney in town. We didn’t stand a chance.
The uncertainty stressed me out, and my headache worsened every time we struck out at a new hotel. I ended up lying down on the backseat to sleep it off. That left the Cali boy to drive up the mountain in the snow, and he ended up pulling off at a truck safety pullout to wait it out. Fun times.
Back to the book: Allyson is desperate to get Donovan to do his job (translating Klingon at the mental health facility she runs) right — the first time — and Van makes it his mission to prove to Ally that some rules, including food rules, are meant to be broken.
Breaking all the Rules blurb:
Faced with compliance of a ridiculous new Arizona law, by-the-book mental health care facility administrator Allyson Cunningham must find an interpreter who speaks a made-for-TV language. Prime candidate Donovan Marshall has the language skills she so desperately needs, but shows a disturbing disregard for all rules and restrictions. While Allyson struggles to secure another perfect rating for her facility, convince Donovan to conform and control her inappropriate attraction to an employee, Donovan makes it his prime directive to persuade starchy Ally it doesn’t hurt to break a few rules.
About Arlene: Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She has her father to thank for her love of all things sci-fi. He took her to see Star Wars when she was six. She immediately fell in love with R2-D2, C3PO and Luke Skywalker. (Only with the Star Wars re-release in the ’90s did she succumb to the bad-boy appeal of Han Solo.) Find her at arlenehittle.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.