Driving Him Wild

Mills & Boon Modern Extra
February 7, 2007 (Paperback)

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Shortlisted for the 2008 Romantic Novelists’ Association Romance Prize

Destination: desire...

When smart-mouthed New York City cab driver Zoe Drake finds a tall, dark and brooding man on her doorstep, she doesn't know what to think - does he want something, or has Christmas come early this year?

Nick Giroux is looking for his long-lost father - not a new-found woman! But there's something about him that makes Zoe let down her ice-cool defences. She'll use her profession to drive Nick to Maine...

...and maybe drive him wild on the way!

RNA Award

More About Driving Him Wild

DHW in the wild

Driving Him Wild is the story of Nick Giroux, who is the younger brother of Kitty Giroux, the heroine of my first book, Featured Attraction. Nick and Kitty were abandoned by their father when they were kids, and though I'd explored some of the ways that affected Kitty and her mother Sue, I wanted to understand how it affected Nick.

I had one phrase in Featured Attraction that gave me his character, and I built it from that:

"...her beloved, impetuous, noble little brother, who'd rescued every sick kitten and every injured seagull in Portland, in order to prove in his own way that he wasn't like a father who would abandon his family."

So I sent Nick (who's a Maine park ranger) on a quest to find his dad. And on the way, he meets up with a wise-cracking, tough, vulnerable female New York cab driver who doesn't want rescuing.

Her name is Zoe, and she's just found out that her great-aunt Xenia has died, leaving her millions of dollars in her will. Below is an extract from the middle of the book.

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"Not only a fun road trip, but a delightful trip to love." -Romantic Times, 4 stars

"Gritty and real and marvelous." -Smart Bitches,Trashy Books



Excerpt

Nick had lowered the paperback and was looking at her. She’d noticed him looking at her like that a few times last night, too: searching her face, then letting his eyes survey her body. If she were the type to have crazy unrealistic hopes she would almost think that he was checking her out.

But as she wasn’t that type, she thought he was probably trying to figure out why she didn’t look more like her sisters.

“Xenia should have asked one of my sisters to find her clothes,” she said, something twisting in her gut. “They were born knowing about fashion.”

“I think your great-aunt probably had other qualities in mind when she chose you.”

Anger rose in Zoe, stronger even than lust. Other qualities. Was that supposed to be some sort of consolation prize? For not being sexy, not being smart, not being successful?

Zoe jumped to her feet. She’d decided not to be mad at him any more, but he really could push it.

“Nick, I told you not to be condescending,” she said, her voice loud in her ears. “You don’t know a damn about why my great-aunt chose me. If you’re so hot on trying to figure out family motivations, why don’t you concentrate on why your father chose to leave you?”

She started to walk out of the room, leaving her bags behind, but as she passed a side table she heard a noise that made her stop.

There was a big cardboard box on the table that hadn’t been there before. And there was something moving around inside it, something scratching and making low throaty noises.

“What the hell is this?” she said.

Nick didn’t answer. She looked at him and saw that he hadn’t straightened his slouch on the sofa, but he was tense and gazing into her eyes.

“I know why my father left me,” he said. “Because he was a coward who preferred to let his ten-year-old son take care of his family. You, on the other hand, are an adult and I imagine your great-aunt had good reasons to trust you. You can get as angry about it as you want, but it’s not my fault she left you the money and you feel guilty about it.”

For a moment she just stared at him. She had a feeling as if her will had met something just as strong in the middle of the room, and they were at a deadlock.

“Just don’t talk down to me,” she said.

“I wasn’t talking down to you. I wouldn’t dare to, especially with the way you take pot shots at me when you’re angry. I was saying what I thought. And you brought it up in the first place.”

Beside her, whatever was in the box scratched and gurgled again. There was something dark in Nick’s eyes. She was glad to take her gaze away from his and look at the box.

“What have you brought in here?”

“Open it up and see. Be careful, though.”

Gingerly she peeled back the lid of the box and looked inside. She saw two beady eyes, a beak, and a greeny-grey feathered throat.

“It’s a pigeon,” she said in surprise and disgust.

“Yes.”

She looked more closely and saw that both its feet were wrapped in little white bandages.

“Nick. You’re playing doctor to a pigeon?”

“It had abscesses on both its feet, which I treated.” Nick joined her at the box. “I had a hell of a time catching it. I’ve had an easier time catching cormorants. New York must make the animals suspicious.”

“Nick, why are you rescuing a pigeon? They’re pests, there are trillions of them.”

“You don’t think I should help a pigeon because it’s a pest?”

“Yes! This isn’t some endangered species on some island somewhere.”

“All right.” He picked up a pair of gloves lying next to the box. “I’ll kill it.” He reached into the box.

“Don’t!”

Nick paused. “If it’s a pest, why can’t I kill it?”

“Because–” Zoe tried to think of a reason, and couldn’t. “Just don’t.”

“Look,” Nick said, his voice calm, his hands still in the box with the pigeon, “I won’t let an animal suffer, no matter what kind of animal it is. I can cure it, or I can kill it. Which one do you want me to do?”

Once again, it was his will, iron-strong, against hers, except this time he had a life in his hands.

“Why are you so damn responsible?” she growled.

“Why do you deny that you can be?” he shot back.

Silently, not moving or touching, they wrestled with each other.

In the end, giving in was easier than answering his question. If Nick’s only options were curing something or killing it, he wouldn’t understand her answer, anyway. He wouldn’t understand how if there was something wrong with you, you learned to live with it, to shrug it off.

“Just don’t let it crap on the furniture,” she said, and turned away.

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