I’m pleased to share Closer to Okay by Amy Watson with you all today. Look for it this October and be sure to enter the giveaway!
Closer to Okay
Expected Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Genre: Book Club Fiction/ Modern Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Alcove Press
Weaving culinary delights with an honest, appraising look at how we deal with the world when it becomes too much, Closer to Okay is the comfort food we all need in these, well, crazy times.
Kyle Davies is doing fine. She has her routine, after all, ingrained in her from years of working as a baker: wake up, make breakfast, prep the dough, make lunch, work the dough, make dinner, bake dessert, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a good routine. Comforting. Almost enough to help her forget the scars on her wrist, still healing from when she slit it a few weeks ago; that she lost her job at the bakery when she checked herself in as an inpatient at Hope House; then signed away all decisions about her life, medical care, and wellbeing to Dr. Booth (who may or may not be a hack). So, yeah, Kyle’s doing just fine.
Except that a new item’s been added to her daily to-do list recently: stare out her window at the coffee shop (named, well…The Coffee Shop) across the street, and its hot owner, Jackson. It’s healthy to have eye candy when you’re locked in the psych ward, right? Something low risk to keep yourself distracted. So when Dr. Booth allows Kyle to leave the facility–two hours a day to go wherever she wants–she decides to up the stakes a little more. Why not visit? Why not see what Jackson’s like in person?
Turns out that Jackson’s a jerk with a heart of gold, a deadly combination that Kyle finds herself drawn to more than she should be. (Aren’t we all?) At a time when Dr. Booth delivers near-constant warnings about the dangers of romantic entanglements, Kyle is pulled further and further into Jackson’s orbit. At first, the feeling of being truly taken care of is bliss, like floating on a wave. But at a time when Kyle is barely managing her own problems, she finds herself suddenly thrown into the deep end of someone else’s. Dr. Booth may have been right after all: falling in love may be the thing that sends Kyle into a backslide she might never be able to crawl out of. Is Jackson too much for her to handle? Does love come at the cost of sanity?
I’ve only seen Booth a handful of times so far, but I’ve mostly got him figured out. Flattery will get you everywhere, and compliance with his instructions almost as far. What I haven’t worked out, though, are his intentions. Put in the simplest terms: Is he a good guy or a bad one?
He looks at me over his glasses, breathes a sigh, and reaches over to close my file. “I suppose you’re right. I appreciate that you’re taking ownership of your place in the house, Kyle. You’ll find that your recovery will accelerate once you embrace my program. We can review your progress together at your appointment on Monday.”
Standing to leave, I smooth my apron back down and hustle toward the door. “Thanks, Dr. Booth. See you tomorrow.”
The kitchen is a calamity when I get back. There’s smoke pouring out of the oven. Bruce did turn off the stove and oven like I’d told him to but left everything where it was. The residual heat did a number on the eggs, now a solid brown-on-the-bottom disk that gives off the smell of burning sulfur. The muffins might be edible but are overcooked. I’d normally chuck them straight into the trash, but I have to serve them since Mary and Eddie will be here in five minutes and need breakfast if they’re going to stay on Booth’s schedule. I don’t want everyone getting off-program and being forced to sit through the same talk I just did. We all know how important schedules are here. I’ll make it up to them at dinner, maybe put some extra turkey on the lunch sandwiches.
“Oh my gosh, what is going on in here?” Mary asks, coming into the kitchen.
“Sorry, Mary. Booth called me into his office to talk as soon as I got everything cooking. You know how it goes. His two-minute talk turned into ten and breakfast burned. Bruce was in here tending the food when I left. I don’t know where he went. I can salvage the muffins. I’ll make it up to you guys, I promise.”
“You don’t have to make anything up to me, sweetie. Eddie was making a fuss; I’m sure that’s where Bruce went. How can I help? Can I get the cups and milk?”
“I’ve got this, Mary. Go sit down and enjoy your horrible muffin. You’ve got to clean the bathroom, worst chore in the house. I will not have you doing my work, too.”
She waves me off. “Nonsense. It’s no bother. I’ve spent a lifetime cleaning up after my husband. One little chore is nothing. I’m glad to help. You go get those muffins out of the pan, and I’ll get the drinks.”
She hustles around me to the refrigerator and starts humming. I move over and pop the muffins out onto one of the red plastic trays, stacking them in tiers so they’ll look good, even if they don’t taste it. I put two muffins on a separate plate and carry them all into the dining room.
“What’s up, Special K?” Eddie yells as I walk into the room. He does this every morning, and it always makes me flinch.
“It’s a bad morning, Ed. You get muffins and milk. Sorry. The bacon and eggs got burnt. I’ll make something extra-good for dinner tonight.”
“Well, ain’t that a bitch? You better make something really fucking tasty for dinner, then. I can’t get through my day in this shithole with an empty stomach.”
“Hush, Edward,” Mary says as she comes in behind me with the glasses of milk. “It’s not her fault.”
“How’s it not her fault, huh? It’s her job to cook my food and keep my belly full. How are lousy fucking muffins supposed to keep me satisfied?”
“Eddie,” Nancy warns as she walks into the dining room, stopping his rant. She has a slight accent, maybe something Slavic, that gives her voice more authority, sounds harsher to my ears. Eddie puts on his nice act; Nancy tells Booth everything. “Good morning, Nancy. Great to see you. I’m sure looking forward to these muffins Kyle made this morning.”
Nancy grunts and turns on her heel. She takes the separate plate I made, knowing Joey wouldn’t be down to eat with everyone. With her back to us, she says, “Kyle, Bruce needs the grocery list after breakfast. Drop it off in the security office as soon as it’s done. Eddie, you have an appointment with the doctor in an hour. Mary, you need to do your chores this morning.”
“Sorry again about breakfast, guys. I’m gonna get started on the grocery list. I’ll make a dessert for you tonight. Chocolate cake, maybe.” “It better be fucking good, K. This muffin shit’s for the birds.”
Amy Watson is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. A wife, a mother to two boys, and a full-time office manager. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, drinking coffee, knitting, and watching football.
Enter for a chance to win a signed ARC edition of Closer to Okay (either annotated or not) and some sweet book swag! Giveaway closes July 15th at midnight EST.
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