Read an excerpt from Grace Unexpected by Gale Martin

  Thirty-something Grace Savage has slogged through crummy jobs and dead-end relationships with men who would rather go bald than say “I do”. In search of a respite from her current job, she visits Shaker Village in New Hampshire. Instead of renewal, she’s unnerved to learn that Shaker men and women lived and worked side by side in complete celibacy.     When her longtime boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Grace avows the sexless Shaker ways. Resolved to stick to her new plan – dubbed the Shaker Plan – and despite the fact that her ovaries are ticking, she returns to her life in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, she's juggling two eligible bachelors: Addison, a young beat reporter; and True, a venerable anthropology professor. Both men have ample charms and real soul mate potential to test her newfound Shaker-style self-control. Grace appears to be on the fast track to a marriage proposal… until secrets revealed deliver a death rattle to the Shaker Plan.

Thirty-something Grace Savage has slogged through crummy jobs and dead-end relationships with men who would rather go bald than say “I do”. In search of a respite from her current job, she visits Shaker Village in New Hampshire. Instead of renewal, she’s unnerved to learn that Shaker men and women lived and worked side by side in complete celibacy. 

When her longtime boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Grace avows the sexless Shaker ways. Resolved to stick to her new plan – dubbed the Shaker Plan – and despite the fact that her ovaries are ticking, she returns to her life in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, she's juggling two eligible bachelors: Addison, a young beat reporter; and True, a venerable anthropology professor. Both men have ample charms and real soul mate potential to test her newfound Shaker-style self-control. Grace appears to be on the fast track to a marriage proposal… until secrets revealed deliver a death rattle to the Shaker Plan.

From Chapter 5, "Goody, Goody" (In this scene, Grace is returning to work from a week's vacation in New England.)

Juggling a briefcase, a houseplant, and my lunch bag in one hand, and a three-ring binder in the other, I fumbled for the outer office door. If I turned the knob, the planter would spill onto the floor. I dropped my binder, and the office door swung open. On the other side stood Goody, my twenty-three-year-old administrative assistant in the Soap Rock University Relations office. Six feet, one hundred eighty pounds of muscle, sinew, and dreadlocks. One of the finest communications majors and worst Spanish minors Soap Rock had produced in years, I was told; I’d only been there about two years myself.

“Welcome back, Gracie Mae.” His tenor drone rang through-out the suite.

“Hey, Goody. I could use a hand here.”

He took the plant from my arms. “For me? You shouldn’t have.”

“It’s not for you. Hey, how’s Fishy?” I asked, since I’d left my almost two-year-old betta in Goody’s care.

He put down the plant and held up Fishy’s jar, beaming like a proud papa. “Just fine. I didn’t sing to him. But somehow, he survived.”

Such a good-looking kid, Goody. Just not my type. More precisely, I wasn't his type. One too many x's in my chromosome cluster for Goody.

Last spring, while still my intern, he had picked up his diploma, sprinted off the stage, and taken pictures of his fellow graduates for the alumni magazine the rest of the morning. Neither of his parents, a bi-racial couple consisting of Philip Good, Sr., and Lynette, had attended his graduation. Goody came out of the closet during his senior year as my intern, and the Goods blamed Soap Rock—and me—for permitting their only son to stray on our watch.

So I took him under my wing. I gave him a job: writing the on-campus newsletter, sending out hometown news, getting our cultural events listed on every community calendar this side of the Susquehanna River. Within months, Goody became synonymous with getting the job done, and for telling things like they were.

“First day back from vacation, and you’re late,” Goody scolded.

“I’ll admit I’m not early,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “But I’ve been on the grounds since six-thirty. Campus emergency.”

“Spork stabbing in the dining hall?”

“One of Connie’s kids tried to cook a wad of aluminum foil in the microwave, and Crump Hall went up like a Quick-Start log before it was contained. But here’s the best part. A reporter from the Standard is staying in Crump for the summer. We’re putting him up for free. He’s trying to get a statement from me, and because he had to be evacuated too, all he has on is a pair of boxers and a ripped T-shirt.”

Goody’s eyes lit up. “Did you jump on it?”

“Normally, I don’t date guys in Underoos,” I said.