Tag Archives: mixing business and pleasure.

Joanie MacNeil—Desperate and Dateless

Please help me welcome Joanie MacNeil, sharing about her trip to Morocco, and her new release!


A visit to Fes Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Morocco, November 2013 

It hadn’t rained for a very long time in that part of Morocco we were told during our coach journey over the rugged mountains towards the northern city of Fes. Promising news for our visit to the mysterious ancient medina the following day.

‘Don’t let the water anywhere near your lips,’ our guide advised as the coach approached our hotel. None of us wanted to suffer the consequences of an upset stomach or worse. We became a bit paranoid and did as we were told. Should we wash our hair? Should we clean our teeth? Some of us bought extra bottled water and stocked up on sanitized hand wash at the nearby supermarket. Better to be super cautious during our two night stay.

There was much excitement amongst the tour group as we approached the high ancient walls surrounding the medina. The anticipation of experiencing exotic aromas in the ancient bazaars teased our senses.

Of course, the much needed rain fell overnight, resulting in a muddy flow at the entrance to the fruit and vegetable section of the medina where life continues today as it was in ancient times. I cringed as I looked down at my feet to see my recently purchased sports shoes lose their fresh new look. I curled my toes in an effort to keep them dry in the brown flowing slush.

We negotiated our way through the crowded narrow streets, glimpsing the many stalls and various wares on display. Most of the time we, or I, were too busy watching where we were going, and where we put our feet. There was a fair amount of running water thanks to the rain which continued on and off during the morning.

We were warned not to stray from the group as there are over 9000 thousand winding thoroughfares in the medina. ‘If you get lost, you will never find your way out,’ our guide told us a number of times. We believed him. Why wouldn’t we? We believed him about the water too. He was the one who got sick.

As well as the tour company guide, we were accompanied by a Moroccan guide dressed in a traditional woolen djellaba: the long-sleeved garment with the peaked hood worn in the original Star Wars movie. His was a light color and, he told us, kept him warm, dry and comfortable. We were also accompanied by local guides plus two or three other minders placed in strategic positions around the group. Monitoring the progress of our raggle-taggle troupe amongst the crush of people couldn’t have been easy. They were familiar and skilled in the task of keeping watch so that we didn’t stray and remained safe.

The alleyways were hot, humid, cool, depending whether they were covered or not. and whether there was any airflow. In the narrow spaces we had to quickly step aside to make way for the occasional heavily laden working donkey, carrying out its everyday duties.

Highlights of the medina:

  • We glimpsed the oldest mosque in the world, tucked away in the medina, and were able to take a photo of the interior from the door.
  • A visit to the leather factory. Earlier, we had been warned that the smell was pretty awful and were given a sprig of mint to hold against our noses. Fortunately, the weather conditions meant the smell wasn’t as bad as it could have been. While washing and dyeing the leather in the vats of brightly colored dyes the workers endure awful conditions. An insufferable task on extremely hot days. A whiff of fresh mint did help cope with some of the more unsavory aromas that wafted around us in the maze of alleyways.
  • From the tannery we moved on to the carpet shop. The warm sweet mint tea was very welcome as was the opportunity to sit down on a comfortable bench in pleasant, dry conditions. The men began their sales pitches for each of the intricately designed patterns of richly colored carpets as, with a flourish, they unrolled them onto the floor.

Though the rain did spoil the morning in some ways, it added to our experience giving us a memorable and fascinating glimpse into the past. Exhausted, we climbed aboard our coach back to the hotel, for a lazy, leisurely afternoon.

Vats of dye, Fes Medina, Morocco – Photo ©Joanie MacNeil



What a fascinating post…and an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing. And now, please tell us about your new release…


Neither Zoe O’Malley nor Liam Reynolds consider themselves desperate or dateless, but fate intervenes when each independently receives a ticket to the Desperate and Dateless Ball and their lives become irretrievably entangled. Can they live by their golden rule—never mix business with pleasure?


Liam looked up in time to see Zoe hurry down the stairs towards him.

“You forgot your jacket.” Zoe smiled as she skipped down the stairs and walked towards him.

“So I did, thanks.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to have it dry-cleaned?”

“No need. It’s fine.” Liam allowed his gaze to roam over her. While he usually liked his women tall and leggy, there was something appealing about the petite, softly curved female standing before him. He reached for his jacket.

When Zoe seemed reluctant to relinquish her grasp, Liam gave the fabric a gentle tug and she let go. His gaze locked with hers. He was mesmerized, completely absorbed by the vision of Zoe’s moist parted lips and the golden highlights in her hair. She sparkled in the summer sun. And then there were her eyes. They were the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. Blue…a tropical lagoon on a warm summer’s day. It seemed to Liam as if he and Zoe were caught in time.

In the lazy heat, a fly buzzed between them. Liam’s gaze followed the movement of Zoe’s hand as she swished the fly away. Her fingertip brushed a leg of the fine silver spider earring, causing it to swing gently. The red stone that formed the spider’s back shimmered in the sunshine.

Unable to drag his eyes away from her, Liam watched, spellbound, as Zoe licked her pretty Cupid’s bow mouth. He wondered about the taste of that mouth.

“I’ll ring you when the work is done.” Zoe’s husky voice penetrated his wild thoughts.

“I’ll look forward to your call.” Liam swallowed. He hadn’t meant that to sound like a come-on and he hoped Zoe didn’t take it the wrong way. The expression on her face told him nothing.

He smiled. Her eyes lit up when she returned his smile and she sparkled even more. Why did this woman with the spider swinging from her ear have this weird effect on him? She wasn’t like any other woman he’d ever met. Not like the cool sophisticated career women he usually rubbed shoulders with…or dated.

Liam turned away from her and made his way back to the car. As he climbed inside, he stole a glance in Zoe’s direction, but she’d already gone back into the house.

It had been ages since a female presence had stirred him the way she did. He shook his head. There was little time in his life to even think about dating a petite blue-eyed brunette who smelled as sweet as a blend of jasmine and freesias. He had a business to manage. Besides, he was her client, and he never mixed business and pleasure. A sure recipe for disaster. He’d seen better men than himself come to grief through such folly.

And then, of course, there was Daniel to consider.

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Australian romance author, Joanie MacNeil, writes short contemporary romances: a blend of sweet, sexy, heart-warming stories about new love and second chances.  One of her favourite pastimes is travelling with her own romantic hero.







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