Friday, January 9, 2015

Spotlight on Tracy Solheim's Back to Before


When his father dies, leaving the family construction business in a mess, architect Gavin McAlister moves home temporarily to put things to rights for his mother and siblings. losing his big-city fiancee and putting his NYC career on hold in the process. He's now been there two years but the end is finally in sight. In a few short months, with the help of a reality TV show, he'll have his father's debt paid off and will be able to return to the career he loves. There's just one small problem: his family and the town of Chances Inlet, North Carolina have no idea of the problems Gavin's father left behind and think Gavin is there to run the company permanently.

With her injury-halted ballet career and a role in a soap opera behind her, Ginger Walsh is hoping her new job as makeup artist and assistant to her long-time friend on his reality home restoration show will lead back to New York and a new career path. She doesn't expect to be charmed by the show's local construction expert or roped into helping the local citizens with their annual Founder's Day Celebration or a group of little girls who just want to dance. By the time the show wraps, will Gavin and Ginger take their second chances and head off into a New York City sunset, stay in Chances Inlet or go their separate ways?

I'm a fan of small-town contemporary romance and second chances. Tracy Solheim combines the two with heartwarming effect in BACK TO BEFORE, the first book in her new Second Chances series. Solheim is a wonderful storyteller whose characters are fully formed with all the strengths, vulnerabilities and flaws of people we meet in real life and whose books leave this reader sighing with satisfaction. I'm already anticipating my next visit to Chances Inlet.

Fans of Solheims's Out of Bounds series will be familiar with Chances Inlet and her well-meaning but meddling citizens from Foolish Games. Those new to her books will not miss anything by starting with Back to Before however they may be so intrigued with Will and Julianne that they will want to buy Foolish Games to read their journey to love. 

Here's an excerpt from Back to Before.

In which sparks fly in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly:
“According to Mom,” his brother was saying, “you and the actress who plays Destiny Upchurch were flirting up a storm with one another this afternoon.”
            “Mom talks too much.”
            Ryan laughed. “I’ll admit Ginger What’s-Her- Name is cute for a chick who’s bad to the bone, but the actress who plays Savannah Rich,” he gave a little whistle, “now, she’s hot.”
            Gavin held his phone out at arm’s length, baffled.  “What is it with you people and this soap opera?  You’re a professional baseball player.  Don’t you have better things to do with your time than watch that crap?”
            “There’s lots of down time in the clubhouse.  And SportsCenter tends to drone on after a while.”
            Gavin shook his head in disbelief as he carefully scanned past the bins of fresh fruits and vegetables for any sign of Mr. Henderson.  The produce manager was nowhere in sight, but the object of his phone conversation, Ginger Walsh, stood before him holding a tomato, critically analyzing it as if it held the secret to the universe.
            “Gotta go, bro. Thanks for heading Miles off before he asked me for his profit share of the company.”
            “No prob—”
            The rest was lost as Gavin quickly ended the call, nonchalantly steering his cart behind Ginger.   He caught a whiff of her perfume.  She smelled sweet, like the mint shampoo his mother left for the guests at the Inn.  But there was another scent too, something not quite so innocent.  Tendrils of hair had escaped her haphazard knot, dangling against her long neck.  Gavin’s jockey shorts grew tight at the sight of bare skin peeking out from underneath her shirt.
            Seriously?  You couldn’t have been more alert two hours ago when I was wasting ninety bucks on dinner for what would have been a sure thing?
            Frustrated, he picked up a bag of salad that likely would spoil before he ever ate it and tossed it into his cart.  Ginger didn’t flinch.
“It’s a tomato,” he finally said.  “You generally eat it.”
Startled, she turned to face him.  Awareness flashed in those incredible eyes before she reined it in.  Gavin bit back a smile as he realized she wasn’t immune to whatever attraction was pulling at them either.  His mother had described Ginger’s face as all angles, but what Gavin saw was a delicately sculpted chin, a lush mouth and high cheekbones.  Even her ears were cute.
“I’m trying to figure out if it’s organic,” she said.  “There’s no sticker.”
Gavin wasn’t sure someone could determine if a tomato was organic or not just by looking at it.  Hell, he wasn’t even sure if a tomato was a fruit or a vegetable. 
“Does it matter?”  He realized the insensitivity of the question too late to stop himself from asking it.  Maybe she had a valid reason for being cautious about her food.   Or she was just like most women, concerned about her appearance.  He’d known women with more obnoxious idiosyncrasies.  Hell, she was an actress, wasn’t she?  Her compulsion about her diet could definitely be justified as job-related.
Ginger blinked her long lashes twice before shaking her head.  She put the tomato in a bag along with two others and placed them in her cart.
“I have to be careful what I eat.”  There was nothing delicate about her tone.  Clearly, underneath that slight body was a spine of steel. 
Gavin shifted slightly, rubbing his hand behind his neck.  “Hey, I can see if Mr. Henderson, the produce manager, is here tonight.  He’d know.”  It’d be worth the risk, he told himself.
“It’s fine.  I’ll just be sure to wash them thoroughly.”
She looked over at his cart.  Aside from the token bag of salad greens, it contained a smorgasbord of processed foods.  Feeling a bit embarrassed, Gavin braced himself for the inevitable comment, but she reached down and pulled out the bag of dog treats instead.
“Midas must have been quite successful with the ladies in Wilmington.”  Her comment surprised the hell out of him.  Was that a hint of jealousy in her voice? 
Gavin relaxed a little, leaning a hip against the vegetable bin and crossing his arms over his chest.  Maybe his aborted date wasn’t such a bad decision after all.
            “Midas didn’t go to Wilmington.  You’re the only pretty woman he managed to take down today.”
            She gave him another one of those slight headshakes, trying to hide the blush in her cheeks by reading the package.
            “Yuck!” She tossed the bag back into the cart.  “You don’t really care too much about your dog if you feed him that.”
            “What do you suggest, real pepperoni?”
            She laughed at that, a pretty, tinkling sound that did strange things to Gavin’s body.
            “They have organic dog treats.”

            “You don’t say?”  He silently prayed she’d take a step closer.  Whatever magic that had been brewing between them outside the inn earlier had rekindled itself in front of the cauliflower and Gavin didn’t want it to end.

Do you watch soap operas? Have a favorite?
Are you a pet owner? Do you shop organic?
Have you ever struck up a conversation with a guy in the grocery store? Ever wanted to?
Have you read Tracy Solheim's books yet?
We have a copy of Back to Before for one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. (U.S. only)



42 comments:

  1. I've not read Tracy's books yet but I do enjoy small town romance stories. I love the coziness and closenesss of the town and it'residents.I'm not a pet owner at this time but my block has enough animal lovers and animals to share. :). Thanks for the post. A new series for my TRL.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Hope you enjoy the book, Carol! I'm chuckling at your neighborhood having animals to share. My Rachel happily fills that need for many of my neighbors. :)

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    2. I love the ideas of animals to share! Thanks for stopping by Carol!

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  2. When I was in college we would all watch soap operas together if we didn't have a class. That was way back when there was the Luke and Laura romance. We have two cats and I do buy organic when I can. I haven't read any of Tracy's books but it looks like a great story.

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    1. When I was in college we would all watch soap operas together if we didn't have a class.

      Me too! I continued to watch sporadically through my adult years but stopped about 15 years ago.

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    2. I remember watching the big wedding in college, too! I think we actually had a cake and everything. What fun!

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  3. I have read all of Tracy's Books!! Once you start reading one of her books, you don't want to put it down !!
    Ruby N.

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    1. Once you start reading one of her books, you don't want to put it down !!

      I completely agree, Ruby. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Love Tracy's books, and this was no exception. I am a big fan of small town romance too. Loved Midas too.

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    1. Midas was a total sweetheart.

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    2. I got the name Midas from a friend's dog but the personality is definitely similar to my puppy, Harper. :)

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  5. I haven't read Tracy's novels but this one sounds captivating and memorable. I have two dogs, a Maltese and a small mix from lap dog rescue, both are delightful companions. I shop organic sometimes. I wasn't a soap watcher but enjoyed Dallas. Love this post. thanks.

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    1. I think Dallas qualified, petite. I always thought of it as a nighttime soap. :)

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    2. Dallas is definitely considered a soap opera, petite! Thanks for stopping by the blog.

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  6. Tracy's novels are wonderful and enjoyable. This story would be unforgettable. I never did watch soaps. My dog is a small, loveable and sweet devoted good natured mix. I don't shop organic and I rarely but sometimes speak to the grocery workers who are friendly and helpful.

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    1. My dog is a small, loveable and sweet devoted good natured mix

      Sounds just like mine, except for that small part. ;-)

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  7. I use to watch soap operas when my children were babies but not anymore. I've always been a pet owner. Our grocery store doesn't have much of an organic section but I'm always on the outlook since there are too many GMO's foods out there. I talk to strangers int he grocery store all the time lol. Although since I've been married forever it's not to flirt, I just enjoy people lol. I've not read her books as yet but I'm always looking for new authors!

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    1. I'm a talker too, catslady though it's been many years since I flirted with someone at the grocery. Hope you'll give Solheim a try.

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    1. I don't either as a rule though I have at times.

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  9. Wow! That's a lot of questions. I haven't read Tracy's books yet, but I enjoyed the excerpt. I don't watch daytime soaps. Back in the day, I used to watch Dallas and Falcon Crest. I don't have any pets now, but hope to remedy that in the spring. Thanks for the post.

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    1. What can I say? I was in an inquisitive frame of mind last night. *grin*

      I never got into Falcon Crest but I was a devoted watcher of Dallas and Dynasty. What kind of pet will (potentially) be joining your family come spring?

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  10. I read and enjoyed Holiday at Magnolia Bay and am looking forward to reading to Back to Before.

    My husband, our three dogs, and I load up every Saturday and go to our local farmer's market to buy organic and good food. We talk to lots of people at the market, but there is no flirting involved. Well, other than my dogs begging for samples from the dog treat vendors. And, yes, there are organic dog treats!

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  11. I've never read Tracy Solheim before but I love that excerpt. It sounds like she creates fun characters and I am absolutely addicted to small town romance series! Thanks for the heads up, PJ!

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    1. You're welcome, Irish! Hope you enjoy!

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  12. I forgot the questions! LOL I watched soaps about 20 years ago but haven't in a long, long time. I do own pets - 2 dogs and I'm having a hard enough time trying to figure out all the organic stuff for me and my husband let alone the dogs!

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    1. LOL at trying to figure out the organics. Right there with you. :)

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  13. I used to watch soap operas when I was in school, but not anymore. Most have been cancelled. I like dogs and enjoy seeing them in books. I usually don't purchase organic foods for myself or pets.

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    1. I drifted away from the soaps when my favorites were cancelled. Probably a good thing. *grin*

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  14. I've never started a conversation with anyone at a grocery store, but I seem to be someone people want to ask for help. Aside from the, can you reach that? (I'm only 5'6"-but that is taller than many people; I've had older men ask for cooking advice - one was a recent widower, another was trying to impress his date; and lots of people will ask if I know where products are.

    As for pets and eating/feeding organic: I've got a mini-zoo of spoiled critters. They do probably eat better than we do because I feed them the high quality food and treats with mostly natural and identifiable ingredients. I'm suspicious of food labelled organic since there are so many different laws and little real enforcement of those laws. :-)

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    1. Had to smile at your grocery adventures, Glenda. I tend to be a favorite among the 80+ male crowd armed with a list from the wife and a "no clue" look. :)

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    2. PJ, you gotta love that "no clue" look. ;-) It makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one who's had this happen. I guess it's a good thing that men learn to ask for directions later in life. :-D

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  15. I love small town romances...I used to watch OLTL & AMC now I record GH, Days and B&B (which drives me nuts) I weant Tracy's book but since its been zero here just can't make myself get out of the car....brrr
    I have talked to people at the grocery store but the best conversations I have are at BN over books (what can I say) those can last minutes to an hour its nice when you meet nice people not crabs...

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  16. Awww... small town romances are soo fun! I haven't read any of Tracy's books... yet! Back in high school, I was obsessed w/ General Hospital, but I haven't watched it in years! I've never flirted in the grocery store, but that's definitely something I should do!!! :) Ummm... I don't buy "organic" for my dog, but I definitely try to stay away from the overly processed and cheap food/treats. He's done so much better since I switched his dog food. It's a bit pricey but his health is worth it!

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  17. Small town romances are my favorite! I don't watch soap operas now, but we watched them (and scheduled our classes around them) when we were in college. That was over 40 years ago. :)
    We make our cockapoo her own special organic food--yes, yes we do! We also are taking baby steps toward organic for ourselves.
    I haven't read any of Tracy's books, but for sure will be reading this one! Happy Weekend!

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  18. I haven't read Tracy's books yet, but I love small town stories! And I love to watch home restoration shows, so this story looks like fun!

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  19. I haven't ready any of Tracy's books yet, but they sound awesome. I watched soap operas in the 60s-80s. I have 2 dogs that are like my children. No, I have never bought anything organic.

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  20. I do not watch soap operas, unless you count the evening show that tend to be almost serialized like a soap opera. As for pets, 3 dogs, a cat, a peacock, and a ball python. If I feel a need for more, I go to my daughter's up the road and play with the chickens, ducks, llamas, sheep, and horse. She also has cats and dogs, but I like mine better. Do we buy organic for them. No, too many and too expensive.
    We shop organic on occasion. We have a large garden and don't use chemicals, so our produce is organic, both fresh and canned.

    I have struck up conversations with strangers, sometimes in the produce section. It depends on the mood I am in.

    I don't believe I have yet read any of Tracy's books, something I will have to rectify.

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  21. This is so nice of y'all to promote tracy's Back to Before--I have read her stories and love her storytelling--No I do not watch soaps--yes I have talked to a stranger in store--just eat what I want

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  22. Y&R is my guilty pleasure at lunchtime.
    Denise

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