Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Today's Special - - Tracy Solheim

I'm happy to welcome Tracy Solheim back to the Dish today. Tracy is proof that you can meet the nicest people in elevators at romance conferences. Tracy enjoyed a variety of careers before becoming a published romance author in 2013. She was a newspaper reporter, wrote Congressional reports while pursuing a Master's degree in Legislative Affairs and indulged her love of sports in a television production job with NBC Sports at the Seoul Olympics. Her newest book, All They Ever Wanted is the second book in her Second Chances series.  

Please give Tracy a warm welcome.

All he ever fought for...

Aspiring congressman Miles McAlister has dreamed of representing his hometown of Chances Inlet, North Carolina, since he was a boy. So when he’s asked to help run his mother’s bed and breakfast he moves home and rolls out his campaign at the same time. But political stardom isn’t a given, especially when he’s expected to compromise the very ideals he’s trying to uphold. Making matters worse is the inn’s stubborn, and distractingly beautiful cook. He’s loved and lost before, so falling for Lori Hunt is not part of his plan.

All she ever feared...

Lori just wants to do her job and be left alone until she can safely move on. The last thing she needs is to get involved with her boss’s son. Miles proves to be too sexy to ignore, however.  Their heated fling elicits feelings deeper than either anticipated. But everything about Lori is a lie. She’s harboring a secret that’ll destroy Miles’s career, and when the truth gets out it’s going to shock Chances Inlet to its core, forcing Miles to make the hardest decision of his life.

Hi, Tracy! Welcome back and congratulations on the release of All They Ever Wanted

Thanks so much, PJ, for having me back at the Romance Dish!  I love chatting about romance books with your well-read followers.

I really enjoyed All They Ever Wanted and especially Miles and Lori. These two have a whole lot of obstacles to overcome before they have a chance at a happy ending. What is it about these characters that convinced you they were meant to be together?

Readers first met Miles McAlister in Back to Before and, if I’m being honest, he was a bit of a jerk.  I really wanted the opportunity to redeem him and I got the chance in this book. One of the best parts about being an author is that you get to present characters using different points of view.  In All They Ever Wanted, readers will get some insight behind Miles’ ego. Lori is the perfect person to puncture Miles’ perfect veneer.  She’s a mystery to everyone in Chances Inlet, yet she’s the one everyone depends on.  What makes her so identifiable is that she is a victim of circumstance—something we can all relate to on some level.  Lori and Miles are both driven by strong desire, whether it is for the dreams they are chasing or desire for each other.  The push and pull between those desires made them a dynamic couple to write.

I’ve enjoyed spending time with your characters in Chances Inlet, North Carolina. Will there be more books in this series?

The short answer is yes! There are at least three more books in my head. Major league baseball player, Ryan McAllister still needs to come back to his hometown for his second chance at romance.  Here’s a hint: his love interest makes a brief appearance in All They Ever Wanted.  Also, Lamar has a long lost daughter who comes to Chances Inlet with scandal nipping at her heels. Elle McAllister, the baby of the family, will also head home where she and Deputy Hayden Lovell will find their happily ever after.  Due to other writing commitments, these books will likely only come out one per year, however.  I wish I wrote faster! 

Lori is well known for her terrific cupcakes. Do you enjoy getting creative in the kitchen? Do you have a specialty?

My hips don’t lie, I love to bake! My cupcakes got me through ten years of serving as the room mother in my kids’ elementary school.  When the holiday season rolls around, I bake twelve different types of cookies that we deliver to friends, neighbors, and clients.  When I’m in the middle of the process, I always swear that I’ll never bake again, but then my neighbor comes by with his empty cookie plate and tells me that he looks forward to my Christmas cookies every year.  How can I say no?  I usually print recipe cards for each of my books.  For All They Ever Wanted, the recipe is strawberry brownies.  I’ve included it for you all here:

Adapted from: Family Savvy
Serves: 14-16

• 1 box strawberry cake mix (any brand will do as long as it doesn’t have pudding in the mix
2 large eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup powdered sugar
• ½ -2 TB milk (it depends on how thick you want your glaze)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line 9×13 baking pan with parchment (and spray with Pam. Make sure you get the sides).
3. Mix strawberry cake mix, eggs, and oil with hand mixer until well combined, about two minutes.
4. Pour batter into pan. Note: batter will be tacky, similar to taffy. Be sure to spread it evenly so brownies bake evenly.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until just set; be careful not to overcook.
6. Allow brownies to cool for 10 minutes; lift carefully from pan using ends of parchment.
7. Mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth.
8. Pour glaze over brownies, spreading to edges with pastry brush so that glaze will drip down sides.
9. Allow brownies to cool and glaze to set before cutting into squares. (A trick I’ve learned is to use a plastic knife and the brownies will cut more easily.)

Thank you for sharing that recipe. They sound amazing!

What inspired you to write a politician as a hero, especially for a book being released in an election year?

It’s funny because I write a year in advance, so it didn’t hit me that this book would release during election season—especially one as crazy as this one! I worked for the United States Congress for seventeen years and it was only logical that I dabble in politics at some point in my career.  Miles’ character was always one who wants to help others.  He’s probably the last guy on the planet who believes that he can make the world a better place through politics.  But, I like to think there are still people like that out there.  So I made one up!

I’ve worked on several campaigns, mostly as a consultant. My nephew is the campaign manager for a state-wide race in North Carolina.  A LOT happens on the campaign trail.  The stories are pretty hot.  At some point, I’d love to write a book about love on the campaign trail.  Maybe after we all survive this one!

There’s a certain FBI agent in this book who intrigues me. Any chance we might see Special Agent Matt Kovaluk again?

Matt Kovaluk holds a special place in my heart!  He’s been hanging out in my head for quite a while. I first created Matt’s character in a romantic suspense I have tucked under my bed.  It features a DEA Agent and a pastry chef on the run from the Russian mafia. Matt is a pivotal secondary character. The book has yet to see the light of day, but I loved his character so much that I had to work him into my current books.  Readers first met him in Sleeping with the Enemy as Jay McManus’ prep school chum.   There is definitely a book in his future!

I'm so glad to hear that!

What’s next?

I just finished a 50K word novella for Tule Publishing.  It’s the first in a series about smokejumpers in Montana.  This was such a fun project because I had to coordinate characters, locales and storylines with the four other authors writing the follow-up books in the series.  Look for it early this summer.  I also have another football romance that I’m wrapping up.  This one involves the team’s placekicker who is Scottish and has a wee problem with his immigration status.  That one will be out during the 2016 football season.  After that, I’ve got more books involving the McAlister family in the works.

Thanks for visiting with us, Tracy! Would you like to ask the readers a question?

They say that if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  Clearly, I like the heat, because I’m in the kitchen a lot!  Baking is my stress reliever.  Are there any bakers out there?  What is something that you enjoy making for friends and/or family?  New recipes are always welcome. J


  1. I love to bake and recently made a one pan chocolate cake. Will share recipe later. It was very moist. The coconut cream tart from either Sherryl Woods or Susan Mallery's cookbook was awesome. Taste of Home has many good recipes and I made several times their Bittersweet Chocolate cake with ganache. From one of Deb Macomber's books was a chocolate fruit cake to die for, not your typical fruitcake. From all of these author cookbooks I have made many many delciious recipes, mostly desserts. LOL.

  2. I need to check those cookbooks out! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. They are wonderful. The Macomber book (novel, not one of her cookbooks) that has the choc fruitcake was a story about a reporter interviewing people with fruitcake recipes and one woman's husband hated fruitcake but it was a tradition in her family growing so she adapted and made cake with her husband's fav ingredients. Sorry I cannot remember the name of the book. I have the recipe.

    Anyway here is the one pan choc cake:
    Crazy Cake Recipe - no eggs, milk, butter or bowls
    1 1/2 c all purp flour
    3 tbs unsweetened cocoa
    1 c sugar - granulated
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp white vinegar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    5 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 cup water

    Heat oven to 350.
    Mix first 5 ingreds in a greased 8" square baking pan. Make 3 depressions in dry ingredients, vanilla in one, vinegar in one and veg oil in other.

    Pour water over all and mix well til smooth.

    Bake on middle rack of oven for 35 mins. Check with toothpic to make sure it comes out clean. Cool. Top with your fav frosting, preferably chocolate. Oven times vary, so be sure to check your cake so as not to overbake.

    1. I'm going to try this one and take it to Aiken this weekend for the horse show. Thank you!

  4. Welcome, Tracy! Hi, Ladbookfan! Thanks for the recipes!

    I love to bake but haven't done a lot of it since having to go gluten free. I need to research more recipes and do some experimenting.

  5. I love to bake chocolate chip cookies.

    1. Me too, Cathy! I can't eat them anymore but I still love to make them and share them with my neighbors.

    2. Chocolate chip cookies are my "comfort bake". My husband knows I'm stressed when the Toll House morsels come out. Thankfully, he quickly boxes them off to send to my son or our diets would be a disaster.

  6. Tracy, the scone recipe you shared a while back is a favorite in my house! I'm looking forward to reading All They Ever Wanted.

    I bake a lot and more lately while we watch out for an elderly neighbor. She often forgets to eat, except for sweet stuff. Meanwhile, my husband and I have to log more miles walking the dogs. I like to make fruit quick breads and this is a favorite for when there are a lot of ripe bananas on the counter:

    Banana-Banana Bread

    • 5 ripe bananas
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 cup butter softened
    • 2 and 1/2 cups white sugar
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 3 and 1/2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Optional 1 cup chopped pecans
    1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. (I line the bottoms with parchment paper.)
    2. Mash bananas. Add eggs, mix well and set aside.
    3. Combine butter and sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla. Stir in banana mix.
    4. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Whisk to blend.
    5. Stir the flour mixture in with the banana mixture. Beat until well blended. Fold in the optional nuts.
    6. Pour the batter into the loaf pans.
    7. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with crumbles. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Freezes well.

    1. That looks good, Laura! I'm going to share this with a friend who loves bananas.

    2. Banana bread is staple in our house. I eat a half a banana every day for potassium and I tell my husband to buy them two at a time. He always comes home with five. I finally figured out it's because he wants the others to get brown so I'll be obligated to make banana bread! I use a similar recipe but I add cinnamon to mine. Thanks for sharing your recipe Laura!

  7. Banana bread is the reason I buy bananas -it's comfort food and required periodically - when I'm not reading I'm pinterest-ing THE next gotta-try-this I found yesterday - believe nuts and honey are healthy - right? http://www.purewow.com/recipes/Baklava-Pie
    Looking forward to checking out Tracy's books

  8. I can't wait to try the Strawberry Brownies. I love to cook and bake. I have been overly busy lately and haven't had a chance to do much of either. My two favorite recipes are Swiss Merengue Horns and Sour Cream Crescents. They melt in your mouth and can be elegant additions to any meal or event. They aren't difficult to make, but each one takes both sides of 2 recipe cards for ingredients and directions..

  9. I'm horrible in the kitchen, there's nothing better than the smell of something baking but unfortunately, my smells involve burning :( However, I do love anything to do with pastries! Cream puffs are my weakness.

  10. Not much of a baker, but when I do, it is cookies and banana bread. My family loves banana bread.
    Karen T.

  11. love baking brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, bread, most anything