After years of writing reports and testimony for Congress, Tracy Solheim decided to put her fiction writing talents to better use. Since her debut novel in 2013, her books have been bestsellers both here in the U.S. and abroad. Tracy is also a regular contributed to USA Today’s Happy Ever After Blog where she writes about—what else—sports and romance. She lives in the heart of SEC country, also known as the suburbs of Atlanta, with her husband, their two works-in-progress, a Labrador retriever who thinks she's a cat and horse named after her first novel. When she’s not at the barn with her daughter or working out with friends (i.e. lifting heavy bottles of wine), she’s writing. Except for when she’s reading, but according to her, that’s just necessary research. See what’s she up to at www.tracysolheim.com.
Hi, Tracy! I’m excited about your new contemporary romance, SMOLDER. Please tell our readers a bit about this story.
Thanks so much for hosting me on the dish today, PJ! It’s always a pleasure to chat with your readers.
SMOLDER is the story of former army ranger, Sam Gaskill. He’s just relocated to Montana to take over a squad of smoke jumpers based in the small town of Glacier Creek. Sam has his work cut out for him trying to fill the shoes of the much loved captain who was killed in a freak accident months earlier. He’s also saddled (pardon the pun, but I couldn’t resist!) with his late wife’s prize reining horse. Sam can’t seem to let the last piece of his wife go. He ends up boarding the horse at the Whispering Wind ranch where he meets Laurel Keenan.
Laurel was Glacier Creek’s “it girl” for most of her life—a champion horsewoman, the mayor’s daughter, and wildly popular. Her chief goal, however, was to escape the town that defined her. But when she finally breaks free from her Montana roots, her plans are derailed by an unplanned pregnancy that sends her back home with her tail between her legs. She’s spent the last six years trying to live under the radar with her young son. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do in a small town.
Sam’s heart is closely guarded and Laurel can’t afford to get involved with another adrenaline junkie, but sparks fly anyway. It is a romance novel, after all!
SMOLDER is the first book in a new multi-author series from Tule Publishing. How many books will be in the series? What other authors are involved? Do you know when the other books will be released?
There are five books in this series and a planned second series that takes place in Australia. Writing can be a solitary business, so it was fun actually working on a project where it was more than just me coming up with ideas. I had to wait to start writing this first book, hoever, until the other authors were well into the planning stages for their novellas so that I could incorporate details of their characters’ backstories into SMOLDER. It was a lot like putting together a puzzle.
The second book in the series is called SCORCH and it was written by Dani Collin. Dani lives in Canada where wildfires have been raging this spring. She is donating a percentage of her books pre-sale profits to the Red Cross to help the victims of the fires. Nicole Helm wrote the third installment, IGNITE, and Karen Foley penned HEAT. Australian author Victoria Purman wrote the final installment, FLAME. The hero from her book lives on the ranch next door to Whispering Wind so readers will get to revisit familiar places and characters just as if the books were written by a single author. Best of all, they will be released on per week beginning this week with SMOLDER. Look for each book in the series to release on Tuesdays through the first week in July. They’re all novellas, so they’re perfect for an afternoon by the pool, lake or beach.
Laurel, our heroine, has grown up with horses and it’s apparent from this book that you have more than a passing acquaintance with them as well. What is your background with horses? Are you a rider?
Haha! I’ve become familiar with horses these past several years, but my experience is limited to holding the reins for my daughter who is an accomplished equestrian. Oh, and writing the checks for her “habit”. Her horse is actually named after my first novel, GAME ON. I spend a lot of time at the farm with the two of them. It’s my happy place. There is something poetic and serene about the way the horses move that brings me peace. I’ve often considered setting a story at a barn, so when the folks at Tule wanted this series to take place in Montana, I figured here was my chance!
It takes a certain type of courage to jump from an airplane into either a war zone or a forest
The scariest thing I’ve ever done was spend the day in an underground nuclear reactor. I was working for Congress at the time and we were investigating the safety measures and security procedures within the facility. I knew I was a bit wary of tight spaces, but it wasn’t until I had to descend a bunch of dark tunnels and shafts that I realized my claustrophobia was more than just “a bit”. Let’s just say that I had to be coaxed through the rest of the tour by my co-workers who didn’t let me forget it!
Your description of Lake MacDonald has me wanting to explore the wide open spaces of Montana (especially if they’re filled with hot smoke jumpers like the ones in SMOLDER). If you had unlimited time and money to get away from it all, where would you like to go?
Doesn’t Montana sound wonderful? When I was researching the book, I spent half the time planning out a family vacation to Glacier National Park. We’ve been to many of the parks in this country, but not that one. It’s now on my bucket list for 2017! Of course, if money wasn’t an object, I’d go to Bora Bora and write from one of those grass huts that sit out in the ocean. Or maybe a trip Down Under to see the wonderful places I love reading about in other author’s books.
Would you share a short excerpt with us?
Would you share a short excerpt with us?
Her eyes drifted over her shoulder to Russ’ solitary parachute. Sam was about to do what Russ had done—leap out of an airplane with nothing but the hope his jump cord wouldn’t malfunction. Or that an errant wind wouldn’t catch him and toss his defenseless body into the jagged limb of a tree.
A shiver of apprehension rocked through Laurel as she forced her gaze back into the office where it collided with Sam’s own hard stare. He’d finished with his backpack. Now he waited silently with his hip propped against his desk and his arms crossed over his chest. This time Laurel’s shiver was brought on by the hungry look in his eyes.
“Hi,” she said feebly.
A terse nod and a quirk of an eyebrow were all she got in response.
“Umm, Miranda says you’re going out on a jump?”
He nodded again. His arrogant silence was really beginning to get on Laurel’s nerves.
“Well, were you even going to let someone know?” she demanded.
There was a painful pause before he finally spoke. “Someone being who exactly?”
Laurel huffed in annoyance. “Someone being Tabitha, perhaps?”
A corner of his mouth turned up at the idiocy of her words, and that made Laurel even more annoyed.
“What’s she going to think when you don’t show up tonight, hmm?”
A slow grin spread across his face, revealing a mesmerizing dimple on the right side of his mouth. The potency of his unexpected smile had Laurel reaching for the doorframe to keep her balance.
“I mean, you should let one of us know when you leave so if something should happen to Tabitha. . .well, we’d. . .” Her voice trailed off when he gently wrapped his fingers around her wrist and tugged her further into the office. Before she could react, the door was closed and her back was pressed against it while his mouth laid claim to hers.
He kissed her slowly this time, as though he was taking her as a prize for some victory. Laurel wanted to be offended, but the feel of his tongue sliding suggestively against hers had rendered any arguments mute. Her fingers had somehow found their way into his short, wavy hair, surprisingly soft between her fingertips. His hands slid underneath her cotton sweater where he let his palms skim over her skin, leaving a trail of arousing heat in their wake.
“Say what you really came here to say, Laurel,” he murmured against her lips. “Admit that you wanted me to come upstairs and finish what we started the other night.”
“Did not!” Laurel’s protest might have sounded more convincing had her hands not been exploring Sam’s ass.
He grinned again. This time it had a bit of a ruthless edge to it, making Laurel’s insides somersault. Her body quickly made a liar out of her when Sam took possession of her lips one more time. She was sure he could feel the wild jolt within her as his mouth crushed hers. Her hips rolled restlessly at his, and she all but conceded defeat.
“It doesn’t matter what I want.” She practically wailed when his lips cruised to the spot near her ear that always made her knees buckle. “We can’t do this.”
“Mmm,” he murmured against her skin. “I have to go on a jump in forty minutes. The rest is going to have to wait until I get back.”
Laurel tapped her head against the back of the door in the hope of knocking some sense into her woozy brain. “No. That’s why we can’t do this. Now or ever.”
His face was hard again as he pulled away and Laurel’s body screamed at her in protest. She pressed her palms to the cool wood of the door to keep from digging her fingers into his T-shirt and pulling his body back against hers.
“That’s what I came to tell you,” she whispered.
“Do you ever say what you really mean?”
She hated that he had a point. “I have a little problem with impulsive behavior. But I’m working on it.”
“And what, I’m too impulsive for you?” he drawled, angrily. “Or not impulsive enough?”
Laurel pointed to the jump pack sitting ominously in the corner of the room. “Too risky. Your job is too risky, which makes you too risky.”
There was a brief flash of anguish in his eyes before he shuttered them behind the hard mask he’d likely perfected in the army. Laurel felt a spasm of guilt for having brought him any pain. But she had two hearts to protect—hers and Tyson’s.
“Yeah,” he said stoically. “It seems I’m destined to attract women who feel that way.” He reached behind her and pulled open the door. “We should be back on Friday sometime. Tell Tabitha not to worry.”
Thanks! What can we expect from you next?
I’ve got a few books in the planning stages, including a new football series featuring a new team. Readers will find some familiar faces from the Baltimore Blaze, but this team will be based in Milwaukee. And, they have a Scottish place kicker who might have some issues with his immigration status. Think “The Proposal” meets “Outlander”. And since I’m spending the good part of the summer in the town that inspired my Second Chances series, I’m working on a Christmas novella featuring the character from BACK TO BEFORE that readers wanted to see again—Diesel Gold. Keep checking my website for updates on these projects.
Thank you for visiting with us, Tracy! Would you like to ask the readers a question?
Yes, I’d love to follow up on your question to me, PJ. What is the craziest/scariest thing you’ve ever done? And, would you do it again! Any skydivers out there? I’ve got three digital copies of SMOLDER up for grabs. The prize is open to international readers. J
Buy links for SMOLDER:
B&N - http://bit.ly/1Z9cUZp
Kobo - http://bit.ly/27ZBdiu
B&N - http://bit.ly/1Z9cUZp
Kobo - http://bit.ly/27ZBdiu