Today, I'm trying something a bit different-no interview, but just a review of Lauren clark's delightful book, Dancing Naked in Dixie. Lauren will be awarding one commenter on the tour a $25 Amaazon GC, so be sure to leave your email address when you comment. Now, a bit of background before my review.
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?
Excerpt from Dancing Naked In Dixie
I’m a travel writer at Getaways magazine. Paid for the glorious task of gathering up fascinating snippets of culture and piecing them into quirky little stories. Jet-setting to the Riviera, exploring the Great Barrier Reef, basking on Bermuda beaches. It’s as glamorous and exhilarating as I imagined.
Okay, it is a tad lonely, from time to time.
And quite exhausting.
Which is precisely why I have to get organized.
I sink into my chair and try to concentrate. What to tackle first? Think, think.
Third reminder. Uh-oh.
Marietta rolls her eyes and jerks a thumb toward the inevitable. “Guess you better walk the plank,” she teases. “New guy’s waiting. Haven’t met him yet, but I’ve heard he’s the ‘take no prisoners’ sort. Hope you come back alive.”
I grope for something witty and casual to say, but all of a sudden, my head feels light and hollow.
I’ve been dying to find out about the new editor.
Every last gory detail.
“I’m still in another time zone,” I offer up to Marietta with a weak smile. My insides toss from side to side as I slide out of my chair.
Marietta tosses me a wry look. “Nice try. Get going already, sport.”
I tilt my head toward the hallway and pretend to pout. When I look back, Marietta’s already disappeared. Smart girl.
“Fine, fine.” I tug a piece of rebellious auburn hair into place, smooth my wool suit, and begin to march toward the inevitable.
Our new editor.
My neck prickles.
I’m not going to worry. Not much anyway.
My pulse thuds.
Not going to worry about change. Or re-organization. Or pink slips.
Dancing Naked in Dixie is a delightful mix of romantic comedy and suspense, with a big helping of down home Southern charm, and a dose of truth thrown in for good measure. Ms. Clark has a way of mixing facts and fiction to bring about a very engrossing and charming tale of romance, greed and betrayal, with a twist of wry irony through it all. Just when you think you know what is going on, something comes by and changes the whole scene on you, making you want to read more and more.
The characters are all well developed, from Julia Sullivan, the slightly jaded travel writer looking to her next location, and being ever so slightly disorganized, to Shug Jordan, Julia’s host and the epitome of the handsome Southern gentleman. These two, and the supporting cast of characters are most definitely people worth knowing.
Learning who’s who in Eufaula Alabama is just the beginning of Julia’s assignment, and I loved watching as she became immersed in the laid back life of the south. Ms. Clark gives us a look at nearly every southern stereotype: the beauty queen, the strong willed matriarch and the stubborn head of the house whose word is supposed to be law. But then, she puts a twist to each personality, and soon no one is who they seem to be. I am going to keep the surprises to myself-no spoilers here-but I will say that the biggest surprise of all was Julia’s new editor/boss at the magazine, and the history surrounding them.
There is a big conflict, and the road to love for Julia is rocky at times. And when things turn dangerous, she is not sure who to trust. But just when things look darkest, Julia learns some life lessons about what is important, to her and to sleepy and beautiful Eufaula Alabama.
I enjoyed the brief history lessons threaded through this story. The Pilgrimage is the celebration Julia is there to cover and actually exists, and is a major event every year in Eufaula. I loved learning about the historic old homes, and how they were in danger of disappearing in the name of ‘progress’ if people didn’t step up. I love the romance of this location, where life proceeds at a much less harried and hurried pace, and where people take time to actually talk to each other.
Watching as Julia discovers what has been missing in her life, and the slow and easy way that romance builds for Julia and Shug in spite of the many obstacles they encounter is a true joy, and I could not put this one down. Do Julia and Shug find out who is behind all the skullduggery in town? Can Julia figure out what her new boss was trying to tell her? Can a big city girl and a Southern gentleman find love in lovely Eufaula Alabama? I’m not telling, you’ll just have to read Dancing Naked in Dixie to find out the answers to these questions, and the secret behind the title.