BACK TO BEFORE: Good Feels All Around!



BACK TO BEFORESecond Chance series #1
by Tracy Solheim
Publisher:  Berkley/ Penguin Group (USA) Publication date: 1/6/2015
Formats: Mass Market Paperback/epub | Pages: 320 | ISBN-13: 9780425275801

E-Galley Provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


Back to Before takes readers back to Chances Inlet, North Carolina, the scene of Foolish Games.  In this book, Gavin gets his second chance at love.

Chances Inlet, North Carolina, has an infamous power for second chances. But its charms are lost on the town’s favorite son—until she comes along…

When his father’s sudden death puts his family’s construction business in serious debt, architect Gavin McAlister is forced to put his dream career in New York on hold. Making matters worse, his fiancée calls it quits. Desperate to return to his big-city life, he discovers an opportunity to save his family, one that has him reluctantly starring in a home restoration TV show.

Former soap star Ginger Walsh hopes this job as a TV makeup artist will lead to better things. So far it’s only brought her to a hamlet full of people who don’t like her—except Gavin. After a wild night out leads to Ginger waking up in Gavin’s loft—and the rest of town talking—the two of them soon wonder if getting back to before is what they want. Because being in each other’s arms certainly feels like what they need.


sq_blue_my_takeThis was a charming and steamy book that had nice characters who were on a parallel course to romance.  Tracy did a great job plotting the story so the main characters’ past and paths enable a relationship that doesn’t have to overcome dislike to get to hot monkey love. Instead their like the puzzle pieces that make the picture more complete.   Most of the obstacles have to do with problems like money, reputation, and a little pigheadedness on Gavin’s side of the equation.

Tracy spins this off from her Out of Bounds series, and shows she can go from a sports-based romance to the intricacies of a small town affair with dexterity. I actually like this better than the sports based series because the characters feel a little more real to me. And, who doesn’t like the idea of a place where everyone knows everyone and even the town screw up are accepted?  I live in a smallish town, and grew up in one so this gives me good feels. But, it’s not with out some good down and dirty hotness either!

Instead of the usual “hate is the other side of love” trope, Tracy draws parallels in their lives which help them understand and feel sympathy for each other.  Some people stand in the way out of love but have enough problems of their own to be too much of an obstacle.  Gavin and Ginger have had similar disappointments that have required them to change gears in life.  Both felt pressured by their parents to work in a certain field.  And, for some reason Gavin felt he was entirely responsible for fixing his late-father’s screw ups.

That Gavin’s mother, who is my age, is also in a super hot relationship, is an added bonus.  Yes, women my age aren’t all old, dried-up crones! Yay!

I would have liked to have a little more insight into one of the mysteries I suspect will be revealed in the next book in the series. And, Gavin’s issues with money and being on his own with his father’s issues feel somewhat contrived.

It is, as one character points out, a little “It’s a Wonderful Life-ish” but, a hot book that leaves you feeling good about people and events and that celebrates their finer points even as they grow is nice.

My favorite part of the book comes when Gavin’s mother, Patricia, tells his brother Miles that maybe we can’t prevent others from being hurt in relationships we can only be there to support them if that happens.   Did I mention that Miles is a bit of an ass-hat?  I also love that there is a close friendship between a man and a woman that is not sexual and which transforms but is not left behind.

Tracy even does a great job providing color in the personalities of the support characters. I loved Bernice, who is a bit like a character from TV who I can almost, but not quite, place, and Morgan; both are the right blend of crotchety and funny.

This one gets a HUGE THUMBS UP and I can’t wait for the next!