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?
Take a peek at an excerpt from the novel, below...
“I’m off to Alabama.”
There’s a rush of noise and a gust of chilled air blows through the restaurant. A crowd of people breeze inside, stomping snow off boots, calling out to friends. Much to my dismay, they settle at the empty table right next to us, the loudest drunk to my immediate right.
Andrew sets down his Red Stripe and stares at me. “What did you say? Atlanta?”
“Al-a-ba-ma,” I sound out the word, enunciating each syllable so that he can hear me over the shouting.
“Alabama?” Andrew is baffled and rightly so. He expects me to announce a place like Amsterdam, Alaska, or Albania. An exotic, exquisite, or unusual locale. Not small-town U.S.A. “Is he crazy?”
“Yeah. Screw him!” I say. All around me, heads turn.
The drunk behind us perks up. “Yeah, that’s right. Go for it! But, um, get a room,” the guy warbles, his words slurred. Swaying a bit, he turns his chair to leer at me.
I flush a deep shade of fuchsia-pink. Andrew shoots the guy a withering look. The man grins and winks. Then, like a good drunk, he goes right back to his friends.
“Thanks. It’s a long story,” I murmur. Suddenly, I am exhausted. I don’t want to talk about work, my new boss, or my assignment. I don’t want to talk about my possible unemployment. Most of all, I don’t want to talk about the future. Our future. My future. Or anyone else’s future.
I would like-very much-to go home.
Ever the gentleman, Andrew complies, hailing me a cab, prepaying the driver, and rattling off my street address. The snow’s tapered off now, the night sky is clear, and stars wink at me overhead. I smile, thinking about Chanel Lipstick and Cashmere Wrap’s predictions. Not even close to the dire storm the ladies expected.
That’s weather in New York. Unpredictable, at best. As is my life.
Andrew presses a kiss on my forehead. “Get some rest, Julia. Call me,” he says. After I scoot inside the cab, he closes the door behind me, and waves as the taxi pulls away from the curb.
In a past life, I was 100% a Southern Belle. I am completely obsessed with all things Deep South, and I wish that I lived in a place where everyone drank sweet tea and said "bless your heart". I totally yearn for that slower Southern pace of life. I'd love to have grown up in a gorgeous Antebellum mansion, wandering Magnolia-lined, sun-dappled streets everyday. And for the few hours I spent absorbed in Dancing Naked in Dixie, I did just that, even though it was somewhat vicariously...
Dancing Naked in Dixie was a whirlwind of a book, frothy and fun, and completely Southern. From the very first "bless your heart" I knew I was in for a treat, and I was not disappointed! I really adored Julia. Though at first she seemed to me like a typical, flustered, big-city girl, racing through life without stopping to smell the roses (I really need to lay off the cliches!) as the novel went on, I came to relate to her a lot. And I was so jealous of her job as a travel writer! Speaking of characters that I loved, oh my goodness, Shug. What a babe! Smart, handsome, and seriously sweet, he was just my perfect leading man. And I can only imagine his absolutely amazing Southern accent. I need me some Shug in my life!
At first seeming like yet another fluffy chick lit novel, Dancing Naked in Dixie soon reveals a whole heap of unexpected drama and scheming going on beneath the surface. Like a deliciously deceptive cupcake, it may look like nothing but sweet, sweet sugary goodness, but on the inside it's nourishing and wholesome, and surprisingly filling.
Anyway, enough with my terrible analogies!
A lot was going on in this book, especially toward the end, and I really didn't expect that. For me, this totally brought the novel up a notch. Romantic and warm-hearted, this book is one of those comfort reads that are great fun and oh-so likable, with more than enough plot to keep you turning the pages. It was also packed full of interesting, lovable, and exceedingly charming characters, who you want to read about. I can see myself re-reading this book in the South one day, curled up on a lawn chair, underneath a humongous old tree.
Dancing Naked in Dixie is a lovely girly read, and one that I definitely recommend. I had been so excited to read it, and Ms Clark did not let me down! I read it in next to no time because I was that into it, and I cannot wait to get my hands on her other books some day.
PS: I am so going to live in Eufaula one day!
May the South rise again! 4 Roses!
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. She is the author of Stay Tuned, Dancing Naked in Dixie, and Center of Gravity (October 2012).
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.