Eat Your Heart Out Starting Over Book 2 by Shirley Goldberg Genre: Romantic Women's Fiction, Chick-Lit, RomCom
When a tyrant in stilettos replaces her beloved boss, and her ex snags her coveted job, teacher Dana Narvana discovers there are worse things than getting dumped on Facebook. Time for the BFF advice squad, starting with Dana's staunchest ally, Alex—hunky colleague, quipster, and cooking pal extraordinaire. But when the after hours smooching goes nowhere, she wonders why this grown man won't make up his mind.
Alex Bethany's new lifestyle gives him the confidence to try online dating. What he craves is a family of his own until a life-altering surprise rocks his world. He knows he's sending Dana mixed messages. Alex panics when he thinks he's blown his chance with his special person. From appetizers to the main course will these two cooking buddies make it to dessert?
Funny and bittersweet, Dana and Alex's story will have you rooting for them.
Bora Bora on Chapel Street was the best after work spot for people watching and enjoying beer on a splendid afternoon. The kiss of the afternoon sun urged me closer to drowsy and relaxed. It had been a while since Alex and I had been out together.
“Look. On the other side.” I gestured with my chin. My mean girls, poised to cross the street against the light, a trio of teenettes, primped and pouty and aware of their power. I widened my eyes and slipped down my sunglasses, nudged Alex, who wasn’t paying attention, with my elbow.
“Your ten o’clock.” I could almost smell their perfumed perfection from a block away. “I’ll bet they ignore us. If they come this way.”
The Snotties headed down the street to our left, but I had no doubt we’d been sighted. Mr. Bethany and Ms. Narvana. Together.
“You will. When they spread the word. The whole school—”
“Enough shop talk, Ms. Narvana. Don’t be an alarmist.” Alex chin-jabbed in the direction of two twenty-somethings crossing the street. “See that couple there? Well, she hates it when he sneaks a smoke late at night in the kitchen downstairs, wearing nothing but his argyles and tighty-whities.”
I leaned over to whisper into the crook of his arm, breathed in his faint piney scent with a hint of beer breath. “When they’re at her parents’ place, house sitting, they do it in the master bedroom, secretly hoping the parents will come home early and catch them en flagrante.”
Alex made a face that gave him a bedraggled look. “En flagrante, huh? You revised my story. I’ll let it go this time because you added clever details.” Using his radio announcer voice. “And she used foreign words.”
“My turn, smartass,” I said. He had trouble keeping a straight face.
After Alex escorted me to that fabulous dinner at Union League and kissed me, we’d spent a few weeks waving hellos across the corridor. Two or three cancelled planning sessions later, it was clear he was backing off.
Until today when he asked if I wanted to go for a beer. So now, I needed to warm up to him. Again.
As it turned out, warming to Alex was all too easy. This likability irritated me.
“Give me a target,” I told him.
“Your three o’clock.”
Two women walking, chatting and laughing. “Former lovers,” I said. “The one in red has gone over to the other team, but they’re still friends. Now she’s telling her ex-partner about sex with her new man.”
Alex’s raised his eyebrows and wiggled them, the classic bad actor, and I almost burst out laughing.
“May I change the subject?” Alex asked. I shrugged, and he continued. “I read about this study done in Massachusetts. On happiness. Questions as part of the census. People were asked how happy they were, on a scale of one to ten, with the town, its facilities, the police department. They even had feeling questions, such as whether people ask for advice, bond with fellow workers, or how the environment affects their mood.”
“Your point, Mr. Bethany?”
He stared ahead. “The little things in life are the true happy moments.”
“Like taking a beach walk before dinner or stir-frying chicken and vegetables in the wok,” I said. “Sam dropping by unannounced. Role playing with you. Little things.”
“Are you saying I’m one of the little things?”
I wanted to tell him he was endlessly entertaining and non-judgmental. Refreshing. Hooked by Alex in the brief time we’d worked together, ad-dict-dict-dicted to picking his brain. He broke through my reserve, loosened my joints, especially my funny bone joint, so I laughed more carelessly and eased up on the analyzing.
“You’re not one of the little things,” I said without a hint of a tease.
Starting Over Book 1
Sunny Chanel's marriage is circling the drain when her husband marks his colonoscopy on the calendar and ignores their anniversary. With divorce papers instead of roses on the horizon, she says "au revoir" Paris and croissants, and "hello" cheap New Haven apartment and ramen noodles.
Encouraged by her friends, Sunny jumps into online dating, twenty-three years and twenty pounds after her last date. To her surprise she discovers dating might require a helmet, and occasionally armor to protect her heart, but after years of being ignored, her adventurous side craves fun and conversation. She's middle-aged not dead. Then suddenly, on the way to reinventing herself, life takes a left turn when the one man she can't forget calls with an unexpected request.
I slouched at my computer and peered at the screen. The letsclick.com dating site was becoming my best friend.
The first email in the lineup was from Luke. Soulmate Guy, I called him, because he was the first who’d talked about the soulmate thing—even though there were 7,000 other guys online clamoring for a soulmate.
Cute, too, with Jeff Bridges hair. Jeff still had hair, didn’t he?
A popcorn sound startled me––newbie dater that I was––and a cartoon bubble appeared on the screen with Luke’s image. Would you like to chat with Luke?
Well, that was a dumb question. I hit the yes button. Yes, yes I would. Chat was the site’s version of texting and this was my first time.
--Luke: Hey, got a few minutes? This messaging is friendlier than old school emails. How goes it? Back from vacation. Went to the island. So different there in the winter. Beautiful in a different way. Just came home from doing a little bar dancing. I stayed about an hour. Every once in a while, I do that on a tense night. This was my tense night.
--Sunny: Tense, shmense. What’s wrong?
--Luke: One of those old girlfriend things. We have a lot in common—biking, riding, skiing, and some total madness thrown in, but she doesn’t give me space. It’s complicated.
— Sunny: What’s with the old girlfriend thing? If you’ll be so kind as to be my dating mentor, I have a question. Dating mentor, is it wise to redate old girl/boy friends?
--Luke: Absolutely not, are you nuts? My prob is I don’t like being alone. I like sharing things with someone.
--Sunny: So what is it you look for in a woman? Really, I’m not fooling around here.
--Luke: I know you’re not. I’m taking your question seriously. Well, I’m past craving the 30 year olds with zero body fat and total flawless skin. That is a truly good thing since I’m 54 and they wouldn’t want me anyhow. But our bodies are important, the only one we have, so I can’t pretend I don’t care about the shape a woman is in. I like smiles, legs, arms, necks. You get the picture. Oh, can’t forget that erotic zone called the mind. That’s most of it.
--Luke: I can’t stand it anymore. I’m signing off here so I can call you. Give me your phone number. Please. Now--
Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who's lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look into dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middleageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.
Sunny Chanel (Middle Ageish) and Dana Narvana (Eat Your Heart Out) are the heroines of Shirley’s rom coms. In this conversation, they talk behind her back.
Sunny: Is this weird?
Dana: What do you mean weird?
Sunny: We’re characters in books and we’re chatting as if we’re real people.
Dana: Not so odd. We’re friends in the books.
Sunny: True. I guess we should introduce ourselves. I’m Sunny Chanel, the main character in Middle Ageish, Shirley’s first novel.
Dana: I’m Dana, Sunny’s BFF in her book.
Sunny: You have your own book now, though. How do you feel about that?
Dana: You sound like my therapist.
Sunny: I’m the one with a therapist, not you.
Dana: Hey, no spoilers. Not everyone has read Middle Ageish.
Sunny: Sorry. Aren’t we supposed to be introducing Shirley?
Dana: You start. Give the readers a heads-up about her background. Why she wrote the book.
Sunny: I’ve always wondered myself. All I know is she did a lot of online dating and she took notes in the ladies room. You know, when she was on a meet with a guy.
Dana: So let me get this straight. She’s on a date. And she excuses herself to go into the toilet and takes notes? On her phone?
Sunny: Pretty much. I don’t know if she used her phone.
Dana: It would be efficient.
Sunny: Yes, she dated a ton of guys. You wouldn’t believe how many guys I had to do the ole meet-and-greet with to keep the story moving forward.
Dana: She got a whole book out of that?
Sunny: She writes fiction. Haven’t you heard the advice writers get, to write about what they know.
Dana: I’ve heard that. I’ve got to give her credit. She makes a trip to Walmart funny.
Sunny: No, she doesn’t. But we’re getting off track here. The book is about starting over. Not so easy when you’re a little older. And Shirley was living in Crete. Teaching English.
Sunny: Right, she moved back to Connecticut and started over.
Dana: And we met when you moved from Paris to New Haven and enrolled in the grad program. Just like Shirley did.
Dana: Are you saying the book is autobiographical?
Sunny: Not really, but who can tell? I think all writing is somewhat autobiographical.
The author forces you to do things you might not want to do. Fifty and dating. I could have stayed married.
Dana. Your marriage was circling the drain, as I recall. Anyway Shirley likes writing about relationships. They aren’t easy. It’s a wonder two people come together, much less stay together.
Sunny: True. So in Middle Ageish, I move to New Haven from Paris and go back to school. Meet you and you issue the dating challenge that starts the ball rolling. That’s after three glasses of wine. But Shirley’s the one who forces me to date. And breaks my heart.
Dana: Me too, although I didn’t date as much as you.
Sunny: What’s Eat Your Heart Out about?
Dana: Friendship. Women. Men. Alex, another teacher, and I are the main characters. Two foodies. We sauté together, banter, and dance around each other. No spoilers here.
Sunny: Shirley said she writes to make readers laugh.
Dana: Yes, but in between the funny stuff there’s binge eating, bullying, and well, real stuff we all face. It’s bad when your boss is the bully.
Sunny: So, I heard you’re dating someone. And it’s serious.
Dana: Can’t talk about it here. No spoilers, remember?
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