Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer - Excerpt

Hello, everyone! Yesterday marked the release of Liza Palmer's latest, Girl Before a Mirror, and thanks to the publisher I get to share an excerpt here with you guys.

Here's a little bit about the book from Goodreads before we dive into the excerpt:

An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account. 

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control. 

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story.

Readers, I seriously love Liza Palmer's work. Total fangirl love! So of course I'm super excited to be able to share a bit of her new book with you, to hopefully entice you to go out and buy it and experience the fabulousness of her work for yourselves!

Girl Before A Mirror (Excerpt)
Liza Palmer

"I don't understand what Bruce Springsteen has to do with why you haven't been on a date in over a year," Hannah says. 

"You haven't heard the 'Thunder Road' story?" Michael laughs. 

"Everybody has a 'Thunder Road' story," I say, smiling at the approaching waiter as the single candle flickers in the scoop of very pink gelato. My friends sing me "Happy Birthday" and I can't help but smile. They're off-key and terrible. 

"Make a wish!" Allison says. 

A moment. I close my eyes and breathe in. 

You can wish for anything, Anna. You're forty now. Forty. 

My mind riffles through the wishes I have for this next year as if they're in a virtual photo album: me atop mountains, the breeze blowing my hair back. The pages flip and now we're in Paris, meandering through a farmer's market. Flip. Drinking a pint of Guinness overlooking all of Dublin. Flip. A red gingham tablecloth, a picnic, and the Jefferson Memorial. The flips are growing more manic. A gray-shingled cottage in a small beach town along the California coast. Flip. Fresh, lavendery linens, a perfect Sunday morning with nowhere to go, and a muscular chest beneath my cheek. Flip. I'm dressed to the nines and accepting the Clio. Flip. I'm lying on the grass and covered in squirming golden retriever puppies. 

I open my eyes. Everyone is staring at me. Concerned. 

"It's just a wish, not an exorcism," Ferdie says, taking a swig of his beer. My mind goes blank and I blow out the candle. I'm forty years old and I have no idea what to wish for. 

My friends clap as I pull the candle from the gelato and lick the end. Raspberry. The other desserts arrive and we all dig in. 

"So, the 'Thunder Road' story," Allison asks, pulling the chocolate monstrosity she and Michael ordered closer to her. 

"I went out to dinner with this guy who worked in my building. He seemed nice enough." 

"Seemed being the operative word," Nathan adds. 

"Never a good sign," Hannah says, taking Nathan's hand in hers. He makes no attempt to hold Hannah's hand back. She smiles and picks up her fork, digging into her tiramisu. We all let her think we didn't see. We've been not seeing Nathan's annoyance at Hannah for years now. 

"Dinner is fine. Not terrible. Worthy of a second date, anyway, and as we're driving home, 'Thunder Road' comes on the radio," I say, stopping to take a bite of my gelato. 

"That's such a great song," Ferdie says. 

"Somehow I don't think that's where the story is headed," Hannah says, laughing. Nathan rolls his eyes. 

"I just wanted to put it out there. It's not the song's fault," Ferdie says. 

"Always the protective brother," Hannah says. 

"He's being protective of the song, not me. So," I say, nudging Ferdie. "So this guy starts singing along—not really knowing the words, but enough. Enough for me to think better of him, you know?" 

"Knowing the lyrics to 'Thunder Road' is a definite plus on a first date," Michael adds. 

"Right? And it was one of those beautiful D.C. nights right before the summer turns evil and there we are: windows down and singing along with The Boss. Then we get to that part—" Allison pulls her cardigan over her face, attempting to shield herself from what's coming next. Michael barks out a laugh and she continues to cringe as if both I and the story I'm telling are some kind of horror film. "We get to that part, 'you ain't a beauty, but hey you're all right.'" The table gasps in unison. I continue, "And the bastard motions to me." I raise my eyebrows and hold my hand aloft. "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're all right." And then I just sit back and nod. 

"Your wedding vows are writing themselves," Michael says, cracking both of us up. 

"No. That . . . that didn't happen," Hannah says. 

"Oh, yes it did," I say, taking another bite of my gelato. "And he just . . . he just kept singing?" Hannah asks. 

"Like nothing had happened. Like he was just hilariously acting out the song," I say. 

"No no no no no," Hannah says, picking up her wineglass. 

"And it was right then—and you know I don't care about looks, but I sure as hell know that the person you're dating should think you're the most beautiful woman in the world," I say. I catch Michael gazing at Allison as she finishes off their chocolate cake. Hannah and Nathan can't make eye contact. 

Ferdie gives me that sheepish grin of his. I know he hates this story, but telling it helps. "I needed a break. Ever since the divorce, I'd been way too focused on moving on with the wrong kind of men. But in that moment, I knew enough to know I was nowhere near ready for the right one." 

"So you put yourself—" 

I interrupt Hannah. "On a Time-Out, yes." "Since when?" she asks. 

"It was just before summer last year, so—" 

"A year? You've been doing this for over a year?" she asks. "I needed to take some inventory," I say. 

"You needed a training montage. We get it," Michael says. "A training montage?" I ask, laughing. 

"Yeah, you needed to run through North and South Philly while being thrown oranges and then hit sides of beef," Michael says absently. We all just look at him. He finally notices our expressions. "Please tell me you know what I'm talking about." 

"Oh, we know," Ferdie says. "Oh, we got it," I say. 

"Thank God, I thought I had to get a new group of friends there for a minute. Who doesn't know about Rocky?" Michael asks. 

"The question is: Are you at the Philadelphia Museum of Art yet?" Allison asks, clearly more used to Michael's Rocky analogy than the rest of us. 

"That's the only question?" I ask. She laughs. 

"No, I get it. Are you ready for the fight? Ready to step into the ring?" Michael asks. 

"I think you're taking this whole Rocky thing a bit too far," I say.

I will be taking part in the TLC book tour for this title, so be sure to come back on February 3 to check out my review.

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