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Getting Back to Delaney
Delaney McKenzie’s in a tailspin. With another failed relationship, a gallery nearing insolvency and a father urging her to abandon art for accounting, Delaney is tired of living her life for others. It’s time to finally figure out what she wants—in business, life and love.
Tyler Szymanski thought Delaney was as sterile as her gallery, until he glimpses the warm woman beneath the façade. He’s anxious to see more, but when he helps his brother Stirling open a successful gallery near Delaney’s, it’s clear she sees him as the enemy. With the help of his brother, he stages an “accident” that brings Stirling’s rich clients to Delaney’s door—and Tyler into her life.
But when the truth comes out, both Delaney and Tyler are hurt by accusations of mutual betrayal. It will take Delaney’s three little old neighbors—and one rambunctious puppy—to help these headstrong lovers learn that trust isn’t a one-way street.
The night of Tyler’s brother’s gallery opening found Delaney sitting alone across the street at one of the outdoor tables at Abbot’s Habit, watching in utter amazement as more and more people arrived at The Consortium. She had closed her gallery early and had had every intention of going straight home—when the lights, music and buzz of people drew her to The Consortium grand opening like a crowd to a hanging.
Morbid curiosity had her glued to her seat, even though it was a cool fall evening and she wasn’t dressed warm enough to be sitting outside. Mimi had brought her a cup of coffee generously spiked with Baileys Irish Cream that she kept hidden in the back room for special occasions. Delaney held the coffee mug in both hands and pressed it to her chest in an effort to stay warm as she took in the scene unfolding before her.
A searchlight shot a piercing beam into the night sky, which Delaney was sure could be seen from anywhere in Venice Beach. Cars pulled up to the front of the gallery where a valet station was set up. Doors were opened and beautiful people poured out onto a red carpet that led them to the gallery doors. Tyler stood at the door and greeted each person who entered like they were long-lost friends—smiling, shaking hands, kissing on the cheek, hugging, happy to see each and every one of them.
Watching Tyler made Delaney think about how she interacted with her customers, and she wasn’t pleased with the comparison. Other people came walking up the street to the entrance, having parked in one of the public lots a few blocks away since there wasn’t an open parking spot on either side of the street.
Where did he find all these people? Delaney wondered as she watched the cars continue to arrive.
With the white paper finally removed from the exterior windows, Delaney had a clear view inside the gallery from across the street. Lights attached to tracks suspended from the ceiling lit the place up, but unlike her place it wasn’t a stark, blinding light. The gallery’s internal walls were painted warm earthen tones that absorbed much of the light, leaving the paintings and sculptures spotlighted, drawing your eye to each piece.
Every time Tyler opened the door for a new arrival, music and laughter spilled out of the gallery, washing over Delaney like a flood. She felt like she was drowning in their success.
Sounds like everyone’s having a great time, but will they buy anything?
Anyone can throw a great party, she thought as she watched waiters walking around with trays of wineglasses and hors d’oeuvres. It’s quite another thing to get them to part with their money.
Mimi came out with a mug of hot tea and stood in the doorway. Today’s button read The best things in life aren’t things in bright-red letters. “Can you believe this?”
“Why aren’t you over there? Tyler said you’d been so helpful when he was putting this all together.” Mimi took a long sip of her tea. “You should go enjoy yourself. You helped make this happen.”
“This,” she said with a wave of her arm to indicate the gallery, spotlight and red carpet, “is all Tyler. He only asked me a few questions about selecting artists and how I decided what to hang.”
“Hey, isn’t that Patsy going in?” Mimi squinted as she looked across the street.
Delaney watched as Patsy, Barbara and two other artists from her gallery shook hands with Tyler before entering The Consortium.
“Traitors,” Delaney said without venom, feeling totally abandoned.
“You should go,” Mimi prompted gently. “He went to your openings…”
“To steal my ideas,” Delaney replied, even though everything she saw was bigger, better or different than what she did at her receptions. “If Tyler’s artist reception is the Academy Awards, then mine is a high school banquet in a stinky old gym.”
“Oh, it’s not that bad.”
As if to prove Delaney’s point, a white limo pulled up in front of The Consortium.
“Oh my God. Will you look at that!” Mimi exclaimed. “That’s Gordon Dean, the actor. I love that guy!” Mimi gushed like a teenager with a crush. “I’ve seen every one of his films, some even two or three times,” she continued as she untied her apron from around her waist and laid it over the back of the chair next to Delaney. “I just have to meet him. Maybe Tyler will introduce me. How do I look?” she asked, not waiting for a reply.
Delaney moaned as she watched Mimi head into the street. “Not you too?”
“I’ll only be a few minutes,” she called over her shoulder. “Take care of the place, will ya?” And then she was across the street and at the door.
“Great. Now I’m stuck here.” She watched as more and more people arrived.
Delaney estimated over a hundred people in the gallery. She considered it a good night if she had twenty. As she stared across the street through the large picture windows, she could watch the people move from one painting to another. It was like watching a silent movie without the subtitles.
She pressed her coffee mug between her breasts for comfort but the warmth was all gone. Another limo pulled up, this one a black-stretch job, and eight people piled out already in the party mood, laughing and talking loudly enough that Delaney could hear what they were saying. By the look of their clothing they were more Hollywood types, and one of them seemed to know Tyler well enough to give him a long hug. Delaney couldn’t stand it any longer.
How did he do it?
She decided to reheat her coffee inside and add a little more Baileys to ward off the descending gloom. By the time she returned to her spot, Tyler was no longer at his post. Holding the mug was keeping her hands warm and the alcohol was doing its part to heat up her belly, but her heart felt cold and sad.
“Come on, Mimi. I can’t watch this much longer.” Of course she could go inside where it was warmer but curiosity held her captive.
Some of the earlier arrivals were starting to leave and, to Delaney’s satisfaction, were leaving empty-handed. But just as she was about to congratulate herself, an older couple walked out the door with a huge piece wrapped in brown paper.
Judging by the size, a nice sale, Delaney thought as she watched the couple give their valet ticket to the runner.
One painting. They won’t be able to survive on one painting, especially with all these added costs—valet service, waiters, spotlight. It has to have cost him a small fortune. And for what? One little painting?
Just as she finished her thought, a woman walked out with another wrapped package and then her girlfriend joined her with a large bag.
Okay. Two paintings and a small package, Delaney conceded gloomily, taking a large swallow of her coffee.
As she sat there waiting for Mimi, more people began to leave—at least half of them carrying some kind of purchase. One guy even had his car brought around so he could load a large sculpture into the trunk. Delaney rested her elbows on the table and held her head in her hands, wondering when Mimi was coming back. Head down, eyes closed, she was startled by Tyler’s voice and jerked her head up.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Shouldn’t you be inside with your brother, reveling in your success?”
Tyler pulled out the chair next to Delaney and sat down. “To tell you the truth, I don’t much care for those Hollywood types. They laugh too loud, smile too big and act too important.”
“Then why did you invite them?” Delaney asked as the white limo pulled up to collect its passengers.
“To separate them from their money, of course.”
Delaney laughed in spite of herself. “I’d like to separate them from some money as well.”
“Maybe that can be arranged someday,” Tyler said, turning toward Delaney.
Delaney’s face was hidden in the darkness and so she hoped Tyler wouldn’t notice the single tear sliding down her cheek. But he must have seen something because his tone changed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked with genuine concern, which made his voice an even deeper and smoother.
“Gee, I don’t know… Could it be that your opening is a huge success and my place is struggling to stay a float? Could it be that my artists and friends have all abandoned me?” Delaney paused to watch Patsy and Barbara through the window, glasses of wine in hand, as they chatted with some of the Hollywood types from the stretch limo. “Why did you have to pick this spot, of all places?”
“This doesn’t have to be bad for your business,” Tyler said with a gentleness that made Delaney feel even worse.
Another tear rolled down Delaney’s cheek. Tyler leaned over and, using the tip of his finger, caught the tear before it could finish its journey. Delaney took a deep, shuddering breath to try to calm herself before looking directly at Tyler. With his back to the gallery, his face was in shadowed darkness, the light from the gallery creating a halo around his head.
An angel or the devil in disguise?
“Right now I’m having difficulty finding the silver lining in all this.”
“Maybe I can help,” Tyler reassured her, reaching across the table and lightly placing his hand over hers.
Delaney didn’t pull away from his touch. It was warm and made the hairs all the way up her arm tingle.
A voice called out from across the street. “Anyone seen Tyler?”
“Fame and fortune is calling,” Delaney said with a weak smile.
“Look. Why don’t we have dinner tomorrow night?” Tyler asked, gently squeezing her hand.
“I don’t know…” Delaney felt the warmth from Tyler’s hand flow up her arm, making its way closer to her heart.
“I’ll whip us up a nice meal and we can get to know each other. You can ask me all the questions you want. It’s only fair,” Tyler suggested, obviously trying to sweeten the pot.
“You’re going to cook?” Delaney couldn’t keep the surprise out of her voice.
“Nothing fancy. Do you like Italian?”
‘Okay. It’s settled then. I’ll pick you up at six.”
“I didn’t say yes,” Delaney protested as Tyler let go of her hand and stood up.
“Sure you did. Where am I picking you up?”
“1535 Andalusia Avenue.” Delaney stood up too.
“Great. Are you sure you don’t want to come see the gallery?” Tyler asked, looking back over his shoulder as he heard his name being called again. “Rolf’s work is truly amazing. I think you’d like it.”
“Maybe another time…”
“All right then. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He took Delaney by the shoulders and gently kissed her on the lips like he’d done it everyday.
Then he was gone, across the street with quick, light steps and into the gallery where he was swallowed up by the throng. Delaney just stood there trying to make sense of what had just happened.
He’d kissed her. He’d held her hand, wiped her tears and then kissed her. And she’d let him.
Oh no. No, no, no.
This man was not going to get to her. She had only agreed to dinner so she could pick his brain, steal some ideas and save her gallery. She wasn’t interested in him at all—not interested in his deep, sincere voice or his surfer-boy body and especially not interested in being kissed again by his warm, inviting lips. She was going to let him cook her dinner and then extract as much information from him as she possibly could. Then she was never going to see him again.
A screaming Mimi rushed across the street calling out her name, saving Delaney from her traitorous thoughts.
“You’ve got to go over there and check it out!” Mimi was shouting from the middle of the street. “It’s amazing. I can’t believe how many people are there. I met Gordon Dean! Yeeeeee!” she squealed, clapping her hands together. “He’s even better looking in person, and so nice. He kissed my cheek! I’m never washing my cheek again. And Tyler’s brother, Stirling, what a doll! Why, he’s even better looking than Tyler. And you should see the art! Big, bold pieces with prices to match. Yikes! No wonder they invited all those rich people.” Mimi took a quick breath and continued on. “Next time I’m keeping this place open. I’m sure people would love a cup of coffee or tea before they head home. Tyler thinks it’s a great idea.”
Out of breath from talking so rapidly and running across the street, Mimi finally stopped, noticing Delaney’s wet eyes. Her voice softened as she said, “I’m sorry I was in there so long. You want to go home, don’t you?”
“Yes. I’ve wallowed in self-pity long enough. Think I’ll go home and drown myself in a bubble bath.”
“Now, now. It’s not that bad. Your gallery openings are lovely.”
Delaney cocked her head. “Lovely? Maybe. Successful? No. I’m going home.
Thanks for the Baileys. It helped take the edge off.”
“Anytime. Thanks for watching the place.”
Mimi picked up the empty coffee mug and wrapped Delaney in a long, warm hug before going inside.
Delaney took one last look at The Consortium, the party still in high gear, before starting her lonely walk home.
If you love somebody but want to change them, then who is it that you actually love? The other person, or possibly just yourself? Christie Walker Bos’s novel Getting Back to Delaney is about a woman who has spent her life trying to live up to the ideals and expectations of others – to be who they want her to be – until she realizes that she needs to be true to herself for a change.
If I had to use one word to sum up this entire novel, it would be this: delightful. Ms. Bos has written this story with an irresistible undercurrent of humor that netted me very early on, capturing both my attention and my emotions until the very end. While the setting is beautifully rendered and the story flows with an easygoing style that makes reading it a pleasure, the crowning glory of this novel is unquestionably its characters. Ms. Bos has done a wonderful job giving us characters we can believe in and then making them shine. The main characters – Delaney and Tyler – are well-drawn and sympathetic, with quirks that make them both loveable and entirely human. And they share a trait that you don’t frequently find in romantic fiction: they are both over forty. I found this to be both refreshing and realistic, perhaps because I, too, am on the “other” side of forty, but also because this story acknowledges the fact that forty does not equal decrepit and that many people do not truly find their place in life until their middle years. The way that Delaney and Tyler fit together feels very right. When they aren’t busy bonking heads, they are easy and relaxed together. And most importantly, they enjoy each other, and that fun is an integral part of the love between them.
If I had to choose favorites in Getting Back to Delaney, however, I would have to choose the three awesome old ladies who live next door to Delaney: Rose, Gwen, and Amelia. These three refer to themselves as “observant busybodies,” and while they serve partly as comic relief, they also inject a big dose of heart in the story. You simply have to love them, whether they’re antagonizing the neighborhood gossip, serving tea and brownies with questionable ingredients, or simply giving Delaney the love and support that she so desperately needs.
So what did I like about this novel? What’s not to like? I thoroughly enjoyed Getting Back to Delaney: it is filled with life and color and is...yes... just plain fun. It left me with a smile on my face, and that makes it one heck of a good read in my book. Reviewed by BD Whitney at BookWenches. Rating 4.75
A Light and Fun Read
Getting Back to Delaney is a light and fun read. It is easy to get lost in the world of Tyler and Delaney. Delaney’s neighbor ladies are delightfully amusing and made me chuckle more than once. Christie Walker Bos’ contemporary romance is a joy to read and is highly recommended. Received 4 Cups. Reviewed by Bonnie for Coffee Time Romance & More
A Charming Tale Full of Betrayal, Love and Utter Joy
GETTING BACK TO DELANEY gives readers insight into a woman’s journey of self discovery. Delaney’s lost her sense of ‘self’ amongst all the expectations and demands of those around her but with a little help from the unlikely “godmother-like” trio next door, a mischievous puppy and a new love interest she finds happiness and a new lease on life. Tyler is utterly charming and just wants to live his life free of the Hollywood jet set crowd which is kind of hard when your father is an actor. Tyler and Delaney have formed opinions and expectations of each other which could lead to heartache if they aren’t willing to open up and be honest about who they truly are and what they want. Christie Walker Bos has created a charming tale full of betrayal, love and utter joy in just being who you truly are – and let’s not forget the pleasure to be found in excellent friendship and baked goods containing suspicious ingredients. Some little old ladies have such devious minds. Received Five Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies. Reviewed by Chrissy Dionne.
An Awesome Story
Christie Walker Bos' Getting Back to Delaney is an awesome story that operates on a couple of different levels. A great tale of getting to know yourself and learning to trust both yourself and others, it also demonstrates accepting the differences that make people special. I enjoyed this story and hope to see more of Ms. Bos' work soon. Received 4 out of 5 stars by Manic Readers.
Rich & Vivid Setting for Realistic, Lovable Characters
Getting Back to Delaney is a wonderful story of the journey to find strength from within and the importance of honesty. Delaney has realized there is a pattern emerging in her life and she needs to find the strength to break the cycle. Tyler is there to offer his support and expertise, knowing full well he could help Delaney achieve her goals in life. After what has happened in her past, it’s completely understandable that Delaney is weary but her caution threatens to destroy something with real potential. Tyler’s secrecy isn’t helping either. Christie Walker Bos has created a rich and vivid setting for realistic, lovable characters. At first I found the detail put into their surroundings slightly overwhelming but it was no struggle whatsoever to continue on and I was rewarded for it. If you like immersing yourself in the lives and loves of others, sharing their joy, frustration and sadness, as I do, I strongly recommend Getting Back to Delaney. Received 5 Nymphs at Literary Nymphs Reviews Only.
THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE ROMANCES OF THE YEAR!
Delaney McKenzie feels like she's been shaped by the men in her life and isn't happy with the results. When Tyler Szymanski comes into her life she refuses his input, thinking he's just another in a long line of people who don't want her for who she is. With the help of her three elderly but feisty neighbors and the love of a puppy she names Belle she struggles to put her art gallery and her life in order.
Christie Walker Bos has written one of those funny, fun, at times serious, stories that draw us in. Delaney's life is so much like that of many people it's impossible not to relate in some ways to her tale.. Tyler has problems of his own as the son of a famous father who never seems happy with his children's choices in life.
There are many warm, lovable characters in this book helping to drive the storyline to an inevitable and welcome ending. The journey is full of concoctions lovingly prepared by her neighbors to help Delaney when she hits the doldrums! Her ex boyfriend Pablo is one of those self serving, egotistical men that we love to see put in his place by Delaney when his true colors shine through the façade. Tyler has to struggle to win the love of this woman who's finally able to realize her own self worth as a person.
I'm glad the author doesn't make the path too difficult or too easy for either of the main players because I agree with Rose, one of her neighbors, that they're meant for one another! Ms. Walker Bos does a great job showing that they have complementing strengths, the kind of qualities that make the best relationships. This is one of my favorite romances of the year! Dee Dailey, The Romance Studio
Sensuality rating: Very sensual
Reviewer: Dee Dailey
December 8, 2008
A GOOD SOLID READ
Delaney McKenzie dumps her boyfriend after finding him having sex with another woman. Furious she tells him they are through and to get his stuff out of her gallery. Then she moves into a new house and instantly makes friends with the three old women who live next door. Things finally start going right for her except for the surfer who keeps showing up and flirting with her. She’s attracted to him, but she doesn’t trust herself since she’s made such bad choices when it came to men in the past.
From the minute Tyler Szymanski walked into Delaney’s art gallery there was something about her that drew him in. Even though he was helping his brother to open a gallery right down the street from her he still wanted to get to know her. But it seemed that for every few inches he gained she pushed him a few feet back. Then his famous family gets drawn into things with them and he fears he’s lost any chance with her he might have had.
These characters not only had to learn to trust in each other, but themselves as well. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a traditional romance with a heroine whose strength shines through. All in all a good solid read. Reviewed by Night Owl Romance Score 4 out of 5