What if you could live the life you've always dreamed of -- but never pursued? What if your choices -- married or single, career or motherhood, city or country -- could be made all over again? Bestselling author Eileen Goudge ponders "what might have been" in this tender, provocative tale of two best friends who exchange lives -- and discover the surprising places where their deepest joys and satisfactions live.
Jessie Holland is a journalist on the rise in New York City -- and she wouldn't trade her walk-up apartment or her 2:00 a.m. sushi takeout for anything. Only lately, she's been in search of a hot story, and praying her career isn't cooling off. When her editor at Savvy magazine poses a compelling question -- can you ever really go home again? -- Jessie spins the fantasy into a feature story. Could she return to her western hometown and be truly content? Can a bona fide New Yorker exchange her subway pass for an SUV and find happiness?
Erin Delahanty appears to have an enviable life as the owner of a popular bed & breakfast in a picturesque Arizona town. What's less visible are the escalating fights between Erin and her husband, Skip, and the tensions that are affecting their teenage daughter. When Skip unexpectedly leaves her, Erin turns to her best friend Jessie for comfort -- and is handed a stunning proposition: Come live in Manhattan for six months, while Jessie runs the inn and steps into her shoes.
Neither woman has anything to lose: Jessie's romance with recently divorced news bureau chief Jonathan Silver is at a crossroads, while Erin needs time to sort out her marriage. But the choices and challenges they face in their new worlds take them both by surprise....What began as a daring magazine article will change both women forever. Can you go home again? Find out in this surprising and emotionally compelling novel from one of the freshest and most original storytellers of our time.
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March 14, 2005
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Excerpt from Otherwise Engaged by Eileen Goudge
"I won't be long. My house is just down the road," Jonathon said as he pulled into the Great Neck station, its parking lot nearly deserted this early on Saturday. "You're sure you don't mind? It's just that it'd be sort of awkward, with Rebecca and all." He eyed Jessie anxiously.
"Really, Jon, it's okay." She flashed him her best we're-in-this-together smile.
They'd discussed it, and she'd told him she didn't mind waiting at the station while he picked up his kids at his ex-wife's, so as to avoid a possible scene. The truth was she did mind, but only a little, and why rain on the parade? He'd arranged this outing so she could meet Zach and Sara. She wasn't going to dwell on his calling it my house, which was only technically true. Nor would she think about the message it would send his kids, that Daddy's girlfriend wasn't quite kosher. She must avoid even using such words as kosher?his family didn't need any reminders that she wasn't Jewish. Like the other day, when she'd mispronounced his Uncle Chaim's name, to rhyme with shame, and Jonathon had corrected her, saying it was Hiy-am.
"Thanks, Jess." His eyes were soft with gratitude, and she felt an answering tingle, reminding her of why she'd fallen in love with him in the first place. Besides looking like he'd stepped from the pages of GQ, he was caring and sensitive, with just enough of an edge to make him interesting. Now all she had to do was pass muster with his kids?.
"No problem." Her mother had raised her to be a Good Sport, which meant that unless you were bleeding to death or having a heart attack, you sucked it up. Noting the flicker of uncertainty in his eyes, she placed a hand on his wrist, adding, "It's easier for everyone this way."
She was unbuckling her seat belt to get out when a wave of panic swept over her. "What if they don't like me?" She twisted around to face Jonathon, her stomach executing a slow cartwheel at the thought.
He frowned in consternation, absently brushing back the adorable Clark Kent comma of dark hair that was in the habit of falling over his brow. "It's bound to be a little awkward at first," he said in that slow, thoughtful way of his that let her know he was taking her concerns seriously. "But once they get to know you, I'm sure they'll love you as much as I do."
She wasn't so sure. Her stomach did another lazy half turn. "Still? I wonder if this is such a good idea." They were driving up to his parents' house in Rhinebeck. Jonathon saw it as a chance to kill two birds with one stone?introduce her to his kids and his folks all at once but she was afraid she was biting off more than she could chew. Her best friend, Erin, back in Willow Creek, had advised against it, but when Jonathon first suggested it, Jessie had been so excited to be taking this next step, to be a part of his life, not just the faceless Girlfriend tucked away in the wings, that she hadn't thought it through at the time.