Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#JeepTour by Gail Ward Olmsted Joins the #RockingSummerRomance List

Jackie Sullivan was drawn to the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona after a failed marriage and an out-of-the-blue job loss. But did she move cross country to chase a dream or a dreamy tour guide?

She had it all – the husband, the house, the job…but that’s in the past. A chance encounter with Rick, a sexy tour guide, gets her dreaming of a new life in Sedona.  Jackie’s efforts to re-invent herself in the tight-knit desert community are, well … complicated.  Sedona is terrific, but as the locals note, ‘it’s not for everyone.’ Does Rick want a relationship or just a friend with benefits? And in the case of her ex-husband, absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder!  Is it her imagination, or is Rob more amazing than ever?

With her 40th birthday looming, Jackie challenges herself to navigate a new path fueled by an unflagging sense of humor and lots of caffeine.  Jackie has already had her happy; now she wants her ever after!


Over the next hour or so, Rick showed us the sights. We traveled up steep inclines and down narrow trails. We bounced over an old wagon road that used to be a cattle trail. I loved how enthusiastic he was about everything, how he seemed to delight in all the beauty and unique qualities of the desert. Also he was very knowledgeable- he really knew what he was talking about. Rick identified the unofficial state flower- the prickly pear cactus.

“It’s edible and is used in so many different things. You should try the prickly pear jelly. We can barely keep it in stock in the gift shop” he assured us.

“Hmmm. Sounds nummy” Linda purred. Honestly!

At one point, we got out to stretch our legs, and Linda and Kate hurried off to take more pictures. Actually Kate was taking the pictures that Linda was telling her to take, but whatever their dynamic, it allowed me to get to know Rick a little more.  Just a little bit. Rick was a better listener than a talker, so I ended up doing most of the talking. They say nature abhors a vacuum? Well, so do I! At even a hint of a potentially awkward silence, you can count on me to jump in to save the day.  I told him about how I was up for tenure and that the decision would be announced any day now. I may have flirted a bit in my rather awkward yet endearing manner. I may have hinted that as a college professor, I had summers off.  I may have even suggested that I had access to a boatload of frequent flyer miles. I was trying to subtly communicate my potential availability without being too forward. Hey, use what you’ve got, right? To be truthful, those miles had been racked up by my jet-setting ex, but I’m pretty certain that I had some coming to me as part of last year’s divorce settlement. So I talked and Rick smiled and looked thoughtful and said things like ‘Is that right?” at all the appropriate moments.

A little while later, we left the mesa somewhat reluctantly as the views were stunning for miles, but Rick assured us that there was plenty more to see. I was becoming more comfortable around him and hopefully more appealing as the afternoon wore on. He was receptive to my chatter and we really seemed to hit it off. Linda and Kate had already clambered back into the Jeep and I saw that Linda had relinquished her seat up front to me. I was thrilled to be that much closer to our engaging tour guide. And the amazing vistas. And the tour guide.

“C’mon Jackie, we’ve got places to go and rocks to see” Rick called out.

“OK, Rick. I’m coming.” I responded with probably a bit too much enthusiasm. I could get used to agreeing with him, if you know what I mean.

Quick Questions for the Gail -

Iced Tea or Lemonade?       Iced Coffee, but in a pinch I'll do 1/2 - 1/2 iced tea  lemonade!

Lake or ocean? Sit by the ocean, sail & swim in a lake

Sandals or Flip flops?  FlipFlops - is owning more than a dozen pair a sign of anything??

Sit in the shadow of a tree or on the front/back porch? Sit on a back porch

Ball cap or floppy hat?

Floppy hat


Gail Ward Olmsted is a professor in the School of Business & Information Technology at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA.  She was the recipient of the Deliso Endowed Chair Award and was recently recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Department of Higher Education as one of “29 Who Shine”.

Olmsted’s first visit to Sedona, AZ prompted her to start writing JEEP TOUR, her first novel. A few years later, her second visit provided the incentive to complete it. A return trip is being planned! A hopeless romantic, she is married to the love of her life, is mom to two young adults, and enjoys reading, music and travel. 

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