Introducing The Curl Up and Dye, the start to a new series by author Sharon Sala. Sharon Sala, who has also written under the name Dinah McCall, has 85-plus books in print, published in four different genres. The Curl Up and Dye is her first foray into women’s southern fiction described as ‘Wally Lamb meets Steel Magnolias’ in which Sala introduces the residents of Blessings, Georgia. At the heart of this community lies Ruby Dye’s beauty salon, privy to the romance, drama and secrets of the small town and its characters.
I had the chance to ask two questions of Sharon Sala after reading her prequel novella, Color Me Bad. Read on to discover her answers, and my thoughts about The Curl Up and Dye.
Q: What was your worst hair dye experience?
Sharon Sala: The worst hair color experience I ever had was when a salon owner used a shampoo especially for women with gray hair (I’ve had gray hair since I was 30) and it turned my hair purple. It was a nice shade of lilac but I was appalled, just the same.
Q: Why do you think clients spill their secrets to hairdressers? What is the most indiscreet or funniest thing you have overheard in a salon?
Sharon Sala: I think people tell secrets everywhere, but a beauty shop makes people feel better about themselves, and when they do, they usually talk about everything. The funniest thing I ever heard at a beauty shop was from a kid about ten years old. His mother had dropped him off to get a haircut and as the lady was finishing his haircut, the boy piped up with the information that his Mama was going to pay her when she got back, and she hoped to hell the check didn’t bounce. LOL
LilyAnn Bronte was once the envy of her high school classmates. Sweet, popular and beautiful she was valedictorian, head cheerleader, crowned ‘Miss Peachy-Keen Queen’ and dating star quarterback, Randy Joe. But then Randy was killed in Afghanistan, having enlisted after the tragedy of 9/11, and LilyAnn’s blessed life fell apart. Grieving for her fiance, she withdrew and ten years later she is overweight, out of shape and alone, still visiting Randy’s grave every week. Its the arrival of a handsome stranger in town that finally inspires LilyAnne to reinvent herself, unaware that his notice is not something you would want.
While a large part of this story is about LilyAnne’s efforts to rebuild her life, the focus is firmly on the romance between LilyAnne and her neighbour, Mike Dalton. Having been in love with LilyAnne since the tenth grade, Mike is hoping that the changes she is making will include the way she sees him, but she remains largely oblivious until Ruby, the owner of the Curl Up and Dye Salon, chooses to give them both a little push. The development of their romance is beset by miscommunication, misguided attempts at provoking jealousy and the misinterpretation of intentions, and though a happy ending is never really in any doubt, it is satisfying when LilyAnne and Mike finally get it together.
What did surprise me was the subplot involving the stranger, T.J. who proves to be a nasty piece of work. I really wasn’t expecting some of the violence that occurs during the course of the novel, and it may be confronting for some readers caught unawares.
To offset the drama there is humour and southern snark, quirky characters and a charming small town atmosphere. The Curl Up and Dye beauty salon is the place to which all the characters gravitate, best introduced in Sala’s prequel novella, Color Me Bad, in which LilyAnne briefly appears.
The Curl Up and Dye is a quick, engaging read blending romance, drama and humour. Well known for her romantic suspense fiction, Sharon Sala is sure to pick up some new fans with her foray into southern fiction who will be looking forward to revisiting Blessings as the series progresses.
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