Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From the Start

From the Start
(Walker Family)
Melissa Tagg
(Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764213076
April 2015/352 pages/$13.99

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?

Read an excerpt.


Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft-and-coaching community for writers. When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She's passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.


I met Melissa Tagg a year or two ago and could immediately tell she was an author to watch. As I read her debut novel and subsequent releases, that prediction was confirmed. Her new Walker Family series continues with yet another charming tale full of engaging and authentic characters and a plot that drew me in. . .well, right From the Start! She truly does a delightful job of developing her characters and making their issues relatable to readers. The wonderful town of Maple Valley and its close-knit inhabitants drew me in, making me want to move there. The fresh, fun, romantic thread adds to the appeal of this novel and the pages fly by. Colton's childhood background touched my heart, and his efforts to use his experiences to reach out to others, such as Hawk, will inspire you. Don't miss From the Start and the free novella introducing this series, Three Little Words (which I reviewed here last week)!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Melissa Tagg and Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


1. What’s the premise for From the Start?
Kate Walker is a romantic-movie scriptwriter who isn’t sure which is worse—the fact that no one wants to buy her latest script or the reality that she stopped believing in true love and happily ever after (and thus, her own stories) long ago. Colton Greene is a quarterback whose whole world is football and the woman he thinks he’s going to marry. When both are ripped from his life on the same day, he’s left without a game plan for his future. In a last-ditch effort to hold on to his career, Colton agrees to release a sports memoir. Only problem? He needs a writer. Kate Walker fits the bill . . . even if she’s not too up on her football knowledge. The unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their lives, but old wounds and new dreams turn what should be a quick project into a complicated tangle.

2. What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
Oh my goodness, I had so many moments with this book when I said out loud, “Melissa, seriously, what were you thinking?” Because at the outset, my football knowledge was so basic I’m not even sure it counted as “knowledge.” Thankfully, I have some very football-savvy friends. And thanks to YouTube, I was able to watch some game replays. I may have also used the football angle as an excuse to rewatch Friday Night Lights.

3. Your romantic comedies have been compared to classic movies. Did your love of classic movies make its way into this story?
Yes! Somehow that obsession tends to creep into all my stories, but it’s a bit more obvious in this one. My main character, Kate, is named after Katherine Hepburn. And there’s a key scene later in the story in which Kate and Colton watch the very first classic movie I remember watching: Bringing Up Baby.

4. You’ve said From the Start is the hardest story you’ve written. How so?
I think the reason From the Start was so hard to write is that I prodded much deeper into my own emotions in this story than I have in the past. There are big pieces of me in all the stories I write, but From the Start probed some of my more vulnerable places. My heroine, especially, embodies some of my own insecurities. She struggles to feel like she’s doing something important with her life. She wishes she were as brave as the characters she writes. She has trouble admitting what she wants and how she feels, even to the people closest to her. All of which is very...me.


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