February 28, 2013

Historical New Adult: The Heiresses by Allison Rushby

In our efforts to include every possible genre and follower, here is a small featurette on Historical New Adult. As this genre is newly coined I'm sure that we've all read informal New Adult novels in the past whether it's Regency romance or turn of the century novels. After all, women in the past usually skip their YA years as they're married off by the time they hit puberty and are already ridden with children before they get past 20. 

But there are some previously printed novels that falls loosely under New Adult. Anna Godberson's Luxe Series is one of those and I'm guessing her other series, Bright Young Things, might also fall under the genre.

Fellow Godbersen fan, Allison Rushby, just launched her 20's flapper, New Adult series, The Heiresses, last January 7, 2013, as a six-episode series featuring a set of triplets. What's good about this serial is that you can start with the shorts, get a feel of things to see if you like it before getting the novel itself. On May 7, 2013, the novel will be released by St. Martin's Press. Here Allison sharing a bit of trivia on the making-of The Heiresses

Three triplets—sisters estranged since birth—are thrust together in glittering 1926 London to fight for their inheritance, only to learn they can’t trust anyone—least of all each other.

The Heiresses 1
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When three teenage girls, Thalia, Erato and Clio, are summoned to the excitement of fast-paced London—a frivolous, heady city full of bright young things—by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had, they are shocked to learn they are triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother's fortune. All they need to do is find a way to claim the fortune from their greedy half-brother, Charles. But with the odds stacked against them, coming together as sisters may be harder than they think.

The Heiresses 2: The Inheritance
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After quickly settling into their aunt’s London townhouse, the girls soon meet their half-brother, Charles, an up-and-coming politician who would like nothing better than to see them disappear and his family name left intact. He refuses to bestow any of their inheritance upon them unless all three leave the city for good. The girls decide to form a united front and fight Charles together. However, when Clio—desperate for money for the ailing mother who adopted her—approaches Charles without telling anyone, she finds out a secret so shocking it could change everything forever. 

The Heiresses 3: Secret Meetings

Relationships are strained as keeping secrets begins to take a toll. With each sister now having something to gain, but even more to lose, they each need the inheritance money more than ever. But when their lies are finally revealed, who will the winner be?

The Heiresses 4: Sisters Divided

Intoxicated by the city, Thalia receives attention for her wild behaviour and society begins to ask questions. In the meantime, the final sister—desperate to impress her crush with her status—approaches Charles for money. But what game will Charles play now that he knows the sisters are all willing to betray one another?

The Heiresses 5: Mistresses and Mayhem
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Disgusted with Charles and his cruel tricks, the girls finally agree to band together in hopes of finding another way to win the fortune from Charles. However, when Thalia runs into trouble at a party and one of her sisters has her sent away, it divides the girls even more fiercely than before. Only a chance encounter which reveals a shocking truth about their mother might be able to bring them together to defeat Charles—once and for all.

The Heiresses 6: A Father's Sins
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With a wedding on the cards, the future looks bright, despite the sisters now doubting they will ever claim their mother's fortune from Charles. But when the threesome realize they have overlooked a key person in their quest and a series of terrible events occur, the true owner of the entire fortune is finally revealed and the girls' destinies are changed forever. 

You can always grab the novel if these will keep you wanting...

Pre-Order The Heiresses

Having failed at becoming a ballerina with pierced ears (her childhood dream), Allison Rushby tried writing instead. This is working out a lot better for her as it means she can sit on her backside most of the day and eat a lot more than a ballerina ever could. Plus, she can wear her pyjamas until midday and her book, movie ticket and DVD purchases are tax deductions. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Over the past ten years, she has published five books for young adult readers and five for adult readers in the women’s fiction genre. She is originally from Brisbane, Australia, but spent 2011 and most of 2012 living in Cambridge, UK, where she mainly spent her days whingeing constantly about the weather.

Bright Young Things Welcome

St. Martin's Press The Founder of New Adult + Giveaway

As I'm not very familiar with the New Adult genre, my research became educational too. I have to say it was easy looking up self-published or Indie New Adult authors because they've been very straightforward in using said label in their book descriptions, press release and the like.

I however found roadblocks with the big traditional publishers. It seems they haven't assimilated this new and popular burgeoning genre. Even some of my contacts were a little clueless about what New Adult is and if they even have books that belong to this genre. 

It was after my short chat with Allison Rushby where she candidly informed me that the phrase was coined by Dan Weiss (the brains behind Sweet Valley High, a series Debbie and I love) who headed St. Martin's Press New Adult line. 
New Adults. Dan Weiss, publisher-at-large of this new venture at St. Martin's, explains that New Adult literature will be geared toward "emerging adults who are navigating career, love and family in a 24/7 connected world."

But what subject matter will the New Adult genre include? Common sense assumes that "new" adults deal with the same issues as all adults, except that they may be dealing with these issues for the first time: first job, first home, first relationship. Therefore, New Adult fiction will most likely focus on young people, college age, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the modern adult world.  [more here]
To launch this new genre, St. Martin's Press ran a contest for fiction writers and stories that would fall under the category. Initially people were thinking that New Adult is a spin-off of chick-lit and the genre might have started off like as such with girl power undertones but it quickly evolved into a more powerful and emotionally jarring genre that hooked a lot of readers especially the twenty-something set who love Young Adult.

And to pay homage to the Father of New Adult, here are a couple of titles from St. Martin's Press.

Beginner's Luck: A Brooklyn Girls Novel
Brooklyn Girls 1
Gemma Burgess
July 2, 2013
Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable, Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her brand new series about five twenty-something friends—Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine—sharing a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn, and discovering the ups and downs and ins and outs of their “semi-adult” lives. The first story belongs to sophisticated, spoiled, and stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed, unemployable, and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and an unfortunate history of Facebook topless photos to do? Start a food truck business of course! Pia takes on the surprisingly cutthroat Brooklyn world of hybrid lettuce growers, artisanal yogurt makers and homemade butter producers to startSkinnyWheels—all while dealing with hipster bees, one-night-stands, heartbreak, parental fury, wild parties, revenge, jail, loan sharks, playboys, karaoke, true love, and one adorable pink food truck. And that's without counting her roommates' problems, too. Gemma Burgess has captured the confusion, hilarity and excitement of the post-graduate years against a backdrop of the pressures and chaos of New York City life, with heartfelt empathy, fast humor and sharp honesty.

A charming debut series about five twenty-something girls and the humor, heartbreak, and drama that bring them together.
Pre-Order Beginner's Luck

Gemma started writing anti-romantic comedies for girls who like chicklit that comforts and charms without the silly fluffy bits. She lives in Notting Hill in London, but grew up all over the place – mostly Hong Kong. She loves talking and writing, not necessarily in that order.

She also loves burgers, vodka, white-tipped Marlboro Lights, OK GO, Sixteen Candles, Lucky Jim, anything from Nora Ephron and Jilly Cooper, new wave music and clothes.

Follow Gemma

Semi-Charmed Life
Nora Zelevansky
July 3, 2012
In Nora Zelevansky’s hilarious debut, Semi-Charmed Life, an Upper West Side naïf, Beatrice Bernstein, gets swept up in the seemingly magical life of socialite Veruca Pfeffernoose, while ghost writing her blog. Veruca’s glitteringly opulent world soon seduces Beatrice away from her own insular, arty family with a promise of fancy parties, travel outside Manhattan (for once) and one desperately cute guy. But when her new glitzy lifestyle starts to take on dark undertones, Beatrice has to decide who she is—once and for all. With her own magical touch, Zelevansky deftly explores the world of rarified Manhattan in this sparkling modern fairy tale of first love, finding one’s voice and growing up.
Purchase Semi-Charmed Life

Nora Zelevansky was born and bred on Manhattan's Upper West Side. She attended the Calhoun School, studied film and visual art at Scripps College (of the Claremont Colleges) and moved to LA after graduation. Recently, she relocated back to Brooklyn, NYC, where she now lives with her husband, a filmmaker.

When the author is not writing novels, she is a freelance journalist, essayist and features writer for publications including ELLE, SELF, Town & Country, Vanity Fair online, Travel + Leisure,, The Los Angeles Times, and many more.

*She loves participating in BOOK CLUBS, so reach out via Twitter or if you're interested in having the author Skype or call in!

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St. Martin's Press is giving away two print copies of
Semi-Charmed Life (US Only)
Contest Ends March 5

Good luck!

February 27, 2013

Writer Wrangler + Giveaway: Michelle Mankin

Who doesn't love or fantasize about rock stars?! Michelle Mankin stops by to talk to us about her rock stars in her hit New Adult series Black Cat Records.

Braine: Hi Michelle! Thanks for taking the time to come chat with us about BLACK CAT RECORDS. Can you tell us something about Black Cat Records that we won't find in the book blurbs?

Michelle Mankin: Black Cat Records is the premier independent record label in the music industry and represents some of the hottest names in the business including Brutal Strength and Chris Alex.
psst the CEO, Mary Timmons, though a militant feminist is secretly a romantic with an affinity for matchmaking...

Braine: Very cool! What can be cooler than owning a record company and working with bands and artists?! What book/s influenced you and your writing the most?

Michelle Mankin: Shakespeare and the theater obviously. I adore his characters and plot twists...thus these first three books with Black Cat and the Shakespeare angle.

Braine: Which line from Black Cat Records is your favorite?
Love is a journey not a destination. (Marcus Anthony quoting his father)


The places that road will take you, the things you'll experience are worth all the uncertainty. (Avery Jones)
Braine: Perfect song to describe Black Cat Records.
My life was empty before you came along
You filled my soul with passion helped me sing my song
(from "Love Evolution" music & lyrics by Marcus Anthony and Avery Jones)

Would I have started down that road?
If I'd known where it would go?
That the road I traveled down
Would lead to leavin' you.
(from "The Road that leads to leavin' you" music & lyrics by Chris Alex and Sara Daniels)
Braine: I wish we have a clip of them singing those. Now tell us, was your own New Adult phase similar to that of your characters?

Michelle Mankin: Heck no. I wish. I was married at twenty and putting myself through college.
Love EVOLUTION... features Avery a nineteen year old guitar prodigy
Love REVOLUTION...features Sara a country diva and Sam her twenty one year old sister who is an intern at the label. 

Braine: I still think a lot of readers can relate to that. What is it about Black Cat Records that readers will find compelling?

Michelle Mankin: Love, Rock 'n Roll, and a Shakespearean twist 

Braine: ROMANTIC! Can you share a little trivia with us regarding the conception of your characters (inspiration, anecdotes, dream cast, etc.)?

Michelle Mankin:MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC is my inspiration and my muse. Goals in both books: show love between the main characters, love of music, and love of fav city!

Love EVOLUTION: Foo Fighter's Wasting Light album...watched hours of youtube concert video, documentaries, etc so homage to them is sprinkled throughout the book.
Key song: "I should've known"..."He's a she, Marcus!" Guess which scene was inspired by the Foo's garage band contest?

Love REVOLUTION: John Mellencamp
Key song: "Into the night"...guess which kiss it inspired?

Braine: What's are you writing next?

Michelle Mankin: Love RESOLUTION. Rough draft done. 50 chapters and an epilogue. Planning for a late May release. Marcus and Avery on the road with the band. And its a bumpy bumpy ride. 

Braine: What book did you recently purchase?

Michelle Mankin: Binging on Kristen Ashley right now...I blame.. two book bloggers for this. They know who they are! 

Braine: Ha ha! I bet they're happy to be the source of your new addiction. Aside from your books, what other New Adult novel or series do you recommend?

Michelle Mankin: Beautiful Disaster, Slammed, Flat out Love were my top three faves last year

Braine: Thanks again, Michelle, for stopping by! Read on for the giveaway!

Michelle Mankin is a young/new adult romance writer as well as a self proclaimed giant... inside of her own mind!

For many years she worked in the insurance industry as an underwriter. Somehow, the boredom didn't kill her but the hour and hours of looking at facts and figures provided ample time for her mind to wander.

Love Evolution and its sequel, Love Revolution, are her first two novels. Both our rock 'n roll romances. The first is based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The second is based on Much Ado About Nothing. They are the first two books in a planned trilogy using the plot underpinnings of Shakespeare combined with the drama, excitement, and indisputable sexiness of the rock 'n roll industry.

When she is not putting her daydreams down on paper, you can find her traveling the world with her family, sometimes for real, and sometimes just for pretend as she takes the children to school and back.
Fan Girls & Boys Welcome

Be a shameless groupie

Purchase Black Cat Records

From Love Resolution
Black Cat Records 3

Reclining against the back of the garden tub with her eyes closed, Avery knew the moment he stepped into the room by the way her body reacted, tingling with an awareness that had always been there between the two of them. Even when she’d been disguised as a guy.

Heat that had nothing to do with the warmth of the bath flooded her veins. She opened her eyes to find him leaning back against the door frame looking at her with a heavy lidded gaze. Steam billowed from the white porcelain mug cupped in his masculine hands. Slowly, the focus of his gaze lifted from where her breasts peeked out above the surface of the bubbles to her face. Looking pointedly at the mug, she arched a brow. “Is that for me?”

“The tea you mean?” Marcus asked suggestively, giving her a sexy half smile.

Avery reached out with a soapy arm to take the mug he offered her. “The tea will do… for now,” she said, playing along. Blowing over the top before taking a sip, she sighed with pleasure at the first taste of the rich exotic brew. Warmth from the tea slid down her throat while the passionate expression on Marcus’ face fueled warmth of a different sort.

Purposefully, she sat up further in the water, feeling the bubbles sliding down to her narrow waist. Eyes darkening to deep sapphire followed their path with focused concentration. She started to bring the tea to her mouth again when he abruptly reached for it and removed it from her hands.

The mug clattered as he set it down on the black granite countertop. He grabbed a thick white bath towel off the warming rack. Wordlessly, he unfolded it and held it outstretched for her to step into. “You are so beautiful,” he said watching her rise from the tub.

He wrapped her flushed body in the soft heated towel and swept her off her feet. Cradled tight to his rock-hard chest, she found herself swiftly carried to the bedroom. Her heart hammered excitedly against her ribs as he laid her out on the king sized bed and began to caress her body. With calloused fingertips he expertly stroked her like an instrument that he had mastered. She’d never had a lover like Marcus. Not that there had been many before him. But she could never have imagined anyone making love to her the way he did. Like it was a physical expression of what he felt inside his soul.

He ran his hands across every inch of her sensitized creamy white skin plucking lightly in certain areas, circling teasingly in others, always seeming to intuitively know where and how to touch in a way that would give her the most pleasure. By the time he covered her body with his own she was trembling and ready and moaned deep in her throat at the exquisite feeling of completion she felt when he finally brought their bodies together.

Over the past week she’d sensed his lovemaking taking on an even higher level of intensity than usual like he was savoring each moment. Now he made love to her so tenderly and so patiently that it took only moments before he’d coaxed from her the ultimate crescendo. And as it always was between them, after she cried out his name, he soon followed, dampening her vocal release with his mouth over hers, like he was drinking in her essence.

Michelle Mankin is giving away SIGNED paperback copies of 
Love Evolution and Love Revolution plus some swag!
Swag mobile; evolution/brutal strength band bracelet and a couple of BS tattoo
Contest open for US, Canada, Australia & UK residents.

Good luck!

Writer Wrangler + Giveaway: Jennifer Echols

YA favorite Author Jennifer Echols stops by today to talk about her upcoming contemporary and paranormal New Adult Novels, Dirty Little Secret and Levitating Las Vegas.

Braine: Hi Jennifer! Welcome to Talk Supe and thanks for accepting our Crazy Stupid Love invitation. 

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is a country music themed novel set in my hometown of Nashville. Did you listen to a lot of country music as research for the book? Do you have a favorite?

Jennifer Echols: I did load up the soundtrack for this book with country favorites, but I have always listened to country music. I listen to all kinds of music, mind you, but country was part of my upbringing. When he was in college, my dad played guitar with a folk group that recorded commercials for a radio station here in Birmingham. When I was a baby, he taught himself to play banjo. We watched Hee Haw every time it came on because one of the hosts, Roy Clark, was a banjo player. We listened to bluegrass in Dad's truck. He worked a lot, but if he was home, he was probably wandering around the house, playing the banjo, or blasting the Statler Brothers on the stereo and playing along. Now that he’s retired, he spends a lot of time at bluegrass gatherings here in Alabama, and every summer he goes to banjo camp in Nashville. During camp he’s even played on stage at the Station Inn, which is probably the most famous bluegrass concert hall.

As for a favorite, wow, no. There are too many! But I’m thinking of putting some soundtracks together for my web site so readers can get a sampling.

Braine: Great idea. We readers love book sountracks. Did you make a trip to Nashville?

Jennifer Echols: Yes. I knew what was going to happen in the book and where, but I wanted to go to Nashville once more and walk through it to make sure I got it right. My husband and I spent a weekend there and it was SO MUCH FUN. We toured the wonderful Country Music Hall of Fame, saw Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley and the most amazing bluegrass band at the Grand Ole Opry, and listened to countless superb bands in the bars lining Broadway. The place is sparkling with energy. I can’t wait to go back.

Braine: I hope you do a book signing here soon! The blurb os DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is about sibling rivalry. Do you have siblings? Was your rivalry as intense as Bailey's and Julie's?

Jennifer Echols: I did compete with my older brother, but it was kind of a lost cause, really, because he was perfect. (He went to medical school without graduating from college first. Just…ugh.) I do think I’m channeling some of those feelings into Bailey. But I also think you have no IDEA how intense sibling rivalry can be until you are both the same gender. I explored that with boys in Endless Summer.

Braine: Yup. I have a sister and I promise you, catty doesn't begin to describe it. From a writer's perspective, is there a big difference between writing YA and NA?

Jennifer Echols: Not for me. I just put my characters in situations that seem realistic for their age. So younger YA is different from older YA, which is different from NA, which is different from adult romance.

Braine: You have another NA coming out in May, LEVITATING LAS VEGAS & it has a sci-fi/supernatural element to it. What kind of Supes are the characters?

Jennifer Echols: The heroine can levitate objects (and herself), the hero can read minds, and other characters can control people by changing their minds about decisions. All these powers are similar in that they can be suppressed with the same drug, which is what has happened to the hero and heroine for years. When they come off the drug, watch out.

Braine: The blurb hints at some intense romance. What's the heat level of LEVITATING LAS VEGAS?

Jennifer Echols: This is a hard question for me to answer, always. I just think of the heat as going with the book, because the sexy times rise naturally from the action. I think the book is super hot and beautiful and I laugh just thinking about it, but I’m biased. ;)

Braine: I was lucky enough to have gotten an ARC. I want to read it soon so I can be in on the private joke. Holly Starr, the heroine in LEVITATING LAS VEGAS is a magician's assistant. Have you seen a lot of magic shows? Which one is the most memorable?

Jennifer Echols: I saw Penn & Teller in Vegas and it was glorious. Penn & Teller’s whole shtick is that they admit they’re not doing magic while they are doing something amazing right before your eyes. Their act is very bare-bones, and it will blow your mind.

Braine: I have to take note of that. Among your books, which one is the closest to your own personal story?

Jennifer Echols: The very first one, Major Crush. I was the first female drum major of my high school band. I was fifteen years old, in charge of 175 people, half of whom were boys and half of whom were older than me, and I struggled with a lot of the issues of leadership that Virginia struggles with in the book. Virginia’s story is better, though, because she’s cooler than I ever was, and then there’s Drew. * * sigh * *

Braine: Now I want to read Major Crush out of sheer curiosity! What are you working on now?

Jennifer Echols: I just turned in Playing Dirty (Stargazer #2), my second adult romance, which will be in stores October 29. The first one, Star Crossed (Stargazer #1), will be out February 26. Don’t read these if you don’t like extremely hot sexytimes. Just don’t go there.

Braine: I love extreme sexy times!

Jennifer Echols: Today I’m starting on an outline for the second book in my YA romantic comedy series about high school seniors who are selected as senior superlatives. The first one, which I turned in last week, was about two very unlikely people elected Biggest Flirts. This next one is about the Cutest Couple That Never Was—people their friends think should date, but never have. (And so they do, to see what that would be like.) There’s a third book, too. They're all coming out with Simon Pulse in 2014 and 2015.

Then I’m writing a proposal for another book in the vein of DIRTY LITTLE SECRET, and a proposal for a sequel to LEVITATING LAS VEGAS, and a proposal for a sequel to Star Crossed and Playing Dirty. So let me just remind everybody that this is a crowded and rapidly changing marketplace, but one thing remains the same. Publishers buy sequels to books that sell well in the first couple of weeks after they’re published. They do not buy sequels to books that don’t sell. So make sure you’re supporting the writers you love. That’s the best way—the only way—to see more books by them in the future. This goes for me and for anybody you might enjoy reading.

Braine: NOTED! What book are you currently reading?

Jennifer Echols: I’m reading an advance copy of Start-Up by Sadie Hayes, which will be out in September. Check out the beautiful covers for this series.

Braine: Aside from your own books, what was your favorite read for 2012?

Jennifer Echols: Purity by Jackson Pearce, a hilarious and really important book about who is allowed to make decisions about a young woman’s body and sexuality.

Braine: Thanks Jennifer!

The bitter taste of sibling rivalry

Pre-purchase Dirty Little Secret
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

Fan Girls & Boys Welcome

Jennifer Echols is giving away signed print copies of
Going Too Far, Forget You, Love Story, Such a Rush

to one lucky Supie!
Contest ends March 5, 2013

Good luck!

February 26, 2013

Early Review: Tainted Love by Eva Márquez

Series: Sweetest Taboo 2
Format: Digital
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Terra-Mila Press
Source: Eva Márquez
Genre: New Adult
Purchase: Not available

Isabel thought her life was on track – she was doing well in school, moving quickly toward her future, and deciding who she wanted to be. Best of all, she’d reunited with Tom, the love of her life. But it doesn’t take long for her history – and his – to start catching up with them, presenting a range of uncomfortable questions. Does he really love her? Are they meant to be together? And what exactly has he been doing in their time apart?

I read book 1, Sweetest Taboo, last year and I was so discombobulated about the entire story I didn't rate the book in Goodreads and didn't publish a review here in our blog. The tale just polarized me and I think several readers have felt the same reservations I did about Isabel Cruz and Tom Stevens May-December affair. The entire situation about a 16 year-old having an affair with her married swim coach didn't sit well with me at all. However EMárquez's writing was so provocative I developed a relationship with her series despite the very controversial theme.

Now the saga continues and Isabel Cruz is now a college sophomore in Washington DC while Tom, now divorced, is still a humble high school teacher back in sunny Southern California. After taking a break from each other, Izzy and Tom sorted out their issues and decided to reconcile. Aside from the challenges of having a long-distance relationship, the differences in their age and current stage in life  is causing a lot of tension between the two. And as their affair didn't start in the most honest way, trust and integrity is a major theme in TAINTED LOVE. To top it off, the scandal that rocked their little district when one of Isabel's friends blew the whistle on their illegal relationship is far from dead. Tom is once again back in the harsh spotlight and the backlash is scathing, it's just a disaster waiting to happen and this time around I don't think they can cover it up as successfully as they did before.

TAINTED LOVE gave us Tom's backstory and though he's still yet to win me over, I must admit I kind of feel sorry for the guy. In Sweetest Taboo I find him to be creepy, pervy and manipulative. I mean the guy is a married 30+yo Dad who allowed himself to be seduced by a 16yo teen. And as if the illegal relationship he has with Isabel isn't enough, he mishandled the entire situation which led to the police investigating his "alleged" affair with a minor. Overall Tom was a hot mess! Now that he's finally divorced from his wife, for obvious reasons, Tom is still far from a "hero" in fact I think he hit an all time low in TAINTED LOVE. He's insecure, desperate and more in love with Isabel and she is with him. Not a good sign. Still I feel bad for him because once again, he's not using his grey matter and he's letting his heart lead him 100%.
I wanted him when I was in high school, and now that I'm older, he doesn't fit as well with my interests and my life. 
Now Isabel Cruz truly, madly, deeply made me very angry and disappointed. As a sophomore college New Adult, she actually behaved the way some girls like her would. In a way I can't blame her, she's in this new and exciting phase in her life and it's natural that she'd want to explore and experiment. However she angered and disappointed me because of how she treated Tom. I felt like she led him on and wasn't fair to the guy, projecting her issues on him instead of taking responsibility for her own hot mess. I mean she was practically avoiding the guy and she wonders why Tom didn't call her when things started to get shitty for him back home with the gossip mongers, students inflating the situation, and how things got out of hand not just for him but for the entire school district!

Aside from her snotty treatment of Tom, Isabel has a weird fixation about teachers and professors. Now in college she's once again infatuated with a gorgeous and cool professor. Like really?! The past didn't teach you anything?! Plus there's a guy who's madly in love with you and you're supposedly as in love with him, waiting for you back home and here you are talking and acting all slutty! RESPECT girl! 
I was void of emotion or of love...I was just a body reaching ecstasy over and over again.
You can tell I'm far from happy about the entire situation. So why give it 4 cauldrons? Well I'm a firm believer that only great writing can make me strongly respond to the plot like this. Like in Sweetest TabooEMárquez continues to provoke and push boundaries. Despite the frustrating situation Isabel and Tom find themselves in and how they are far from making things better for them I still love it because everything that transpired in TAINTED LOVE is a natural progression of what they started in Sweetest Taboo. Of course there will be a lot of insecurity and major trust issues, they are adulterers for crhissakes! Of course Isabel would want to try new stuff and meet new people, she's in college! Of course Tom would be desperate and would appear helpless and hopeless at times, he gave up and risked everything for Isabel who's not being the most reliable person in his life so far. It's depressing and a little stupid really, but they went and restarted this relationship with full disclosure.

So yes, I still have personal issues about the story per se but I LOVE that EMárquez is making me look at this kind of relationship in a different way. I how she's pointing out that though some things might not have the most convenient and natural start it doesn't always mean it's malicious. I love how she's prying my blinders off and aggressively asking me to be open minded and look at this taboo in a more objective manner. And this is why I LOVE TAINTED LOVE and why despite the series polarizing me I still want to read how this story is going to end and hopefully Isabel and Tom will manage to win me in the end.

Check Eva's Crazy Stupid Love giveaway where she's giving away five sets of her Sweetest Taboo series.

Writer Wrangler + Giveaway: Eva Márquez

Blog and Twitter buddy Kayla Graham of Bengal Reads sent Eva Márquez to us and highly recommended book 1 of her series, Sweetest Taboo. Discombobulated is the word that would neatly describe my experience reading it so much so that I didn't rate the book in Goodreads. Now here's Eva to talk about book 2, Tainted Love.

Braine: Tell us something about TAINTED LOVE that we won't find in the book blurbs? 

Eva Márquez: One thing that will be highly appreciated by readers, and will add to the complexity of the ‘Sweetest Taboo’ series, is the fact that TAINTED LOVE takes us not only through the thoughts and experiences of Isabel, the teen who was caught in an illicit love affair with her high school swim coach, but also reveal the thoughts and history of this controversial swim coach who readers either love or hate. 

Braine: Well you know what I feel about Tom. What book/s influenced you and your writing the most? 
Eva Márquez: There are dozens of authors I admire, but two that have captivated me with their work are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Julia Alvarez. Ms. Adichie is Nigerian-born and now living in London and I think I had an instant connection with her work because I lived/worked in Nigeria for two years and was able to really get to know the southern Nigerian culture and context because of my work in the communities. Her first book, Purple Hibiscus, resonated with me because of my experiences in Nigeria and her second book, Half of a Yellow Sun, was so expertly written and wove four amazing human and social stories that I fell absolutely in love with her prose and skill for telling complex stories. Ms. Adichie writes about what she knows well, Nigeria and Nigerian culture, history and society and because she does so, her books include incredibly sincere stories. 

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American who writes primarily adult fiction, although she has also written young YA fiction as well, which are characterized by fantasy-type series. My favorite all-time book from Ms. Alvarez is In the Time of the Butterflies, which is a uniquely narrated book written in the perspective of four sisters growing up in the Dominican Republic under the dictator ship of President Trujillo. It’s superbly narrated and the story just tells itself effortlessly, it seems. Another book I very much enjoyed was How the García Girls lost their Accent, which is a story about Dominican immigrants to New York and their journey into mainstream American life. What these two authors have in common is that they are strong, confident and experienced women writing fiction about their natal lands, writing about their contexts and weaving extraordinary stories of strength and love in times of adversity. 

Braine: Those books sounds powerful. So TAINTED LOVE is finished and hitting the shelves next week, do you have a favorite line? 

Eva Márquez: From TAINTED LOVE preface.
“I will always say that Isabel was never a schoolgirl, she was never an age, and she was never anyone I intentionally pursued. She just appeared in my life at that particular moment in time, in that particular place (my workplace, of all places) and while the relationship that developed between us was strong, it only became stronger as time went on.” 
Braine: What is TAINTED LOVE in one word? 

Eva Márquez: Revealing. 

Braine: I'm still reeling from the revelations. SWEETEST TABOO started as Mature YA and quickly moved to New Adult. Was your own New Adult phase similar to that of your characters? 

Eva Márquez: I grew up as an immigrant in a lower-to-middle class Southern California suburb. So I tapped into that experience in SWEETEST TABOO, which chronicles the love affair between a young Hispanic schoolgirl and her much older, married teacher. I drew from my experiences growing up to develop several plot ideas. Romantic experiences are universal. Provocative, illicit and risqué contexts do not take away from the experience of love, and that’s what this debut book sets out to communicate. 

Braine: I agree about the universal concept of love however Isabel and Tom's relationship is... gah! Where did it come from?

Eva Márquez: I was also intrigued by the news of one of my former teachers being convicted of [sexual] misconduct with a minor. Since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by similar stories making the news, but like many people, wondered about how these relationships originate and how they flourish under the radar. In SWEETEST TABOO, I got to unravel one of these clandestine relationships, one exciting page at a time. 

Braine: Clandestine is a very apt adjective. When I read SWEETEST TABOO I have to do a double take on the prologue because I thought it was a true story. Have you ever been in a relationship with a man who is relatively younger/older than you are? 

Eva Márquez: Absolutely. My fiancé is a decade and a half older than me, and has provided a great deal of input into the Sweetest Taboo Series, with insightful and realistic contributions to the older male characters in TAINTED LOVE

Braine: Any advice for girls in a relationship similar to Isabel’s or who are fascinated with the idea of a May-December love affair? 

Eva Márquez: My advice is this: only throw caution to the wind and follow your heart if it’s legal to do so. Love comes in many colors, sizes and formats…be open to them, but also employ reason and consequences to all love affairs. I, myself, have always been attracted to/gravitated to older men. I have found that older men have provided me the intellectual and emotional maturity that younger man could not. As individuals who long intimacy, closeness and emotional connections, it’s up to you to follow your heart (and your head) and do what feels right for you (and not necessarily what appears correct in society’s view). 

Braine: I'm an ageist so I'll take your advice to heart. Hopefully it works for me LOL. What is it about TAINTED LOVE that readers will find compelling aside from the "illicit and clandestine" affair that Isabel and Tom share? 

Eva Márquez: Because TAINTED LOVE deals with controversial topics, crosses and intersects genres and does not fit into a neat little box, I ask my readers to be prepared for the journey. My novels are not for everyone, and those who are disturbed and bothered by stories that push the envelope or challenge societal norms would likely not find my literary work appealing. So in essence, this is a bit of a warning to potential readers and/or followers. I do not intend on writing for all audiences, as that is almost impossible to do. What I can and have committed myself to doing is writing about what I know, writing about my own contexts, environments and experiences and pushing those to the limits to create controversial stories that inspire people to perhaps think out of the box, which is very much what Ms. Adichie and Ms. Alvarez have done with their literary work. To my future readers and followers I also say, thank you! For every reader and follower I have, I am that much more enthused to write and develop characters that challenge our existing comfort levels and perceptions. I would also ask any future readers or followers to contact me if they have any questions about anything I have written, or about my future work. Many of my ideas for character development and plots come from discussions I have with friends, colleagues or people I’ve met casually at a lounge, bar or book store! 

Braine: Can you share a little trivia with us about the "real" Isabel and Tom? 

Eva Márquez: Having been 16 and loved every minute of it, I can relate to her crush on Mr. Stevens (let’s be honest, what girl did not have a crush on one of her handsome teachers while in High School?). I remember one of my crushes fondly…ah….Mr. Ferris! What girl in my class did not have a crush on this handsome substitute teacher? He was young, tall, muscular in all the right places, blue eyes, brown hair, sparkling smile, dimple where it belonged, boyish good looks, and flirtatious (or at least we liked to read into his playfulness). I can’t imagine any one of us would have turned him down should he have tried to kiss us, so in a scheming ‘bad girl’ kind of way, I would have LOVED to have been in Isabel’s shoes to see what it would feel like to be revered by that crush we all had at one point in time. Also, I would have liked to see how I would have reacted to the situation. I know for a fact that I would have NOT rebuffed Mr. Ferris…I mean, I dreamt about the man! But, would I have chased him as Isabel did? Would I have followed my heart as intensely as Isabel did? Would I have risked it all, just to get close to him? I’d like to think I perhaps wouldn’t, but who’s to know? 

Braine: I think a lot of us could relate to that. I too had crushes on some of my former teachers and professors. What are you writing next? 

Eva Márquez: The last book of the ‘Sweetest Taboo Series’. It will not disappoint! 

Braine: What book did you recently purchase? 

Eva Márquez: ‘What Alice Forgot’ by Liane Moriarty 

Braine: Aside from your books, what other New Adult novel or series do you recommend? 

Eva Márquez: I absolutely LOVE the classic ‘Flowers in the Attic’ series by V.C. Andrews (am I dating myself???). As far as relatively newer Adult novels, I quite enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, as well as her other two books Sharp Objects and Dark Places.

Braine: I love how twisted Gillian Flynn is! Thanks for dropping by Eva!

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Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.

Fan Girls & Boys Welcome

Eva is giving away five digital sets of 
Sweetest Taboo and Tainted Love
Contest ends March 5

Good luck!