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April 22, 2015

Suped Feature: At The Stars by Elisabeth Staab & The New Adult Tropes

At The Stars
Elisabeth Staab
New Adult Contemporary Romance
May 5, 2015

A GIRL TRYING TO LEAVE HER PAST BEHIND
I was a normal teenager who loved music and dancing, until the day I was attacked in my favorite record store. A few years later when my mom succumbed to depression and took her own life, I couldn’t stay in my hometown with all the memories and the curious stares. I decided to get in my car and just go – except my car decided it was done going outside a tiny place called Evergreen Grove. That’s where I found Jake. Or I guess Jake found me.

A GUY WHO CAN’T LET HIS GO
For the last eight years, all I can think about is the day I ended another man’s life. Then I manage to save Cassie’s, and I feel like maybe I’ve got some kind of second chance. To do what I couldn’t before, or maybe even for something bigger. Something like love. If only I could feel like I deserve her.



All at once she bites her lip and I see her going for the drinks, but I slap my hand over hers. “You shouldn’t be walking home late. It’s dangerous.”
She gives me a look like she’s being patient with me. “It was good enough to get here. I’ll have AJ with me. We’ll be fine.”
She gestures toward the patio door where her buddy is probably waiting for her to return with the drinks. Dante chooses that moment to come inside, and I don’t like how he’s looking at her. Too much like he had a good dinner, and she could be dessert.
The icing on the cake comes when AJ calls through the open door. “Hey birthday girl, you bringing us drinks or what?”
Stupid fucker.
Dante grins at Cassie, veering her way like a homing missile. “Birthday girl, eh?”
She smiles slightly, trying to take the drinks again. “What do I owe you?”
My hand tightens over hers. “On the house.” I lean close, so nobody else can hear me over the din of music and chatter in the bar. “If you let me give you and AJ a ride back tonight.”
I can’t even believe it when she starts to pull away. “I can pay for the drinks.”
I’m still gripping her hand and feeling a surprising unwillingness to let the subject drop. “You’re not walking home in the dark on a night when everybody’s out getting stupid, with nobody but your skinny sidekick for protection.”
She presses her lips together, giving me what I figure is supposed to be a death stare for a few seconds before she caves. “Fine. My feet hurt anyway,” she says with a slight smile.
Cassie turns to go back to her table with her friend, and I turn to deal with Dante. My chest is tight and my heart is skipping around. I don’t take time to wonder why getting what I wanted has me more weirded-out than I was before.



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I love Elisabeth Staab, she had me trying and reading a few things that I won't necessarily gravitate to, but end up liking. So even if New Adult isn't my cuppa, I trust her enough to know that I will at the very least enjoy AT THE STARS. She's here today to talk about NA tropes this genre is notorious for. 





A Tattooed Bad Boy, a Teenage Runaway, and a Wounded Heroine Walk Into a Bar

(Look, Mom, I wrote a new adult novel!)
By Elisabeth Staab


Okay, so first? Thank you to Braine for letting me come on the blog. Second? I honestly don’t think my mom will ever read any of my books, and that’s probably best for everyone involved. ;)

So. New adult. I started reading the genre a little while after it emerged, I guess, and I found I loved it for all the reasons I found it so heartbreaking to read: it took me back to a difficult and confusing time in my life. YA is similar, of course, except the characters in NA are largely on their own and struggling to find their place in the world. The stakes are higher, in theory, with little or no parental safety net.

It’s a genre that tackles many complex issues, and some that I think are particularly important during that early-adult period in a person’s life. Sarina Bowen’s recent release, The Shameless Hour, does an excellent job of casting a light on slut shaming, and Robin York’s Deeper similarly takes on “revenge porn.”

The emotional punch of these kinds of topics are why I thought I’d never want to write NA (not that all NA is angsty). As much as I loved reading these books, my own college-aged years were difficult, and I didn’t want to revisit that time period even in a fictional sense.

Next thing I knew I was writing At the Stars.

Cassie and Jake came to me a little over two years ago, in the middle of the night. I guess that’s fitting, since that’s when they meet. Cassie is stranded by the road in the dark, and Jake saves her.

I resisted writing At the Stars as hard as Jake resisted his attraction to Cassie, which is probably why it took two years to finish.

Is it an “average” new adult novel? I think yes and no.

Some of the things that you might expect to find in an average new adult novel do not appear in At the Stars. There’s not much sex, because Cassie is an assault survivor and Jake spends most of the book trying to convince himself he is not going to sleep with her. Anyone who’s read my adult novels knows I don’t shy away from writing explicit love scenes when the moment calls for it, but for these characters it didn’t fit (it’s character dependent, really. I suspect there will be more on-page sex in the sequel, because those characters have a different story to tell).

There will also be no billionaires in At the Stars, which according to my recent Amazon searches are also common in NA right now (and where are these kids getting all their money? When I was in my 20’s I lived on Ramen and cold pizza). And no step-siblings, which might be a bummer, because apparently those books are selling like hotcakes.

There is plenty of classic angst in At the Stars (one of Jake’s scenes makes me cry whenever I read it, because I’m a sap like that). There’s a wounded heroine—I say wounded rather than damaged, because Cassie is a survivor, and we meet her in At the Stars when she is in the process of picking up a life that recently fell apart. She’s healing, and while she makes some very human mistakes (as all 21 year old girls do), she fights for her happiness, which is what we all want, ultimately.

And then there’s Jake, who I love beyond all reason. He’s probably one of my favorite heroes that I’ve written. He ran away from home as a teenager, and soon after there was a terrible accident where a friend died. He blames himself. He tries so hard to keep the world away, and by the time he meets Cassie he doesn’t even realize how much he’s dying for someone to love.

So as many times as I stopped and put the book aside because it didn’t fit anywhere in my to-do list, Jake pushed me to pick it back up. And then finally I saw the picture that would become the cover for At the Stars, and I was stuck. I had to finish.

And now, here we are. Wounded heroine? Check. Bad boy who ran away from home? Check. Angst? Check. A little humor? Check. Gay sidekick who used to be a male escort? I wasn’t aware, but I read something recently about the prevalence of gay BFFs in new adult. I swear I hadn’t noticed that trend, but anyway, Cassie has one of those too.

Happy ending? I don’t write them any other way.

Happy reading, everyone!



Elisabeth Staab loves passionate stories and happy endings. Her books have been called “emotionally delicious,” “action-packed,” and “gloriously snarky.” When not writing romance, she enjoys date night with her husband, reading Harry Potter with her kids, and marathoning her favorite books or TV series. 


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42 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Aww, Braine, you say the sweetest things! <3 Thank you so much for having me today! :)

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    1. It's MY pleasure to have you today. And thanks for helping me moderate the comments!

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  3. Wonderful post! Those college years were very transitional and up in the air for me as well. Unfortunately, I didn't not come across any millionaires or billionaires. I have not read a whole lot of New Adult, but I've enjoyed what I have read so far. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

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    1. Thanks, Heather! I hope you enjoy!!

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    2. I feel ya! I think I went to the wrong school, my friends were broke like me!

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  4. First of all, that cover is something to look at! ;) And I enjoyed the except - I'm already hooked wanting to know what else happens. But it's the guest post that'll be the reason I read At the Stars. I love reading NA for the same reasons Ms. Staab gave - I like watching the young people work at finding their place in the world. Jake and Cassie sound like characters I'd like to be introduced to, and to be a part of their journey. I like that Ms. Staab pointed out that Cassie makes mistakes - mistakes that many 21 yo's make. I think sometimes readers with a few more years' *cough 20 cough* "wisdom" forget what it was like to be 21 and to not have everything together. So I'm glad to see that there are the standard NA tropes present here (minus billionaires and step-siblings ;) and I will certainly be reading it. Fantastic post!

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    1. Exactly, Brandee! And thank you! I have a teenage stepson now and I get such a kick out of comparing how smart/logical he thinks he is to the way the world really works, and I remember (especially when I read YA and NA) that we were ALL like that once! It's great, now that I'm older, to have that perspective, especially when I look back on some of my own younger mistakes. ;)

      Happy reading!!

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    2. That's the draw for me too! My NA phase was bananas! I was a single mom trying to finish college, balancing "living" and having fun with my friends while caring for a baby. Then there's the work part, and the boyfriend part. Gah! It wasn't easy but I don't remember being so angsty back then. If not for that, I could totally get into NA full throttle. I hate angst!

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    3. And somehow we still get along, lol. I love angst. I don't like it super dark I guess, I do like to balance it with humor, but I love books that break my heart and make me cry and then everyone is in love and happy again at the end. I knew lots of people with issues in college - people who were suicidal, alcoholic, etc. Today, I still wonder how those people turned out. I guess that's part of the draw for me. ;)

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    4. It is so funny to see how smart/logical my kids think they are. :) My mom used to tell me that the older she got, the smarter her mother became. I think that's true for most of us. Oh, and I love angst as well. (as Braine knows) I love it when a story hits me so deeply that I cry (and it's a testament to the author) but can put my heart back together by the end. My college days weren't the easiest and I didn't think they were angsty but they probably were. :)

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  5. This sounds like a great read...but that cover...I hate covers that are like brain teasers...what body part is that? how is the cover model contorting himself? etc.

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    1. LOL. It's his arm. ;) The picture was taken originally lying on his side, but we turned it upright so people could see his face and eyes better. I

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  6. Glad to hear you found a NA that worked for you Braine. They are always hot or miss for me as well.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Oh we'll see! I've been busy, no time to review this yet. But it sounds great I thought I'd share a teaser with y'all

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  7. I love that guest post by Elisabeth Saab - it was so funny, makes me curious what her writing is like! I'll have to add this book to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I hope you enjoy. :)

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    2. You should try her work, it's really good!

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  8. Excellent, giggle-inducing post! And the story sounds really good, so I'm adding it. Interesting cover too :)

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  9. I don't read much NA romance because of the familiar and overused tropes. I like that this doesn't have much sex and there's no billionaires or step siblings. ;)

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  10. How weird that billionaires are typical in NA?? I don't read a ton of it but what I've read so far has been the exact opposite. Almost all were struggling which makes a lot more sense to me.

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    1. Exactly! Heck I'm in my mid-30's and I'm still figuring my shit out! Also, I haven't met a billionaire yet.

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    2. LOL. I was basing that on an Amazon search - if you search for "new adult romance" you get a whole slew of rich guy romances, at least you did last I checked. I suspect it's a result of the 50 Shades phenomenon. ;) Among the authors I've read, you might have the occasional rich kid on a college campus, but many of them are struggling like the rest of us did.

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  11. Haha! I just read Anna's comments above mine and realized that the same thing struck me. I haven't read any NA Billionaires or heard of them, but probably b/c I've only read a dozen NA authors. I'm still slowly working my way through to find authors I like and establish my tastes in NA. I like the sound of this pair and it looks like it was a good thing that two years later the story gets told.

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    1. I guess it started with FSoG. I've read a few self-made billionaires who are in their 20's

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    2. I think you're right, Braine! Sophia - If you haven't read them, Nyrae Dawn, Sarina Bowen, and Megan Erickson are some of my current favorites in NA. And I do hope you enjoy At the Stars - thanks so much for checking it out!

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  12. I love that cover... he seems to be looking right at me! And that excerpt, he already has his protective instincts out there! Great post.

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    1. I do love that cover. He had me at the eyes, too. ;) Hope you enjoy Jake and Cassie's story!

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  13. You hooked me at the cover *cough*

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  14. Thanks for the great post, it's nice to learn more about the story and the characters. It's intriguing!

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    1. Thanks so much for checking it out, and happy reading!!

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  15. Those tattoos on the model, nooooo. I love tattoos on a guy but, those... Ugh.

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  16. I like that you listen to the characters and wait for things to be right for them.

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