Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review with Author Interview: Links by Lisa Becker

Book info:
Author:  Lisa Becker
Genre: Adult sports romance, second chance romance
Release Date:  August 1st, 2017
Publisher:  Desert Breeze Publishing
Source:  ARC received from author for honest review
My rating:  4 stars

In high school, Charlotte Windham was a typical student going through an awkward phase -- glasses and all. She harbored a crush on Garrett Stephens, the teen heartthrob everyone can’t help but fall for during that unfortunate ugly duckling phase of one’s teen years. Flash forward fifteen years later, and Charlotte and Garrett have a second chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant. However, this time around, Charlotte has leveled the playing field. She’s a bestselling novelist and no longer “Glasses,” the humiliating nickname Garrett called her in high school. In short, she’s a catch now and, thanks to corrective eye surgery, it’s not just her eyes that see better…so does her heart! Garrett hasn’t fared poorly either, transforming from teen heartbreaker to adult lothario. A now successful professional golfer, he’s recently suffered a major setback in the form of a possible career-ending injury. With the upper hand, can Charlotte forgive Garrett for his past ways, and for his more recent Don Juan lifestyle? Will she even want to? And, can Garrett change his ways for a second chance with Charlotte, who may just be the perfect fit for him?  

Purchase links: 

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My review:
I am finding that I really do like books that we get both of the main characters' viewpoints, chapter by chapter, and this fits into that perfectly.  We get both Charlotte and Garrett's thoughts in basically alternating chapters.  Because of this, it makes you a little irritated with Charlotte at being so hesitant.  Although I understand her trepidation, having been in the same types of situations as a nerdy high school girl with crushes on the cute, popular guys.  But you're definitely rooting for Garrett, as he has become a pretty good guy, even to the point of realizing what he did when he was younger was stupid, or at least he knew it was part of being a stupid teenage male.  The grown up Garrett is all about doing what he can to convince Charlotte he is a good guy and truly interested in her, by getting to be friends with her first.  But even when he can tell that the two of them are definitely starting to feel as if they are more than friends, he has to fight to get her to see him that way.  While you can see how she might get the right idea with the last little hang-up at the end, I felt that she definitely overreacted, especially after getting to know Garrett as well as she did, and after how he'd told her how he felt about her and wanted more than friendship.  

Overall it was a very sweet and easy summer read.  It had a little bit of sex, but not a ton.  It really got into a lot of situations, and I feel like Charlotte was pretty realistic in how she handled it all.  I loved when she got to get back at a college frenemy, as well as Chapter 48, and the very last chapter.  If you're looking for a perfect summer read, this is one you should pick up.

 Book Trailer:


I stand but hesitate when I see Tamika's disapproving look. Fi notices as well. "It's okay, T. I got this," she says, motioning for me to follow her back. When we get to her small office, she closes the door and gestures for me to sit on a red vinyl chair, circa 1972. She stands in front of me, leaning against the desk, and crosses her arms in front of her chest. "Spill!"
"Where should I start?"
"At the beginning." She walks around to her chair behind the desk and pulls out a yellow legal pad.
For the next half hour, I go over my encounter with Garrett, from the moment we bumped into each other and he didn't recognize me, to the embarrassment of being called 'Glasses.'
Fi takes notes furiously on her pad and grins, nods, and cringes at all the appropriate times. When I finish, she puts her pen down and asks, "Do you want the 'best friend experience' or the 'brilliant legal mind experience'?"
I can't help but laugh. "Are they mutually exclusive?"
"They are," she says nodding.
"Okay. I want the best friend experience."
She rushes around from behind the desk, wraps her arms around me soothingly. "I'm so sorry, hon. That sounds just awful. Let's go get margaritas tomorrow and drown our sorrows in tequila and lime wedges."
"Thanks, Fi. You're the best."
"Anytime," she says, rubbing my back. She pulls away and walks around to the back of her desk. She sits down and puts the legal pad to the side. I can't help but notice the writing scrawled across it.
"Just for kicks, what would you have said if I had asked for the 'brilliant legal mind experience'?"
"You sure you want to know?" Her lips pull into a grim line. Honestly, I'm not sure I do want to know, but curiosity gets the better of me.
"Lay it on me," I say.
"You need to get laid. Not the kind of bland, missionary style sex you had with Alex. You need hot heat, sweating up the sheets, crazy animal sex."
I bust out laughing. "That's your brilliant legal advice. Crazy animal sex?"
"Yes. That's my brilliant legal advice," she says with complete seriousness. "Listen, hon, it's been a year since that insecure jerk Keane dumped you. I have no doubt it's been even longer since you've, well, you know." She wags her eyebrows up and down. "Before that, you only seriously dated Travis the cheater and Alex who, let's face it, despite being completely gonzo for you, was a cold fish and a bore. It's time to stop comparing every man to this fantasy of Garrett Stephens and just do it with him to get it out of your system. He asked you out for Saturday night. Go! Enjoy!"
"I don't compare every man to Garrett," I snap at her.
"Don't you?" she asks, looking down at me sternly.  
"I'm offended you even suggested that." She looks at me, her sharp eyes boring into me, like she can read my every thought and knows I'm full of it. I imagine this is how she bears down on witnesses on the stand. I don't like being on the receiving end of that look.
"Even if that's true," I start and she nods her head, "and I'm not conceding it is." I point my finger at her. "Even if he did mean to ask me out, there's no way it's a good idea. He's a total player. It would only be one night of fun and I don't think I could get over that kind of hurt."
"Then you need to get over it now. Sorry for the tough love, hon, but you need to move past the fantasy of this man and find someone passionate and amazing who is deserving to love you for all of the great things you have to offer including your messed-up childhood and your incredible success today."  

Author Interview:

1.  What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start?  Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)?  If you plan it out, how do you do that?  Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?

Once inspiration strikes, I typically know how the story begins and how it ends. The fun and challenge is in the journey of how my characters get to their happily ever afters. I typically do a written outline, mapping out each chapter and then begin to write. At the moment, I am working on a story called The Subway Girl, which is based on a screenplay I wrote for fun a few years ago. Each chapter is based on a specific day, so I've mapped out the story on a calendar.

Fun writing process fact: I like to write with the TV on in the background. When I first started writing, I was obsessed with Law & Order reruns and then NCIS.  Now I'm hooked on reruns of Burn Notice.  I guess there’s a part of me that likes to see justice served. 

2.  How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
I always hear that writers should "write what they know," so as much as possible, I try to draw upon personal experiences.    My husband and I met online on a popular dating website 17 years ago when online dating was in its infancy.  When it came time for me to check off my bucket list item of writing a novel, I recalled some of the hilarious experiences I had with both traditional and online dating to write Click: An Online Love Story.  Click is loosely based on my real-life dating experiences, as well as stories friends have shared with me.  In some cases, things are written as they actually occurred.  Other scenarios are exaggerated for entertainment value or comedic affect.  And some scenarios are completely fictionalized. But I really did go out on a date with someone I met online who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking last night.” 
For my latest book, Links¸ I had been thinking about the types of love we encounter and recalled the unrequited high school crush, which was as much a part of the teen years as football games, acne, proms and final exams.  I'm not too ashamed to admit I had such a fierce crush on a boy, I willingly sat with him in the bathroom at parties while he puked up wine coolers, just so I could spend time with him. Thankfully, that soul-crushing time in my life is over, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I came upon that secret crush as a confident, successful woman.
3.  How long have you been writing?
I remember writing poems and short stories as a little girl and always told myself I would write a book one day. I released Click in 2011. Based on the reviews and feedback from readers, I turned it into a trilogy, which now includes Double Click and Right Click.  Links is my fifth novel and the first two be told in alternating perspectives of the two main characters - Charlotte and Garrett.

4.  What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Pardon the pun, but don’t write off self-publishing.  Upon completing Click, I explored the traditional publishing route and got feedback from multiple literary agents. One in particular explained the current economic state of the publishing industry to me. Due to the large investment to edit, produce, distribute and market a work by an unknown author, many large publishers won’t take the risk. If you aren't able to secure an agent or publishing offer, self-publishing is a way to get your work out there.

After self-publishing several books and building up a following and making industry connections, I secured a publisher for my latest release.

I'm also reminded of some advice I was once given. I had interviewed Charles Rosen, one of the producers of the original Beverly Hills 90210, for an alumni magazine article while I was in graduate school. And I'll never forget what he told me, "Don't fall in love with your words, because somebody above will probably change them." One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that you can really take control of the process.

5.  Some favorites:
Books/authors/genres - I'm a romance and chick lit junkie. If it has a swoon worthy hero and a happily ever after, I'm in.  Right now, I'm a big fan of Colleen Hoover. While her books fall more into the women's fiction genre, I can't put them down. Her stories are filled with developed, realistic and likeable characters.  Over the course of her books I feel a range of emotions from completely gutted to over the moon elated with a happy ending.

Movies/TV Shows - My taste in television and movies mirrors my taste in books. I want heart, flowers and happy escapism.  Some of my all-time favorite movies include Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally and Singles.

Music - I'm currently obsessed with the soundtrack for Hamilton right now and can't wait to see the production when it is in Los Angeles this fall. 

Food/Writing snack - Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!  Like most writers, I endure bouts of writer's block and when I do, I eat chocolate. If I’m stuck on a certain section or not feeling motivated to write, I give myself little chocolate incentives to get past the blockage.  Judging by my thighs, I had some serious problems writing this book.  ;)
Social Media Site - I've recently become more active on Instagram and actively follow and admire the work of some amazing Bookstagrammers who turn books and their covers into beautiful-designed visual feasts. 

About the Author:

Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love StoryDouble Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.

Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse,, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.

As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!  

Twitter: @lisawbecker
Instagram: lisawbecker