Release Day Blitz ~ Learning To Love by Felice Stevens ~ (5 Star Review, Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)
TITLE: Learning To Love
AUTHOR: Felice Stevens
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 150 Pages
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2016
BLURB: After ten years away from home, bad boy caterer Gideon Marks has a lot to prove. Getting the holiday catering job at his childhood synagogue is the first step in demonstrating to everyone he didn’t turn out to be the failure they predicted. What he doesn’t count on is Rabbi Jonah Fine, his high school nemesis and secret crush, stirring up old feelings Gideon thought long gone and secrets he’s buried deep for years.
An unexpectedly passionate encounter shocks Gideon, but he pushes Jonah away, convinced he isn’t good enough to be in a relationship and would never be accepted by Jonah’s father. But Jonah hangs tough—he won’t allow Gideon to hide or run away from life again. And when it comes to love, Gideon learns the most important lessons aren’t always taught in school.
“You realize we always talk about me, but I know nothing about you and what you’ve done for the past ten years.” I stood at my kitchen counter and after debating a moment, grabbed the flour. Not that I wanted to show off, but having Jonah here to cook for was an unexpected treat, and I might as well make him some biscuits to go along with the omelet. “What happened when you went to law school? Why did you really leave?” I turned on the oven to preheat it for the biscuits.
I poured the flour into a bowl, mixed in baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then crumbled the shortening mixture with my fingers, all the while waiting to hear about Jonah’s life. He lay stretched out on my sofa, as supremely comfortable as a cat in a patch of sunlight, and with a pang I wished this could be any normal Saturday for us—me making breakfast in the kitchen while chatting with Jonah.
He turned over on his stomach as I finished the dough and floured the marble slab I’d splurged on. I’d done this for so many years it was all second nature now and I could concentrate on Jonah.
“Like I said before, I hated it. I’m not a competitive person by nature; I never needed to be the best or number one.” He laid his cheek on his hands and stared off into space. “But I’d been dating someone, and we started getting into silly arguments about summer jobs and where we’d like to apply.”
I’d never imagined myself the jealous type, and realistically I understood Jonah was no virgin, but if the painful twist in my stomach at the thought of anyone else touching or kissing Jonah was any indication, I was in deep shit.
“Oh?” My voice remained neutral, but I was busy kneading the life out of the poor dough. Since it had never done anything personally to me, I willed myself to calm the hell down and set about rolling it out for the biscuits. “Were you two that serious?”
“Ben and I? Not really. He thought so and wanted more, but I made it clear from the beginning I wasn’t going to fall in love with him. I cared for him deeply and felt badly I couldn’t give him what he wanted.”
“What was that?” I jammed the biscuit cutter into the dough with sharp angry jabs.
My hand stilled on the biscuit cutter, and I looked over at him. He met my gaze unflinchingly, and I could feel the heat rise in my face.
“Why not?” I had to ask.
Jonah stood and joined me in the kitchen, hemming me in against the counter. I admit to not putting up too much resistance, but it still took me by surprise.
“I was keeping it for when I met you again.” He cupped my cheek in his hand. “No matter what I would’ve ended up doing with my life, Gideon, finding you was always part of my plan.”
What could I say to that? Jonah’s words rolled around in my head like brilliantly colored marbles, setting off a kaleidoscope of emotions that scared the hell out of me.
I sidestepped out of his embrace, muttering, “I have to get these biscuits in the oven,” and grabbed the cookie sheet. My back was to Jonah, shielding my badly shaking hands gripping the pan. I placed the biscuit dough on the sheet and slid it into the oven. The familiarity of being in my kitchen and cooking balanced me, and I was grateful that Jonah, most likely having sensed my unease, had returned to the living room and his place on the sofa. Once he left the kitchen I found it easier to breathe.
*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*
The title of the book has special meaning to me. At about 30%, I took to Felice's reader group on Facebook, and put a post up about how I really wanted to punch Gideon. She laughed, but said to give him a chance he's her baby, so I kept reading. I wasn't planning to stop really, but as a moved forward, I quickly learned why Gideon felt and acted the way he did. As I came to understand him, I quickly fell in love with him. Now Jonah, I loved from the first scene. He was sweet, caring and supportive. He was also determined to get the man he loved, without being pushy about it. We watch as these two men with together to work through and conquer their insecurities.
I understand this is part of an anthology, but this is my first look at it. The beginning is a bit rushed, but the rest of the book was well written and paced well. I loved Gideon and Jonah, and they had an amazing chemistry. It was so strong you could feel the love they shared. It's funny how some couples just work, and others don't. Felice never seems to make it into the 'don't" category. :)
I loved this story. It was sweet, sexy, engaging and a quick and emotional read. Very enjoyable, and highly recommended!!
Writing Learning to Love was a new experience for me, no matter that it is my 12th book. (Wow-when did that happen!) This is the first book I have written in first person and I have to say when I started it, I did it with much trepidation. I don’t ever set out with a plan how to write my books; I don’t plot my stories or know how they will end, but I had never thought of writing in first person.
Except for Learning to Love. From the start, Gideon was the character who spoke to me and talked to me. He told me the story through his eyes. And as much as I love writing both POVs (points of view) there was no denying the fact that I couldn’t write this book in any other voice than Gideon Marks.
I admit that at points I felt badly for Jonah, like somehow I cheated him out of his side of the story. Strong sweet Jonah who knew what and who he wanted and proceeded to relentlessly pursue Gideon, despite the roadblocks that man set in his way. But once I got into the meat of the book I realized that writing in first person doesn’t make the other character secondary or immature, in the sense of not fully fleshed out. How could that be if one of my favorite series ever, The Adrien English series is first person? I hope I did Jonah and his unwavering love for Jonah proud.
I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, My character have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love.
I live in New York City with my husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of my own. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.
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