Sunday, September 8, 2013

In the Spotlight: How he Really Feels by Lisa Suzanne

Today we're spotlighting How He Really Feels by Lisa Suzanne.  This is Lisa's debut novel and she has done a wonderful job.  This is a gorgeous romance intended for a mature audience.  There is a happy ending and a swoon worthy male lead.  Read on for an excerpt, the book trailer and Tami's review.

Julianne Becker is desperately in love with her boss, Nick Matthews. She has daydreamed about him since the day she first met him a year earlier, but she is firmly stuck in the friend-zone until New Year’s Eve, when the game completely changes and she finds out how Nick really feels about her. They embark on a sexy affair that’s everything Julianne ever dreamed of... except she can’t tell anyone about it. What will happen if anyone finds out about their secret relationship? And how will her lifelong best friend, Travis Miller, react when Julianne begins a relationship with someone who isn’t him? 

How He Really Feels is a novel that explores relationships and love between coworkers and friends. It contains some adult situations and is intended for mature readers.

Who cared that I didn’t have anyone to kiss at midnight? The important thing was that this was the end of an old year and the start of a brand new one, and I had several goals in mind for this new year. The most important, of course, being Nick. I would find a way to push past this professional business friendship relationship we had formed. I would find a way to kiss him, hold him, make love to him in this new year.

It was my resolution, and I was determined to make it happen.

Everyone raised their glasses in the air and counted along, “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! HAPPY NEW YEAR!” I glanced over at Lucy, whose lips were locked to Jake’s, and then Travis, who was kissing Brooke. I smiled, happy for my friends despite my lack of a man to kiss at midnight, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

I turned around, and my heart stopped as my eyes met Nick’s. Utter shock hit me as I realized that he was actually here. And he looked fucking sexy in a black suit with a gray shirt under it, open at the collar. He had just a shadow of a beard, making him look rugged and manly, and his hair was mussed perfectly in every direction. I was so dazed that he was standing in front of me that I was rendered momentarily speechless.

The room suddenly got very quiet around me, and all I could do was stare at him. His eyes never left mine as he brought both of his hands up to cup my cheeks and I was certain at that moment that he was going to kiss me. My heart slammed into my ribs and then my eyes closed automatically as his lips brushed mine just once. Every nerve ending in my body was alight with electricity at our connection. He clutched me close against his chest in a quick embrace. “Happy New Year,” he murmured, his breath tickling close against my ear, sending shivers down my spine. And then, as if it had all been a dream, he was gone.

I stood rooted to the spot, unsure of whether that had really happened or if I had just imagined it, if I had dreamed it because I wanted it so badly or if all of the champagne had finally caught up with me and I was hallucinating.

It was like the room had been on mute for a moment, and suddenly someone had turned the volume back up to full blast.

“Happy New Year!” Travis shouted to me, pulling me into a hug and kissing my cheek. I blinked a few times, trying to focus on what was happening around me, still unsure of what had just happened.

I shook my head to clear it, echoing, “Happy New Year,” to Travis.

Lucy hugged me next, and then Jake and Holly. We all clinked glasses as a group, and I realized that everyone had been so wrapped up in their own New Year’s kisses that no one had witnessed mine. Whether or not it was in my mind or it had really happened, it was my very own New Year’s secret. And that secret, special moment that the two of us had shared had been perfect, even if it had only been in my mind.

Lisa Suzanne has done a fantastic job with her debut novel, How He Really Feels.  Her writing style is engaging, entertaining and I loved the way the story line developed and progressed.  Julianne is a very likeable and realistic character.  Infatuated with her sexy boss she crushes on him for almost a year without ever disclosing how she feels.  Her internal dialogue and actions were just typical of a woman interested in someone but not sure how, or whether, to act on her feelings.  The added complexity of a 'forbidden' workplace relationship added to the intensity of the affair between Nick and Julianne as they had to keep their feelings secret from those they worked with.

Nick is your perfect male character.  Handsome, sexy, intelligent, loving ... he is open with Julianne and the two communicate in a really honest and refreshing way.  The friendship they developed before embarking on a relationship had a lot to do with how they interacted with each other and for me, this added substance and credibility to their relationship.  There were a lot of sex scenes between Nick and Julianne, they spent the majority of their time together having sex but there was enough 'substance' in their other interactions that this didn't seem over the top.  In fact, I thought it was a very accurate representation of a 'new' relationship, particularly given the year of lead time before the two got together.

Julianne's best friend, Travis, is an interesting character.  I'm really not sure how I felt about him and I'm really not sure whether I liked the contribution he made to the story.  In part his role was to add a 'complication' to the relationship between Julianne and Nick, but for me it was a little bit contrived and I didn't necessarily buy what transpired between Julianne and Travis, particularly given their history.

Overall the pace of the story was good.  I was engaged and keen to see what was going to happen with Julianne and Nick.  Towards the end of the story there was a lot happening and a few times it did feel like the author was trying to wrap too much drama into the story.  I think one or two of the events could have been left out and the story would still have had enough substance to engage the reader fully and lead to a satisfying conclusion.

I was absolutely rooting for Julianne and Nick - the progression of their friendship to a relationship was romantic and well paced.  They were faced with a number of challenges and I thought their individual and collective reactions were realistic and believable.  The conclusion was gorgeous and while this is book one in a trilogy, there isn't a cliff hanger - you get a happy ending worthy of the journey of the characters.

Book Two - What He Really Feels is due for release in early October 2013 - and it tells Travis' story.  Given my ambivalence towards him in How He Really Feels I'm hoping reading things from his perspective will redeem him a little.  And despite how I felt about Travis, I will pick up What He Really Feels as I loved Lisa Suzanne's writing style, character development and story construction. 

4 out 5 stars 

Lisa Suzanne is a high school English teacher who lives at home in Arizona with her amazing husband and adorable yellow lab.

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Watch for What He Really Feels - book two in the He Feels Trilogy - 
scheduled for release early October 2013

He told her How He Really Feels and had his heart broken. Now Travis Miller is trying to move on from the greatest heartbreak of his life by getting out of town. But two nights before his big move to California, Travis meets a mystery woman who grabs hold of his broken heart and gives him hope that he can piece it back together. Will Travis ever figure out What He Really Feels, or will he be stuck on his first love forever? Will he find his happily ever after? 

What He Really Feels contains some adult situations and is intended for mature readers.