Monday, May 5, 2014

Book Tour: Break Me by Autumn Stark

Title: Break Me
Author: Autumn Stark
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Erotic Romance)
Release Date: January 6, 2014

Abigail Stevens, an efficient and no-nonsense editor for one of the biggest names in the romance novel industry, has a big problem. She's been desperately in love with Anthony Tate, Mr. Romance-Writer himself, for the last four years. She's settled for friendship and professional success for the last four years, but now the sexy writer needs something more from her and she can't find a reason to refuse.

Tony Tate has built a career centered on his identity as America's most romantic writer. That identity does not include a debauched temper tantrum in the aftermath of his very public break-up with his on-again, off-again girlfriend. Tony has known that Abby has had the hots for him since the moment they met, but when his Plain Jane best friend and controlling editor ends up being his only option to exorcise his demons and pent-up sexual frustration, he can't wait to break her prim and proper shell.

As Tony and Abby push each other farther than they've ever gone before, the question becomes, who will break whom?

Love By Any Other Name

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.”

-William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 116”

Hands down this is my favorite quote about love. Shakespeare is a genius of course, but it’s one of my touchstones when I think about what love even is. In a world that goes by so quickly with revolving options for relationships (online dating, speed dating, good ol’ fashion dating), love seems fragile.

What I like about this quote in particular is that the imagery is so desperately strong. Love, real love, doesn’t change and cannot be changed. It is there, has always been there, and will always be there. Though we may not be able to see it or feel it, it is always present, guiding us toward the goal like the North Star to a ship.

I think it’s easy to see Tony as immature and Abby as naive, but ultimately, I think they’re just two ships aiming for the same star. They have rocky waters to navigate and a lot of perspective to gain, but they were always heading for the same spot. Regardless of how they got there, they were guided by love from start to finish. That doesn’t change.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” -Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This really struck me as one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard. The basis of most romance stories is that two people discover each other and then somehow entangle their lives (and bodies) together.

The biggest obstacle in most romance novels is that one, or both, of the love interests is fighting some deep-seated issue. In the case of Tony and Abby, this couldn’t be more true. Tony spends a good chunk of time in denial about love. Tony isn’t a stupid guy (ok, maybe a little), he’s just a man so afraid, he can’t even recognize the truth. He can’t accept the love he finds because it doesn’t correlate with who he thinks he is.

The same goes for Abby. Abby is a woman who is deeply courageous in loving a man like Tony, but she’s also dealing with her own sense of herself. How her relationship starts with Tony influences her actions later. It’s not so much Tony, although that’s part of it, but how she feels about herself and her sense of who she has become. She has to deal with some pretty heavy emotional and situational changes. After all that, how can she trust herself?

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu

Part of why I love this quote is that it defines the very foundation of love for me. It’s one thing to have people in your life, particularly romantic lovers, who are devoted to you. It’s quite another thing to feel and express that toward another person.

One of the biggest things I love about Break Me is that it is not immediately obvious why (in the ever-loving hell) Abby would “choose” to love Tony. This seems like the dumbest thing for some. Except that, with Abby, it’s an act of courage, not weakness. On some level, Abby can see the character of the man Tony is and loving him is an act of courage on her part. It’s that shaking step Indiana Jones takes onto the invisible bridge. Courage is fear put in its place long enough to commit to something great.

Love is, possibly, the scariest step on the planet.

Autumn Stark writes Erotic Romance with a sense of humor and a whole lotta steamy fun. Doesn’t mean there aren’t a few whips every now and then, but she’s a sucker for a happy ending. Autumn has been writing in one capacity or another her entire life, but Break Me is her debut novel.

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