Today I'm introducing you to a new-to-me author and her emotionally engaging tale of opposites attracting, Life's What You Make It by Theresa Troutman. Keep reading to get a taste of this book, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about this book by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour. Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a signed copy of this book, digital copies of this book and Ms. Troutman's previous release, along with some swag!
“She’s everything I’m not and everything I want to be.”
Sebastian left Edgewood and pulled up to the Hamilton home at 7:00 a.m. With his mind on his mother’s arrival, he shook the thought away and knocked on the front door. Tess answered quickly and she looked at him skeptically.
“I brought you some hot chocolate,” he said, offering her the steaming cup. “I’d like to drive you to school today.”
Tess took the cup and stepped back, allowing him to enter the house. She was only half dressed, her white blouse still untucked and no shoes on her feet. “Give me ten minutes to finish getting ready,” she said as she scurried away, leaving him to his own devices.
Sebastian settled onto the sofa and drank his coffee. His eye caught an invitation-sized envelope sitting on the coffee table. He could see that the postmark was from England and tensed up immediately, recognizing the script—it was from his mother. He opened it, although he knew it wasn’t his place to do so. It was a personal invitation to dinner from his mother to Tess. She wanted to meet the tutor who had done such a magnificent job getting her son to buckle down and achieve good marks, it said. The date of the dinner was tomorrow.
He was still holding the card in his hand when Tess finally joined him. She was fully dressed and ready for the school day. “Oh, you found the invitation. Did you know about this?”Tess inquired, not bothered that he had opened it.
“I had no idea,” he admitted. “You’re not going, are you?”
“Of course I’m going,” Tess told him, grabbing her coat from the closet.
“I’d prefer you didn’t.”
Tess gave him an odd look in return. “Sebastian, you need to tell me what’s going on. You haven’t been yourself lately.”
“I don’t want you to go because I don’t want to be around you,” he blurted out. Of course, that wasn’t the way he meant to say it, but it was too late.
“Oh,” was all she could manage to verbalize, confusion flooding her expression.
“Tess, I don’t want to be around you because I don’t like who I become when I’m with my mother. I go to a very dark place with her that I don’t want you to see. I don’t know how to stop it. I’d prefer you stay away from me while she’s in town,” he explained.
“She invited me to dinner. How can I refuse? How bad could it be?” She spoke in short bursts tinged with a hint of annoyance.
“I can’t stop you, can I?” he sighed, defeated.
“You’d better wear the Chanel, then. Jeans are not permitted at the dinner table.”
She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. It made his heart feel a little bit lighter.“Everything is going to be okay,” she whispered.
He pulled her closer and kissed her again, wanting to believe her, but he knew better.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
I've always been drawn to the theme of opposites attract and in this story the couple in question couldn't be more opposite as they not only come from two very different social circles but from opposite sides of the globe. In this story money can't buy you everything, particularly love. Rich playboy Sebastian soon learns that lesson in a most unexpected way which leads to a journey of self-discovery and ultimately happiness.
Sebastian grew up with an uncaring mother and a father he never knew. The only person to love him unconditionally was his nanny. His life was set out before him giving him no choice but to rebel. Too much drugs, sex, and a friend's death lead to a desire to change (along with his mother's banishment of him) and in America he finds the will to change as well as some heartache. He goes from an irresponsible boy to a man in a few short months. He learns self-worth and that he can make it on his own. With the love and support of a good girl he becomes the man we knew he could be behind the facade of anger he surrounded himself with. Sebastian is a charming character, even when he's being bad. He truly cares for those closest to him and it's those caring glimpses that endears him to me and has me rooting for him. Seeing him become the voice of reason amongst those still partying showed even further how much he's matured and that he is something beyond his mother's name and wealth.
Tess is a truly good and studious girl....almost too much so at times. It's hard for her to let her hair down and when she does so for all the wrong reasons it's a disaster and a disappointment. She's a bit naive as well when it comes to matters of love which felt a bit unrealistic as she's heading off to college. She certainly makes Sebastian wait which was new for him but showed the importance of their relationship. She's a kindhearted soul though, supportive of him and it was sweet watching their relationship evolve. She knew all the dark parts of him and accepted him nonetheless.
From start to finish this was an emotionally engaging story with compelling characters. It was interesting seeing how the rich live in vivid detail and how meaningless and superficial their lives are. Sebastian was a delightful character who never hid his past but accepted it and moved on to become a better person, a more real person. Though Tess's immaturity bothered me at times I still appreciated her ability to bring out the real Sebastian, one less angry and happier in his own skin. The secondary characters are equally as colorful, Sebastian's friends Penny and Alistair especially, and I'd be interested in seeing their evolutions from such a tragic event as they both are carrying emotional baggage. This was my first book by Ms. Troutman but won't be my last.
My rating for this is a B.
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Theresa Troutman is a Young Adult/New Adult Romance author who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their crazy dog, Niko. She loves reading, theatre, traveling and is an active member of the SCBWI. My Secret Summer is her first published work. Her latest release is A Special Connection and her first full length novel, Life's What You Make It will be available in April 2014.