Title: Life’s What You Make It (Love’s Great Adventure Series #1)
Author: Theresa Troutman
Genre: Mature Young Adult Romance +16
Publication Date: April 12, 2014
Publisher: Indie Published
Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.
“She’s everything I’m not and everything I want to be.”
Sebastian Iron’s life is spiraling out of control. Over the course of one week: Sebastian witnesses death, runs away with his best friend’s girl, gets kicked out of his English prep school, and is banished to America by his domineering mother to repeat his senior year of high school.
In America, Sebastian struggles to find self-discipline and a purpose to turn his life around. He meets Tess Hamilton, the only person to show him any kindness in his new school. Little does he know, she is the savior tutor hired by his mother to help him improve his grades. The two slowly begin to build a friendship.
As their friendship blossoms, Sebastian begins to have romantic feelings for Tess. She claims to only wants a plutonic relationship, but Sebastian feels the undeniable spark that sizzles between them every time they are together.
Forces beyond their control will either bring Sebastian and Tess closer together or tear them apart.
Will Sebastian return to his old habits or find the strength to be the person worthy of Tess’ love
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Life’s What You Make It is Breakfast at Tiffany’s meets The Prince and Me. Set in the 80s it’s the perfect blend of bad decisions, reckless abandon, mounting passion, and perfect love. Sebastian Irons and the Libertines, his posse of arrogant upper-class nobility with a live life hard and fast with no regrets attitude, could care less about consequences. They live life in the now, partying hard, getting into trouble, and hooking up with abandon. Things like love, fidelity, and caution are for the poor and a waste of time that could be spent getting high or waking up in the arms of the latest conquest. Everything is going swell for these social elites until a horrible accident shakes them to the core. They never thought that a little fun could go too far and that a situation couldn’t be fixed with their unlimited funds. Sebastian feels lost. Sometimes, even in the height of his high, he’d crash, consumed by melancholy, getting trashed just to cope with his mundane lifestyle. After the incident, Sebastian is more depressed than ever, takes a serious look at his life and feels like everything has been a sham. Forced into a future that he loathes, stuck with a mother he doesn’t love and who bribes him with her money, and a slave to the whims of his friends, Sebastian is resigned to a life left unfulfilled. The moment that changed everything leaves a lasting impression, Sebastian doesn’t know how to cope and slips further into dangerous behavior that he can’t come back from. When he’s approached by his mother with an ultimatum, Sebastian is faced with a shocking reality, banishment to Pennsylvania and into the hands of a tutor. America is nothing like Sebastian expected and the students are not too friendly. Sebastian finds kindness in the eyes of a average looking brunette and becomes more curious by the second. Tess isn’t anything at all like the girls he’s normally attracted to but something about her draws him in and it’s with absolute shock that he comes to find out that this enigma of a girl is his dreaded tutor. Tess isn’t looking for love or even a date, her days are dictated by a strict schedule and she has no room for alteration. NYU is her dream and she has to maintain her spot as valedictorian to get there. Sebastian is a distraction she doesn’t need but at $15/hr and with tuition to pay, she can’t say no. Will Tess be able to wrangle Sebastian’s frisky behavior, get him to buckle down and focus on her grades or will he drag her down with him?
- That nonchalant, careless attitude that the Libertines are made of is wonderfully written. They’re haughty in an upper class, passive way that is very Holly Golightly and Daisy Buchanan. They’re sophisticated, polished, and thirsting for danger, uninhibited and almost vapid. Their reckless and half-hearted attempts at caring bring the disenchantment with their A-list lifestyle. The fame and fortune can’t give the Libertines a golden or happy life and their disillusionment is so profound it’s almost sad.
- The relationship between Nanny Jones and Sebastian is heartwarming. It’s that glowing warmth of kindness, genuine care and unfaltering love. The way Sebastian clings to memories of Nanny, the teddy bear story, and the endearing way he tells her he loves her will melt your heart and make you fall a little more in love with him.
- Beneath Sebastian’s roguish, playboy attitude is a heart yearning to love and be loved. Sebastian has spent his life in one night stands and pointless flings, hunkering to sate his passions but unable to build any real connections. Sebastian’s feelings are an incredible insight into his psyche, a glimpse into the reasons behind his actions, and his deepest desires. He’s insanely complex, almost broken in his inability to truly love those who it should have been natural to. Sebastian will make you ache with pity. Although he’s spoiled and sometimes a sarcastic, flirty jerk, he has some serious issues that cannot be easily overcome and take a lot to work through.
- Sebastian’s transformation is huge. Away from the Libertines, it’s as if he is a whole different person and will the help of Tess, he grows rapidly into a compassionate, thoughtful, and complicated man with goals that rival even Tess’.
- Tess is confident is who she is and knows what she wants. She has clearly defined goals and plans for her life and is so mature that it’s admirable and you’ll feel a teensy bit envious. I know I did. Everything is black and white for Tess, clear yes or no choices that can be made with conviction. She rarely strays from her comfort zone and works hard constantly. When Tess starts to make mistakes, it’s as if she wakes to a whole new world, where things are so much more real and raw than she imagined. When she opens herself up to love, it’s beautiful and giving, she becomes more than just a headstrong girl and learns to live and let live.
- Sebastian and Tess compliment each other. They balance and test each other, pushing and pulling in an epic game of give and take. As their feelings grow, something magic happens and suddenly both characters are faced with a truth that they never expected.
- The ending is totally open for a sequel.
- If you’re searching for a feel good love story without too much drama and with a lot of heart, check this one out.
- Some of the scenes are too short, they’re cut awkwardly going from one moment and skipping several days. For example, the Thanksgiving scene, I was dying to know what happened and it didn’t.
- Tess can be infuriating at times, she is very determined and stubborn, her bull-headed nature gets in the way of some of the romance.
- The secondary characters, like Tess’ two best friend’s Jordan and Courtney are like an afterthought. At first they have a pretty strong presence but as the story develops they’re left in the background and don’t really function well in the plot.
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.
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The rest of the day dragged on as Sebastian made his way through his class schedule. There were sideways glances, stares, and muttered comments since his arrival at school, but he ignored them the best he could and went about his business. When the last bell chimed at 2:45, signaling the end of the school day, Sebastian navigated his way to the study hall. He was there to meet the genius tutor his mother had arranged for him. He wasn’t in the mood to study and all he really wanted was a cigarette, but he was mindful of Nanny’s instruction to blend in and buckle down, so he dutifully awaited the arrival of his savior.
Tess Hamilton promptly entered the study hall at 2:50 and walked up to him, laying her textbooks on his table.
“You?” Sebastian blurted out, slightly startled, but with a broad grin on his face.
“They didn’t tell you I was your tutor?”
“Well, at least you look pleased—that’s half the battle. Why didn’t you ask who your tutor was in the dean’s office? Weren’t you curious?”
“I don’t care who is doing the tutoring. My job is to listen and learn. I’m not interested in your body, just your mind.”
Tess did have a nice body, he observed, finally able to get a full view of her standing next to him. She was petite, about five-feet two inches, with an hourglass figure.
“Gee, way to make a girl feel wanted,” she teased.
“If you’re looking for sex, I’d be happy to oblige. This table looks sturdy, and I like a girl who doesn’t have an aversion to public displays of attraction.”
“Public displays of affection,” Tess corrected, not missing a beat.
“I hardly think carnal desire has anything to do with affection,” Sebastian countered.
“Then it’s a good thing you’re not interested in my body.” She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. “What did I get myself into?”
Sebastian didn’t reply, but stood up and pulled out a chair for Tess to sit.
“You’re charming,” she commented.
“Yes,” he merely agreed, with no sense of false modesty.
“I prefer aloof,” he corrected her.
“Well, with a vocabulary like that, you should have no problem with the English portion of your SATs.”
He smiled to himself. He liked her straightforward attitude. Tess was not one of those polite socialite types he was so used to, who smiled demurely then quickly gossiped behind your back. She was a breath of fresh air.
“I printed out a schedule for you. We’ll meet on Tuesdays and Fridays. I have yearbook and the school paper on Mondays and Wednesdays. I can probably squeeze you in if you need a few SAT prep sessions before you take the exam in October. What was your last score?”
“What score are you referring to?”
“Your SAT score.”
“I haven’t taken it yet.”
She didn’t hide the surprise from her face. “What universities are you planning to apply to?”
At least he could answer this question. “NYU and Princeton.”
“Why did you just ‘hmm?’ It is absurd to think that I could attend either one of these schools?” Sebastian spat back, slightly annoyed.
“I didn’t say that. I just find it curious that I’m tutoring you this late in the game and you have such lofty aspirations. You’ll have to work hard to get into these schools. What type of extracurricular activities have you been involved in?”
Again, she was speaking a different language he didn’t quite understand. He was sure she was not talking about parties, drugs, and sex. These were the only extracurricular activities he knew. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I don’t quite understand.”
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