- Sebastian has grown so much from the vigilante charmer we met in the first book. He’s level-headed, a planner, focusing on what needs to be done and finding creative ways to do it. Sebastian is lighthearted and so attentive. He brings Tess out of her darkness and fills it with light from his everlasting, pure love. Sebastian has goe from someone entirely conceited and self-absorbed to a man who is honest, willing to give up his life so that his beloved can have hers. Sebastian is still the flirty, debonair heart throb of book one but he’s so much more now. He’s able to juggle everything and still find little ways to brighten Tess’ day, her happiness is everything to him, so much so that he lays his heart on the line as asks her to trample it as long as she comes back to him. It’s crazy and tear-worthy romantic how deeply his love for Tess is. Meanwhile, Sebastian is using his playful personality and dashing looks to break in to the art world, networking and equipped with his keen eye he’s able to invest and recommend unlike anyone else.
- The brief glimpses of the art of the 1980s and 90s capture Sebastian’s heart and foster his ambition. The vibrant pop art of Andy Warhol and the Pollock splatter paintings bring this story into reality, the reader is able to find the pieces and examine them, adding a new level of authenticity to Tess and Sebastian’s story. The art choices are fun, quirky, and suit Sebastian so well. There’s nothing more sexy than a classy man who can hold his own in an artistic, intelligent conversation one moment and be playful and flirtatious the next.
- The letters from Europe, though short highlight the magical, time suspension of Europe. Combining the ancient with the late 20th century, the sights, tastes, and sounds that Tess experiences are ones that anyone who has been to Europe can attest to and reminisce over. The food descriptions will leave you salivating. I am obsessed with macarons and those violet ones…serious food envy.
- That speech. Sighs. Total swooning, heart-melting overload.
- Dan is gorgeous. That unfortunate scene, though horrible for the couple was sweltering.
- Tess’ confusion is understandable. As someone who had never dated nor been in love before Sebastian, there’s bound to be temptation and curiosity about what else is out there. Though this aspect of the plot probably had many readers cringing and eager to strangle Tess, it makes sense. A lot of the time, it’s easy to step over the hard truths and go with the gleeful, unrealistic happy option but this is raw and emotional, pushing Tess to make hard choices about her life and figure out who she is.
- The sex scenes really heat up and are full of exploration and lavish love. Sebastian teases and cherishes Tess to the point of insanity. Not too graphic.
- Tess gets really irritating about 3/4 of the way through the book. She’s a bit like a child having a major tantrum and is excessively petulant over her circumstances. It broke my heart the way she reacted to the perfect news and her fierce determination to ignore the situation and remain in denial took away from her compassionate character while sticking to her headstrong personality. Sometimes you just want to grab Tess by the shoulders and shake her, yell at her to wake up and appreciate her life, she seems so spoiled. While she does sacrifice a lot and is always conscious of their expenses it seems like if she doesn’t have her way she flips out. Luckily, Sebastian is there to grant her every whim.
- Apart from Tess and Sebastian, most of the other characters were fleeting. Sigourney did have a larger role but others were kind of pushed off to the side, effectively isolating Tess and Sebastian in a way that exacerbated Tess’ issues. I found myself missing Penny of all people and Lady Irons. The drama was muted on that end and so many questions from book one were left unanswered. Bring back Holly Golightly (my envisioning of Penny).
Tess turned around to face him. “I like the new suit. You look very dapper.”
“You take my breath away,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her. The kiss was quick and sweet. Sebastian took her hand, saying, “Follow me.”
He guided Tess to the guest bedroom and opened the door. Inside, the bistro table was dressed with their finest linens, china, silver, and crystal.
“It’s just like the efficiency,” Tess said, looking over at Sebastian.
“I wanted to re-create the first time I cooked you dinner. I hope you don’t mind we’re not going out tonight.”
Tess threw her arms around his neck. “I love it!”
Sebastian escorted her to the table and pulled out the chair. Tess sat down and quickly unlaced the straps of her shoes, kicking them off under the table. She admired the centerpiece of roses and inhaled the fragrant scent of the blossoms.
He left the room momentarily, and then returned with Alice in tow. She placed salad plates on table. “Sebastian cooked dinner, I’m just helping out for tonight. I hope you enjoy it,” she said to Tess.
Tess didn’t touch her salad; she simply stared at Sebastian, a single tear of joy escaping her eye. “Thank you so much. This is perfect. You remembered every detail.”
Sebastian reached over and took her hand. “You’re welcome, darling.”
Alice continued to bring course after course to the couple as they enjoyed their dinner. They talked with ease. Sebastian couldn’t help but wonder if things were finally getting back to normal.
At the end of the meal, Alice bought a birthday cake to the table. It was six-inch round chocolate cake with buttercream icing. There was one candle on top of the cake, glowing like a beacon.
“If that’s all, I think I’ll leave you for the evening,” Alice said, handing the knife to Tess.
“Thank you, Alice.”
Alice winked at them and closed the door as she left the room.
“Make a wish.”
Tess closed her eyes, waited a moment, and then blew out the candle. “It’s too pretty to eat,” she lamented.
“We don’t have to eat it right now,” Sebastian said, standing up from the table. He offered his hand to Tess, who willingly took it.
Sebastian escorted her into the living room. He walked over to the CD player and hit the play button. Roxy Music’s Avalon started playing. “Dance with me.” He swept Tess up in his arms and moved to the music, swaying to the slow, melodic song. Tess pressed into him, leaning her head on his shoulder.
When the song was over, Sebastian looked at Tess and saw the happiness in her eyes. He felt as if he had recaptured a magic time they had shared long ago. Sebastian raised her hand to his cheek and tenderly kissed her palm. “I love you, Tess.”
He felt the time was right, so he got down on one knee, reached into his jacket pocket, and pulled out a red Cartier box. “You’re my world. Marry me and I promise I will spend every day for the rest of my life making you happy,” Sebastian said, opening the box to reveal a stunning 1/2-carat Asscher cut diamond set in 18-karat gold.
Tess looked down at Sebastian: his eyes were full of love, his expression full of hope. She honestly hadn’t been expecting a proposal, especially in light of their current situation. Tess had gotten her wish. All she wanted was to move forward with Sebastian, and here he was presenting her with the opportunity. She certainly wasn’t about to let it slip away. “Yes. All I want is you.”
Sebastian stood up and removed the ring from the red box. Tess held out her trembling left hand, and Sebastian slipped the ring on her finger. It fit perfectly; that didn’t surprise Tess at all.
A tear escaped the corner of Sebastian’s eye and Tess brushed it away with her thumb. “Don’t cry,” she begged.
“I’m so happy you said yes,” he admitted, feeling simultaneously relieved and elated.
Tess stood on her tiptoes and crushed her lips against his. Sebastian didn’t hold back this time; he put all his pent-up emotions into the kiss. It was tender at first, and then it spread like wildfire, hot and eager, setting his heart racing.
Tess pulled away, gasping for air. “Make love to me, Sebastian.”
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Theresa Troutman and The Love’s Great Adventure Series.
To celebrate the release of book two – Love This Life, I wanted to share some little know insider info with you and your readers.
1. The playlist consists of songs from the 1980s, the period that the story takes place. The playlist is an alternative way to telling the story and the lyrics parallel what is happening is Sebastian’s life. Older readers will recognize these songs, but I hope to introduce younger readers to music of that decade.
2. Life’s What You Make It was originally called: Nanny, Charles and Me. It was told from Tess Hamilton’s point of view. I switched to Sebastian Iron’s point of view because he is such a flawed character and I wanted to take the reader of his journey to redemption.
3. The book Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh inspired me to start writing this book back in 1984. As the years progressed, Downton Abbey and Gossip Girl are other shows that are similar in genre. If you’re a fan of these shows, I think you’ll enjoy Life’s What You Make It.
4. I kept the time period for Life’s What You Make It in the 1980s. Why? Life was so much simpler—no internet or cell phones. It was easier to go undetected back then. Now everybody know what you’re doing thanks to social media. Also, it wasn’t uncommon for high school sweethearts to get married.
5. Sebastian Irons died in the first draft of the book.
6. When beta readers finished the first book, many of they said, “Do they get married?” This inspired me to write Love This Life. I fell in love with Sebastian and Tess and had so much fun writing them, I didn’t want to let them go. The final book in the series is called London Loves and will take place five years after Love This Life. I’m currently writing it and looking to release in September 2014.
7. I’m an avid traveler and have traveled to Australia seven times in the past twenty-five years. That’s the equivalent of being on an airplane for two weeks straight!
8. I was married when I was nineteen years old and I’m still with the same guy! We don’t have any children. (Does a crazy dog count?)
9. When I was young, I wanted to be a film director. Guess I like telling people what to do, so being a writer suits me perfectly.
10. I owned my own cafe and photo gallery in the 1990s in a town called Intercourse, PA. (It is a real town in Amish country right between Bird and Hand and Blue Ball – really don’t know what inspired the Amish to name their towns!)
Connection (New Adult Romance), and Life’s What You Make It – Love’s Great Adventure Series Book 1 ( Mature YA romance)