Series: Study Abroad, #2
Published by Peterson Paperbacks on March 15th 2016
Genres: College, Musicians, New Adult
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Maddie Lucas is only looking for a one night stand…
While studying in Spain for her semester abroad, Maddie hopes to escape the drama surrounding her parents’ divorce—a divorce she may or may not have caused—while researching Spanish architecture for her thesis. And if she hooks up with hot Madrileños along the way? All the better.
But handsome Spaniard Javier Montoya wants so much more.
Guitarist Javier is ready to set aside his rock star ways and settle down for good with his gorgeous ex-girlfriend. But after a one night stand with sexy, passionate Maddie blossoms into genuine friendship, he begins to wonder if Maddie might be the forever girl he’s looking for.
Too bad Maddie believes forever is more fiction than fairy tale. Can Javier prove to her that fairy tales exist? Or is Maddie right to think she doesn’t deserve happily ever after?
LESSONS IN GRAVITY is a New Adult romance, suitable for mature audiences.
Reading the first few chapters, not only did Jessica start these characters off with a bang (LOL to some sexual innuendos, I think I’d get along with Maddie just fine!), but I had one word repeat over and over in my head: Charming. Not only the characters, but the writing, the setting. The dialogue is not purposefully funny but it makes you laugh. Everything about story this is intriguing and draws you in. Who’s ready for some Spanish fun?
“You’re not that bad,” I say.
She pins me with a look. “I am too that bad. I’m even worse. Vivian says I dance like a mom who gets drunk at her niece’s wedding and thinks she got her groove back.”
“I have a policy against selfies—the angle gives me this ghastly double chin, you see.”
“Ghastly. What an awesome word. Although I wouldn’t use it to describe your chin.”
I really enjoy the feel and overall tone of both Lessons in Gravity and Spanish Lessons. When I refer to it as light, I don’t want anyone to confuse that with fluffy. There are indeed issues that need to be overcome in this book. No they’re not dark and no they’re not outrageous. I think they’re perfectly acceptable setbacks for these characters to have in this situation, and at this age. There are some emotions at play and there’s some angst, but it’s overcome with sweetness and care in the best possible way. Reading Jessica’s stories feel like a warm breeze on a spring day. Hopeful, bright, they make you look forward for what’s to come.
There’s a perfect balance between the sweet and sexy, and the emotion and humour. The story never delves too far in one direction without righting itself; we’re given the right amount of each element for the given situation. It’s very strategic where these elements are placed and how thorough they’re connected through the entire novel.
Jessica writes in such a way that even in the midst of heaviness, it’s not overwhelming. She can make you feel for Maddie and Javi and break your heart, but it’s with an understated elegance. Then in the same understated way she can bring you back and make you hopeful again; to believe and to trust and to live through her characters.
“As I listen, I resist the urge to slide my palm beneath the curtain of Maddie’s hair, to wrap my fingers around the warm nape of her neck, gently, a reminder that I’m here, that she’s safe with me, that it’s okay to cry.
But I don’t want to scare her. She needs to tell her story, and I am more than happy to listen as she does.
I watch her struggle not to cry, to stay strong as she tells me her heart’s been ripped out and stepped on and torn to pieces by her pendejo of a father. You don’t have to be strong with me, I want to tell her. You don’t have to pretend with me.”
While comparing it to Spanish Lessons, Lessons in Gravity is definitely a lot sexier! You have more scenes, more descriptors, more ‘holy Hannah someone turn on a fan‘ moments. I loved the connection between Maddie and Javier – their chemistry practically jumped off the page. Even in the sweeter times, the relationship between these two really was lovely. The helped each other grow in so many ways.
“Madrid is the place you come from,” Leo says. “But it is not your home. Home is the people, not the places. Home for you is Maddie.”
Maddie was a little sassy and I liked it. I wasn’t a huge fan of hers during the first book, so I’m glad that we got her story. In my opinion she was definitely redeemed. We didn’t see the entire truth before, but when we got it and how that spiralled into deep seeded doubts and insecurities, I really did feel for her. No one should ever have to go through what she did. No person should ever make another feel that way. With Javier’s help, her character development followed a natural progression and was set at a good pace. It was believable and nice to see her overcome her woes.
“I’m done running because I know I deserve to love and be loved in return.”
There’s a Maddie quote I found at the beginning which stuck with me the through the entire length of the novel. It plays into not only her person struggles, but her academic and career struggles as well.
“I’ve always thought your twenties were all about finding yourself.
But at almost twenty-one, I feel more lost than ever”
Ultimately, the girls are in Madrid for a study abroad program. Yes, they go to school, yes, they have classes. I loved looking into Maddie’s program and her passions, her work for her thesis. I’ve never given a ton of thought into the topics she was interested in, but experiencing her enthusiasm was hypnotizing. The monastery was a very important setting for this book and the scenes set there were excellent. Even the descriptions; I could almost picture it as if I was with them. Of course then I had to Google what the fuss was about and my breathe was completely taken away. I can’t imagine how mesmerizing it would have been to experience this in the flesh.
Neither character tried to play games or hid what they wanted. From the beginning they were upfront, honest, and knew exactly what they were getting. I think a reader should be able to appreciate this. How many times do we read about confusion of the ‘do they like me’, ‘are they trying to make me jealous’, ‘what do they want’, type games? It can become frustrating for everyone involved, so thankfully here we avoided that.
Javier was absolute perfection. There’s really no other way to describe him. First of all, let’s have a little description:
“…but something about the way he’s built, the dark scuff that covers the square lines of his jaw, catches my wandering eye.
He’s built like a quarterback, deliciously thick about the shoulders and arms and chest. Not huge, just the very right side of athletic. But his chocolate brown hair—cropped close at the sides, a combed swoop of longer hair at the top—along with all that scruff scream hot hipster. It’s like he’s part Madrileño, part rookie NFL player, part hipster country music star.
A few days back I saw a picture on Jessica’s Facebook about celebrity castings for her characters. He casting for Javier, you may ask? None over then Sam Hunt. The beautiful, talented, wonderful Sam Hunt. Between that picture and this description, I had NO problems whatsoever picturing him as Javier while reading. I approve.
Character wise, Javier was exactly what Maddie needed. He’s not only sexy, but he’s thoughtful, he’s trust worthy, and he has a heart as pure as gold. He knows what he wants out of life and is unapologetic about it. On top of this, he is so incredible swoon worthy, even I was getting weak in the knees!
“My heart feels made of glass, suddenly; and Maddie—Maddie keeps coming at me with the hammer of her sadness and loneliness and anger. I’ll let her shatter my heart, I will, if only because I can’t stand the idea of her being heartbroken alone.”
“Yo quiero,” he replies, his breath warm on my breast. I want.
What do you want, I breathe in Spanish.
You, he murmurs. All of you.
No you don’t, I say. I’m too broken.
Javier’s mouth trails a line of fire down the soft slope of my belly.
“You are not broken,” he says. “Bruised, maybe. But not beyond repair.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know you. Bad parts. Good parts. Really good parts.” His hands slide down to my thighs. “I’d take them all if you’d let me.”
The climax of this book was fantastic. I don’t usually wish for drama, but in all honesty I was kind of hoping this event might happen. That may make me mean or cold hearted, I don’t care – I enjoyed it. wanted to see how the characters would work their way back from the edge and overcome what happened. I wanted to hear the excuses and apologies. I wanted to feel the hurt the characters were experiencing. There was one passage from this part that absolutely broke my heart. I would love to quote it but for the sake of spoilers, I’ll leave it out. Just know that it was not only heart wrenching, but beautiful in a sad and broken kind of way. If possible, I wanted to hop on a plane to Spain and fix everything for Maddie and Javier. From the climax things got back on track rather quickly and came to a satisfying conclusion. It both tied up Maddie and Javi’s story, and gave an opening for Laura and Rhys.
“It’s so gorgeous here, even at night when it’s negative fifty degrees outside and it’s a gloomy Wednesday in November. That’s the magic of Madrid—even when you’re cranky and you’re cold and you’re confused as hell about who you are and where you’re going, it can stop you dead in your tracks with its beauty. Its ageless elegance.”
I was in serious danger of booking a flight to Madrid after reading Spanish Lessons, and Lessons in Gravity has in no way helped to diminish that urge. I’ve always wanted to travel and this has officially bumped up Spain into my top five places to visit. Jessica, please, for the love of all that is holy… If you go back, give me a call, email the blog, send a carrier pigeon. I’m coming with you if it’s the last thing I do! We can toast some vino de la casa, eat tapas, listen to flamenco and go dancing at the discotecas. Deal?
*An ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.