I woke up Wednesday morning to a message on my Goodreads page from Sam Mariano, asking me if I would be interested in doing a review of her debut novel Because Of You. So I checked out the blurb and I got that grabby hands feeling. Everything about that blurb shouted READ ME! And boy was it worth it. I was completely blown away. And Sam indulged me, and agreed to do an interview for me. So read on for more.
When the only thing that’s remembered about your mother is how she died in a murder-suicide killing the wife of her ex-boyfriend, you know life isn’t going to be a piece of cake for you. Add to that a never-present father with more affection for his beer bottle than his daughter, and a too-hot-for-his-own-good surviving son of the victim of said “accident,” and you have a problem—or at least, Nicole Harmon certainly does.
When the surviving son, Derek Noble, sees an unsavory opportunity for revenge in the form of a heated one-night-stand, he decides to take it. It is intended to be an unkind but relatively uneventful interlude, but turns into the catalyst that unknowingly casts Derek and Nikki into the shadow of their parents’ sordid past.
For a little while, Derek enjoys toying with the daughter of the woman who robbed him of a mother, and Nikki—having read in her mother’s carefully kept journals all about her mistakes with Derek’s father—has no concerns that she would ever make the same mistakes that her mother made, allowing “love” to poison her soul and destroy her life. For that matter, Derek was the last person in the world she would ever fall for.
What begins as a hateful game of revenge soon evolves into something they never expected and a love neither of them ever wanted. With the fragments of Derek and Nikki’s parents and their own tumultuous past hanging over their heads, the second generation of star-crossed lovers begin a love story all of their own.
But when the past collides with the present and history threatens to repeat itself, will Nikki and Derek change the way the story unravels, or repeat the same mistakes their parents made all those years ago?
Sounds brilliant right? Well, it is believe because I am giving it a 4 and a half glasses of wine review.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.
Because of You kept me on the edge of my seat. I swear, the book kept whispering to my subconscious: “Don’t put me down, just keep reading. Who cares about all the stuff you have to get done? You know you want to keep reading.” Well it worked. I finished this book in five hours. Sam Mariano sure knows how to weave a great story. The first person point of view really grabbed me from the get-go. I felt like I was living the story as it unfolded.
I really loved how the prologue delved straight into the history that you needed to know, and throughout the book, I only had one “What did I miss?” freak out and that only came at the start of the epilogue. I won’t spoil anything and say why, just that I was pleasantly surprised.
This book brings forth characters that are so real, you can relate to the drama, the emotions and all the ups and downs. We have Nicole, whose whole life has been tainted by the one crappy decision her mother made years ago. With all the crap she’s had to deal with, it was refreshing to see that she was strong, confident and independent. She doesn’t take crap from anyone and I adored that she was a bookworm. Living with the black cloud that is your mothers’ reputation, over your head, throughout your whole childhood, can’t be easy, but she persevered and came out on top. Her father, Alex, isn’t the best role model, in fact at times he seems uncaring, but the way his character grows, you can’t end up not liking him. At one part, I actually cried because of the heartfelt words that came out of his mouth. He’s not the best father in the universe and he sure as hell won’t any Father of The Year awards, but when his daughter really needed him, he pulled through and won a place in my heart.
Then we have Derek. He’s Mister Cool at school, and he sure goes all out to try and make Nicole’s life a living hell. I formed a kind of love-hate relationship with him. At times he was such a complete douchebag, but then he’d pull a 180 and you fall head over heels for him. He gets under your skin but he crawls into your heart as well. I regret some of the choices he made, mostly because I really wanted things to work out the way I had envisioned them to work out.
There was so much love in this book, it almost jumped right off the pages. I was blown away by the couple of steamy scenes, they took my breath away. The only word I had after them was WOW!
The twists in this story, oh my god, the twists. The minute you think you have it all figured it, it’s going to end like all other books, you just get propelled to one side, then you think, “Fine, I can see what’s going to happen” you’re right back where you started. It made for a story that was beyond invigorating. I kind of wished the ending was a bit different, but it wouldn’t do the book, or the characters, justice. Here’s hoping we get a novella or even a sequel(Please Sam) just to quench my thirst.
After the tears I shed, and the laughs I laughed, I felt a bit sad at finishing the book so quickly, but I just had to know what was going to happen next. So here’s to Sam Mariano, I give you all the applause my hands can clap.
I get a giddy feeling each time I get to ask authors questions. And it’s so fun asking the questions and reading the answers, that I might just get addicted to it.
Me: This is your debut novel. What was your inspiration for this story?
Sam: Well, I was initially inspired by my own messy experience with first love. I actually started writing this story when I was 18, it took a few years to finish and then I wasn’t sure I actually wanted this to be my debut; I was just too close to it at the time. Honestly, it’s probably only out now because my fiancé sneakily had it published on Lulu.com last year and gave it to me as a Christmas present! Enough time had passed at that point for me to look at it more objectively. From there, I decided to edit it and make it available on Amazon so more people could have access to it.
How did you start writing? Have you always wanted to write? If not, what made you put this story down?I have more or less always told stories, even before I knew what I was doing. When I was a kid, I would spend hours telling stories with my Barbie dolls! I started writing when I was 12; I was terrible of course, but I started writing Gilmore Girls fan-fiction. When I was 16, I decided to start trying to write stories with my own characters, and I’ve been writing ever since.
What was your writing process for this book?This is the first story I ever finished and I honestly had no process for the first draft of this story. I was working full-time and in college full-time, so I was exhausted and would just forego sleep a lot of nights so that I could get it all down before I got so far ahead of myself in my head that I knew I would never catch up. It was also a really emotional book to write, honestly; not all of it, but the sad parts were incredibly difficult and emotionally taxing, so I would just write it when I could get in the mood.
What is your favourite part of the book?Hmm, that’s a hard one! I really like the chapter that covers Christmas, but I think my real favourite part is actually the end—the last two chapters. Obviously I can’t expand on that without giving anything away, but it ended exactly the way that I wanted to, the emotions were there, I felt like you could feel how they/Nikki felt, and it was just… perfect. I had about 3 different endings that I initially bounced around and I had to take a break from the story before I wrote the last chapter, but now that it’s a finished product, I can’t imagine the ending being anything other than what it is.
Where do you write?Well, back when I wrote this book I would just hole up in my room, sit on my bed, and spend hours on my laptop writing. Many, many times I would just be typing away and then I’d finally catch a glimpse of the time and it would be 3 in the morning!
Are you working on anything else?Aside from the first year I had my daughter (writing hiatus; there was no opportunity to write ever) I am always working on something. I literally have over 50 documents in my computer that I write from time to time, now it’s more an issue of not having the time to myself to focus and delve into the characters. I tend to only be able to write when I’m by myself and it’s nice and quiet (or music playing that fits my scene/story/character) so now, the only time I really get to write is the wee hours of the morning after my baby and fiancé are both in bed. Sadly, that means I don’t get to write as much as I would like to. But I’m always getting new story ideas, and I actually do have another story that I’m debating finishing up and also making available on Amazon—I love the characters and the story, so it stands to reason maybe others will, too!
Indulge me for a moment, but will we be seeing a bit more of Nicole and Derek?You know, I don’t think so. Honestly, I did originally plan on writing a sequel (I even have the first chapter saved into my Because of You folder) but I have major reservations about it for several reasons, the main one being that I know I cannot please all of the readers with a sequel. Different people are going to want completely different things out of it, and if I did write a sequel, it wouldn’t be like Because of You, it would have a different tone, a different focus… My honest opinion of the matter (even though I know there will be people who vehemently disagree with me) is that their love story is more romantic with this book as a stand-alone. I know these two like the back of my hand, and I almost feel like a sequel would ruin the magic.
Are you a bookworm like Nicole?I am! I have been since I was a little girl. My mom has often told the story of how, when I was 3, I used to carry books around the house saying, “Once upon a time,” over and over again. 🙂 I actually met my fiancé at a bookstore.
Seeing that you mention a few Jane Austen titles in your book, what Jane Austen novel do you like best?Pride and Prejudice. I also love the movie Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy, regardless of the historical accuracy. Honestly, when I saw it, it made me think of Because of You.
Who’s your favourite author?You know, I don’t really have a favourite author. I realize that’s kind of odd, I have plenty of favourite books (my all-time favourite is Phantom by Susan Kay) but as far as a favourite author… I guess if I had to name one, I would say Judith McNaught. Her book Paradise is the first “romance novel” I ever read, and I’ve always made sure to read every single book of hers I could find.
Now lets get on to the fun part: QUICKFIRE questions!
Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla ice cream, chocolate anything else!
Pasta or Sushi? Definitely pasta! Penne pasta.
Twilight or Hunger Games? Hunger Games—love Katniss.
Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter? Harry Potter (said in my head with an English accent)
Make your bed or just screw it? Screw it!
Hard or Soft? Soft
Edward or Jacob? Jacob
Shoes or barefoot? Socks! Soft, fluffy ones.
Make-up or no make-up? Make-up if going out, no make-up if staying in.
Curly or Straight? Curly unless I fight it with an iron.
About the Author
Sam Mariano is from a small town in Ohio. A former bookseller, lifelong book-lover, she is finally able to devote her time to writing books (when her toddler allows it!) with the support of her fiancé. While she has been writing for years, Because of You is her debut novel.