Title: Sneaking Candy
Author: Lisa Burstein
Publisher: Embrace an Entangled Publishing imprint
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review
All I ever wanted was to make a name for myself as Candice Salinas, creative writing grad student at the University of Miami. Of course, secretly I already have made a name for myself: as Candy Sloane, self-published erotic romance writer. Though thrilled that my books are selling and I have actual fans, if anyone at UM found out, I could lose my scholarship…and the respect of my faculty advisor, grade-A-asshole Professor Dylan.
Enter James Walker, super-hot local barista and—surprise!—my student. Even though I know a relationship is totally off-limits, I can’t stop myself from sneaking around with James, taking a few cues from my own erotic writing…if you catch my drift. Candy’s showing her stripes for the first time in my real life, and I’ve never had so much fun. But when the sugar high fades, can my secrets stay under wraps?
What an intensely fun, steamy book! I knew going into this book that I would enjoy it but what I wasn’t quite expecting was how much. Lisa created a main character I could connect with on a book nerd level, envy over on a “she is totally in like/lust/love with a coffee-making-word-writing-hunk” level, and appreciate on a “she is a real-imperfectly-perfect-flawed person” level. On top of this obviously awesome main character, the story line is relevant, something I could totally picture, and full of little twists and turns that life so often brings on.
Candy…err, I mean Candice was truly a gem of a main character. I am not lying when I say I sort of have a woman-fictional-character crush on her. She is just so real and genuine. I loved that she had moments of doubt and insecurity because seriously, who doesn’t? But then she would get totally kick-ass and be confident and fearless in moments that would have previously rendered her petrified. I ADORED that her personality was constant but she, as a person, was growing and molding into a fiercer (more fierce?) version of herself throughout the story.
At the beginning of this book, Candice is struggling to find a balance from her real life in which she is a creative writing grad student and her secret life in which she is Candy, an up and coming writer of smexy, saucy books. Let me take a quick moment here to say just how much I love, love, LOVE the idea behind this book. Not everyone is a closeted erotic writer, but I do feel that most people have a part of themselves they keep hidden, afraid of what everyone else will think. This general idea told in a not-so-general way was awesomely genius and I applaud Lisa for that! Now back to your previously scheduled review….: As the story goes on, the lines between her two separate lives start to blur and this is where the new and improved version of Candice starts to appear. I loved when this happened because it allowed her to open herself up to James the sexy barista (more on him later), stand up for herself to her jerk of a boss (even if he is sort of good-looking and also sort of a former crush), and finally, it allowed her to really think about the writer and person she wanted to be.
There through Candice’s transformation was James. This sweet, funny, understanding, hot mass of a man is the one person who pushes Candice to be the best version of herself while also threatening her future by being well, one of her students. I will admit, this particular storyline is still a bit tough for me to grasp. HOWEVER, I thought Lisa wrote it in a way that made me think about and question my beliefs on the subject. While I’m still a tad unsure how I feel about the issue as a whole, I was not deterred from loving the freaking heck out of James and Candice’s relationship. He understands what scares her while also pushing her to face her fears. He knows their situation is fragile at best but still tries to make light of it by getting her candy apples (Get it? Because she is his sort-of teacher? I giggled endlessly through that scene…). Even though there are jokes, a HUGE unavoidable issue between them, and a big physical attraction, it’s the simple chemistry and understanding between them that made their relationship really work.
Sneaking Candy had ALL of the things I love and appreciate about New Adult. It was more than the romance (even if that part did play quite an awesome role); it was about finding out who you are and who you want to be; it was about learning to stand up for yourself and following your dreams, whatever they may be. I loved watching Candice grow from a girl a little confused and a whole lot conflicted on who exactly she wants to be to a woman with confidence, drive, a dash of sassy, and of course a hot, new boyfriend that I may or may not still be drooling over.
If you couldn’t pick it up during my review, than I am going to take this time right now to urge you to buy this book. You will laugh, maybe cringe, possibly sigh, and definitely swoon!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of the YA Novels: Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie and the NA Novella: The Next Forever. Sneaking Candy is her first full-length new adult novel.