Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blog Tour: The Sweet Spot by Ariel Ellman

Ani Winthrop has spent the last ten years trying to forget what it meant to be Ani Mackenzie, the girl who had to say good-bye to her childhood love Sebastian O’Reilly when she was just sixteen. She married a wonderful man, had a beautiful daughter with him, and opened up her own bakery, The Sweet Spot. But when Sebastian walks into her bakery after fifteen years apart, she cannot ignore that he is the only one who could ever truly find her sweet spot.

Sebastian has returned to Boston now, no longer a boy, a man with a feral intensity and a hard muscled body tattooed with the story of his years away from Ani. He has returned to claim the love of his life, only to find that Ani is a wife and mother to another man’s child. 

Now Ani has to choose between the love that she has for her husband Jordan, a handsome and successful pediatric neurosurgeon, and the love for Sebastian that she has never been able to let go of.

4 Star Review by Jen Skewes

Ani's life for the past 10 years has been good to her.  She is married to Jordan who is an amazing man.  He is a loving husband and father.  And she has a beautiful daughter Raffi who is 9 years old.  But over the years no matter how much she loved Jordan there has always been a piece of her heart that has been missing.  Jordan knows that Ani has a past that she never talks about.  He knows that deep down he doesn't have her completely and he knows that it has everything to do with her secrets from the past that she has been holding onto for the past 10 years.  He loves her and will always be there for her and has lived with the fact that she wants to keep the past in the past.  Until her past and present collide.

When Ani was younger she was in love with Sebastian who was also her best friend.  They did everything together and always there for each other.  But at the age of 16 a tragic accident took Sebastian away from her.  She was willing to wait for him but as time went on she realized that she needed to move on with her life, and she did when she met Jordan.

It is now 16 years later and the man who has held her heart completely has just walked in the door of her bakery.  And in that moment everything around her didn't matter.  Bast was here and he was here for her.  The love that they had for each other 16 years ago ever died.  The time apart meant nothing when it came to their love for each other.  And to be honest one would probably ask can two people who haven't seen each other in 16 years still be in love when they have both changed?  But when it comes to Bast and Ani the answer is yes they can.  They never lost that connection.  But Ani can't ignore the fact that she has a husband and daughter whom she loves.  When the man who owns your heart and soul walks back into your life after 16 years, is it worth throwing it all away to be with him?

This was such an emotional read from beginning to end.   To be honest I am not a big fan of triangles and while this one may not be considered one,  I think in a way it sort of was.  Both men were still a big part of her life.  I loved Jordan and honestly my heart broke for him over and over. He loved her and was willing to move past it all to save their marriage.  He was an amazing man and in a different novel I probably would have been rooting for him all the way.  But the truth is that the connection that she felt with Bast was so much stronger than the love she had for Jordan.  You instantly felt the love and connection the moment Bast and Ani saw each other for the first time.  The moment when they first see each other was amazing and the emotions and feelings that they felt for each other was so clear to the reader.  You felt the love between them, even after 16 years of being apart.

Sebastian was amazing and I loved him.  He loved Ani with everything he had.  When they were separated years ago it wasn't by choice.  But over that time Sebatian did choose to keep Ani away.  But once you hear his reasons and see everything that that both went through it will break your heart.   The last 16 years of his life were anything but easy, but he made it through.  And now he is ready to win back the woman who has had his heart since he was young enough to understand what being in love was.

I loved Ani and I did not envy her at all, even though she had two amazing men who loved her.  She had a tough decision to make, one that not only affected her and her marriage but also her daughter.  I wasn't always a fan of her actions and the way she handled things but I still loved her character.  She followed her heart and I don't think she intentionally meant to hurt anyone in doing so.  In the end she was with the one person that she was meant to be with.  

I loved, loved, loved Sawyer, who is Ani's younger sister.  She loved her sister and was their to support any decision she made.  She was fun and quirky in her own way.  She grew up with Bast so she understood how deep her sister's love for him was.   But Jordan was also like a father to Sawyer and she loved him just as much.  She never took sides and was there to give her sister advice when she needed it and she was the best aunt that a girl could ask for.

Raffi, Ani's daughter is a 9 year old that is wise beyond her years.  She was adorable and I loved her.  I'm sure it is hard for any child to watch their parents divorce, especially when the reason for the divorce is another man.  But Raffi was a strong little girl.  She loved both her parents and at times she was adorable and broke my heart with the way she worried about her father.  But she handled it all like a champ and even gave Bast a chance.

The Sweet Spot was a wonderful read.  It was certainly emotional and I cried afew times, both happy and sad tears.  But there are also moments that will make you laugh and touch your heart.  There are the sweet moments between Bast and Ani especially when remembering their past.  Ariel Ellman did a fantastic job with this story.  She captured the emotions of the characters in such a way that you feel those emotions with them.  I could not put this book down.  I was honestly rooting for Sebastian and Ani, even though I loved Jordan.  They were meant to be.  I cannot wait for Sawyer's book!!!


Sebastian’s eyes darkened with desire at Ani’s teasing words and he pushed her plate away from her and leaned in to capture her lips between his teeth.
“Hey, I’m hungry,” Ani protested against Sebastian’s mouth with a laugh.
“I’ll feed you,” Sebastian whispered, picking up a piece of dripping chicken with his fingers and sliding it into Ani’s mouth. Ani sucked Sebastian’s finger into her mouth and licked the dripping juices as he fed her.
“More,” Ani whispered, twisting around and lifting herself up onto the table until she was sitting in front of Sebastian with her legs in his lap.  
Sebastian dipped his fingers into the dish of chicken and rubbed the dripping sauce across Ani’s bottom lip as he slipped his thumb under her teeth, rubbing the taste of curry on the roof of her mouth.
“I’ll never be able to taste curry again without thinking about you in my mouth,” Ani moaned, throwing her head back as Sebastian continued to drip sauce onto her lips.
“Still want to eat?” Sebastian breathed, pushing the bowl aside and laying Ani down onto the table.
“Yes. You,” Ani moaned in reply, reaching for Sebastian and pulling him toward her.
“You want to know what I dreamed of in prison when I had my hand wrapped around my dick?” Sebastian whispered, unbuttoning his jeans and pulling Ani up toward him.
“Yes,” Ani breathed, reaching forward and pulling Sebastian out of his jeans.
“I closed my eyes and imagined your hands on me instead of my own,” Sebastian whispered, wrapping his hands around Ani’s as she stroked him. I imagined you tasting me.” Sebastian rubbed his fingers across the tip of himself and wet them with the beads of pre-come that oozed out. “I imagined this,” Sebastian murmured, bringing his sticky fingers up to Ani’s mouth and rubbing them against her lips. 
“I missed the taste of you,” Ani moaned, licking the salty residue on her lips and bringing her face down to run her tongue across the tip of Sebastian’s leaking cock.
“But you know what I dreamed of the most?” Sebastian moaned as Ani took him in her mouth.
“What?” Ani breathed, lifting her head up to stare into Sebastian’s piercing eyes.
“Being inside you,” Sebastian confessed, pushing Ani back down onto the table and spreading her legs open as he peeled off her jeans. “I yearned to sink myself inside you.” He slid a finger into Ani, stretching her open for him.
“Please,” Ani begged, pulling Sebastian down on top of her.
“I remember our first time like it was yesterday,” Sebastian murmured, sliding his finger out of Ani and thrusting inside her with a groan. “You were so tight and wet, so sweet.” He traced the hickeys down Ani’s body with his tongue.
“You smelled like the sea,” Ani whispered back.

Author Bio
I got my first taste of romance novels tucked away in the back of Papyrus, a little bookstore near Columbia University in Manhattan, when I was eleven years old. They had a children’s section, but it was downstairs in the basement, accessed by a separate street entrance, and they always closed it before we got there.

My father liked to take me and my brothers to bookstores late at night, after spending at least an hour lingering over black coffee and poppy seed cookies at The Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam Avenue and we never made it over to Papyrus before ten p.m.

Out of boredom, trapped in the dusty aisles of Papyrus late at night, I started browsing through all the old used books. I wasn’t too interested in the textbook sections that catered to the Columbia students, but I did fall in love with the paperback romance novels. The first one that I read was an epic 500-page historical love story set during the War of 1812. I was drawn in instantly, and I fell in love with romance novels after that. My oldest and dearest friend Barbara’s older sister, Audrey, lent me my second romance novel, a tattered paperback that reminded me of a steamier version of the movie Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. After that, I could always be found in the romance section of B. Dalton Books, devouring steamy historical romance novels by Catherine Coulter and Dorothy Garlock.

I then proceeded to write my own romance series, which I thought was fabulous, but since I was only twelve and had an almost non-existent love life to base it on, it probably wasn’t actually that exciting.

Over the years, I detoured away from the standard romance novels as I delved into classic literature as an English major in college at Drew University, and I fell in love with the classics: Jane Austin, George Elliot, The Bronte Sisters, Hardy, and Hawthorne. In my personal reading, I delved into Gail Tsukiyama, Dorothy Allison, Kathryn Harrison, Julia Alvarez, Anita Shreve and many others. I devoured memoirs by Alexandra Fuller, Adeline Yen Mah and Helen Fremont. I went through a Patricia Cornwell phase and even considered becoming a mortician, earning the nickname Morticia from my husband’s high school buddy Jeremy. But through it all, the constant theme that attracted me to everything that I read was romance, and in the end, I found myself circling back and falling in love with the good old romance novel again.

Upon my return to my old love, the romance novel, I fell in love with Julie Garwood and read every historical romance that she wrote at least five times. Then I discovered Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books and tore through them, sulking and grumbling as I waited for each new book in the series to come out.

During this process of abandoning the romance novel and finally returning to it, I graduated college, married a wonderful man and spent the next twelve years having five children, which kept me a little busy and distracted me from the one thing that I love more than reading romance novels, writing them.

So armed with a little more history in the love department than I had at twelve, I decided to dive back in and write The Sweet Spot. I had no idea initially that it was going to be the first book in my Boston Harbor Romance series, but as I was writing it, I realized that I didn’t want the story to end, and that so many of the characters in the book had stories that needed to be told.

Whenever I finish reading a great romance, it is always bittersweet because I miss the characters that I have fallen in love with. The wonderful thing about a series is that you never have to say good-bye.

Author Social Media Links:
Goodreads Book II:

Mixing It Up Facebook Page:


Interview with Ariel:

What is your writing inspiration?:
Everything around me inspires my work. Sometimes something simple will spark an idea, like the feel of a raindrop on my cheek, and sometimes my inspiration will come from something deeper, a feeling that a friend or loved one evokes in me.

What would you die without?:
My AMAZING support network of friends and family

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?:
Definitely reading romance books! And drinking my coffee with heavy cream ;).

Did any of your early ideas or characters make it into your current work?:
Yes and no. All of the characters in The Sweet Spot were original to the book, but the idea of Ani and Sebastian’s story came from a fictionalized memoir that I was working on before it. Everyone that read my memoir kept fixating on the story of my first love from my teenage years, and the unresolved way that we left each other. The interest that everyone showed in that aspect of my original story sparked the idea of Ani and Sebastian’s love story in The Sweet Spot.

Do any of your friends or family inspire the characters in the book?:
Yes! My relationship with my little sister definitely inspired the relationship between Ani and Sawyer in The Sweet Spot and the entire series. My sister and I cannot be around each other without doubling over in hysterics every five minutes. We laugh non -stop when we’re together, we both have foul mouths and a playful sense of humor, and we know each other inside and out. We mother each other to death, and we know that we can always count on each other no matter what. There is nothing like a sister to get you through all your good times and bad, and Ani and Sawyer’s relationship reflects that throughout the entire series.

Do you have any new projects in the work for another book?:
Yes! I am currently writing Book IV in my Boston Harbor Romance Series, which is about Bella, Bobby’s little sister, who you meet briefly in Book II. I’m really in love with this story, partly because I feel like I have a little more freedom and flexibility with this book than I had with Book II, Mixing It Up, and Book III, Mississippi Spice, which will be released next month. In books II and III, the characters had already been established from The Sweet Spot, and while I loved telling both Sawyer and Jordan’s stories, I didn’t have as much room to play with them as I do with Bella, because I’d already given my readers certain expectations of Sawyer’s and Jordan’s personalities. With Bella and book IV in general, I feel like I have a blank canvas again, the way that I did with The Sweet Spot when I started the series, and it’s a lot of fun. I love that I can continue to develop all of the existing characters in the series, especially Raffi, who is slowly becoming a teenager and approaching her own story, and yet, I’m also creating something fresh and new at the same time with Bella’s story.

Do you let your close friends and family read your work while you are writing it?: 
Initially I did, and The Sweet Spot went under the microscope with my friends quite a bit through all of it’s stages, but as I’ve progressed through the series, I’ve become a little more hesitant about letting anyone read anything until the first draft is at least complete. While I definitely think it’s valuable to get input from “test” readers, I also think it can sometimes be distracting when you’re still trying to figure out the exact direction that you are heading with the story yourself.  

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