Are you settled into the New Year yet? I know it always takes a little time to adjust back to the routine after the holidays. If you are feeling a little down with winter and the post holiday blues, how about trying a fun romance featuring a best friends to lovers romance on ice. I am excited to featuring debut author, Katie Van Ark, today with her new release: The Boy Next Door. This book is perfect for this time of year as it has a nice romance and it is all about ice skating. Before I tell you more, let me introduce you all to Katie:
Growing up less than a block from the public library, Katie has always loved books and admits to crossing the street while reading. She learned to skate as an adult and to write after that and is a firm believer that it's never too late to follow your dreams. A former teacher, she now writes full-time and still skates weekends with her synchronized skating team. She lives in Michigan with two daughters, two cats, and one very patient husband (her high school sweetheart). She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and of Romance Writers of America. The Boy Next Door is her first novel. Find Katie on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.
I am pleased to have Katie here today to answer a few interview questions. Here is Katie:
Hi Katie, I am excited to have you here with your debut novel. Can you tell us a little something about yourself.
Before I started skating, I used to swim competitively and my event was the mile. I spent over a decade teaching – most of it in kindergarten. I passed the French government's language exam. I never thought I'd be a writer. Basically, I like my life like a box of chocolates – full of surprises. And I like chocolate, too. :-)
What is your background in figure skating? Did you ever compete professionally?
I've spent years skating competitively at a variety of U.S. Figure Skating sanctioned events but I came to skating as an adult so even though I still compete you won't see me lacing up on television. No triples in my real life arsenal of tricks.
How do you feel about pair skaters/ice dancers dating?
I have a love-hate relationship with this. On one hand I think it's swoon-worthy when it happens and on the other hand I know it's rough for the teams who aren't dating each other. People love to couple 'ship and there's this intense pressure to play the part. Meryl Davis and Charlie White actually had a coach to instruct them on acting like a couple. (In real life he's engaged to Tanith Belbin from a team they used to compete against!) That can't be easy.
Your bio says you married your high school sweetheart, any real life inspiration in the romance of The Boy Next Door?
My husband doesn't skate but there was definitely inspiration for the kissing scenes. :-) Really, I've been blessed to be able to re-live that intense high school love on a daily basis.
This is your debut novel. How do you feel about your little fledgling novel hitting the shelves?
Coming from the skating world, it's weird. A skating competition goes like this: you train, then you have the competition, then depending on where you are in the season you take the feedback and adjust or you're done. Since I'm not on the senior circuit, no one replays my falls or talks about my scores on Twitter. And a book isn't like that. A print run can be a really long time. So I'm competition nerved-up and I don't really know what to do with it.
What is next for you?
I'm working on novels about other characters in Maddy and Gabe's hometown of Riverview. Specifically right now I'm revising French Lessons, in which Maddy and Gabe attempt to fix their French friend Jonah up with someone. Their match-making skills aren't as good as their skating skills, leading to some interesting situations!
Do you have romances that you recommend for the upcoming Valentine's Day?
This is probably the weirdest thing you'll ever hear a romance author say but Valentine's Day is actually not a romantic holiday for me. The most romantic thing my husband does for me that day is downplay the holiday – because it's also my birthday. I was a pretty selfish little kid and it always bugged me that everyone else got presents on my birthday. Because my husband is cool, he lets me continue to be selfish about it. (It probably helps that he was born on Thanksgiving and people would just use the pumpkin pie for his cake when he was little so he gets it.) But if you want to know what I've read and loved, please check out my Goodreads shelves.
How long did it take you to write The Boy Next Door?
Longer than it took for me to get to my first skating competition! It took about five years. In the beginning, I didn't even know I was writing a novel. First I was just journaling and then I was writing a script and then I decided it was a novel. And then I had to learn how to write a novel.
A huge thank you to Katie for stopping by and for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck to Katie with her debut. (Photos in the post courtesy of Wikimedia Commons click on images for credits).
Now the best part, as a tour host, I am able to offer a chance to win a copy of The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark to only lucky reader. This giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only. To enter read the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls.
Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals.
So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.
But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes.
Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?
Paperback, 368 pages:
Published:January 6th 2015 by Swoon Reads
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review
Three and a half stars: A friends to lovers romance on ice.
Maddy is in love with the boy next door, but afraid to admit it. Not only is Gabe the boy next door, he is also her best friend and ice skating partner. Now as Maddy and Gabe prepare for this year's competitive season, their coach insists they must do a more romantic number. When Maddy and Gabe find out they are going to skate to Romeo and Juliet, everything changes. Will Maddy at last be able to proclaim her love for the boy next door?
What I Liked:
- There is nothing I like more than a romance that features a friends to lovers romance. I especially enjoyed the added twist of the couple being involved as a competitive figure skating team. It added a whole new layer of complications and trust to the relationship. If you are a fan of this type of romance, check out this book.
- Ice skating! I have long been a fan of ice skating, so I was eager to find that this book was all about ice skating. Ms. Van Ark knows her stuff and everything regarding the figure skating came across as realistic. If you are an ice skating enthusiast, I think you will enjoy this book. If you aren't familiar with the jumps and all of that you might be a tiny bit lost, but dive in anyway.
- I appreciated the strong familial presence in this book. Too often in YA books, the parents are absentee. Both Gabe and Maddy's parents are a big part of the story, and both sets of parents are involved with their children's lives. A big portion of the story revolves around some issues going on with Maddy and her parents.
- This story features dual narratives. You get both Gabe's and Maddie's perspectives. I am a huge fan of romances where you get both points of view as I love seeing how each person is feeling.
- Even though there was a bit more drama in the romance than I would have liked, I appreciated that this book refrained from love triangles and insta love.
- This book appears to be a stand alone. Everything resolves at the end with no cliffhangers or unanswered questions. I appreciated that I got a complete story and a satisfactory ending.
And The Not So Much:
- The romance was a tiny bit disappointing. I was expecting a light, fluffy read where the couple realizes their feelings toward the end. Instead Maddy and Gabe get together early on, but they keep it secret. What follows is a lot of unnecessary drama due to lack of communication and one of them is not happy about hiding the relationship. Even though I liked that the romance was founded on a life long friendship, I didn't like the issues that arose from not talking to one another. Maddy especially jumps to conclusions and causes herself needless heartache.
- There is a story line involving Maddy's parents. Her father is a senator up for election, and her parents appear to be having marital troubles. I liked that there was a twist regarding what was going on with Maddy's dad. I appreciated that the author took the story down a different path. What I didn't like was that her parents kept it hidden from her. They should have been up front with her from the get go.
- While I appreciated that there was a nice, neat happy ending, it felt like all the conflicts resolved quickly and easily. It felt like it was too easy in some cases, and I also felt like the ending was a bit rushed. I did like that there was an epilogue down the road, though.
The Boy Next Door is a pleasant, contemporary romance that features a lifelong friendship and skating partnership that turns into something more. I loved everything to do with figure skating and I enjoyed watching Maddy and Gabe grow. I was a tad bit disappointed that the romance had more drama and angst than I would have liked, but still it was a good read. If you are a fan of YA contemporary romances that feature friends to lovers, give this one a try.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.