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Friday, March 4, 2016

Guest Post with Author Jessica Peterson and Giveaway

Jessica Peterson began reading romance to escape the decidedly unromantic awkwardness of her teenage years. Having found solace in the likes of Mr. Darcy, Jamie Fraser (OMG love the gingers!), and Edward Cullen, it wasn’t long before she began creating tall, dark and handsome heroes of her own.

She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, Mr. Peterson, and her smelly Goldendoodle Martha Bean. 

Hi there!  My name is Jessica Peterson, and I am the author of the New Adult Study Abroad series.  Book #2, LESSONS IN GRAVITY, releases on March 15.  I know I’m not supposed to play favorites, but Maddie and Javier just might be my sexiest couple yet (maybe because my celebrity muse for Javier was Sam Hunt, who I think is the hottest guy on the planet right now; I imagined Maddie as Anna Kendrick at her sassiest).

Javier Montoya, the super studly hero in LESSONS IN GRAVITY, is actually based on a real-life Spaniard I met while studying abroad in Madrid more than ten years ago.  My roommate and I went to Barcelona for a weekend early in the semester.  We stayed with a friend of hers from her high school back in the states who was studying abroad there.  That friend happened to have a lot of family in Barcelona.  His “uncle” invited my roommate, her friend, and I to go on a sunset tour of the city on his plane.  When said “uncle” picked us up, my roommate and I almost died.  He was it was unreal.  I knew I’d put him in a book if I ever wrote one—and here he is!

Maddie and Javier’s story is deliciously angsty and very, very hot.  Check out the steamy excerpt below and start your own study abroad adventure today!

Happy reading!

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?

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Check out the Study Abroad series:


Javier steps into the restaurant behind me.

“This is one of my favorite places in Madrid,” he says. “The wine is good, and the food is even better.”

“Awesome,” I say. “I love trying new places.”

The high ceilinged place is bustling, long-stemmed glasses of tempranillo and albariño wine lining the clean-edged bar. People sit, they stand, their laughter and chatter echoing off the stylishly weathered wooden walls and ceiling.

Javier helps me with my coat—of course—and we check our jackets with the hostess. I’m inexplicably nervous as we belly up to the bar. Maybe because Javier is blazing handsome-hot today. He’s wearing a black sweater over a white button-down shirt, his hipster wave slicked back from his forehead in a devastating swoop. His stubble is on full sexy-mechanic display.

Dear Lord. I need a drink. Now.

“Would you like a cocktail?” he asks, passing me a menu. “Or are you in the mood for some wine?”

“Wine, definitely.”

“You like red, right?”

I blink. “Yes. How did you know? Didn’t we drink gin and tonics at Ático?”

Color creeps up his neck as he looks down at the menu. “When I picked you up from that restaurant, you know, the one where you were chatting up your girlfriends—you said you had a red wine buzz.”

I try to squash the rise in my chest before it gets out of hand.

But it overwhelms me anyway. He needs to stop. Stop making me feel like everything I do or say is important. Interesting.

It’s not. I’m not.

“You remember,” I say.

He looks at me for a long minute. His eyes darken, flash with that something again. “Of course I remember.”

The bartender appears, and Javier looks at him, ordering a bottle of Rioja—one of Spain’s more famous red varietals.

“A whole bottle?” I say, arching a brow. “I agreed to one drink.”

Javier digs a money clip out of his back pocket. “I think I can convince you to stay for a few more.”

“No, wait,” I say, scrambling for my bag. “Let me treat you to some wine. It’s the least I can do for helping me with my thesis—I mean, the gas alone for today’s flight—”

But he’s already passing the bartender a few bills. When I try to offer him money—“Please, Javier, take it!”—he gently curls the Euro bill into my palm.

“Perhaps next time,” he says.

His fingers are still curled around mine. They are warm, and calloused. Threads of heat unspool inside my skin, releasing the tension in my shoulders, loosening the stubborn knot of worry in my head. He’s looking at me, I feel it, even though my eyes are glued to our hands. He’s waiting for me to pull away, but I don’t.

Something about his touch makes my throat contract.

“Thanks,” I say, swallowing.

“You’re welcome,” he says. He holds up his glass. “I admit, I wasn’t thrilled about bringing you to the monastery the first time.”

“Really?” I grin. “I didn’t notice.”

“Sorry for being surly,” he replies. “But now—now I’m glad I brought you along. Really, really glad. It’s worked out well, don’t you think?”

I touch my glass to his. “I do.”

Javier grins, too. He stands, scooches his stool closer to mine to make room for another couple. He sits.

We take a sip. The wine is very good, fruit-forward, jammy on my tongue. Warm.

“You like it?” he asks, hopefully.

“I love it,” I say. Of course I love it.

An awkward beat of silence passes between us. I finally pull my hand from Javier’s, tucking the money back into my wallet.

“So how’s the writing going? The thesis?” he asks.

I nod. Take another sip of wine. “It’s going well. Really well, considering all the material I’ve seen at the monastery. At this rate, I’ll be able to put together a pretty amazing paper. If, of course, all goes well with my research.”

“I’ll do everything I can to see that it does.”

I tuck my hair behind my ear and look at him. “C’mon, Javier, you have to stop being so fucking great.” He’s sitting close now, so close I can smell the cinnamon on his breath. My gaze flicks to his lips. Oh, those lips. I remember what those lips can do. “It’s getting a little annoying.”

He’s grinning again, his dimples making a delicious appearance. “Sorry not sorry. I like helping you.”

Oh, God, it’s like an arrow right through my heart.

“You help me, too, you know,” he says. “The fact that you like my nameless band so much keeps me motivated. I’ve written more songs in the past few weeks than I have—well, ever.”

I feel like I’m going to cry.

Stop it stop it stop it right now.

“Your new band is awesome, Javier,” I manage. “I will be first in line to buy the album.”

He looks at me. “I know.”

He pours us each another glass of wine. So much for the one drink thing.

“And how are things besides?” he says, his voice low. “With you. With your family.”

I look at him. And look at him. It overwhelms me, suddenly, the need to tell him. To share with him what I haven’t shared with anyone else. I can’t keep pretending; it’s exhausting, for one thing, and it’s not fair to Javier for another. He’s been so good to me. So patient and understanding.

He already knows I’m hot a mess anyway. That’s certainly no secret, not after I tumbled out of his bed in tears following a horrible conversation with my dad.

Javier is kind. He is a good listener. And he cares. I don’t get it, I don’t understand why he cares. But the fact that he does makes me feel…safe, I guess.

And if telling him my deepest darkest fears somehow blows up in my face, it really doesn’t matter, does it? I go back to the states in a month. Even if I am lucky enough to come back to Spain for graduate school, Javier will probably be married to Carmen by then. Whatever the future holds, I’ll never see him again.

That thought makes my heart twist painfully inside my chest.

I set down my wine and I take a warrior breath and I face him.

And then I tell him everything.



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.

Maddie talks, I listen. It all makes sense now. She’s not looking for “happily ever after” because it doesn’t exist in her world. She thought it did. She thought her parents found happily ever after. But they lost it when her dad betrayed their family. Maddie lost her sense of self—her sense of worth—when her dad treated her like a piece of shit.

What’s that saying? It’s better never to have had something than to have it and lose it?

Maddie had everything, her family had everything, and then she lost it all.

I can’t imagine how eviscerating that loss must be for her.

Disappointment seeps into my chest, a wet, cold weight. Maddie is far too young, and far too lovely, to believe her dreams are dead. I hate the idea of her closing herself off to the world, to the possibility of happiness, just because her parents didn’t find it with each other.

I hate that she won’t give me a chance to prove her wrong.

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.

“Is this why your thesis is so important?” I meet her eyes. “Your way of running from home? Getting into a graduate program in a foreign country so you don’t ever have to go back?”

A single tear spills over the ledge of her thick, dark lashes. Maddie lifts her shoulder, dashes it across her cheek. “Something like that. The opposite of what you’re trying to do, basically, after being on the road for so long. I’m trying to get away from home. You’re trying to get back.”

Her words hang between us. She might as well be saying, See? See why we’d never work?

It makes sense. We’re looking for wildly different things. I believe in home. Maddie doesn’t.

Why, then, do we get on so well? Why do I want to wrap her in my arms and hold her right here, in the middle of a crowded bar?

And why does she have to fall in love with my world when she can’t—she won’t—fall in love with me?

I dig a hand through my hair, giving it a good tug.

I want a cigarette. Badly.

“I’m sorry,” I say when she finishes. “I don’t know what to say except that I’m really fucking sorry that you’re going through this. You don’t have to
do it alone, you know.”

“I know.” She finishes her wine. I pour her another glass. “But I want to. I should. For God’s sake, Javier, do you not see what a mess I am? No one deserves to be subjected to all this baggage I’m carrying around.”

“You deserve some help with that baggage,” I say. “Everyone deserves some help from their friends. Their family.”

She shrugs, sipping her wine. She doesn’t believe me, but I don’t want to press her. Not when she’s so vulnerable.

“Anyway.” Maddie sighs, her shoulders slumping. “Thanks for listening. I really appreciate it, Javier. You’re a really, really wonderful friend.”

I furrow my brow. “Whoa whoa whoa. Don’t get ahead of yourself, cowgirl. We’re friends now?”

“Yes.” She nods. “Friends with a mutual interest in Spanish history and good music.”

I look at her from the corner of my eye. “As long as that music isn’t country.”

“Just you wait,” she replies, the sadness in her eyes replaced by a mischievous gleam. “I’ll make a believer of you yet.”

I grin. “We’ll see. In the meantime, let’s order some food—your stomach’s been growling for half an hour.”

“Oh!” Maddie wraps her arms around her middle. “Oh, eff, that’s embarrassing. I forgot to eat lunch. Which worked out, actually, because otherwise I would’ve narfed all over your plane.”

“Narfed,” I say. “That’s one I haven’t heard. It’s like barfed, right, but better?”

It’s her turn to grin. “Exactly.”


The restaurant is close to Maddie’s apartment, so we walk the few blocks to Calle de Villenueva together, huddled against the cold. The city has come alive for the holidays, the avenues decked out in twinkling lights that form a cathedral-like ceiling above our heads.

“You guys really go all out for Christmas,” Maddie says, teeth chattering.

I move a bit closer to her, and I bite back a smile of surprise when she curls closer to me, too, our breath mingling in a pale cloud in front of our faces. I pop a few more mints in my mouth, chewing through them in half a second.

“It’s brilliant, isn’t it?” I say.

“It is,” she says. “More than that. It’s magical.”

My smile widens. She really is head over heels in love with Madrid. The place I come from, the place I love, too.

We slow our pace when we reach her street.

“Javier,” she says softly. She loops her arm through mine, burying her face into the sleeve of my jacket. “I appreciate you listening tonight. That was really awesome of you. I understand if you want to run away screaming, though. It’s…a lot, I know.”

My heart begins to pound.

“I mean, you practically ran screaming from me. So I guess it’s only fair if I return the favor,” I say.

I resist the urge to wince at my terrible joke. I’m a fucking idiot.

But Maddie just laughs. “Seriously, Javi, I wouldn’t blame you.”

Javi. She’s never called me that before. I like the sound of my nickname on her lips; it’s what my family calls me. My good friends, too.

It rushes over me then, a tidal wave of lust and like and holy fuck I want to reach out and pull her to me and kiss her until the tears come, tears of release, of overwhelmed relief.

I want to hear that name on her tongue again, this time breathless, a plea.

My heart turns over in my chest, and in that moment I know, I know, that I’m in over my head. It isn’t supposed to happen so fast, and it isn’t supposed to happen with someone who’s on the run.

But it’s happening between us, me and Maddie, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

She draws to a stop a few feet from her door. The soft light from a nearby street lamp gilds her skin, turns her eyes into translucent pools of blue. Tonight they’re very full. More beautiful than ever.

A hand grips my heart and squeezes.

Maddie is still curled close against me.

Come home with me tonight, I want to murmur into her hair. Be with me, Maddie. Let me have you. Let me in.

She looks up at me. “Thanks again for today. I had a really, really great time. Whenever you want to lose gravity again, you know who to call.”

I let out a half-hearted scoff as I meet her eyes. “Is tomorrow too soon?”

“I have class,” she says, smiling. Her mouth is inches from mine. My body throbs with the desire to pull her to me, claim those lips as my own.

That’s right, I say in Spanish. I forgot today is Sunday.

Maddie bites her lip. You’re using your Spanish. What are you trying to do, seduce me?

The laughter fades from her gaze as I look down at her.

“No. No quiero seducirte, Maddie.” I don’t want to seduce you.

She wrinkles her forehead. “Then what do you want?”

I search her eyes.

And then I take her face in my trembling hands and duck my head and cover her mouth with mine.


This is what I want.

Up For Grabs:
  • 10 eBook copies of Lessons in Gravity

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  1. Great excerpt! So sexy and seeing Javier as Sam Hunt...mmm mmm!

    1. Hi Sue! Great to see your name pop up here. Thanks for stopping by - so glad you enjoyed the excerpt! And isn't Sam Hunt ridiculously delicious? Love him!

    2. :) And yes, Sam Hunt is ridiculously delicious! As soon as I heard his first song I had to go buy his CD. And of course if I was 20 years younger, and single....look out! ;)

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed that sassy little bit - it's one of my favorite scenes from the book. I love a good swoon-worthy kiss!

  3. Congrats on the new release! That was an awesome excerpt! I'm doing a happy dance cuz you gifted me a copy of the first book and I'm finally going to be able to dive in :) Have an awesome day!

    1. Hi Erin! Oh my goodness - I am so glad you have a copy of SPANISH LESSONS! I sincerely hope you enjoy Viv and Rafa's story. And if you do, I think you'll like Maddie and Javier, too. Thanks, and happy reading!

  4. love the story from two points of view


    1. Hi Denise! Thanks for stopping by. And yes, I love hearing from both the hero and the heroine too! So fun to be in both heads at once. Happy reading!

  5. I enjoyed the excerpt and post. Your studying abroad in Madrid must have been so rewarding and fun.

    1. Hi Jess! So glad you enjoyed that sassy little bit. Love a good kissing scene. And yes, studying abroad was nothing short of magical. Messy, and really, really hard, but magical nonetheless. So magical I had to write a book about it!

  6. These covers are too cute! Got me thinking YA but it's NA. Sounds great!

    1. Thanks Ki! I know the covers a risk, especially in New Adult, but my gut is telling me to stick with this artist. She's so talented - her name is Simini Blocker if you want to check her out. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Loved the excerpt! The covers a super cute too.

    1. Hello Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by, and for the cover love. Aren't they awesome? I'm tempted to make giant, poster-sized canvases out of them and hang them in my office. The artist is seriously talented!

  8. I was in Madrid many years ago and loved it, but I don't think I've ever read a romance set there. This sounds like a fun read.

    1. Hi Jen! Isn't Madrid magical? I haven't read a book set there, either, which is part of the reason why I wrote this series. It's my love letter to one of my favorite cities in the world. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Replies
    1. Hi Mary! Thanks for the excerpt love. I can't resist a great kissing scene. I also can't resist Beauty and the Beast - love your avatar here!

  10. I enjoyed the excerpt and I've added it to my wish list.

    1. Hi Linda! Thank you for stopping by - hope you get a chance to read the rest of Maddie and Javier's story. It's a sassy, steamy one, and I think you'll like it. Happy reading!