Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein. A new adult novel from Entangled's Embrace imprint...
One taste is never enough...
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?
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 also the author of Pretty Amy, The Next Forever and Dear Cassie. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.
Read an Excerpt
By Lisa Burstein, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Lisa Burstein
All rights reserved.
I couldn't decide if I was burned out, pissed off, in love, or none of the above. I chewed on my pen, what I'd done the last time Professor Dylan reviewed one of my syllabi in his wood-paneled office.
What I could decide was that he made me nervous.
Obviously he made me a lot of things, but nervous was pretty much the only one I was allowed to feel when it came to him. There weren't any specific rules at the University of Miami about "relations" between teaching assistants and the professors they assisted, but it was "frowned upon." It was a sexual harassment minefield. Considering Professor Dylan was tenure-track, it was enough to make him see me as someone with typhoid — sexual typhoid.
At least when he was sober.
I understood. It would take a hell of a lot for me to mess up my academic career just to mess around with some student.
I watched his steel-blue eyes scan the document, grateful they weren't focused on me. That was when I felt more than just nervous about what he would say — when instead I felt a fever about what he might do — a heat in my thighs, which blazed up to my neck, scorching everything in between like a wildfire.
As a creative writing student, a creative writing teacher, I got how cliché this situation was: falling for your boss, falling for your professor, falling for an older man, falling for a man who'd recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend.
It had more clichés than I could count.
The fact he liked my writing, thought I had real promise, and chose me as his teaching assistant because he believed I could actually be a successful author while my parents did not, also added the ever- disgusting daddy-issue cliché to the mix.
Weirder still, considering he was only twenty-six years old.
"This is a little female-heavy, Candice," he said, tipping his head up. His mouth was a straight line, like the punctuation on his criticism.
I bit my lip. Professor Dylan could be as irritating as a thong made out of sandpaper.
As irritating as realizing I was wearing a thong made out of sandpaper and I had forgotten to do laundry and had no other thongs to wear.
"Compared to what?" I asked, sitting up straighter in the impossible-to-be-comfortable-in slick wood chairs the university chose to adorn the other side of his desk.
The class was Contemporary Fiction 201 and, fine, maybe I did choose to teach more female writers, but I was a female writer. And I was also pissed off at how underrepresented we were everywhere else.
Unfortunately, I couldn't say any of that as a lowly teaching assistant, so while I waited for him to answer my question, I thought back to the day everything between us changed. It was the start-of-the-semester department mixer a week ago. Seeing him play sand volleyball on the beach with the male grad students, his shirt off and army-style swim trunks hugging his hips, was all it took.
I was done.
Pile on that as the sun was setting, he and I were sitting on an ocean-worn log drinking beer and laughing as we tried to one up each other with terrible watercolor-sky-inspired similes.
I was winning. "It's as pink and perfect as a baby's bottom."
"As pink and perfect as a baby's bottom rife with diaper rash," he added.
I laughed and our eyes connected — a sharp, soft jolt — a pause that clearly could either push his lips forward into a kiss or rewind them back.
Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on which side of the desk you're on — one of the graduate students he'd been playing volleyball with interrupted us. When the guy had ambled over during his survey of whether we wanted a hot dog or hamburger, he also put a pause on whatever might have happened.
With our almost-kiss floating between us like a bubble we were both afraid to pop, all those clichés lodged in my taught-to-hate-cliché brain. They floated up like Professor Dylan's trunks would have if they'd come off him as we'd bobbed in the ocean together ... which I also sometimes pictured.
It was all I could do to keep my chest from heaving when I thought about him.
Yes, I know: another cliché.
"It should be balanced," he said, waking me from my fantasy. "Don't you agree?" His wavy, hay-blond hair was slicked back. On the beach it had been loose, flying as he ran to spike the volleyball. I remember thinking the exact color of his hair was something sonnets could be written about. Of course, I'd had more than my share of Mike's Hard Lemonade, so I was feeling poetic — a scary proposition for any fiction writer.
"If there were more men, would you tell me to add more women?" I asked. I was sure some of the frustration we felt toward each other would have been washed away if we'd been able to finish what we'd started on the beach. Of course, who the hell knew what we'd be doing right now if that had happened?
"I don't know — give me a new one with the changes I've requested and we'll see." He passed the paper back to me.
I didn't respond at first, allowed him to think I was considering what he'd said. I wasn't. I was considering his lips. Wondering how they could seem so soft and yet be so off-limits.
He cleared his throat. I liked to think I made him more than just nervous, too, or maybe when it came to me, nervous was enough. I mean, he'd seen me in my black bikini top and jean shorts at the department mixer, too. Seen my dark brown hair wet and wavy-wild from the ocean water — the kind of hair you can't get if you're trying.
"Are you saying I should add one of your books?" I asked, feeling brave enough to lean toward him — to call his bluff.
You tried to kiss me. You tried to kiss me; admit it.
"I don't think I said that." He laid his hands on the desk. They were so large I sometimes wondered how he typed his manuscripts. "Though the sales would be nice." He laughed — a joke.
"Any other authors heavier on Y chromosomes you might suggest?" I asked. I considered saying, Authors with bigger balls than mine? but I needed this fellowship. It was the only way I could afford to stay here.
Even with the desk between us, our bodies were close, his fingers almost touching mine, my face just a neck's length away from his ...
"You're smart and talented, Candice. I'm sure you'll figure it out."
... but then he ruined it by being a sandpaper thong again.
He sat back in his chair. I guess he'd noticed how close we'd been, too.
Smart and talented — the curse of death for a writer, what someone said when he couldn't think of anything interesting to say about your work. Something had definitely changed after our moment on the beach, and like the daddy-issue cliché I was stuck in, I guess I was still searching for his approval.
At least he'd taken over for my parents. When I'd decided to become a writer, they hadn't approved at all. They were surgeons, and that was what they had wanted me to be. Choosing to be a writer, a profession they referred to as indulgent and flighty, had been enough to make them cut me off financially.
And in every other way, too.
"Fine," I said, stuffing the paper back in my messenger bag. He rarely checked the syllabus again after this first meeting. I knew it would stay as is.
"Are you really going to change it?" he asked, like he could read my mind.
"You told me to," I said. "I heard you."
"It's not the same thing as yes." His teeth waited like he wanted to smile but was waiting to see what I would do first.
I sighed. "Yes," I replied, and the word was heavy in my throat with thoughts of ocean rendezvous.
"In time for class this afternoon?" he pushed. He picked up a silver pen from his desk and started clicking it, click, click, click, like he needed to give his hands something to do. I knew the feeling. Sitting in his office, I sometimes had to sit on mine.
"Isn't that why we're having our meeting this morning?" I asked. He didn't believe me and I didn't care. It was my class, my rules — as long as he never found out, that is.
"You're just more agreeable than I expected."
"I do what I'm told." Or at least, I let people think I did.
"Shame," he said, "I do love a good argument." He put down his pen and took a sip from his mug.
"Is there anything else?" I asked, suddenly needing to get the hell out of there. Fantasies could only take you so far when you had no idea if you'd ever achieve them — if you even had the chops to.
Anthony Dylan was a "literary force." What the New York Times said of his debut novel, published last year when he was twenty-five. Only three years older than I was now. It was unimaginable, all he'd done in four years: New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award nominee, tenure-track full professorship.
It made my stomach hurt, because it was everything I wanted for my life and it was sitting right across from me at the impossible age of twenty-six.
"Have you done all the reading needed to lead my discussion section for Modern Lit 301?"
I wished when he'd given me that syllabus, I could have told him to make it more balanced. It was dripping with penises — a Christmas tree adorned with saggy members instead of garlands: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Faulkner, to name a few. It was a semantic sausage fest.
"Almost," I said.
He cocked his head, waiting for a better answer.
"I'll be finished this week," I said.
"Good," he replied. "I have a star student signed up for it, and I want to keep him a star." His usually minty breath was studded with a hint of cinnamon and coffee.
Coffee. I couldn't help but think of James, the barista at Buzzer's Coffeehouse I'd been crushing on for the last six weeks. Forget about the sonnets that could be written about Professor Dylan's hair — James's deep brown eyes were what the songs played in vans with steamed-up windows were written about. They were the cause of what happened in those vans.
I glanced at my phone, wondering if I had time for a latte before class.
"Are you still with us, Candice?" Professor Dylan asked.
I blinked and put my hand to my chin, checking for drool.
"Yes," I replied, "star student. Can't wait." He meant a guy he hoped to chisel into his literary image. Apparently, I wasn't eligible because I was a girl. It didn't matter how much promise he thought I had because I literally lacked the necessary equipment.
Meeting over, I walked out of his office, and heard the click of his keyboard keys behind his closed door. I hurried out of the department quickly, hoping to avoid Julia. The ex-girlfriend — the ex-girlfriend in a freaking office next door — and ten years his senior. How they could still work together I had no idea. How he could have been with her in the first place, I couldn't even begin to fathom. She was the classic hard-ass bitch — the kind of professor who, if you were a minute late to class, marked you absent and then made you write a freaking paper about it. People referred to her as the POed Poet.
She was the last person I needed to deal with today.
I headed down the hall and into the stairwell toward the basement copy center to make copies of my syllabus as is. There was no way in hell I was changing it. But, I couldn't tell Professor Dylan that — or anything else I felt about him.
Why can I only be assertive and sexy in my writing?
Well, not the writing I shared here, but still.
It was so much easier to be strong and fearless and free on the page than to say the words.
Why couldn't I have told him to stuff his changes to the syllabus? Why couldn't I have fed it to him piece by piece while he was tied to a bed with my fishnet thigh-highs? Only when I was writing erotic romance as Candy Sloane could I do that. When the two of us were in his wood-paneled office, I wished I could be more like Candy.
But he could never find out about her. No one at the university could. As much as I loved her, she had the possibility to make everything I was working toward vanish.
Professor Dylan would be furious. Not because of Candy specifically, but because Candy represented everything he thought was wrong with the publishing industry now. He and his literary brethren weren't too happy with the success of self-published romance writers like Candy.
On the beach, drunk enough to forget himself, he'd complained about that being the reason his newest book wasn't making the bestseller lists. Of course, the critics had their own term of endearment for what had happened to him: "sophomore slump."
I knew being an erotic romance author wasn't an actual offense, but writing popular fiction when I was studying to be a serious literary writer absolutely would be, according to him.
Candy had to stay my secret.CHAPTER 2
I sat at the desk at the front of the lecture hall waiting for the students to pile in. I think college campuses might have been the only places on earth with clocks still on the walls, considering people had so many other ways to see what time it was. I guess it was because the students were actually paying good money for our time.
Not that I got much of it.
My teaching fellowship only paid for my tuition. To cover my rent, food, and essentials from Bliss cosmetics and Zappos, I had to invent Candy Sloane. It was either that or shoveling slop at one of the dining halls for the undergrads.
When I was an undergrad, I hadn't had to work at all, before my parents went all tough love. That was actually a kind way to describe what they were doing. Really, they were completely incommunicado, which felt a lot more like no love.
I'd solved the money problem, at least, by self-publishing as Candy. It was a hell of a lot more fun than a campus job and was paying the bills quite nicely. I just had to make sure she remained in the closet when I was at school. They didn't teach Writing Erotic Romance 101 here — or on any college campus, for that matter.
At least not yet.
Everyone studying creative writing here wanted to be the next Gillian Flynn or Khaled Hosseini — taken seriously, but wildly, commercially successful.
I guess, writer or not, it was what everyone wanted.
"When's your class start?" My roommate Amanda's voice echoed from the doorway of the lecture hall. She was a Marine Biology fellow, which made her continually tan and taut from all the dives she went on. I was her antonym: epically pale and usually stuck in a classroom, a library, or hunched over my laptop.
"Ten minutes," I said, glancing at the clock. I guess people actually did use it, but only because it was there.
"Nothing like being early," she said, walking down the long, gray-carpeted aisle in between the rows of seats.
It had been Amanda who'd given me the idea to write as Candy when I first moved here three months ago. I was lamenting how I would have to beg for change on the overpass to pay my rent past October. I'd had a padded bank account when I got to Miami, thanks to college graduation gifts, but that would only last so long.
It was Amanda who had said, "Duh, you're a writer. Why don't you write a book?"
"It can take years." I breathed. "To get an agent, a publisher to take you on; I don't have years."
"No." She shook her head. "Like one of these."
We were sitting next to each other on the couch in our living room. She'd clicked on her phone and passed it to me. Her Kindle app was filled with book covers featuring guys with abs as taut as stretched rubber bands or that highlighted a sexy item like a knotted tie or a Martini glass.
I kept scrolling and found covers with couples who looked like they were about to do it and couples who looked like they just had, twenty-seven times in a row.
"You can write it yourself and sell it yourself. Lots of people are," she said.
"What are these books about?" I asked.
"What else? Trying to have sex, having sex, having more sex." She grinned. "And falling in love. You know, the good stuff."
I continued scrolling. There had to be a hundred books, all with covers that screamed in their own way, Let's get it on.
"You really haven't heard about these?" She frowned.
I guess I sort of had, but I was also a writing student — we tended to do our best to ignore what the public was actually reading. "What if no one buys it?" I asked.
"Get out your notebook and a pen." She sighed and leaned toward me. "I have a few stories in my fornication files I know would sell."
I spent the night taking notes and two weeks devouring as many books as I could on her Kindle. With my muse fully aroused, my first book, The Reality O, was written and self-published in two months.
The Reality O, inspired by Amanda's love of reality shows and orgasms, was about a librarian picked to live in a house with fifteen contestants and chose one of them Bachelorette-style to provide her with an inaugural-O.
Excerpted from Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2013 Lisa Burstein. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book. Being a self-published author myself, I could really relate to the struggles that Candice had with feeling legitimate and authentic. I was pulled right in and enjoyed the story right from the get-go (frankly I stopped watching a Meryl Streep movie to go back to reading). Despite the mentions of erotica, this book does not fall into the category. It is just a good-old fashioned romance. With professors and grad students and undergrads. Oh, and an erotic book conference thrown in for good measure. I read this book in one day and was sad to see it end. An enjoyable read and a definite recommend!
Story about a romance writer and the two men in her life at College, The characters seem to be real people. Very enjoyable and sexy.
You people should just read this novel yourselves and write your own review on this novel. I really enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA
An interesting story about a young lady who wants more out of life than the way she lives it. It is all about "writing". You will enjoy this book. i
Lisa Burstein's book doesn't seem to have a magnetic plot, although it also seemed like I could not put the book down for long ... it was just a nice read about a frustrated college girl trying to make herself a success in the literary world while trying to earn an advanced degree in college in Miami. The story was smooth and almost predictable until the final chapters when a couple unexpected twists in the plot turns this into a quite enjoyable publication. The characters are not really strong, but they are more true-to-life than any of us would want to admit. Enjoy this book for what it is ... an enjoyable read about a couple college students trying to find their niche in the collegiate and literary world.
Love this book!
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Its a great, very realistic story that could very well actually be believed to be true to life. I highly recommend this book
My Thoughts: A book about a self-published author looking for love? Yep. That's what I'm talking about. Something to relate to. And a relationship that she can't have? Well, doesn't that just pique my interest! While it was an interesting premise, I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to. I liked Candice, the way she was able to pull off both worlds, the public one and the private one. And the way she and James started out. It had such promise, until they discovered he was her student. She put up a hard fight when it came to keeping things professional. But she can't fight the fact that she feels something for him. So they give in to the feelings and need to keep it from everyone to keep from losing everything. I did like the two of them together, but I only somewhat felt the draw of anything between them. The secrets of Sneaking Candy keep you wanting more. The story was cute, but the way everything falls into place so easily in the end left me wanting something more. Lisa Burstein can write very well and she shows promise for further appealing stories. My Rating: Pretty Good
I really enjoyed this book. Very entertaining. Great story.
I have been able to read all of Lisa Burstein's young adult books; which, by the way, have all been superb, memorable and have all made an ever-lasting impact on me. It was so refreshing to have her "let go" in this New Adult romance! We are definitely not in YA-land anymore!!! And I truly enjoyed every minute of this book! I instantly liked Candice and her quirkiness! She is one of those people that has a little bit of everything in her - she's happy with what she's doing, but what she's doing is also making her sad. She's sure of herself as a writer, but also doubtful. She's strong and confident with herself, but she's also weak and scared to share her confidence with others. Candice is someone I want to be BFFs with! The kind of friend that you can tell her anything over a pint or two of ice cream and feel like you've known her for forever... Candice is a creative grad student working her way through school - something that she never thought she would have to do. But when your parents don't agree with the choices you've made and cut you off, you do what you have to do to make your dreams come true. She wants to be a writer. A successful writer. And even though working alongside an egotistical professor wasn't part of the plan, she manages to keep things going for herself as best as she can. But her scholarship isn't enough to pay for her bills and other needed things, she had to do something to help compensate her for her living expenses, etc... something that can possibly end her career before it even starts!... Her alter-ego, Candy, at your service. That's right! Candice is a successful writer under the pseudonym, Candy. A self-pubbed erotic romance writer who quickly gains a fanbase and keeps in touch with them through updates on Twitter and her Facebook page. And, even though Candice is nothing like Candy, Candy is also the main character in all of her stories! Which to me, is fun and hilarious at the same time. Who doesn't wish to be the lead character in any romance book? Although her roommate/BFF helps her with most of the exotic parts of her stories, Candice can really let her imagination run wild too. Especially after she meets James at the local coffee shop; that boy makes girls heads spin and more! And that is all I am going to say about James... there aren't enough words to explain how good, well-meaning and delicious he is! Lisa Burstein captured me with her fun and sexy writing style without ever lacking on her well thought out and realistic characters that I have always expected from her. SNEAKING CANDY is definitely a great read to pick up, especially if you have not ventured into the new "New Adult" genre yet. You'll not only get your hot romance fix from it, but also expect some great laugh-out-loud and 'oh snap' moments, as well!
"Sneaking Candy" by Lisa Burstein was absolutely amazing. I couldn't believe how addicting this book is within the first few pages of the story. I would have to say that this is one of the better new adult novels that I have read. I thought the story and characters where amazing. I would have to say that this is definitely a book I would like to have sitting on my bookshelf not to mention something that I will recommend to many people. Since there is a big talk about sex, this is something I probably wouldn't recommend to anyone under 18 but that is for my own moral standards. If a parent is find with sharing this book with their older teenagers, then I am all for it. I think Burstein is an amazing writer. I thought she did great with "Pretty Amy" and "Dear Cassie," but I really think she out did herself in "Sneaking Candy." "Sneaking Candy" is about Candice and her journey as a graduate student in Miami. Even though Candice is our main character, I think this book focuses a lot on several people in the story line. Candice is a TA and also a student. She is trying to become the next great novelist, but her most hidden secret is that she is also a writer of erotica novels. Candice knows that her Teacher and mentor would be completely ashamed of her if he knew that she wrote the one thing that he absolutely hated. Then Candice dares herself to ask about a man that she thinks is unbelievably hot and come to find out he ends up being one of here students which makes everything way more complicated than it should be. All James knows is that the cute woman that comes into his place of work all of the time gave him her number on a dollar bill tip. Little did James know is that she ends up being his TA. James is okay with trying to push the envelope and see what happens, but Candice is not. James understands what the consequences may hold but he still wants Candice all the same, so he is going to try to show Candice that it can work and to help her get out of her comfort zone a little bit. Professor Dylan is both James professor for undergraduate schooling and Candice's professor for graduate School. Professor Dylan doesn't believe that the erotica industry is considered to be real writing. He seems to like to try and pin James and Candice against each other for being his best student. Then there is Amanda or "Mandy." Amanda is Candice's best friend and when Candice is writing as "Candy," then Amanda is "Mandy" and they become a spunky duo. I would have to say that Amanda is probably one of the best literary friends that I have read. She is my favorite character in the entire book. I really wish I had a best friend like her. Amanda definitely encourages Candice's writing. She is her number one fan and of course she helps her write the sexy scenes based off of her own experiences. The characters in "Sneaking Candy" were amazing. I laughed and I would have to admit got angry a few times because of the characters and their dumb choices. The plot in "Sneaking Candy" was very well developed and the story line kept my attention which is always nice in a book. I didn't feel like there were any slow parts at all. As soon as I started reading, I had a hard time putting the book down because I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. I think Lisa Burstein has a wonderful talent for "New Adult" novels. I hope she produces another one soon because I am ready for another installment. Stunning...Stunning...Stunning job!
3.5 Stars 'Sneaking Candy' is a fun and steamy New Adult contemporary romance that follows our main character Candice Salinas as she attempts to combine her graduate classes, her TA job, and her love life all while trying to become a great writer. But Candice has a secret that only her roommate knows about - she writes erotic romance under the pen name Candy Sloane to help pay her bills. She's doing well as a romance writer, but knows that if her secret got out, her academic career and the hopes of being taken seriously as a writer would disappear. Everything seems to be going fine until Candice gets up the nerve to ask out the hot barista, James, from the local coffee shop. What she wasn't expecting was the fact that James is actually an undergraduate at the school and is one of her students. Knowing that any type of relationship with James is off limits, Candice can't keep herself away from him and they begin a relationship that even her counterpart Candy would be proud of. This was a light and fun contemporary romance that had it's share of both incredibly hot scenes and more serious parts mixed in. I really liked the character of Candice. She was down to earth, determined, and smart. She also had her flaws, like her incredibly low self-esteem after her last breakup and insecurities about her ability to write. I found her to be realistic and easy to identify with. The setting was at a university in Miami, which was perfect for the book. Being a reader and an English major myself, I really loved that Candice wanted to be a writer and was teaching English at the college. She even mentions bloggers and their reviews of her erotica books in the story, which was fun to identify with. It kinda felt like she was talking about me in a way, which I thought was really cool. James is (of course) super hot, smart, and basically the perfect guy. Naturally, there has to be a reason that Candice can't be with him - that's one of the things I hate about these types of stories - but they try to make things happen anyways. I loved watching them get to know each other and seeing their relationship develop. As I mentioned, there were some really steamy scenes in the book that definitely had me blushing. Overall, this was a well written book with an interesting and engaging story line and lots of great romance and sexy scenes. Definitely recommended for fans of New Adult and contemporary romances. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein is a quirky tale of a serious literary student, Candice leading a double life as an erotic romance author by the name of Candy Sloane. Candy's bestie and room mate Mandy are the inspiration for many of the technical aspects of the erotic novels but it's not too long before Candy finds herself desperately wanting to learn new things (and take plenty of notes) with her new "friend" James. A fun novel filled with the current happenings in todays self-publishing community. Mentions of bloggers, facebook, tweeting, book conventions etc. As a blogger and an avid reader of indie & self-published authors I got a kick out of all the shout-outs. As far as the actual plot... there's a boy and a girl, they shouldn't be together but really want to be, there's an adversary thats trying to ruin the heroine's life/career, and most importantly, there's a Happily Ever After.
Sneaking Candy is a quick, light read about Candice, an MFA grad student who wants to be a critcally-acclaimed author recognized in academic and literary circles. While finishing her degree, she has created Candy Sloane, erotic romance writer, to help pay the bills. The only problem is that if the university discovers her alter ego, there could be a fall out. Throw in a good-looking professor, a sassy, say-what-she-thinks roomie, and a sexy-as-anything male student and you have a recipe for Candy's potential unraveling. I felt the dialogue and character development was very sweet and enjoyable throughout the story. Candice is fighting to accept who she is, gain acceptance by others for what she really wants to do, and find her place in academia and the erotic romance world. I enjoyed being along on her journey until there was this one point that I thought didn't work for me. I can't describe it without spoilers, but I felt like the book lost me at that point. Otherwise, it had it's funny, hot, romantic moments that kept me involved. Overall, I appreciated the story of Candice/Candy, James, Mandy and Professor Dylan and the idea of finding your true calling and being true to yourself while also being open to romance.
I have to start off by saying how much I love the cover of this book. It's sassy and fun, and nothing like so many of the other book covers found in this genre. I didn't quite feel as drawn into the story as I usually do, but if you're looking for an exciting read, with fiesty characters, this one fits the bill. Candice/Candy was a great character who proved that you don't have to be one dimensional. It's okay to have layers, to take risks and to have that fun, naughty side, even if you only allow it to show itself on special occasions. The thing that really caught my attention with this story was the voice it gave to all those authors whose work has been undermined and considered 'fluff". Although Candice was very dedicated and goal driven, she found herself in a position that meant she either kiss ass, or free herself from the box she, as well as Prof. Dylan, had placed herself in. She could be anything she wanted to be, and the important lesson learned was to never allow anyone to steer your boat for you. Candice could have easily given up Candy, but she was a part of her, her writing was a part of her, so if she gave it up to satisfy a few people, she'd have lost a bit of herself and disappointed the many fans she'd garnered. I'm also glad she didn't let go of James. They were so amazing together and if they hadn't given their relationship a shot, I would have climbed between the covers and forced them to. This read was enjoyable, although it didn't blow my socks off. It was different from many of the Contemporary Romances I've read of late, in that it wasn't filled with so much angst and emotion. It was more about Candice finding her true voice, and making a stand for herself.
Candy or Candice? I choose a little of both. I absolutely loved Sneaking Candy. It's one of those stories that gives you a little bit of everything and it's absolutely perfect for the New Adult genre. This is the third Lisa Burstein book I've read, and I loved the darkness of Pretty Amy, Sneaking Candy was equally fabulous for the exact opposite reason. It's fun to read a story that is rife with innuendo--but doesn't step over the line--and wit. Candice led two lives and fought for ways to blend the two. I think most authors feel like her and I commend Lisa for sharing that aspect of our lives. The professor was the typical "man" and he's someone that you both hate and lust after. I'm not quite sure how she did it, but I almost loved him more because he was an ass. And then there's James... ah dreamy James... He's that boy in school that winked at you when you didn't have the guts to say hello. He's the boy that you played pretend with while washing dishes. (What you didn't do that?) But he's also all man! The heat between Candice and James is fantastic! I wanted to be a fly on the wall, hoping Burstein would give me more--much more. They find each other when they need each other most and I love stories like that. But...they also have to learn to trust and that can be really difficult when even your own family doesn't care anymore. I could keep going on and on about this story. I pretty much devoured it and barked at hubby a few times when he interrupted me. The writing is phenomenal, the story is fast paced and full of twists, and not only is there a happy ending, but there's a sense of closure (that most women never get)--you'll just have to read it to know what I mean. Sneaking Candy is a fictional reality of what most authors live through each time they put their book babies out in the world. And for having the courage to share, I give five beaming stars to Ms. Burstein!
I was so pleasantly surprised by Sneaking Candy. It was fun, which I expected, but it was also so smart. I hope that doesn’t make me guilty of the prejudice against romance novels, but then again it’s not every book that tackles the kinds of issues that this book does. I absolutely loved how it took on the literary snobbish perspective that romance and erotica are dredge. The fact that Lisa Burstein wrote a romance novel about a romance novelist who has to deal with the attitude that the people who write romance aren't “real authors”? Awesome. I found our main character, Candice, to be relatable. She loves writing and she's in a masters program for it, but she has another side to her, writing erotica under a pen name, "Candy". Candice has these two sides to her, and I don’t think it’s spoilery to say that as the book goes on she learns to embrace Candy. I really liked seeing Candice bringing both sides of her together, pulling the Candy persona into her real life. I thought the relationships in this novel were really well done. There’s Candice’s best friend, Amanda, who is both Candice’s and Candy’s biggest supporter. There’s the problematic relationship with Professor Dylan who’s supposed to be Candice’s mentor and advisor, but who makes no secret of the fact that he hates romance “hacks”. There’s also a romantic relationship with James who is someone who might finally see and accept the real Candice, including the Candy side of her. This relationship is just what Candice wants, but it’s complicated by the fact that he’s Candice’s student and that everyone around the school thinks she’s involved with Professor Dylan. Sneaking Candy was a really great read. It provided a swoony romance while also addressing, from a unique angle, the prejudices that romance writers (and readers!) face. I really liked seeing Candice come into her own as she figured out her various relationships.
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!
By day Candice Salinas is a hardworking graduate student at the University of Miami. She is not only working towards her MFA, but also a T.A. for Professor Anthony Dylan, a current New York Times bestselling author. She dreams of becoming a serious author and nothing will hold her back. By night she comes Candy Sloane, self-published erotic romance author. Candy's books help Candice pay any extra expenses her T.A. fellowship does not cover. Due to the fact that she does want to be taken seriously, she does her best to keep Candy hidden from others. James Walker, local barista and transfer student, has tremendous writing talent. He first meets Candice when she comes into his coffee shop to get her favorite Chai lattes even if he cannot make them very well. He just thanks his lucky stars she keeps coming back, and double the day she works up the courage to give him her number. Unbeknownst to her though, he's actually an undergrad, and in one of her classes. Sneaking Candy is definitely one of best books I've read all year. It was cute, funny, endearing, and about any other positive adjective one can think of. Candice is such a likable character. She's flawed but not to the point where I felt like I couldn't connect to her, because connect I did. I related so much to her struggle of figuring out who she is. I may not be a writer but I have many facets of myself that I juggle every day. I really enjoyed anything that had to do with the Candy persona and her writing. All of it came across as truthful and real. I felt like it's possible the author went through just as many challenges. I only wish the book could have been more cohesive. A lot of it seemed written the way a person would speak. Which isn't a bad thing for thoughts, but was annoying after awhile. Overall I would give the book 4-4.5/5 stars.
Candice Salinas is a creative writing grad student who just wants to be taken seriously. Since her fellowship only covers her tuition, she started writing (and self-publishing) erotic romance novels as Candy Sloane to make ends meet. And, surprise, she is relatively successful, making enough off her novels to pay her rent. But her jerk faculty advisor would disapprove and no one would take second look at her serious writing if they knew she was moonlighting as an erotic romance writer, nevermind that she kinda loves doing it (pun intended). Then James walks into the picture, as if she needs more drama. The hot barista at a local coffee shop, he’s finally taken interest in her like she’s fantasized about for quite some time. But, unfortunately, he is now a student in one of the classes she teaches to earn her fellowship. The relationship is strictly forbidden, but sometimes Candy sneaks into her brain and she can’t help sneaking around with him. With so much to lose, will Candice strike out or will things work out for the best? Candice is that character with split personalities, one minute being the level-headed, if somewhat insecure, Candice and the other being the confident Candy who goes after what she wants. While I can understand jumping between the two roles, I also became a bit annoyed when she was being overly mean to James, who was a complete sweetheart. She usually feels a great deal of remorse and apologizes, but I still wanted to strangle her when she was getting out of hand. What made me love her, despite the drama, was how this was more about her becoming more confident in both personalities. She starts out somewhat proud, but embarrassed about her romance novels, and completely lacking the confidence needed to stand up behind her books and proclaim that there was nothing wrong with writing them and that it didn’t make her a “lesser” author like some jerks like to imply. But she grows and learns and by the end is ready to stop hiding her secondary persona. I am woman, hear me roar, type of thing. Then we have James, the sweetest guy imaginable. He genuinely likes Candice, regardless of which personality she is displaying and puts up her with her hot and cold crap. One minute she is all over him and the next she is cold as ice, claiming this can’t happen because she is his teacher and it’s not worth losing her career over. Somehow, despite Candice’s attempts to push him away, he still remains by her side when she needs him, proving time and again that they need to give it a try regardless of the fact that it would be highly frowned upon. He’s got that great ability to deliver witty comebacks when necessary and walk away when Candice is being absurd. And, of course, he’s hot enough to catch anyone’s eye. This does have a slight love triangle, but it isn’t one of those massively annoying ones where the girls is leading two guys on because she can’t decide. She likes both in the beginning and, once she gets to know both better, it’s pretty obvious she only really likes one of them. No cliffhangers to be found either, since it is a stand alone. And, no instalove. In fact, the characters haven’t even said those three magical words to each other by the end of the book. They like each other and are attracted and really want to try the whole relationship thing, but the L word is never mentioned. So we are joyously free of the three main hang-ups I have these days. It’s definitely a different from any other NA novel I’ve read because neither character harbors a disturbing past. There are no abusive exes or parents or attempt rape or anything sinister like that lurking in shadows of this novel. Not that I’m downplaying those elements in a NA novel because I’ve deeply loved many of those stories, but it’s absent here. Plus the idea of a serious writer moonlighting as an erotica author is fascinating. I’ve always wondered if any of the erotica authors feel a little embarrassed of their profession. I’m not implying that there is anything to be embarrassed about, more that I can see where it would steam from. I imagine introducing yourself to strangers as a professional erotic romance writer can be daunting because there is a stigma attached to it. Well there is a stigma attached to romance in general, but erotic romance especially. It was interesting to explore Candice’s feelings about her in-the-closet profession, becoming more and more proud of who she really was and the message her novels sent. Sure, they were smutty, but they still made people feel things and told a story that her readers loved, so what more can you ask for? For writing to be worthwhile, must it be dull and dry? I certainly hope not, for my sake as well as Candice’s. I love that, by the end, she is proud of her Candy novels and is ready to stop hiding them from the world. I love books that support that type of message, you know? That one that say be yourself regardless of what the world things. Screw your parents, screw your colleagues, and, most importantly, screw the naysayers. If it is what makes you a happy and you can legitimately make a living off it, then go for it. We need more novels with that message. It’s also very funny. Readers searching for something that will make you giggle and snort constantly, this is it. Penis jokes and double entendres galore, all of which had me giggling or smiling or somehow showing my glee. There are double entendre alerts every few pages and all of them at least made me smile. Here is a novel that isn’t afraid to show its pervy side. Speaking of pervy, we get a great few steamy scenes that does Burstein credit. The undeniable chemistry between Candice and James heats up every scene between the two, even the ones where they aren’t getting along. This novel shines because of its originality, it’s humor, and the “be yourself” theme behind the story. It’s creative and different and exactly what I was looking for. Lisa Burstein is definitely an author to watch because it’s apparent she is going to do great things! ****Thank you to Embrace, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.****
I enjoyed this book; having never been overly steeped in an academic lifestyle (my courses of study never required as much from me as Candice's did from her) initially, I wasn't quite sure what the fuss was about, or why Professor Dylan was such a jerk. Over the course of the novel, as I learned more about Candice, I felt like I understood why she struggled the way she did with how to reconcile her erotic and serious writing, and why she was so messed up over her attraction to James. At the end of the book I did have a few questions (how did Candy get so many fans in just one month? how is she on people's favorite author lists on the strength of only one book? what constituted the fraud that required her to give back part of her stipend? how could the whole situation with Professor Dylan have been resolved so quickly? who pissed in her parents' cornflakes??), but I generally enjoyed the ride. The secondary characters in this novel were a bit underdeveloped and weren't as well-realized as Candice and James. I found Amanda to be a especially annoying and unforgivably reckless with Candice's life. James felt a little too good to be true. It's good that he was able to stick with Candice long enough for her to determine what she wanted but, even though it wasn't her intention to hurt him or play with his feelings, she jerked him around a lot in this story and I don't think that anybody could have blamed him for deciding that he didn't want to pursue a relationship with her. I like this New Adult book on its own merits, and also because of the refreshing lack of horrific backstory on the part of either main character (distant, disappointing parents and a crappy ex barely rate when compared to some of the truly awful things other NA characters have experienced). I received this book in exchange for an honest review.