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Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Release date: Dec 1, 2017
Tour dates: Jan 3 to 31, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)
At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She's just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.
Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt's work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.
Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.
A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.
I knew I would be reading a story about a marriage that gets impacted by an indiscretion. But I was so interested in how the author would work the heartbreak of cheating into a non cliche story.
This story deals with the complexities of marriage; the good and bad. She loves her husband, adores her kids, and is happy with their life. However, she has been dealing with the fact that her and her husband don't connect on an intimate or emotional level anymore. The passion seems deflated and the relationship seems mundane. As her career goes up the ladder, her husband seems more distant, not including her in plans, giving her minimal and passionless one-on-one time. She doesn't start looking elsewhere for an affair, which is the huge misconception within the story. That doesn't make her choice right or justified. However, this story shows the poignant, realistic, bitter, and heartbreaking side of what people do not like to consider.
The author did such a good job in writing a realistic and insightful story about the intricacies that are within a marriage and relationship between a husband and wife. I completely enjoyed this book (and look forward to her next!) and would recommend this read.
When I tell people I write Women’s Fiction, most
people are uncertain about what that means.Two seconds later they might introduce me by saying, “This is Lisa.She writes Chick Lit,” or “This is Lisa.She’s a Romance writer.” On occasion, I have even been described as
someone who writes women’s pornography, which really slays me since my stories
don’t contain graphic sex scenes.
So what exactly is Women’s Fiction?How does the category differentiate from
other genres that are targeted toward women?The Women’s Fiction Writers Association states, “Our stories may have
romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds us together is the focus on the
main character’s emotional journey.”
I respectfully beg to differ because an “emotional
journey” is not exclusive to any one genre and therefore, is too broad of a
definition.In my humble opinion, in
addition to the emotional journey, it must be about a uniquely female experience
and told from a women’s perspective.Although the story can be told with humor, Women’s Fiction doesn’t have
the quirky, lightheartedness associated with Chick Lit, nor is the coming
together of two people the main conflict as it is the Romance genre.
This isn’t to say men can’t or shouldn’t write or read
the genre.In many ways, classics such
as Madame Bovary, Anna Karina, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles could be
categorized as Women’s Fiction.The
question really should be why bother trying to define and categorize a work
into a particular box?Why not simply
call a book a work of fiction?
The publishing world did just that before the
introduction of computers and the internet.Now there are literally millions and millions of titles available on
Amazon alone. (I’ve seen rankings as high as eighteen million, which means there
have to be at least eighteen million titles listed.)Tagging a book in a specific genre with
subcategories and keywords has become necessary for buyers to wade through the
sheer number of choices to find the perfect read.
At the end of the day, “Women’s Fiction” doesn’t mean
male readers need not bother or that there won’t be any romance or lack humor.All it means is that the reader should expect
a story about a woman (or women) going on an emotional journey to come to terms
with a distinctively female dilemma.
Do you agree or disagree?
Praise for Degrees of Love:
"Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers."
- Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character."
- Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars
"Profound, heart wrenching and very emotional, it is hard to believe that Degrees of Love is a debut novel by Lisa Slabach. This is one of the best novels I have read this year."
Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.
After the torment of her childhood, Taya believes in love for everyone … except herself. Some things can’t be untaught.
Beautiful and tough, yet the most private woman anyone has ever met, Taya knows everyone has a past, yet she doesn’t share hers. Her past must remain behind her for her sanity and so the only man she has ever loved will move on with someone who hasn’t been destroyed by those who were supposed to protect her.
Then a threat has her past storming back in and taking over.
After looking into the big, baby blue eyes of the deranged little orphan who was dragged, kicking and screaming, into his home, Levi is determined to be the boy who will teach Taya that not every offered hand will betray her.
Playful and gorgeous, Levi’s first passion is the girl who consumes his heart. His second is serving his country, following in his father’s footsteps. When Levi is deployed overseas, he encourages Taya to spread her wings and pursue her dreams, hoping she will come back to her roots and the man who is waiting for her.
Levi is mistaken.
Taya can’t change who she is and has built a life for herself far away from the only man she will ever love.
Can Levi convince Taya their relationship is worth the fight? Can he force her to overcome her fears and let him in completely? Can Levi prove his love is the freedom she has been searching for?
Levi allowed Taya to control their relationship in the past, but now things have changed. He is taking control back, with or without her consent.
hands were shaking as he pulled the egg carton out of the fridge. He had just
lifted the third egg out of the carton when he fumbled and dropped it on the
Levi crouched down to clean it up, his chest started to heave. He was crying
and hadn’t even realized it.
had always had access to an abundance of food and freedom when he was younger.
While him and his brother were fighting over the controllers for video games,
she had been fighting for every morsel she got.
took both shaky hands and covered his face, mortified that he had tempted
Taya’s control over food. At that moment, Levi promised himself and his God
that he would spend his life making it up to her.
sobbed as quietly as he could, knowing she would never share anything if she
caught him. Taya didn’t want his pity, and he wanted to keep her pride intact.
up, Levi had two problems to take care of. Wiping his tear-stained face, he
moved quickly as he hustled outside to the trees. He opened his fly and drained
his bladder. Once he tucked himself back into his pants, he grabbed the branch
beside him and pulled it back as far as he could. Closing his eyes and
scrunching his face, he let the branch fly. It whacked his face and stung like
hell. Tears instantly gathered in his eyes. Now Taya would never know he had
cried over her suffering. He would do anything to ensure she kept her dignity.
his face, he walked back to the cabin to finish making her omelet.Opening the door, he saw Taya
already eating the yogurt and berries he had set out for her.
the hell happened to you?” she asked as she put the food down and rushed to
brush his hand aside.
was taking a leak and a branch must have gotten stuck on my shirt. When I
turned around, it whacked me right in the face.”
moved his hand to get a better look. “Holy shit, that must have hurt. You are
so lucky you didn’t lose an eye.” She turned to the sink, grabbing a cloth. She
wet it with the ice-cold water then laid it against his cheek.
jumped from the temperature and the sting. He must have broken the skin.
the cloth away, he saw a fine line of blood, and he was stunned to see his
hands were still shaking. He couldn’t complain, though. This was his
self-inflicted penance from withholding food from Taya. It was also for all the
teasing he had done over the years. It hadn’t been funny. Now knowing the depth
of her food issues, it had been damn cruel.
couldn’t let her see his sorrow, so he turned back to the eggs. “Taya?”
She had grabbed her yogurt and was eating it again.
much as it would kill him, he had to hear the rest. “Did Kamal ever get
caught?”“Yes and no.” Taya opened the
fridge to pull out the vegetables, cheese, and meat she wanted in her omelette.
Now that the yogurt had taken the edge off her hunger, she could take her time
and fix a proper meal. “His mother caught him, but that didn’t stop him. He
just changed his torture. Ghayda was worried someone else would find out and
didn’t reply as he continued to make breakfast. He would make a couple western
sandwiches for himself with the same ingredients as her omelette and some
Levi’s stomach growled, he grabbed a couple of berries and popped them in his
mouth. He had a hard time swallowing when he reminded himself how he had always
taken food for granted.
had just finished eating when Taya started talking out of the blue. “Kamal
probably would have killed me if he didn’t stop. He was out of control. It got
to point where I wasn’t sure if he was going to poison my food, withhold it,
flush it, eat it, or ...”
what, Taya?” Levi questioned loudly after realizing she had retreated into her
eyes glazed over as she stared just over his right shoulder. “Or stuff it with
the bugs that lived in my body.”
Is there a character in this book that gave you trouble?
Yes, Edward is the bane of my existence. I love him but he
is pompous and I just want to slap him sometimes. He thinks he knows the
characters better than I do and we fight constantly and sometimes he makes me rewrite
chapters over his way. But in this book, I got him in so much trouble. Maybe
next time he will keep his thoughts to himself and stop ticking me off.
What was the one thing in the book that kept you awake at
The hardest part for me was writing about a different religion.
I wanted readers to respect the fact that sometimes it isn’t the religion its man’s
interpretation of the words written. It is a delicate subject and I wanted to
respectable but truthful to my characters.
Is there a character that surprised you in this book?
Yes, I fell head over heels in love with a secondary
character. Gunner is the father of the main male character Levi. He is a
crusty Navel man with a heart of gold. He is tough on all of his children or
anyone he considers his child. The man who tries to show no emotion ends up
being the biggest softy of them all. I love him and he will show up again in
book six of the series.
What is the hardest thing about being an independent
Honestly there are a few things. One not having the money to
market and advertise my books. I believe in the product I am producing but I am
a gain of sand in a beach and trying to get noticed is difficult. I have a
five-year plan and by some miracle I hope to get my books to as many readers as
possible so I can continue to do what I love. Not only that I quit my full-time
job to pursue my dream and being Italian the thought of eating Kraft dinner in
my old age scares the crap out of me.
What are your future plans for your writing?
You mean after I become famous and they make my books into
movies? And hire a team to do all the jobs I hate. I am currently finishing the
sixth and final book of this series and then I have already set up my next
series. I’m writing a series about four brothers. Go figure of mom of four sons
writing about four brothers. Give me a break I couldn’t write about four
estrogen consumed sisters when I live with five testosterone filled males.
Excuse me while I go and shave my beard.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Technology plain and simple. I had to hire a kid to teach me
how to make my own website. You want to feel old then develop a website because
I had to learn a whole new language. I wanted it interactive and different,
little did I know that would cost me what was left of my mind. I’m very proud
of what I accomplished but I think it would have just been easier to get
pregnant again and raise another son with all the time I put into that website.
Please check it out I beg you annemariecitro.com be one of five that have
actually spent time looking at it.
About the Author
Anne Marie Citro grew born and raised in the greater Toronto area of Ontario, Canada. She grew up in a large, loving family. Anne Marie is married to a very patient man. He is the love of her life. They have four very cool sons, and the girls they brought into their family that have become daughters of her heart. She has been blessed enough to finally have a beautiful granddaughter after four sons. She has her own personal gaggle of girlfriends, who enrich her life on a daily basis and make her laugh. Caesar Friday is her favourite day of the week. Caesars with the girls and date night with her hubby. She works with special-needs teenagers, that have taught her how to appreciate life and see it through gentler eyes. Anne Marie was encouraged by her husband to follow her lifelong dream to write. She loves the characters that take over imagination and haunts her dreams. She loves the arts and she has tried her hand at painting, wood sculpting, chainsaw carving, wood burning, metal and wire sculptures. Yes, her husband is a very patient man! Anne Marie is an avid reader and enjoys about three books per week. But nothing makes her happier then riding on the back of her husband's Harley and throwing her arms out and feeling the wind race by. Anne Marie and her husband take a few weeks every year to travel to spectacular destination around the world. Anne Marie is excited and can't wait to see what the next chapter holds for her life.