Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.
Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart. This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.
Let me take the opportunity to introduce you to my work and the inexplicable passion I have for writing. I began formal writing when I was thirteen years old, encouraged by my dedicated and driven middle school English teacher. At a young age, I read the book Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews and it intrigued me to the point of inspiration. It was not long before I began typing stories up on my DOS-operated computer. Even in my early teens, I focused on writing about female characters that found themselves in difficult situations while also scheming to find a way out of them. My short stories shed light on my fascination with conflict and what lies beneath the surface, and people’s struggle in finding a resolution. At sixteen I wrote my first novella, which was truly the beginning of my writing career.
Talent and skill alone do not ‘make’ an author, context and lived experiences are great compliments to the creative writing process. I grew up as an immigrant in a lower-middle class Southern California suburb. So I tapped into that experience in writing my debut novel, Sweetest Taboo, which unravels the love affair between a young Hispanic schoolgirl and her much older, married teacher. I drew from my experiences growing up to develop several plot ideas. Romantic experiences are universal. Provocative, illicit and risqué contexts do not take away from the experience of love, and that’s what this debut book sets out to communicate.
I was also intrigued by the news of one of my former high school teachers being convicted of [sexual] misconduct with a minor. Since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by similar stories making the news, but like many people, wondered about how these relationships originate and how they flourish under the radar. In Sweetest Taboo, I got to unravel a clandestine relationship, one exciting page at a time.
Although I did not intend for Sweetest Taboo to part of a series or trilogy, several readers (and now fans!) have provided critical feedback that has made me think twice about the nature of my debut novel. Readers really want to know what happens next. Without spoiling any plots, I can safely say that readers want to know what happens next. Sweetest Taboo does not end the way readers expect, and there is a natural, so now what? element to the novel. My readers have inspired me to work a sequel, which I have been writing diligently over the past several months. Readers can expect complex and somewhat disturbing revelations, some disappointments, and definitely some tears. The stories I weave always include trials and tribulations, but they will also include redemption and hope.
Excerpt From Chapter 7:
I realized suddenly that I had gone from one extreme to the other in a few weeks. That was a mistake, and people were bound to notice. I couldn’t backtrack now, though – the damage was done. What was I supposed to say? “Yeah, I'm staying away from Mr. Stevens because I don’t want anyone to know I’m making out with him after practice” would never do.
“You know, he was pretty cool at first," I replied as nonchalantly as possible. “But one day I was late for practice and he made me go to the diving pool to swim laps. I’m not going to hang around with him if he’s going to be such a jerk, you know?”
That answer must have been good enough for Vicky, because she lightly tapped my shoulder and then jumped into the water to swim off. I laughed as I watched her swim away; she was doing the butterfly – badly – and bumping into other swimmers as she shimmied from side to side down the crowded lane. My smile faded, though, when I realized that she was probably voicing what everyone else had noticed as well. My sudden change of attitude had been just that – sudden and unexpected – and people were going to wonder why. I had to come up with a better story, and quick, or change my behavior again and hope that no one else said anything.
I wasn’t sure which option was best, or which would cause me more pain. Our late- afternoon rendezvous were becoming more and more intense, and my senses were becoming fragile. When I walked toward his classroom, now, I knew that there would be more physical contact, with less clothing. We hadn’t gone all the way yet, and Mr. Stevens was always very careful about my feelings – he asked me if I was okay with what we were doing every five minutes, it seemed – but we were both getting braver, and closer. I didn’t know if I could be close to him without really wanting him, but I was afraid of getting hurt.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was also starting to fall in love with him.
Isabel Cruz is fifteen when she joins the swim team and comes face to face with her swim coach Tom Stevens. It's not love at first sight but to her friends she makes no secret of the fact that she likes older men and Mr Stevens is the man who has caught her interest.
I've read quite a few books where the subject matter is the incredibly taboo teacher/student affair. It's a little bit of a weakness of mine. I've said it many times before but I love to see how an author can take such a socially frowned upon situation and make the reader become invested in and like the characters. Sweetest Taboo is different from others that I've read for quite a few reasons...
1. The teacher in this book is much older than what I've read before. Tom Stevens is in his late thirties and Isabel is just fifteen.
2. He is married.
3. He is a father.
I've always been a big believer in everyone having someone to love and having someone to love them in return. There is nothing quite like that feeling. Age really isn't a big deal for me as long as it is a loving and committed relationship based on love and respect. And it's a fact that the heart wants what the heart wants. We can't do anything about that. You can't choose who you fall in love with. What you can choose is whether or not you act on those feelings. So I struggled a little bit with this book and the three things that I mentioned above. What makes a married man, a father, choose to cheat and betray?
As far as Eva Márquez and her writing, I couldn't fault it. Incredibly well written and easy to read. An amazing topic and storyline which grabbed me straight from the minute that I read the book description. As far as the characters, Isabel was strong and mature for her age but there were definitely times when the teenager in her was very evident. As for Tom, I don't think I ever doubted his feelings for Isabel, but I think I wanted him as the adult to have more restraint and to have a bit more backbone as far as his wife and children were concerned.
So as far as a rating, I'm breaking it down to how the book made me feel and it without a doubt had me experiencing so many emotions which is what I want in a book. The writing was great and in the end despite the raging war that went on inside my head, I really liked Isabel and Tom. However it wasn't until the very end of the book that I was able to breathe a bit easier and admit that to myself. I'm also looking forward to reading the sequel and seeing where the author takes Isabel and Tom.
For me , this book is a definite 5/5 stars!!
*** GIVEAWAY: Eva will award a Kindle touch to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a swag pack of goodies to one commenter at each stop.***
You can check out the other stops on the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions
You can check out the other stops on the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions