Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the brilliant
In today's post, we will look at Fourteen Summers, a YA/NA coming-of-age story releasing on May 21, 2018, with excerpt and review, and a personal story Quinn has chosen to share. There's also another chance to win one of her books!
Identical twins Aiden and Max Kingsman have been a matched set their whole lives. When they were children, Aiden was happy to follow his extroverted brother’s lead, but now that they’re in college, being “my brother, Aiden” is starting to get old. He’s itching to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity.
Oliver’s goals for the summer are simple: survive his invasive family, keep his divorced parents from killing each other, and stay in shape for rowing season. He’s thrilled when he runs into his old friends, the Kingsman twins, especially Aiden, the object of a childhood crush. Aiden is all grown-up, but some things have stayed the same: his messy curls, his stability, and how breathless he makes Oliver. Oliver’s crush comes back full force, and the feeling is mutual. Summer just got a whole lot hotter.
Fun-loving Max takes one thing seriously: his role as “big brother.” When Aiden drifts away, Max can’t understand how his own twin could choose a boy over him. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they’ll have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.
A noise to the left broke Aiden from his reverie. It sounded like a mix between a grunt and a growl. A second later, he heard it again. Aiden sighed. He’d know that sound anywhere.
Max was snoring.
His head had fallen against the back of the sofa, and his second beer lolled in his fingers. His lips were parted enough for dinosaur-esque noises to pour out.
For all the things Max and he didn’t have in common, they had a mutual inability to hold their liquor.
Aiden debated with himself. He didn’t want to wake Max up, but if neither of them were watching the movie anymore, they could pack it in for the night, if Oliver didn’t mind. Aiden certainly wasn’t interested in finishing it, and he’d love to wrap things up before he had a chance to make an alcohol-induced blunder. Then again, if Oliver wanted to hang out after, this was their chance to have that alone time Aiden had been praying for . . .
Aiden resolved to ask him. Oliver was the guest after all. They’d do whatever he wanted to do.
He turned to him, mouth already open to form the question, but he never got a chance. The breath was stolen from his lungs a moment later.
Oliver was staring at him with magnetic intensity. Even in the dim light, there was no question. The look in Oliver’s eyes stopped Aiden’s words in his throat. It was powerful, and almost . . . curious? As if Aiden was a puzzle he was trying to figure out.
Aiden didn’t know what to make of it, but he didn’t have long to think. Oliver’s eyes swept down his face, lingering on his lips and throat, before dipping down his body. When they met Aiden’s gaze once more, they were as dark as the shadows around them.
Aiden’s heart was pounding so loudly, he could hear it in his ears. The movie might as well have stopped playing. Everything around him dissolved away until there was only Oliver and the raw electricity that had sprung up between them.
While Aiden was still struggling to process, Oliver hesitated, then moved one of his legs until his knee was pressing against Aiden’s.
That single, warm touch sent a frisson up Aiden’s spine. He swallowed hard, head spinning from more than the beer, and managed to say a single word. “Oliver?”
“So,” Oliver said, breathy and low, “what should we do now?”
Get the book:
The book opens with a wedding ceremony. Yes, you read that right.
Okay, so, fine, it's a pretend wedding ceremony, and the boys are but 10 years old or so, but it establishes from the start what dynamics may be at play.
Max and Aiden are identical twins, with Max being the older brother by a few minutes, which has shaped their relationship for a long time. Max was always the more outgoing, and Aiden, much more introverted, was happy to stand in his brother's shadow while they were younger. Now, with both of them at college, Aiden wants to be more than just Max's twin brother.
Oliver was their childhood friend until divorce meant leaving with his mother, and his father moving away as well. But now his father has moved back to their old town, and Oliver has come home for the summer. The family dynamics, with loud, overbearing uncles and with parents that still can't seem to stand being in the same room together, has Oliver not wanting to spend much time at his father's house, so he's real happy to run into Max and Aiden again. Introverted like Aiden, Oliver is perfectly content to let Max plan their get-togethers, especially since that allows him to moon over Aiden, his childhood crush.
For the most part, this read like a YA/NA novel, with lots of mooning and crushing and blushing, and not a whole lot of on page action, and characters who on occasion sounded younger than their purported years, but maturity is a sliding scale so I was mostly fine with their portrayals.
What I really liked is that the author primarily explored the dynamics at play between two twin brothers who have been joined at the hip most of their lives, and a boy coming between them when Aiden and Oliver get romantically involved. I loved how Max's jealousy was explored, how it realistically became a roadblock, and how it forced honesty and open conversation between Aiden and Max and allowed them to experience real growth in their relationship. In fact, the book, told from the POVs of all three of the young man, really focuses more so on the relationship struggles between the twins than the developing romance between Oliver and Aiden. While the crush/romance serves as a catalyst to the struggles Max and Aiden go through, it's not the the only focus of this book.
The characters, their portrayals, felt realistic to me for the most part, other than their maturity levels, and that's probably more so on me than the author - I guess I expected a bit more from 20 year olds even if they're twins. Out of the three of them, I would say that Oliver is probably the most mature, which is potentially due to him being a child of divorce, which tends to make you grow up a little faster, and also because he's an only child.
There are some interesting supporting characters as well. The twins' parents welcome Oliver back with open arms, and make him feel like he's part of the family again. They were perhaps slightly too perfect, but meh, I didn't care. I liked them. Oliver's parents are supportive of him, but also don't necessarily create an environment for him in which he feels free, on either side. His uncles and extended family on his father's side are a loud bunch, which introverted Oliver doesn't like so much, and his mother, while supportive, seemed to struggle between wanting her child have a relationship with his father, but also not realizing that the divorce affected Oliver much more than she thought.
The book ends with a super sweet epilogue, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
Quinn Anderson has proven once again that she can write fully fleshed out characters, with realistic, convincing characterizations, and a believable plot and timeline.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **
Quinn's personal story:
I have something called “The Story” that I’m famous for. It’s a tale from my younger years that’s so unexpected and wild, even when I hype people up about it, they’re still completely blown away after I tell it.
I’m not going to tell that story now, because it’s hugely inappropriate, and honestly, it’s SO WILD. If you bug me on social media, maybe one day I’ll spill. In the meantime, I’m going to tell you a different, not quite as gob-smacking story.
When I was a freshman in college, my car was stolen, and I not only got it back, but the thieves had filled the gas tank and had given me an oil change. I drove a super old clunker for all of high school and college. His name was Louregard, Lou for short, and I loved him fiercely. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any of the fancy updates that newer cars have. You know, like alarms or anti-theft tech. So, he was really easy to steal.
Unfortunately, he was found on a night when I’d gone to a goth club, all dressed up, and had mistakenly been given a twenty-one-and-up wristband. In other words, I was about nine shots deep when the police called me to tell me they’d found my car. I also didn’t hear my phone ringing, so they’d called both of my parents looking for me. They found me all right. Drunk and at a club.
I had to gather up the friends I was with—all of which were dressed for a night out like me—go to a field on the edge of town, and claim my car, all while pretending to the cops I wasn’t three sheets to the wind. I think I actually told them I’d been studying when they called, which was ridiculous, considering I was dressed up and had on a full face of makeup.
Long story short, I got my car back, and thankfully didn’t get arrested. A week later, when I took it to my dad to work on together, like we always did, we checked the oil, and it was brand new. Whoever took it had to have changed it. It was the most bizarre theft ever.
About the author:
Quinn Anderson is an alumna of the University of Dublin in Ireland and has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature and continues to explore evolving themes in erotica in her professional life.
A nerd extraordinaire, she was raised on an unhealthy diet of video games, anime, pop culture, and comics from infancy. Her girlfriend swears her sense of humor is just one big Buffy reference. She stays true to her nerd roots in writing and in life, and frequently draws inspiration from her many fandoms, which include Yuri on Ice, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Buffy, and more. Growing up, while most of her friends were fighting evil by moonlight, Anderson was kamehameha-ing her way through all the shounen anime she could get her hands on. You will often find her interacting with fellow fans online and offline via conventions and Tumblr, and she is happy to talk about anything from nerd life to writing tips. She has attended conventions on three separate continents and now considers herself a career geek. She advises anyone who attends pop culture events in the UK to watch out for Weeping Angels, as they are everywhere. If you’re at an event, and you see a 6’2” redhead wandering around with a vague look on her face, that’s probably her.
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.
Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Quinn's books, our author interview, and one more chance to win!
Until then, happy reading!