It's the release day of the Paperback of Come Back to Me, the highly acclaimed New Adult book under the pen name Mila Gray but you may also know her as Sarah Alderson, author of The Sound (read my review here) Lila series, Fated and Out of Control. It has also beaten Fifty Shades in the erotica listing on Amazon it’s reached #8 in the bestseller charts in WHSmith here in the UK (yay!).
I was very lucky to receive an advanced copy when it was due for release as an e-copy, which you can read my review here. Sarah/Mila is also the first author I've had the pleasure meeting as well, when myself and a few other bloggers had Afternoon Tea with her early this year. As part of the Paperback release here in the UK, it is also due for release in Australia in November and in the US till the end of 2015, which is a ridiculously long way away. Never fear, today I'm pleased to share with you a guest post as well as Mila running a giveaway to win to win a goody bag and signed copies. First, here a little bit about the novel...
Come Back to Me
by Mila Gray
Publisher - PanMacmillan
Release Date - TODAY
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository
Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have.
But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.
What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.
When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for.
Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.
A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.
I read about three and was really stunned by them and their representation of romance and relationships, to the point where I stopped reading and actually felt quite depressed. I was really disheartened by how the male characters were all alpha and aggressive, often violently so (one was actually about a sociopathic hit man), and the girls were generally damsels in distress.
A stalking, aggressive, violent, emotionally abusive man is not hot just because he has chiselled cheekbones and is ‘broken’ in some way, at least not to me. So my first thought was that I needed to get away from that trope. I wanted to build a story that was about a healthy relationship where two people who are quite different come together and complete each other, because I think in the best relationships that is what happens.
I wanted to show that a man can be ‘alpha’ and tough (Kit is a Marine) but also soft, sensitive, respectful and nurturing. The two are not mutually exclusive. In the same way a girl can be ‘feminine’ but also stand up for herself and be assertive and strong. It’s so dangerous to keep portraying young men in this way - because boys then think that’s who they have to be to get a girl.
I’ve just read this very short book by the incredible author Chimamanda Ngoza Adichie, called We Should All Be Feminists (highly recommend everyone read it). In it she says: ‘We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability…We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller…'
As a writer and a feminist I feel I have a responsibility to my readers. I want girls to read my books and feel empowered. If, as a writer, I can help just one person see themselves in a different, better light, or feel less alone, or reconsider gender expectations, then that’s a job well done in my mind.
I don’t want to portray a saccharine experience of love either. I’m fortunate that I’ve experienced some really beautiful relationships and have some incredible men in my life, not least my husband. So I know that love and healthy relationships exist and want more women to expect that as the norm.
In Come Back To Me Kit and Jessa go through a real tragedy that rips them apart. It’s an honest portrayal of loss and grief. It doesn’t pull punches. I’d like to think that’s why it’s done so well in terms of reviews (it’s currently #4 in the WHSmith bestseller list!) - and has won so much praise - because it’s real. I am so happy to think that new adult might be pulling away from its first wave - where books were built around the sex, with plot line an afterthought, because for me the ages of 18-25 were some of the most intense, amazing and uncertain of my life. I would have craved stories like this one.
- Click Read More for the Giveaway -
Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After almost a year spent wandering around India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing and trying to machete open coconuts without severing a limb.
She finished her first novel Hunting Lila just before they left the UK, wrote the sequel, Losing Lila, on the beach in India, and had signed a two book deal with Simon & Schuster by the time they reached Bali.
Since then she has published a further four novels and several short stories. The contemporary thriller The Sound, will be published in the US in May 2014, while Out of Control, a thriller with a focus on human trafficking, will also be released in May in the UK.
As well as Young Adult fiction, Sarah writes New Adult fiction for Pan Macmillan under the pen name Mila Gray. Her first novel Come Back To Me will be out in summer 2014. Sarah has co-written the Hunting Lila screenplay, an adaptation of her upcoming YA novel Out of Control, and is working on several other books and screenplays (multi-tasking is one of her favorite things).