Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.
But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.
Until he does.
Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.
Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.
Pretty much every since college, I’ve been looking for a book that incorporates a college atmosphere. I fell in love with young adult, but I was still craving those books that reminded me of my college years and there just weren’t that many out there. With the emergence of the “new adult” category, I got very excited but upon sampling a few selections, none of them really did it for me. Yes, many more sexy times happen in college than in high school but I didn’t want to read just a romance novel in a younger package than it usually is.
Then came this year. I swore off new adult for a while (unless it leaned heavily towards the young adult side), not wanting to try another one unless I really felt confident that I would enjoy it. I saw that Dahlia Adler had a new adult book coming out and because I love her so (and was genuinely interested), I immediately jumped on the chance to read, review, and promote. I finished LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT in a single day because I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely loved it and it really was the perfect new adult for me.
The thing I’ve been craving the most in new adult — the college feel — was very much a part of the book and almost all of it takes place while Lizzie is at college at Radleigh University. I just love the campus feel and the change-up from roaming the halls of a high school to dorms and quads and lecture halls. Throw in a hot YA (hey, I’m sure a lot of us had a hot teacher/TA in college) and things just got even more interesting!
From the very first few pages, the emotions were running high. From a string of “big mistakes” to an all-time low, Lizzie Brandt was already have a terrible year and things just started piling on after her parents’ death. I really just loved how realistic her reactions to everything were. Lizzie is very protective of her brothers and immediately starts planning what she can do to keep the rest of her family together but she’s not totally un-selfish either which I liked. Of course she wants to do the best thing for her brothers but she’s also still in college and has a lot of her own life to live. Everything gets turned upside for her so quickly and it’s incredibly difficult to manage.
I really loved how everything was handled with the story line too. I’m sure some people are thinking, “Student relationship with a TA? No way.” Because in any other book, I’d be hesitant about it too. The relationship between Lizzie and Connor felt totally natural and I wasn’t quite sure exactly how that relationship would start. Despite the natural hesitance about the two getting involved (hey, they had qualms of their own, of course!), I was always rooting for them to make it work somehow. I absolutely love Connor and yes, it was infuriating and scary at times watching this romance pan out for Lizzie, but boy did I want those two together! Everything really fell into place as the story progressed and I think Dahlia Adler totally hit the nail on the head with this pairing and how the entire conflict was handled.
I KNOW you’re wondering, “But what about the sexy parts?!” WHEW, BOY, you guys. Yes, there are sexy parts. Lots of them. And GOOD ONES. I’m not a romance reader (just contemporary where things tend to not get as steamy) but things got hot and heavy in LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT and I loved it. (Also holding my Kindle away from my husband so he didn’t read over my shoulder during the more detailed scenes because I was blushing). I thought the characters had great chemistry and yep. I’ll admit it. I totally had a thing for Connor too.
For someone who’s been hesitant about new adult for so long, I’m so happy that LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT started to bring me back towards this category of books. This book was utterly addicting and so much fun to read. I finished and immediately wanted more! If you’re on the fence about new adult, DEFINITELY try this book! It’s one I will be highly recommending!
“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
I absolutely devoured this book and I highly recommend it! If you’re hesitant about new adult, this is one to try! It has a great college feel, a steamy romance, and awesome characters.
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INTERVIEW WITH DAHLIA ADLER
I also got to interview the wonderful Dahlia Adler about her new release (on sale now!) and it was so much fun to find out a little more background on the book! Check out the interview below to see more about Dahlia’s experience with new adult, LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, writing, and more!
Brittany: I’ve really been looking for a new adult book that incorporates the college experience a lot into the story and so happy that it was such a big part of Last Will and Testament! Was their a lot of your own college experience in the book?
Dahlia Adler: Yes and no! I chose Byzantine History, honestly, because it was my college class with the hottest professor, and Lizzie takes Russian because it was my favorite class in college. Even Stats was taken from my own syllabus. I certainly didn’t hook up with any TAs, and I didn’t go to any frat parties (the Greek system was kinda meh at my school), but I also had a really rough time in college when my dad was diagnosed with cancer (see Behind the Scenes), so the parts about needing to beg some teacher patience and miss class because being in the hospital came first were definitely part of my experience.
B: Your debut novel Behind the Scenes was a young adult novel and you have a companion YA novel — Under the Lights — out in 2015. Was Last Will and Testament something that just came to you or a specific choice to write in a “new adult setting”?
DA: Last Will and Testament came to me very specifically, based on a conversation with a friend. Somehow it came up that her parents set her up to be the guardian of her younger brothers when she turned 18, even though she was going to college in upstate NY, which is hours away from her home, and I just knew there was a book in it. I wrote the first chapter quickly, but then set it aside to work on YA. But as soon as I hit some roadblocks in the YA side of my career, I knew I needed to write something else, for myself and potentially to self-pub, and I immediately picked LWaT back up.
B: I feel like new adult books still have a little bit of a stigma for being over-sexed or romance novels in a younger package. Was there anything you intentionally wanted to include or avoid in Last Will and Testament based on the current generalizations towards the new adult category?
DA: I’m not someone who shies away from writing sex, or who has a problem with there being a prevalence of sex in NA – it is a lot of the adolescent and college experience, whether or not you’re having it. What bothers me about sex in NA, often, is A) romance novel terminology that doesn’t sound anything like how people actually talk and think, and more importantly B) perfect fantasy sex. I don’t use phrasing like “his length,” so that didn’t require intent from me, but having sex scenes in which they don’t both finish was very intentional. Because that’s sex sometimes!
Also, Lizzie’s someone who is unabashedly sexually active, as are her friends, albeit to varying degrees. There is no slut-shaming, no virgin-shaming, and no magic manparts; Connor isn’t the man who taught her how great sex can be. All those things were important to me to show as well.
B: Were there any particular hardships about publishing LWaT? Was it more difficult because of content or age range?
DA: Honestly, nothing but my own know-how limitations. I write YA on the upper end anyway, so it’s not a huge content jump for me, and I had so many people graciously answer my questions and help point me in the right directions. I did hire people for more than I thought I would, and I’m glad for it. I’d rather focus my energies on the things I’m good at and learn fewer things well.
B: Who was your favorite character to write in LWAT and why? (Personally, I hope it’s Connor. Yum!)
DA: Haha alas, it’s Lizzie, though Connor was a lot of fun too. I just really enjoy writing irreverence. And arguing.
B: With the topic of a student dating a TA, I had a few guesses at what might happen in the end (though I was still surprised!)… No spoilers of course, but did you always know how LWaT was going to wrap up or did you go through a few possibilities?
DA: Oh, no, I definitely did not. In fact, that ending now is about 10K words longer than it was when it went to my first betas. I know not everyone is going to love the way that things play out, but when I finally finished the ending that it is now, I knew it was the truest way things would’ve happened for these characters.
B: Do you have any habits or rituals that help you throughout the writing journey?
DA: Writing sprints are hugely instrumental to me on days it’s just not coming naturally; god bless Twitter and writer friends.
B: If you could pick one of your characters to hang out with for a day, who would you pick and what would you do?
DA: From any book? Probably Vanessa. I feel like she’d be a lot of fun to just walk around the Grove with, and definitely to go shopping with, and then end the day in front of the TV. I’m lazy – those are all my aspirations.
B: I love your “rec-ing ball” posts and tweets — recommending books is one of my favorite parts about being a reader & blogger! (This may be an evil question but) which books do you recommend that most?
DA: Oh man…I rec a lot! I think the books I’m most known for rec-ing are probably Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, Unteachable by Leah Raeder, and OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Possibly Deeper by Robin York? My rec-ing for Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown has gone a little quieter, but I’m working on picking that up; that’s a little sleeper NA I’ve gotten extremely good rec response to. And of course, I push my CPs’ and accountabilibuddy’s books as much as humanly possible, and love them all – The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca, and Sekret and Skandal by Lindsay Smith!
A BIG BIG thank you again to Dahlia Adler for this wonderful interview and the opportunity to read LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT early! I loved it so much and want people to read it that I’m also doing a giveaway! Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win an ebook version of LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT! (This will be a Kindle or Nook version, depending on what the winner has for an ereader.)