THE WAY TO HER HEART by Amy Reece
YA Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Will a mysterious disappearance bring two broken hearts together…or tear them apart?
No amount of counseling can bring Josh Harris back to his old self.
After a tragedy that changed his life forever, eighteen-year-old Josh has lived in a year-long fog of medication and confusion. It’s all he can do to not think about his dad—a culinary genius who raised him in the kitchen. Thankfully, Josh inherited his golden palate and sixth sense for cooking, which is the only thing that makes sense anymore.
For a seventeen-year-old girl, life can’t get much worse…
Bernie Abeyta is a senior in high school and lives with her drug-addicted mother, but has managed to keep her grades up so she can get into college. With her father in prison and her mom’s sleazy boyfriend getting too close for comfort, Bernie turns to her best friend Gabby Rodriguez for help, but discovers Gabby has gone missing. Distressed over her friend’s sudden disappearance, Bernie resorts to living out of her car while she looks for answers and tries to avoid foster care.
Part love, part mystery, part cookbook—and all heart.
During economics class, Josh finds himself captivated by his new project partner, Bernie. As they grow closer, he insists Bernie move in with him and his mother. Furthermore, he offers to help look for Gabby.
Bernie refuses to believe Gabby ran away, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery—no matter how great the danger to herself.
Will Bernie’s gritty life be too much for Josh to handle? Or will he fight for The Way to Her Heart?
Thrown together by a school project, social opposites, Bernie and Josh share a background of pain and heartbreak, from different causes. Told through two points of view, the reader gets to see how the emotional attachment between Bernie and Josh grows, experiencing their ups and downs.
Bernie is a lovely character, who like so many teens today, comes from a background of abuse and neglect. Revealed in a poignant but not graphic way, this story is perfect for the intended age group.
Recovering from a devastating loss Josh withdraws from the world until Bernie’s needs force him to live again, to help her. His special talent gives the story authenticity and draws Bernie into his world. The recipes at the end of the book are a lovely touch; I was hungry all the way through this story.
The suspense element could be stronger but there is enough mystery and menace to add an interesting dimension to the story. The characters complexity and development make this enthralling and I loved the supernatural twist.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
She cut her hair. Josh realized he was staring at the girl in the next row and pulled his gaze back to his notebook as the teacher droned on about supply and demand curves. I don’t care for short hair on girls. Yet he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He didn’t even know her name. On Friday her hair had been long, the silky black tresses reaching below her shoulder blades. Today, he could see the back of her neck. He could see how long and slender it was and watched as she reached around to feel it, seeming surprised, perhaps still unused to the short cut. She pushed the long front layer behind her ear. The purple streak is kind of cute, though. He once again forced his gaze back to his notes, reminding himself that he had a girlfriend; a beautiful girlfriend with long blonde hair. Focus, Harris. Get your mind off the pretty girl with the short hair. She was pretty. He’d always thought so, even though he didn’t know her name. He’d heard it; wasn’t it something weird? Enough! Supply, demand. That’s all you need to think about.
“So, for the next few weeks you will be paired up with one of your classmates as we launch a new project designed to help you experience some of what it takes to create and stick to a household budget.” Mr. Griego picked up a stack of index cards from his desk. “I have created a scenario with careers and incomes for each couple. Some of you have children, and some don’t. Every few days you will get a new financial situation you have to deal with. Each week of this project will be the equivalent of one month for your budget. You will turn in a complete six month budget, along with a written report at the end of the project. Each couple will also give a five-minute oral presentation.” He started calling names and handing out index cards. There were groans and titters of laughter as the names were called because some of the couples were same-sex. “Josh Harris and Bernie Abeyta.” No one in the class said anything or laughed at the pairing. Josh wasn’t surprised; he had pretty much fallen off the radar over a year ago. He stood and walked to the front of the room to retrieve the index card.
“Who’s Bernie Abeyta?” he asked quietly. Great. I’m paired with a guy. Just what I needed.
The girl with the short, purple hair raised her hand. “Me.” She sounded bored.
“Okay. I’m, uh, I’m Josh.” He stood in front of her desk, awkwardly shifting from side to side.
“Yeah. I’m Bernie.” She glanced up quickly, meeting his gaze, then looked away.
“You have the last fifteen minutes of class to exchange contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, whatever you need to get in touch with your partner. Most of the project work will need to be on your own time as you will need to visit grocery stores and do some online research,” Mr. Griego said.
Josh sat down in the newly vacated desk in front of Bernie. “So.” He waved the index card. “One of us is a teacher and the other is an attorney. Which do you want to be?”
Bernie shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter to me. You choose.”
He looked at her, a half-smile on his face. Close-up he noticed that she had beautiful, smooth, light-brown skin and her eyes were so dark they looked black. She didn’t wear much makeup; she didn’t need to. “Fine. I’ll be the teacher. You can be the attorney.” She looked up quickly. “Is that okay?”
She shrugged again. “Sure. It doesn’t matter. Do we have kids?”
“Yeah, we have two: an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. So, I guess we should exchange phone numbers and email.” He scrawled his information on a page of his notebook and tore it out, handing it to her.
She took the page, staring at it blankly for a moment before tearing a piece of paper out of her own notebook. “Here’s my email.”
He looked at it. “What’s your cell number?”
“I don’t have one. Just the email.”
“Oh. Okay.” Josh had never heard of anyone his age who didn’t have a cell phone. “So, do you want to get together tonight to get started on this? We could meet at my house. Or yours. Whatever you want.”
“Yours. Here.” She pushed the paper back at him. “Write your address. I have to work until seven. I can be there around seven-thirty. Is that okay?” She didn’t meet his eyes.
“Uh, sure. That’s fine. Here.” He handed the paper back. “Do you need a ride or anything?”
“Oh. Great. So, I’ll, uh, see you tonight. I guess.” He had never been so tongue-tied around a girl.
“Yeah.” She turned her attention back to her notebook, clearly dismissing him.
Josh returned to his seat, chagrined. I seem to have lost my touch. Then again, he hadn’t really been trying very hard for a long time. He used to be much better at this whole thing: friends, girls, talking. Now he simply didn’t have the energy anymore. It was October of his senior year and he was biding his time until he could graduate and move on with his life. She’s really pretty, though. He groaned inwardly as he packed his notebook and shouldered his backpack. He knew he had no business noticing how pretty his new partner was; he should be thinking about how gorgeous his girlfriend had looked in her cheerleading uniform that morning during the pep rally. She was beautiful, sweet, and had stuck by him through a seriously dark time in his life. He had really been phoning it in lately with Kayleigh. Jeez, he could do better. He merged with the flow of humanity in the hallway, determined to do right by her, starting tomorrow at lunch.
Here’s my interview with Amy, who was great fun to interview.
Have you always enjoyed writing? Why do you enjoy it?
I have definitely always enjoyed writing, but for many years I was focused on academic writing as I did two master degrees back-to-back. I don’t know why I did that. It was one of the more idiotic things I’ve done. Can you say stress? Fiction is so much more fun! As to why I enjoy writing, I guess it must be because I feel like the puppet master when I create my own stories. I can make everyone do whatever I want (insert maniacal cackle here) until the characters rebel and do his or her own thing.
Did any one person or event make you decide to write? If so, can you tell us why?
This is a bit of a mixed bag. There were two events really: NaNoWriMo and my youngest daughter leaving for college. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2013, which was also the year my youngest chick spread her wings and flew away to college in Texas—10 hours away from her momma! We won’t talk about how I was filling a hole with writing, but I wrote the first (terrible) draft of ‘Seeker’ that November and discovered I LOVED to write.
What influenced you to write Young Adult (YA) stories? You have written a YA paranormal series and now a YA romantic suspense. Which genre do you prefer and why?
I started writing YA because I was doing NaNoWriMo with my high school English class—I am a teacher in my day job—and I wanted to write something I would feel comfortable with them reading. Plus, since I spend every weekday in a high school, I have lots of great material! I really enjoyed both genres—paranormal and romantic suspense—and don’t have a real preference. I approach my projects through the characters and whatever seems to need to happen in their lives is what I write. Sometimes that’s paranormal and sometimes not. So far everything I’ve written and am writing includes a mystery, however, so I think that is where my strongest preference rests.
Do you have a writing den? Can you describe your writing space?
Part of me really wants to describe my dream writing den, which I will someday create in the spare bedroom, but honesty compels me to tell the truth. My writing den (I’m sitting here now) is the left half of the love-seat in my family room. It is a huge brown love-seat (Hagrid would love it) that I can curl up in with my laptop. I have a side table piled high with books, notebooks, heating pad, lip gloss, nail polish (for writer’s block), and whatever I happen to be drinking at the moment. Right now it’s a chocolate/peanut butter/banana protein shake. The health kick will almost certainly be over by noon and will never make it to the workout stage.
What’s your favourite time of day to write? Or, do you just write when you can?
I’m almost certain my favorite (notice my American spelling as opposed to Jane’s British—so much fun!!!)time of day to write is smack in the middle of the day, but my silly day job insists I teach impressionable young minds at that time. So I write in the late afternoon and evening. I’m fairly disciplined about it, which is surprising since I’m not disciplined about anything else.
Your paranormal series looks really exciting, can you tell us a little about it and the inspirations behind it?
Thanks for saying that! I, of course, agree. Like I said before, I start with characters and then see what kind of adventure they need to have. ‘The Seeker Series’ really started with Jack’s character and the inspiration behind him. I had a student a few years ago very similar to Jack—he returned to high school after dropping out and making some really questionable choices—and I admired him for his determination to turn his life around. I wanted to have my hero struggling against a bad-boy image and find a special girl who bothered to look deeper. Ally’s character was inspired quite a bit by my youngest daughter. She shares Ally’s vegetarian disposition as well as her sometimes snarky outlook on life.
What about your latest book, what’s that about and why did you decide to write a romantic suspense story?
‘The Way to Her Heart’ was inspired by another student who, like Bernie, found himself homeless for a large portion of the school year. It’s really tough to care about grades when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep that night or what you’re going to eat. Josh’s character was inspired by yet another student whose father died very suddenly in the middle of the year. Horrible things happen to kids and they are expected to move on and continue in school, getting good grades, etc. As to why it became a romantic suspense—I don’t know. I always gotta have a mystery.
Have you written any other types of books, or do you plan to in the future?
I have a featured story on Wattpad right now that is a YA romance called ‘Like Wildfire’. It’s a modern take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (I did say I’m an English teacher) and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a mystery, but it’s much more romance-oriented. My oldest daughter (also a high school English teacher) is working on revisions of it right now and we hope to turn it into a series called Shakespeare High or something like that.
My two current works-in-progress include a prequel to The Way to Her Heart—the love story of Josh’s parents—and an adult contemporary romantic suspense. It is my first foray into non-YA writing! Woohoo! I have no idea what I’ll do about the sex scenes. My mother reads everything I write, so…
I know you love reading, what do you read to relax?
I absolutely love Regency romances. There. I said it. Some day I’ll write one of my own. I also love just about anything by Nora Roberts. And Julia Quinn. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be one of those writers that people say, “Ooh! Another one by Amy Reece? Who cares what it’s about? I’ll read anything by her.” Dream big!
My tastes are pretty eclectic and I never know what I’ll be reading next. I’m also reading my BFF’s NaNo novel, The Red Boots, which is fantastic and she BETTER finish it! Limitless would love it.
What do you consider are the best things about being a writer and why?
The creative freedom is definitely amazing, but I also love all the writer friends I’ve made since this crazy journey began. Who would have dreamed I’d be answering author interview questions to be featured on Jane Hunt’s blog??? I love reading my fellow author friends’ books and talking to them about writing. This is a great community and I’m honored to be part of it.
All that is great, but never underestimate the power of holding your own book in your hands and knowing people—strangers—are reading and talking about your book. I had a book signing at Barnes and Noble on Saturday and a young girl came up to my table and picked up Seeker. She grabbed it purposefully and handed it to me to sign. I was a bit surprised and asked her if she’d read the back and knew what it was about. She said, “Oh yeah. I already know. My teacher told us all about it.” Wow. Just wow. And, no, I didn’t know the teacher. It was soooo cool.
I definitely agree with you there Amy that’s lovely. Thank you for such an entertaining interview, I really enjoyed it. 🙂
Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She believes red wine and coffee are the elixirs of life and lead to great inspiration. She is the author of The Seeker Series (YA paranormal) and The Way to Her Heart (YA romantic suspense).