We first meet Leda in a coffee shop on an average afternoon, notable only for the fact that it’s the single occasion in her life when she will eat two scones in one day. And for the cute boy reading American Power and the New Mandarins. Leda hopes that, by engaging him, their banter will lead to romance. Their fleeting, awkward exchange stalls before flirtation blooms. But Leda’s left with one imperative thought: she decides she wants to read Noam Chomsky. So she promptly buys a book and never—ever—reads it.
As the days, years, and decades of the rest of her life unfold, we see all of the things Leda does instead, from eating leftover spaghetti in her college apartment, to fumbling through the first days home with her newborn daughter, to attempting (and nearly failing) to garden in her old age. In a collage of these small moments, we see the work—both visible and invisible—of a woman trying to carve out a life of meaning. Over the course of her experiences Leda comes to the universal revelation that the best-laid-plans are not always the path to utter fulfillment and contentment, and in reality there might be no such thing. Lively and disarmingly honest, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky is a remarkable literary feat—bracingly funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and truly feminist in its insistence that the story it tells is an essential one.
I think that this book is exactly what the blurb says it will be—which is a wonderful thing to say about a book, because sometimes you read a blurb and you read the tiny excerpt and you get the book, and it’s not what you were led to believe it was going to be. Sometimes, that’s okay, and other times it’s incredibly frustrating. This book does indeed follow Leda—the main character—through life, starting when she’s in college all the way to her death. The epilogue is told from her daughter’s point of view, although to be more accurate, it’s in limited third person. I enjoyed the candidness of the novel; we get Leda’s occasionally illogical behaviors and her bouts with depression; we also get to talk about things that impact huge numbers of women at an individual level. Do not expect huge does of romance, or eroticism in this book—yes, people fall in love and have sex, but that isn’t the point of the book and it’s given a different kind of attention. Continue reading →
I’m so excited it’s Tuesday because that means we here at ALBTALBS have an exclusive excerpt just for you! Today’s excerpt is from debut author Liana De la Rosa, who is also today’s Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month guest author. You’re going to want to check that post out as well, trust us. 😏
Driven into exile years earlier, due to family scandal, Declan Sinclair is called home, devastated to discover his brother has been murdered and he’s the new Duke of Darington. When clues point to the man he blames for both his exile and his brother’s death, Declan resolves to ruin the culprit. If only the daughter of the man’s business partner, lovely Lady Alethea Swinton, didn’t tempt his resolve.
Lady Alethea Swinton has cultivated her pristine reputation in the hopes of winning her father’s praise. When her childhood friend returns, Alethea finds she’s willing to court scandal and defy her father to help the handsome Declan uncover the truth behind his brother’s death. Until she realizes Declan’s redemption will mean her family’s ruin.
We at ALBTALBS welcome Carmen Baca for her debut guest post. Carmen joins us for Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month, sharing how she incorporates pieces of her life into her debut romance novel El Hermano. We hope you enjoy!
Using Nuestra Cultura in Romance
The night of his brother’s wedding, she came to him in a dream. Although the details were lost in a misty fog, her dark brown eyes and jet black hair haunted him in the days which followed. He was twenty-six, a bit long in the tooth for a man to still be a bachelor in the 1920s. Hell, all his primos and compadres had been married for years, and he didn’t even have a single prospect in sight. So when the dark-eyed beauty came into his dreams night after night, he became obsessed with finding her.
You guys!!! It is flipping July!!! How did that even happen?!!? But as you see, Tuesdays are once again Tuesdays in ALBTALBS world. And as the second Tuesday of the month (meep!) we’ve got an exclusive excerpt, of course! Yay Kat Latham!!! (If you check out her page there’s something really cute. “Cover reveals” have become this big thing, but Kat made hers interactive, in the form of a jigsaw puzzle!)
Thank you so much for having me here today, Lime, and letting me share my excitement about my debut novel! Knowing the Score comes out on August 5, and I’d like to give away a digital copy to one of your readers.
Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England’s World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he’s eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.
Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world’s worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.
Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.
Excerpt set-up: After a disastrous trip to Afghanistan, Caitlyn gets ill and her flatmate Emma calls Spencer to check up on her, since Emma’s heading out of town. Spencer brings Caitlyn back to his place.
She fell asleep with his deep breaths warming her ear and slept so deeply she didn’t stir when he woke up to watch the Gloucester match. She snoozed while he got ready for his meeting, and didn’t hear the door close behind him when he left. At some point, she opened her eyes to see a glass of water on the nightstand, next to a plate of plain crackers with a note folded in half like a tent, saying EAT ME.
Too exhausted to do more than smile, she snuggled deeper into his duvet and fell back into a restorative sleep, letting her body heal itself. By the time she felt his rough fingertips brushing her hair off her cheek, she’d begun to feel like a new person.
She gazed up at him dreamily before shifting her body into a long, stretching yawn. Rubbing her eyes as her aching muscles relaxed again, she asked, “What time is it?”
“Time for me to make good on my promise.”
She yawned again. Her body couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen. “What promise is that?”
“A nice hot bath. Ready for it?”
She nuzzled against his thigh, perched on the edge of the mattress, and was gratified to feel how naturally he let his hands fall across her body, stroking down her back and over her shoulders. “A bath sounds perfect. Every inch of me hurts.”
His fingers became more searching, running over her knotted muscles before patting her butt. “I’ll be right back, then. Drink some water.”
She pushed her fists into the bed and slid up until she propped herself against the headboard. She took shallow sips, letting her stomach reacquaint itself with liquid after having spent days violently expelling it like a foreign invader. A torrent of water fell into the bathtub in the other room as Spencer drew a bath for her. With a pang, she remembered the last time someone had taken such good care of her—when her mother had held her hair back as she’d vomited and rubbed her feverish back.
For nearly ten years, Caitlyn had had only herself to depend on. If she was too ill to make it to the medicine cupboard or sink for water, she did without. If she got sick when doing fieldwork, she’d have to muster all her strength to hoist her ass out of her cot and get herself to a clinic.
Spencer had apparently rushed to her side, despite how she’d treated him the last time they were together. Not only had he cared for her physically, but he’d found ways to comfort her as well.
He must be better than the men she was prone to be attracted to. After all these years of avoiding relationships because she’d come too close to falling for a man cut from the same shitty cloth as her father, it looked like she’d accidentally fallen for one of the good guys.
“Ready?” Spencer poked his head out of the bathroom and watched as she lowered her feet and carefully stood up. Wooziness rushed through her head, and she grabbed a bedpost. When she opened her eyes, Spencer stood next to her, forehead creased with concern. “You sure you’re all right?”
“Positive. Just haven’t stood up on my own for days.”
He threaded his arm through hers and escorted her to the bathroom as though they were promenading toward a punch bowl at a ball. He’d transformed the bathroom into a vision of heaven. Instead of harsh overhead lights—which would’ve made her eyeballs throb—he’d lit candles around the tub and along the sink. Lavender-scented bubbles reached the brim of the large bath. He’d even left the blinds open so she could gaze out over the Thames to the warehouses lining the other bank. “Hope you don’t mind,” he said. “Bubble baths aren’t usually my thing so I stole this stuff from your bathroom.”
She sighed with satisfaction, and he chuckled. “You’re not even in the bath yet.”
“It looks so good. I can’t wait.”
He nodded toward the sink. “I didn’t think you’d be coming back, so I threw out your toothbrush. New one, there.”
She cocked a brow. “That a hint?”
“Well, you are a little smelly.”
She couldn’t fault him for his honesty. Truthfully, she thought disgusting might be more accurate. She hadn’t shaved since the last time she’d been in this bathroom, several days ago, so her legs and underarms were raspy. Grease plastered her hair against her neck, and she didn’t need to glance in the mirror to know how tired her face looked.
As she brushed her teeth, she wished she’d opted for a pre-bath shower so she could clean herself properly before slipping into the tub to ease her aching muscles and mind.
Spencer rustled in the bag he’d brought from her place. He set her razor and Emma’s ginger body scrub on the edge of the bath and turned to her. “Let’s get you in this tub, then.”
“That’s all right. I’m feeling stronger. I don’t need any help.”
“Famous last words, Yankee Doodle. I don’t mean to be rude, but you look a wreck and I don’t want you slipping. Come on.” He held his hand out to her.
She gripped the front of her tank top, only now noticing how it seemed to reveal more than it covered. “Spencer, I’m dirty and gross and smelly.”
“So? I spend half my life dirty and gross and smelly. It doesn’t offend me. In fact, your grubbiness is one of the things I like best about you.”
Her heart fluttered at the strange compliment. “What do you mean?”
“Get in the tub and I’ll tell you.” He pulled her to stand in front of him. His hands made short work of her pajamas, leaving her bare and shivering as he helped her into the tub. “Cold?”
“No,” she said, looking straight into his hazel eyes.
His gaze warmed up. “Good.”
He clasped the hem of his shirt and drew it over his head, making her sit up so fast water sloshed over the sides. “What’re you doing?”
Tossing the shirt toward a hamper, he grinned and scratched his abs, drawing her gaze to the line of dark hair between his belly button and pants. “Getting in with you.”
Her breath quickened. She licked her lips as he flicked open the button of his pants. Desperate to distract herself, she said, “I’ve never done this before. Have you?”
“Taken a bath with someone?”
“All the time.” He lowered his zip.
“’Course, it’s usually filled with ice and my teammates.”
“Oh.” She brightened.
“Other than that,” he said, shoving his pants down, “you’re my first.”
“Oh.” Her smile nearly covered her face as his boxer briefs hit the floor.
“But that’s not the kind of bath we’re having. You’re not well and I’m not going to take advantage of that.”
It was the first time she’d seen him naked in daylight, and he was magnificent. His thighs were thick and hard, and those very interesting parts of him began perking up between them.
“Hello,” he called out to her. “I’m up here.”
She tore her eyes away from his groin.
“I never thought I’d feel jealous of my own cock,” he muttered as he stepped into the bath.
She scooted forward and made room for him to slip in behind her. “Now you know how women feel about their breasts.”
“Hmm. I’ve never felt so objectified in my life.”
“Not even when you were greased up and holding a phallic rugby ball to sell underwear?” she teased.
“Hell no. Those adverts paid for this flat.”
He displaced a hell of a lot of water. It nearly sloshed over the sides, so she tried to stay still as he filled a cup with water and held it over her head. “Ready?”
She nodded, and he let it stream over her hair.
“What?” she asked.
“It just sort of slid off the top of your hair.”
Damn. She’d been afraid of that. People always complimented her hair, but that was because they never had to get too close to it. “You have to treat it like the rat’s nest it is. You can’t be gentle with hair like this, Spencer.”
He stilled behind her. “I’m afraid.”
“Don’t worry. I got this one covered.” She scooted forward to give herself enough room. Taking a deep breath, she leaned back and submerged herself. Holding the lip of the tub with one hand, she ran the other vigorously through her hair so the water could snake through the curls. When she pulled herself up with a gasp, she swiped water out of her eyes and glanced over her shoulder at Spencer. His face was tightly drawn, like maybe she’d stabbed a testicle.
“What happened? What did I do?” Her heart leaped to her throat.
“Nothing.” His tight voice shook.
“Spencer, don’t lie. Did I hurt you?”
He shook his head, as if trying to clear it. “That was…by far the most erotic thing I’ve ever felt.” He took a shuddering breath as her heartbeat slowed. “Your hair floating all around my cock—Christ.”
She licked her lips, her body suddenly feeling better than it had all week. “You want me to do it again?”
“No.” Poor man sounded like someone had slugged him. “I told you—not that kind of bath. You’re recovering, need your rest.” He scrubbed a tense hand over his face and spoke through his fingers. “I can control it.”
She grinned at his tortured expression.
“It’s not funny.” He hadn’t even glanced at her yet somehow knew she’d be amused.
“Maybe not funny,” she said. “But it still makes me feel good.”
He grunted and reached for a bottle of man shampoo, squeezing a dollop into the palm of his hand. “I need something to concentrate on. I’m afraid you’re going to smell a bit like me. I didn’t see any shampoo in your shower.”
“Emma and I share and she’s probably taken it with her, the selfish witch.” She sniffed the air. “Mmm, musky.”
“If the shampoo ads are to be believed, you’ll be beating the women off you with a stick.”
“I guess I’ll just have to hide out here for a while then, huh?” She turned her back toward him and took a deep breath full of contentment as his hands slid into her hair, his fingertips working in small circles against her taut scalp and temples. “Oh, wow. That feels…” She didn’t even have the strength to finish. The rhythmic motion had her mesmerized, her head swaying gently with the pressure, her eyes flickering closed.
He kept it up for several long minutes, one hand massaging her scalp while the other rubbed shampoo through her curls. She was barely aware of him tilting her head back into his hand so he could scoop up water and rinse the shampoo out. When that worked just as well as earlier—not at all—he nudged her hips forward and supported her until she lay back in the water, her head floating just above his lap. His hands combed through her curls, and he let out a groan of pure sexual need so loud she could hear it even with her ears underwater.