Monday, December 16, 2013

Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein {REVIEW}

Book Title: Sneaking Candy 
Author: Lisa Burstein
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Humor
Publication Date: December 9th 2013
                        by Entangled: Embrace



All I ever wanted was to make a name for myself as Candice Salinas, creative writing grad student at the University of Miami. Of course, secretly I already have made a name for myself: as Candy Sloane, self-published erotic romance writer.
Though thrilled that my books are selling and I have actual fans, if anyone at UM found out, I could lose my scholarship…and the respect of my faculty advisor, grade-A-asshole Professor Dylan.
Enter James Walker, super-hot local barista and—surprise!—my student. Even though I know a relationship is totally off-limits, I can’t stop myself from sneaking around with James, taking a few cues from my own erotic writing…if you catch my drift.
Candy’s showing her stripes for the first time in my real life, and I’ve never had so much fun. But when the sugar high fades, can my secrets stay under wraps?
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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

Candice Salinas. Candy Sloane. Two totally different person. Or maybe not.

The story starts off with Candice, a pretty much normal girl leading a normal life, having normal academic and family issues. As she believes, her life is full of clichés. And in this cliché-full life; Candy seems to be her only escape to a moment of solace. It’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (except for the fact that here she isn’t any psycho). The two are totally different personalities, each needing the other somehow. Candice is more of a person who wants to be on the ‘safe side’ of things, her studies, scholarship, PhD, her career as a writer, proving her worth to her parents…and not opening up to the guy she may or may not have serious feelings for. She lives a life within her self made safety shell.

Candy is quite the opposite. She is feisty, naughty, open about her feelings (at least on the pages), dominating and confident with men. She is a thousand times more expressive when it comes to having fun, maybe because she does that through her writing. Being Candy, writing as Candy is something Candice truly enjoys. But for the sake of Candice’s better future, Candy is to remain under cover. No matter how famous she is, an erotic writer is definitely not something to keep her in the good books of her Professor, which she is badly in need of to prove herself right to her family. But for how long fame can be kept hidden? Specially in this era of technological boom? Things are already complicated and messy for Candice in this situation. And as if the Candy part was not enough, she has to deal with her Professor, who she secretly has the hots for at first:

“I guess I have an ulterior motive,” Professor Dylan said apologetically. “I like the way your cheeks flush when you’re drinking.” My cheeks flushed alcohol-free.

Plus, there is the barista James, who Candice approaches with a great effort from her side, only to realize he is academically unavailable. Her past, her present all make it difficult for her to decide her future, decide what she really wants, or who she really wants…

Maybe I just didn’t want to come out and admit I was willing to risk my academic achievements for a guy who made me forget to breathe.

For Candice, I feel pure empathy. No, I’m not an erotica writer…but I’ve realized that dream and ambition can often be two different things in one’s life, and you will never deliberately want to give up one for the other. Candice likes Candy’s profession, her persona, but it is ‘harmful’ for her ambition, which is to make a place for herself Candice, as a conventional and established author. You’re torn between choices and real life situations; you are often left with no choice other than giving one up. I could really connect to Candice’s character which made the plot more appealing to me.

It was like there was two of me. The one who knew what she should do and the one who just wanted to be able to do whatever she wanted.

I really liked the character of James. He seems to be the only person, apart from Amanda, who is fine with either Candice or Candy, whoever it is. He seems to be able to look right through her, through the secret she’s never shared with anyone else:

“You do understand you have a split personality, right?” I did. Of course I did. I just couldn’t believe this guy I barely knew could see it so plainly. Maybe it was because he was the only guy who had seen and seemed to want both sides of me: the studious, serious Candice on the outside, the sultry, sex-kitten Candy on the inside”

Even when he comes to know about Candy, he doesn’t see a point why Candice is so freaked out about her secret being out. It is like the way Amanda says:

 “No one can know. No one can ever know.” “You’re not a superhero.” She huffed.” You write erotic romance. Get a hold of yourself.”

Candice’s first attempts at trying to bring out the ‘Candy’ in her real life were really funny, specially when she was trying to hook up with James and again and again, the Candice kept coming out:

“I whispered in a way I hoped was more Marilyn Monroe than creepy-ass serial killer.”

I pulled my back tight against the palm tree—the worst hiding place in the world unless you’re as tall and thin as a cattail.

 So for a long time, she ignored her feelings then deciding to give up on it only physically, more like ‘no strings attached’ thing (which, I have a feeling, never works :p), only to realize what they share is more than physical.

“I don’t want things to be weird between us.” He said. “Why would they be?” I said. Of course they are. I thought…. “We’re adults, like you said,” I replied. “We can act like adults.” It was what I said, but all I could think was, Bullshit. I don’t want to act like an adult.

She is seen constantly fighting over her genuine feelings for the guy, more than she is willing to admit. (After she referred to Channing Tatum, I think I may have grown feelings for James as well*blush*)

Keith vs James was like comparing a rock and Channing Tatum.

Plus, he’s romantic, in a cute way. How could I not love him?

 He leaned in, kissed me lightly on the cheek, and whispered, “At least you’ll remember that tomorrow.”

Their effort to act normal, maintaining a pure academic relationship is really a fun to read. Every instance they started to act as friends or as teacher-student, things got peculiar.

“What is all this?” I asked. “Apples,” he said, like he was saying duh. “I see they are apples,” I said. “What are you doing with so many of them?” “Acting like we’re teacher and student,” he explained. He held out the bag. “I brought you an apple.” “You brought me an orchard,” I replied.

I think I may have quoted excessively in this review (is that a new thing though?) But seriously, once I start quoting, I never seem to be able to stop myself from overdoing it. For a balance, let me mention why I gave it 4 stars.

I didn’t dislike anything in particular. I just expected a little more at some places. Like a logical explanation as to why Professor Dylan seems to be so clingy to James would have helped, for starters. For me, the whole Professor- Candice face off thing could have been a little longer. I felt THAT ending was a bit abrupt. I don’t like a dragging climax but it seemed really short, the problem solved even before it was started. Other than that, Sneaking Candy is sweet, naughty and engrossing, a complete entertainer.

 On a totally different note:

Being forced to read Ulysses was basically like boring yourself to death very slowly; being forced to read Ulysses while being forced to sit in on Professor Dylan’s office hours was like boring yourself past death and into un-death.

Another reason I’m empathetic to Candice. I had to read Ulysses on my first year as an undergrad. I know exactly what it feels like to read that thing.

Okay, so those of you who like to read a book with romantic naughtiness and fun, I recommend giving it a try. I, personally, feel that we all have a little ‘Candy’ somewhere hidden within us (once more, not talking about the writer part), even if we don’t realize. That way, this book will make you feel connected to the character of Candice very easily and make it all the more worth reading.
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