Published by Peterson Paperbacks on January 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Romance
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Vivian Bingley has big plans for her semester abroad in Spain…
Along with her BFF, Maddie, Vivian hopes to indulge her inner Art History nerd by visiting the best museums in the world. She also wants to tackle more practical concernsÔÇölike a less than stellar GPA in her major, EconomicsÔÇöwith the help of a Spanish tutor.
But falling for her studly Spanish tutor definitely isn’t one of them.
Madrile├▒o Rafa Montoya is the stuff study abroad dreams are made of: super studly and super smart. He also happens to be super into Vivian. With his wicked dancing skills and his passion for the arts, he tempts her to throw caution to the wind and live out her wildest dreams.
Only problem? Maddie wants Rafa, too, and Vivian promised herself sheÔÇÖd never settle for second best againÔÇªnot after a hookup-gone-awry last semester left her heartbroken. Is it best for Vivian to protect her heart at all costs? Or is letting Rafa in worth the risk?
This book is a New Adult contemporary romance, suitable for mature audiences
College is about self-discovery. ┬áWhat happens when you’re hiding from yourself…and actually go hide in a different country, barely able to speak the language? ┬áWell, you take┬áSpanish Lessons, of course!
Viviane is a bit of a lost soul. ┬áI found a bit of my┬ácollege self in her. ┬áShe struggls to find the right choices, even when they appear to be obvious to everyone else (cough, cough RAFA). ┬áHer year in Spain is not just academic but truly a time to find out where her loves lie – academic and literal. ┬áShe’s been so consumed with “fitting in” that she didn’t realize she wasn’t “fitting out”┬áwith her true self. ┬áI’m sure many of us felt the same way at some point in our lives. ┬áThe beauty of this tale is that the change and acceptance of self is so gradual that the point of demarcation is easy to accept; Viviane grew just a little more into herself each day that it made sense when she could finally claim herself and her desires to the world.
Rafa is an amazing soul. ┬áHis tenacity and steadfastness is swoon worthy. ┬áHe’s got the brain, the personality, the charisma, and the heart. ┬áLet’s not forget patience! ┬áThis man is so inspirational. ┬áIf you’ve ever lost hope in love, come get to know Rafa…the man will refuel your empty coffers! ┬áHis gentle approach to getting what he wants plays the silent catalyst to Vivane’s metamorphosis.
These are beautiful characters written so fluidly and with flourish. ┬áPeterson does an amazing job in getting you invested in each of the characters, their personal view of the world, and how they navigate the landscape of life. ┬áRafa is BY FAR my favorite character in this book. ┬áHe leaves me with warm fuzzies. ┬áTruly a testament of how far Peterson hit it out of the park!
I’m salivating to read more of the Study Abroad series. ┬áIf they’re half as good as this book, they’ll be fantastic. ┬áDo yourself a favor and go get some┬áSpanish Lessons!
SPANISH LESSONS (Study Abroad #1) Excerpt
Copyright 2016 by Jessica Peterson
Herds of scantily-dressed people, heels clomping against the cobblestones, filter past us.┬á They laugh and smoke, and a few couples even put on a show, fondling each other like they mean it.┬á I look up; the sky has faded to grey, just light enough to make out wisps of cloud scudding overhead.
Rafa checks his watch.┬á His skin glows in the soft light.
ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs almost six.ÔÇØ┬á He rises, brushing off his jeans.┬á ÔÇ£We should get going if we want to catch the first Metro.ÔÇØ
I canÔÇÖt remember the last time I witnessed 6 a.m. on this Earth.┬á Back on campus, a late night usually meant 2 or 3 a.m.; weÔÇÖd always try to schedule our classes so we didnÔÇÖt have to wake up before nine.┬á Six was no manÔÇÖs land.
I feel badass, frankly, for making it out so late.┬á Everyone else left hours ago.
And still it feels too early for the night to end.
Rafa reaches down and offers me his hand.┬á I take it.┬á He pulls me up beside him, my leg bumping against his.┬á For a minute our eyes meet.┬á I will never get used to how beautifully blue his are.┬á They are the K.O. punch, every time.
I want to kiss him, badly.┬á My heartbeat thrums through my body.┬á Do I take a chance?┬á Or do I let the night end on this heady, anticipatory, safe note?┬á I already count tonight among my most favorite nights ever.┬á Why risk a kiss that could ruin the memory of the wonderful hours I spent in RafaÔÇÖs company?
ItÔÇÖs a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you donÔÇÖt.┬á IÔÇÖll regret not kissing Rafa.┬á But thereÔÇÖs a chanceÔÇöa very good chanceÔÇöthat if I kiss him, IÔÇÖll regret that more.┬á Maybe he never wanted to kiss me in the first place; maybe he pulls away, tries to be nice in a horrifically awkward way.
Maybe the kiss is so wonderful IÔÇÖll start falling for him on the spot.┬á Rafa looks like he would be a lethal kisser, thorough and patient and intense, all at once.
But Lord knows I need to fall for another unattainable guy like I need a hole in my head.┬á IÔÇÖve done the sorta-kinda-relationship hookup thing, and I ended up with a broken heart.┬á IÔÇÖm terrified of getting hurt like that again.┬á If IÔÇÖm going to get involved with someone, itÔÇÖs gotta be real, and itÔÇÖs gotta have forever potential.
Rafa, with his handsome smile and panty-dropper charm, doesnÔÇÖt seem like the forever type.
He offers me a quirk of his lips.┬á He hasnÔÇÖt let go of my hand.┬á In fact, his fingers, thick and calloused, slide between mine, locking my palm in place against his.┬á HeÔÇÖs still looking at me, his eyes and his face soft.
ÔÇ£So,ÔÇØ he says.┬á We start to walk, hand in hand, down the street.┬á ÔÇ£What did you think of your first night in Madrid?┬á Was I a decent guide?ÔÇØ
I blink.┬á I swallow.┬á I canÔÇÖt concentrate on anything but our hands swinging between us.┬á His touch is gentle and sweet.┬á Around us the air has finally cooled; my skirt ripples in a slight breeze.
I wish I could capture this moment and squeeze it into a bottle, uncorking it whenever I want to feel the way I feel right now.
ÔÇ£The chocolate incident notwithstanding,ÔÇØ I reply, ÔÇ£IÔÇÖd say it was pretty awesome.┬á You were right about the sangriaÔÇöit is magical.┬á My white girl jammed out.┬á I learned some amazing Spanish swear words ÔÇô thank you for those.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Happy to be of service.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£The churros were ridiculous.┬á The music was sick.ÔÇØ┬á I look at him.┬á ÔÇ£But as for youÔÇªÔÇØ
There it is again, that smirk at the corner of his lips.┬á ÔÇ£Come on, Vivian, you must give me some credit here.┬á Look at this!ÔÇØ He brushes the fingers of his free hand across his bare chest.┬á ÔÇ£I am practically naked, all for you.┬á I am no Justin Timberlake, but I worked very hard on my chest hair, and I think it deserves a little bit of appreciation, yes?ÔÇØ
I slow my pace and he slows, too.┬á Kiss him.
I look down at said chest hair, peeking through his egregiously unbuttoned shirt.┬á ÔÇ£It is very nice hair,ÔÇØ I say.┬á ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs no Austin Powers bath mat, but I like it.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£He is a tough guy to beat,ÔÇØ Rafa says.┬á ÔÇ£Maybe when I am older I will be so lucky.ÔÇØ
I donÔÇÖt know how we arrived at this topic of conversation, but IÔÇÖm over it, IÔÇÖm over talking, I just want to kiss him.┬á I remember what Katie told me at the beginning of the night.┬á Talk to him.┬á You have nothing to lose.
IÔÇÖm holding hands with Rafa right now because I had the cojones to talk to him.┬á Who knows what will happen if I kiss him.
Sure, it could bruise my ego, and my memories of tonight.
But heÔÇÖs looking at me again and oh God those freckles and his shoulders and the dark messy waves of his hair and the way he smells and now heÔÇÖs teasing me about my sweaty palm and running his thumb across the back of my hand and I canÔÇÖt, I canÔÇÖt, I just canÔÇÖt not kiss him.
Rafa pauses at an intersection, looking both ways down a deserted lane.┬á ThereÔÇÖs a tiny little alcove, a quirk in the buildingÔÇÖs architecture, just up ahead, obscured by a tree.┬á The perfect place for a little late-night make-out sesh.
We cross the streetÔÇöIÔÇÖm on the outsideÔÇöand when we step up on the curb I give RafaÔÇÖs hand a tug.┬á He turns to face me, the laughter softening in his eyes.┬á My heart is pounding so hard inside my head I think it might explode.┬á I take a step closer.
ÔÇ£Are you okay, Vivian?ÔÇØ he asks.
Not okay.┬á Definitely not okay.┬á But IÔÇÖm going to do it anyway.
IÔÇÖve never made the first move beforeÔÇöat least not when I was this soberÔÇö but I know if I donÔÇÖt just go in for the kill, IÔÇÖm going to mess it up.
I rise up, slowly, on my tip toes.┬á Our faces inch closer.┬á He keeps looking at me; I feel the heat of his gaze on the rise of my cheekbones.┬á But I canÔÇÖt meet his eyes, so I focus on his lips instead.┬á The scent of his aftershave hits me and I know IÔÇÖve made the right decision.
Or maybe the worst decision ever.
My body slides up the tall length of his, our clasped hands trapped between us.┬á I love the solid warmth of his body, the delightful shock of being this close to someone.
And then I kiss him.
I close my eyes and press my lips to RafaÔÇÖs mouth and I kiss him.
The second I do it, I think oh my God, what a fucking idiot fish I am, what in the world am I doing, stop now, stop while youÔÇÖre ahead.
ItÔÇÖs excruciating, that first second.
But the secondÔÇöer, secondÔÇöis much better, because Rafa starts kissing me back.
His lips melt into mine, slightly parted, perfect for kissing.┬á My heart flutters inside my chest.┬á The kiss is slow and a little timid, like neither of us want to go too far or reveal too much.┬á But I donÔÇÖt mind it.┬á I like slow, especially with Rafa.┬á It allows me to savor every heartbeat, every feeling, every damn delicious thing about him.
Rafa pulls back.┬á My stomach flips.┬á I wait for him to bumble an excuse, to tell me he canÔÇÖt because he has a girlfriend, he has to get home, he thinks I smell.
But when I open my eyes, heÔÇÖs grinning.┬á Relief, warm, spreads through me.
ÔÇ£For a minute, I believed you didnÔÇÖt want to do that,ÔÇØ he murmurs.┬á ÔÇ£Back there, after the chocolate incidentÔÇªÔÇØ
I shrug, bashfully.┬á ÔÇ£I did.┬á I do.┬á I do, Rafa.┬á I justÔÇªgah, I was just being an idiot.ÔÇØ
He brings our joined hands up between us, settling my hand on his chest.┬á I can feel the pound pound pound of his heart.┬á Something about its furious working makes my own skip a beat.┬á IÔÇÖm the one who is making him feel this way.┬á IÔÇÖm the one he feels thisÔÇöwhatever this isÔÇöfor.
I look up, startled, a little scared.┬á Rafa brings his hands up to my face, his fingers gliding with erotic ease to rest just beneath my earlobes, in my hair, on my cheeks.┬á He angles his head, his lips hovering less than an inch above mine.
A current of desire rips through me.┬á I have never felt anything like it.
Rafa holds me there, an inch from the kiss I want more than my next breath.┬á His nose brushes mine as he looks at me and looks at me and keeps looking, his eyes glassy with heat.┬á HeÔÇÖs making me wait.
ÔÇ£I didnÔÇÖt know if you wanted to do that,ÔÇØ I say.
One side of his mouth curls into a grin.┬á ÔÇ£Do you not remember?┬á I kissed you first, Vivian.ÔÇØ
My cheeks burn with the memory of the quick, sweet kisses he gave me when we first met at the bar.
ÔÇ£But those were polite kisses,ÔÇØ I say.┬á ÔÇ£Hello kisses.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£But still kisses.┬á I have been waiting to do it again all night.ÔÇØ
He bends his neck and presses his lips to mine.┬á My eyes flutter shut, a poignant rush of sensation moving from where our mouths meet to where my legs do.┬á His mouth moves over mine, opening me to his every stroke, every pull and nick and bite.┬á In a handful of heartbeats Rafa makes the kiss his own, holding my head in the cradle of his hands as he moves over me.┬á He tastes like chocolate, just a hint of sweet sangria.
Behind my closed lids, a confetti of sparks ignite and sparkle.
Whistles and catcalls erupt somewhere behind us.┬á Rafa slows, but his lips never leave mine.┬á He wedges my legs between his own, and in one swift, strong movement, he swivels me around, reversing our positions so that he is between me and the street.┬á I sense him hunching his shoulders forward, blocking me from sight, pressing me into the little make-out alcove.
I donÔÇÖt have time to think or catch my breath.┬á Rafa keeps kissing me, and the kiss keeps getting better.┬á Deeper.┬á Our first kiss was timid; but this kissÔÇöthis kiss is anything but.┬á My head spins as I try to keep up with him.┬á HeÔÇÖs slow and fast and insistent and soft, all at once.┬á I lose myself in him, my mind a blessed blank.┬á HeÔÇÖs just as good a kisser as I thought heÔÇÖd be.
Better, even.┬á There is something incredibly sexy about the way he moves.┬á HeÔÇÖs confident without being overbearing.┬á Yes, the kiss is his, but that means IÔÇÖm his focus.┬á He lavishes me with attention and care, his tongue working to open me to him, and I open, willingly, wildly.
This is how everyone dreams of being kissed.┬á With abandon.┬á With feeling.┬á I grasp his forearms, my fingers digging into his bare skin as I hold on for dear life.
There is nothing safe about Rafa.┬á Not the way he looks at me or the way he dances or how I feel when he touches me.┬á Definitely nothing safe about the way he kisses me.
But I feel safe with him anyway.┬á Safe to be myself.┬á Safe to kiss him back without worrying about what happens next.
I feel safe because weÔÇÖll probably never seeÔÇömuch less kissÔÇöeach other again.┬á HeÔÇÖs way out of my league.┬á And I donÔÇÖt want to fall for a guy IÔÇÖll just have to leave in a few months.┬á I donÔÇÖt want to get hurt again.┬á I canÔÇÖt bear it.
This is just a kiss, I tell myself.
ItÔÇÖs just one kiss that he wonÔÇÖt remember, that I will try to forget.
Still.┬á ThereÔÇÖs this rush between my skin and bones that whispers to me, telling me this is no ordinary kiss.
That nothing will be the same after this kiss.