I am such a huge fan of author Jennifer Laurens. So when I heard that her newest release, GRACE DOLL, was going on tour, I just had to sign up. I’d discovered her Heavenly trilogy when I was just a reader, during my angel phase, and just couldn’t get enough of her writing. I bought every single title she wrote and devoured them all and loved them.
GRACE DOLL is on my reading pile this month and I can’t wait to read it, because it sounds absolutely amazing and I just know it will give me that twisty-turny feeling and be every bit as captivating as all her other books.
If you haven’t yet heard about this awesome book or this amazing author, here’s just a little bit about them both.
Grace Doll had everything a girl could want: Fame. Fortune. Beauty.
Everything except, of course, her freedom. So when a powerful movie producer forces an experimental treatment on Grace–one that’s purported to make beauty immortal–she stages her own death to escape him.
With the help of trusted friends, Grace slips into hiding. She’s forever flawless, forever young and forever pursued by her past.
But when a stranger arrives on her doorstep, holding the key to a life she thought she’d left behind, Grace must decide between the safety she’s known… and embracing the role she was born to play.
I write YA books. Whatever my heart desires, I write. I don’t have someone over my shoulder, in some office somewhere telling me what I can and cannot write. Or should and shouldn’t write. I listen to my heart, the center of my muse, and trust my instincts.
I’ve written since junior high school. An only child, I grew up writing big stories about big families. I also write YA under the name of JM Warwick. My hometown of Palos Verdes, California figures in much of my work, as does my current home of Pleasant Grove, Utah and other favorite places. I love to travel.
They say “write what you know” and I do. I am a mother, I have six children, five cats and a huge doberman/dane dog. I have a supportive husband and we’ve been married 25 years. Our lives, though challenging with a handicapped child who has autism, are centered in our family.
My life experiences have worked into all of my novels. Some more heavily than others, but parts of me are in each story. I love stories rich in family drama, where family members overcome obstacles through love and miracles.
WHO IS GRACE DOLL?
I asked a beta reader about titling Grace Doll. I said, “Which title do you like best? Immortal? Divine? Forever Love? Or Grace Doll?”
She said, “I’ve heard of all the other titles before, none of them are stand out. But when I see Grace Doll, I’m like, ‘What the hell is a Grace Doll?’ “
So, I decided to go with Grace Doll.
In a book world where every book is a one-word title, it was a risk going with Grace Doll, but the significance isn’t just about the character.
My aunt’s name was Grace Doll, and everywhere we went people were intrigued by her name. She was a vivacious, bubbly woman with a contagious laugh and southern drawl.
When I originally wrote this story, it was a screenplay—and the character of Grace Doll was Laura Lainhart. In re-writing it for my young adult audience, I wanted everything about the story to be fresh. I settled on Grace Doll because my books always have an element of me in them, because I write for myself and my family first. And, Grace Doll, like all of my books are woven with bits and pieces of my life experiences. My family knows that, recognizes them and each book has a deeper meaning that way. Long after I’m gone, my posterity will read one of my books and remember when “that moment” happened or “that scene” or “that character is me.”
Grace’s character was so wonderful to write because she’s a long-lived woman in a teenager’s body. I loved tackling on the difficulties and nuances that would create in someone. For instance, Grace has the idiosyncrasies of a mature woman ( i.e. not wasting anything, being OCD about organizing, etc. ) but the feelings and dreams of a teenage girl on the verge of experiencing her first love.
Even though Grace has had lifetimes of living, her experiences have been limited. She’s at a crossroads when she meets Brenden, and she has to decide: will my life be more of the same? Or am I going to face my demons and break free?
We were given fifteen amazing excerpts to choose from, and while I’d have loved to have posted all fifteen here, that would have been just too greedy so I chose a couple favorites, because choosing just one wasn’t an option.
And yes, almost all of them gave me that twisty-turny feeling, made me sigh, and made me wish I was reading GRACE DOLL right now. Especially this one incredibly beautiful and sensuous excerpt, which I didn’t include, because it, I believe, should be discovered within the context of the story.
I lean toward her. Her rapid breath teases my heartbeat into an eager pound, her chest rising and falling to the rhythm of my heart. I’m so close her breath slips into my parted lips. I expect to see surprise in her eyes—maybe warning. Instead, her blue gaze is heavy-lidded, almost dreamy. This isn’t a dream. I’m going to kiss you.
Her scent drifts into me.
“Brenden.” Her whisper floats around my senses. No, don’t wake me. This is my dream.
“I can’t,” she says.
She swallows. “I don’t have relationships.”
“It’s a kiss. Not a relationship.” But that’s a lie. I’m not here on Dad’s errand anymore, I’m here for her. For me. The realization that my heart has changed fills me with thrill and desire. For us.
“I don’t kiss,” she whispers.
She can’t be serious. No, she’s just being seriously harsh to send me a clear message, and it hurts more than I want to accept. But the look in her eye confuses me—regret—and conviction. I’m pressed into the seat by disbelief. What happened to this beautiful, healthy, vibrant girl to make her want to choose life without relationships? We’re silent for a long, long, time. The deafening roar of the plane engine fills my head. Does this mean she’s resolved to never have love? The thought is like the riptide, pulling me into dark suffocation.
“How…” Words crawl out. The comment stings my brain into dullness. “Is it because you’re in mourning?”
Her expression is vacant. Dead. “I’m taking care of Oscar,” she says, resignation heavy in her voice. “You, of all people, should understand what that means.”
“What about when Oscar’s gone? What then?”
She turns away. I know how it feels having to accept fate, to face being alone.
My hopes and fantasies take her answer like a sledgehammer to my heart. When Mom was dying, I wanted comfort I couldn’t have. I didn’t want to feel alone.
Gently, tentatively I lay my hand over hers, bringing her face round again. Her hand trembles beneath my palm, and the shuddering moves. Fascinated, I reach over with my left hand and gently cover her wrist, just in time to catch the traveling vibration up her arm. Her eyes close, her head falls back against the seat. Her body soon looks as though it’s gone completely lax. Beneath her shirt, the rise and fall of her chest grows more rapid.
“What happens when I touch you?” I whisper.
Her lips part, but she says nothing. Her eyes remain closed. Euphoria draws over her fine-boned features like she’s in the middle of a blissful dream.
I lean close.“Tell me.” I squeeze tighter hoping to urge the words from her lips.
“Let me go. Please.”
The warm comfort from Brenden’s hand streams through my arm in an electric current, igniting, stimulating, building into a frenzy. A parched desert dares to bloom. It’s difficult to allow myself to enjoy these feelings. The struggle is immense, like a butterfly stuck in a cocoon that won’t give.
You can’t run away from this forever. Both Oscar and Jonathan told me that over and over again. Up until now, the easiest reaction has been to avoid—which I’ve done with great success. Until Brenden appeared.
He planted hope inside of me.
I remember this euphoria. Once, it was new to me, teasing with innocent possibilities. Then I met Rufus. Any innocence I possessed was demolished beneath his hands.
It took every ounce of will I could gather to ask Brenden to let me go. I wanted to turn to him and fold myself into his body, giving myself to ecstasy. But I can’t use him for my own pleasure, that would make me no better than Rufus.
He’s been stony since. I can’t expect anything else, and this is better for us both. I have to make seeing Rufus my first priority once we’re in Los Angeles. Anything involving Brenden will have to wait until that’s resolved.
Tidy as that thought is, Brenden shines at me like a spotlight. I don’t want to ignore him. Complicating the issue is the possibility that he has feelings for me—why else would he try to kiss me?
My romantic naiveté is a reality that hasn’t changed even with decades of living. An atrophied muscle that has left me with the thoughts, the wonders and fears of a seventeen-year-old girl.
I loved getting to know where the name GRACE DOLL derived from. And I love that author Jennifer Laurens makes her family a part of her writing and her stories. It’s one of the things I enjoyed most about reading the Heavenly series.
Grace Doll sounds like an absolutely fascinating character, that I can’t wait to meet! Especially after checking out all fifteen excerpts. Which I won’t go into detail about here, as I’m sure a few other blogs will be posting them throughout the tour. But I will just say that I’m more intrigued than ever about this character, this story and the secondary characters I’ve had the chance to meet, albeit briefly.
And of course I just have to thank Jennifer Laurens for stopping by and for sharing with me and my blog’s readers that wonderful post about GRACE DOLL‘s creation and development. I am, and always will be, a fan and can’t wait to see what’s next.
I also want to thank Kathy of I Am A Reader Not A Writer for allowing me to be a stop on this awesome tour she put together!
Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour for more peeks at GRACE DOLL, author interviews, reviews and other awesome posts!
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer – Tour Kick Off
The giveaway is the same at all stops, so if you’ve already entered, you don’t need to enter here! It is being hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer, so be sure to check out the giveaway rules.
***Ends November 15, 2012***
What’s up for grabs?
A $10 Amazon Gift Card & a copy of Grace Doll + Swag
A copy of Grace Doll
(Paperback – US only; eBook – International)
Enter in the Rafflecopter below….
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