AUTHOR Stephanie Lawton
PUBLICATION June 7, 2012 by Inkspell Publishing
READ July 23 - 24, 2012
Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her. She can't understand why he suddenly gave up Boston's music scene to return to the South. He doesn't know her life depends on escaping it. Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball-the pinnacle event for Mobile's elite-forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past. Will Julianne accept the help she's offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her?
A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Want was a nice surprise. I didn't know what I was in for starting this novel because the blurb doesn't give you too many details, which I think is good because everything that happened completely took me off guard. Julianna is a southern girl from Mobile Alabama with a gift for the ivory keys. She can play piano with the best of them and is preparing for her audition to get into a prestigious music college. When her teacher, Mr. Cline, has a heart attack his nephew, Isaac, steps in to help get her ready. Isaac and Juli are brought together by their deep dark secrets and find solace in each other.
Julianna has a terrible home life. I felt heartbroken for her so much throughout, her mother is very sick and the abuse she inflicts on her children is almost too painful to read. What was the most frustrating in this relationship was how she would have her good days and give Juli so much hope that she was doing better and would finally be the way a real mom should be. Juli's father is absent, always at his firm and avoiding the drama at home. It was terrible to see how he was constantly choosing the mother over his daughter's needs, and tending to her first when he should really be there for his daughter. The only supporting member of Juli's family is her brother R.J. who is off at college and only home on various weekends. She also finds love and support in the one place she knows she shouldn't, Isaac.
Right from the get go with Isaac we know there is a story there. He leaves Mobile to attend NEC (the prestigious music school) and we know that he ran from something. I will admit that once his past comes to light I was quite underwhelmed. I found it very hard to believe that an entire town would look down upon him and Juli working together and react in the extreme way that they did for something so trivial. But away from that I will say that Isaac was a character that I was very lukewarm with. He had a Jekyll and Hyde personality and you really never knew what you were going to get. It was comforting to know that he got away from the silly occurrence in his hometown and found happiness in Boston with some new friends, the gem of the group being Dave. Dave was a fantastic character, I would venture to say that he is one of my favorite characters that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. He was supportive, witty and he could be an alpha when he needed to be.
The problem that stuck out like a sore thumb for me was the pacing. It was very up and down and the first few chapters felt all over the place and I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to connect to any of the characters. The first two chapters could definitely use some fine tuning and be pulled together a little tighter. But once you hit chapter 3 it's almost as if you are reading a different novel, the characterizations are there and the relationships start to form. I really enjoyed Want, in the end it made me cry and it splayed a big grin across my face as the exact same time.
Mardi Gras in Mobile
Most people are surprised to find out that Mobile, Alabama, has a Mardi Gras celebration since the, er, debauchery in New Orleans gets all the attention. Mobile's celebrations are family-friendly (no flashing!) and predate the ones in New Orleans.
Much of my debut novel, Want, centers around Mobile's Mardi Gras traditions. As a relative outsider—we moved from Ohio to Alabama in 2009—it's been fascinating to see the different politics at play: who’s chosen as king and queen; the mutually agreed-upon segregation; women donning fur coats in tank-top weather; elaborate balls; and class warfare. It's both wonderful and bizarre.
Here are some colorful facts about Mobile's Mardi Gras:
• Mardi Gras was suspended during the Civil War, but restarted by a guy named Joe Cain, who dressed up like a fictional Indian chief and paraded through the streets of Mobile. Today, he is a legend and has a group of “merry widows” and mistresses who hand out black or red roses to spectators. They congregate at his grave each year to pay homage.
• Mobile's secret Mardi Gras groups are called mystic societies; in New Orleans they’re called krewes. Some of the newer societies are less secretive and easier to get invited into, but the older groups are reserved for those with “old money” and deep roots in Mobile society. They cost thousands of dollars to join. Then there are fees for the ball; you can either pay a fee or give your time building the floats; and there’s another fee to get a spot on a parade float. Then you must pay for your throws (beads, cups, stuffed animals, Moon Pies).
• So, the Moon Pies: In case you’ve never heard of them, they’re little, round snack cakes with marshmallow in the middle. The original ones are banana-flavored (and DISGUSTING) but there are also vanilla, orange, coconut, chocolate, peanut butter-chocolate and mint-chocolate ones. The latter two are pretty good, but the others make me gag. The reasoning behind using Moon Pies as throws is because they’re soft. If you’ve ever been hit in the face with beads or a bag of peanuts, you know how badly it hurts. I speak from experience!
More of Mobile’s quirks are fleshed out in Want, and our main characters, Julianne and Isaac, see their worst fears come to fruition at a Mardi Gras ball. Secrets are spilled after the gloves—and masks—come off!
Stephanie's Website / Twitter / Facebook
After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.
A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.
On her thirtieth birthday, she mourned (okay bawled) the fact that in no way could she still be considered a “young adult,” so she rebelled by picking up Twilight and promptly fell in love with Young Adult literature.
She has a love/hate relationship with Mardi Gras –where does all that money come from?–and can sneeze 18 times in a row.
This has been a part of the Want blog tour. To see all of the dates on this tour click here.