Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs by Elissa Ambrose (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Elissa Ambrose, author of Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs!

Author Guest Post

A Free Rein

I grew up with Archie. He was my friend, my hero, my secret crush. The fact that he was dating two girls at the same time—Betty and Veronica—didn’t matter. Archie gave me the greatest gift of all—he put me on the path to reading.

Back in the olden days, my father had a catering shop that was located next to a convenience store. Every month he’d bring home a stack of comic books that the store couldn’t sell. The first time I picked up a comic, I was four years old. From that time on, I was hooked on Little Lulu, Dennis the Menace, Superman and Batman, and of course, Archie and his gang at Riverdale High. At first I was attracted to the pictures, but then the words began to take shape. I’d ask my father over and over what this or that word meant, and before long, I was reading on my own.

When I started kindergarten, I discovered a whole new world in the school library. It was there I met Betsy and Billy, Little Pear, and Maggie Muggins—I was in chapter book heaven. But a year later, a school opened closer to my home and my world imploded. My fancy new school didn’t have a library. Instead, we’d get brochures from various publishers such as Scholastics, and once a month our parents could order books. The school, however, deemed it necessary to ban certain authors, claiming they were either “inappropriate” or “too old” for my age group. Long story short, I was inundated with talking animals and a lot of Canadian geography—and I was bored to tears. My father, a self-proclaimed James Bond addict and a Sunday poet on the side, was outraged and thus began our weekly trek to the public library. There I discovered Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and the Hardy Boys, not to mention all those wonderful classics that my school had labeled too mature for someone my age. Mystery, excitement, and a hint of romance! Oh, how I loved Laura Ingalls and her little house on the prairie! Oh, how I loved Beverly Cleary’s Ellen Tebbits and her funny woolen underwear! My world flourished once again.

Over the years, my tastes grew. I began to devour everything in sight. By the age of thirteen, I’d read all of Jane Austin long before she became the rage. D. H. Lawrence? I’d gone through all his short stories and every one of his novels before my older cousin could even start blushing over Lady Chatterley's Lover. Philip Roth, Isaac Asimov, Edgar Allan Poe—I was insatiable. From Harlequin romances to the classics, I just couldn’t get enough.

Reading affects writing, just as writing affects reading. It fuels the imagination and presents new ways of looking at the world. I’m convinced that if it hadn’t been for my father’s wisdom, I wouldn’t be a writer today. His philosophy was that it didn’t matter what you read, as long as you kept reading. He also didn’t believe in holding me back when it was clear I was eager and ready for more. I took the same route with my own kids. Instead of dictating what they could or could not read, I let them make their own choices. Of course, it goes without saying I would have drawn the line somewhere—hate propaganda, for example, comes to mind—but thankfully, I never had that problem. Keep in mind that we didn’t have the same access we have today, namely the Internet.

My younger daughter was fourteen when she read The Silence of the Lambs. I admit I was somewhat concerned, but when I questioned her about it, she admitted to skipping over “the gross parts.” When I asked her why she kept reading, she answered, “The author made me want to turn the page,” which led to a lengthy discussion on the nature of suspense and how an author can pull it off. Today she’s a story producer for network TV.

Did I make a mistake in giving my kids a free rein? Was my father wrong? You decide. To date I’ve completed six novels and too many short stories to mention. As for my older daughter, she’s a YA and women’s fiction writer living in NYC.

About The Author

Elissa Ambrose was born in Montreal, Canada. After graduating from McGill University with a degree in English, for some strange reason she embarked on a career in computer programming. Seventeen years later, after an amicable parting with technology, she returned to her first love—the written word. First she was an editor at a company that produced educational material, and later at a literary magazine. Prior to Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs, she published four romances with Harlequin and several short stories. Along the road to publication, she raised two daughters. She and her husband now live in Arizona. (Yes, it’s hot. But it’s a dry heat, remember? And you can’t shovel heat.)

Elissa Ambrose's Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Reviews

Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs by Elissa Ambrose
Publisher: Muttsoft, Inc.
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Format: eBook - 245 pages / Kindle - 400 KB / Nook - 721 KB
Genre: Chick Lit / Romantic Suspense / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

If a woman tries to preserve a marriage that has been damaged by infidelity, is she heroic or is she delusional? How many times does her husband have to cheat before she calls it quits? How many times does he have to get caught?

Meet Ellen Dunwell, doting wife, loving mother, high school teacher extraordinaire. She’s worried that her husband, the respected Dr. Jeffrey Dunwell, successful dermatologist, wonderful father, great lover, is having another affair. A man of many interests, Jeffrey also dabbles in real estate. But Ellen won’t confront him about what she’s sure is his latest interest, his perky new lab assistant, Keeley Wilder. She doesn’t want to sound like a shrew, but worse, what if she’s right? As if that’s not bad enough, her friends don’t understand her, her neighbor’s son is a Peeping Tom, and her angst-ridden teenage daughter is stashing pot in her room and dating a control freak. When Jeffrey suddenly disappears, Ellen nearly slips over the edge. Instead, she pulls herself together and sets out on a mission to find him—only to get caught up in a web of intrigue and danger, where nothing is as it seems and the stakes are her life.

Book Excerpt:

The restaurant was pretentious and pricey, and I was prepared to hate it. The maĆ®tre d’ led me to a table in back, but it was too dark and the air-conditioning too cold, so I asked for a table outside. I followed him through a glass doorway. The view from the terrace was festive with saguaro cacti wrapped in strands of twinkling lights, and the fog from the misters, cooling the air with a fine spray, added an aura of romance. I began to unwind.

At a table near the glass door, a man of about seventy was holding the hand of a much younger woman. I figured he was a widower. A pinstriped shirt with a plaid tie suggested he needed someone to take care of him. Though I doubted he’d stay single for long. A man loses his mate of forty or more years, and six months later he finds another love of his life. Or rather, she finds him. Like a shark, she can smell his rich bleeding heart an ocean away.

I ordered a glass of white wine and pondered this some more. Men who start over aren’t always alone. Some are husbands who simply wake up one morning and decide they want a new life. They want their space, they want their freedom, yada, yada. But like the widowers, six months later they find the new love of their lives. Then there are the repeaters, like my father. He found the new love of his life many times over before he finally moved out.

Jeffrey arrived twenty minutes after my third glass of wine. “I stopped for these,” he explained, handing me a bouquet. “One rose for each year we’ve lived in Scottsdale. Can you believe it’s been twelve years?”

Twelve years since he insisted we upgrade our suburb as well as our house. Twelve years since we sold the small bungalow in Mesa, our first house together. Actually, it was twelve years and three months. I regarded the bouquet with suspicion. “Technically,” I said, “it’s not an anniversary. We moved in June, not September.”

He shrugged. “I wanted to do something nice. Why do you always have to question everything?”

I inspected the red cellophane twisting around the stems. It still had the sticker from the convenience store. Who bought roses at a convenience store? For a man who liked expensive cars and top-of-the-line wheelbarrows, Jeffrey could be so...frugal.

Immediately, I chastised myself. He’d made an effort, hadn’t he? It was the thought that counted, right? The white Icebergs couldn’t compare to the pink-and-white Ginger Hills that grew in my garden, but they were still pretty, in a frugal kind of way.

I smiled. “Thank you for the flowers.”

“We’ve had some good years, haven’t we?”

“And we’ll have many more. We have so much to look forward to, a whole life of beautiful moments.” My God, I thought, I sound like a sappy greeting card. And then I added, “We have so much to be thankful for.” That, at least, I believed. We had Claire.

The waiter appeared with the menus and took Jeffrey’s order for wine. A pop! erupted from the table next to ours, where a waiter had uncorked a bottle of champagne. After the fizz settled and the glasses were filled, the party toasted a man and woman who looked no more than twelve but had to have been at least twenty-one, since they were both drinking. The couple kissed, everyone clapped, and the couple kissed again.

I smiled again at Jeffrey. I wanted to talk about the good years and what we had to be thankful for, but his mood had shifted. His gaze darted from the saguaros to the misters, to the old man and his trophy girlfriend, to the waiters bustling in and out, to anyone but me.

My Book Review:

What's a woman to do when she hits the milestone age of fifty, has a cheating husband and a rebellious seventeen year-old daughter? And the husband suddenly disappears? She obsesses about her marriage, soaks in the hot tub and searches for her missing husband of course!

Ellen Dunwell had just turned fifty years old when a week later her life turned upside down. Married to successful dermatologist Dr. Jeffrey Dunwell for twenty-eight years, this Scottsdale, Arizona couple has had their share of ups and downs in their marriage. Two years ago Jeffrey had an affair and left Ellen for a week, only to return to their marriage hat in hand full of apologies and promises that it will never happen again. But now two years later Ellen is once again suspicious about Jeffrey's possibly cheating with his new young and perky medical assistant Keeley Wilder. Ellen begins questioning the trust she has in Jeffrey to the point where she begins obsessing about their marriage and her overactive imagination is put on overdrive!

With blocked calls and hang ups; a husband who comes home late every night and doesn't return phones calls; a constant battle with their rebellious daughter; friends who give her a range of advice to either suck it up or have an affair; to a creepy twenty year old neighbor boy who is a peeping tom ... it's enough to send any woman over the edge ... that is until Jeffrey suddenly disappears from his medical office, and Ellen has to put on her sleuth cap and go in search of her missing hubby, only to get caught in a web of intrigue and danger that could put her life at stake!

Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs is an entertaining story full of drama, mystery and wry humor that will keep you turning the pages. Author Elissa Ambrose weaves an intriguing tale told in the first person narrative by the quirky protagonist Ellen Dunwell, who takes the reader along for the ride as her crazy marital life story unfolds before her eyes. Ellen's story is full of humor, romance, drama, mystery and surprises ... the twists and turns that Ellen encounters in her marriage and in her search for her missing husband Jeffrey grabs the reader's attention and keeps them guessing what will happen next.

The author has created a quirky cast of characters who quickly pulls the reader into their lives. I found myself at odds with Ellen's character, I wavered back and forth between wanting to shake her because of her nativity over her marriage and Jeffrey's cheating ways, only to make me turn around and embrace her when she finds her backbone during the search for Jeffrey. I know I wouldn't have been so forgiving if my husband had a wandering eye. I have to admit that I loved Ellen's gritty sense of humor, I sympathized with her insecurities and loved how she was able to laugh at her own foibles. Her sleuthing abilities kept me in stitches, their was some pretty hilarious instances that she found herself in that made the story that much more entertaining. The supporting cast of characters added their own unique personalities to the story: husband Jeffrey and bratty daughter Claire were not my favorite people; neighbor Sherryl Turners, whose "be grateful you have a husband" speech made me grit my teeth; Sherryl's creepy peeping tom son Eric, just ewwww ... enough said; co-worker and friend Patricia "Trish" Manning, was a hoot; and Jeffrey's ditzy and naive medical assistant Keeley Wilder, *rolling my eyes*, all made the story that much more interesting.

With great attention to detail and description of the Arizona and Mexico settings; a humorous first person narrative; engaging character dialogue and interactions; and an intriguing mystery thrown into the mix, Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs kept me laughing and thoroughly entertained!

Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs is a fast paced witty story that has enough comedy, mystery romance, and real life drama that will keep you hooked until the surprising and shocking ending!



  1. Thanks so much for being in the tour- I loved this book!

    1. Hi Samantha! This book was such a fun read! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host the virtual book tour event. :)