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?

Full of Southern charm, small-town gossip, deep family secrets, and forbidden romances, Want kept my attention right up to the very end!

The first few chapters of Want were a bit slow and cumbersome, but around chapter five, things start getting interesting. There is something clearly wrong in Julianne’s family, yet no one will directly address it. Her father has buried himself in working away from home and her brother has escaped to college, only returning every couple of months. Julianne keeps everything inside, but in order to deal with the pain, hides her injuries under long sleeves and layers. She is an extremely talented piano virtuoso, but her music lacks color – passion. That’s where Isaac Laroche, the nephew of her regular piano teacher, comes in.

When introduced to Isaac, I immediately knew something was not “right” with his re-apperance in Mobile, Alabama. The old biddies are gossiping, everyone’s telling Julianne to be careful, and Isaac himself is downright mysterious and cold. A piano virtuoso himself, hailing from the New England Conservatory, his duty is to prepare Julianne for her own audition at the NEC. Faced with the challenge of breaking down his defesnsive walls, Juli eventually begins a very tentative and secretive relationship with Isaac. However, these two both have serious underlying issues that rival King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and theirs makes for an interesting relationship to observe.

As things begin to get worse for Juli at home, and as she deals with Isaac’s moodiness, her one bright light (aside from music) is his best friend, Dave. Can I just fangirl for a minute over Dave? He is THE coolest, funniest male character in a YA novel ever! Very few characters have the power to make me laugh out loud, and Dave achieved this several times over. He has a vibrant personality and he genuinely cares about both Isaac and Juli. It’s clear that he has feelings for Juli, but this is not necessarily a love triangle.

As with any well-written story, I eventually reached the climax, which occurs the night of the annual Mardi Gras ball, put on by the Mystics, a close-knit, superstitious Mardi Gras society. Juli finally learns the truth about Isaac, things come to a head at home, and then – blackness. When she awakes, she finds that only one person was with her at the end – and that her chances of getting into the NEC are likely squashed.

Like any story steeped in reality, Want does not necessarily end with “happily ever after”. This is not a wholly light-hearted read. There are moments of darkness and despair, and times when you just want to reach out and shake the characters. However, things eventually came to a resolution that left me feeling satisfied and even a little melancholy, but in a good way.

There are strong themes explored in Want, such as abuse in all forms, self-mutilation, and taboo relationships, but I feel they are handled rather well. The only issue I really had with this book was Isaac’s secret: it wasn’t really that big of a deal and I would have been more amenable to all the drama had the story not been set in the present-day. Overall, however, I really enjoyed Want and will definitely read more of Stephanie Lawton’s work!

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am so pleased to have Stephanie Lawton, author of Want, on BlookGirl today as part of the Want Blog Tour. Stephanie has generously provided a Guest Post and a Giveaway of an eCopy of Want. Keep reading for all the goodies, and be sure to visit the Want Blog Tour Page to find other tour stops!

“What a snob!” – How I got the idea for Want
Guest Post by Stephanie Lawton 

Book ideas come from any number of sources: TV shows, a song, a dream. Mine came from a snobby lady at a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile, Alabama.

It was our first Mardi Gras since moving to the Deep South from Ohio, and I was in the midst of an epic case of culture shock. I couldn’t understand why-oh-why the wives of the parading mystic society members wore hats, heels, pearls and fur coats to a parade. It was seventy degrees outside!

We’d been to a number of parades and had a great time mingling with other average Mobilians, but on this day, one of the older, more prestigious societies was rolling. Usually the wives sit in the grandstands provided for them. We ended up next to a group who chose to watch from the street, for whatever reason.

Our kids were quite young—our daughter was one and our son was four—and very cute, which means they got a crap-ton of stuffed animals and other throws tossed their way. When we got too much stuff, we made sure to share with the other people around us. It’s an unwritten rule in Mobile that you take care of the kids near you so everyone has a good time.

The fur-coated ladies next to us had apparently not gotten the memo. They hogged all the throws and when one suggested they share, I overheard the other tell her, “No way!”

Now, what on earth does a wealthy, middle-aged woman need with several pounds of beads and trinkets that are clearly meant for children? She was so rude that I took a picture of her from the back so I could remember that moment.

She stayed with me and I began to ask myself questions: How insecure is she that she flaunts her fur coat in tank-top weather? How bitter must you be to refuse to share with a bunch of little kids? What secrets is she hiding under that coat and big hair? What is her husband like? Her poor children?

And this is where my character Julianne was born. Her mother is so preoccupied with keeping up appearances that she can’t see how dysfunctional she is and that she’s transferring it to her children, especially her gifted seventeen-year-old daughter. Add in a father who’s unplugged, a brother who’s left the nest for college, and a mentor/grandfather-type whose sudden illness turns Julianne’s world upside down, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster … or a YA book.

About the author: 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.

Stephanie’s Website: http://stephanielawton.com/

Stephanie’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StephanieLawtonWriter

Stephanie’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Steph_Lawton