When I first started getting into new adult fiction, I kept hearing about this one book I just had to read. That book was called Easy, written by self-published author Tammara Webber, and is one of those genre-defining novels that helped launch a boom in self-publishing. It took a few months, but I finally sat down to read about Jacqueline, her assault, and the boy who saves her. The book was well written, romantic, sexy and perfectly-paced. I couldn’t put it down.
Two years later, and I’ve read every single Webber novel I can get my hands on. I. Am. Obsessed. I sped through the Contours of the Heart series, then promptly got started on Between the Lines. Now I’m just waiting for the latest Webber book to be published, checking Amazon daily, and rereading book after book.
It’s pretty rare to find a self-published author with Webber’s level of talent, clean prose, and likeable characters who leap off the page. These books are not easy reads with simple storylines and a straightforward love story. No, Webber dives into the psyches of her characters, moves through their histories, and creates complex relationships that feel completely realistic. She’s also not afraid to tackle big issues, or to recognize that all problems (or spoiled actors’ personalities) aren’t black and white. If you love tough-but-sensitive heroes and strongly developed love stories, then Webber is the New Adult author for you.
Here are the four books that officially launched my Tammara Webber obsession:
Easy (Berkley Publishing)
This is the one that started it all. Easy tells the story of Jacqueline, a college student who just broke up with her boyfriend of three years. When she ends up getting attacked outside of a frat party, a pierced and tattooed artist named Lucas steps in to save her. It turns out they share a class — and a bunch of chemistry. But Lucas is mysterious about his past, his family, and, well, pretty much everything in his life. At the same time, Jacqueline finds herself falling for her class tutor, Landon, who she exchanges emails with daily. Only, she’s never met him in person. I won’t give away all the twists, but trust me when I tell you that this is one love story you do not want to miss.
Breakable (Berkley Publishing)
Easy was so good that I pounced on the sequel, Breakable, as soon as I could. It’s basically a retelling of Easy, only this time from Lucas’ point of view. So many retellings simply retell the story again, sometimes even word-for-word. But Webber is careful to give us an entirely new novel, one that never recycles story and just richens the narrative we already love. By diving into both Lucas’s past and his feelings on the present, it takes the veil off of the mysterious bad boy from the first book and shows us just how real and vulnerable he truly is. This is a lovely sequel/companion novel, and fans of Easy will be dying to get their hands on more of Lucas and Jacqueline.
After falling so hard for the Contours of the Heart series, I wasn’t convinced that Between the Lines could stack up. While Easy deals with real issues (attempted rape, abuse, etc), Between the Lines appears to be a lighter read about young actors on the set of a popular movie. “Appears to be” is the key phrase here: the book is just as complex as Easy, and the characters might even be more likeable. I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually fell harder for Emma and Graham, stars of a new movie who tentatively realize their feelings for each other. Making it complicated is Emma’s on-screen love interest Reid, a superstar actor who’s used to getting his way. When he decides he wants Emma off-screen, she has to make some tough decisions about her future and which guy she truly wants to be with. I love love love romances that navigate fame and celebrity, and Webber has written one of the best with Between the Lines.
At first I was a little disappointed to see that book 3 in the Between the Lines series was focused on Reid, who is basically the villain of the first two books. But somehow Webber makes him sympathetic and even likeable in Good For You. After another PR disaster lands him in community service, Reid finds himself working with good-girl Dori. The humanitarian is not impressed by the bad boy actor, which just makes him more intrigued by the loveable ‘normal’ girl. This is a redemption story, but one that feels earned and organic. Reid becomes a hero you want to root for, which I didn’t think was possible, to be honest. But I suppose I need to have more faith: Webber hasn’t disappointed me yet and I don’t see it happening any time soon.