Love's Medicine (Surf Bay #4) by Ashley John
                                                               reviewed by: Becky

Justin White didn't expect to fall in love with his best friend, Sammie Cooper, but he couldn't stop himself. Since their teen years, they've been inseparable, but as each year passes, it becomes harder and harder for shy Justin to confess his true feelings to his charismatic and promiscuous best friend. Keeping secrets has become second nature to Justin, as his love for Sammie isn't the only thing he's concealing from the world. In the shadows of his home, his mother is slowly dying, and despite stealing painkillers from the hospital, there's nothing he can do to save her.

Sammie Cooper never thought his casual and sexual relationship with his boss at the nightclub would ever turn into anything serious, but when Finley offers him a briefcase stuffed with money to follow him to England, he doesn't know if he can resist the lure of the cold, hard cash. Sammie is faced with a decision that he never thought he'd have to make, and things only get more complicated when he makes a shocking discovery about Justin's life.

Can Justin start telling the truth to keep hold of the only man he'll ever love? Can Sammie turn down life changing money to risk it all on the unknown?

One is scared of love and the other is scared of commitment. Justin and Sammie thought they could make it through anything together, but their crumbling lives threaten to rip them apart. Both are faced with difficult decisions, but will they make the right ones?

I have loved every Surf Bay book up to now, but this one, this one made me resort to a case of eye bulging, cheek blushing, totally back in high school hero worship! Can you hero worship a book you ask? Why yes, yes you can, I am proof!

 Right when this book starts you are in it, you are just there, hurting with Justin as he has to watch Sammie make the same mistakes over and over, not to mention the heartbreaks in his home life! You also have to watch Sammie make mistake after mistake, and it will break your heart that deep down he doesn't think he is better than that! 

There is a level of emotional oneness you will experience with this book that you don't get with many. Yes Sammie needs to get his head out of his ass at times, but you know what, I don't want a perfect book boyfriend, I want a believable one, and Sammie is that, as is Justin! 

Trust me you will run the gamut of emotions with this book, you will be throw something and scream mad, you will be curl up and cry heartbroken, and you will be jump up and scare your animal happy (that one was kinda funny!). This is what a wonderful book does, it brings you into it! 

Do not miss out on this one, you will truly be missing out on not just a book, but an unforgettable experience! Thank you Ashley, for writing a book that not only speaks to our emotions, but also climbs right into our hearts!

                                                                 the 5 bowtie rating 





“I'd do anything if I loved the person,” he whispered, “I'd do whatever made them happy, and I'd hope they'd do the same for me.”
“Are we still talking about sex?”
“Yes. Not everything has to be angry and quick all the time. I think if I was with somebody, it would be different every time. If the connection is there, they'd feel comfortable doing anything.”
“So you're open minded? Isn't that just code for kinky?”
“Stop it Sammie,” he smirked, “stop twisting my words.”
“Twist,” Sammie laughed, “I love that word. Twist!”
He reached out and grabbed Justin's nipple, twisting it roughly.
Justin pulled away, and clutched his nipple, rolling towards Sammie as he did, “Ouch! Are you trying to hurt me?”
“I thought you said you were kinky?” Sammie laughed, their faces so close that he could smell the pizza from earlier on Justin's breath.
“Those were your words,” Justin's voice was low, shaking, as his eyes searched Sammie's face through the candlelight.
Smiling, he breathed slowly, listening to the movie. Somebody screamed, and the music started up, louder than ever, but they didn't look away from each other. Sammie felt something hard twitch against his leg, but he didn't look down.
Staring into Justin's eyes, he suddenly had an impulse he'd never had with his friend before. He suddenly had the urge to kiss him. He didn't know if it was the candles, or the events of the day before, which were messing with his head, but it was all he could think about. He ran his tongue across his lips, his mouth dry. In 8 years of friendship, their lips had never met, and he suddenly didn't know why.


First of all Ashley, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, I know this is a really busy time for you! We will jump right into the questions:

1. Did Surf Bay start with the idea of a series, or did it grow into that?

 The Surf Bay series was never supposed to happen. My original plan was to create a new series, after I'd finished The George & Harvey Series, and it was going to be a series of standalone, none connected books. I think I was going to the call it 'The Opposite Worlds Series', or something along those lines. Lost & Found was to be the first book is that series, but when I was writing it, I realized that I might be onto something. All of these characters started jumping out to me, and suddenly the town felt so real in my head. When I'd finished writing Lost & Found, that's when I knew I wanted to stick around in Surf Bay, and that's when The Surf Bay Series was born! Porter was the first name to jump out at me, so he got his own book first. Before Lost & Found was released, I'd already started pre-planning for Full Circle, so I was sneaky and added in some details to get the reader wondering. I think it'll be fun for people to read the series from the start, having already read all of the books, because they'll notice all of the little hints and nods to future books that they wouldn't have noticed the first time around.

Bec- As you know I bought one through three at one time, so it was nice to read together, but I know I would have loved them no matter what order I read them in, I love a series that can do that!

2. What is the one emotion you want your readers to feel most often when reading your books? 

 I think anyone who's ever read any of the Surf Bay books knows that they're packed with emotion, so I don't think I can name just one. I can say, that if somebody is feeling ANY emotion when they're reading my books, then I've done my job as a writer. I think all of the Surf Bay books are emotional roller coasters with extreme highs and extreme lows, and I like my readers to be on that journey with the characters. I write by the mantra that 'everybody has a story', and I want people to feel their stories. If I can give somebody an escape for a couple of hours as they read my books, that's all I can ask for. One of my favorite reviews that I've ever got for one of my books has been 'omg, the feels!', which pretty much sums up the series.

Bec- Yes indeed, that does sum it up exactly! I was wondering if you could peg down one emotion, because your writing touches all of them! It is lovely to get swept away while reading, and this series really does that!

3. Who or what influenced you to start writing? 

 As a kid, I was so influenced by J K Rowling, Lemony Snicket, Jacqueline Wilson, Charles Dickens...the list goes on. I liked to read books that were a little darker than the usual offering. When I was a kid, all of the books aimed at boys seemed to be silly and all of the books aimed at girls seemed to be over the top girly, so I always tended to pick up the books that were a little more tragic. I went through an obsessive phase of reading Jacqueline Wilson books, and I think that shows in my writing today. Her books, aimed at kids, dealt with very serious family issues and problems, and I that's really something I like writing about. My books are primarily romance, but I love incorporating the serious drama into them whenever I can. Most of that drama is drawn from my own life, so you could say that I'm influenced highly by my experiences. Storytelling is something I've ALWAYS done, and when I say younger, I mean I was trying to write books at the age of 4. I'd constantly be making little books out of paper and filling them with dramatic stories that never seemed to end. I once wrote a story when I was 8 in my work book at school about a boy who cared for his old grandfather in his big old house, but the grandfather died, but he came back to haunt him. Really grim stuff! I remember one of my favorite teachers at school, Mr. Ashworth, was really supportive. I must have only been about 7 years old, but he was always encouraging me to write. In my early teens, it's something I lost interest in, but I quickly rediscovered my passion in my late teens. I bounced around from job to job, doing things I didn't want to do, until I eventually ended up working in McDonalds as a cleaner. That was my lowest moment. I hated that job so much, so I quit and decided to throw myself into writing, and here I am!

Bec- It is life changing when people encourage us in what we want to do, and for them to be a teacher, or someone important to our growth is awesome! I love that Mr. Ashworth encouraged you, and I know many others are VERY glad you decided to write! :)

4. You are very personable with your fans, do you find that they influence the direction a series is going to go, or the number of books in it?

 I love my readers, so much. I like to think of them as friends, rather than 'fans', because I've got to know so many of them. I always like to keep the channels of communication open, so if anybody wants to talk to me about anything, I'm there. In regards to my books, I think a lot of them are always looking forward to the NEXT book, regardless of what it is. I posted an update on my Facebook page saying that I was resting the Surf Bay series after the 4th book (Love's Medicine) to write some different M/M Romance books and most people were very supportive. The general reaction was 'that's fine, but as long as you write more books, we'll read them'. I think one can get so wrapped up in writing a series, and you forget that people might feel a little excluded, so I think it's good to write something different to reach new readers. In regards to the direction of my books and series, my creative process is very incubated. I'm a control freak, so I usually don't share the finer details of what I'm doing until the last minute, because I'm usually working right up to deadline day, tweaking and changing things. I think if people didn't keep loving the Surf Bay books so much, I wouldn't have written them. After every book I've said 'this is the last one' to myself, but the reaction has been getting better and better so I kept writing more, based on people saying they wanted more of the Surf Bay series. I am very nervous to take a break from the series, because the Surf Bay series is working, it's selling consistently and it's making me money, but I'm itching to challenge myself. Now, I'm excited to break away from that town, for a little while, to try some other books I've been dying to write. When it comes to it, I'll probably be very excited to return (hopefully late in the year).

Bec- I love Surf Bay, but I am excited to read anything by you, your passion and energy carry through on whatever you write!

5. Is there a writing routine you follow when working on a book?

 So far, my routine has stayed pretty much the same, but it has changed more with each book. As indie authors, we're always learning and we don't realize we're making mistakes until we've made them and people are pointing them out, so with every book, I tweak my process to make it cover more things. I usually start off with an idea, which can come from anywhere. Somebody will say something to me, or I'll hear something, or I'll see something and the light bulb will go off and a story will form in my head. Most of my books start life as a couple of sentences in a phone memo. I'll then work on the characters, fleshing them out until they feel real. I usually do this part of paper (the only part of the process I do on paper). When I create characters, it's a messy process, so I like to be able to scribble out things that I don't like. I'll then move onto my computer, and I'll start work on the plot. I usually flesh out the plot, and before I start writing I'll write a LONG outline, usually consisting of 10 pages. I said usually, because with Love's Medicine, I didn't do this. I had a basic idea of the plot and I just started writing, mainly because of time issues. I enjoyed writing like that, but I did panic when I couldn't come up with the ideas as I was writing. I think the worst thing for a writer to fear is 'what happens next?', so for my next book, I'll probably go back to the obsessive planning. After writing, I'll read through everything and I'll tighten and rewrite things, then I'll send it off to my editor. When it comes back to me, I'll go through it several times (usually once on my computer, once on my Kindle and once being read out loud to me). After that, it's a case of formatting, making any last minute changes, and uploading. One of my main issues is time management. With all of my books, I've been working up until the last possible second, making changes, so I need to get better at that. Every time I write a book, I give myself longer to finish it, but every book I've written has been longer than the last, so it ends up taking just as long every time!

Bec- Well your attention to detail is not lost in your work, it is lovely to read a book that you can tell a lot of heart and soul went into! I never have to worry if I am going to like one of your books, I just worry if I will have enough time to re-read it as soon as I want to! 

6. I love the amount of heart you put into your writing, do you find that writing a book takes a lot out of you emotionally?

 Yes! Oh my god yes. I say this all the time, but a lot of my books are based on personal experiences. Obviously, they're fiction, but I put certain feelings and events into the book that have happened to me, so if I'm writing a really emotionally charged scene that is based on my life, it can be difficult. There's a heartbreaking scene in Love's Medicine which has just been copied from my life and pasted into the book, and I found myself getting a little choked up writing it. I look at writing as a cheap form of therapy. Once I've written it, it's out there for everyone to read. It's like airing your dirty laundry in public, but nobody knows what's real and what's fiction, and I like that. I don't think I'll ever say 'this is real' or 'this isn't', because I think it's nice for people to wonder. When I finish writing a Surf Bay book, I feel emotionally drained. I seriously need a holiday after each book because it knocks it out of me. I've decided for my next book there's going to be less drama!

Bec- I can see where you would need a holiday after this one, whew I was emotionally charged 3 pages in, I can't imagine how I would be if I wrote it! Can you say funny farm ;)! Yes I think it adds to the emotional value of the book if readers don't know for sure what is real and what is fiction!

7. Last one Ashley I promise, is it easier to write the first book in a series or the followups for you?

This is a difficult question, because I've found each Surf Bay book very difficult to write, but for very different reasons. The first book, Lost & Found, I was coming off the back of The George & Harvey Series so I was incredibly nervous because I didn't know how it was going to be received, or how it would sell. The second book, Full Circle was VERY difficult to write. I found it so hard to write the relationship between Porter and Kane, because they'd known each other 18 years previously. It was difficult making people fall in love who had already fallen in love once. I got 1/3 of the way into that book and started rewriting it, only to go back to the original book to realize it wasn't so bad. Saving Michael was probably the easiest to write, because I knew the character of Michael inside out and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with his story, although I was constantly worrying about him. As I was writing it, all of the reviews for Full Circle were coming in and people HATED Michael, so much so that I was worried nobody would ever want to read Saving Michael. Luckily, I've not had a single person who has read Saving Michael say they hated him at the end of the book, so the turn around worked. Love's Medicine was tricky to write, because plot wise, there's a lot going on. The main story line is obviously the romance, but the characters are both at very difficult crossroads in their lives, and they have have a lot of conflict being fired at them from every direction. I found the characters easier to write, because I related to them a lot more, although it was tricky tying up the story without leaving any loose ends! So to answer the question, I'd say it's easier to write the first, just because it's all fresh and new and you don't have the complication of existing characters. Because my characters are intertwined through all of the books, sometimes it's difficult remembering the time lines I've created for them, and what they're going to be doing at certain points in the new books. Even though this is tricky, I like that you stay up to date with the characters. For example, we've stayed up to date with the progress of Oliver and Charlie's restoration of the diner, even though they've barely featured in any book since Lost & Found. I think it's nice when old characters walk through to say 'Hi!', because it gives you the sense that this is a real town with real people, and sometimes, their lives do cross over.

Bec- I love this answer, and when I started Michael's book I was like, I really hope I can like him, but I needn't have worried, the brilliant way you did the prologue had me hooked and ready to open my heart to Michael! I also love how you didn't make his problems go away at once when he saw the error of his ways, that was smart writing! Thanks Ashley for this heartfelt interview, and of course your lovely books! 


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