Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I’m hosting author J.N. Marton and her latest release, My Ticket Out, a contemporary f/f romance.  Be sure to check out my review for this novel.

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About-the-Book
My Ticket Out_v3 (1)Book Title: My Ticket Out
Series: N/A
Author: J.N. Marton
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Genres: Contemporary F/F Romance, Coming-of-Age
Tropes: Forbidden Love(ish) and Friends to Lovers
Heat Rating: 2-3 flames
Length: 260 pages

A senior basketball player. A mysterious new girl. A secret romance…

Blurb:Charlie Baker wants out. She wants out of her small, southern hometown of BluHaven and she has her sights set on a basketball scholarship to a college as far away as her dreams can take her. Everything is going according to plan until she moves to town.

Aspen Sullivan is breathtaking. She is beautiful, smart, talented…. She evokes feelings in Charlie that she hadn’t thought possible. When their friendship blossoms into something more, Charlie discovers a new truth about herself. But with Aspen’s mysterious past, they must keep their relationship a secret.

Will their love be strong enough to endure the trials of deceiving those closest to them? Do they have what it takes to escape the constraints of the south and the closet together?

Note:  My Ticket Out is a Young Adult, LGBT story about love, and self-discovery. If you enjoy stories that include romance, heartbreak, and embracing who you are, then you will definitely love this book by author J.N. Miller.  This is a standalone story.

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Excerpt

“We did not come this far to roll over like a bunch of pigs! Take the ball and put it in the damn basket!”

Falcons on three… one… two… three… FALCONS.”

Twelve seconds left on the clock.

One more shot.

One more play.

One last chance.

Twelve seconds is all the time we need.

Defense pounces the second the ball is inbounded like a leach latching itself to the only available life source.

The fast break is swift–over before it even started. One hard dribble towards the middle and the ball is launched to the center of the court.

Seven seconds left.

What comes next is second nature. A hard cut to the basket and back out to the wing, my hands raised in the air as I catch the ball before defense has time to adjust.

Four seconds left… Three seconds… the ball rolls off my fingertips.

Two seconds… it swirls around the rim.

One second… and falls to the ground.

The sound of the buzzer erupts through the gymnasium, solidifying our defeat. Final score thirty-six to thirty-seven.

I inhale the musty stench of sweat, perfume, and hairspray as we sulk into the locker room and take a seat while we wait for the aftermath that is Coach Stewart. I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees and focus on the sweat dripping from my forehead, plummeting to the ground, leaving a minuscule puddle between my shoes.

One shot.

That’s all we needed. And I blew it.

My main priority from the second this year started was getting a basketball scholarship out of this small town. From our very first game, it’s felt like my life has been dependent on one specific goal. A single accomplishment–like making the game winning shot–is going to make or break my future.

Coach Stewart charges through the door, letting it slam against the concrete wall as he steps in front of us. His gaze is intentional and cold, his demeanor full of discontent and indignation. His eyes trace over us, one by one, pausing just long enough for us to feel the misery set in.

He dips his head, slowly shaking it back and forth, before he holds up his index finger. “One shot. One damn shot. That’s all we needed to be undefeated this season.” He lifts his head, settling his hands on his hips. “We made mistakes tonight. And sometimes one mistake is the difference between winning and losing. The season’s not over yet. We’ll just have to practice a little harder to end it on a high. We’ve got a few games left, don’t give up now. Practice tomorrow after school. Bring it in.

Falcons on three… one… two… three… FALCONS.”

I shuffle to my locker, ignoring the hushed conversations happening around me, and begin gathering my stuff.

“That was a nice shot, Charlie,” Riley says as she pulls off her jersey, tossing it to the growing pile on the floor and retrieves her tshirt from the locker next to mine.

“Thanks,” I mutter, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and sling my bag across my shoulders, heading for the door.

I get about three steps away from the locker room when I’m cut off by Ben. He’s wearing faded jeans, a red and black flannel over a plain white shirt, and boots with dried mud on the sides. The typical wardrobe of the boys that live around here. He’s taller than me by about three inches, with chocolate brown hair falling in his face, and forest green eyes that can’t seem to focus on what’s in front of him. “Hey, Charlie. Nice game.”

“Thanks,” I say, trying to brush past him.

He takes one long stride to the right, blocking my path. “I was thinking about checking out that new movie this weekend. Thought you might like to join me?”

“No thanks, I’m busy.”

He leans in closer, the smell of popcorn lingering on his breath, “C’mon, Charlie,” He whispers, “It’ll be fun. It wasn’t too long ago you jumped at the chance to go out with me.”

That’s not actually true. I only went out with him because Riley insisted and I finally agreed in order to get her off my back, not because I found him even remotely attractive. Of course, he doesn’t realize that, which isn’t all that surprising when I really think about it. We did the typical dinner and movie date but he couldn’t hold a conversation that didn’t revolve around him. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, he’s shoving his tongue down my throat. I managed to wrangle him off before awkwardly sitting there trying to pretend I was somewhat interested in the film playing on screen. I haven’t gone out with him since.

“Ben, I need to get home. Can we talk about this some other time?”

“So,” he says, straightening up, his tone chipper as a smile plays around his mouth, “You’ll think about it?”

I stagger past him, picking up my pace as the EXIT sign beacons above the door, hoping my silence will answer his question.

I step outside, breathing in the bitter, frigid air of late February and make my way to my old grey Sedan. I pull out of the parking lot and head towards downtown. BluHaven is a small, southern town where the same families, shops, restaurants, and business have been here for generations. There’s a church on nearly every street corner, everything shuts down on Sundays, high school sports are the main source of entertainment, and everybody knows everything about everyone.

They say you have the freedom to be whoever you want to be, to express yourself in your own way. But if that goes against the belief system that’s been set in stone since before I was born, then don’t even bother. It’s not that I hate living here. It’s just that I never felt like I truly fit in, like my place has always been somewhere else in this world.

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My-Review

First off, the writing is fresh and brilliant.  Top notch.  I really enjoyed the voice of Charlie, the main female protagonist in the novel.  She is a sympathetic character full of problems.  One, she is gay.  Two, she is being raised by her grandparents.  Three, she is still trying to come to terms with her parents.  Four, she wants Aspen, but Aspen isn’t sure she wants Charlie.

This isn’t a romance, but there is romance in the novel.  So don’t go into this thinking the story is one.  It’s Charlie’s story and takes place during her final year in high school.  I would call this coming of age and coming out.

Charlie is a strong, independent young woman.  I loved how the author bypassed the usual snarky, smart-mouthed teenager we get in most YA novels.  A girl doesn’t have to be snarky to stand up for herself or strong.  And Charlie more than digs in her heels with true class.

Charlie is a basketball player who dreams of getting out of her one-horse town and going away to college.  She doesn’t take her talent for granted and works hard to hone her skill on the court.  Showing such maturity for someone her age, she isn’t interested in the usual high school hijinks (although she enjoys a good party).  Probably because she had to grow up fast due to the circumstances of her parents (I won’t say why or I give away a spoiler).

Even though Charlie is raised by her grandparents in a religious household, somehow, she has learned on her own that who she truly is counts.  Now this is where I wish the author would have used some kind of mentor, because children and teenagers learn this.  It’s not something they acquire on their own.  Still, it doesn’t detract from the story.

Her new friend Aspen is the opposite of Charlie.  Aspen is fearful, full of secrets, hesitant, and unsure of herself.

The two make a great pairing.  They not only balance one another, they aid each other in their problems and what they need to change about themselves.

Another secondary character who shone was Aspen’s aunt.  I really enjoyed this character and what she offered to the story.  As for the other characters, they were there, but I couldn’t quite connect with them.  They added to the story, but they could have been written deeper.

The pacing is tight.  No lags.  The chapters flow from one to the next.  Each description Charlie gives is fresh and new.  The visceral responses are unique and well done.  The author did an excellent job capturing Charlie’s emotions.

The ending was a big twist.  And I loved how it brought forth emotion in me.  I’m not an emotional reader.  I simply read.  But the author did her job well, because it’s rare I get annoyed while reading.  And making me annoyed is a good thing.  Not the “oh geez, seriously?  The author went there?” kind of annoyed.  But a “Damn you!” annoyed LOL.  Love it!

If you enjoy YA, and want to delve into a story with a strong female protagonist who is wonderfully developed and almost leaps off the page, this is the book for you.  From what I understand, this is the author’s debut novel, and she did a smash-up job.  Just keep in mind this book isn’t a romance.

MY TICKET OUT

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About-the-Author

J.N. Marton graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor’s degree in education. Along with educating the future of our nation, she enjoys taking her daily morning run, reading any book she can get her hands on, and binge watching the latest shows on Netflix. Marton happily lives with her wife, Hollis, and their Lab/Basset Hound mix, Sam.

Email her at jnmartonauthor@gmail.com and follow her on her favorite social media platform, Twitter @jn_marton.

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

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