Sarita Sengupta is in her last semester of grad school and has finally realized she doesn’t have a career plan, a girlfriend, or a clear outlook on life. She works as a pastry shop’s head decorator, but is otherwise drifting without direction until a friend’s birthday party ends with her waking up in surprise next to Maritza Quiñones, a pretty ballroom dancer whose cheerful charm and laser focus sets Sarita on a path to making all of the choices she’s been avoiding.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Lissa Reed, author of Certainly, Possibly, You.
Hi Lissa, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hello, thanks for having me today! I’m a DFW based queer author, cat wrangler, and former singing wench on the Ren Faire circuit. Certainly, Possibly, You is the second book in my Sucre Coeur series and it features Sarita, a character from the first book, and her love story with bisexual ballroom dancer Maritza.
Do you have pictures that you use for your characters? Can you share them with us?
I do! Sarita has been in my head for a while. I’m going to preface the photo with an explanation – the actress I see in my head for her is Amara Karan, who is not Bengali, she’s Sri Lankan. But she has many of the physical characteristics I saw Sarita as having, especially her eyes, she has these lovely expressive eyes.
Then there’s Maritza. From the start she has always looked like Gina Rodriguez in my head. So you can imagine my delight in finding out that Gina Rodriguez is a salsa dancer! It just tickled me so much.
What kind of book would you like to write that people would see as a huge departure for you?
I actually have one in mind, it’s one that’s been in my mind for a while. It’s a bit supernatural in nature, which I think will startle people. A bit like Lovely Bones, but somewhat less dark. I can’t say more without giving the game away! But it’s been kicking around in my head for a while, I think I have to write it.
Have you ever killed a character? Was it traumatic for you? If you haven’t killed one, would you ever consider it?
I have not in books. I have done so multiple times in fanfiction! And the first time, it was the worst, I loved the character so much and so did the people reading the story. We all loved her and I had her shoved down a tower staircase! Poor Amelia, my darling. But after I had heartlessly murdered her (I did cry about it! For weeks, months before publishing that part of the story, I cried!) it became much easier, and later on I got a bit of a reputation in fandom for being a little trigger-happy…
Favorite location you’ve ever written about?
I wrote a fanfic that was set in multiple cities around Europe – a sort of game of sensual cat and mouse, or maybe a very adult Amazing Race! And that was the most fun, I had fun with all of the settings, and in designing clues that would guide my protagonists to each other and kept my audience guessing what city I would send them to next. Best, best fun ever.
What’s your favorite season and favorite activity for that season?
I love winter and I am a giant Christmasaholic. Not from a religious standpoint, no. I am here for peppermint hot chocolate, silver sparkly things everywhere, and wearing all kinds of boots and tall socks and my own hand-knit hats and mittens. Winter is hard, I have depression that gets harder to deal with then, but there is so much I love about it that I fight through.
“This is so embarrassing. I’m so sorry… ” Sarita hands over a mug of spice tea, her face steaming nearly as hot as the drink. “I can’t believe I forgot you were here.”
The woman tosses back her mane of hair—a gold streaked tumble of waves nearly as black as Sarita’s own hair—and beams up from her perch on Sarita’s sofa, a gorgeous smile that lights up the living room and somehow is confident enough to make her improvised flowery bedsheet toga look like a reasonable thing to wear. “It’s a first, but don’t worry about it. I’m pretty sure you’ll never forget me again after this.”
At this, Sarita can’t help but laugh despite her nearly incapacitating embarrassment. “No, I don’t think I will, ahh…” Oh my God. Do I even know her name?
Now would be a great time for the ground to open up and swallow me whole.
Unfortunately, whoever’s in charge of earthquakes seems to be on the same vacation as Death. Sarita sighs and lets her head drop into the palm of her hand.
The woman’s laughter is a peal of chimes, warm and golden. “Maritza,” she says, and Sarita hears the tea mug clink as it’s set down on the end table, and then Maritza is tugging her hand away so that Sarita has to look into her face, into merry brown eyes and that sun-bright smile. “Maritza Quiñones, if we’re being formal.” She looks down at her toga and back up again, her smile even more elfin. “If we can be formal in bedsheets and a bathrobe.”
“I think the situation almost calls for it,” Sarita replies, a little surprised at how easy it is to slip into comfortable banter with this girl. This girl she doesn’t even remember spending time with last night. Oh. Oh, boy. “Um… wait. Did we…?”
“We did not,” Maritza assures her, squeezing Sarita’s hand. “We wanted to, and we sort of tried, a little, but in the end we both passed out and… that was that.”
“Oh.” It’s actually a disappointment. Obviously Sarita is glad they didn’t do anything they wouldn’t have remembered, for safety purposes, but… She looks at Maritza and withholds a groan. Even in a bedsheet, Maritza is gorgeous, somewhat taller than Sarita’s own slight self, but curvier, softer. Her eyes are a twinkling brown, her full mouth seems permanently bowed into a tiny smile, her golden-brown skin is flawless. A dimple nestles in her left cheek, making a cheerful appearance every time Maritza smiles. Which is, apparently, often. And she’s just very, very pretty.
So sure, it’s good they did nothing, but also oh, damn it.
“You can make it up to me later,” Maritza says, and her smile is even in her voice. It’s as if she is made of sunshine and happiness, and while it ought to be too early in the morning and Sarita much too hungover to handle it well, she can’t help it, she’s charmed to the very core of herself by it. “Really. I wouldn’t mind a second chance at all.”
Certainly, Possibly, You starts with Sarita being surprised by a stranger the morning after she partied a tiny bit too hard. 😉
Turns out the “stranger” is Mari. Someone she met the night before and took home with her. I really loved that scene and was instantly “in the story”. Such a first meeting, or well more like a meet again. But still, so cute; I was smiling like a fool the whole time I read it. What follows is an awkward encounter of Mari with Craig, Sarita’s boss at Sucre Coeur. I think that scene when Sarita and Maritza meet again and the part where Mari and Craig meet (plus the phone call with Alex (Craig’s partner) afterwards) was one of the highlights of this book. So adorable and relatably awkward.
Sarita is the head-decorator at Sucre Coeur and a grad student. She’s almost done, but has no idea what she wants to do afterwards.
Maritza on the other hand is the complete opposite. She’s a ball-room dancer and knew what she wanted to do with her life when she was a little kid. She’s worked hard to achieve her dreams and is so close to getting what she wants. She just has to get through the last couple of months with her dancing partner (whom she doesn’t really like, to put it nicely 😉 ).
I really liked this book and the chemistry between both protagonists but somehow I didn’t love it as much as the first book in the series. Partly because this book is more focused on the problems they have in their private life and less about them as a couple in a relationship. Although I very much enjoyed to see the strong familial connection. My favourite is definitely Devesh, he’s the amazing older brother I always wanted, and I hope to see more of him in the next book.
Although I didn’t fell in love with this as much as with the first book, I still liked this one a lot and let me warn you that this series is lethal when you’re trying to eat more healthy or if you’re on a diet, because the descriptions in this book of the cakes, cupcakes and other sweets will make you hungry. Add to that we have yummy bengali food that will make your mouth water.
One thing that didn’t really feel logical to me was the reason for Anjalis homophobia. It just didn’t feel real. I understood that she was hurt. And that’s not what I didnt like. What seemed.. off was that after all those years she never once talked about it. And that she couldn’t see that it wasn’t her sister’s fault.
At the end of the book everything went kind of fast and I would have liked to have a bit more closure, maybe an epiloge. But maybe we’ll see or hear about Mari and Sarita in the next book.
Overall a great addition to this series and I’m looking forward to the next book. Recommended!
About the Author:
Lissa Reed is a novelist in the contemporary LGBTQ+ romance genre. She was born in Lake Charles, LA and during a childhood spent moving around as part of a U.S. Navy family, picked up writing as a hobby and hasn’t much put the pen down since. She blogs frankly about life with depression and anxiety, the writing process, cooking, and her cats.
She lives in the DFW area of Texas with her two cats, an unkempt balcony garden, and an alarming collection of nail polish. Her blog name comes from the fact that she is from Louisiana (and its many, many swamps and bayous) and she really does have a secret past as a sort-of debutante.