Upside Down by Lia Riley
(Off the Map #1)
Published by: Grand Central
Publication date: August 5th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found
Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying goodbye to painful memories—and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll pretend to be a carefree exchange student. Everything is going to plan until she meets a surly surfer with hypnotic green eyes, and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.
Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he slunk back to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. A single semester abroad won’t cover something this serious. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once-in-a-lifetime . . . or if there’s a plane to California with her name on it.
UPSIDE DOWN (Off the Map #1) by Lia Riley/Excerpt One
Bran reaches over, yanks the lid off the water bottle and takes a sip.
“Really?” My stomach lurches at the idea of another girl within five feet of him.
“Once. Wasn’t for me. I prefer more control, you know?”
“Nope—not really.” My sex life is shorter than a haiku. I bite my inner cheek and pretend not to notice his gaze slant toward me. “All right, Kink Boy, your turn.”
“Never have I ever done something I regret.”
I giggle but he looks dead serious. “Wow, that must make you alone in the universe.” I take a drink.
“Your smile, it lights up your whole face, but your eyes stay sad.”
Is he being serious or is this yet another bait? “Never have I ever sleepwalked.”
Bran drinks. “When I was eight, my neighbors woke to me in their bedroom. Don’t remember a thing. Lucky they didn’t call the coppers.”
“Whoa, crazy. Do you still do it?”
“Sometimes. Lock your door tonight. Let’s see. . .never have I ever shot a gun.”
I don’t drink.
“Isn’t that Anti-American?”
“I’m a pacifist. Never have I ever kissed in the rain.”
“This is the single most depressing fact I’ve ever heard.” He drinks.
“Hence my sad eyes.”
Traffic starts moving. I hang my hand out the window and hot wind blows through my fingers.
I stiffen. No one ever calls me that except for my mom. “How’d you know my full name?”
“Read the luggage tag on your bag—Natalia Stolfi.”
“Oh, right.” I shake my head and regroup. “Is it true you have no regrets, not even one?” Hopefully he has no idea how serious I am about his response.
“There’s no point.” His fingers tighten infinitesimally on the wheel. “The past is past. End of story.”
“Like whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”
“No, that’s a dumb ass cliché. I mean there’s no meaning to life, despite what people pretend. Once I figured that out, everything got easier.”
“Has anyone ever said you are intense?”
“Since the day I was born.”
UPSIDE DOWN (Off the Map #1)/Lia Riley/Excerpt Two
“You’re doing fine, Talia,” Bran says. “Now, I’m going to need you to release your left hand, reach a few inches and grab the next hold.”
I grit my teeth. The way he talks, you’d think I’m scaling Everest or at least Mount Kilamanjaro. Instead—
“Excuse us, we’ll be by in a tic. That’s the way, Andy, right around the lady.”
I’m the lady. Andy, a kid who doesn’t look a day over seven, scrambles past in a flurry of Spiderman shoes and gap-toothed smiles. His parents bring up the rear, beaming at their agile little monkey with obvious pride.
And they aren’t the first group to go by.
Five Swedish women, another young couple and a guy in his mid-seventies shot past me during the last quarter hour.
The top is so close I can taste it. Bran is everything encouraging, but below is a twenty-foot drop. Not enough to kill, unless I fall with some sort of suicidal intent, still, what if--
“Take my hand.” Bran eases toward me.
“I’m serious. No.”
This is it. I can’t do it. I can’t let go.
He won’t admit the truth while I verge on full-scale panic attack mode, but there’s no doubt I’m giving him cause to lose interest. I’m spelling out the reasons I suck in bold, capital letters.
“Take a deep breath,” he orders.
“I want your hand in mine, no bullshit. You’ll be safe. I’m going to keep you safe. Trust me.”
Somehow I do it. I lace my fingers with his and he helps me gain a few more feet. My head clears the boulder and there’s the steel marker identifying the summit. Holy shit, I’m going to get there.
A last step and we’re at the top. The kid in the Spiderman shoes munches a vegemite sandwich. I want to scoop him into a big fat squeeze except his parents would likely object. Instead, I tackle hug Bran.
“I knew you’d do it.” He buries his face in my hair.
He turns me around to see the view and hugs my waist. “Your place is here, Captain, in the sun,” he whispers. “Don’t ever forget it.”
A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn't mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.
Five Fast Facts about Lia Riley, author of UPSIDE DOWN (Off the Map #1)
1. UPSIDE DOWN is set primarily in Australia. What do you think it is about Australia that so captivates people’s imaginations? And why is Australia the perfect place for romance?
I jumped on a Qantas flight the month before my twenty-first birthday for a study-abroad trip. My expectations were simple: cross the equator, pass the International Date Line and rock out (er, study REALLY HARD) for six months. Instead, I discovered a place that has become my second home.
First and foremost, I love Australians. I mean that quite literally. I married one--the perfect souvenir! Generally speaking, Australians excel at dry wit and have one heck of an anti-authoritarian streak. To me, nothing is sexier than a sense of humor, and when the guy making the jokes has a hot accent and cheeky grin? Life=made!
Secondly, to say that Australia’s landscape is dramatic is an epic understatement. The continent’s isolation has spawned animal, plant and human diversity that are like nowhere else on the planet. Even a quick jaunt into the wilderness yields a bone-deep sense that you are in an ancient place.
This is a country of extremes. When it’s hot, it’s bloody hot. When animals are poisonous, it means they can kill you with one bite. When there’s a storm rolling in from the Southern Ocean? Those waves are going to be huge.
So if you fall in love in such a place? Buckle up--the ride’s going to be intense.
2. What are three words describe your hero? Heroine?
The three words I’d choose for Bran are:
The three words I’d choose for Talia are:
3. Can you describe your book in five words or less?
Offbeat. Witty. Wanderlust. Heart-searching. Chemistry.
4. What did you do before writing?
Drink less! I kid, I kid. But if you ever want to see a KICKASS Michael Jackson lip-synch, slip me a bottle of tequila. I can "Man in the Mirror" you to tears. I have worked in non-profit middle management, as a legislative assistant, and barista. I'm pretty sure my mom believes I still "pour coffee."
5. What’s your dream travel destination?
I have a massive Antarctica fetish (I’ve been once. A penguin sat on my lap. Yes, it was bliss). My ultimate trip would be to South Georgia Island smack dab in the Southern Ocean. I’d also love to visit Madagascar, Iceland, Svalbard, Palau…islands are sort of my thing.