Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sweetest Taboo by Eva Marquez

Title: Sweetest Taboo
Author: Eva Marquez

Publisher: Terra Mia Press

Published Date: October 14, 2012

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle  

Author Website:


Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart. 
This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.
My Thoughts:

Sweetest Taboo, by Eva Marquez, is a controversial book that takes a very close and personal look at a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student.  Marquez is able to tackle the forbidden, or 'taboo', relationship in a respectful and classy way.  However, that doesn't make the subject matter any less shocking to read about.  Marquez does a great job in creating a story where the reader has to think, reflect on his/her beliefs, and then think some more.

Sweetest Taboo takes place over the span of four years. When it begins, Isabel is a fifteen year old high school student who is just coming into her body.  She is finding that she likes the attention she receives from boys and looks forward to a fun sophomore year.  

After joining the swim team, thoughts of teenage boys are soon put on the back burner as Isabel finds herself fantasizing about her handsome swim coach, Tom Stevens, who also happens to be a teacher at her school.  At first Isabel believes her dreams are delusions since Mr. Stevens is in his late thirties, married, and has children.  However, Isabel soon realizes that there may be hope of a relationship when she discovers that Mr. Stevens is looking at her, finding ways to have their touches linger, and makes excuses to get her alone.

What starts as a somewhat innocent flirtation turns into a sexual relationship that lasts from Isabel's Sophomore to Senior year.  Their relationship has its ups and downs, as well as close calls.  Isabel is in a constant state of worry.  She is afraid her parents will find out, along with her peers, Tom's family, the school administration, and the police.  Isabel also worries that someone will walk in on them in a compromising position.  She never feels safe and is always looking over her shoulder.  Many times Isabel tries to break things off with Tom, but he is always able to draw her back to him.  There is something about Tom that Isabel can't resist.  He definitely has a power over her.         

I constantly found myself with two opposing viewpoints while reading Sweetest Taboo.  Marquez starts off her novel by writing, "Sometimes, regardless of the ages of the participants, it is just that.  Love.  True and pure as it can be between two people, and strong enough to lat through the years." (Marquez ix)  This opening set me up to think that maybe, just maybe, the relationship that I was beginning to read about was pure and both parties were on the same page.  However, throughout the novel there were many times when I felt myself cringing over Tom and Isabel.  Was I uncomfortable because student/teacher relations are a taboo, the major age difference, or was it because Tom wasn't who he seemed to be?  Was he truly the honest and caring man that fell in love with Isabel, or was he a man that got off on having power over young, influential girls?  Never in a novel have I battled back and forth with myself as much as I did in Sweetest Taboo. 

Eva Marquez has written a thought provoking and controversial novel.  It is hard to read Sweetest Taboo without having some kind of emotional reaction.  Sweetest Taboo is the first novel in a 3 book series.  The second book in the series is called Tainted Love and takes place while Isabel is in college.  I'm curious to read this book to see if the last opinion I formed of Tom and Isabel's relationship will change now that she is of age.      

Eva Marquez

Eva Marquez has provided me with a complimentary copy of her book, Sweetest Taboo, for the purpose of review.

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