I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the FAVORITE DAUGHTERS by Laurel Osterkamp Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
About the Book:
Elyse Gibbons is out of her depth when, as an undergrad at Columbia, she’s befriended by campus superstars Aubrey Adam-Drake and Marina Hunt. While Aubrey’s grandfather is a former U.S. president and Marina’s dad is a notorious mob lawyer, Elyse was raised in Pennsylvania by a single mother/language professor who made Elyse learn Chinese for allowance money.
As her high-profile life evolves, Elyse must use the strength and perseverance she gained from her humble roots, even while joining ranks with the powerful and elite. Then, handsome and enigmatic Finn joins the three friends to form a tightly knit group of four, and life becomes even more complicated.
Years go by, Elyse is further drawn into Aubrey and Marina’s world of influence and intrigue, and she will risk everything for her friends and for Finn-the love of her life. When Elyse becomes embroiled in her own political career, it’s clear that one misstep can lead to earth-shattering consequences, one lie can cause devastating ruin, and to survive unscathed, betrayal is the only option.
2022 Maxy Awards Finalist
Firebird Book Award Winner (Women’s Fiction)
Indies Today Finalist (Contemporary Fiction)
“…a riveting, moving novel, but also a rally cry for readers to find their power.” -Jackie Jacobi, author of The Ravens
It’s quiet up in the stacks and the light is dim. I squint through my smudged glasses and read all about nineteenth-century gender politics. Sometimes my Feminist Research Methodology class
seems pointless, especially when I become aware of how little things have changed in the last hundred years. Not to dismiss the sacrifice and toil from trailblazers like Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but let’s be honest; politics is still a boy’s club. This unoriginal realization leaves a sour taste in my mouth as I sit cross-legged on the floor, flipping through the book’s yellowing pages that smell like a thrift store suitcase. The words blur in front of my eyes. Numerous nineteenth-century feminists protested the underlying rules and repercussions of our social welfare system and policies…
Heavy footsteps interrupt my lack of focus. Suddenly a pair of thick, black leather shoes are in my line of vision, and somehow, I know without knowing: those shoes belong to a Secret Service agent. More importantly, they belong to Aubrey Adam-Drake’s Secret Service agent.
I’m shocked, not at my potential celebrity sighting, but that a Secret Service agent would wear such shoes. I mean, they don’t look very conducive for running. Don’t Secret Service agents
occasionally need to chase after bad guys? Sneakers would for sure be more practical, but maybe a pair of Nikes wouldn’t give off the air of gravitas most agents seem to have. (I’ve only ever seen these agents on TV or in movies, but still…) I’m so consumed with pondering this question that my stomach doesn’t flip, and I hardly even register that the only girl who has the distinction of belonging to two royal families must be nearby. Her fame comes not just from her father, Anton Adam, Liechtenstein’s younger-sibling prince who will never inherit the crown, but from her grandfather, Howard Drake, the 42nd president of the United States and patriarch of the Drake political dynasty. The Drakes are the closest thing America has to royalty. Aubrey’s mother, Eleanor Adam-Drake, is currently running for the New York Senate, and people say that in a few years she’ll run for president and will most definitely win. After that, her younger brother, who’s also a politician, will probably take office, and speculation has already begun that Aubrey will follow in her family’s footsteps.
Wow. Aubrey Adam-Drake. This is the beginning of my junior year at Columbia and I’ve yet to lay eyes on her, but I guess that’s about to change.
“Student ID?” The Secret Service agent demands. I reach into my backpack, fish out my ID, and hand it to him. He checks the ID, looks at my face to make sure the image matches, and gives it back. “Why are you up here?”
I cock my head. “Umm, to study?” I use just a touch of sarcasm, but he doesn’t respond. Instead, he turns toward the female voices that are fast approaching. Then it hits me, this moment is a two for one. Just past the Secret Service agent, with Aubrey Adam-Drake, is Marina Hunt. She had her own reality show in the late 90s, where cameras followed her as she balanced her studies at an elite private high school, went on countless modeling gigs, and had love affairs with the hottest celebrities at the hottest parties. It was like a real-life version of Gossip Girl, except nobody ever actually thought Marina’s existence was real-life. She first rose to fame because her dad, Oliver Hunt, worked as a lawyer for the country’s most notorious mob bosses, and then he went on to become mayor of Atlantic City, where he owned several properties and soon expanded his luxury hotel chain nationwide. Now he’s everywhere,
always spouting his outrageous opinions on some political commentary show and thus making himself a household name. And while Marina and Aubrey’s backgrounds are certainly different, their fame has made them allies. Everybody on campus knows they’re best friends.
I tell myself not to look up from my reading, not to gawk, and definitely not to rubberneck.
“You are so wrong!” Marina says with a laugh.
“No, I’m not. He said 8:30. I promise.” Aubrey’s answer comes out breathy yet strong, exactly like how she always sounds whenever she’s answering a reporter’s question about either side
of her family. It’s funny that she’s so familiar, when her parents tried hard to protect her from the limelight. She was only six when Howard Drake was elected, and the press were warned to tread lightly with the combo first-granddaughter/princess. The warnings mostly worked, but every now and then some mean-spirited commentary would pop up, criticizing Aubrey for her gawkiness. Because of how smooth and sophisticated both the Drakes and the Adams all are, she’s been called an ugly duckling more than once.
“I don’t care,” Marina replies. “You’re the one dead set on meeting him.”
“Right.” Aubrey sounds exasperated. “Because one of us needs to take this seriously.”
I look up. I can’t help it. Aubrey is leaning against a shelf, her back to me, her waves of brown hair cascading down her back. She is by no means short, even when slouching in her flats, but nonetheless, it’s clear that Marina is still several inches taller. Marina faces Aubrey, and her auburn hair is slicked back into a flawless bun. Her makeup is also impeccable; her plum-shaded lips part and her perfectly arched eyebrows rise at Aubrey’s tone. Neither of them notices me, as I’m crouched back and sitting in the shadows.
“I don’t see why we need his help,” Marina says. “We can handle this on our own.”
“He’s the student body president! If you want to start a revolution, you begin at the top.”
Marina rolls her eyes. “We are at the top.”
“I don’t want to use our families’ influence for this, Marina. It’s not right.”
“So, we’re going to a student government geek instead? That’s just as twisted.”
The Secret Service agent gestures toward me and mumbles something that sounds like, “Ma’am, you have company.” Aubrey shifts, making her face visible, and her wide mouth sets into a concerned frown. “I’m so sorry,” she says to me. “We thought it would be empty up here, and yet we totally intruded.” She shakes her head and speaks to Marina. “See, this is what I meant before. We’ll live up to our entitled reputation if we go around demanding that people bow down and leave every time we show up.”
Marina shrugs. “Who’s demanding anything?”
“We came up here to speak in private,” says Aubrey. “Maybe we could go up a floor?”
“But you said we’d meet him on this floor.” Marina sighs.
I clear my throat. “Hey, no worries. You can have your private conversation, and I won’t listen. I have way too much studying to do, anyway.”
Marina narrows her eyes. “What’s your name?”
“Elyse Gibbons,” I reply.
“Do we have class together?”
“Um, no,” I say to Marina. I look to Aubrey. “This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen either of you—in person, that is.” I cough. “You know what I mean.”
“You look familiar,” says Marina.
“Can’t think why,” I respond, but that’s not entirely true. There are lots of girls on campus who look like me: average height, athletic build, long brown hair. I suppose my most distinguishing feature is a set of rather large hazel eyes. Chances are Marina doesn’t recognize me, she recognizes my type. You know, the type who tries to look smart but comes off as appropriately pretty in a non-threatening sort of way. On campus, girls like me are a dime a
We hear someone new approach. Aubrey’s Secret Service agent moves toward the entrance, obviously prepared to protect if necessary.
“See,” Aubrey says to Marina. “That’s him. I got the time and place right. But we should go somewhere else, so …” she turns to me. “What’s your name again?”
“Elyse.” I answer.
Aubrey talks to Marina. “We should go somewhere else, so Elyse can return to studying.”
“Hello ladies.” The guy who greets them is almost as famous around Columbia as Aubrey and Marina. Finneas Beck, student body president, is handsome in the way that young actors who star in movies about guys at New England boarding schools are handsome. His nose is charmingly crooked, and his light brown hair is longish in the front yet short in the back, but most of all, he has that air of wealth and privilege that only comes from birthright.
“Hi, Finn,” says Aubrey.
“We have to move our party somewhere else,” Marina says. “Our new friend Elyse is using the space to study.”
I try to think of something that won’t give away how desperately I want them to stay in my vicinity and blurt out, “Don’t mind me, I’m pondering Schrodinger’s cat.” Gosh, where did that
Finn looks at me amused. “You know that’s a hypothetical situation. The whole point is the cat can’t be both simultaneously alive and dead.”
“Yeah, but hypothetically, what did he have against cats?”
Aubrey bursts out laughing, Marina looks annoyed, and Finn chuckles appreciatively as he glances down to the book I’m actually reading. “Revolutionary Women and Gender Politics? Are
you taking Dr. Kent’s course?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
“I took it last spring.”
Aubrey laughs some more. “Seriously, Finn? You took a women’s studies course?”
He shrugs. “Sure. I could check off a box for my poli-sci minor, so why not?”
“This is all really fascinating, but I have to be somewhere in an hour.” Marina sounds borderline pissed, but the pinch in her voice is tempered by a silky lilt to her words. “Can we get down to
business?” She stares at me pointedly.
I remain still, but I blink a couple times. “The thing is, all the books I need are here.” I make a sweeping gesture to the library shelves and to the piles of books in front of me. “I’ve got a lot of
reading to do, but it won’t bother me if you stay.”
“Are you sure?” Aubrey asks.
“It’s totally fine,” I respond, the calmness in my voice belying my rapidly beating heart.
They exchange looks. Aubrey points to a spot a few feet away, and they move out of my line of vision, closer to the entrance, which is still guarded by the Secret Service agent. I continue reading, but of course I can’t help but overhear their conversation.
“Do you know if there’s been anyone else?” I hear Finn ask.
“I’ve heard rumors,” Marina says.
Finn speaks again. “Nothing confirmed?”
“We can get proof,” Aubrey says. “But even if it’s only Marina, that should be enough.”
“Yeah, we’re talking a major sex scandal here,” says Finn. “We can’t just throw around allegations unless they can be backed up.”
“Fine,” Marina retorts. “I’ll give you all the details to back the allegations up.” Then she talks …and talks and talks.
I take furtive notes, which is basic instinct for me as I’m a reporter for The Spec—short for The Spectator —Columbia University’s student paper. Its reputation is the reason I’m here instead of at West Chester University where my mother teaches, and where I could have attended for almost nothing. But I’d insisted on Ivy League, with a chance to work for and with the best
and the brightest —people like Aubrey Anton-Drake, Marina Hunt, and Finneas Beck. How else will I ever become one of the best and brightest myself?
If the three of them had asked me if I was reporter, I would have instantly said yes but they didn’t ask, so here we are. Tomorrow I’ll
get to The Spec’s office right when it opens. I’ve been a junior staff member for a while, but so far, the biggest story I’ve covered was about Parents’ Weekend.
Nice to meet you, Big Break. My name is Elyse Gibbons.
About Laurel Osterkamp
Laurel Osterkamp is the author of roughly a dozen novels, but she’s sort of losing track. Her new novel, Favorite Daughters, will be released by Black Rose Writing in August 2022. Currently, she is on leave from teaching high English and Creative Writing.
That’s because she is completing her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University, polishing up one novel and finishing a second. Please visit her website/blog, for book recommendations, writing tips, and info about her writing. She’d also love for you to follow her on Bookbub and/or on Facebook
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