Spanish Lessons by Jessica Peterson is a sweet sexy fun read set in Madrid.
I was in Madrid years ago, and also fell in love with the city. I asked Jessica to tell us why she chose Madrid and about her experience studying abroad. Read an excerpt from Spanish Lessons here.
Hi there! My name is Jessica Peterson, and I am the author SPANISH LESSONS, the first book in the New Adult Study Abroad Series. It’s about an artsy American student and the super studly Madrileño she falls for.
I actually began my romance career writing historicals. I love Mr. Darcy and smoldering glances across the ballroom as much as the next Jane Austen fangirl, but in the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to try my hand at writing contemporary romance—specifically a series based on my time spent studying abroad in Madrid.
I graduated college almost ten years ago (when did that happen?!), but I still remember that semester in Spain like it was yesterday. It was one of the most magical—and, it must be said, one of the most challenging—times in my life.
I flew from North Carolina to Spain in August of 2005 to spend a semester studying Spanish and art history in Madrid. It was a brave thing to do for someone who had never really traveled outside the states and didn’t speak Spanish very well. Chapter 1 in SPANISH LESSONS is pretty much my first few hours in Madrid verbatim: the sweaty panic, the fumbling with Euro Monopoly money, the “ohmigod-what-did-I-do-to-myself” feeling.
Madrid was much, much different from the cute suburban town where I grew up. It smelled different, the light was different, the people were very different. It freaked me out, big time. I wondered how I was going to make it a whole six months without having a nervous breakdown.
But you know what? After a rocky first month, I started to fall in love with Madrid. Once I relaxed and let myself enjoy the foreignness of it all, I couldn’t get enough. The wine, for one thing, was amazing. Even more amazing? That it was cheaper to buy than bottled water. We drank it all day, every day, with lunch, dinner, at bars and discotecas.
And oh, the discotecas. In SPANISH LESSONS, Vivian and Rafa start falling for each other while dancing at one of Madrid’s infamous nightclubs. I love to dance (even though I’m not very good at it!), and I couldn’t believe it was normal—nay, expected—that my friends and I stay out until all hours of the night shaking our booties. It was wonderful.
The food, the museums, the history—I could go on and on about the things that made me love Madrid. I found the old world endlessly romantic. I made new friends, learned a new language, and ate Manchego cheese by the pound.
While the cheese, the art, and the discotecas were magical, I sadly did not have a study Spaniard fall in love with me—which is (mostly) why I wanted to write SPANISH LESSONS! A fictional Spanish boyfriend is better than no Spanish boyfriend, right?
Writing SPANISH LESSONS made me fall in love with Madrid all over again. It’s a sassy, sexy take on my own experience studying abroad—a thrilling escape to a fabulous city.
I hope Viv and Rafa’s story makes you fall for Madrid, too. Thanks for having me, and happy reading!