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Cruz to Love Series
A Kindle Vella experience by Anne Trowbridge
Is there anything better than finishing an excellent story and learning right away that the author has begun another story from the same universe? In one day (well, almost two days) I read Anne Trowbridge’s New Adult “Hidden Identity Romance,” and gave it five stars for my other newsletter. Now I’d like to say a few words about another work by Trowbridge from the so-called “Cruz to Love” series—so-named because the brothers in the series are surnamed Cruz, and each story, three in all, is the story of one of them finding his One True Love. The Distance Between Us is the first installment of the trilogy.
The Friendship Divide is the second installment. It’s Trowbridge’s “Friends to Lovers” romance. I’m halfway through that one, and I’ve yet to read the final installment: What Separates Us: An Enemies-to-Lovers Romance. Max’s tale is about Hidden Identities; Jake’s tale is a spin on the ‘friends-to-lovers’ trope; and Mitch’s tale is a spin on the equally classic ‘enemies-to-lovers’ trope.
I’m not paid to do this, so there’s no conflict of interest here. It’s just a really good story that I like having the ability to promote. Even if you’re not a New Adult, it hardly matters. You remember what it felt like. Hell, sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel differently. Even in my 40s, I’m still trying to figure things out, and I’m not ashamed of that.
How many people do you know who have “arrived” or “grown up” fully to the point that they feel…done?
That’s what I figured. I’ve never cared about age as much as…the media seems to care about it. Maybe it’s the “baby face” that I still carry; it makes me look about ten years younger. I am in my 40s and I still don’t have grey hair or wrinkles. I know these things will come, but I don’t worry about it. When they come to me, I’ll add that the list of things I have to figure out, I guess. Maybe it’s my dyslexia that keeps me in a perpetual state of disorientation, or just an overarching sense of never being complete. I’ve got reserves and resources—coping mechanisms—that help me navigate this quagmire called life. A lot of therapy and a handful of favorite self-help authors, as well as a dozen philosophers, ancient and modern, have all held my hand and got me to this point. I take medication—not a ton of it, but just the right ones that keep me chemically balanced. I’ve been experimented on, a guinea pig for lots of medications—ones that did nothing, or too much, or nothing at all. I’ve seen doctors who had no idea how to diagnose me, and I’ve had doctors who seemed to be looking right through me, getting me and comforting me and calming me. My point is, it’s a process, and there’s no finish line. There’s absolutely no point where any adult goes, “Oh yeah, I’ve almost got through the how-to-get-through-life guidebook and now I could teach the course.” New Adults just become older adults who have to figure new stuff out. Older adults never forget what it felt like to be a New Adult and a lot of those feelings…just…persist. Like the one about being misunderstood? Everyone is misunderstood, and everyone lies. Dr. House was right. Just like the character played by Hugh Laurie: Everybody lies. Hidden Identity tropes? Give me a break. In the age of (un)social media, when people can hide behind avatars and engage in fandom wars with perfect strangers, hidden identities are everywhere. People detach or disguise their real selves all the time. Sometimes we do it so we can hide; sometimes we do it, ironically, to stand out more. In a time when it too frequently feels as if no one sees anything real, we all just want desperately to be seen and heard; we long to be noticed—until we are. One flash of vulnerability and we’re retreating back into ourselves again.
That brings us to a great segue for the Hidden Identity Romance—the first book in the Cruz to Love series. Max feels completely cut off from the world. He hides in his apartment from a paralyzing fear that people will reject him, or laugh at him, or chastise him for his stutter. Lily moves into the apartment next door and feels to him like a ray of sunshine. But like the sun is 150 million kilometers from the earth, Lily feels completely out of Max’s range. His brother Jake—the second protagonist in the Cruz to Love series (the Friends-to-Lovers hero—hatches a plan to break Max out of his shell and right into Lily’s arms. Jake is the archetypical caretaker. He has made an art out of putting others’ needs before his own. Once Max finally resolves his biggest issue, he has less need for Jake’s interference, and that fills Jake with as much insecurity as relief. The big question in the middle book of the series is whether and how Jake might learn to go after what he wants and give himself the kind of TLC he always gave to his little brother.
What I love about Trowbridge’s style is the way she plays with tropes and archetypes to make absolutely believable and relatable stories and characters. With Cruz to Love, she looks at how three brothers (two of them being twins) raised in the same house, by the same parents grow up individually. Three brothers, three problems, three paths. Max is an agoraphobe with a stutter. Jake has a martyr complex. Mitch seems classically avoidant.
Kindle Vella is an Amazon ebook platform that runs on tokens. Readers buy packages of tokens and use them to buy more episodes in a story. Every story’s first three episodes are free. The first time a reader clicks onward to a fourth episode, Amazon will give out 200 tokens free of charge, allowing the reader to read several more episodes of that story before having to pay a single cent. Why not make a Cruz to Love story your first Kindle Vella experience? All three of the Cruz to Love stories are completed, so you won’t be left hanging!
Max Cruz—The Distance Between Us: A Hidden Identity Romance
Jake Cruz—The Friendship Divide: A Friends-to-Lovers Romance
Mitch Cruz—What Separates Us: An Enemies-to-Lovers Romance
More from Anne Trowbridge: https://linktr.ee/annetrowbridgebooks