Win a signed ARC of Virtuosity! Details at the end of this post.

The balcony felt cold under my cheek. Ten floors below me the traffic of Lake Shore Drive purred, but it seemed miles away. Everything before me was perfectly still: a black starless sky over Lake Michigan, my bare arm jutting out between metal bars, and the burnt-orange scroll of my violin rising out of my clenched fist.

It would be as easy as opening my hand. I could just uncurl my fingers one by one, and when the last one relaxed, the violin would slice the night sky like a blade, plummeting to the ground below. Then it would be over.

I exhaled and felt my body flatten against the concrete. My mother would be furious about the gown. Her personal dressmaker had twisted and tucked and pleated the filmy chiffon until it looked like a waterfall, flowing cascades in three shades of blue. Now it was bunched beneath me, probably soaking up dirt, grease, cigarette ash, and whatever else hotel balconies collected.

I shivered. The wind swirled around me, picking up my hair and whipping it against my cheek and bare back. The hair clips and bobby pins were long gone—they’d been the first things I’d removed after stepping inside the hotel room. Then I’d slipped off my heels, peeled off my stockings, and pulled out my earrings. But nothing helped. I couldn’t slough off the shame that clung to my skin.

So I took my violin onto the balcony.

Excerpt copyright © 2011 Jessica Martinez

About the book:

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. Two weeks before the most important violin competition of her career, she has bigger things to worry about—like growing out of that suffocating “child prodigy” label, and not disappointing her mother.

But it isn’t just the wrong time. It’s the wrong guy. Jeremy is Carmen’s most talented rival, and according to her mother, he’s only interested in one thing: winning.

He isn’t the only one.

Carmen is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to control performance nerves. But what started a year ago as an easy fix is now a hungry addiction. Carmen is too terrified to quit, but sick of not feeling anything on stage, sick of doing what she’s told.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….

What people are saying:

“Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut.”–Kirkus, starred review

“An intoxicating blend of passion, vulnerability, and the desire to have it all, no matter the cost. A mesmerizing read.”–Lauren Myracle, bestselling author of Shine and ttyl

“Passionate and true, Virtuosity sings from first page to last. I followed Carmen’s intense journey through obsession, heartbreak, and self-discovery as if her struggles and triumphs were my own.”–Sarah Ockler, author of Fixing Delilah and Twenty Boy Summer

“Beautiful writing, a swoon-worthy romance, and tension that will keep you turning the pages. Virtuosity is pitch-perfect.”–Lauren Barnholdt, author of Sometimes It Happens and Two-Way Street

“Heartfelt, gripping, and unflinchingly authentic. Virtuosity will change the way you think about music.”–Antony John, author of Five Flavors of Dumb

Released: October 18, 2011

About the author:

Jessica Martinez was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. As a child she played the violin, read books and climbed trees incessantly. She went on to study English and music at Brigham Young University, and since then has been a high school English teacher, symphony violinist, elementary school teacher, violin teacher, and mother. She currently live in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children. You can visit her at


Jessica has been kind enough on contribute a signed ARC of Virtuosity for a giveaway!

Just comment on this post to enter.

For extra entries:

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Please list your extra entries in the comments.

The contest is open in the US and Canada, and ends on October 25th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!