Q&A with Ally Matthews! | Offsetting Penalties

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.

We had Ally Matthews, author of OFFSETTING PENALTIES, on the blog to answer our burning questions! Now, let’s jump in!

What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?

Sixteen Candles Spoiler Alert (highlight to reveal) The ending of Sixteen Candles. It was so wonderfully awkward and romantic at the same time for Jake to pick up Samantha after her sister’s wedding and give her a birthday cake after her family forgot her birthday. 

For The Princesss Bride, my favorite scene is where Buttercup pushes Wesley down the hill, and when he says, “As you wish,” she realizes who he his. Of course, I can’t help but judge her a bit for not recognizing who he was immediately. 

My favorite scene from Footloose is when Ren is teaching Willard how to dance. I love how fun and awkward it is, and the music is good, too.

I think this scene is everyone’s favorite, but it’s when Boyd holds the boom box over his head to serenade Diane with “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. So romantic! 

There are so many options for Dirty Dancing, but my favorite is the montage when Baby and Johnny are practicing the dance they’re supposed to perform. I seem to have a thing for awkwardness, but it’s during the dancing that they really start to give in to their mutual attraction and it’s so obvious. Imagine having Patrick Swayze teaching you how to dance. Swoon! 

Did you have any of these scenes in mind when writing scenes from your latest release?

Yes! I don’t want to have any spoilers here, but like Sixteen Candles, the final scene of Offsetting Penalties is swoon-worthy. I definitely pictured Boyd holding that boom box over his head while I was working on who would make the “grand gesture” and what it would be. I also think that Garret felt a lot like Willard from Footloose when he first started learning to dance. Last but not least, Garret and Izzy have a lot of dance scenes, and Dirty Dancing popped into my head frequently while they were practicing. All that dancing definitely made things heat up between them.



If you could only read five books for the rest of your life, what five books would they be, and why?

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeliene L’Engel

It was my favorite book when I was in high school. I read it so many times it fell apart and I had to buy another copy. Along with Vicki, I fell totally in love with Adam. Madeliene L’Engel had such a wonderful writing style that evokes strong, raw emotions and she really understood what it was like to be a teenager.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

All of her books are good, but this one stands out to me. I wasn’t expecting so much emotional depth to Macy’s  story, especially with the interactions between her and her family, and with Wes. It’s a book you can read over and over again and still find something new between the layers of the story that you didn’t notice before.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I love this book so hard. I was so happy to have this second book of Mia and Adam’s story be in his point of view. It’s about love, loss, grief, regret, and forgiveness, and I guarantee it will give you All The Feels. Forman keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering how it will end, and it’s so well written, I still get nervous about the ending every time I read the book (and I’ve read it many times).

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

This is an epic love story between a woman and a soldier during the Seige of Leningrad during World War II. I studied the Russian language in high school and college, and also studied Russian history and literature during college, so I do tend to like stories set in Russia, but this story truly is remarkable and will definitely give you All The Feels.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Captain Wentworth. Swoon. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.” What more is there to say? I discover new turns of phrase and different nuances to the story every time I read it.


Who are your book boyfriends? What do you like about them? What characteristics do they share with the hero from your latest release?

Jamie from Outlander. I started reading the Outlander series in 1998, and since the television series started, I’ve been very pleased to picture Sam Heughan as Jamie. He is a complicated man with strong convictions and emotions, but he also has a soft side. Garret in Offsetting Penalties is similar to Jamie in that he tends to want to take care of everyone…his family, his friends, his teammates, and Izzy. They’re both natural leaders.

Joshua Templemen from The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Like Joshua and Lucy, Garret and Izzy start out disliking each other. However, the more time both couples spend together, the more their perceptions change as they begin to get to know each other and show their real personalities. I love that both Joshua and Garret have a soft side, but they both have trouble showing it.


What was the first romance novel you read?

P.S. I Love You by Barbara Conklin

What do you remember about it?

That the girl’s parents got divorced and she and her mom went to California for the summer to house sit for someone. She meets a rich boy she dislikes at first, but they end up falling in love. Then she finds out he has leukemia.

What did you like most about it?

The sweet romance between them, which in retrospect from an adult perspective, happened very quickly. I read it when I was ten and it really sucked me in. I was as in love with hero as the heroine was.

What did you like least about it?

That the hero died at the end.

Have you ever reread it? If you did, how do you feel about it now?

No, but I’m going to try to find a copy of it.


Darcy or Wentworth?

That’s like the hardest decision ever.  Based on the books and not the movies, Captain Wentworth.

Christian or Gideon?


Rochester or Heathcliff?


Spock or Kirk?


Sunrise or sunset?


Angst or humor?


Tea or coffee?


Wine or beer?


Cake or pie?


Scruff, beard, or clean-shaven?


Blue-collar or white collar?

White collar

Jeans or a suit?


Car or motorcycle?


About Ally Matthews:

Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head waiting for the opportunity to escape onto paper. 

When she’s not writing, you can find her reading or binge watching Psych, Scream, Younger, and superhero movies. She loves to cook but hates to clean up afterwards, and strongly believes that Disney World is truly magical. You can find Ally on her website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.

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