By Melissa Lee

As a journalist and expert on all things romance, Ashley Papa is a relationship columnist that writes about sex, love, dating, and marriage. She is the author of a news blog, SEXTRA! SEXTRA!, which covers love and sex headlines. In addition to writing articles about the current dating scene, Papa has recently published her first book, Vixen Investigations: The Mayoral Affairs. The fiction novel is about a young woman that has launched her own business with the purpose of solving infidelity crimes. As a victim of cheating herself, Paige Turner is hired to take on a case surrounding the mayor and his wife that gets intense when she finds enough evidence to take down the entire administration. Paige eventually finds herself falling in love with a man while she’s undercover, resulting in the challenge of revealing who she really is.

Ashley Papa Spills Details on Vixen Investigations: The Mayoral Affairs

The novel, which focuses on bringing justice to the broken-hearted, was completely inspired by the writer’s own experiences. She frequently interviews relationship experts, so she used their expertise and translated it both to the book and the main character. “I created Paige as a heroine that encompasses this CIA-type coolness,” Papa shares in our author interview. “I still wanted to make her relatable though.” The relatable aspect of Paige is certainly not missing: Though described as a headstrong woman, Papa made sure to include Paige’s experiences with unhealthy relationships and infidelities as well.

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Although Paige is this incredibly strong-willed character, her downfall in the novel is when she finds herself falling in love. Papa explains that she wanted there to be an intense conflict in the book, especially since Paige’s business is something that she typically keeps low-key. The author lends a bit of relationship advice when she touches on the importance of honesty, something that Paige struggles with when she doesn’t want her identity to be found. “When you’re not truthful from the start, it can start to snowball,” Papa advises.

Author Dishes Important Relationship Advice That Everyone Should Hear

Papa’s novel begins when Paige decides that she’s had enough of being taken advantage of in the dating world. With such a powerful backstory, it almost seems criminal not to ask the journalist about her tips for getting over a tough relationship. “We all have different ways of coping, but you need to identify what you deserve,” she explains, placing a heavy emphasis on self-worth. “We all deserve good relationships and respect, but if we’re not finding that, it might be best to take a step back from dating and be by yourself until you realize what you need.”

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In terms of trust issues, Papa is no stranger to learning to put your faith in someone again, especially after writing an entire novel on it. “Focus on yourself,” she explains in our author interview. “It comes with taking things slow — you don’t want to jump right into a relationship despite how confident you may feel.” She also takes a cue from Vixen Investigations: The Mayoral Affairs by encouraging troubled individuals to be their own investigators, though she urges those to trust their instincts at the end of the day.

And if you’re in a similar position as Paige, it’s important to understand that although you are the victim of cheating, it won’t be impossible to trust again. “Identify the fact that you deserve better, and make sure you fully understand that,” the author says. “You don’t want to get stuck feeling like everyone you date is going to cheat on you.”

Journalist Reveals Personal Details & What She’s Learned in Author Interview

The main message of her book, Papa discloses, comes from a caring place and completely depends on one’s self-worth: “Everyone deserves a good relationship and to be loved. You don’t need to put up with cheating just for the sake of being in a relationship.”

Related Link: Relationship Advice: From Cheater to Keeper – How to Make Amends

She further opens up about the learning process she experienced when writing The Vixen Investigations: The Mayoral Affairs. When pulling inspiration from real life occurrences, it seems like it would be necessary to go through a great deal of self-reflecting. “Looking back at past relationships, I saw I didn’t require the guys to respect me and be very truthful,” Papa reveals. Right after she finished writing the first draft, she swore she was done dating dishonest and untrustworthy men — and shortly after, she ended up meeting her current boyfriend, whom she has been dating for the past two years.

To keep up with Ashley, check out her website. You can buy her book here!