YA Spotlight with Excerpt: How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington

blog_howtokeepboy_coverpicFrom talented debut YA author Tara Eglington comes a page-turning, funny and delicious romp of a book, HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU (Thomas Dunne Books; October 25, 2016). Tara wonderfully captures the hopes that are so often woven around first kisses. Everybody wants their first kiss to be perfect, and to the delight of readers, the vivacious protagonist Aurora goes farther than most to achieve this.

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed—and that’s the way Aurora Skye wants it to be. She’s too busy finding guys for her two best friends, counseling her sensitive New Age dad (the NAD), and dealing with the unexpected return of her long- absent mom. But always in the background there’s Hayden Paris, the boy next door, the bane of Aurora’s existence. Smart, funny, and always around to see her at her worst, he ‘gets’ her like no-one else… and that’s what makes him so infuriating.

When Aurora and Hayden are coerced into the lead roles in the school production of Much Ado About Nothing, things can only get worse. How is Aurora going to save her first kiss for the secret admirer who wooed her with poetry and a spectacular bunch of flowers on Valentine’s Day if she doesn’t know who he is and she’s obligated to lock lips with Hayden in the play’s final dramatic clinch?

Aurora’s clever maneuvers can keep her away from kisses, but they can’t seem to bring her any closer to her secret admirer – a potential prince. A humorous take on the trials and tribulations of crushes, secret admirers, and first loves, HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU will keep you laughing up until the final page.

Excerpt: 2 the glide-by

“How do I look?” Jelena asked.

Cass and I carefully studied her as the three of us stood by the school gate the next morning.

“Amazing, as always,” I replied, looking at Jelena’s long, sleek black hair, navy-blue eyes, and alabaster complexion—features that have longing male gazes following her like children after the Pied Piper. Jelena has an exotic air that I’m convinced comes from her Russian ancestry.

“You’re positive?” she said.

Normally Jelena wouldn’t even consider the possibility that she might look anything other than perfect (and with her looks, it’s com- pletely understandable), but today was a crucial day. A day when an outfit could make or break a girl. The first day back after summer break.

Summer is a transformative time for any teen—just consider the movie Dirty Dancing—and there’s always a touch of uncertainty, a hint of fear, the essence of possibility in the air on the first day of the new school year. The entire social structure of a high school can revolutionize itself in those six short hours. I knew that Jelena wanted to be dead certain that her social status was secure for another year.

Jelena possesses such fabulous qualities as confidence, never- ending energy, and an innovative mind, but she has something of an obsession with being popular. Her goal is to be CEO of an inter- national company in ten years, and she thinks Jefferson High is the perfect place to practice using her influence. Ever heard the phrase “an iron fist in a velvet glove”? Well, that’s Jelena. On many an occa- sion I’ve had to talk her out of implementing a system of serfdom. It’s thanks to her that our group is, as she puts it, “akin to reigning tsars.”

Jelena looked at me critically, gesturing at her form-fitting cream- colored dress. Attending a school where free dress is permitted meant the stakes were especially high. “Are you absolutely sure,stake your future on it, that I look like a teen queen?”

“Yes!” I said. “And Cass, you look fab, too.”

Cassie wore dark denim short shorts, a baby-pink top, and a dia- manté headband atop her fairest-of-fair blond curls. Those curls, along with her fawn-colored eyes, petite features, and voluptuous pout, would probably enable Cass to get away with murder. However, she’s as good as she is beautiful.

“So let’s head on in,” I said. I was dying to see what was new on the first day back.

“I don’t know.” Jelena arched a brow. “It’s important to build an- ticipation.”

“Don’t you want to be the first to check out any new talent?” I asked.
If there’s one word that motivates Jelena, it’s first. She views life as a battleground in which she must be the constant victor.

“Let’s go,” she commanded.

We clicked our identity rings together, a gesture left over from primary school but one we can’t help resurrecting every so often. The rings reflect how we like to see ourselves. Cassie’s ring reads “Angel,” Jelena’s is “Power,” and mine, naturally, is “Princess.” Hayden Paris happened to catch sight of the ring years ago and now refuses to call me anything else. Probably in the hope of embarrassing me. There’s no knowing what goes on in that disturbed mind of his.

We smiled at each other and stepped onto the school grounds. Jelena gave a satisfied nod smile as she did a perimeter scan. “Fan- tastic. There’s no one capable of challenging our status.”

I spotted Hayden sitting among a group of guys underneath the big pine. Two of them were playing guitar. When Hayden caught sight of me, he sent me a cheeky grin.

“Hayden’s looking at you,” Cassie announced in a singsong voice.

I groaned. “Don’t remind me. He’s probably replaying the image of me sitting in that puddle, again and again, like some sweet reverie.” Cass, Jelena, and I are really close, but we also have two other girls who make up our group: Lindsay and Sara. They joined us at our surveillance spot at the edge of the school grounds.

Lindsay is petite, with wavy chestnut locks, dark eyes, and year- round bronzed skin, which half the school is jealous of and attempts to replicate with Ambre Solaire, with varying success rates. The other important thing to know about Lindsay is that she’s part of TylerandLindsay, which isn’t two businesses joined into one super- company but a couple who have been going out for so long and so seriously that the entire student body views them as a single entity. I was surprised that Tyler wasn’t glued to Lindsay’s side. I looked around and saw he was sitting nearby. Lindsay was blowing I-can’t- believe-we’re-separated kisses to him, and he was making a show of catching each one in his palm. Oh, brother.

Lindsay’s identity ring will come as no surprise—it reads “Love.”

Sara was telling some long, involved story, as usual. “And then they told me that they were discontinuing that brand, so I said, ‘Well, how am I going to manage without it? Youths with significant ex- pendable incomes are looking to this pharmacy to provide different options!’ And then he got all self-righteous and so I demanded to see someone more superior and—”

Sara’s ring reads “Diva.” Everything about her is dramatic—from her bright-red hair to the way she handles situations. To get out of PE last year, Sara didn’t complain of PMS or a strained ankle; in- stead, she fainted and had half the basketball team carry her to the nurse’s office while the other half ran for water and smelling salts. It’s virtually impossible to keep up with her constant level of hyste- ria, so I tune her out when she’s not actually experiencing a real crisis. I think most of us do, to tell you the truth.

“HS.” Jelena’s voice was loud and clear. We had a hottie spotting.

“Where?” Cass glanced everywhere, not so subtly.

“Don’t make it so obvious!” Jelena hissed. “Twelve o’clock!”

We all looked straight ahead, toward a group of guys from our grade. Among them were two new, highly attractive faces. The one on the left had sun-streaked blond hair and a wide grin that displayed dimples in both cheeks. Even from a distance, his baby blues were very striking.

“Potential Prince,” Cass breathed to me.

The guy on the right had something no other guy in the school had: a goatee. That alone was impressive. He leaned against the brick wall, showing off his muscular arms to perfection. Every so often he’d run his fingers through his dark, perfectly styled hair.

“Guy on the right looks potentially egotistical,” I said.

“Girl standing next to me obviously hit her head when she fell last night, because guy on the right is godly,” Jelena replied.

“Exactly—looking down on the rest of us mere mortals,” I re-torted.

“If he’s conceited, he has every right to be,” Jelena said. “Look at him! Should we approach?”

Sara was still going on with her pharmaceutical sob story, and Lindsay had obviously decided she couldn’t take the separation from her beloved any longer, since she and Tyler were now sharing a swing, so the three of us looked at each other and made a decision.

“High heels?” Cass asked. “Check!” we all cried.

“Time for the Glide-By,” Jelena said.

The Glide-By, like scarlet lipstick, is based on evolutionary tendencies—though it’s likely Darwin never saw this one coming!

In the Glide-By, you wear an eye-catching outfit but pair it with loud shoes. This is because, although a guy’s sight is his primary sense when it comes to attraction, you often need to combine the visual with sound to really make an impact. Back in caveman days, men were trained to focus on their direct line of sight in order to spot prey. This evolutionary tendency is still part of the modern man’s makeup, so he might not pick up on your presence, no matter how gorgeous you are, if you happen to be slightly out of his line of sight.

This is where the loud shoes are vital. They announce your pres- ence. The minute a guy hears a loud sound, such as a pair of heels among the near-silent scuffing of sneakers, he will almost always turn his eyes toward it—an instinct from the days when responding to a sound could mean life or death for him and his tribe. Once his eyes are on you, the gorgeous outfit will have its desired impact. And, if your glide-by is successful and he becomes smitten, he may even learn to recognize the exact sound of your particular heels in a crowd, the way penguins recognize a partner among thou- sands of identical birds.

We headed up the path toward the guys, our heels drumming an ancient arrival call. As we hit the spot, five yards away, all eyes lifted from various Hacky Sack games and skateboard tricks. The boys looked at us; we looked at them. There was this moment of intense silence during which we mutually evaluated each other. The Glide- By was running smoothly so far.

Just when it looked like we would attempt an approach, Cass, Jelena, and I smiled simultaneously, turned abruptly, and headed for the history and arts block. We could feel the gazes following us. The Glide-By was a success.

You should never speak too soon.

“Hey, Princess!” Hayden’s voice boomed out across the school- yard, instantly destroying any intriguing aftereffects of the Glide- By. “When am I going to get my jacket back?”

***

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About the Author:  Tara Eglington grew up in Byron Bay, Australia. Her hobbies when she’s not writing include watching endless cat videos on YouTube, planning pretend holidays to the Maldives, and day-dreaming about who would play Hayden Paris in a film adaptation of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You. The novel’s sequel will be published in 2017.


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