Release Date: 11/18/14Swoon Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Popular party girl and high school senior Jessica Scott has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a big one; a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ. But she lost the braces, put on some contacts, and applied all her academic genius to studying and imitating the social elite. Now she rules the school from the upper echelon of the high school realm. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for Spring Break. That is, until her teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing Biology — and her only chance to make up the grade is to throw away the culminating trip of her hard-earned popularity and join the Conservation Club in Panama to save the Golden Frog.
Unable to let go of her faded college dreams, Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, and one handsome face that stands out as a blast from the past, threatening to ruin her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving Jess’ lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three dates. While Jess does battle with spiders, snakes, wildfires and smart mean girls, she desperately tries to hang on to the last vestiges of her popular existence like the Golden Frog from its webbed toe. But as she starts to care about something more than tanning and texting – a species on the verge of disappearing forever – she may realize the worth of her inner nerd, and the one frog in particular that could be her prince in disguise.
Set in the lush and tropical El Valle de Anton, this modern fairytale re-imagining of “The Frog Prince” is toe-curling contemporary romance with an environmentalist heartbeat, in the tradition of Stephanie Perkins.
I slam the classroom door behind me. It bangs louder than expected and I dart a guilty look over my shoulder. The door stays shut as the reverberations echo down the hallway, empty except for a gorgeous guy in a tight white shirt leaning against a row of banged-up blue lockers, looking like he just stepped out of a Hollister ad. My heart, still hammering from the conversation I just had with Mr. A., thumps even harder. I still can’t believe that the most popular guy in school is waiting for me. Apparently he can’t believe it either, because an annoyed expression crosses his face as he looks up from his phone.
“What did Mr. A. want?” he asks, jamming his cell in the pocket of his Sevens.
I drop my bag and with shaking hands attempt to open my lock. I’m having trouble remembering the combination.
“I’m failing bio,” I say, finally yanking the lock down after several tries. The statement sounds absurd to my ears.
“So?” Miles asks.
“So Miami is out,” I whisper, one hand going to my mouth as if to keep the words from escaping.
“What?” His cobalt eyes take on a sharp quality, matching his voice. “What did he say?”
“He wants me to go with the stupid conservation club down to Panama to help some endangered frogs or something.” I’m not too sure of the details, having been knocked on my ass about my grade. I toss battered text books in my locker, and rest my forehead against the back of my hand, breathing in formaldehyde and failure.
“Did you tell him you can’t go?”
Lifting my head, I look at him. “Tried, but he said if I wanted any chance at passing, I have to do a report for extra credit and make up all the missed lab time.” Unfortunately Miles’s free period coincides with biology, which means I don’t always make it to class.
“Everything’s booked and paid for Jess,” he says slowly, like I’m two years old. “The flights, the condo on South Beach.” He cocks an eyebrow full of innuendo. “It’s our last spring break before we graduate.”
“I know, I know.” My stomach churns. “It’s just that if I don’t get my grade up then Berkeley’s totally off the table…” I examine my reflection in the locker mirror. Blue eyes bulge in a face tinged with green. I look like one of those frogs Mr. A. was yammering on about.
“I thought you didn’t want to go to Berkeley anymore.” Miles says. I turn to him and he tucks a piece of pale blond hair behind my ear. “I thought you wanted to stay home with me.”
I hesitate, unsure and unwilling to explain that before we met I was an entirely different person. Someone for whom Berkeley had once been the ultimate prize. Someone Miles wouldn’t have looked twice at.
“It’s just that my dad will freak when he finds out,” I finally say. That’s an understatement. I have no idea how I’m going to break the news to my father that his princess, former straight A, all-state spelling bee champ who’d skipped a year, is now failing grade twelve Biology. I’m having trouble wrapping my own head around it and I know about the missed assignments. “He’ll make me go when he hears.”
Miles shrugs, his fingers sweeping hair the exact shade as mine to the side. We have the same stylist. Lorenzo’s been a bit heavy-handed with the platinum lately. “Shitty,” he says. Surprised, I inspect his perfect face. The incensed outrage I’m expecting on my behalf, or at the very least, at the interference with his plans, doesn’t materialize. “Maybe this is a good thing,” he says instead, shifting his bag on his shoulder.
“What?” I blink at him.
“Maybe we could use a break.” His statement hits me in the face like a bucket of icy water.
“Are you serious?” I splutter.
“Yeah, you’ll be in Panama, I’ll be in South Beach—we might as well both have fun.”
“Are you saying you want to hook up with other people?” My voice takes on a high-pitched frequency. I’m surprised all the dogs in the neighborhood don’t come running.
He looks down at his Converses, then back up. “That’s not what I’m saying.”
But it is. It’s exactly what he’s saying.
“Miles, can we talk about this?” I struggle to bring the hysteria down a notch as pieces of my new life, the life I’ve fought so hard for, crumble around me.
“It’s really not such a big deal, Jess.”
My mouth opens and closes like a goldfish.
“All I’m saying is, it’s just for a week or so, right, babe?” He follows up with a sexy smile. Scratch that—an arrogant smile.
Don’t do it, Jess. Don’t.
“And all I’m saying is, you’re just an asshole.” I shut my locker with such savagery it pops back open, narrowly missing my face.
I flop down on my bed, gripped by a sudden fierce home sickness, wishing I had my phone. I have no idea what’s happening with Miles. Alyssa, Ky, and the rest of the crew are probably lounging by a pool having a grand ol’ time, not even missing me one bit. And I’m trapped in a foreign country with people who can barely tolerate me. Not to mention my former nemesis.
Twisting the ring around my finger, a picture of my old self pops up, entering a classroom, late and puffing, red-cheeked and frizzy-haired. The door slams behind me and everyone looks up. In the frantic run to find my class my shirt has come untucked. I look down and see a white splotch of toothpaste on my red pants. So not the impression I want to make on my first day of middle school.
I look around for a seat, feeling awkward and like a total loser. My gaze lands on a familiar face: Travis Henley. He’d been a year ahead of me in elementary. He gives a cool nod of acknowledgement. Probably still sore I’d kicked his butt in the school’s Spelling Sensations contest. I’d won with “inoculate.” He’d spelled it with two n’s. The lingering smugness fades as I realize the seat next to him is the only one empty. Everyone’s staring. I scurry over, arms crossed tightly over my books.
“Anyone sitting here?” I whisper.
“Well, well, look who’s too smart for sixth grade.” He looks me up and down, taking in my disheveled appearance. “Have a seat, Messy Jessie,” he drawls.
And the name stuck. He’d teased me mercilessly right up until graduation, when he’d stuck some toilet paper on the back of my gown as I walked up to receive my award of academic achievement.
Fortunately, we’d gone to different high schools—though apparently not anymore—and I spent that summer before freshman year reinventing myself. Luckily I was a quick study, and during that first year learned to hide the fact that I had a brain. It seemed to make people feel more comfortable. Sophomore year was marginally better, and by junior year “Messy Jessie” was long gone. I applied my book smarts to carefully analyze the formulas for popularity and through strategic learning and hard work, clawed my way up out of Geeksville and into the realm of the Socially Acceptable. Thanks to my mom’s Pilates connections and a bit of luck, I’d managed to befriend the popular crowd, miraculously landing in the stratosphere of the high school hierarchy.
And now it all could be ruined because of some stupid frogs. And Travis, if he decides to spill the beans about my former self. I’m sure Chrissy and Kiki would love to share the news with the rest of Cassels. Nothing like outing the phony.
About the Author
Alisha Sevigny holds a degree in Sociology and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent and current Social Media and Communications Director for an award-winning English school. A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a recent trip to Panama with their new daughter, Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog. She was inspired to write her first Young Adult novel, Kissing Frogs. Born and raised in Kitimat, British Columbia, Alisha has always had a strong connection to the environment and conservationist spirit. She now lives in Toronto with her family.
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