Molly Daniels used to be the only author I knew who wrote actual college-age romance, but last month I discovered a couple more.
So after about a month-long binge of reading YA romance (high school and college age both), I've fallen hard for a ton of new authors. Jessica Park is one of them. Her story Flat-Out Love had me from page one, so that's what I'll share with you. Page 1!
They say you're supposed to have all the who, what, when, where questions answered within the first page of the book. Well, Park answers them with style, class, and a bit of humor despite the poor heroine's desperation.
She also employs all five senses in that first page. I could hear the screeching breaks on the bus that passed, smell and taste the burritos, feel the heat from the sidewalk crawl up her legs, and see the vivid scene she drew.
And after making sure all those details were in place, she still managed to draw a complete, rounded character with a great plot hook and even suck my emotions into the story, so I already felt connected with Julie.
Okay, okay, yes. Fine! I'll stop gushing about the excerpt now and simply give it to you so you can read it for yourself.
Without further ado: FLAT-OUT LOVE by Jessica Park.
Julie Seagle stared straight ahead and promised herself one thing: She would never again rent an apartment via Craigslist. The strap of her overstuffed suitcase dug into her shoulder, and she let it drop onto the two suitcases that sat on the sidewalk. It wasn’t like she had anywhere to carry them now. Julie squinted in disbelief at the flashing neon sign that touted the best burritos in Boston. Rereading the printout of the email again did nothing to change things. Yup, this was the correct address. While she did love a good burrito, and the small restaurant had a certain charm about it, it seemed pretty clear that the one-story building did not include a three-bedroom apartment that could house college students. She sighed and pulled her cell phone from her purse.
“Honey! I gather you made it to Boston? Ohio is missing you already. I can’t believe you’re already off at college. How is the apartment? Have you met your roommates yet?”
Julie cleared her throat and looked at the flat roof of the restaurant. “The apartment is… airy. It has a very open floor plan.”
“How is your room? Is it tiny?” Her mother sounded concerned. “Well, even if it is, it’s probably better than some concrete dorm room, right?”
“My room? Oh, it’s, uh, rather sparse, I’d say.” Julie sat down on one of her bags. A city bus squealed to a halt just behind her, and she flinched at the high-pitched noise.
“What was that? Is your room right on the street? Oh God, are you on the first floor? That’s dangerous, Julie. It’s much easier for some criminal to break in. Are there locks on the windows? Let me ask your uncle about that. Maybe there is something you could do to make it more secure.”
“I’m not seeing any windows at the moment, Mom.” Julie felt her eyes begin to tear up. This was a nightmare. She had been in Boston, or more specifically Jamaica Plain, for a mere hour, and already her hopes for a glamorous college life were beginning to smell a lot more like South American specialties than she’d envisioned. “I don’t seem to actually have a room.”
Her mother paused. “What do you mean you don’t have a room? I sent first, last, and a security deposit just like the landlord asked. A cashier’s check, for God’s sake! He gave away your room?” The rising panic in her mother’s voice was not helping.
“I’m at the correct address. The taxi driver assured me I was in the right place. But my supposed apartment building is a burrito restaurant.”
“Burritos! Holy mother of God!”
“I know. Burritos are always alarming.” Julie looked around, totally unsure what she should do next. “Mom, what am I going to do?” Although she didn’t want to freak out her mother more than she had to, Julie couldn’t control the waver in her voice. She was alone in an unfamiliar city, knew no one here, and was sitting on a mountain of luggage.
At least the advantage of being stranded on a crowded street was that no one seemed to think she looked at all out of place. Plenty of people had walked by without giving her a second glance. It was the first week of September, and she was in a college town; more than one U-Haul truck could be spotted weaving through traffic, delivering students and their possessions to actual apartments that did not double as restaurants. Julie quickly wiped her eyes and pulled her sunglasses down from her head. She’d give anything to be riding in one of those moving trucks, crammed in with a pile of friends.
“I don’t have anywhere to live. And all that money you spent… This was supposed to be cheaper than the dorms. And it wasn’t supposed to smell like burritos.” Leaving home for the first time, getting scammed into paying for a non-existent apartment, and finding oneself homeless in Boston was proving to be agitating.
“Julie, don’t worry about the money right now. This isn’t your fault. I thought the ad looked perfectly normal, too. You sit tight for a few minutes and I’m going to call the college and see if they can help you, OK? Just hold on. You all right?”
Julie sniffed. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Don’t move. I’ll call you right back and we’ll fix this.”
Julie put in her earphones and passed the next excruciating twenty minutes by listening to morose music, chipping off the deep purple nail polish she’d applied the night before, and updating her Facebook status.
Julie Seagle Boston, Day 1: Refuse to refer to city as Beantown as would sound too touristy. Still, am full resident now despite not having actual residence.
The pavement radiated heat, and so far this sauna of a city was not winning her over. A little self-pity seemed in order. All she wanted was a normal college experience and the chance to enjoy school without worrying that her friends would think it was ridiculous that she actually liked learning.
(This excerpt was provided at Amazon.com )