Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a sweet YA romance from Tara Eglington. HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is a fun and witty spin on teen love–with a girl bent on getting her first kiss from a boy who is worthy of her.
Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help.
When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil.
As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?
Aurora Skye tells a charming tale of a girl who wants to meet her Prince, and gift him with her very first kiss. In the meantime, Aurora doesn’t want any frogs stealing that kiss away, and that includes her infuriating neighbor–and former best friend–Hayden Paris.
See, at 16, Aurora wants a real true love, not like her parents marriage which dissolved horribly when her mom up and left one day four years ago. Oh, mumzy’s back, as of a year ago, with her Spanish boyfriend and little time to call Aurora, unless it’s to check and see if she’s ready to begin modelling.
Aurora wants to help all her friends find their Perfect Prince, too, and decides that going for the school play might help couple up her best gal, Cass, with Scott, a new boy who’s friends with Hayden. Hayden is a perennial thorn in Aurora’s side. He’s always seated near her, and is ultra-competitive, and basically in her face, even witnessing her graceless attempts to keep her dates from swooping in for The Kiss. While Aurora wants a secondary part in the MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING production, she and Hayden are cast as the leads–with a kiss in the script! How will Aurora deflect this? And why is Hayden suddenly being so nice to her? Is it because she has a secret admirer?
I liked the back-and-forth of this one. Aurora, for all her desire to be a Love Coach, is a blissfully ignorant young girl. Her quaint idea of having a special first kiss is endearing, and sweet. I liked how she and Hayden had a troubled history, that was partly explained by Aurora’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother. Her father’s given up on the materialistic aspects of his life, becoming New Age Dad (NAD for short), and is currently dating a horror of a woman, much to Aurora’s chagrin. There are some fun bleed-throughs of the Much Ado storyline into the book, with the cattyiness, rumor-mongering and issues with True Love. I will also say that I found the idea of only giving kisses (or any affection) to a partner who is worthy of you to be a very sex-positive and life affirming message for teens. One of the main messages is: you can CHOOSE who gets a piece of you, which is a lesson I feel is underrated in society today.
It’s readily apparent that Hayden is a decent guy, and his continued attempts to befriend Aurora eventually bear fruit. He’s her constant defender against nasty boys trying to sully her name, and a super-duper cat finder when she needs one. The detached parentals were a little convenient, and the lack of proper grounding of the story was a bit irritating to me, as I’m all about setting. I pretty much had to guess that she was in Australia, based on some buried clues, which later became rather nutty–her dad’s going to NYC for a business trip and returning in a day? Not bloody likely, mate. I really enjoy books set in other countries, and felt the generic descriptions detracted from what could have been a lush read. That said, the book makes up for poor setting with sweet romance.
Aurora does meet her Prince, but really, it’s not when she wants. See, she’s already fallen for Hayden before her Secret Admirer can step forward. Can she accept a kiss from someone she hardly knows–even with his splendid poetry and taste in flowers? Or, should she follow her heart and kiss Hayden before anyone else can get in the way?
Aurora makes the only choice she can–and I liked how lovely it all was. Quite the storybook romance for these previously star-crossed love birds.
About Author Tara Eglington:
My third YA novel ‘My Best Friend is a Goddess’ will be released in Australia in October 2016 by Harper Collins Publishers and tells the story of best friends Emily and Adriana.
‘How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You’ will be published in the US and Canada by St Martins (Macmillan) in October 2016, with ‘How to Convince’ to follow in 2017.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!