Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway ~ LOVE AND OTHER SECRETS by Christina Mandelski

Love and Other Secrets (First Kiss Hypothesis, #2)
by: Christina Mandelski
Series: First Kiss Hypothesis
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 3, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing ~ Crush
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She needs his help landing a date. He wants her for himself.

Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.

Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.

When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.

For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Crush contains a cocky lacrosse player in over his head with his secret best friend, unexpected midnight kisses, swoon-worthy slow dancing, and movie-night cuddling that’ll make you ache. You’re going to want an Alex of your own!

10 Pieces of Advice to My Teenage Self

1. Do not get a perm. (Learn from your mistakes).
Holy cow, I had way too many of these in my lifetime. The thing about the chemicals in a perm is that my hair loves them, so the looser waves I was going for, always ended up looking like a tight-curled clown wig. I don’t know why I thought it’d work better the next time, but it took me too long to figure out that I should probably never do that again.

2. You’re not bad at math. (Don’t stop trying).
Okay, so if you were just looking at grades, you actually were really bad at math. The point is, you didn’t have to be. You believed that you were, though, so you kind of stopped trying, didn’t you? Yeah, you did. Not that you missed your chance at a career as a mathematician or anything – that was never going to happen, but you could have done better.

3. Don’t go to a college because your friends are going there. (Don’t do the easy thing).
I went to the same giant college that many of my high school friends went to, and ended up not making many new friends. It was safer, and easier, to hang out with people I already knew than to put myself out there. Luckily, I realized this and a few years later transferred to a small school where I knew no one, was forced out of my comfort zone and added some life long friends.

4. Write a book. (As opposed to waiting until you’re 40).
Girl, you want to write a novel, but you’re sitting around waiting until it magically happens on it’s own? What’s wrong with you? Start writing that book NOW.

5. Give up on getting a tan. (You are melanin-challenged. Face it.).
Hey, woman who is 100% English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh with a little German thrown in – it’s Never. Going. To. Happen. Apply SPF liberally and carry on.

6. Stop dieting. (You’re perfect).
This one makes me sad. I’m one of the millions who from about the age 11 felt like my body was not good enough and set about trying to change myself. I spent years trying. Not any more. I love the current culture that is striving to teach girls and women to love themselves, to celebrate themselves and never ever to think that they are less than.

7. Don’t listen to the haters. (They’re idiots).
It’s funny, I had a lot of friends as a teen, parents who supported me (and still do), and a relatively happy life. But I still remember the voice of the boy who called me ugly in ninth grade. Why do we do that to ourselves? It’s ridiculous. Believe the good stuff. Refuse to believe the haters.

8. Appreciate your parents (They won’t be around forever).
Mine are still around, but when you have kids of your own you’ll wish you’d treated them better, been less selfish, and told them thank you once in a while. Do it. You’ll wish you had done it more one day.

9. Save some money. (Two words: Nest. Egg.)
You’re never too young to start saving for what? A cool condo? A car? Your own private island? Your own, independent future? Put some away, even if it’s just a little at time. Stay away from credit cards. And a special note to your 1990 self: Harem pants from Express are NOT a good investment.

10. Don’t worry about finding love. (Let it find you).
You’ve watched the movies and read the books. You want love, and sometimes it feels like you were fated to live life miserable and alone. You start to think that maybe you have to settle.

It’s going to take a while, but you’ll find it, and when you do, it’ll be the farthest thing from settling you’ve ever done – it’ll be a love so big it’ll inspired the romance novels you’re going to write. Hang in there, kid, the wait will be worth it.

Chapter One


We’re at lunch when the questions begin.

“You get asked to prom yet?” my best friend Eli asks right as I take a huge bite of pastrami sandwich. Nora, his girlfriend, is at his side digging into a slice of pie, and not in any gentle, girly way. More like a linebacker at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I like that about her.

I swallow and lift a shoulder. “Nope.”

With how much everyone talks about it, you’d think prom is a huge deal at our school, but it’s really the promposals that get everyone worked up. As in, they usually go viral.

I’ve never had to plan one because, in three and three quarter years of high school, I haven’t asked anyone to prom, or homecoming, or the eighties dance. Not a single dance. It’s not that I’m against taking the initiative; the girls just always beat me to it, asking me (in some really bizarre ways) to go with them.

It’s only a matter of time before I’m ambushed again, and Eli knows it.

Last year, it was two girls at once in the school cafeteria. One got a bunch of her fellow cheerleaders to bend their bodies into the letters P-R-O-M-?. The other brought in her grandma’s parrot that she’d trained to say “Prom, Koviak?”

It was like the battle to the death of promposals. I felt so bad I said yes to both of them and took two dates, because what else could I do? Have you ever seen someone bend themselves into the shape of a question mark?

Eli snorts. “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to do the asking for once.”

I grunt. I’ve known Eli forever. He’s been my best friend since preschool and thinks he knows everything about me, but he doesn’t know that I’ve been thinking of asking someone.

It’s just…complicated.

Nora stares at me with serious eyes, almost like she knows about my mystery woman, like I knew about her and Eli before they were even a thing.

She can’t, though. No one knows about Bailey.

I shake it off. A big reason Nora and Eli are together is because I convinced him to get off his ass and do something. I gave him the “game clock’s ticking” speech. Life is short. Take a chance. Ask her out. I knew they should be together. I can’t explain it; it’s just a feeling I get. A sixth sense or something. It’s earned me a reputation at EHS as a kind of matchmaker.

For the last few months, I’ve been having that feeling about Bailey and me. But do my matchmaking skills work on my own love life? Up to now, I’ve seen zero evidence of it.

I slump in my seat and stare at the last half of my pastrami sandwich.

Damn it.

I pick up the pickle spear and snap it in half with my teeth. This isn’t like me, moping around like a chickenshit, like I don’t even know what I want.

I do know what I want.

I just don’t know if I can have it.

Nora steals a fry off Eli’s plate. He slaps at her thieving fingers and laughs, both of them so damn happy. She leans against him and closes her eyes.

You want that.

No, I tell that stupid voice in my head. I want to go to the prom with Bailey. That’s it. We could go as friends if that’s all she wants. The problem is lately when I’m around her, I find myself staring at her mouth, wondering what she tastes like, or looking at her profile when she doesn’t know it.

I sigh and nudge my sandwich with the other half of my pickle. No matter how hard I deny it, I think I might want more, and I’m totally screwed on that front because I’ve made it crystal clear to this entire school that I don’t want anything serious with anyone. I am Alex Koviak, Player. Both on and off the lacrosse field. It’s my reputation, and it is solid at Edinburgh High. I know it. Bailey knows it.

“Kov?” Nora pushes aside her cleaned-off pie plate. “You all right?”

I flash her a grin and push my hair out of my face. Nora’s nice like that, caring about others—and everything else, for that matter—while her dick boyfriend, my best friend, cluelessly stuffs his mouth with French fries.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I say. “Totally fine.”

She doesn’t look convinced. She doesn’t even know that Bailey and I are friends. No one does. It’s not normal, I know, but it’s the way things developed these last few months, and I kind of like it with no one up in our business, spreading rumors or wondering when or if we’ll ever be a couple. I like that we’re a secret—but I’d be willing to go public at prom if she wanted to.

Does she want to? I perk up at the thought but almost immediately slump back down in the booth.

Not likely.

“No worries,” Eli grins, oblivious to what’s going on in my head. “Still a month to prom. Someone will ask you. In fact, there’s probably someone with a unicorn in the parking lot right now waiting to write ‘Prom?’ in rainbow farts.”

Nora groans and swipes another fry.

God, I hope not. “Now that would be something.”

The thing is, he’s probably right. Someone will ask me. Shit, someone might ask Bailey. The thought of that happening makes the hair on my arms stand on end and my jaw clench.

Oh, hell no.

I suck down the rest of my Sprite. That’s it. Screw it. Seeing her at prom with some other dude is not going to happen. I’m asking her. As soon as possible. Tonight, before I have time to think too much. I’m at my best when I don’t think.

I move the crutches leaning against the table out of the way and slide out of the booth. Eli blew out his knee last month during a lacrosse scrimmage. Ruined his season, but at least he got the girl. Maybe it’s my turn.

“Where you goin’, asshat?” Eli asks.

I pull a twenty out of my back pocket and throw it on the table. “Just remembered I’ve got something to do.”

Eli scowls and pushes the money back toward me. “I got this.”

I shake my head and leave the money where it is. “It’s on me today, loser.”

I walk away before they can argue. At the door, I peek through the glass to make sure there really isn't a girl outside waiting for me with a gassy mythological creature.

It looks safe, but I hurry to my Jeep anyway, just in case. The smell of brand new leather hits me, until it’s overtaken by the stink of my lacrosse equipment in the back. I love that smell. It’s proof that I’ve been working my ass off on that field.

I start the engine, my adrenaline pumping. My heart is beating fast, but I force myself to chill. This is no big deal. What’s the worst that could happen? She says no? I…shit, what if she says no? That’s never happened to me before. I’ve never really cared either way.

My hands grip the steering wheel. Come on, Kov. She won’t say no.

Before I take off, I quickly send her a text inviting her over after work. It’s Saturday, so she could be working at the coffee shop or the grocery store. I’m not sure, and it’s hard to keep track.

This is part of what makes our friendship so strange— most of it takes place at my house late at night after she gets off of work. It’s kind of perfect.

So she’ll come over after her shift and we’ll have dinner. Miriam, my family’s housekeeper-slash-warden, made her famous gumbo. Bailey loves that stuff. I’ll buy her some flowers, and I’ll ask her to prom. No big deal. Nothing promposal-ly. I know her well enough to know she’d hate that.

As usual, we’ll have the house to ourselves. My parents are in Africa somewhere, building wells for people who have no water. When they aren’t building the wells, they’re traveling all over the world trying to raise awareness and money so they can build more. They’re never around, and it’s not as cool as you’d think. It’s not like I can bitch about it, though. It’s water. For people who have none. I’d be a real asshole to complain about that.

Whatever. All I’m saying is it would be nice to have someone around to bounce ideas off of. Like, what do you do when you might like a girl and want to ask her to prom? I could use a little help, to be honest.

This is all new to me, and I don’t want to blow it.

Purchase Love and Other Secrets from:

The First Kiss Hypothesis Series:

Christina Mandelski was born in South Florida, where her love of reading was cultivated in a house full of books. Stories like The Little House series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Secret Garden, filled her imagination and fueled her dreams to be a writer. That dream came true when her first young adult novel, THE SWEETEST THING, was published in 2011, and she’s beyond thrilled about her upcoming series for Entangled Crush. Chris lives in Houston with one handsome husband, two beautiful daughters, and two freakshow cats. She has a fondness for the beach, her family and friends, and she still loves to read (especially curled up with a good cup of coffee!) She also enjoys shopping, traveling and eating, especially cake. Always cake. When she’s not doing these things, you can find her holed in a cozy spot with her laptop, writing.

Places to find Christina Mandelski:

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  1. Replies
    1. It does sound good. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Good Morning! Thank you for the book description and the opportunity to learn about another great book. My family enjoys hearing about books they will enjoy and I enjoy surprising them with the books they love. I appreciate the giveaway as well.

    1. Hi James. I think this book is too old for your daughters. If you want to email me, I can recommend a could of books for their ages.

  3. My teenage granddaughters would love to read this.

    1. I wish my teenage daughter liked to read romances. She's more a sci-fi, dystopian girl.

  4. Looking forward to starting this series. Thank you

  5. Sounds really good. I love the cover too.


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