Just in time for their big birthday bash, Evernight publishing brings you a new Evernight Teen title–Melissa Frost’s The Dating Tutor!
Ellie is hardly the most sought after girl at Noble High, so she is completely surprised when the boy most likely to become prom king asks her out. Her short-lived glee quickly turns to panic as she admits to herself that she doesn’t know the first thing about dating.
After a fair amount of wheedling, she convinces her best friend and hockey star, Alec, to tutor her in the ways of love. Only once things start, she finds she knows even less than first suspected. Dating is full of more codes and unspoken rules than she ever imagined.
Even more difficult is the effort not to cross lines with Alec. Every lesson brings her closer and closer to the boy next door whom she’s never had a romantic thought about before in her life. Each caress and playful scenario has Ellie wishing more for her best friend’s affection than the boy he’s teaching her to woo.
Ellie walked to her front door with her arm tucked into Alec’s. “This actually was a really fun night,” she reluctantly admitted. “I had my doubts, but date Alec is actually an okay guy.”
“You had doubts?” His tone was light and playful as he led her up the front walk. “You should have known I’m quite the catch way before now. I don’t know why it took you so long to figure it out.”
She shrugged a shoulder. “Oh, I don’t know. Could it be the usual behavior I see from you?” She poked him accusingly in the ribs. “Spraying me with your garden hose, burping, leaving your dirty gym shorts on your bedroom floor for weeks on end, and the many other boy faux pas you commit.”
“Dating Alec and hanging out at home Alec are like two different men.” He winked. “You’re one of the rare people who have ever gotten to see both sides of the coin. In fact, you might be the only one.”
She nodded with an affectionate smile. “No one knows you like I do.”
“No one,” he agreed.
As she reached the first step of the porch Alec tugged her hand to pull her to a stop. As she spun to face him, the question died in her throat when he cupped her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers.
The kiss caught her by surprise. It came so suddenly that she didn’t have time to worry over what to do or how to react. She simply melted against him with a content sigh.
Alec swept her hair back from her face and deepened the kiss. His body moved forward to brush ever so gently along the front of hers.
This was unlike any kiss she’d ever experienced before. The few attempts she’d made of it in the past had been anything but spectacular. An awkward brush of lips. A quick, shy peck. This was…ethereal. This was what it was like to really be kissed.
Just when she thought it couldn’t get any better, he nudged her lips apart. His tongue grazed ever so gently across her bottom lip before flicking up to caress her own.
Her heart nearly stopped as she leaned closer to him, wanting more.
And just as suddenly, he pulled back. He took a few steps backward with an amused chuckle. “Very good. Do that Saturday and Jake will be putty.” He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his slacks and bobbed his head in farewell. “I’ll see you Monday for the game?”
Ellie felt as if her brain had been fried. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t breathe. She just stared at him feeling numb. Yet warmth was radiating through her chest, and she felt as if her skin was electrically charged. Knowing she needed to respond, she forced her head to nod. “Y…yeah. I’ll see you Monday.”
“See ya Monday.” With that, he turned and sauntered down the driveway to head to his own home.
She watched him retreat and tried to convince her heart to…stop…whatever it was it was doing. He’d kissed her. So what? It hadn’t meant anything. To either of them….right?
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
An interview with author Melissa Frost:
Tell us more about your book—take us beyond the official “book blurb”.
The Dating Tutor is a story I hope most teens can relate to. What girl hasn’t looked at the popular boy in school and wished he would notice her? Ellie is granted the opportunity to see such dreams come to pass, only once this happens, she realizes it isn’t all it was made out to be. Jake, the probable prom king, shows her that even the popular crowd has doubts and fears; they have secrets. Through her budding relationship with him, Ellie starts to see that what she truly wants has been in front of her all along – her best friend, Alec.
Knowing her desired goal doesn’t make the situation any easier. Through humorous and awkward situations, she strives to seduce Alec, who has signed on as her dating tutor. While he’s teaching her all there is to know about love, she’s trying to make him realize the feelings between them go beyond that of a friendship. At the same time, she’s struggling to protect the secret Jake entrusted to her. This story is the classic tale of the boy next door…except this sexy hockey enforcer is far from innocent and wholesome.
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they?
Ellie is a little bit shy and more than a little clueless when it comes to the world of dating. Socially, she’s reserved. Most of her time is spent with her best friend, Alec. The two grew up next door to one another and have shared all of their highs and lows.
Alec is more social than his counterpart. He’s a star defender on their high school’s hockey team and has had the benefit of growing popularity from the position. Though he dates regularly, his loyalty and intimacy is reserved for Ellie. She’s the only person he feels comfortable sharing his frustration over his father’s drinking habit with. She’s the only person who sees the sensitive, caring side of him instead of the violent jock. Despite his apparent roughness and carefree attitude, Alec has a warm, gentle side brought out only by his neighbor.
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
My favorite scene to write was the mock date between Alec and Ellie, and the subsequent kiss at the end of the evening. I had a lot of fun with this scene, because there were humor elements mixed in with the budding romance building between the two. They are so familiar with one another and know just how to push each other’s buttons. Despite irking each other throughout the evening, the heated sparks that begin to kindle between the two in this scene was a blast to write. This is where Ellie really starts to question what she wants in life.
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I started writing in elementary school. It was something I loved as a kid and my interest only grew as I got older. In the fifth grade, I won a writing competition at my school and got to do a workshop with children’s author Colleen O’Shaughnessy McKenna. Getting to work with her only intensified my love for writing.
What do you like best about being a writer?
Every part! Though if I had to choose one thing, it would be hearing feedback from readers. Having someone tell me how much they enjoyed a story or a character is the greatest feeling for a writer. It makes all the hard work well worth it.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Query letters! The story comes easily to me. It is summarizing or writing up a blurb or synopsis that is always the tricky part for me.
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I have a few projects I am working on. The current edits on my pile are from Supernatural Kid on the Block. It is the sequel to my paranormal romance Deadly Encounters of the Supernatural Kind. I am also working on writing the third book in the series. I also have the upcoming re-release of More Bark Than Bite through Evernight Publishing.
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
I’ve always loved reading, but I would have to say it was Anne Rice who shifted me to the paranormal, which is my favorite genre to write.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading through two books right now – Under the Dome by Stephen King and A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin.
Please share a favorite scene from one of your books with our readers.
Here is the opening scene from Hunter. I love because it really gives you a feel for how gruff the main character Gwen is.
Gwendolyn Fox was in the most vicious battle of her life…okay, ‘most vicious battle of her life’ might be a bit of an exaggeration, but she was definitely in the most vicious battle of her week.
Most people, when coming face to face with a really pissed off vampire, quickly surrendered with their tail tucked between their legs. Not werewolves though. Of course, one of the only groups in town to actually have tails didn’t tuck them and run. Instead, they growled and slobbered…and gave you a right hook to the jaw when you approached.
As the burly, hairy half-man took another swing at her, Gwen was barely able to duck underneath his massive arm. “Don’t you think this is a bit extreme?” she asked as she made sure to avoid the dangerous claws at the end of his no longer human hands. “I just want to talk.”
His response was a ferocious growl. Spittle flew from between his maw, dribbling along a set of sharp teeth. His breath was fetid, his teeth covered in plaque. He was disgusting in every sense of the word.
“Now I know you guys can talk while in wolf form,” Gwen wheedled. “It may sound like you’ve been gargling glass, but at least it’s an attempt at being domesticated. How about we talk this out?” She knew her insult on his speaking abilities would only piss him off more, but she wasn’t really looking for a conversation. She was just trying to keep him distracted while she looked for an opening.
This was her job, protecting members lower on the supernatural food chain from those bigger and badder than themselves. As jobs went, it was pretty grueling. There wasn’t even any hazard pay. Hell, sometimes she was lucky to get paid at all. It worked for her though. Being a vampire, a 9 to 5 wasn’t really in the cards. Plus, she’d get bored behind an office desk. Not only was her job a pain in the ass, it was a pretty thankless one as well. No one really knew how many threats she kept out of the general population. “Ungrateful people. I put myself in danger for you guys, and do I even get a ‘thank you’? Of course not,” she whispered to herself as the werewolf let out another roar of rage. Apparently, she’d interrupted his dinner.
His ‘dinner’, a four-year-old blonde girl with pigtails, was cowering in the corner. Her blue eyes were wide, and her gaze flitted back and forth between Gwen and the werewolf.
When the little girl gave a squeak of fear, the werewolf became distracted. He hesitated, his eyes flicking toward her. Next, his massive head whipped in the girl’s direction, and his nostrils flared. He gave a snort, his yellow eyes perusing the girl as if she were a menu.
This gave Gwen an opening. Moving quickly, she lifted a booted foot and kicked the werewolf in the chest.
He stumbled back, trying to regain his footing, not an easy feat when you’re no more than a dog standing upright.
“Hey, Hans,” Gwen said conversationally as she spun, kicking him once again in the chest, “does Mario know you’re chowing down on little kids?”
Mario Cessarini was the leader of the local werewolf pack. He was a notorious thug who took pleasure in terrorizing anyone weaker than himself. Hell, he even victimized the lower members in his pack whenever he grew bored of the rest of the world. Mario was all about torture and misery.
“Of course he knows,” Gwen answered her own question in disgust. “He’s probably encouraging you.” She gave the werewolf a third kick to the ribs. With satisfaction, she heard a few break as he finally fell to the ground.
“Hans,” she said, repeating his name to ensure he knew there was no way for him to remain anonymous, “have you not read the story of Little Red Riding Hood? I suppose not. Mario’s muscle men aren’t known for being bright. You would need to learn how to read first,” she taunted.
The snarl he gave her in response nearly shook the walls of the run down shack he called home.
“Let me fill you in on how the story ends.” She attempted to circle around him, each step taken with extreme caution. “A bunch of hunters get together and shoot the big bad wolf. Boom! He dies. Roll end credits.”
At this moment, when she was trying her best to keep Hans distracted, the exact opposite happened. Her cell phone trilled loudly, completely throwing her off. She glanced down at the noisy electronic device where it sat attached snugly against her hip. The call was from Colton, her best friend and partner. He wouldn’t be calling if it weren’t an emergency. That didn’t make his timing any less horrible. Angrily jabbing the button that would put him on speaker phone, she snapped, “What?”
This lack of focus seemed to anger Hans even more. With an enraged howl, he charged. He ran across the floor in a grotesque imitation of a canine. His clawed hands scraped across the tiling, and he made the snorting sound of a large, wild beast.
Before Gwen could react, he tackled her. They both went down in a tangled mess. She felt coarse fur scratch across her face and saliva drip down her arm. She shoved her elbow out, connecting with his jaw, stopping him a moment before his deadly incisors dug into her shoulder.
“Bitch,” Hans snarled, his teeth gnashing at the air in an attempt to injure her in any way he could. “Kill…you…” he grunted, his voice sounding like something out of a nightmare.
Colton’s voice interjected itself into their struggle. “Is everything okay there?” he asked in concern. “You sound…” He trailed off, apparently at a lack of words to describe the noises emitting from her end of the line.
“Like I’m in the middle of a brutal fist fight? Imagine that, because I am.” Her knee shot upward, and Gwen was pretty sure she connected with the werewolf’s groin.
When Hans grunted and released her, Gwen knew she’d been right. He rolled away, wheezing in agony and cradling his man parts.
“I should call back later.” Colton’s voice could barely be heard over the grunting werewolf. “This is a bad time.”
“No,” Gwen gasped breathlessly as she struggled to her knees. “This is the perfect time. Not busy at all.” She tried to get to her feet, but her boot slipped on the floor. She stumbled, but luckily caught herself on her hands. Taking a deep, calming breath, she then lunged to her feet.
“Talk to me. What’s so important that you felt the need to call me in the middle of a fight?” She knew there was no way Colton could have known she’d be in a fight at this exact moment, but she gave the snarky comment for the fun of it. As she spoke, she managed to get behind Hans. Before he could stop her, Gwen grabbed the werewolf’s head in the crook of her arm.
Hans’ eyes widened in horror when he realized what she was about to do. He didn’t have time to even attempt to protect himself before she yanked viciously. Bones snapped, and muscles tore.
Breathing heavily, Gwen dropped Hans’ body to the ground at her feet. “Case closed,” she panted. “Just tell me what’s going on already.”
“Alright then,” Colton said briskly. “I’ve got some really bad news.”
“Always,” Gwen accused, wiping sweat away from her brow. “Hit me with it.”
“Jared Wilson’s daughter has been kidnapped. The local werewolf pack found out he was slipping us information, and they took offense.”
If her heart beat, Gwen’s would have stopped at that statement. “What?” she gasped in fear. “When?” Her life was always one threat after another, but she didn’t like it rubbing off on the few friends she had.
“Just a few hours ago. Jared called me right away.” Colton paused, and Gwen could practically hear the gears turning in his head. “One of the cases you’re working on contains one of the werewolves from the pack involved. If you can find Hans, we can perhaps question him.”
Gwen looked down at the body at her feet in disbelief. Of all the rotten timing… “Um,” she started, not wanting to admit she’d just killed the man they needed to help them.
“You just killed him, didn’t you?” Colton asked dully.
“Yep,” she came back, her voice full of irony.
“Wonderful,” he grumbled. “Did you at least save the little elf girl?”
Gwen glanced at the tiny girl quivering in the corner. “Yeah. At least one good thing came from all of this.” With a sigh, she shook her head at their luck. “I’ll take her home and meet back up with you at the apartment building. We’ll figure something out.”
“I’ll work on things from my end,” Colton promised. “See you in a few.”
“See you,” Gwen said almost numbly as she disconnected. Her gaze lowered to the dead werewolf. “Son of a bitch,” she grumbled. She let her head fall back, her hair cascading behind her as she fought not to lose her temper. Even in death, Hans had bested her. Letting her breath out in a huff, she straightened and looked at the little elf girl. “Ready to go home?”
Instead of joy and gratitude, the girl glared at her. “You killed him. You’re a very bad woman.” Indignantly, the girl marched out of the room.
Gwen’s jaw dropped, and she stared after the pigtailed child. “He was going to eat you!” she hollered at the pink-clad, retreating child. “You were his dinner!” When it became apparent that the girl wasn’t listening, Gwen sighed again. “I hate elves,” she snarled before following after the four-year-old spitfire.
Title: The Dating Tutor
Author: Melissa Frost
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format read: ebook
Melissa Frost’s The Dating Tutor is a very sweet, clean contemporary YA romance. I really enjoyed reading this fun best-friends-to-lovers story, especially watching Ellie’s feelings shift and change throughout the novella as she slowly begins to see him in a different way than she ever has before.
At first she has a really hard time looking beyond the “scruffy boy next door” who’s she’s known forever to see Alec as the guy that makes other girls giggle and blush.
She didn’t see the ‘rugged jock’ that made girls swoon. She saw the second grade boy who’d thrown a frog in her lap during an afternoon tea party with her grandmother and made her shriek like a banshee. She saw the boy who’d been climbing through her bedroom window since he was eight every time his father drank too much.
She asks him to help her prepare for her date with Jake because of Alec’s dating experience and because he’s really the only person she feels comfortable enough to ask. At first, though, neither one of them is too sure Ellie will be able to pull it off. There were some very funny scenes in the book, like when Alec tries to teach Ellie how to manage high heels (by playing ping pong in them!) and how to play footsie while sitting in a restaurant.
Soon, though, things happen that throw both friends for a loop. Ellie, confused about her feelings, tries to resist by covering up with humor, but it becomes more and more difficult to maintain their easy and comfortable friendship as their “lessons” continue. It was entertaining to watch both of them struggle with unfamiliar sensations.
This is one novella that easily could have been expanded into a full-length novel–there’s so much more that could have been shown here, maybe even seeing things from Alec’s POV as well–though it did offer a complete story arc on its own.
The resolution is sweetly satisfying, and the romance is kept behind closed doors–I’ve already told my high schooler that she should definitely give it a read. A friends-to-lovers story with hockey–what more could a girl want?
B+rating. I’ll be looking for more from this new-to-me author.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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