Two Teens Plan a Romantic Rendezvous In Manhattan In This Excerpt From French Kissing In New YorkBooks Features Anne Sophie Jouhanneau
What’s more romantic than falling in love in Paris? Rekindling a magical connection in Manhattan, at least according to author Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau, whose latest novel, French Kissing in New York follows the story of a girl whose dream of an American rendezvous with her summer love from Paris doesn’t entirely go the way she planned.
When 17-year-old Margot arrives in New York after her senior year of high school, she’s thrilled at the chance to work in the city’s bustling restaurant scene and excited to track down Zach, the dreamy American boy she spent a single magical night with in Paris the summer before. The two have plans to find one another in Times Square on the one-year anniversary of the perfect French date, but when a disastrous day at work keeps her from keeping their appointment, Margo will have to figure out how to find him again.
Here’s how the publisher describes the story.
Margot hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Zach, the dreamy American boy she met one magical night in Paris. In an instant, they fell head over heels in love and spent the perfect evening ensemble—sealed with a kiss and a promise: if the universe wants them to be together, fate will find a way.
Flash forward one year later: Margot has finished high school and is newly arrived in New York, ready to roll up her sleeves in Manhattan’s bustling restaurant scene, celebrate her father’s upcoming wedding…and reconnect with Zach
But a lot can happen in a year, and promises made in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower look different in the neon glow of the Big Apple. Margot spends the summer desperate to find Zach and enlists the help of Ben, the sweet line cook at her restaurant. Margot is convinced she found her soul mate that night in Paris…but what if the universe has a different plan?
A love letter to the magic of New York that’s described as perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, this sugar-sweet romance will offer readers some much-needed escapism from the dark doldrums of winter.
French Kissing in New York doesn’t hit shelves until Jan. 3, 2023, but we’re thrilled to offer you all an exclusive excerpt of this charming YA romance right now.
The night was always going to end, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to let it go.
To let him go.
Streetlamps flicker for a brief instant before switching off in unison, rows of them going dark after hours of lighting our way through the city. The soft pink glow of summer dawn rises over Paris. Without discussing it, Zach and I have been wandering back toward Champ de Mars, the long, manicured park leading to the Tour Eiffel, where we met last night. The sidewalks have been almost solely ours until now, but I spot a few passersby, their eyes still half-shut with sleep, the early morning mist like a thin blanket over them. The signs are all around us. Paris is waking up, which means our time is almost over. For now.
Reading my mind, Zach pulls out his phone to check the time. I lean over to see it for myself: 5:36 a.m. Reality stares back at me, too bright.
“Less than an hour,” I say, trying to keep the dread out of my voice.
We arrive at the edge of the park, deserted but for a few people walking their dogs, and Zach wraps his arms around me. I bury myself deep into him, getting a whiff of his scent, musk mixed with cut grass, his hoodie like a pillow, on which I’d be too happy to fall asleep, even though the strap of his backpack rubs against my cheek.
“I’m going to miss you,” he whispers in my ear. “Next year feels so far away.”
My heart knocks against his chest. I know what we agreed, but my mind runs wild with hope anyway. What if he stayed an extra day, an extra week? We’ve gone over this all night long. My summer course at Le Tablier, the most renowned culinary program in France, has just wrapped up. Soon I’ll be getting ready for my last year of high school in my hometown outside of Tours. Meanwhile, Zach will be backpacking around the world for a year and having the absolute best time of his life. Paris was his first stop, and he’s hopping on a train to Berlin this morning. I’m super jealous, obviously, but also… our timing is so terrible it makes me want to scream. Why did we have to meet on his last night here?
“I’ll miss you, too,” I say. “What if…” I look up, stare into his eyes.
He runs a hand through my thick, wavy hair, lifts my chin, and kisses me. It gives me the best kind of shivers. We stayed out all night long, wandering the city, past the Arc de Triomphe, down the winding little streets of Saint-Germain, and even up to Montmartre, stopping to sample food along the way.
We ate fries with ketchup from a food stand. Bought a block of goat cheese and a baguette from an all-night grocer. Then there were chocolate crepes, which Zach hadn’t even tried since he’d arrived in Paris a few days ago. Two hours later, his lips still taste sweet.
I’ve never had a night like this, let alone in Paris. I live two hours away, in a small town southwest of here, but it might as well be a world away. It has none of the restaurants and shops and cafes and music, crowds to lose yourself in, that feeling of being somewhere truly special. Like a good daughter, I took the train home every night of my summer course, sighing at all the fabulousness I was leaving behind.
This was the one night I’d made plans to be in Paris, to stay with my friends in the school dorms so I could join them for an end-of-summer picnic. But I never even made it to the gathering.
“Are you changing your mind?” Zach says.
My heartbeat gets even wilder—the lack of sleep combined with feverish want. “Are you?”
“No!” we both say at the same time, way too loud for the quiet early morning.
I chuckle but quickly feel the seriousness of the situation wash over me again. A year from now, I’ll be done with high school. Finally. Done with my small town, my boring life.
Paris is beautiful, exciting, amazing even. But it’s not New York. Nowhere is New York.
I’ve dreamed about living in New York ever since I left it when I was two. The Big Apple is not just where dreams are made of; it’s where I was born. Where I belong.
“We’ll be together,” I add. “We will.”
It’s fate. There’s no other way to put it. Some people dream of getting into a prestigious college, but all I want is to pack up my chef’s knives for a life of adventure. The kind my parents had until my mom carted me off to France to become a country mouse.
When Zach told me he was American and had a job lined up as a cook in a renowned New York restaurant after his trip, my heart flipped back and forth a dozen times. What were the chances? We were meant to be.
But that’s a whole year away. We walk in silence for a bit, and I notice a young couple kissing on a bench in the shadows. It only makes my heart sink further. This was us last night. I was there admiring the view before heading off to the picnic when Zach came to sit down next to me. We started talking right away and never stopped. Maybe this couple will get to be together for the next year, while I can only dream of holding Zach in my arms again.
“Long-distance is the worst,” Zach says. “If we spend the next year texting and just trying to… I don’t know…”
“It won’t work.”
Of that, I’m sure.
We’ve had this conversation throughout the night, and the answer has always been the same. I’d never done it myself, but I’d seen some of my friends desperate to stay in touch with guys they’d met during ski trips to the Alps or beach vacations on the Cote d’Azur. They texted furiously for weeks, made all these wild plans to be together, and then, things just petered out.
“We’ll just ruin it. Better to wait until we can be together. For real. We met for a reason. This can’t be a coincidence.”
He nods, the look on his face serious. I know—and he knows—that this thing between us is special.
“Yeah, but until then…” he says, his voice catching.
“I’ll wait for you,” I whisper.
“Margot,” he replies with a heavy sigh.
There’s a current coursing through both of us that makes me feel like it doesn’t even matter if we’re part. We’re already tethered in a much deeper way.
“Tell me, again, your favorite things about New York,” I say to lighten the mood.
“Everything. The energy, the people, the feeling that anything is possible. The amazing food… although I know, French food is pretty great, too.”
“French food is great,” I say, even if it’s not exactly how I feel. “I mean, It’s fine. It’s famous for a reason, I guess. But it’s also all I’ve eaten my entire life. It’s what my mom cooks in her restaurant—only the most traditional dishes—and at this point, it just feels so… old-fashioned? Kind of blah?”; I grin up at him. “I’m ready to taste something new.”
He kisses me in response. “New York is unlike anywhere else. You will love it so so much. I can’t wait to share it with you.”
His body is abuzz as he talks about his favorite places, his life there—skateboarding in Central Park, attending indie rock concerts in Brooklyn, the best things to order at a famous diner that was used as a movie set. I can’t wait to feel the thrill of it all.
Back at the Tour Eiffel where it all started, Zach and I both know that it’s time to say goodbye. But neither of us can bring ourselves to say it, to accept that we won’t see each other again for a whole year. Each heartbeat feels like another second ticking down on the clock.
He takes a deep breath. “And you’re sure you don’t want to join me on my trip?”
I laugh. Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful if I could drop everything tonight and follow him to the ruins of Athens, the souks of Marrakesh, or the sandy beaches in Croatia? But… school.
But… Maman. But… money. I’m a dreamer, but even I can be a tiny bit reasonable sometimes.
It’s just not going to happen.
I shake my head, and he shrugs sadly. “Hey, I had to try.”
I pull out my phone again and Zach frowns. “I thought we weren’t going to swap numbers?”
That, I admit, was my idea. Exchanging phone numbers or Instagram handles meant texting, me seeing his amazing adventures, and feeling even more sorry for myself from the back of my chemistry class. I’m attached to my phone as much as the next seventeen-year-old but come on, technology and romance do not mix. If Zach and I are going to be together—and we will—it has to be epic. A story we’ll be telling for the rest of our lives. Together.
“We’re not,” I say, more convinced than ever. “We just need to set a date. And a place.”
“You pick,” he says with a smile. “And I’ll be there, waiting for you.” I open my calendar—which, unsurprisingly, is wide open for next summer. “Let’s say August first.”
After school finishes in June, I’ll need to work at Maman’s restaurant for a bit to save money before leaving.
Zach types in a few characters into his own phone. “Okay. Two p.m.?”
I take a deep breath. A time a year from now. “Two p.m. doesn’t feel like the most romantic time of day. How about midnight?”
“You’re right. Midnight it is. Now, a place.”
The pressure hits me. “You know New York way better than me,” I say. “Shouldn’t you pick a place?”
He ponders this for a moment. “I think it’s more fun if you decide. What’s the one spot you want to see the moment you arrive?”
To be honest, there’s not just one. I want to see it all: the Empire State Building, Central Park, Chinatown, the Met Museum, the charming little streets of the West Village… “Times Square,” I finally blurt out.
Zach chuckles. “Um, okay? But Times Square is huge and extremely busy, night and day.”
I close my eyes and see the neon lights, the bustle, all the scenes from movies that portray the famous square like it’s the only place to be. The center of the world. I imagine Zach pulling me into his arms, twirling me around, and kissing me for all of New York to see. It feels right.
“August 1 at midnight in the Times Square bleachers, bottom right.”
A plan is made. It’s definitive, and Zach can probably read it on my face because he leans down and kisses me. Electricity shoots up and down my body. We’re doing this.
He pulls back, letting out a deep sigh. “What if you decide not to come to New York after all? What if you get a great job at a restaurant in Paris and decide to stay here?”
I can tell he has more what-ifs, so I cut in. “What if you decide not to come back to New York? What if you meet another girl during your trip? What if you break your leg on the way to Times Square and never make it there?”
We stare at each other in silence, the Tour Eiffel standing tall over us.
Then I continue. “Here’s the thing. I’ve been dying to get out of my tiny town in nowheresville for forever. I need this to happen. Doing this course the last few weeks has made me realize how much I’m ready for my life to begin. So there’s no way—no way—I’m not coming to New York next summer. I’m going to be there, August 1 at midnight in Times Square, even if the world is collapsing around me.”
Zach’s chest rises and falls as a huge smile takes over his face. “And so will I.” He pulls me closer. “Goodbye, Margot.”
His lips are only inches from mine, lingering. A year is only a blip in the grand scheme of our lives. The way he looks at me now, that twinkle in his eyes, makes me feel like anything is possible.
“A bientot,” I reply. Off his confused expression, I translate, “See you soon. Very soon.”
He kisses me and, just like that, our fate is sealed.
French Kissing in New York will hit shelves on Jan. 3, 2023, but you can pre-order it now.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.