Her mother is having a baby with a man who is not her father, and her best friend has been secretly dating her boyfriend. Seventeen-year-old Jess Kennedy desperately needs a new life. When her father accepts a job offer in Maui, Jess feels like this could be the fresh start she craves. The island’s beauty and charm provide a stark contrast to her home back in Canada. But the elite social hierarchy of Maui Gardens Charter School proves to be a thorny world to navigate.
Then in swoops Kai Kamealoha, a surf-loving Maui local with a fierce loyalty to his family and a passion for preserving his home’s natural beauty. Kai shows Jess that Maui is much more than the sun, surf and sand of tourism brochures, and he introduces her to an authentic look at Hawaiian life. Jess can’t help but fall in love with Maui—and maybe with Kai Kamealoha as well. So, when she discovers that a real estate developer is forcing Kai’s family to sell their ancestral farm, she’s determined to help him find a way to save it. But digging deeper exposes a duplicity within her own family. Her presence there may be putting Kai’s family in jeopardy. Leaving the island for good may be her only option.
Give us the one to two sentence tagline for your book.
Jess moves to Maui anticipating a world of beaches, boys and bikinis. Romance with a passionate local and the discovery that her presence puts his family at risk? Not in the tourist brochure.
What surprised you the most while writing this book?
I learned so much about the history of Maui and the Hawaiian people. It made me see the island from a diff perspective.
Why did you pick the setting you used for your book?
It is my favourite place in the world- full beauty and rich history, and is the dreamiest place to fall in love!
What is the sexiest trait of your hero(s)?
His chivalry and quiet confidence. And his shark tattoo, definitely his tattoo.
What is your favorite scene/moment in your book?
I love the scene where Kai teaches Jess how to surf because it’s so fun seeing him in his element. And the sexual tension in this scene really starts to sizzle.
What did you have to cut out of your book but wish you could have included?
There was some additional description about her home in Canada and some extra scenes in Maui that got cut. But I think they really painted a clear picture of the setting!
Tropes get a bad name, but they’re often the biggest draw for readers. What tropes do you love to write and read?
Enemy to lovers are fun, as well as fish out of water stories!
What are your favorite genres/sub-genres to write in? Are there any you love to read but cannot write in?
I love writing and reading angsty YA romance, and I’ve been writing a lot more middle grade lately. I’ve been surprised by how many historical fiction novels I’ve read lately, and I adore a good thriller!
Which do you love to write best: dialogue, setting, action, love scenes, or other?
Action for sure. I feel like I’m in the middle of a movie!
Which do you hate to write: dialogue, setting, action, love scenes, or other?
Love scenes. They make me blush!
“What’s the problem? Am I putting you on the spot? Can’t perform in front of an audience?” I yell through my cupped hands, but I’m not sure if he’s heard. He continues to just sit there quietly for what seems like an eternity.
Then unexpectedly, he glances over his shoulder and flops back on his belly. I look beyond him to see what has made him jump to attention. Out by the horizon, there’s a stripe of deep blue that appears to rise out of the ocean. It bulges and expands as it approaches us, looking as if it’s sucking more water into its growing belly with each second.
Kai starts paddling fiercely with his strong arms, his back a curved bow on his board. The swell rushes so quickly that it now rolls right underneath him, and he’s lifted up to its peak. In one smooth motion, he presses up off his hands, while placing his feet firmly in the middle of the board. He expertly rides the frothy white tip of the wave like a bull rider taming the unruliest bull. The nose of the board carves right and left, Kai navigating the roaring water with muscular legs. As he approaches me, he does a quick one-eighty jump on his board, so that he faces me square on. As he passes, he trails his left hand in the water, then unexpectedly scoops up a handful to splash at me. All I can do is wipe the salt water from my eyes before I see him gliding toward the shore, smooth and streamlined, holding up his right hand with a cheesy hang-loose sign.
Yep, the boy can surf.
Once he has turned his board around and is back floating in the chest-deep water with me, I allow a massive smile to explode on my face.
“That was amazing. Incredible! You have to teach me how to do that!”
“Thought you said these waves were too puny for you! Think you can handle them now?”
“Well, I didn’t realize the good ones came out of nowhere like that. How’d you know it was coming?”
“I guess you get sort of a sixth sense about the water when you spend as much time out here as I do.” He pushes himself up so he’s straddling the board once again. He extends his arms out to either side of him and tilts his face up to the sun. “This is my home. Right here. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
I see it, I believe it—and boy, do I ever want a piece of It.
Jennifer Walker is a teacher and writer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She lives with her husband Ian, her two children Everett and Kennedy, and her impossibly sweet Bernedoodle puppy Leo. When she’s not teaching, writing, or reading, you can most likely find her in a yoga studio, in the kitchen baking muffins, or running off the calories of the muffins she’s just baked. She’s famous for publicly embarrassing her family by singing terrible show-tunes and practicing 90’s dance moves, and if this whole writing thing doesn’t work out, she’s pretty sure she could make it as the fifth Wiggle.