Blog Tour: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

Pub Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: young adult contemporary romance, realistic fiction
Status: standalone

No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.


Alternate Kiss #13

I thought it would be fun to show an “alternate” version of Kiss # 13 to give you guys an inside look at how the editing process works. In the original version of the scene where Claire kisses Tanner’s band mates, Seth isn’t at the party and the kiss with him takes place in a separate kiss section. The party scene ends with Tanner trying to talk to Claire and her telling him “I just made out with all your friends” before flouncing out. And as she’s flouncing, she thinks about how she’s still a kiss short which leads us to...the alternate kissing scene with Seth!

The very next night at the Saturday night football game, I get my chance to enact the fourth and final phase of Mission: Humiliate Tanner Walsh. Usually our games are on Fridays, but whenever we play Springville, our arch-nemesis, it’s an all out Saturday extravaganza. I just hope 24 hours wasn’t enough time for Seth to find out about what happened at the party. I hover between the concession stand and the bathrooms, hoping I’ll be able catch him when he arrives.

A tap on my shoulder almost sends me into a frenzy. I whirl around.


His shiny black hair is gelled into a faux-hawk. “Hey. What are you doing up here?”

“Oh, um, I guess I didn’t really feel like watching the game.”

He nods, pulls his jacket tighter around his neck against the wind. “Want to take a walk?”


We amble around the perimeter of the school building and end up sitting on the hard stone steps at the front entrance, watching the leaves chase each other around the parking lot. Every now and then, a muted cheer travels our way from the stadium.

I’m tired of planning kiss-segue-way conversations, plus I’m super nervous, so this time I go right for the kiss. For a second, nothing happens, and I worry I’m about to be seriously embarrassed, but then his lips open and his tongue finds mine. One hand winds itself into my hair. The other splays across my back, pulling me closer. I can feel the tension in each of Seth’s fingertips as they press against my ribs. There’s a passion in his kissing that frightens me. He grabs my hand when I end the kiss.

“I knew you felt the same way,” he says.


“This whole time you’ve been with Tanner, I’ve been falling for you.”

All I can do is sit there with my mouth hanging open. I didn’t know he liked me. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Well, anyone except Tanner. I feel guiltier by the second about making him the fallout of my kiss warfare.

“And now I know you feel the same way.” His grin falters. “Because, why else would you kiss me?”

“He cheated on me,” I say to Seth’s Converse.

I expect him to be annoyed. Or sad maybe. I don’t expect him to wrap me in his arms and hold me.

“I know.” He kisses my temple. “And I’m so sorry. But you’re with me now. I’d never do that to you.”

Could this get any worse? I wiggle out of his embrace and stand on the stairs. He stands too.

“No.” This time I look him right in his kind brown eyes. “I mean, that’s why I kissed you. I kissed all four of you guys to get back at him.”

His face looks like it’s having a fight with itself.

“All four of you? So, this was just...And you don’t...Damn it!” He kicks over a trashcan. It clangs against the sidewalk, sending crumpled balls of paper careening across the lawn like little white tumbleweeds.

“I’m sorry.” I feel like the worst person in the world.

“It isn’t your fault. He knew I liked you from the beginning. Things could have been great between us if he’d never gone after you. It was all him.”

And with that, he stalks off towards the football field.

“Seth, wait. Please.”

I try to grab his arm, but he pushes my hand away and continues towards the stands, all the while muttering a string of unintelligible swear words. I should realize what’s going to happen next. But I don’t. So I don’t think to stop him from leaping over the top rung of the bleachers like a track and field hurdle. I can’t keep him from plowing through band kids, sending them to toppling into each other like blue and orange dominoes. I can’t do anything but watch as he grabs Tanner by the tassled front of his band uniform and punches his face so hard his goofy hat falls off.

Tanner tries to recover, but with his snare drum in his hands, he doesn’t stand a chance. Seth hits him again and again. Only about half the band is still attempting to play at this point. His fist connects with Tanner’s nose with a sickening crunch that sends him flying, his drum taking out Steven Lippert in the process.

In the days that follow, Steven Lippert shows everyone his black eye and tells anyone who will listen how his tuba mouthpiece jammed into his left eye socket during the fight.

In the days that follow, Screaming Lemurs goes through an epic break-up.


Notes from my fabulous editor, Jennifer Klonsky:

Jen: [Given that she already kissed Tanner’s other friends], why is this still important? Didn’t she make her point at the party?

More about what she revenge doesn’t always work and she ended up using the guys and hurting Seth’s feelings.

Me: For the part where she kisses Seth - I agree that she made this point to Tanner at the party already so it seems strange that she still feels like it's important to kiss Seth too. Should I combine the sections so this kiss with Seth happens at the same time as the other kisses? And then when she sees how hurt he is she could instantly feel horrible about all the revenge kisses?

Jen: That would be awesome!

(Side note: That’s right. My editor says things like awesome and woo-hoo and uses plenty of smiley faces and exclamation points. Do you see why I love working with her?!)

So, what do you think? The fight in the middle of the band section in the old version was funny, but I love the new version so much more. It’s more emotional and I think Seth’s actions are truer to his character. I also love that it provides an opportunity for Claire to reflect more on how her actions have hurt other people, especially Seth.

Notes from fabulous blogger (okay, I said that myself) Mary:
This part of the book is definitely one of the funniest, but I also thought it was one of the saddest. Poor Seth! He seems like such a sweet guy! The book version of Kiss #13 will have you feeling all the feels for him. Definitely one thing I liked most about 17 First Kisses is that Rachael's writing will have you laughing your butt off while simultaneously mulling over Deep Thoughts about life, death, love, and friendship. One thing that has been said a lot about 17 First Kisses is that it's not a typical contemporary romance, and that's true. It goes beyond the scope of what we consider a normal contemporary romance and does include themes that those more serious and literary realistic fiction novels tend to cover. Feel free to click on the links below to snag a copy of 17 First Kisses for yourself, check out the rest of the tour for interviews, quotes, reviews, and more or keep scrolling to enter to win a signed copy of 17 First Kisses and some swag!

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About the Author:
Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA where she's working furiously on her PhD in neuroscience. When she's not doing science or writing YA, you can find her chasing after her toddler and her two sled dogs. Her debut YA novel 17 FIRST KISSES, is forthcoming from Harper Teen. Rachael may or may not have had 17 first kisses...luckily she doesn't kiss and tell.
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  1. No idea who my 12-year-old self would want to kiss. I'm pretty sure I'd outgrown the Jonas Brothers by then. Now it would probably be - and I'm going to say this without shame - Dylan O'Brien or Niall Horan.

  2. My 12 year old self would totally want to kiss Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Jared Leto!

  3. My 12-year old self would have wanted to kiss Devon Sawa, lol.

  4. I have been and forever will be in love with Nick Jonas and Zac Efron so either one would be perfect for a first kiss (: