Finding Swoons in Books: Alyssa Sheinmel

Welcome back to day three of Finding Swoons in Books! If you're just now catching up, yesterday Elizabeth Fama wrote about her upcoming novel, Plus One, as well as her writing process while creating the romance. Also, The Princess Bride. Yeah. Then, to kickstart the event, Rosamund Hodge wrote about the romance in her amazing debut, Cruel Beauty, and how she tried to make it creepy, but at the same time not too creepy. And now today, Alyssa Sheinmel is writing about the top five places in California (where her upcoming novel, Second Star, takes place) her MC, Wendy Darling (I know, right?) thinks are romantic. Enjoy! And if you live in California, let us know what your top five romantic places are, or if you agree with any of Wendy Darling's picks!

Second Star, my contemporary re-imagining of Peter Pan from Wendy Darling’s point-of-view, takes place in California, which is – in my not-very-well-traveled-opinion – the most romantic of places, and an excellent place to fall in love.  In Second Star, Wendy’s summer romance takes her up and down the coast and back again, so she has her share of romantic experiences across the state.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are the five spots in California that Wendy Darling thinks are most romantic.

1. The cliffs overlooking Kensington Beach: Wendy first talks to the mysterious and charismatic Pete in an impossible paradise called Kensington Beach, where the waves are always glassy and the sand is as soft as flour.  There, Wendy and Pete spend a romantic evening on the cliffs overlooking the water.

2. Big Sur: As a child, Wendy’s parents took her and her brothers on a road trip up the coast to Big Sur.  Hiking with her family, Wendy thought the place seemed like a magical fairy-land; she wouldn’t have been surprised to see elves among the redwoods or dwarves walking alongside the deer.  She decided then and there that she would go back there someday with someone she loved.

The beauty that is Big Sur.

3. The campus of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA: When Second Star begins, Wendy has just graduated from high school and is headed for Stanford in the fall.  Her whole life, she dreamt of going to Stanford; since she never had a boyfriend in high school, she’d hoped that she’d meet someone at her new school: maybe he’d live down the hall in her dorm, or maybe they’d lock eyes across a lecture hall when they should have been paying attention to their sociology professor.  Long before she ever heard of Kensington Beach or Pete (or his nemesis, Jas), Wendy imagined herself holding hands as she walked across campus, a college student in love.

4. Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville, CA: Okay, this isn’t actually one of Wendy’s favorite California spots.  In fact, Wendy doesn’t really even like this part of California because it’s a little too far from the ocean for her taste.  But this is my favorite restaurant in the whole world, and I don’t get to eat there very often since I live in New York, so I wanted it to have a place on the list.  

5. A restaurant run out of an RV somewhere between Newport Beach and Pebble Beach: When Jas picks Wendy up in the middle of the night and begins driving up the coast, romance is the last thing on Wendy’s mind.  Jas has offered to help her find her brothers, and that’s all that matters.  But along the way, they sit at a splintery picnic table beside the ocean, and Wendy sees a side of Jas she never dreamed existed...and suddenly, she wants to see more.  

Add to Goodreads

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.


  1. Great post. I have never been to California, so I haven't seen any of these places in real life. They sound very romantic though. I think you can find romance anywhere as long as you are with someone you care about.

  2. Great post! I'm going to California for my fourth time this week, but have never been anywhere other than LA. This post is making me a little itchy to change that! (And super excited for the book too, obviously!)

  3. A retelling of Peter Pan that takes place in college, love the idea! A pretty cover too so soft and peaceful.

  4. Second Star sounds awesome! I will have to add it to my TBR list! Thanks for the giveaway :)
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  5. I just read Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson and absolutely LOVED it, so I am super excited for another Peter Pan retelling! Big Sur looks beautiful and I would love to explore the cliffs overlooking Kensington Beach. Flour-like sand and beautiful waves? That seems like a magical paradise from here, amid piles of snow and ice.

  6. I love that most of these romantic spots are in NORTHERN California, LOL! I live in Southern Cal and although I can think of some beautiful spots, I don't think of So Cal in general as a place with romantic hang outs. Loved the post and I can't wait to read Second Star! Thanks for the awesome giveaway:)

  7. So...I'm a Southern California native and everyone probably think it's crazy that I've never heard of these places (except Stanford). I haven't even gone anywhere in all my twenty years except from where I live, San Diego, and Los Angeles. I'm glad to know there's actually some pretty nice places around here though. Hopefully I'll get to visit all five one day :)


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