This YA Rom-Com Is Serving Major 'Roman Holiday' Vibes — With A K-Pop Twist
With 2017's I Believe In A Thing Called Love and 2018's The Way You Make Me Feel, Maurene Goo cemented herself as a contemporary YA author with a knack for weaving together sunny, modern romances with cinema-worthy dramatic touches. And with her latest release, Somewhere Only We Know, out May 7, 2019, Goo is poised to offer yet another page-turning romance tailor-made for spring reading. Bustle's got the exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt from the book below!
Being billed as a modern-day Roman Holiday — the classic film about an American journalist (Gregory Peck) and runaway princess (Audrey Hepburn) who fall in love over the course of a whirlwind day in Rome — Somewhere Only We Know is set in Hong Kong, and circles on one fateful day when a K-Pop star and a tabloid reporter meet and fall in love. But the two come from very different backgrounds, and they must decide if they can risk everything for each other.
Goo's latest book sounds like the perfect rom-com for dreamy spring afternoons. If the synopsis above hasn't already cemented your excitement, just one look at the gorgeous cover (designed by Elizabeth H. Clark and photographed by Jena Cumbo!) should do it for you:
You'll have to wait until spring 2019 to get your hands on this one, but Bustle's got an exclusive excerpt below:
Chapter 13: Lucky
The first weird thing I noticed was the light.
What happened to my black-out curtains? I never woke up to sunlight.
Second was the faint snoring. Was that Ji-Yeon? Did she spend the night in my hotel room? She’d done that in the past when I had particularly anxious nights.
I shifted under the covers, then froze. I was still wearing my jeans and my neck was all crunchy-feeling. Why was I—
The hotel hallway. The dude in the elevator. The mall. The bus. The boy. The bar. The boy. I shot up — brain fully awake and registering everything around me: The small bedroom crammed with a hodgepodge of black wood furniture. A poster of some old action movie. Threadbare floral curtains fluttering around a large window. The cracked-open door and the sound of light snoring drifting into the room.
OH MY GOD. My hands flew to my mouth, muffling my involuntary scream. What in Sam Hill did I do last night?
I spied my coat neatly folded next to my hotel-room slippers at the foot of the bed, placed side by side. Which led me back to the view of the other room... two feet poking out from a pile of blankets on a truly hideous sofa.
"I spied my coat neatly folded next to my hotel-room slippers at the foot of the bed, placed side by side. Which led me back to the view of the other room... two feet poking out from a pile of blankets on a truly hideous sofa."
Was that him? I remembered him like a fuzzy dream. Tall. He towered over me. Lean but sturdy. I remembered him feeling sturdy. Oh, good gravy. My face burned at some memory I couldn’t quite grasp. I tried to piece together an image of him. Thick, longish hair pushed back from his face, tucked behind his ears. His face, though... my memories couldn’t focus on any definitive features on his face.
I was so out of it last night and somehow ended up in a guy’s apartment. He brought me back to his place. He was a stranger. All my girl alarm bells were going off at the moment. I needed to get the heck out of here.
He was still asleep. Only needed to slip out of here unnoticed. I found my hat on the nightstand, pulled it low over my eyes, and practically slithered out of the bed, careful not to make any sudden sounds.
I dropped to the floor and crawled toward my jacket and slippers. Why was I crawling? In case the paparazzi were poised outside the window? A shudder went through me at the thought. Yeah, I had to get out of here like, now.
But the second my fingers brushed the slippers, the sofa pile moved.
I let out a low hiss and pulled back. Blast. Then I heard muffled cursing from the pile of blankets before a series of frantic movements began underneath them. I leaned back against the bed and froze, watching the blankets. Afraid of what would emerge.
First, a hand fumbled around the coffee table until it found a phone. The phone disappeared under the blankets for a second before all the blankets were thrown aside to reveal a real live boy sitting up in the middle of the pile.
Ah, there was his face. Dark, heavy-lidded eyes, bleary from having just woken up. Finely sculpted bones — he had cheekbones I would murder for and a jaw that could cut glass. But it was his mouth that startled me. An outrageously pouty mouth. He looked like a bratty playboy from a K-drama.
"Ah, there was his face. Dark, heavy-lidded eyes, bleary from having just woken up. Finely sculpted bones — he had cheekbones I would murder for and a jaw that could cut glass. But it was his mouth that startled me. An outrageously pouty mouth. He looked like a bratty playboy from a K-drama."
I must have made some kind of sound, because suddenly he was looking at me.
Those sleepy eyes widened and his how-dare mouth dropped open. We stared at each other in silence for about .5 seconds.
I scrambled up and shot out of the bedroom,toward the front door of the apartment.
“Wait!” he called out from behind me, but I fumbled with the dead bolt until I was out the door. Halfway down the hall, I noticed the flickering lights and the smell of cigarette smoke.
Then I stepped in something wet and registered my bare feet. Waves of revulsion rolled over me as I tried notto think about whatI might have stepped in. Ew, ew, ew.
I took a deep breath, pushed my hair off my face, and closed my eyes. Mind over matter. Trying to summon my meditation app’s breathing exercises. It was all about focusing on your breath so that the absolute horror of your surroundings and current life could melt away or something. It did help, though. It got me through excruciating dance numbers with a sprained ankle. Got me through the scent of grilled meats at late-night barbecue spots when I was subsisting on sweet potatoes.
My mind finally stilled as it was on the edge of freak-out mode. Tightly wound self-control kept me anchored, kept me still. When I opened my eyes, I was as cool as a cucumber. I had no idea where I was in the city, and not wearing shoes would attract unwanted attention. Not to mention, it was totally gross.
So I grudgingly made my way back to the apartment. Except I didn’t know which one I came from. I walked door to door, hoping one of them would trigger some sort of familiarity by appearance alone.
Moments from last night kept flashing through my mind, including the boy’s face. And then suddenly, I wasn’t merely imagining his face. I was seeing it. Right in front of me. He was standing in the hallway, holding up my slippers. “You forgot something.”
Even though his hair was all mussed, his eyes still bleary, and clothes rumpled, there was a confident gleam in his eyes. His lips curled up into a knowing smile.
I snatched the slippers from him. “Where am I?” “You’re at a luxury apartment complex in Hong Kong,”he said. Every part of him exuded extreme enjoyment at this predicament. It turned that lovely mouth into a punchableone.
“Listen. I don’t know you.” I poked his chest with my slipper. “You’re just some random creep who brought me back to his place, so I don’t think this is the time for you to be acting sassy, do you?”
For a moment, his confidence seemed to flag, but then he bounced back with triple the zest. “You know me. Jack. Jack Lim.”
Jack. I remembered now.I recalled a flash of his smile on a steep street saying the same thing. And I remembered a few other things: A sturdy hand on my back as I stumbled down stairs on the bus. A slightly disapproving-auntie vibe as he sat next to me at a bar. That perv musician asking me to feed him ice cream. The butterflies, and Jack rushing me out of the bar. I also remembered that he didn’t know who I was.
"Jack. I remembered now.I recalled a flash of his smile on a steep street saying the same thing. And I remembered a few other things: A sturdy hand on my back as I stumbled down stairs on the bus. A slightly disapproving-auntie vibe as he sat next to me at a bar. That perv musician asking me to feed him ice cream. The butterflies, and Jack rushing me out of the bar. I also remembered that he didn’t know who I was."
A tiny flare of trust started to spread through my chest. My eyes whipped up to his face, looking for a hint of last night’s chivalry in that self-assured expression.
He raised an eyebrow. “Hi?” I frowned. “Are you American?” An exaggerated wince. “Don’t hold it against me.” Who was this guy? I had never met anybody so on in my life. And I worked in the freaking music industry!
“We already established this, Fancy Shoes. We’re both from California.” His gaze held mine warmly, and I flushed.
My instinct was to hide my face, but I remembered that he didn’t know who I was.
“Well, I wouldn’t call myself a Californian, anymore,” I said hesitantly. “I haven’t lived there in years.” The information slipped out too easily. Years of training usually had me more careful with what I revealed — not that me being American was some big secret or anything.
I knew I should be wary of this grinning confidence of his. It wasn’t that I trusted him exactly. It was that I didn’t want to care about trusting him. I was tired of living in a constant state of vigilance.
So I stood there instead of running away. “You still have a Valley girl accent,” Jack said. I was about to protest, but the way his eyes stayed firmly on my face was distracting, and I felt the first annoying tingles of crushness.
How many times had I been half-naked on a stage, on a TV screen? After getting used to the feeling of being ogled, I’d grown numb to it. Men looked at me all the time — with equal parts reverence and lust. I’d learned to stop noticing. But for some reason, this guy’s eyes on my face, the genuine interest in his expression, made every inch of me hyperaware of him. I remembered, vaguely, his focus on me last night. Always concerned and interested.
"How many times had I been half-naked on a stage, on a TV screen? After getting used to the feeling of being ogled, I’d grown numb to it. Men looked at me all the time — with equal parts reverence and lust. I’d learned to stop noticing."
I couldn’t stop noticing his attention because it was physically impossible.
While I stared back at him, Jack continued to speak, half-perplexed, half-amused. “So. Fern. What are your plans today? I think you owe me breakfast after last night.”
My mouth dropped open. Fern? Oh, God. Right. “Wha . . . why, what happened?” I frantically tried to remember if any funny business had happened betweenus.
“Nothing!” he exclaimed too quickly, his slick exterior slipping away for half a second. And was it my imagination, or did his cheeks turn red? I was relieved, but I couldn’t quite figure out if it was from not having been despoiled, or if it was from knowing that if I had been despoiled, I would have wanted to remember it.
Either way, his blushing was cute.
He gathered his wits almost immediately. “I mean, I rescued you from getting arrested. That’s all.”
“You rescued me?” I scoffed. He nodded. “Well, yeah. You were about to throw down with a huge bouncer.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “I would never.” “How drunk were you? Why were you out alone anyway?” he asked. My huffiness returned. “That judginess in your voice right now? The least attractive thing, ever.”
“I’m more concerned about your well-being than how attractive I am to you.”
“Okay,” I said with a snort. Jack grinned again. “Okay.” It took a lot of willpower not to smile back at this guy. “Anyway, I wasn’t drunk.”
He guffawed. “Okay.” I realized that I had no other explanation I could give him. I wasn’t drunk. Only completely out of it from sleeping pills mixed with anxiety meds, which I need to take to fall asleep every night of my life.
Yeah. “Whatever. I need to get back to my hotel, so . . . thanks for whatever it is I should thank you for,” I said, pulling on my slippers, hopping from one foot to the other. Jack reached out to steady me with one hand, quick and unthinking. His hand was firm on my elbow. I glared at him and yanked it away, almost toppling over in the process.
When my slippers were finally on, even though I knew I looked silly, I felt somewhat in control. Untouchable. Like how I usually felt. It was time for my cool exit. I turned and started to walk away, my steps brisk and deliberate. This kid Jack would remember the day he had THE Lucky sleep over at his place and —
"When my slippers were finally on, even though I knew I looked silly, I felt somewhat in control. Untouchable. Like how I usually felt. It was time for my cool exit. I turned and started to walk away, my steps brisk and deliberate. This kid Jack would remember the day he had THE Lucky sleep over at his place and —"
“Fern!” he bellowed down the hall. “How are you getting back? You don’t have a wallet or your phone.”
I faltered but kept walking, feeling around in my pockets. No! I had a vision of my phone on my hotel nightstand. Right where I had left it before going to bed. And I never carried a wallet anymore, it wasn’t necessary.
“I’ve got my legs,” I shouted without looking back, reaching the elevator.
“Yeah, you do.” I almost tripped. The nerve! “Problem, though. We’re about ten miles out of the city.” I whipped my head around. “WHAT!” Jack grinned. “Let’s get breakfast.”