Waiting To Score
by Elouise Tynan Genre: A Fake Dating College Sports Romance
Perfect for fans of Elle Kennedy's Off-Campus and Briar U hockey series or Meghan Quinn's Brentwood Boys baseball series.
EMILY ‘MONTY’ MONTGOMERY
When I walked up to the closest guy on the quad and mauled him with my mouth to escape my overzealous ex-boyfriend, I had no idea he was the stupidly hot star of the Pierson University basketball team.
So what if it was the hottest accidental makeout of my life? West Wright has just as many scores on his headboard as he does on the court. And I have no desire to be one of many.
But when my ex turns to outright stalking, West’s unexpected offer to play the role of fake boyfriend suddenly seems like a safe bet.
I have a few rules to throw down though, because despite his killer charm, I have no intention of getting involved with a guy like West for real, no matter how hard he tries to shoot his shot.
It’s not like girls throwing themselves at me is a new thing, but the hot brunette with legs for days who jumped me in the quad definitely caught me off guard.
Shame my eyes are firmly on the prize—making it to the NBA. Which means I don’t have time for relationships. Even fake ones.
But after one hot kiss that hit harder than a three-point buzzer-beater, I can’t get Monty out of my head. And I want her between my sheets.
Next thing I know I’m her campus knight, offering to fake date her under the guise of getting her ex-boyfriend off her back. So why does this relationship suddenly feel real? And why aren’t I bolting in the other direction?
I slid my hand into his before I knew what I was doing. His palm was warm and solid and unexpectedly large. I dared a glance over my shoulder searching for that mop of dirty blond hair I didn’t want to see coming through the crowd.
“Can I help you?” the guy beside me asked, glancing down at our joined hands, then at me. I turned to face him, my eyebrows shooting up my forehead. He wasstupidlyhot. Straight nose, light brown hair, and striking blue eyes surrounded by dark lashes that would be the envy of any woman. And that jaw. That jaw put sharp-cut diamonds to shame.
“I...um...” I was suddenly finding it hard to remember why I was holding hands with a guy who looked like he’d stepped off the set ofRiverdale.
“Oh, I can’t wait to hear this,” one of Hot Guy’s friends said, his eyes shining with humor. All three of them waited, clearly expecting an explanation for why I’d attached myself to a random guy on the quad. In my defense, I didn’t know he was so damn hot. His hand had been the closest in my time of need, so I’d taken it. Hot Guy tried to pull away just as the very face I didn’t want to see appeared through the crowd of students gathered on the quad.
“Wait!” I gripped his arm to stop him. “Pretend to be my boyfriend. I’ll pay you.” He looked at me like I’d just offered to blow him with a mouthful of herpes. Which to be fair, I could kind of understand. Not because I had mouth herpes. But who grabbed a total stranger and begged them to play pretend couple? As far as first impressions went, this one was insane.
“I don’t need your money,” he said, frowning down at me. Holy shit, he was tall. Had he been this tall ten seconds ago or was it just the irritation starting to cloud his face that made him more imposing?
“Please? Just do me this favor and I’ll give you whatever you want.” I gave him what I hoped was my most pleading and innocent smile.
“Oh, this just keeps getting better and better,” his friend said, both his buddies trying and failing to hold in their laughter. A glance in my periphery showed that mop of dirty blond hair closing in.
“Are you for real right now?” Hot Guy asked, eyes darting around the quad. “Do we know each other? Did Davis put you up to this?” He ran his free hand—the one not currently taken hostage by me—through his hair, the muscles of his bicep flexing to show off a seriously toned arm. My gaze snagged on his clothes, eyes running over him and his two friends. They were all dressed the same—Nike sneakers, navy sweat shorts and a navy Pierson University basketball t-shirt. Basketball players, damn it.Didn’t this just kept getting better and better? I’d thoroughly humiliated myself in front of some of the most wanted guys on campus. I’d have to make time to be embarrassed later. Right now, I was desperate. And I was out of time.
“This isn’t a joke. I swear I’m not crazy, I just need your help.” Hot Guy’s eyes roamed my face, taking up seconds I didn’t have, which meant I was about to do something that would solidify me as the most bat-shit girl these guys had ever accidentally encountered.
“I’m so sorry in advance for this.” A question formed in Hot Guy’s eyes, but he didn’t get a chance to ask it because I gripped his face, tugging his mouth to mine. Kissing him was like kissing a stone wall of surprise, and I screwed my eyes shut, heat flooding my cheeks at my own ridiculousness. Desperate times and all that... but it still didn’t change the fact I’d jumped a perfect stranger. An incrediblyhotstranger. I slid my fingers through his hair and his mouth relaxed against mine, his surprise morphing into something much friendlier. His hand closed over my hip, making me squeak, his other hand sliding over my ass. My lips parted all on their own, his tongue sweeping into my mouth in lazy, practiced strokes. God, he was a good kisser. Scratch that, he was a phenomenal kisser. And if this kiss went on for the rest of the week, I’d die hot and happy.
“Well, that escalated quickly,” one of his friends said, but I barely heard him, too wrapped up in Hot Guy’s hands on my body and his tongue in my mouth. That was, until I heard the one voice that was like a bucket of ice water down my back.
“Monty?” I stiffened, turning my head, lips still attached to Hot Guy and his fingers still curled around my hips. Plastering a look of surprise on my face, I reluctantly pulled my mouth away, and I could have sworn Hot Guy frowned in annoyance.
“Alec.” My dirty-blond ex-boyfriend looked me up and down, blowing out a breath. “I thought it was you. I knew you’d transferred to Pierson. I was hoping to run into you.” I turned in Hot Guy’s hold so my back was to his chest, pulling his muscular arms around my waist, hoping it looked like he was holding onto me willingly.
“Well, here I am!” I said to Alec a little too brightly. No need to overcompensate just because I’d found myself in the most awkward situation of my entire life. One of my own ridiculous making. I hesitated for the briefest moment over the words I was about to utter. But I’d come this far. Time to shoot my shot and pray to everything that was holy Hot Guy would play along.
“I transferred here a few weeks ago to be closer to my boyfriend.” I slapped a hand over Hot Guy’s at my waist and smiled at him over my shoulder. Those intense blue eyes stared down at me, making my heart pound in my chest. Please don’t out me. Please don’t out me. Please don’t out me. His gaze slid to Alec, and he extended his hand. “Nice to meet you, bro. I’m West.”
Elouise Tynan is a young adult and new adult romance author obsessed with stories about strong heroines and swoony heroes, mixed with laughter, a whole lot o’ love and a little bit of heat.
She’s lived a life of adventure, having grown up in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide in Australia, Michigan in the US, and London in the UK.
She now lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and son.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve only considered myself an author since Dec 2021 when Waiting To Score came out! I’m quite hard on myself about hitting milestones and while I would have called myself a writer before then, I only would have said author now I’ve published a book. That’s not to say you can’t call yourself an author if you haven’t published yet, you absolutely can! I just make these ridiculous rules for myself.
I’ve been writing stories since I was a teenager and always romance. Those stories still exist somewhere… on floppy disk. ? Omg, I’m so old! I’m thirty-five, but in my heart and mind I’m still totally twenty-two.
I probably didn’t start writing seriously until after my son was born. I was on maternity leave and needed a creative outlet to combat the monotony of motherhood (it’s also filled with an immense amount of love and joy, but the day-to-day tasks can be quite repetitive). I started with two online writing courses where I learnt so much and met some of my amazing writer friends. I finished my first manuscript during those courses and went on to keep writing until I wrote Waiting To Score into existence.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
A villain, one hundred percent! I’d let the power go to my head and become an unhinged maniac.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Melbourne in Australia, but my family moved around a lot for my dad’s job when I was younger. I went to six different schools before I graduated. I lived in three different states in Australia, then my family moved to Michigan in the US when I was in high school. Living in the US was so different to Australia and I loved every minute of it. We travelled a lot while there and got to see so much. It’s an incredible place and each state really is like its own small country.
I came back to Australia for university/college, but then moved to London on my own when I was in my 20s, which was an experience! I was planning on moving to Hong Kong to work but I came back to Australia for my sister’s engagement, accidentally met my husband and never went.
My parents also lived in Shanghai and Bangkok when I was in my 20s, so I’ve gotten to see so many amazing parts of the world.
I’ve really lived a life of adventure, all of which has helped colour my writing.
What inspired you to write Waiting To Score?
I loved reading Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series and Meghan Quinn’s Brentwood baseball boys (The Dugout will forever be one of my favourite books and we don’t even really have baseball in Australia!), but I struggled to find similar stories that could match the high I felt after reading those books. So I wrote one myself!
It started out as something I just wanted to write for me. Then I submitted the start of Waiting To Score in competitions or for feedback and it did really well and got really positive critique, so I thought why not do something with it.
I’d written two YA fantasy manuscripts, one of which was on submission to agents in the US and UK, and I wanted to try self-publishing. Waiting To Score seemed like the perfect story to do it with and I’m so glad I did. The whole process of writing it and publishing it has been so incredibly fun, particularly the reader reaction to it! This story has done better than I’d ever imagined. And I’ve had so many readers message me asking when book two is coming out, which I love.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Waiting To Score?
The two leads are Monty and West. They meet in the opening chapter when Monty jumps West on the quad and convinces him to be her fake boyfriend to escape her ex.
West is one of the stars of the Pierson University basketball team. He’s charismatic and confident and girls love him, but he’s got a sweetness to him too. Unlike some college jocks, he’s not conceited or arrogant. He’s quite caring, which comes out in the ways he thinks about or looks out for Monty, even when he’s under no obligation to.
Monty is just trying to live her best life but her stalker ex is determined not to let her. She’s just transferred to Pierson in her sophomore year when the story opens and Alec, the ex, has transferred too. When she’s not stressing about Alec’s craziness, Monty is charming and smart, which makes for some great banter between her and West. She’s driven, confident (but in a much less in-your-face way than West) and she knows what she wants. She’s hesitant to enter into a fake relationship because she wants something real and genuine.
Friendships are a really important part of anything I write. I think the secondary/friend characters can make or break a story. If you get it right, the story can really soar with that ‘found family’ quality.
Monty’s two best friends are Imogen and Stella. Imogen definitely has the biggest personality of the three of them. She’s direct and confident and says what’s on her mind with quite a wicked sense of humour. Stella is more reserved and a bit softer than the other two, but still very much a dependable and loyal friend. There’s a quietness to her strength. She takes a bit more of a backseat to Imogen and Monty’s bigger personalities and she’s perfectly happy with that dynamic. Together, the three of them have a whole lot of fun.
Who doesn’t love a hot jock? And a whole team of them is even better! West lives in the basketball house near Greek Row with some of his basketball teammates, but the two we see most are his best friends Bant and Van.
Bant is definitely the joker of the three of them and responsible for some of the best light-hearted banter between the boys. He’s the gives-zero-sh*ts guy who is super fun, super friendly and is just out to have a good time. He appears pretty stress-free, but I don’t think that will remain the case when he finally gets his story in book three.
Van is more chilled. He’s just as confident and charming as the other two, but is a bit more of a deep thinker or quiet observer. He pulls back and really considers things, instead of being loud and in your face. He’s probably the sweetest of the three of them behind closed doors, which you’ll see more of in book two, Shooting To Win, which is Van’s story.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Usually a new idea for a book will come to me first and usually as a single scene that pops into my head and I think ‘that would be fun to write’. In the case of Waiting to Score, it was the opening scene where Monty kisses West in the quad to escape her ex-boyfriend, Alec.
From there I’ll usually start writing the scene and slowly work out the character profiles as I go. Why is this girl kissing a stranger on a college quad? How would the guy react to that? What is it about their characters that colour their reactions that way?
Then I’ll go back and hone them, which usually means writing out a list for each character of their attributes, what they like, how they spend their time, what motivates them.
I always work out my lead characters first, then think about what side characters compliment them to make the story the most fun and engaging it can be.
What is your favorite part of Waiting To Score and why?
I had so much fun writing the Guess Who scene with Monty and West.
For anyone who hasn’t read it… Monty is shaken up by a run-in with her ex, who is being particularly creepy. So West takes her back to the basketball house he lives in with his teammates and they drink spicy margaritas and play a game of subjective Guess Who (this isn’t the version of the game you know, trust me on that!). The whole scene is funny and flirty and sweet and a really popular one with readers!
I also love the party scene where Monty is mad at West, so she gets drunk and almost takes a shot out of his teammate’s waistband, but West is having none of it. This is at a point where they’re both really starting to like each other but haven’t properly examined or acknowledged their feelings yet. It’s a bit of a tipping point and I love the level of connection they have in this scene despite her being mad at him.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
That’s not to say I don’t do research but I’ll start writing and then research as I go along. Then I’ll research again in the revision stage to make sure I’ve got everything right.
I also have awesome critique partners with great attention to detail who will pull me up on anything that doesn’t sound right.
Anyone who wants to be a writer – find yourself critique partners you trust to give you honest opinions and dive deep into your story. They’re absolutely priceless.
Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?
Absolutely! You can’t be a great writer without being a great reader. I guarantee you anyone who is passionate enough about books to have a book blog, Bookstagram or Booktok would be able to write a killer book. You pick up so much just from reading which means certain parts of writing will come naturally to you. I’d still recommend a writing course or two to really hone your skills, but being a reader plays such a huge role in being a writer.
My favourite genres are contemporary romance and fantasy romance.
I love everything about contemporary romance. In fantasy romance, I love the villains or morally grey characters. If you write a villain in contemporary romance, they’re usually just an a$$hole. But you write one in fantasy romance and they’re the love interest! I’m here for it.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? Waiting To Score took me two months to write, and probably another month and a half for critique reads, revisions and editing. But this was really fast!
I’m ambitious and I set myself the goal of self-publishing a book before the end of 2021. I started writing WTS on September 2 and finished it on November 4. It was then released on December 22. Mission accomplished!
But throw back to my very first manuscript—a young adult fantasy romance—and that took me two writing courses and almost two whole years to finish. Writing takes time, especially when you’re first starting out. It doesn’t matter how long a book takes though, so long as you keep going. Don’t quit. There are readers out there waiting to read your book, you just need to put it in their hands.
I really hoped readers were going to love Waiting To Score, but I’ve been blown away by the response to it. I’m still so shocked when readers make TikToks or Reels or edits about my story and characters. It’s the absolute best!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Absolutely! But it’s totally self-inflicted. You’re blocked by your own mind, for whatever reason.
I suffered from massive writer’s block straight after Waiting To Score was released. I’d already started on book two and was just under halfway through the manuscript when WTS came out. I absolutely LOVED all the messages from readers asking me when book two was coming, but I put a heap of pressure on myself as a result. Internally I was beating myself up about why I hadn’t already written book two and why it wasn’t ready to go now, but like… with what time?! I have a four-year-old, my husband is a workaholic (in the best way) and I still work part-time in my current job as a journalist. I’m only one person and I can only type so fast or sacrifice so much sleep! It was such harsh self-criticism.
Acknowledging that now didn’t stop me from becoming totally blocked though, which meant writing went from this fun, creative outlet at the end of each day to a massive stressor I suddenly felt like I had to do. And the ideas just would not come.
I took the time to really think about it and shake off that self-inflicted pressure and the words flowed again. I’m now two-thirds done with Shooting To Win and hopefully in a few more weeks it’ll be finished. So, we’re back on track!
What can we expect from you in the future?
More books! Book two in the Pierson University series, Shooting To Win, will be coming out (hopefully) in the next few months. Then book three either later in the year or early next year. And I’m hoping to release a fantasy romance at some point this year too if I’m lucky!