"It took all of two paragraphs for me to fall head-over-heels in love with this story. Naive, plucky Margot was perfection, New York City brimmed loud and clear from the pages, and I absolutely adored the love story. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while."—Jenna Evans Welch, New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato
A charming, high-energy romance in the city that never sleeps about a girl who can't wait to be a part of Manhattan's restaurant scene—and find the boy she fell for last summer. Perfect for fans of Emily in Paris!
Welcome to New York. . . . He’s been waiting for you.
Margot hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Zach, the dreamy American boy she met one magical night in Paris. In an instant, they fell head over heels in love and spent the perfect evening ensemble—sealed with a kiss and a promise: if the universe wants them to be together, fate will find a way.
Flash forward one year later: Margot has finished high school and is newly arrived in New York, ready to roll up her chef's-coat sleeves in Manhattan’s bustling restaurant scene, celebrate her father’s upcoming wedding . . . and reconnect with Zach.
But a lot can happen in a year, and promises made in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower look different in the neon glow of the Big Apple. Margot spends the summer desperate to find Zach and enlists the help of Ben, the sweet line cook at her restaurant. Margot is convinced she found her soul mate that night in Paris . . . but what if the universe has a different plan?
Anything’s possible in New York City. Especially l'amour, American-style.
An Excerpt fromFrench Kissing in New York
A year later
I’ve been dreaming about this forever, but I’m still a little stunned that it’s happening. I’m in New York. I live here now. This is real. This is weird. This is . . . amazing.
The airport terminal looks like a city-sized shopping mall, with everything from luxury brands to coffee shops lining the halls, and so many people. More people than I feel I’ve seen in my entire life. In my earbuds, Taylor Swift sings an anthem I’ve selected for this very moment, the upbeat melody drowning out the cacophony of the terminal. Welcome to New York! It’s been waiting for you.
Not as much as I’ve been waiting for it.
After going through customs, I’m looking for the signs for baggage claim, when my heart stops. At the end of the conveyor belt, there’s a tall guy with blond hair, square shoulders, and skinny legs. I immediately recognize him as the one. The one I’ve been thinking about nonstop, the one I meet every night in my dreams, the one and only Zach.
Our meeting is in just two days, but right this minute I feel sweaty, my skin dried from the air-conditioning on the plane, my breath stale from the gross industrial food. It’s not at all how I hoped our reunion would go after a whole year of fantasizing about it, but I have no choice. Zach is here now. So.
I zigzag past the other passengers between us, and before the nerves get to me, I put on my best smile and tap him on the shoulder. He turns around. I stare at him, my brain a little slow to process reality. This is not Zach. In fact, he doesn’t look anything like Zach. Up close, he’s not even blond. I made this up in my head. Silently cursing, I blame the jet lag.
“Um, yeah?” He sounds annoyed.
I have to say something now. “Hi! Do you know when our suitcases are coming out? My dad’s waiting for me.”
The guy opens his eyes wide and, without responding, points a finger at the screen above the conveyor belt. The one everyone has been looking at, which indicates the exact time—four minutes from now—when our luggage will start feeding out onto the belt.
“Perfect!” I say extra-cheerful. Deep down I’m mortified. “I’m going to text him!”
My cheeks burning, I fall back into the crowd. How many minutes is two days?
All is forgotten when I spot Papa’s and Miguel’s happy faces beaming back at me from just outside the sliding doors to the terminal. Papa throws his arms in the air in a motion that I think is supposed to be a wave but that actually makes him look like a blown-up marionette shimmying in the wind, the kind you see outside used-car dealerships on American TV.
As soon as I’m within reach, we give each other la bise—one kiss on each cheek, the French way. Then, he pulls me into an American hug. That’s what he always told me as a child: when you have two cultures, you get to have the best of everything. Sometimes that means double of a good thing, like a toasted cheese sandwich on a baguette. Or tarte aux pommes with crust on top, which, yes, I know, is just apple pie.
Papa’s boyfriend—I mean, his fiancé, Miguel—hugs and kisses me: he’s learning fast.
Papa has lived in Manhattan most of his life. He visits his company’s headquarters—a wine distributor—in Paris several times a year for work, and spends most of his vacation time hanging out with us in France. Miguel has even tagged along a few times. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit them in New York . . . until now.
Miguel hands me an oiled paper box marked “DOUGH.” “Your dad wanted to bring welcome balloons,” he says, glancing at the ones floating high around us, “but I had another idea.”
I start salivating as soon as I open the box. Six giant donuts stare back at me, all glazed in different colors. And by “giant,” I mean that each of them is basically the size of my face. I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to fit one in my mouth, though I’m definitely willing to give it a try.
“I know it’s not croissants,” Miguel starts. Papa gives him the side eye, like they’ve had the donut-versus-croissant debate many times before. “But that’s the point. Bienvenue, Margot! You’re not really American if you’re not always carrying food with you.”
I laugh. “Challenge accepted.”
My stomach groans and I pick up the first donut that catches my eye, glazed hot pink, and take a bite. The texture is incredible—dense but not dry, fluffy but crackling, thanks to the layer of sugar on top. The subtle scent of hibiscus surprises me, in a good way. It tastes like summer, indulgent but light all in one bite. I’m in love.
“Quick question for you,” I say, turning to Papa. “How would you feel if Miguel suddenly became my favorite dad?”
When I originally made plans to move to New York, I knew I’d be living with Papa and his boyfriend while I searched for an apartment, but I didn’t expect they’d get engaged by the time I got here, after four years together. Now Miguel is my future stepdad and the wedding is in just over three months. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start to my life in the big city.
Papa grimaces. “Excuse me, ma fille, but remind me who convinced your maman to let you come live here with us?”
“Good point,” I say, taking another bite of the donut as he grabs the handle of my suitcase.
At the mention of her, I pull out my phone, rereading the text that was waiting for me when I landed.
Bien arrivée? J’espère que tu ne vas pas te perdre dans l’aéroport. C’est vraiment grand.
Arrived safely? I hope you won’t get lost in the airport. It’s really big.
Ugh. It still annoys me now, even though I did feel like I could get lost in there for a minute. Of course I won’t tell her that. I don’t want to add to her long list of reasons why I should never have done this. Such a big city! So ruthless! And loud, too. Probably too much for an eighteen-year-old country girl like me. Maman hasn’t tried to hide the fact that she thinks me moving here is a terrible idea.
But I was determined. For the last few months, as school was winding down, I sent my résumé to an ever-growing list of restaurants. I’d heard nothing, when Papa mentioned he’d read an article about a new restaurant called Nutrio, helmed by renowned chef Franklin Boyd. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Maman actually worked with him while she lived in New York all these years ago, and that they’d been friends.
I asked her if she would email him, but Maman resisted every step of the way. She had so many excuses. We haven’t spoken in years. I really don’t see you working for him. Margot, trust me, you won’t like cooking in a New York restaurant. She kept going on and on about how different the restaurant business was in the big city. It was so annoying.
Of course it’s not like in France. That’s why I’m here. Maman has been cooking the same small menu of classic French fare in a restaurant where the basic decor hasn’t changed since I was a child. I know she loves it, but I want more. Something different.
It wasn’t until my flight was booked and Maman realized I was actually going that she agreed to get in touch with her former friend. Not only did he respond quickly, but what he said made me leap with joy.
Bien sûr, Nadia! I’ll give Margot’s details to Raven, one of my sous-chefs, and she’ll be in touch when something opens up, which happens all the time. And Margot should feel free to reach out when she gets to New York.
How amazing is that? I kept sending résumés afterward, but I knew in my heart that this was it, my new kitchen. I’ve read everything I could find about Nutrio, and it seems like a wonderful place. It’s a modern vegetarian restaurant in the Flatiron District, just got a glowing review in the New York Times, and is walking distance from Papa’s apartment. In my head, I’m already working there. I’ll be in touch with the sous-chef on Monday, as soon as I’ve settled in. My fabulous New York life is almost here!
Miguel follows us out of the terminal. “And, Bella”—this is Miguel’s nickname for me—“I’m not sure I’m ready to be anyone’s dad.”
I do my best contrite face. “Okay, so no donuts for you, then?”
Outside the air is thick. Steamy. Heavy in a way that makes me feel the weight of my clothes, jeans and a T-shirt, right away. I did not expect that.
A few minutes later, the three of us squeeze into the back of a yellow cab, me in the middle with the box of donuts on my lap. I’ve finished the hibiscus one, but I want more. Maybe the plain glazed will be a good palate cleanser. Miguel looks longingly at the box and I turn it toward him, letting him choose. Come on, we know why he bought these donuts. It’s like when I bake a birthday cake for my best friend, Julien. I’m doing it for him, but I’m also doing it for me.