Beach Lane (Au Pairs Series #1)

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Join Mara, Eliza, and Jacqui for a sizzling summer on the beaches of the Hamptons—with no shortage of scandal—in this start to the Beach Lane series.

Meet Mara Walters, Eliza Thompson, and Jacqui Velasco, newly hired au pairs for a wealthy family summering in the Hamptons.

For Mara this job means a fast way out of small-town life. Eliza just wants to return to the posh world she wishes she never left. And for ...

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Join Mara, Eliza, and Jacqui for a sizzling summer on the beaches of the Hamptons—with no shortage of scandal—in this start to the Beach Lane series.

Meet Mara Walters, Eliza Thompson, and Jacqui Velasco, newly hired au pairs for a wealthy family summering in the Hamptons.

For Mara this job means a fast way out of small-town life. Eliza just wants to return to the posh world she wishes she never left. And for Jacqui, it’s a way back into the arms of the American boyfriend who told her he’d email as soon as he got home. And didn’t.

Besides, how bad can it be, watching a couple of kids on the beach all day? But things get complicated when romance enters the picture, along with superspoiled former friends and lost loves. Mara, Eliza, and Jacqui girls have got to stick together, or their summer will be over before it begins.

The Beach Lane series is created by Alloy Entertainment, producer of bestselling teen and middle grade series including The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars.

Originally published as The Au Pairs in the Au Pairs series.

Three teenage girls from different backgrounds work for a summer in the Hamptons as au pairs for a wealthy family, and in spite of many ups and downs, all three end up changing for the better.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Los Angeles Times Book Review Melissa de la Cruz has created a rambunctious first novel that deserves to have its every page encrusted with sand, its binding ringed with condensation from highball glasses.

Publishers Weekly Society Page addicts will no doubt enjoy its irreverent spin on the glamorous life.

Michael Musto Village Voice A gift bag of satire, spectacle, and name-dropping. It's all too fabulous for words.

From The Critics
A gift bag of satire, spectacle, and name-dropping. It's all too fabulous for words.
—Michael Musto
Publishers Weekly
"Lurking just below the surface of this over-the-top fantasy of high life in the Hamptons is a trio of fairly ordinary teen romances," according to PW. "A beach read without a doubt." Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
It's summertime, and the very richest New York City families are heading out of town fast. Kevin and Anna Perry are going to the exclusive Hamptons with their four young children in tow. They are in desperate need of caregivers and advertise for "au pairs," promising "the best summer of your life!" Eliza Thompson, Mara Waters, and Jacqui Velasco, the au pairs they have hired, sure do hope for truth in their advertising! Eliza is a real glamour girl. A former top-of-the-line NYC resident, she has been slumming it in Buffalo ever since her father was busted for some shady business dealings. She looks at the "au pair" gig as her opportunity to return to the top and be reunited with her former peers for the drinking and carousing they have always enjoyed. Mara is the good girl. To this working-class girl from small town Massachusetts, $10,000 for two months of child care is a great deal that will help her buy a used car and pay for college. The time away from boring old Sturbridge and her suffocating boyfriend Jim is just icing on the cake. Jacqui is an exotic romantic. A real head-turner, she's not interested in the attentions of the many men who try to catch her eye. She's come to the Hamptons in pursuit of her "true love," Luca, the boy who has been strangely silent since his return to the States from his trip to Brazil. Melissa de la Cruz has written what will surely be a must-read novel for teens who like to soak in the glamour, glitz, and scandal of celebrity gossip. The chapters are drenched in liquor and the pages are full of name-dropping. This novel primarily operates on a surface, fun level, but it is also a story of budding teen friendship and developing sexual identity. 2004,Simon & Schuster, Ages 15 to 18.
—Heidi Hauser Green
This book held my interest from the beginning because of the fast-paced story line and intriguing characters. Almost every girl who reads this book will be able to relate to Eliza, Mara, or Jacqui. De la Cruz does a good job of describing the atmosphere of summertime in the Hamptons, and makes you feel as though you are there. The Au Pairs would appeal to all teenage girls looking for a great summer read. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Simon & Schuster, 304p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Kristen Moreland, Teen Reviewer
It looks like nanny-lit may be one of the next big trends in YA books, and with The Au Pairs it's easy to understand why. In this juicy beach read, three girls get hired as au pairs in the Hamptons, where they'll be making $10,000 each for the summer. Eliza, formerly the thinnest, richest and blondest of the It girls, is used to running with the elite crowd, not working for them. But when her family is disgraced after her father's questionable accounting practices are exposed, Eliza needs to escape her home. Small-town nice girl Mara takes the job to make some money for college and initially has a hard time fitting in with the rich and fabulous Hamptonites. Jacqui, a gorgeous Brazilian, comes to the Hamptons to chase after Luke, a boy she met and thinks she loves. The usual fare prevails here—celebrity name-dropping, expensive clothing labels, underage drinking, and casual sex abound. A quick glance at the cover tells you all you need to know: a shot of three thin, tan girls in bikinis is instantly recognizable as chick lit. Strong writing and interesting characters help set this book apart from the many other books that seem similar. Selfish Jacqui, snobby Eliza, and naive Mara sometimes seem like they'll never get over their differences, but naturally this book ends well, with the girls now best friends and ready for a sequel. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 320p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Sun and sea, hot parties, hot guys, and the promise of $10,000 for taking care of four overprivileged, undersupervised kids. This is the life that awaits three teens during a summer in New York's exclusive Hamptons. Eliza, whose father's fortune fell, is hoping to recapture some of the glamour and luxury of her former life by taking this position where her family once had a summer home. Mara is looking for a way out of her small hometown and a way to earn enough money for a car and college tuition. Jacqui, a Brazilian beauty used to getting everything she wants, is looking for the one thing that eludes her: true love. The three are hired by the Perrys and wade through problematic relationships, power struggles, and the ever-important social scene. De la Cruz name-drops and power-shops throughout, creating an entertaining vision of how "the other half" lives. The Au Pairs offers wealth, status, steamy sex, lots of heavy drinking, changing values, and juicy fun on the East Coast for fans of Zoey Dean's "The A-List" series and Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" series (both Little, Brown).-Tracy Karbel, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
For three very different teen strangers, a live-in job in the Hamptons is a ticket to fun in the sun, all-night parties, and high society trolling for boys. Brazen Brazilian Jacqui rekindles a superficial fling with Luka, smitten by "his lazy smile and enormous backpack." Prima donna Eliza uses her temp address to conceal that she's-gasp-working for a living now that her tony Upper East Side family is bankrupt. Only innocent Mara takes the job seriously, doting over three obnoxious kids who crave parental attention but instead get grilled ahi, peeled grapes, and krav magra lessons. The host family is a dysfunctional mess of infidelity, indifference, and indulgence, particularly Poppy and Sugar, obvious Hilton sister clones. How the eldest brother manages to be so patent-pending perfect is a mystery, except, of course, for his literary role as the romantic lure for good-girl Mara. Teen girls will voyeuristically enjoy the slightly decadent escapism, but the sheer unlikability of two central characters is insurmountably irritating, and the constant name-dropping from P. Diddy to Manolo Blahnik, reads like a 300-page product placement. Trashy romance lit for the not-ready-for-Jackie-Collins set. (Fiction. YA)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
If you like books about "Barbie Doll" spoiled brat, teenage girls, this is the book for you. Originally published as The Au Pairs, it is told from the points of view of three girls who take jobs as au pairs to a family of wealthy children whose parents really cannot be bothered with them. Eliza Thompson is used to summer in the Hamptons, but only as a member of the elite. Now, thanks to her father's bank fraud disgrace, she has to take the bus from her new home in Buffalo to be the hired help. Her parents would not even buy her a plane ticket. Mara Waters is used to scrimping and thrilled to be out of Sturbridge for the summer, even if her boyfriend, Jim, was scalding mad that she was going. Jacarei (Jacqui) Velasco is from Sao Paolo and is quite used to picking up older men to help her on her journey. The girls get to the Hamptons and meet at their employers' house. Although the girls do adjust their views of the world a bit during the summer, Eliza and Jacqui stay pretty much the same throughout the book—obsessed with pretty clothes and pretty boys. Mara learns to salivate over the same things. She and Eliza do try to take care of their four charges, but Jacqui conveniently comes up missing when any real work is to be done. This book will do nicely if you want to encourage your teen daughters to drink, smoke and have sex. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442474093
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Series: Beach Lane Series , #1
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 294
  • Sales rank: 399,167
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa de la Cruz

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of many books including the Beach Lane series, the Blue Bloods series, which has three million copies in print, and the Witches of East End series, which is now an hourlong drama on the Lifetime Network. Frozen, the first book in her new fantasy series, Heart of Dread, is cowritten with her husband. She is a former journalist and has written for Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Allure. Melissa attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, which served as an inspiration for the school in The Ashley Project. She currently lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

Beach Lane

  • ELIZA THOMPSON HAD NEVER BEEN SO UNCOMFORTABLE in her entire life. She was sitting in the back of a Greyhound bus, sandwiched between the particularly fragrant bathroom and an overfriendly seatmate who was using Eliza’s shoulder as a headrest. The old bag in the Stars and Stripes T-shirt had little bubbles of spit forming on her lips. Eliza took a moment to pity herself. Seriously, how hard could it have been for her parents to spring for a ticket on Jet Blue?

The nightmare had begun a year ago, when some people started looking into her dad’s “accounting practices” at the bank and dug up some “misdirected funds.” Several details had been leaked—the papers had a field day with the thousand-dollar umbrella stand on his expense reports. The lawyer bills added up quickly, and soon even the maintenance on their five-bedroom, five-bath co-op was just too much.

The Thompsons sold their “cottage” in Amagansett—which was actually the size of an airplane hangar—to pay their mounting legal expenses. Next they sold their beachfront condo in Palm Beach. And then one afternoon Eliza came home from Spence, her elite all-girls private school (which counted none other than Gwynnie Paltrow as an alum), to find her maid packing her bedroom into boxes. The next thing she knew, she was living in a crappy two-bedroom in Buffalo and enrolled at Herbert Hoover High, while her parents shared a ten-year-old Honda Civic. Forget AP classes. Forget early admission to Princeton. Forget that year abroad in Paris.

Her parents had told everyone they were simply going to go recover from it all “upstate in the country,” though no one had any idea how far upstate they had really gone. To Manhattanites, there’s as big a difference between the Catskills and Buffalo as there is between Chanel Couture and Old Navy.

But thank God for rich brats. The call from Kevin Perry had come just yesterday—he was looking for a summer au pair and could Eliza make it to the Hamptons by sunset? Kevin Perry’s law firm had been instrumental in keeping her dad out of the Big House, so he was one of the only people that really knew about their situation. The au pair job was her one-way ticket out of godforsaken Buffalo; so what if she had to work for old friends of her family? At least she wouldn’t have to show up for work at the Buffalo Galleria on Monday. The girl who used to have personal shoppers at Bergdorfs had come this close to waiting on pimply classmates determined to squeeze themselves into two-sizes-too-small, cheap-ass polyester spandex. She shuddered at the thought.

The woman next to her grunted and exhaled. Eliza discreetly spritzed the air with her signature tuberose perfume to camouflage the offensive stank. She fiddled with her right earring, a diamond that was part of the pair Charlie Borshok had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Eliza wasn’t sentimental, but she still wore them despite breaking up with him more than six months ago. She’d done it in self-defense, really: how do you explain Buffalo and bankruptcy to the sole heir of a multi-million-dollar pharmaceutical fortune? She’d loved Charlie as much as she knew how, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him or anyone else about exactly how much they’d lost. It was almost like if she said it out loud, it would make it true. So Eliza was determined to make sure no one ever found out. She didn’t know how she was going to cover it up exactly, but she was sure she’d come up with something. She always did, after all.

Take today, for example. So, fine, she was on the Manhattan-bound Greyhound, but she’d already found a way to get out of taking the Jitney to the Hamptons. She was relying on Kit to take her, just like he’d always done before. Sure, she could spend four hours in a glorified bus (and hello, the Jitney was a bus even with its exclusive name)—but why should she when Kit drove his sweet little Mercedes CLK convertible out of the city every Summer Friday just like clockwork? All she needed to do was hitch a ride. She and Kit had grown up across the hall from each other—they were practically siblings. Good old Kit. She was looking forward to seeing him again—she was looking forward to seeing everyone who was anyone again.

*   *   *

The bus pulled into the yawning chasm of the Port Authority and discharged its passengers under a grimy concrete slab. Eliza shouldered her Vuitton carryall (the only one her mom let her keep from her formerly extensive collection) and walked as fast as she could to get away from the awful place.

She looked around at the sprawling bus station, wrinkling her nose at the blinding fluorescent lights, the holiday rush of the crowd on their way to the 34th Street piers for the fireworks, the pockets of pasty-faced tourists holding American flags and scanning LIRR timetables. Was this how the other half lived? Pushing and pulling and running and catching trains? Ugh. She’d never had to take public transportation in her life. She’d almost missed the bus that morning before she realized it might actually have the temerity to leave without her.

Life had always waited for and waited on Eliza. She never even wore a wristwatch. Why bother? The party never started till she arrived. Eliza was dimpled, gorgeous and blond, blessed with the kind of cover girl looks that paradise resort brochures were made of. All she needed to complete the picture was a dark tan and a gold lavaliere necklace. The tan would happen—she’d hit Flying Point and slather on the Ombrelle, and, well, the lavaliere was tacky anyway.

She wandered for a while in a bit of a daze, looking for exit signs, annoyed at all the plebian commotion. A harried soccer mom with a fully loaded stroller elbowed her aside, throwing her onto a brunette girl who was standing in the middle of the station, holding a map.

“Oh, gee, I’m so sorry,” the girl said, helping Eliza back to her feet.

Eliza scowled but mumbled a reluctant, “It’s okay,” even though it hadn’t been the girl’s fault that she had fallen.

“Excuse me—do you know where the . . .?” the girl asked, but Eliza had already dashed off to the nearest exit.

On 42nd Street, horns honked in futile protest at the usual gridlock. A long, serpentine line for the few yellow cabs snaked down the block, but Eliza felt exultant. She was back in New York! Her city! She savored the smog-filled air. She hoped idly that she would make it in time. She didn’t really have a backup plan in mind. But the one thing she loved about Kit was how predictable he was.

She walked a block away from the taxi line and put two fingers in her mouth to blow an earsplitting whistle.

A cab materialized in front of her turquoise Jack Rogers flip-flops. Eliza smiled and stowed her bags in the trunk.

“Park Avenue and Sixty-third, please,” she told the driver. God, it was good to be home.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

Speaking with Melissa de la Cruz about The Au Pairs

Did you spend a lot of time in the Hamptons as "research" in order to write your book?

MC: Yes. My husband and I shared a house on Shelter Island for a couple of years with several friends. We spent every weekend of the past several summers there. It was an amazing retreat from the city -- and we loved the slower pace, the country, and of course, the beach. When I wrote the book, I wanted to capture all the wonderful places we loved, like the Snowflake ice-cream shop, the secluded Two Mile Hollow beach, and the lobster rolls at "Lunch." Also, I wanted to capture the crazy New York social-climbing world that was out there -- the huge palatial homes, the jockeying for the best beach spot with your Hermes towel, the scene at Citarella, and the beautiful people with their gorgeous vintage cars. It's another world out there; the Great Gatsby come to life. Also, P. Diddy's white parties -- which are insane. Pretty girls, sexy clothes, good's a summer playland.

Are any of the characters in the book based on real people?

MC: I think each of the characters have a little bit of me in them. Eliza's background is closest to mine, as my family lost our fortune when we moved to America from the Philippines. (My dad didn't embezzle though!) So I know what it's like to go from the Queen Bee popular girl to someone who has to work and count her pennies. Eliza's compulsive shopping is also a lot like mine! I definitely had a problem with credit cards when I was a teenager. I also find her so likable and funny. I always like characters with a bit of an edge to them. Mara is also a lot like me. She is me when we moved to the States: this self-conscious, small-town girl who doesn't feel she deserves good things. She has a big heart, and she doesn't know how great she is. I loved it in Skinny-Dipping when she has a little fun and gets caught up in the celebrity lifestyle. As a lifestyle and fashion journalist in New York, I've covered that scene and I've seen that happen to so many people. Jacqui is based on my best friend in high school, who was this gorgeous Italian girl who had the body to die for and who was always trying to prove she was more than just her great looks. Several of my friends have actually told me they were a little like Jacqui when they were in high school -- very precocious and knew their way around men. Jacqui is also really fun to write, she gets in the most scandalous scrapes! I love that about her.

What does working as an au pair really entail?

MC: I worked at a day care center at my really exclusive high school, so I know about rich kids and their parents. A friend of mine in college worked as an au pair in Westchester, and she basically was a full-time babysitter; you do whatever the family asks, but you're treated as a "friend of the family" and not like the help, which is what Anna tells them in the first book -- they want the girls to have fun too. The term "au pair" technically only means the foreign girls who work as nannies for a year in the States. You get the "au pair" visa. I'm using the term loosely in the book, but then "The Babysitters" doesn't quite have such a fab ring to it, right? On a funny side note, my friend the au pair, actually did date the rich, cute older brother of her charge, and they ended up getting married! They have a kid now. But that's not what I was thinking about when I was writing about Mara. But it goes to show, it definitely happens!

Do you have any advice for people who would like to get an au pair job?

MC: I know there's a website,, where you can sign up. I met some au pairs while I was on book tour in the Hamptons, and they were telling me that they got their jobs so easily-they just sent their resumes to the family, and without even an interview, they got the gig. (I don't think it pays as much as we say in the book though.) One of the au pairs was a girl from Utah, who said she had five younger brothers, and that's what got her the job. She mostly liked the work, she said the family was really nice, and really, it's just watching the kids and making sure they are entertained. Her employers heard about my book and they told her to go to the reading since "it's about people like you." Which is SO Hamptons!! I can just imagine it!

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about the Hamptons?

MC: My favorite thing about the Hamptons is how beautiful it is out there -- it's really this stark, New England landscape, and the beaches aren't even that nice (I live in LA now, and the beaches here put the Hamptons to shame). But there's something really cool about the Atlantic Ocean, and I really like the New York-on-the-beach vibe. I love New Yorkers; I love how neurotic they are, and how everything has to be just-so, like the BEST sushi, the BEST clambake, the BEST flip-flops. There's nothing casual about New Yorkers. And I love that -- I love people who picnic with champagne and caviar. I think life should be more like Absolutely Fabulous all the time! Now that I live in the suburbs (which is what I call LA -- NY's suburb), I really miss it. I think my least favorite thing is the traffic. Sometimes it takes five hours to get there. Terrible. And part of what is making New York not so fun anymore is also seeping into the Hamptons: the whole attitude-y, PR-blitz, where there's always a list, always some VIP bull. That's all fun but sometimes it gets out of hand. When I moved to New York in 1989, you got in the nightclub door because you looked cool -- it was all about how you put your clubbing "outfit" together. You could be nobody but there you would be dancing next to Madonna at a club. It's just not that easy anymore. Because now New York is all about those damn velvet ropes, and $500 vodka bottles for a table. Ridiculous. But then maybe I'm just getting old. I used to be the girl dancing on the table, out until 10 a.m., going to the diner for breakfast with glitter in my hair but now I'm in my thirties and I'm home by midnight.

What's up next for Eliza, Mara, and Jacqui? Is there a sequel?

MC: I just did the deal for the sequel, so yes, their story will continue! I'm so excited to see what happens next. Right now, I can't tell you more details, but I know there will be more romantic entanglements, more cute boys, more girl-bonding and lots and lots of shopping!

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