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Skinny-dipping: The Au Pairs    by Melissa de la Cruz order for
by Melissa de la Cruz
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

This is the sequel to last summer's wonderful beach read, The Au Pairs. All of the juicy bits - pop culture references, fashion name-dropping, and partying galore - will captivate readers once again. Skinny-dipping further defines the characters, helping us get to know them better. You will root for a happy outcome for each of them ... although it's not exactly the one you might predict. Melissa de la Cruz gently catches readers up on Eliza, Mara, and Jacqui without rehashing the previous book's plot.

Last year, middle-class Mara fell in love with Ryan, her employer's teenage son. During the intervening year, ashamed of her meager living circumstances and sure she'll never keep Ryan's interest, she broke up with him. Now Mara's back for another summer of child care in the Hamptons, and hoping for another chance with Ryan. Will Mara's affections be swayed by billionaire-heir Garrett Reynolds and the corresponding it-girl status that goes with seeing him?

Eliza's family is coming back from the brink of poverty. Financially secure enough to rent a modest house in the Hamptons, Eliza is hoping that a job at a posh nightclub will get her noticed again. Can she face Mara after hooking up with Ryan over the winter? And what about Jeremy, her gardener-boyfriend from last summer? Jacqui has decided to swear off boys this summer. She wants to concentrate on studying for SATs, and getting the Perry family to hire her as their year-round nanny so she can go to school in New York City. Jacqui's resolve is weakened when she meets Philippe, the newest (and definitely hot) au pair.

Can the three girls remain friends through a tumultuous summer? Although these characters lead lives that most teens can only imagine (or read about), the author makes them believable and likeable. The humor and misunderstandings help us to realize that, despite money and location, issues are universal. A very original and entertaining plot will keep you involved in the story and hoping for another installment. Grab Skinny-dipping and a towel and jump on board with the hottest book of the summer.

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