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Cover Reveal: LAST CHANCE DANCE by Lakita Wilson

Today we’re revealing the cover for Last Chance Dance, an utterly charming YA romance perfect for fans of Elise Bryant and Leah Johnson. Coming February, 2023!

Leila is crushed when Dev, her boyfriend of four years, breaks up with her right before graduation. Just when she’s thinking she wasted her entire high school experience on a dead-end relationship, her best friend Bree reminds her that Last Chance Dance is just around the corner.

A high school tradition, the Last Chance Dance gives all the students one last opportunity to find love before they graduate. All Leila has to do is submit three unrequited crushes to the dance committee and if any of her crushes list her too, they’ll get matched. Presto: new relationship, just like that. To her utter amazement, Leila is matched with all three of her choices—and with someone she never expected, Tre Hillman, her chemistry partner and low-key nemesis. 

Though at times skeptical, Leila embarks on her Last Chance Dance mission—trying out her matches and going on dates. If Dev wasn’t her true love—then maybe someone else is. She knows it’s definitely not Tre, even though he seems more and more determined to convince her he’s right for her.

But as graduation and the dance approaches, and each date seems to change her mind (and her heart)—Leila must figure out what—and who—she really wants. It’s her last chance, right?

Scroll down to see the cover and read a sneak peek!

Design by Tony Sahara, Illustrations by Marcos Chin

The first major chance I ever took on love paid off big-time. And that’s surprising, because before high school, I never really had a solid example of what lasting love looked like. Sure, my parents were married for close to thirteen years. But by eighth grade, they were giving me and my younger sister Riley the “divorce talk” and splitting assets.

I was obsessed with reality TV dating shows in middle school, but it seemed like that love only lasted through the taping of the season. By the time the reunion episodes aired, the couples were always sitting on opposite sides of the host debating over who was at fault in the breakup.

Still. I wanted to believe in a forever kind of love. And I needed to experience it for myself to truly believe it could exist. Then fate stepped in.

Three days before freshman year, Mom and I were walking out of Target with all my newly purchased back-to-school supplies—at the same time, the most gorgeous boy I’ve ever seen is walking in. His brown skin resembles a freshly scrubbed penny, only a few shades darker than my own honey-brown skin. His thick, bushy eyebrows hover over the biggest brown eyes. His sideburns and full pink lips send me over the edge, and before I know it, I’m thinking: This has to be fate. Cute boys never shopped in this particular Target.

Now, there’s two major rules when it comes to reality dating shows. The first rule? Speak up for what you want, or get cut in the first episode.

So I stop Mom from walking out of the double exit doors. “I think I forgot something,” I tell her, as the cute boy grabs a shopping cart.

Mom holds two shopping bags up and raises an eyebrow my way. “Whatever you don’t have, you can order later from Amazon.” She lets out a long, exaggerated sigh. “Besides, my feet are tired.”

But I can’t take no for an answer. The boy, who’s wearing a crisp white polo shirt, slim fit jeans and the freshest Js I’ve ever seen in my life, is turning the corner and disappearing from view.

“But Mom, I need a graphing calculator in my hand today. Bree heard from Eva, who heard from Ashli, that if we don’t have everything by the first day of Pre-Calc, we’re basically headed down a slippery slope of flunking out of school.”

At this point, I’m sure Mom knows I’m full of it. But she’s probably tired of standing there holding the heavy shopping bags, because she digs in her purse, hands me her debit card and goes, “Make it fast, Leila. We have to be out of here in time to pick your sister up from summer camp.”

I blow my mom a kiss and say, “Back in a second!” as I dash back into the store.

Because reality dating show rule number two? Never let go of a promising prospect too soon. Because they’ll only show up on the reunion episode looking ten times better than the first time you laid eyes on them. And you’ll wish you had taken the chance on them when you could.

I couldn’t risk losing sight of this cutie only to have him show up in one of my freshman classes, already taken and looking one hundred times better, on the arm of some thirsty girl from an earlier class period.

So while Mom walked off to find the car, I beelined my way through the back-to-school shopping extravaganza. I ducked past the five-dollars-or-less sand trap, ignored the jewelry display case, and followed the giant yellow cardboard pencil cut-outs down the middle aisle, to the back of the store where all the school loot is on full display.

I know what you’re thinking. Leila, are you taking a chance on love? Or are you just a tad thirsty, chasing some dude you’ve never met through a store loaded down with security cameras?

But look, Mom had Tinder and a well-manicured swiping finger to meet her latest dating conquests. If there were apps for teen girls who wanted to browse boy candy from the comfort of their couches, it would be predator city.

So—I saw an opportunity. And I took it.

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Penguin Teen