Book Extract: Falling For The Competition by Jen Smith

I am pleased to be welcoming Jen Smith to Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her novel, Falling for the Competition.

It’s going to be the best summer ever for ambitious, overachieving Quinn. A huge history buff, not only has she landed her dream job interning in the archives department of the local castle, but her best friend will be working there too.

However, Quinn isn’t the only one to be working in Archives this summer; Quinn’s academic rival, Patrick, is sharing her office in Muniments. They’re competing for the Letter of Recommendation (singular) from the research historian that Quinn needs to get her dream future placement.

Their emotionally-loaded and competitive rivalry turns into a reluctant friendship, as they spend every day working together in silence (and sharing the occasional Twix). Until the Re-Enactors arrive. Between Patrick and Harry – the Golden Knight of the jousting team – Quinn’s carefully planned summer is thrown into complete disarray. Meanwhile, her best friend’s relationship may look perfect on the outside, but Quinn is starting to realise that there’s more going on than there seems.

Although Quinn is determined and single minded about planning every detail of her sparkling future, she comes to discover that the best things in life are the spontaneous ones – and that some people are more important than any Letter of Recommendation (singular) could ever be.


Jen has shared an extract today. Grab a hot drink, a comfy spot on the sofa and enjoy. 



*****beginning of extract*****


One thing that you need to know about Frankie is that she’s kissed exactly two boys (Nathan and Jack) and has had exactly one boyfriend (Jack). People always make out that she’s had loads of boyfriends and has shagged around a bit. But she hasn’t. People make judgements on what other people wear and it’s not fair. I tell Frankie that those bitches in our year started saying those things because they’re jealous that she does her own thing. So what if she likes to wear short shorts, or massive heels, or pillar box red lipstick, and doesn’t care what other people think?

And also, because Kristy McGovern liked Nathan Peterson in year nine and Nathan Peterson kissed Frankie and not Kristy at Jenna Johnstone’s birthday party.

“Oh yeah, I suppose they are friends.” I hadn’t really thought about Patrick having friends. He is just an academic machine to me. An annoying pomaded academic machine.

“So he’s working in archives too?”

“Yeah,” I nod, taking a bite of my chicken sandwich, and I tell her quickly about how annoying he has been already this morning, telling me what to do, sucking up to Lisa.

Frankie sits up and squints at me through the sunlight, ripping her eyes away from a vehemently arguing couple. “So, what’s your plan then?” She says dramatically.

“What plan? Plan for what?”

“The Letter of Recommendation? What are you going to do to get it?” She says, frowning, like I hadn’t thought of it. My chicken salad roll falls out of my hand. I actually hadn’t thought of it. I mean, it’s mine, right? “Is Patrick going for the same one? Is there only one? There’s two of you, so there’s probably two.” She shrugs and scrolls on her phone.

“Yeah, there’s probably two.” Right? I mean, there’s two of us.

I watch Patrick stalk back across the courtyard, sidestepping prams and kids and groups of sullen tweens, pasta bowl in his hand. He stops and scans the courtyard, eyes settling on me, staring at him. He frowns slightly and disappears into the dark of the stairwell behind the Velvet Rope.

“Is there only one Letter of Recommendation? There’s probably two.” Frankie repeats, because she can tell I’m either not listening or my mind is working like some kind of crazy automata.

“Yeah.” I say absently. But what if there isn’t? What if there’s only one? And Patrick has already got a head start because he was here last year. Surely he would have got the Letter of Recommendation last year, so it makes sense that it should go to me, right? But then, what if Lisa prefers him? Oh no. “What if,” I pull at my ponytail in thought. Come on now, Quinn. Logically, this is nothing to worry about. Logically, there should be two. Logically, it should go to me.

“Just ask your boss.”

“I’ll ask Lisa, but I don’t want to seem like I’m being all mental about it.”

“But you are all mental about it.” Frankie laughs and touches my arm. “Make a plan, execute it, stop worrying about it.” She says, eyes bright on mine, a little smile pulling at her lips.

“Yes.” Inhale and exhale. “I’ll speak to Lisa after lunch. Worry after speaking to her.” If I don’t do this then I will worry ALL THE TIME about everything, and Frankie knows it.

“Good.” She says, tapping at her phone again. I bring mine out and check Insta. There’s a picture of some pasta in the shape of a heart that Jack has posted with the tagline ‘Always my Hart [sp] Fx’. I click the heart but roll my eyes. “Does Jack not have anything better to do?” I ask her.

“He doesn’t start prep work until four, so no, he’s bored.” Frankie says, showing me the picture of the pasta heart on Insta. Jack works in one of the local restaurants, pretty high class, but it’s late hours and his and Frankie’s out of school timetables now clash. “He’s so romantic.” She says, mostly to herself.

A pasta heart is not my idea of romance. Not that I’m one to talk. My relationship with Xavier had been a lot more… perfunctory, yes, that’s the right word, on both of our parts.


*****end of extract*****



About Jen Smith: 

Jen lives in the Midlands with her husband and two children. With a Masters Degree in Medieval History, Jen loves castles and King John a little too much. Strangely un-British, she does not like tea, oranges or marzipan, but adores French cheese, guava juice and Chinese food (not together).

When not writing, Jen can often be found pointing out historical inaccuracies in period dramas, being a Lady that Lunches with close friends and playing board games with her family. Note: her handbags are always heavy due to multiple books (just in case she needs them). 

Say hello to Jen via Twitter

Falling for the Competition was released on 8th December 2021. Click to buy on Amazon UK and Amazon US.


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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