When Cal Ware wins a scholarship to an elite New England boarding school, he's thrilled to leave his past behind. Back home in Mississippi, he was the poor, queer kid who never fit in. But at Essex Academy, he'll be able to reinvent himself. Or so he hopes...
But at Essex, Cal's classmates only see his cheap clothes and old iPhone. They mock his accent, and can't believe he's never left the country, or heard of The Hamptons. Cal, at his breaking point, is about to give up and return to Mississippi when he learns about a secret society on campus -- the key to becoming Essex royalty.
Cal knows he's not exactly secret society material, but to his surprise, he finds an unlikely champion in the handsome, charismatic, and slightly dangerous Luke Kim. As they get swept up in the mystery and glamour of the Rush process, Cal finds himself falling in love for the first time.
But as the initiation rituals grow riskier -- and increasingly nefarious -- Cal must decide how far he's willing to go, and how much of himself he's willing to sacrifice, to save everything and everyone he cherishes most. Because nothing at Essex -- not even Cal's first love -- is quite what it seems.
Derek Milman is the author of Scream All Night (HarperCollins) and Swipe Right for Murder (Little Brown / Jimmy Patterson). A graduate of Yale Drama School, Derek has performed on stages across the country, and appeared in numerous TV shows and films, working with two Academy Award-winning film directors. He lives in Brooklyn.