Elise Bryant, a rising author in the young adult literary world, has once again made her Long Beach-centric view a charming part of her latest novel.

Bryant’s second book, “One True Loves,” is set to release from HarperCollins’ Balzer + Bray imprint on Tuesday. The book is a companion novel to Bryant’s debut in January 2021, “Happily Ever Afters.” While not a sequel, it features the best friend of the protagonist in “Happily Ever Afters” and takes place in the Elise Bryant Literary Universe, one that’s centered around Bryant’s adopted hometown of Long Beach.

The cover image of “One True Loves” by Elise Bryant. Courtesy photo.

There are plenty of familiar themes for fans of Bryant’s debut. “One True Loves” is the second effort in her mission to fill young adult bookshelves with dreamy love stories about Black teens falling in love, and finding their way in the world.

While “Happily Ever Afters” took place in and around Long Beach, most of “One True Loves” follows its protagonist, Lenore Bennett, as she and her family take a post-high school graduation tour around the Mediterranean. Along the way, Lenore tries to figure out what she’s doing with her life and to avoid catching feelings for Alex, another recent high school grad on the cruise.

Like “Happily Ever Afters,” “One True Loves” features plenty of big, beautiful emotional moments. But where Bryant takes a step forward and where this book shines is in exploring the quieter interior of a teen who’s known to her friends as the life of the party. That tension as well as moving depictions of mental health struggles and of the challenges of living up to parents’ justified but big expectations make this an enjoyable read for any age.

Author Elise Bryant with daughters Coretta and Tallulah. Photo courtesy of Elise Bryant.

While “One True Loves” mostly takes place in Europe, it’s still firmly grounded in Long Beach, with special appearances from Long Beach City College, Viento y Agua’s open mic night, and the Aquarium of the Pacific during an unforgettable opening scene. Lenore also firmly corrects someone who says she’s from Los Angeles with a reminder that she’s from Long Beach.

Bryant told the Long Beach Post before her debut was released that she’d “set everything in Long Beach” if her publishers let her, and it’s a treat for local readers to have the city featured in the rising author’s literary world.

“One True Loves” has been even more hotly-anticipated in the YA scene than Bryant’s debut, as the book is No. 2 on Seventeen Magazine’s Top 10 Best Books in 2022 list and has received strong reviews, including a Kirkus writeup praising Bryant’s “contemporary yet timeless authorial style that is a breath of fresh air for the genre.”

There’s more good news for Long Beach readers—with the success of Bryant’s first two books, she signed a second two-book deal that will include a winter release in 2023 titled “Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling.”

“One True Loves” is available everywhere, but in her continuing effort to support local businesses, Bryant has done a signed book pre-order deal with Long Beach shop Bel Canto Books.

She’ll also be joined at Bel Canto by Christina Hammonds Reed for a ticketed in-person event on the book’s release date Tuesday, the first of three launch events currently planned. More info on those can be found at Bryant’s website.

Long Beach author Elise Bryant has gone from writing for fun to signing her second book deal