Choose Your Own Love Story

(Mis)Adventures in Love, Lust, and Happy Endings


By Ilyse Mimoun

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 22, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Face it — love is a crapshoot. Say no to one guy and you might miss out on your soul mate. Say yes to another and you might find yourself in the middle of the world’s most awkward threesome. This book grants you the ultimate dating fantasy: a do-over!

Choose Your Own Love Story puts YOU in the driver’s seat and lets you make over 50 choices and pick from 20 possible endings. Will you make out with sexy, brooding Zack, the mayor of red-flag island? Or will you settle down with Anthony, a gentle plumber with restless leg syndrome? If you don’t like where you end up, go back and start again!

How will your story end? Are you ready to find out?



It’s a muggy Sunday in September and you have just been dumped.

Greg is leaving you for a little sylph named Oasis, and that is not a joke. Her name is Oasis. He met her at Burning Man. Oasis is a goddamn whimsical free spirit, or what Burners call a “sparkle pony.” She flutters and flits and giggles and gurgles because she is an infant, and apparently that is what Greg likes.

But why would Greg like that? Good question! The answer is that Oasis is hot. She has long tan legs, mermaid hair, and a wide mouth like Vivian in Pretty Woman—a character (you are fond of pointing out) whose evolution from “sassy sex object” to “classy sex object” is not exactly empowering. Until recently Greg liked this sort of cultural criticism, but Oasis has the legs and the hair and the mouth. You have legs and hair and a mouth, but your legs are pale, your hair is frizzy, and your mouth is just okay. Not assets. So that’s one thing.

Greg also likes Oasis because she’s fun. She likes clubbing, she likes smoking a bowl with the guys, and she likes night swimming at the beach because she has the body and is not afraid of sharks. She is also what your Grandma would have called a “courva.” That’s Yiddish for slutty. All those things are fun for boys.

You like staying in, ordering Thai food, and watching television. You love food so much, in fact, that you’re a food critic for a living. The money is terrible, but you get to eat a lot of weird and delicious ethnic noodles. In fact, you and Greg used to eat pad thai noodles together and make fun of girls like Oasis––girls who wear Playboy pendants and think that yoga pants make you spiritual.

Maybe he loves her because she’s simply happy and free instead of anxious and insecure—like you. You think too much. You worry. You care. You probably worry and care too much, but you were hoping that was part of your charm. It’s awful to consider that the very thing that makes you you might have sent your boyfriend running for the hills.

After all, just a few weeks ago you stayed up all night discussing whether happiness was a realistic goal or if it just sets people up for disappointment. You chose the latter, so Greg grabbed you and started kissing your neck. He whispered huskily, “Is this disappointing?”

Was that a great night, or did you just imagine it?

“Of course it was a great night!” Greg says now, begging you to understand. You’re standing by his kitchen counter, and you grip it to steady yourself. Maybe concentrating on small things can stop the room from spinning. Shiny hardwood floor. Bananas and avocado in a glass bowl. Greg’s corn-chip smell. “You’re amazing but . . .” he continues, “I just had an epiphany in the desert. . . . Oasis and I have a connection . . . ”

You feel like you’re in a bad dream. Here’s Greg—that big, stubbly, endearing bear, but he looks strange now. You know he always has stupid epiphanies when he takes stupid mushrooms in the stupid desert. You just thought this year his epiphany would be that he wants to marry you because you are the only woman he ever wants to see naked for the rest of his life. The chasm between your fantasy and this actual moment is unbearable.

“What can I say?” you ask bitterly. “How can I argue with a hallucination you, had in a hundred-degree heat on drugs? Obviously this is a great decision for an eighteen-year-old—oh wait! YOU’RE FUCKING THIRTY-FIVE.”

Greg shifts uncomfortably. You are doing the worst thing, and you know it. You’re being hostile and caustic and highlighting the ugly (albeit limited) ways you are inferior to Oasis. But you can’t help it! Doesn’t Greg know how much you love him?

“I can totally understand your perspective,” Greg says, and his new serenity is taking annoying to a new level you never dreamed possible. You hope together they choke and die from high-fructose corn syrup withdrawal. He puts his hand on your shoulder and you shrink back. Sure, you long to snuggle against his big reassuring chest, but then what?

If you can’t help yourself and have to touch him again, turn to page 29, section 9.

If you’d rather leave with a smidge of dignity, turn to page 15, section 4.


Impish architect Benjamin was a great choice! You love his mischievous smirk—he looks like he’s perpetually about to throw a surprise birthday party or rob a bank. Sure, he seems a little emotionally reserved, but what guy isn’t at first? The only trouble is . . . he’s a dirty talker.

“Oh fuck yeah,” he says on your fifth date, for you have decided it’s mature to wait until the fifth date to Give It Up.

Benjamin is rolling on the condom while staring at your naked body so intensely that you blush. “God, I want to fuck you so bad,” he says. “You hot wet nasty little . . . ”

You can’t hear the rest because your ears are ringing. You know what’s supposed to come next: You’re supposed to say stuff back. You’re supposed to act porny. But you are not porny; you’re just horny. And even that word makes you uncomfortable—it reminds you of eighth-grade boys with braces and purple clusters of chin acne who couldn’t stop looking at your breasts. So you just say, “yeah yeah yeah” in this really stupid whisper-moan. Then you forget about the dirty talking and just enjoy the ride.

The fact is, you don’t think in sentences when you are enjoying carnal pleasures. It may be the only time your mind isn’t crammed with words and questions but rather just waves of sensation.

When the deed is done, Benjamin spanks your bottom on his way to the shower. You don’t know if it’s a football spank (good job, buddy!), a proprietary lover’s spank (your ass belongs to me now!), or a punishment spank (next time, speak up!). You decide to seek counsel from Crystal, so you meet her at Monsieur Oiseau’s for a drink.

“So you’re not into it?” she asks.

Crystal is a sexy, voluptuous blonde from a small mining town in Pennsylvania. She can talk as dirty as a beer-swilling, porn-guzzling trucker.

“No, I’m into it,” you say, smoothing out the crease in your jeans. “I’m just afraid he’s going to expect me to say stuff back.”

“Well, yeah!” Crystal laughs and gulps back her drink. “God, I hope this works.”

“Are you drinking vodka cranberry juice because of your UTI?” you ask, sipping your too-sweet Appletini. “You should know alcohol neutralizes the effect.”

“You’re kidding!” Crystal says. “I hate va-drama! So what is he saying? That will help me figure out if you need to say anything back.”

“He’s just like. . . . Or he’s all. . . . Then he like . . .” You can’t say it.

“Okay,” Crystal understands. She hands you a pen and a wilted napkin. “Write it on this.”

You bite your lip and write the first thing Benjamin said as he slid his hand up your dress:

Your ass is amazing.

Crystal laughs, “That’s not dirty talk! You could say that!” She’s speaking a little louder now, hoping the fedora-wearing guy at the bar will take notice.

“Well, sure,” you say. “I’m not a prude. . . . Your ass is amazing.” You clear your throat. “Your ass is amazing!”

“Great!” Crystal says.

“Well, it’s easier to say to you. Plus, there’s more.” The next words you write down again.

Suck my rock hard c. I want to f your p. I want to own your p.

Crystal tosses her hair back and laughs. “Fantastic! You said you love it, right?”

“I like hearing it okay, but the idea of me saying stuff like that feels ridiculous. First of all, my genitals are clearly mine, not his. At least, legally. And I don’t think in sentences like that. It wouldn’t be authentic.”

“So what?” Crystal asks, signaling to the bartender for another drink. “Fake it till you make it. People take sex too seriously.”

You are sure she’s right. Crystal is fun and appealing, whereas you feel so grim. It’s like she’s roller skating and you’re homework. Time to lighten up, lady!

Turn to page 23, section 7.


“Shelly,” you say finally, because for some reason you are very concerned with being respectful. “Why did you do this?”

“Ya know,” Shelly says, fingering a wet curl. “Why not?”

It’s a sad thing to say. You and Max walk Shelly back downstairs and insist she take some energy bars for the ride home. “Call if you get lost!” you call after her. “Be safe!”

In bed that night you both wonder about Shelly’s home life. Why the hell would she even want to do MCP with two dorks like you guys? The question explodes you into giggles and you snuggle up.

“I love you, dork,” Max whispers in your ear. He kisses you deeply, and you throw your arms around him, the way you did the morning of the garbage bags.

So all in all, you could say the event spiced things up a bit and rekindled some passion for you guys. You won’t dare admit that Shelly was kind of a drag and not the magical enchantress you had dared to believe in.

In the morning Max gives you a playful little spank. Shelly’s butt was toned but your butt is loved, and filled with history. Yours is the butt Max squeezed on your way out of Crate and Barrel. Yours is the butt he squeezed after you went on bike rides to (try to) lose the baby weight. Yours is the chubby beloved butt he wants to squeeze for the rest of his life.

And that suits you just fine.



You take his hand off your shoulder and take a deep breath.

There is nothing left to say, but so much to do. There are so many clothes in his closet, so many shoes, soaps in the bathroom, shampoo in the shower, Q-tips in the drawer, CDs everywhere—the enormity of the task overwhelms you, and you crumple on the kitchen floor in a crying heap. You are still partly outside yourself, aware of how unappealing this picture must be yet unable to do anything else.

“I think you’re making a big mistake,” you say now, deciding inwardly that you will pick up your stuff some other day, even though you already know you’ll need your pajama pants and flip-flops sooner than later. Grabbing them now is just too pathetic. “Actually, I know you’re making a big mistake. I’m afraid that by the time you realize that, the window will be closed, but I hope not.”

It’s a pretty good parting line, one you have been working on all morning, and you hope it seemed dignified instead of desperate.

Turn to page 19, section 6.


Shelly is already flapping around the tub, scales shimmering beneath the silky water. You quickly undress and hop in!

The water could be hotter, but it is okay. Max has always been a sexy guy but seems a bit speechless as he enters the water. For a few minutes you three sit there quietly. Shelly taps her fingers against the side of the tub.

“You really are beautiful,” you say, proud of yourself for breaking the silence.

“Then go ahead and kiss me,” Shelly says in a Let’s get this going, I have shit to do way.

You lean in and kiss her softly. A cloud of cigarette smoke fills your mouth. This gets Max excited; he floats over to grab both of your butts. But Shelly doesn’t have a butt anymore, or reproductive organs—all such things are buried under the tail. You can’t even see the zipper. Shelly’s breasts, too, are covered in big plastic shells. So Max squeezes your butt and strokes her tail while you and Shelly kiss, and then you all take turns kissing, and no one mentions that the water has turned a bit tepid. Shelly kisses with a lot of tongue but not a lot of feeling.

There is some fondling and caressing, and it’s okay, though embarrassing with forced exclamations like, “Wow, a real mermaid in our house!” and “This is a miracle!” Also, one wants to take care with the tail—it seems rude to be too rough or presumptuous with it. Finally Shelly tells Max to just go ahead and hump it, and he does, but he slides off in time so as to not disrespect the “magical” appendage.

“Cool,” Shelly says and flops out of the water to unzip and dry off. She quickly wraps a towel around her lower body. You and Max turn away to let her change into her clothes. The few minutes feel interminable.

Turn to page 13, section 3.


You hold your head high as you walk out even though your body is trembling and your stomach is churning and your head drops as soon as you’re in the car and you’re in the fetal position as soon as you reach your bed. For several weeks you can’t eat or sleep, which is fine because you remember this from your last broken heart, that awful one, and you know you will live through this, that oxytocin withdrawal will subside if you bear it long enough and hold on, hold on, hold on, reach out to your friends, write about it, drink tea, eat kale, go inward, stay strong, have faith—all those things, all those things—every day for endless days.

Somehow time passes. Summer yields to fall. The sky darkens by six. The fact that you continue to live is a slap in the face to the relationship. Romeo and Juliet never had to find out if they could survive without each other. Just because love means you want to die without the other person doesn’t mean you have to. Your epic tragedy is in fact totally banal. One day you fall asleep on the couch and wake up gasping from an intensely vivid dream: Greg’s hand in yours. You feel teary for a moment and then do something strange: You take your own hand. You squeeze it. You press your face against it.

You determine to be your own friend, your own partner. And this commitment, this realization that you will never leave you begins to lift your spirits. You start going out more with your friends, put more energy into work, and even consider going to one of those cardio-barre classes. You don’t go, of course, but you think about it.

So now you’re ready to get back on OkCupid.

The Internet dating scene hasn’t changed much since your pre-Greg years: guys who can’t spell, guys who are inappropriately angry, or guys who are forty-five and accomplished, seeking eighteen- to twenty-two-year-olds who enjoy “fun and good times.”

You get back into the groove and stomach a string of mediocre dates. Your good friend Crystal advises that you must decode Internet Dating Language. Like if a dude says he wants to “hang out” instead of “take you out,” he’s just looking for sex. If he says he’s an artist, it means he’s unemployed. If he writes too much on his profile, he’s overcompensating for something, like that he lives in his car. If he writes too little, he’s bland, like he won’t like Shakespeare because there’s “too much fighting.” After a while scanning men’s profiles becomes a full-time job.

Part of it is fun, but it can also be baffling and dispiriting. You can go out with a terrific guy and have a truly wonderful night and then he never calls you again.

This happens frequently, across all different sites, from Tinder to e-bloody-Harmony. Every eight dates or so you’ll have a perfectly lovely time, get really excited, and never hear from the man again. The world of dating is pure anarchy. Plus, your swiping finger is getting sore.

One time you see a cute guy online named Max412 who claims to know the movie Clueless by heart like you do and who even read the Jane Austen book Emma that it’s based on. You like him, so you decide not to message him back; after all, your instincts have been dead wrong lately. This is the upside-down world you live in now.

“You can’t let it break you,” your friend Meg says. Her perfect poise and steely determination is why she’s a millionaire lawyer and you’re a broke French-fry addict. But you like the expression, “Don’t let it break you.” You repeat it to yourself one night as your eyes grow bleary from staring at the computer.

You’re sorting through your new messages (you’re now on three dating sites), and you finally notice two guys who aren’t bad: Goodnplenty and Architect1753. The first one has a gentle smile. The second one lists a high income and wears an impish grin.

If heartache has you wanting to be soothed by a gentle smile, turn to page 171, section 47.

If an employed dude sounds like a refreshing change, turn to page 9, section 2.


Your seventh date with Benjamin arrives, and you are pumped from the pep talk. You’re ready to say some sexy stuff or at least repeat back phrases Benjamin says to you.

He takes you to a high-end sushi restaurant, where you eat spicy salmon kelp rolls and delicate fluke sashimi, perfectly balanced with dried red miso and yuzu sauce. For a moment Benjamin has to text someone for work, so you stuff another piece into your mouth. Then he puts his phone away and looks into your eyes.

“You are absolutely gorgeous,” he says.

You smile demurely, cheeks puffy with kelp.

“And that dress is a knockout.”

You’re glad he noticed the tight aquamarine sheath dress Crystal lent you. It’s racier than your usual style, but it seemed like Benjamin wasn’t thrilled when you wore jeans and a nubby sweater to the movies last week. You could hold that against him, or you could just enjoy being the Sexy Girl for a change! It doesn’t mean you have to dress up like a slutty nurse on Halloween or anything, does it?


On Sale
Dec 22, 2015
Page Count
240 pages
Running Press

Ilyse Mimoun

About the Author

Ilyse Mimoun is a writer and actress who has written for Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil and appeared on TV and in films such as Chuck, 90210, Mistresses, Hart of Dixie, and The TV Set. She suffered many horrible dates before finding true love. Ilyse lives in Los Angeles.

Learn more about this author