Petite Valeta, 17-year-old blonde cheerleader and homecoming queen, daughter of a Marine Corporal stationed in Kaneohe, Hawaii, lacks for nothing except a sense of responsibility, Well, that and a real kiss from her beloved Edwin, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps whose dark hair and 6’3” height make a perfect complement to her faultless self. Edwin has steadfastly refused a “real” kiss on her lips because of the danger that it will break off his total abstinence, but Valeta does not understand.
As the book opens, Valeta prepares for her high school’s Senior Luau, neglecting every responsibility. Edwin will accompany her, and she has bought the perfect dress to go with his yellow plumeria lei – the perfect dress to make him give her a real kiss. At the last minute, however, she receives a call from Edwin. He has accepted duty for a sick friend and will send Rick, another Marine, to accompany Valeta.
Rick, antithesis of morally upright Edwin, gets drunk at the luau and gives Valeta a kiss, but not at all the kind she wanted. Before the night ends, Valeta’s life is forever altered.