Cover Reveal: The Sinner by Emma Scott

Emma Scott has revealed the cover for The Sinner!

Releasing: August 15, 2021

Cover Design: Lori Jackson Designs

Shy, introverted Lucy Dennings lives a quiet little life in New York City, working for a nonprofit and keeping to herself. Every afternoon, she goes home to her empty apartment and Edgar, her houseplant, and every night, she loses herself in the pages of her beloved romance novels. Her lonely heart seeks solace in tales of passionate, enduring, all-consuming love, but more and more, Lucy feels she’s not just reading for pleasure but searching for her a lost piece of herself in the pages. As if she once touched something beautiful but it’s been ripped away.

Until one day Lucy discovers a dead body in the alley behind her apartment. Even if it’s too late, her first instinct is to help.

Her second is to run.

Because the dead body isn’t so very dead, and suddenly, her little world isn’t so little but one in which dreams feel like memories, “inner demons” actually lurk in dark alleys, and a beautiful creature of darkness with amber eyes and wings like night might hold the key to what her heart has been aching for…if she doesn’t fall down the path of eternal damnation first.

From USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Emma Scott, comes an emotional paranormal love story of passion, sacrifice, and the soul-deep love of a lifetime…more than one.

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3gsEfHZ

Meet Emma


Emma Scott is a USA Today and Wall St. Journal bestselling author whose books have been translated in five languages and featured in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After. She writes emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories that rip your heart out and put it back together again, with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy her novels. Visit http://www.emmascottwrites.com

RECENT RELEASES

Someday, Someday (M/M standalone)

A Five-Minute Life (standalone)

Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts #1)

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2)


“At Santa Cruz Central High, we called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys.”

The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) : http://bit.ly/2MLnYhU

When You Come Back To Me (Lost Boys #2) : http://bit.ly/37BsCHh

The Last Piece of his Heart (Lost Boys #3) : http://bit.ly/2QeVlfa


You can follow me at all the places…

Connect with Emma

Super-cute NON SPAMMY newsletter: http://bit.ly/2nTGLf6

Author page: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaScottwrites/

Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/906742879369651/

Website: https://www.emmascottwrites.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/10405165.Emma_Scott

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yUnFKJ

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emmascottwrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmmaS_writes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/emma-scott

Book+Main: https://bit.ly/2ZWw91B

Cover Reveal: Uncovered by Andi Burns

UNCOVERED (Bainbridge University #1) by Andi Burns

Release Date: July 28th

Cover Designer: Enchanting Romance Designs

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57865148-uncovered

PREORDER TODAY!

https://tinyurl.com/593te8

Blurb:

My family destroyed hers, but I can’t let her go…

Ty

Amends…they’re not mine to make, but I’ve been haunted by the memory of a shattered girl in that courtroom two years ago.

So, I tell myself I’m doing what’s right. I’ll stay in the shadows, out of her way. She won’t know I’m there–she doesn’t even know who I am. I’m just setting it up and walking away with as clear a conscience as my guilt will allow me.

But then she needs a tutor. And I’m the only one working. How can I say no?

But one coincidental meeting turns into two, and then three. And before I can stop myself, I’m falling hard for a woman I have no business wanting. The problem is, she’s falling hard for me, too.

I need to tell her who I am–I have to. But I know that the moment I do, I’ll break her. And she’ll break me, too.

Uncovered is a full-length novel with a tortured hero, a broken heroine, and an HEA. It is the first STANDALONE in the Bainbridge University Series.

About the Author:

Andi Burns writes contemporary romance infused with humor, sass, and steam. She loves a happily-ever-after as much as her characters do, and she always reads the last page of a book first, just to make sure it all turns out okay.

Andi lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, folding laundry, or daydreaming about her next hero and heroine.

Connect w/Andi:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andiburnsauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorandiburns

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19841983.Andi_Burns

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2XY9jEy

Cover Reveal: The Sweetest Thing by Maya Hughes

Title: The Sweetest Thing 

Series: SWANK  #2

Author: Maya Hughes

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 1, 2021

ABOUT


Goldilocks has gotten a bit off track. I found her in my room, my bathroom and my bathtub to be precise.

Sabrina Mason is my new roommate. My new unwelcome roommate. Not that I have a say about it since I’m babysitting my Grandma’s apartment, which means Sabrina’s here to stay. But we’d agreed my room was off limits.

It’s bad enough my nightmares are getting worse, but having her around me makes holding it together. Her smell, smart mouth and sexy a–anyway. I can’t let her get under my skin although it might be too late. In her sloppy bun and pajamas curled up on the couch, she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But a relationship isn’t what I need right now.

It’s hard to remember that when she’s glowering at me when I’m being an ass. We’re forced to live together for only a few more month, I can hold out until I can’t.

She’s in my bathtub and she’s not telling me to leave. So I ask the question, “do you want me to go?”

And I’m shocked as hell when her answer isn’t ‘no’.


Check out the playlist on Spotifyhttps://bit.ly/SWANKB00K2

PREORDER
Amazon Exclusive mybook.to/TheSweetestThing
ADD TO YOUR GOODREADS TBR https://bit.ly/SWANKBook2

START The Series with THE PROPOSAL!
Amazon Exclusive mybook.to/SWANKTheProposal
FREE with Kindle Unlimited

AUTHOR BIO

Maya Hughes, that’s me!, can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life, namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I love writing stories that capture the possibilities of the paths less travelled and enjoy experiencing life through my characters’ eyes.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some of my favorite things are cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe, traveling with my family and Jeff Goldblum. 

AUTHOR LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/mayahughes

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mayahugheswrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mayahugheswrites

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maya-hughes

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Cover Reveal: Blind Spot by A. Marie


Title: Blind Spot

Series info: Creekwood #3

Author name: A. Marie

Genre: New Adult Romance

Cover Design: Murphy Rae @murphyrae_ on IG

Cover Photography: Miguelanxo @miguelanxofoto on IG

Cover Model: Daniel Zarzosa  @daniel_zarzosa on IG

Releases: July 8th, 2021

Blurb:

Goodbye, Creekwood?

The pull to leave Creekwood and join my best friends continues to grow stronger with each day but the thread holding me here is tight, too…maybe tighter. 

When my past finally collides with my present, revealing a blind spot I never knew I had, it only makes my choice that much harder.

I thought I could add to my perfectly calculated life without upsetting the outcome. I thought I could protect the people I love most.

I was wrong. So wrong.

And now, somebody’s gotta pay.

With everything I’ve ever cared about on the line—including her—I can’t afford to lose.

Preorder link: http://mybook.to/BlindSpotCreekwood

GR link: https://bit.ly/3dtzfkn

Also available:

Detour: Creekwood Book 1  http://mybook.to/DetourCreekwood

Changing Lanes: Creekwood Book 2  

http://mybook.to/ChangingLanesCreekwood 

Both Free in KindleUnlimited

Author bio: 

A. Marie likes to paint her characters’ voices onto the blank canvas of a page using her own blend of quick wit and playfulness. She strives to bring readers entertaining yet powerful stories they’ll fall for time and time again. Born and raised in Washington State, she now resides in upstate New York with her husband and three kids.

Social media links:

Website: https://amarieauthor.com/

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/35HLHIp

Instagram: https://bit.ly/34Eg6rN

TikTok: https://bit.ly/3bYWF0Y

Facebook Page: https://bit.ly/2HHQxx0

Pinterest: https://bit.ly/35OrOiI

Bookbub: https://bit.ly/3kIta54

Amazon: https://amzn.to/37POkKH

GR: https://bit.ly/3jIKghI

Cover Reveal: Love You Better by Brit Benson

 Release Date: July 23
Cover Design by Murphy Rae

Kelley Pierce is my person.

Loyal. Dependable. Strong. 

He makes me laugh on my darkest days and calms me when I’m at my most chaotic. 

He’s also totally gorgeous, or so I’ve been told. 

And sinfully sexy, not that it matters.

Best friends don’t notice those things. 

Kelley gets me like no one else does, and I get him. Our friendship is perfect.


Kind of. 


One chemistry-filled moment has the power to change everything, and soon old feelings we’d ignored and memories we’d tried to forget come crashing back. 

I never want to lose him, but I’ve been keeping secrets.

And I never prepared for falling in love with my best friend.

*Love You Better is a sweet and sexy, best friends to lovers, second chance romance. The new adult romance has heart, heat, and an HEA sure to make you swoon. Love You Better is the first standalone in the Better Love series.

Pre-Order Your Copy Here!

Add to your Goodreads TBR List!

Meet Brit Benson

Brit Benson writes romance novels that are sassy, sexy, and sweet.


When she’s not dreaming up her next swoony book boyfriend and fierce book bestie, she’s reading. 

When she’s not reading, she’s probably marathoning a Netflix series or wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles in Homegoods.

Brit currently resides somewhere near the Blue Ridge Parkway with her husband, daughters, and dogs.


Connect with Brit Benson

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page 

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Cover Reveal: The Monster by L.J. Shen

“Maybe we were never meant for each other. But that night at the carnival, when you showed me who you were, I figured out who I wanted to be.”

The Monster, an all-new lust fueled bad boy standalone romance from USA Today and #1 Amazon bestselling author L.J. Shen is coming June 15th, and we have the gorgeous cover!

The most important thing I’d ever read was scribbled on the door of a portable restroom, engraved into plastic at a carnival on the outskirts of Boston.
Lust lingers, love stays.
Lust is impatient, love waits.
Lust burns, love warms.
Lust destroys, but love? Love kills.
Maybe it was always my destiny to fall in love with a monster.
When other kids stayed awake at night fearing the pointy-toothed beast hiding in their closet, I longed to see mine.
I wanted to feed it, domesticate it, understand it.
Sam and I were only allowed to love each other in the dark.
Once our story unfolded, and the truth came to light, I was the one to cut the cord.
My name is Aisling Fitzpatrick, and I have a confession to make.
Sam Brennan is not the only monster in this story.

Reserve your copy today!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mppmqP
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/TheMonster

Add The Monster to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3urVU6f

Cover designer: Letitia Hasser at RBA Designs

About LJ Shen
L.J. Shen is a USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon #1 best-selling author of contemporary, New Adult and YA romance. Her books have been sold to nineteen different countries.

She lives in California with her husband, son, cat and eccentric fashion choices, and enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows and catching sun rays with her lazy cat.

Connect with L.J. Shen
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2OhSvp1
Twitter: http://bit.ly/36ELHZc
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/2oMbFsu
Instagram: http://bit.ly/2AIOiTo
Stay up to date with L.J. Shen by signing up for her mailing list: http://bit.ly/36MnmAQ
Website: http://www.authorljshen.com/

Cover Reveal: The Spark by Vi Keeland

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative
Photo: Jakub Koziel
Model: Alessandro Dellisola
Release Date: July 12, 2021
BLURB
Before I even met Donovan Decker, I knew his shoe size.

You see, I’d gone away for a few days, and in my haste to get out of the airport, I’d grabbed the wrong suitcase.
After checking out the expensive footwear and tailored clothes, I dialed the number on the luggage tag hoping maybe Mister Big Spender might have my bag.
A deep, velvety voice answered, and as luck would have it, he had my suitcase, too.
Donovan and I met at a coffee shop to do the exchange.
Turned out, it wasn’t just his voice that was sexy. The man holding my luggage was absolutely gorgeous, and we had an immediate spark.
He got me to admit that I’d snooped in his bag and then convinced me to make it up to him by letting him buy me coffee.
Coffee led to dinner, dinner led to dessert, and dessert led to spending an entire weekend together. Donovan wasn’t just handsome with a panty-dropping voice. He was also funny, smart, and surprisingly down to earth for a man who wore seven-hundred-dollar shoes.
Did I mention he also did my laundry while I slept?
Definitely too good to be true.
So what did I do to repay him for his kindness?
I waited until he was in the shower, then ghosted him.
My life was too complicated for such a great guy.
In the months that passed, I thought about Donovan often. But New York City had eight-million people, so what were the chances I’d run into him?
Then again, what were the chances I’d run into him a year later…when I’d just started dating his boss?
PRE-ORDER LINKS

Sign up for Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!

Do you like texts better than email? Receive text notices of Vi’s new releases by texting the word BOOKS to 77948 You will ONLY receive a text when a new book goes live – no other messages at all!

AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
AUTHOR LINKS
OTHER BOOKS BY VI
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Cover Reveal: The Sophomore by Monica Murphy

 

Releasing: June 17, 2021

Cover Designer: Hang Le
Photographer: Michelle Lancaster
Model: Lochie Carey

Jackson Rivers.

My not so secret crush.

He’s popular. Gorgeous. Talented.

Also my biggest weakness.

I’ve stood by him for years. Been a friend every time he needed one, but he doesn’t see me. Not like I want him to.

Move on, my friends said. Find someone new. Someone who sees your worth. Someone who gets you. I know they’re right. I’m only a friend to him. He’s never going to see me like I see him. So I take their advice, and try to move on.

But Jackson is always right there. In my face. Running to my rescue. And when I meet someone else, Jackson isn’t having it. For some reason, he’s suddenly determined to stay in my life. Right by my side.

Now he says he wants me, but does he want an actual relationship? Or is that he can’t stand the thought of losing me to another guy?

It’s time to find out what Jackson truly wants…and I’m going to make him work for it.

For me.

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/33z4eFZ

Amazon Worldwide: mybook.to/TheSophomore

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3xFMDKC

Meet Monica


Monica Murphy is a New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling romance author. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. Both a traditionally published and independently published author, she writes young adult, new adult and contemporary romance. She’s also known as USA Today bestselling author Karen Erickson.

A native Californian, she lives on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere with her husband, two kids, one dog, and four cats. When she’s not writing, she’s an assistant coach for her daughter’s high school cheer team, which is a two season sport. Meaning, she’s at practice with a bunch of teenage girls all the time. Or she’s at a football game. Or a basketball game. Maybe someday, she’ll even write about this experience.

Connect with Monica

Website: http://monicamurphyauthor.com

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/MonicaMurphyGR

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1YUl0Vm

Facebook: http://bit.ly/MonicaMurphyFB

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/monicamurphyreadergroup/

Instagram: http://bit.ly/MonicaMurphyIG

Twitter: http://bit.ly/MonicaMurphyTW

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2ZAthV1

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/msmonicamurphy/

Book+Main: https://bit.ly/2ZXwx00

Cover Reveal: Cursed by K.K. Allen

Release Date: July 6

Designer: Emily Wittig Designs

USA Today Bestselling Author, K.K. Allen, takes readers on a deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful adventure in a contemporary fantasy series based on a young woman learning the true nature of her bloodline and the enchanting world that awaits her.

 

Katrina Summer always knew she was different. Her fiery temper seems to perpetually land her in hot water, making her an outcast among her peers. When tragedy strikes and she’s sent to live with her only remaining family in the tiny coastal town of Apollo Beach, Katrina starts counting down the days until her eighteenth birthday.

 

Only then will she finally be free.

 

As Katrina learns the legends of her Ancient Greek ancestors, secrets from her heritage are exposed—secrets that her mother purposefully concealed. Her only solace is found in Alec Stone, the gorgeous guy next door. With his devastatingly charming smile, his persistent flirtation, and a love that sparks from the flames of friendship, he offers her a much-needed escape from the turmoil.

 

If only she wasn’t cursed.

 

As powerful forces threaten the lives in Apollo Beach, Katrina can’t escape the evocative world of mythological enchantment and evil prophecies that lurk around every corner. For fans of TwilightTeen WitchThe Secret Circle, and Percy Jackson.

 

CURSED is Book 1 in the all-new ENCHANTED GODS series.


Pre-Order Your Copy Here:

Amazon | Apple | Nook | Kobo 


Add to your Goodreads TBR List! 


Enter here to win a signed paperback and $25 Amazon gift


card!

Meet K.K. Allen


K.K. Allen is the USA TODAY Bestselling and award-winning contemporary romance author of sweet, sexy, and inspiring stories that evoke emotion at every turn. 


K.K.’s debut romance novel, Up in the Treehouse, was named the Best New Adult Book of the Year by RT Book Reviews, an honor beyond belief. And she continues to take reader’s emotions on an epic ride every single time with real, layered, coming of age romance stories that will make you fall in love over and over again. 

Born in Hawaii, raised in Washington, and currently residing in Florida, K.K. lives for laughs with her little dude, the great outdoors, watching football, dancing the night away, and her eclectic taste in music. 

K.K. also loves connecting with her readers and attends signings when she can! You can find upcoming event dates and other information at: www.kkallen.com.

Connect with K.K. Allen

Newsletter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Instagram 


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Cover Reveal: Reel by Kennedy Ryan

Reel, Kennedy Ryan’s new breathtaking standalone romance set in the glamorous world of film and theater, is coming June 8th, and we have the beautiful cover and your first look!

Award-Winning Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Kennedy Ryan launches a brand new series with a Hollywood tale of wild ambition, artistic obsession, and unrelenting love.

One moment in the spotlight.

For months I stood by, an understudy waiting in the wings, preparing for my time to shine.
I never imagined he would watch in the audience that night.
Canon Holt.
Famous film director.
Fascinating. Talented. Fine.
Before I could catch my breath, everything changed.
I went from backstage Broadway to center stage Hollywood.
From being unknown, to my name, Neevah Saint, on everyone’s lips.
Canon casts me in a star-studded Harlem Renaissance biopic, catapulting me into another stratosphere.

But stars shine brightest in the dead of night.
Forbidden attraction, scandal and circumstances beyond my control jeopardize my dream.
Could this one shot—the role of a lifetime, the love of a lifetime—cost me everything?

Reserve your copy today!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xwekW8
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/Reel
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3dWwUyG
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2QCKcHS
Nook: https://bit.ly/3nsKKfr
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3gHMDUc
Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2RpXgAe
Barnes and Noble Paperback: https://bit.ly/3nsKKfr

➜ Enter the Goodreads Giveaway! Kennedy is giving away 10 Signed Reel Paperbacks!
http://bit.ly/REELGoodreadsGive

➜ Follow Hollywood Renaissance series on Instagram:
@TheHollywoodRenaissanceSeries

Keep reading for the very first excerpt from Reel!

When the show reaches its climax, at the very end, the song pries the final note from my diaphragm, pulls it from my throat and suspends it—leaves it throbbing in the air. The theater goes quiet for the space of a breath held by 800 people and then explodes. 

Applause.

The relief is knee-weakening. I literally have to grab John, the lead actor’s arm for support. He doesn’t miss a beat, pulling me into his side and squeezing.

“Bravo,” he whispers, a broad, genuine smile spread across his face. The last song made me cry, and my face, still wet from those tears, splits into a wide, disbelieving grin.

I did it. I survived my first Broadway performance. 

The lights drop and we rush backstage, a cacophony of laughter and chatter filling the hidden passageways. When the curtain call begins, the cast return to the stage in small waves, the applause building as the principals take their bows. 

And then it’s my turn. On legs still shaky, I leave the safety of the wings, the long skirt of my costume belling out around me. I take center stage. The applause crescendos, approval vibrating through my bones and jolting my soul. Someone thrusts flowers into my arms and the sweet smell wafts around me. Every sense, every molecule of my being strains, opens, stretches to absorb this small slice of triumph. I can’t breathe deeply enough. The air comes in shallow sips, and I’m dizzy. The world spins like a top, a kaleidoscope of colors and light and sound that threatens to overwhelm me. The whirl of it makes me giddy, and I laugh. Eyes welling with tears, I laugh.

These are the moments a lifetime in the making. We toil in the shadows of our dreams. In the alleys of preparation and hard work where it’s dark and nothing’s promised. For years, we cling by a thread of hope and imagination, dedicating our lives to a pursuit with no guarantees.

But tonight, if only for tonight, it’s all worth it.

I’m still floating when Takira bursts into the dressing room.

“Neevah!” she screams, throwing her arms around me and rocking me back and forth. “You did it. You chewed that performance up and spat it out. You hear me?”

I laugh and return her squeeze, new tears trailing down my cheeks. 

“Thank you.” I pull back to peer into my friend’s face. “I can’t believe it.”

“Well, believe it. You served notice.” She snaps her fingers and grins. “Neevah Saint is here.”

“Now to do it seven more times.” I laugh and start taking pins from the wig, which is as hot as a herd of sheep on my head.

“Oh, you got it, unless Elise hears how amazing you were and cuts her vacation short.”

“Not happening. She was ready for a break, but she’d never missed a show.” 

I strip off the costume and stand in only panties, unselfconscious. Modesty is one of the first things to go in this business. I’ve undressed hurriedly in a roomful of actors and dancers in smaller shows where there was a dressing room, so we get real communal real fast. 

I tug on skinny jeans with a tight-fitting orange sweater, and layer it with a brown leather jacket, scarf, boots. I wipe away the heavy stage makeup. It feels like my skin can breathe for the first time in hours. I assume there will be some fans at the stage door, even if it’s just a few. They’ll have to get the real Neevah because I don’t want anything more than a slick of lip gloss and a bit of mascara. A brown, orange and green plaid newsboy cap covering the neat cornrows I wore under my wig is all I’m doing for hair. Slim oversized gold hoops in my ears finish the look.

“Ready?” I ask Takira, hefting a slouchy bag on my shoulder.

“Let’s do this. Hopefully your adoring fans won’t take all night, ’cause your girl is starving.”

We’re still laughing, and I’m so preoccupied with my empty stomach, I’m completely unprepared for the crowd at the stage door. Are they here for John? For some principal player because surely they’re not all here for the understudy.

“Neevah!” a young girl, maybe ten or eleven, calls. “Can you sign this?”

She thrusts a pen and a Splendor playbill toward me. She glows, her smooth brown cheeks rounded with a wide grin. Her eyes shine with . . . pride?

“Oh, sure,” I mumble dazedly, taking the pen and signing my name. 

She’s the first in a long line of girls, all shapes and colors and ages, saying what it meant to see me onstage. Mothers whispering how impactful it was for their Black and brown daughters to be in the audience tonight. The impact is on me; what could feel like a weight or burden or responsibility feels like a warm embrace. Feels like strong arms encircling me. Supporting me. The first time I saw someone who looked like me onstage, it planted a seed inside of me. It whispered a dream.

That could be you.

It makes me emotional to think I might have done that for any of these girls tonight, and I spend the next twenty minutes scribbling my name on playbills through a film of tears.

“Neevah!” a deep male voice calls from the back of the now-thinning crowd.

I squint at the tall man, frowning until I place him.

“Wright!” I take a few steps and he meets me halfway, giving me a tight hug. “Oh, my God. You were here tonight?”

“Was I here?” When he pulls back, a warm smile creases his handsome face. “You blew it out of the water. I knew you were good, but damn.”

Laughter spills out of me and I don’t think this night could get more perfect. I randomly met Wright Bellamy a few weeks back at a gig when he subbed for the pianist, giving the audience more than they bargained for with such a famous musician tickling the ivories that night.

“Thank you.” I step away and shove my hands into the pockets of my jeans, huddling in the leather jacket against the chill of an October night. “I was nervous as hell.”

“Didn’t show. Your voice is spectacular. I knew that from the gig we did, but I had no idea you were that good. Wow. Glad I saw your post on Instagram or I would’ve missed it.”

I’m stone-still, shocked that he came tonight specifically to see me perform. “I’m so glad you made it. You’re still in LA, right?”

“Yeah, but I’m here for some stuff. Heading back home in a few days.”

Takira walks up, linking her arm through mine. “Girl, if we don’t get some food,” she whispers.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” I turn back to Wright. “Takira, this is Wright Bellamy. Wright, my friend Takira.”

“Nice to meet you,” Takira says. “You got any food on you? I’m about to eat your hat.” 

As usual, Takira never meets a stranger and has us laughing right away.

“We’re actually headed to Glass House Tavern,” I tell Wright. “Come if you want. It’s a group of us from the show. Just some of the cast celebrating, but you’re welcome. We can catch up.”

A small frown dents between his thick brows and he glances over his shoulder.

“I mean, no pressure obviously,” I rush to assure him. This is one of the biggest names in music, and here I go, inviting him to dinner with a group of strangers. 

“No, it sounds cool,” he says, looking back to us. “Lemme check with my boy. Can he come?”

I glance over his shoulder and spot a tall man turned away from us, his broad shoulders and back straining a wool blazer, a hoodie pulled up to cover his head and face in the cold. His hands burrow into the pockets of his blazer and he’s nodding like he’s talking to himself.

“He’s on the phone,” Wright explains. “But lemme see if he wants to roll.”

He steps away toward the man and Takira immediately squeezes my hand and squeals.

“Neeve.” Her eyes are wide and bright. Mouth dropped open. “That’s Wright Bellamy.”

“I know. He’s cool as a fan.”

“You know him? How—”

“We’re in,” Wright says, stepping back up beside us. “He’s finishing a call, but we’re ready. Lead the way.”

It’s just a few blocks, and the three of us chat about the show and what Wright’s been doing in New York. All the while his friend’s deep voice rumbles a few paces behind. I don’t want to be rude or nosy and look back, but the rich timbre, his towering height, his face obscured by the hoodie—I’m intrigued. He hangs back on the sidewalk, still on his call, when we enter the restaurant. 

Our friends already have a table and a shout goes up, congratulating me on popping my White Way cherry. My three understudy buddies came. John’s here, too, and one other principal. A few from the stage crew. Our little troupe has become a family and, as if eight shows a week isn’t enough time together, we gather and eat every chance we get. 

“You’re not paying tonight,” John says, holding out the seat beside him. “And drinks are on me.”

“Awwww.” I plop into the chair and drop my bag to the floor. “You’re so sweet. You don’t have to do that.”

“You were fantastic,” John says, baby blue eyes sincere and smiling. “Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

Takira is already sitting beside me, so Wright takes the seat next to her.

“Hey,” he says to Janie across the table. “Could you hold that seat beside you for my friend? He’s wrapping up a call, but’ll be in soon.”

“Sure.” Janie blushes. “I love your work, by the way. The score of Silent Midnight . . . gah.” 

“Thank you. That was a special project. Lots of fun,” Wright replies with a smile. “Now tell me about the show.”

Wright’s a genius, but he’s so unassuming and modest. A man as famous as he is could easily make this conversation about him, let everyone at this table give his ego a real nice hand job, but he doesn’t. He talks about our show, compliments the performance, asks John about his process. I liked him when we did that last-minute gig, and we’ve interacted some on social media since. My impression of him holds up. He’s a good guy. 

Not to state the obvious, but also fine. Like fine fine.

He has this Boris Kodjoe vibe. Real smooth. Kind of golden–brown. Clean-cut, close-cut. I can objectively recognize his appeal, even though he’s not my type. 

Not that I have a type lately. I’m so deep in this dick drought I’m past the point of thirst. 

At first I thought it was merely the grind. Auditioning constantly, taking craft classes, doing commercials and voiceover work to not just keep bills paid, but to save. This business is feast or famine. I’m eating now, but I’ve been hungry before. Not again. I’m thirty. Too old to still be living gig to gig and buying into that starving artist thing. I need health insurance and regularly scheduled meals, thank you very much. So yeah, the grind could account for my semi-disinterested libido, but I suspect it’s more. 

Maybe I’m disinterested.

I need a man who doesn’t think that because he has a dick and I don’t that I should defer to him—shrink my dreams down to a more manageable size. I’m cautious not only about who I share my heart and body with, but I’m also protective of my dreams; of my ambition. I won’t endanger my future for a man who can fuck. Though . . . a man who can fuck? I wouldn’t turn it down, but it will take more than that to pique my interest.

“What are you getting?” Takira asks, leaning over to read my menu instead of hers. “Anything here meet your high standards?”

My standards aren’t that high. I’ve just cut out red meat and stopped drinking as much alcohol. My health demands it. 

“I’m thinking about the salmon, but I—”

A chair scraping across the floor catches my attention. Wright’s friend has finally come inside to join us. The table shrinks immediately when he settles his imposing frame into the seat beside Janie. He peels the hood away from his head and I bite off a gasp.

It’s Canon Holt.

Like the Canon Holt.

The director I, and probably every actress at this table and in this dining room, would sacrifice a pinky toe to work with. Canon Holt is at my table sitting across from me. 

Takira’s expression doesn’t register this massive earthquake of a revelation, but she kicks me under the table and hisses from the corner of her mouth. “Did you know?”

I pretend I need to reach for something on the floor so I can whisper back, “Do you think I would have kept my shit together this long if I knew?”

“True. True.” Takira casually glances up from her menu and smiles in Canon’s general direction, but he’s not looking at her. He’s studying his screen. He’s apparently in an exclusive relationship with his phone, and no one at this table tempts him to stray.

Which means I can look at him.

Good. God.

He’s not that handsome, but that’s irrelevant. Some might even call his features, examined on their own, unremarkable. 

They’d be wrong.

It’s a Maker’s sleight of hand. Now God knew this man did not need lashes that long and thick, a paradox against the hard, high slant of his cheekbones. Canon hasn’t looked twice at anyone here as far as I can tell, but I’ve stolen enough glances to know there’s a fathomlessness to his dark eyes that is arresting. His unsmiling mouth is wide, the lips full in the blunt elegance of his face. A five o’clock shadow licks the ridge of his jawline. There is a geometry to him—angles, lines, edges—that disregards the individual parts and illuminates the compelling sum. WANT MORE REEL? Click here for the rest >> http://www.thehollywoodrenaissanceseries.com/excerpt

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Cover Designer: Lori Jackson Design
Photographer: Sophia Barrett Studios
Models: Jasmine Raiford and Ajayi Bodden

About Kennedy Ryan

A USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Kennedy Ryan and her writings have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Cosmo, TIME, O Mag and many others. A RITA® Award winner, Kennedy writes empowered women from all walks of life and centers those who have found themselves perennially on the margins of traditional storytelling.

Her Hoops Series (Long Shot, Block Shot and Hook Shot) and All the King’s Men Series (The Kingmaker, The Rebel King and Queen Move) have been optioned for television.

An autism mom, Kennedy co-founded LIFT 4 Autism, an annual charitable initiative, and has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for autism families. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son.

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