Monday, July 10, 2017

Giveaway & Excerpt: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak

Title: Paper Hearts
Series: Heartbreak Chronicles #2
Author: Ali Novak
Pub Date: July 4, 2017
ISBN: 9781492653363

“I’m sorry,” he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. “It’s just—I didn’t want you to think of me any differently.” 

Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn’t accept that he was the person looking down at me. 

“My real name is Alec.”

Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she’s had the full weight of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college. 

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned—like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he’d flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he’d turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec. 

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity’s missing sister. And she’s about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be…

Ali Novak writes contemporary young adult romance and is a recent graduate of the University of Madison Wisconsin's creative writing program. She wrote her first full length novel, My Life with the Walter Boys, at the age of fifteen. Since posting the story online, it has received more than 33 million reads and is now published by Sourcebooks Fire.

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Before I could overthink it, I pulled off my mask and tucked it on top of my bag where it wouldn’t get crushed. Then I hurried out of the room and thanked the man before surveying the lobby for Aaron. He was standing beside the valet counter, headphones in as he waited for me. His head bobbed to the beat of whatever song was playing, and when he saw me coming toward him, he stiffened.
“What’s wrong?” I asked when I reached him.
“Nothing,” he said, yanking out the earbuds. He stood straighter and nodded at me, but his response was too quick and I didn’t believe him.
“No, really. What’s up?” Reaching up, I self-consciously brushed a strand of my hair away from my eyes.
“It’s just that, well…you took off your mask.”
Oh man, that’s a bad thing?
My cheeks caught fire. Okay, so maybe my bottom teeth could be a little straighter, and I hated the number of freckles I had, but it wasn’t like my face was repulsive or anything. At least, I’d never thought so.
Aaron instantly backtracked, waving his hands in defense. “Crap, I didn’t mean it like that. You have a very lovely face…er…I mean, you’re really pretty.”
“Um, thanks?”
“I’m sorry.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “That came out all wrong. What I meant was… Now that you took off yours, I feel obligated to as well.”
“And you don’t want to?”
“No, it’s not that, but…” He trailed off, shaking his head, and took a big breath. “There’s something I haven’t told you.” He paused. “About myself.”
“Okay?” I said, my voice rising slightly. Did he not want to give me a ride home anymore? If so, I was totally screwed. I’d probably missed the bus, and there was no way Asha was home from picking up Riya yet, which meant I’d have to call my mom and interrupt her date. She would not be happy. “Are you some crazy serial killer?”
I joked, voicing my earlier concern. “Aaron the ax murderer?”
“No,” he said, “but my name isn’t Aaron.”
My entire body tensed. “What?”
Why would he lie about his name?
“I’m sorry,” he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. “It’s just…I didn’t want you to think of me any differently.” He pulled the wolf away, and somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn’t accept that he was the person looking down at me. “My real name is Alec.”
Holy. Freaking. Shit.
“Alec,” I repeated. I tried to swallow my shock. “As in Alec Williams.” Son of Sebastian Williams, CEO of Mongo Records—one of the largest labels in the music industry—and bass player for the Heartbreakers.
He stood there blushing, hands clasped behind his back.
I couldn’t wrap my mind around this impossibility, and I thought if I said the truth out loud, then maybe I would actually believe it. Because I hadn’t spent my time at the ball with some random cute guy. No, Alec Williams and his bandmates were some of the most famous guys in the whole flipping universe. Even more famous than Gabe Grant and Violet James.
It wasn’t like I was crazy obsessed with the Heartbreakers like Asha was. Sure, I liked their music. Heck, I’d even bought one oftheir albums, but I’d never been to a Heartbreakers concert, and I didn’t stalk their lives like a crazy fangirl. But the revelation that I’d unknowingly spent the past hour with an actual celebrity was overwhelming. Suddenly, all those embarrassing moments rushed back to me, and I blushed so deeply that my face probably turned the color of my hair.
Alec watched me with a guarded expression as I tried not to freak out. And then I remembered what he’d said only moments ago: he lied because he didn’t want me to think of him any differently.
Right now, I was doing just that.
He’s just a regular guy, I tried to convince myself. Pretend he’s still Aaron.
I flexed my fingers and pasted on a smile, but before I could say anything, a woman in a navy ball gown stepped in front of me. “Alec Williams?” she asked, an uncertain smile on her face. When he nodded, the woman’s shoulders relaxed. “I thought I recognized you. My daughter absolutely loves the Heartbreakers. Your music is the only thing she listens to, and she’d be crushed if I had the opportunity to get an autograph and came home empty-handed. Do you mind signing something for me?”
“Of course not.” Alec grabbed a pen and a piece of paper off the valet desk. “What’s your daughter’s name?”
I watched as Alec scribbled a quick message and his name before handing the paper over to the woman.
“Thank you so much,” she said, clutching the signature in her hands. “This will mean the world to her.”
Alec nodded again, and the woman said good night. I wondered if it was always like this for him—having to sign autographs, posing for pictures, putting on a smile everywhere he went. As backward as it sounded, living like that must’ve been lonely, to never have a moment to himself or be just a face in the crowd. I almost felt sorry for him.
When Alec faced me again, his lips were pressed tight, like he expected me to ask for an autograph too. Instead, I smirked.
“Well, I can honestly say I didn’t see that coming.”
A few seconds passed, and a grin split his face. “Because I’m more the serial-killer type?”
“Yup, totally.” We stared at each other with hesitant smiles, and suddenly it was like he was Aaron again, not Alec Williams of certain Heartbreakers fame.
“Mr. Williams?” the valet asked, materializing at Alec’s side. “Your car is ready.”
Alec took the keys. “Thanks,” he said, and my eyes went big when he slipped the man a fifty. He turned to me. “Do you still want me to give you a ride home? There are going to be people out there who will take our picture.”
I gulped. Did I want a bunch of flashing cameras in my face? No, and I suddenly realized this would be a whole lot easier if I’d kept my mask on. But at the same time, I had a feeling the boy standing next to me was worth a few uncomfortable moments in the limelight.
“Yeah,” I said, and my mouth twitched into a smile. “Besides, I probably already missed the bus.”
“I guess you’re stuck with me.” And then he put his hand on the small of my back and guided me out into the night.

No purchase necessary. Open to US Only. Must be 13 years or older to enter. The number of eligible entries received determine the odds of winning. Winner will have 48 hours after notification to claim prize after which another winner will be chosen. Not responsible for items lost in the mail. Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher not Little Library Muse.

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