Super excited today to finally share this awesome cover for the second book in the Starstruck series, designed by the fabulous Jeanine Henning.
Before He Was Gone follows some of the characters we met in Before He Was Famous, only this one takes us beyond the music industry and Noah Lockton’s overnight success, to a faraway island and a Survival style reality TV show called Deserted. Alyssa thinks this will be a great challenge, but she soon realises the one thing she’s really playing for isn’t the prize money at all. You can read the full blurb and mark it to read on Goodreads now, but here’s a sneaky excerpt:
‘So, you’re a chef?’ he asks.
‘Not officially. But I do love to cook.’ I want to thank him for sticking up for me back there with Jaxx tonight, but for some reason I know he’d just shrug it off. Joshua’s as fiery as me, I’ve noticed; as spontaneous with his words and actions. I wonder if they’ve ever gotten him into serious trouble.
‘You don’t want to make any movies, or albums? You don’t want to be famous? A famous chef, perhaps?’ he says.
‘Not particularly. What I knew of fame never did me any favors.’ I pause, feeling the beer still buzzing through me. ‘I don’t think most people would equate fame with a movie deal, or any kind of talent anymore anyway,’ I carry on. ‘This is a crowded planet – people craving fame just want other people to know who they are, right? And anyway, the more I think about it, the more I think fame is just an illusion. It’s a bunch of projections.’
‘Projections?’ he repeats with intrigue as I swig from the coconut and I nod, looking out over the ocean.
‘I think about that a lot here. What’s real, what isn’t? I imagine if it was just me here right now; just me and the sea and the sand and the birds, and this coconut.’ I hold it up between us. ‘Imagine if none of the paps or the stories about me and Sebastian ever affected me again. They could still talk about me, I guess, but if I didn’t know about it, would I still be a famous person? Or would I just be me again?’
‘What do you mean again? You’re already just you,’ he replies, a line appearing between his dark eyebrows. ‘Maybe through fame you’ve been defining yourself as something else without even realizing it, Alyssa, but you is all you can ever be.’ He takes the coconut. ‘You’re right about projections,’ he adds. ‘If you believe what other people say about you, good or bad, you stop believing in yourself, right?’
‘Right,’ I say, watching him swig it. ‘You self-destruct. You project other people’s crap onto yourself and you go off-track, spiritually, mentally, karmically…’
‘All of the above.You should never let those people get you down, or pigeonhole you. They don’t even know you.’
‘And you do?’ I laugh suddenly.
‘I thought I had you pretty figured out. But I was wrong.’
Joshua draws his eyes away, runs his finger round the rim of the coconut. ‘Some people are summer, and some people are winter,’ he says after a moment, but I’m just looking at the ocean now, trying not to fall. It could be the beers I guess, because as well as being blunt and infuriating and drop-dead gorgeous, Joshua is probably the most insightful person I’ve held a conversation with in months. ‘You’re summer, Alyssa,’ he tells me now, shaking his head and smiling for a second. ‘Did you love him?’
‘Sebastian? Yes, of course.’ I say it fast on autopilot, but the sparks igniting invisibly between us make me stop. ‘I don’t know,’ I admit, looking at my bare feet on the rocks. ‘It all seemed so great, you know? But maybe love was just part of the illusion.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘He was never really there, even when he was,’ I say. ‘He was always drifting someplace else; usually into his music.’ I cast my eyes to the glassy ocean, flash back over our relationship – from the first kiss, the first night to the last time; the conversations we used to have. He worshipped me and I reveled in his adoration. But did he ever set my mind on fire? Did he ever really scratch lines across my soul?
I squeeze my eyes shut for a second. I shouldn’t have drunk all these beers. Chloe says they make me emotional. ‘What about you?’ I say, forcing the lump from my throat away. ‘Any significant others?’
Joshua studies my face for a moment. ‘There was a girl,’ he answers.
‘English,’ he says with a slight smile. It disappears in a heartbeat. ‘She wanted more than I could give her.’
‘Why couldn’t you have given her more?’
‘It wouldn’t have been a good idea.’
Joshua reaches out, runs a hot thumb over a coconut splash on my lips in a motion that sends my heart up to my throat. ‘Forget him,’ he says without answering me. ‘He wasn’t the one.’
If you’re a blogger and want a review copy, Before He Was Gone (Starstruck #2) will be on NetGalley from mid-July.
Release day on Amazon KDP is August 25.
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