Today we're excited to spotlight Ali Novak's novel Paper Hearts. Read on for more about Ali and her book, plus an excerpt and giveaway!
Meet Ali Novak!
“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...
“Hey, Alec?” I shouted down the hall. “Someone’s Skyping you!”
“It’s probably Vanessa,” he yelled back. “Can you answer it? I’ll be out in a sec.” “Sure thing!” I rushed over to the computer.
The incoming call was from someone named DoubleJMan. I had a feeling it wasn’t Vanessa, but I slid into the chair and answered anyway. It took a few seconds for the call to connect, and when the camera finally blinked into focus, Alec’s sister was not on the other end. Instead, there was a guy with dark-brown, almost black, hair. The first thing I noticed was that he was shirtless. And he looked very good shirtless, all buff and muscly, with an armband tattoo twisted around his bicep. His face was just as recognizable as Alec’s, and I knew who he was in an instant—JJ Morris, drummer for the Heartbreakers.
I was as awestruck as when Alec first revealed his identity, but somehow, despite the uncomfortable flutter of nerves in my stomach, I managed to lift my hand in a hesitant wave and say, “Ah, hi.”
“Alec,” he said. “You’re much prettier than I remember. And ginger. Did you color your hair?”
I inhaled at his greeting. “I’m not Alec,” I said, although it was obvious he was giving me a hard time.
This made him smile, and he leaned toward the computer. “Hi, person who clearly isn’t Alec. Do you make a habit of answering other people’s calls when they’re not around?”
“Do you make a habit of calling people naked?” I shot back.
“Half naked,” JJ corrected, and he lifted himself from the chair so I could catch a glimpse of the sweats he was wearing. “But if you want me to lose the pants, I would be more than—”
A high-pitched squeal drowned out whatever inappropriate, dirty thing JJ was going to say. I didn’t have to turn around to know Asha was back from the bathroom.
“Holy shit, that’s JJ!” She pointed at the screen as if it were a one-way video chat and he couldn’t see her ogling him. I was tempted to end the call right there and save myself whatever further embarrassment was coming my way, but JJ seemed to find the whole situation amusing.
“Hey, guys!” He motioned to someone offscreen as he tried to contain his laughter. “Get over here. Looks like some crazy fans broke into Alec’s apartment again.” Three second later, a girl with an aqua streak in her hair moved into view and took the open spot next to JJ. A guy with brown curls and bright-blue eyes appeared behind her, placing his hands on the back of
her chair—Oliver Perry. Asha produced another earsplitting noise at the sight of the Heartbreakers’ lead singer.
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed, repeatedly hitting me on the shoulder. Before I could tell Asha to stop, that she was going to give me a bruise the size of Texas, or explain to JJ that I most certainly had not broken into Alec’s apartment, the girl spoke.
“She’s not a crazy fan,” she said. “You’re Felicity, aren’t you?”
What. The actual. Hell. “Um, yeah.”
The girl smiled as if knowing my name wasn’t creepy at all. “Hi, I’m Stella.”
With narrowed eyes, JJ glanced from Stella to me and back again, trying to figure out what was going on. “Wait, you two know each other?”
“Nope,” she responded. Behind her, Oliver was playing with her hair, and she leaned back against him. “We’ve never met. Hence why I introduced myself, Einstein.”
His eyebrows squished together. “Then how do you know her name?” he asked, voicing my own question.
“She’s the girl from the masquerade ball, duh.”
Alec told Stella about the ball. He told her about me. I was interesting enough to tell someone about! I made myself take a steadying breath.
JJ scratched his head and turned to Oliver. “You know what she’s talking about? What ball? I swear, nobody tells me anything anymore.”
Oliver flicked the back of JJ’s head. “Yeah, because you’re a loudmouth,” he answered, but I could tell from the look on his face that he also wasn’t in the know about the ball. JJ scowled and attempted to swat his friend back, but Oliver dodged out of the way with a smile.
“She’s talking about the Children’s Cancer Alliance masquerade,” Asha blurted out, clearly excited to contribute to the conversation. “It was a charity event, and hi, I’m Asha. I just want to say, I love you guys so much. Your new album is amazing.”
A satisfied smirk flashed on Oliver’s face. “Thanks, Asha,” he replied. She grabbed my arm when he said her name, and I flinched as her nails dug in. “So glad you liked it.”
Asha couldn’t manage a response. She looked dazed—lips parted, eyes glazed over. It was the same way girls at school looked when Eddie Marks paid them any attention, but this was ten times worse. Oliver had clearly perfected the art of making girls swoon.
A beat passed without anyone speaking, so JJ took advantage of the silence and returned the conversation to me. “So, Felicity, you met Alec at a charity ball?” He sounded casual, but from the way he scooted his chair closer, I could tell he wanted more information.
I nodded. “Um, yeah. He spilled his drink on me.” “Are you serious?” JJ exploded with laughter. Oliver’s lips quirked. “Smooth.”
Crap, maybe I shouldn’t have told them that.
“It wasn’t entirely his fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going, and—” “Hey, I’m here,” Alec said, emerging from the hall. “Is it Vanessa?”
He glanced down at the screen. “Oh. Hi, guys. What’s up?”
A wicked grin slowly built on JJ’s face. “You have a secret girlfriend.” “Not a secret,” Stella pointed out. “He told me.”
“We’re not dating,” I added quickly. I didn’t want Alec to think I’d been telling his friends anything untrue. “We hardly know each other.”
“But he invited you over,” JJ said. He waved a finger at me like he thought I was trying to fool him. “Alec never invites girls over.”
“It’s not like that,” I started to say.
But JJ wasn’t listening. He spoke over me to Alec. “No wonder you didn’t tell me about her. She’s totally bangable.”
The flush of humiliation was instantaneous. I peeked at Alec, and to my relief, he was just as red as me.
“Jeremiah!” Stella exclaimed. “Why do you always have to be so vulgar?”
“Ugh, how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that? Just because you know my first name doesn’t mean you get to use it,” JJ complained. “And besides, I wasn’t being vulgar. I was paying a compliment.”
The two bickered back and forth, and I decided to use their distraction as my opportunity to escape. “I’ll let you talk to your friends,” I whispered to Alec.
Alec answered with a stiff nod and refused to meet my eyes. His cool behavior made my throat tighten, but I did my best to ignore the sudden change in his attitude. I vacated the computer chair so he could sit down.
“Come on, Asha.” I grabbed her wrist and led her out of earshot, wishing we’d stayed in the car.
By: Ali Novak
Release Date: July 4, 2017