Blog Tour | One Week to Claim it All by Adriana Herrera | Review

She’ll inherit an empire…but only if she can resist her ex—in this Sambrano Studios novel by Adriana Herrera.

She’s on track to be the new CEO.

Her ex is the only one standing in the way.

When Esmeralda Sambrano-Peña unexpectedly inherits her father’s media empire, it ruffles more than a few feathers. And no one is more conflicted about it than Rodrigo Almanzar. Esmeralda knows her father’s longtime protégé—and her ex-lover—wants the executive job for himself. Making matters worse, their renewed passion grows undeniable with every late-night meeting. Will Rodrigo prove to be the perfect partner in business and pleasure…or her professional undoing?

Add One Week to Claim It All to your Goodreads!

Buy Links | Harlequin.com | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This one definitely sounded fun when I heard about it, so I had to pick it up. I loved the way it was written and the characters that were introduced. It really felt like it was a telenovela and was such a quick and entertaining read. I really loved Herrera’s writing style and felt that she pretty perfectly crafted the hate to love elements, which can often be hard to do well. I was not expecting the number of twists or drama that this included, but pretty much enjoyed every moment of reading it!

I’m also excited to share and excerpt of this book with everyone –

Esme’s chest fluttered with an ember of hope and longing at her mother’s words. Ivelisse was right, she’d been killing herself for the past five years—trying and failing to get her projects off the ground, but she could not get a break. Because her ideas weren’t “commercial” enough, or relatable to the “mainstream” audience. She was tired of getting doors shut in her face because she refused to compromise. As head of Sambrano Studios she could make her dream come to life. Put shows out there that reflected all the faces of Latinx culture.

If she wasn’t pushed out by Carmelina first.

“Mami, that woman is never going to let me stay. And I don’t want to sink to her level.” Ivelisse had been a wonderful mother, gentle and kind, but she was a fighter when it counted, and the mention of her old foe lit a fire behind her eyes.

“Carmelina won’t know how to fight you, baby. That woman has never done a day of work in her life. When you go in there—smart, competent, full of fresh ideas—that board won’t know what hit them.” That ember was now a tiny flame fueled by the faith Esme’s mother had in her. Still, she’d learned the hard way not to trust anything that came from her father.

“But won’t the board have someone picked out already? Someone that doesn’t come with the drama that I will certainly cause?”

Her mother averted her eyes at her question and that gave Esme pause. “Mami?” she asked wearily as she scanned the paper in her hands again, looking for whatever her mother wasn’t saying. And when she got to the very last paragraph she understood. Her body flashed hot and cold, just from reading that name. There in black and white was the last push she needed to jump right into an ocean of bad decisions.

“Him?” she asked tersely, and from the corner of her eye she saw her mother flinch.

Rodrigo Almanzar, her father’s protégé and the person who for years had been the only tie she had to Patricio. The man she’d given her heart and her body to only to have him betray her when she needed him most. The man whose very name could still make her ache with longing and tremble with fury. How could it still hurt so much after all this time?

She felt tired. Tired of this damn thing hanging over her head. Tired of all the complicated feelings she had about everything having to do with Sambrano Studios. Especially when it came to the tall, brawny, arrogant bastard who was probably hoping she’d do the very thing she’d been considering. Let her pride and her baggage make her decision for her.

And she might have, if he wasn’t the one who’d end up as president and CEO. She wouldn’t do it out of greed, or even to appease her mother, but she would do it out of spite. Rodrigo had betrayed her just so he could continue as her father’s lapdog. Now she’d take the thing he’d sold his soul for…just when he thought he finally had it.

“Actually,” she said, standing up, already feeling the fire in her gut that usually preceded her doing ill-advised things. “You’re right.” The four women in her living room were all looking at her with varying degrees of anticipation. “I’ve been saying for years that if given the chance to shoot my shot I wouldn’t hesitate to take it. This isn’t exactly how I’d hoped to get it, but now that I do, I’m not wasting it. Tomorrow, Sambrano will get its new president and CEO.”

Her mother eyed Esme with suspicion, probably guessing what had been the deciding factor for her change of heart, while her aunt Yocasta crowed with delight, “Ay, Ivelisse, what I wouldn’t give to see the look on Carmelina’s face when Esme walks into that boardroom tomorrow.”

Esme smiled wryly at her aunt, but her mind was already racing toward the other shocked face she was looking forward to seeing.

Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last 15 years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

Connect with the Author | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub

Happy reading!

Blitz | It Must Be Fate by Sinclair Kelly

It Must Be Fate
Sinclair Kelly
(The Ghost Girl, #3)
Publication date: July 16th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

He’s gone…

This ghost girl just can’t catch a break. There’s fury in my soul and pain in my heart as I try to come to terms with the latest shitstorm the universe has thrown in the way of our unlife’s happy ending. But during the uncertainty following the abduction, we discover we’re not alone. We have the love and support of those closest to us, even if we barely remember them. With their help, it’s time to start tackling our growing to-do list

Like having Asher fix the guys’ souls. Or asking Nate to help me save Macklin…er…Thad. Whatever…that’s hella confusing (we’re working on a cheat sheet). Anyways, once we’re all together again, we’ll stop my sister and save the world. No big deal, right?

After all that, maybe we’ll finally get to live happily ever after…that is, if we don’t die first.

It Must Be Fate is the final book in a medium-burn, why choose trilogy. It’s highly recommended that you read A Fate Unknown & Twist of Fate first.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

In that single moment between breaths, in the split second that determines whether or not you take another, time simply stops. There’s a stillness that descends, ensnaring everything around it. There’s no love or loss or…anything at all. Just this vast nothingness that casts a shadow over everything within reach. Then, in the next moment, there’s sound and light and life, and you take the next breath, but everything is suddenly different. The axis has shifted ever so slightly, yet the repercussions are immense.

One second, he’s there, looking at me with eyes that aren’t his own but are filled with everything he can’t say. The next, he’s gone.

My soul is keening at the loss of its echo, yet at the same time, an all-consuming fire has been lit within me, slowly flooding the hollow space left in Macklin’s wake as I stare through tear-filled eyes at the empty spot he occupied. The juxtaposition of the two warring emotions leaves room for little else. There is only pain. Only anger. Grief. I’m not sure if this is what it looks like for anyone else, but for me, it’s an internal battle between giving up and pushing on. Taking that next breath or letting it be taken.

Swiping the back of my hand across my face, I take a deep breath, picking up the pieces of my broken heart and holding myself together as best I can. The edges are jagged, but the pain just serves to further my purpose: getting my sexy nerd back.

I love you. The silent words are on repeat in my mind, and I simply refuse to let those be his last.

Get it together, Fate. This is no time to fall apart. You survived death and Ass-Cole’s shitty attitude. You can survive this too.

Getting to my feet, my eyes are unfocused, my mind a jumbled mess of contradictions. I was chosen as the Guardian of the Spirits because of my ability to remain fair. Balanced. Neutral.

That last word has my hands fisting, nails digging into my palms as my jaw clenches and tears continue to pour like rain down my face.

Neutrality? Yeah. Fuck that shit. Righteous fury is about as neutral as I can manage at the moment. My head drops back, releasing my anguish, frustration, and complete and utter rage at the top of my lungs. The roar echoes through the silence of Gateway but does little to ease the ache inside.


Author Bio:

Sinclair Kelly is a paranormal & contemporary romance author who writes to give all of the feral characters in her head a voice. She’s fluent in sarcasm and dry humor. She lives in sunny Arizona with her loving husband, three adorably exhausting kids, and a cranky old chihuahua named Sam. She loves reading, writing, coffee, vodka, tattoos, wine, donuts, broody asshole book boyfriends, badass FMCs, wine, all of the friendships she’s made since she began beta reading for some totally incredible authors, and can’t forget wine!

Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram


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Blog Tour | What Happens in Miami by Nadine Gonzalez | Review

When a man on a mission is derailed by a beautiful woman, will one night ever be enough? Find out in this Miami Famous novel from Nadine Gonzalez.

Will one night be his undoing?

Alessandro Cardenas isn’t stepping out on the Miami art scene only for the hottest parties. Someone is forging his late grandfather’s paintings—and he’s determined to uncover the culprit. But when he crosses paths with gallerist Angeline Louis, the boundaries between mystery and seduction become blurred. Does Angeline suspect his ulterior motives…even as she surrenders to his kisses? Does she have secrets of her own? Or can Alessandro trust that their once-in-a-lifetime connection is real?

Add What Happens in Miami… to your Goodreads!

Buy Links | Harlequin.com | Amazon |  Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I found this a quick and enjoyable romance that was a fun read, but didn’t blow me away. Sandro by far was the most developed and complex character in my opinion so I really enjoyed reading about him, but a lot of the story itself didn’t feel realistic. This is absolutely fine as it is fiction, but sometimes it does jolt me when a character’s behavior or attitude isn’t quite realistic. That being said I still really enjoyed this story and the writing style, it was a great quick summer read.

Nadine Gonzalez was born in New York City, the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Eventually, she moved to Miami, Florida, and fell in love with the people, weather, and lifestyle. She started her first novel while in law school and her modern romances reflect this vibrant city and unique mix of cultures. 

Nadine lives with her Cuban American husband and their beautiful son. For more visit her website: www.nadine-gonzalez.com

Connect with the Author | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Last Little Secret by Zuri Day | Review

Will a secret child stand in the way of business? Find out in this Sin City Secrets novel by Zuri Day.

Is she willing to risk it all

for one more night with the boss?

Thanks to a year-long hiatus, interior designer Samantha Price is desperate for a new project. But the only client she can land is Nick Breedlove, a former one-night stand who’s dominated her fantasies ever since! The real estate billionaire agrees their partnership is strictly professional—even as his flirting promises more. If Sam gives in to their passion…will Nick learn the truth about their baby son?

Add The Last Little Secret to your Goodreads!

Buy Links | Harlequin.com | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was my first Zuri Day book, but I found I really enjoyed her writing style and how the story itself flowed. Miscommunication and a secret baby aren’t my favorite tropes to read, unless they are done well and for the most part I felt this one was done pretty well. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the main characters and there was enough of the side characters that it makes me want to check out the other books in the series to see who they are about. Though this is the 4th book in the series, I felt it could easily be read as a stand alone if you wanted, I didn’t feel like there was anything I didn’t understand or anything that confused me.

Award-winning author Zuri Day snuck her first Harlequin romance from her older sister’s collection and was hooked from page one. Knights in shining armor and happily-ever-afters spurred a lifelong love of reading. Zuri now creates these stories as a full-time author. Splitting her time between the stunning Caribbean islands and southern California, and always busy writing her next novel, Zuri still loves to connect with readers via Zuri@ZuriDay.com.

Connect with the Author | Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Review | Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City by Sam Baltrusis

Nestled on the rocky coast of Massachusetts, Salem is a city steeped in history and legend. Famous for its witch trials, the storied North Shore seaport also has a dark history of smugglers and deadly fires. It is considered one of New England’s most haunted destinations. Inside Howard Street Cemetery, the ghost of accused witch Giles Corey wanders among the gravestones. Outside the Ropes Mansion, the ghost of Abigail Ropes can be seen peeking out of the windows. The Gardner-Pingree House on Essex Street is host to the spirit of sea captain Joseph White, a man whose murder in 1830 inspired literary giants like Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Join author and paranormal journalist Sam Baltrusis on a chilling journey through the streets of Salem as he chronicles the historic haunts of the Witch City.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Well, first things first – anyone who uses Ghost Adventures as a source gets a little side eye from me… That being said, I didn’t have an issue with any of the actual quotes from Nick (of Ghost Adventures).

Now on to what I really thought – I really enjoyed this compilation of locations/stories from Salem. I felt the writing style was solid – with any book that deals with history and legends you are going to get some dryness and dense sections, but I felt it was balanced really well between history and story telling. There were some instances where things were repeated which threw me a little, but the author did usually have a note that the subjects were referenced elsewhere in the book. The pictures that went along with the different sections were interesting and definitely added an element to the book as it was helpful to see named locations. Also, most of the sources sounded really interesting (besides Ghost Adventures) so I now have a list of other books I’d like to track down and pick up.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne | Review

Meet Josephine, the most loveable mischief-maker in Barbados, in a magical, heartfelt adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology.

Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That’s why she’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team. She’ll get to play her favorite sport AND make sure her fisherman daddy is too busy attending her matches to date.

But when tryouts go badly, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life . . .
The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, she doesn’t scare easily. Josephine knows there’s something fishy about Mariss–she sings in a strange language, eats weird food, and seems to exert mysterious control over everyone she meets.

Josephine knows that Mariss isn’t what she seems … she might not be human! But who’s going to believe her? Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss’s clutches before it’s too late?

Book Links | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What can I say about this book that doesn’t start with the fact that I loved every second of it? It’s rich with culture, heritage and folklore – as well as a main character who speaks with such a clear voice that she’s practically three dimensional. It was such a fun and compelling read from start to finish with writing that just flew by and was completely immersive. There were so many times during this book that I was laughing and I truly enjoyed the glimpse into modern Barbados life and culture. I also really loved the dynamic between Josephine and her father, and the talk of her father’s heritage since he was from Guyana. This book was packed full of so much that I loved and I will definitely be looking for more from this author in the future.

Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian author and filmmaker. Her first feature film, the comedy-drama, PAYDAY, was screened throughout the Caribbean, USA and UK. She has written three films since its debut in 2013: Two Smart (writer/co-director), Next PAYDAY (writer/producer) and A Caribbean Dream (writer/director). A Caribbean Dream is distributed by Verve Pictures and had a cinema release in London in 2017. The film won several awards, including Best Drama at the National Film Awards UK,  Best International Feature at the Charlotte Black Film Festival and best UK Feature at the London Independent Film Festival.

Her short stories have been featured in many literary journals (see below). Her self-published collection of short stories, IN TIME OF NEED (2013), won the prestigious Governor General Award for Excellence in Literary Fiction. She was a finalist for the BURT/CODE Award for Caribbean Literature in 2018. The Caribbean edition of her middle grade novel, MY FISHY STEPMOM, was published by Blue Banyan Books (2019) and the North American edition, JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA, will be published by Scholastic in 2021.

She was  a Part-time Lecturer at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and is a Part-Time Lecturer in Screenwriting at the Barbados Community College. She currently holds Certificates in Screenwriting from the Barbados Community College and the University of Edinburgh, and an MA (Hons) in Arts and Cultural Management from Queen Margaret University.

Author Links | Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Make sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour here!

Happy reading!

Blitz | Outcast by R.L. Caulder

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Outcast
R.L. Caulder
(The Pack Prophecy, #1)
Publication date: March 12th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

“The arrival of the Prophetess will bring both hope and destruction for the wolves of the world.

She alone will be able to save them–or damn them.”

The dark prophecy that has been passed down since the first pack of shifters is coming to fruition– and I am at the center of it.

An orphaned human taken in by a pack of wolves. The fate of their existence in my hands.

I’ve been treated as the dirt beneath the pack’s paws for years.

Will they be able to accept my new role when my powers surface? Will I be able to forgive them enough to help them?

The bright spot amongst all the turmoil…finding my three fated. Until one of them rejects our bond.

The one thing I know for sure…death is coming for us all, soon, and the person responsible for it? Their betrayal is going to alter the shifter world forever.

I’ll conquer my powers, protect the packs, and live happily ever after with my men, right?

Wrong.

No one is prepared for the vile truths of my visions to come to light.

***

Author Note: This book has a 18+ warning and is intended for mature audiences. It is book one in The Pack Prophecy series which will end in a cliffhanger.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

When I was abandoned by my parents and taken in by a pack of wolf shifters at the age of four, I’d never have imagined that this was where it would lead me. Hunched over on all fours, cleaning the blood-covered, rough stone floor of a prisoner cell.

At least, I thought the thick, black, tar-like substance was blood. I glanced down at where the black matter clung to my fingers and grimaced when it made a thin web as I spread them apart.

Sighing deeply from exhaustion, I wrung out my rag into the bucket of water that was now a murky grey color. I repeated the process what felt like a thousand times, until the floor was clear of the blood-slime, and ambled to my feet gingerly.

My back groaned in protest as I straightened, feeling stiff from the cold air blowing through the network of underground cells, in combination with being hunched over for so long. A dull ache thrummed through my lower back and into my tailbone, making me wince.

“I will never understand why you put up with the shit they make you do, Kira. You’re not a torture clean-up crew. You’ve been down here practically all day.”

How did he manage to always sneak up on me?

The deep rumble of Milo’s voice behind me made that ache in my back disappear, and then reappear between my legs for an entirely different reason. Him acting protective of me was quite possibly the sexiest thing I’d ever experienced. Okay, no—it definitely was.

Turning around, bucket in hand, I slammed into a stone wall of muscle, not expecting him to be that close, and the breath whooshed out of me on impact. His scent lingered, swirling around me while teasing that ache and turning into an insistent throb of need. He always managed to smell like a bonfire, the smokey wood scent making me want to curl up in his lap on a cold night—or anytime really.

Neither of us moved, both hesitant to even breathe. We had toed the line of this attraction between us for years, and I’d likely combust soon with the amount of sexual tension that sizzled between us incessantly.

Daring to tilt my chin up, I found his large blue eyes, framed by dark lashes thick enough to make any girl jealous, staring deep into my own. It always felt like we were looking past the surface in these moments. Like we could sense each other’s fears, hopes, and insecurities. As if each of our deepest secrets were suddenly on display for the other to bear witness.

Willing myself to find the words to once again express why I felt it okay to be the pack’s grunt, even though he’d never accept my reasoning, I reached up with my empty hand to lay it against the dark stubble of his sharp jawline.

I’m the outcast here. The human taken in by a pack of wolves. I was just a child when I was found, close to death with hypothermia overtaking me. I didn’t have many options.

After thinking about it, I refused to give him the spiel again. He’d heard it a million times. “You know why. I’m the only human here,” I looked at him imploringly so he’d drop it.

He leaned his forehead against my own and whispered to me. The ends of his short curls tickled my skin, making me shiver.

“You still deserve better. Human or not. You are not any lesser than us, despite what they’ve made you believe.”

Author Bio:

R.L. Caulder is the author of The Pack Prophecy and Darkness Rising series. She lives in her writing cave away from the intense heat of the Florida sun with her husband and pets keeping her company.

If you’re looking for ways to interact with R.L., you can find her on facebook in her group:
The Cauldron: R.L. Caulder Reader Group

Website / Goodreads / Facebook Page / Facebook Group / Instagram / Bookbub / Newsletter


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Review | Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy by J.Y.Yang

As an orphaned sixteen-year-old, Lynette was haunted by the ghost of Mirror Boy, the drowned child who replaced her reflection. Ten years later, she’s built herself a new life, but all that is threatened when Mirror Boy returns, warning of danger. A hunter has come for both of them, and unless Lynette can figure out what’s going on, they will both perish.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoyed a previous short story I read by this author, so I definitely wanted to check out this one. Though it was short I really enjoyed the snippet of this setting and world that was revealed. I would definitely enjoy reading more stories in this world as I felt the author really crafted the small look at it really well. It was an interesting mix of different elements and I really liked it. The plot itself is a simple storyline, but it was all the elements that went into it – from the description of the main character’s past to the different locations described.

Happy reading!

Writing Update | 7/7

Hey everyone! For some reason the first week of July got away from me so I haven’t yet started my Camp Nanowrimo project.

I debated just skipping the July session of Camp, but figured it would be better to do it and have something motivating me even if I missed one week. I am just going to work on the story I’ve been working on here and there. I’m not setting too lofty of a goal, so I’ve set it to 25k and we’ll see where we go.

As you can probably tell I’m not going to put a huge amount of pressure on myself. I’m coming out of a reading slump and don’t want to put myself in a writing slump by forcing anything. Last year and this year have taken tolls on so many things, mental health being one of the major ones and I think I’m really feeling the brunt of that now. So with my writing and reading I’m going to be kind with myself and make sure that I have fun with it rather than forcing myself. Anyone else feeling that way?

Happy writing!

Blitz | Catwalk by Nicole Gabor

Catwalk
Nicole Gabor
Publication date: July 6th 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old, shy, suburban aspiring model Cat Watson suddenly has it all as the New York fashion world’s new “It” girl and she thinks she has everything she ever dreamed of—until she realizes be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Leaving her good-girl image behind, Cat quickly learns things aren’t always what they seem on the catwalk, and she’s faced with a decision that will change her life forever.

WILMINGTON, Delaware, May 12, 2021

When 18-year-old Catherine Watson disobeys her parents and ditches her Ivy-league acceptance to start fresh as an aspiring model in New York City, a chance encounter with fashion world bigwigs gives her a world-class agent plus a boyfriend she only dreamed about. But as she navigates the fickle world of modeling, she realizes that to get ahead, she’ll have to leave herself behind—but is it worth it? Catwalk is an expertly written tale of first love, coming of age, and high-fashion, from award-winning author and editor Nicole Gabor, inspired by her own experiences as a runway model.

In her suburban hometown, Catherine had what most would consider a charmed life: a 4.0 GPA, a good-guy boyfriend who had his whole life planned out down to the two kids, two dogs, two-car garage—and it scared her to death. She wasn’t ready to follow a traditional path to a paint-by-numbers existence. She longed for adventure, for a life less…ordinary. When Catherine moves away to pursue her modeling dream in New York City and moves in with Jon-Michelle “Jonnie” who tackles the newly-named “Cat” as “her next project,” she revels in her newfound career, thinking “this is what it’s like to be young and beautiful in the greatest city in the world.”

“At that moment, it hit me. I was a mere mortal in a room full of demigods: actors, actresses, bygone legends of the stage and screen; men and women who had traipsed down red carpets all of their lives, whom the rest of the country, no, the world, had pined for, had paid to know the secrets of. Here I was standing among them, cavorting with twenty-first century royals.”

Cat meets Seth, a beautiful and kind but troubled New York scenester, the son of a ‘70s fashion model icon who fatally overdosed during her prime, and she feels strangely protective. She wants to save him like he saved her on her first night out on the town in New York City’s gritty yet swanky meatpacking district club scene.

When Cat is “discovered” by the one and only Philippe Borghetta, the hottest fashion designer in the pages of Vogue magazine, she thinks she has it all. Her life is thrust into an alternate universe, where star-studded cocktail parties, casting calls, go-sees, and nightclub openings revolve around her like constellations. She tries to play the part. Her former self, “Catherine,” was now a shadow of who she was and what she was becoming.

Cat thinks she’s finally gotten what she wanted all along—a chance to start over, a redo, a refresh. But as the lines blur between who she once was and who she wants to be, she’s reminded of her mother’s words, “Sometimes the things that are most worth fighting for are the things you already have.” Cat finds she has to make a decision that will change her life—and possibly the modeling world—forever.

Drawing on her own experiences in the fast-paced fashion model industry, former model and author of more than twenty children’s books, Nicole Gabor masterfully weaves a timeless story of self-discovery, coming of age, and the heartache of first loves. Catwalk is her debut young adult/new adult novel, available July 2021 wherever books are sold.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

My parents stared at me from across the kitchen table, stunned. They looked as though I’d just told them that our 12-year-old lab, Holly, had died.

I watched the wrinkles on my mother’s forehead get deeper and darker, and it seemed like she was aging right before my eyes. Was her hair turning gray? I once heard that former First Lady Barbara Bush’s hair turned gray overnight from the shock and grief of losing her baby daughter.

But I was not dead, or even dying. I was alive, and in the flesh. And I had just told my parents that I, Catherine Watson, their only daughter — the one with the 4.0 grade point average who my stay-at-home mother hoped would become a successful career woman, and my father secretly wished would follow in his footsteps as a lawyer — was not going to college after all.

I was, in fact, moving to New York City. To be a fashion model.

As I spoke, my letter of decline to the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences was signed, sealed, and on its way to the admissions office. My mother cried and said that I was breaking her heart. My father yelled and said that I was ruining my life. Part of me feared they were right. To be honest, I couldn’t believe I’d actually gotten up the nerve to send that letter. I’d always listened to my parents, did the “right” thing. Never cut class. Been teacher’s pet. Made curfew. But I was sick of following the rules.

With my high school graduation just behind me, the idea of more school — only to be followed by an office job that would imprison me within four gray walls — was something that I couldn’t succumb to yet, if ever.

I was ready for adventure, for excitement, for a life less … ordinary. And I had a hunch that plenty of people stuck to the safe roads, so maybe, just maybe, I could make it on a path where everyone else wasn’t taking up so much space.

Of course, it did seem an odd choice. I’d always been so ashamed of the attributes that could, quite possibly, make me a model. Lanky and lean at 6 feet tall, I had a way of sticking out in the hallways, towering over most of the female (and many of the male) teachers. Growing up, I’d tried everything I could to blend in, to bulk up, to deny my stature: I drank milkshakes. Dressed in layers. Only wore flats. Avoided stretching in gym glass. Never stood next to the short boys in line.

But then, one day, something happened. My mother took me to Victoria’s Secret in Philadelphia to pick out my first fancy grown-up bra for my birthday. I was eying the “extreme lift” padded pushups (which I was sure would jumpstart my love life), when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to be a model. Just like that.

“She just turned 14,” my mother said, looking a bit puzzled and slightly irritated. “I think she’s a little young, don’t you?”

“She’s perfect,” said the older woman, who was in her sixties and dressed far more fashionably than my 45-year-old mother.

She couldn’t possibly be talking about me, I thought. Is this some sort of practical joke? A sick, twisted joke? I looked around expecting to see some mean girls from school, but the place was virtually empty. I turned back around, feeling my face flush.

“You … you think I could model?” I stammered.

“I think you’re wasting your talent if you don’t,” she said. “Here’s my card. Call me when your mother changes her mind.”

But she never did. And neither did my father. Despite all my begging and pleading. My parents said that high school was more important, that getting into college was more important. That anything was more important than “aspiring toward such a frivolous pursuit.”

So I did what any girl in my situation would do. I stomped up the stairs, slammed the door, and screamed and cried into my pillow. But for the first time in my life, I felt like something special. Someone special. And my parents were not going to take that away from me.

Author Bio:

Nicole is a published author of more than 20 children’s picture books and an award-winning health writer and editor. Her debut young adult/new adult fiction novel Catwalk is inspired by her experiences living and working in New York City as a model. She’s also a freelance writer at Highlights for Children and a senior editor at KidsHealth.org, the web’s most-visited site for children’s health. She lives in Delaware with her husband, three children, and their Goldendoodle named Ginger. Learn more at http://www.nicolegabor.com

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