Author: Beth Henderson
Genre: Romance, Late 20th Century Historical
Paul Montgomery’s dreams are of music. His journey takes him from covering Beatle songs for high school dances in the mid-1960s to being acclaimed for his diversity in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. Particularly for composing a library of love songs. With sold out concerts around the world, he seems to lead a charmed life. At least, professionally. Along the way there is tragedy, but it is winning and losing the only woman he’s ever loved – twice – that is a never healing wound in his heart.
For Aurora Chambers, it is the world of fashion that beckons. A scholarship for a summer design program in London is a carrot even her love for Paul can’t best. Hurt by his seeming denegation of her aspirations, she throws herself into the heart of Carnaby Street in 1967, and the arms of her instructor, Trevor Harris, who plans to use her talent as his steppingstone to better things. Unaware of Paul’s continuing love for her, Rory binds her future to Trevor’s. A decision she soon regrets. Aurora must marshal some of Trevor’s own devious traits to take back what is hers. Secretly, she follows Paul’s rise through the music trades, occasionally mourning the loss of what they’d had. When a second chance at happiness with him appears, she grabs it, and nearly destroys them both.
Late Winter 1965
Forty-five minutes later, Confederation leapt off the stage thankful that the first set had ended. Jill Gordon met them at the exit doors behind the stage and presented each with a Coca Cola in a soggy paper cup. Aurora and Bobbie were no longer in sight.
“Damn,” Steve Rawlins said running a hand through his sweat dampened hair as he pushed the door open. “How long does this hell last?”
“Two more sets,” Gordon said following him outside.
“Think they could get any hotter spots?” Rawlins complained.
Paul took Jill’s proffered drink. “Thanks, love, but I wish it were a beer. Where’s Bobbie?”
“Beer comes after,” Jill promised. “The last time I saw her she was the center of attention in a group of boys. She’s okay. There’s safety in numbers.”
“She can handle herself,” Paul agreed. His eyes scanned the crowd nonetheless.
Jill let him do so for a seemingly endless ten seconds before she took pity on him. “Rory went to get more drinks,” she said.
Paul turned back to her with a grin and sipped the soft drink already in his hand. “I hadn’t asked, but thanks.”
Jill gave him a look of sympathy apparently seeing through the ruse.
“Care to support your weary spouse into the cool night air?” Jim asked draping an arm over his wife’s shoulders.
Simpson and Rawlins were already heading toward the parking lot.
“Coming?” Jill asked him.
He shook his head. “I’ll wait here for Rory and Bobbie,” he said.
“Don’t get lost,” Jim recommended with a laugh, then drew his wife into the night.
Paul leaned against the wall, one knee bent, his foot against the gray-brown brick. The masonry felt cool against his sweat drenched back. He ran a hand through his damp hair, then finished his soda.
In a corner near the stage, three girls watched him apparently unaware that their voices funneled out of the gym allowing him to hear every word they said.
“Go on,” one urged.
“Should I? He’s kinda old, isn’t he?”
“He’s cute,” breathed the third. “Ask him.”
Paul crumpled his empty cup and tossed it aside. He hoped the trio would lose their nerve and leave him in peace.
The fates chose differently.
One girl was pushed forward from the huddle. Timid, she moved toward him. “Hi,” she said.
Paul straightened, giving them a half smile. He hoped they didn’t take it for encouragement. He was kinda old for them. They looked veritable infants, fourteen at the most.
“You guys are really gear,” the girl bubbled.
“Thank you. I’m glad you like our sound.”
She turned to look over her shoulder at her friends for moral support.
“Is there a song you girls would like to hear?” he asked, hoping he was leaving them with little option but to leave once the title was named.
The tap of high heels nearby distracted the girl. She glanced aside at the newcomer.
He did, too, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Where’d everybody go?” Rory asked, her eyes on the group of younger girls.
He couldn’t help it. He grinned at her. She was the cavalry arriving in the nick of time. He noticed the trio of little girls taking in Aurora’s clinging, short outfit, her long straight hair. Hell, she was lovely. He took one of the Coke’s from her and slipped his arm around her waist. For protection, he told himself, not because he wanted to touch her.
The teens took the hint. “Could you play ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’?” one asked.
Paul nodded. “You got it,” he said.
The girls moved away, their heads already together as they whispered. This time, fortunately, he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Was that because their backs were to him now, or was it because he was overly aware of how well Rory fit against him, of how good she felt?
To distract himself, Paul sipped the fresh drink. “You have any requests, Red?” he asked, although he made no move to slip his arm from around her.
She studied the bubbles rising in her cup. “No,” she said, shaking her head slightly. The curtain of straight copper hair rippled with the movement, shimmering as the security lights outside the open door spilled over it. With her so close he was aware of her scent, of how it made the night air that much sweeter.
“Enjoying yourself?” he asked, wishing Bobbie would return. If she didn’t, he was going to take Aurora in his arms.
And hate himself afterwards for being so weak.
“I’ve seen you dancing,” he said.
She grinned up at him. “You did?”
How could he not have watched her? Even with the spotlights blinding him most of the time, he hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her and had hated every guy with whom she’d danced.
“You’re good,” he said. Oh, damn, he thought. Now her eyes were glowing, her lips curving as she smiled softly.
He wondered what it would be like to kiss her, really kiss her.
“Time’s up,” Jim Gordon sang out. Paul put space between himself and Rory Chambers. He hastily gulped the last of his Coke in relief. Thank God for the second troop of cavalry! They’d come to his rescue — a rescue far more necessary for his peace of mind — just in time. A moment more and there would have been no going back. He’d briefly tasted Aurora’s lips at Christmas and hadn’t been able to shake the hunger that had infected him since then. If they shared a longer kiss there would be no going back.
“Thanks, Red,” he said and turned to follow Gordon.
Her hand stopped him, burnt him. “There is a song you could do for me.”
“‘If I Fell’,” Rory said.
“Sure,” he agreed and dashed back to the safe hell of the stage. The words already running through his mind: if I fell in love with you...
What makes your featured book a must-read?
I have to admit that, out of all the romances I’ve written, Paul Montgomery is the hero I’d run away with in the drop of a hat. It took me decades to write his story, and, to me, SUPERSTAR has always been Paul’s story, because it wasn’t like anything else I was writing. But Paul kept calling me back. Actually, he’s the man I’ve had the longest relationship with, outlasting long-term boyfriends and two husbands for durability. I reread this story a couple of times a year because I miss Paul. He’s worked his magic on some reviewers, too, despite the fact that the man has feet of clay. Perhaps that’s what makes him so real . . . at least to me.
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BETH HENDERSON spent a dozen years writing and rewriting the same three books during the 1980s, but all those rewrites paid off via a romance spinning career now 30+ years long. Romantic comedy and historical romantic adventure are her forte, though she also dabbles in romantic suspense. In 2021 she celebrates the release of her first published title, but also the release of titles 31 and 32. Three other completed manuscripts are sitting on editors’ desks. Today she writes non-fiction about writing fiction as Beth Daniels, romance as Beth Henderson, urban fantasy comedic mystery as J.B. Dane, and Weird West Steampunk and other historically twisted tales as Nied Darnell.
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