My Life as an Album (Books 1-4): A Small Town Romance Series
To find joy...
To find redemption...
To find love...
5 HEART-STOPPING BOOKSfull of soul-tugging, Southern charm and captivating characters. This fresh and original series might leave you with a book hangover.
MY LIFE AS A COUNTRY ALBUM ― a boy-next-door, coming-of-age romance. Tomboy Cam's diary-style coming-of-age story about growing up loving the football god next door. She vowed to love him forever. But when fate comes calling, will she ever find a heart to call home? Warning: Tears may fall.
MY LIFE AS A POP ALBUM ― a road-trip, rock-star romance. Bookworm Mia is trying to put behind years of guilt when soulful musician, Derek Waters, strolls into her life and turns it upside down. Once he's seen her, Derek can't walk away unless Mia comes with him. But what will happen when their short time together comes to an end?
MY LIFE AS A ROCK ALBUM ― a second-chance, antihero romance. Recovering addict, Seth Carmen, is a trash artist who knows he's better off alone. But when he finds and loses the love of his life, he can't help sending her a series of love letters to try and win her back. Will Seth prove to PJ they can make broken beautiful?
MY LIFE AS A MIXTAPE ― a single-dad, rock-star romance. Lonnie's always seen relationships as a burden instead of a gift and having to pick up the pieces his sister leaves behind is just one of the reasons. When Wynn enters his life just as her world is disintegrating, their mixed-up pasts give way to new beginnings neither of them saw coming.
THIS LIFE WITH CAM ― a box set exclusive novella. Written as a response to Cam's story in Country Album, Blake shares what it was like growing up in the shadow of Cam's first love. Discover the exact moment he fell for the tiny football referee with her lopsided braids and blue popsicle-stained lips.
The award-winning My Life as an Album series should come with a warning label: Do NOT read unless you are prepared to invest your heart and soul. It's about finding yourself and your path on this wild ride called life while overcoming loss, heartbreaks, and illness. It's about family and hope and love. Each book can be read as a standalone novel but comes with spoilers for the first book in the series.
Release date: April 17, 2020
Publisher: LJ Evans Book
Print pages: 1488
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Behind the book
Four heart-stopping books and one novella with over 2,100 pages of soul-tugging, Southern charm.
The MY LIFE AS AN ALBUM SERIES should come with a warning label: Do NOT read unless you are prepared to invest your heart and soul. It's about finding yourself and your path in this crazy life while overcoming loss, heartbreaks, and illness. It's about family and hope and love.
My Life as an Album (Books 1-4): A Small Town Romance Series
EXCLUSIVE BONUS NOVELLA SAMPLE
Love I’ve Found in You
“Barefoot on the couch, curled up next to me
Oh, I got everything I've ever needed
In you, I found it in you.”
Performed by Lady A
Written by Scott / Davis / Haywood / Kelley
Dear Super Girl,
I’m in the maternity ward waiting room as I write this. I have two hours before the family gets here. Two hours that I thought I’d have at your side, but they kicked me out of the room because you and the baby were both struggling some. I’m going a little crazy, and I wonder if I can write everything that’s in my head before the family gets here or they come back to tell me you and the baby are alright. I’m all scattered. That’s because I’m still thinking of you and how you were breathing a little rough, and how our baby’s heart was pattering like a bongo drum.
It’s hard to not dwell on those sights and sounds... So, maybe I’ll focus on our past. On the journal you made me read. And maybe that will help me not go insane while I wait.
I don’t call you Super Girl as much as I used to. Maybe because, for both of us, it’s tied to the time when Jake was alive and in our world for real. Maybe because it’s tied to our childhood when there were five years between us and more mountains than hillsides.
But today—today of all days—I need you to be that Super Girl. For me, for you, for our baby. You’ve been a Super Girl since I first met you at five years old, refereeing our football games in the street, tagging after Jake like he was the sun and the moon and everything in between. Like he was the superstar he was destined to become, and you were his number one fan. Which you are. Which you’ve never stopped being. And I get that. I’m okay with that.
I tried to tell you that last week when you walked into my home office with your journal in hand. I wasn’t sure what it was at first. You sat on my lap and placed it on the desk, and let’s be honest, all I was thinking about was you on my lap. How every time our skin connects, I’m floored by the sensations of life, and passion, and home. When you sat down, I was thinking that I was going to get to lose myself in you for a few hours.
But when I started kissing you and touching all the places that I know make you moan in the way I so love, you pulled my hands away and put air between our lips. You wanted my attention, and I gave it to you.
You ran your hand along the journal one more time and then turned to me with eyes that I hadn’t seen that sad in almost two years. In almost the entire time we’d been together. And I hated it at that moment as much as I did when I saw you in the coffee shop downtown.
You said, “I need you to read this.”
I frowned because I didn’t know what it was yet.
You rubbed your hand over your belly. The belly where our baby was sleeping nestled in a home that you had given him or her. That I was in awe of every day since the very first day you’d told me you were pregnant.
“When we first moved in together,” you kept going, “you said you wanted me to always remember you loved me right now for who I was. For all I’d been through. But you also wanted me to know you’d never want to take Jake’s place. That my love for him was in the picture of him you’d placed there. In the past. In my stars. You understood that I’d always love him, but you were hoping our love could be in the present…our own separate thing. That both loves would be like the two pictures—separate.”
I nodded, still not seeing where you were going with any of it.
“It was beautiful. It made me want to cry, when you know I never cry. It made my torn heart heal faster in that one moment than it had in the entire time he’d been gone.” You stopped and kissed me, and I kissed you back, but you pulled away with a finger to my lips. “But the more I think about it. The more I ponder on our new life with this crazy critter, I realize that it really isn’t a separate thing. It’s really all part of one thing. Me. I am the person who loved Jake. I’m not separate. But I’m also the person who loves you—more than I ever thought I could possibly love someone after he left. Maybe even more than him.”
You were so serious, and I don’t ever want you to be that way for long—not if I can help it—so I teased. I said, “Stop, he’ll smite me down from the heavens into a pile of ash.”
You smiled like I’d wanted, but it didn’t stop you from continuing the campaign that you were waging as if you had to prove it to me. As if I could ever deny you anything you truly wanted.
“I want you to read this because I want you to see that it is all still me. So that you can see that the love I have for Jake is also tied up in the love I have for you. That it’s how I love. All in. Rashly. Quickly. I thought, at the time I started dating you, that I was taking it slow. That I wasn’t my normal self yet. But I can see now, looking back, that it was exactly me. Falling for you as quick as lightning.”
“I don’t need to read it, Cam,” I jumped in. “I see and feel your love every single day. I’ve never doubted it. Not once.” And I didn’t. I don’t. Our love is almost a tangible thing. I feel like we carry it with us everywhere we go, and when we aren’t together, it’s what draws us back to each other like two intricate puzzle pieces that will only fit one way. The curves and valleys of our pieces were shaped by the time we spent apart, so that when we found each other again, our knobs and slots fit together like a key into a lock. It took time and experience to mold us into that form. But now that we are hooked together, I don’t feel any holes. I don’t feel like there is a part of you that I don’t have because of your love for Jake.
“I know you don’t doubt us. And I’m glad of that. But I still want you to read it so that you can see, like I do, that what Jake and I had…it may not have lasted. It may have burnt so hotly and brightly that we would have been left shells instead of whole people. Before this critter comes into our lives and challenges our love in a different way, challenges me in a different way, I need you to know that our love is stronger than that.”
Then, you kissed me as if I was never going to kiss you in the same way again. As if what I read might change what I felt for you. Were you really worried? Did you honestly think that reading about the love I already knew you had was going to somehow change what I thought about us? How perfectly we fit?
You pushed the journal into my hand, ran your fingers through my hair that needed a cut, and then left. Once you were gone, I stared at the journal for a long, long time. Some of me wanted to reject your request, which you know never happens. But this. This almost felt like if I gave in, you would think that I did doubt you. That I doubted us. That I needed to know what was inside the pages. I didn’t. I could have gone our whole life without reading it, but in the end, I did it because you’d asked me to. And there isn’t anything more to say than that.
Do you know what happened when I read those pages? Especially the early pages? I wasn’t jealous. Not one iota. I was mad. I was mad at Jake, not you. Because he wasted so much of your time together. He wasted so much of your love.
And for that I can almost not forgive him.
He had you. He saw you. He even felt the bond you both had and repeatedly walked away from it for something as lame as three years. Our five years isn’t going to make me walk away. Instead, it’s going to make me hold you closer because, let’s face it, men die earlier than women, on the average, and while I don’t plan on going anywhere, I also don’t want to waste one goddamn second of my time with you.
Because your love… Your love is the most precious gift on this planet, and I am humbled and honored every day of my life that you’ve allowed your curves and notches to be joined with mine.
You were right about one thing. Jake was an idiot.
I will never take your love for granted. I will make sure, every day, that I cherish it as it should have been cherished by every man who was ever in your life. Every boy. Because truly, the ones you dated…they were all boys. Just like I was nothing more than a boy when I first met you.
If I Knew Then
“We were restless
Just two clueless kids,
But if I knew then
What I know now
I'd fall in love.”
Performed by Lady A
Written by Kelley / Powell / Wilson
The first time I really, truly remember you is probably that same time you wrote about in your journal. You came flying down the street with your dark-brown pigtails all askew, as if you’d been fighting your mama the whole time she’d been braiding them. You were chasing after Jake as fast as your dirty, worn-out Chucks would let you. Your face was all fierce determination that was a heavy contrast to the blue stain of popsicle that covered your lips and your cheeks.
You were damn cute. But I was a stupid, chauvinist country boy and groaned when you joined all of us males on the street who’d huddled to pick teams for our daily football scrimmage. Jake was what, eight? That would have made you no more than five. All I could think was, “What the hell are we going to do with a five-year-old girl on either of our teams?”
You sat on the sidewalk as we chose teams. I picked Jake because, even pissed that he’d taken my quarterback spot in our street game, I also knew the truth: Jake and the football were one. None of us picked you. That didn’t seem to bother you in the slightest. But you slammed the football out of Jake’s hands, which we both know was quite the feat, and said, “Line up.”
We all stared for a moment because you were just a wisp of a girl—lanky and all skin and bones—so all of us boys started laughing. Then, you did a wolf whistle—at five—and glared at each of us so hard that it shut us right up. As if we were afraid we’d be cursed for a lifetime if we didn’t stop. We just did what you told us—lined up.
And from that day on, we hardly ever played if you weren’t there. You were like a mascot, referee, and coach all rolled into one. You never cared if Jake lost as long as we were playing fair, but if we cheated or manhandled him, you’d be all over us like pigs on potato peels.
That’s when you’d throw yourself in the middle of us older and bigger boys, push us apart, wolf whistle, and halt all the action. You’d berate anyone who’d fouled Jake. You’d even berate Jake if he was playing stupid. And Jake? What did he do every time? He just ruffled your hair and smiled at you like you’d just done him some huge favor, and instead of getting madder, you’d lose all your steam.
Watching the two of you together was something no one could really quite understand. It was like you were perfect complements of the same whole. One person. But at ten, I didn’t really care about that. I just liked watching you tame all of us with one look. How the skinny girl could use those wiry muscles of hers to put us all in our place.
Those wiry muscles of yours were perfect for diving, though. I remember, like it was yesterday, the day you jumped off the cliff at the lake into the murky water. I wasn’t paying any attention to you. You were mad as a bee at a bear in the honeypot that Jake was over goofing off with me and the ladies. I was peacocking. Showing all my feathers. And Jake was trying to do the same and succeeding in more than one way. We were handing out one-liners, each of us trying to top the other to see who could get the most smiles out of the girls.
I don’t know how Jake knew, because I’d swear he never turned around to the cliff, but his face turned a green I’ve never seen on a person before as he whipped around, yelling your name so loud it silenced us all and echoed across the still water. But it was too late. We watched in stunned horror as you twisted your body into the air and dove into the water. The water you couldn’t see much beyond a hand in. The water that was shallow, especially by the cliff. Jake was moving before you’d even touched a finger to the water. He’d already swam out to you before I could hardly remember to breathe.
He was scared shitless. We all were. Jake’s face was still green and crushed together with a frown. I’d never seen him so angry. You know as well as I do that he almost always kept his cool everywhere he went. It was what made his competitors hate him so much. They couldn’t fluster him no matter what smack they talked or what games they tried to play.
I finally thought to move and joined the two of you. He was scared, and angry, and had you gripped so tight I knew there’d be marks and hell to pay. But beneath that anger and fear, there was something else, something close to desperation. Like if he’d lost you, it would have been the end of the world.
“She okay?” I asked, reaching to tear his fingers off your arms that were turning a deep purple from his grip. When I looked down at you, my breath caught for a different reason. You had this crazy, huge smile on your face, and your eyes were so bright it was like looking at the moon. You were happy. Thrilled. I don’t know if it was from the jump or the fact that you had Jake’s complete and utter attention, but it was hard to look at that smile and not smile back.
I don’t remember calling you two lovebirds that day; I just remember calling you Super Girl. It wasn’t just because you’d impressed the hell out of me. It was also because you seemed to skate through anything that should have broken you. Jumping from trees and cliffs and anything you could.
Do you remember that one time at the creek when you decided you were Tarzan? We were fishing, and you always had a hard time fishing because it required you to sit still. You could do the quiet part of fishing, but sitting in one place for minutes on end while waiting for your line to bob? That was pure torture. But even knowing that, you wouldn’t let us go fishing without you. Wouldn’t let Jake be out of your sight for that long.
So that day, after you’d put your line in the water, you buried the handle in the mud, anchored it with rocks, and then walked away. Before we knew it, you were climbing the trees and swinging from branch to branch. When you ran out of trees where they backed up next to the bridge, you swung about six or seven times and then made the leap from the tree to the top of the bridge.
You were fearless.
It was as if you really had superpowers or magic.
Jake growled under his breath, and I just smacked him with a smile and said, “Dude, leave her be; she’ll either break an arm and learn that way, or continue setting the world on fire with her strength.”
But when you turned around and went to jump from the bridge back to the tree, Jake took off running. You made it to the tree, but your hand slipped, and he was there to catch you before you hit the ground. You were still smiling even as he was swearing at you.
You’re the same now. Fearless.
You’ve faced the changes to your body and our lives with this little one entering it as if there was nothing to think about. I’m routinely shaking in my boots, wondering how I’m going to keep the thing alive and protected from the world, and you’re already wondering whether it’s going to like football, or horseback riding, or swimming.
Even when they put you on bed rest, and I had panic attacks about you and the baby, you were just angry that you had to sit still. As if you knew you and the baby were going to be just fine. So, I’ll believe you. I’ll believe you because to think otherwise is going to give me a heart attack. Thinking otherwise might just make me lose my sanity.
You can’t be wrong this time, Super Girl. You have to land on the bridge one more time with both you and the baby kept safe.
“Callin' out my name like a long lost friend
Oh I miss those days as the years go by
Oh nothing's sweeter than summertime.”
Performed by Lady A
Written by Ryan Barlowe / Lindsey / Stevens
I’d pretty much forgotten about the weasel, Brian, until I read that part of your journal. The part where you blackened his jaw and made him cower. We’d left practice, and I was getting ready to drive away to Kathy’s house, and I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye. You reaching up and slugging him so hard that his head hit the brick wall.
I saw Jake step between you and the older, taller boy. You were all skin and bones and muscle, but you were still giving Jake a run for his money. You were like a mama bobcat protecting its young. You weren’t gonna stop until Brian was on the ground with his neck between your teeth. I jogged over and put my elbows on your shoulders to stop you from doing more damage to Brian’s face or Jake’s ego, because he was sure as hell going to have a hard time living it down that you’d decked Brian on his behalf.
And all he could do was yell at you for cussing and drag you home to your mama.
I laughed at that time. It probably didn’t help the situation none. But I laughed as I was thinking how damn lucky Jake was to have someone like you in his corner. Someone that wasn’t going to let anyone piss on you and walk away.
You don’t know it, but Kathy and I had a fight that day. Probably the one and only time we did fight. It wasn’t over you, and yet it was. I had that picture of you hitting Brian stuck in my head, and I’d wondered if Kathy cared about me enough to step up to the plate like that.
I’d explained what I’d seen to Kathy and asked, “What would you have done?”
She’d responded with a sad shake of her head. “Fighting is never the answer, Blake.”
That had pissed me off. Because sometimes fighting is the answer. Sometimes, you have to defend the person you love most in the world with no thought to your own well-being. Sometimes, you have to step in front of the moving truck and push the person you love right out of the way. You’d always do that. I knew that back then.
“So, you wouldn’t defend me?” I asked.
“You’d really want me to get hit?” she asked, stunned.
“No, I wouldn’t want anyone to hit you. I wouldn’t let anyone hit you; that isn’t the point,” I’d said with frustration. I was having a hard time expressing myself.
“What is the point?”
I’d rubbed my hand over my face. “Nothing, I guess.”
“Don’t stop talking to me just because I don’t understand,” she’d said with a frown.
“I’m not. I guess I just wanted to know if you loved me that much. Enough to take on someone bigger and badder than you.”
“You doubt that I love you?”
“No, that isn’t what I said.”
“But it is, isn’t it? Just because I don’t believe a fist fight is the way to solve anything doesn’t mean I don’t love you,” Kathy continued, pouting.
I was just a dumb teenage boy with hormones flowing through me at a pace I could barely control, so all she had to do was kiss me and everything else went out of my head. All I cared about was getting to put my hands under her shirt and maybe somewhere else, too.
I guess that’s why neither of us can quite blame Jake for those high school years he spent dating other girls. Because male bodies…they aren’t equipped at that age for holding back. For waiting for the right moment. And let’s face it, there was not going to be a right moment when he was fifteen and you were twelve. Even I probably would have skinned him alive if he’d said he was dating you. It would have seemed more wrong than right.
It wasn’t until I read your journal that I realized how hard that time must have been on you. But believe me, it was hard on him, too. Maybe you didn’t realize that. The conflict inside him over you must have raged on a daily basis, because he felt the same thing you did. That you had invisible strings tying you two together.
Your thirteenth birthday party was the one time he ever came close to really expressing it to me. And even then, it was more what he didn’t say than his actual words that hit home. I’d just sent Brittney scurrying from the party, and you’d just run away in a decidedly unlike-Cam manner when I went and found Jake.
“You just gonna let Brittney take this out on Cam?” I’d asked.
He’d turned to me with surprise then anger flying through his eyes. “What?”
“Brittney just went off on Cam like she’s the reason you broke up. Is she?”
“What the fuck kind of question is that, Blake? She just barely turned thirteen. You think I’m some kind of child molester or something?”
Maybe it’s the way it made him feel. Like some kind of perv looking with love at a girl so young that she hadn’t even started wearing a bra. Roll those eyeballs all you want. You know it’s true. Hell, you hardly need a bra now. But I love it. I love each and every one of your slight curves. Curves that have swollen and filled as your body has grown to accommodate our baby. My baby. Your baby. The creature we made together.
Jake wasn’t the only one who saw you as you started to change from girl to woman, though. I saw it, too. I saw it and pushed it away, just like Jake had to every time he saw you. I saw it after you’d come out to Granddaddy’s ranch with Wynn to take riding lessons.
You never knew that I volunteered to teach you. Granddaddy would have asked Matt, but I stepped in and offered before he’d even spoken to my brother. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I had done it. I mean, I liked riding horses. I liked putting them through their paces, but I wasn’t the expert horseman in our family. That was all Matt. But there was something about the thought of teaching Super Girl something she didn’t know that was enough to have me raising my hand and telling Granddaddy I’d do it.
Just like I suspected, you took to riding like you did everything in your life. Easy. With a skill that spoke of multiple lifetimes doing just that. Wynn was awkward and jumpy, just like most new riders were, but you had Blue Suede, the horse I chose for you, mesmerized into submission the first day you both met, just like you had the rest of us.
You were right that I liked being hard on you. But it wasn’t for payback. I liked it because I saw the determination that flared through your eyes when I pushed you. It was like watching the sunrise on a new day. Fiery. Full of color. Almost impossible to look away from.
And watching you jump that horse? Speechless.
Seeing the beauty of two wild creatures moving through the sky together. It was the exact epitome of the word magnificent. The dictionary says magnificent is impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking. You and Blue Suede moving together were just that. All those words. If I really was any good at the country songs I wrote, I might have been able to put lyrics to those thoughts. But I wasn’t. I was just a country boy who had big dreams.
The day Blue Suede tossed you into the creek, I was stunned because I never would have expected it. I was stunned because I hadn’t caught you like Jake probably would have. He would have known, with that Cam sixth sense of his, that you were going to fall before you actually did. My heart cracked into a thousand pieces as I jumped from Grover and ran toward you. I was praying you were okay, and that I wouldn’t be the reason that Super Girl had gotten hurt. I was praying I wouldn’t have to fight one of my very good friends because I’d let his other half come to harm.
When I got to you, you were soaked from head to toe. I don’t think you realized it, but your white T-shirt was completely see-through, showing your body that was just blooming into existence. Every little curve.
I was a teen on a daily dose of more hormones than anyone should have.
So, the scrunch on my forehead that day wasn’t just worry; it was shock—that you were an actual girl…turning into a woman. You said you needed Jake to realize that the day you’d bled all down your leg in your yellow polka-dot bikini, but for me, it was that day at the creek. You weren’t just some lithe water creature put on this earth to pound us into submission; you were going to be a sea nymph. A siren. A woman calling people to her shores and hypnotizing them.
You were so pissed that you’d gotten thrown. The tantrum you threw, splashing me and you and everything else nearby, snapped me out of my thoughts, because you looked just like toddler Cam, standing between us all on the street and demanding we go back to the line of scrimmage before you tried to kick our asses.
That’s when I’d laughed. At the incongruity of it all.
You punched me in the shoulder, and damn if it didn’t actually hurt, but I didn’t let you see it. I just held out my hand, and hauled you out of the water, and gave you my flannel shirt to put over that damn T-shirt. You didn’t even register it. The fact that I had given you my shirt. But now, I’ve seen it hanging in your closet. You still have it. So, sometimes, I wonder if there wasn’t a little tiny piece of your heart that did have a schoolgirl crush on me. I can only hope that was the case.
That somewhere in those stars you think of when you think of Jake, there’s a place where you and I are also standing side by side. Like we, too, were meant to be.
At the time, watching you shake off the fall, grabbing Blue Suede’s reins and hauling yourself back into the saddle, I remember thinking that Super Girl was going to drag someone’s heart through the mud. You were beautiful, strong, and so incredibly focused on the things you wanted. You called yourself unfocused a lot in your journal, and I think that came with your energy. Your inability to sit still. But when you truly want something, you’re all focus as you go after it.
Especially when it’s for someone you love. That’s why, even though I’m not in the room with you right now, I know that you’re fighting as hard as you can for us. For our baby. Because I know you love us both.
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