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Diva NashVegas

Diva NashVegas

4.8 9
by Rachel Hauck

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What do you do when the past you've been skirting shows up at your door with cameras rolling?

Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She'd rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents' death-both of them pioneers in Gospel music. But while her public life, high profile romances, and fights with Music Row execs made for juicy


What do you do when the past you've been skirting shows up at your door with cameras rolling?

Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She'd rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents' death-both of them pioneers in Gospel music. But while her public life, high profile romances, and fights with Music Row execs made for juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey has remained a media mystery.

When a former band member betrays Aubrey's trust and sells an "exclusive" to a tabloid, the star knows she must go public with her story. But Aubrey's private world is rocked when the Inside NashVegas interviewer is someone from her past-someone she'd hoped to forget.

All the moxie in the world won't let this Diva run any longer.

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Chapter One

"Aubrey James is the holy grail of celebrity interviews. Whoever gets her to sit first wins."

--Beth Rose, Inside NashVegas

On a warm June night, I stand stage left among a swirl of activity--the stage crew, band members, and music artists coming and going--waiting to go on. Closing my eyes to rehearse my entrance, I have an odd sense of suspension, for a moment unable to determine time or place.

Ladies and gentlemen, Aubrey James . . . Run out smiling. Grab the mike. Wave and greet the fans. Hear the opening bars of "Borrowed Time."

Done it a thousand times. All over the world. Before queens and rednecks. Tonight is no different.

Except I'm utterly exhausted.

You're the CMA Fest's closing performer, Aubrey. Don't let the fans down. Don't do it.

Opening my eyes, I expect--I hope--the fans' excitement will jump-start my adrenaline, washing away the cloak of weariness.

It always has.

But tonight, the electric excitement charging the Titans Coliseum fails to touch me. My thoughts wander, and my heartbeat fires like a worn piston. Tiny beads of sweat prickle under my arms and across my forehead. I try to focus on the opening number again.

Walk out . . . Drummer counts down "Borrowed Time," bass comes in, then the electric. On the downbeat, I sing. Engage the crowd. Find the sweet spot.

Six months on the road with my all-girl band.

Hear the smooth call of the steel guitar, the whine of the fiddle, the exquisite, elegant harmony of my background singers. Can do this . . . By pure grit and grind. Come on, Aubrey.

Tonight's performance also ends my eleventh tour--sponsored by a hip new bottled-water company, FRESH!. A brilliant partnership orchestrated by my business manager. Music, I've had to learn, is as much about business as it is art.

Rolling Stone magazine put me and the band on the cover of their January edition with the headline "Aubrey James Gets Fresh!"

The swirl of activity around me increases. Roadies and techs finalizing the stage before we go on. CMA Fest cameras moving in. The show is being taped for television.

Are there half as many people in the coliseum as there are back here?

My drummer hurries past with her cymbals and snare. "I'm late."

"You have time," I say, watching her step up to the drum stage. From the corner of my eyes, I spot my manager, Zach Roberts, observing me with an inquisitive expression, his arms crossed over his lean chest. "What?"

"You're sweating, and don't tell me it's the Nashville heat. You have dark, puffy eyes, a frog voice, and you're pale."

"What's your point?"

"You're sick."

"I'm going on, Zach." Six months on tour, a hundred cities, can't end with a sore throat, fever, and puffy eyes. Besides, the fans deserve their final CMA Fest performance.

Zach rubs his forehead, doubt shadowing his brown eyes. "You look like a bag of bones, Aubrey. Did you lose weight on the tour?"

"Haven't you heard? It's all the rage. The Tour Diet. I'm writing a book about it this summer." I pat his cheek. "I'm fine. Trust me."

The stage manager passes by, flashing his palm. "Five minutes, Miss James."

Five minutes . Where's the familiar rush of preshow adrenaline? Without it, I'm not sure I can manufacture enough energy to carry me through the set.

Zach curves his arm around me. "This is your last performance. Then you're free as a bird for the summer."

"Free. Right. Besides this little gig here and that little gig there. A new photo shoot for the FRESH! campaign . . ." I lower my chin and gaze at him from under my brow. "Not to mention concluding the re­negotiation with SongTunes and finishing my next album, and wanting to sleep until fall."

He smiles. "We're working with SongTunes, and if you have to cancel a few appearances to get rested, then do it. Besides, if you're sleeping, I can work with some of my other clients for a change."

"Oh, please. I'm your favorite and you know it."

"Some things go without saying." He winks, but his merriment fades. "Hard tour, wasn't it?"


"At least the tabloids have backed off."

"For now."

How could one tour have so much controversy? Stolen equipment and personal items like jewelry. Missing money. A bus fire. The fired bus driver, who is now threatening to sue.

Worst of all, I parted ways with my musical director, Melanie Daniels. Midtour she announced she wanted more control, more money, and a solo spotlight. We argued. She left.


A few days later, the tour arrived in Dallas amid the swarming media. Frustrated, tired, and hurt, I just had to make a pithy remark about Mel to a nosey journalist, didn't I? The B-word slipped out. Along with a few other choice phrases. Once the tongue gets loose . . . This is why I never do interviews. Never. Words get said, ideas twisted.

My comment about Melanie leaving the band made celeb magazines and tabloid headlines around the world.

Remembering causes my pulse to pound and my middle to constrict. I fall against Zach.

"Aubrey, you can't go on," he says, pressing a fatherly hand to my forehead. "You're burning up."

"I'm going on." The rest of my band emerges from a dark corner of the stage, and I move away from Zach, forcing my lips to smile. "All set?"

Vickie Campbell, my bass player, puts her hand on my shoulder. "Let's do it."

"One minute." The stage manager passes again, flashing a finger in our faces. "One minute." Rascal Flatts is performing on stage two and coming to the end of "What Hurts the Most."

I breathe deep, shaking out my hands, stretching my neck, wiggling my legs. Tom Petty sang it right--the waiting is the hardest part. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath, and . . .

A firm hand slips over my shoulder, and soft lips nuzzle my neck. My heart races as I whirl around.

"Car, what are you doing here?" Nervous energy fires through me. "I'm about to go on."

His smile fades as his expression darkens. "I thought you'd be happy to see me." He pulls me to him. "Surprise." Then, Brown "Car" Carmichael the Third kisses away my lipstick.

Gently, I struggle free. "Car, honey, I thought we were meeting at the house later."

"This isn't the welcome I expected, Aubrey." His tone is clipped.

The stage lights go up and the crowd's rumble deepens.

"Car, what did you expect? I'm thirty seconds from a performance." Stepping backward toward the stage, I hold my expression, pressing the corners of my lips upward. "Can we talk about this later? I'll be all yours then."

He props his hands on his belt, the sharp edges of his handsome face softening. "Sure. Knock 'em dead, Brie."

The announcer is on the mike. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the queen of country soul, Aubrey James!"

Meet the Author

Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com Facebook: rachelhauck Twitter: @RachelHauck

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Diva NashVegas 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great pacing. Wonderful characters. Pure fun. From first page to last this novel is unputdownable. In fact, it should come with a warning label: Do not open unless you can devote 'x' number of hours to reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a country music lover, and it was so fun to see behind the scenes in this funny, poignant novel. Hauck has really done her research and it shows in Diva Nashvegas. Highly recommended!
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
Diva NashVegas was a fun, adventurous read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The humor was delightful and the antics between Aubrey and Scott were hilarious at times. I enjoyed hanging out with Aubrey and getting a feel for who she really was inside. How she learned to conquer her fears and make better decisions for herself, including returning to her childhood faith. Aubrey was a tough, but lovable diva, and when people treated her like a normal person it not only touched her heart, but it moved mine as well. Fame definitely comes with a price and her story is a wonderful illustration of that truth. Overall, Aubrey seemed more like a friend to me than a character in a novel. She was that real. And the way the author brought her character out through a variety of interviews was pure genius. Scott grabbed my heart from the beginning. Though I didn't despise Car, I definitely wanted to see her with Scott, who was less pretentious. However, the scene with Car in the restaurant was truly touching. And her discovery of her feelings toward Scott gave me delicious shivers. Scott was just an all-around nice guy and a true hero in every sense regarding Aubrey. I loved watching their friendship grow. I think of all the novels Rachel has written (that I've read) this is my favorite. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aubrey James pulled herself beyond the shadow of her late parents Gospel music fame and made a name for herself in Nashville. But the Queen of Country Soul was never able to out run her past. When a trusted friend betrays her in a tell-all to the tabloids, Aubrey knows it's time to come clean. The end of an exhausting tour and a break in her hectic schedule seem the perfect time to go public with her side of the story. An opportunity to appear on a local Nashville TV show is picked as the platform. How was she to know that a former date gone bad would be the one conducting the festivities? As the title of my review implies I really loved this book. I've had the pleasure and honor of getting to know Rachel though my own membership in the American Christian Fiction Writers organization over the past year. I'd never read her books though. Didn't really think they'd be my cup of tea. I'm a suspense/thriller type of guy. Give me a novel by the likes of Ted Dekker or Dean Knootz and I'm a happy camper. But I've learned so much from Rachel to make my own writing better that I jumped on this opportunity to read her latest. I'm glad I did. The story is written in a very unique style. It's first person, but from multiple points of views. At first I was a bit confused, but after a couple of POV shifts I got the hang of the different character voices and never missed another beat. I'd like to see more stories written this way. Some times you've just got to get in the head of that other character. This is the only way I know to have done this with a first person narrative. Had we only had Aubrey's POV the book wouldn't have been the same, I don't think. And Scott's a likable guy, adding a lot to the story. There is so much to this story. I laughed 'almost fell out of my seat a couple of times'. I even got angry at one point in the story. Angry with a fictional character. I'm talking pulse pounding in the temple mad. The range of emotions I felt during the read was the thing that really got me and still has me scratching my head. I'm the guy who always remembers it's fake. If we were at a movie together and some major reveal was made by a character and you asked how'd they know that? I'm the guy who'd lean over and whisper, 'He read it in the script before they filmed the scene'. At that point, you'd bludgeon me with the nearest blunt object, of course. :-' How dare I interrupt your suspension of belief. I can't recall the last time I got so emotionally involved in a novel. As an aspiring novelist especially, I've kind of gotten away from that. I'm too busy trying to dissect a story and figure out how it works. So for this reviewer, when someone writes so well that I'm lost in the tale they spin, this is the mark of a great writer. There's a lot of great take away value for those who want to learn and grow through what they read. There's a lot in Aubrey's story about forgiveness and letting go of our past. About the good side of grieving our losses. About finding that place where we belong. About being true to who God made us to be. As I said before, this was the first novel of Rachel's I'd delved into. I was blessed to get a freebie for review purposes. I can assure you though, this is not the last time I'll read one of Rachel's novels. And the next time, I'm laying down my hard earned cash. I hope you'll consider doing the same.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aubrey James is not your typical CBA heroine. Frankly, I loved breaking away from the stereotypes. Aubrey has spunk, but can¿t get her life to calm down. She¿s strayed far from her Gospel roots, as evidenced when her fiancé moves in. She¿s also under attack from a former band member who wants to replace her. Then her record company puts pressure on her to produce an album quickly. And her love life isn¿t going as smoothly as she¿d expected when she accepted Car¿s ring. The book shows Aubrey¿s journey back to herself. She¿s pulled along that journey by her manager, best friend, and Connie, a mother figure. They encourage her to tell her story for the first time. She does and in the process rediscovers herself. I could relate to Aubrey¿s struggles. And through Aubrey¿s journey, the author examines several of the imitations we settle for rather than seeking true acceptance and love from Christ. Whether it¿s acclaim, human love, or belonging to a family, nothing material can fill the God-shaped void in our lives.
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