Lauren Robbins is the one that got away. Lured by the promise of fame, Nick Blackthorne turned his back on the possibility of a regular life and love to focus on his career. But years down the line, still unable to erase Lauren from his heart, Nick realizes he needs to find her, even if all she’ll accept from him is an apology for walking out all those years ago.
No one would ever guess kindergarten teacher Lauren Robbins was once involved with the lead singer of a rock band. Their romance was the stuff of love songs, and it took her fifteen years to get over him.
When Nick turns up at her door, the heartbreak and years fall away, but not everything can be erased with apologies and soul-shattering passion.
Each book in the Heart of Fame series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Love’s Rhythm
Book #2 Muscle for Hire
Book #3 Guarded Desires
Book #4 Steady Beat
Book #5 Lead Me On
Book #6 Blame it on the Bass
Book #7 Getting Played
Book #8 Blackthorne
About the Author
Lexxie Couper started writing when she was six and hasn't stopped since. She's not a deviant, but she does have a deviant’s imagination and a desire to entertain readers with her words. Add the two together and you get romances that can make you laugh, cry, shake with fear or tremble with desire. Sometimes all at once.
When she’s not submerged in the worlds she creates, Lexxie’s life revolves around her family, a husband who thinks she’s insane, a indoor cat who likes to stalk shadows, and her daughters, who both utterly captured her heart and changed her life forever.
Contact Lexxie at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/lexxie_couper or visit her at www.lexxiecouper.com where she occasionally makes a fool of herself on her blog.
Read an Excerpt
Heart of Fame Series
By Lexxie Couper
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Lexxie Couper
All rights reserved.
Nick Blackthorne read the two words written in ornate gold-embossed script again. For the umpteenth time, in fact, since receiving the invitation currently in his hand.
The list of viable plus ones he could ask to McKenzie Wood and Aidan Roger's wedding was long and colourful, the stuff of a celebrity mag's fantasy. He was Nick Blackthorne after all, the world's biggest rock star, a man with a reputation for dating and bedding only the most famous and beautiful women on the planet. A gossip-rag journo would be likely to have a wet dream over any possible Nick Blackthorne plus one. The thing was, of the bevy of beauties and starlets and award-winning personalities Nick knew would be more than happy to accompany him to Mack and Aidan's wedding, he didn't want to ask any of them.
The gruff, deep voice sinking directly into his ears through his headphones made him blink. He lifted his stare from the wedding invitation in his hand to find his record producer looking at him through the studio's glass petition. "Sorry, Walt," he spoke into the mic hanging from the ceiling. "Guess I was wool-gathering."
Walter Winchester, uber-record producer and soulless mercenary from Hell, gave him a steady look. "Still trying to decide who you're going to take to that wedding? You could take my daughter."
Nick rolled his eyes, shoving the invitation into his jeans' hip pocket. "Your daughter's my agent, Walt, and married."
Walter curled his lip. "Yeah, to a gardener."
Nick laughed. "To a world-famous gardener with a client list you'd kill for. I think it's time you accept the fact that your daughter's not a chip off the old block, and unlike you, actually has a heart."
Walter snorted. "Unlike us both, Blackthorne, although I have to admit you've been a bit soppy since that weekend you spent on that island, thank fucking God. Otherwise I'd be thinking you'd never record another fucking album again." He narrowed his eyes. "What exactly went on at that resort? Whatever it was, there's been sweet fuck-all mention of it in the press."
Nick's heart thumped hard against his breastbone, hard enough he had to wonder if the sound technician sitting beside Walter registered it. As always, the memory of his time at Bandicoot Cove Island Resort made his pulse quicken and his heart fill with warmth. If it wasn't for that weekend, and his time spent with Mack and Aidan there, he never would have found the music in his soul again.
If it weren't for Mack and Aidan, who knew what state he'd be in now?
He started at Walter's sharp voice, his focus returning to the control room on the other side of the glass partition. The record producer studied him, charcoal-grey eyes narrow, his stare drilling. Nick's bodyguard now stood beside Walter, a worried expression on his face. Over the years in his service, Aslin Rhodes had evolved from a detached yes-man with muscle to a loyal and honest friend. At times Nick teased him with the title Uncle Aslin, a term the ex-special forces commando pretended to scoff at. Aslin was only two years older than Nick, after all. Today he looked very much the concerned family member — if a somewhat large and menacing one — his black eyebrows drawing together over eyes both sharp and inescapable. He leant forward and activated the communication channel between the control room and recording space where Nick now stood.
"What's up, Nick? Need me to get you anything?" Aslin's voice rumbled, an almost flat timbre Nick thought sounded like distant thunder. Or artillery detonating — quite fitting for an SAS officer, really.
Nick shook his head, offering both Aslin and Walter a wide smile. "Nah, I'm okay. Just trying to remember the words to the next track."
Walter punched the comm. "Well, hurry the fuck up and remember them. For fuck's sake, Nicky, it's only a reworked version of 'Night Whispers'. Surely you can remember the words to the first fucking platinum record you ever wrote?"
Nick blinked. Every muscle in his body coiled. Grew tight. "'Night Whispers'?" The song's title felt like dust on his tongue. He frowned at Walter. "Who said anything about a re-release of 'Night Whispers'? I thought the next song was 'Clouds of Pain'? I didn't agree to recording 'Night —'"
"Surprise. I thought it'd be a nice touch," Walter spoke over him, his teeth flashing behind his lips, his eyes hard as ice and twice as cold. "It's been fifteen years since your first album, Nicky. Since your first international success."
Nick's gut clenched. He swallowed, staring at his record producer. Walter Winchester stared back, his expression set. The man didn't top Australia's Most Infamous list for nothing — Walter knew "Night Whispers" would make a truckload of dollars with a re-release, especially after Nick's two years of self-imposed recording and performing silence. The predatory, hungry gleam in Walter's eyes almost made Nick laugh. Almost.
If it wasn't for the song Walter wanted him to sing now.
"Nick?" Aslin's soft British accent danced over his ears. "Want me to clear the room?"
Nick's blood pounded in his throat. Words caressed his senses. Lyrics teased him ...
And I want to beg but I can't find the words.
And I want to cry but I can't find the tears.
"Shut the fuck up, Rhodes," Walter snapped, his voice a snarl in Nick's headphones. "Nicky doesn't want anything except to sing the fucking song. Right, Nicky?"
Nick closed his eyes, an image of a woman lying on his bed, her hair a golden-red fan around her head as tears like diamonds rested on her cheeks, filling his mind.
And all that's left is the shadow of your heart and the ghost of your smile.
"The song that started it all." Walter chuckled, the sound cold. Triumphant.
And the whispers in the night.
"Thought you'd like to commemorate your new album with a re-release of your first global number one."
And the whispers in the night.
Nick drew a deep breath.
"Night Whispers" was the song he'd written for Lauren. The song that gave him his first simultaneous US, UK and Australian chart topper. The song that said what he'd been too stupid to say when he needed to say it: I choose you.
His first international number one.
The words from the wedding invitation came back to him. Plus one.
He couldn't ignore the significance of that number. His first number one record was written about a woman who had been his number one everything — friend, love, sexual partner — and now, here he was, being invited to bring a plus one to Mack and Aidan's wedding and the only one he could think about was the one he'd sung about all those years ago, the woman who'd whispered in the night how much she'd loved him, the one he'd stupidly let go ...
He opened his eyes and looked at Walter standing on the other side of the glass. The producer's capped white teeth glinted at him like those of a shark about to devour its next meal, steel-grey eyes just as threatening.
"I've gotta go."
Walter's mouth fell open. "What do you mean, you've —" Nick didn't hear the rest. He pulled off his headphones, Walter's incredulous shout nothing but a tinny squeak on the air as he tossed them onto the nearby padded stool. He gave Aslin a quick grin, more than happy when the massive man gave him a grin back before nabbing Walter's right arm in a tight grip and bending him at a right angle over the control panel.
Go, his bodyguard mouthed at him.
Nick nodded, a laugh bubbling in his chest at the sight of Walter Winchester — record producer and soulless mercenary — desperately trying to free himself from the six-foot-four ex-SAS officer's effortless grip. He gave the grinning technician beside the futilely thrashing Walter a wave and then crossed the room, pulling the wedding invitation from his jeans pocket as he did so.
He knew who he wanted to take to Mack and Aidan's nuptials. Now he needed to find her.
He pulled the soundproof door open and crossed the threshold, the sound of Walter screeching at Aslin to "let me go, you dumb-fuck Pom" making him chuckle some more. After ten years of being Nick's record producer, of interacting with Aslin every time Nick entered a studio, Nick assumed Walter knew better than to resort to insulting the bodyguard's nationality, but apparently not. A solid thud followed the word Pom, a loud oww following that.
"Call me a dumb-fuck again," Nick heard Aslin suggest from the control room, his British accent suddenly a whole lot more pronounced despite his menacing chuckle. "Go on, I dare you."
Nick laughed again, the sound utterly joyous. He shook his head, one part of his brain wondering how long it would be before his bodyguard let Walter go, another part wondering just how long it would take to find ...
Her name played over his senses, soft and gentle like her, teasing him just like she had all the way through high school.
And just like it had in high school, his body reacted to that tease — his heart thumping harder, his mouth growing dry, his hands growing sweaty.
Nick let out a groan, quickening his pace through the studio's rabbit-warren-like hallways until he was almost running. With a nod at the receptionist perched behind the front desk — a perky little blonde he'd partied with more than once over the years — he pushed hard at the heavy glass doors and stepped out into the crisp Melbourne winter morning.
Walter didn't slam into him from behind. No one stopped him, in fact, which told Nick that Aslin was still keeping the record producer under control. Perfect.
Lifting the collar of his old, battered leather jacket against the cool breeze, he turned and walked toward Collins Street. He'd grab an overnight bag from his suite at the Grand Hyatt, hail a taxi and get his arse to the airport. If he was lucky he'd be able to catch the next flight to ...
Nick slowed to a halt, ignoring the chilly wind tugging at his hair and clothes. Fuck. He had no idea where he was going. The last time he'd seen Lauren they were living in a tiny apartment above a delicatessen in Western Sydney fifteen years ago. They'd moved there from their home town so he could be closer to his newly signed manager — a dubious talent scout by the name of Reginald Eggleston who'd promised a naïve twenty-year-old Nick the world. Lauren had enrolled at Sydney University to study teaching and the pair of them had existed in a crammed environment full of laughter and long nights screwing each other senseless. Then came the groupies, the constant fan mail and women of all ages throwing themselves at Nick. The tours around Australia, around the US, the UK, and then the night Lauren said goodbye ...
A thick lump settled high in Nick's throat, and he swallowed. What the hell was he thinking? That she would still be in that stingy little shoebox that always stank of salami? That she would be sitting on their secondhand sofa with its squeaky springs and frayed paisley covering, waiting for him to waltz back into her life? Jesus, had she even finished her teacher's degree? He didn't know. Why didn't he know?
Because you're a selfish prick, Nick. Because Lauren didn't want to go where you were going so you cut her loose and went there on your own, fucking every little groupie who spread her thighs for you on the way. Do you really think Lauren Robbins is going to want to even see you again, let alone go to a wedding with you? Fuck, you really don't have a clue about normal life, do you? For all your self-congratulatory gloating over finding yourself again, after learning who you really are after the shit of the last two years of your life, you still think like a fucking rock star — self-centered, self-absorbed and self-important.
The lump in Nick's throat thickened. Choked him. He sucked in a ragged breath, the chill on the air burning his lungs. "Jesus, you're an idiot."
He curled his fingers — starting to sting from the winter breeze — into a fist, the invitation in his right hand crumpling beneath them. What the hell was he thinking? That he would just knock on Lauren's door, smile at her and say, "Heya, babe. I know it's been a while, but fancy coming to a wedding with me in September?"
Yes, that's exactly what he had in mind. And Lauren would take one look at him, swoon into his arms and say, "Oh, Nick, yes."
He shook his head. Rock star. Such a rock star. He'd spent the last sixteen-odd years of his life never being said no to, getting whatever he asked for, whenever he wanted it and then some. Of course, that's exactly how he would expect the scene to play out — his way. Hell, she was probably married by now. She was gorgeous and sweet and funny and wonderful. Why wouldn't she be married? He was such a bloody ... "Idiot," he muttered again.
Closing his eyes, he scrubbed at his face. What should he do?
Find her. If for no other reason than to ... What?
He didn't know. Say sorry?
An image of Lauren filled his mind, her lips parted in a smile as she slid the key into the lock of their newly rented apartment. Their future was so clear-cut then. He would be a famous musician and she would be a successful, well-loved teacher. A happy-ever-after to write songs about. Their happy-ever-after.
Opening his eyes, he un-crumpled the wedding invitation in his hands and read the gold embossed script there once again.
Mack and Aidan's wedding. Two people who were meant to be together from the get-go. Two lovers who became a happy-ever-after Nick knew would last forever.
The lump in his throat sank into his chest, growing heavier, almost painful in its pressure. Damn it, he didn't want to take just anyone to Mack and Aidan's wedding. He wanted to take Lauren. And if that meant taking Lauren's more-than-likely husband and their more-than-likely brood of adorable children, he would take them too. And afterward, he'd kiss her cheek, look into her eyes and tell her how monumentally sorry he was for fucking up, for hurting her. And once he did that he'd leave, letting her get on with her happy-ever-after. Maybe, if the gods of music and lyrics were nice to him, he'd find a song in the pain he knew his heart would become.
He reached into his back pocket, withdrew his phone and dialed Frankie Winchester.
His agent answered on the second ring, her voice a low, husky laugh. "I just got a very pissed call from my dad, Nick."
Nick snorted. "So Aslin's let him go, I take it?"
"From what I can figure out from Walter's incensed ranting, that walking mountain you call a bodyguard threatened to shove Dad's dick in Dad's throat if he came after you."
"Err ... sorry about that."
Frankie laughed again. "Don't apologise. He's my dad and your record producer, but we both know he's a heartless money-hungry prick. Now, tell me why you up and walked out of the first recording-studio session you've had since that miraculous event I like to call Nick's second coming."
Nick chuckled. "That's what you call it, eh?"
"That's what I call it. When I saw the phone footage of you singing "Tropical Sin" at Bandicoot Cove I knew you were back. When I saw that same footage hit over four-hundred million hits on YouTube I knew you weren't just back but reborn. Who is she and where do I send the thank-you flowers?"
Nick's heart slammed hard in his ears. For a moment he thought of playing it cool, just to string Frankie along a bit. She wasn't soulless like her father, but she was just as ruthless and tenacious when she wanted to be. One of the reasons she was such a brilliant agent. Married life had softened her acerbic tongue somewhat, but when it came to her job, she was still brutal. Unfortunately, he didn't have time for messing with Frankie Winchester this morning, even in jest.
He swallowed, knowing what was about to come next. "I need you to find out where Lauren Robbins is."
As he suspected, Frankie was silent. For a good ten seconds. She knew exactly who Lauren Robbins was. In fact, she was one of the few people who truly did. "Is this your heart asking, Nick?" she finally said, all mirth and bite gone from her voice. "Or something foolish like your head?"
"Both, Frankie. I want to ask her to come to a wedding with me."
There was another short silence. "Are you sure you're ready to open that particular closet again?"
Excerpted from Love's Rhythm by Lexxie Couper. Copyright © 2012 Lexxie Couper. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My Review: Warning: my review has a slight spoiler, but it's something that's revealed fairly early on in the book, so I thought it was okay to talk about that aspect of the story. Aw, I really loved this story. Who knew that Nick had such a wonderful (i.e. heartbreaking) backstory? Before he became the rich and famous rock star, Nick Blackthorn was completely and totally in love with Lauren Robbins. They had plans to love each other forever...her as a teacher, him as a musician. But then he was discovered and the reality of the rock star lifestyle came crashing in on them...things like life on the road, groupies, partying. It was too much for their relationship to survive and Nick left. What neither of them realized at the time was that Lauren was two months pregnant. It's been fifteen years since they broke up and Nick has had some life-altering things happen in his life. He realizes that he screwed up when he left Lauren and wants to make amends and reconnect. So he searches her out and drops in on her and her life completely out of the blue. I like books that feature a second chance at love trope and this one was done incredibly well. There is no doubt that Lauren and Nick still have a lot of feelings for each other and their chemistry is absolutely sizzling. But the thing that broke them apart is still there...Nick's rock star status and Lauren just can't put herself and their son Josh into the middle of the craziness of it. Loved this book. So freaking romantic and sweet. Nick...*gah*, Nick. He loves Lauren. He knows that she and Josh are his priority now. His commitment to her is just so incredibly especially when he's floundering. The fact is...he's a HUGE rock star and that doesn't just change. Then there's Lauren....she has never forgotten Nick. How could she when her fifteen year old son looks just like him? She's always loved him, but that doesn't mean that she can forget the craziness that overcame their lives. She's a strong character. I don't think I could have as easily forgiven Nick's actions as she did, but she absolutely is not a pushover. Her one and only priority is Josh...it just sometimes gets forgotten because of those darn chemical hormones...hehe. Did I mention how HOT this book is?? OMG! Lexxie knows how to write HOT smexy scenes! I bought this the day it came out, but honestly was completely snowed under with review books. So, in a moment of weakness, decided to just open it and check out the first few pages to see how the book was going to feel. I didn't put it down again until I was done reading it at 1:00 in the morning. Yes, this book was that good. Just a wonderful, sexy, romantic read with three characters that you will fall in love with (yes, you absolutely will fall in love with Josh too...and his friend Rhys and Nick's bodyguard Aslin...so FIVE characters you will fall in love with...ack, I forgot Lauren's friend...SIX characters you will fall in love with!) It was good! ;o)
Super hot Aussie Rock Star...coming to grips with a son he never knew & the lost love he threw away. There are 2 books previous to this one, wish i'd known that before i read it... explains a few things you need to know; but mostly a good stand alone. I think the female love interest takes him back a little too easily... but still a pretty good story.
Love nick and lauren cant wait to read more
If you are looking for a book that has a plot but is 75% well done graphic sex scenes, then this is it. The plot is not as fully developed as it could be but it actually makes since and is interesting. However, this is not a plot driven romance. This is erotica that uses the plot to set up the sex scenes. If that is what you are looking for this is a great book for you.
I really loved this book. I totally wanted more Nick Blackthorne after reading his character in a previous Bandicoot book and was so excited to read this one. I loved all of the family connections and how they came back together after all those years. It was beautiful without being cheesy!
Love's Rhythm is a good book, however I found it a bit predictable. There are plenty of steamy scenes and quite a few witty supporting characters.
Don't know how I missed "Loves Rythm" but enjoyed this so much, I'm reading it immediately to see where Aslin started!
I wasn't a big fan of this one. It was short, there were some hot scenes, but really...our main character was killing me, she was so...confused and irritating. It wasn't a bad read, but it was definitely lacking depth and realism. If you're looking for a quick little read with some steam and a HEA this is for you.
I wasn't sure id read this one. The Crew Series was AWESOME, They all new how to treat a Women, yet Mustang was treated wrong in my eyes story good, yet. Far too much on cobra and al. You make your own. Call
I really like this story
I'll just go ahead and say that anytime I see "Rock Star" in a book description, I pretty much say yes. Rockers are sexy, mysterious, a bit dangerous, and sometimes untouchable. So, I get excited when a woman can change him, tame him, and claim him. Love's Rhythm was a good story about a lost relationship, where the couple finds their way back to each other. Nick and Lauren were childhood sweethearts. They planned to be together forever. However, Nick's musical talent takes him into stardom. While this should be a happy time for them, it caused a lot of pressure and insecurity in their relationship. When Nick and Lauren broke up, Nick left to pursue his music career. Nick never really got over Lauren. Yes, he enjoyed the success that he had, but he felt lost without her. So, fifteen years later when his tour brings him close to home, he can't help but go see her. Needless to say, Lauren is shocked and her feelings for Nick come back full force. As this couple reunites, Lauren plans to keep it simple and strictly just a sexual thing. However, Nick has other plans. He wants Lauren back for good. She's the missing piece to his heart. Once he learns Lauren's secret, he pursues a relationship with her even more. He's willing to give everything up to have her back. I absolutely LOVED Nick. Overall, I really liked Love's Rhythm. It was definitely sexy and I love stories of reunited lovers. Nick and Lauren had a lot to work out in their relationship and I loved seeing them get reacquainted with each other. There is a surprise to the story, that you learn early on and I loved that added development to the story. This story was short, sexy, and sweet. I look forward to reading the next book, Muscle for Hire, which is about Nick's bodyguard. Yummy!