BY: MELISSA SPEIGHT
When struggling barmaid Mia Ryan is scouted from behind the beer taps of Dublin’s Temple Bar and placed on a flight to Los Angeles, she can hardly believe her luck. Years of struggling to become a musician have seemingly paid off. When she’s picked by lucrative Sixth String Studios to write songs for their biggest stars, she finally begins to feel at home among like-minded musicians, despite her haunted past. Then she meets Joel Coben. One of the biggest stars in the world and Sixth String Studios’ prized possession, Joel’s as famous as they come. He’s also one of the rudest people Mia’s ever met. Music eventually connects Mia and Joel, and slowly she begins to see behind the media-reluctant star to the man beneath. But can she trust her troubled past to someone who lives his life under the spotlight?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Chasing Shadows by Melissa Speight, Mia Ryan is a singer in an Irish pub in Dublin. Her dream is to break into the big time and record her music for the world to hear. She gets her chance when two Americans come to the pub to hear her sing. They offer her a three-month contract to come to Los Angeles to work as a songwriter. Not exactly what she had hoped for, but it’s a foot in the door to the music recording world. Once in Los Angeles, Mia meets Joel Coben, the studio’s mega superstar recording artist. To Mia, he seems rude and self-centered, and she doesn’t understand why he spies on her every time she plays. As they get to know each other, Mia discovers the lost little boy behind the façade, and the two fall in love. But life soon gets very complicated for Joel and Mia as his past comes back to haunt them.
This book is a great read for anyone who ever wondered what it’s like to be rich and famous. Speight does an excellent job of describing the mixed-up crazy world of a superstar, combining a suspenseful plot with a sweet romance.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Chasing Shadows by Melissa Speight is the story of a young woman who dreams of becoming a star. Our heroine, Mia Ryan, lives in Dublin, Ireland, where she works as a waitress and part-time entertainer in a local tavern. One night, two Americans are in the audience and hear Mia perform. The result of that is a three-month contract for Mia to come to California and work at Sixth String Studios as a songwriter. Mia is ecstatic, thinking her dreams are coming true at last. But life in LA isn’t exactly what she was expecting. It’s great to hear the studio’s top bands singing her songs, but Mia wants to sing them herself. She also isn’t prepared for the suffocating presence of the paparazzi and their intrusion into every aspect of a performer’s life. Still, things aren’t all bad. Mia falls in love with none other than the studio’s top star Joel Coben, so life should be great, right? Well, not so much. Joel is a troubled soul whose past has been hard and whose life seems to go from one crisis to another, dragging Mia along with him.
Chasing Shadows gives us a glimpse into a world that so many people dream about, but very few really understand. With a strong plot that is full of surprises and a heartwarming romance, it’s a book that will strike a chord with readers of all ages.
Placing the last box carefully into the back of the hired car, Mia turned to say her goodbyes.
Sharon’s eyes began to tear the instant Mia faced her.
It wasn’t that she was leaving forever, although Sharon had made her feel as though she were immigrating to Australia.
“Promise you’ll call us as soon as you get there?” Sharon asked while dabbing the corners of her eyes.
Mia rolled her eyes before laughing. “I promise.”
Mike’s eyes wandered over the boxes piled high in the car. “Drive carefully, and not too fast either, remember all the luggage you’ve got in the back here.”
“I know, I know,” she said, offering a smile, “I’ll be fine, honest.”
An awkward silence then lingered in the air. Throwing her hands into the pockets of her jeans, Mia began to thumb the waistband. Only knowing the pain it would cause Sharon and Mike was making her sad to be leaving. She loved them, and she was eternally grateful to them for everything they had done for her, but there would always be that one thing missing in their relationship. It would never have the one thing she needed it to have. The nagging, empty feeling that had hovered in the corners of her heart, from her infancy, would always taint their relationship.
That feeling had always been there. Though she hadn’t been old enough to understand, Mia knew. And despite her upbringing with Mike and Sharon, she knew ultimately what their relationship was. She looked at them both hesitantly. “Right, I guess I’ll be going then.”
They both stared back at her. Sharon wasn’t bothering to hide her tears anymore and Mia even noticed Mike’s eyes were glistening. Realising she had never seen him cry made her understand the impact her leaving was having on their lives.
But her time had come, and what had to be done, would be done.
Sharon put her hand on Mia’s arm. “Are you sure about this?”
Mia squeezed her arm. “One hundred per cent. I have to try.”
“You’ll do great, sweetheart. I know you’re gonna make it big,” Mike said.
Pride glowed in his face and forced her to swallow the rising lump in her throat. She hoped he was right.
Mike was a tall, strong, and gentle type of man. He didn’t believe in speaking unless he had something decent to say, so Mia admired his honesty.
“Thank you,” she stepped forward and gave him a hug. He wrapped his strong arms around her and squeezed her tightly, before quickly letting her go again.
“Come here you.” Sharon dashed toward Mia and pulled her close. Immediately, she felt all the air in her lungs being forced from them as her body was held in a vice-like clamp. Tears began to soak through the shoulder of her T-shirt, as Sharon held her close, and she knew then how much the moment was hurting her. After all these years, she finally had to let Mia go.
Saying her final goodbyes, Mia then climbed into the car. She started the engine and wound down the window as she pulled out of the driveway of the little house on the coast. Inhaling deeply, she allowed the fresh ocean air to fill her lungs. She could smell brine in the air from the ocean and the fishing port farther along the coast. Where the rolling green hills and fields sloped toward the sea, and the rocky coastline finally met the water’s edge, she took one final look at the gentle, yet rugged, coastline. The town populated the coast and houses were dotted snugly between trees as they came farther inland. Mia smiled to herself, committing the image to her memory, hoping it wouldn’t be too long until she saw the picturesque little town that she called home again.
She watched them waving at the end of the driveway in her rear-view mirror and thrust her hand out of the open window into the fresh, crisp air billowing past the car to wave back. The sea rolled gently in toward the land in the distance and, as the picturesque coastline began to fade in her view, so did Mike and Sharon.
Sighing heavily, Mia knew the inevitable lay ahead. Her heart was torn in two–although not in equal halves.
The smaller half of her heart longed to stay in the sleepy little coastal town of Kinsale, with Michael and Sharon, where everything was familiar and safe. Where she could work her shifts in the local pub every week and, once she finished early on a weekend, step from behind the bar to behind the microphone. She could stay in her hometown, comfortable and content, playing to her crowd of regular patrons every week or she could pack up and leave.
She had opted to follow the larger half.
The larger half of her heart longed for a life she envisioned in her mind each and every second of the day. Those seconds she spent longing to while away her days in a recording studio, strumming away at her guitar for hours and hours and writing endless songs behind studio doors to be played out in the arena by her idols.
Mia shook her head. She had to follow her heart. Her life was for living and she had to live it her way. There was no way she could stay in Kinsale for the rest of her life. She wasn’t a dreamer, she was a doer. She had to take her chances and make a shot at what she believed in. The rest of her life couldn’t be spent feeling relatively content and yet always wondering.
Life hadn’t had the easiest of beginnings for Mia, not that she remembered it very much. She hadn’t had the most conventional of starts, but she was grateful for the chance Mike and Sharon had given her. She was grateful for them taking her in when she needed someone most. They had given her a lifetime of love and support and she knew that they would always be there for her. No matter what the origins of their relationship, they would be behind her one hundred per cent.
But Mia knew. She still felt the emptiness eating away at her. She knew her time would come and, although it was two years later than it should have been, it was time for her to leave. Mike and Sharon had allowed her to stay with them long after they shouldn’t have, but her conscience and her ambition had won out in the end. Their goodwill was endless and Mia knew they would have allowed her to stay with them forever.
But Mia was an orphan.
Mike and Sharon were her adoptive parents.
The agency had insisted that she move out and find her own way in life as soon as she turned eighteen, but Mike and Sharon had allowed her to stay. Two years on, Mia had decided to follow her heart and make the move she longed for. Leaving her job and her adoptive parents behind to chase her dreams of song writing and making music, Mia was moving to the city of Dublin.
© 2016 by Melissa Speight