P. Roper is a word junkie & caffeine enthusiast, born and raised in Western Canada. She snacks on chocolate-covered raisins and hates shoes (and socks) too much for someone who lives where the year is 70-80% snowy winter. When she’s not writing (or reading) you’ll usually find her with her husband, chasing their hurricane of a daughter. Or she may be grabbing a coffee with her best friend. She’s been reading and writing for most of her life, falling head over heels for Romance in her teens. But don’t ask because there is no way she could actually choose a favourite trope. She released her debut novel, Showcase, in the summer of 2021. Since then she has released a three-book series of interconnected standalones. And the first book in a second interconnected series, with more on the way.
New Year. New School. New Everything. I was dreading this move across the country and was so anxious to return back our quiet life in California. Until her. Noelle Halstead is the definition of sunshine personified and from the moment I saw her, I’ve felt desperate to know her. I just need to figure out how to get a girl like her to notice a guy like me, because she is way out of my league.
My life is hectic, frantic almost, and my plate gets more overloaded every year. But, now there is a new guy at school, Caleb Gregory. He plays the guitar, takes incredible photographs, and I can’t seem to get him out of my head. I barely have minutes to spare, but something in the way he smiles softly and calls me by a name that isn’t my own, tells me that I need to find the time to get to know him, even if something has to give.
Each book is a stand-alone. But with partially overlapping storylines, they would be best enjoyed in sequence: #1. Off The Record #2. In The Moment #3. Like The Rest
Trigger Warnings: Car accident (detailed), insomnia, substance abuse
“What are you doing just standing there,” the Halstead matriarch demands as she approaches me. I raise my eyebrows and pull my hands from my pockets. “Nevermind,” she huffs when I don’t immediately respond. “Make yourself useful and go find my daughter. Blonde, tall, red dress. She seems to have wandered off.” Before I blink, she is already clicking away.
Shrugging, I push off the pillar I was leaning against and head down the hallway. Mrs. Halstead’s description was vague, sure. But I knew who Noelle was and I saw her wander off this way a bit ago. I’ll give it to whoever chose this place for the party. The art on the walls is interesting enough and the acoustics in the place are insane.
Turning a corner, I spot her but don’t immediately close in on her. She’s standing there with an empty champagne flute hanging from her fingers, swaying slightly though not to the music floating down the hall. No, her sway looks almost a little lost. Curiosity washes over me as I realize that she has no idea she’s swaying. Oh Ray, why are you drowning yourself in champagne? As the question crosses my mind, she turns to continue down the hall so I resume my pursuit.
“Ray! Wait. Please,” I call out, just slightly louder than my normal volume. I’m almost surprised when she stops.
Spinning to face me, her skirts twirling around her, she reprimands me. “How many times do I have to tell you, that is not my name,” her head tilts assessing me. I know she’s questioning the suit.
Up close, my assumption that her mother hates it is confirmed. Several strips of her skin peek through the strappy two-piece gown. I bring a hand up to the back of my neck as my eyes flit over the details of her red dress. “Yeah, uh,” leaves my mouth before I find my actual words. “I was sent to find you. I think your mom thought I worked here?” An incredulous laugh almost barks out of me at that. “But they need you back for something. Cake, maybe?”
She nods and turns toward the music, taking slow steps back to the party. “It was a nice ceremony, hey? And the food tonight has been great. Who chose the venue, because it definitely doesn’t seem like a place your mom would choose to plan at.” Rambling questions pour from me, in an attempt to fill the silence as we amble down the hall. But I notice her seemingly hesitate. “Are you okay?” She nods, but I carefully place my hand on her back, swallowing as I make contact with her skin. I’m not really guiding her but in that moment, she genuinely looks like she needs the support.
As we pass under the archways into the designated reception space, her eyes flit over the crowd before she turns her head to me with an incomplete smile. “Thanks.”
“Sure, no big deal,” I reply, dropping my hand and taking a step back, “I’ll see you, then, Ray.” I smile as she rolls her eyes. I dread the day I have to explain that one, but for now it’s sort of entertaining.
She heads in the direction of the cake and I wander over the check in with Mom. I really don’t want them to leave me in Boston overnight, and I don’t think Dan would. But the nagging what if lingered in my mind. Our table was empty, so I just sent a text to both Mom and Dan telling them to just reply when they’re ready to leave.
Since she walked away earlier, I have been kicking myself for not trying harder; even just to interact with her or something. Come on man. Go find the girl, try again and enjoy the rest of the night. My inner voice tells me. There is a war going on in my head. Not good vs. evil though like pop culture would like to imply. This one is introvert vs. extrovert, the photographer vs. lead guitar, the two halves of my coin.
Seeing her leave the bar, I make a decision. Even if it comes back to bite me in the ass later, it’s not often that I have an opportunity to even talk to her while she’s not surrounded by her glowing court. I need to take the shot. Intercepting her path, noting she’s already finished half of her flute, I stammer like an idiot. “Hi, uh, I know I said I’d see you later. But technically it’s later. And I really wanted to know if. Well, would you, maybe dance with me?” What the fuck was that, dude?
I drag in a lungful of air, surrounded by the delicate smells of jasmine and sugar, while she breathes out a sort of laugh. Then, after glancing across the room, she turns back to me with a half-smile. “You know what? Sure, let’s dance.”
I have one hand on her back and the other one is wrapped around hers. Swaying together, we draw closer. As I get a little lost in her and the music, my fingers play along with the song on invisible strings against her bare back. Her face pulls back minutely, leaving her body flush against mine.
“I know you know my name,” she declares sternly.
I look at her and have to laugh, “Of course, I know your name, Noelle.”
Her eyes widen and she lowers her voice to demand answers, “Then why the hell do you call me Ray?”
I shake my head and drop the smile that had spread across my face, glancing around to avoid her glare. “I can’t tell you that. Not right now. Maybe soon, but especially not here,” I almost whisper. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for that conversation.
Her head tilts before she slowly makes her way through, “Okay?” Then she pauses, nibbling on her bottom lip, drawing my attention there briefly. “But you’ll tell me eventually?”
I nod, “Sure, one day…”
For fun, I mostly read and spend time with my daughter. But I also have a 9-5 job and do advertising consulting for a few local small businesses on the side. And during the school year, I’m active on both PTA committees.
I don’t really celebrate that part. I honestly panic for a day or two, that it’s terrible before I send it to my own Kindle for a read-through and my first round of basic edits. Once those edits/additions are complete, it’s off to betas. And then I start a new one? Or three? Sometimes, if I’m procrastinating and THEN finally finish, I’ll buy myself something. I bought new jeans and had a pedicure after I finished the last one.
I bake, usually with my daughter. More often than not, it’s banana bread. Once, was birthday cake because it happened to be a couple of days before someone’s birthday or anniversary. And the time I released a book in December (never again), I spent release day and the whole next day, making Christmas cookies.
The Louisburg Girls series sort of fell into my lap, as a spin-off of my debut novel. Where the debut was on the darker side, the first book in this series was full of light and feel-good first love things. I started writing Off The Record and the second book in the series (In The Moment) around the same time because they have a lot of timeline overlap.
Every one of my characters shares at least one trait with me and with someone I love in real-life. Those traits can be anything from a part of their appearance, to whole swaths of their personality. Some have more in common with real-life people than others, but only two characters I’ve ever written, were actually (loosely) based off of individual people that I’ve known at some point in my life.
Continuity. Because of the overlap with book 2 in the series, keeping consistency in the timelines was a challenge. That and lyrics. I can write a book, but not a song.
The music, and the angst. And the research. I’d never been to Massachusetts when I wrote the book, so a lot of detailed research had to go into making it believable. Sidebar, I finally went to Boston in the summer of 2022 and saw many of the places in the books. Standing at Louisburg Square was particularly memorable for me.
This book, in particular? No one specific. But I’m a huge fan of Meagan Brandy, Samantha Lovelock, Lindsey Iler, Kandi Steiner, Ilsa Madden-Mills (and so many more). They all know how to drag a reader in and are all big inspirations to me. I love their writing and I probably wouldn’t be writing at all, without authors like them.
“In his mind, everything has a soundtrack, the good, the bad and the ugly. The moments of our lives deserve melodies. Tunes that take us back, letting us relive time passed and steep us in nostalgia. Songs that tear us open and help us feel more deeply. But also ones that pick up our broken pieces and guide us to heal. Every breath we take has a soundtrack. Sometimes it just takes longer to pin it down.”
“Just something. Some days will flow better and you may end up with a song. Others, more often than not, four lines on the page will stare at you, vapid. As if they are insulted at the manner in which you strung them together. But never rid yourself of those lines. Because one day, they might click. You’ll find the perfect way to rearrange exactly what they said. Only that day, they’ll hold weight and be beautiful.”
I’d give almost anything to spend a day with Flynn and Evie (who you meet in this book, but their story isn’t really until book 2 of this series). I think that everyone needs people like the two of them in their lives. I’d probably ask what took them so long to figure it out. But also, Grant (from Avernus). The guy has the most restless mind I’ve ever stumbled across and I think meeting him would be an adventure.