Get ready for a holiday season like never before!
Tessa Bailey is back to tell a story of rekindled romance, countless secrets, and brawling Santas with Wreck the Halls, and we've got an exclusive excerpt of the holiday rom-com. But first, here's the official book description:
"Melody Gallard may be the daughter of music royalty, but her world is far from glamorous. She spends her days restoring old books and avoiding the limelight but when a producer offers her a lot of money to reunite her mother's band on live tv, Mel begins to wonder if it's time to rattle the cage, shake up her quiet life… and see him again.
"Beat Dawkins, the lead singer's son, is Melody's opposite—the camera loves him, he could charm the pants off anyone. When they met as teenagers, Mel felt an instant spark, but it's nothing compared to the wild, intense attraction that builds as they embark on a madcap mission to convince their mothers to perform one last show.
"While dealing with rock star shenanigans, a 24-hour film crew, brawling Santas, and mobs of adoring fans, Mel starts to step out of her comfort zone. With Beat by her side, cheering her on, she's never felt so understood. But Christmas Eve is fast approaching, and a decades-old scandal is poised to wreck everything—the Steel Birds reunion, their relationships with their mothers, and their newfound love."
Wreck the Halls hits book shelves October 3, 2023, but you can read an exclusive excerpt below.
Nisha Ver Halen; AvonBooks Author Tessa Bailey and the cover of 'Wreck the Halls'
Wreck the Halls Excerpt
Beat stood shivering on the sidewalk outside of his thirtieth birthday party.
Over a year and a half had passed since the last time his blackmailer had contacted him. He'd given the man the largest sum of money yet to go away and assumed the harassment was over. Beat was just beginning to feel normal again. Until the message he'd received tonight on the way to his own birthday party.
I'm feeling talkative, Beat. Like I need to get some things off my chest.
It was the same pattern as last time. The blackmailer contacted him out of the blue, no warning, and then immediately became persistent. His demands came on like a blitz, a symphony beginning in the middle of its crescendo. They left no room for negotiation, either. Or reasoning. It was a matter of giving this man what he wanted or having a secret exposed that could rock the very foundation of his family's world.
No big deal.
He took a deep breath, paced a short distance in the opposite direction of the restaurant. Then he hit call and lifted the phone to his ear.
His blackmailer answered on the first ring. "Hello again, Beat."
A red hot iron dropped in Beat's stomach.
Did the man's voice sound more on edge than previous years? Almost agitated?
"We agreed this was over," Beat said, his grip tight around the phone. "I was never supposed to hear from you again."
A raspy sigh filled the line. "The thing about the truth is, it never really goes away."
With those ominous words echoing in his ear, a sort of surreal calmness settled over Beat. It was one of those moments where he looked around and wondered what in the hell had led him to this time and place. Was he even standing here at all? Or was he trapped in an endless dream? Suddenly the familiar sights of Greenwich Street, only a few blocks from his office, looked like a movie set. Christmas lights in the shapes of bells and Santa heads and holly leaves hung from streetlights, an early December cold snap that turned his breath to frostbitten mist in front of his face. He was in Tribeca, close enough to the Financial District to see coworkers sharing sneaky cigarettes on the sidewalk after too much to drink, still dressed in their office attire at eight p.m. A rogue elf traipsed down the street yelling into his phone. A cab drove by slowly, wheels traveling over wet sludge from the brief afternoon snowfall, "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" drifting out through the window.
"Beat." The voice in his ear brought him back to reality. "I'm going to need double the amount as last time."
Nausea lifted all the way to his throat, making his head feel light. "I can't do that. I don't personally have that kind of liquid cash and I will not touch the foundation money. This needs to be over."
"Like I said—"
"The truth never goes away. I heard you."
Silence was heavy on the line. "I'm not sure I appreciate the way you're speaking to me, Beat. I have a story to tell. If you're not going to pay me to keep it to myself, I'll get what I need from 20/20 or People Magazine. They'd love every salacious word."
And his parents would be ruined. The truth would devastate his father.
His mother's sterling reputation would be blown to smithereens.
The public perception of Octavia Dawkins would nose-dive, and thirty years of the charitable work she'd done would mean nothing. There would only be the story. There would only be the damning truth.
"Don't do that." Beat massaged the throbbing sensation between his eyes. "My parents don't deserve it."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I didn't deserve to be thrown out of the band, either." The man snorted. "Don't talk about shit you don't know, kid. You weren't there. Are you going to help me out or should I start making calls? You know, I've had this reality show producer contact me twice. Maybe she would be a good place to start."
The night air turned sharper in his lungs. "What producer? What's her name?"
Was it the same woman who'd been emailing and calling Beat for the last six months? Offering him an obscene sum of money to participate in a reality show about reuniting Steel Birds? He hadn't bothered returning any of the correspondence because he'd gotten so many similar offers over the years. The public demand for a reunion hadn't waned one iota since the nineties and now, thanks to one of the band's hits going viral, decades after its release, the demand was suddenly more relevant than ever.
"Danielle something," said his blackmailer. "It doesn't matter. She's only one of my options."
How much had she offered Beat? He didn't remember the exact amount. Only that she'd dangled a lot of money. Possibly seven figures.
"How do we make this stop once and for all?" Beat asked, feeling and sounding like a broken record. "How can I guarantee this is the last time?"
"You'll have to take my word for it."
Beat was already shaking his head. "I need something in writing."
"Not happening. It's my word or nothing. How long do you need to pull the money together?"
Goddammit. This was real. This was happening. Again.
The last year and a half had been nothing but a reprieve. Deep down, he'd known that, right? "I need some time. Until February, at least."
"You have until Christmas."
The jagged edge of panic slid into his chest. "That's less than a month away."
A humorless laugh crackled down the line. "If you can make your selfish cow of a mother look like a saint to the public, you can get me eight hundred thousand by the twenty-fifth."
"No, I can't," Beat said through his teeth. "It's impossible—" "Do it or I talk."
The line went dead.
Instead of calling his accountant, he searched his inbox for the name Danielle—and he found the email after a little scrolling.
Dear Mr. Dawkins,
Allow me to introduce myself. I'm your ticket to becoming a household name.
Since Steel Birds broke up in ninety-three, the public has been desperate for a reunion of the women who not only cowrote some of the world's most beloved ballads, but inspired a movement. Empowered little girls to get out there, find a microphone, and express their discontent, no matter who it pissed off. I was one of those little girls.
You're a busy man, so let me be brief. I want to give the public the reunion we've been dreaming about since ninety-three. There are no better catalysts than the children of these legendary women to make this happen. It is my profound wish for you, Mr. Dawkins, and Melody Gallard to join forces to bring your parents back together.
The Applause Network is prepared to offer each of you a million dollars.
Beat dropped the phone to his thigh. Had he seriously only skimmed an email that passionate? He hadn't even made it to the middle the first time he'd seen the correspondence. That much was obvious, because he would have remembered the part about Melody. Every time someone mentioned her, he got a firm sock to the gut.
He was getting one now.
Beat had zero desire to be a household name. Never had, never would. He liked working behind the scenes at his mother's foundation. Giving the occasional speech or social media interview was necessary. Ever since "Rattle the Cage" had gone viral, the requests had been coming in by the mother lode, but remaining out of the limelight was preferable to him.
A million dollars would solve his problem.
He needed to solve it. Fast.
And if — and it was a huge if — Beat agreed to the reality show, he'd need to talk to Melody first. They might have grown up in the same weird celebrity offspring limelight, but they'd gotten vastly different treatment from the press. He'd been praised as some kind of golden boy, while every single one of Melody's physical attributes had been dissected through paparazzi lenses — all when she was still a minor. He'd watched it from afar, horrified.
So much so that the first and only time they'd met, he'd been rocked by protectiveness so deep, he still felt it to this very day.
Was there any way to avoid bringing her back into the spotlight if he attempted to reunite Steel Birds? Or would she be dragged into the story, simply because of her connection to the band?
God, he didn't know. But there was no way in hell Beat would agree to anything unless Melody was okay with him stirring up this hornet's nest. He'd have to meet with her. In person. See her face and be positive she didn't have reservations.
Beat's pulse kicked into a gallop.
Fourteen years had passed and he'd thought of her… a weird amount. Wondering what she was doing, if she'd seen whatever latest television special was playing about their mothers, if she was happy. That last one plagued him the most. Was Melody happy? Was he? Would everything be different if he'd just called her?
Beat pulled up the contact number for his accountant, but never hit call. Instead, he reopened the email from Danielle Doolin and tapped the cell number in her email signature, with no idea the kind of magic he was setting into motion.
Adapted from Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey, published by Avon. Copyright © 2023 by Tessa Bailey. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers.