Cover Reveal: UP IN FLAMES
Cover reveal! Gorgeous, wealthy, and entitled, Ruby has just one single worry in her life—scheming to get the boy next door to finally realize they’re meant to be together. But when the California wildfires cause her privileged world to go up in flames, Ruby must struggle to find the grit and compassion to help her family and those less fortunate to rise from the ashes. Coming October 3, 2023!
At eighteen, Ruby Ortega is an unapologetic flirt who balances her natural aptitude for economics with her skill in partying hard. But she couldn’t care less about those messy college boys—it’s her intense, brooding neighbor Ashton who she wants, and even followed to school. Even the fact that he has a girlfriend doesn’t deter her . . . whatever Ruby wants, she eventually gets.
Her ruthless determination is tested when wildfires devastate her California hometown, destroying her parents’ business and causing an unspeakable tragedy that shatters her to her core. Suddenly, Ruby is the head of the family and responsible for its survival, with no income or experience to rely on. Rebuilding seems hopeless, but with the help of unexpected allies—including a beguiling, dark-eyed boy who seems to understand her better than anyone—Ruby has to try. When she discovers that the fires also displaced many undocumented people in her town, it becomes even more imperative to help. And if she has to make hard choices along the way, can anyone blame her?
In her powerful debut novel, Mexican American author Hailey Alcaraz chronicles a riveting portrait of transformation, resilience, and love with an unlikely heroine who, when faced with unforeseen disaster, surprises everyone, especially herself.
Scroll down to see the cover and read a sneak peek, and don’t forget to preorder your copy.
“Hey, do you want to go talk out front for a bit?” Alex offered with a hopeful smile.
She could not think of anything she wanted to do less than retreat to isolation with this boy. But before she could say anything, he added, “My brother said Ashton Willis is back from his semester abroad, and he just got here. He’s out front with a few friends.”
Her words caught in her throat for an instant, in a stunned, ecstatic silence.
This was what she had been waiting for all evening. Maybe even all her life.
She eagerly latched onto Alex’s arm so his gigantic figure would hide her from the judgmental eyes of her family. “That sounds wonderful!”
Ruby had to consciously force herself to breathe, her entire body tingling with excitement and exhilaration. She was anxious for so much these days—to leave for college, to have a life outside her insular community, where she knew everyone and everyone knew her—but there really was nothing like a summer night in Southern California, and she was certain this moment was going to be life changing.
Ashton had been studying abroad in Spain since Christmas, and while he had planned to be back in time for Elena’s party, a series of flight delays had made his highly anticipated arrival a little hard to predict and utterly excruciating for Ruby. But here he was. He was back.
And he was finally going to be hers.
She was still several yards away from him as she stepped onto the cobblestone walkway, his back to her, but the second her eyes fell on his lanky frame, her insides turned molten. Her heart raced with a dizzying mixture of nostalgia and yearning.
The Willises had lived next door to the Ortegas for as long as Ruby could remember. Ashton was two and a half years older, but they’d grown up side by side, their childhoods intertwined. Hell, there was even a picture of Ashton and Ruby as toddlers in the bathtub together—a relic that used to mortify her, but now one that made her blush.
It had become clear to her on his first visit home from college almost two years ago. He was tanned from a recent trip to Lake Havasu, which gave his freckled cheeks the most adorable glow, and they’d stayed up all night talking in his backyard, sprawled out on his trampoline underneath the stars like they’d used to when they were younger. He told her all about college—his dorm, his classes, his fraternity—and she lay beside him in rapture, wondering if his eyelashes had always been so long, if he had always smelled so amazing.
After that, each of his visits was more tantalizing than the last.
He hadn’t quite worked up the nerve to kiss her yet, but Ruby felt it in her bones. In her shimmering green dress and peep-toe heels, with her professionally curled hair and just enough alcohol—hopefully—to give her the final dose of confidence she needed to unveil her true feelings. This would be the night.
She inhaled sharply, readjusted her neckline from her mother’s tampering so her cleavage resembled the gently heaving bosom of a romance-novel heroine, and released her escort’s arm. She couldn’t risk sending any mixed signals now that Ashton was here. She quickly tousled her hair, just in time for him to turn and face them. He grinned, and Ruby melted.
Buzzing with a sense of anticipation he could surely feel vibrating off her, she watched Alex and Ashton shake hands before she pulled him into a hug, pressing every inch of her body against his.
“Hi, Ashton,” she breathed into his shirt as she nuzzled her face against him.
“Whoa, I had no idea you missed me that much!” He laughed, disentangling himself from her embrace, his cheeks a bright pink even in the half darkness. “I should leave the country more often!”
She batted her eyelashes and smiled in a way that she thought was demure, though in actuality, she had never been demure in her entire life. “Well, maybe next time you run off to Europe for six months, you’ll think about taking some of us with you!”
He chuckled, a sweet sparkle in his eyes as his gaze lingered on Ruby. “Believe me, it crossed my mind.”