Friday, September 27, 2013

NICE AND HOT Men of NA: Bennett from ALL OF YOU by Christina Lee

Time for another installment of NICE AND HOT Men of NA! As some of you know, I'm on a quest to find and discuss NA books that feature male protagonists who are strong--but not a$$holes. Who are assertive--but not controlling. Who are sexy--but not domineering, cocky, or snarky. In other words, I'm looking for gentlemen. HOT gentlemen. And today I bring you:

In All of You by Christina Lee, Avery Michaels is interested only in quick flings to satisfy her sexual needs--no relationships wanted or allowed. But when she meets Bennett Reynolds, she's thrown for a loop.

And so was I! The thing with Bennett: he's a virgin. A hot tattoo artist virgin. That alone absolutely made me clamber for this book. What made me LOVE this story, though, was Bennett the character, not just his superficial description. He's principled without being rigid and judgmental. He's sensitive without being weak. He wants something real. A real relationship, a real love--and he's willing to wait for it. He guards his heart, and he values himself enough to expect whomever he's with to do the same.

What I adored about Bennett is that he is human. He's powerfully attracted to Avery, and their chemistry is scorching. Both characters second-guess themselves and make mistakes. They hurt each other, but not intentionally. And they go out of their way to correct those mistakes because of the respect and affection they feel. Their journey is absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable, and Bennett is the type of guy that exemplifies the nice and hot characters I search for in romance. He cares so much about Avery, but he also demands respect from her. He'll do just about anything for her, but he refuses to lose himself. He's strong, gentle, and thoughtful. Ah ... and SUPER SEXY.

Have you read ALL OF YOU? Do you agree with me about Bennett? Any other recommendations to add to my Nice and Hot reading list?

And while you're here, check out my giveaway! You might win one of 2 $50 gift cards so you can buy MOAR BOOKS with Nice&Hot heroes ;)

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview with cover designer Jenn Rush ... and pics of hot shirtless guys. AND a giveaway!

GUYS. I am so excited to have author, photographer, and designer Jennifer Rush on the blog! As you may know, she's the genius behind all three of my covers, and I wanted to bring her here and interrogate her a bit! Oh, and also, to get her to show us some outtakes from the photo shoots, including some amazing *ahem* shirtless pics of a few of the male models.

You're a published YA author and a photographer/designer. In other words, you seem kinda busy. When and how did you decide to start doing cover designs?

This might sound silly to some people, but I am a firm believer in astrology, and I am totally an Aries. I lose interest in everything I do very quickly, and found that switching up my creative process, or switching projects, helps immensely. Graphic design has always been a love of mine, and when I finally learned how to properly use a camera, I realized I could combine all my loves (books, photography and design) to create.
And designing book covers is a creative field that is almost tailored to my work style. I can tell a story through the image, but it’s a tightly compact story, short and sweet, the way I like it. And once it’s done (usually takes about a week or two from beginning to end), I’m ready to move on to the next project.
Writing is different in that it takes months, sometimes over a year, to finalize. Which isn’t to say I hate writing (writing is definitely my first love), or that I like it less than designing/photography, it just uses a lot more energy. It’s nice to take a mini break every now and then, and do something that’s just as creative, but in a completely different way. 
You've designed three covers for me now, and others for authors at Spencer Hill Press. Do you have a specific design process, or is it different every time?
My process is similar for each cover. I go into it having a general idea of what I want the finished cover to look like. I always start with the image, and finish any composite work, if it needs it. From there, I tweak the coloring, because the color of the image will dictate the overall color scheme of the design. Then it’s title placement and author name. I would say I almost spend more time picking out fonts, and placement, than anything else.
Tell us what it's like to work with hot, shirtless male models. Because really, that's what all of us want to know.
Well, before the shoot, I always get a little bit nervous! You’re never quite sure what the models will be like in person, or if they’ll take direction well, or if the location is good, or if the lighting is good. There are a lot of things out of my control, and I always worry about getting the perfect shot.
Every model I’ve worked with so far has been phenomenal. Great people, super sweet, and totally willing to try whatever I throw at them. I can only imagine how hard it is to almost-kiss a near stranger while someone is snapping your picture. But they do it! And they do it well!
After the shoot, when I’m going through the pictures of hot shirtless boys, it finally dawns on me (every single time) that my job is photographing hot shirtless boys, and then I realize how lucky I am. 

In your opinion, what makes a great book cover?

So many elements! I’m not sure I could pinpoint just one thing. It takes a great image, good compositing (making all of the elements look natural to the overall image), the perfect font, the perfect placement of the title and the right colors. You want to make sure the colors compliment each other, but also pop off the design as well.
Do you want people to come to you with requests to design their covers? 
I’m definitely open to taking on more design work! But, my schedule is definitely limited, since my writing deadlines come first. J I’m really looking forward to doing more compositing in the future, and trying my hand at some fantasy/paranormal work.  

There you go, folks! And, because Jenn is awesome, she's decided to share a few extra pics from her photo shoots! Enjoy!
These are from SPIRAL's photo shoot, and I think these two make the perfect Nessa and Aron!
Airbrushing could not make his abs more perfect.
These are from the photo shoot from EVERYTHING BETWEEN US, and we chose these two models because they are the *perfect* Daniel and Stella.
Okay. This one kinda leaves me speechless.
Sorry, my brain is no longer functioning, so perhaps I'll just leave this giveaway here for you and leave it at that.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

EVERYTHING BETWEEN US--The cover, and a huge giveaway!

I know, I know. Only Between Us only came out a week ago! It's the story of Caleb, a starving artist struggling to make it while caring for his emotionally unstable younger sister, and Romy, an aspiring therapist trying to reclaim her passion for art after escaping an abusive relationship. Thanks to everybody who's read, reviewed, and told their friends about it!


So, I've written a companion novel to OBU--called EVERYTHING BETWEEN US--and it comes out on 11/5. It features Daniel, Caleb's best friend (but it's not a sequel--you don't have to have read OBU first!) Unlike Caleb, who dreaded the prospect of selling his body right along with his art, Daniel makes a living that way. He's having a fine time until he meets Stella, the reclusive college-dropout daughter of Daniel's latest wealthy fling--she sees right through him, and the sparks fly.

There will be a review tour for Everything Between Us from 11/4-11/9, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Sign-ups are here.

And and and--in case you haven't seen the cover, here it is! Like the covers for Spiral and Only Between Us, the cover for Everything Between Us was designed, using original photography, by the multi-talented Jennifer Rush! I'll be posting an interview with her on FRIDAY, along with extra pics of the models from the photo shoots! *fans self* I am excited.

But before we get to that, here's the cover for Everything Between Us! It comes out in less than two months, so check below the cover for some goodies to entertain you while you wait.

This cover perfectly fits the story, as Daniel makes Stella want to face her fears--and Stella makes Daniel realize he has a few fears of his own.
I'm so excited about it that I made a widget!
Also, I like you. So here's a giveaway. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Last semester, Romy escaped from an abusive relationship with the guy she’d thought was the man of her dreams. This semester she’s putting herself back together, determined to reclaim her
passion for art and for life. When she signs up for a painting class at the local art co-op, the possibility of passion becomes very real -- in the form of her teacher, Caleb. Both mysterious and seriously hot, Caleb bares his soul on his canvases, and Romy’s fascinated by what she sees.

Caleb is just trying to keep his head above water. Caring for his traumatized, unstable sister is getting harder every day, and his paintings are so dark and bleak that no one is buying. Teaching classes at the co-op is no longer enough, and now he’s going to have to sell more than just his art to the wealthy, sex-starved women in his classes. But when Romy comes along, she makes everything more complicated. She sees the truth in his paintings -- a truth no one else has realized, until now.

Romy and Caleb might have a real shot together -- one that could heal them both. But when ghosts from their pasts re-emerge, determined to keep them apart, will they be strong enough to hold on to each other?

Or visit any one of these lovely blogs to enter to win a copy (thanks to all blogs participating in my release day blitz today, and thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for setting it up!):