Happy Release Day — Thrill Ride by Julie Ann Walker

happy release day - green

"Thrill Ride" by Julie Ann WalkerToday marks the release of Thrill Ride, the fourth book in Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights Inc. series and by far my favorite so far. If you haven’t read it yet, run to your computer/local bookstore and buy it NOW! If you’re still on the fence (though why would you be?) hopefully my RT review will help sway you, and if you’re unfamiliar with the series, check out my review of the first, second, and third book. Oh, and FYI, even though characters reappear in each story, the series doesn’t necessarily need to be read in order.

So cheers, Ms. Walker. Here’s to happy sales and more sexy, brooding, bad-boy Black Knights to come!

Guest Post: What’s in a Cover by Julie Ann Walker + Giveaway

What’s up, all you romantic suspense junkies out there? Julie Ann Walker here, tickled pink to be joining you today, and talking about those smokin’ hot covers we all love to drool over on the shelves of our local bookstore, or on the screens of our favorite e-Readers.

Now, it’s said you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But, hey, I can’t be the only one who’ll buy a novel based solely on the bad-ass hunk on the front, now can I? And publishers know this, they depend on it, in fact. So today, for you, I’m pulling back the curtain on my own covers. Letting you in on the secrets — and the thinking — that goes into making a book “shelf-ready.”

Here’s how it will work. In the first cover of each set, you’ll see where my publisher started. And what will follow will be a shortened version of the round-robin, quick-fire questions that resulted in the final product. So, without further ado, I give you some covers for Black Knights Inc

In Rides Trouble covers

Q: Does this cover look a bit dark and dreary to anyone else? We want readers to skid to a stop when they see this on the shelf.
A:  Hmm. Maybe we can punch up the color. Make the title pop!

Q: Does the placement of that knife look dangerous, or is it just me?
A: Hell yeah it looks dangerous! If he squats the wrong way, he’s liable to slice into his femoral artery or cut off something much more important! *snicker*

Q: This series plays up the motorcycles, right? So, why the heck can’t we see the danged bike?
A:  Let’s move the cycle up. More bike and less city!

Q: Does this guy look just a bit too polished? I mean, he is supposed to be masquerading as a motorcycle mechanic, after all.
A:  Let’s dirty up his T-shirt a bit. Make him a grittier!

Rev It Up covers

Q:  Do we really like this red background? I thought we decided to go for a color scheme that was a little more neon?
A:  Let’s do a blue background with hot pink lettering!

Q:  Anybody else think the city is too distracting? We don’t want anything taking attention away from the handsome hunk!
A:  Let’s push it back, and off to the side! Let the hunka-hunka-burnin’-love shine!

Q:  What’s with the dead tree branch in the upper right-hand corner? It makes this look like a dystopian novel.
A:  Gone!

Q:  I don’t know about those tattoos. Romance readers tend to equate tattoos with a paranormal series, and this is romantic suspense.
A:  Gone and gone! *sad face* <– (That was my sad face, by the way. I love me some kickass tattoos!)

Thrill Ride covers

Q:  Does that lettering in the title match the lettering in the other books in the series?
A:  Nope. It’s a bit different. Let’s change it for consistency’s sake.

Q:  Once again, is that big building in the background taking too much away from the delicious piece of manliness?
A:  Perhaps, let’s nix it. Manliness for the win!

Q:  This cover is vastly different than the previous covers. Don’t we want people to recognize “the brand?” Shouldn’t be try to keep the covers the same?
A:  Let’s see what we could do to make the cover better match the previous covers. Oh, yes! Just look at those abs! *MEOW!* <– (Again, that was MY meow.)

And there you have it, folks! How a book cover goes from point A to point B. Now, I want to hear from you. Did my publisher make the right decisions? Or would you have kept some of the original concepts?

Thanks to Spencer for having me on today. It’s been a blast!

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She’ll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first three books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels(August 2012) In Rides Trouble (September 2012) and Rev It Up (October 2012).  Thrill Ride debuts April 2nd, 2013. For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor and/or Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.

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Thrill Ride giveawayThank you, Julie, for joining me here today.

But wait, there’s more! The wonderful Julie is offering one lucky reader a signed ARC copy of Thrill Ride (which releases on 4/2)! All you have to do is leave a comment telling us which of the Black Knight covers you prefer — the original or final copy. I’ll choose a winner on Monday, so be sure to check back to see if you’ve won!

Thrill Ride giveaway winner #UPDATE: Congrats, Danny! Please go to my contact page and send me your address to claim your signed ARC of Thrill Ride!

Review: Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker

A picture summary of Rev It Up, by Julie Ann Walker:

If pictures aren’t your style, check out my RT review of the third Black Knights Inc. story, which features:

  1. A sexy surfer — who isn’t a fan of those? (Answer: no one!)
  2. Sleek, chrome motorcycles — this is what the Black Knights are known for, after all.
  3. The gritty streets of Chicago — descriptions of the city leap off the page.

Of course there’s more to this action-packed story than that, but tell me you’re not hooked after getting a peek at that surfer’s bod board! Also, if you’re new to the series, here’s book one and two if you’re the type who prefers to start from the beginning (like I am).

 

Review: In Rides Trouble by Julie Ann Walker

Women love a man with scars. With scars come stories, and women are suckers for a good scar story. Ladies, am I right? In this sequel to Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels, not only does our hero, Frank, have the most rugged of scars, but also he’s grouchy with a capital “G”. Since grouchy heroes are often the most redeeming, this makes Frank what I like to call a supreme alpha hero. However, his ‘tude doesn’t stop our heroine, Becky, from using all her tricks and wiles to go after him. In this case, her tricks happen to be in the form of lollipops and accidental kidnapping, which seems a bit unorthodox when read out of context, but trust me, it all makes sense when you read the book.

So you’ve got a scarred hero, a lollipop-loving heroine, and a whole team of Black Knights ready to kick ass and take names. Sounds like a good time to me… So what are you waiting for? Click! Buy! Read!

 

Nail Polish and Plot Combos

Confession time! One of my personal pleasures is painting my nails. I know, I know — pretty girly, right? To be honest, I’m not really a girly-girl, but it’s definitely one of my (feminine) thrills. When I’m feeling restless or looking for a change, I paint my nails. It sounds silly, but painting my nails gives me a sense of control and has the ability to dictate or imitate my current mood (bright nail polish = cheery demeanor, dark polish = moody and emo). In that sense, I believe nail polish is similar to books since both have a tendency to reflect someone’s personal life or transform her disposition.

That said, I thought it’d be fun to pair up books with polish colors that I think suit the story. Why match polish with clothes when you can match them to plots instead?

Sweet Kiss of Summer – OPI “Pink Flamenco”
A bold, friendly color to accompany the feel-good tones of this contemporary romance

Sweet Kiss of Summer + Pink Flamenco

Western Ties – OPI “Jade is the New Black”
Greenish hue to reflect the story’s countryside backdrop

Western Ties + Jade is the New Black

Hell on Wheels – OPI “Moonraker”
Metallic gray to match the motorcycle chrome & bad-boy angst

Hell on Wheels + Moonraker

Falling, Freestyle – OPI “Happy Anniversary!”
Frosty polish to go with the snowy, winter wonderland backdrop

Falling Freestyle + Happy Anniversary!

Mistress’s Master – OPI “Black Onyx”
Super black lacquer reminiscent of leather whips and no-nonsense Doms

Mistress's Master + Black Onyx

One Night with his Virgin Mistress – OPI “Privacy Please”
A soft, innocent sheer pink fit for a virgin

Virgin Mistress + Privacy Please

Fifty Shades of Grey – OPI “Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine!”
A dark, sensual gray for… Well, this one is pretty self explanatory

Fifty Shades + Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine!

South of Salem – OPI “Casino Royale”
A deep plum to accompany all the paranormal brouhaha

South of Salem + Casino Royale

 

ROAMING QUESTION: What would be your polish+plot picks? (alliteration ahoy!)

Peek to Pique: The Search by Nora Roberts

Peek to Pique

Welcome to the first edition of “Peek to Pique,” a weekly feature I created to share snippets of my current read, as well as books on my TBR shelf. The point of “Peek to Pique” is simple: to give readers a glimpse (peek) of a book in the hopes to entice (pique) them to add it to their own TBR. A peek to pique your interest. Get it? What can I say, I’m a sucker for alliteration. Without further ado, this week’s peek is from Nora Robert’s The Search.

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As they came out of the woods, she looked up at the sky. “It’s cooling off. I could probably use the kindling. A nice fire, a glass of wine–of course, I won’t be able to get the bottle out of a beautiful cabinet, but I’ll live. I won’t be inviting you in, either.”
“Do you think if I wanted to finish up what we started back there I’d wait for an invitation?”
“No,” she said after a moment. “I should find that arrogant and off-putting. I have no idea why I don’t. Why don’t you want to finish what we started back there?”
He smiled at her. “You’ll be thinking about that, won’t you? I like your house.”
Baffled, she turned to study it as he was. “My house?”

***

P.S. As of now, the hardback edition of The Search is currently on sale for $3.99 on the Barnes and Noble site.

ROAMING QUESTION: What are you currently reading? Feel free to share a line or two in the comments!

Revew: Open Season by Linda Howard

Open SeasonOpen Season by Linda Howard

337 pp. // Rom. Suspense // Pocket Books // Jan. 2001

GOODREADS SUMMARY: On her thirty-fourth birthday, Daisy Minor decides to make over her entire life. The small-town librarian has had it with her boring clothes, her ordinary looks, and nearly a decade without so much as a date. It’s time to get a life—and a sex life. The perennial good girl, Daisy transforms herself into a party girl extraordinaire—dancing the night away at clubs, laughing and flirting with abandon—and she’s declared open season for manhunting. But her free-spirited fun turns to shattering danger when she witnesses something she shouldn’t—and becomes the target of a killer. Now, before she can meet the one man who can share her life, first she may need him to save it.

I had been wanting to read this book forever and kept putting it off because it wasn’t available on kindle and I could never find it in Borders. Finally I came across it at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago and just HAD to buy it.

I’m so glad I did; the wait was well worth it!

At first I didn’t like Daisy’s character because I found her too vapid and annoyingly old fashioned, but the more I read on the more she proved me wrong. I often find it hard to get into a book if I don’t like the heroine right away or find that I don’t relate. But I gave Daisy a chance and I’m glad I did. She grew on me, and when it comes to character development that’s a good thing, right?

Her relationship with Jack was interesting to watch, as it went from a slow bud to quickly blooming. He was a great alpha-male who didn’t have to be “chased,” but at the same time didn’t bog Daisy down with over the top possessiveness even though he wanted to be with her.

I do have to say, however, that I was somewhat disappointed with the watered down climax and plot resolution. When things wrapped up I honestly though to myself, “this isn’t really the way things end, it was too easy! There has to be a plot twist coming.” Alas, there wasn’t.

But, things ended, though not in a completely satisfying way, as I was left with questions. Aside from that, the book was enjoyable — proof being that I finished it in only two days :)

Black Knight in Shining Armor

Sometimes, when I’m in between books, I find myself at a crossroad over which of my TBRs I want to dive into first. Usually the problem stems from not being able to decide which hero trope I want to indulge in first. Sexy cowboy? Sensitive doctor? Bad boy-turned do-gooder? Grumpy recluse with a heart of gold? You may as well ask a kid in a candy store to only pick one piece of candy. Impossible!

This time around, I struck gold with a hero twofer in debut author Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels. Not only is our hero a leather-clad biker (with a kick-ass set of wheels), but he’s also part of a secret elite team of Special Ops. In addition to dodging bullets and zooming down the highway, Nate’s holding on to a secret that could make or break his relationship with heroine Ali.

Hell on Wheels is the first book in Walker’s Black Knights Inc. series and comes out later this week. You can find my review on RT’s website or in the August issue.