Review: Damage Control by Lisa Renee Jones & Giveaway!

Review:  Damage Control by Lisa Renee Jones & Giveaway!Damage Control by Lisa Renee Jones
Published by St. Martin's Griffin February 21, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, Audio
Source: Copy for Honest Review, Purchased
Narrator: Grace Grant, Jeremy York
Also by this author: Hard Rules
Amazon US
Goodreads

Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in Damage Control, the smoldering, scorching next novel in the explosively sexy Dirty Money series.

The only thing more dangerous than a dark secret is a damaged heart…

Shane Brandon has been pushed to the brink, torn between his corrupt family and his explosive, all-consuming desire for Emily Stevens, who he now knows is not who, and what, she seems. Has he trusted the wrong person? Will she, not his brother Derek, be the ultimate destruction of his family Empire?

Emily tries to run from Shane, but he will stop her, confront her, force her to reveal all — one hot touch and kiss at a time, under every intimate detail of who this woman is, and what she wants, is exposed. But as he tears away the dangers of the unknowns with the woman in his bed, and in his heart, The Martina Cartel has set their sights on his company, his family, and the one piece of leverage they believe he won’t gamble with: Emily.

The blurb is what got me to read book one, Hard Rules, in this series by Lisa Renee Jones:

“When Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy…”

There really isn’t a better way to describe these books.  Picture the chaotic, crazy mess and ever-constant web spinning of the Sons of Anarchy cast… but instead of dirty (but sexy) bikers, picture filthy rich (and equally as sexy) bajillionaires.

I absolutely loved book 1 (you can read my review here) and was so excited to get my hands on book 2, Damage Control.  But with my entire family dropping like flies with the flu, my life got a bit hectic and I was late starting my ARC and ended up buying the audiobook and switching back and forth from e-book to audio (I highly recommend the audiobook, I think the narrators are fabulous, by the way!)

Damage Control starts exactly where book one leaves off, with a giant freaking mess, more secrets than you can remember, and pretty much zero answers as well.  I seriously haven’t read a book with so many intricate details, and lies, and side plots going on at once… it’s incredible the web that Lisa Renee Jones spins in these books.  You never really know who is good, who is bad, what side someone is on, who is going down next, who is plotting what…  seriously!   I am good at figuring things out but good lord I leave each book wondering how the flaming fig newton someone can get out of these disasters unscathed.

Emily and Shane both have secrets and terrible families that are desperately trying to drag them down.  There’s international hacking groups, murder, a cartel, a billion dollar family business changing control, cancer… you name it.  It is all in there tearing everybody apart at every angle.

I felt like this story was a lot of figuring out Shane and Emily’s pasts and how they would conquer their future… if they even have one together.  A lot of the plots are intense and action-packed, but Shane and Emily handle it separate from each other.  Unlike book one where they are busy trying to handle their feelings, and the hiding of their relationship from co-workers and family members, in book 2 they’re together in the open.  The plot is more focused on the suspense, the mystery, the scandal.  The parts where Shane and Emily are actually together are when they’re home from work or bustin’ cartel booty… and naked.

I loved that their relationship was there in the very steamy background, and the story instead took on a very strong voice more based on plot than relationship, if that makes sense.  It’s such an amazing, mind-boggling storyline that I loved immersing myself in the wtf is happening, how can they fix this, omg what now?!    

Yes, they are still figuring out what “us” even means, and let me tell you…  *fans face*   Their “us” is sexy AF.  *fans face harder.*   Shane is the epitome of alpha male.  And Emily is just as strong, no matter how lost she is in life, that chick is one bad ass mamba-jamba!

I can’t recommend this series enough, and if you enjoy romantic suspense that’ll get your heart pounding (for multiple reasons) this series is a must click!


***Giveaway!***
Enter to win (2) $25 Amazon gift cards, (3) signed books of Hard Rules and (3) Dirty Money totes!!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e837c2b0294/

 

 

About Lisa Renee Jones

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, she has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is presently working on a dark, edgy new series, Dirty Money, for St. Martin’s Press.


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Chat Review: Black Hearts by Karina HalleBlack Hearts by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #1
February 19, 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Romance
Pages: 238
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Dust to Dust
Amazon US
Goodreads

For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.

What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?

Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.

But it’s a love with tragic consequences.

Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.

Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.

And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.

 

Review is probably not the best word for this. It should just be described as ‘that time Tiffany and Ali reminisced about the characters they love’. Hopefully, you get something out of this. Hopefully, that something is that you want to read this book. 😉

What three words would you use to best describe Black Hearts?

Tiffany: You always do this to me and it’s hard. Lol. But let me try… Vicente, Javier, Bernal. Because that blood line is FUCKING GOLD!

Ali: Javier is back.

Tiffany: Hahah! I mean Javier is a self centered asshole it makes sense we have similar answers!

Ali: I love him and all his fucked up flaws.

Tiffany: FOREVER AND EVER!

Ali: Yes!

Tiffany: Dude…omg. Every part he was in, I just about died!

Ali: I know! I’m so glad age didn’t change him. He’ll be a grumpy ass murdering grandpa and I’ll still think he’s hot.

Seriously though, how exciting was it to see Ellie, Camden and Javier back on the pages?

Ali: It’s pretty awesome to get a glimpse of some of your all time favorite characters, years later. These three hold a very special place in my heart and one of them, in particular, is still living up to everything I loved about them from the start.

Tiffany: I totally agree with you although I read them like a year and a half go, no other drug lord trumps JAVIER, none. He is the ultimate. It took a second for me to adjust and envision them older while reading but once I did it was like NOSTALGIA HEAVEN.

And this…

Javier feels remorse snake through his body but then it’s gone. It never stays for long. It knows it’s not welcome.

Ali: Fuck. That’s so good. 

Tiffany: But this is my favorite: 

Wherever they go, we will follow. If he wants to fall in love while getting his dick sucked, it will only make his own life harder, not mine.

First impressions of Violet?

Tiffany: She kind of bored me, not in like a bad way where I didn’t like her but her personality was a bit monotone. I did however LOVE that she is an aspiring photographer. By the end though, I really did like her. But I think I especially liked her when her and Vicente had their first spat. I loved how she pushed back and didn’t accept him giving her bullshit.

Ali: She’s much more timid and sensitive than I expected from parents with such strong personalities. I think I expected someone edgier, someone with some bite. I guess I can understand how she’d be a more quiet and sensitive girl though, too. I imagine that could happen, constantly living around alpha types. I really had to have a good ‘think’ about her.

I agree, by the end I liked her more. I hope she comes in to her own in the next book.

Tiffany: Yes! There was definitely layers to her that are slowly being peeled back. I can’t wait to see what Vicente evokes out of her.

First impressions of Vicente?

Tiffany: Actually I wavered with my impression on him at first. Seeing as he is the son of Javier I instantly was in love with him but I think I was expecting him to be just like Javier. Then when he wasn’t I was like WHAT?! But that was my own personal hinderance I had to get over. Once I did, I was like damn! And he likes licking all the frosting off the cupcake if you know what I mean!

Ali: I thought the same. I expected him to be so diabolical. Where as he’s much more calculated and methodical.
Javier is too, but he was a bit more of a hip shooter. Vicente doesn’t give me that same feel.

Tiffany: Yes that’s it’s exactly it, Vicente has more feelings than Javier and it’s like an ice water shock. Lol

Ali: Yes! That’s a good way to put it. But, I loved him no less. He’s much more in tune with his feelings but his mind is still totally twisted.

I wonder what our take would be on it, had we not read The Artist Trilogy and Dirty Angels series first. I bet it would be completely different. We should have made Leah read this with us.

Tiffany: We should have!

Man… that part where Vicente was like I heard stories of what my dad did to Esteban. Seriously at the thought of Esteban I physically shrieked!

Ali: Hahaha! Esteban is not an image you easily forget. 

Tiffany: That (Dirty Promises) is still one of the most gruesome books I’ve ever read. 

Ali: Me too. So violent. I mean, it’s a drug cartel, so it’s fitting. But damn.

Tiffany: Luisa and the chicken. I couldn’t eat chicken for weeks!!!

I hope no one dies in the next book that matters, I couldn’t handle it. 

Ali: Hmmm. I don’t know how you get out of this situation with nobody dying. 

Tiffany: That’s what I’m most scared of. 

Ali: I have a feeling the four parents are not going to be all rainbows and unicorns about this love connection. 

Tiffany: You know even though I’m all for Javier I’m excited to see how Camden reacts, I want to see his violence unleashed!!

Ali: OMG, ragey Camden. Yes, please. For all the days.

Honestly though, I really want to see Vicente and Violet to just take all of this to the street and teach their parents to butt the fuck out.

Tiffany: Yes! I have a feeling Luisa is going to pull some ninja shit. Idk what but I have a feeling.

One thing is for sure, March 17th couldn’t be further away! This will definitely be where we see how truly similar or different Vicente is from his papa.

Ali: I’m pretty anxious for that showdown!

About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky, Racing the Sun, The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.


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Review: The Evolution of Ivy: Poison

Review: The Evolution of Ivy: PoisonThe Evolution of Ivy: Poison Series: The Evolution of Ivy #1
January 30, 2017
Genres: Psychological, Sociology
Pages: 287
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

They won't recognize the new me.

But they know the old me well—the me she harmed, and the me he loved.

She thinks she has him. But I'm going to take him back.

He thinks she's the one. But I'm going to show him he's wrong.

I thought it was over. But now I have a chance.

The Evolution of Ivy: Poison blipped onto my radar because of the blurb. I mean, read it, chick sounds devious, vengeful and determined. I love that kind of shit. I like taking a peek into the heads of crazy people.

Ivy is that. Crazy. Devious. Vengeful. Most definitely determined. It’s not likely that you will like her. It’s not likely that you will understand the lengths in which she will go to get what she wants.

Or, at least, that’s how I came out of this read. Ivy is not really the hero in this story. There isn’t one. I finished the last page of this book basically disliking every single character. Yet, you don’t hate Ivy either. It’s a really twisted feeling. You want her to win but you know she doesn’t completely deserve to either. It’s all a lot of mindfuckery.

I don’t even know how to start to describe the story, there is just too much to giveaway and nobody likes a spoiler. The basic gist is that Ivy and Brookes were childhood friends of the closest kind. He left for a time and when he came back, Ivy had changed physically and their friendship didn’t survive it. It’s a betrayal Ivy has carried with her forever and now she’s in a position to enact some revenge.

The thing is…it’s hard to get behind exactly who she wants her wrath to fall on. It’s not Brookes but, in my eyes, he’s the one who had stabbed her with the sharpest knife. Again, it’s a bit of mindfuckery, your feelings reading this book are all over the place. Something I really didn’t mind, at all. You question a lot of the motives and feelings of the characters and I appreciate that so much.

One issue I had was with was the pacing. There were a few times the story fell off for me, it’s awfully slow at times. Another issue – there is one strange side story unraveling that I don’t fully understand it’s purpose. It threw me off track. I’m sure it gets explored more in the next book and hopefully it’s placement will become clear at that point.

Final thought – it’s not a bad debut. Campbell shows some promise as an author with a great imagination and a twisted sense of portraying right and wrong. I’ll absolutely be picking up the next book, I just won’t really be biting my nails in anticipation.


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Behind the Cover Story: End of Eden by S.L. Jennings

by S.L. Jennings
Also by this author:

Behind the Cover Story is a cover reveal with an exclusive guest post from the author about said cover. Maybe, it’s an explanation of how they came up with the concept. Maybe, it’s how they found their model. Maybe, it’s more than that.

 

 

I thought I knew what Hell was like.
I thought I had been living it all these years on Earth—abandoned, forgotten, and left with a dangerous secret that not only made me the Se7en’s #1 target, but also turned me into a deadly weapon, a threat to every human in my path.
I was wrong.

In order to survive Lucifer’s plans for me, and his unquenchable thirst for more power, I have to surrender my humanity. I have to lose a part of myself in order to find my way back to him.
Back to the demon who saved me, only to break me.
Back to Legion.

But even supreme evil has its limits, and the real foes never show their devastatingly beautiful faces.
Forget fire and brimstone. They aren’t shit compared to what’s coming.

Centuries-old bonds will be broken. Unlikely alliances will be forged. And innocent blood will be spilled. Blood that will stain my hands for the rest of my mortal days.

I thought I knew what Hell was like.
I was wrong.
Hell is coming.
Hell is just the beginning.

 

~ Guest Post ~

 

When I started kicking around the idea for the Se7en Sinners Series, I knew that the covers needed to be hot, sexy, and deliciously dark. The series is paranormal romance/urban fantasy, so I wanted to capture that supernatural vibe, while also making it appealing for readers who don’t usually gravitate to that genre.

With my last few books, I had gotten into showcasing local talent on my covers—models, artists, and photographers—and reached out to my friend, Kristina Lowe, a badass makeup pro who works with a ton of beauty industry professionals. She and her business partner, Courtney, also have their own business, Maud, which is a collective of some of the best talent in Spokane. And since Kristina was one of the first people I confided in while brainstorming Born Sinner, it’s no wonder that the main character, Eden, had begun to look very similar to her.

Eden, our heroine in the Se7en Sinners Series, is an edgy, silver-haired, tough-as-nails chick from South Side, Chicago. Her life hasn’t been easy. Actually, it’s been downright shitty. So I wanted to capture that rawness…that tormented vulnerability. I wanted her to be a normal, relatable young woman. Kristina was seriously meant to be Eden. Her hair was already silver, she has dark brown eyes, plus she’s been blessed with curves for days. We enlisted the help of Mika Reyes Photography, an amazing local photographer and fellow military wife, and with Maud on hair and makeup, we brought Eden to life!

But it didn’t stop there. As we were creating Eden, I realized that the cover for End of Eden wouldn’t match the cover for Born Sinner, which was released in August 2016. But lucky for us, Kristina had the perfect L…at home. Her husband, Steven, who had just gotten home from deployment, made his modeling debut and totally nailed it! Maud painted on his tattoos, darkened his hair (he’s a blonde), and turned their studio into a set. Because Kristina and Susan (the photographer) had read Born Sinner, they knew exactly how to breathe life into the shoot. Plus, with husband and wife as the models, we were able to capture that natural, raw chemistry. I didn’t even attend the second part of the shoot so it would be that much more intimate.

After the photo shoot, the amazing Hang Le did her thing, and created cover gold. She also designed the Se7en tattoo on L’s chest, as well as the feathered title font. When she sent them to me, I was blown away. They were exactly how I had imagined: hot, sexy, and hot damn dark! And, they’re even more precious to me because they were truly a labor of love for my friends and me. It became a personal project that we all cared deeply about. I hope that love and intimacy translates for readers as well.

 

Add End of Eden to Your TBR

 

~ Where it all Started ~

 

Twenty-two years ago, I was cut from a cold, sodden womb, and cradled in the filth and poverty of Chicago’s concrete arms. Statistically, I wasn’t supposed to survive these streets past the age of eighteen.

Fate had a different plan.

I was bred for one purpose and one purpose only: to unleash death and destruction on my world.

My thoughts are power.

My words are weapons.

Evil created me then grace tried to save me. But first…it tried to kill me.

They call themselves the Se7en. They are sin and salvation, and everything we’ve feared from the beginning of time. And their leader is the deadliest of them all.

They don’t lose.

They don’t compromise.

And most importantly, they don’t distract themselves with mortal weakness.

Not until me.

Kill one to save a million.

That’s what he told me when he took me as his prisoner.

Kill one to save a million.

That’s what he’s been trying to tell himself ever since he took me into his arms.

Book Links: Kindle US | Paperback

 

 

About S.L. Jennings

S.L. Jennings is a military wife, mom of three, coffee addict, Willy Wonka enthusiast, and real-life unicorn. She’s also the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of Ink and Lies, Taint, Fear of Falling, The Dark Light Series, along with a few other titles that she’s too lazy to type. She’s been with her high school sweetheart for almost 18 years, and he still can’t get her Subway sandwich order right. But he’s cute and brings her vodka, so she keeps him around. They currently reside in Spokane, WA with their three stinky boys and their equally stinky, asshole cat.

The Jennings fam has lived overseas in Germany most of their lives, which is where S.L. penned her very first book, Dark Light. She was having a quarter life crisis, and since she has a background in music and even had a recording contract in her teenage years, writing seemed like a natural progression. Five years later, she’s still at it and still in crisis. Her family doesn’t have the heart to tell her that she’s actually just crazy.


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Behind the Cover Story: You’re the Only One by E.M. Abel

by E.M. Abel

Behind the Cover Story is a cover reveal with an exclusive guest post from the author about said cover. Maybe, it’s an explanation of how they came up with the concept. Maybe, it’s how they found their model. Maybe, it’s more than that.

 

 

 

Sky and Dillon became best friends bonded through struggle, heartbreak, and a promise to get away from it all.

Together they move to New York to pursue their passions. Dillon is a singer/songwriter looking for his big break while Sky wants nothing more than to become a top fashion designer.

Years later, they’re still chasing their dreams. Their friendship has endured jealousy, insecurity, disappointments, and even open relationships.

But can they survive falling in love?

 

 

 

 

~ Guest Post ~

Choosing the covers for my books is one of my favorite parts of the publishing process. I love art so the challenge of portraying a story and evoking feelings through images is a lot of fun for me. In the past I’ve even taken the photos for my covers. (My Breaking Free Series) This time I found some good stock photos and sent them off to my friend and cover designer, Renee Ericson from Re Creatives. I told her a little about the plot of my book and she came up with the perfect design. 

Music plays a really large role in this story since Dillon is a singer/songwriter so, it made total sense to have a guitar on the cover. I also loved the representation of Sky. I like that her back is exposed and she appears vulnerable because Dillon is the only person that truly knows that side of her. The moment I saw this I knew it was the perfect cover for You’re the Only One. 

You’re the Only One release April 11, 2017 – Add it on Goodreads >HERE<

 

About E.M. Abel

E.M. Abel was born and raised a Marine Corps brat. She spent a large portion of her life moving and living in her mother’s home country, Japan. As a result, she gained independence and a unique perspective on the world. The youngest of three girls, E.M. Abel spent a lot of time alone in her room writing or sketching in her journals and dreaming up stories. Growing up, she wrote poems, short stories and articles for her high school newspaper. She also fell in love with art and discovered her deep need for self-expression.

Now, a Navy wife with two small children of her own, she still loves being creative and most of all translating her stories into novels. E.M. Abel, now referred to as E or Em by her friends and readers, can often be found with her headphones on jamming out to punk rock, in a chair getting tattooed or cooking dinner for her kids and attending gymnastics practice. No matter what she’s doing in life, she’s always sure to do it her way.


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Behind the Cover Story: Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1) by Karina Halle

by Karina Halle
Also by this author: Dust to Dust

Behind the Cover Story is a cover reveal with an exclusive guest post from the author about said cover. Maybe, it’s an explanation of how they came up with the concept. Maybe, it’s how they found their model. Maybe, it’s more than that.

For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.

What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?

Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.

But it’s a love with tragic consequences.

Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.

Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.

And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.

 

~ Guest Post ~


Vicente is Hispanic, so thus began the search for finding a suitable model. If I couldn’t find a hispanic model, then I at least wanted one who could pass for one. Our first round, searching through the files of Wander Aguilar Photography (who has provided handsome men for three upcoming books of mine already), we came across a lovely man who fit Vicente perfectly but alas the image was sold and we couldn’t use it.


But we didn’t give up. We spent the day searching and searching for the perfect Vicente.


Finally we found him. The photo wasn’t quite right but I saw the potential right away. Plus he was smoking a cigarette and even though it’s something I don’t condone, it fit Vicente’s character perfectly (who also smokes…and does a lot of bad things).


Of course he wasn’t perfect yet and through the magic of Hang Le, she fixed some things about him (instant plastic surgery!) and ta-da, we have Vicente Bernal, right down to those memorable eyes and heated gaze.


Next month we’ll have the cover for Dirty Souls, the sequel in this duet, and I bet the process will be a lot easier. We’re looking for a female to represent Violet McQueen, the other half of this dynamic duo. And pretty women are always easier to find than hot men (in my opinion anyway – I don’t want a shirtless guy, I want a handsome face to fall in love with).


And boy, have I fallen in love with Vicente Bernal.


Black Hearts releases February 19th.

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About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky, Racing the Sun, The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.


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Behind the Cover Story: Flow & Grip by Kennedy Ryan

by Kennedy Ryan
Also by this author: Still

Behind the Cover Story is a cover reveal with an exclusive guest post from the author about said cover. Maybe, it’s an explanation of how they came up with the concept. Maybe, it’s how they found their model. Maybe, it’s more than that.

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.
I know.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.
And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.
All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.
I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.
And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

 

 

 

If I could undo your kisses
If I could un-feel your touch
If I could unhook this heart from yours
I would
But I’m trapped in the memory of what we were
Stuck with the reality of what we are
Tempted by the promise of a future
Afraid of possibility
I don’t know how our story ends, but this – this is where it started.

 

 

 

 

~ Guest Post ~

 

“You are the perfect verse over a tight beat.” – Brown Sugar

My black-hearted beauties!!! Thank you so much for sharing the covers of GRIP, and its prequel FLOW! To talk about what was behind the cover, I really have to talk at least a little about what is behind the story itself. The quote above from one of my favorite movies, BROWN SUGAR, rang in my head a lot as I was writing. GRIP is a love story about two people from completely different walks of life, from completely different circumstances, who meet each other and feel like they’ve known one another forever. They just click. It’s not insta-love. It’s anything BUT. FLOW, the prequel, actually takes place 8 years before GRIP. At that point, Grip is just starting in music and Bristol is a sophomore at Columbia. They connect around conversation and opinions and music and a lot of the things that typically come up when you first meet someone. And also around a lot of things that typically don’t. It’s not the things they have in common that fascinate them. It’s the ways they’re different. An innate curiosity drives both Marlon James (Grip) and Bristol Gray, and I think that is what makes them work. They don’t allow their differences to keep them apart, but leverage those differences to understand each other.

Hip hop is like a secondary character in this book. If you don’t like hip hop, you’ll still “get” this book; I hope still love it because it’s ultimately a deeply romantic story. But if you DO love hip hop, you’ll enjoy hearing names like Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, Biggie, Jay Z. Grip is a hip hop artist, and later on Bristol is his manager. But he, like Tupac, attended a School of the Arts. And like Tupac, started as a poet, a writer. He’s very broad-minded. Very well read, articulate, but authentic. Still really grounded in the community where he grew up, even as his star rises. He, like Kendrick Lamar, grew up in Compton, and has to reconcile the sometimes disparate experiences of that setting and the very cultured context of his arts education. He’s been grinding for years – writing and producing for other artists, putting out underground mix tapes, featuring on artists’ tracks – and now it’s HIS turn. He’s about to drop his first solo studio album. All of that goes into the concept behind the cover. 

Grip is hot. So I did want some “body” shot, but the story is very layered with a complex plot and a lot of “real life” current issues raised. So I wanted to elevate a little above “just” abs. Nothing wrong with abs! LOL! But with hip hop being such an influence I also wanted to integrate the cityscape; an urban/big city tone. And diverse characters are important in my work. Every book I’ve ever written features a cast of multi-ethnic characters. I wanted this visual to be…anything when you look at him. Is he Black, his he Hispanic, white? Diversity and embracing/understanding our differences actually is one of the main themes of the book, and their relationship – how they are so different, but manage to listen to, respect and ultimately love one another – becomes a metaphor for one of the book’s broader themes. So I wanted the aesthetic to be almost race-neutral. 

The FLOW cover has a bit of a younger vibe than GRIP because they are younger in the prequel. They’re college-age In FLOW, so they don’t have the same responsibilities yet, and the beach and the Ferris wheel communicate some of that. GRIP takes place when they’re about to turn 30, and their lives have become really complex, especially with Grip’s celebrity, so it has a more mature context.

I hope you enjoy BOTH books! FLOW will be FREE everywhere on Feb 25!!! And GRIP goes straight to KU on March 2!

 

About Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan grew up in North Carolina, but loves living in Atlanta with her husband (tall – check, dark – check – handsome – check), and her handful of a son. Though she knew, like writers often do, that she was supposed to tell stories, the road to fulfillment has been paved with “some of everything” jobs that kept her family eating and living indoors. With her degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!), she has focused on writing for non-profit organizations and even doing some non-fiction ghost writing. Only in the last few years did she start telling stories again.

In addition to being a devoted wife and mom, she’s also passionate about serving families living with Autism. Her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, and she has made it her mission to help as many families as possible find the resources and services they need.

I am just as passionate about the REAL LIFE stories I tell as I am about the worlds I build in fiction. Some of these use my given TINA DULA and some are written under my pseudonym KENNEDY RYAN.


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