|We are honored and delighted to have Jaci Burton at Guilty Pleasures today, talking about the SEXY AS SIN covers for her Play by Play series. Please give Jaci a big Guilty Pleasures welcome!|
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I want you to know it’s not true. I have no hidden bargain with Beelzebub. I’m just lucky. It’s kind of like winning the lottery—four times—but it’s not money, it’s hot men, which is a lot better than money, right?
I’m talking about the covers for my Play-by-Play series. Mick from The Perfect Play, Gavin from Changing the Game, Ty from Taking A Shot and Cole from my upcoming book, Playing to Win.
I’m not sure what I did in a previous life to luck out and get covers like this, but I figure it’s not good to question it when the cover gods grace you with this kind of bounty. I just fall on my knees and praise the Berkley Art Department’s genius every time one of these gems shows up in my email inbox.
I tend to get a lot of questions about these covers, so I’ll answer a few here.
1. How much input do I get into the design of these covers?
I do cover conference with my editor on every book. But realistically? I’m a writer, not an artist. I let them know what my hero looks like, and what the book is about. I leave the cover art in the hands of the people who know what they’re doing—the art department. (Obviously, they DO know what they’re doing.)
2. Do I get to be present during the photo shoots for these covers?
Ha. I wish. I might actually consider selling my soul to the devil for that opportunity.
3. Do I know who the cover models are for each of the books?
Jed Hill is on the cover of The Perfect Play and Playing to Win I don’t know the name of the model for Changing the Game. He chose to remain anonymous. Jason Vendryes is the cover model for Taking A Shot. We’ve actually done an interview with him, and he signed a few postcards for us. Great guy!
I know when I’m shopping for books, a cover will always make me pause and take a second look. And I hope that’s what these covers have done, and will continue to do. But as delicious as the covers are, if there isn’t an enticing story inside, you won’t come back for more. And while I love these covers so much, it’s my job as the author to write a great story. I love the characters in this series, which is why I’ve been so thrilled with the accompanying cover art. This series means so much to me, so to have incredible covers to go with what I think are compelling romances means the world to me. And I hope you love the romance as much as you love the covers.
So here’s my question for all of you—What comes first for you, the cover or the story? When you’re shopping for a book, do you stop and take a second look because of an awesome cover, or because the story intrigues you? And here’s another question— Will a bad cover make you reject buying a book, even if the story sounds appealing?
Thanks to Guilty Pleasures Blog for letting me guest here today!
The last thing Jenna Riley needs is more sports in her life. While her brothers are off being athletic superstars, she’s stuck running the family’s sports bar, whether she likes it or not. Then in walks pro hockey stud Tyler Anderson. As much as Jenna would like to go to the boards with him, she’s vowed to never fall for a jock—even one as hot as Ty.
Ty, intrigued by the beautiful bar owner, becomes a regular. He senses that Jenna wants to do something more with her life. And as he gains her trust, the passion between them grows, as does Ty’s insistence that Jenna should start living for herself. With his encouragement, Jenna starts to believe it, too…
But first, Jenna has to figure out what she wants, what she needs, who she loves, and if she has the passion and pride to take a shot at having it all—including Ty…
She just couldn’t get a freakin’ break. Ty’s gaze met hers as he pulled off his jacket and headed to a pool table. Every ounce of estrogen in her body surged with joy as his lean, muscled frame settled over one of the tables, pool cue in hand.
Her damn estrogen could just calm the hell down. He might have kissed her, and she might have tingled for hours over it, but that was as far as it was ever going to go. He was sports and that meant no.
He leaned a hip against the pool table and accepted the beer Renee gave him, his body ripped and hard all over as he relaxed and laughed with his friends.
Just the sound of his voice made her nipples harden.
Did you hear that, body? No. No, no, no.
Deciding to ignore him, she went into the kitchen and told Malcolm to start the steak orders, then busied herself with her customers. She would not be interested in Tyler, even if her libido was.
But watching him play pool was more than she could take. She wasn’t nearly busy enough. It was late, the crowds had thinned, and it was mostly him and his player buddies, and if she had to wipe down another glass until it sparkled to avoid looking at his ass she was going to hurl said glass against the nearest wall.
Escape wasn’t an option since she was still in charge of the bar, and the pool table was off to the left—in her line of sight whenever she had to grab a beer.
She tried not to ogle, but Ty had a great butt. He was good at pool, too. Of course. Jocks were good at everything, which was why their egos often went unchecked, something she found utterly intolerable about sports figures.
Which was why she never intended to date, have sex with, or otherwise get involved with one. She made a concerted effort not to watch him, instead glancing at the clock and the minutes ticking down to closing time. She decided to do hard liquor inventory to keep her mind engaged on something other than Ty.
“Can I get a beer, Jenna?”
She hadn’t realized time had passed until Ty pulled up a stool at the bar. She glanced over at the pool table. His friends were nowhere to be found. In fact, the bar was nearly deserted and it was closing time.
Renee waved to her on her way out the door with Malcolm right on her heels.
She was alone in the bar again. With Ty. How had she let that happen?
He skirted around the bar and helped himself. She crossed her arms and glared at him.
“You don’t own this place, you know.”
He popped off the top and took a long swallow, then let out a grateful sigh. “Pool makes me thirsty, thanks. And no, I don’t own this place, but your parents do and they like me.”
“Finish your beer so I can get out of here.”
He went around and took his seat on the stool again. “What is it about me that you don’t like?”
She wiped down the top of the bar, ignoring his question.
God no. He was panty-dropping good looking. Not that she would ever admit that to him.
Utterly annoying. And charming.
Perfect. He always held the door for women and the elderly. He was respectful, not too loud, and never drank too much. For every beer or whiskey he drank, he followed it up with a large glass of ice water. Some athletes wanted all the attention drawn on themselves. Ty liked to blend into the background, preferring to mix with her clientele, not be a showcase because he was a star on the Ice.
“So tell me, Jenna. What is it about me that bugs you?”
She tossed the rag into the bin and palmed the edge of the bar. “I don’t date sports players.”
He quirked a brow. “Yeah? Why’s that?”
She held her arms out to her sides. “Look at all this, Ty. I’m surrounded by it all day, nearly every day. And then there’s Mick and Gavin and all their friends who passed through the house. I’ve had sports ad nauseum all my life.”
He tilted the bottle up to his lips and drank, then handed the empty to her. She tossed it.
“I see. You’ve had your fill of guys like me.”
“Now you’re beginning to see the light.”
“So I’m damned because of my profession. Out of the running before I’ve even had a chance.”
She nodded. “Yup. You’re wasting your time on me. Might as well go find another girl to charm.”
He came behind the bar. “What if I don’t want another girl? What if I want you?”
Uh-oh. Her body was pinging like a Geiger counter and Ty was radioactive. The closer he got, the hotter she became. She took a step back. “I don’t want you.”
He stopped, his lips curving in a knowing smile. “You keep saying that, but I don’t think I believe you.”
“Arrogant men are not appealing.”
“I’m not being arrogant. I’m just good at reading signals.”
“You are so full of shit.” She bent down, grabbed her bag, and held it in front of her like a life preserver. “What signals?”
“You’re breathing fast. Your cheeks are flushed. Your pupils are dilated.”
“I’m exhausted and out of breath from running around trying to close down this place. And it’s hot in here.”
He laughed. “It’s not hot in here. And you’ve been standing still.”
He had her there. “Go away, Ty. I need to close up.” She fumbled in her bag for her keys.
“Go out with me.”
She jerked her head up. “What? No. Hell no.”
“It wouldn’t be so bad. I promise.”
“I’d rather have a root canal.”
He didn’t seem insulted. What would it take to get him angry, to hurt his feelings? To get him the hell out of this bar?
“I promise you that going out with me is way more fun than dental surgery.”
“I’m . . . seeing someone.”
One perfectly formed brow rose. “You’re seeing someone.”
“You don’t know him.”
“How do you know I don’t know him if you don’t tell me who he is?”
“He’s not involved in sports.”
“I know a lot of people not in sports, Jenna.”
She was digging this hole deeper and deeper. “He’s not from around here. And I have to go.”
“Got a date?”
“Yes.” She pushed on him until he finally budged and headed for the door. She punched in the code and hurried outside, tossing on her jacket to ward off the frigid temps.
Of course he just had to walk her to her car. Damn him for being a gentleman. He’d be a lot easier to not think about if he were a prick.
“A little late for a date, isn’t it?” he asked when she got to her car.
“None of your business, Ty.”
“So, it’s a booty call.”
She gasped. “It is not a booty call. It’s a date.”
“He taking you out to dinner at 3 a.m.?”
She clamped her lips tightly together.
“The movies, maybe?”
“You’re an asshole.” She pivoted and got into her car.
“Good night, Jenna.”
He stepped back when she peeled out of the lot, and just like the last time, he stood there watching until she drove away.
Damn him for making her think about him, for making her want him.
She’d show him. She’d get herself a guy.
Maybe if she found someone else to go out with—and ultimately have sex with—Ty wouldn’t be front and center on her mind.
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