I've got a sinus cold. Add that to the other things going on in my life right now and I'm simply not in a super perky mood today. Instead, I thought I'd talk about cover art. Above is the cover for my newest release through Samhain Publishing, Tempting Grace. Scott Carpenter designed it and I absolutely fell in love. However, I noticed the other day that a few readers are making fun of it. That's okay, to each his own. I even laughed a little myself when I read one of the comments.
Still, it got me thinking. What is it about a cover that makes a reader either give it two thumbs up or two thumbs down? A cover is a work of art. It's the first thing readers will see when they go browsing for books. You NEED a good, eye-catching cover. It's the finishing touch to all your hard work. It also makes it all seem real finally.
Here at Three Wicked Writers we're planning something new. Every Saturday each of us will be sharing one cover that we love. Gotcha Covered Saturdays won't be a contest. More like, our picks of the week. So, stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, here's an excerpt from Tempting Grace. Grace meets Jackson for the first time in this scene:
“You sure you won’t play at least one more game? I’ll be easy on you.”
Blade laughed and swiped at the sweat on his brow. “That competitive streak is going to get you in a world of trouble one of these days, Jackson.”
Grace watched her cousin and one of Merrick’s employees play a game of HORSE. She’d never seen anyone smoke Blade in basketball before. She eyed the newcomer, noting the tall frame and muscular body clad in nothing but a pair of khaki shorts. He’d taken off his shirt and currently used it as a sweat rag. He looked delicious. She wouldn’t mind being the sweat rag. Sliding over his chest and rock hard abs would be a delight.
“My competitive streak is nothing compared to yours. We both know I never would have gotten you to agree to three games if you hadn’t wanted to beat me so much.”
Blade guzzled his bottled water and swiped his hand over his mouth. “I figure someone needs to put you in your place. Might as well be me.”
“Yeah, too bad it didn’t work for you.” Jackson dribbled the ball a few times before throwing it in the vicinity of the basket.
Grace was concentrated on the way Jackson sucked down his own bottle of water. Geez, even that normal act seemed sexy as hell. Then it hit her. Literally. She’d been balanced on the edge of the rail of the porch. The momentum behind the ball knocked her off her precarious perch, and she fell right on her ass. Had she been paying any attention to the ball, she would have noticed it coming straight at her.
“Shit,” she mumbled.
Blade and Jackson both rushed to her side. Blade helped her up, concern on his face. “You okay, brat?”
She didn’t want to look at Jackson. She already felt like the biggest fool. “Fine, just bruised my ego a bit, I think.”
“Sorry about that,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
She made a point of brushing off her jean shorts. “No big. I’ve taken worse playing football with this slug.” She pointed to Blade.
When she finally allowed herself to glance over at Jackson, she knew two things. One, he was way more of a hunk close up. Two, he was going to be really hard to ignore now that she’d gotten a good healthy look at him.
Jackson held out his hand. “Jackson Hill. I work for Merrick.”
Grace took it and smiled. “I know who you are. I’m Grace Vaughn, the annoying younger cousin.”
“And I’m out of here,” Blade grumbled. “I need to find some air conditioning.”
“You’re getting old and soft. Better watch it, I think I see a pot belly in your future,” she teased Blade, though it was the furthest thing from the truth. Blade was all muscle. She secretly thought fat cells were merely too afraid to venture anywhere near him.
“You like to play with fire, don’t you, Gracie?”
Oh, hell, he had a really nice voice. Deep, mysterious, full of wicked promise. “It’s Grace, and Blade’s a big boy, he can handle some razzing.”
“I agree,” he murmured. He fell silent, staring at her as if imagining things. Naughty things. Grace had the urge to yank at the hem of her black tank top to cover her exposed abdomen. The tank and shorts had seemed like a good idea for a hot July family get together. The way Jackson licked his lips and kept glancing at her belly and legs made her wish she’d worn a sweatshirt and jeans.
“I’ve never seen you at one of the Vaughn picnics,” she said in an attempt at normalcy. “Why is that?”
He sat on the edge of the porch and crossed his arms over his chest. “I wasn’t invited until now. Merrick and I have gotten to be pretty good friends, though.”
He chuckled, which was oh-so-yummy. “Yeah. Merrick and I both love it.”
“Male bonding, how cute,” she said, hoping to shake his calm demeanor.
He looked over at the basketball sitting on the porch floor, bent and picked it up. “Do you like to play, Gracie?”
She refused to enjoy the way he said her name. No one called her Gracie. She’d always hated it. Jackson made it sound sinful. “I play some, yeah.”
“Feel up to playing a game with me?”
The double-entendre wasn’t lost on her or her libido. “Your timing is off. I was about to leave when you smacked me in the face with that thing.”
He suddenly stood and cupped her chin. When he turned her head to the left and right, Grace was too stunned to move. Apparently satisfied, he smiled. “You’re too pretty to be bruised.”
“Thanks,” she said. Escape. She had to escape. The man was lethal and way out of her league. She liked simple guys. Guys she could easily handle. Jackson was neither. She started around him. “It was nice meeting you,” she tossed over her shoulder.
“Maybe one of these days you’ll play with me, Gracie.”
His words caught her, and she froze. It took all her strength to get her feet moving again. She didn’t think she breathed until she sat behind the wheel. Grace looked down at her hands and they actually shook. “He’s just a guy, quit acting like such a girl,” she chastised herself.
It was a good five minutes before she could pull the keys out of her pocket and start the car. His words played over and over in her head.
Hope you enjoyed it! :)