While I was putting together the sidebar for the new blog, I noticed that my May release and Meredith’s August release bear more than a little resemblance to each other. They are both red dress clinches! So of course we must have a red dress-off.
First, a little background on the books themselves.
Blurb for Written on Your Skin, by Meredith Duran, on sale July 28, 2009 (just four weeks after her sophomore book, Bound by Your Touch, makes its bow):
Beauty, charm, wealthy admirers: Mina Masters enjoys every luxury but freedom. To save herself from an unwanted marriage, she turns her wiles on a darkly handsome stranger. But Mina’s would-be hero is playing his own deceptive game. A British spy, Phin Granville has no interest in emotional entanglements…until the night Mina saves his life by gambling her own.
Four years later, Phin is finally freed by his new title from the bloody game of spycraft. But memories of the girl who saved him won’t let Phin go. When he learns that Mina needs his aid, honor forces him back into the world of his nightmares.
Phin is a man intent on control. Mina is fiercely devoted to her independence. As they match wits, their practiced masks begin to slip, kindling an attraction more dangerous than any treasonous conspiracy. For in two lives built on lies, love can prove the darkest secret of all…
Blurb for Not Quite a Husband, by yours truly, on sale May 19, 2009:
Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon—to no one’s surprise, not even Bryony Asquith’s. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn’t possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?
Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her, but he won’t rest until he’s delivered an urgent message from her sister—and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them—or their rekindling passion?
And now, the Red Dress-Off!
Does your heroine wear a red dress at any point in the book? And if she doesn’t, would she?
Meredith: Oh boy, does Mina wear a red dress. To wit:
Her cheery announcement won the ladies’ instant and wide-eyed attention. Phin turned. She was draped along one side of the doorframe, a small, curvaceous package done up in scarlet silk. How the hell had she gotten out? “Miss Masters,” he said. There was no help for it; he had to introduce her, as she well knew and had certainly counted upon. “Do come in.”
As she let go of the door and slinked toward them, he caught sight of his pathetic, incompetent, bloody fool of a footman skidding to a stop outside the door. He gave Gompers a small shake of his head, which turned into an astonished double take as the full effect of Miss Masters’s gown became clear. All at once, he understood that his earlier unease had been a premonition of disaster. The gown had no structure or tailoring, save for the high, square neckline and the capped sleeves. The gold sash tied at her waist drew the thin fabric tight around her hips, announcing, very bluntly, that she did not wear a corset.
At her next step, petticoats also began to seem doubtful.
In fact, were she limited to wearing one color for the rest of her life, Mina would probably choose scarlet.
Sherry: LOL. It’s completely the opposite in my case. This is what Bryony wears:
He was completely enamored of the severely cut jacket-and-skirt suits she wore, so serious and put together–his lady knight, in her armor of crisp silk, ready to do battle with London’s microbes and infirmities. At night he lay awake and thought of her prim little hats, her utilitarian walking boots, and the buttons that strained just slightly at the rise of her breasts.
I think Bryony would go through life never wearing red, and never notice that she never wears red.
Does your hero have that sort of build/musculature?
Meredith: Erm… well, let’s put it this way: if any British aristocrat is going to look so fit, it would be Phin. Once upon a time, Phin served in India with the Royal Engineers, which entailed climbing a whole lot of mountains in order to contribute to governmental maps of contentious border zones in the Himalayas. Since mountaineers tend to be extremely muscular up top (takes a lot of strength to haul yourself up cliffs!), I can imagine he was in pretty good shape.
His more recent, and rather more nefarious activities also require a good degree of physical fitness, albeit of a different type. To maintain the vein-popping magnificence we see on this cover, I will assure you that only the restriction of word count prevented me from including a riveting scene in which Phin does his nightly round of push-ups and pull-ups.
Sherry: I was very, very thankful that my beefcake does not have that vein-popping magnificence. Still, the model has got a lot of meat on his bones. This is what Leo just went through:
Weeks upon weeks of trekking across some of the most inhospitable terrains on Earth, sleeping on cold, hard ground, eating what he could shoot and the occasional handful of wild berries so he wouldn’t be weighed down by a train of coolies carrying the usual necessities deemed indispensable for a sahib’s travels.
Also, he is in denial about coming down with malaria. Malaria does a heck of a job destroying appetites. So when Bryony first sees Leo again after a three-year separation, this is what he looks like:
But he had shadows under his eyes. He was thin almost to the point of gauntness. And despite the tan of his skin, his face had a pallor to it.
Of course Leo, when you strip him down, is still ripped from all that climbing and trekking.
The weight he’d lost and the illness had not been enough to diminish what months of strenuous daily exertion had done for him. His body was efficient and compact, his shoulders strong, his abdomen ridged, his legs longthewed and shapely.
In other words, less bulk, but still the same hawt!
Does your title reflect your book?
Meredith: Yes. Both Phin and Mina are profoundly influenced by (separate) incidents that left a physical mark on their bodies.
Sherry: Absolutely. He was her husband. Now he is not. Ergo, NOT QUITE A HUSBAND.
Does the font size of your name indicate your stature as an author?
Meredith: Ha! All I can say is: 1) Sherry came up with this question; 2) Sherry is nominated for two RITAs!
Sherry: Hehe. I am tremendously unobservant. So for me to notice the font size of Meredith’s name says something. When I did notice, I went, whoa, them’s some NYT bestselling font size! Of course the font size of my own name accurately reflect my modest, relatively new status.
And I’ve been treating Meredith much nicer since I noticed. 🙂
What input, if any, did you have on the cover?
Meredith: So here’s how it goes: the art department asks me to physically describe my hero and heroine, and then they come up with a cover, which they send to me to make sure that the people on the front sufficiently resemble the characters within.
This one wasn’t changed at all, I believe. This pic is a little muddy, but the actual cover is much warmer and richer in color, and I was very happy with that, as it seems to reflect Mina’s personality. There is a height discrepancy between Phin and Mina that isn’t represented on the cover, but if it were, the clinch would probably look… odd.
Sherry: My publisher does its own secret plotting and just shows me the close-t0-end product. The first round result looked like this:
The art department made the correct choice to remove the border–which is now tinted red and on the back cover–for the figures of the models to pop much more. I wanted longer fingers for him and hair enough on her to engulf small villages, especially since the latter is specifically referred to in the book. Didn’t get too much more hair on her–art department said it would muddy the picture–but did get longer fingers on him. Also, art department gave him a deeper tan and changed his trousers. Nothing like black trousers on a man to say mysterious virility. 🙂
And why clinch instead of ladyback/mantitty?
Meredith: You know, the covers are designed with an eye to attracting browsers in a bookstore, and it’s safe to say that Pocket has done a lot more research than I have in regard to what attracts a casual browser to pick up a book. I’m guessing, then, that clinches appeal to readers. And here’s a confession: I don’t mind clinch covers. I’ve long dreamed of opening a bar that would be wallpapered entirely in old-school clinch covers. It would serve drinks with names like “Purple-Headed Passion,” “Throbbing Banana” Daiquiris and “An Ecstasy of Oranges”, and have dim, velvet-lined booths with private jukeboxes constantly tuned to Frank Sinatra and Etta James.
Without clinch covers, this fantasy would be horribly incomplete. Long live the clinch!
Sherry: According to Sue Grimshaw, Borders’ romance buyer, for newer historical romance authors, the clinch is a must. And since I do write very hot books, I like that the heat level is reflected in the cover. (And I especially like her expression on the cover. She’s thinking: My God that is a bloody cricket bat he’s got there.)
And man, Meredith, the Old-Skool clinch covers are as abundant as hydrogen. Your bar would run out of walls to display them all. And even though I don’t drink, I plan to order a “Purple-headed Passion” just to say that I’d experienced it once in my life. May I also suggest “Explode Like a Ripe Melon?”