This is not the first time Carolyn has dropped by the Book Pile, but this time she came with some genuine Carolyn Crane art (perhaps you have seen them on her blog or other places around the internets - if not, I weep for you).
From the Mr. Real blurb:
"He finds the girl of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares.
Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.
Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow.
But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?"
My take: Mr. Real is a paranormal-romance-superspy-mashup that defies a strict category and was just so much fun to read. When Carolyn's characters mess up, they do not do it half-assed. In fact, the first lesson I gleaned from this book was to never screw with an occult computer program after the 5th beer. Definitely want the beer goggles off for that kind of decision.
I did like Alix. She of course did stupid things, but she tried so hard to do right and build herself up after years of feeling inferior. Paul, yeah, good stuff right there. He is tormented but he tries to work through it and I liked him a lot. And Sir Kendall was exactly how all of my Bond fantasies play out. Sure he's a suave, charismatic figure, but get involved with him and you'll be screwed over (and not in a happy-fun-times-way). I really liked that we got to get into all 3 of their heads. Especially Sir Kendall. Also really happy with how Paul & Alix balance each other. I do like when the couple have a prior history.
This is just book 1 and I can't wait to see what Carolyn cooks up for us next.
And now on to the Q&A!
Hiya, Kindle-aholic!! Thank you so much for having me here!
KA: How did the process for Mr. Real, being self-published, compare to your other traditionally published work?
CC: You have started with a question I could go on and on about. It is surprisingly hard to put up your own book. I mean, I’ve done novellas under Carolyn Crane, and my smutty fun stuff under Annika Martin, but this is the first big, serious book I’ve put up, and it’s been complicated and slightly harrowing. Basically, I’m SO not a detail person. I’m not organized or good at handling many moving parts, which is what self-pubbing is. I’m used to focusing in on one thing: the writing. And suddenly, I’m dealing with formatting and proofing and timing and covers and NetGalley and laying out the inside of a print book, and, oh, it’s endlessly hard. It’s also expensive to do it right.
But, I really like the control, too. There are so many upsides. I picked great people to work with me. We’ll see how it all comes out.
KA: If you had an occult computer program, who would you bring to life (and how many times have you been asked this question?)
CC: LOL. I know, I’ve been asking that question around, too. Before I wrote the book, before I really thought about the implications of it, I may have said Jamie from Outlander, or Nicholas Brisbane from the Lady Julia Grey mystery series. But, now I’d go for somebody more realistic…like Roarke!! Who would you bring to life??
KA: Hmmmm, my answer is different because of Mr. Real, too. It might have been Curran from Kate Daniels, but, Hello! violent shapeshifter not gonna play well in the 'burbs. I'm going with Arthur from Inception.
Do you plan more in the Mr. Real world?
CC: Oh, yes! I have three more books planned, plus a prequel novella (see below). There may be more than that.
KA: Favorite heroine (book, movie or TV)?
CC: I think Phedre no Delaunay from the Kushiel’s Dart series (by Jacqueline Carey) is just such a fascinating heroine. I also really enjoyed Nell Whitby from A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal (by Meredith Duran).
KA: What books inspire you?
CC: Oh, interesting question. My major inspiration is really historical romance. I can’t write them, but they greatly inspire me. Though, the other day I was marveling at how it seems like, so often, whatever book I happen to be reading is the right one for what I’m writing. Last week I was reading a book I found a lot of fault with, but it inspired me to make this one scene hotter.
KA: What is the next book on your shelf to read?
CC: Next up: Not Proper Enough by Carolyn Jewel. I’ve been saving it like a yummy chocolate.
KA: You've had a rough day - what show do you turn to: Buffy, Firefly, or Sherlock?
CC: Aren’t you so clever! You’ve picked three of my fave series. For a rough day, I might like Sherlock. I would find it the most calming, because it’s so cerebral.
KA: What are you planning next? Still planning to release another Wild & Steamy collection with Meljean Brook & Jill Myles?
CC: Funny you should ask – yes! Meljean Brook just finished a gorgeous cover for our upcoming FIRE & FROST antho, which releases in early 2013. It will have a Mr. Real prequel, a shifter world story by Jill Myles (Jessica Sims) and an Iron Seas story by Meljean.
CC: Hey, thanks so much for having me here!! And, I’m giving away one ebook to a lucky commenter who comments by October 29th.
Thank you, Carolyn!
Carolyn Crane's Author Page
Mr. Real on Goodreads
[I received an ARC to review.]
Update: If you're having trouble leaving a comment, e-mail me at kindleaholic [at] gmail [dot] com, or send me a tweet (@kindleaholic). Whatever!