Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Designs on You by Carrie Pack: Interview & Review

Designs on You
by Carrie Pack

If graphic designer Scott Parker has to design one more cupcake company logo, he might lose it. So when he is tasked with retouching photos for a big fashion client, a stunning, lanky model mesmerizes Scott and occupies his fantasies long after the assignment is finished.

When the model is assigned to one of Scott’s projects, Scott discovers that the object of his desire is nothing like what he imagined. Despite Jamie Donovan’s aloof and dismissive behavior, Scott struggles to forge a friendship with him, all the while trying to keep his attraction at bay.

Will Jamie follow through on signals that he may be interested, or will he forever be the beautiful man in the photograph, an untouchable fantasy?
Author Interview
Carly: Welcome to my blog Carrie! Designs on You contrasts perception with reality. A photograph is very one-dimensional and can often misrepresent the true image, but at the same time, we are all capable of projecting our own images to cover up what’s really inside. What inspired you to write such a thought-provoking theme into Designs on You, and what, besides a great reading experience, do you hope readers will take away from the story?

Carrie: A lot of what made it into Designs on You is directly related to my personal experiences—I have been both a graphic designer and a participant in fan culture.  The graphic design aspect is obviously a huge factor in the basis for the novel because it’s Scott’s career, but the themes in Designs on You came from what I consider to be the most interesting phenomenon in fan culture. 

We hear all the time about how the Internet and social media have changed our lives, but it’s more than just the technology itself. It’s changed the way we interact and what we consider to be personal and private information. As a result, we craft images for ourselves daily. What someone posts on Facebook is not the whole story. Their photos are carefully crafted selfies with Instagram filters. They only check in to show you how busy they are or that they went someplace cool. They are giving you the highlight reel; it’s the trailer, not the full movie.  

That idea of image crafting has spilled over into our offline lives as well. The journey Scott and Jamie go through reflects how we have had to learn how to be our own public relations reps as we craft our images for the public.   

In many ways, Scott is what we might call a fan boy. He’s obsessed with Jamie in much the same way people in real life become obsessed with celebrities. We see someone projected through movies, television, social media, or music, and we think it is the entire sum of the celebrity’s life. In reality, though, it’s just a glimpse of who this person is. 

As Scott gets to know Jamie, he realizes that the image he’s crafted isn’t the whole picture. But he struggles with opening up and telling Jamie about his true feelings. He’s carefully crafting his image as Jamie’s friend, and he works very hard to convince everyone, himself included, that they’re “just friends.” 

Jamie, on the other hand, holds people at arm’s length, much like some celebrities choose to handle their fame by keeping their personal lives private. He is wary of getting close to people because, like a celebrity, he can never be sure of what a “friend” might really want from him. 

I hope readers will be able to relate to those parts of Scott and Jamie. They are very human in their desire to connect with each other. I think that’s always the great part about romantic fiction: the stories are universal. We all understand the need for love and intimacy and so we can relate to the struggles of characters looking for it. I’d also love for readers to take away the broader idea that you have to look beyond the image to get to know someone and remember that you don’t always need to create an image for yourself. Sometimes who you are is interesting enough.

His previous dance partner seemingly forgotten, Jamie puts his hands on Scott’s hips and guides his movements until he relaxes a little. At some point Scott manages to calm his nerves enough to sync his dancing with the pulse of the driving bass line. He lets himself get lost in the music and the simple feeling of Jamie pressed against him. And God does that feel good.

When the song changes up to one with a slower beat, Jamie’s arms find their way around Scott’s neck, and he pulls him in tight to his torso. They're touching from chest to hip and their feet are tangled as they sway together. Scott grabs onto Jamie’s waist in order to keep himself from falling over, the sensation making his skin feel warm and tingly at every point of contact. And even trapped in the midst of a sweaty, drunken mass of guys on the dance floor, Jamie smells amazing.

It’s so different from staring at him on a screen. In pictures, he’s stunning, a perfect specimen of what a model should be, but the reality of him is something else entirely. He’s almost a different person, this mess of sweat and cotton with a hint of cologne wafting toward Scott’s nose as he leans forward a little more and allows himself to get lost in the music.

By the third song, it becomes apparent that Jamie is more than a little drunk.

“I really hate you, you know,” Jamie says into Scott’s ear, loud enough so he can be heard above the music, and close enough that it sends shivers down Scott’s spine, even though Jamie’s words are slightly slurred.

“No you don’t,” Scott says, leaning in just as intimately.

Jamie pulls back, and his eyes are hooded and dark for a moment before he squares his shoulders and shakes his head slowly. It seems to clear the fog in his head.

“I need a drink,” he declares and pulls Scott by the hand toward the bar. 

Buy Links
My Review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scott Parker is an ordinary guy who leads an ordinary life. He has friends who care about him and a job that he usually loves, but sometimes hates. Spending most of his evenings at home doesn't lead to many chances for love, but he's mostly happy with his life. Then one day he is assigned to work on pictures of a new model, Jamie Donovan. Warned by his friends that Jamie is a snob with the face of an angel, Scott can't help but fall in lust with the man with such beautiful eyes, and his infatuation begins.

The day Scott meets Jamie face to face for the first time, it would seem that his friend's assessment of Jamie's personality is correct, but Scott thinks he sees more behind the carefully constructed walls that Jamie uses to protect himself.  As the two slowly become friends and those walls begin to crumble, what started as lust turns into love, but Jamie is haunted by his past, and Scott's own insecurities may not allow him to be the man Jamie needs him to be.

A story of lust, love and friendship, Designs on You is a well written and paced romance with comedy, sensuality and heart. It's novella length makes it the perfect read for a lazy day and has a happy ending that left me feeling a romance reader's high.  It's strong underlying story of self discovery is as easy to read as chocolate covered cherries are to eat. I loved every moment of Designs on You!
Author Profile
A former graphic artist, Carrie Pack turned to her early career experience as the backdrop for her first novel. She lives in Florida with her husband, where she teaches advertising writing at a local college.

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  1. Thank you so much for having me and for the great review!

  2. Hi Carrie, you are a new to me author and I look forward to reading your book Designs on You. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. I enjoyed reading the extract and Carly's interview. It is a very thought provoking book, regarding perception, misconceptions and reality. I recently watched an interview with an actor who is considered an A-Lister and he was difficult and did not communicate well, quite different to the charming happy go lucky appearance of the characters he plays and actually he did not seem a very nice person at all. I can also recall a very famous Rita Hayworth quote: 'Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda... and woke up with me' and basically what you perceive of that person in that photograph/film is often not the reality of who they really are.

    I look forward to reading this book, to see if Scott and Jamie's relationship survives, as they both learn about each other and Scott's perceptions change. Thank you for a chance to win a copy of this book.

    1. Meeting your favorite celeb rarely lives up to expectations. There are some exceptions, but yeah, they have to craft a public persona to maintain some privacy.

      I'm glad you're intrigued. I hope you enjoy the book!

    2. Thanks Sula. Carrie was awesome to interview!

  4. Great review, I can't wait to read this.

  5. Hi Carrie! You're a new author to me, and I can't wait to read this book. It was already on my tbr list, but after this review I'm even more interested. Thanks for the giveaway!!!

  6. Thanks for the great review Carly!

  7. I loved the post. This book sounds like it's right up my alley. Looking forward to reading. Thanks for such an awesome giveaway.