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A Conversation with Julianna Keyes, Author of UNDECIDED (with a New Release Review and Giveaway!)

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Welcome, Julianna! What 5 things should readers know about you?
  1. Undecidedreferences (briefly) the show Arrested Development. It’s up there with Saved by the Bell as one of my favourite shows of all time, and you should totally watch it. It will blow your mind.
  1. Unlike Nora, I didn’t party like a rock star in my first year of college, but like Nora, I didn’t study very much and did pretty poorly. I left after two years and never got a degree. (In high school I was a straight A student!)
  1. I watched 10 Things I Hate About Youapproximately a million times. I left home right after high school, but whenever I returned for Christmas break I’d rent it (on VHS!) and watch it again. My love of the opposites attract and enemies-to-lovers tropes was cemented when I saw that movie.
  1. I love Oscar Wilde quotes. You know the one where he talks about spending the morning putting in a comma and the afternoon taking it out? I am that writer. I quite literally lie awake at night debating whether or not that comma/semi-colon/paragraph break was the right move. Before a book is published, I read it a thousand times. After publication, I can’t bring myself to open it again.
  1. My favourite book is Robinson Crusoeand I have always wanted to live on a desert island. My most hated book is the fourth in a very popular series I will not name. Just thinking about it makes me mad!

Hmmm. There’s a slight possibility that you might have watched 10 Things I Hate About You more times than I have. Very slight, but it’s there.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

A while back I read a very popular (and quite good) New Adult Romance, but the whole time I kept wishing the heroine would fall for the hero’s cocky best friend. The hero wasn’t bad, but he was very perfect and it would have been so much more interesting if both the heroine’s and the reader’s expectations were subverted. The seed was planted and last summer I sat down and started writing.

Perfect is totally overrated 🙂

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing my whole life, but writing AND being published…about three years. I have always wanted to be a writer (when I left university I was in a screenwriting program) and I have my fair share of rejections to show for my efforts. (I mostly wrote women’s fiction.) I was at the tail end of another series of failed submissions when Fifty Shades came out and opened the doors to a lot of smaller publishers.

Around that time I was waiting for the subway one night and feeling very dejected. There was an ad to become a court reporter and I thought, “That’s it. I’m becoming a court reporter!” Then I looked into it and thought, “Hmm, maybe I should try writing romance instead.” I hadn’t read the genre extensively, but I found a few I loved (I got really lucky – I read writers like Cara McKenna, Anne Calhoun, and Ruthie Knox right off the bat) that made me realize it wasn’t all heaving bosoms and cheesy endearments. That gave me the confidence to write romance in my own voice. I wrote Just Once, my first published book, totally abandoned the court reporter idea, and have been writing non-stop (which is not as fast as that sounds) ever since. I still have a day job.

Awesome story! (I believe you about the “not as fast as that sounds”. Especially with the day job and all)

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I’m finishing edits for The Good Fight, which is book 3 in the Time Served series. The whole series is sexier and grittier than Undecided, and I like switching between the two different tones. At the same time I’m making headway on a new standalone romance, which is a darker, more psychological story where everybody’s lying…or aren’t they? It’s fun because every scene and every line of dialogue can be dissected and analyzed to look for clues and motives. Once that’s done I’ll probably start on a follow up to Undecided, which will most likely be Kellan’s story.

Yes! I can’t wait to find out Kellan’s story 🙂

If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

These are so hard! I’d say something like: A reformed bad girl’s good intentions are derailed not by her sexy new roommate but his cocky & off-limits best friend. #newadult #readthis

LOL, it’s supposed to be! Great job, though!

Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She’s been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills—or terrifies—her as much as the blank page. She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, though not necessarily in that order, and writes sizzling stories with strong characters, plenty of conflict, and lots of making up.

In addition to Undecided, she is the author of four contemporary romances: Just Once, the story of a world weary socialite and a stubborn ranch foreman; Going the Distancea love story set in China between a kindergarten ESL teacher and a former army interrogator; Time Served, the tale of an ambitious young lawyer whose perfect world is jeopardized when she reunites with her ex-con ex-boyfriend; and In Her Defense, in which a ruthless young lawyer realizes there’s more to life than being the best…right?

For more details on these and any upcoming books, visit her online at http://juliannakeyes.com, or sign up for her free newsletter at http://juliannakeyes.com/newsletter.html.

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UNDECIDED
Julianna Keyes
Releasing April 4th, 2016
Nora Kincaid has one goal for her second year of college: be invisible. Last year’s all-party-no-study strategy resulted in three failed classes and two criminal charges, and if she messes up again she’ll lose her scholarship. But there’s one problem with her plan for invisibility, and his name is Crosbie Lucas: infamous party king, general hellraiser…and her new roommate’s best friend.
Crosbie’s reckless reputation and well-known sexcapades aren’t part of Nora’s studious new strategy, but as she’s quickly learning, her new plan is also really boring. When Crosbie’s unexpected gestures of friendship pull her head out of her books long enough to see past his cocky veneer, she’s surprised to find a flawed and funny guy beneath it all. The muscles don’t hurt, either.
But as Nora starts to fall for Crosbie, the weight of one of last year’s bad decisions grows even heavier. Because three failing grades and two misdemeanors are nothing compared to the one big secret she’s hiding…
 
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Poor Nora! She spent her pre-college years feeling boring and invisible, so she went (more than) a little crazy her freshman year in college: tried to major in frat parties and hooking up, failed some classes, was arrested, and…was still invisible, apparently. But she doesn’t realize it until she drops her co-conspirator (but at least she managed to avoid arrest) best friend, completes her community service, attends summer school, and answers an ad for a “serious” roommate for the fall semester only to find out it’s one of her previous drunken hookups who’s now asking her to move in.

And, yeah. Kellan totally doesn’t remember her as the “red corset girl” he had sex in a closet with not even four months earlier.

So yep. Invisible. And really, who can’t relate with that feeling, at least a little?

So it’s easy to identify with Nora as she tries to get her life back into some semblance of order, even if you’ve never (yet, anyway) let your life get quite so off-track. She needs to buckle down with her coursework so she doesn’t lose her scholarship and work at her part time job to pay for the rest of her living expenses (plus save up for rent, because the “free” part is just a temporary trial run). She knew this semester was going to be tough…what she didn’t realize was that it would also be boring.

Except for the bits when it’s tempting and confusing as heck–namely all the parts that involve her ex-hookup and new roommate’s best friend, Crosbie. Crosbie’s just as bad as Kellan–maybe even worse, since there’s an actual name for his hookups–the Crosbabes. Nora wants nothing to do with him or his muscle-y muscles. Though they’re very distracting. And the more time she spends in his company, the more she likes him…and the less he seems like the showboating man-wh*re he’s supposed to be. What to do?

I loved Nora and Crosbie together–whether it was before they were an item or during, their banter was adorable and even laugh-out-loud funny at times. Plus Crosbie’s just so freaking cute. It’s impossible not to fall for the guy–I can’t imagine how Nora stayed so strong for so long. All of the friends in the book (I’ve heard rumors of a Kellan book coming up; hopefully there’s a Marcella and Nate one too!) are great together and really fun to read about. There’s some sensitive (and completely realistic, given the characters’ behavior and actions) stuff that comes up for a few of the characters, and I really liked the way that situation was handled. Nora didn’t always make decisions that I agreed with along the way, but it always made sense–for her–that she was making them. Nothing here felt forced or overly dramatic, which was refreshing for a new adult book.

There were some odd bits–the storyline’s timing is a bit off in a few parts, and adults are really pretty much a non-entity for the majority of the book–but overall this was a really fun book to read full of characters I’d love to see more of. Ms. Keyes is a new-to-me author who I’ll definitely be reading more from in the future!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for being part of the tour, Becky! Great questions & great review. 🙂

  2. Wonderful interview. Thank you for hosting and reviewing UNDECIDED today!

    Crystal, Tasty Book Tours

  3. Thank YOU for the interview, Juliana 🙂

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