Title: No One’s Angel
Author: Kelly Walker
Published: September 17, 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Synopsis: Tess used to spend more hours than she’d care to admit playing her favorite computer game, using the nickname Angel. She could pretend her life was different, and she could pretend Arion was just a friend. But a girl needs more to keep her warm at night than pixels and she traded her virtual heaven for a real life hell. Now she’s on the run from a past she won’t talk about, and the only place she has to go is the doorstep of the friend she’s never actually met.
When Angel disappeared from their nightly games, it nearly destroyed Arion. He threw himself into work and women, but he can’t help knowing the one night stands will never compare to the angel who haunts his dreams. At first, when she shows up soaking wet and scared-shitless on his doorstep, he thinks his prayers have been answered.
But the more Arion tries to keep Angel close, the more her fear drives her away. If they are ever going to have a chance for a future, they’ll first have to deal with the past that hasn’t forgotten her any more than she’s forgotten it, and Arion will have to learn how to let her go.
No One’s Angel is a New Adult(NA) Contemporary Romance and is recommended for mature audiences only due to language and sexual content.
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Lots of goodness today, my friends:
an interview with Ms. Walker, my review, and a giveaway!
you can find the complete tour schedule on Xpresso Tours HERE
♥ The first thing I want to talk about: You hate commas?? I LOVE THEM! Talk to me about this.
Well technically, I love commas too. I love them so much that I put extra ones in, and I put them in the wrong places. I get confused about which are optional, which aren’t, and which are just wrong. So I’ll often get a train of thought going, but then I pause and debate a comma, and forget what I was writing in the first place. I think I’ve gotten better about them over the last several books, or else my editors and critique partners have simply abandoned complaining. (Critique partners note: We are convinced that her question marks break down, becoming extra commas, because they also have a tendency to go missing.)
♥ You talk about your love of reading since a young age, and that you have always loved writing. But it doesn’t seem like you thought you could be an author when you started out. Was it a slow thought process or did it dawn on you that you wanted to write actual books/stories?
When I was 3 I asked for a pony. And when I was 13 I asked for a pony. And when I was…am…30 I asked for… Well you get the idea. Horses were always my thing. I was going to have an awesome career training horses, and no matter how many times I was told that wasn’t practical, I didn’t care. I never considered that I could do anything else. Writing was a hobby, but it usually involved writing stories about girls who trained horses and got to ride whenever they wanted. My writing was a way to fantasize and fill a need.
As I got older, I wrote to get out my emotions through some really bad poetry ( and no I won’t share it, ) but again, it was to fill a need. It was about healing more than about creating.
Then I grew up, and my needs changed. I didn’t really think about writing anymore for a long time. It honestly never occurred to me that I could be an author. That was like reaching for the stars, and I’d become a relatively practical person. Or at least I like to think so. It wasn’t long before I was a mom, and a wife and I just didn’t have time for things such as making things up, and I didn’t need the catharsis either.
I didn’t realize that I wanted to write for the sake of writing, and that maybe I could be an author, until I was one. I wrote Cornerstone, and realized how much I loved creating stories. In retrospect, I can see that I’ve never stopped creating—through art, and graphics and photography—but didn’t realize it then.
♥ When you first began writing, what kept you motivated to keep writing?
I had to know how Riya’s story ended. She’s so fascinating to me, and there is so much to her world, her family and her history—I just HAD to know more. I’m still like that when writing new stories. The need to know more about a character’s story is what keeps my butt in a chair, typing away.
♥ You mention chapter 17 in your Cornerstone book as the scene that inspired the story. What or who gave you that final push to write the whole book?
My husband. The seed of an idea had grown so strong, and so persistent, that I just couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. I’d thought about Riya for years without telling anyone. Finally, I just spilled out my idea of this girl and this stone wall, and her choice, and when I was done my husband wasn’t looking at me like I was a fruitcake. I told him I thought I could write this whole book about her, and I had this part, and that part, and I just needed to figure out the stuff that went along with it. And he said, “Okay…what’s stopping you?” And I told him “I can’t write a book?” and he said, “It’s a good thing J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer didn’t think that.” And I realized he was right. While I never expect to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, I realized I could tell Riya’s story.
♥ Do you have a favorite character from your stories? Even if it’s a secondary character?
There are things I love about many of my characters. But I think I would say Riya is my favorite. She’s the most “real” to me.
♥ What was your inspiration for the story No One’s Angel? Did you want to write more about gaming? (By chance, have you read Eve Silver’s Rush? I did and it’s the reason I wanted to read No One’s Angel. I didn’t think a story about gaming could ever appeal to me, but boy was I wrong!!)
No One’s Angel was another idea that came on me and wouldn’t let go. I knew I wanted to write a story eventually about a girl escaping from an abusive relationship, and learning to trust. I’d had that in my idea notebook for quite a while, but I didn’t have the characters or the details. All of a sudden the thought of a girl running to someone she barely knew out of desperation popped into my head, and just like that, I could “see” Arion and Angel.
I used to be a gamer when I had more time. (Fun fact, Valencia was the name of my first MMO character, and I’ve used that name in multiple games.) When I thought about how two people might have an incredible connection online, the gaming angle occurred to me and I started to get really excited. I know the gaming world pretty well, and I had a lot of fun putting in little references. I haven’t read Rush, but it is on my list of things to read.
♥ How long did it take you to write your first book Cornerstone vs No One’s Angel? What was the process like? When you finished writing them, did they turn out the way you expected it to?
I wrote Cornerstone in about 6 weeks, but then it took me about 6 months to revise it. I had so much to learn and it needed severe re-writes in multiple areas. I went through Cornerstone chapter by chapter with a critique group, and fortunately they were very patient with me. Then I sent it to an editor, and did more revision. Writing No One’s Angel took me about 4 weeks, and it had very minimal revisions. I ran it quickly through my critique group, and then by a few beta readers, then to my editor. The ending of No One’s Angel is about what I expected. There was a little bit of a surprise for me at the end, but overall I knew where I was going. The ending of Cornerstone was huge for me. I knew parts, but a lot of it fell into place as I got there.
♥ You love fantasy, but are now are writing some contemporary? What made you want to write something different? Also, you went from YA to NA. Was it hard to change gears?
I read both contemporary and fantasy so it felt very natural to me to write in both genres as well. Going to NA from YA was freeing in some ways because I didn’t have to be quite so careful in the way things were worded. I agonized over some of the adult content in Broken Stone, trying to keep it respectful and appropriate for YA readers, while doing the story justice. I didn’t have that concern with NA. Some have suggested that I should use a penn name for my YA vs my NA stuff, especially because it is fantasy and contemporary but I think as long as things are labeled for what they are, my readers are smart enough to know what they like and what they don’t.
♥ How do you feel about the covers of your book? Do you have a favorite?
I love my covers. I’ve changed several of my covers several times, trying to make sure I’m hitting my target readers, but ultimately I love each version of my covers. No One’s Angel has two covers because while I love the original cover that is still featured on the paperback, it wasn’t catching the attention of the NA market, so I changed it to be something that hopefully would. So far so good. =)
♥ Do you ever use beta readers? Do you hire a professional freelance editor to critique your work before submitting to agents or editors?
I do. I LOVE my beta readers. And I’m generally always open to taking on more beta readers. I also could not imagine publishing my stuff without using an editor. My philosophy on self publishing is that it means I have to take on the responsibility of doing what the publishing company would do for me—such as contracting editors, artists, etc. It isn’t an excuse to skip those vital steps. I submitted Cornerstone to a few agents, but I was already pretty sure I wanted to self publish. Somewhere down the line I’d love to find a great agent to work with me on broadening my options, but I’m in no hurry to find one.
♥ Were there any major revisions to your debut novel? How many drafts did you have to write for your first book? How many for your latest book? What’s easier?
I lost count of drafts on Cornerstone. Seriously. 6+ ? I wrote it, sent it to a beta reader, re-wrote it, sent it through my crit group, re-wrote it, sent some chapters back through my crit group, re-wrote them, re-wrote some more, sent it to an editor, re-wrote some more, then of course there was the proofreading for final typos and such at the end. No One’s Angel was more like I wrote it, got crit partners to do a quick pass for trouble areas, fixed those, sent it to beta readers, (and my editor now also beta reads) fixed a few more things, then went through line edits and proofreading.
♥ Which is more difficult to write: dialogue, action, or a love scene?
Action. Thank goodness for legos. I have a very hard time blocking out the choreography of fight scenes, especially in Souls of the Stones where there is often multiple people involved.
♥ Do you have ideas for other series?
I have far more ideas than I will ever have time to write, but I’m going to do as many as I can.
♥ What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I honestly don’t know. I am a relatively sensitive person, and comments in reviews have gotten me upset many times. Ultimately I try to remember that everyone will perceive a book differently, and that it isn’t personal. The best compliment is when I get emails or tweets or fb messages from readers who say my book kept them up all night reading. As someone who often stays up captivated by a book, I think I love that compliment the most. Jasmine at Flip That Page recently said in a review “The style of writing was beautiful in essence, and the author was able to weave through words most wondrously, and I was left in awe at the elegance of the prose that could only have been attributed to an author that deserves so much more attention than she’s getting.” That was a pretty amazing compliment as well.
♥ What is your favorite genre to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Everything I read has a romantic element. I don’t care if it is fantasy or contemporary, YA, NA, or Adult, I need romance. My favorite authors include Elle Casey, J.A. Huss, Mimi Strong, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Julie Kagawa.
♥ If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
I know more about publishing now, and I would publish some of my earlier books more efficiently, but overall, no. I wouldn’t change a thing. Wait—I would publish sooner! I wish I hadn’t wasted so long thinking I couldn’t write a book, because it seems I can. =)
Celeste’s review: 4 flaily stars!
First Thoughts: Woa. Holy intense read, but oh so good!
Plot, Pacing and Style: I wanted this book the second I read the synopsis…gaming. If you had asked me 6 months ago if that would have appealed to me, I would have said no, but after reading Eve Silver’s Rush I knew I was in.
Angel and Arion knew each other through an online game, but had also chatted privately online and had gotten very, very close. Even though they had never met face to face, they both knew the other one was someone that would always be special to them. When Angel found herself on the run for her safety and her life, she went straight across the country and showed up at Arion’s door. Soon they had to deal not only with their feelings for each other, but also they had to keep Angel safe, and Arion vowed to do just that.
The pacing was pretty stressful, not gonna lie! I mean that in a good way…it was intense. I knew Nick was after Angel and I had no idea when he was going to show up. I wasn’t sure with every single page I turned.
This was told in alternating POVs so we got a chance to see what both of these characters were thinking, their fears, and what was in their hearts.
The MCs: Arion and Angel (Axel and Tess) had one of those relationships that was based on emotion first, then physical attraction second. Very cool and very hot. Even though they had their own issues to work through, they each always put each other and other people ahead of themselves. I did love how selfless they both were.
Romance /Chemistry: Sparks galore! Holy bathtub scene. That. Is. All.
Title/Cover: By the end I totally got the title. At first I thought it was cutesy because of the gaming names, but by the end I realized that Tess needed to stand on her own. Loved it! I also loved the cover. Did you know there is an alternate cover out there? Well, there is, but I like this one more. Something about it speaks to me…the innocence, I’m not sure, but I love it.
Ending: Can you say nailbiter? However, we got that HEA that I was dying for. A lot of loose ends were tied up, and I have a feeling there will still be bumps along the way for these two, but both Angel and Arion have direction now, and they don’t have to live in fear.
Gripes/suggestions: I’m not sure, I guess I just wanted a little more…UST maybe? I wish they had held off being intimate on any level for a while…I know, I know….I love to torture myself! Really though, it was a great story and I don’t have too much to gripe about. There was also a lot of predictablility, but that still didn’t take away my nerves while I read it…maybe a massive twist or turn would have catipulted this story to the next level, but honestly, I loved it just as it was.
Final Thoughts/Rec It? YES YES YES
Kelly Walker was born in Trappe, MD but she now calls Fredericksburg Virginia home. She has an unhealthy appreciation for chocolate, and a soft spot for rescued animals. Her best lessons on writing came from a lifetime of reading. She loves the fantastical, and the magical, and believes a captivating romance can be the most realistic magic of all. Kelly, her husband and her two children share their home with three dogs who walk her, and two cats who permit her to occasionally share their couch.
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A huge thank you to Ms. Walker and Xpresso Blog Tours
for including us on this tour!