Monday, January 31, 2011

Perfect Time for a Royal Romance

You guessed it, my February Presents Extra is a royal romance.

Being Australian, I was particularly fascinated several years ago when an Australian woman, Mary, married a Danish Prince. Now she's Princess Mary of Denmark, leading the sort of life that gets featured in glossy magazines here and, I assume, all over the world.

There's something about the pomp and ceremony of a royal wedding, the glittter and excitement and, above all, the Cinderella factor when an 'ordinary' girl marries a royal, that is absolutely fasincating. There's the dress to ponder over, the pageantry, the guest list of celebrities, the chance to spot any young, handsome, unattached minor royals waiting for their own Cinderella (I know there aren't many but who cares about long odds?).

Imagine my pleasure when I discovered the release of PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE slots in nicely to the approaching royal wedding in the UK. Thank you Kate and William! I couldn't have timed this better. It would be nice to think I had an inkling that wedding bells would be in the air when I planned this story, but it's just serendipity.

Serendipity had a lot to do with this book, with so many wonderful experiences feeding into my research. There was a marvellous day spent with fellow Presents author Abby Green in Dublin, which included a visit to the old library at Trinity College. That place is amazing, and the visit helped me create my heroine, Tamsin, a book curator and expert in old languages. There was a visit to see crown jewels on a day when it wasn't crowded (yes, really!) and the staff were particularly helpful. A visit to a fabulous gothic cathedral full of stunning stained glass just as the clouds cleared and washed the interior with the most gorgeous light. Christmas night markets in Austria and Germany alive with the smells of mouth watering food and the sounds of music and laughter. There were castles perched on high mountains and a fabulous night spent in a tower room looking down on the Rhine. There was even a sleigh ride on the clearest day imaginable, after fresh, deep snow had fallen and the alps looked unbelievable. Well, yes, our sleigh ride wasn't like Tamsin and Alaric's - there were several of us in the sleigh and I wasn't being whisked off to an isolated mountain lodge for royal seduction. But the tinkle of the bells (they really do tinkle) and the swish of the sleigh and the sparkle of the snow were completely magic.

However, it was Tamsin and Alaric who made this royal romance such fun to write. He is handsome, debonair, charming and troubled, weighed down by the ghosts of his past. She's hard-working, almost reclusive and determined to concentrate only on her work of preserving old documents, rather than let herself fall for another charming man who can't be trusted. She's not glamorous. She wears dowdy grey and brown, she hasn't a high heel to her name and she shuns male attention. Fortunately Alaric can see beyond the surface and is intrigued by what he finds. As for Alaric - sigh. Well, let me just say I had a wonderful time with him. Here he is as seen through Tamsin's eyes at their first meeting:

He could have been Prince Charming, standing there in his elaborate hussar’s uniform, her discarded shoe in one large, capable hand. A bigger, tougher Prince Charming than she remembered from her childhood reading. His dark eyebrows slashed across a tanned face that wasn’t so much handsome as magnetic, charismatic, potently sexy. Like Prince Charming’s far more experienced and infinitely more dangerous older brother.

I was thrilled when PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times: With genuine chemistry and vulnerable characters this modern-day fairy tale delights from start to finish. I hope you enjoy it too, along with the other Presents and Presents Extras this month. For more about the book, visit my website. To celebrate the fact this is my first post on the fabulous new Harlequin Presents Blog I've decided to give away a backlist title to one person chosen at random from those who leave a comment. Just tell us one time serendipity or coincidence gave you or someone you know a lovely surprise.


  1. Oh, I love a royal wedding, Annie! I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Kate Middleton's frock this April.

    I'm actually reading Protected by the Prince right now and I LOVE it. Congrats on its US release.

    My moment of serendipity occurred when a lovely friend sent me a postcard from her travels in Scotland. Its photo of a ruined castle set off my imagination and I soon started writing my first YA story. Fast-forward a few years later and that book became a Golden Heart finalist. Now, if I could just sell that book!

  2. Hey, firstly, Annie, I must say I love the new digs here at Harlequin Presents. Very snazzy!

    And huge congratulations on the U.S. release of PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE. It's such a beautiful fairytale story and I love the ugly duckling element of the story. It's wonderful to see Tamsin transformed into a swan. Your American readers are going to love it (and I 100% agree with Romantic Times!).

  3. Annie

    I so loved this story Tamsin and Alaric are so wonderful together and the scenery in the story is beautiful.
    I am not sure whether i have had a moment of serendipity but I have to say I am looking forward to Kate and Williams wedding

    Have Fun

  4. Hi Vanessa, it's lovely to see you here.

    Won't it be fun seeing what Kate wears to the wedding? Personally I love the coach they trot out for the royal weddings - so special, with the grooms in livery!

    Wonderful news that you're enjoyed PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE. That's what I like to hear! I'm wondering if you're up to the ball scene. I had a wonderful time writing that.

    LOVE your moment of serendipity. I bet your friend was thrilled when she heard her pc sparked a story. Congratulations on finalling in the prestigious Golden Heart. Fingers crossed 2011 is the year you sell...

  5. Hi Anna,

    Isn't the blogsite nice? I love it.

    Thanks for the kind words about Tamsin and Alaric's story. As you know I'm a sucker for a transformation story and Tamsin is a bit of an ugly duckling, but I'm glad she had the integrity to keep what mattered unchanged.

    Yes, I'm hoping readers like this too. I loved the RT review! How often does a girl get 4.5 stars?

  6. Ooh Helen, great to hear you enjoyed this book too.

    Maybe your moment of serendipity is coming up soon. An invitation to the royal wedding perhaps? No? Ah well, something else nice I hope.

  7. Oh a royal wedding – what little girl hasn’t dreamed of one? I just know Prince Harry is hoping I will get a divorce so he can and claim me. And since I’m an Aussie too, like Annie, we know it’s not foolish to dream. Gota love ya Mary!

    Well as to my story I will tell, but promise not to tell anyone? *wink* Ok, I was on a first date with a guy, Roller Skating… and I had never been before. Suffice to say, I was not graceful or at all good at it. In fact, my date seemed to spend most of the time picking me up off my butt, from the cold and hard floor.
    But as I look back I think, somewhere in there, I got something right. He did marry me in the end. *grin*

  8. Hi Annie,

    You got to spend days and do sleigh rides and visited all that castle! How awesome!

    I love reading about Princess Mary of Denmark and whichever magazine features her (with photos of her family)I buy it! She's always so elegant.

    I loved the excerpt of Protected By the Prince.
    Can't really think of any coincidences right now. Oh yes, I love reading Presents and Royal weddings are among the favourites.

  9. Hi Danielle,

    You dreamed of a royal wedding too? I can't remember doing that but I suspect I must have since the weddings in my linked royal romances were so vivid in my head. Enormous fun - even the hats!

    Love the fact that your clumsy rollerskating led to romance and finding Mr Right. What a great story.

  10. Nas, it's great of you to stop by the new site.

    Yes, I was extraordinarily lucky to visit some of the places I did when planning this story. It look lots of planning and was such a fantastic trip. Sometimes I can hardly believe some of the things we did. Whenever I look at the photo of the sleigh (I was in one in front and turned round to see who was following) I grin.

    Princess Mary does look elegant, doesn't she. I'm impressed with her learning Danish too. It doesn't seem like a particularly easy language. Just think, if Sydney hadn't hosted the Olympics that royal romance wouldn't have got off the ground. I wonder how many other romances started there?

    I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt!

  11. Hi Annie
    Your US readers are in for a treat with Tamsin and Alaric's story! Congratulations! And this blog has been a treat for me because I really love to read the story behind the story! Is that picture of the horses that pulled the sleigh you rode in?

    Wasn't Mary and Prince Frederick's marriage a beautiful romantic occasion! I know we don't know them but they do seem like a lovely, genuinely happy couple - so I really hope that is the case.

    I can't think of a serendipitous story off the top of my head... though I'm sure there must be one in there somewhere! If I think of something I'll pop back to share!

  12. Hi Annie,
    Great to see you on the site.
    I enjoy every book you write, and loved "Protected by the Prince". There's something about a royal romance that enchants the reader, especially now with a few royal weddings due to take place this year.

  13. Loved your book Annie. Nominated it for an ARRA award. Woo Hoo.
    Cathleen Ross

  14. Hi Annie - lovely post :) I do enjoy a royal wedding and am looking forward to checking out Kate's frock in April! I'm sure (she &) the dress will be stunning.

    I loved Tamson and Alaric's story! Thanks for providing some background and details about your travels, I found it fascinating.

    BTW - how wonderful to go on a sleigh ride :) Sounds so romantic...apart from your fellow travellers ;)

  15. Great picture, Annie.
    I loved Alaric (far better than Prince Charming, IMHO) - he's perfect sleigh-ride material...

  16. Oh Annie, I do love the look of that sleigh ride. I think I might just need a dip into your book to go with it.

    Happy new release!

  17. Hi there Sharon,

    Yes, I really did ride that sleigh. It was faaantastic. You know when you look forward to something so very much that when it finally happens it's a bit of a let down? Not in this case. It really was pure magic! Even the weather gods were kind to us with the sort of bright alpine day you see on calendars.

    I thought Mary and Prince Frederic's marriage did look pure fairy tale. And he was so endearingly moved. What would a wedding be without emotion?

  18. Helen, isn't the site terrific?

    I'm thrilled to think of you enjoying my books! And I'm feeling very pleased to have written royal weddings at just the write time (as if I had any inkling of the wedding coming up!).

  19. Hi Cathleen,

    What brilliant news! Thank you. It would be great to be an ARRA finalist again this year (Australian Romance Readers' Assn for those who don't know the initials). I'm looking forward to the convention in March.

  20. Joannie, I'm sure there'll be a lot of people comparing notes on the wedding dress in a couple of months. I suppose it's being treated as a state secret for now.

    Wonderful to hear you enjoyed Alaric and Tamsin's story. Thanks for letting me know.

    As for sharing htat sleigh - not a problem - it was with people I wanted to share with! Must say though that a horse drawn sleigh for two would be just delightful. Something to aim for. First we'll need some sleigh driving lessions...

  21. Hi Christina. How are you? I'm glad you approve of Alaric. I prefer him to Prince Charming too. Prince C, in the version I have, wasn't really that impressive, though he was nice to look at.

  22. Trish, I hope you enjoy the non-sleigh ride bits too!

  23. My coincidental moment happened a few weeks ago. I was out shopping for groceries at a Target-like store and found gift baskets 75% off from Christmas. One of them had a clock in it with French writing re Bordeaux wines, along with chocolates, cookies, and treats all placed inside a planter box and wrapped in cellophane. I bought it, along with two similar ones with chocolates in hinged wooden boxes. I wanted the boxes for myself, so I took the chocolates out of mine and added them to the first basket.
    It was perfect for my girlfriend's recent 50th birthday party, as she is going to France in February, learned some basic French first, loves wine, loves to garden, and who doesn't love chocolate? I wrote her a birthday poem, glued it inside a nice card, hole-punched it and attached it to the top, and covered everything with a ribbon bow. Voila! Perfect! I love it when a plan comes together!

  24. Hi Annie
    I have started reading your book over the holidays but the beach and the kids kept calling now that holidays are over i am going to finish it :) I love what i have read so far.

  25. Hi, my coincidental moment happened some years back, when a close friend of mine, was diagnosed with a major threatening disease, where she would have to have a lung transplant, and given six months to live otherwise. Same time my cat had given birth to kittens, well one kitten was as Ginger as my friends hair, so I gave her the kitten when she came back home.I'm sure that Kitten named Roy, kept her spirits high as she lived some 14months. Amazingly after she passed away, Roy would not leave her room, and he passed away on her anniversary of her death.

  26. Hi Annie, I always love reading your posts--and your wonderful books too of course!
    I particularly like this post because it reveals some of the romantic moments in your own life that have inspired your writing. The castles, the snow the sleigh ride sound so amazing!
    I really like the title of your new book PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE I just know he is going to be a dream-come-true hero!

  27. Laney, now that IS serendipity! How brilliant for you. Isn't it amazing when just occasionally you manage to find the perfect gift at a reasonable price and it all falls together? I love it when that happens. I bet your frind has a marvellous time with her birthday gift!

  28. Hi Nikki,

    Ah, how could you resist the lure of the beach? And somehow the kids' priorities always come first. Glad to hear you're enjoying the book. Hope you like the rest of it too!

  29. Oh Rob, what a moving story. They do say that having a pet is good for your health and I'm sure having a devoted animal for company would have made a huge difference to your friend. How amazing about the anniversary date.

    Thanks for sharing.

  30. Hi Kandy,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I had fun writing it, and believe me, I enjoyed going to all those places. What a shame I don't get to do so many exciting and wonderful things before each book. Though if I did I'd probably rarely get a book out!

  31. Thanks, everyone for coming and chatting!

    And now, it's time to annouce a winner for my signed giveaway book. I've done a random draw and the winner is Danielle.

    CONGRATULATIONS, DANIELLE! If you email me at and tell me which back list title you'd like, and your address, I'll send it on to you.