Sunday, February 27, 2011

There's No Place Like Home--behind the story of The Undoing of De Luca!

Homes play an important part in several of my stories. Maybe it's because I grew up in the same wonderful house until I went to college, or maybe it's because I've moved around quite a bit as an adult. In any case, I believe homes have a powerful hold over us, whether happy or unhappy, sprawling houses or tiny apartments (and I've lived in both!) In my current release, The Undoing of De Luca, both Larenz and Ellery, the hero and heroine, have significant ties to the homes of their childhood.

In Ellery's case, she grew up in a manor house deep in the Suffolk countryside, loosely based on Melford Hall, which I visited many years ago.

Ellery has a complicated relationship with her home, which she loves but also resents as it swallows up all her time and money to keep it going on her own.

Larenz, meanwhile, has a painful history with an opulent Italian palazzo--but I don't want to give away his secrets! Suffice it to say, his relationship to the home of his father is complicated as well.

Both Ellery and Larenz have to acknowledge the hold their homes have on their lives and let go of past hurts in order to find happiness and love--and a home--together. What about you? Do you have any special homes, whether from childhood, the present, or a certain time in your life? I leave with you a photo of my parents' cottage in Canada, which is a very special place for both my children and me, with many happy memories from both my childhood and theirs--swimming in the lake, picking raspberries, and generally getting away from it all. Leave a comment about a home in your life and I will draw a random winner to receive a copy of one of my books--either Count Toussaint's Baby or Zoe and The Tormented Tycoon. In the meantime, happy reading!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jane Porter: Life With The Presents Hero

I just finished writing the first of two connected royalty books for Presents.   I loved the premise and settings, loved creating this wonderful world of powerful kings and intriguing women, but while writing the story I realized yet again that a great Presents hero is more than money and power and success.  He requires something extra…something extraordinary…and its not an easy thing to define.

            Presents heroes are always masculine, primal males.  Inevitably they have the financial means to provide for their women.  They also are strong—mentally and physically. 

But these men are not perfect.  They make mistakes.  They may have had painful pasts.  They may be a tad too confident at times.

But when they love, oh how they love.  Once a Presents hero finds his match…his mate…he will never be content with another woman. 

            I always write alpha heroes, gorgeous sexy males, whether they are the heroes in Presents or my women’s fiction stories.  But the Presents hero is always a little trickier.  He’s a little more complex.   He demands a little more from his woman.  And he’s maybe even more demanding in bed.  

And that’s where fantasy also comes into play.  In a Harlequin Presents, my heroes are all about pleasuring the woman in bed….giving her what she wants, making sure she’s having the most sensual, erotic experience of her life.

He’s a man that’s gifted in foreplay, has tremendous staying power, and wouldn’t dream of climaxing before she has…often repeatedly. 

And I know there are men out there who are like this with their mates, but in real life, a lot of people have truly hectic lives.  They’re rushed and tired and have bills and problems, and don’t have the energy or time to make sex unbelievably hot.  So thank goodness for the fantasy man who has endless time and energy for pleasuring his woman. 

And thank goodness this same hero never leaves his socks all over the floor or asks her where his clean shirt is.  Thank goodness in a Presents there is no endless laundry or dishes or grocery shopping trips with screaming toddlers or moody teenagers.  Nope.  In Presents we get luxury, sophistication,  seduction and a virile, unforgettable male without the domestic chores.

Love that.

Love that in Presents I get a man who wants and needs his woman, but doesn’t want her in the laundry room, or need her in the kitchen.


Do you have a favorite hero?  Could be from a Presents or a classic novel or even a movie?  I’d love to hear what kind of man makes you swoon!  I'll be drawing two names from those that comment for a signed Presents from my backlist. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time Travel to the Sixties.... by Susan Stephens

When I was asked to write a book set in the 60's with a modern day heroine for Harlequin Presents, my first thought was, wow, how incredible. I love that era. The fashions and music were nothing short of revolutionary, while the 'so called' sexual revolution made possible by the pill before the shadow of aids had been identified, was said to liberate women. It was an era of compelling figures who would open our eyes and our hearts, and technical advances that were both fast and thrilling. And, most crucially for my purposes, women were fighting for equal pay and rights with men.

Women might have been moving forward, but there were some men who had not caught up with the times, and I found the idea of pitting a modern woman against a man like this irresistible. 

My second thought was - write a contemporary romance set in the 60's - how does that work?

That's up to you, I was told. 

Brilliant - A blank canvas with no rules. And so Gray Quinn was born. 

I must admit Steve McQueen was a huge influence as I wrote this book.

Totally gorgeous, and, being a motor bike fanatic he rode a 'monstrous throbbing machine' just like my hero, Gray Quinn!
I had my modern woman meet Gray Quinn in the current day. Magenta then falls asleep and dreams that they have both been transported back to the sixties.

The fun and games begin when Magenta starts to assert herself in this sixties dreamworld. Needless to say, Quinn is not amused. Nor is falling in love with chauvinist Quinn part of Magenta's plan, but fate has other ideas. 

Waking up from a deep sleep can be wonderful - Sleeping Beauty receiving that magic kiss, for instance. But when Magenta wakes up in the modern world without Quinn or the baby they were expecting she is thrown out of her beautiful dream into a nightmare.

Will fate be kind to Magenta just one more time?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I’m not sure what I think of Valentine’s Day. Call me demanding (and my husband does, frequently) but I don’t really want romance to turn up just once a year on a specific date allocated by others. And although I love being taken out to dinner, is it right to be charged extra just because it happens to be February 14th? I’d rather go out for two dinners the day after. That would make me greedy and possibly very uncomfortable but I’m sure you see my point. For me all this ‘it’s Feb 14 so now we must all be romantic’, misses the point.

Having said that, it is true that everyone leads very busy lives (I swear that everyone in my neighbourhood is secretly feeding my laundry basket) and sometimes in the downhill slalom of life we’re negotiating so many twists and turns we forget to show our nearest and dearest that we love them. Which is why I’m not sure what I think of Valentine’s Day because one thing it does do is remind us to show that special someone that we think they’re, well - special.

Which brings me to the question of how. What gesture makes you feel loved? The hopeful dreamers amongst us will even now be picturing a luxury villa with a hammock swinging over turquoise blue sea, but while I’m prepared to be forced onto the Orient Express if someone really wants to take me (kicking and screaming, obviously), I don’t think a romantic gesture has to be extravagant.
What does romantic mean to you? Is it a beautiful bunch of flowers? Chocolates? Or is it more about thoughtful gestures that say ‘I love you’ and ‘I care about making you happy.’ Maybe it’s about noticing what you need at a particular moment and that might be a foot rub or someone to make dinner so that you can finish your book.

Talking of books, if your love life is currently a romantic desert then Valentine’s Day might be the perfect time to turn to fiction. There’s nothing quite like a good escapist read with a guaranteed happy ending to conjure up a warm feeling. And on the subject of romantic deserts, the heroine in my February release for Harlequin Presents, Bella and the Merciless Sheikh, is finding all that sand anything but conducive to romance. She’s trapped with a moody alpha male without so much as a bottle of decent conditioner to smooth things over. Used to relying on her looks, she’s forced to fall back on her wits and soon she’s discovering a whole new side of herself.

What’s your idea of romantic?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 2011 Releases

Hired By Her Husband by Anne McAllister

Once, Sophy and George Savas were happily married…. Then Sophy woke up and realized that her blissful marriage was a sham. She's never looked back—until the day she learns her husband has been critically injured, and her world is shaken….

Now, though he's stubborn and proud, George wants Sophy's help. He knows she won't come willingly, so he hires her to be his wife for as long as he needs her! But playing happy families is dangerous, and soon George realizes that his need for Sophy runs deep and strong….

Visit for more information.

Bella And The Merciless Sheikh by Sarah Morgan

Sheikh Zafiq Al-Rashid is furious when his week of solitude is interrupted by Bella Balfour, lost in the desert! While his fierce honor demands he rescue her, the willful heiress is a little less grateful than he'd expected. Zafiq is tempted to leave the spoiled socialite wandering the wilderness…but where would be the challenge in that?

He's powerful enough to tame the rebellious beauty. However, when they depart from the seclusion of the oasis, will Zafiq leave the memory of the fiery passion behind or announce to his kingdom that he is taking a queen?

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Gray Quinn's Baby by Susan Stephens

Magenta knows having a new employer might be tricky. But she isn't expecting the old-fashioned ruthlessness of Gray Quinn! However, plucky Magenta is up for the challenge, and tries to beat the distractingly gorgeous Quinn at his own game….

Quinn is no New Man—he wants temptingly innocent Magenta in his bedroom, not the boardroom. But he can make her no promises. He'll give her the night of her life, but he might not be there when she wakes up…. And he definitely doesn't want her taking maternity leave!

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Protected By The Prince by Annie West

Prince Alaric of Ruvingia is as wild and untamed as the remote kingdom he rules. Women fight to warm his royal bed, but he ensures that none outstays her welcome. Then reserved, bespectacled archivist Tamsin Connors uncovers a shocking state secret….

Now Tamsin has Alaric's undivided attention—and he finds himself drawn to her burgeoning purity! Duty demands only a temporary arrangement…but soon their powerful passion is enough to fuel a lifetime's love….

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