Monday, June 27, 2011

Out on a limb...

Annie West here. Have you ever felt out on a limb? Stressed by forces you feel you have little control over and forced to consider options you'd prefer to avoid?

If so you'll have some sympathy for Antonia and Rafe in my Presents release this month. They say that writers, particularly romance writers, like to put their characters in terrible situations and then watch how they deal with them. In this case it's true. I confess. Neither Rafe nor Antonia were happy at the beginning of this book. Both faced stressful situations , the sort that bring out the best or worst in people Both found ways to get through them and redeem themselves. Because of that I love the US title RAFE'S REDEMPTION because it really gets to the crux of the story (in the UK this story was called THE BILLIONAIRE'S BOUGHT MISTRESS) .

Rafe is a man behaving badly. OK, I know sometimes we expect alpha heroes to do that, but he has his reasons - a mix of revenge on the man who destroyed his mother and the desire to stop him from ever harming anyone again. He's single minded in his pursuit, so single minded that he doesn't stop to consider the impact of his actions on anyone else. Frankly he's not seeing the big picture and that's what he has to learn before he can be redeemed.

That's where Antonia comes in. She's got problems of her own. Problems she can't walk away from, not if she's to salvage her recently dead father's reputation. As she loved her parents dearly and can't bear to see them wrongly maligned in public, there's no question that she'll turn her back. Then there's the small matter of a debt to be paid.

Rafe makes her an offer that every instinct, every feeling rejects. Yet logic, and the need to do the right thing for those she loves, means she has to consider the unthinkable - living with Rafe while he flaunts her as his lover in order to fulfil his plans for revenge.

I wondered when I began writing this whether Antonia was in such a position of weakness with all her choices taken away from her, that she'd turn into a wimp that no one could like. I needn't have worried. She leapt onto the page and found wonderful, inventive ways to stand up for herself in the face of what initially seemed overwhelming odds. She did it so well that she showed Rafe the error of his ways - absolutely necessary for his redemption.

Here's what a few readers have said:

"...a fabulously sensual Modern Romance that will keep you turning the pages late into the night with its captivating blend of drama, passion, intrigue and romance." (Cataromance review)
"How do you do it - make a man a woman should hate into someone you want?"
"OMG I finished reading Rafe and Antonia on Monday night and I LOVED it. Really, truly I loved it - this story is my idea of what the perfect Presents story should be."

It seems I love a story where hero and heroine have to face the unthinkable - or at least a situation they'd prefer to avoid. Can you remember a story where the hero/heroine had to face the worst scenario imaginable ? If not, could you suggest one? I'll give a copy of one of my backlist books to someone who leaves a comment.

If you're interested in Rafe's Redemption you can find details on my website or even better, order it from eHarlequin (it's only available there - in either paperback or ebook form).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Melanie Milburne: Timing and Second Chances

If you are anything like me you will spend literally hours of your life wondering:  If only I hadn’t stopped to look at that dress I wouldn’t have got that parking ticket. Or: What if I’d done so and so? Or: If I’d only been a minute earlier/ later so and so wouldn’t have happened.  
I once missed an international flight connection because I didn’t check my itinerary in time. It was just so frustrating!
If only…
Timing is everything. We think things should happen to our timetable but so often they don’t. Remember John Lennon’s fabulous and so true lyrics: Life happens while you’re busy making plans?
I thought a lot about the issue of timing when writing the second book of my Sabbatini Brothers Trilogy- One Last Night. Maya is in the process of divorcing her rich and powerful husband because she can’t provide him with an heir.
I watched the Royal Wedding in April (who didn’t?) and now it seems every gossip magazine is speculating on when The Duchess of Cambridge will produce an heir and a spare. Give the poor girl a break, already! Maya felt the same pressure and for five years did her level best to succeed but each time it ended in heartbreak.
With the divorce settlement papers just about to be signed Maya attends Giorgio’s brother Luca’s wedding, and after a stolen night of passion with Giorgio, guess what?
Maya looked at the dipstick in shock. Her throat closed over as if a hand had locked around her neck as the two blue lines appeared.
Timing, don’t you just love it?
Maya can’t bear to tell anyone about this surprise pregnancy, least of all Giorgio. She wants to set him free because surely this will end in tragedy just like all the other times. But then Giorgio hears news of his grandfather’s ailing health…
‘You can have your divorce, but not right now,’ Giorgio said at last. ‘I want my grandfather to die in peace, believing we have patched things up.’
Maya felt her heart slip like a stiletto on a slate of ice. She spun round and faced him again, her eyes wide with panic. ‘You’re asking me to come back and live with you as your wife?’
What a time to be pretending to be reconciled!  Maya had hoped to quietly slip away and let nature decide her future, but life of course, had a different plan. Forced back into Giorgio’s life, pretending to be pretending she is in love, she is given a second chance. And so too is Giorgio who never wanted to divorce her in the first place.  During their separation he was learning all about the truth of that adage: you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  This chance to get Maya back is just too good to miss.
Giorgio and Maya are two complex characters who have a lot to learn about themselves and each other. I loved watching them grow and finally embrace what life had in store for them instead of what they had planned.
Happy planning…oops, I mean reading!
Melanie Milburne

Monday, June 13, 2011

Emotional Russian Roulette

I like that the editors decided to use that phrase in the back cover copy of BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS. I was *thrilled* when I saw it, in fact! Because that's exactly what's going on in the story. Prince Alexei Voronov and Paige Barnes are playing for high stakes and wagering their hearts in the process. Not that either of them realize it, of course.

Alexei is convinced he doesn't have a heart left to wager. He's buried his feelings so deep, and been so focused on his goal of taking over Paige's boss's company, that he can't see how Paige might just be the armor-piercing bullet that shatters all his machinations.

This is the kind of story I love the most. A hard-hearted hero, a stoic heroine, an exotic location, and passion spiraling out of control. Call me prejudiced (and I am), but that's why I think Harlequin Presents books are THE BEST romances out there. I've been a fan since I was about twelve or so -- and I'm so honored that I get to write these stories now.

BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS is my first Russian hero, and my first Russian set novel. (In the UK, this book was called PRINCE VORONOV'S VIRGIN and it was the Mills & Boon Book of the Month for January.) I had so much fun writing it that I'm starting to think about another Russian hero. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this story!

‘Kiss me,’ he growled… ‘And make it believable.’

Alone and scared on the dark streets of Moscow, staid, bespectacled Paige Barnes has no choice but to comply with the handsome stranger’s command…

Little does Paige know she’s been rescued by Alexei Voronov—a Russian prince and her boss’s deadliest rival. Now he has Paige unexpectedly in his sights, Alexei is prepared to play emotional Russian roulette to keep her close and discover her true motives. But in his splendid gilded palace his game of chance spins out of control and passion takes over…

It’s only when she’s back home that Paige realizes she’s pregnant with the Prince’s baby…

For more information on this story, visit my website for a Behind the Book feature and an Excerpt! When this book was released in the UK, it sold out very quickly, so don't wait if you want a paper copy. If you're reading it as an ebook, then of course you don't have to worry about the store selling out. :)

I'd love to hear from my readers, so please don't hesitate to send me an email at Lynn AT LynnRayeHarris DOT com.

Here are a couple of comments from the Mills & Boon website:

"Really enjoyed this book, the story was great I enjoyed both characters."

"Really enjoyed this book. Alexei was a very sexy alpha male - yummy. Liked the story line and Russian setting made a nice change."

"I loved this book. Strong and exciting story! I couldn't put it down until I have finished reading it! "

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Cinderella Story--or Not!

A Cinderella Story... Or Not!

When I first started writing The Man Who Could Never Love (titled, incidentally, The Bride’s Awakening in the UK), it was going to be a Cinderella story. The hero Vittorio suggests a marriage of convenience to the heroine Anamaria; he is not attracted to her at all. I couldn’t wait to write about how she is transformed in his eyes from ugly duckling to beautiful swan (I know I’m mixing fairy tales here, but they’re variations of the same theme, right?), planned on showing how stunning she looked in a gorgeous dress with great make up.

Yet as I got into the story, I found my characters had other ideas. The first time Vittorio took Ana shopping, she got mad. I wanted her to swoon over all the gorgeous clothes, but instead she turned them down:

“Ana,” Vittorio murmured, “you will look beautiful in these clothes. Surely you want to look beautiful?”
“Perhaps I just want to be myself,” Ana said quietly. She didn’t add that she was afraid she wouldn’t look beautiful in these clothes, or that she wished he thought she looked beautiful already. It was too difficult to explain, too absurd even to feel. She didn’t want Vittorio to want to change her, even if she was willing to be changed. She shook her head and pushed past him to the door. “I’m sorry, Vittorio, but I’m not going to be your Cinderella project.”

Ana leaves the boutique, much to Vittorio’s frustration and confusion. Yet at that moment he begins to want to understand her, and slowly he awakens to the beauty she already possesses--without any fancy clothes or makeup.

It occurred to me then that I was writing a different kind of fairy tale, one where the Prince starts to fall in love with Cinderella while she’s still in rags; the other ducks see the beauty of that little swan when they still think he’s a strange looking duckling. Ultimately Vittorio falls in love with Ana as she really is, without wanting to change her, and that, for me anyway, became a more powerful story than one of only outward transformation.

Do you enjoy reading Cinderella stories? I have a copy of my Balfour Brides book, Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon, to give away to one person who comments or emails me at! Happy reading,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June Releases

The Secret She Couldn't Hide by India Grey

World-famous racing driver Cristiano Maresca always spent the night before a race in the arms of a beautiful woman…

One night three years ago that woman was Kate Edwards, and her time with Cristiano awakened her to unimaginable pleasure. But the following day the untamable Cristiano had a near-fatal crash…and then Kate discovered she was expecting his baby….

Now Monte Carlo is set to celebrate Cristiano's return to the track. Shivering with nerves, Kate braves the paparazzi to find the man who set her body aflame—and tell him her scandalous secret….

Italy's most notorious playboy has a love child!

Visit for more information.

Behind The Palace Walls by Lynn Raye Harris

Alone and scared on the dark streets of Moscow, staid, bespectacled Paige Barnes has no choice but to comply with the handsome stranger's command….

Little does Paige know she's been rescued by Alexei Voronov—a Russian prince and her boss's deadliest rival. Now he has Paige unexpectedly in his sights, Alexei is prepared to play emotional Russian roulette to keep her close and discover her true motives. But in his splendid gilded palace his game of chance spins out of control and passion takes over….

It's only when she's back home that Paige realizes she's pregnant with the prince's baby….

Visit for more information.

The Man Who Could Never Love by Kate Hewitt

Vittorio Ralfino, the Count of Cazlevara, is back in Italy to make a business proposition. He wishes to marry a traditional wife, and Anamaria Viale—sturdy, plain and from a good vintner's family—perfectly fits his bill.

Ana is stunned that Vittorio is offering her—an ugly duckling!—marriage. She'd stoically resigned herself to a career and singledom.

But Vittorio is persuasive and Ana would like a child of her own. Although she's under no illusion that this is anything but a convenient marriage—Vittorio will never offer her love. So when the time comes for him to claim her as his bride, she's surprised—and amazed—at the strength of his passion….

Visit for more information.

One Last Night by Melanie Milburne

When Maya met Giorgio Sabbatini, he married the penniless waif and stray despite her inferior breeding. So her decision to divorce him now is made with a heavy heart. Giorgio belongs to a notorious blue-blooded family, and their duty to maintain its lineage is unquestioning. Unable to give him the heir he craves, Maya knows she has to walk away.

But the ink on their divorce papers isn't given the chance to dry; after one last reckless night of passion, there's a very shocking announcement….

Visit for more information.

For Duty's Sake by Lucy Monroe

Angele has longed for her betrothal to Crown Prince Zahir to be consummated within wedlock. She naively hoped her promised husband would wait for her, as she would him—but compromising paparazzi photos have dashed those youthful dreams….

She cannot become Zahir's wife out of duty and endure a loveless union; she must let him go free…but on one condition. Without taking Angele's hand in marriage, will the proud sheikh agree to give her the wedding night she has long dreamed of?

Visit for more information.

The Heir From Nowhere by Trish Morey

"You don't know me, but I'm having your baby."

Dominic Pirelli's carefully ordered world falls apart when a female stranger phones with staggering news: an IVF clinic mix-up means she is carrying the baby that he and his late wife dreamed of having!

Though he distrusts her motives, Dominic is determined to keep waiflike Angelina Cameron close. Taking her to his luxury home, the hardened tycoon reluctantly begins to admire Angie's strength and gentle beauty as her body swells with the precious life inside her.

But when their baby is born, who will have custody of the Pirelli heir?

Visit for more information.