Behind the Scandal: Q&A with Lynn Raye Harris & Excerpt from "The Girl Nobody Wanted"

The penultimate installment of the Santina Crown series — The Girl Nobody Wanted by Lynn Raye Harris — is hitting shelves soon. So what”s in store for this next-to-last book? Here”s a Q&A with Lynn and an excerpt to spark for appetite. And for more behind-the-scenes info, visit Santina scandal pages… ~Amy

 Who is more scandalous – the Jacksons or the Santinas?

Oh, I think they

are equally scandalous!  The Jacksons are in-your-face scandalous, while the Santinas try to hide their dirty laundry behind closed doors.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the sexiest hero of them all?

I”m partial to Leo, of course!  He is such an irrepressible flirt, and so sexy.

What secret would make the most shocking tabloid headlines about Leo and Anna?

I think maybe you”ll have to read the book to find out!  They have one or two…

Where does Leo take Anna for their one year anniversary?

 To their own private island!

Scandal! Magazine just can’t wait to hear about your writing process, can you talk us through your daily routine?

It”s not very glamorous, truthfully.  I wake up early, get a cup of coffee or tea, and go upstairs to my office.  I usually check email and see what my friends have been up to for about an hour, and then I open up the latest book I”m working on and get lost in the pages.  Some days, the writing goes fabulously and I get a lot done.  Other days, I stare out the window a lot.  I might even shop for shoes (but don”t tell my husband!).  I also get interrupted by the two cats in my life who think I have nothing better to do than cater to their needs.

What do you think makes a good hero and heroine?

They need to be real.  They need to feel like the kind of people you could know.  Even though the stories take place in larger than life settings, often with very wealthy and privileged people, the characters need to have real emotions and fears.  They have to be identifiable to the reader.

Did you have a favourite character in your story The Girl Nobody Wanted?

Oh, I just loved Anna!  She was so fierce and lonely at the same time.  And of course Leo was the perfectly delicious hero she needed to sweep her off her feet.  Watching him lose his cool over her was such fun.

What is it that you love most about writing your stories?

I love exploring how two people who should be all wrong for each other are meant to be together.  I love writing about love.  About emotions that are larger than life, and people who feel deeply and passionately.  It just doesn”t get any better than that!

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I”m always working on the next story about a handsome, sexy, dynamic man and the lucky heroine who gets to tame him.

We know it’s tricky, but what is your favourite book of all time?

Oooh.  How can I choose?  I can”t, so I”m going to have to choose a writer instead.  Shakespeare.  He wrote the most amazing things, and explored human emotions so thoroughly.  And I can quote random lines from the plays and sonnets, which comes in quite handy during trivia games.

 Excerpt from The Girl Nobody Wanted :

“They’ve been planning this wedding since we were children. Hoping to unite our families.

I have always been Alex’s bride, even when I was a six-year-old playing with dolls. It was predestined.”

The thought made him angry. Not because he was suddenly judgmental of the way royals ordered their lives, but because someone had told a little girl that this was her destiny and none other would do. She’d never been allowed to choose for herself, never been allowed to grow other than to grow into Prince Alessandro’s wife. Everything she’d done had been in preparation for that life.

He could see that now.

And it had all come to nothing because Alessandro had met Allegra. Leo loved his sister and wished her all the happiness in the world, but at the moment he was more than furious with Alessandro, a man who’d thought nothing of abandoning his bride-to-be. And he was furious with the Santinas and Constantinideses.

“They were wrong to do that to you, Anna.”

All of them, he silently added. “You should have been allowed to choose for yourself.”

She blew out a breath as she combed her fingers through her hair. It was an impossibly sexy gesture. He didn’t think she realized it. In fact, he knew she didn’t. His groin tightened painfully.

“Perhaps. But it’s what I was raised to do. Our mothers planned it when we were toddlers. I’ve never known quite why, except that I believe my mother and Queen Zoe seemed to think it was the perfect way to ensure the purity of the Santina dynasty.”

“The purity? Isn’t your father Greek?”

“Yes, but my mother is from Santina originally. Though I don’t believe that is the sort of purity they had in mind. It is more of a tradition thing. Someone from another country might not…suit the Santina expectations. They are, as you may have noticed, quite conservative in their thinking. Very traditional. For my parents, it was an honor to have me chosen as the future queen.”

“And it never occurred to you to object,” he stated.

She shrugged. “Why would it? That was no doubt part of the plan. A girl raised to be a bride, a queen, would not question it, would she?” She shook her head. “Changing everything now—doing what I want to do, as you put it—is a bit like being marooned here with you. Not at all what I expected.”

“And did you expect to be here in your knickers?” he teased, though he did not feel like laughing.

“What a singular experience, sweet Anna. Think what you will be able to tell your grandchildren.”

She looked up sharply, and he wanted to bite his tongue off. Now was not the time to mention progeny to the woman who’d thought she would bear the heir to the throne of Santina some day.

“I think,” she said very softly, “that I’ll simply see how today goes before I start thinking of the future.”

Leo leaned back against a tree trunk and watched her. She was so elegant, so graceful, even in her underwear. She should have been a queen.

She was the right woman to be a queen. Anger buzzed in his veins like an electrical pulse.

She’d accepted her fate so easily, resigned herself to being a king-in-waiting’s future bride. And he suddenly wanted to know if it’s what she would have chosen for herself.

“Did you love him, Anna?”

Green eyes brimming with emotion gazed at him steadily. The desire hovering beneath the surface of his psyche flared to life again, its heat scorching and painful. Because it would not be fulfilled. Because he couldn’t allow it to be fulfilled.

But Anna pulled at him. Her eyes, her skin, her dark, beautiful hair. Her presence. The wounded woman beneath the buttoned-up suits and dainty femininity drew him in a way that continually surprised him.

He didn’t want or need anyone. And yet he wanted her. He always got what he wanted because he never gave up until he won. But this time was different. This time, he had to walk away instead of conquer.

“You asked me that already,” she said softly. But she didn’t look away, didn’t dissemble in the way she’d done only a few hours ago.

“And you didn’t answer,” he replied.

She bit her bottom lip and a shot of lust bolted straight to his groin. He wanted to bite that lip. She looked so damn demure in her lacy pink underwear and pearls. Had he ever experienced such a crazy situation in his life? Marooned with a virgin on a deserted island. A virgin who had his libido slipping into overdrive and his body humming with suppressed sexual tension.

“I was,” she finally said. “Or I thought I was. When you spend your entire life preparing to marry one person, you start to believe you might love him.”

It was an answer, and not an answer. He found it strangely frustrating. “What do you feel now that he’s marrying my sister? What bothers you

more, the fact you’ve lost him or the fact the media won’t let you forget it?”

She seemed to think about it for a moment before answering. “I thought those feelings were all tangled together, but maybe they aren’t. Because

I don’t hate Allegra, and I don’t hate that Alex is marrying her. I hate what it’s done to me, how I feel knowing I’ve wasted so much time preparing for something that won’t ever happen.”

She shot to her feet then and Leo thought she looked like an Amazon. A petite Amazon, but a fiery one nonetheless. She looked as if she could chew nails for breakfast. He wanted to laugh.

Anna was fiery, passionate. She locked it away beneath her suits and her pearls but the woman was a warrior in her soul. A dragon lady. Her eyes flashed fire. And then she swore long and loud in Greek. Leo leaned back and watched it all happen, amazed and aroused by the display of so much passion. Hell, if she weren’t a virgin, they’d burn up together. She’d know what she was getting into and he wouldn’t feel in the least bit guilty for taking advantage of her passionate nature.

“I am tired of being the last person everyone thinks about,” she said. “I’m tired of doing what’s expected of me, of trying so hard to be the best at whatever task I’m given. I’m tired of keeping quiet and bearing it all with a serene smile. I’m tired of following a list of rules that have been drummed into me since I was old enough to talk, and I’m tired of—” here she pressed both hands to her chest “—and I’m tired of being a cold, frigid person that no man wants to touch passionately. I want passion, Leo. I want love and heat and sex. I want it all. And I want it now.

* * *

 Available in November 2012 from Harlequin Presents®. Copyright © 2012 by Lynn Raye Harris

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