Endings to series are always bittersweets, aren't they? You can't wait to find out how it will all end, where all the characters will wind up and how they'll all receive their happily-ever-afters–but you also don't want to say goodbye to the characters and world you've followed.
December marks the conclusion of Harlequin Presents's The Santina Crown series with the publication of by Carol Marinelli. Keep reading for a Q&A with Carol about the Santina Crown and an excerpt from her book. And as always, get more behind-the-scandal scoop on the Santina tabloid pages.
Have you been reading the Santina Crown series? Did you enjoy it? Which book was your favorite? ~Amy
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Who is more scandalous – the Jacksons or the Santinas?
The Santina's – though they kept it hidden.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the sexiest hero of them all?
Alex, of course – though I have to say, I actually found Bobby quite sexy
That she was a virgin on her wedding day – but not by the party that night!
Where does Alex take Allegra for their one year anniversary?
To verde bosco – back to the forest – only this time there is a picnic waiting for them
and the trees have grown so there is no possible way that they can be spotted by a helicopter they can do what they didn't that time or – (and this is why I love my job – I get to choose these things) back to London for a holiday with the Jacksons to show off
their new baby.
Scandal! Magazine just can’t wait to hear about your writing process, can you talk us through your daily routine?
I get up early, make a drink and then write for half an hour, before my day starts. That is probably the only real routine that I have. It really is very variable – I have an office that I try to go to, but if things are going well at home, I just keep going and can look up and its 3pm – other days its agony and I delete everything I did the day before.
What do you think makes a good hero and heroine?
Chemistry – so long as there is chemistry you can make it work.
Did you have a favorite character in your story ?
Bobby – and I loved his interaction with Zoe I even had a bit of a soft spot for the King as his wife started to assert herself.
What is it that you love most about writing your stories?
I love losing myself in a plot and nothing beats the moment when suddenly a plot clicks and it all starts to (hopefully) work.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
A very lovely book for the Medical Romance line, which I think is going to be my all time favorite Medical. I have a Sheikh who is half written and wanting back on my screen and I am also working hard on my second book for MIRA.
We know it’s tricky, but what is your favorite book of all time?
Ouch – there are so many – I think Bryce Courtenay – April Fool’s Day.
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Excerpt from :
‘ALLEGRA!’ She woke to the ringing of the phone and there was no time to gather her thoughts before answering. ‘Allegra, it’s me, Angel, what on earth’s going on?’
‘Hold on a moment,’ Allegra said. ‘Someone else is trying to get through.’ She looked at the caller display, saw it was her brother Leo at the same time as she saw the ring on her finger and heard the bell that meant someone was at her door.
‘Angel…’ She couldn’t explain it to her stepsister right now—yes, they were close and they spoke about so many things, but this was more the sort of situation Angel might find herself in, not the other way around. ‘I’ve got someone at the door. I’ll have to call you back.’
Even as she put down the phone it was ringing again, her father this time.
She didn’t answer it.
And she tried to ignore her doorbell, just wanted a moment to gather her thoughts. A coffee would be extremely welcome, except whoever it was must be leaning on the bell, because it was ringing incessantly now. Kids meeting up at the underground for school often pressed it for the sake of pressing it, so she hit the display button to see the camera shot…and saw the face of Alex, pale and unshaven. He looked less than happy.
Well, he could have his ring back, Allegra decided—it had been a stupid game that had got out of hand.
‘It’s open.’ She pulled on a dressing gown and turned on the kettle, then went to the front door as she heard him rounding the top of the stairs.
Somehow he looked both beautiful and terrible at the same time—his olive skin seemed tinged grey, his eyes were bloodshot and he was still in yesterday’s suit.
‘Coffee!’ She could hardly stand to look at him she was so embarrassed—so she turned and headed to her small kitchen. ‘Before we say anything, I need coffee…and by the looks of things so do you.’ Her blasted phone was ringing and unable to face it she turned it off and then spooned instant granules into mugs. ‘You can have the ring back.’
‘Oh, no, you don’t.’ There was something in his voice that sounded like a warning, almost as if he were angry, and she turned around. ‘You can’t just get out of this.’ He held up a newspaper. ‘I’m assuming you haven’t read the papers or turned on the news.’ Allegra went cold as she saw the photo.
It was of her and Alex—him tenderly holding her hand and examining the ring that now seemed to burn her on her finger.
‘At least—’ she tried to stay calm, to think of a positive ‘—at least it wasn’t a few moments later,’ she said, ‘when we kissed.’
‘My kissing a woman would hardly be newsworthy,’ Alex said, ‘but that the Crown Prince of Santina has bought a woman a ring…’
‘It was a mistake,’ Allegra said. ‘We’ll say—’ her mind raced for possibilities ‘—that we’re friends, that I was simply showing you—’
‘I have just spoken with Anna.’ Alex chose not to go into detail; the conversation had been supremely difficult and one he did not want to examine just yet, let alone share. When Allegra asked after the other woman, Alex shook his head. ‘Somehow I don’t think she’d appreciate your concern.’
His words were like a slap, the implications of the one reckless day of her life starting to unravel.
‘I have also spoken to my parents.’
‘They were the ones that alerted me!’ Alex said.
‘We have aides who monitor the press and the news constantly.’ Did she not understand he had been up all night dealing with this? ‘I am waiting for the palace to ring—to see how we will respond.’ She couldn’t think, her head was spinning in so many directions and Alex’s presence wasn’t exactly calming—not just his tension, not just the impossible situation, but the sight of him in her kitchen, the memory of his kiss. That alone would have kept her thoughts occupied for days on end, but to have to deal with all this too, and now the doorbell was ringing and he followed her as she went to hit the display button.
‘It’s my dad.’ She was actually a bit relieved to see him. ‘He’ll know what to do, how to handle—’
‘I thought you hated scandal,’ Alex interrupted.
‘We’ll just say—’
‘I don’t think you understand.’ Again he interrupted her and there was no trace of the man she had met yesterday; instead she faced not the man but the might of Crown Prince Alessandro Santina. ‘There is no question that you don’t go through with this.’
‘You can’t force me.’ She gave a nervous laugh.
‘We both know that yesterday was a mistake.’ She could hear the doorbell ringing. She went to press the intercom but his hand halted her, caught her by the wrist. She shot him the same look she had yesterday, the one that should warn him away, except this morning it did not work.
‘You agreed to this, Allegra, the money is sitting in your account.’ He looked down at the paper. ‘Of course, we could tell the truth…’ He gave a dismissive shrug. ‘I’m sure they have photos of later.’
‘It was just a kiss… .’
‘An expensive kiss,’ Alex said. ‘I wonder what the papers would make of it if they found out I bought your services yesterday.’
‘You wouldn’t.’ She could see it now, could see the horrific headlines—she, Allegra, in the spotlight, but for shameful reasons.
‘Oh, Allegra,’ he said softly but without endearment. ‘Absolutely I would. It’s far too late to change your mind.’
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Available in December 2012 from Harlequin Presents®. Copyright © 2012 by Carol Marinelli