A Strong Heroine, by Annie West

by Annie West, author of Imprisoned by a Vow (Harlequin Presents, August 2013)

Hi everyone,

I’ve been invited to post about my new release IMPRISONED BY A VOW, which I’m thrilled to do as it’s a book I’m particularly proud of. I had the idea of it a couple of years ago but it took a long time brewing before I was ready to pull all my ideas together.

Leila and Joss marry as strangers. (I love marriage of convenience stories). They’d met once and it wasn’t love at first sight. Here’s Leila’s take on Joss at that first meeting:

“Her breath snagged as her gaze climbed a big frame to his rugged face. His strong features weren’t chiselled but hewn, all tanned angles and sharp edges, stark lines and deep grooves. His black hair, though brushed back, curled overlong at the collar. She had the impression of unruly wildness, combed into temporary decorum, till she met his eyes and realised this man was anything but lacking in control.

He surveyed her with the keen alertness a banker devoted to his financial reports.”

Joss is marrying her in a business deal. He doesn’t really want a wife. He doesn’t want emotional attachments and he doesn’t intend to have children. He marries Leila because of what she can do for his business. And Leila? She jumps at the chance to marry a stranger who’ll take her far from her controlling stepfather who’s made her life hell for years. Once out of the country she’s sure she can build the life she’s always wanted and taste freedom again.

A win-win situation.

Except life is never so simple.

First up there’s a current of attraction between Leila and Joss that neither wants to feel.

Second there’s a complication Leila hasn’t foreseen – after being locked away by her brutal guardian for so long, she finds stepping out the door of her new home a monumental challenge. She’s determined to conquer this newfound fear. After years being strong, she refused to give in just as her dreams are within her grasp.

As for Joss – he wants to get on with his life just as before. Leila doesn’t want or ask for his help but he’s drawn to her, intrigued by her mystery and determined to unravel her secrets despite himself. He can’t simply walk away from her as he’d planned. Instead, admiring her feisty determination, he finds himself helping her.

Joss has his own demons and in the act of supporting Leila, he begins to move on from his own difficult past.

I wondered when I wrote this story what readers would make of Leila, whether some would view her fear as a sign of weakness and not want to read on. So far the feedback from early readers has been the exact opposite, with people talking about devouring the book in one sitting and barracking for both Leila and Joss.

For me, she’s one of the strongest heroines I’ve written. She’s endured so much with stoicism and a determination never to be cowed. I see her fight against debilitating fear as a sign of strength and courage. Overcoming fear is, I believe a sign of true courage.

What do you think? Do you like heroines who have to battle for what they want? Do you admire people who’ve overcome adversity? Do you have any examples you want to share?

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Comments ( 10 )
  1. Anna Campbell
    July 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Annie, what a wonderful piece and congratulations on your brilliant IMPRISONED BY A VOW (lovely cover, by the way!). I loved this story about people taking their courage in both hands to overcome the torments of the past and forge a loving future together. Bravo, you! It’s a really emotional read with your wonderful sexual tension to add that extra zing.

  2. Annie West
    July 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Anna, isn’t it a terrific cover? I was so pleased with this one as it’s taken straight from the book – in one of my favourite scenes. So glad you enjoyed this story and especially Joss and Leila working to overcome the past to build their future together.

  3. Vanessa Barneveld
    July 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Congratulations on the release of IMPRISONED BY A VOW, Annie! Loved the sigh-worthy description of Joss in your excerpt. I’ve just pre-ordered my copy. 🙂

    I do enjoy heroines who don’t get everything handed to them on a silver platter and who fight for what they want!

  4. Stefanie L
    July 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I second Anna, the cover is gorgeous!! I so enjoyed Leila’s journey, I though she was tough and courageous despite the way she’d been treated in the past, I really identified with her 🙂

  5. Annie West
    July 26, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Vanessa. I’m so pleased you think that description of Joss sigh-worthy! And extra pleased you’ve just ordered the book. How terrific!

    I’m with you about heroines who need to fight to get what they want. I think that makes their happy ever after more satisfying.

  6. Joanne Dannon
    July 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Congrats on the release of IMPRISONED, it sounds like a fab read 🙂

    I like seeing my H&H grow in a book so they are different at the end. They’ve both had a positive on each other and themselves.

    It’s always good to read about a heroine who pulls herself out of adversity and achieve through their own determination 🙂

  7. Annie West
    July 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks, Joanne! I’m thrilled to have this one released as I enjoyed it so much. Isn’t it fun seeing characters change and grow in a story? It’s so satisfying seeing how they respond to experience, especially when they consciously take charge of their lives. Sounds like we have similar tastes in heroines!

  8. Kandy Shepherd
    July 27, 2013 at 2:31 am

    HI Annie
    I love marriages of convenience stories, and Imprisoned by a Vow sounds wonderful.
    I really like a romance where the happy-ever-after ending doesn’t come too easily. You make it sound quite believable that Leila would be fearful considering the life she has endured with her stepfather. I can’t wait to read how she overcomes her fears together with Joss!

  9. Annie West
    July 27, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Hi Kandy,
    I’m a sucker for Marriage of Convenience stories too. I suppose that’s why I’ve written a couple.
    Glad to hear you were intrigued by Leila’s story!

  10. Melanie Milburne
    July 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Annie,
    The only thing better than a strong heroine is a strong hero who is a match for her feistiness and fortitude.
    Looking forward to reading this one!