Of Dark, Sexy, Demanding Bosses, Renovations and a Touch of Revenge

by Annie West, author of An Enticing Debt to Pay (Harlequin Presents, October 2013)

annie-west‘At His Service’ my editor said. Why not a book to fit the theme of a woman working in the hero’s home?

As quickly as that I knew I had to write a story about a wounded hero and the woman who heals him. I didn’t know who or what she was – a cook perhaps, or a governess or maybe a female chauffeur in a trim uniform, and she’d get under his skin in ways he’d never expected. All those stories I’d read from my teens onwards, starting with ‘Jane Eyre’, seemed to flash before my eyes – delicious stories about women working for powerful men, living under their roofs, not as their social equals but nevertheless they are more than a match for the oh-so-powerful men who employ them.

I love the sense of sizzling expectation and gradual recognition in these books, the realisation by the hero that the woman he wants is right under his nose, the tug of attraction as they get to know each other and the tension inherent in falling for the boss. How could I resist?

I admit too that I’ve been watching lots of renovation shows recently, from local DIY efforts to programs like ‘Country House Rescue’ where aristocrats with crumbling mansions learn how to make the most of their stately pile and save it from the wrecker’s ball or the tax man.

an-enticing-debt-to-payAN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY features a tycoon who’s inherited a neglected country mansion and the woman he takes as his unwilling housekeeper. I didn’t mention Ravenna is unwilling? That would be where the revenge comes in. Imagine being blackmailed into living under the same roof as the man who’s planning to send your mother to prison unless you complete the impossible task of single-handedly fixing up his vast country house. Even worse for Ravenna is the unwilling realisation that this boss from Hell is the one man who makes her body sing with pleasure. And that, beneath the façade of ruthless manipulator, is a man she could actually care for.

As for Jonas, falling for Ravenna should be impossible. He tells himself he’s not like his father, a man who destroyed the family by running off with the hired help. Jonas has no intention of running anywhere, but he soon discovers his scheme for revenge brings unexpected consequences.

Do you have a favorite story about a boss/housekeeper or boss/nanny? Or maybe a favorite renovation show? Do you like the up-close-and-personal element of falling for the boss?

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Comments ( 14 )
  1. Susanne Bellamy
    September 27, 2013 at 6:03 am

    “Enticing” is such a delicious word; combined with “debt”, it promises an irresistible story. I can’t wait to read about Jonas and Ravenna and how they will overcome the odds to end up together.

  2. Kandy Shepherd
    September 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Hi Annie, I absolutely loved hearing how you devised the plot and the characters of AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. To be granted an insight into an author’s creative process is wonderful. It will will make reading AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY even more of a pleasure!
    I also love watching those renovation shows–it’s as fascinating to see the people who own the houses/castles as it is to see the actual buildings!

  3. Anna Campbell
    September 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Annie, firstly let me say how much I LOVED An Enticing Debt to Pay. Love it when they’re stuck together and falling in love very much against their better judgement. Such delicious tension in your story! And I want that house. I want it now. I agree with you about the boss/employee romance being a great theme. I can’t think of how many gothics I read as a teenager where the innocent governess falls for the brooding master of the house even if the gossip is that he flung the last wife over a cliff and shrugged when she hit the bottom!

  4. Helen
    September 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Annie

    I so loved this story it had me from the first page 🙂 and I know I have read many stories with this theme and I can’t think of any of the titles this early in the morning LOL. Congrats on the releas andother wonderful story

    Have Fun

  5. Annie West
    September 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Susanne, I like the combination of ‘enticing’ and ‘debt’ too. I wish I could claim to have come up with that title but it wasn’t mine. Hope you find the book irresistible too.

  6. Sharon Archer
    September 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Annie, I have your book teetering on my TBR pile and learning this snippet about the background to you writing the book is an extra treat so thanks!

    I adore some of those home renovation shows! Not the ones where they rush around madly and try to do the whole thing in a half-hour show! I prefer the UK historical home renovations. The one I’m watching at the moment is Restoration House and the people doing the renovating are taking time and care with the renovations. And while that’s happening, the TV researchers are finding out the history of the property. Fascinating viewing! Like genealogy for a house.

  7. Annie West
    September 27, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Hi Kandy,

    Isn’t it fascinating seeing just who lives in those amazing houses? Imagine being responsible for the upkeep of a stately home. I have to say that while I felt sorry for Ravenna with her onerous duties I felt a sneaking fascinating with the old house. It was like living through the good bits of a renovation and not actually putting up with the noise and disruption yourself.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I always enjoy hearing how other writers came up with their stories and what influenced them.

  8. Annie West
    September 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Anna,

    I’m so glad you loved ‘Enticing’. I’ve got a weakness for books where the hero and heroine are stuck in close proximity so they can’t simply walk away to get breathing space from their problems. They need to work things out together!

    I’m smiling at your reference to gothic romances where rumours about about the hero’s dark side. I read plenty of those too! Some of them were so deliciously intense, weren’t they?

  9. Annie West
    September 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Helen,

    How terrific that you enjoyed ‘Enticing’ so much. It’s great to hear it hit the spot!

  10. Annie West
    September 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    I’m honoured to think of ‘Enticing’ on your TBR pile. Isn’t it amazing how those piles of books grow?

    I do know ‘Restoration Home’ and love finding out the history of the old places they uncover along the way. Definitely like genealogy for the house! There seem to be more and more programs about old houses that bring them to life – I love them.

  11. Melanie Milburne
    September 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Annie,
    Oh goody! Another tortured hero from you! And the big old house that needs restoring- a brilliant image system for the hero’s emotional overhaul. Love it!

  12. Annie West
    September 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Melanie,

    I have to say it was fun playing with the restoration of the house in parallel with Jonas’s emotional journey. Hope you enjoy it, Melanie.

  13. Vanessa Barneveld
    September 30, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Hi, Annie! So sorry to drop in so late. I love the premise of Enticing Debt to Pay — can’t wait to read it. I also love seeing those country manors and their wayward owners get whipped into shape on ‘Country House Rescue’. It makes me feel better about my own renovation. 🙂

  14. Jennifer Hayward
    October 1, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Ooh Annie – I love boss/housekeeper stories! This one sounds wonderful 🙂 Can’t wait to read. And since I named my son Jonas, I obviously love the name!