Do you know where you’re going to?

by Diana Ross Lucy King, author of The Party Starts at Midnight

So I’m nearly at the end of writing the book I imaginatively call ‘Leo & Abby’ (and which will eventually be called The Party Starts at Midnight) when I get an email from my editor about a suggestion I made to develop Abby’s character. In it she remarks that while Abby’s capable character is something to be proud of, her relationship history and tendency towards perfectionism shows how she can take it too far – a great way to set her up on her emotional journey. Which immediately makes me panic and think, huh? Emotional journey? What emotional journey? Help!

When I write I don’t think too much about what I’m supposed to be doing, let alone consider things like journeys (unless it’s to the kettle and back). I’m too busy getting the story on the page before I forget that vague-but-fabulous thing that happens two chapters ahead.

But my editor was, as usual, absolutely spot on. Characters need an arc. Maybe not always one quite as awesomely dramatic as Walter White’s (guess who’s just finished the Breaking Bad box set?!) but they need to somehow develop and change. If they stand any hope of dealing with what the story’s throwing at them – or maybe because of it – they have to be aware of who they are, who they’re becoming and who they need to be.

As a perfectionist with stratospheric standards – which I’d totally missed, although it was there – what Abby has to realize is that perfectionism can be a flaw and that expecting so much of everyone around her because she expects so much of herself isn’t always very fair. And as for Leo, well, given that he was once jilted at the altar he has to re-discover how to trust and let go of the past.

For me, the resistance the characters put up to this dawning self-awareness is a big part of what makes the books so much fun to write. And read. Leo and Abby struggle. They kick. They stick their heads in the sand. But eventually they have no option but to give in when they realize their lives will be so much richer when they do. And then hopefully the next journey they’ll be going on is a nice long honeymoon!

And what’s the best character journey you’ve ever come across?

About The Party Starts at Midnight:

thepartystartsatmidnightThis was not the itinerary that events planner Abby had intended:

8:00 p.m.: Leave the spectacular party you’ve organized in search of Leo Cartwright—international playboy, notorious tycoon and your most prestigious new client.

8:10 p.m.: Find Leo asleep, half-naked, in a penthouse suite that just screams decadence—and battle a wildly-out-of-character impulse to kiss him awake.

8:30–11:30 p.m.: Return to the party. Spend all evening avoiding Mr. Cartwright—and trying to forget his tempting demands…

11:59 p.m.: Assure Leo that you will not be mixing business with pleasure.

Midnight: Break your own vow… All. Night. Long…

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“She’s been in love with him all along…”: Caitlin Crews on His For A Price

by Caitlin Crews, author of His For A Price

His For A PriceI’m very excited to introduce you to the Whitaker siblings—the stars of my Vows of Convenience duet—my very first duet from Presents!  Mattie and her brother Chase aren’t close, but they know they have to work together to save their late father’s company from destruction—no matter what it takes.

And in the first book, HIS FOR A PRICE, it might take everything Mattie has.

While on the outside heiress Mattie Whitaker appears to have everything, on the inside, it’s a different story.  Her guilt over her mother’s death in a car accident when Mattie was little has led her down a number of dark paths—and it seems as if Nicodemus Stathis, the broodingly handsome bane of her existence that she’s been avoiding for ten years, has been there to witness every twist and turn.

His for RevengeBut now Mattie has to marry him when she knows—when she’s always known—that letting Niocodemus close means giving him access to every last one of her explosive secrets.

Like the fact she’s been in love with him all along…

Here’s the blurb…

Greek tycoon Nicodemus Stathis was never able to forget beautiful heiress Mattie Whitaker.  And now, ten years of delicious tension later, Nicodemus finally has her right where he wants her.

Mattie’s once powerful family dynasty now lies in ruin, and only Nicodemus can offer them a solution—a solution with vows!  She might not have a choice, but Mattie refuses to be the sacrificial queen to his king.

But Nicodemus’s slow, deliberate seduction wears down his new bride, and the word “checkmate” lies on his lips like a promise…

And stay tuned: Chase’s story, HIS FOR REVENGE—the exciting conclusion to the Vows of Convenience duet—will be out in December!

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From Villain to Hero

by Kate Hewitt, author of Commanded By The Sheikh

Commanded By The Sheikh is the second in my Rivals to the Crown of Kadar duet. In the first book, Captured By The Sheikh, the hero Khalil is fighting for the rightful crown his half-brother Aziz possesses. Aziz, in many ways, is the villain of the book—the man whom Khalil has hated all his life and is fighting in order for his throne to be restored to him. He’s also the hero of Commanded By The Sheikh.

I love the challenge of turning ‘the bad guy’ into the hero of his own book. In Captured By The Sheikh, Khalil assumes Aziz is nothing but a privileged playboy, arrogant and spoiled—and it is only later, in his own story, that the full truth is revealed. Aziz has a reason to act the way he does—and a heartbreaking past to hide.

Commanded By The Sheikh begins with Aziz ordering his housekeeper Olivia to impersonate his missing bride Queen Elena in order to fool the doubting public. This might not seem like a very heroic thing to do, but Aziz has secrets of his own—and as Olivia learns of them, she finds it harder and harder to resist Aziz! In fact, she begins to think that being commanded by the Sheikh might not be so bad after all…

Have you read a book where the hero is the villain of another book? Has it worked for you?

Happy Reading,

Kate

About Commanded By The Sheikh:

comanded“I can’t let the public know my bride is missing. I need someone else. You.”

To protect his throne, Sheikh Aziz al Bakhir needs someone trustworthy to temporarily impersonate his missing fiancée. So the legendary lothario of Europe demands that his housekeeper, Olivia Ellis, fulfill the role!

Olivia thought Kadar was the perfect place to hide, but the sheikh’s command leaves her open to global scrutiny. Even that would be easier to bear than his intense silver gaze! As ruthless as his desert ancestry, Aziz crashes through her reluctance, and Olivia soon finds herself playing his queen in public…and his lover in bed!

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The Hidden Streak of Romance in a Ruthless Russian

by Lucy Monroe, author of An Heiress for His Empire

I’ve written a lot of books and with every one of them, some element of the book will catch my attention and my creativity.  When I was working on An Heiress for His Empire (Book 1 in my Ruthless Russians duo), that was the old world tradition.  Our hero, Viktor, is thoroughly modern, infinitely alpha and ruthlessly tycoon in his outlook.  And yet…despite the coldly business style of his “deal” to marry Madcap Madison, he proposes with nothing short of real life romance.

Russian Lacquer BoxA traditional Russian wedding ring in a family heirloom lacquer box brought over from Russia by his grandparents and in a setting even the most cynical would admit makes for great romance.  I found this box at a vintage resale shop and immediately knew it would be the inspiration for Viktor’s family heirloom. (I’ve just given it away in a drawing off my Facebook page and I readily admit, it was hard to let go, but I love to share special things like this with my readers.)

For me, this scene is pivotal for the emotional arc and revelation of who Viktor really is.  And it all started with my fascination with a traditional Russian lacquer box.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a writer, or just an analyzer by nature, but when I am reading, I spend the entire book marking turns like this in a story.  Maybe I just need to know they happened to believe in the HEA.  I find it really hard to buy that a seriously alpha business tycoon is in love and ready to pursue happiness with the same tenacity he has dedicated to rising to the top of the business world unless I see those moments along the way.

And while I love writing the flawed hero that often starts the story in the villain’s shoes, I believe strongly in sowing the seeds of his redemption from the very beginning.  I want readers to put the book down loving my hero every bit as much as I do and that can’t happen if they don’t believe in him.

So, a beautiful vintage lacquer box leads to something my story can’t do without…the seeds of true romance.

What about you?  Do you notice these small but pivotal moments in a story, or do you get so caught up in a romance, the happy ending comes before you even realized you’d gotten there?

About An Heiress for His Empire:

empireThe story: Innocent debutante Madison Archer has hit the headlines for a scandal not of her making. Now, marriage to the unscrupulous Viktor Beck is the only way to save what’s left of her reputation!

The contract: Maddie has always featured in Viktor’s plans to take over her father’s company and expand his empire. The intense attraction between them only sweetens the deal he’s offered….

The secret: Though love doesn’t beat in Viktor’s heart, he’ll show Maddie just how hot their chemistry can be. But even this corporate shark is in for a shock—his wild socialite is still a virgin!

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Under the Microscope: Read on for an exclusive interview with Orsino Chatsfield

by Annie West, author of Rebel’s Bargain

If you had to pick your most public scandalous moment, what would it be?Hmm. Maybe the evening I dragged Poppy away from a high profile charity dinner under the noses of half London’s VIPs and all its press before she could touch her main course. She tells me I should have remembered I was supposed to give a speech later. I tell her she should have worn a dress made of more than black lace.

Was there an even more scandalous event that didn’t make it into the press?My wife made me promise not to tell. She blushes whenever I mention it.

What is your biggest secret?
I don’t have any these days. Poppy knows them all. Well…except perhaps that I’m wondering how she’d feel about a baby some time soon.

What do you love most about Poppy?
The fact that she loves me for who I am and doesn’t try to change me. Well, she does make me front up to the occasional family event these days but I’m learning to enjoy those, with her at my side.

What were your first thoughts when you saw Poppy?
I knew she was going to be mine, no matter what it took.

If your house was on fire and you could only save one thing, what would it be?
My wife, Poppy, obviously.

What is the naughtiest thing you did at school?
Me? Naughty? I prefer to call myself adventurous. I did get into trouble once for climbing the clock tower to fly our house flag on sports day, then abseil down. I think the Head was secretly on my side although I was disciplined for it.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Sometimes even now my eyes get tired and I ask Poppy to help me by reading out reports on some of our charity enterprises. Perhaps sometimes I use it as an excuse to hear her voice and keep her close when I prefer to stay home, just the two of us.

What is your worst habit?
Shutting myself off. I’m learning now, with Poppy’s help, to open up to others and trust them a little more with the real me.

What is your favourite film?
My talented wife and some of her friends are currently making a documentary about a few of our charity ventures. I know the results will be remarkable. And maybe when it’s finished I’ll have her to myself a bit more!

What present would you put beneath the Christmas tree for Poppy?
I was thinking she might appreciate a hunky, if scarred husband, gift-wrapped of course! But this year it’s going to be an invitation to a romantic week, just the two of us, staying in the very private chateau tower where we fell in love all over again. I’ve even got the crimson ball gown she wore last time, which I so enjoyed seeing her take off. I’m looking forward to reliving some of the highlights of our reunion!

How will you spend your first anniversary as a couple?
I promised to take Poppy ballooning again. This time, instead of a wintry expedition in France, I’m planning a hot air balloon adventure in the tropics. I know she has a soft spot for turquoise waters and soft, white sand, while I have a weakness for Poppy in a bikini.

 

About Rebel’s Bargain:

rebelFive years ago, Poppy Graham married Orsino Chatsfield beneath a confetti of paparazzi flashbulbs. But in her darkest hour, he let her down. Their split was bitter, and Poppy has strived for her independence and acceptance ever since. But now her arrogant husband is back…

Injured in a climbing accident, there’s only one person Orsino can turn to…his wife! They have unfinished business, and he’ll face it before he walks away forever. But the blazing passion between them reignites in an instant, leaving Orsino to wonder whether it will kill or cure!

Welcome to The Chatsfield, London!

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