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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The Chatsfield Uncovered! Read on for an exclusive interview with Annie West

rebelCreating a world as large as The Chatsfield must be very exciting – did you discuss the hotels with the other authors?

Absolutely! The Chatsfield authors formed a very warm and supportive group. There were lots of emails about the hotel in London and other settings as well as plenty of little details between characters and stories that had to match up. It was wonderful to be part of the community creating the Chatsfield.

What was the most fun bit about creating this luxurious, scandalous world?

I loved immersing my characters in a world where luxury is taken for granted and where all that glitters is gold, or in Poppy’s case, a range of fabulous gems. Creating the stunning jewellery and costumes for the lavish photo shoot in a French chateau was a real delight. The time I spent plotting designer dresses and priceless jewellery to match was no chore at all! It also made Orsino’s charity work stand out even more as something remarkable and worthwhile.

Did you do any extra special research for writing this book? A sneaky cocktail at an exclusive hotel perhaps?

Ah, the upside of research. I confess to a few visits to exclusive hotels in the past which have fed into this story. I particularly drew on time spent in some lovely French chateaux which came to life all over again in this book.

What did you most love about writing your story?

Falling for the dashing Orsino and barracking for my heroine, Poppy. I learned so much about them as I wrote and the more I found out about them and their past problems, the more I wanted them to find the happy ending they deserved.

When writing your hero and heroine’s story, did they surprise you in any way?

Definitely. That always happens as I write. I was intrigued to discover things in Poppy’s past that I hadn’t realised until I was a chapter or two into the book. Things that made it hard to trust the man she loved so deeply. I was also surprised to find that beneath Orsino’s harsh and unforgiving exterior was a man who felt so much. Orsino has worked all his life to keep his distance from emotional entanglements, yet he’s a man of strong passions. I loved that about him.

To your mind, who is the most scandalous Chatsfield?

anniewestCan there be any doubt? Orsino is charismatic and popular but there’s part of him that’s untamed and wild. A part of him the world can’t even guess at. Poppy and Orsino always had a volatile relationship, running off to marry privately without any of the fanfare expected of the Chatsfields. Yet within months they were leading separate lives and Orsino had turned his back on his family while rumours abounded about what exactly caused the split. Years later, after risking his neck in one dangerous stunt too many, Orsino is living openly with his long-estranged wife. Anyone can see these two can’t keep their eyes, or their hands, off each other, but it’s a bumpy ride on the road to reconciliation.

If you could have given your hero or heroine a piece of advice before they started on their journey in your story, what would it have been?

Probably that they should listen to their hearts. Their pasts have skewed their logic and twisted them both in knots. It’s only when they listen to their hearts and truly trust their feelings that they begin to sort things out.

Name five things on your table when you write.

A large spiral bound notebook with my jottings about the story.

Too many post-it notes to be tidy.

A school-made pen box which was a gift one Mother’s Day.

A small, carved, jaunty-looking, bright pink hippopotamus that was another gift.

My thesaurus.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Never. I find it too distracting. I can write in coffee shops and with other people in the house but something about music draws me out of my creative world and into someone else’s.

What is your worst habit when writing?

Reaching for a hot drink or something to nibble as I concentrate. If only I was as eager to go out for a jog!

Do you have a writing routine? If so, could you share a bit about it with us?

I’m an early bird so you won’t usually find me writing in the evening, though I’ll often spend some of that time doing other writing-related bits and pieces like blogs or emails. I tend to start early, sometimes while others in the house are asleep or as soon as they leave. If a scene is going particularly well I’ve been known to be still writing in my pyjamas late in the morning. I try not to do that as it can shock any unexpected visitors! Some mornings I start the day with exercise instead and then work. I look forward to a break around lunchtime and that’s when I’ll often head out on any errands or tackle a little gardening. Then it’s solid work through the afternoon until I catch up with family again in the evening. One of my special treats is the occasional late afternoon catch up with other writer friends at a local café, which always recharges the batteries. The staff there are used to us now and don’t turn a hair when we discuss killing off characters or heroines being forced into unwanted marriages or some other plot twist.

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Poppy and Orsino’s Brunch

Setting: A private French chateau after an early morning hot air balloon ride

 

To drink

Chocolat Chaud or Café Crème on arrival to warm up

Freshly squeezed juices

Vintage champagne

To eat

Freshly baked croissants and brioches

served with home-made apricot and peach jams

Choice of

Brouillade de Truffes (Eggs with black truffles)

or

Omelette with estate-cured ham and fresh herbs

or

Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon

or

Asparagus with hollandaise sauce

Miniature chèvre and caramelised onion tartlets

Selection of local cheeses with freshly baked bread, honey and walnuts

Crêpes with raspberries and vanilla-scented crème fraiche

Basket of fresh fruit

  About Rebel’s Bargain:

When the thrill-seeker returns!

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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