Little, Glittery Things

by Sharon Kendrick, author of Christmas in Da Conti’s Bed

It’s the little things which count – especially when it comes to characterization   When I’m teaching students on my Tuscan writing holiday we talk about fleshing out characters and making them real.  Real enough so that if you bumped into them at a party, you’d recognise them straight away.

So how do you set about making the products of your imagination come alive?  The obvious thing is to think about what your characters look like and what they like to wear.  If I were describing my own clothes –  I wear lots of dark and scarlet and green but wouldn’t let a pastel shade within a mile of my skin, because pale colours make me look hideous!  I love wearing jewellery, but not too much of it.  Oh, and I have very big feet.  As for some of my characteristics – I’m hopeless at being organised and good at learning poetry.

It’s exactly the same for my hero and heroine.  They have their own way of dressing, as well as things they’re good and bad at.  They have a particular way of looking at the world which is unique to them.  Before I begin a new book, I sit down and work out exactly what these traits are so that by the time I start writing – I feel as if I know my characters inside out.

Opening in New York and moving to the snowy English countryside, the idea for Christmas in Da Conti’s Bed started with a woman who’d done something in the past which she’d never been able to shake off.  Something which the hero despised her for.

Alannah Collins is best friends with Niccolo da Conti’s sister and the last person he wants to be his little sister’s bridesmaid.  He is uptight, controlling and disapproves of everything Alannah stands for.  Unfortunately that doesn’t impact on his overwhelming desire to have sex with her.

Alannah’s personality comes across in the quirky way she dresses.  She uses structured clothes as a kind of armour but personalises each of her outfits with a sparkly little brooch.  I got the inspiration when I found this glittery bumble bee brooch in a tiny seaside store.  Immediately, I knew it was something that Alannah would wear and it provided the key for her character.

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The outfit Alannah is wearing on the cover of the book is also deeply significant and symbolises part of the personal journey she has to make.  This is a shamelessly emotional Christmas love story and I really hope you enjoy it.

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If you had to describe something particular you like to wear which sums up the person you are, or something you’re very good (or bad!) at – what would it be?

For details of Sharon Kendrick’s next Tuscan writing holiday in May 2015, contact www.watermill.net

About Christmas in Da Conti’s Bed:

A Christmas gift she can’t refuse…

Billionaire Niccolo Da Conti has everything a man could want—the money, the cars, the business empire—but seeing the unbearably enticing Alannah Collins again has sparked his possessive streak. He’ll hire her, seduce her and cross her off his wish list once and for all!

Alannah knows the danger of working too closely with the sensual Sicilian, but she’d be a fool to refuse his help launching her business. Now, with Niccolo ruthlessly trying to seduce her under the mistletoe, her every defense is threatened. Can she stop him from unwrapping the truths she’s fought to conceal?

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“I love a marauding, ruthless hero”: Maisey Yates on Sheikh’s Desert Duty

by Maisey Yates, author of Sheikh’s Desert Duty

“Really though, he should just kidnap her.”

I said these words in a phone call to my editor as we were trying to sort out plot points to Sheikh’s Desert Duty. Then I laughed and said, “Just kidding, just kidding.” But Pippa, being Pippa, said, “Yeah, maybe he should.”

I jumped right on board with this. Okay, obviously I don’t endorse actual kidnapping. ;) But I just love a marauding alpha hero. I love a hero who will see the task done, no matter the cost. A truly great alpha hero, in my opinion, has the backing of a deep, moral belief that whatever he does now, he does to aid the greater good.

Sure, he might have to blackmail a woman into marriage. Or mete out revenge in a way that others would find distasteful…but if, in his mind, it serves justice, then he can get away with a lot. At least in my books!

So when my hero Zayn kidnaps my heroine Sophie, a reporter, when he catches her eavesdropping on his conversation, he does it to protect his sister from the press. Anyway, he doesn’t really consider it kidnapping. More of a mandatory vacation in his palace. And he’s offering her a trade of sorts… She wants a scandal, he’ll give her one.

Sophie isn’t a passive kidnapee. She realizes that she can use the time alone with Zayn to her advantage. He’s offering her the scandal she wants, and if she has to go with him to get it, she will.

That’s the other thing. I love a marauding, ruthless hero. But I love him best when he’s with a woman equipped to handle what he dishes out.

I think it’s the balance between the hero and heroine that allows them each to shine, really. And ultimately, she’s the one who strips back all of his hardness, his meanness, and finds the man beneath, not just for herself, but for him.

I always think the heroine is really the one doing the saving.

It’s certainly the case with Sophie and Zayn. It starts as a kidnap, but he’s the one who needs to be rescued, and she does it very well.

As an aside, I’m loving the new covers for this Chatsfield series! I like the return to the classic Harlequin Presents look, but with a little something extra that reveals some of the flavor of the story.

So what do you like better? The full picture, like the original Chatsfield series, the full white background, or this neat mixture of the two?

About Sheikh’s Desert Duty:

0115-9780373133031-bigwA Chatsfield Scandal!  

Journalist Sophie Parsons needs a scoop to stop the sale of her friend’s hotel chain. And she’s found it! But being abducted by a sheikh goes way beyond the call of duty…

Sheikh Zayn Al-Ahmar has a wedding to arrange, a sister to protect and a country to rule. He’s not going to let one woman bring it all down with a headline! Kidnapping Sophie seemed like a good idea, but soon her delectable company puts everything he values at risk.

Only one mistress can rule Zayn’s heart—will it be Sophie, or his duty?

Welcome to The Chatsfield, New York!

Here is a little excerpt from Sheikh’s Desert Duty…

***

Rain was starting to fall, the only light coming from a lone streetlamp, casting everything in a yellow glow. Zayn’s mind was racing, his pulse in overdrive. If any of this got out, the press would have a field day. He had no idea what Leila intended to do about her pregnancy, and with the heightened interest surrounding the royal family, due to Zayn’s own upcoming marriage, she was in a much more precarious position than she might have been.

She was vulnerable enough without introducing the variable of public opinion and scrutiny. That would add pressure she didn’t need, judgment she didn’t deserve. No, he would not have that. He would not expose his family to such criticism and judgment. Not again. Not while he drew breath.

He heard a clattering sound in the corner of the alley, a trash can turning over on its side, a blur of motion catching his eye.

He was not alone. And he and Chatsfield had not been the only two involved in the conversation that had taken place only minutes before. They had a witness.

And that was unacceptable.

The feeling of helplessness drained, a shot of adrenaline moving through his veins. Action. He craved action. He craved a plan.

Zayn stalked toward the movement, his body on high alert, muscles tensing, ready to strike. When a man lived as he did, he had ample time to train his body. And Zayn had done just that. Had taken every opportunity to spend hours channeling physical frustration into strength training.

Continue reading »

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Seven Sexy Sins: How Cathy Williams Made Sloth Sexy

by Cathy Williams, author of To Sin With the Tycoon

Dear Reader,

When I was asked to write a Harlequin Presents embodying one of the seven deadly sins, I was pretty excited. When I was told that my sin would be sloth, I wondered… What’s there to find sexy in a lazy man?! I had visions of someone unkempt, unshaven and overweight, sitting around with cans of lager watching television…

But sloth, of course, encompasses so much more than physical laziness! And as soon as I came to that conclusion, I knew just what I was going to write.

The guy who has it all no longer has to try, and Gabriel Cabrera is the guy who has it all. He can have any woman he wants, and he’s always wanted them lightweight and very easy on the eye. He snaps his fingers and they come running. Why waste time trying when you can have what you want without the effort?

But he meets his match in his new secretary, Alice Morgan. She’s not one of his women ready to fall over herself at his command, and she’s not the sort of decoration he’s been accustomed to having around his office. She isn’t charmed by him, and that kick-starts all sorts of unheard of responses in him! He finds that emotional laziness can’t work with her, and is there anything more sexy than the guy who finally has to really try to get the girl?

So, from wondering how on earth I could find the sexy in sloth, I discovered that, when you put the right guy and the right girl together in just the right situation, it was pretty easy after all!

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it! And I bet, readers, you can think of all sorts of guys you know who have fallen victim to this particular sin. I’d love to hear your stories, so please do share them in the comments!

Cathy

About To Sin With the Tycoon:

sinWith the quirk of an eyebrow, Gabriel Cabrera can get anything he wants!

That is, until he meets PA Alice Morgan and he realizes three things

1) He’s jealous…a first.

2) He’s in pursuit…also a first.

3) She’s immune to his charms…definitely a first!

So he’ll draw her to him–;his every word an innuendo promising pleasure, his every touch sinfully seductive. And sweet, virginal Alice will come to him willingly so Gabriel can claim his prize…

Seven Sexy Sins…The true taste of temptation!

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Poll: What’s Your Sexy Sin?

Yesterday we introduced you to an exciting upcoming series, Seven Sexy Sins! In the coming weeks, you’ll get to hear from the authors and how they were inspired by each of the sins to come up with wickedly good stories. In the meantime, have your say and let us know which sexy sin is YOUR favorite!

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Exclusive Presents Sneak Peek!

By Laura McCallen, Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant

The Presents team have two absolutely sensational new series starting in January 2015, and we just couldn’t wait to tell you all about them…so consider this an early Christmas gift from us to you! :)

First, we’d like to welcome you back to….

 

The Chatsfield

Synonymous with style, sensation…and scandal! 

With the eight Chatsfield siblings happily married and settling down, it’s time for a new generation of Chatsfields to shine!

Spencer Chatsfield steps in as CEO, determined to prove his worth. But when he approaches Isabella Harrington, of Harringtons Boutique hotels, with the offer of a merger that would benefit them both…he’s left with a stinging, red palm-shaped mark on his cheek!

And so begins a game of cat and mouse that will shape the future of the Chatsfields and the Harringtons forever.

But neither knows that there’s one stakeholder with the power to decide their fate…whose identity will shock both the Harringtons and the Chatsfields.

Just who will come out on top?

Find out in

Sheikh’s Desert Duty—Maisey Yates

Delucca’s Marriage Contract—Abby Green

Princess’s Secret Baby—Carol Marinelli

Virgin’s Sweet Rebellion—Kate Hewitt

Greek’s Last Redemption—Caitlin Crews

Russian’s Ruthless Demand—Michelle Conder

Tycoon’s Delicious Debt—Susanna Carr

Chatsfield’s Ultimate Acquisition—Melanie Milburne

 

8 titles to collect—you won’t want to miss out!

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We’d also like to encourage you to indulge your every wicked fantasy in…

 

Seven Sexy Sins

The true taste of temptation!

From greed to gluttony, lust to envy, these fabulous stories explore what seven sexy sins mean in the twenty-first century!

Whether pride goes before a fall or wrath leads to passion that consumes entirely, one thing is certain…the road to true love has never been more enticing!

So you decide:

How can it be a sin when it feels so good?

Sloth—Cathy Williams

Lust—Dani Collins

Pride—Kim Lawrence

Gluttony—Maggie Cox

Greed—Sara Craven

Wrath—Maya Blake

Envy—Annie West

Seven titles by some of Harlequin Presents’ most treasured and exciting authors!

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 With exciting new cover designs and sensational editorial you won’t want to miss any of these dazzling offerings from some of your favorite Presents authors. In the meantime, though, tell us, which series are you most excited about?

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