An Island Getaway

by Michelle Smart, author of The Russian’s Ultimatum

In the Presents series of books, there are three things that are guaranteed: passion; eternal, enduring love; and… exotic settings. Some settings are, naturally, more exotic than others, but they all have the same aspirational feel, that setting that makes the read sigh dreamily and wish she could be there. Well it is exactly the same for the author. At least, it’s the same for this one! Whether the setting is based in reality or in the realms of make-believe, it is always somewhere I wish I could be transported to with my own real-life hero.

Writing The Russian’s Ultimatum was doubly fun for me because it’s mostly set on the fictional Aliana Island. I had a whale of time dreaming Aliana Island up. I knew I needed it to be located somewhere warm when England was suffering with a damp autumn, and somewhere where tropical storms are a risk. Other than that, my imagination was given free rein. Aliana Island is surrounded by a coral reef navigable only by the most experienced of captains. Its beaches are sandy white, the sea a clear turquoise. It has a lagoon and, best of all, a forty-foot waterfall that pours into a deep pool of water. It has electricity and the facilities to communicate with the outside world but other than that, modern life rarely intrudes there. Quite frankly, it is my own personal heaven on earth and I really hope I’ve done justice to my imaginings on the page.

So, this leads me to the question of… What is your personal idea of heaven on earth? And who would you like to be stuck there with?

About The Russian’s Ultimatum:

0115-9781460332924-bigwHe’ll make her an offer…

Pascha Virshilas is on the brink of securing personal redemption when Emily Richardson breaks into his office and steals private company documents. And then she has the gall to blackmail him into clearing her father’s name!

She can’t refuse!

But Pascha has his own terms. He’ll keep his side of the bargain, but the enticing Emily must accompany him to his private island—the only place he can ensure her silence. But in the midst of a tropical storm, the wind blows aside suspicions and secrets to reveal something much more dangerous—lust!

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New Year, New Excitement…New Me!(?)

By Laura McCallen, Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant

Happy 2015!

I love the holiday season just as much as the next girl but I’ve always found that there’s something so refreshing about the blank slate of January 1st – it’s a new year with exciting new possibilities! (Although it might also just be the bone-chilling cold that gives things that extra crisp feeling…) I like to take this time to think about the year ahead; what I think might happen, what I hope might happen and where my life might take me in the next 12 months. Inevitably, being the type-A personality that I am, I start thinking about what I can make happen and that means one thing: New Year’s resolutions!

When it comes to resolutions I try and approach them logically (stress on the word ‘try’). Set a goal that’s too difficult and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Set a goal that’s too easy and you won’t learn or gain anything from the experience. It’s all about finding that happy middle ground and, for me, I find the most effective way to ensure that I stick to a resolution is to give myself a timeline, set small goals (and reward them, of course!) to stay motivated, and keep myself accountable by sharing my resolutions with others. So here goes!

My 2015 New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. To get Michelle Obama-worthy arms by dedicating myself to learning and perfecting the art of the push-up (or ‘press-up’, as they call them on this side of the pond). I’m 7 days in and feeling stronger already! Here’s hoping I actually see the results soon…

2. To learn from grand dames Queen Elsa and Taylor Swift to let things go and shake things off. It’s so easy to get hung up on things that have gone ‘wrong’ or caused upset so this year I’m devoted to stepping back, letting go and living fully in the present by not dwelling on the past.

3. To explore this great country I’m fortunate enough to live in! The UK is gorgeous – from the Scottish highlands, to the green fields of Ireland and the white cliffs of Dover – so this year is all about getting out there and seeing as much of it as I can.

And this year’s Harlequin Presents resolutions?

1. Continue to bring you sexy alpha males and the women who tame them with a dazzling line-up of glamorous, sizzling international romances from authors you know and love and new authors we know you’ll love just as soon as you’ve read them! Kicking things off in January is the debut from 2013 So You Think You Can Write runner-up Andie Brock with The Last Heir of Monterrato: Rafael Revaldi needs an heir, but first he must win back his estranged wife! Lottie returns to the castle she once called home, but can she risk her heart again to give them the child they both so desperately want?

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2. Take you back to the world’s most elite hotel, The Chatsfield, with 8 dazzling new stories of style, spectacle and scandal. Maisey Yates kicks off the drama with The Sheikh’s Desert Duty: Sheikh Zayn Al-Ahmar must stop journalist Sophie from destroying his world–so he kidnaps her! But soon Sophie’s delectable company puts everything he values at risk. Only one mistress can rule Zayn’s heart – will it be Sophie, or his duty?

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3. Indulge your every hidden desire with delicious stories of the Seven Sexy Sins. Cathy William’s delivers a masterpiece (and makes ‘sloth’ sexy!) in the first book in the 7-part series, To Sin with the Tycoon: Gabriel Cabrera can get anything he wants… until he meets PA, Alice Morgan. So he’ll draw her to him, his every touch sinfully seductive. And sweet, virginal Alice will come to him willingly so Gabriel can claim his prize…

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Watch out for these amazing stories and more from Harlequin Presents in 2015!

But in the meantime, tell us – are you the type to make resolutions (if so, what are they for 2015!?) or do you buck convention and expand your boundaries by taking on new challenges year round? We want to know!

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Happy New Year to all Presents fans + Giveaway!

by Joanne Grant, Senior Executive Editor

We hope that you got all that you wished for over the Festive Season, and now that it is over maybe what you really need is some quiet “me time.” And what better way to spend it than with a Presents alpha hero! As always, we have eight devastatingly handsome heroes to choose from this month, but Abby Green’s Luca Fonseca is as hot as they come! Seductive, sensual, sexy—he has it all, just don’t provoke his fury because if you do he will seek revenge, as notorious heiress Serena DePiero finds out!

Fonseca’s Fury is a fiery, passionate read you will not want to miss!

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And you don’t have to wait long for another spectacular story by Abby Green! We have a special Valentine’s Day treat for you this February. If you like your heroes determined, powerful and breathtakingly commanding, why don’t you book a date with Giancarlo Delucca, where he’ll whisk you away to the delights of The Chatsfield, Rome. But just to make this an extraspecial treat, five lucky readers can win a coupon that is redeemable against any February Harlequin Presents title.

To be entered with a chance of winning, just answer this question: What would your ideal Valentine’s date be and who would it be with?

Giveaway! Answer the above question and you could win a coupon for February Harlequin Presents titles! The contest will close on January 9. For full giveaway rules, click here.

Update this contest is now closed.

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Five Inspirations behind Nine Months to Redeem Him

by Jennie Lucas, author of Nine Months to Redeem Him

There’s a question every author gets asked: “Where do you get your ideas?”

I never know how to answer, because I honestly don’t know. Novels come together in some big stew of alchemy (serendipity? Magic?) and sweat (rewriting it again… and again… and again). Inspiration can come in all forms, little and big – anything from a garishly pink sunset to a snippet of overheard conversation at the supermarket to a really miraculous slice of chocolate cake. And I’m constantly inspired by the books I read – books that make me want to ask those authors how the heck they got their ideas!

But mulling it over, here are some behind-the-book inspirations that occur to me from Nine Months to Redeem Him.

1. Why first-person Point of View? – As a reader, I love the immersive effect of reading a book in 1st person POV. It feels like I’m the heroine, living the story myself. That’s what I was trying to create by writing in 1st person. It’s also why, both in Nine Months to Redeem Him and the earlier linked story (Uncovering Her Nine Month Secret), I never actually describe the heroine in words. Yes, that helps avoid lame attempts at self-description (“as I look into the mirror, I can’t help but notice that I have emerald-green eyes and hair black as a raven’s wing…”). But I wanted each reader to picture HERSELF, whatever her hair color might be.

That is also why, on the book covers in North America and the UK, you can’t see all of the heroine.

2. My original working title for the book was His Baby, My Heart.

3. Edward St. Cyr’s name was inspired by two different books. “Edward” from Twilight of course – although in my defense, when I first chose the name, I thought I was working against type because he was going to be the villain. It was only later, when I decided to write a sequel, that he became the hero.

“St. Cyr” was a name I fell in love with while reading a vintage Presents last year by Violet Winspear, written in the 1970s – The Chateau of St. Avrell.

4. Diana Maywood’s name. As I wrote Nine Months to Redeem Him, I happened to be rereading Diana Gabaldon’s book Outlander. Good name, Diana, I thought. I have really been loving classic heroine names these days – my last two heroines were called Lena and Irene. I would love to someday write a heroine called Barbara, like the notorious Countess of Castlemaine, King Charles II’s mistress. Or Yseult, another name from a Violet Winspear novel.

“Maywood” is the name of a street my husband and I lived on, ten years ago, in a house surrounded by roses of riotous color.

5. The Cornwall setting was inspired by all the Daphne du Maurier, Violet Winspear and Phyllis A. Whitney books I’ve read over the past few years. (Like Caitlin Crews, who was talking about this a few posts ago, I love me a good Gothic.) I wanted an atmospheric setting, a world apart, that almost felt back in time – and yet still modern.

As for the California setting, I was born there and go back to visit family every year. It is the opposite of gothic, all flowers and sea winds and sunshine.

6. This book is about dreams, and how sometimes they last forever – and sometimes they don’t.

As a child, you can get hooked early on a big dream that you think will last until the day you die. Which is a romantic notion, because that kind of obsession gives meaning and shape to a life. But old dreams can also hold you back from new ones. Our challenge is learning which dreams to let go, and which ones to hold on tight to. A challenge Diana and Edward must answer in Nine Months to Redeem Him.

As the new year of 2015 begins, I want to thank my readers from the bottom of my heart. You inspire me every day.

Wishing you all the best of your old dreams, and the brightest of your sparkly new ones. For all of us, let this be our best year yet.

Love,

Jennie

About Nine Months to Redeem Him:

0115-9780373133055-bigw“This is all I can give you,” he said. “Do you agree?” 

“Yes,” I whispered, my lips brushing against his. I hardly knew what I was saying. I could think of nothing other than the darkly powerful Edward St. Cyr. I was too lost in the moment, lost in pleasure that made the world a million colors of twisting light.

I gave him my body, which he wanted, and my heart, which he didn’t. Had I just made the biggest mistake of my life? Maybe when he knows about our baby it will heal his wounded heart, so he can love us both…

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Music Is a Wondrous Thing”: Maggie Cox on A Rule Worth Breaking

by Maggie Cox, author of A Rule Worth Breaking

The evocative nature of music is a wondrous thing. A song or a rhythm can lift your emotions up to the skies and equally, can make you plummet to the depths. When I was young, music saved me. I believe there is something powerfully magical about the thump of the heart when a piece of music speaks to you. You’ll always remember that moment when your whole world changed for the better. Suddenly life became an adventure and all you had to do was ride the wave…possibilities seemed endless.

Such was the case for my heroine Caitlin who longs to be a bona fide singer in a band and my hero Jake who – although jaded by events in his professional life when he danced too close to the fire and got burnt – saw music as the way out of what for him could have been a very lonely existence.

These two fell in love when they let the power and magic of music take them where it will. They recognised the incandescent pleasure it evoked in each other and knew they’d met a kindred spirit. Although it might have looked from the start that the potential for fame and fortune was the driver, Jake had already experienced the downside of what that could bring and more than anything, he wanted Caitlin to know the joy of singing. The attraction that seized them in the process was more about answering the wildness in each other’s soul and being willing to go along with it rather than solely adhering to doing what was ‘right’.

Going back to when I was young, the song that made my heart sing and made me yearn to embrace the amazing gift that life gives us if we would only listen to the call was ‘Woodstock’. The words are written on my heart to this day… ‘We are stardust, we are golden’ it tells us the truth of our existence and it still excites me when I hear it. Are there any songs that do that for you? I’d love to know.

Love and blessings, Maggie x

About A Rule Worth Breaking:

Do not mix business with pleasure 

Jake Sorenson is an infamous playboy and a world-class music producer, but when it comes to work, he never gives in to temptation—even when it takes the alluring shape of his newest client, Caitlin Ryan. Stunning, talented and vulnerable, she’s an irresistible force…and the ultimate test of Jake’s golden rule.

Caitlin’s determined to focus on her music, but she’s never met a man quite like Jake, and their craving for one another soon builds to a crescendo. Now that they’ve tasted rebellion, it seems that the strictest rules might just be there to be broken…

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