We Heart Marriages of Convenience

By: Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant Kathryn Cheshire

The One. Two little words which have tantalized and taunted women for centuries. From Lizzie Bennet to Cinderella to Carrie Bradshaw, it seems we’re all looking for that unique person to sweep us off our feet. But how do you know when you’ve found him? Is it his cheeky grin? His ability to make you laugh when you’re in a grump? His platinum bank card?! And then comes the ultimate question – how long should you wait before taking the biggest leap of all, and saying ‘I do’?

In the world of Presents, the dilemma of the 21st century girl is often reversed. In stories featuring one of our top-selling themes – Marriages of Convenience – it’s the ‘I do’s’ that come first, and the tricky part that comes next!

Marriages of Convenience are a fantastic way of bringing together two people who would never meet in ordinary life, and that’s precisely what I love about them! In what other situation could you ever imagine marrying a super-wealthy tycoon, a royal Prince, or a sexy Sheikh? And the fact that the hero and heroine are often strangers – or even enemies? All the better! Everyone knows that the biggest of sparks can be with someone you really should hate, and if you’re married to that person too, the battle between head and heart gets even greater!

zarifsconvenientqueen

Reading about two characters thrown together by circumstance, and then forced to confront their fears and see if they really can live together as husband and wife, is a fantastic way to see modern dating turned on its head – where Tinder and the ‘Waiting Three Days to Text’ rule don’t exist and where diamonds, glamorous parties and sizzling nights are the name of the game! And when living together turns to desire, and desire turns to love, what better way to show an all-encompassing, head-over-your-heels romance in all its glory?

Don’t believe me? Why not take a look at some of our upcoming Presents stories featuring a Marriage of Convenience?

undoneIn Lynne Graham’s Zarif’s Convenient Queen, we meet Ella Gillchrist and playboy prince Zarif al Rastani. Three years ago, Zarif broke Ella’s heart, but if she is to rescue her family from imminent and permanent ruin, Ella must agree to a year of marriage, on Zarif’s arm and in his bed!

And in Undone by the Sultan’s Touch by Caitlin Crews, Cleo Churchill could be exactly what Khaled bin Aziz Sultan of Jhurat needs: a convenient, yet beautiful bride to unite his warring country. But as their marriage plays out in the darkness of the night, the passions unearthed threaten to consume them both!

So, over to you, ladies! What do you think? Are Marriages of Convenience the ultimate in escapist fantasy? And if you could marry anyone in the world, tomorrow, who would it be? Hands off Ryan Gosling, everyone, he’s mine!

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The Bumps on the Road to Salvation + Giveaway!

by Susan Stephens, author of His Forbidden Diamond

I wanted to write Tyr’s story more than any other in my 4 book SKAVANGA DIAMOND series, because my three sisters’ long-lost brother Tyr has only just returned home after serving as a soldier, who has sacrificed so much for others at the expense of his own life and peace of mind.

Tyr believes himself to be a lost cause, because in war terrible things have been asked of him, so I needed a heroine who understood his sacrifice, and who could prove as strong in her own quiet way, as Tyr.

Princess Jasmina, known by her friends as Jazz, has turned from the feisty tomboy Tyr remembers, into an ultra conservative young woman who is prepared to sacrifice personal happiness for her brother and their country.

Tyr’s reaction when he first sees Jazz after they have been parted for many years is typical of this smoldering, pent-up warrior.

Holy crap!

His heart banged in his chest when Jazz turned to look at him. Some invisible electrical cord connected them. What was it he’d said so confidently to Britt only minutes before? I’m going to see a lot of friends tonight and I’m going to treat them all the same…

Seriously?

No one else stood a chance of top billing with Princess Jasmina of Kareshi in the room. Britt had been derelict in her description of this new version of the tomboy Jazz, who hadn’t just grown up, but who had blossomed like an exotic flower into the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Jazz’s new air of serenity intrigued him. It was as if she had created a role for herself that Jazz was determined to play out to the full –

I loved writing the love story of two friends who had been separated as young teens, and who come together as adults to find that life has changed them both beyond belief. Recapturing the spirit of their early life takes time, but when it happens the outcome is fiery hot.

Tyr and Jazz’s road to salvation hits a few bumps, but neither of these characters is the type to give up easily – or at all. If you want to read more about Tyr and Jazz, as well as  Tyr’s three Skavanga sisters, Britt, Eva, and Leila, here’s the link that will take you straight to the dedicated  pages on my web site where you can find loads more info…

http://www.susanstephens.com/skavanga/index.html

Happy reading!

And when you’ve had a look do share which couple you love the most and why. I have a signed copy of one of my books to give away along with some swag for one response chosen at random. Thank you in advance for taking part – and, good luck!

Giveaway! Which couple from the Skavanga Diamonds do you love the most? Let us know in the comments for a chance to win a copy of His Forbidden Diamond.  The contest will end August 17th 11:59 ET, and a winner by random draw will be selected August 18th. Open to residents of US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full giveaway rules, click here.

Update this contest is now closed.

About His Forbidden Diamond:

hisforbiddendiamondThe only woman he can’t have…

Former soldier and diamond dynasty heir Tyr Skavanga has finally returned to the cold north. Haunted by the terrors of war, h?’s cut himself off and hardened his heart. But now one person has managed to defy his defenses…

 

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Under the Microscope: Read on for an exclusive interview with Franco and Holly

by Trish Morey, author of Tycoon’s Temptation 

If you had to pick your most public scandalous moment, what would it be?

Franco: The day the tabloids learned I’d dropped out of Eton. That one would be hard to beat. I remember the front page of the paper the next day – the paparazzi got a photo of my father practically frothing at the mouth, threatening to disown me if I didn’t go back to school.

But you didn’t, did you?

Franco: [grim-faced] No. I left for Italy the same day.

Holly: [shaking her head] Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever had a public scandalous moment. My one public moment was totally humiliating – I don’t want to say any more than that here, though Franco knows – but at least it wasn’t plastered all over the papers.

Was there an even more scandalous event that didn’t make it into the press?

Franco: [looking uncomfortable, his features tight] Yes. And it’s ironic really, because there was me thinking I was escaping my scandalous family history by running away to Italy, only to discover that the apple didn’t fall that far from the tree.

tycoonCan you be more specific?

Holly: [taking his hand] You don’t have to do this, Franco.

Franco: No. It’s okay. It’s a long time ago and I can talk about this now. [Pauses for a breath] About five years after I moved to Italy, an old girlfriend came looking for me. Apparently I’d fathered a child before I left for Italy, and I would never have known except the child needed a kidney donor. I was the last hope for a match and it turned out that I was one. [Shakes head on a sigh] Not that it helped. Anyway, the tabloids would have been all over it if they’d found out. Thank goodness they didn’t. It was tough enough without those scavengers sniffing out the story.

What do you love most about Holly, Franco? And vice versa?

Franco: Just one thing? Maybe that smart tongue that was doing its best to slice me apart from our first meeting.

Holly: Well, you were asking for trouble turning up in that helicopter of yours.

Franco: What could I do? They were all out of Maseratis!

On that, what were your first thoughts when you saw each other?

Holly: My very first thoughts? I thought he was drop-dead gorgeous and it was all the more reason not to like him.

Franco: [laughing] I remember that scowl. I also remember thinking you were going to be trouble. Seems I was right [earns him a dig in the ribs].

If your house was on fire and you could only save one thing, what would it be?

Franco: So long as I had Holly, I wouldn’t care about anything else.

Holly: He’s just trying to make up for that last answer.

What is the naughtiest thing you did at school?

Franco: I used to sneak away from rugby to visit my girlfriend.

Holly: [blinking] I once borrowed a book from library without checking it out. My life is so boring by comparison.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Franco: [looks knowingly across at Holly] Holly knows.

Holly: [blushes but holds his gaze] Franco! I’m not telling anyone that!

What is your worst habit?

Franco: I never hang the towels up in the bathroom after I’ve used them.

Holly: And I leave them there. [Smiles] One day he’ll learn.

What is your favourite film?

Franco: High Noon.

Holly: Love Actually.

What present would you put beneath the Christmas tree for each other?

Franco: Something turquoise, to match Holly’s eyes.

Holly: Ooh, how long is it till Christmas?

How will you spend your first anniversary as a couple?

Franco: [slips his arm around his wife’s shoulders] A beach somewhere, footsteps in the sand and a low slung pearl of a moon. Good food, good wine, and 365 days’ worth of memories.

Holly: [smiling] Not to mention 365 nights…

What is your biggest secret?

Franco: I’m crazy in love with this woman.

Holly: That’s hardly a secret. You married me, remember?

Franco: Okay, so you answer the question. What’s your biggest secret?

Holly: [smiling widely] I was waiting for the right moment to tell you. Are you sure you want me to tell while everyone’s listening?

Franco: [bustles interviewer from room] Interview’s over!

 

About Tycoon’s Temptation:

When the black sheep doesn’t get his way! 

Franco Chatsfield never lived by his family’s rules, and he isn’t going to start now. But The Chatsfield’s new CEO needs Franco to secure a partnership, and he can’t say no. He’ll seal the deal and leave. But one woman stands in his way….

Holly Purman has devoted her life to her family’s vineyard, and she won’t risk it all for a Chatsfield, so she’ll give Franco six weeks to prove himself. But working together sends their senses reeling, and when one taste isn’t enough, they quickly discover the price of temptation!

Welcome to The Chatsfield, Sydney!

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The Chatsfield Uncovered! Read on for an exclusive interview with Trish Morey

tycoonCreating a world as large as The Chatsfield must be very exciting – did you discuss the hotels with the other authors?
One of the best things about writing a book in a continuity is that you get to work closely with, and bounce ideas off, a bunch of authors you like and admire. Given these are people you usually only meet up with at conferences, it’s very very cool. And while we’re working together, sorting out the details of what a particular hotel looks or feels like, we’re also having a lot of fun.

What was the most fun bit about creating this luxurious, scandalous world?
Being handed an outline of a story of one of the characters in a scandal ridden family, all set in the most sumptuous of settings and being able to flesh it out in all its glorious detail! And even though Franco’s story is set largely in a vineyard in rural South Australia, I was able to take my characters to Sydney’s gorgeous Chatsfield Hotel and give my characters a taste of five star luxury.

Did you do any extra special research for writing this book? A sneaky cocktail at an exclusive hotel perhaps?
No sneaky cocktails for me – but a certain amount of very good sparkling wine may have been consumed – all in the name of research, of course!

Seriously, researching for this story was a very good excuse for a weekend away with my hubby, as we headed down to the Coonawarra area to find out about this beautiful fertile region first hand. We spent the weekend visiting wineries and talking to local vignerons and cellar door sales persons, getting all kinds of hints and insights into this fabulous region and the people that make it so special. It really helped me get to grips with my heroine, Holly, and her place in the world.

What did you most love about writing your story?
Apart from the research, you mean? I think it was taking two characters who were so unimpressed with each other and so full of resentment for each other in the beginning, and slowly chipping away that resentment until there could be no denying the pesky attraction that simmered away beneath. And as respect between the two grew, that attraction meant Franco and Holly wanted to spend more and more time together. That attraction and respect soon developed into something much more powerful.

When writing your hero and heroine’s story, did they surprise you in any way?
Holly sure did! She was such a homebody, and so comfortable in her Purman Wines polo tops, I had no idea when I started writing her story that she had a wicked secret going on underneath.

I have to say, that wasn’t the only surprise she had for Franco either!

To your mind, who is the most scandalous Chatsfield?
Definitely not Franco, though he’s got his fair share of secrets. He left the scandal to his siblings when he moved away when he was sixteen – but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Learning he’d fathered a child before he’d left was a bit of a wake-up call, though he’s managed to curb his ways in recent years.

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?
If I could have had a quiet word to Franco before he embarked on his long trip to Australia to get Holly’s signature on that contract, I would have warned him to maybe not take too much for granted – that some people might not be as impressed with doing business with the Chatsfield empire as he might like!

Name five things on your desk when you write.
My computer, of course.

One of either a big cup of coffee, an earl grey tea or a glass of water, depending on what time of the day it is.

A print out of my pages to date, so I can check anything I need to quickly, but most of all to reassure me that the manuscript is actually growing.

A collection of pens in different shades so I can mark up those pages.

A beautiful ruby red crystal heart I bought from Tiffany’s in New York at my first ever Romance Writers of America conference in 2003, a month after selling my first book. It reminds me of those first heady days and how lucky I am and how fantastic this job is.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I do. I don’t put a specific sound track together for a book, because the tracks I like to listen to while writing my Presents books give me the right tone for Presents. I know the words by heart so absorb them rather than have to listen to them, but I will find some tracks work more for particular scenes. These I might play over and over while writing a love scene, for example.

What is your worst habit when writing?
Eating far too much! I try to counter that by taking the dog for a walk every chance I get, which also helps with thinking through plot problems, but some days, the eating wins. J

Do you have a writing routine? If so, could you share a bit about it with us?
When my girls were all in school, I did. I had between 9 and 3 to work in relative peace at home. These days, however, the girls are all either in their final year of high school or at uni, so their contact hours are all over the place, and there’s people coming and going all hours of the day. I think my routine has become more a case of “write-when-you-can”, and I look back at those lovely blocks of time and wonder why I didn’t do more.

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Excerpt: Zarif’s Convenient Queen by Lynne Graham

Three years after rejecting him, Ella Gilchrist is reunited with prince Zarif al Rastani, and needs his help. Read on to find out what the prince will want in return…

About Zarif’s Convenient Queen:

zarifFor one year only  

Once, Ella Gilchrist had the gall to turn down playboy prince Zarif al Rastani’s proposal. To ensure peace and stability to his country Zarif must now marry, so when Ella returns begging for his help, he’ll give it…on one condition.

Three years ago, Zarif needed only moments to ignite a passion in her that left her breathless, until his adamant declaration that he could never love her broke her heart. But if she is to rescue her family from imminent and permanent ruin, Ella must agree to a year of marriage, on his arm and in his bed!

***

Zarif was bored. The opulent attractions of his creamy-skinned and highly sophisticated mistress had palled. Right at that minute she was posed on the bed, entranced by her reflection in the mirror as she adjusted the glowing ruby pendant now encircling her throat. ‘It’s so beautiful,’ she told him, wide-eyed with avid admiration. ‘Thank you. You’ve been very generous.’

Lena was shrewd. She knew the pendant was a goodbye gift and that she would vacate his lavish Dubai apartment without argument and cruise off in search of another rich man. Sex, Zarif had discovered, was no big deal. He preferred amateurs to professionals in the bedroom but had few illusions about the morals of the women he took as lovers. He gave them the means to enjoy the good things in life while they gave him a necessary outlet for his highly charged sex drive. Such women understood the need for discretion and appreciated that approaching the media would be a seriously unwise career move.

And Zarif had more need than most men to conserve his public image. At the age of twelve he had become the King of Vashir with his uncle acting as Regent until Zarif attained his majority. He was the latest in a long line of feudal rulers to occupy the Emerald throne in the old palace. Vashir was oil-rich, but very conservative, and whenever Zarif tried to drag the country into the twenty-first century the old guard on his advisory council—composed of twelve tribal sheiks all over the age of sixty—panicked and pleaded with him to reconsider.
Continue reading »

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