It Begins with a Mask + Giveaway!

by Dani Collins, author of The Ultimate Seduction

About this time last year, I was collaborating with the wonderful Maya Blake and Victoria Parker on this series. We were all under the gun with deadlines and life stuff like jobs and kids. The project was exciting and we were charged with inventing the secret club. We popped on to Skype to work out some rules.

First a shout-out to Maya and Victoria—reading the thread made me laugh all over again. The best thing about hanging out with writers is that we make one another laugh. Maybe it’s nervous laughter because we don’t spend much time in society, always locked in our writing caves, but I couldn’t have asked for nicer, funnier women to collaborate with. By the time this posts, I’ll have met Victoria in person at the conference in San Antonio. I can’t wait!

Top of mind for our Skype meeting was working out how members were allowed in. I’d done some research on exclusive clubs and they’re often invitation only. Usually prospective members must be recommended by a certain number of current members to be considered. But those clubs have boards. Ours is privately owned. “Zeus” decides. That made the first part of the job easier.

Then we asked ourselves how an invitation is issued. We all loved the masquerade idea and each wanted a ball, but we were planning to have our books in consecutive quarters, not all taking place at the same time as the others.

Side note: I’m glad I cut my teeth on this sort of collaboration. The kind where you are intertwining your characters’ actions with another author’s characters would be very challenging. I think I’d have to be in the same house with the author for six weeks to write it. I have questions All. The. Time. And yes, by admitting that, I just frightened off the entire Presents line of authors from ever collaborating with me.

Back to QVirtus, which is the name we gave our club. We decided the members walk around masked because it’s so überconfidential. That way people don’t always know who is talking to whom. The owner remains a mystery. Members could also take private meetings in very private settings… This was another advantage to our having quarterly meetings in different locations. I was able to do things with my location—sliding doors à la Maxwell Smart, underwater meeting rooms—that Maya and Victoria weren’t then bound to use.

The masks, we decided, were the invitation. They have a chip embedded with the member’s identity, which allows them to pass through security. Just before each quarterly meeting, the location is inscribed with the date inside a mask and sent to the members. So the masks change for each meeting, thus improving privacy, and also because it was easier for us as authors.

This is how my heroine, Tiffany, discovers she is a member. She walks downstairs to see her father and brother grumbling that the mask is for her. Much like a writer, she has been living like a shut-in since her wedding-day accident that killed her groom and left her scarred. She doesn’t want to go anywhere, but her family business and her father’s aspirations hinge on her meeting with Ryzard at QVirtus.

Pressed into going, she quickly discovers the mask restores her confidence by hiding her scars. Feeling pretty and free, she joins the party and lets an intriguing stranger dance with her, then seduce her. It’s a memory to keep her warm through the rest of her spinster life, she reasons.

Until she walks into her high-level meeting the next morning and discovers her stranger is Ryzard, the man she’s come to meet. I’ll let you read the book to find out what happens next.

If you could invent a secret club, what criteria would you have? We place clubs in Macau, Venezuela and Zanzibar. Where would you set yours?

I’d love to send a signed copy of The Ultimate Seduction to one lucky commenter. If you’d like to enter to win a masquerade mask, please visit my website: danicollins.com.

Giveaway! Let us know all about your secret club to win. Contest will end on August 26th at 11:59 pm ET, and a winner will be selected by random draw from all eligible comments on August 27th. Open to residents of US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full giveaway rules, click here

Update this giveaway is now closed.

About The Ultimate Seduction:

theultimateseduction “I’m about to make you an offer you can’t refuse.” 

Tiffany Davis takes her first delicious step into the exclusive masquerade ball hosted by the secretive Q Virtus gentleman’s club. Here, behind the mask, Tiffany can hide her scars and reveal her true self—a powerful businesswoman with an offer for the president of Bregnovia, Ryzard Vrbancic. Astounded by her audacity, only the fire in Tiffany’s eyes makes Ryzard look twice. He has no interest in her business deal, but the promise of a woman who can match his ruthless determination makes him eager to seduce from her the one thing she’s not offering…

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Inspired by a Daydream

by Caitlin Crews, author of Undone By the Sultan’s Touch 

One of my favorite daydreams is the one where I’m going about my business, living my life, when ALL OF A SUDDEN, out of nowhere, DESTINY STRIDES IN—usually in the shape of a formidably attractive and possibly dangerous man.

We all have that daydream, don’t we?

The good news for me is, I get to call that work.

UNDONE BY THE SULTAN’S TOUCH is one of those books that came to me fully formed.  I knew I wanted the heroine to be a regular girl, just as I knew I wanted the hero to be an otherworldly sheikh so powerful he could practically ignite the heavens with his glare—or anyway, so it would seem to a fairly sheltered girl from the suburbs of Ohio.

I wanted to see what would happen when he dedicated himself to her seduction.  She would succumb, of course—who wouldn’t?—but once the dizzy awe was over, once the great sheikh tried to put his little mouse of a wife in a corner and keep her there, what would she do?  Would she blindly follow his rule?

Or would she fight for something bigger and much, much better than what he chose to give her?

About Undone by the Sultan’s Touch:

“Kiss me, if you are so daring.”

When Cleo Churchill’s travels land her in the path of Khaled bin Aziz, Sultan of Jhurat, she’s instantly transfixed by his warrior physique, commanding presence, and intense eyes.  But what would a sultan want with an ordinary girl like her?

Cleo is exactly what Khaled needs—a convenient, yet beautiful bride to unite his warring country. He’ll offer her diamonds and riches but nothing more. 

Yet as their marriage plays out in the darkness of the night, the passions unearthed threaten to consume them both!

And here’s the Pinterest board I made for inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/meganandcaitlin/undone-by-the-sultans-touch/

Happy daydreaming!
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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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