The Chatsfield Uncovered! Read on for an exclusive interview with Lucy Monroe

Creating a world as large as The Chatsfield must be very exciting – did you discuss the hotels with the other authors?
Absolutely.  One of the things I loved best about writing Sheikh’s Scandal was the opportunity to collaborate creatively with the editorial team and the other authors in the continuity.

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What was the most fun bit about creating this luxurious, scandalous world?
The research I did for both the hotel and Sheikh Sayed’s palace in Zeena Sahra. There are so many gorgeous places in the world to take as inspiration and I’ve definitely added to my “must travel to” list.

Did you do any extra special research for writing this book? A sneaky cocktail at an exclusive hotel perhaps?
Yes, in fact…I did. I wanted to go to London and stay at Claridges, but could not wangle the time or the travel partner. So, I took my youngest daughter for a long weekend to a very swanky hotel in San Francisco (where my heroine hales from) and did a ton of research on the city and the type of hotel that might be The Chatsfield San Francisco. We did so much walking about the city that falling into the cushy beds at the end of the day felt more like relief than research.

What did you most love about writing your story?
Besides what I’d mentioned earlier about working with some very talented creative people, I adored my characters and getting inside their heads.  It’s what makes writing romance so very satisfying for me. I always want to know why people do what they do and with my own characters, I usually get the answer!

When writing your hero and heroine’s story, did they surprise you in any way?
I’ve found that if I’m really immersed in the book, my characters will always surprise me. In Sheikh’s Scandal, I wasn’t expecting Aaliyah to take to Queen Durrah like she did and vice-versa. Sayed’s honourable nature came as no surprise, but even I was a little startled when I realised he’d been celibate for three years. Talk about a to-die-for alpha hero!

To your mind, who is the most scandalous Chatsfield?
Gene. He was better at hiding it, but his penchant for chasing (and catching) chambermaids is where Sheikh’s Scandal really began.

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?
I would have told both of them that the unpredictability of life is what makes it so wonderful and not to worry so much about following their plans but to pay more attention to following their hearts.

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Name five things on your desk when you write.
Pen cup.
Stereo speakers.
A “Mom” poem plaque from my children.
A pink crystal heart paperweight from my husband.
The inspiration sheet for my current book.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Yes. My iTunes library is large and eclectic, but I tend to gravitate toward a certain set of playlists for each book I work on. I listened to a lot of Adele, Terry McDermott and the Beatles while writing this book, but the whole time I wrote about the characters’ time in Zeena Sahra, there was a Middle Eastern soundtrack playing in the back of my mind.

What is your worst habit when writing?
Forgetting to get up.  When I’m really lost in the story, I can sit at my desk for eight to twelve hours and that is so not good for my back or my bladder!

Do you have a writing routine? If so, could you share a bit about it with us?
I write new pages daily. The next day, I begin by editing the pages from the day before and then move on to add more. I write when my mind is freshest. So, when my sleep schedule is normal – that’s in the morning. However there are times my slumber clock gets out of whack and I’ll write through the night instead.

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Congratulations to Caitlin Crews, RITA Award Nominee!

Presents author Caitlin Crews has been nominated for a RITA Award in the Short Contemporary Romance category. Find out more about the nominated book below, and visit the RWA blog for a complete list of categories and nominees.

A Royal Without Rules

royalwithoutrulesThe most debauched man in the kingdom of Kitzinia—if not the entire world

Royal PA Adriana Righetti is no stranger to scandal. But Prince Pato takes it to a whole new level. His infamous liaisons make for exceptionally disreputable reading!

Her latest assignment, keeping the playboy prince out of the headlines before his brother’s wedding, is mission impossible. Particularly as Pato is intent on ruffling her seemingly uptight feathers!

But when the cameras aren’t looking, Adrianna sees behind his careless facade, and wonders—is there more to this rebel royal than the world knows?

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Lindsay Armstrong on falling in love again and An Exception To His Rule

by Lindsay Armstrong, author of An Exception To His Rule

Damien Wyatt can’t understand how a girl like Harriet Livingstone is able to slip under his guard.

She’s not a raving beauty on first impressions although he soon comes to appreciate her looks more and more, especially her legs. She is a rather vague, scholarly person, not his type at all. Moreover she appears to view the world, himself included, from a slightly superior position that irritates the life out of him. Another thing that irritates the life out of him is how his aunt, his brother and particularly his dog, come to adore her.

There’s also the fact that Harriet is accident-prone and a menace on the roads. That’s how they meet, when she’s swerved to avoid another dog and run into him almost totalling his beloved Aston Martin and breaking his collar bone. He’s been cruelly outspoken on that occasion and it’s only when they meet again that it dawns on him he’s been too cruel and he now has this girl on his conscience. Not only that but he suddenly finds himself fancying her rotten, even to the extent that just the thought of her legs is seriously interfering with his sex life.

But Damien swore never to trust another woman and Harriet has reason to want to remain unimpressed even although she’s falling in love with him.

***

As I was writing Exception, the question that arose for me was not a new one. How does a tough, arrogant man, left bitter and cynical about women after the carnage of his marriage, fall in love again?

I’ve written this scenario before and it’s pulled me up and taken a lot of thought, a lot of rewriting and plot restructuring to get it to feel right and believable. So I was a bit wary when Harriet and Damien showed every intention of leading me down this sometimes tricky path again!

But it was when Damien started to realize he never seemed to stop worrying about Harriet Livingstone, much as she might exasperate him at times, that I  saw the bridge he needed to cross over from the hell of his past. And once Harriet aroused his protective instincts, the next step – falling in love with her and persuading her to believe in him – seemed to be the ultimate answer.

I hope you enjoy Harriet and Damien’s story,

Love,

Lindsay Armstrong

***

an-exception-to-his-ruleAbout An Exception To His Rule:

Never, ever, date the boss

Mining millionaire Damien Wyatt lives by one rule: never more than one night. But when Harriet Livingstone appears across an interview table—the same woman who totaled his sports car!—he’s tempted by her stunning beauty. So he steals a kiss and she wipes the smile from his face with a well-delivered slap!

Harriet Livingstone wouldn’t take the job if she weren’t desperate—the last thing she wants is to get involved with the attractive yet arrogant Damien! But keeping their relationship out of the bedroom is becoming a battle…one neither of them really wants to win.

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Do You Like A Twist?

By Kate Hewitt, author of A Queen For The Taking

A Queen For The Taking is the second in my Diomedi Heirs duet, and it’s Sandro’s story. Sandro turned his back on his country and his kingship when he was twenty-one; he couldn’t stand the falseness of his family life anymore, and the way his father and mother, the king and queen, pretended at familial devotion for the sake of the press. Now, fifteen years later, he’s returned at his dying father’s request—and as king he needs to marry.

I love marriage of convenience stories; it’s such a fun and yet also intense way to bring a hero and heroine together, forcing them to work out their conflict. In most MOC stories that I’ve read, it’s the hero who insists on a cold, business-like arrangement and the heroine who secretly yearns for more, even if she’s convinced herself otherwise.

In A Queen For The Taking, I thought it would be interesting to reverse those roles. Sandro is the hero who secretly longs for love; after a loveless childhood he dreams of a woman who will love him for himself and whom he can love. His queen, Liana, is the one who wants to keep her distance—and her heart safe. Sandro, of course, begins his seductive onslaught to convince her to change her mind…

Do you like stories with a twist? Is there a story that stands out in your mind that twisted the usual hook and made it unique and different? And what hook is your favourite—a marriage of convenience, a secret baby, revenge, reunion… or something else?

Let me know in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Kate

About A Queen For The Taking:

a-queen-for-the-takingInnocent in the king’s bed…

Spare to the throne, Alessandro Diomedi never expected to be dragged back to Maldinia and thrust beneath the crown. Upheaval has ravaged his country, but one thing has stayed the same: the woman he must now marry.

Trained from birth to be the perfect queen, it’s finally time for Liana Aterno to do her duty. But Sandro is not the man she remembers. Cynical and brooding King Sandro unexpectedly ignites a fire in her that sparks rebellion!

When their first electrifying kiss nearly proves both their undoing, Sandro is determined to unleash all the passion his mysterious queen has learned to hide so well!

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From Briefing to Cover

Laurie Johnson takes us through the journey from art brief to the big reveal!

by Laurie Johnson, Editorial Assistant

Before our final fabulous Presents covers are revealed, the editors go on a wonderful journey of discovery from the conception through to completion. This is, of course, a very professional process that in no way features the ogling of hot men or delicious designer dresses…

Just kidding!

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Briefing covers is one of the most exciting steps in the editorial process—we get to pore over gorgeous men, what’s not to love?! With the books all done and dusted, our lovely authors fill out an Art Fact Sheet that includes all those brilliant details like location, character descriptions and their favourite scenes from their story. We encourage them to be as thorough as possible and many draw up amazing Pinterest boards that give us an insight into things like: just how beautiful are the white sandy beaches of the billionaire’s private island? Who is the hero based on and how drool-worthy is he?! Or what red carpet-inspired dress does the heroine wear after her make-over? It’s these images that lead my mind to write checks my bank can’t possibly cash!

Once we have the completed brief, we talk to our fantastic designers in North America about what we think should appear on the cover. In these sessions we highlight the main selling points of the story: a sexy hero is always a must! This can take hours of research, looking and searching through image after image of shirtless, ripped, alpha males to find just the right fit for the story…it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it ;) We give a hint to the exotic location, the research for which usually lines me up with my next holiday (much to my husband’s dismay as I show him the bill). And we love great hooks, like unexpected babies, so we always show off a pregnancy bump!

And then comes the clothing! For our divine heroines it’s usually gorgeous dresses in luxurious jewel colours, diamonds and eye-catching jewellery, designer shoes – you name it, we use it! Events like the Oscars provide brilliant inspiration for our covers – and we love a good gossip about who’s wearing what and whether they’re pulling it off!

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Our passion for the stories really shines through in these sessions and we have so much fun! Who hasn’t pictured themselves as a Presents heroine walking down the red carpet wearing the latest de la Renta dress, flashing Cartier diamonds and Louboutin shoes…well, a girl can dream! Although sadly we don’t get to take part in the photo shoot (as much as we beg!), the art team always pulls it off, creating our sensational Presents covers.

Here in the UK we have a slightly different way of working. From the brief, our amazing designers provide us with a selection of images and we get to choose the most stand-out, exciting and emotive photo there is. We also love a good catch up with the art team and it never descends into an argument about which is the hottest guy. Never. Honest.

And that’s it! A few weeks later we see our beautiful covers, finalised and complete with back cover copy and, if I say so myself, they look AMAZING! We’re always so happy when our authors love them too and delight in the great feedback we get – yes, our heads are usually too big for the door! If there’s one cover in particular that I especially love, I print a colour copy for my desk pin-board so I can drool over it—I mean—use it for future inspiration :D

So, now that I’ve given you a glimpse into the journey from briefing to cover, do you have a particular man in mind who you would want on the cover of your Presents? Is there a specific designer dress that you’d wear on the red carpet?  And has there been a particular cover that’s taken your breath away? Do tell!

 

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