Presents Loves…(More) Royal Babies

by Laura McCallen, Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant

There are few things in the world that captivate an audience quite like an adorable baby. And when that baby is not only royal, but also the product of two parents as gorgeous as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, public interest is sent into overdrive. Two years after the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge, it’s still easy to recall the media storm that was ‘The Great Kate Wait’. News outlets staked out their spots outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in the early days of July and settled in for what would be weeks of waiting – didn’t they know you can’t rush the future King of England?

And when he finally arrived it wasn’t just the crowds outside the hospital that erupted in euphoric frenzy; it seemed like the entire human population shared in the joy of beautiful baby George. But how could they not? With the chubby cheeks that earned him his nickname (and the hashtag #Cheeks) and a mischievous grin that only seems to get cuter as he grows and becomes even more rambunctious he captured our hearts from day one and hasn’t let go. It’s no wonder that I, along with everyone else, can’t wait to meet Baby Cambridge #2!

Yet this time around the rules have changed. Instead of scores of cameramen and journalists sitting around on ladders and in makeshift ‘studios’ the media has been banned from the grounds of the hospital until such time as the palace confirms that Kate has been admitted (which leads me to suspect that there are dozens of media interns spending their days acting inconspicuous in coffee shops and retail outlets around Paddington. Probably with strict instructions to hightail it to the Lindo Wing as soon as it’s time and stake the company’s claim on prime real estate before anyone else…) But when that moment comes I’m looking forward to watching and reading all of the coverage. I love the details that trickle down (Will and Kate ordered a pizza from Italian restaurant chain Zizzi’s!) and it amazes me how the media can spin the smallest nugget of new information and discuss it for hours.

I know a lot of people are desperate for a new princess but I’ll be excited either way. A gorgeous girl (hopefully with her mom’s glossy locks…) would be delightful but so would a baby boy – sure to be a charmer just like his big brother. And I certainly hope this isn’t the last Baby Cambridge we see. It’s clear that both Will and Kate love babies so here’s to hoping there are many more!

In the meantime, satisfy your craving for royal baby excitement by getting your hands on the latest story from legendary Presents author Lynne Graham…featuring royal baby twins! Find out what happens in The Sheikh’s Secret Babies:

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Twin royal heirs!

Prince Jaul of Marwan’s royal duty is to marry a suitable bride. But first he must divorce the woman who betrayed him. Locating his estranged wife? Easy. The intense passion still burning between them? Manageable. Discovering he has two royal heirs? Impossible!

Devastated when her handsome prince deserted her, Chrissie Whitaker’s beautiful twin babies were the only balm to her broken heart. Now Jaul will stop at nothing to claim his legitimate heirs, but can Chrissie forget their painful past and recognise him as her husband in every sense of the word?

And as we (im)patiently wait to meet the newest Baby Cambridge tell me: do you think it’ll be a boy or a girl? And what do you think Will and Kate will name it?

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A Night With Consequences

by Sharon Kendrick, author of Carrying the Greek’s Heir (Harlequin Presents)

This blog post was originally posted on featured on the Harlequin Blog.

Every action has a consequence. Water a plant and watch it grow. Neglect it, and it will wither and die. A little like the human heart—only that needs love, not water.

Someone who grows up without love is deprived, no matter how many material possessions they have. They feel a nagging emptiness and pain inside—a sense of being different from other people—and that was the starting point for my story about Alek Sarantos and Ellie Brooks.

Alek is the son of a billionaire and he grew up on a beautiful Greek island—a real paradise of a place. But there are serpents in paradise, and no serpents are more poisonous than the ones which slithered around Alek’s childhood home.0415-9780373133314-bigw As a consequence, the handsome boy built barriers around his heart to protect himself from emotional pain. He hid his dark secrets from the world. Brick by brick, he guarded himself—until one day he met a waitress called Ellie Brooks.

Was it chance or circumstance which made him confide in the kind of woman who would never normally cross his radar? Did something about her softness reach out to the hard and unforgiving core inside him? Whatever it was, he told her one of his secrets….and Ellie broke his confidence. She removed one of the bricks so that the whole edifice surrounding Alek came tumbling down.

When a man has his prejudices about women reinforced, it makes him angry—and anger can take all kinds of forms. Alek didn’t know what he’d planned when he went round to confront the woman who had betrayed his trust. He certainly hadn’t planned to kiss her. And, no matter what the old song says—a kiss is not just a kiss. It has consequences…

You can find out what happened next in Alek and Ellie’s story, Carrying the Greek’s Heir.

Sharon KendrickA few years ago, another author asked me to step in to take a writing course in Scotland for her. I was busy at the time with life and a deadline but I said yes. The course was a success and it became another—and then another. It moved from glorious Aberdeenshire to the soaring green hills of romantic Tuscany, where I shall be heading next month.

This is a photo taken last year in one of the exquisite gardens which stud the beautiful city of Lucca.

This city has given me such pleasure and inspiration and you’ll find it featured in Alek and Ellie’s story. Discovering Lucca and the surrounding Italian countryside has been a direct consequence of stepping in to take my friend’s place.

 

Has something good/bad/funny happened to you as a consequence of an action?

About Carrying the Greek’s Heir:

Pregnant with the billionaire’s baby! 

From the moment hardworking Ellie Brooks met mogul Alek Sarantos her life has gone off the rails. First she was fired. Now she’s pregnant with the ruthless Greek’s baby!

It was only supposed to be one wild, passionate night. Yet when Ellie shows up demanding Alek legitimize their unborn child, he shocks himself…and agrees to her outrageous request!

Catapulted into a world she wasn’t meant for, with a husband she shouldn’t desire, Ellie’s resolve wavers. Until a tiny kick from within reminds her why she made a deal with this handsome devil: her baby, his heir…

When one night…leads to pregnancy!

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Jennifer Hayward Wins a 2014 RT Reviewers’ Choice award for The Magnate’s Manifesto!

On Monday, RT Book Reviews announced the 2014 Reviewers’ Choice and Career Achievement winners, and we are so excited to share that Harlequin Presents author Jennifer Hayward has a Reviewers’ Choice Award for The Magnate’s Manifesto! Click here to find the full list of winners and categories.

Congratulations Jennifer!

About The Magnate’s Manifesto:

1214-9780373133017-bigwBILLIONAIRE PLAYBOY IGNITES INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT WITH HIS MANIFESTO ON WOMEN

Jared Stone: Visionary, rebel, the tech world’s golden boy…and now the most hated man on the planet!

Bailey St. James: Survivor, powerful female executive, the only woman who refuses to bow down to Jared Stone…and the only woman who can save him?

When Jared’s manifesto makes him public enemy #1 the only way out is to make Bailey an offer she can’t refuse—a very public promotion to VP! Now, with a major deal on the line and tensions rising, can it be long before Jared and Bailey move from spreadsheets to bed sheets?

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We can’t go on meeting like this: The importance of that very first meeting in a romance story

by Kate Walker, author of Olivero’s Outrageous Proposal

One of the hardest things about writing a romance is that moment when you know that you need to get your hero and heroine together. That is, after all, the reason for the book’s existence – the moment that your hero meets his heroine, the place that meeting’s set, the atmosphere in which the meeting takes place. Then of course there is all the possible backstory – the things in these characters’ lives that have led up to this moment.  The things they know about but that the other doesn’t  – and the  things that perhaps they don’t even realise are going to be important in their relationship for the future. All these have to be there in that meeting scene, even if only in the potential for having them revealed.

This is why I find that writing reunion romance, where the hero and heroine have met before, perhaps have been in a relationship, or even a marriage that broke up, so much easier.   That way, both of them know something about the past, about  who this other person is,   what they’re like. They even have strong feelings about them – hot passion and desire, anger at what went on between them – but for a new couple, just meeting, there’s  so little to go on. Here’s a person, and another one . . . and . . . so much potential but something has to happen to start the story.

The problem is that most of us meet our ‘other half’ in the most ordinary ways.  We have no idea when we’re introduced to someone that this person is going to be ‘the one’, that special someone who is going to be part of our lives from then onwards – hopefully forever.   I would never have met my DH if it hadn’t been a very cold and rainy Sunday  night in the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth where we were both at university.   That Sunday night was important because on Sundays everything closed down – no pubs, no coffee shops . . .nothing.  So if ‘Cupid’ in the shape of a mutual friend hadn’t said ‘I know somewhere where we can get a cup of coffee’  the whole of my life – and his  – could have been so very different.  As it was, he ended up sitting on the floor at my feet . . . and 40+ years later he’s still here. (Not sitting at my feet perhaps but that was only because I didn’t have many chairs in my tiny bedsitter then!)

So when I had to  put  my heroine Alyse and hero Dario together for their first scene in Olivero’s Outrageous Proposal I had to think carefully about exactly where this would take place.  It had to be somewhere that showed something of their back story – Alyse was used to being accepted and welcome at the charity ball where their story starts, Dario  is well aware of the fact that he’s only recently been invited in  and his past story and his background make him very much the intruder, the dangerous, alien element  at the event.  But Alyse knows nothing of this, nothing of his secret reasons for being there. All she knows is that she’s met a fascinating – and incredibly sexy man.  And she has her secrets too.

It’s those secrets that make the story. Secrets that are only revealed bit by bit as the novel progresses and Alyse and Dario get to know more about each other.

I think that this whole idea of two people meeting, what they know about each other and what happens from then onwards  sums up so much of the appeal of the romance novel.  We can’t go back  to the beginning again with our own love stories but by following the romances of each new hero and heroine  we can live through that amazing fresh excitement, the thrill of meeting someone special, the  nervousness, the uncertainty, the joy. I know that that’s what keeps make writing  – and what keeps each story fresh.  I’m not so much writing a ‘marriage of convenience story’ – which is what Alyse and Dario’s story is after all – but I’m writing about  ‘when Alyse met Dario ‘ –   and what happened then.  That’s why for me the opening of a book, the beginning of that story and the moment that my hero and heroine meet for the very first time is so important.

What about you? Do you enjoy stories where the hero and the heroine  have met for the very first time? Or do you prefer reunion stories where they knew each other in  the past and are now meeting up again for some reason?

And how did you meet  your ‘special someone’?  Was it a dramatic, exciting moment – or a quiet,  ordinary sort of day that turned out to be so very special but you didn’t know it then? I haven’t yet written a story where the hero and heroine meet over a cup of coffee on a cold rainy night and he sat on the floor at her feet but perhaps I should!

 

0415-9780373133345-bigwHere’s how Alyse and Dario’s story begins – literally, with a look across a crowded room:

ALYSE had almost given up on her plan, and was on the verge of deciding that the whole thing was a crazy, downright dangerous idea, when she saw him. She was actually thinking about leaving before this dazzling charity ball had really got started, suffering second and even third thoughts about the wild scheme she had come up with when the crowd before her parted slightly and the pathway that created led straight from her to the tall, dark male on the opposite side of the room.

Her breath caught, snatching inward, and she knew that her eyes had widened even as she pushed back a fall of golden blonde hair so as to see him better. He was . . .

‘Perfect . . .’

Continue reading »

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The Sheikh’s Princess Bride and Daring to Go After Your Dream

by Annie West, author of The Sheikh’s Princess Bride

Have you ever dreamed big and then talked yourself out of trying to achieve your goal because it seemed too difficult or too improbable? Do you take baby steps instead of daring to risk everything to get what you truly want?

I’ll put my hand up. Most of the time I like to play safe and take things one step at a time. I think a lot of us do. But on the other hand, the times I’ve dreamed big and kept my focus on achieving what I wanted (like becoming a full time writer) I’m so glad I did. Achieving a long held dream is such a fantastic feeling.

That’s one of the reasons I had such a terrific time writing Tariq and Samira’s story. Samira appeared in my recent The Sultan’s Harem Bride. In that book she’s recuperating from illness and the aftermath of scandal, hiding away from the press while she licks her wounds. By the end of that story she begins to take steps towards regaining her life, building the career she’d dropped and facing down the paparazzi.

By the time I finished writing ‘Sultan’, I found I cared so much for Samira that I just had to see how she’d achieve her life goals. I had no doubts she would, but I wanted to see how they turned out and, of course, I wanted to see the man who’d help her achieve her happy ever after!

Tariq is a man who seems to have everything he could wish for – wealth, power, two adorable twin boys, and the respect of his people. He’s sure he wants for nothing, even though he admits that as a widower maybe he should look for a wife to help raise his boys. It never occurs to Tariq that there’s anything lacking in his life – like love – because he refuses to think in those terms.

Luckily for him Samira, his best friend’s sister, has plans of her own. She realises that her career, though fulfilling, isn’t enough. She wants a family and specifically children. That need has grown to a gnawing ache that won’t give her peace. Her solution – to propose marriage to the one man, other than her brother, she can trust and respect. She offers herself to Tariq as a replacement mother for his sons. She’s been burned by love and mistrusts men, but Tariq is a man of honour, so she knows they can build a good family together. Her one stipulation is no sex. Her previous experience of intimacy almost destroyed her.

Well, you can imagine how well Tariq takes that news, especially as Samira is the one woman who’s always been able to turn his head! That’s when he realises there is something he dreams of having – Samira, the woman he once made himself walk away from but has never forgotten.

Writing about this marriage of convenience that turns into a marriage of true passion and love is one of the nicest experiences I’ve had. I loved the characters and wanted them to achieve what they most desired. I especially enjoyed the fact that, though it meant going out on a limb, each of them dared to dream big and do what it took to achieve their dreams.

Have you ever achieved a personal dream – big or small? Or maybe you’re working towards some goal. I’d love to hear what it is, or even about someone you know who achieved their dream.

About The Sheikh’s Princess Bride:

0415-9780373133338-bigwWanted: royal bride and mother

For Sheikh Tariq of Al-Sharath, one miserable marriage was enough. With a kingdom to rule, he has no time—or wish—to find a bride, but his children need a mother.

Could Princess Samira of Jazeer be the answer? Samira has sampled passion, and it left a bad taste. With the knowledge she can’t have the children she’s always wanted, Samira steps into Tariq’s ready-made family. Her only condition? No sex!

Samira thought royal duties and her love for Tariq’s children would fill the hole in her heart, but a craving is building that only the sheikh’s touch can cure…

 

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