Harlequin Presents Author Maya Blake is a 2015 RITA Finalist!

0614-9781460333150-bigwThe Romance Writers of American have announced the 2015 RITA award finalists today, and author Maya Blake is a finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short category for What the Greek Can’t Resist. Please join us in congratulating Maya!

Visit the Harlequin Blog for a full list of Harlequin finalists, and click here for the full list from RWA.

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Michelle Smart on Her First Presents Continuity + Giveaway!

by Michelle Smart, author of The Greek’s Pregnant Bride

When I was asked to write a book for my very first Presents continuity, I didn’t even have to think about it—of course I was going to say yes! When I was then told who the other three authors in the continuity would be my excitement doubled, mainly because they’re all good friends (as well as fabulous authors!). And I was so right to have been excited because we had a blast collaborating on it. Four books featuring four gorgeous billionaire bachelors with no wish to ever be tied down? Perfect!

Our dedicated bachelors have been best friends since their uni days. They work hard and play hard and believe their bond to be unbreakable. But even the strongest steel can be broken…

My book, The Greek’s Pregnant Bride, carries on where the first book of the continuity, Jennifer Hayward’s The Italian Deal for I Do, finishes, and is set in the glamorous city of Milan and the ancient, cosmopolitan city of Athens.

Alessandra Mondelli is a fun, sophisticated fashion photographer with a scandalous past that still haunts her and a penchant for five-inch heels. She is also the sister of Rocco Mondelli, the hero from The Italian’s Deal for I Do and, as such, is considered off-limits to his playboy bachelor friends. Except a one-night stand with the Greek Adonis, Christian Markos, leaves her pregnant—and leaves Christian facing the destruction of his oldest and closest friendships.

Christian has had to fight for everything he has, casting aside a poverty-stricken past where love was always denied him. He is determined to do everything in his power to give his child the security he never had. Indeed, that’s the only thing he and Alessandra agree on; that they will both do everything in their power to love and protect their unborn child. To this end, Christian demands marriage. Now all he has to do is get Alessandra to agree…

Now we come to the giveaway, which consists of two signed copies of The Greek’s Pregnant Bride. To be in with a chance of winning one of them, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments section below—if you were to be forced into marrying a gorgeous Greek Billionaire (or any other nationality of billionaire!), which city in the world would be your preferred choice to hold the nuptials and why? And as we’re talking of cities across the world, there are no geographical restrictions over who can win—everyone can enter!

Giveaway: Giveaway closes April 2, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Two winners will be selected from all eligible comments and announced here on April 3. For full official rules, click here. Good luck!

About The Greek’s Pregnant Bride:

0515-9781460380895-bigw (1)The Gorgeous Greek: Married for His Heir 

Christian Markos swapped the streets of Athens for the world’s top boardrooms. Now, with enough riches to indulge his every whim, there’s only one luxury he can’t buy: stunning, sensual Alessandra Mondelli.

His best friend’s sister is strictly off-limits…until their forbidden attraction consumes them both, leaving Alessandra pregnant!

After a youthful mistake, Alessandra is no stranger to public scrutiny. Christian’s honorable proposal offers her and their baby protection, but she must push all thoughts of love aside. Except their dishonorable hunger for one another is threatening their convenient arrangement!

The world’s sexiest billionaires finally say “I do!”

 

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A Modern Day Kasbah Fit For a Queen!

by Jane Porter, author of His Defiant Desert Queen

I was in second grade when my parents took me to Puerto Rico with them for a mayor’ convention.  We split our time between Puerto Rico and Jamaica and I was thrilled by every part of the trip—packing vacation clothes, boarding a plane, landing in this new foreign place, arriving at the hotel, sightseeing with my parents.  I also loved that I was alone with my parents and not fighting for attention since my brothers and sister were left home for this trip.

I returned from that trip with a new love:  travel.  I’d been a bookworm since I was four, and already writing my first stories at five, so I added travel to my passions, and the passion for travel (and books!) continues today.

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Every year I try to visit a new place, somewhere I’ve read about, or poured over pictures in glossy travel magazines.  One of the places I’ve long wanted to go is Morocco–particularly as Morocco has featured prominently in a number of my sheikh stories (check out my Presents The Sultan’s Bought Bride, The Sheikh’s Disobedient Bride, and The Sheikh’s Virgin).  All are set in Baraka which is my fictionalized Morocco.

Finally this year my husband Ty and I were able to make our escape, using our anniversary as an excuse to jet to Morocco, with three nights in Marrakech and then another three nights in the Atlas mountains at Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot. The Kasbah, once a private desert palace outside the village Asni inhabited by Berbers. has been turned into a small, luxurious hotel frequented by stars and celebrities.  There were no celebrities at the Kasbah during our stay, but we were still treated like royalty.

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One night after dinner, the guests were treated to the classic film, Casablanca.  The movie was projected onto a screen in front of the swimming pool while we reclined on soft mattresses on the Kasbah lawn.  The night was clear, the desert sky filled with stars, and during the movie the warm wind brushed us and rippled the screen.  It was one of the most magical nights of my life.  To be in Morocco, watching Casablanca outside beneath the stars, wrapped in the softest of Berber shawls with my gorgeous husband at my side…incredibly romantic!

At the Kasbah we enjoyed our dinners on the rooftop with its stunning views of the Atlas mountains which sweep through the northwestern corner of Africa, stretching from Morocco, Algeria into Tunisia.  While I wrote during the day, Ty would hike in the mountains and then late afternoon we’d relax by the pool and then enjoy some of the delicious local cuisine for dinner.

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Each night I tried a different traditional dish, and particularly loved the lamb we had for our anniversary dinner.  I’ve been on a quest to find a recipe that comes close to that same meal.  Here’s one I’ve found that has some of the same seasonings and flavor. If you like trying out different foods, do give it a try!

Slow Cooked Moroccan Lamb

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds trimmed boned lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • IMG_08531 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup dried apricots (about 5 ounces)
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to skillet between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to another large bowl after each batch.
  3. Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in skillet. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.
  4. Return lamb to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lamb is just tender, about 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer lamb and sauce to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

I’m already planning my next exotic trip to help inspire another sensual, passionate Harlequin Presents!  What is the most exotic place you’ve been…and what is the most exotic food you’ve ever eaten?  I’ve had some interesting dishes in my travels, and would love to hear about one of your adventures!

 

About His Defiant Desert Queen:

0315-9780373133253-bigwI will not marry you. I will not!

When Sheikh Mikael catches notorious model Jemma Copeland flaunting Saidia’s laws—and her body—in his desert, he knows one thing: revenge against his family’s destruction is within his reach! To achieve it he makes Jemma an offer: imprisonment or marriage.

With her life shattered by the scandal that rocked her family, Jemma needed that modeling job. She didn’t know that she was breaking the law! But Mikael’s outrageous proposal pushes her beyond shock…to utter fury. If he expects her to be a meek, pliable bride, this arrogant sheikh has another think coming!

 

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Carole Mortimer to Receive the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award!

Yesterday, the Romance Writers of America announced their 2015 award recipients, and Harlequin Presents author Carole Mortimer will receive the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award! The awards will be recognized at the 2015 RWA conference this summer.

Congratulations Carole!

For the full list of award winners, click here.

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Giveaway: Share your Dream Job for a Chance to Win Three April Presents Books!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Our Presents titles feature men and women with glamorous jobs that we can only dream about, including actresses, supermodels and so much more!

So head on down to the comments and let us know what your dream job is, and you could win three April Harlequin Presents books, including The Italian’s Deal for I Do by Jennifer Hayward, Carrying the Greek’s Heir by Sharon Kendrick and Virgin’s Sweet Rebellion by Kate Hewitt.

0415-9781460379271-bigw 0415-9781460379295-bigw 0415-9780373133314-bigw

Giveaway This contest will close on March 29, 2015, 11:59 ET. and one winner by random draw will be selected on March 30. Open to residents of the US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full official rules, click here. Good luck!

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