Which Real Life Society Wedding Got YOUR Attention?

by Andie Brock, author of The Sheikh’s Wedding Contract

I was thrilled to be offered the chance to write the fourth book in the Society Weddings miniseries! Not only did it mean working closely with the three other fabulous authors, Jennifer Hayward, Michelle Smart and Tara Pammi, (and believe me, we had so much fun!), but I had my own super-sexy-sheikh to play with, the utterly gorgeous Zayed Al Afzal.

Along with his best friends, Rocco Mondelli, Christian Markos and Stefan Bianco, Zayed believes that life is for living and the faster the better! Now hugely successful billionaire businessmen, and international heartbreakers to boot, the bond between these four alpha males is as strong as ever. They think they’ve got life sussed.

But fate, and four fabulously feisty young women, are just about to prove them wrong!

My story, The Sheikh’s Wedding Contract, starts when Zayed has to return to his country to become the Sheikh of Gazbiyaa. This desert kingdom is on the brink of war with its neighbour, Harith, a situation Zayed knows he has to rectify ASAP. But first he has to figure out just why the beautiful Nadia is splayed across his bed and determined to tempt him with her considerable charms!

Nadia was a complete delight to write, I love her to bits. So brave and principled she is prepared to sacrifice her freedom, even her life, for the sake of her country. But she is vulnerable too, and as it turns out it isn’t her life at risk the night she creeps into Sheikh Zayed’s bed—it’s her heart.

Zayed, meanwhile, is battling to cling on to the rigid control he is so famous for, something Nadia is testing to its limits—and beyond! She drives him crazy, but the explosive attraction between them will not be ignored!

I loved writing the lavish wedding scene for this story and it set me thinking; which real life society wedding would I have killed to have an invite for? Charles and Diana? Jackie and JFK? Kim and Kanye?!

How about you? Which society wedding would have seen you dashing for a front row seat?!

About The Sheikh’s Wedding Contract:

0715-9780373133536-bigwThe Sensuous Sheikh: Married for Duty

Newly crowned Sheikh Zayed Al Afzal needs to earn his people’s allegiance. And that means the one thing this wicked playboy has always avoided—marriage! His viziers may have a bevy of beautiful options for him, but when Zayed meets exquisite Nadia Amani he makes a choice that’s all his own.

Now, with the wedding contract signed and sealed, Zayed learns the shocking truth—Nadia is his enemy’s daughter! But in the dark desert nights Zayed’s desire for his princess intensifies and anger gives way to a sensual hunger that begs to be satisfied…

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

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Harlequin Legends!

by Senior Executive Editor Joanne Grant

M&B Legends Book Club on the Green #1

Last Wednesday, as the sun beamed down on leafy Richmond, the London Editorial team took to The Green for the long anticipated book club on Harlequin Legends! The aim was to take a step back into the past to educate ourselves on the foundations of our current series books and discuss how we have evolved and what has stayed the same.

We had read classic books through the ages from 1943 to 1997 by authors such as Violet Winspear, Essie Summers, Betty Neels, Charlotte Lamb and Anne Mather. The discussion from the get-go was lively. The fashion! The smoking! The age gaps! The uber alpha heroes! There was so much to discuss I could fill a series of blogs, but for now, I will content myself – and hopefully you! – to highlight some of our key findings:

Theme, theme, go away – come again another day!

The very young heroine and older hero might have caused a few raised eyebrows amongst our present readers, but back in the day this was a popular theme. We may prefer less of an age gap today, but why was this such a popular and much loved trope? We had many theories:  was it because of the post-war period? Were readers and writers longing for security and experience in a relationship? Which begged the question – are we looking for something so very different today? And dare we ask – could it be time to bring back the age gap?

While we may have lost sight of the age gap, there are some aspects of our novels that are still very much alive and kicking. Marriages of convenience littered our selected titles, pregnancy will – it seems – always bring a hero and heroine together, exotic locations were a must and it was abundantly clear that international heroes were all as popular as they are today.

Speaking of heroes…

Judging by the reactions of some of the team, the alpha hero of the bygone era was bordering on unforgiveable in his behaviour! (Although admittedly a few of us wouldn’t have much minded going head to head with these really quite spectacular individuals.) Yet the one thing we all agreed on was that he was still recognisable as a version of the Presents hero of today. So what was the main difference?

There was no hero point of view! Back then, this allowed him to be utterly inscrutable, broodingly dark and incredibly mysterious. What is he thinking? Our heroines would ask. Why can’t he love me? They would wonder.  In our current books, we want to see our hero’s motivation, we want to understand why he won’t let himself love the heroine. And this may be so that we can be completely assured that our heroine will spend the rest of her days with a hero who is worthy and deserving and loving of her. But we also want him to still be that gorgeous, powerful hero! Safe to say, that our 21st century authors really don’t have it easy!

One of the key reasons that Harlequin has survived the test of time is that our books have evolved with the changing tastes of our readers or more importantly, the changing roles of women in society. Nowhere is that clearer than in the depiction of our heroines. Trembling, virginal and at the mercy of the hero – from our perspective today, the heroine of the bygone age seemed to lack strength. She certainly didn’t have her independence! Current readers will know that whilst our Presents heroines can most certainly still be virgins – they are also women of their own means, confident, willing to stand up to the hero and wanting take her life’s path in her own hands.

However there was one thing that had definitely remained the same. It didn’t – and it still doesn’t – matter how imbalanced the power dynamic was between the hero and heroine at the beginning of the story – by the end it was the heroine who was in the position of power. She was the only woman in the world to bring that alpha hero to his knees, the only one to tame him, and as he offered her unconditional love she was the only one who could accept it. So maybe she had strength all along…

The reaction was mixed as to whether these stories had survived the test of time – maybe it comes down to individual taste, or simply at what age you started your relationship with Harlequin books. But whether you look back at Harlequin Romances through the ages as a litmus test of women’s attitudes or secret desires, or view them as the pure enjoyment of escapism and romance, one thing is for sure – we were and are incredibly proud of the books that we produce; we love them as much as you do. And we will still be publishing the best of the best in romance in fifty or even another hundred years… so what will those readers make of our books today?

But that is a question for another generation. In the meantime, we want to know – who was your favourite Harlequin legend? And what do you think was the appeal was of the older stories? Is there anything you would like to see brought back? And please don’t say the denim suits or the brown suede vest…

If this blog has intrigued you to read some of our Legends of Romance, or simply to re-visit some of your old favourites then visit our Harlequin Presents Treasury to find many classic favourites!

M&B Legends Book Club on the Green #2

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Giveaway: Choose your favourite SOCIETY WEDDINGS couple for your chance to win!

0715-9781460384282-bigw 0615-9780373133451-bigw (1) 0515-9781460380895-bigw 0415-9781460379295-bigw

 

Rocco & Olivia in The Italian’s Deal for I Do

Christian & Alessandra in The Greek’s Pregnant Bride

Stefan & Clio in The Sicilian’s Surprise Wife

Zayed & Nadia in The Sheikh’s Wedding Contract

Contest Details:

  • Contest is open from April 18th to 25th and open to North American readers only.
  • All you have to do is choose your favourite Society Weddings couple and submit your vote!
  • 15 winners will receive a signed copy of Jennifer Hayward’s The Italian’s Deal for I Do and an exclusive invitation to society’s most opulent weddings.
  • One grand prize winner will win the signed book as well as a Jennifer Hayward poster and a $50 dollar Visa® Gift Card
  • Click here for full giveaway details.

Society Weddings

Dedicated bachelors Rocco Mondelli, Christian Markos, Stefan Bianco and Zayed Al Afzal met and bonded at university, wreaking havoc amongst the female population. In the decade since graduating, they’ve made their marks on the worlds of business and pleasure, becoming wealthy and powerful. Marriage was never something Rocco, Christian, Stefan or Zayed were ever after…but things change and now they’ll have to do whatever it takes to get themselves to the church on time!

RSVP and get ready to enjoy the pinnacle of luxury and opulence as the sexist billionaires from Harlequin Presents® finally say ‘I do’!

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Get His Majesty’s Child by Sharon Kendrick for only $0.99!

Until May 18th, you can get His Majesty’s Child for only 99 cents!

About His Majesty’s Child:

9781426884627_p0_v1_s260x420King Casimiro harbors a secret—no one in the kingdom of Zaffirinthos knows that a devastating accident has left his memory clouded in darkness. And Casimiro himself cannot answer why Melissa Maguire, an enigmatic English rose, stirs such feelings in him?. Questioning his ability to rule, Casimiro decides he will renounce the throne. But Melissa has news she knows will rock the palace to its core: Casimiro has an heir!

Law dictates Casimiro cannot abdicate, so he must find a way to reacquaint himself with Melissa—his new queen!

 

Get your copy today from Harlequin.com or major online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks

Visit the Ebook Deals page on the Harlequin Blog for more great ways to save!

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10 Books with Harlequin Presents!

by Maya Blake, author of Married For The Prince’s Convenience

Writing for Harlequin Presents often involves flinging yourself headlong into a world of high stakes emotion and larger than life characters. Having been a reader most of my life, my imagination runs wild most of the time. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to escape a rainy London day by imagining themselves in an exotic location with a sexy, alpha billionaire? Throw in a beautiful, spirited heroine who’s prepared to go toe-to-toe with said hero and I’m hooked!

Before I sold my first Presents, I would often dream of how I’d react when that magic phone call happened. I’d spend hours thinking of what I’d say to the editor etc. Of course, I was nowhere near as composed as I thought I’d be. In fact, in the hours after the call, I experienced a true adrenaline headache for the first time, and I literally had to lie down for half an hour just to get the endorphins out of my system.

Fast-forward ten books later—ten books, WOW— and the feeling is pretty much the same. It’s not so intense that I need to lie down every time, lol, but each time I open an email from my editor, I do a little inner Dorothy heel-click dance of delight. It’s pathetic, I know, and more often than not, the emails contain revisions for a book, which means I need to get back to work on a story. But my goodness, IT IS SUCH A THRILL to be doing what I love, and to be getting paid for it! And having it topped off this last month with a RITA nomination has got to be the best cherry on a cake, ever!

My tenth book, Married For The Prince’s Convenience, was a book that ‘almost’ sold back when I was trying to hit the mark. Since then it’s undergone a HUGE overhaul, but the basic premise of the story has stayed and I couldn’t have asked for a better book to mark my tenth Presents!

To provide a little background, despite it being number ten, there are a few firsts for me writing-wise. Firstly, Santo Sierra, the kingdom where my hero Reyes Navares is ruler, was my first fictitious kingdom. Constructing a kingdom from the ground up was such an incredible experience, one I hope to engage in again very soon. Secondly, my heroine, Jasmine, is as far from a goody-two shoes as you can get and that was a first for me too, making a heroine pretty damn naughty from page one. You’ll see what I mean when you read the first line of the book, lol. Jasmine and Reyes met under extremely trying circumstances, and had a huge mountain to climb before they got their happy ending. But boy, did they deserve it!

Before I head off to tackle what I hope will be my fifteenth book for Presents, here’s the blurb from Married For The Prince’s Convenience. I truly love Jasmine and Reyes, and I hope you love them too!

0615-9780373133505-bigwCarrying the Crown Prince’s baby!

On the Prince of Santo Sierra’s long list of prospective brides, Jasmine Nichols is at the bottom. Their impulsive night together might have proved their compatibility in the bedroom, but her later behavior proves she would not make a suitable princess.

Yet Jasmine is catapulted to the top of the list when Prince Reyes discovers she is carrying his heir! He should be planning her punishment not their wedding, but there is an old saying …keep your enemies closer.

Except Reyes’s cold, tactical marriage is about to be jeopardized by their explosive chemistry and uncovering his new bride’s secrets…

To the wonderful Harlequin Presents/Mills and Boon team, thanks for making my career so amazing! Here’s to many more books in the future.

Maya x

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