Hi Annie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, His Majesty’s Temporary Bride!
Thanks so much for inviting me to be here. I’ve been thinking of you all in the US after all the hurricane news. I hope you’re all safe from harm.
Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:
HIS MAJESTY’S TEMPORARY BRIDE is about instant attraction that sparks into a sizzling royal affair. But dangerous secrets lurk beneath the blazing passion. Cat Dubois isn’t the fairytale royal she seems, but a bodyguard with a secret in her past that she believes dooms any hope of a future with King Alex. In the meantime, she’d determined to stand in for her missing half-sister, the real princess, in her time of need. As for Alex, he’s not after marriage, no matter what his advisers urge, but with Cat he finds himself entering new territory. Can the king and the masquerade princess find love, or will scandal part them forever?
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
I love the moment when Cat discovers the anonymous man she’s so attracted to is the one person who could see through her masquerade as a princess:
He was King Alexander of Bengaria. And he believed her to be Amelie.
Could it get any worse?
Cat found herself sinking into a deep, perfectly executed curtsey. The sort of curtsey that had eluded her for days.
It was amazing what adrenaline and sheer panic could achieve.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Neither Cat nor Alex is looking for romance. Alex has a kingdom to run, and to save after the depredations of his father. Cat has taken on an assignment she already regrets and is struggling with a royal role she wasn’t born to. Yet when they meet, sparks fly and there’s an instant attraction. As they get to know each other that attraction strengthens. In one of the excerpts below you’ll read what first attracts Alex to Cat. But the more he discovers of her personality – her integrity and willingness to stand up for others, the more intrigued he becomes. As for Cat – lust quickly becomes much more as she finds in Alex a man who’s honest, caring, strong and fun-loving beneath his royal façade.
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
I so looked forward to writing this one. Cat (Catherine) is a tomboy and a complete fish out of water when she’s dropped into a royal palace with instructions to pass herself off as a princess (with help of course). She hates deception but can’t find an honorable way out of the masquerade. Enter Alex, and immediately there’s sexual sizzle plus a good dollop of old-fashioned respect and liking. I loved that they fell for each other right from the first.
As for the biggest challenge – writing a story about a woman pretending to be someone else. Cat hates deception yet finds herself living a lie. When should she tell Alex the truth about herself? Especially when she discovers he’s visiting to court the real princess! It was a tricky situation for Cat but in the end I think she negotiated it well. You can judge yourself if you read the story.
What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?
I’ve written linked books before but this is the first duet I’ve written where the stories happen simultaneously! You can read each as a stand alone story, but reading one after the other (‘His Majesty’s Temporary Bride’ then The Greek’s Forbidden Princess’) brings an extra layer of enjoyment. For me the other stand out in this Princess Seductions duet is the depth of passion. That includes sexual passion but it’s far more too. Both sisters appear to be calm and in control on the surface but beneath that they feel very strongly and the same goes for the men they fall for. The emotions in both these stories make them rollercoaster rides!
The First Kiss…
He angled his head for better access and found his eyes closing as he concentrated on the lush, moist warmth of her. Cat tasted like no other woman. A flavour he couldn’t name, yet had surely craved all his life.
He let go of the tree and cupped her jaw, caressing, holding her still when she would have moved. A mighty shudder racked her. He heard the swift intake of her breath and knew she felt that slam of recognition too.
Instinctively he crowded her against the pine tree, not hard, but enough to stymie an easy escape. He needed her here where he could explore the rightness of them together.
It must be an illusion. Yet it felt as if their bodies recognised and welcomed each other.
But he’d never met Cat till two days ago. Neither at an official function or even incognito in the years he’d worked as a pilot. He’d have remembered her taste, those stunning eyes, and the vibrant challenge of her.
He’d swear he’d be able to identify this woman even if he were blindfolded.
She refused to kiss him back, standing rigid. But he’d heard the hum of pleasure she hadn’t been able to stifle, felt that initial tremor of delight. He loosened his grip on her waist and trawled his fingers up over her ribcage and a shudder ripped through her.
Alex stifled a smile of satisfaction.
He should resist this as she tried to. Getting tangled up with Princess Amelie at the same time he was rejecting an offer to marry her was fraught with potential disaster.
Yet the tug of need was so compelling he couldn’t shut it off.
Didn’t want to shut it off.
This was about sex, not dynastic machinations. It was raw and real, not finessed.
After years of royal duty this was a lungful of clean air after claustrophobia. Like putting a new jet through its paces, the freedom of skimming to the horizon on a slipstream of pure adrenaline.
He slid his hand from her jaw, across that smooth cheek to her thick, silky hair. Desire spiked, driving heat through his belly as he dug his fingers in, revelling in that rich softness and enjoying her tell-tale movement as she tilted her head into his caressing hand.
Deftly he pulled away the tie that kept her hair up and again she moved, helping him. Then his hands were cupping her skull as he deepened the kiss.
Her hands rose to his arms. He felt her tight grasp as if she’d wrench his hands away. Her chest expanded mightily, pushing those ripe breasts against his torso and sending his blood south in a sudden rush.
Tension held him immobile, knowing and hating she was about to break away when he wasn’t ready to stop.
But she surprised him. Her hands slid up his shoulders, clinging tight and strong, tugging him closer, not pushing away.
With a soft sound that might have been relief or possibly dismay, she leaned in. Her breasts crushed against him, her lithe body supple and urgent in all the right places.
Then she was kissing him back with an urgency that sent the last of his control spiralling into nothingness.
She was flame and silk and cushioned invitation against him. Her ardour matched his as she kissed him back like she wanted to fuse to him.
Cat welcomed his tongue into her mouth, melting against him. Her kiss was so sensuous, so eager, it knotted him with sexual hunger. Her barely-there sigh of delight, almost drowned out by the rough punch of his pulse, made him crazy.
Sex was fun, satisfying, and sometimes urgent. It was never out of control. Never like this.
Whatever this was with Cat, he refused to give it up. Not yet.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
The scene where the chemistry between Cat and Alex explodes for the first time, because if that chemistry doesn’t spark in the audition…
‘Tell me you understand.’ His breath warmed her lips. His thumb stroked back and forth across her cheek.
Cat nodded. ‘You don’t want to marry.’
‘I’ve got too much to do. There’s still so much work to get Bengaria back on track. I haven’t got time for a wife. I’m not ready to be a father.’
Yet Alex didn’t draw back. If anything he seemed closer.
‘If I wanted a bride it would be different.’ His voice was husky.
Cat didn’t trust herself to speak. His expression held her spellbound, though logic screamed that she needed to put distance between them.
‘If I wanted a bride I couldn’t go past those big green eyes. Or those lips. I’d be suggesting we got to know each other much better.’ His thumb dipped from her cheek to her mouth, pressing her lower lip and dragging it down. Cat exhaled, lungs tight, nipples budding against the constraint of her bra as his thumb stroked her lip, once, twice, till she couldn’t resist and tasted him with the tip of her tongue. He was salt and spice and frighteningly addictive.
His eyes dilated, his breath warm on her face, he crowded closer, long legs bracketing hers. His other arm stretched out to the tree trunk behind her as if Alex too felt the sudden need for safe anchor as the ground seemed to ripple and swell.
‘And as for this body…’ To her dismay his hand dropped but before she could frame a protest she felt his touch, tantalising and soft, brush her collarbone, then trace the wide neckline of her T shirt, before sliding down.
Cat’s breath stalled as his knuckles brushed the outer swell of her breast, slowing then tracing down her ribs then splaying at her waist. Those long, hard fingers made her aware of how small she was compared with him. Of how much strength resided in those large, capable hands and that taut, athletic body.
Her mouth was parched but she had to find words to make him back off. This was too dangerous. To her masquerade but also to her. She teetered on the brink of feelings that made a mockery of all her training, her strength and control. She swallowed and moistened her lips with her tongue then opened her mouth to speak.
But the words didn’t come because Alex’s mouth settled on hers and the world exploded.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
A desire the read the linked book ‘The Greek’s Forbidden Princess’! Seriously, these two stories were stand outs to me – full of emotion and adventure as well as that sexual sizzle. So I hope readers love the exotic, glamorous location in ‘Forbidden Bride’, the adventure and above all the sense of two true lovers who deserve their happy ever after.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
Lots of exciting things coming up! My next 2017 release is the second in this PRINCESS SEDUCTIONS duet. It’s called THE GREEK’S FORBIDDEN PRINCESS and is the story of Princess Amelie, whose absence set the scene for Cat and Alex’s story: HIS MAJESTY’S TEMPORARY BRIDE. Then I’ve got a number of releases planned for 2018. Right now I’m working on a brand new Harlequin Presents story and well as a possible new novella series. To keep up to date with upcoming releases, my newsletter has all the details, as well as some special bonuses just for subscribers. You can sign up at https://tinyurl.com/ya56pe7c.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’ll give two readers (anywhere in the world) personally signed paperback copies of HIS MAJESTY’S TEMPORARY MISTRESS.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you could pretend to be royal for a week, what do you think you’d look forward to most? Or, what wouldn’t you enjoy?
Excerpt from His Majesty’s Temporary Bride:
Here’s part of the scene where Cat and Alex meet. It’s early morning and she’s been jogging on a coastal path. Alex is on a yacht moored offshore. They both see an overturned canoe and two teenage boys struggling to keep afloat. Each swims out to save them:
A third head bobbed in the water but he realised with relief this woman could swim. She held a boy under the chin, propping his face above water as she sliced back through the water towards the canoe.
‘You’re okay?’ he gasped.
Her head lifted and his gaze collided with gleaming green, the colour of mountain meadows.
‘We will be,’ she said through gritted teeth, ‘when he stops fighting me.’ The teenager was flailing, one long, thin arm reaching back, grabbing at her head.
Alex moved towards them but she was already disengaging the kid’s grasp, telling him firmly but calmly to lie still and let her do the work. Seeing she had things under control he turned to the canoe where another dark head bobbed precariously low in the water.
Swearing under his breath he raced across, hauling a body up under the arms till the kid started coughing water. No hope of righting the canoe with a dead weight in his hands. Instead he shoved the kid high, so high he lay sprawled over the hull, arms flopping down its other side.
Satisfied he was safe, Alex turned and found the other swimmer had successfully brought the second boy up behind him.
‘Let me give you a hand.’
She nodded and told the kid what they were going to do, again in that clear, calm tone. Then she held the canoe steady while Alex hauled him up onto the hull beside his companion.
Alex’s chest and shoulders burned from the effort. Both teens were lanky and getting purchase in the water had taken a lot of strength. He grimaced. He needed to get out of the office a whole lot more.
‘You’ll be okay.’ He blinked and realised the woman wasn’t reassuring him but the two boys. She’d moved round to the other side of the canoe and was inspecting them.
Alex joined her, relieved to see both kids breathing, albeit in rough gasps.
In the distance he heard a motor start. ‘Help’s on its way. That’s the tender from the yacht.’
She nodded, her attention fixed on the youngsters and Alex found his gaze dwelling on her high-cut cheekbones, straight nose and plump bow of a mouth. Mermaids were supposed to be beautiful and this one didn’t disappoint.
Abruptly she turned her head, catching his stare. Alex felt their gazes mesh, a palpable connection, and wondered if it had been so long since he’d been with a pretty woman that his brain had turned to mush in the interim.
‘Nothing.’ He shook his head. ‘It will be easier to transfer them from the other side. I’ll go round and help George if you can stay here and reassure them.’
‘Of course.’ Her voice had a lilt that tugged at something deep inside and told him English wasn’t her first language. He wondered how his name would sound on her lips.
Alex swam around the canoe. First her eyes, now her voice. Had it really been so long since he’d been with a woman?
He banished the thought as George cut the engine and the pair of them worked to get the kids aboard. Once more his golden-haired mermaid proved quietly efficient, easing their burden.
‘Here.’ He beckoned her over when the others were aboard the small boat. ‘I’ll give you a boost up.’
‘No need.’ She flashed him a smile and his pulse kicked hard.
Number three. First the eyes, then the voice. But that smile surpassed the rest. It turned his cool, capable, impervious mermaid into a beckoning sea sprite. That smile was pure mischief and again he felt that draw in his belly, hard and urgent.
Before Alex knew what she intended, or George could offer her a hand, she planted her hands on the side of the tender and pulled herself up smoothly and easily.
He was treated to a view of neat breasts against a saturated T shirt, a slim waist, baggy shorts and long, shapely, legs of pale gold.
Four. Alex clutched the boat, breathing hard. Despite the cool water, this time his response wasn’t belly-deep but lower, stirring his groin. He’d always had a weakness for great legs.
‘Want some help?’ She leaned out, ready to offer a hand, that smile dancing at the edge of her lips.
In that instant Alex knew if he was still the impulsive guy he’d once been, carefree and unencumbered by a crown, he’d have curled his hand around her neck and tugged her close. He’d have kissed her till she planted those small, capable hands on his chest and begged for more.
And he’d have given it.
‘I can manage.’ He hauled himself up.
It was as her eyes rounded that he remembered he’d dived naked into the sea. With the yacht’s crew on shore leave and only he and George aboard, he hadn’t bothered dressing when he woke.
Her gaze stayed low on his body a fraction too long, making his blood surge south in response.
Her eyes flashed to his. ‘I’m guessing you weren’t expecting company.’ Her lips twitched.
Five. Most women he met these days lacked a sense of humour. He missed that. In his old life he’d been part of a close knit team where humour made a demanding job easier.
‘I was thinking about an early morning dip, but not like this.’ He was responding way too much to the glint of humour in her bright eyes and the husky edge to her voice.
He moved further into the small boat and stood. Alex was fully aware the movement laid his back and buttocks bare to her gaze – he’d swear he could feel the prickle of her regard right now. But it was better than presenting her with what could too easily turn into a promising erection.
He hunkered down at the side of the boat, motioning for George to start the motor. One of the kids had a gash on his temple and there was a first aid kit on the yacht. To his relief though, they seemed to be improving by the minute.
By the time the five of them were on the yacht Alex knew they’d be okay. He got the first aid kit then left it in George’s capable hands while he went below to dry off and dress.
Yet as he tugged on old jeans and a shirt, Alex could recall exactly how he’d felt when the mermaid’s gaze dropped to his chest, lingered a second and then kept moving to his abdomen and groin. The prickle under his skin was a prelude to something he could not afford to give in to.
The timing was all wrong.
So was the place. The person.
Imagine the complications if he followed his instincts and pursued an affair with her right here, offshore from the palace! Especially when there were so many people in both countries, promoting a royal wedding.
Alex shuddered and zipped his jeans. Marriage was not on the agenda.
‘There’s Alex now,’ George said and Cat looked up. Alex, the owner of the beautiful vintage yacht, strolled towards them. His gait was loose-hipped and easy, shoulders back as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Definitely the walk of an assured man. One too sexy for his own good.
Fire spiked in her blood as she recalled his lazy, half-lidded expression when she’d seen him naked. The devastatingly attractive way the corners of his mouth curled up, the gleam in those indigo eyes.
She liked a confident man. One assured enough not to bolster his ego at the expense of others.
He was athletic too. That tall body was strong and taut and oh-so attractive with powerful thighs and sinewy forearms and a classic male outline that tapered from wide shoulders. She had a sudden recollection of the bunch of his rounded, perfect glutes as he’d walked away. Cat forced her attention back to the bandage she was securing.
‘There, that should do.’
‘Good work, Cat.’ George, the yacht’s captain, closed the first aid kit.
‘Cat?’ The lazy drawl was like fingertips dancing down her spine. She told herself it was the breeze, cooling her ancient T shirt against her skin but she feared it was his luscious baritone.
‘Alex, this is Cat. Cat, Alex.’
‘Nice to meet you…Cat.’
She looked up to read curiosity crinkling his broad brow. A flare of his nostrils brought that chiselled, patrician nose to life and his dark blue eyes narrowed as he surveyed her.
Was that tension in the pulse flicking beneath his squared jaw? No, she imagined it. His body language spoke of easy confidence. And a bone-deep, almost indolent sex appeal that played havoc with her hormones.
‘Nice to meet you, Alex.’ She kept her voice blank. The fact he’d obviously towel-dried his black hair and not bothered to comb it, leaving it appealingly dishevelled, shouldn’t make her itch to touch. As for the fact he was still barefoot, and hadn’t bothered to button his shirt, which showed a tantalising strip of taut skin…
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Out of the shadows…
As the illegitimate secret daughter of royalty, Cat’s life has been far from luxurious. After years of bullying, she’s set against a return to her childhood home. But her princess half sister has mysteriously disappeared ahead of her engagement to charismatic King Alexander.
…into the bed of the king!
Cat agrees to stand in for her—but she didn’t agree to the electric attraction between her and Alex! He might have no idea who she really is—but when their insatiable desire threatens to strip away every boundary between them, Cat cannot hold back from the temptation of Alex’s caress…
Meet the Author:
USA Today Bestselling author Annie West loves writing passionate, intense love stories. She has devoted her life to an in depth study of tall, dark, charismatic heroes who cause the best kind of trouble in the lives of their heroines. Creating heroines who are a perfect match for those strong, stubborn men is one of her all time favorite things. As a sideline she’s also researched dreamy locations for romance, from vibrant cities to desert encampments and fairytale castles. She leaves on the east coast of Australia and her favourite things are books, good company, good food and travel.
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