Hi Annie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Desert King’s Secret Heir!
Thanks so much for having me back for a visit! I enjoy being with so many romance lovers!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
A woman from the past and a secret baby spell scandal for Sheikh Baddour. He’s honour-bound to marry the mother of his child—but what about love?
Can Arden, the woman who’s loved him for years, content herself with a marriage of convenience, knowing his heart isn’t engaged?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
‘Let me be the first to congratulate you, cousin. May you and your princess be happy all your days.’
Hamid beamed with such goodwill Idris felt his own mouth kick up in a rare smile.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Although most of the book is set in a desert kingdom, it begins in London. The location of Arden’s home in London was inspired by walks I took through London, admiring the handsome old townhouses. The location of the opening royal reception in London was also inspired by a real place: the Corinthian Club in Glasgow which is a stupendous venue with a massive glass domed ceiling, which was once a privately owned mansion.
- Arden’s work as a florist was inspired by my mother. Once I established Arden’s job, it seemed that flowers were destined to play a big part in the story. You’ll see what I mean if you read it.
- I chose the name Arden for my heroine after a reader mentioned her daughter was called that. It was just so pretty and so perfect for my heroine.
- Arden and Idris’s separation four years before the book starts, was inspired by the movie ‘An Affair to Remember’.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
I didn’t really know my characters fully until I began to write this story. I knew that Arden, alone in the world and forced by circumstance to be a single mother, must have an inner strength which I admired. One thing I discovered, which I really liked, was that though she believed herself abandoned by her lover, when she had her son she was determined that he should have some connection with his father’s heritage. I loved that she put her son’s needs before her own hurt. As for Idris, he’s a man who has changed since Arden first knew him. Then he was young and carefree, ready for adventure and not too worried about the future. Now, after years of struggle establishing himself as sheikh, he’s a stronger man, focused on duty and responsibility to his country. Meeting Arden again, and in scandalous circumstances that threaten all he’s built, reveals the true mettle of the man. I’d first imagined him as furious and perhaps a little vengeful but that’s not how he turned out at all! I definitely fell in love with him.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
It would have to be the scene where Arden and Idris meet again, four years after they were lovers. If the actors couldn’t make the connection between the characters come alive I’d have to recast. Despite how long they have been apart, there’s a sizzle, a tension and an unspoken connection that has to be real! In this scene Arden has just discovered Idris is now a royal sheikh but he is yet do discover she has had his child. The night before this scene they met briefly at a crowded London party, when his cousin introduced them. Now, the next morning, Idris goes to Arden’s home, compelled so see her again.
Arden Wills wasn’t dressed to seduce. Her dark green pullover swam on her, just hinting at the curves beneath. Her old jeans were frayed and there was a patch on one knee. Her face was free of makeup. Yet her hair rippled around her like a halo on a Pre-Raphaelite model, beguiling and exotic. She made him want to forget duty, forget necessity, and tug her to him so she fitted between his thighs, cradling him with her hips.
‘So, what is it you want?’
‘Pardon?’ Idris shoved his hands deep into his trouser pockets as he realised the direction his thoughts wandered. To whether she wore a bra beneath that bulky pullover and whether her pale skin was as petal soft as he recalled.
‘Why did you come here, if not to see your cousin?’ She paused, her lips tightening. ‘Surely not to catch up on old times.’ Her breathing altered, drew short and jerky, as if she, too, remembered how it had been between them all those years ago.
‘Why not?’ Idris lifted his shoulders in a show of insouciance he was far from feeling. ‘I was…curious about you. It’s been, what? Four years?’ As if he didn’t know precisely how long it had been. His reign as Sheikh of Zahrat dated from that week. ‘There have been changes in both our lives.’
Her face stilled, her eyes darting to the side almost furtively, as if tempted to look behind her but thinking better of it.
Instantly Idris was on alert.
He couldn’t read that look but instinct warned him something was afoot. Something she hid from him. His gaze lifted to the gleaming paint of the door behind her. What could she possibly feel the need to hide? She wasn’t living in squalor, not here. Something sordid? A lover?
Adrenalin surged, coiling his tension tighter. He took another half step forward, only stopping when a small palm flattened against his chest. He felt the imprint of it through the fine wool of his suit. His skin tingled where she touched as if abraded. As if she’d scraped sharp nails over his bare flesh.
Idris sucked in oxygen and forced himself not to react.
‘I don’t want you here.’ Those eyes were so huge in her face he felt he could dive into them.
His hand covered hers and fire danced across his skin before burrowing deep inside. A judder of potent sexual hunger tightened his groin.
‘You need to say that as if you mean it.’
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
A sense of fun and a big juicy sigh of satisfaction. This book is about second chances and about people who are forced by circumstance, and by love, to be stronger and better than they’d been before. I loved that their love was strong enough to last, and had an element of fun too. I hope too, that readers feel the sigh of pleasure I got when I wrote the scenes where Idris begins to built a relationship with his little boy.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?
My next book out is in April next year. It’s called THE DESERT KING’S CAPTIVE BRIDE and it’s a story linked to this one. If you read THE DESERT KING’S SECRET HEIR and wonder what happens to Princess Ghizlan, the woman jilted by Sheikh Idris, read this and find out. She really is a captive bride and it’s a story full of sizzle, sensuality and adventure! I had a wonderful time writing it.
Later in 2017 (titles and dates TBA) I have a pair of royal romances coming out with Harlequin which I’m just putting the final touches to. I’m also finalizing some more HOT ITALIAN NIGHTS novellas to self publish, which will follow on from BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED and BOUGHT BY THE ITALIAN.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: International giveaway. 2 signed copies of ‘The Desert King’s Secret Heir, and 2 ecopies via Amazon of Annie’s first Hot Italian Nights novella ‘Back in the Italian’s Bed’
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Arden leaves her homeland to begin life in another country for the sake of her son. If you were moving to another country, what one thing would you want to take with you, OR what do you think you would miss most?
Excerpt from The Desert King’s Secret Heir:
How about a little more from the scene I included earlier? Arden and Idris are standing at her front door. Idris, on the eve of announcing his engagement in a dynastic marriage, is horrified by the depth of his feeling for Arden, the ex-lover he hasn’t seen in years. Arden has just learned that perhaps Idris (whom she’d known as Shakil) didn’t intentionally desert her as she’d always believed.
He shouldn’t be here. His life was about duty, control, and careful, deliberate decision-making. There was no room for spur of the moment distractions.
In another second he’d step away.
But first he needed her to acknowledge what was between them. Even after all this time. Idris couldn’t countenance the idea that he alone burned. Pride demanded proof that she felt this undercurrent of hunger. This electricity simmering and snapping in the air. The charge of heat where they touched.
‘You need to leave. Don’t make me scream for help.’ Her head tipped back against the door, as if to increase the distance between them, yet her touch betrayed her. Her hand had slipped under his jacket lapel, fingers clutching his shirt. Heat poured into him from her touch, spreading to fill his chest.
He forced his hand to his side, conquering the impulse to haul her close.
‘I said, leave me alone.’ Her breath was warm on his chin and his thoughts whirled as he imagined her sweet breath on other parts of his body. He needed a moment to curb his arousal.
Here, on a London street!
Anger flared. At this woman. At his unruly body that for the first time in memory didn’t obey.
‘It’s obviously escaped your notice, but I’m not touching you. You’re the one touching me.’
His voice, crisp with challenge, nevertheless held that once-heard-never-forgotten deep note that resonated right to her core.
Arden blinked, dragging her gaze from his mouth and solid, scrupulously shaved jaw, to his chest.
Heat scorched her cheeks at the sight of her hand clutching him, as if she couldn’t bear to let him go. As if even now, his desertion couldn’t kill the slavish passion she’d felt for him.
Though, if he told the truth, he hadn’t deserted her.
It was too much to take in.
Too terrible to think that perhaps he hadn’t betrayed her as she’d believed.
Words trembled on her tongue, the truth she hadn’t been able to share with this man for four years. But caution held her back.
She needed time alone to sort out what it meant if he hadn’t deserted her. Time away from his piercing dark gaze and hot body that reduced her hard won defences to ash.
Arden dragged her hand away, pressing it against the solid door behind her. That was what she needed. To remember where they were and how much was at stake. She couldn’t risk revealing too much.
‘You need to go. This isn’t right.’ A weight lodged on her chest, making her breathless so she could only manage short sentences.
Something that might have been anger flickered across his face. Yet still he didn’t shift.
Desperation coiled tight in her belly. A desperation fuelled by the urge to spill everything to him, here and now, as if by doing so all her burdens would be lifted.
But Arden had spent a lifetime learning self-reliance. The last years had reinforced that. She carried her burdens alone.
‘We’ve both moved on, Shakil.’ It was as if she evoked the past with that one single word. ‘Idris,’ she amended quickly.
‘Moved on where? To Hamid?’ His voice was a low growl that sent fear feathering her skin. His head lowered and she felt tension come off his big frame in waves. ‘You’re afraid your lover will see us together?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ It came out as a hiss of distress. It had been bad enough realising last night that Hamid now saw himself as far more than a friend.
‘Ridiculous?’ Idris’s eyes narrowed to ebony slits. Those carved cheekbones loomed threateningly high as his face drew taut. ‘You call me ridiculous?’
Fire branded her neck as hard fingers closed around her nape, moulding to skin turned feverish at his touch.
Arden swiped her suddenly arid mouth with her tongue, searching for words to stop the fury in that glittering gaze.
But his touch didn’t feel like anger. That was the problem. She could have withstood it if it did.
Arden trembled as the hand at her neck shifted and long fingers speared her hair, spreading over her scalp, massaging. Shivers of delight rippled through her and her eyelids hovered, weighted, at half mast. Tendrils of fire cascaded from her scalp down her spine and around to her breasts where her nipples peaked.
She swallowed convulsively and forced herself to straighten away from the door, even though it meant brushing against him.
‘I didn’t mean—’
‘Of course you did.’ His mouth twisted. ‘You’re right. It is ridiculous. Impossible and inconvenient…and inevitable.’
Then, while Arden was still absorbing his words, his head lowered.
His mouth on hers was just as she remembered. A huge, tearing fullness welled in her chest as his lips shaped hers, not hard and punishing as she’d expected from the glint in his eyes, but gentle, questing. As if seeking an answer to a question she hadn’t heard.
Shakil. The taste of him burst on her, rich and delicious. It was the one sense memory she hadn’t been able to recall in the years since he’d left her. Now it filled her, evocative, masculine and, she feared, potently addictive. For her head was lolling back, lips open to allow him access.
Somehow her hands had crept up to brace on his chest. The steady thrum of his heart was a reassuring counterpoint to her sense of disorientation.
His other hand slipped around her waist, pulling her against a body that was all hard power, making her feel soft and feminine in ways she’d almost forgotten.
And still that kiss. No longer quite as gentle. Arden heard a guttural sound of approval as her tongue met his in a foray into pure pleasure.
He shifted and delight filled her as her nipples grazed his torso. She pressed closer, absorbed in heady, oh-so-familiar delight, till a long hard ridge pressed against her belly.
Arden’s eyes snapped open and she saw his eyes had narrowed to slits of dark fire. Then, over his shoulder, high up at street level, came a burst of light, a glint of sunlight off something. It was enough, just, to bring her back to reality.
‘No.’ No-one heard her protest since their lips were locked.
She had to shove with all her might for him to lift his head, blinking as if unable to focus. That might have made her feel better but for the realisation just five minutes in this man’s company had obliterated every defence she’d spent years constructing.
‘No,’ she gasped. That full feeling behind her breastbone turned to pain. ‘This is wrong. We can’t…’
She didn’t need to go on. Sheikh Idris of Zahrat agreed completely. It was there in the dawning horror sharpening his features and the unsteady hand that swiped his face. He shook his head as if wondering what he was doing.
Nor did Arden need to shove him again. One swift pace backwards on those long legs took him almost to the base of the area steps and left her feeling appallingly alone.
Chest pumping, Arden stared at the dark gold face of the man she’d once adored. The man who now looked at her as if she were his personal nightmare.
Desperate, she put her palms to the door behind her, needing its support.
Despite it all, the anger, hurt and betrayal that had shaped her life for four years, she’d harboured a hope that if they met again he’d admit he’d made a terrible mistake in leaving. That he’d missed her, wanted her, as she’d missed and wanted him.
In her dreams he’d never looked at her with horror.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The child she hid…
Surrounded by society’s glitterati, Arden Wills finds herself staring up into the eyes of her first and only love. But Sheikh Idris Baddour has a surprise title and heavy responsibilities…so she clings to her precious secret even tighter.
Time has done nothing to dampen the intense ardor between them. And when their kiss is blasted across the world’s front pages, Arden’s truth comes to light—the sheikh has a secret son! To avoid further scandal, Idris must legitimize his heir and make English rose Arden his dutiful desert queen!
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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