Hi Victoria and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, To Claim His Heir By Christmas!
Hi there! It’s lovely to be here again, thank you for having me.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Five years ago fate set the wheels in motion for this modern-day Romeo and Juliet with a royal twist. Though at the time, Thane Guerrero & Luciana Verbault had no clue to the others true identity. That they were consorting with their mortal enemy. After a torrid affair, Luciana discovered the truth and fled – carrying a secret she could never disclose.
Five years on, Thane has given up hope of ever finding the woman who’d captured his heart. Only to stumble upon her in the Alps in the midst of a proposal of marriage. From another man.
Over Thane’s dead body! Regardless of the unpalatable discovery she was a Verbault.Hence, the dark and dangerous Prince decides to take matters into his own hands by snatching her in the night!
A volatile history of two countries at war, compounded by Luciana’s secrets and lies fight to keep these two fated mates apart but Thane has the commanding strength of will to move mountains and this time he’ll do whatever it takes to claim her as his own.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
He was going to propose, any minute now.
It was every little girl’s dream – a handsome man, one of the most beautiful she’d ever seen, sat opposite her at an intimate table for two, with a velvet box nestled in his inside pocket. Aristocracy, no less. The Savile Row sophisticate who was Viscount Augustus…
Actually, that’s four lines (sorry, boundary pusher in the house!) but I couldn’t resist introducing you to Thane’s adversary 🙂
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
Thoughts of my initial inspiration for Thane still make me smile, especially when I look at the front cover of the book.
It seems like only yesterday that I said to my editor…’So, I believe it’s time to write my second Arunthian tale because I promised my readers there would be another. I want you to think of an unconventional Prince with a barbaric upbringing. Wild and dangerously untamed. Totally clueless with women. Versus the perfect picture of elegant refinement. The graceful to a fault, heir to the throne of Arunthia. Think…Tarzan & Jane!”
I seem to recall a stunned pause on the other end of the line to which I laughed out loud and promised I could pull it off. Thankfully she adored the swarthy alpha in the end but every time I look at that cover, all I can imagine is Thane swinging from the trees in all his wild glory! I’ve heard other reviewers compare them to Beauty and The Beast and that’s probably far more accurate than my bizarre comparison 🙂
Another scene which makes me smile is later on in the book when they go to the Christmas market in Thane’s hometown as a family. For starters, last time I wore blades on my feet I ended up in A&E! Luckily Luciana is far better on ice. Even half sloshed. But I loved writing those scenes, remembering my own jaunts around our famous European markets. Such fun. I actually ended up making mulled wine in the middle of April to remind myself how yummy it was 🙂 The sacrifices we writers make for realism!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
It’s quite possible that Thane is the biggest, baddest, dominating alpha I have ever written and I knew from the start that nothing he did would surprise me. He was raised for war in a dictatorship and his unbending traits reflect that. Problem is, while those dominating characteristics are perfect strengths to rule his country, they warp into his greatest flaws with regards to relationships. Consequently, they are his ultimate downfall.
But for all his control-freak tendencies, he harbours a huge heart and the capacity to love beyond measure. Truth is, underneath, all he wants is to love and be loved in return. An emotion he hasn’t tasted since his mothers disastrous death when he was a small boy, leaving him in the hands of his chillingly brutal father. The promise of warmth, caring and tenderness has taunted him ever since, so naturally when he claps eyes on Luciana and begins to feel again he’s unknowingly obsessed with the need to keep her close. If only for a little while. It really is amazing the lengths we’ll all go to for love and Thane is no different.
My heart truly went out to Luciana. As firstborn she had no prospect of freedom from the crown, so she’d made a deal with the devil (aka her father) after her affair with Thane. Five years of liberty with her son in exchange for total compliance. So her time with her son was running out. I couldn’t bear to think of what would happen if she married and took her throne as she’d promised. To protect her son from falling into the hands of the enemy he could never be acknowledged in public. She would’ve had no choice but to give him up. Just to keep him safe.
Thankfully, Luciana comes with an abundance of untapped courage, gritty perseverance and bags of resilience. So while Thane was unbending, rigid in his need to control, Luciana flexed and moved dodging everything he threw at her like a champ. I was so proud of her! From the beginning I knew this lioness would be the one to save the day when it came to the crunch. And she certainly was.
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
I wanted a write a secret baby with a twist. It’s not every day you discover a Princess – the heir to the throne no less – with a four year old secret son hidden in Hong Kong. Like I said, the emotional devastation that causes Luciana is heart-wrenching. Can you imagine never being able to tell a soul that the little boy holding your hand is your own? Or being faced with the prospect of giving him up to keep him safe? I’m a mother and the very thought of being forced to watch someone else raise my child fills me with pained horror. Luciana has lived with that prospect every single day for the past five years. Exploring that angle felt fresh to me and freshness not only tickles my imagination but is important in such a hugely represented genre. A highly talented arena at that.
I also enjoyed toying with the virgin hero aspect of this story. Again, that’s not a commonplace factor. Because let’s face it, it’s rather unrealistic in this day and age. But it is entirely plausible for Thane. Overall he was an awesome character to work with. Never a dull moment 🙂
The First kiss…
There is a definite air of serendipity running through the entire story, it touches almost every thread. And while that may be a little fantastical to some, it gave me such a sense of rightness. The very idea that Thane & Luciana found their ‘One and Only’ five years ago, against all the odds, simply hits me in the heart. And although the book opens in the present day I couldn’t resist adding a flash-back to their very first kiss in Zurich where they met.
This is moment when she’s reminded of their first passionate embrace…
An ironclad hand curled around her upper arm and next thing she knew she’d collided with Thane’s hot, hard, magnificent body.
Fear and excitement shot through her in equal measure. Yet her protest went the way of her sanity when he pulled her impossibly closer, snaring her waist with one strong arm and stroking up her neck with his free hand, his fingers curling around her nape to cradle her head.
She’d have to be dead not to feel the unabashed sexual charge that sparked in the air. And like a stick of dynamite her insides detonated in an explosion of desire, sending an avalanche of wet heat thundering through her.
Quaking, she had to bite down hard on her lip to stifle a whimper. It didn’t quite work. She let slip a hum-like cry.
Those dark fathomless eyes locked on hers and from nowhere, a memory cracked through the brume in her mind…
Luciana perched on a brick wall, waiting for him to lift her down, waiting for him to make his first move. Just…waiting for him. As if that was all she’d done all her life.
‘Aren’t you going to kiss me?’ she’d asked, yearning for him to do just that.
When his expression had morphed into a giddy blend of enthusiasm and alarm she’d been flummoxed.
‘Haven’t you ever kissed a woman before?’
A blush so faint she’d nearly missed it had crept over the carved slash of his cheeks. A little embarrassed. A whole lot nervous.
She’d slid down the wall to puddle at his feet. ‘Can I kiss you, then?’ she’d asked, smoothing his frown away with her fingertips, tucking his long hair behind his ears. ‘Would that be okay?’
Ignoring the rhythmic tic in his jaw, she’d pushed up on her toes and pressed her lips to his. Warm. Soft. And as sensual and commanding as the man himself. Because as soon as she’d teased his mouth open with a flick of her tongue he’d taken over with an instinct as old as time and claimed her in a sweet devouring…
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
Now here’s the thing – it takes a hell of a lot to make me blush! And since the only scene that could have managed that feat in this book was eventually cut (*whispers* they broke the bedframe!) I’ll have to go for one of my crying jags 🙂
At this point, Luciana has told Thane he has a son and he is meeting his gorgeous little boy for the first time. I knew Thane’s biggest fear was rejection, that his son would be scared of him and always look at him as a stranger. Toss in the abundance of pain and anger he was feeling from Luciana’s betrayal, and suddenly I was drowning in a torrent of heady emotions that were a struggle to paint on the page…
Thane had a curious feeling in his chest – as if someone had reached in and taken hold of his heart.
It was like looking at himself. Turning back the clock and gazing in the mirror to see himself as a small boy. And at that moment Thane vowed to do everything in his power to ensure his son would not suffer hurt or cry in pain as he had. He swore it. Swore to move heaven and earth to prevent any of it.
Luciana aside, he’d always been adroit at killing his emotions but he’d never felt anything close to this. Emotions…so many emotions flooding over him. All-powerful. All-consuming.
Natanael – meaning ‘God has given’. He tried it out on his tongue for the first time, because maybe he hadn’t truly believed it until now, and acknowledged how good it felt – how right.
Thane’s fingers burned with the need to touch all that smooth skin, his silky hair – ebony, like Thane’s own. But he didn’t want to frighten him. The scars on his face were enough to scare anyone, let alone a child.
So instead he ground his feet into the gravel and soaked up every nuance as his son shouted in utter joy, with the biggest smile Thane had ever seen, when he spotted Luciana.
Luciana lowered herself into an elegant crouch to catch him and ended up on her bottom in the dirt, not caring one iota, hugging him with a glorious smile of her own, smoothing his thick glossy waves of hair, kissing his brow…his soft cheek.
Never had he seen anything like it. Or maybe he had. Maybe the sight before him resurrected memories he’d rather keep buried six feet under.
Dios, his chest was imploding.
A sweet strum of a giggle flew past Natanael’s perfect lips and Thane wondered what she was doing to make him laugh. Saw her fingers tickling his sides, realised he liked that, even though he was yelling, ‘Stop! Stop!’ And then she was wrapping him in her arms again, kissing him and touching him all over.
And in that moment there was something so profoundly exquisitely beautiful about her he felt the strangest sensation in his throat, behind his eyes. Like tiny red-hot needles pricking. It didn’t make sense. All he wanted to do was hate her.
‘Did you see? I was in the big black ‘copter’ Mama!’
‘I know, darling, and I’m so glad because it brought you to me.’
Darling… The endearment fisted Thane’s heart.
‘I’ve missed you so much,’ Luciana said. ‘My goodness – I swear you’ve grown an inch.’
Natanael gazed up at her with a fierce male pride that punched Thane in the gut. He was a Guererro through and through.
When his little mouth geared up for the next zealous outpouring, he stalled – his attention seemingly snagged on Thane.
Thane’s insides turned over and he wondered if this is what it was like to be nervous.
Natanael gaped at him with steady unblinking eyes, scrutinising the scar on his chin as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing, his tiny mind processing.
It was utterly fascinating, Thane decided. And – for want of a better word – nerve racking. Dios, he felt ill.
Then it suddenly occurred to him they’d have to have the ‘I’m your daddy’ conversation but frankly that petrified him. Right now all he wanted was for his son to agree to stay.
He didn’t seem afraid, so hesitantly Thane reached out and touched the soft caramel skin of his cheek. The astonishing surge of connection rocked him to the core. Phenomenal. HIs little boy was the most miraculous thing he’d ever seen, ever touched.
He couldn’t lose him. Not ever again.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Probably the kidnapping scene, when Thane finds Luciana after she disappeared from his bed five years ago. He’s been searching for her ever since. Then to find out she is, in fact, his greatest enemy sends him over the edge.
For Luciana it’s an impossible dream to be reunited with her first love but also her worst nightmare because, of course, she has secrets to protect.
At this point, they’ve been reunited once more and she’s ran…again. So for the last ten minutes she’s been frantically packing her bags and ordering a car to flee. Unfortunately she climbs into the limousine and straight into a trap…
“Just WHO do you think you are? You can’t just take me like this!’
Cool as you like, he simply said, “Watch me.”
She sucked in air through her nose. “Are you playing with me? You’re taking me to the Altiport right? I have a plane to catch.”
‘We are going to the Altiport, si.”
“Good. That’s good.”
Though he hadn’t really said what was happening when they got there, had he?
Warily, she ventured, “And you’ll let me get on my own plane to Arunthia, yes?”
Mouth falling agape, she coughed out an incredulous laugh. “Are you serious?”
“Deadly,” he said, as sharp as a blade.
His eyes were as cold and hard as steel. Where once they’d been tender and warm. Had she known him at all? she wondered, fighting a miserable flair on anguish. Even a little bit? Or had the last few years killed any ounce of decency and compassion he’d possessed?
Icy fingers of dread curled around her throat. “So where are you taking me?”
The world tilted as if the car had skidded down an embankment with a five-score gradient and she went woozy. Galancia?? No, no, no!
She shuddered in her own skin. “No way. You haven’t got a hope in hell of getting me on that plane. I have to go home.”
He pursed his lips and cocked his head in faux contemplation. “Not today. Today you go where I ordain.”
“But…but that’s tantamount to abduction! You can’t go about kidnapping people. It isn’t civilised behaviour!”
Lord she sounded like her mother. And, honestly, only a dimwit would put ‘civilised’ and ‘Thane’ in the same sentence. It had been his untamed earthy savagery that had attracted her in the first place. Obviously she had a screw loose!
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Ooo, tough question.
I probably would have sat Thane down in a room and told him it was impossible to control every aspect of his life. That sometimes you have to take a leap of faith because he was in great danger of ruining any chance of happiness he could have. Of course, I would have been wasting my breath at that point but that wouldn’t have stopped me trying 🙂
I would have told Luciana to listen to her heart. To trust it. To realise, as she eventually did, that while fate shows us the way, our destiny is our own to make.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2015?
As yet, I have no release date for my next book. 2014 was a tough year for me personally so I’ve had to take some much-needed time out and focus on my family. The good news is, I’ve recently jumped back on the proverbial horse and I’m currently working on an exciting trilogy about three brothers, all adopted by the great Lord Lewis Divine. Xander, my first Greek hero, kicks off the series and his untimely reunion with his MOC wife sparks an opening scene to remember 🙂
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away a festive gift that will include a signed copy of, To Claim His Heir By Christmas.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: For Thane, his queen and heir are the greatest Christmas gift of all. What’s on the top of your wish list this Christmas?
“I have to go home today. I have to go back to Arunthia and I need you to take me – as you promised.”
He sat up in one lithe, rippling movement, like a panther uncurling, and pushed his tousled hair back from his forehead. “No, Luciana, don’t say that.” His husky, lethargic voice grew stronger, firmer. “you belong here with me. There’s no reason for you to go back.”
Luciana swallowed around the searing burn in her throat. “But there is, Thane. Someone is there that I can’t leave. Ever.”
His expression darkened and she felt a frisson of fear. Flinched when he suddenly ripped the sheet from his body, vaulted from the bed and spun of her.
“You love this person?”
“Yes,” she said, her voice cracking under pressure. “I love him more than life itself.”
His eyes grew furious, dark as rain-laden thunderclouds. And she knew it was only going to get worse. This, she realised, was merely the beginning. God help her.
“Who do you love?” he demanded.
You can do this Luciana. For him–for your son. Thane will rip your heart from your chest but this is not about you. It is about the little boy you love and his father. You are doing it for them. They deserve this from you. Do it. DO IT!
“Please don’t hate me, Thane,” she whispered, begging him. “I was only trying to do the right thing. I was scared. I only wanted him to be safe–”
His beauty took on a terrifying dangerous edge. “Who, Luciana?” He flung his arms wide. “Who do you love?”
“Your son… Our son.”
From heaven to hell…
Five years ago Princess Luciana of Arunthia experienced heaven in the arms of a man whose every touch felt like paradise. But when Thane’s true identity as the Prince of Galancia was revealed Luciana had no choice but to flee. Her lover was her kingdom’s greatest enemy and she was expecting his baby!
…and back again?
Now, as Christmas approaches, the Prince has just one thing on his mind – winning Luciana back. And if Thane can convince her to trust him with her secret he’ll get the greatest Christmas gift of all: a beautiful queen and an heir!
Meet the Author:
After falling head over heels for the powerful, suave Mr Darcy and Lady Chatterley’s rugged lover, Victoria decided creating the perfect Mr Literary Right was the stuff of dreams. It took various uninspiring job titles to convince her to trade her corporate cloak for that spurned romantic muse and nowadays she’s entirely too happy donning cosy slippers and concocting sexy, witty, heart-thumping love stories for her wonderful readers.
She lives in Northumberland with her alpha exec, a masterly charmer in the making, the next Disney princess and a cast of thousands in her head.