Hi Annie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Sheikh’s Princess Bride!
Thanks so much for having me to visit. Waving hi to all the other romance readers here!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Please share your favorite line or quote from this book:
‘The next time you kiss me it won’t be because I ask, Samira’ but because you want me.’
Please share a few FUN facts about this book…
- This story came about because I’d just written ‘The Sultan’s Harem Bride’. In it my Sultan, Asim, is protecting his sister, Samira, from intrusive press attention after scandal and tragedy. When I started that book I had no idea Samira would even appear on the page but as soon as she did I knew I wanted to write her story. She’d been through so much and seemed so fragile in that book, though with an underlying strength that appealed to me. I had to write ‘The Sheikh’s Princess Bride’ to discover what happened to her.
- The story opens in Paris, in an ultra luxurious hotel I once had a sneak peek at. It was fun splitting the book between that and the fabulous desert locations in the latter part of the story.
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 was surprised to discover Tariq had felt so strongly about Samira for so long. I had a wonderful time delving into those long-suppressed feelings. I also enjoyed the fact he’s such a hands-on leader, not just directing things from afar, but actively getting involved in supporting his people. I thought I knew him when I started the book but kept being surprised by his thoughtfulness as well as his determination to resolve whatever problem he confronted. I loved the way he kept challenging Samira to face her fears.
As for Samira, I loved that she was so determined to go after what she most wanted in life.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
There was plenty of location research from previous travels of my own as well as internet searches. But for the love story I was totally dependent on my characters. They led me where they wanted to go.
The First kiss…
‘Tell me what you want then.’ She swallowed hard but jutted her chin defiantly. She wouldn’t give in without a fight.
‘Just a kiss.’ His eyes held hers. ‘When I went to kiss you at the banquet in front of our guests you turned as pale as milk.’ He nodded as her mouth flattened. It was true. She hadn’t been able to hide her reaction.
Relief flooded her, weakening her limbs. A kiss, that was all, not-
Her brain seized at the alternative.
‘I refuse to have a wife who’s afraid of me. Who can’t bear to be close to me.’ Something dark flashed in his narrowed eyes and her heart pounded faster. ‘I need a wife who can take her place at my side without flinching.’
‘I’m sorry,’ she murmured stiffly. ‘I don’t know what happened.’ Except she did. She’d seen Tariq the man, not the convenient spouse and been terrified by her response. ‘But we don’t have to kiss.’
‘Can you think of a better way to prove you won’t cringe away next time I’m near you? The next time we’re together in public? And there are the boys to consider. I don’t want them thinking I intimidate you.’ His deep voice held a hollow note she hadn’t heard before.
Suddenly Samira saw herself as she must seem to him. Needy. Damaged. All the things she’d promised herself she’d never be again. Shame filled her.
She’d promised Tariq she’d be his partner, not an albatross around his neck. Despite his attempt to change the rules of their marriage, pride dictated she give him this much.
‘That’s all?’ Her voice sounded scratchy and breathless. She couldn’t dismiss his statement that he hadn’t agreed to her marriage terms. But this wasn’t the time or place to deal with that. She’d do it when they were fully clothed.
‘And then you’ll leave?’
If she kissed him!
He heart raced out of control at the thought.
Before Samira could have second thoughts she unwrapped her arms and braced her hands on the bed either side of her. A quick breath dragged in the disturbingly appealing scent of Tariq’s warm skin, but she refused to think about it, or the way his eyes darkened as she closed the gap between them.
But there was no mistaking the imposing, masculine bulk of him, the bare-chested arrogance of him, or the skirling twist deep inside as she drew close. It made her lose her nerve.
At the last moment she turned her head, pressing her lips not to his mouth, but to the firm, taut skin of his cheek. It was smooth, as if he’d just shaved and it was surprisingly enticing. For an instant she hovered there, her mouth to his flesh, knowing an unheralded desire to explore, to lift her palms to his shoulders and angle her mouth over his.
With a gasp she pulled back, sliding her hands beneath her legs as if to stop them reaching for him again. Her sudden neediness scared her.
Eyes brilliant as gems held hers as blood pounded in her ears. He didn’t say anything, though it was obvious she hadn’t delivered a real kiss. It was a coward’s kiss.
But it was the best Samira could do. Being close to Tariq made her pulse crazy and tied her in knots. Anxiety still feathered her backbone. Did he really intend to demand more?
Abruptly Tariq stood. Samira blinked, her gaze sliding over his amazing bronzed body.
Surely it wasn’t regret she felt because he was leaving?
Recognising that she didn’t want him to leave stole her voice.
‘That’s a start,’ he murmured finally.
Tariq nodded. ‘One day soon we’ll be husband and wife in every sense of the word.’
Samira shook her head. He had it all wrong.
‘Not because I demand it but because it’s what we both want.’ He leaned close, his eyes tourmaline shards that dared her to deny it. ‘I promise you, Samira, you’ll be with me every step of the way.’ It was a threat but it sounded like a promise. A promise that sounded appallingly enticing.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include and why?
It would definitely be the scene where Samira realizes what she has to do if she wants a family of her own and goes after it, despite the risk of rejection. Here’s a taste:
Samira nodded. The Tariq she knew would find time for the demands of his small sons, just as he’d found time for his best friend’s kid sister. He took duty seriously, but more than that, he was kind. He was the sort of man you could trust.
That’s why she couldn’t shake the outrageous idea that had taken root as she watched him last night at the gala. The idea that he held the key to her future happiness.
Samira swallowed hard. She’d known only one trustworthy man, her brother, Asim. The other men in her life, even her father, had let her down terribly. Could she trust Tariq not to do that too?
‘Yes?’ She looked up to see him lounging back in his chair, the picture of ease. Yet his eyes were intent.
‘Nothing’s wrong.’ Her laugh sounded woefully unconvincing and caught her up short. She was stronger than this. Here was her chance to reach out for the one thing she really wanted in life. Surely she wasn’t coward enough to give up without trying?
‘On the contrary.’ She sat forward, projecting an air of certainty she’d mastered in her professional dealings. She could do this. ‘I wanted to see you because I have a proposal to put to you.’
‘Really?’ Interest sparked in his eyes.
‘A rather unusual proposal, but a sound one. I’m sure you’ll see the benefits.’
‘I’m sure I will,’ he paused, ‘when you tell me what it is.’ Those slashing dark eyebrows angled up in query.
Samira leaned closer, suddenly urgent to get this done. She licked her dry lips, holding his keen gaze.
‘I want to marry you.’
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
Definitely a smile and a sigh of pleasure. I want readers to enjoy the book so much they can’t put it down, and when they do finish it, I want them to feel brighter than when they started. Not too much to aim for, surely! 🙂
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
In August I have ‘The Sinner’s Marriage Redemption’ coming out and then in October ‘Seducing His Enemy’s Daughter’. Look out too for a possible Hot Italian Nights novella too – yet to be written and scheduled!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 2 copies (international) of ‘The Sheikh’s Princess Bride’.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Samira decided she couldn’t marry for love so she set about proposing to a man she’d always respected, a man who has the qualities she was wants in a husband. What qualities would you look for in a life partner? Can you name just two?
Excerpt from The Sheikh’s Princess Bride:
Slowly she turned, taking in the careful thought and attention to detail that had gone into making this the ideal workroom.
She blinked hard as she recognised the ancient, slightly saggy lounge chair she’d used for the past four years when she wanted to curl up and sketch. Beside it was a small wooden table inlaid with mother of pearl. It held a sketch pad like the one she always used and a variety of crayons and pencils.
‘Your sister-in-law helped me with the details. She sent through photos of your workshop in Jazeera.’
‘But this is…’ the words stuck in Samira’s throat. ‘This is far, far better. It’s perfect.’ She’d never had a custom made studio. Despite her growing success she’d worked out of a large room she’d adapted in her brother’s palace. But this – it was amazing. And it had been created especially for her.
A wave of excitement crashed over her, making her blood tingle. She itched to get to work here.
Samira pivoted to find Tariq just behind her. She grabbed his hand in both of hers, enthusiasm buoying her.
‘I don’t know how to thank you.’ She shook her head, brim full of emotion. He’d done this for her. No gift had ever been so special, so very right. ‘Words don’t seem enough.’
‘Then don’t use words.’ His glinting eyes challenged her, as if he knew she felt overfull, needing an outlet for the surge of elation and wonder she felt.
Samira’s breath hitched in automatic denial, the shutters she’d so carefully built instantly coming up to guard her from this over-emotional response.
She saw the moment he read the change in her. The moment his gaze altered from challenging to disappointed.
The moment he realised she didn’t have the guts to follow through.
When he saw how scared she was.
In that instant the truth blasted her. She had all the emotions of other women. She felt pain and hope and delight, but she’d spent years bottling them up, hiding them from the world and herself. Because she was scared they’d make her weak.
She’d let Jackson Brent do that to her.
No, she corrected. She’d done it to herself.
Her nostrils flared in disgust and inadvertently she drew in the heady spice aroma of Tariq. It sent a trickle of feminine pleasure coursing through her.
She’d even learned to repress that in the last few years, hadn’t she? She hadn’t been interested in a man, much less turned on by one in four years. She hadn’t let herself.
Suddenly Samira saw herself as Tariq must – wary to the point of being pathetic.
Was she? Or was she merely cautious? Sensible to protect herself?
But there was a difference between being cautious and being a coward. Last night she’d been a coward and the knowledge was bitter on her tongue. All this time she’d told herself she was being strong. But in reality-
Samira let go of Tariq’s hand, instead planting a steadying palm on his hard chest, the other on his shoulder as she rose on tiptoe.
Light flared in those cool eyes, but he didn’t move, merely stood stock still, waiting.
She realised she’d stopped breathing and exhaled then drew in a deep breath redolent of desert spice and hot man. Tariq. His scent enticed. Could he possibly taste as good? Suddenly she had to know.
Samira slipped her hand from his shoulder up to the back of his head, pulling till his mouth was a whisper from hers.
Atavistic warning clawed through her, screaming that she was about to cross a point of no return.
For once need overrode caution. The need to trust herself, just a little. The need for a man’s touch.
Her eyes closed as she pressed her mouth to his. His lips were warm and inviting. She angled her head a little, kissing him again, enjoying his hard body against hers, the pleasure of his mouth touching hers.
Samira’s other hand snaked up to wrap around his neck, holding him tight as she worked tiny kisses along the tantalising seam of his lips. She felt the exhale of his breath through his nostrils, harder than before, and licked where before she’d kissed. He felt so good. This felt so good. If only-
Delicious pleasure hit as he opened his mouth, sucking her tongue inside, drawing her into delight. It was so sudden, so powerfully erotic, that she crumpled at the knees, clinging to his tall frame as his arms wrapped her close.
His mouth worked hers, drawing her to him, delving her depths so she had no option but to surrender that last skerrick of caution.
Samira was captivated. Her whole body came alive in a way she’d never known. Surely no kiss had been like this – a slow kindling that burned bright and satisfying, even as it demanded more and yet more?
She arched, moulding herself inch by inch to that strong body she hadn’t been able to put from her mind. Still her lips clung to his, hungrier now as his grew more urgent and a new fire ignited low in her body. Her hands tightened on him. Ripples of heat traced her skin, eddying at her breasts, her pelvis. At her back and hip where he held her so securely.
Her heart was hammering as she tore her lips away, gasping for air. Yet it wasn’t lack of oxygen that made her withdraw, but shock at how a thank you kiss had turned into something completely different. Gratitude and excitement had turned to curiosity, to pleasure and then, almost, to surrender.
She wanted nothing so much as to kiss him again, to lose herself in him.
Samira shivered, suddenly cold despite the hot pulse of blood under her skin. Fear warred with elation.
Tariq still held her, his gaze hooded, waiting, and her stomach churned.
She swallowed, trying to find her voice and not betray rising panic. ‘That was…’
His mouth tilted a little at one corner. ‘Delightful?’ he mused in a low murmur that trawled through her insides, tying her in knots.
‘Unexpected,’ she gasped.
‘A taste of things to come.’ His smile deepened, his hold tightening just a fraction.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Wanted: royal bride and mother
For Sheikh Tariq of Al-Sharath, one miserable marriage was enough. With a kingdom to rule, he has no time—or wish—to find a bride, but his children need a mother.
Could Princess Samira of Jazeer be the answer? Samira has sampled passion, and it left a bad taste. With the knowledge she can’t have the children she’s always wanted, Samira steps into Tariq’s ready-made family. Her only condition? No sex!
Samira thought royal duties and her love for Tariq’s children would fill the hole in her heart, but a craving is building that only the sheikh’s touch can cure…
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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