Monday, May 25, 2009

NZ/Aus Author Series: Annie West

Winners: The random winner's of Annie's giveaway are:

Orannia - The Greek's Convenient Mistress
Una - Blackmailed Bride, Innocent Wife

Congratulations! Please email your addresses to: annie AT annie-west DOT com
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It's time to meet the second guest in my monthly series on authors from my corner of the world.

Today's guest is the lovely Annie West! Annie, a Waldenbooks bestselling author, writes for Harlequin Presents (called M&B Sexy down under). She's also an Australian, but we don't hold that against her ;-)

Please give a warm welcome to Annie everyone! And check out the presents she's bought along to share.

______________

Hi, Nalini! Thanks so much for the invitation to come and join you. This is a real treat. I’ve been admiring your work for a long time.

This is a special time for me right now and it’s great to be able to share that with other romance lovers. Recently
I sold my 10th book to Harlequin and am well into my 11th manuscript. Double digits – yay! Somehow when I got ‘the call’ for that first book I never really looked ahead as far as this. Now I feel like maybe I can make a success of writing long term, especially as I’ve just heard that my first Presents story is about to go into a ‘By Request’ omnibus of reprinted stories in the UK in August.

As well as that, I’m grinning from ear to ear about my two (count them!) current releases. The Greek’s Convenient Mistress goes on sale this week in North America and in the UK Blackmailed Bride, Innocent Wife is on shelves already (and in Aus/NZ in June). (If you’re curious and want to read an excerpt follow these links to the Harlequin sites or visit my website).


To celebrate I thought I’d give away a copy of those two titles – one book each to two contributors to the blog, chosen at random.

Both these books feature Mediterranean heroes: tall, dark, dangerous and sexy. One is Sicilian and the other from the island of Crete. I fell in love with both of them as I wrote their stories. That got me wondering what it is I enjoyed so much about these guys and why so many readers want a strong Mediterranean man in their romances.

For me there are attributes I particularly enjoy writing and reading in a Mediterranean hero. They’re strong, charismatic and sexy, with a sense of assured masculinity that just seems to ooze from them. They’re fantastic lovers and they know how to please a woman.

They may, I admit, be slower than their heroine to realise when they’re in lo
ve. Actually, one of the things I enjoy is watching a strong, self-assured hero, who’s been used to striding through his world, in charge and capable, off balance when he finds his emotions engaged for the first time, all because of one woman. Especially if that woman isn’t the sort to whom he thought he’d be attracted. Especially if he hadn’t expected to fall in love. Or maybe he didn’t even believe in love.

He’ll be a man used to taking charge. He’s powerful and pragmatic, often with a strong sense of responsibility
– especially for family and friends. In protective mode, this hero will move heaven and earth to care for and keep safe those people who are important to him. He’d act swiftly, possibly ruthlessly, against anyone threatening them. Which makes life interesting if he perceives the heroine as a threat! It also means he’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the woman he loves – something I find appealing - even if a heroine is perfectly capable of fending for herself.

His strength demands an equally strong heroine to match him.

He has a sense of honour. His values may be different to those of others. He may not care what others think and may dare to do things others won’t, but he has boundaries he will not cross and standards he’ll fight to maintain.

He’s proud. And we all know what they say about pride going before a fall. Don’t you love to watch a hero realise he’s been on the wrong track in his assessment of the heroine, then figh
t to make things right?

He’s passionate and capable of caring deeply. He may have a dark side, which has an appeal all its own.

You could argue that he shares quite a few characteristics with heroes from some fantasy and historical novels.


Does this sort of hero appeal to you? Do you like your men dark, passionate and maybe a little dangerous? What characteristics make a hero memorable for you?

Annie

61 comments :

Anna Campbell said...

Whoo, Annie. Yes, yes, and YES! I'll have what she's having. And yeah, I mean the sandwich!

What a lovely blog. Thanks, Nalini, for having Annie on. I think she's a really fantastic writer. Both these stories are amazing - I'm so glad American readers are getting a chance to meet gorgeous Costas and the British readers will meet lovely Dario. I think there will be happiness right across the Atlantic!

Annie West said...

Hi Anna. Such enthusiasm! I love it. Happiness across the Atlantic? What a lovely thought.

I know you're a fan of dark dangerous heroes as they're you're specialty. Hm, having a little quiet interlude while I think of a few Anna Campbell heroes.

There's something so enticing about a man who can be dangerous (in the best ways of course) to the heroine. Sigh. It gives an edge to the attraction, don't you think? By dangerous I don't mean a man who's likely to physically attack the heroine (that's not my idea of a hero) but someone who's not afraid to use all his skills and his power to get the woman he wants, even sometimes through unorthodox means.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, I agree with you about the danger in a hero really working in a romance. I remember fondly all the gothics I devoured like chocolate when I was a teenager. I was never sure if he'd kiss or kill her, frankly! Although there was always that safety net of generally the kiss won out of the kill.

Nalini, I'm absolutely thrilled that you're writing more psy and guild books! Yayayayayayayayay!

Annie West said...

Snap! Anna, I was the same. I used to devour gothic romances. Often there were two male characters, both appealing, both obviously interested in the heroine and you weren't quite sure if the hero was the villain or the good guy (or almost good guy). There was a real frisson of danger in some of those stories.

Authorness said...

Hi, Annie, my lovely Sexy author ;) Great post! I love a passionate hero with strong convictions. Much like your heroes, actually! He can't be *too* dangerous, but just enough to keep real villains at bay.

Nalini, congratulations on your RITA nomination - I'll be cheering you on in DC!

Jen H said...

Oooo prezzies! Hi Annie. Harlequin books were what got me hooked on romance when I was 13 or 14. Love my men dark, strong and sexy. It's especially fun when they fall in love and no longer know how to cope. Thank you for sharing your stories with us! I'll be watching for your name I love trying new authors.

Thanks Nalini for the fantastic short story we just got! Only one more month till Branded by Fire! YAY!! It's a holiday weekend here in the states, so hopefully peeps will be on the ball for Tuesday releases as there are a couple I have been waiting for as well.

Have a fantastic week everyone! Jen :)

Annie West said...

Hi Authorness,

Isn't it a hoot that I can call myself a 'Sexy author' as that's how Harlequin labels our books here? I still grin about that.

Hey, a passionate hero with strong convictions sounds lovely.

Nalini, I'm seconding those good wishes for the RITA. Wish I could be there too to barrack for you. There are a number of writers from this part of the world in the running this year which makes it doubly exciting(fancy having both you and Anna here on this blog for a start!).

Annie West said...

Hi Jen,

How great that you started romance by reading Harlequin. I did too. It was sad in my teens as none of the guys in my year at school were anywhere near as sexy, debonair or exciting as Presents hero (or even his little brother!). Yes, I agree, it's so much fun when those strong heroes fall in love and don't know how to cope - especially as they make it their business to cope with everything that comes their way magnificently.

Have a great holiday today!

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Annie, am fanning my face! A man with an edge of danger - what's not to love about that? And a man with an edge of danger who can make the heroine laugh... that will do it for me every time!

Great post!

Blodeuedd said...

Dark, tall, mysterious and sexy...yes please! I do like them that way sometimes. Other times it's fun with the more boy next door.
And Sicilian guys, yummy

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle, do you often read while fanning yourself? Hm, I hope so!

Love the idea of a hero who both represents danger AND can make the heroine laugh! What a guy. Must say I love a man with a nice dry sense of humour. It's so appealing, isn't it?

Annie West said...

Hi Blodeuedd,

There's nothing like a bit of variety in our heroes, is there? And they do say that variety is the spice of life.

Glad you like the idea of a Sicilian hero. I had enormous fun writing Dario and even though he IS dark, dangerous and edgy, I have to say he has such a soft spot for Alissa that I fell for him hook, line and sinker.

Nalini Singh said...

I love your description of your heroes, Annie. I think part of the fun of watching these heroes fall is that when they do, they fall hard. Often, they're determined to handle it - and yet we (along with the heroine) know he doesn't stand a chance!

Maureen said...

Hi Annie,
I definitely do like the hero who is tough and protective but is baffled when he falls in love. Congratulations on all your new books.

Annie West said...

Hi Nalini,

I suppose it says something about the immense importance and power of the love he feels for that one woman, doesn't it? The hero falls hard and no matter how clever and capable he is, it's unlike anything he's ever experienced. At least it is in the books I love to read.

Annie West said...

Hi Maureen,

Thanks for the congratulations. It's a great feeling having these two out together.

I like your descriptors - tough and protective but baffled. Yes, please. Only baffled by what he feels, of course. That works for me.

Does anyone have preferences for a wounded hero, by the way? I'm finding it interesting as the guy I'm writing now seems the perfect devil-may-care hero. On the surface all's fine and as far as the world is concerned he's a huge success (with a bad boy reputation) but I'm so enjoying writing him as I've discovered that beneath the gloss he's a wounded soul with a heart of - well not quite gold - but something good. I do enjoy a character with hidden depths.

Erika said...

I'm definitely a fan of the hero you described. I also enjoy a hero with lots of sisters to deal with, or with a past in some military operation. Congrats on hitting double digits!

azteclady said...

*waving* Hello, Ms West!

"dark, dangerous and edgy"

That's a perfect description indeed, very evocative. But yes, a wounded (tortured) hero, someone who is coping with hidden scars... yummy! :grin:

Best of luck with both releases!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! - As an European I can confirm, that the Italian and Greek men are charming machos *g*!

Good luck with your releases Ms West!

~Eva

KRenee said...

Great blog, yes I have to say that a bit of danger goes a long way. Especially when the dangerous confident man gets a little bit flustered.

Annie West said...

Hi Erika,

Thanks for the congratulations on hitting double digits. It's a real thrill, believe me!

Interesting point about a hero with lots of sisters to drive him crazy. I haven't written one myself yet but I can see the appeal. As for a man with a military past - I have an idea along those lines for my next book. These can be such strong characters. There are so many variations on a hero type and it's great having an opportunity to explore them.

Eva S said...

Hi Annie,
I love your dark, dangerous sexy heroes, they are just my kind of heroes! No nice boy next door for me... And you have such great settings, they make me want to visit these places. Perhaps one day when I'll visit Santorini....

Annie West said...

Hello to you too, Azteclady. It's good to see you here! So you have a taste for a wounded hero too? I find something so appealing about a guy who's tough on the outside and, as you say, is coping with hidden scars. Maybe it's the instinct to nurture that makes me hang out for the heroine to help him heal.

Annie West said...

Hi Eva,

It's great to have a 'European' view of this. I've really enjoyed writing books with Greek and Italian heroes. For some stories they seem just the perfect men. Glad to hear they're popular in your neck of the woods too!

Annie West said...

Hi KRenee,

That's a great motto, thanks - 'a bit of danger goes a long way'. That's the sort of reminder to have by my computer! It really can add something strong to a story.

Annie West said...

Eva S, how are you? It's great to hear you enjoy my heroes. Especially since I woke this morning (it's still very early here) to the knowledge my current hero has led me off track and I have to yank him and the story back in line. These strong-minded men are wonderful but sometimes they can be so difficult (G)!

As for writing exotic settings - it's a real joy. I'm glad you like them. Of course it means I should do some more hands on research by travelling more often. I did that in December and it was wonderful but didn't make it back to the Mediterranean this time. Maybe I'll see you in Santorini!

Lynz Pickles said...

I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my love of dark, dangerous men. Not too dangerous, of course, but with that sexy edge... *sigh*

I also love a well-writen tortured hero. There's something so yummy about a man with something in his past he needs to ger over to move on in his life... and, of course, when you combine a tortured hero with a dangerous one, you get the ultimate character.

I love what you said about a hero feeling off-balance and flustered because of one woman... it's so funny to read about characters like that!

Both of your current releases look great (I've gotta read them now!) and congrats on reaching the double digits!

-Lynz

Willa said...

Hi *waving*

Dark, dangerous and edgy. Add to that sinfully sexy and intriguing . . . mmmmm . .!


Enjoyed the excerpts on your website - particulary liked the insights into how you came to write each book.

Christina said...

all I can say is: YUM! You have described my book hero to a T! Honorable alpha with pride? ^_^

I am so excited to have Ria's story! I have spent the weekend rereading the psy/changeling series since I just graduated this week (and now have time on my hands--finally), and she peaked my interest in HtP. Clay and Tally weasel their way further into my heart. MtP is my favorite and I love it more each time I read it! July & BbF can not come soon enough now!

Sheila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheila said...

Hi Annie *waving* I loved The Greek's Convenient Mistress..you sent me a copy in 2007...I think it was then along with For The Sheikh's Pleasure and The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride...All were wonderful reads.

Thank you for sharing your writing with us..

orannia said...

HI Annie *waves*

Yes I like my males tall, dark and dangerous...that's a given *grin* Tortured? *nods* And I would (since I'm the one doing the building here :) like them (when did they become plural?) to have an innate sense of honour. Alpha? Yes....but not bullying. An alpha who knows when strength is required, but who can also be tender. (And yes I'm thinking of Lucas and Hawke right about now Nalini...how could I not :)

All the best with your latest release Annie!

And my verification word is imated....don't I wish :)

maered said...

Hi!

I love a well written tortured hero. Who doesn't? ;) And I like reading about alpha hero who are NOT jerks to the heroine. You'd be surprised at how many cross the line into as* territory.

macbeaner said...

What a fantastic interview! :)

chichaihana said...

I love that edge of danger in a hero, it makes them both amazing and fascinating. Isn't there something in most females that makes us want to delve into a man's secrets? ...or maybe that's just me, lol

Annie West said...

Hi Lynz,

Sorry not to be around earlier to reply - it's been a big day and I've just arrived home for a quick stop before heading out again.

Thanks for the congratulations on reaching double digits with the books. It's not something I consciously thought about and then suddenly I turned round and realised how many I'd written in the last few years. A lovely feeling. Glad you like the sound of the current stories!

Your enthusiasm for a tortured and dangerous hero has given me the fillip I need to tackle my current hero again. He's proving elusive at the moment - complex and obstinate. Ah, men! (G). Hope I can wrestle him into shape.

Annie West said...

Hi Willa,

How cool that you enjoyed the excerpts on my site, and the background on how they came to be written. I LOVE hearing about how other people come up with their books and characters. It's great to hear others have the same fascination.

Sexy and intriguing? Yes please. Definitely I'd add those to my list!

Annie West said...

Christina,

Huge congratulations on graduating! Terrific. No wonder you're ready to sink into some great stories! Hope you have a ball. I'm sure you will.

Annie West said...

Hi Sheila, how are you? Lovely to see you here. Strange how with THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS there was this gap between release in the UK and the release now in North America.

So glad to hear you enjoyed Stavros and Sophie's story and then Arik and Rafiq's books as well. Speaking of heroes used to getting their own way but still having a sense of honour - those two definitely qualify.

Hope you've got some great reading on now!

Annie West said...

Orianna, I'm all for heroes in the plural. After all, as soon as I finish one story I pick up the next!

Hey, great point about a hero who can be tender too. Doesn't that just make you melt? I love it when a tough guy who's used to dealing with all sorts of difficult situations and not giving an inch, shows tenderness. It packs such a punch. I think that's one of the reasons Costas in The Greek's Convenient Mistress appealed to me so much. He's tough and driven and he'll do anything it takes to achieve his goal. But when you see why he's like that, and see his tenderness with his little girl, it makes it understandable and he's so appealing as a result (at least I think so - but maybe I'd biased).

Annie West said...

Hi Maered,

I know what you mean about guys who are jerks. I suppose sometimes it's a fine line between what works for one reader and not for others. However, I prefer men in stories who don't classify for 'jerk' status. I don't think that's heroic at all. And if they're just throwing their weight around for the sake of it, they're not heroes, they're bullies, trying to pretend they're the alpha top dog. A true alpha hero is sure of his strength and his position and doesn't have to prove it by being a brute. Ahem, sorry, I'll climb down off my soap box. This is something I feel strongly about but I don't want to rant.

Having said that I do like it when a well-meaning hero behaves in a way he'll later regret when he gets the full picture and realises he was misinformed. Love that sort of complication (but it has to be realistic).

Thanks for raising this point!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Macbeaner. Glad you enjoyed the blog. It was fun to do.

Annie West said...

Chichaihana,

You could be right about a woman wanting to delve into a man's secrets. I'd never thought of it like that. I suppose we want to know what makes them tick, don't we? You've given me a whole new perspective on this. Thanks! Secrets and danger make a great combination, don't they?

Helen said...

Hi Annie

I love your heros they are to die for.

I love tall dark and handsome heros that are honourable and have a sense of humour.
I loved The Greek's Convenient Mistress actually that was the first one of your books that I read Annie and you had me hooked then. I loved Costas and Sophies story and I am so looking forward to getting Blackmailed Bride Innocent Wife in the next couple of weeks.

Congrats on your wonderful success Annie you are an autobuy author for me and your books are on my keeper shelve they always give hours of pleasure and adventure.

Have Fun
Helen

Annie West said...

Hi Helen, how lovely to see you here. I'm thrilled to be an autobuy author for you! That means a lot to me. So glad you enjoyed Costas and Sophie's story. I hope you enjoy Alissa and Dario as much. I had so much fun writing that story - I hope it's as much fun to read. He really is a dark, dangerous hero (but with a soft centre).

Hope too that you've got some great reading on your bedside table right now.

Una said...

Thank you Nalini for another guest author blog. I am enjoying "meeting" authors from your "corner of the world."

Hi Anna and thank you for the book opportunity. I really enjoyed your discussion on your heroes. That is what draws me to those dark and dangerous heroes, seeing that they have that vulnerability that they hide from even themselves. When they realize they have feelings for someone and then they have to pursue that person because they have (usually) lost them in their refusal to open up. I LOVE it! Especially because all that passion is unleashed as they chase after their love. Congratulations on your success and I look forward to reading your two new releases!

tetewa said...

Some of my favorites are dark bad boys!

Annie West said...

Hi Una, and thanks for the congratulations! Great point about the hero's vulnerability being something they hide even from themselves. And yes, that passion does get unleashed as they purse that one special woman. Isn't it fun? It sounds like there are quite a few of us who enjoy that.

Annie West said...

Hi Tetewa, I think the dark, bad boy is someone you won't have any trouble finding - hope you have some great books lined up.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Hello everyone! Little late on the post but I just wanted to share that I've had the priviledge of reading both of Annie's books and they are wonderful. I became an immediate fan with her first Mills and Boon release.

Great blog and post....thanks.

Annie West said...

Hi Marilyn, it's lovely to see you here. Thanks for the plug for my books! (G). I still remember your feedback on my very first Harlequin release. Waving from not-so-sunny Australia.

Christina said...

Orannia, I love how you described the strength of the hero. Its wonderful when they are strong enough to know they don't have/need to be.

Thank you, Annie! I am indeed going to enjoy what free time I have. If only I didn't have to look for work.

As I reread about the 'hero,' I think one of my favorite qualities (well, more like moment) is when the hero realizes all the problems his pride has caused, and is willing to do anything to make it up to the heroine (Nate chasing after Tammy, and later buying the orchids, comes to mind since I just reread BoT).

And the more I reread your (perfect) description of the hero, for some reason Kaleb keeps coming to mind... (I still want Kaleb to have a book, Nalini!).

orannia said...

Thank you Annie & Christina :)

And Christina - I second your comment about Kaleb. For some reason (and since Lucas has Sasha) I'm completely drawn to Kaleb. He's....intriguing :)

Annie West said...

Hi Christina,

Have been away the whole day and am just catching up. What a nuisance to have to hunt for work. Good luck - hope you find something good soon.

Ah, yes, I know what you mean about them realising where their pride has led them. What fun to explore!

Annie West said...

Orannia,

Isn't it terrific when a character gets under your skin like that? When they seem so real you can't stop thinking about them?

Annie West said...

I just wanted to say thanks everyone, for the lively, fun discussion on heroes. I've really enjoyed myself here! Nalini will be posting soon about winners for my book prizes so keep an eye out and in the meantime, happy reading!

azteclady said...

Congrats, orannia and Una!

Thank you, Ms West and Nalini!

Una said...

Yay, thank you VERY much Annie and Nalini!

Congratulations to Oranni too!

Christina said...

Orannia-- glad I'm not the only one curious about Kaleb! I've wanted to know more about him since the beginning. Congrats on winning!

Annie West said...

Congratulations Una and Orannia. I hope you enjoy the books.

And thanks again, Nalini, for having me here. It's been such fun. Waving to everyone - thanks so much for chatting on a subject dear to my heart!

orannia said...

Thank you Annie & Nalini! And contrats Una! YAH! What a fantastic way to end the week!

And Christine *nods* - I'm definitely keen to get to know Kaleb...I mean know more about Kaleb....well...*blushes*