Archive for November, 2008

30
Nov
08

Virtual Travel

atrani__amalfi_coast__italySometimes a girl has just got to get away, don’t you think? I know a whole lot of people satisfy their wanderlust in their late teens and twenties. I never had that–then. But now, oh, what I wouldn’t give for a Tuscan holiday, or several days and nights on the Amalfi Coast, or a Mediterranean cruise, or a lazy visit in the Lake District of England, tours of crumbling castles in Wales and Scotland, pub crawling in Ireland, a road trip across the United States, a cruise in Alaska, a trip to the Bahamas and, well, travel anywhere really.lake-district

 

Since I’ve never made these wonderful journeys I tend to like to live vicariously through others, e.g. Trish Morey’s blog where she’s talked about her recent holiday in Europe–five weeks of it! And the occasional travel programme when I can knock the green tinted lenses from my eyeballs for long enough 😉 .

 

And then there are my characters. Now, they get to do all sorts of fabulous things, like in the second of my Rogue Diamonds trilogy that’s due out March next year and part of which is set in Tuscany near San Gimignano. Oh the research, I swear, it just about had me booking a flight there and then–for the food if not for the scenery!

 santorini

Thank goodness for virtual travel through the joy of reading. Thanks to the stories of others I’ve lived small town America, sweltering Amazon jungles, snow bound winters in various countries at a time when I’m drooping under an Auckland summer’s high humidity, the luxuries of the south of France, the sparkling beauty of the Greek Islands. You name it, it’s been written about, and I thank all those writers for my experiences through their characters eyes.

 

So tell me, where’s your most wanted to visit place in the world? And why? And if you couldn’t go there, would you be happy to read about it?

 

Yvonne has some cute New Zealand Key-rings as a gift for three randomly drawn lucky comments.

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23
Nov
08

Most Desirable Movies

As the holidays head our way with a slew of new releases, it’s time to start talking movies.  For us Desirabelles, movies rate a close second to books when it comes to stuff we love.  It’s the ultimate visual way to submerse yourself in a story, to swoon over the guys and cheer on the girls, get lost in the action, the plot and the sheer wonder of storytelling. Here are our top movie picks:

 

anofficeragentlemanBron says:
One favourite movie? Impossible. This is why I like lists. But for the sake of this exercise I am going with An Officer and a Gentleman because I love the layers of conflict, the flawed but redeemable characters, the vignettes from the past that show why Zack is who he is, the emotional highs and lows, the smokin’ chemistry between Richard Gere and Debra Winger, and last but not least,reddress the most fabulously romantic final scene in movieland. Yes, Pretty Woman and Notting Hill come close, but the “Way to go, Paula, way to go!” final line is a classic. Oh, and the theme song, “Love lifts you up where you belong”, is also the movie’s tagline. Perfect.

 

titanic-3Paula says:
I’m with Gemini Bron – can’t chose one and totally need a list.  It also depends on what mood I’m in: I adore Star Wars (Episodes IV-VI) for its storytelling complexity, battle of good over evil, the plot twists, Leia’s gorgeous flowing robes, the gold bikini and the wonderful chemistry between her and Han Solo (yum… Harrison Ford!)  I love Titanic (despite the tragic ending) because I cry like a baby, it has Leonardo anddirty-dancing-movie-01 of course, Rose’s amazing wardrobe.  I think, though, Dirty Dancing hits a particular spot in my heart.  It was the movie of my generation, it spoke to everyone including the romantics, the guys and girls, the wallflowers and the beautiful people.   A story about a teenager coming of age, a dancing contest and a romantic love story, it was a phenomenon.  It started a dancing craze, had a kick-ass soundtrack (or two),  spawned a 60s revival, a stage show and launched Patrick Swayze’s stellar career as a hunky romantic lead AND a singer.  It also had the best line ever: “nobody puts Baby in a corner.”  And who doesn’t get goosebumps at the end when Johnny lipsincs “I’ve had the time of my life” to Baby?  ::::sigh::::

 

princess-bride21Nalini says:
My favorite movie changes with my mood, but one movie I can watch over and over, and OVER again is The Princess Bride.  It’s funny, it’s snarky, but at theprincess-bride core of it all, it’s romantic.  My heart melts every time Westley says “As you wish.” And that scene where he’s telling Buttercup how he survived the Dread Pirate Roberts…sigh. There’s a sweetness to the story (including that of the secondary characters) that just makes cynicism impossible – it’s a movie to watch with your heart wide open.

 

hanover-street

Yvonne says:
To be honest, I’m totally stuck choosing just one ‘best’ movie. Whenever people ask me what’s my favourite film my first answer is always Ghost – it has a love story, action, humour, good vs. evil, makes me cry every time I watch it, but it doesn’t have the totalghost package in the happy ending department. Again, with another much loved movie, Hanover Street, starring Harrison Ford and Lesley-Anne Down – it has romance, action, drama, adventure, but again the happy ending is blurred (which you kind of get when adultery is involved.) So, all in all, the movie that delivers everything for me, and which I love to watch over and over, is still An Officer and a Gentleman. We have romance, action, drama, humour, makes me cry (happy tears) and delivers on that amazing sweep-you-off-your-feet happy ending every darn time.

 

while-you-were-sleepingSandra says:
Today I’m choosing While You Were Sleeping (tomorrow it’d probably be something different), but this movie with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman always leaves me with that ‘aahhh’ moment. I like how she thinks she’s looking for one thing (love and a different life with the handsome, suave brother) and falls in love with the other brother instead. It’s the ‘falling’ of falling in love that I enjoy most in movies and in books. That I can have a good laugh along the way helps, too. Might just have to get this one out again and watch it.

 

pandpkissRachel says:
I have heaps of favourite movies and it was really hard to decide on just one. ibm_colinfirthSo I’ve chosen the first movie I ever owned: Pride and Prejudice – the 1940 MGM version with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.   It was the 80’s, I was a teenager in love with Jane Austen books, and didn’t have a lot of cash, so the fact I splurged on a video when it wasn’t popular to buy them shows the depth of my love.   The plot is at best a loose adaptation, the costumes are from the wrong period and the acting is OTT but I still love it. I can recite much of the dialogue by heart. I now also own the Colin Firth miniseries, the recent Matthew MacFadyen movie and the Bollywood verrsion, but, like a first love, the 1940 P&P has a special place in my heart.

 

casino_royale_iris-o1danielcraigRobyn says:
 I’ve never been a James Bond fan. Oh, Pierce Brosnan is delectable and Sean Connery is the epitome of black-tie masculine charm. But the boy-toys never did it for me, and while the women were gorgeous, the films were more a lust than a love story…until the latest, Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig shoots 007 well into the 21st century with fabulous action scenes, exceptional dialogue and, I need to mention, a bod that looks fan-damn-tastic in swimmers. 😀 I even came to like Daniel’s pout! But it’s the deep love, which develops between James and this particular Bond Girl, Vesper (actress Eva Green), that seals this film as one of my faves of all time.   Favourite scene…Bond wants to tell Vesper that he’s giving up his Superjames-bond-and-vesper Spy life for love of her. Lying together on a warm sandy beach, Vesper laments, “You’re not going to let me in there, are you? You’ve got your armour back on. That’s that.” James studies her with those startling blue eyes and says, “I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me – whatever is left of me – whatever I am – I’m yours.”   Can’t wait to see Quantum of Solace next week! 🙂

martini-shaken-not-stirredWhile I wait impatiently for Toy Story 3 and Madagascar 2, let’s talk about your favorite movies.  Post a comment and you could win a copy of Dancing Backwards In High Heels by fabulous new Aussie author Christine Darcas!

16
Nov
08

Robyn Grady introduces Rachel Bailey!

There have been several talented Australian and New Zealand authors bought for the fabulous Desire line over the last couple of years. I’m delighted, and excited to introduce here our very latest Downunder Desirabelle, Rachel Bailey!

Rachel, can you tell us a little about your journey toward publication? How long were you writing? Had you always aimed at Desire?

Hi, Robbie and everyone! Thanks for the invitation. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here! To answer your question, I’m not a lifelong writer – I read stories about authors who’ve been writing since they were children, and I feel as though I’ve missed all the fun! I started only a few years ago and couldn’t decide between my love for romantic comedy or category romance. After much to-ing and fro-ing, I decided to focus on category romance, specifically Desire, and then everything seemed to click into place. I’m so excited to join such a great line and some of my favourite authors!

We’d love to hear about your first book. When is it due out?

My first book follows Lily and Damon’s story – ex lovers coming to terms with a pregnancy, a scheming uncle, a big old mansion, and some conditions on a will that will turn their lives upside down. It was heaps of fun to write!

Ooh, sounds like my kind of story J

I’m not sure what the title will be – I called it His Convenient Marriage of Revenge, but I’m not sure if the editors will change that. It’s due out in September next year, which seems so far away, but people keep assuring me that the time will fly by.

Rachel, what do you like most about the Desire line?

The intensity. There’s nothing wishy-washy about these books, they drag you in and hold you until the very last page. And the heroes have that same gorgeous intensity. What more could I want in a story? J

I’m with you there! Who are some of your favourite heroes from TV and movies?

I have heaps of favourites! Colin Firth as Darcy, of course. But most of the other Jane Austen heroes as well, like Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund in the movie of Mansfield Park.

And I love Richard Armitage as Mr Thornton in North and South. Oh, and Spike in Buffy. I was never an Angel girl, it was always Spike for me. I could probably go on about this all day!

Sounds like a fantastic idea for a Desirabelle blog! A serious question now…are you a dog or cat person?

LOL. Both, but mainly a dog person. I have four at the moment, and have had up to six in my pack. I can’t imagine my life without a dog in it.

What’s your favourite colour, favourite food, favourite thing to do?

Purple.

Chocolate.

Read a great book.

Picture me lying on a purple satin bedcover, reading one of my favourite authors, eating Lindt chocolate  (happy sigh).

Rachel, what are you working on now?

A story involving chocolate. Perhaps I should try to involve the colour purple and have the heroine reading a great book while being fanned by Richard Armitage…

Sounds heavenly! The perfect Rachel Bailey fantasy. If you could be anyone, who would that be?

Me, but with some upgrades. J

Rachel, congratulations again on your sale to Desire! You’ll be here this week to tell us more?

You bet!

Excellent!

Now, my latest Desire Baby Bequest is out in NA this month and in Australia and New Zealand in December. I’d love to give a couple of copies away. Please tell us about your ultimate fantasy and I’ll give a copy of Baby Bequest to Rachel’s two top picks!!

Can I mention that a certain Spartan warrior would feature in my fave fantasy? Anyone like to guess?

Visit Robyn’s website to read excerpts and news on her upcoming releases.

09
Nov
08

Then and Now: Bronwyn Jameson

This week sees the reissue of my first two books published by Silhouette Desire. There are many reasons why I’m jazzed about this, not the least being the stylish “Bestseller Collection” flash on the cover. “Bestseller” happens to be a favourite word of just about every author.  🙂  It’s also given me some cause to muse about such things as wow, where did those seven years go? and how lucky am I to be still writing for Desire?

In that spirit of musing, I present a teensy insight into what has changed–and not changed–since my first sale.

THEN: I could get away with a heroine named Paris (In Bed With The Boss’s Daughter)
NOW: !’m not contemplating naming any heroines Paris, Lindsey or Britney.

THEN: Desire titles painted a broader canvas. Some of my favourites from 2000-2001:
Ride A Wild Heart, Slow Waltz Across Texas, Overnight Cinderella. 
NOW: They’re less colourful but more descriptive. Like four-word storyline synopses. As much as I like the title Addicted To Nick it doesn’t give much of a hint about the storyline, does it?

THEN: A biker cover was fine…but didn’t sell well.
NOW: No bikers, no leathers, not too many heroines depicted with TC’s short haircut, either.

THEN: The guidelines specified a minimum of two “fully realised” love scenes. Had to add one during my revisions for In Bed With The Boss’s Daughter whether it needed another or not. 
NOW: One, two or ten love scenes; we write what the storyline and characters demand.

THEN: My stories were built around strong-willed, independent women (a la TC in Addicted To Nick)…or strong-willed women seeking independence (Paris Grantham in In Bed With The Boss’s Daughter.)
NOW: Same.

THEN: Character-driven stories, tick. Cowboys, tick. Blue-collar heroes, tick.
NOW: Stories driven by the external situation, tick. Tycoons, tick. Billionaires, tick.

THEN: I used brand names that I *thought* the wealthy might use.
NOW: I have (I hope) a better understanding of the terms luxury, bespoke and exclusivity.

THEN: My stories included a quest to find home, family, love.
NOW: Beneath the surface glitz…they still do.

THEN: I was the only down-under author writing for Desire.
NOW: I am one of eleven. Our spelling, unique turns of phrase, settings, and other quirks are better understood and accepted…or the readers have grown tired of writing and asking for explanations.  🙂

What has changed in your reading and/or writing since the year 2000?  Have you discovered new genres, new authors, new lines?  Is there something you miss from “the good old days”?

Join the conversation this week for a chance to win a signed copy of my Bestseller Collection plus a surprise gift. (Prize drawn Nov 15; one entry per IP address.)

Check my website Contest Page for another chance to win.

02
Nov
08

The Lure of the Sheikh Hero by Annie West

Thanks, Desirabelles, for inviting me to your fantastic site! It’s so exciting to have such a strong group of Aussie and New Zealand Desire authors. I’ve been reading your books with enormous pleasure!

For those who don’t know me, I’m another girl from Down Under and I write for Harlequin Presents/Mills and Boon Modern. I’m absolutely hooked on reading (and writing) romance and I’m thrilled to say my ninth book for Harlequin has recently been accepted.

In the meantime, since my latest release is about a desert prince it was suggested I talk about the lure of the sheikh hero. I wonder how many of you share an appreciation of that particular hero?

It took me a while to come to the sheikh hero. In my early days of reading romances the heroes I discovered were usually European or American or occasionally from Australia or New Zealand. There were swashbuckling men in boots, regency rakes, businessmen, boys next door, bad boys on motor bikes, occasional cowboys, aristocrats or gothic antiheroes. Why would I need a sheikh with that sort of variety on offer?

But somewhere on my radar I was aware of the fact that sheikhs (or sheiks, depending on where you’re from) loomed large on the list of potential romance heroes. I knew women had swooned in droves when Rudolph Valentino appeared on the big screen in ‘The Sheik’ in the 1920s, but I couldn’t quite see what the fuss was about.

My curiosity was aroused and I sought out books featuring desert princes. I watched Valentino and ‘Harem’ and read more on the subject. Soon I was in no doubt why so many women love a sheikh hero.

Dangerous and Delightful
There’s something scintillatingly dangerous and delightful about the sheer escapist fantasy of being swept into the arms of a mysterious, handsome stranger and carried off to his lair. What a set up for wonderful conflict and tension! What heroine worth her salt wouldn’t revel in the challenge of a man who can have whatever woman he wants, yet chooses her?

In these stories the sheikh is so intrigued by the heroine’s beauty/character/defiance/intelligence/ stupidity in venturing into this domain that he has to have her for himself. He rules his world with absolute power. He has utter dominion over the woman he’s lured/seduced/kidnapped/rescued/found. We sit on the edge of our seats wondering whether he’ll use that power for his own ends, or will he refrain, and meet her on her own terms? Will he relinquish that power for love?

Or perhaps they meet elsewhere, in her home town for instance. He stands out from other men as different, intriguing and compelling. He’s drawn to her, whether he likes it or not. Even though she’s not obviously the right woman for him, instinctively he knows there’s something in her that calls to him and he can’t ignore that. His single-minded focus on learning more about her can lead them both into dangerous waters where attraction and duty collide.

The quintessential male
The sheikh is the quintessential male, won over despite himself. Initially he holds the power in their relationship and he may be ruthless in using it, which can put the heroine in a terrible situation – something we romance readers adore.

The heroine is likely to be vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean weak! After all a strong hero needs a strong heroine. Even if she’s usually self sufficient and even if her sheikh isn’t the rampaging, ride-across-the-desert-to-kidnap-her sort, something about him will challenge her – her freedom, her perceptions or her plans for the future. Whether he wears Armani and runs a multi-national company, or lives the life of a nomad, he’s a threat, the most powerful man she’s ever met, and the most fascinating. He threatens her peaceful world.

If you love a strong alpha hero then these romances may be perfect reading for you. If you enjoy stories of Cinderella transformations or the tug of duty versus love or the strong man brought to realise love is a force he can’t conquer, you may want to pick one up.

For centuries sheikhs, sultans and pashas have intrigued audiences, perhaps in part because of Western perceptions of the sexual power play associated with harems. Maybe too because they just seem so exotic! Think of Mozart’s ‘Escape from the Seraglio’, Edith Maude Hull’s ‘The Sheik’, Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Which reminds me – did I mention the clothes and the terrific horses?

The Settings
Then there are the settings: desert strongholds, romantic oases, sprawling palaces with hidden treasures, or perhaps a penthouse apartment in the heart of an exciting metropolis. The world is this man’s oyster. For background colour there are silk carpets, souks, glittering jewels and an exotic ‘Arabian Nights’ aura.

I’ve read desert princes who are men of action in thrilling stories of adventure, or honour-bound men whose primary aim is to protect those they’re responsible for. I’ve read sexy seducers who have the tables turned on them and suave, powerful captains of industry who learn to their cost that one woman can disrupt all they’ve planned.

In part it’s the power play between two apparently unequal characters that fascinates me. There might be a clash of different worlds with all the challenges that can throw up. Above all there is sense of the power of love overcoming difficult circumstances to bring our heroine and hero together in lasting happiness.

Have you read a sheikh story? Was it what you expected? What stood out for you? And if you don’t read them, why not? I’d be fascinated to hear (and I’ll give away a copy of one of my sheikh stories to someone who posts a comment, chosen at random).

ABOUT ANNIE: Annie’s third sheikh hero is making his appearance right now. Khalid is a man on a mission to save his country from years of mismanagement. He has no time for complications like love or marriage. But a chance encounter with Maggie, the most unlikely of potential brides, brings consequences neither of them expect. Their marriage will be one of duty and convenience. At least, that’s the plan…

THE DESERT KING’S PREGNANT BRIDE is available now in Australia and New Zealand or you can buy it on the web from the UK. It will be released in North America (Harlequin Presents Extra) in April 2009. In the meantime you can read more about it on her website.