Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Annie West GuestBlog: Sheikin' Up The Exotic

CONTEST TODAY: One Lucky Commenting Bella wins a copy of Annie West's "The Desert King's Pregnant Bride!"

From Michelle: Aussie author Annie West is veteran writer of Harlequin Presents (HP) category romances, those delectable little monthly treats that fulfill our need for sweep-one-off-one's-feet fantasy at its best (and mortifyingly enjoyable book titles at their even betterest)! Annie (her hot new read is "The Desert King's Pregnant Bride") scored today's GuestBlog spot when she generously donated to the Austrailian Romance Readers' Convention's auction to benefit folks affected by the recent devastating bushfires Down Under. The auction raised more than $7K! Please welcome Annie with your warmest, "Thank God these HP heroes never heard that it 'only takes one time'" Bella buongiorno...

From Annie: Hi Michelle! Thanks for inviting me to spend the day. Waving a big hi to all the Bellas too! I have Italian friends here in Australia who call me Bella and it makes me feel so special.

I’m starting a new book, daydreaming about my hero (hey, believe me, this is work – I have to understand him before I write him!) and it got me thinking about what appeals most to me in a hero. Strong, tick. Sexy, of course. Capable, naturally. Honorable, yes, absolutely. A man of action, a sense of humor, great eyes…the list goes on. Fortunately there are an infinite variety of heroes to suit every mood, from the boy next door to the exotic stranger who represents danger, adventure and the unknown.

Every so often I find myself strongly drawn to stories, and heroes, where the hero is exotic and different. Gothic romances where the heroine isn’t sure if the man she’s falling is a hero or villain. Stories about pirates, princes, brooding strangers who turn the heroine’s world upside down.

I indulge my love of the exotic by occasionally writing a sheik story. I love exploring a world where the hero is sexy, powerful and different. Sometimes he even has the power of life and death over those around him. I wonder if he’ll use that power to get what he wants – the heroine, or whether he’ll have sense enough to let her come to him. For me the sheik conjures ideas of untamed power, wild places, extreme wealth, independence of spirit, a warrior, sexual prowess (let’s not forget those fabled harems), old traditions of honor and exotic locations. Sheer escapist fantasy!

In these books the heroine is out of her comfort zone and vulnerable. But because she’s vulnerable she has the chance to stand up for herself and prove her mettle, something I love.

In my current release, ‘The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride’, Khalid seems to hold all the cards. He’s wealthy, powerful, charming and used to taking charge. Maggie is hardworking and independent but terribly vulnerable to this one man who’s unlike any she’s met. She enters his exotic kingdom and her life changes forever.

Do you enjoy the lure of the exotic too? How do you indulge it? Are sheik heroes your style? Historicals filled with glittering ballrooms or adventure on the high seas? Action adventures in far off lands or paranormals where the hero is dark and very dangerous? Can you recommend any stories with a touch of the exotic? Or do you prefer your romances close to home, as close as the boy next door?
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Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas, and welcome, Annie! So glad to have you here! Thank you so much for 'winning' this GuestBlog spot, though I don't mean to embarrass you by pointing out your donation. It's so very cool how you all banded together to help your fellow Austrailians, and continue to do so.

OK. I've got a big confession to make: I love sheik books. These guys make the perfect 'bastard' heroes, cause they're born to privilege and power and usually are gorgeous and fabulously well educated and smart on top of it. And they've been reared in these remarkable environs, both beautiful and severe, including their exquisite homes and often exacting families.

These guys always have so far to go to realize how arrogant they've been with the woman they don't think they really need, but whom they've impregnated in a night of abandon so sweet they've forgotten their usual scrupulous sheathing, as it were. And I love how they jump all primal and possessive about the male baby they're sure she's carrying. They're often so out of the realm of what we understand to be evolved males -- and sometimes they don't even recognize themselves -- that it's just a tremendously good time to watch their journey toward self awareness and meeting the heroine as equals.

Um, not that I have strong feelings about it, or anything. :)

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle,

No you didn't embarrass me. I loved the silent auction for the Victorian bushfire appeal. It was such a devastating time so it was terrific to be able to be part of something that helped out the cause. So many people had their lives changed forever by that weekend. It was great of you to donate prizes to an appeal on the other side of the world.

I'm smiling here about your 'not strong' feelings about sheik heroes! Actually, I think they bring out very strong feelings one way or another in a lot of readers. I have to confess that before I read any I was ready to judge them harshly and write them off. Then I read some and found there was a lot there to like.

In many ways they're the quintessential male of romance land and that's possibly why they inspire such passion in many.

Loved your description of their upbringing of wealth and privilege and how that influences them. As you say, that journey to self awareness is all the stronger, and that's one of the things I particularly enjoy in a good romance - seeing hero and heroine change for the better because of the circumstances they're in the the way they're feeling.

I was interested too to see that you say they make the perfect 'bastard' heroes. I agree that they can be at the extreme end of the alpha scale. But on the other hand, not necessarily. I've found in all three sheikh stories I've written (as if that makes me an expert, but anyway) that my heroes have above all been honorable men rather than of the rough and ready type. So my first sheikh, Rafiq, is actually the man who rescues Belle after she's kidnapped and puts his own life on the line to keep her safe. He goes out of his way to 'do the right thing' for his country and for her. Of course (!) along the way he gets what he wants too, but he's very protective and reasonable (which makes him sound boring when he's actually part pirate). And in this current story, Khalid is definitely motivated by the need to 'set things right' or so he thinks.

That's one of the things I enjoy exploring in these stories - the tension between power and obligation and pleasure. So many intriging possibilities!

I'm glad to hear you're a sheik fan, or as a good friend of mine would say, a 'sheik geek'! How cool!


Authorness said...

Hi, Annie and Michelle!

Annie, congratulations on your latest release. I adore your proud, honourable sheiks. I like a touch of the exotic in my heroes, but I'm terribly partial to those who can also make me laugh. So perhaps he'd be the sheik next door? ;)

~ Vanessa

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ha! I love it: sheik geek! As I was writing that, about the bastard sheiks, I was thinking, 'of course, I know not all sheik heroes are bastard heroes, even though I love the ones who are.' Sometimes I forget my disclaimers. Equally sexy are the heroes who aren't bastards but still manage not to be anybody's fool or 'girly man.' And, yes, I know how that sounds. :)

What you've written, Annie, that 'Khalid is definitely motivated by the need to 'set things right' or so he thinks... is what I love about the 'high handedness' of the HP heroes; they so often think they're being protective of their 'women' and their babies, and jump so caveman in the process. As a fan of men in general, I totally recognize that bluster response in real-life men (on a muchmuchmuch smaller scale) and get a kick out of its much-inflated portrayal on the page, though, as you say, many readers hate it.

Annie West said...

Hi Vanessa,

Hey, I like the sound of 'proud, honorable sheiks'. Works for me (G). Also love the idea of the sheik next door! What a great idea for a book - honestly, think what you could do with that! Would you consider it? I'd love to, but I wonder if I could convince my editor...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Welcome, Authorness! Looks like you all are coming up with some new designations for heroes in romance today. 'Sheik Next Door' is a great one! I think he'd make a great Blaze hero, don't you?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, yes, that's the thing about the sheik. In his heart, he's all honor. The cool thing is when he's been brought up in a family where honor has been tossed aside or gone missing for generations. I love when our sheik's been so long about restoring the honor that he's blindsided by love...

Annie West said...

Oh Michelle, I agree with you. The sheik hero (like all the romance heroes) comes in all types. The over the top ones have an appeal all their own. Some are more opportunistic than others, some more selfish, some more duty-bound.

I love exploring their weaknesses as well as their strengths and I really enjoy finding out how their relationship with the heroine makes them view themselves and their world through new eyes.

Yes, these heroes do seem to leap in boots and all to 'fix' a situation they way they think it needs to be fixed, don't they? And that can lead to such fun. I especially like the impulse to protect. It's such a positive trait but at the same time it's so easy for them to take it too far. One of the things I like about writing and reading contemporary romance is that clash that will come between a man who's doing what he thinks appropriate or even necessary and a woman who objects to what she sees as him trying to take control. That leads to so many juicy options, don't you think?

And if the hero is strong, then the heroine has to be too. Wimps need not apply if you're writing a sheik hero or it would be a terrible mismatch. And there are so many ways for the heroine to be strong. I love the heroines who stand up to the hero, toe to toe and dare him to continue behaving as he's been doing. But I also enjoy the quieter heroines who aren't quite so obvious yet still find ways to resist being pushed into a corner. Hm, basically I suppose I love a story with some really meaty conflict and chances for the sparks to fly! (G).

Annie West said...

Michelle, yes, The Sheik Next Door would be a great Blaze hero, or even a great Sweet hero. Personally I'd love to write one for Presents!

Annie West said...

Ah, Michelle, you must be a mind reader. You said "The cool thing is when he's been brought up in a family where honor has been tossed aside or gone missing for generations" - that's exactly what Khalid feels about his own family in my story. And he's so focused on making sure he acts honorably that he's willing to enter a marriage of convenience with a virtual stranger. Of course she's not a stranger for long! Did I happen to mention that I have a soft spot for marriage of convenience stories? So many interesting things can happen when strangers marry...

I should add though that these heroes, even when they're fixated on doing what's right, also seem to find a way to do what they want too. Back to your earlier point about their journey to self awareness.

amy kennedy said...

Welcome Annie! I confess, I have never read a sheik romance...maybe in the early 80s. But I am so intrigued, I feel as if I've gotten a crash course in the "sheik" persona as it pertains to romances.

Which is a really boring way of saying there's all kinds of manly men sheiks and I'm gonna try me one.

I too have always loved the Presents titles--as Michelle says, they are the betterest! And maybe I didn't want the book to disappoint. In a way it reminds me of how alpha a paranormal hero can be--because he's so far out of our realm (figuratively and literally) we can accept an even higher hand qfrom them--I see that it might be that way with "sheik" romances.

Stacy~ said...

Hi Annie! I believe you're Anna Campbell's partner-in-crime, or is it critique partner? I get those two confused.

I do enjoy a good sheik story now and again, especially where the heroine is dependent upon him in a strange land where women are not given much, if any rights. As long as said heroine is not a shrinking violet but rather a strong, resourceful woman who must use the uh, tools, she has available to her. It has some forbidden fantasy elements to it that I can totally recommend ;)

Meredith Duran wrote an amazing story called "Duke of Shadows", and 1/2 the book is set in India. It's a historical, set during a very volatile time in India where they began to rebell against the British soldiers that were there. Unforgettable book, very exotic, and I loved it.

amy kennedy said...

Oh, and can I raise my hand in a big old yes! for The Sheik Next Door.

Genuis! Vanessa/Authorness, I won't be able to stop thinking about it.

Stace, that sounds amazing. And I agree, I would want a strong heroine as well--or at least one who comes into her strength as part of the arc of her character.

Monica Burns said...

Welcome Annie, I have special place for Sheikh's in my heart as Michelle can vouch for.

I thoroughly enjoyed your For the Sheikh's Pleasure and the Sheikh's Ransomed Bride. Don't know who I like better Arik or Rafiq... probably Rafiq cuz I love the way he gets her to marry him with the whole betrothal thing. *grin*

I look forward to reading this new Sheikh book when I get a chance to read between deadlines. *grin*

As for heroes, I'll take 'em pretty much anywhere as long as the hero's hot, hot, hot, alpha, alpha, alpha, etc. While I prefer historicals and paranormals, I'll read any type of book as long as it's a good story. Execution is king in my book. No pun intended. *grin*

Playground Monitor said...

raises hand and admits to being a sheikh geek

Two of my RWA chaptermates write for Presents, so while I haven't read many books in the line before, I've become more aware of them since my friends sold. But I've read quite a few of the Desire sheikh books and I love that hero. He's so alpha and arrogant, but there's always this tiny little chink in his armor that the heroine is able to hone in on. She slips through it and before you can say "happily ever after" she's wrapped him around her finger.

Whether in an exotic locale or on a ranch in Texas, that sheikh will be a force to be reckoned with. Love 'em!


azteclady said...

*waving to Ms West*

Welcome, welcome!

Please don't enter me in the drawing, I already have the book--it's good!

Best of luck, Ms West!

amy kennedy said...

What's the difference, do you think, between a Presents and a Desire--and what's the difference with a book that's first published in Australia and one that's published here?

Kimberly Lang said...

~waves to Annie~

And not to brag, but I get to share shelf space with Annie this month. It's a bit intimidating, I tell you!

I love an Alpha hero, and there's just something about a sheik that is *all* Alpha (and a bag of chips!) Like Annie said, that's where you get the really great heroines -- she has to be strong and spunky in order to be his match!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Annie!! I can totally testify that Annie writes great sheikhs, y'all! So if you've been waiting to savor a sheikh book, grab one of Annie's. :) The one she mentioned where Rafiq rescues Belle is a delicious start! For the Sheikh's Pleasure -- yum!

I am a total sheikh geek. I'm very new to the Presents stable, but I hope to get to write my own sheikh one of these days. I know I have big boots to fill. :)

Oh those Presents heroes, regardless of sheikdom! They are all so untamed beneath their polished exteriors, and yet, for me, there's this inner core of honor that is inviolable. They may seem high-handed and bastardy, but always they believe they are acting for the very best reasons. Love it when they get their comeuppance from the heroine. :)

Kati said...

Hi Annie! Welcome to RBTB and thank you for your generous gift to the Australian Wild Fires!

Oh Shiekhs! Michelle can tell you, I love me some sheikhs and more than that, HP is one of my favorite guilty pleasures! And the more arrogant and overbearing the sheikh, the better! I especially love modern sheikhs, they are modern men, but live in the old world when they go home.

I think what appeals to me about sheikhs is that traditionally, they have the stereotype of thinking of women as chattel, and then this one tiny feisty woman comes along and knocks him on his butt. And then all he can think about is that he wants her above all others. What's not to love about a woman totally changing the way a man thinks? It's heady stuff, I think.

Playground Monitor said...

I think the Presents hero has a bit more edge to him, though a Desire author might disagree. ::grin:: To me, the Presents hero is MORE alpha, MORE of a rat-bastard, MORE filled with a sense of entitlement, MORE arrogant. And the MORE bigger they are, the harder they fall when they fall in luv.

Sandra Marton said...

Hi, Annie and Michelle:

What could be sexier than a rich, gorgeous, powerful guy? Nothing I can think of, which is why I love sheikh heroes--and Annie's are great!


Portia Da Costa said...

I must admit, I've not read many sheikh books. In fact probably only a couple and they weren't Present, in fact, but Mills & Boon Romances by Sophie Weston. Brilliant though! She has a wonderful knack of creating believable, nuanced heroes, sheikh or otherwise. :)

I've got a short story to write soon in which the Victorian heroine has a fantasy about being abducted by an exotic Persian brigand... and suddenly finds the fantasy coming true!

So that's probably going to be my nearest brush with writing a sheikh book! LOL

Estella said...

I love sheik heroes and Annie's are the best!

amy kennedy said...

Okayokay...I'll read me some sheik romance.

Marilyn/playground thanks for the explanation--I take it as, I would love them. Right?

orannia said...

Morning QB & Bellas and welcome Annie!

Hmmm...Sheiks. I haven't read about one in what feels like ages. The one trait I would add to your definition of a hero Annie is tenderness. All that arrogance definitely needs to be balanced with a hint of tenderness...toward the heroine of course :)

Annie - all the best with the release of The Desert King's Pregnant Bride!

Annie West said...

Hi everyone and apologies for not posting for a while. Due to a slight time difference it's not quite 6am here and I've been getting a bit of much needed beauty sleep. I've just woken to the sound of kookaburras in the trees behind our house. Some would say that's a sign it's going to rain but I think it was just a wake up call - reminding me there's a discussion on heroes happening here!

Just making a cup of tea now and then to read what's been said...

David B. said...

Sheiks as exotic indulgence...

Hhhhhmmmmm. Sorry, got nothing, except bad jokes about chocolate shakes as MY exotic indulgence.

Forgive me, but I'm way out of my element here.

Good day, ladies.


Annie West said...

Hi Amy,

Ooh, I'm so excited for you. If you haven't read a sheik title then you have a whole new world waiting for you. Really! I hadn't till a couple of years ago - I was too busy thinking I couldn't write them. But then when I started reading them I just had to try my hand as there were so many exciting facets to explore.

Definitely look out for them in Presents stories. Each author puts their own stamp on them and then each story and hero is different, as you'd imagine. From Lynne Grahame, Sandra Marton, Jane Porter, Penny Jordan, Trish Morey, Sharon Kendrick and so on, there is an infinite variety.

I think the fact that the sheik can be the quintissential alpha male is part of the draw. Especially at a time when it may be more difficult to show that (sometimes unvarnished) strength and masculinity in other contemporary settings.

Great point about the paranormals. I know some writers and editors who say that they think the huge surge in popularity for paranormals is linked to the nature of the hero in those stories - his strong alpha nature, and that edgy side to his strength.

Enjoy checking out some sheik stories. Hope you have as much fun with them as I've been having.

Annie West said...

Hi Stacy,

Yes, I confess, Anna Campbell and I are critique partners and great mates. Partners in crime? Surely not!(G). Actually one of the things that sealed our friendship was finding we enjoyed reading each others' work. Though she writes historicals and I write contemporaries, we had a lightning bolt moment one day years ago when we realised we were writing basically the same sort of heroes. Cool, eh? Maybe that's why I looove dipping into her new manuscripts when they come my way, even when she's complaining that they're not right yet, they're still a joy.

Ahem, now, back to your comments.

Yes, yes, yes! I couldn't agree more about the idea of the heroine being alone in an utterly foreign place and dependent on the hero - it's one aspect of a sheikh story I lap up. Her as the fish out of water (and let's face it, in a desert there's precious little water) and him with apparently all the power. I say apparently because, whether she realises it at first she DOES have power. It's that powerplay that hooked me to begin with. Questions like how much power does he really have? Would he really use it to get what he wants (her)? Or will he pull back and allow her some latitude? How will she react when faced with the reality of her situation?

As you say, this sort of story begs for a strong heroine. And for me that's where the fun really start, when she uses the tools at her disposal (chuckling here) to her own ends.

And as for the fantasy - sigh. Yes, please, a big dollop of that too.

Thanks so much for mentioned the Meredith Duran book! I'm making a note of it now to check it out. I always love recommendations and the setting and timing of this particular story sound great. I read MM Kaye's 'The Far Pavilions' years ago and loved it. Can't wait to see what this one's like.

Annie West said...

Amy, yes, I think Vanessa's suggestion of The Sheik Next Door is sheer brilliance. But what do you expect of a girl who's a finalist in the Golden Heart! (Yay, V!).

I went to sleep last night thinking about the possibilities of writing just that book! No doubt someone will.

Annie West said...

Hi Monica and commisserations on the deadlines. Aren't they such a pain?

I'm absolutely thrilled that you enjoyed my first two sheik stories, especially if you can't choose between Rafiq and Arik. What a sad dilemma. Glad you liked Rafiq's betrothal technique. It was great fun having him tell Belle how his ancestors used to steal women they wanted...But I digress.

Yes, please to the call for alpha, alpha, alpha and hot, hot, hot in a sheik. Works for me! (G). And, yes, that's what I enjoy in the historicals I read and the paranormals.

You know, this discussion makes me want to leave the computer and pick up one of the books on my tbr pile and forget the rest of the day. There are some truly luscious heroes out there, aren't there?

Annie West said...

Hi Marilyn, another sheik geek! Terrific.

I thought you put it so well when you said "He's so alpha and arrogant, but there's always this tiny little chink in his armor that the heroine is able to hone in on". It's enormous fun, isn't it, seeing how the heroine inevitably finds his weak spot. Sometimes she is that weak spot, and watching him flounder as he copes with the realisation is pure pleasure.

These guys are used to being in control. Whether they're the sort to ride across the desert with warriors, do business wearing Armani or hang out with the beautiful people they're used to getting what they want. Having the heroine disrupt that is a real treat.

You must be having fun with your chapter mates writing for Presents. How cool (from my perspective). I've got no Presents authors near me at the moment but fortunately with email that doesn't matter too much as we can still be in contact electronically, which is terrific.

Maureen said...

Hi Annie!
I like all different types of stories and settings. It just depends on my mood what I might want to read at any given time.

Annie West said...

Hi Azteclady, great to see you here. It was great to hear that you enjoyed Khalid's story and yes, we'll make sure you don't win a second copy! Hope you're doing well.

Trish Morey said...

Hey Annie, thank for the plug!

Aren't we lucky? All those hunky sheikh books to read *and* we get to write them too:-))

I love sheikh books and yours are wonderful. Can't wait to get inside the covers of this one. Keep 'em coming - he he he

Authorness said...

Annie, I think *you* should be the one to write about the sheik next door!

~ Vanessa

Annie West said...

Hi Amy,

The difference between books published first in Australia and those published first in the US? If they're Harlequin books, nothing. Nothing except the cover. In the US you get those lovely white covers with the circle inset for the picture. Here in Aus we get an almost full length picture with a swish of red across the bottom. Plus in the US they're called Presents and here in Aus they're called Sexy. Which means, yes, I'm proud to say, I'm a Sexy author!

Some Harlequin lines, including Desire, are edited in North America. Others, including Presents, are edited out of London but both have writers from all over the world. In the case of Presents stories they're published first in the UK (and called Moderns just to confuse us further). Some times those books are released simultaneously in the US and some times there's a gap. In my case I always have an Aus edition come out a month after the UK edition but the US date varies. I've had it the same month but I've also had it several months later. Too much info?

As for the difference between Presents and Desire stories - it's a good question. There's a similarity in titles between the lines, isn't there? This is something I've spoken to other writers about and it seems (though others may have a different take on this) that Desire editorial focuses more on a heroine driven book. On the other hand Presents is definitely hero-focused. It showcases the alpha male in all his glory (one of the reasons I love the line) and he really drives the action with his character and his drive and all those other terrific alpha qualities. That doesn't mean the heroine doesn't get a look in! I love identifying with the heroine and see how she deals with this amzaing man who's stormed into her life. She isn't just a passive ornament she's definitely a woman to be reckoned with, but nevertheless it's the hero who is the force behind the action.

If you pick up a story by some of the authors I listed in an earlier comment you'll see what I mean.

Certainly when I read the lines I feel a difference between them. It's great to have so much variety to choose from, isn't it?

Annie West said...

Hi Kimberly, and congratulations on your book release this month! Yay! Isn't it the most wonderful feeling?

Ah, don't feel intimidated. Just enjoy. There's nothing at all to beat seeing your books on the shelf in person. I adore it. When my husband was in the US and Canada last year he brought back pics of my books in various stores so I could live vicariously. What a guy!

I'm looking forward to reading your book!

Annie West said...

Hi Lynn Raye, lovely to see you here! I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do with the Presents promise of the strong alpha hero when your first Presents comes out.

Loved your comment "Oh those Presents heroes, regardless of sheikdom! They are all so untamed beneath their polished exteriors, and yet, for me, there's this inner core of honor that is inviolable. They may seem high-handed and bastardy, but always they believe they are acting for the very best reasons".

Yes indeed. And using the hero's point of view is great for that, don't you think? It allows you to delve into his thoughts and his reasons for acting as he does so we understand him better. I love playing with point of view. It can be so powerful.

Thanks for the wrap on my stories. It's wonderful to hear you enjoyed them so much. Hope you like Khalid and Maggie too. Have a big smile on my face here now.

Annie West said...

Hi Kati, thanks for the welcome.

As for the bushfire donation there were lots of great initiatives to help the victims so it was easy for us here to do our bit in a number of ways. I was so impressed with Michelle and others overseas contributing as they did. It was so much appreciated.

What a great point about the modern sheik - that tension between the traditional values and the modern world can be such a great tool to play with in these stories. I think you've hit the nail on the head when you talk about her knocking him for six (cricket analogy - does it work in the US). It's so great to see the ultra powerful man suddenly all at sea because of one woman. Talk about a cataclysmic power shift!

Great to meet another sheik fan!

Annie West said...

Marilyn/Playground Monitor,

Am laughing here at your take on the Presents hero. I agree, but it was the MORE, MORE, MORE I'm chuckling over. Spot on! Presents hero certainly has MORE in every way (VBG).

Annie West said...

Hi Sandra, terrific to see you here.

Wow, am sitting here thrilled at the thought that Sandra Marton says I write great sheiks. Can you see the smile from there? This from one of the queens of Presents heroes, and sheiks for that matter. Thank you!

If you haven't delved into Presents before then Sandra's are books not to miss.

Annie West said...

Portia, your short story sounds like a real treat. You've got me hooked. What fun that would be (ah, that's me getting carried away).

Coincidentally I have a Sophie West sheik story in my tbr pile that a friend lent me. I've also read 'sweet' sheik stories by Liz Fielding which are wonderful. A very different feel to the strong alpha hero but a fun read in a very different way.

Annie West said...

Estella, you're obviously a woman of superb taste (G)! So glad to hear you like my stories! Oh, it's a nice feeling being here!

Annie West said...

Amy, I'm so glad we've convinced you to give a sheik a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Annie West said...

Hi Orannia,

Thanks for the welcome and the good wishes for The Desert King's Pregnant Bride.

As for tenderness - is there anything better than when the tough hero who's impervious (it seems) to everything else, is emotionally unravelled by the heroine and shows that special tenderness to her? Sigh. Great point, Orannia!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Bellas! Hey, Michelle! Hey, Annie!

Firstly, can I thank you guys for your incredibly generous response to the bushfire crisis down here? I was so touched at your reaction.

Annie, fantastic to see you on one of my favorite blogs! And you're keeping up a great discussion. I've been reading avidly about all these reasons for why we love sheikhs. I think you're all so right about it's the fantasy of the big, omnipotent man pushed head over arse by love. We all love to watch it! I must say I'm a long-time devotee of sheikh books since I was a teenager and read Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsay. That definitely made my 15-year-old heart beat faster! I've since read the original Sheikh by E.M. Hull and really enjoyed it - so interesting to see where a lot of the themes originated.

Portia, I'm a huge Sophia Weston fan. All of her characters are so real and complex. She's a wonderful example of how much you can achieve in a short book, isn't she? By the way, love the sound of the new story!

Great to see so many Annie West fans here! As has already been pointed out, we're partners in...CRITIQUE partners so I'm the lucky duck who gets to meet the sheikhs first. Yum!

Annie West said...

David, well, it's quite understandable sheiks aren't your cup of tea. Thanks for resisting the inevitable puns!

Annie West said...

Hi Maureen,

I can relate you enjoying all sort of books with all sorts of settings. It is a mood thing isn't it? Sometimes what I want is the short sharp burst of intensity I'll get in a Presents for instance, and other times I want a longer read in a historical setting or maybe something completely different. I always feel like walking into a good bookstore is like finding a cornucopia of treats to suit me in any mood.

Annie West said...

Hi Trish, how cool to see you here! As for plugs - you know you're an autobuy author for me. And I really enjoy the way different writers put different slants on a hero 'type' so one story may have him as a wounded hero, another features a particularly ruthless one and yet another has him acting out of protectiveness or misunderstanding or sheer desire. Hm, yes. I wrote one that was quite simply a seduction story and it was fun.

Yes, ma'am, will do my best to keep the sheik stories coming, along with a few others in between. You too, please!

Annie West said...

Hi Vanessa,

Well, I'm happy to steal your idea of the sheikh next door, but I know you'd do a fabulous job of it, with your own warm and witty slant on it. Am already looking forward to reading your next story.

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, lovely to see you here.

Anna was actually the culprit who pushed me into writing sheik stories originally when we were talking about heroes and she kept saying I should write one. Pushy woman! But thank you, dear.

As for being my critique partner, I love the way you put CRITIQUE in caps - yes you see my guys first and you tell me all the areas they need polishing. Now there's a mental image - Anna buffing a sheik!

Tiona said...

Good Evening, Bellas! Welcome, Annie!
OOOOhhh, those dastardly, stuck-in-the-past, love-em, powerful, and all-too-handsome sheiks! Gotta love em. Oh, and I love the Harlequin titels. They just say it all, don't they.
Yes, Annie, I just love the historical romances and the exotic. Galgon, take me away! Far, far away. To another time and another place, indeed. And the hero..the darker, the better, I say, hehe

Annie West said...

Princess Bumblebee, thanks for the welcome. It's great to meet another lover of the exotic in romance. Isn't it great to let your imagination run free in some other place? It's like a brilliant vacation away without the actual travel.

Dark, powerful all too handsome heroes work for me every time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie!
How can one NOT like Sheiks? I think they're the ultimate alpha male, an alpha who topples all the harder to the heroine he can't resist Hee Hee!!
I can see why you and Anna have a great partnership with your darker hero's. Love them!!

Michelle Douglas said...

Hi Annie,

Ooh, you already know how much I love your sheikh books... and how much I ADORE Rafiq. Yum! Yum! Yum! And, for me, stories set in the desert are always a winner - everything becomes so, uh, elemental.

Hot alpha men are great fun to read. But I like those boys next door too. Authorness is a genius - The Sheikh Next Door. Now that is a book I would love to read ;-)

Annie West said...

Hi Mel,

I love the image of an alpha hero toppling. Am having a mental hero of him falling in the sand while the heroine smiles serenely down at him. Gotcha!

Actually the partnership with Anna is a hoot as well as being mutually beneficial. We're on the same wavelength on a lot of things and that helps no end. You're right, she's a woman who understands and appreciates a dark hero - you just have to delve into one of her fabulous stories to discover that.

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle, it's great to see you here. For anyone who doesn't know Michelle she writes emotion-packed, feel good sweet romances for Harlequin. Isn't your 'The Aristocrat and the Single Mom' out about now? Such a brilliant read!

I know of your fondness for Rafiq - it warms my heart. You make him sound like an ice cream (yum yum!). Love the idea of the desert lending an 'elemental' feel to the story. It does sort of strip things down to a bare minimum, doesn't it?

Isn't Vanessa's idea fantastic? She said she's been trying to get back here for some time but having tech problems. But I'm wondering if I might be able to convince her to write that story. It's definitely too good to pass up.

Martha Eskuchen said...

Hi Annie - thanks for sharing! Yes I like Sheiks and exotic places. I remember one story of a Sheik by Diana Palmer.. can't think of the name right now and don't have access to my computer and my list.. The Desert Lord or something like that? And Michelle is right that sometimes those men need a good dose of reality outside of their "kingdoms".
My DH and I have been fortunate to travel a bit and I have seen wonderful places that would be great settings: Bruges, Delft, Rotterdam,the Black Forest and other places on the River Rhine (wonderfully historic); London (of course!) and San Cabo Mexico (beautiful) to name a few.

Annie West said...

Hi Martha, I love your avatar! Makes me want to grab a comfy chair and start on your book collection.

I haven't read the Diana Palmer book you mention so it's one for me to watch out for. Yes, that's part of the fun, isn't it, when a man who's got it all is suddenly confronted with something he can't control. That dose of reality can hit them hard.

Love the sound of your travels and I have fond memories of Bruges from a long time ago. One day, hopefully I'll get to Mexico - it's on the list. Actually, I was lucky enough to visit the Rhine last December and even spent a night in a castle there (a real highlight - as was a horse drawn sleigh ride a few weeks later). I think the places you mention would make spectacular settings for stories. One of the reasons for my trip was to scope out some locations and I've got plans for a little alpine kingdom further down the track if all goes well.

I bet you and your DH had a ball on your travels! How fantastic.

Thanks for sharing.

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Annie, Rafiq as ice cream. Mmm hmm. Now what flavour would he be - dark chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and a splash of rum I think.

Yes, my Aristocrat and the Single Mom is out in Australia now (was out in the US and UK last month). It's always so utterly exciting to have a book out!

And Vanessa, if you get back online - listen to Annie, she knows what she's talking about. We want to read THE SHEIKH NEXT DOOR. Pretty please.

Annie West said...

Michelle, now you've started a dangerous new game - pick a flavour for a sheik! Ooh, I can see myself having far too much fun with that one!! Did you know my favourite ice cream flavour is rum and raisin? Hm, must go and think about Khalid and flavours. Am starting to channel whipped cream here and something very rich and strong to go with it, maybe coffee and honey.

I'm wondering about your Aristocrat, Michelle and what flvaour he'd be.

Ah, that's why I thought your book was out now - because it is in Aus. Trouble is, having just read it, I'm hanging out for the next book.

I'll pass on your message to Vanessa. I want that book too. Isn't she a clever girl.

Wow, I'm too distracted now to concentrate - thinking of icecream flavours for my heroes... Now that is seriously decadent - or maybe I'm letting my imagination run away with itself. (G)

Unknown said...

I love my sheik heroes but I also love my historicals filled with ballroom and adventures of the high seas. I read a little of everything and I like to switch around to keep from getting bored.

Annie West said...

Hi Virginia,

Ah, it sounds like we've got a bit in common. Sheiks, tick, historicals, tick. I love a great ballroom scene or some swashbuckling romance. It's hard to pic a favourite, isn't it? In a contemporary romance I love stories about men who stand out in times of crisis and putting them in a crisis is something I particularly enjoy!

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Annie, I like this game!

I can't decide if my Aristocrat is peppermint ice cream with milk chocolate chunks, or chocolate ice cream with a peppermint syrup swirl... any thoughts? He is a blue-blooded British aristocrat though, so may English toffee (which is my fave).

And Khalid, hmm... now I do think a strong turkish coffee ice cream would do that man proud. But there's an innate sweetness to Khalid that I love. How do you feel about a rich and creamy fig and honey ice cream.

Oh dear, I have to stop this. I have plenty of chocolate in the house (it is Easter after all), but no ice cream. Might just have to duck out to the shops.

Happy Easter everyone!

Annie West said...

Michelle, you've definitely started something scrumptious here. I was thinking about your aristocrat and interestingly peppermint did come to mind. Snap! Hm. English toffee would definitely work but I think with a hint of something extra. Toasted pecans maybe?

Khalid - hm, fig and honey but definitely with a touch of strong coffee I think.

Won't ask your opinion of Arik as I know you haven't read my seduction sheikh yet but definitely something long, smooth and velvety. Plus a tang of citrus. Oh, we'll have to finish this discussion later when you've read him.

How about Kent in your 'Loner's Guarded Heart'? I'm thinking butterscotch. What do you reckon? Or maybe caramel, with chunks of honeycomb.

Hm, now I'm off to think seriously about my current hero - I can't stop this train of thought! I wonder if there's such a thing as martini ice cream (G)!

Michelle Douglas said...

Martini ice cream! Ooh, is your next hero a James Bond kind of man? Can't wait to find out...

And Kent... Ooh honeycomb chunks, yes! Though, rocky road has potential. He's hard on the outside, but at heart nothing but a big marshmallow.

This is fun! Am dying to get to Arik - shall be thinking ice cream the whole book :-)

Annie West said...

Michelle, I'm glad the honeycomb idea worked for you. I think it would suit Kent down to the ground. Rocky Road too - after all he doesn't succumb to romance easily, does he? Sigh. Loved that story.

Yes, I do think a Martini sorbet for the current guy. I think if it's possible to do it then it might suit. Right now at any rate. I suspect (OK, I know) that as the story progresses he'll have a softer side to his character.

Would you believe I'm even starting to think about the story after this one. Dark chocolate cherry ripple is definitely on the horizon.

What a concept - heroes and ice cream. (G). Not quite sure how we got here but I'm having such fine. Thanks for the new game, Michelle.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, I missed EVERYTHING!!! Ugh. I'm having some freakish prescription interaction and was down for the count yesterday. So I'm going to read back though, then lament that I missed all this. Sheesh, you guys even got to spend time with MPG, and he's traveling this week...

Have you noticed that anytime the folks from Down Under show up, things get a little raucous?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Stacy wrote As long as said heroine is not a shrinking violet but rather a strong, resourceful woman who must use the uh, tools, she has available to her

I don't even know what to say to that. I'm just, well, shocked that you might be suggesting some kind of double entendre.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hiya, Monica! I TOTALLY thought of you the minute I saw Annie's sheiks. Not only do I know you're a Sheik Geek, too, we all are quite fond of *your* sheik. He's coming out in hardcover soon, isn't he?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Here's to MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE of the Presents hero, Playground Monitor! Always fab to have Marilyn, our very own category romance expert offer some insight.

Oh, Portia, you had us at 'exotic Persian brigand... And if the brigand is the man I'm thinking of, I cannot wait to read him! He's just so, so...*MORE.* :)

Hiya, Sandra! Love your sheiks, too, baybee.

Good point, Orannia. That is the very cool turning point w/ the bastardly sheik (or any Presents hero). I think he has to have that moment of tenderness when we see him act in this way he didn't think himself capable of.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Annie writes: You know, this discussion makes me want to leave the computer and pick up one of the books on my tbr pile and forget the rest of the day. There are some truly luscious heroes out there, aren't there?

Welcome to my world, Annie, welcome to my world.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

May I just say that, as a non-ice cream aficionado who is quite the connoisseur of heroes, you all are seriously making me rethink my disinterest in frozen confection. Good God. Are all ice cream flavors so remarkable, or is it just the Aussies who name them so sensually? I mean, Rocky Road doesn't really compete with 'long, smooth, velvety, and with a tang of citrus,' now, does it?

Annie West said...


Raucous? Surely not. You know we Aussies are quiet and unassuming!

Annie West said...

Ah, Michelle, you don't like ice cream? But there's something wickedly wonderful about thinking of it in terms of heroes. In that context, of course they sound utterly delicious. Hm,as for 'long, smooth, velvety, and with a tang of citrus,' I could send you Arik if you like and you'll see what I mean.

It's Easter here now and I know I'm going to be spending part of the holiday thinking of heroes in some of my fave romances and deciding what flavour ice cream they are!