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Annie West Claims an RT Book Reviews Top Pick!

Annie 6I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair one of our favorite guests, Australian author Annie West. Annie is here to tell us about her latest Harlequin Presents, the passionate and emotional DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR.

Damaso is making friends all over with some wonderful reviews, including a Top Pick and 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews. How’s this for a wrap? “West’s page-turner set in colorful Brazil is impressively perfect, starring her well-matched, rags-to-riches hero and her unjustly scandal-ridden royal heroine. Her illuminating, expert narrative brings the breathtaking story and the explosive lovemaking to life.”

Annie 2You can find out more about Annie and her books on her website: www.annie-west.com

Annie, congratulations on your Top Pick review from RT Book Reviews for DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR. Well deserved! Can you tell us about this story?

Hi Anna, and thanks for having me to visit again! I always feel warm and fuzzy opening the door into the Banditas’ lair. Or maybe it’s those cocktails!

Snickering here at the way you seamlessly lob in the reference to the RT top pick review. Thank you, dear. I do so love it when someone (other than me) enjoys my characters’ journey.

In DAMASO, a slumdog millionaire meets a society princess and sparks fly. Their passionate affair ends in pregnancy and a proposal. But Marisa won’t settle for less than love. The question is whether she can find it with a man who doesn’t know what love is.annie 3

It’s a great read. What were the inspirations behind this book?

I’m fascinated by the idea of people who put on one face to meet the world, hiding a wealth of emotion in private, especially those living in the public eye. I came up with an idea for stories about three royal sisters, variations on that theme of a hidden inner world. But it became obvious that one was a loner and her story would work better if, instead of having devoted sisters, poor Marisa was alone in the world.

Marisa is a twin, and in my imaginings she’s just lost her twin brother. Imagine how much harder it would be for Marisa if she’d only had one sibling, one true friend in a world where she didn’t fit. So the sisters had to go, though I’m hoping to write their stories separately.

So there was Marisa, lost and alone, disapproved of by her extended family and even the public. She hides her true self behind smiles and a penchant for extreme sports. Enter Damaso, who built his wealth and power after a childhood of deprivation. He sprang fully formed into my head some time ago after watching a program about street kids in South America.

Annie 7Damaso also hides his real self. He’s never learned to love and he’s not interested in it. But he is interested in Marisa. For one glorious night they let down their guards, till things go wrong. Damaso has his own demons that drive him away from anything that makes him feel too much. So of course they were going to have to find themselves in a situation where they couldn’t just turn their backs on each other. That’s when Marisa discovers she’s pregnant. The book is about how two almost-strangers, each hiding their vulnerabilities and hopes, each with problems trusting, deal with this most momentous change in their lives.

What’s coming up next for you?

In November REBEL’S BARGAIN hits the stores. It’s my first reunion novel and a scorching hot lovers-into-enemies-into-lovers story. It’s part of a continuity of linked stories about the Chatsfield siblings and their family hotel chain. Rebel isn’t set in a hotel though. It starts in the Himalayas where my hero has been badly wounded while ice climbing (it’s dangerous being an Annie West hero – I love doing nasty things to them) then most of the story is set in a chateau in France’s gorgeous Loire Valley. Le sigh.

Part of the booksigning queue in Berlin.

Part of the booksigning queue in Berlin.

My secret squirrel agents tell me you haven’t been to Brazil and yet I found the setting one of the most compelling parts of this story. Can you tell us how you got into a Brazilian frame of mind?

Anna, I’ve wanted to visit South America for years but still haven’t made it, so I made do with books, television documentaries and the web. I’ve been in love with the idea of Brazil since I watched a long running Brazilian TV show years ago and fell for the look of the place and the cadences of the language. On the latter, I was lucky enough to be able to check the little Portuguese I used with a native speaker who was wonderfully helpful. I’ve spoken to people who’ve lived or visited there and tried to use some of what I learned in the book. One day though I want to visit and do some in depth research.

Annie working hard – researching her current wip in Prague.

Annie working hard – researching her current wip in Prague.

Those secret squirrels have been busy! They also tell me that you’ve recently had a European trip, including an appearance at the big Love Letter convention in Berlin. Can you let us in on some of the highlights of your travel? Can we expect to see any of those glamorous places making an appearance in forthcoming books?

What is it with you and furry little animals, Anna? Obviously they’re a good source of information.

Yes, I made a quick trip to Europe earlier in the year. Considering that’s 24 hours of flight time from Australia you can tell I really wanted to be there. The Convention was terrific, having the chance to meet up with so many other romance readers.

Other highlights? Prague. Big smile. If you haven’t visited Prague you have a treat in store. I’m just writing a wedding set in the old town there and it’s wonderful reliving my visit.

Annie getting a taste of Italy, researching her next novella.

Annie getting a taste of Italy, researching her next novella.

Also the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. I got to drive the multiple hairpin bends over the high alpine passes, surrounded by luxury sports cars and still found time to admire the views. That setting is going into a Hot Italian Nights novella I’m currently plotting. And I even managed to fit in a night in an alpine castle. We had a spare night and no accommodation booked so I did an internet search on castle stays in Austria, as you do, and hey presto! More fodder for future stories. Sigh. I do love research.

Sounds like a fantastic trip, Annie. I look forward to reading those wonderful settings in future wonderful stories! Do you have a question for the Banditas to get conversation going? Or should we all just go and have ice-cream? :-)

I want to visit Brazil one day, especially after writing Damaso and Marisa’s story. I want to taste the food, see the sights and get a feel for the place after all the research I did.

Is there somewhere you’ve read about and long to visit but haven’t yet made it? Have you ever looked forward to visiting a place (maybe after reading for writing a story set there) and then found the reality far different to what you’d imagined? Were you disappointed or intrigued?

1BanditBootyAnnie has very generously offered two commenters today signed copies of DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR (international). So good luck people! 

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