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:

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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  • Jane says:

    Congrats on the new release, Annie. I’ve wanted to visit Egypt since reading articles in National Geographic magazine and in history books. I want to explore all the archaeological sites and take a cruise down the Nile.

    • Jane, take the Rooster with you. He has Mummy issues!

    • Annie West says:

      Jane, some of those National Geographic articles are amazing aren’t they? I used to drool over ones showing ancient sites all the time. If you loved the article you’d probably love Egypt. I’ve been a few times and it’s a place of extremes (I’m not just talking about the heat). I can recommend Nile cruising too – a great mix of relaxation and flat out exhaustion from visiting the sites.

  • J St George says:

    Great post Annie and Anna.

    Congrats on the RT Book Review. That’s just wonderful!

    I love Prague too. One of my all time favourite cities!!

    • Annie West says:

      Jenn, you’re a woman of great taste. I think Prague is such fun. I’d love to see it in winter. Someone I know was there for Christmas and there were virtually no tourists. Would be very pretty.

      Thanks for the congratulations. I’m thrilled to have this book out.

    • Jenn, I’ve never been to Prague. I clearly need to go!

  • Amy Conley says:

    Austtraila is someplace I’ve read about, dreamed about, hey, I even watch Aussie TV! One of these days….

    • Annie West says:

      HI Amy,
      In that case you absolutely have to come to visit! It’s a big place with so much to see and experience. I was just thinking today on a long train journey (looking out the window and seeing a wallaby – like a little kangaroo – looking back at me) how terrific it would be for an overseas visitor. Hope you make it one day.

    • Hope you make it one day, Amy!

      • Amy Conley says:

        Anna, when I do I’ll be sure to let you know so yoou can show me your beautiful garden with all it’s awesome fragrences and beauty up close and personal. Hey, you kknow what a stalker I can be! And how glad I followed you around when whichever book it was of yours I wanted to win, one way or another (and I did win it too 🙂 ) brought me here. My own personal get-away. I am stingy and don’t even tell many people about this site.

  • Mary Preston says:

    Hi Annie, DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR is already on my wish list.

    After reading about Scotland for years, I am determined to get there one day. I will not lie. It could be for the men in kilts.

  • Helen says:

    Woohoo Annie huge congrats on the release of this awesome story I loved it Damaso is just the best and I loved Marisa and of course the setting 🙂

    I have read so many stories set in Scotland that it is a place I would love to visit and also Italy maybe one day 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Annie West says:

      Hi Helen,

      I’ve got a big grin on my face, after reading that you reckon this book is ‘awesome’. So pleased it hit the spot with you. Oh, I adored the setting. I kept wanting to spirit myself off there instead of sitting at my desk.

      Ah, I have the feeling Scotland may be invaded one day soon by romance readers. I wonder if any enterprising tour companies have thought of organising that?

    • Helen, so glad you enjoyed Damaso! I think it’s a great story. Hope you get to Scotland one day. You might run into Mary!

  • Deanna says:

    Annie, how exciting to have such great reviews for Damaso. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.

    As to any places I’d love to visit that I haven’t yet … there are Prague, Vienna and Budapest. They are cities that The Boy promised to take me to for a honeymoon but 13 years in and we still haven’t had that honeymoon because he tells me that everyday is a honeymoon being married to me. Perhaps it’s just a really great line he’s feeding me since we haven’t made the trip yet? 😛

    Truth be told though, I’ve traveled and lived in so many countries in my life now that I’m a bit over traveling. I’ve lived in about 13 countries, give or take one or two that I may have miscounted in my life, so I’m not in a big rush to go anywhere real soon.

    • Deanna, before I was published I was working on a book set in 18th century Hungary (yeah, I know, amazingly commercial setting – but it was interesting to me!). As a result, I’d love to visit that country one day. It sounds fascinating.

  • Annie West says:

    Thanks, Deanna. I must say I’ve been thrilled by the feedback from people so far on this book.

    Laughing at The Boy’s line about every day being a honeymoon. That’s one smooth talking guy! But as you say, sometimes it’s nice to rest, especially if you’ve done so much moving.

    Snap to Budapest – that’s on my must see list too. Prague was lovely and Vienna was an experience. I was there for new year a long time ago and the temperature didn’t rise above minus 15 celsius – which is cold for an Aussie. Wouldn’t mind seeing it in summer some time. Hope if you ever get the travel bug again you and your man make it there.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Annie, it’s so great to have you back with us! I am quite jealous of your research trips. I have a laundry list of places I want to visit and haven’t. Yet. Prague is definitely one of them, along with Budapest. Vienna, Venice, Amsterdam. I am quite drawn to the whole length of the Danube, in fact. I think I need to research castle stays in Austria. That will give me itchy feet, for sure! 😀

    • Annie West says:

      Hi Caren,

      That sounds like a wonderful research trip – right down the Danube. I’d be in that. I admit it’s not so often I manage to line up research prior to a book. I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to do that this year. One of the things I always loved about romance reading was the opportunity to travel to far away places. Still love that, especially when it’s a really intriguing story. If ever you’re heading to Austria let me know, we discovered a wonderful place to visit.

    • Caren, I need to research castle stays in Austria too. Snerk! Hmm, and cream cakes of the world. I think that’s definitely the subject of my next book! 🙂

  • sandyg265 says:

    I’d like to go to Alaska someday.

  • Shannon says:

    I have never made it France, and several recent movies have made we want to travel along its coastline as well as take in Paris and Versailles.

    • Shannon, I was lucky enough to see a lot of France during an extended trip back in 1985. Amazing country. The coastline is gorgeous – especially up north where it’s very rugged and spectacular.

    • Annie West says:

      Shannon, there’s so much to see there. We only touched the surface. Would love to read more romances set there too.

  • catslady says:

    Since I read a lot of medievals, Scotland has been somewhere I’d love to visit and I want to hear more of that accent lol. I’d also like to visit Sicily because all my ancestors came from there!

    • Catslady, very good friends of mine have been to Sicily a lot and they rave about how beautiful it is. Hope you get there!

    • Annie West says:

      Catslady – Scotland and Sicily – maybe you could combine them? That would be fun. Start in Scotland and then head to Sicily for the warmth. I’ve got Sicily on my list too – for the history and the culture and the food!

  • Minna says:

    There are many places I’d like to go: Scotland, Australia, Hawaii, Iceland…

  • Woohoo – Congrats Annie on the Top Pick looks like another winner.

    I’ve always wanted to go to the Love letter convention in Berlin…well not always because I just heard about it something like five years ago – but still…What was it like?

    • Donna, I think the Love Letter convention sounds absolutely amazing!

    • Annie West says:

      Donna, I went to the 2014 LLC – the third year it’s been held. I found it fun and actually nicely low key. No big plenary sessions. Very casual and relaxed. The nicest thing, I think, was just sitting outside in the sun and chatting with whichever readers were around. This year was the first year it was held in Prenzlauerberg (in the old East Berlin) and it’s a nice area – an interesting mix of old and new. Berlin itself is fascinating.

    • Annie West says:

      Donna – I forgot to say thank you for the congratulations! I’m really chuffed about the book and the fact that readers are enjoying it so much.

  • teresa says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Venice & Scotland. Love books that takes place in those settings.

    • Teresa, you happened to mention two of my absolutely favorite places in the world. Scotland is breathtakingly beautiful and Venice is like nowhere else I’ve ever been. If you go to Venice, try and stay there. Once the day trippers go at around 3:00, it’s so atmospheric with just the sound of the lap of the water and the wonderful old buildings around you.

    • Annie West says:

      Teresa, what lovely places. As Anna says, Venice after the day trippers go it lovely – very atmospheric. And Scotland is beautiful in its own haunting way. Hope you get there.

  • Kim says:

    Congratulations on the new book. It would be nice to visit Paris, especially because I like to visit places of historical significance.

    • Kim, I’m hoping to hit the UK next year and do a side trip to Paris. I haven’t been since 1985.

    • Annie West says:

      Ooh, Kim, do! And if you do go to Paris, pick up a book recommending some walks. I think that’s a wonderful way to see the place. There’s so much crammed in – not just the major sites but lots of other wonderful things, including great places to stop for a little sustenance along the way.

  • Patricia Cochran says:

    Helllo Annie and Anna,

    I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and Scotland, they were settings for many of my earliest reads. At my age, I may not get there, I don’t know if I can handle the long flights. One of the earlier comments mentioned Venice, we did have a lovely visit there in our younger days!

    Pat Cochran

    • Pat, you won a trip to Venice, didn’t you? What a fantastic prize! Australia is a long way away – maybe you could do a cruise down here! Scotland is just so beautiful, can’t recommend it highly enough.

    • Annie West says:

      Never say never, Pat. The long flight is a pest but it’s doable, especially if you organise everything at the other end. So much to see in both places.

      Good on you, winning a trip to Venice. That must have been a wonderful treat!

  • bn100 says:

    maybe Brazil

  • Becke says:

    Your travel looks fabulous. There are few places I would pass on.

    Although Alaska is a beautiful state, I felt Denali Park was very disappointing–very few animals in sight and a long, tedious bus ride.

    • Annie West says:

      Becke, that’s such a shame about your visit to Denali Park. That’s the way with wildlife, isn’t it? You can’t rely on them to be around when you want to see them. Sorry to hear the trip wasn’t worth it.

    • Oh, Becke, that’s so sad about Denali. I remember a wonderful BBC documentary years ago about the park and it’s been on my bucket list ever since.

  • Another scorcher from Annie West! You do NOT want to miss this one! Such great characters and so much baggage between them. It really is one of your best, Ms. West !!

    I’ve always wanted to visit Pompeii. I’ve been fascinated by this place and this story since I was a young girl. The last time RWA was in New York I tipped into the Discovery Museum for the Pompeii Exhibit and it was INCREDIBLE !! Pompeii is most definitely on my bucket list!

  • Annie West says:

    Hi Louisa.

    I’m so chuffed you liked this books so much. Grinning here from ear to ear. One of my best? Yay! Thank you very much.

    Oh, Pompeii would be wonderful. I once wanted to be an archaeologist and I dreamt of working somewhere like that. I’d love to go there. Maybe I could meet you there.

  • Thanks so much to Annie for being such a great guest and to everyone who swung by to say hello. Annie, we wish you all the best with DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR.

    Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see who won the two signed copies!

  • Annie West says:

    Thanks, Anna. It’s been lovely visiting the lair. Thanks so much for your hospitality.

    I’m looking forward to sending books off to some Bandita guests soon.

  • Thanks for sharing!

  • Annie West says:

    I never tire of hearing that quote! And I should also say thanks for the lovely introduction, Anna. It’s so nice to be back in the RB fold.

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