Ten Behind The Scene Facts About The Russian’s Acquisition – by Dani Collins

The Russians AcquisitionGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of The Russian’s Acquisition

I often struggle for a fresh angle on a book for a guest post. I started to list all the weird behind the scenes facts about this book that I could think of, looking for inspiration, then thought, actually, the list itself is pretty fun.

  1. I call this ‘the book I rejected myself.’ It’s a bit of a long story, but basically I was given the chance to revise this one once more or start something fresh. I honestly didn’t know what more I could do with this one so I chose to start something fresh. After I hung up the phone with my editor, I realized that she hadn’t rejected this one. I had.
  2. I then rewrote this book after I’d had half a dozen other manuscripts accepted by London. They bought it immediately (with a few minimal revisions.)
  3. The kernel of this story is at least fifteen years old. Clair appears to be having an affair with an older man, but he’s actually impotent. I wrote a version of this for Silhouette Special Edition when it was still in business. (Rejected, obviously.)
  4. Clair’s hero, in the various incarnations of this story, has been: a special agent, a smuggler, a high-born Bostonian, a loner on a sailboat and finally, a Russian with a scar and a terrible secret.
  5. I’ve started this story in New England, Paris, the Appalachians and finally, London.
  6. When I pitched it to my editor in London, I actually pitched three different stories. Aleksy was the hero of a different proposal and she suggested (ahem) marrying them. It worked!
  7. This is the book where I really started to understand the Presents promise of glamour and luxury. Initially I wrote scenes in remote forested locations in Russia, but wound up moving them into Moscow, the Bolshoi Theatre and St. Petersburg.
  8. I made Clair blond because I wanted her as angelic as possible against Aleksy’s scarred face and grim, sinful past.
  9. I gave Aleksy a past that included sawmills because I knew through my husband that the Russian lumber industry is booming (although mostly on the eastern side of the country.) I considered setting the book close to Alaska.
  10. The Russian’s Acquisition is my ninth release this year. It’s my seventh Harlequin Presents and, as noted in #1, might have been my first book with them if I hadn’t been such a dip.

Giveaway: I’d love to send a signed copy of The Russian’s Acquisition to one lucky commenter. Please share a strange or interesting fact you heard about a book or movie. Or tell me something eccentric you like to do when settling in with a book. Do you drink a specific kind of tea? Put the blanket just so over your legs and coax the cat to snuggle in?

Here’s the blurb:

To: ClairDaniels@BrighterDaysChildrensFund.org 

From: Aleksy.D@DmitrievHoldings.com 

Subject: Contractual Offer 

You will find $100,000 in your charity’s account today, provided I find you in my bed tonight.  

Aleksy Dmitriev is after the ultimate revenge. Yet his plan backfires when he discovers that his new mistress, Clair Daniels, is a virgin who could not have been her former employer’s lover.

Revenge may be out the window, but that won’t stop Aleksy from enjoying the perks of his purchase…. But Clair is destined to be more than just this Russian’s acquisition!

Buy: The Russian’s Acquisition (Harlequin Presents)

EXCERPT:

He knew what he was doing to her. A smug gleam lit his narrowed eyes as his gaze dropped to her lips. He started to lower his head.

Jerking hers back, she gasped, “I haven’t agreed.” But did she really want to step onto the street at midnight with her meager possessions and become one of the homeless? Her few shallow friendships were all with people she worked with. They wouldn’t take her in for fear of losing their jobs. She didn’t have a cushion of savings, just a credit card she couldn’t pay off if she didn’t have an income.

The direness of her situation began to hit home. At least this afternoon she’d been sure she could find some kind of menial work, but not now. Any character reference out of the firm after today would be career-stoppingly negative. Flicking a look from his set jaw to his penetrating eyes, she whispered, “You’re a real piece of work, you know that?”

“I lost my redeeming qualities years ago,” he agreed, something dark flickering in his gaze. “Which means there’s no appealing to my better nature. Make this easy on both of us and give in, Clair.”

She was tempted to. She didn’t have anything to lose and no one to answer to while he was dangling—what? A night? A reprieve at any rate, one that advertised a fringe benefit of physical satiation she had never expected to want. The emptiness of a one-night stand was, well, empty enough to make her ache, but she wasn’t in the market for a real relationship, so…

“Why extend your takeover to include me?” she asked in a voice more husky than the disparagement she was aiming for. “Didn’t you get enough out of scooping up the firm from a dead man?”

“He was still alive when I started proceedings and no, I didn’t get anything near what I wanted. Don’t make out like you’re some kind of prey just because you’re used to being the predator. You get to keep the money,” he taunted softly.

“No matter what?” The jerky toss of her head was supposed to convey brash confidence. The question was real, though. She couldn’t help being seduced by the prospect of running the foundation her way, without needing approval on every detail. Without having to reveal that each of those details touched her personally and that was why she was fighting so hard for them. “I’m not into anything kinky,” she warned. “If you’re looking for someone to spank you, move along to the next girl in the secretarial pool.”

“I’m not the submissive in any relationship,” he assured her dryly. “I like straight sex and lots of it. I don’t hurt women, ever, if that’s what you’re dancing around asking. I might play with dominating one, controlling her…” He flexed his hands on her elbows, making her breasts press into his chest.

Excitement returned with a spear of pleasure straight into her loins. She gasped.

“If she likes it,” he murmured.

She struggled, but he held fast and to her chagrin the short tussle only caused her heated desire to kindle into a shivery anticipation. His vital strength was incredibly sexy and she must have had a kinky strand after all if she responded to having pleasure forced upon her. No guilt, she supposed.

“Too bad the money hasn’t cleared,” she said with breathless regret. “Go back to your own suite. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” After she’d had time to talk herself out of the rash agreement she was considering.

He slowly let his hands release her, his fingertips oh so slightly brushing the sides of her breasts, making need pierce her belly and leaving her shuddering with longing.

“So you can disappear with my money? I don’t think so. Van Eych might have been teased into giving without return, but I don’t tolerate cheats or thieves. Fetch your passport and we’ll take whatever you’ve left in that case. I have properties around the world. Lady’s choice where we go, but by the time we land, you’ll have your money and then—” He skimmed a proprietorial glance over her. “I’ll have you.”

Buy: The Russian’s Acquisition (Harlequin Presents)

dani collinsBIO

Award winning author Dani Collins writes Harlequin Presents, romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, erotic romance, and lately, even small-town rancher novellas. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.

Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy: The Russian’s Acquisition (Harlequin Presents)

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Forget Babies, Here’s Where Love Scenes Come From

dani collinsGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection: Mastering Her Role\Playing the Master

One of the most clichéd question we romance writers get is something along the lines of, “How do you research the sex scenes?” It’s one of those things where the people saying it don’t mean anything, they see a clever witticism, but from our end it’s kind of like a stranger walking into my bedroom uninvited. I don’t care if I’m only watering the plants, it’s still an invasion. We writers smile and pretend it’s fine, but we’re always privately thinking, Dude. Not cool.

I’ve had quite an increase in those sly remarks since I came out about the erotic romances I have releasing this August, so I thought I’d talk about how these super-sexy books actually came into being. Hashtag-spoiler-alert: Not based on my own life.

About fifteen years ago, which was a good ten years into my twenty-five year journey to making my first sale, I was super frustrated with all the rejections I was receiving from romance and decided to try my hand at erotica. It was gaining popularity at the time. Ellora’s Cave was the hot publisher of the day, and I was definitely not alone in thinking an erotic ebook might be the wedge that opened the door for other publishing endeavors. In fact, when I mentioned to a writer friend that I was going to write an erotica, she said, “Et tu Brute?” because so many people were doing it.

I was a little hurt, to be honest. It made me feel like she thought I was being a sell-out. Or maybe that trying to do an end run was cheating. I wrote the book anyway. I had what I thought was a fun premise—an alpha Presents-type hero, Jason, who has an alter-ego who’s even more dominant (Dominic). The virgin-like (history of repression) heroine, Arianne, asks to meet this other persona so he can ‘teach’ her to be sexy.

The lessons in intimacy escalated naturally, which made the book fairly straightforward to write. The final manuscript had some problems. My agent at the time suggested I develop the hero more, especially in his Clark Kent guise. I didn’t know how. I actually went to contract on the story, flawed as it was, but wound up with a case of cold-feet, partly induced by that sense of judgment from my friend. I shelved it and moved on to other genres.

Do I regret that decision? Not really. I wasn’t ready in a couple of ways. I wasn’t prepared to start my publishing career as an erotic writer—not because I’m a snob or anything, but my writer friend was right about one thing. I was betraying myself. My heart belonged to straight romance. But I knew I wasn’t ready as a writer. I genuinely didn’t feel I had the skills to do the story justice.

Fast forward fifteen years and a handful of Harlequin Presents under my belt. Given the popularity of Fifty Shades, I figured it was now or never for that erotica sitting on my hard drive. I asked my editor if she’d like to see it and then I had to take a fresh look at the hero’s journey in that book before I sent it to her.

With the experience I’d gained over the years, I was able to see how to expand on the romance and develop the hero and I wasn’t the only one who loved the final product. The team at HarlequinE did too. In fact, they loved it so much, they asked for another one.

One piece of advice I often heard over the years of submitting and getting rejected was to always have a follow up book in mind. “No one wants a one-book wonder,” published authors would say. “They’ll want to know what you’re planning next.”

Well, I always thought it would be fun to have a companion novel to the above, but with the heroine having a secret identity. For any would-be writers in the group, let me state right here that the difference between a premise and an idea is the premise has a story thread you can already follow, eg. How will the heroine learn to be sexy? Questions spring to mind about how this story will play out.

An idea inspires questions like: Who is the main character? Where is it set? What is the premise? After much cogitating, I came up with: Ann is being forced to marry Porter. She isn’t sure she wants to, especially when she’s made-over into the submissive, Violet, and sees the world he inhabits (a BDSM club in Paris.)

Coming up with that was a challenge, but even harder was writing erotic romance again. I hadn’t written one in years. Yes, I had revised one, but the skeleton of the story was there. Those of you thinking erotic romance is just a romance with blunt language and graphic sex are dead wrong. You’re juggling a whole different element. I’m sorry to kill the mystique, but writing erotic romance is work, same as any other book.

Which means I probably should have entitled this post Why I Probably Won’t Write Another Erotic Romance. But I won’t say that because if the right premise comes along, I will write one. (In fact, I wound up writing a novella length one for The Chatsfield Series which is also out in August. My editor gave me the premise. If you enjoy bondage stories, you’ll want to look up The Secret In Room 823.)

Which required a ton of research. Honestly, I think the real reason I get my back up when I’m asked about researching love scenes is the implication that I can’t just use the internet like I do with everything else. No one asks, “Does your husband help you murder people so you get that right?”

Am I being over-sensitive? How would you answer that question? What’s your pet peeve about your job?

I’d love to draw from the commenters for one e-copy of The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection.

HARLEQUINe_Erotic-Collection_DaniCollins_WEBBLURB(S):

Two lessons of disguise, erotic pleasure, and liberation from renowned author Dani Collins.

Playing The Master

In a week, timid Ann Parker will belong to the coldly handsome Porter Navarro—a marriage arranged by her vicious stepfather. But when she’s secretly made over and presented to Porter as “Violet,” she is initiated into his world of dark, exquisite delights. One where he is master. But it’s only as Violet that Ann tastes true freedom. And her liberation will cost not only her sensual teacher, but the man she’s grown to love…

Mastering Her Role

Arianne has it bad for her friend and neighbour, Jason. Unfortunately, rumour has it that Jason has a kinky side, and Arianne’s inner freak is still hiding in the closet. So Arianne asks Jason to introduce her to his friend Dominic—a sexually dominant instructor in the ways of pleasure. And so Arianne begins her lessons of sexuality, lust, and being thoroughly and deliciously ravished. But behind his mask, Dominic seems awfully familiar…

Buy: The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection: Mastering Her Role\Playing the Master

EXCERPT – Playing The Master:

On the telephone he had sounded like Jason with a British accent. More or less.

The relationship between the two men was something of a mystery. She’d pressed Celine after the woman said with haughty amusement, I thought he would have introduced you to Dominic by now. But she’d only received a smirk in response.

Arianne wondered how much he’d be like Jason as she stood outside the hotel-room door. Until Jason had yanked her into his arms and spoken so explicitly, she’d only suspected what kind of man lurked beneath his quiet exterior. The idea of giving herself over to someone like that made her breath stutter, urging her to back out of this crazy stunt and retreat down the hall.

It didn’t matter how desperately she wanted Jason. He was a man who enjoyed highly sophisticated sex play. She’d never reach his level. This was—

The door opened.

The man who filled the open frame wore black from silk shirt to snug leather pants tucked into tall, well-worn boots that reminded her of Jason’s. She couldn’t be sure of his identity by looking at his hands or face. He wore leather gloves and a silky kerchief thing, cut with eyeholes. It hid the upper half of his face and hair, like a pirate.

Below the mask was a blond goatee. Jason’s hair was dark as a raven’s wing. This man was about as tall as Jason, but Jason had green eyes, while the ones staring at her were brown.

Stop comparing him to Jason, she scolded herself. He looked like the kind of man who wouldn’t put up with that sort of divided attention.

“Too timid to knock? Come in,” he said in that subtle accent, so crisp with authority. He braced the door with a straight elbow, remaining in the space so she would have to duck beneath his arm and brush his body to get by.

Her purse felt slippery in her grip, and she was pretty sure she was going to faint.

When she hesitated, he said, “Would it help to know I don’t intend to touch you? You wanted to meet me, so we’ll talk.”

She managed to swallow and nod then pressed through the tiny opening, feeling the brush of soft silk against her bare shoulder. She hadn’t known what to wear and had settled on this lacy sundress. It was too virginal, she realized. It screamed of inexperience. Timid. Newbie.

But she was here now, looking around the elegant suite. This was a chic boutique hotel, and he’d booked them into one of the best rooms, a suite on an upper floor. It had a lounge area, a small bar and a door to the left that would be the bathroom. The bed sat on a platform three stairs up, next to the hollow of a three-sided window alcove. Across the foot of the ornate king-size bed draped a fringed, peacock-blue sheet. A footstool, also ornately carved and upholstered in red velvet, stood beside the bed next to a discreet black suitcase.

Wondering what the case might contain made her abdomen tense. She jerked her gaze to the drawn sheers over the window that allowed some of the afternoon sun to penetrate, bringing a glow to the polished wood detailing above the empty fireplace. The room was comfortably warm. The air-conditioning, off. No hum. No music, either, just silence as he waited behind her.

She knew she ought to turn to face him, but it was easier to continue studying the room. In one corner stood a screen, black, with an inlay of tile chips. Perhaps it belonged to him, since mosaic nudes in Kama Sutra poses decorated it. Something red hung over the top of it. The rest of the furniture appeared to be hotel issue. Lovely, but not provocative—not like that screen or the suitcase.

“I said I wouldn’t touch you but I have a custom, Arianne. People who play sexual games need signals between them to express readiness to begin and closure at the end. It builds trust. You will kiss me now and again when you leave.”

Was he kidding?

She pivoted slowly, trying to find something reassuring in the cut of his jawline, but he was pure wickedness, lounging so negligently beside the door. She didn’t think she could do it and wound up shaking her head at him.

“I was under the impression you wanted to reset the boundaries you’ve placed on your sexuality. Have you changed your mind?”

Buy: The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection: Mastering Her Role\Playing the Master

BIO:

After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.

Enter Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest for a chance to express your secret desires from behind a masquerade mask.

Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Get into Bed with Dani Collins (Author Interview)

web-14Keira: An Heir to Bind Them is a marriage of convenience plot — what do you love best about them?

Dani Collins: I love the forced intimacy of a marriage of convenience. No matter what has happened between the hero and heroine, they have to share space and work it out. And, of course, when they’re in close proximity, they can’t resist the pull of physical attraction!

Keira: The hero, Theo, is newly the guardian of his niece and nephew and he needs a wife to help him take care of them. So why Jaya?

Dani: Theo is only a temporary guardian. The children are from previous books of mine. Evie is the daughter of Nic & Rowan from No Longer Forbidden? and Androu is the son of Adara & Gideon from More Than A Convenient Marriage? An emergency forces Theo to helicopter them off of Gideon’s ship for a few days.

Theo turns to Jaya on instinct, partly because he knows she is within fuel distance and that he can trust her discretion. This situation could be a media nightmare if it leaks out. But he also remembers her helping a lost little boy at one of his hotels and recognizes her as a natural with children where he feels completely inadequate.

Keira: From the blurb, it sounds like there might also be a secret baby twist! How will that affect the hero?

Dani: The last time Theo saw Jaya, she was leaving her employment with his family’s hotel chain. They both had reasons to seek solace in each other, but Theo had a brutal childhood. He has zero faith in his ability to be a good father and never wanted to be one so discovering he has a son is a huge shock.

Keira: What kept Jaya from sharing the baby information with Theo?

Dani: Jaya did try to tell him, but he never returned her calls. He had a family tragedy that distracted him, but he did warn her that their affair was only for one night. She only wanted to inform him, not trap him, so when he didn’t respond after her first couple of tries, she took the hint and left him alone.

Keira: If you were to cast the characters for a movie, who would play them?

Dani: I always struggle with these questions! I feel like I don’t watch enough tv to know who the hip actors are these days. I’ve had a terrible girl crush on Aishwarya Rai, the stunning Bollywood actress, since Bride and Prejudice came out.

For Theo, Ian Somerhalder has the right mix of handsome and vaguely wicked.

Keira: You started reading romances in high school, what do you love best about the genre?

Dani: The uplifting endings! I don’t think I’m alone in needing that promise that no matter how dark your days seem, there is a brighter day coming. Somehow, whatever you are facing, will work out in the end.

Keira: How do you define love? What makes it work? How do you recognize it?

Dani: Love is unconditional acceptance. Generosity of spirit makes it work. Love isn’t something you expect or hold back or only give if you get something. I think there’s a calm and a joy and a sense of security that helps you recognize it, but fear too. Fear of losing that person or pet or child. Not a jealous type of losing, but a need to protect and hold dear, support and, you know, love.

Keira: If you could travel any where on an unlimited budgeted, where would you go and what would you do?

Dani: I don’t think I’d stop traveling! And I’d do the high-end stuff in fancy-shmancy hotels with obscenely expensive food and views of beaches and gentle river cruises with drinks with umbrellas. My husband and I are keen on natural wonders, so I suspect there’d be more rock formations than rock concerts, but I like history too so castles and ruins would definitely feature as well.

Keira: What is your favorite office equipment for writing your stories?

Dani: Ha. I don’t think I’m alone in having a fetish for office equipment in general. I write on a Mac laptop, which I love. I recently bought a widescreen monitor, not expensive, but I love the extra real estate it offers. I write in Word, which I don’t love, but I’ve tried other things like Scrivner and they didn’t work for me so I make do with what’s familiar. I sit on a ball rather than a chair. I spent a long time trying different To Do and Calendar apps and finally went back to my spiral-bound business calendar to track deadlines and goals. I have a whiteboard—super love that along with my many colored dry-erase pens. (Neon pink, hello!) I also keep lots of colored post-it notes handy for my many genius moments. I prefer to write at my desk, but I do drag the laptop when I travel and usually manage to produce something edible.

Keira: What are you working on next?

Dani: My first Sheik! He’s half-English and I intended him to reside in England, but after some chats with my editor, we decided to move him into the desert and I’m both terrified and excited—which tells me I’m in a good space to write the story. Fern, the heroine, is a very shy red-head who is completely out of her element with Zafir. The story is still in early stages, but I have high hopes for it.

9780373132546BOOK BLURB:

Off the boss’s payroll…and into his bed

Jaya. Her name reverberates around Theo Makricosta’s head in time to the whirring blades of his private helicopter. He must find her; only Jaya can help with the care of his infant niece and nephew…. It’s not because he hasn’t stopped thinking about the single night of mind-blowing passion he shared with the exotic beauty.

Jaya Powers couldn’t refuse her gorgeous millionaire Greek boss when she worked for him, and she can’t refuse him now! Only this time she has a secret. Their night together had consequences that will change Theo’s perfectly ordered existence forever!

Buy: An Heir to Bind Them

EXCERPT:

“There’s not a woman in the world with enough training to fix me. Don’t try.” Another warning, his tone a little cooler.

She shook her head. This was about fixing herself, not him. “I just keep thinking that if I leave without kissing you, I’ll always wonder what it would have been like.”

That sounded too ingenuous, too needy, but his quietly loaded, “Yeah,” seemed to put them on the same page, which was remarkable. He stared at her mouth and hot tingles made her lips feel plump. She tried to lick the sensation away.

His breath rushed out in a ragged exhale. He loomed closer, so tall and broad, blocking out her vision, nearly overwhelming her. But when his fingers lightly caressed her jaw and his mouth came down, she was paralyzed with anticipation.

There’d been a few kisses in her life, none very memorable, but when his mouth settled on hers, unhurried and hot, she knew she’d remember this for the rest of her life.

The smooth texture of his lips sealed to hers. He didn’t force her mouth open. She softened and welcomed his confident possession, weakening despite the nervous flutters accosting her. He rocked the fit, deepening the kiss so she opened her mouth wider, bathed in delicious waves of heat. Their lips dampened and slid erotically. His tongue was almost there, then not, then—

He licked into her mouth and she moaned, lashed with exquisite delight. This was the kind of kiss she’d only read about and now she knew there was a reason they called it a soul kiss. Her hand went to his shoulder for balance. She lifted on her toes, wanting more pressure, more of him settling into her inner being.

With a groan he slid his arm around her and pulled her tight against him, softly crushing her mouth while digging his fingers into her bound hair. It was good, so good. She reached her arms around his neck, loving how it felt to be kissed and held so tightly against his hard chest and—

He was hard everywhere.

Like hitting a wall, she pushed back, perturbed by how intensely she had been responding and the dicey situation she’d put herself in.

He didn’t let her go right away, kind of steadied her first while staggering one step himself, then he ran a hand through his hair and swore under his breath. “Hellfire, Jaya. I suspected it’d be good, but I didn’t know it’d be that good. Are you sure you don’t want to spend the night?”

Buy: An Heir to Bind Them

BIO:

After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.

Enter Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest for a chance to express your secret desires from behind a masquerade mask.

Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her
here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Deep Dark Secret

MoreThanConvMarriageGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of More than a Convenient Marriage?

As a reader, I’m a tough sell when it comes to characters keeping secrets. There’s always that part of me silently screaming, Just Say It. Do you find yourself doing that? Especially with movies, right?

As a writer, my worst nightmare is the writing a book that makes a reader roll her eyes and say, “Well if they would just talk it out…”

So how did I wind up with a hero with a Deep Dark Secret that doesn’t come out until the black moment?

First I have to admit to my own dark secret. I’m a bit of a pantser when it comes to writing. I have a synopsis, but I usually need a few chapters under my belt before I really know what’s going on—which is a giant nuisance. It means I kind of write an ugly excuse for a synopsis, then I write about thirty pages, then I hand in a synopsis that sounds great, but I have no idea how I’ll actually write it. When I finally do, my first draft is usually heavy to the heroine’s conflict and journey. My second pass is where my hero trusts me enough to give up his baggage.

So it was that I submitted a proposal to my editor that said something simple like, Gideon married under an assumed name so he wants to stay married. Then I had to write it and sell it. I mean, the reader is going to think, Why doesn’t he just tell Adara they’re not really married?

As with real people, Gideon’s doesn’t like to talk about things that pain him, but more importantly, he doesn’t want to hurt Adara. Especially as he begins to learn exactly how badly she’s been hurt by other things. Despite their having drifted apart in their five years of marriage, he takes his role as alpha-protector very seriously. The more he understands her, and the closer they get, the less he can bear to upset the apple cart. He starts dreaming their marriage can be even more real than it ever was.

Of course the truth finally comes out and of course Adara is upset. I won’t give away any more of the story, and you’ll have to be the judge as to whether I’ve made his reluctance to reveal his secret believable, but how do you feel about secrets in general? Obviously all characters have something they hide until they trust the other character, but when does their secretiveness stop working for you?

Tell me about some of your favorite characters with a Deep Dark Secret and I’ll draw for a signed copy of More than a Convenient Marriage??

BLURB:

It started with a signature…

Rich, powerful and with a beautiful wife to boot, it seems like Greek shipping magnate Gideon Vozaras has it all. But little does the world know his perfect life is all a façade…

After years of disguising her pain behind a flawless smile, untouchable heiress Adara Vozaras has reached breaking point. Her marriage, once held together by an undeniable passion, has become nothing more than a convenience.

But Gideon can’t afford the public scrutiny that a divorce would bring and if there’s one thing his harsh past has taught him, it’s how to fight dirty to keep what’s his…

Buy: More than a Convenient Marriage?

EXCERPT:

Gideon Vozaras used all his discipline to keep his foot light on the accelerator as he followed the rented car, forcing himself to maintain an unhurried pace along the narrow island road while he gripped the wheel in white-knuckled fists.  When the other car parked outside the palatial gate of an estate, he pulled his own rental onto the shoulder a discreet distance back then stayed in his vehicle to see if the other driver noticed.  As he cut the engine, the AC stopped.  Heat enveloped him.

Welcome to Hell.

He hated Greece at the best of times and today was predicted to be one of the hottest on record.  The air shimmered under the relentless sun and it wasn’t even ten o’clock yet.  But the weather was barely worth noticing.

The gates of the estate were open.  The other car could have driven straight through and up to the house, but stayed parked outside.  He watched the female driver emerge and take a moment to consider the unguarded entrance.  Her shoulders gave a lift and drop as though she screwed up her courage before she took action and walked in.

As she disappeared between imposing brick posts, Gideon left his own car and followed at a measured pace, gut knotting with every step.  Outraged stung his veins.

He wanted to believe that wasn’t his wife, but there was no mistaking Adara Vozaras.  Not for him.  Maybe her tourist clothes of flip-flops, jeans chopped above the knees, a sleeveless top, and a pair of pigtails didn’t fit her usual professional élan, but he knew that backside.  The tug it caused in his blood was indisputable.  No other woman made an immediate sexual fire crackle awake in him like this.  His relentless hunger for Adara had always been his cross to bear and today it was particularly unwelcome.

Spending the week with her mother.  This ain’t Chatham, sweetheart.

He paused as he came alongside her car, glancing inside to see a map of the island on the passenger seat.  A logo in its corner matched the hotel he’d been told she was booked into.  And now she was advising her lover where to meet her?  Walking bold as you please up his million-dollar drive to his billion-dollar house?  The only clue to the estate’s ownership, the shields welded to the gate, were turned back against the brick wall that fenced the estate from the road.

Gideon’s entire body twitched with an urge to slip his reins of control.  He was not a poor man.  He’d got past envying other men their wealth once he’d acquired a level of his own.

Nevertheless, a niggle of his dock-rat inferiority complex wormed to life as he took in what he could see of the shoreline property that rolled into a vineyard and orange grove.  The towering stone house, three stories with turrets on each corner, belonged on an English estate, not a Greek island.  It was twenty bedrooms minimum.  If this was the owner’s weekend retreat, he was an obscenely rich man.

Not that Adara needed a rich man.  She had grown up wanting for nothing.  She had a fortune in her own right plus half of Gideon’s so what was the attraction here?

Sex.

The insidious whisper formed a knot of betrayal behind his breastbone.  Was this why she hadn’t shared that stacked body of hers with him for weeks?  His hands curled into fists as he tried to swallow back his gall.

Dreading what he might see as he looked to the front door, he shifted for a full view.  Adara had paused halfway to the house to speak with a gardener.  A truck overflowing with landscaping tools was parked midway up the drive and workers were crawling like bees over the blooming gardens.

The sun seared the back of Gideon’s neck, strong enough to burn through his shirt to his shoulders, making sweat pool between his shoulder blades and tickle annoyingly down his spine.

They had arrived early this morning, Adara off the ferry, Gideon following in a power boat he was ‘test-piloting.’  She’d been driving a car she’d rented in Athens.  His rental had been negotiated at the marina, but the island was small.  It hadn’t surprised him when she’d driven right past the nose of his car as he had turned onto the main road.

No, the surprise had been the call thirty-six hours previously when their travel agent had dialed his mobile by mistake.  Ever the survivor, Gideon had thought quickly.  He’d mentioned that he’d like to surprise his wife by joining her and within seconds, Gideon had had all the details of Adara’s clandestine trip.

Well, not all.  He didn’t know whom she was here to see or how she’d met her mystery man.   Why was she doing this when he gave her everything she asked for?

He watched Adara’s slender neck bow in disappointment.  Ha.  The bastard wasn’t home.  Grimly satisfied, Gideon folded his arms and waited for his wife.

Buy: More than a Convenient Marriage?

dani collinsBIO: Dani Collins spent twenty-five years dreaming of writing full time and finally made her first sale to Harlequin Mills & Boon in May of 2012. She’s still dreaming of making Romance Author her day job, but for now she writes around work, family, and enough exercise to keep her out of traction. For more information about Dani, you can visit her website at www.danicollins.com, listen to her interview with Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books, or watch her interview on GFTV.

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More than a Convenient Marriage?

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The Search for Fresh and Original

proof of their sinGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of Proof of Their Sin

I’m still a relatively new author and this is my first organized blog tour. This post is my tenth on Proof Of Their Sin and I’ve written three books and two partials since it was accepted. I’ve been moving the writing of this blog down my To Do List for a few days, mind drooling as I attempted to find something fresh to say about this story.

It’s the same struggle we face when writing the book in the first place. To counter that old argument that all romances are the same, we writers struggle to make this story different and fresh and fun.

But how? Especially when writing for a well-loved line like a Harlequin Presents? At its heart, Proof of Their Sin is a secret baby with a reunion romance. The hero, Paolo, is Italian and rich. I know you’ve seen these elements before and when it comes to certain things—a tone of voice, a heated caress—it’s really easy to fall back on a nice bit of phrasing as common as tycoons and virgins. (She husked, while stroking light fingertips across her keyboard.)

Characters, however are unique products of their personal history and life experience, bringing that stab of freshness we’re looking for, so I thought I’d give you Proof of Their Sin’s backstory.

Before I sold in May of 2012, I was working with Suzy, one of the editors at Mills & Boon. She had recently rejected one of my manuscripts (ouch) and asked me to submit three fresh ideas for consideration. Proof of Their Sin was one of them, sent under the title Kidnapped For Keeps. She wound up suggesting I pair the heroine from one synopsis with the Russian hero from the other.

There’s a whole long epic Russian tragedy about how that story marched toward eventual cold and wintry death. (It may yet see resurrection.) After its demise, I wrote No Longer Forbidden? It was accepted in a two-book contract and I still had this lovely synopsis entitled Kidnapped For Keeps which hadn’t exactly been rejected so I sent it along as my second book.

I already had a jump start on the story with a stunning dress for Lauren and a white tie ball and a revelation of an unplanned pregnancy. Wait, have you seen that in a romance before? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, I had plenty of questions to answer: How does she get in? How did she get pregnant? How does she know Paolo?

Pretty soon I was getting to know Lauren and Paolo. He’s a banker who only succeeds in that field by tempering his natural, high-octane, surf-typhoon-waves-in-Indonesia nature. For all his projection of aloofness, he was incredibly devoted to his best friend, Lauren’s first husband. Lauren is an absolute mouse when the story opens, but she steps into her grandmother’s vintage designer gown and dares Paolo to judge her. In her quiet way, she keeps Paolo on his toes and offers him the excitement he craves.

Due to another epic saga, my first Mills & Boon will release with my third this December, making Proof of Their Sin my North American debut. It will hit shelves in my hometown, on July first. I’m ridiculously excited. (I actually went into a store today to check for it and they groaned in empathy when they saw me. “It’s not here yet.”)

I hope Proof of Their Sin strikes a chord with you. Here’s the blurb:

A beautiful mistake…

Pregnant. Lauren Bradley’s heart stops-there’s only one man who can be the father and it’s not her late husband, the man everyone thinks is a celebrated war hero….

Ravaged with guilt at sleeping with his best friend’s wife, Paolo Donatelli closes his heart to Lauren forever. But in nine months’ time, the proof of their incredible night together will be there for the world to see.

Marriage is Paolo’s answer to avoiding more scandal, but it’s Lauren’s worst fear-she still bears the scars from the first time she said I do. Can she trust Paolo enough to reveal the truth?

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

What makes a romance stand out from the pack for you? Do you have an example of something really different that worked really well for you—or didn’t at all?

GIVEAWAY: I have a copy of Proof Of Their Sin for one lucky commenter.

dani collinsBio: Dani Collins spent two decades submitting to every publisher with a transom while holding down a day job and raising a family with her high school sweet heart.

When The Call finally came, Dani ran with it, going to contract on eight books in that first year. Along with her Harlequin Mills & Boon titles, she has an epic fantasy romance, The Healer, with Champagne Books and an indie-published rom-com, Hustled To The Altar.

While her stories span very different genres, she always delivers alpha-male heroes squaring off with spirited heroines in a deeply emotional, unforgettable romance.

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

I’d love to hear from you. Find me at:

www.danicollins.com | FB:DaniCollinsAuthor | @DaniCollinsBook |Goodreads

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)