A Marriage of Convenience?

His Very Convenient BrideConfession: I am a total sucker for marriage of convenience stories. I’ve read hundreds of them, but have only really written one – His Very Convenient Bride, out this month from Harlequin Romance / Mills and Boon Cherish. 

I think what I like most about them is how inconvenient the marriage always turns out to be. And how, despite that, it turns out to be exactly what the hero and heroine need.

Traditionally, most MoC stories start with the characters’ assumptions that marriage – without love – will solve some other, seemingly more important, problem in the lives. But while it might provide the answer to their immediate problems – be it money, a business merger, a demanding will or dying relative or whatever – it soon becomes clear that marriage is more of a problem in itself. Especially when feelings get involved.

While few of us can claim to have entered a marriage of convenience of the sort so often featured in books, one of the things I enjoy about these stories is that the trope really isn’t as far fetched as it initially seems.

Most people, I think, enter marriage with certain expectations of what it will be like. And these days, given the prevalence of co-habitation before marriage, we quite often think life will just continue as normal with the added presence of sparkly jewellery and some nice photos of our big day. But in truth, marriage – or any sort of life long commitment, like having kids together – is intrinsically different to muddling along as a couple. Suddenly, there’s no easy way out if things get hard, and there’s more at stake than the rental deposit if you split up. More than that, just being referred to as someone’s wife, or husband, makes you start to think about your role and life differently. You become more of a team, more than just yourself.

Watching this happen to characters who haven’t even got as far as falling in love yet always amuses me. And then following their tumble into love leaves me breathless.

Because everyone knows that love is going to be far more problematic than whatever problem they got married to avoid in the first place, right?

That’s certainly the case for Helena and Flynn in His Very Convenient Bride. They get married for the same business reasons that Flynn was supposed to marry Helena’s sister (before she ran off at the end of A Groom Worth Waiting Forand to cover up Thea’s sudden disappearance. They figure they’ve known each other all their lives, they understand what they’re getting into, and neither of them is under the illusion of love. It will be fine.

Until, of course, feelings get involved – and secrets come out…

So, that’s my first Marriage of Convenience story. But what’s your all time favourite book featuring the trope? Or, if MoC isn’t for you, what tropes do you love and always pick up? (I’m also a sucker for best friends to lovers…)

His Very Convenient Bride

(January 2015)

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From bridesmaid to bride…

Stepping into her sister’s place at the altar beside gorgeous tycoon Flynn Ashton, Helena Morrison hopes saying ”I do” and uniting their two families will finally be enough to redeem her in her father’s eyes. It has nothing to do with the fact that she’s always held a special place in her heart for her childhood crush!

But after embarking on the perfect Tuscan honeymoon, their paper marriage dissolves to ash as an unexpected heat flares between them… Dare Helena dream that this convenient marriage could be the fresh start they’ve both been searching for?

 

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Hive ~ Nook

Release day for Thea and Zeke!

A Groom Worth Waiting For UK coverIt’s August at last! Apart from meaning I’m only two weeks away from a truly epic family holiday (10 people, 2 under sixes, 7 days, 1 flat…) it also means it’s release day for my latest Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance – A Groom Worth Waiting For.

This was such a perfectly summery book to write. Set in Tuscany in the height of summer, it’s the story of Thea Morrison, who is about to get married for security, business and other sensible reasons – until her groom’s brother, Zeke, walks back into her life, eight years after she refused to elope with him.

Here’s a snippet from the first meeting in eight years:

‘What do you mean, he’s coming here?’ Thea Morrison clasped her arms around her body, as if the action could somehow hide the fact that she was wearing a ridiculously expensive, pearl-encrusted, embroidered ivory wedding dress, complete with six-foot train. ‘He can’t!’

Her sister rolled her big blue eyes. ‘Oh, calm down. He just told me to tell you that you’re late to meet with the wedding planner and if you aren’t there in five minutes he’ll come and get you,’ Helena said.

‘Well, stop him!’

No, that wouldn’t work. Nothing stopped Flynn Ashton when he really wanted something. He was always polite, but utterly tenacious. That was why his father had appointed him his right-hand man at Morrison-Ashton media. And why she was marrying him in the first place.

‘Get me out of this dress before he gets here!’

‘I don’t know why you care so much,’ Helena said, fumbling with the zip at the back of the dress. ‘It’s not like this is a real wedding anyway.’

‘In two days there’ll be a priest, a cake, some flowers, and a legally binding pre-nup saying otherwise.’ Thea wriggled to try and get the strapless dress down over her hips. ‘And everyone knows it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride in the wedding dress before the big day.’

It was more than a superstition, it was a rule. Standard Operating Procedure for weddings. Flynn was not seeing this dress a single moment before she walked down the aisle of the tiny Tuscan church at the bottom of the hill from the villa. Not one second.

‘Which is why he sent me instead.’

Thea froze, her blood suddenly solid in her veins. She knew that voice. It might have been eight years since she’d heard it, but she hadn’t forgotten. Any of it.

The owner of that voice really shouldn’t be seeing her in nothing but her wedding lingerie. Especially since she was marrying his brother in two days.

Yanking the dress back up over her ivory corset, Thea held it tight against her chest and stared at him. ‘I thought you weren’t coming.’ But there he was. Large as life and twice as… Hell, she couldn’t even lie in her brain and finish that with ugly. He looked…grown up. Not twenty-one and angry at everything any more. More relaxed, more in control.

And every inch as gorgeous as he’d always been. Curse him.

Helena laughed. ‘Eight years and that’s all you have to say to him?’ Skipping across the room, blonde hair bouncing, she wrapped her arms around him and pressed a kiss against his cheek. ‘It’s good to see you, Zeke.’

‘Little Helena, all grown up.’ Zeke returned the hug, but his gaze never left Thea’s. ‘It’s good to see you too. And rather more of your sister than I’d bargained on.’

There was a mocking edge in his voice. As if she’d planned for him to walk in on her in her underwear. He wasn’t even supposed to be in the country! Flynn had told her he wouldn’t come and she’d been flooded with relief—even if she could never explain why to her husband-to-be. But now here Zeke was, staring at her, and Thea had never felt so exposed.

She clutched the dress tighter—a barrier between them. ‘Well, I was expecting your brother.’

‘Your fiancé,’ Zeke said. ‘Of course. Sorry. Seems he thought I should get started with my best man duties a few days early.’

Thea blinked. ‘You’re Flynn’s best man?’

‘Who else would he choose?’ He said it as if he hadn’t been gone for eight years. As if he’d never taunted Flynn about not being a real Ashton, only an adopted one, a fall-back plan. As if he hadn’t sworn that he was never coming back.

‘Anyone in the world.’ Quite literally. Flynn could have appointed the Russian Prime Minister as his best man and Thea would have been less surprised.

The second part of this duet, which is Helena’s story, has just been signed off – and been given a title!  His Very Convenient Bride will be out in January, for a sunny, post Christmas pick-me-up.

And now, back to work on what will be my FIFTH novel for Harlequin M&B… it’s going well!

A Groom Worth Waiting For CoverWhere to buy:

A Groom Worth Waiting For

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Mills & Boon ~ Kobo ~ Nook

 

Heiress on the Run

Release day for Heiress on the Run!

Heiress in the Wild!

Look! I’m next to Nora Roberts!

I’m so thrilled that my latest Harlequin Mills & Boon Romance is out this month! Heiress on the Run, my second category romance, has been spotted in the wild by friends and family on many the shop shelf, and I’m merrily collating photos for my own personal wall of fame. Turns out that the excitement of seeing your own work in actual stores doesn’t fade after the first few times. Or, I’m beginning to suspect, ever.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I had a meeting with my agent this morning after which we stalked the aisles and spotted a couple of copies of Heiress. She made me move them both to the front. And then I ran away.)

Working on this book drew a lot on my experiences of working in events in London, which made it great fun to write. That said, I don’t remember showing any gorgeous aristocrats around the city at that time. Which I guess is why fiction is so much more fun than real life…

To celebrate the release, I thought I’d give you a little sneak peak at Dominic and Faith’s first meeting, in Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci airport, after a very long and trying day for both of them:

Heiress on the Run US CoverRaising the bottle to his lips, Dominic took in the low-cut blouse, too-tight skirt and wild dark hair framing large hazel eyes. The smile on her wide lips was knowing, and he wondered if she’d recognised him. What she wanted from him. A drink. A night. A story to sell. She wouldn’t be the first, whatever it was.

And whatever it was, she wouldn’t get it. He’d made a mistake, letting Kat close enough to damage his reputation. It wasn’t one he intended to make again—certainly not for one night with a pretty girl with an agenda.

But, to his surprise, the first words she said were, ‘Sounds like you have a problem, my friend. And I think I can help you out.’

*

It wasn’t the way she normally got work, but there was a lot to be said for serendipity, Faith decided. Walking into an airport bar, jobless and broke, and hearing a guy talk about how he needed a London tour guide and hotel rooms? That was an opportunity that was meant to be.

‘And how, exactly, do you intend to do that?’ the guy asked. He didn’t look quite as convinced by coincidence as she was.

Faith held out a hand. ‘I’m Faith. I’m a tour guide. I know London even better than I know Italy and Rome, and I’ve been running tours here for a year and a half. And it just so happens that I’ve finished one tour today, and I have a break before my next one.’ She didn’t mention the slight hiccup in her heartbeat at the idea of going home to London. Probably it would be fine. She could be in and out in a week or so, heading off on a plane to sunnier, less panic- inducing climes.

Besides, at this point, it wasn’t as if she had a lot of other options.

‘Dominic,’ the guy said, taking her hand. He looked familiar, she realised. But then, after a while, all men in grey suits looked the same, didn’t they? Maybe not quite as attractive as this one, though. His gaze was cool and evaluating. The high end suit said ‘successful businessman’, the loosened tie said ‘workaholic’ and the beer said ‘long day’. She could work with all of those. ‘And how, exactly, do you know I need a tour guide?’

‘I eavesdropped.’ Faith shrugged, then realised the move strained her struggling blouse a little more than was wise in a professional environment. Maybe she should have left the necktie on.

‘Not exactly the key quality I look for in an employee.’ He frowned down at her cleavage with more distaste than she was used to seeing in a man.

‘Really?’ Faith asked. ‘Someone who listens even when they’re not required to and anticipates your needs? I’ve always found that rather useful.’

It was funny, Faith thought, the way you could watch someone re-evaluate you, and see the change in their attitude as a result. When she’d first sat down, she’d known all he saw was boobs and hair. Then she’d offered to help him, and his expression had changed from dismissive to interested. And now…now he was really intrigued.

Heiress on the Run, Sophie Pembroke

 

Conferences, Contracts and Celebrations

Stranded with the Tycoon Cover

It’s been a busy – but brilliant – week and a half. So busy that I haven’t had a chance to update until now!

The Friday before last, I headed up to Sheffield for the Romantic Novelist’s Association Conference. I was, I’ll admit, a little nervous, it being my first one. But I really needn’t have been. Everyone was lovely, the workshops were brilliant, the cake was delicious, and the icy cold white wine almost made up for the lack of air conditioning. I also got to meet some of my very favourite authors, as well as make some great new friends.

I was already in a good mood on arrival, as I’d just heard that my second novel for Mills & Boon / Harlequin Romance had been officially signed off – and I can share the title! Due out February 2014 (I think!) the new book is called Heiress on the Run. I’m hoping I’ll have a blurb and such to share soon, but I can tell you that I had the best time writing this book. The revisions were kind of brutal, but I’m so much happier with the resulting story that it was worth every minute. I can’t wait for people to read this one!

On the Saturday, I got to have a nice long chat with my wonderful editor, during which I basically detailed every single idea I had for my next few books. Lucky for me, she didn’t get bored and, as a result, I am delighted to announce that I have just signed a new three-book contract with Harlequin Mills & Boon! I’m working on the first book of that contract right now, and already madly in love with the hero, Zeke.

Stranded with the Tycoon UK Cover

But that wasn’t the end of it! A few days ago, the September issue of Romantic Times was released – including their review of Stranded with the Tycoon. I’d been nervously awaiting this day, and actually spent a fair portion of the weekend panicking to my new friends about impending reviews.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried.

Romantic Times gave Stranded with the Tycoon 4 1/2 stars and made it one of their Top Picks for September! 

Here’s a snippet of what they said:

With its well thought-out storyline, fans of passionate tales will want to read this one repeatedly.

I was in a soft play area with the Daughter and friends when I read that. My squeal might have been louder than all the kids put together! And, of course, I had to have cake to celebrate.

If you’d like to read the full review, it’s available on the RT Book Reviews website.

So now I’m back to work, trying to squeeze in precious hours before the school holidays start on Wednesday. Fortunately for me, the most urgent item on my to do list is checking the galleys for Summer of Love. I haven’t re-read Alex and Lily’s story for a while, and there are definitely worse things to do on a sunny July day! I just can’t wait for everyone else to be able to read all these stories, too.

Cover Love for Ben and Luce!

Stranded with the Tycoon Cover

I’ve been so lost in edits for my second novel for Mills & Boon Romance, I almost forgot to post the US cover and blurb for my September release, Stranded with the Tycoon!

Stranded with the Tycoon was the first category romance I ever wrote, and I loved doing it so much I had to write another one immediately after. Ben and Luce were such fun to write, and I loved taking them on their adventure – both emotionally and physically, as they try to make through mid-Wales in a snowstorm.

Out as a Harlequin Romance (paperback and e-book) on September 3rd, it’ll follow as a Mills & Boon Cherish e-book in November, and is also part of a two book anthology along with A Little Holiday Magic by Melissa McClone that releases in the UK around the same time.

Here’s what it’s about:

The man who sees her beauty…

Ben Hampton is the last man in England that workaholic historian Luce would ever choose to be stranded with. Tall, dark and infuriatingly arrogant, he’s also a reminder of her not-so-glorious romantic history—something she’s spent the past few years burying herself in work to forget.

Hotel tycoon Ben knows there’s fire behind Luce’s buttoned-up exterior, and fanning its flames is an irresistible temptation. Luckily, getting snowbound in the countryside gives him the perfect opportunity to tempt out the real Lucinda Myles!

And here’s the full cover:

Stranded with the Tycoon full cover

I love the warm and cosy feel of this cover, although I have to admit, I’m not sure they ever get to be this relaxed and happy in the actual book! Still, the feel of it is exactly right, and I can totally see Ben and Luce in the cover models.

I got a sneak preview of the UK cover the other day, and while it has a very different feel, it also feels just as true to the book. It’s so much fun seeing my little world, my story and my people, translated into actual books that will make their way out into the big wide world!

Not long to wait now…

A new look, and a new book cover!

Summer of Love by Sophie PembrokeThis weekend, the lovely Renee Rocco at Lyrical Press sent over the cover design for the third book in my Love from Wales series, Summer of Love, due out in December.

I’d been somewhat nervously awaiting this one, just because I love the first two covers in the series so much! When I had to fill in my cover art form for Lily and Alex’s story, all I could really think to ask for was: More of the same, please!

And that’s what Renee has given me, and more. I love the wedding theme, and the colour is just perfect.

In fact, I loved it so much, I thought it was time to give the rest of the site a spruce up not just in honour of the new cover, but for the two new books I have coming out this year.

I’ve rejigged the content a bit, added a page for my Harlequin Romance novels, which has a bit more detail about Luce and Ben, the stars of my September release, Stranded with the Tycoon, as well as pre-order links for the book. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve added a bit of colour to the site! Here’s hoping it’ll usher in a bright and sunny summer for us all, any day now…

Of course, if you’re missing the summer sun, you could always go read An A to Z of Love for scenes of seasides, smugglers and other things beginning with S. Warning: does contain seafood.

Room for Love cover

My Bookiversary!

Room for Love coverHappy Bookiversary to me! 

On this day, last year, my first novel, Room for Love, was officially released. I was, due to a slight scheduling error, stuck up a castle in Derbyshire at the time, trying to manage release promos and blog tours via the non-existant 3G connection on my phone, and squealing every time someone texted or messaged me to say they’d bought it.

Since then, of course, the second novel in the series, An A to Z of Love, has also been released, and the third book, Summer of Love, contracted for release this December. I’ve also got two books coming out in the Mills & Book / Harlequin Romance line – the first, Stranded with the Tycoon, is up for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US right now, ready for its September release. Cover should follow soon… And I’m going to finish writing the second one any day now, promise!

But if you want to see where it all began, pop on over to the Avalon Inn and visit Carrie and Nate, as they try and save the Inn from bankruptcy, satisfy the demands of the ornery Seniors, and dance to the music of Mr Bing Crosby…

Romance Writers Reviews: 5/5 Stars

Sweet, sexy, and then sweet again. “Room for Love” is a beautiful romance story.

Amazon UK: Room for Love

Amazon US: Room for Love

 

On A Roll…

You Have My Heart, Sweet Valentine Love - by D. Sharon Pruitt

You Have My Heart, Sweet Valentine Love, by D. Sharon Pruitt

Well, apparently the good news isn’t over for this week! I’m delighted to report that I’ve just signed a new contract with Lyrical Press to publish the third book in my Love from Wales seriesSummer of Love.

This book was a bit of a beast to get from my head down onto paper, but I’m pleased with the end product. No word yet on a release date – and I still have the joy of edits ahead yet – but as soon as I have details I’ll be sharing them here.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of what it’s all about…

Summer of Love

 

Boutique jewelry designer, Lily Thomas, knows that hating the boring ring her fiancé bought her isn’t a good enough reason for ending a seven year relationship. Especially when settling down with Edward is the only thing she’s ever done right in the eyes of her mother, and her hometown. Everyone else is doing it – Lily’s best friend Cora, her cousin, her friends from work, old school friends… it seems that everyone is getting married that summer. Why not her?

But when her high school crush, Alex Harper, moves back to Felinfach, he shows her that pretending to be someone she’s not, just to keep her fiancé happy, isn’t the right way to start a marriage either.

Alex, meanwhile, is dreaming of a whole new life. He’s left behind the money and the women of his successful city career, moved home to settle down, and is ready to start a new career as a photographer. But he hadn’t counted on his little cousin’s best friend, Lily, growing up so damn distractingly gorgeous. The town wild child isn’t at all what he had in mind for a future bride, never mind that she’s still engaged to someone else.

But when Lily calls off her engagement, and she and Alex strike a wedding buddies pact – agreeing to accompany each other to all the weddings they have scheduled that summer – the whole town is suddenly talking about them. And if they’re going to talk anyway, why not make the most of it? As long as they both know it’s only a summer fling…

An A to Z of Love

An A to Z of Love Blog Tour – Day 6!

Today I’m visiting For the Love of Film and Novels to talk, appropriately enough, about love in the movies. There’s even an excerpt of Mia and Charlie’s trip to the Coliseum cinema for a midnight movie… Oh, and Marissa gave An A to Z of Love a lovely 4/5 stars and a great review! Stop by and see me?

An A to Z of LoveAn A to Z of Love Blog Tour

30th July: Lucy Felthouse
31st July: Wickedly Sexy Writers
1st August: A Redhead’s Guilty Reads
2nd August: Dawn’s Reading Nook
3rd August: A Buckeye Girl Reads
6th August: For the Love of Film and Novels
7th August: Leigh Wants Food
8th August: Rachel Brimble
9th August: Storm Goddess Book Reviews
10th August: Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

An A to Z of Love

An A to Z of Love Blog Tour – Day 5!

Today I’m visiting A Buckeye Girl Reads to talk about learning from other people’s mistakes… Stop by and see me?

An A to Z of LoveAn A to Z of Love Blog Tour

30th July: Lucy Felthouse
31st July: Wickedly Sexy Writers
1st August: A Redhead’s Guilty Reads
2nd August: Dawn’s Reading Nook
3rd August: A Buckeye Girl Reads
6th August: For the Love of Film and Novels
7th August: Leigh Wants Food
8th August: Rachel Brimble
9th August: Storm Goddess Book Reviews
10th August: Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf