DECEMBERS CONTEST WINNER IS KEIRA! Congratulations and Happy New Year! Please send me your address details and I'll post your book.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Posted by Marilyn Shoemaker at 5:06 PM
Monday, December 01, 2008
Hello, all. It's Sandra Marton.
It's been a crazy (and crazed) couple of months! Deadlines. Page proofs. A manuscript to finish, some revisions to do, another manuscript to begin... and, of course, Thanksgiving. Our family--son, daughter in law, two little grandchildren and two big grand-dogs... were with us to celebrate the day.
All this is by way of explaining why I haven't posted on this wonderful site, especially when I have three--that's 3--sheikh books out right now!
My trilogy, The Sheikh Tycoons, hit the stores in October. The first book, THE SHEIKH'S DEFIANT BRIDE, made the Borders/Waldenbooks Bestseller List. So did the second book, THE SHEIKH'S WAYWARD WIFE. And book three, THE SHEIKH'S REBELLLIOUS MISTRESS, has just been published and, yes, it's already on the Borders/Waldenbooks Bestseller List, as well.
Readers have emailed to tell me these are among the most passionated, most dramatic, most sexy sheikh books I've ever written. I think so, too--and I hope you'll agree.
Last but far from least, I've been running a contest on my website . It ended yesterday but you might want to pop on over and enter it anyway. I'll add your name to the next contest I'll be running. More about that soon. Oh, and you can click on the covers of my current sheikh trilogy at my website and read an excerpt from each book!
Meanwhile, please do drop me a line and let me know if you've enjoyed falling in love with Tariq, Khalil and Salim. I certainly did, when I created them.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I had forgotten about this article posted on I(heart) Presents and for those of you whom haven't seen it, I thought I would share with you Why Authors Love a Good Sheikh Story.
Posted by Malle at I(heart)presents
I wanted to capture some of the great points some of the Presents authors made about writing the Sheikh book.
First, from Kate Walker: “The huge problem that Harlequin/Mills & Boon novels have comes from the fact that they all look so much the same on the shelves and so those who don’t regularly read a range of them assume that they are all the same inside. Readers know that there is a variety and a range of storytelling that comes from the individual authors. And, for me, comes from the individual characters too. So I’d be unlikely to say that I love/hate or even am indifferent to sheikh books as a whole. There are certain sheikh stories that I love, others that just haven’t worked for me. And of the ones that have worked I’d have to mention Michelle Reid's fabulous The Sheikh’s Chosen Bride and The Arabian Love-child. I was so intrigued by Rafiq who had a secondary role in the first that I was thrilled to see him get his own book in the second. And the Sheikh’s Chosen Bride is a brilliant example of the way that a great writer can show how two people can be totally in love with each other from the very first page and yet the conflict can tear them apart simply because each one of them is trying to be honorable.
“And that’s what matters - the individual characters. Like you, Julie, if the characters are rounded and believable then I’m hooked. It’s not the nationality of a hero but who he is that I’ll love.
“As an author, again, I haven’t many sheikh books to my name - Desert Affair and At the Sheikh’s Command - and that’s it. For me, there are certain plots that just have to have a sheikh hero because they can’t work as well if they don’t. It’s that â ruler of all he surveys setting that Kimberley mentions. When your hero is an absolute ruler, with the power of life or death in a way that a European hero can’t have then it gives the story an added edge. That’s what I tried to use in At the Sheikh’s Command. But when I create a sheikh - and when I read one I enjoy - I want a real man - powerful, regal, proud, hard - but also capable of genuine love, honesty, protective and honorable. But then I ask that of all the characters I read and enjoy - and the ones I write. Yep, it’s all in the execution.”
Trish Morey wrote: “I just love the escapism and sheer fantasy of the sheikh story. I think EM Hull got it so right when she penned her famous The Sheik about a century ago. Being whisked away by the king of the desert is a theme that resonates with women all over (though clearly not all of them, Presents fan!) It’s fabulous in Presents there’s a wide range of reading and authors so you can always find a great read.”
And Annie West added “I think you’re right, Trish, about the pure fantasy of being whisked away to a desert kingdom. There’s something about a hero who has absolute power in his own right, and the question of whether or how he’ll use that power, that can be so intriguing. That setting/premise can produce situations that just aren’t available for instance in downtown Sydney. The interaction between such a hero and a strong heroine can be fascinating. Which, I suppose brings us to Julie and Kate’s comments about character. I agree the characterization has to be right.”
A variety of storylines, characterization and the sheer fantasy of being swept away by a man who has absolute power (but also knows how to use it well) are what make sheikh stories work.
Do the reasons why writers and fans like Sheikh books make you decide to read one with fresh eyes? What is your favorite hero archetype?
This coming Thursday here in the US is our Thanksgiving and keeping this in mind, here is a poem I would like to share. Wherever you live, peace, joy and blessings.
By Author Unknown
Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
Posted by Marilyn Shoemaker at 10:08 AM
Friday, November 14, 2008
All you need to do to win is comment about the latest sheikh book you're reading or have recently read. Better yet, talk about your favorite "sheikh author". Check back at the end of the month to see if you've won. Best of luck!
Posted by Marilyn Shoemaker at 6:47 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
SANDRA MARTON - THE SHEIKH'S WAYWARD WIFE
Now that her mother has passed away, it’s become important to Layla Addison to get to know her father who resides in a desert kingdom and find out the truth as to why her mother left him and raised her alone. She is led to believe by her father that he would like to get to know her. However, in the end, he’s a brut and a horrible man and uses her to gain profit by selling her to a despicable man to become his wife.
Sheikh Kahlil al Hasim like all desert princes is proud, extremely handsome, arrogant and not too pleased that he has been summoned home to Al Ankhara to meet with his father and the council. He’s had to put a multi-millionaire business deal and a new mistress on hold to return to his father and the desert. Kahlil has always known he was a part of Al Ankhara and someday he will need to lead his people. He’s spent a good part of his life pretending he wasn’t part of it
On the night of his return he observes someone dressed in the native dress walking directly into the ocean. He investigates and learns that this person is non-other than the beautiful Layla. What he eventually learns is of her betrothal to the “pig” of a man and like all warriors Kahlil feels he must save her from her fate, so he comes up with a plan. Kahlil also realizes that he must keep his father from being a part of a disastrous plan that would bring grief to his country. Duty and honour are part of him but at times, he wishes things were different!
Layla is an extremely lovely woman with such a spirit and fire it will warm your heart and she’s has walked into a mess in more ways than one. How can she escape this marriage and now she is under the protection of this sexy sheikh, at times it is more than she can emotionally endure. Will Kahlil’s plan work or will it backfire? This spitfire is constantly challenging this desert prince and he resorts to always kissing her into silence or submission.
Like all East meets West love stories, there are misunderstandings, frustrations and a sexual tension that heats up the pages as only Sandra Marton can pen in the Sheikhs Wayward Wife. Their desire and passion are immediately felt by the reader and Kahlil’s confusion as to what he is feeling and experiencing were a joy to read, especially his strong feelings in wanting to protect Layla and the means with which he did protect her.
This second book in the Sheikh Tycoon’s series was a sincere pleasure to read. Its passion and fire were so evident and had me wanting more and more and not wanting their beautiful love story to end.
Sheikh Khalil al Hasim is more than happy to escort feisty Layla Addison back to his desert kingdom and hand her over to her betrothed. But he's almost as horrified as she is by the lecherous man she's being forced to marry!
With steely determination, Khalil demands she become his bride instead! Layla's powerless to resist his wicked good looks, but he's arrogant and overbearing. Has this rebellious bride just jumped from the frying pan into the fire?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Defiant bride doesn’t even describe Madison Whitney. She is the professional Vice President of Marketing for MicroTech, she’s a stunning beauty and she has it all, the job, the New York apartment, the degrees…..well she doesn’t have it all, she wants a child with no husband. At a very young age, Madison learned from her mother’s mistakes not to trust a man so she’s determined never to marry. She’s also planned on having a baby through artificial insemination at New Born who specializes in sperm storage.
As for the handsome and powerful sheikh, I believe Tariq would be at the top of my list. He’s incredibly handsome and his loyalty to his father, his brother’s memory and his country definitely puts him at the top. Tariq is aware that he must rise to the cause of someday being the ruler of his country due to the recent death of his beloved brother. He’s committed to finding a wife so he searches in his own country and neighbouring regions with no luck. He’s determined to return to the US, continuing the search of finding a wife.
One evening he watches a television broadcast featuring Future Born and Madison Whitney is speaking about sperm storage and its use for the future. Just watching her stirs a need in him, and as fate would have it, they meet at his lawyer’s cocktail party. Madison seeks him out in an effort to get rid of an unwanted guest. Immediately Tariq realizes who she is, and he acts on his attraction later that night in the garden. Things get out of control and when they are interrupted, he believes himself to be a fool; she’s as consumed by lust as he is but in the end she resists and denies all. Tariq realizes he is no closer in finding a wife or producing an heir. And the woman, who spent some time in his arms, can’t be trusted. He contacts his lawyer to arrange to have his sperm stored for future use.
Fate steps in again. Madison has arranged to be inseminated and becomes pregnant with the donor she chose? Did she really? No! For some reason which is not known to Madison, she receives the wrong sperm. Tariq has been informed of the mistake and that he’s going to be a father and Madison is the mother. There is only one thing to do, marry this feisty woman for the sake of their unborn child and he realizes is will be hard to convince her! When the news is dropped like a bomb, Madison bristles, no way will she marry this proud sheikh. However, Tariq has other ideas. Their journey is an incredible one; from their getting to know each other, to their marriage and what fate delivers them. The Sheikh’s Defiant Bride is just another wonderful Sandra Marton love story.
Sincerely, there is so much I want to share but that would be unfair to the reader. You’re just going to have to trust that this first book in The Sheikhs Tycoon series is so worth reading. Sometimes when you least expect it an incredible story unfolds with so many lessons and this is no exception. Their journey and the love they both realize, just wonderful!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
JANE PORTER CONTEST - CELEBRATING THE DESERT KING'S MARRIAGE
Stop over at Jane Porter's Blog. She's having two great contests celebrating her latest sheikh release http://janeporter.com/janeblog/index.php
a fun contest to celebrate the UK re-release of my Harlequin Presents, The Sheikh’s Virgin in the two book anthology, The Desert Sheikh’s Marriage. The Desert Sheikh’s Marriage also features a wonderful story by Sarah Morgan, one of my favorite Harlequin authors so it’s an extra fun collection
Monday, October 06, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
For the Blogger Appreciation it Jennifer Y. Please email me your address.
For The Pink Heart Society "Pink's Birthday" it's Cheri2628. Same thing, Cheri your address please.
Thanks to all who entered both contests.
Monday, September 29, 2008
THE DESERT KING'S PREGNANT BRIDE - ANNIE WEST
Trapped by desire and something else, you won’t want to miss The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride!
Sheikh Khalid Bin Shareef and Ms. Maggie Lewis were like “two star-crossed lovers” when they met one dark, blustery and rainy evening. They were meant to be but they didn’t know it; not at the time they first met nor did the handsome sheikh realize it until it was almost too late! Even taking into consideration how they were both raised, the emotional obstacles they needed to overcome; they were meant to be….lovers.
Maggie was upset, soaked to the bone and realized what a fool she’d been in wanting to take her relationship with her boyfriend a step further. It was like a slap in the face when she found him in the arms of another; she flees, stumbles and is rescued by a handsome stranger who she later finds out is visiting royalty. Khalid persuades Maggie to take a ride from him and upon close inspection sees that she’s troubled; instead of taking her home he takes her to the lodge where he is staying while visiting Australia. He’s determined to soothe her by getting her warm and dry clothes, just talking to her to reassure and comfort her. He realizes he might be in trouble because he finds her attractive and she intrigues him; he wants to protect her and more.
Khalid hasn’t felt like this since his wife died 8 years ago and it disturbs him. While soothing and holding Maggie, things change and they act upon their attraction to each other (I call it fate). She gives Khalid the greatest gift of all, her virginity. However, the next morning she’s determined to leave while Khalid sleeps; when he awakes and finds her gone, he’s determined to see her again! On top of everything, his brother dies and Khalid is forced to return to his country and become the ruler.
Maggie felt foolish and stupid that she was so trusting. She’d never felt loved……her father used, rejected and over worked her; her mother left and took her younger sister when she was very young. She had no sense of belonging, of being loved, self confidence as a woman, or that she might be desired by a man. It was painful to read about Maggie’s childhood. However, that one night in Khalid’s arms, and their passionate love making would stay with her for a lifetime, she was sure of it!
As for Khalid’s youth, his father was selfish; he only cared about his mistresses and Khalid's half brother which left Khalid on his own to forge his own future because he was not heir to the throne. Khalid married young; a few years later his wife died. He’s vowed never to give his heart again. He desires Maggie, wants to see her again and arranges for her to travel to Shajehar on the pretence of purchasing horses. It’s an accident which causes Maggie to be seen by a physician and later they both learn she’s pregnant with his child. He’s determined they will marry, she agrees because they are both committed to giving their child support, love and stability, something neither of them experienced when they were growing up. However, Maggie questions if she can live without love knowing Khalid is still mourning his dead wife?
The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride was a moving, touching and very enjoyable love story set in a progressive country with its people accepting Maggie as their queen. Watching Maggie grow as a person, taking language lessons, meeting with the women of the village, promoting education, and bonding with Khalid’s relatives, lovely!
As for this handsome Sheikh Khalid, his protectiveness and tenderness towards Maggie was incredibly sweet. Yet one wanted to shake him because he held on to a ghost, his dead wife. He was afraid to give his heart and you’ll cry for him because it’s obvious he adored Maggie.
This was a fascinating book to read. Their passion burns with their strong desire for each other. Annie West pens a wonderful romance novel with The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride this being her third sheikh book. I think my favourite parts of this love story were watching Maggie grow, feeling more confident as a person, and taking charge of her life. As for the sexy sheikh…..his tenderness, his concern and desire for Maggie and reading about how he was brought to his knees! Thanks Annie for another wonderful story…..I felt as if I were in your lovely home country, Australia and the beautiful desert!
Maggie is at her most defenceless when she meets Khalid, a mysterious yet sympathetic stranger. Their single night of passion has consequences neither expects. Khalid's solution to their situation is simple, a marriage of convenience. But can Maggie give up everything she knows to marry the enigmatic lord of a desert kingdom? Can she trust her life to the hands of the man who makes her vulnerable in ways she's never been before?
Khalid is determined to do the right thing by Maggie. She stirs his protective instincts even though she's one of the strongest and most resilient women he's ever met. More, she arouses desires and feelings he thought he'd buried long ago. He doesn't know where the passion between them will lead, but he refuses to back away, even if it means obliterating the walls they've each built around their emotions. He will have her as his bride and he won't settle for anything less than all of her: mind, body and heart.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Well I've been holding out buying this series because #1 I work full time and #2 my to be read pile is well let's say I have a ton to read but I'm not complaining. I recently was at Barnes and Noble and Olivia's books caught my eye. She receives rave reviews and her website is stunning and romantic.
DANA MARTON'S THE SHEIKH PROTECTOR
All she wanted to do was tell her lover she was pregnant, but upon entering his desert kingdom, Julia Gardner meets his suspicious twin brother, Sheik Karim Abdulla, and is held against her will until her claims can be proven. At the same time, a fanatical radical sect has decreed death for Karim, and she's caught up in the escalating attacks that revolve around finding ancient statues. As they race for their lives across the desert, Julia and Karim feel passion flaring in Dana Marton's action-filled and riveting Sheik Protector. Reviewed by Pat Cooper.(RomanticTimes TOP PICK for September!!!!).
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Blogger Appreciation Week Winner
Cheri 2628 you're the winner. Congratulations. Please send me your name and details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks all for entering my contest. I have some used books as well if any of you are interested, just email me and I'll send them off as well.
Posted by Marilyn Shoemaker at 11:59 AM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
September/October Contest - "Modern" Contest – Anne West and Abby Green
Harlequin authors Annie West and Abby Green are now running a contest to celebrate the release of their latest books. For those not familiar with the name, 'Modern' is the British version of 'Presents' in North America or 'Sexy' in Australia.
~ A signed copy of THE DESERT KING'S PREGNANT BRIDE,
~ Chocolate Caramello Koalas to enjoy while you read, and
~ some stationery.
~ A signed copy of Abby's book THE SPANIARD'S MARRIAGE BARGAIN,
The contest runs over two months, closing on 28 October, Eastern Australian time. To enter, visit Annie West's website at http://www.annie-west.com and head for the contest page.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Book Blogger Appreciation Week Is Coming!
Nominations are now being accepted for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week awards, in two dozen categories ranging from "best general book blog" to "best design," "most eclectic taste," and even "best name for a blog." (There's also a category for blogs about the publishing industry, in case you know any blogs like that of which you think well, like Eco-Libris, or TeleRead.) You can nominate up to two blogs in any category until Sunday; shortlists will be whittled down to the top five nominees in each category and voting will take place starting September 15.
In it's honor, I'll be giving away a copy of Jane Porter's King of the Desert, Captive Bride
From September 12 through 15th
Just post a comment or send me an email
I will mail to any country
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
THE PINK HEART SOCIETY 2ND BIRTHDAY!
Stop over at The Pink Heart Society where they are celebrating their 2nd Birthday and win some prizes. Link: http://pinkheartsociety.blogspot.com/
In honor of their 2nd birthday, I'll be giving a copy of Susan Stephens Desert King, Pregnant Mistress. Just post a comment to this post and I'll have a drawing at the end of the month.
AT THE SHEIKH’S BIDDING – CHANTELLE SHAW
From the moment they met the air sizzled and under the circumstances….thunderous!
Erin Maguire lives up to her name and red hair; she is fierce, can’t control her tongue and is a spit fire when it comes to protecting her adoptive son.
Erin has a past and no family. Her mother, amongst other things was a deceased addict, never new her father, lived on the streets and was in trouble with the authorities until an older couple took her in. That’s when she met Faisal and his baby son who were in need of a nanny. It was Erin’s devotion to the baby and her friendship with Faisal after his wife died, that led him to marry Erin in name only, especially when he found out he was terminally ill. He told Erin neither he nor his wife had any family so he asked her to adopt and raise his son upon his death.
The handsome, fierce and stubborn Sheikh Zahir is on a mission. He and his father have just been told that his eldest brother died and has left an heir to the throne, a son named Kazim. The King is ill and wants to know his grandson so he dispatches Zahir immediately to return the young boy back home where he belongs. There is some mystery as to why this family has been separated from each and why Faisal, Zahir and the King were estranged, which adds an interesting element to the storyline.
What a shock when they meet and Zahir sets eyes on Erin, his brother’s 2nd wife. She immediately catches his eye and he’s sexually attracted by her beauty. It’s a battle of wills, threats and shouts and in the end, Erin, Kazim and Zahir return to the desert, Qubbah and the King.
This is a very spirited and at times sad story but the fire that burns between this couple sizzles off of the page. It’s a battle of wills, attraction, miscommunication plus throw into the mix a forced marriage between Erin and Zahir. In the end, it’s a beautifully crafted love story by Chantelle Shaw, set with passion and fire, one you won’t want to miss
Erin Maguire is shocked to discover that her adopted son is the heir to a desert kingdom! Now they're en route to the land of Qubbah with little Kazim's uncle, the powerful and arrogant Zahir bin Kahlid al Muntassir!
Zahir insists Erin marry him, and that his young nephew remain in Qubbah! She refuses to leave Kazim behind, but she's not of royal blood. Zahir will have a very ordinary virgin bride in his bed on his wedding night!
DESERT KING – PREGNANT MISTRESS – Susan Stephens
This book is explosive! What a handsome and strong sheikh Khal is........proud, firm and arrogant and he's smitten by a young woman from Liverpool that will blow any reader away! Khal is bound by duty and at times ignores Beth Tracey Torrance and what’s important to her. After their brief time together, she returns to Liverpool only to find out she’s expecting the ruling sheikh’s baby!
The shop girl from Liverpool is charming, strong, fierce and proud. She adores Khal and when she returns to England and finds herself pregnant, her only thought is of her daughter Hannah. She misses Khal but is determined to be the best mother ever!
This was a “feisty” read and at times very sad but it’s another wonderful sheikh story by the incredible Susan Stephens and you won’t be sorry you’ve read it and most of all you will never forget Beth Tracey Torrence!
Sheikh Khalifa is bored by the potential wives paraded in front of him. So when he catches sweet, innocent Beth Torrance trespassing on his private beach, he is more than ready to be distracted….
Beth comes to the island a naïve virgin, but leaves an awakened woman—and unknowingly pregnant with the sheikh's baby! When the desert king vows to claim his child—and take its mother as his permanent mistress—Beth is powerless to refuse a royal decree!
Friday, August 15, 2008
The power of love: 100 years of romantic fiction
It was a perfect match: two publishers with a taste for romance and an eye for a market. A century on, millions of readers are still besotted with Mills & Boon. But what is their secret?
Saturday, 2 February 2008
"Has a sheikh ever read a Mills & Boon romance? Sheikhs feature a lot in these million-selling novels, but are seldom found reading books in them (too much wooing and stamping and looking cruel); but were they to read Desert Rapture or The Moonlit Oasis or The Falcon's Mistress, would they be surprised to discover how often they fall in love with rather ordinary-looking British women, with coltish virgins and plain-but-plucky athletes? Would they be interested to learn how invariably they're described as possessing strong jawlines, high cheekbones and jet-black eyes?
A whole 80 years after Rudolph Valentino made female audiences swoon with his desert-based wooing, fictional sheikhs can still, mirabile dictu, be found ordering women around in Mills & Boon plots. So can other alpha-male stereotypes, especially cowboy ranchers, business moguls, billionaires (mere millionaires need not apply any more) and swarthy plutocrats of indeterminate employment, known only as "the Spaniard," "the Italian" and inevitably "the Greek".
They're all at the heart of a publishing phenomenon which celebrates its centenary on Thursday, and can boast some extraordinary statistics. Their books are translated into 25 languages and sell in 100 international markets. They have a stable of 1,300 authors around the world, many of whom make millions but most of whom prefer to lurk behind noms de plume. A jaw-dropping 35 million titles are sold every year worldwide, seven million in the UK. Flying in the face of public condescension (and mainstream publishing trends), they publish 70 new titles each month and pulp any unsold copies after three months. For an organisation concerned with melting hearts and stumbling moonlight confessions, they're ruthless as a sheikh.
Many stories attest to their efficiency. When the Berlin Wall was breached in 1989, and the people of East Berlin emerged blinking into the light of freedom, one of the odder gifts they received was a Mills & Boon novel. Harlequin, owners of the imprint, had watched the collapse of Communism with interest and calculated that, if there was one thing the newly-unshackled female population had missed over 25 years, it was romance. They directed their West Berlin office to thrust 750,000 free copies of Penny Jordan's A Reason for Being into the chilly hands of East Berlin's lovelorn hausfrauen. It was a characteristic Mills & Boon move, combining shrewd commercialism with the chance to spread the narcotic fluid of boy-meets-girl through a lot of new veins. They've always known romance sells and they've sold it better – and with more focus and sophistication – than anyone else.
The company was launched in 1908 by Gerald Mills and Charles Boon, young entrepreneurs with £1,000 to spend. They meant to publish books on several subjects, including travel and crafts, but their first production was Arrows from the Dark by Sophie Cole – a romance. It sold modestly (1,300 copies in six years) but history, of a kind, was made. The house published early work by PG Wodehouse and Hugh Walpole, and made a name for itself as the "Promised Land" for new writers, where the efforts of fledglings would, unusually be welcomed. By 1913, Charles Boon had spotted where their natural market lay. "I am certain that the bulk of novels published are devoured by women before they can reach men," he told the Daily Citizen.
The company discerned a growing appetite among women readers for escapist reading and decided to concentrate on hardback romantic fiction. They had two unique selling propositions: their brightly-coloured, eye-catching jackets, picturing lantern-jawed heroes and fleeing beauties swept on to galloping horses by desert bandits; and the fact that their target audience was middle- and upper-class women, who would never have sullied their eyes with the "mill-girls' romances" of the late 19th century.
Depression and the Second World War did wonders for the escapism market. Romances flew off the nation's shelves with the speed of Hurricanes. On the back of every new M&B title, an advertisement pictured a well-to-do woman declaring, in Celia Johnson tones, "I always look for a Mills & Boon when I want a pleasant book. Your troubles are at an end when you chose a Mills & Boon novel. No more doubts! No more disappointments!" In other words, you always knew you were going to get a happy ending. With the decline of the circulating libraries, through which their early books were mainly sold, the company arranged for their books to be sold in newsagents all over the country. They also sold titles by direct-mail catalogue, and made a lucrative serialisation deal with Women's Weekly.
While their fortunes sky-rocketed, however, their reputation declined in the new age of television, rock '*' roll and Sixties radicalism. Mills & Boon as a generic concept seemed hopelessly outmoded, its romantic plots empty slush, its characters plaster mannequins, its whole ethos bland, vanilla-flavoured, elderly. Bookshops that stocked their titles consigned them to a ghetto shelf, as if embarrassed by them. Indeed, they often seemed interchangeable commodities to their readers. When I worked for a summer in a London library in 1976, I found a line of pencil marks inside the back cover of Moonlight Over Cordoba and told the boss someone was defacing books. "That's the Mills & Boon readers, poor old dears," she replied, "They put their initials in the back to tell themselves they've already read that one."
Despite the image problem, the pastel tide of romance has become oceanic. Today, Mills & Boon sell more than ever, in more countries than ever. From next week, they'll print books in India for the first time (beginning with the irresistible Virgin Slave, Barbarian King) looking to take a chunk of 300 million English-reading consumers. They've established a romantic presence in the lucrative Japanese Manga market. And they've just announced that they'll be launching, through W H Smith, a dozen titles in translation (such as Ksiaze Pustyni, Tejemniczy Ukochany or Mysterious Lover, Desert Prince) to cater for Polish émigrés.
I went to meet the top brass at their HQ in the appropriately named Paradise Road in Guildford, Surrey. In a building of breathtaking ugliness, the editorial director of Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd – the grand panjandrum of worldwide romance – turned out to be Karin Stoecker, a tiny Canadian dame in her 50s with a briskly logical manner and no trace of stars in her eyes. "It's hard to talk about the Mills & Boon demographic because we have people from all ages and income brackets reading us," she said. "Forty years ago, authors and readers were from a higher socio-economic class, and now it's more widespread, but that has a lot to do with the way education has changed in the last 50 years. People read by life-stage and mood than for any other reason." Meaning? "When they have time on their hands. When you find yourself at home with young children, and you can't get out of the house and you'll read anything with adult words in it." She is under no delusion that Mills & Boon deal in literary masterpieces. "They're books you don't get too involved in. One woman said to me years ago, 'I love your books, I can put them down any time.' She meant she could also pick them up again and go right on where she left off, without thinking, 'Oh God, what have I forgotten?'"
The sea-change in the company's post-war fortunes was its decision to split its titles into genres, and to package and market them accordingly. "Before that," said Karin, "we just trusted the readers to know which kind of books they liked. Now, the mass market for romance is fragmented, and it's a matter of managing multiple niches." They rely on readers' advice, but rather more on the instincts of their authors, who invariably began life as M&B readers. Of the 12 niche imprints, "Modern" always features jet-set luxury, "Romance" deals in the now-traditional sheikhs, ranchers, billionaires and tanned Europeans (their titles are hilariously interchangeable: The Spaniard's Captive Bride, The Italian Billionaire's Pregnant Bride, Wedded at the Italian's Convenience and my favourite, The Sheikh's Convenient Virgin). "Historical" is love accessorised by ruffs, doublets and mob caps. "Medical" is basically Holby City with more heaving bosoms. The "Blaze" imprint promises readers fairly explicit smut, even going so far as oral sex (with ice cubes) and hot lesbian action. "I was on the team that worked on that," said Lesley Stone, a senior editor. "It was a spinoff from the Temptation series in 1995, which was light and flirty and fresh, and everyone liked the extra sex, so Blaze became a series by itself. Just like a TV spinoff." Did the readers actually say, "We'd like some soft porn, please?" Lesley looked aghast. "It's not soft porn. They just wanted it to be more realistic. People do go on holiday and they do have flings. They'll have sex, but it would still end up as a committed relationship, and it's still character-driven so it's still a romance."
Uniquely among publishers, the staff undertake to read every manuscript and treatment sent in by aspirant writers. Karin Soecker and a team of 20 editors take a day off each week to read them. "The most common mistake people make," said Jenny Hutton, a young editor who occasionally sounds just like a Mills & Boon heroine, "is when they've worked at the plot rather than really got to know the characters. You need a strongly constructed heroine to take you through the story and hero who the reader's in love with the minute he appears." But aren't romance heroes, from Mr Darcy onwards, complete bastards when they first appear? "But that's the talent of the author," said Ms Hutton, "You may have a hero whose life has gone wrong in the past, but the author can make you like him. You can have a flawed character but you can show his good qualities and how he's affected by the heroine, and how he changes through the story."
I suggested that Mills & Boon heroes hadn't changed much in 50 years, that they were invariably cruel and bossy. "Oh I don't know," breathed Jenny. "There may be a touch of ruthlessness about them, but really they're just taking the reins of the situation, they're in control of what's going on, and the heroine is the only one who gets in through the chink in their armour." Shouldn't they be more charming, along the lines of Jude Law or Hugh Grant? "Nah," said Karin dismissively. "You couldn't trust them to be faithful. There was a time in the early 1990s, when what we might call the beta male dominated. He was much more the guy next door, like Tom Hanks. He probably worked for somebody and had all the stresses and neuroses of someone like that. But you deal with the kind of person in real life." "When you're married to Joe, or Dave, or Jeff," said Jenny. "You really want..." "Niarchos" said Karin with finality.
What was going on with modern Mills & Boon heroines? Most of their titles involved women being captured, or ravished, stolen or "taken" – generally imprisoned rather than courted.
"I think there's a secret desire, particularly among busy successful women," said Karin with determination, "that for one day, for two hours, they can abdicate responsibility from doing it all. That somebody else will make the decisions. The point of the hero is more about his having the power to make it happen, than his being ruthless and cruel. Really, it's all about the total abdication of responsibility."
But all this endless repetition of being captured and taken... Can that really be women's secret desire in 2008? "The heroine is much more in charge in the books now," said Lesley. "She's appalled by the sheikh's behaviour and says, 'But he can't do such a thing in this day and age.' And the sheikh says, 'Yes I can, because I rule this kingdom.' But of course it'll work out fine, because they'll fall for each other..."
Look, I said, Where is the fantasy about female empowerment? Why isn't there a title like The Virgin's Convenient Sheikh, when the tables are turned? "The thing is," said Jenny, "readers often know that the sheikh is, in fact, at the virgin's mercy because of her strength of character. He wants her and is thrilled by her and that's what people know they'll get out of the story."
But, I persisted, wouldn't it be a brilliant sub-genre if the girl were the proactive character who imprisons the irate Spaniard? "But that would mean," said Karin, "once again, the woman's gotta do all the work. This is not a fantasy for women any more. Lose that idea right now."
"Yes, ma'am," I said. Anything you say.
Monday, August 04, 2008
THE SHEIKH'S BLACMAILED MISTRESS - Penny Jordan
From the moment they collide in a hotel hallway, share a kiss they are both affected so strongly……was it fate?
The man, a sheikh and a proud and honorable ruler. Prince Vere has vowed he will never love again as to love only brings pain. As a young man he lost both of his parents and that pain has long stayed with him. Just one brief encounter with Samantha McLennan has reminded him he must never give in. However, desire and that one encounter never leave him. He sees Sam in his dreams and then on a trip to the desert he encounters her again.
Sam is shaken by the man and the kiss. She too cannot erase the memories out of her mind. It’s painful, keeps her awake and when she takes an assignment to map the boundaries of a few Arab countries she believes she can shake those memories until she meets him again face to face.
Vere immediately puts up a wall and then one of her “jealous” co-workers puts it into his mind that Sam cannot be trusted. Vere seeks his brother’s counsel and they decide to investigate her. He proposes a trip to the desert and then everything goes down hill from there. They act on their feelings and everything spirals out of control.
A wonderful love story with so much passion and pain and in the end Vere learns the lessons of love, trust and healing. A great sheik book, excellently penned by Penny Jordan!
Monday, June 30, 2008
HIRED: THE SHEIKH'S SECRETARY MISTRESS - LUCY MONROE
Only one way to describe it……an exceptionally sweet romance featuring an innocent woman who doesn’t see herself as being worthy of a handsome prince’s love. He’s her boss, her very best friend and she loves and adores him and for Grace Brown the past five years working for him, travelling with him, getting to know his family has been heaven. He’s changed her world and “filled it with light, warmth and sound”.
In Lucy’s July release Forbidden: The Billionaire’s Virgin Princess the reader was introduced to Princess Lina and the handsome, rich, playboy…… Sheik Amir. Both of their parents arranged a marriage between them but Lina fooled them all by falling in love and marrying her bodyguard Hawk. So now Sheikh Amir is not going to let his family arrange another marriage. He adores his personal assistant, he trusts her and he’s going to break her heart by asking her to find him a wife!
Amir decides he needs to return home to Zorha to see his family and also set his “marriage” plans in motion. He can’t deny he has inner feelings for Grace, he certainly considers her more than a PA and close friend and for reasons he can’t put his finger on, he’s sexually attracted to her and fights his urge to act upon it. He knows if he does, he’ll loose not only his PA but friend. He seeks the counsel of his eldest brother and admits his feelings and attraction, but what to do?
As for Grace, she loves Amir deeply and in the end agrees to find some candidates based on his requirements……beauty, intelligence, social standing and most important a marriage of convenience not love. Years ago, Amir loved deeply and his beloved was taken by him in death. He vows never again! Because Grace is devoted and wants him happy she agrees but with a price, she’s going to give her resignation.
What transpires you are not going to want to miss as Grace decides to go for broke…….transform herself, put herself on the list……..it’s final chapters, well let’s just say, amazing as only Lucy Monroe can pen.
FORBIDDEN - THE BILLIONAIRE'S PRINCESS - Lucy Monroe
You might ask why this review is posted.....well Lina is the daughter of a desert sheikh and part of Lucy Monroe's Royal Bride series. Be on the looking in August for Hired: The Sheikh's Secretary Mistress.....Amir's story.
I’ve read every book in Lucy Monroe’s Royal Bride series and they only get better and better and more interesting. In Forbidden: The Billionaire’s Virgin Princess Sebastian Hawk and Lina Marwan are equally matched in sensuality, spirit and in their attraction for each other. In each chapter I couldn’t wait to see if Lina was going to out-smart Hawk as he was hired to be her bodyguard to watch over her and to also watch over her security team her family had hired.
As a small child, Lina was sent away from her home to live in the US with her aunt and uncle. She’s never felt a part of her family; she’s felt neglected, unwanted with the exception of the care her US relatives have given her and from time to time, her brother who infrequently. She’s been sheltered, watched over like a hawk and now she wants to spread her wings. However, the only way she can do that is to outsmart her security team and her new bodyguard Hawk has figured her out!
Hawk is one hot man! He’s exceptional at his job, owns his own security company, is well respected in the industry and wants no part of a relationship. He’s learned from the women in his life not to trust and to keep his relationships short and sweet. Now he’s been hired by the Sheik to watch over his daughter who’s attending college so he makes sure he literally bumps into her, sparks fly between them…..it’s immediate attraction for both of them, Lina so innocent and Hawk so “experienced” and it’s a battle of wills, lust and a love story you’re not going to want to miss!
Throughout the entire book I was rooting for them and you will as well because their attraction is so immediate and powerful. Hawk is torn every step of the way; he fights his attraction for Lina and in the end it’s an emotional breakup and farewell. What was incredible to read was Lina’s journey in self discovery, how she grew emotionally and outsmarted them all! This author has a gift for drawing her readers into the story and this book is no exception. In the end, let’s just say, their reunion years later is emotional and tender as only Lucy Monroe can portray and this book is a love story at it’s best! Cheers to Lucy and her Royal Brides!
Sebastian Hawk is a master in business and in the bedroom. There is no place for emotion in his world.
Lina is a headstrong and reckless princess in need of protection and Sebastian is called in to provide round-the-clock security. Her provocative innocence is too enticing, and Sebastian loses his legendary self—control and beds her…only to discover she's still a virgin….
Royal Brides - An innocent princess — claimed by a hot-blooded billionaire!
Monday, May 12, 2008
JANE PORTER - KING OF THE DESERT, CAPTIVE BRIDE (book 2)
In Jane's the Sheikh's Chosen Queen (book 1) you were introduced to King Sharif Fehr and his wife Jesslyn. Jesslyn was friends with Sharif's two sisters who were killed when they were all three on a trip. The family was devastated, especially his brother Khalid Fehr, who now resides in the Great Sarq Desert.
Khalid has never gotten over the loss so when he reads a post on the Internet from a brother who lives in the US,looking for his sister, Khalid's heart twists. After some research and investigation, he finds out she's been arrested and is now in a prison. Determined to free her, he stakes his honor, his familes as well to obtain her pardon. However, from the moment of Olivia Morse's release, everything goes wrong and so in order not to have Olivia returned to prison, Khalid states that she is his fiance and they are to be married. All sorts of questions arise with the government and his family.....is she a thief, a drug smuggler, and why would he want to marry when he's always told his family never!
Their journey actually begins in Cairo and then a wonderfulriver trip on the Nile, sights one dreams of seeing; history, color, artifacts, temples, bazaars, foods.....a dream come true for Olivia who is a travel agent from a small southern town. It's a journey of exploration for them both.....trust, yearning, fear, the unknown factor if Olivia will be able to marry or go back to prison.
For Olivia is not just the adventure, it's finding out about herself, it's about falling for a man she doesn't understand, it's about honor, family and in the end love. It's a romantic adventure as only Jane Porter can write to exotic ports and places with an incredible honor bound sheikh, Khalid Fehr you'll adore!
When Sheikh Khalid Fehr rescues innocent Olivia Morse from the hands of his country's enemies, he guarantees her freedom by announcing she is his betrothed….
Khalid has vouched for Liv with his honor… and this desert king is determined that his new wife will fulfill her marital duties, by his side as his regal queen…and as his captive virgin bride!
Egyptian Bread & Butter Pudding (from Jane Porter's website)
Egyptian Bread & Butter Pudding - From Jane Porter's Website (King of the Desert, Captive Bride (May)
One of the desserts served in King of the Dessert, Captive Bride is Bread & Butter Pudding, an Egyptian spin on the traditional English bread pudding, and yet it has neither bread nor butter in the recipe. Fragrant with cinammon and rose water, this dessert features custard poured over layers of delicate sweetened pastry.
» 10-12 sheets of filo pastry
» 2 1/2 cups milk
» 1 cup heavy cream
» 1 egg beaten
» 2 tbl rose water
» 1/2 cup each chopped pistachio nuts, almonds and hazelnuts
» 3/4 cup raisins
» 1 tbl ground cinnamon
» Light cream to serve on side
1. Preheat oven to 325 F
2. Lay the filo pastry sheets on top of each other on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 min until crisp. Remove from oven and increase the oven temp to 400 F
3. Scald the milk and cream by pouring them into a pan and heating very gently, until hot but not boiling. Slowly add the beaten egg and the rose water. Cook over a low heat, until it thickens, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat.
4. Crumble the pastry using your hands and then spread it in layers with the nuts and raisins in the base of a greased shallow baking dish.
5. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the nut and pastry base and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with single cream.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
SHEIKHS AND DESERT LOVE BLOG
I'm hopeful readers and authors will stop by this website and participate in the blog. This site has always been such a source for readers of sheikh books and I just discovered there is also a blog.....Bravo!
THE SHEIKH'S CHOSEN QUEEN - JANE PORTER - The Desert Kings
Yet again, Jane Porter mesmerizes her readers with a magnificent and magical “sheikh” story, part of The Desert King series. It’s a bit of a reunion love story as nine years ago, Jesslyn and Prince Fehr were lovers in every sense of the word. They were brought together by a tragedy when Fehr’s two sisters and Jesslyn were in a horrible accident and the sisters were killed. The other tragedy was that Jesslyn was not only left with their loss but injuries which would affect the rest of her life, probable infertility.
Your heart will break as you take the jour4ney with them…..you’ll meet his three sweet girls, his horrible and meddling mother and watch from the sidelines as secrets, lies and manipulation unfold.
Jesslyn walked away nine years ago from the love of her life, Sharif Fehr. Why? His mother hated her, told her he was to marry and that she was not fit to love and be his wife due to the fact she could never give him children. So she walked, still secretly hoping he could come after her. He did not, he married another and had three beautiful girls and now he’s a widower and needs Jesslyn’s help with his girls. Sharif realizes something is dreadfully wrong with the children and knows that Jesslyn is a teacher not living far from his palace. He “demands” she come to the palace, teach the girls and hopefully help them to adjust to their life without their mother. Sharif also has an agenda, one you’ll learn about when you read this incredible book.
You’ll love Sharif, his lack of understanding of how to be the father his girls need and how Jesslyn helps to heal and bring this family together through love and determination. It’s an exceptional romantic and sweet story as only Jane Porter can write with promises of more to come in her next release, Captive Bride.
When Jesslyn knew him in London, Sharif Fehr was a playboy prince, and their romance was carefree and fun.
Now Jesslyn has been summoned to the desert land that Sheikh Sharif rules. The intervening years have proved harsh and cruel, and Sharif has grown used to his word being law. No one dares challenge him—except Jesslyn! But for all her sweet insolence, Sharif is sure of one thing: Jesslyn will obey his ultimate command and submit—to becoming his wife and queen!
Thursday, April 03, 2008
In November of 2007 we were introduced to Morgan and her twin Tegan in the Bosses Christmas Baby. In Trish Morey’s The Sheiks Convenient Virgin, this is Morgan’s story. You will fall in love with Morgan, she is very different from her spirited twin and yet this sweet and even tempered woman no longer is passive, she develops a temper and sass when she meets Sheik Tajik. He demands, his advances, his assault on her senses and her personal space drive her crazy.
The sheikh needs a wife and immediately! When he arrives in Australia and comes to see his mother, he notices her companion, Morgan. The sheikh is advised by his closest aid that his cousin is undermining him while he is away, has suggested to the council that Taj should marry his young daughter. Taj learns of this conspiracy and realizes he must return to his home country, what better solution than to have his mother’s companion accompany them and plans are set in motion. Plans that Morgan his not privy to so one can well imagine when they are revealed she blows her fuse. Marry a man she doesn’t know? Become a sheika in a desert wedding? Be expected to not only consummate the marriage but bear his heirs? Never!
Their journey is a dance and rollercoaster ride you won’t want to miss. It’s tender, passionate and oh what a beautiful, proud, sexy, wealthy sheikh Tajik is but wait until you see him soften, you’ll melt!
What make this story so special is that Sheik Taj wasn’t looking for love nor did he expect it! His father, her father and his fiancé were killed a year before so this marriage will be one of convenience for him. In the end, what he didn’t expect was to fall in love!
Again, Trish Morey has penned an exceptional story, one of passion and promise and tying in two of her other releases to make this a romance you will not want to miss!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
THE SHEIK AND THE PREGNANT BRIDE - SUSAN MALLERY
When it comes to sheik books, Susan Mallery is at the top of the list. Her latest March release The Sheik and the Pregnant Bride I think is my favourite of all her Desert Rogue series.
Maggie Collins was not only lovely, she was full of spirit, sass and on top of everything else a top notch mechanic especially in restoring expensive top of the line cars. Maggie had grown up without a mother and was extremely close to her father who owned an auto body shop. Her father had been hired by Prince Qadir of El Deharia to restore his vintage car but upon Mr. Collins death and mountains of bills to pay, Maggie comes in her father's place. From the moment they meet they are both drawn to each other not in a sexual way but one of friendship, trust and they just plain like each other.
Prince Qadir's father the King has a specific mission and that's to marry off each of his sons. The King is constantly parading eligible young women in hopes of marrying off his sons and having grandchildren. Prince Qadir has no plans to get married so he comes up with a plan, he wants to hire Maggie to be his girlfriend and then pretend to be his fiancé. Everything back fires because they both develop more than a friendship; they develop a passionate relationship, one that knocks them both sideways.
Maggie not's sure how to feel about the relationship. As for experience, Maggie has only known one man, Jon a boy she grew up with in Colorado, dated in high school, they had a short intimate relationship, more to ease the pain of being alone, especially after her father passed away. Now Maggie finds herself pregnant with Jon's baby and on top of everything else, Jon is in love with someone else and Maggie's extremely attracted to Qadir. It becomes an emotional mess for all people concerned!
This was such a fun story to read....and I adored Maggie. She actually reminds me of the author, Susan Mallery. She is charming, has quick wit, and gives as good as she gets. Prince Qadir was a fabulous character as well and you will love to see him brought to his knees by the lovely Maggie.
If you love sheikh books then you will not want to miss reading Susan's The Sheik and the Pregnant Bride.
Maggie Collins had come to the exotic kingdom of El Deharia to restore Prince Qadir's antique car...not to get married. The no-frills mechanic had been burned by love before, and marriage--even to a seductive sheik--didn't top her agenda. But then Qadir made her an offer she should have refused.
It was meant to be a temporary engagement...until Maggie discovered she was pregnant. Now Qadir was honor-bound to give Maggie and her child the protection of his name. He never expected her to sweep him off his feet.
Would there be a royal wedding after all?