Dear Reader,

I’m so excited to be telling you about my current Harlequin Presents: ‘Captive in the Spotlight’ as it’s a story close to my heart. Authors aren’t supposed to have favorites among their books, but this one comes close. Think passion, sizzle and drama plus a gorgeous setting thrown in. After all, if you had to deal with a furious, disapproving but infuriatingly charismatic Italian aristocrat, what better place to do it than on a stunning private island off the Amalfi Coast?

Lucy and Domenico have unfinished business. Domenico needs to silence the scandal that’s peaked again with the release from prison of his brother’s killer. He’ll put a stop to any kiss and tell stories by the woman who seduced then destroyed Sandro. So he’ll do whatever it takes to buy her silence for the sake of Sandro’s family.

Poor Lucy, free at last after a nightmare of accusation and imprisonment, finds herself confronted by a pack of paparazzi and worse, by the man who believes he has every reason to hate her. The man she’d once almost loved. She discovers freedom isn’t quite as simple as she’d hoped, especially when she is alone with Domenico. Their situation heats to combustible levels when they are thrown together. They discover the past isn’t as simple as it once seemed and that the future holds a promise of happiness - if they’re strong enough to risk their hearts.

Romantic Times recently gave ‘Captive’ a 4 star review, saying: "Readers will enjoy West's passionate star-crossed romance, set in picturesque Italian splendor, with a couple facing almost insurmountable obstacles - except in the bedroom."

I hope you have a chance to delve into ‘Captive’. To read more about the book, or the location that inspired it, pop by my website: www.annie-west.com In the meantime, here’s an excerpt I hope you enjoy.

Warmest wishes and happy reading,

Annie West



Excerpt from Captive In The Spotlight

by Annie West

Cover art copyright © by Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and TM are trademarks of the publisher

As if sensing him, she turned her head. ‘You! What are you doing here?’ She spun to face him, legs planted wide and hands clenched at her sides, a model of aggressive challenge.

Except for the robe’s gaping neckline and the flutter of cotton around bare thighs that highlighted her femininity.

Domenico reminded himself he liked his women accommodating. Soft and pliant. Warrior queens with lofty chins and defiance in every sinew held no appeal.
Till now.

His body’s wayward response angered him and guilt pricked. This woman had destroyed Sandro.

‘This is my property. Or had you forgotten?’

‘You implied I’d be here alone.’

‘Did I? Are you sure?’ Of course she wasn’t. He’d chosen his words carefully. Even to his enemies, Domenico didn’t lie. Seeing her skittishness he’d deliberately neglected to mention he’d arrive here today. ‘I fail to see what my travel plans have to do with you.’

He waited for her to splutter her indignation. But she merely surveyed him through slitted eyes. He sensed she drew her defences tight, preparing for battle.

Was she like this with everyone or just him?

‘You came to make sure I don’t steal the silver.’ The sarcastic jibe almost hid her curiously flat tone. Yet he heard that hint of suppressed emotion, as if she was genuinely disappointed.

As if what he thought mattered.

Domenico frowned, instinct and intellect warring. He knew what she was, yet when he looked at her he felt...

Abruptly she pulled her robe in tight, as if only now realising the loose front revealed the shadow of her cleavage. Methodically she knotted the belt, all the while holding his gaze. Why did it feel like she was putting on armour, rather than merely covering herself?

Did she know with the light behind her, the wrap revealed rather than concealed her curves? Was it a deliberate ploy to distract him?

His voice was harsh. ‘I leave it to my security staff to watch for thieves.’

Did she flinch? He remembered her rosy flush in court when evidence had been presented about the jewellery she’d been given by or had stolen from Sandro.

No sign of a blush now.

‘What do you want?’ Her insolence made his hackles rise.

It was on the tip of his tongue to deny he wanted anything but pragmatism beat pride. He was here for one reason only and the sooner he fixed it the sooner he could put Lucy Knight firmly in the past.

‘I do have some business to discuss with you but-’

‘Ha! I knew it!’ She folded her arms and Domenico had to force his gaze above the plump swell of her breasts, accentuated by the gesture.

‘Knew what?’ To his chagrin he’d missed something. He who never missed a nuance of any business negotiation.

‘That it was too good to be true.’ Her lip curled. ‘No one gives anything for nothing. Especially you.’ Her gaze flicked him from head to toe as if she read his body’s charged response to her. His skin drew tight. Fury spilled and pooled. At her dismissive tone. At himself for the spark of arousal he couldn’t douse.

‘You’re here, aren’t you? Safe from the media?’

‘But at what price?’ She stepped close, eyes flaring wide as if she felt it too, the simmer of charged awareness, palpable as a caress against overheated flesh. ‘There are strings attached to this deal, aren’t there? A price I have to pay?’

Domenico looked down his nose with all the hauteur six centuries of aristocratic breeding could provide. No one doubted his honour. Ever.

‘I’m a man of my word.’ He let that sink in. ‘I offered you sanctuary and you have it. There are no strings.’

Yet if she hadn’t been so stressed yesterday she’d have made sure of that before agreeing to his offer.

Domenico muffled a sliver of guilt that he’d taken advantage of her vulnerability. The stakes were too high, the trouble she could cause too severe for him to have second thoughts.

Her perfectly arched eyebrows rose. ‘I’m free to leave?’

Domenico stepped back and gestured to boats moored in the bay. ‘I will even provide the transport.’

He wished she’d take him up on the offer. Yes, he wanted more from her but instinct warned him to be rid of her. He didn’t relish the discordant tumble of his reactions to her. There was nothing logical or ordered about them. She made him feel...things he thought long dead.

Her eyes bored into his, as if she sought the very heart of him. ‘But you want me out of the limelight.’

‘Of course.’ He shrugged. ‘But I’m not keeping you prisoner. There are laws in this country.’

Her breath hissed and she stiffened, reading his implication. That one of them at least was honest and law-abiding.

Her mouth tightened but otherwise her face was blank. So much for vulnerability. Lucy Knight was tough as nails.

‘If you’re staying...’ He looked at her expectantly but she said nothing. ‘We can discuss business when you’re dressed.’ He glanced at his watch. Eleven o’clock. ‘Shall we say midday?’

‘Why delay? I’d rather know what you want.’

She spoke as if he hid something painful from her. He almost laughed at the idea. Once he made his offer she’d be eager enough.

‘You’re hardly dressed for business.’

She stuck her hands on her hips, her pose challenging and provocative. ‘You’d be more comfortable if I wore a suit? Why can’t you tell me now?’ Again those delicate eyebrows rose, as if she silently laughed at him.

Something snapped inside.

He stalked across till he stood close enough to inhale the scent of soap and fragrant female flesh. Close enough to hook an arm round her and haul her flush against him if he chose. Instead he kept his hands clenched at his sides.

She refused to shift. Even though she had to tip her head back to look at him, exposing her slim throat. Heat twisted in his belly, part unwilling admiration at her nerve, part implacable fury.

His gaze held hers as his pulse thumped once, twice, three times. The artery at her throat flickered rapidly and she swallowed. Yet she didn’t look away.

Charged seconds ticked by. Her pupils dilated. His senses stirred. Did he imagine that hint of musky arousal in his nostrils? The quiver of anticipation in the air?

Her breasts rose with her rapid breathing, almost but not quite brushing against him. The woman staring back defiantly was no modest, unprotected innocent.

The thought pulled him up. He’d almost forgotten this was about her, not him.

She wasn’t as unaffected as she pretended. He saw the fine tremor running under her skin. Her tongue flicked out to swipe her lips and he bit back a smile. For it wasn’t a consciously slow, seductive movement but sure evidence her mouth had dried. Nerves or arousal?

Domenico leaned close, letting the heat of her body drench him. Her lashes flickered and her trembling pulse accelerated. His quickened too.

Holding her gaze, he reached out and snagged her belt. Instantly she stiffened, but she didn’t retreat.

Was that a challenge in her eyes?

Her breath was a warm, sweet sigh against his chin as he tugged the bow undone, loosening the fabric around her.

Domenico bent his head and her pursed lips softened. Her eyes widened and something flickered there. Fear or anticipation?

‘My office in an hour. You’ll be less easily distracted if you’re fully dressed.’

He straightened, spun on his heel and left her.

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Contest!


To celebrate the release of Captive In The Spotlight, Annie is giving away prizes in a contest exclusive to Newswire readers.

To enter the draw, just tell us the names of two of Annie’s other titles: A previous title and the name of her upcoming August release. You can find them on her website: www.annie-west.com.

Email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answers before midnight on March 6th, 2013. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and mark the subject as 'CaptiveSpotlight'. Winners will be contacted via email shortly thereafter.

One winner will receive a $25 gift certificate from Amazon and a signed copy of one of Annie’s books. Three more winners will each receive a signed copy of one of Annie’s books.

Good luck!

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