Dear Reader,

I’m thrilled to be writing to you just as my latest Harlequin novel, ‘The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride’, is released in North America.

This is a Cinderella story that hooked me from the moment I first imagined Maggie, my hardworking country-girl heroine meeting Khalid, a man driven by duty and haunted by the past. Each let their guard down on one memorable night that changes their lives forever.

Maggie and Khalid come from opposite sides of the globe, she’s lived all her life on a horse stud in rural Australia and he was raised in the sheikhdom of Shajehar. She’s never left home while he was educated at some of the world’s finest institutions and travels the world with ease. She’s at home in the stables and he lives in a royal palace.

Khalid has vowed never to love again and Maggie has never had to chance to discover what love really is. He prefers fleeting pleasure with women who don’t expect commitment and she’s never given herself before to any man.

Yet despite their differing backgrounds, from the first Maggie and Khalid discover something drawing them together. Something that’s far stronger than logic or caution. Both are independent, both determined. Yet they find themselves bound to each other by ties they can’t ignore – ties of duty and responsibility. And ties of passion.

This book is special for me. I love the characters. I love the way sparks fly whenever they’re together. I enjoy their world – exotic and luxurious yet grounded in real cares and obligations. But most of all I love the way Maggie and Khalid come to see beyond the passion and their pasts, to find a way forward together.

I do hope you enjoy this story too.

If you want to find out more about this book, pop over to http://www.annie-west.com and visit my book page for ‘The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride’ where I’ve added more information and pictures.

Warmest wishes,

Annie




The Desert King's Pregnant Bride
Annie West
April 2009


Sheikh Khalid Bin Shareef has vowed never to get entangled with virgins. But innocent Maggie is too hard to resist—and he takes her...

The next morning she disappears. But Maggie is unfinished business, and he has her sent to his kingdom. There they discover the consequence of their night of passion.

Marriage is the only answer—but it must be one with no emotions, no expectations of love. Maggie will take her rightful place by the sheikh's side...and in his bed!

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


Excerpt from The Desert King's Pregnant Bride

© Annie West

‘If I’m not back at work soon my boss will be furious. I’ve already been gone for ages. It’s a wonder he hasn’t stormed in here demanding I get back to the stables. What we have to discuss is too important for interruption.’

Her heart thudded as Khalid watched her silently. Eventually he inclined his head.

‘You’re right. This isn’t the most appropriate place for our conversation. As for being interrupted, you need have no fear. No one will intrude on us.’

‘You don’t know the stable manager. He’s-’

‘No one you need worry about.’

At her astonished stare Khalid’s lips curved up into that delicious quirk, then slowly spread to a full blown smile that made the pulse thunder in her ears and her nerves jangle in awareness.

He was utterly, indescribably magnetic. He was far more vibrant, more potently attractive than any man had a right to be. Her breath snared and she swayed, feeling the full impact of that attraction.

A firm hand grasped her by the elbow and turned her towards the door. The heat of his touch sizzled like summer lightning across her skin. ‘I see you haven’t caught up with the latest news, Maggie. You don’t know who I am, do you?’

‘Your name’s Khalid,’ she murmured, unsettled by the glint in his eyes. ‘You were the sheikh’s envoy.’

He nodded. ‘I was. Now my position has changed. Four weeks ago I became Sheikh of Shajehar. You’re an honoured guest in my palace. My country.’

***

Maggie sat quietly in the ornate garden pavilion as Khalid thanked the servant who’d bought refreshments. Then he conversed briefly with a man in an expensive suit who obviously had important news.

She was grateful for the respite, was still reeling from the shock of Khalid’s identity. Even now she couldn’t quite believe it!

Yet watching him she wondered that she hadn’t guessed the truth. He had the face of a story book prince: strong commanding and aristocratic. More than that, his air of authority, of uncompromising power, was unmistakeable.

Hadn’t she seen him with her own eyes, about to sit on the gilded throne at the centre of the ringside stand? Hadn’t she heard the doctor refer to him as ‘sire’?

Khalid, the man who’d made tender, tempestuous love to her weeks ago, the man who’d cared for her when she was distraught, the man who’d leapt into the ring today and taken control of Diva...was the royal Sheikh of Shajehar.

‘My apologies, Maggie. My Chancellor had a few urgent matters that required attention.’

‘That’s OK.’ She nodded, though she felt completely out of her depth. She didn’t have a clue what a Chancellor did, much less a monarch. The opulent luxury of the pavilion with its silk-covered divans, exquisite murals and breathtaking views to the indigo mountains, only reinforced the fact that she didn’t belong here.

She’d never seen the previous Sheikh on his visits to Australia but his wealth and power were legend. It was rumoured he’d had a silver Rolls Royce. Not silver-coloured but made of silver. That he bought entire luxury resorts so he could holiday in private. More than that, here in Shajehar his word was law. He’d been an absolute ruler.

As Khalid was now.

That was the sort of man who’d fathered her child. A man of wealth and power beyond her imaginings. A man who could buy anything he wanted.

Suddenly fear jolted through her. If he wanted the baby badly enough, could he take it from her?

‘I won’t give up my baby.’ The words were out before she’d even had time to consider them.

Khalid paused in the act of passing her a glass of tea and raised his brows. ‘No one is asking you to, Maggie.’

Relief swamped her. She’d grown up without her mother and she wouldn’t inflict that on her baby. That permanent sense of loss, the sadness for missed intimacies and love and laughter. The lingering self-doubt, that maybe it was something she’d done that had driven her mum away. Maggie had missed so much, not having a mother to share her hopes and fears and guide her as she grew from girl to woman.

‘Good.’ She refused to apologise. ‘I just thought it better you knew up front.’

He nodded. ‘And you should know that I will not walk away from our child either. Here.’ He pressed the glass into her hand. ‘Drink up. It’ll do you good.’

Maggie inhaled the familiar aroma of sweet tea, Shajehani style, and remembered Khalid telling her once before that it was good for shock. She hoped he was right.

‘I can recommend the pastries too.’

She looked at the perfectly presented delicacies. Could the tray really be solid gold?

‘Not at the moment, thank you.’ Instead she sipped her tea gratefully. But the sensation of his eyes on her made her look up. He watched her so intently.

‘You have no cause to fear me, Maggie. I’m a civilised man.’

‘A civilised man who rules his own country and can buy the best lawyers in the world.’ She bit her lip, willing herself to shut up before she dug herself any deeper.

‘That’s not how I work!’ There was a flash of fury in his eyes before he looked away towards the distant view. Instantly regret filled her, but she had to be sure.

‘I didn’t ask to be sheikh, didn’t expect it. But my step-brother died without a son so I shoulder the role.’

‘I’m sorry about your brother.’

He inclined his head and she paused, searching for words.

‘You don’t sound as if you enjoy your new position.’ Which was probably tactless, and definitely not royal protocol. But their relationship certainly wasn’t normal. And she needed to understand him.

‘I will never shirk my duty,’ he said in a low voice. ‘There is much to do here. In the past my family were true leaders and visionaries, protecting their people. But,’ his expression tightened, ‘since the discovery of oil, our rulers devoted themselves to squandering the country’s wealth. It’s my task to make up for years of neglect. To rectify the damage. It will be my lifetime’s work.’

Now she understood. Khalid was a man of honour, driven by duty. ‘You see our baby as your responsibility. Your duty.’ She slipped a hand over her abdomen.

‘Together we are responsible for that new life growing inside you.’ At his words she felt heat unfurl within her, a tingle of excitement and awe. Her lips curved up in a faint smile. She still found the news wondrous.

‘So together we must make the best arrangements for our child’s future.’

She looked up, wary at his portentous tone. His heavy-lidded eyes gleamed with a sultry, unfamiliar heat.

‘There’s on obvious solution,’ he continued.

‘There is?’ Her heart pounded and her nerves stretched thin as something like fear awoke in her breast.

‘Of course.’ His lips curled up at the corners in a satisfied smile. ‘We will marry as soon as possible.’

Excerpt from the title: The Desert King's Pregnant Bride by Annie West
ISBN: 978-0263864717 Copyright ©: 2008 By: Annie West
The excerpt is posted by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.



Contest!

To celebrate the release of The Desert King's Pregnant Bride, Annie West is giving away some great prizes! To enter this contest, simply visit her website and find the answer to this question:

Name the hero and heroine in one of Annie’s previous sheikh books. (First names are sufficient).

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answer before midnight on 20th April 2009. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address. Please note, emails sent to any other email address will be disregarded. Send your entries to staff@authorsoundrelations.com only.

One winner will received a $25 gift certificate for Amazon. Four more winners will each receive a signed book from Annie’s booklist. That’s five lucky winners.

Winners will be contacted via email and also announced on Annie’s website soon after. Good luck!

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