Dear Reader,

What would you do if a handsome stranger, all strong shoulders, lithe masculine power and perfect tailoring, landed out of the blue on your ramshackle property and promised you untold wealth and privilege...if only you’ll give up the life you know and marry him? My heroine, Luisa Hardwicke, faces that outrageous proposition, and more, when she meets Prince Raul.

Prince Of Scandal, my latest Presents story is, you guessed it, a royal romance. If you enjoy marriage of convenience stories, long lost princesses and passionate romances, look out for this one. It’s a story linked to my recent title Protected By The Prince, but it stands alone and you don’t need to have read the earlier book.

I’m tempted to say it’s a Cinderella story but that may give the wrong impression. Luisa, the book’s heroine, does undergo a makeover, but she’s not turned into a fairytale princess who wants nothing more than to marry her Prince Charming. Raul can be charming, and he’s devastatingly attractive, but he’s not the man of her dreams (to begin with). This is a battle of wills story about a charismatic, powerful and wounded hero who learns to unbend and to trust again; and a caring but capable and independent woman who’d rather milk cows than live in a world where birth rather than character is the measure of a person. Fortunately for both of them, they discover that first impressions aren’t the full measure of a person.

The book has been getting great reviews including 4 stars from Romantic Times a romantic fairy tale with a smart, strong heroine who gives the hero a run for his money, 4.5 stars from Cataromance I scarfed up this delectable gem in just one sitting, and 5 blue ribbons from Romance Junkies Prince Of Scandal might very well be my favorite Annie West story to date

If you'd like to find out more about Luisa and Raul’s story, please drop by my website at http://www.annie-west.com

Warmest wishes and happy reading,

Annie West



Excerpt from Prince of Scandal

by Annie West

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

Luisa was magnificent. She cut a swathe through the crowd as if it didn’t exist; her eyes locked with his.

A pulse of heat thudded deep in Raul’s belly at the sight of her: jaw angled, eyes glittering, chest swelling against the demure V neckline. She skimmed across the polished floor, her train sweeping magnificently behind her. Tiny sparks of fire peeped from beneath her hem as her jewel encrusted slippers caught the light. It was as if she set off sparks with each step.

Absently Raul brushed Ana’s clawing hand away. He’d done what he had to – accepted her presence publicly. But he’d had enough.

He’d had enough of her eight years ago!

He barely registered her protest as he strode instead towards the woman he’d just married and pleasure surged.

All day tension had ridden him. Worries for the state. Fury at Ana’s return. Discomfort at the idea of marrying. Guilt at forcing Luisa’s hand. The need to bury his thoughts deep behind a cloak of royal calm. Now the tension morphed into something that had nothing to do with concerns and everything to do with his long-suppressed needs.

And with the challenge he read in his bride’s expression, her posture, her firmed lips.

Her eyes flashed azure fire and sparks danced in his veins. He drew a breath, the first free breath all day.

He’d done his duty in marrying. Now he wanted to forget about duty, about diplomacy and building bridges with intransigent politicians and soothing the bruised egos of his father’s cronies. About his own doubts.

He wanted...Luisa.

A smile cracked his carefully schooled features.

‘Luisa, you look enchanting.’ Her pace propelled her forward and he took full advantage, stepping before her at the last moment and putting a hand to her waist, ostensibly to steady her. Through the lace and silk he felt heat and lithe muscle and the deep exhalation of her breath.

He grasped her other hand in his and lifted it to his mouth. Her eyes blazed and he almost smiled at the provocation in her glare. Instead he turned her hand and pressed his lips to her wrist. He heard her breath catch and a satisfying tremor rippled through her. Slowly he moved his mouth, kissing her palm and touching his tongue to the erogenous zone at its centre.

Her eyes widened and he felt pleasure tug through his belly. She tried to draw her hand away but he held her.

‘Aren’t you going to introduce me to your mother?’

He read the doubt and hurt pride in her eyes and silently applauded her front.
‘You mean my father’s second wife. Not my mother.’

‘My mistake.’ She bit the words out precisely with her even white teeth. ‘You two looked so close...’

Little cat.

This was what he’d missed. Much as he enjoyed having his plans go smoothly and the tantalising sense of closeness he’d experienced with Luisa now and then, he’d missed her vibrancy. From the first she’d sparked with energy and defiance. She’d obstructed him and argued and defied him. Even consenting to wed she’d been proud as an empress.

He enjoyed her sassiness when she stood up to him. He’d grown accustomed to fireworks. He enjoyed them more than he’d thought possible. Especially when it wasn’t argument that fuelled the conflagration.

Even the hint of jealousy in her tone pleased him. Did her desire match his? A bolt of excitement shot through him. He recalled her passion, the way she melted in his arms. How she watched him when she thought he didn’t see.

He leaned forward and whispered, ‘I’m not going to introduce her. You wouldn’t like her.’

She gaped at his honesty. He wanted to kiss those lush lips till she forgot how to speak. He wanted that sizzling energy channelled in more satisfying directions.

Urgent heat swirled in his loins as he visualised it.

‘Why not?’ Luisa looked stunned.

‘Because she’s not at all nice.’ It surprised him how much pleasure there was in saying it out loud, even if in a murmur for Luisa’s ears alone. How long he’d been constrained by the need to keep up appearances!

‘But surely I need to meet her.’

‘Hardly. She’s leaving for LA tonight. Grabbing a lift with her newest boyfriend, a Hollywood producer.’

Raul didn’t even feel the usual simmering anger. Ana couldn’t be bothered to feign mourning for her dead husband. Their marriage had been a farce, his smitten father turning a blind eye to anything in his young wife’s behaviour that might dent his royal pride.

Raul was tired of pretending his father’s marriage was anything but a sham. His father was dead and his ego couldn’t be battered any more. Ana didn’t deserve more than the merest observance of courtesy. Her attempt just now to wheedle more cash from the royal coffers had been expected but her timing had surprised even Raul, who’d believed himself inured to her grasping ways.

‘Come,’ he said, turning Luisa with him towards the dais where the royal throne rested. She grabbed her wide skirts and followed. The scent of lavender that accompanied her movements was refreshing after Ana’s cloying perfume. He breathed deep and helped his wife up the steps.

The flush colouring Luisa’s cheeks was charming. His gaze descended her throat, gorgeous in its gold filigree and pearl choker, down to where her breasts rose and fell rapidly. His palms itched to touch.

Leaving the reception early would cause a stir. But he wasn’t in the mood to worry about protocol. After years acceding to duty and convention, trying to compensate for the trauma of earlier royal scandal, Raul chose for the first time to flout tradition.

It felt good. The gossips could go hang.

He reached for his wife’s hand, enjoying the way it fitted his own so neatly. Enjoying her presence beside him.

‘Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen.’ Raul addressed the assembly in Maritzian. When he’d finished the sound of clapping made him turn. There were Alaric and Tamsin, smiling broadly. The applause spread.

Raul raised a hand in acknowledgement, then turned to Luisa. ‘It’s time we left.’

Her eyes rounded but a moment later she conjured a smile and a wave for their audience. She really was superb.

A moment later Raul ushered her out the double doors behind the throne, held open by footmen.

Then they were walking down the private corridor, her hand still in his. The doors closed behind them, muting the swell of applause.

Satisfaction filled him. He was alone with this bride.

Excerpt from the title: Prince of Scandal by Annie West
ISBN: 9780373130108 Copyright ©: 2011 by Annie West
First North American publication 2011
The excerpt is posted by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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Contest!


To celebrate the release of ‘Prince of Scandal’, Annie is giving away prizes in a contest exclusive to Newswire readers.

To enter the draw, just answer these two questions:

How do you think Raul persuades Luisa to return with him as his bride?

Name one other upcoming release by Annie.

You’ll find the answers on Annie’s website.

Email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answers before midnight on August 3rd, 2011. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and mark the subject as 'Prince Of Scandal'. Winners will be contacted via email shortly thereafter.

One winner will receive a $25 gift certificate from Amazon and a signed hardcover copy of Prince of Scandal. Two more winners will each receive a signed copy of Annie’s other Presents story currently available only from the eHarlequin site: ‘Rafe’s Redemption’.

Good luck!

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