Monday, 17 May 2021

Introducing Hot Summer Nights with a Billionaire, my duet with Abby Green... With teaser trailers!


Just wanted to introduce you all to my latest addiction... Making Canva Teaser Trailers! LOL.. 

And more importantly my new duet with the fabulous Abby Green author!

Hot Summer Nights with a Billionaire is about 2 BFFs, 2 Seriously Gorgeous Billionaires and lots of Hot Summer Nights in San Francisco, London, a private island off the coast of Oregon and a lavish country estate in the British Countryside... 

It's also my first duet with Mills and Boon Queen Abby Green – but hopefully it won't be our last – because Abby also happens to be my very best writing mate... 


Even though Abby is from Dublin and I'm from London we actually met for the first time in San Francisco (glamorous or what?), when I got nominated for a RITA award (aka: a very prestigious romance writing award given by the Romance Writers of America) for my second book The Mile High Club back in 2008 and I decided to head off to the RWA conference alone. I have to admit when I got to SF I was a bit lost, the conference was actually HUGE and as I couldn't afford to stay at the big conference hotel I was in a tiny pod hotel across the street... And I knew NO ONE! Until Abby made it her mission to befriend me and introduce me around to all the other Harlequin/Mills and Boon authors there.  It wasn't long before we were spending far too much time in the bar together, bonding over writing gossip and margaritas (and basically going to virtually no workshops!). I had an absolute ball – even though I didn't win the RITA (did I mentioned I finalled already?!) I won something much better, an amazing friend to help we through the slings and arrows of my writing life. Whenever I have a panic attack about my latest book, Abby's there at the end of the phone to listen to my moaning and brainstorm my plot, characters, etc until I can unstick myself. And I'm happy to do the same for her when she's freaking out about her word count. We've been on writing retreats together in Ireland and Wales and a road trip to Austin Texas (where she somehow managed to direct us into a military airbase! Fabulous friend, great writer, but can’t read a map as it turns out)... Not to mention shared a room together at a host of other RWA conferences. So when our editors suggested us writing a duet together we just had to do it... Abby came up with the initial idea, two best mates from very different backgrounds - one the daughter of an Irish housekeeper and the other the daughter of a callous British aristocrat. Our girls had bonded as teenagers and always had each other's backs, even though they have become very different women. My heroine, the Brit, Cassandra James, is now a focussed career woman with a top-flight job as the assistant to taciturn British billionaire Zachary Temple and, Abby's girl, Ashling Doyle, is a free-spirited Irish yoga teacher. Add in bad boy US tech billionaire Luke Broussard who Cassie is gonna have to spy on at a society wedding in Frisco for her boss Temple, and you've got the basic idea for the duet - with our girls swapping their ideal hero for the guy they SO shouldn't be matched with... We had a lot of fun – and some angst (hey, thats our process!) – writing these books, and I discovered it really helps to have a friend you can be straight with when it comes to writing a shared prologue! Especially when you decide the shared prologue was a really stupid idea and you scrap it... I love Abby to bits, and I love these two books... And I can't wait to see what readers make of this duet. I’d even love to do another duet with her, but FYI, next time I'm coming up with the far too vague premise we then have to spend hours on the phone during a pandemic trying to turn into something resembling an actual plot. #justsayin'

So here are the two teaser trailers I've done for our books! Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them... 


First up: Cassie and Luke's story One Wild Night with Her Enemy


And second in the series: Ashling and Zachary's story The Flaw in His Red-Hot Revenge




The books are out in July and August, so don't miss them.



Monday, 19 April 2021

Epic Category Romance Competition - Enter by May 15th

 Hi everyone


Just wanted to let you all know I'm taking part in an epic category romance giveaway with 12 other fabulous authors... If you want to know more about the stories on offer, watch my trailer (yes, my Canva addiction continues) or just enter here to be in with a chance of becoming one of our 40 winners! Yup, 40 winners!!!





Good luck!

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Just Like in the Movies... Book Trailer

I've just made a book trailer for my new rom-com from One More Chapter... 


I'd love to know what you think!





If you fancy a copy you can buy one here: https://bit.ly/3bxKZBv For more details, and a sneak peek check out the book's page on my website: https://bit.ly/3bqhcet


Thursday, 1 April 2021

Heidi News: April UK Kindle Monthly Deal, TWO new books out, Coming Next & Writing Plans for 2021 & Beyond!

 Oh dear, I've totally been neglecting my blog again... 

So to kick off here's some important Heidi News that I really should have passed on a lot sooner...


OUT NOW


February 2021: Release of my 32nd Harlequin/Mills and Boon novel! Yay. 


Innocent's Desert Wedding Contract
is the third story in my on-going series The Khans: Desert Princes of Passion series, this time featuring Raif and Zane's distant cousin Karim - the crown prince of Zafar - and desperate Irish stud owner Orla Calhoun... There's a fake engagement, a wedding of convenience, lots of drama and passion and some hot desert nights in this one to enjoy. If you love linked books and you want to catch up with the heroes and heroines of my previous two books in the series - Carrying the Sheikh's Baby and Claimed for the Desert Prince's Heir – they also put in cameo appearances in this book with their growing families!


March 2021: Release of my fabulous new rom-com from Harper Collins One More Chapter didigtal first imprint! Double yay...


Just Like in the Movies is the tale of a broken down cinema in Notting Hill and the two people that inherit it after the death of owner Matty Devlin... His best friend and surrogate daughter, cinema manager Ruby Graham – who loves the movies – and the nephew he's never met, Manhattan property billionaire Luke Devlin – who hates them.... Themed around some of my favourite films, the book deals with grief, the families you are born with and the ones you create for yourself, a sprinkling of London community spirit and a great big dose of humour, movie realness and an enemies-to-lovers romance straight out of a Hollywood rom-com... 


April 2021: A UK Kindle Monthly deal for Claimed for the Desert Prince's Heir


Lasting the whole of April this is a bargain for readers in the UK who want to pick up the second book in The Khans, my Mills and Boon Modern series (see details above!), on Kindle for the ludicrous price of 99p!


COMING NEXT


In the months ahead I have the following releases in the schedule that I'm so excited about:


July 2021: Release of my 33rd Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Modern, One Wild Night with Her Enemy! 



The story of a cyncial US tech billionaire and the innocent British executive assistant sent to spy on him - who ends up spending one wild night (and then several more) trapped on his private island off the coast of Oregon. The story is the first in my duet - Hot Summer Nights with a Billionaire - which I have written with my best writing buddy Abby Green. It features two BFFs, two uber hot billionaires, and lots of hot nights in London, San Francisco, the beautiful British countryside and America's wild and wonderful West Coast! Abby's book The Flaw in His Red-Hot Revenge will be out in August.


November 2021: My 34th Harlequin Presents/Mills and Boon Modern just got accepted!



The Billionaire's Proposition in Paris is the first in a new two-book series - The Secrets of Billionaire Siblings - featuring the Irish O'Riordans and British De Courtney families. The first book has self-made Irish billionaire Conall O'Riordan hiring widowed event planner Katie Hamilton to plan his sister Imelda's wedding as his castle on the West Coast of Ireland... But what Katie doesn't know is that Conall has hired her to get information on her estranged half-brother - British logistics billionaire Ross De Courtney... Because Ross just happens to be the father of his other sister Carmel's secret child! There's passion and drama aplenty, not to mention a stunning night at a Ball in the City of Lights as this pair navigate the devastating secret that has, Conall believes, destroyed his sister's life, even if he adores his now 3-year-old nephew Cormac. And Katie is about to discover has the potential to devastate her life too...


IN THE WORKS


For 2022 and beyond: At the moment I'm hard at work on the second book in my The Secrets of Billionaire Siblings duet - this is Ross and Carmel's story! 


Full of all the secret baby drama you would expect - but I'm throwing in a great showdown at Conall and Katie's wedding to kick it off, a few hot nights at a loft apartment in TriBeCa and some more on Ross's private estate in Long Island... Inspired by my trip there in 2019 with the fabulous Abby Green... Need I say more...

And in the works I have plans to do another story in my The Khans: Desert Princes of Passion series, this time featuring Karim's half-brother Dane – a New York nightclub entrepeneur who has to spend a month deputising for Karim as the Sheikh of Zafar during an important diplomatic mission in the region... His heroine is the chief palace aide - Jamilla - who is going to have to persuade him to toe the line when it comes to royal etiquette while keeping her heart in tact... Not an easy feat when it comes to my seductive rebel desert prince!

I'm also working on a new pitch for One More Chapter, for a longer book, featuring two older characters, now in their forties... If I have the time that is - because I've just signed a new 6-book deal with Harlequin/Mills and Boon!!

Happy reading, and have a wonderful Easter. xx



Friday, 18 December 2020

The Christmas Princess Swap Free Epilogue!


Just popping in to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas next week and to point you all in the direction of the Free Epilogue Natalie Anderson and I wrote especially for anyone who read and enjoyed our Christmas Princess Swap duet this year – The Royal Pregnancy Test & The Queen's Impossible Boss.

You can either read it for free on the Harlequin blog here.

Or on Mills and Boon's website here.

Either way we hope you love this little extra glimpse of Leo and Juno's, and Jade and Alvaro's happy ever after four years later... Psst: their may be cute babies involved!!

Merry Christmas xx

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Exploring Romance Tropes: Accidental Pregnancies, oh my!


The second in my intermittent series of blogs for romance writers on romance tropes is a chance to muse on the strengths (and weaknesses) of one of my favourite – and most used – tropes... I mean, I've used the old accidentally 'up the duff' plot hook rather a lot and it's the big draw of my two bestselling books: Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition, and One Night So Pregnant (gotta love those insane titles, right!!)! So I feel I'm a bit of an expert on its strengths and weaknesses...

What's interesting about both of those books - apart from the fact that the accidental pregnancy trope features VERY strongly in the titles (which probably explains why they're bestsellers TBH) - is that in both books I open the story with the shock reveal of the accidental pregnancy itself, not the lead up to it (ie: the scenes in which the couple got up the duff in the first place!). 

In my fourth published book, Pleasure Pregnancy and a Proposition, I also turned things on their head a little by contriving to have it be the heroine who is unaware of the pregnancy not the hero. Say what now?! How the heck does that work, you're probably thinking... Basically, in the opening scene of the book, I have my hero turn up at the heroine's work and demand she take a pregnancy test. She doesn't know she's pregnant, but he's been clued into her symptoms by a mutual friend, knows they had unprotected sex and thinks – given the acrimonious way their one night together ended – that she does know and she's deliberately keeping the truth from him... I did get quite a few critical comments not just because of the hero's totally overbearing behaviour in that opening scene – he literally carts her out of her office and marches her to a Harley Street Clinic to get the test which she is convinced will be negative - but also because some readers thought it was impossible for a woman to be three months pregnant and not have figured it out. Fair enough, getting the reader to suspend their disbelief is the author's job and maybe for those readers I didn't do the job well enough. That said, I did quite a lot of research about whether or not it is physically possible – of course it is! – but more importantly I made sure my characters' motivations also worked to make it more believable, that my heroine would be in denial about her symptoms and my hero would be very angry if he thought she was keeping the truth of her pregnancy from him. 

My hero's motivation to explain his overbearing behaviour also drives a lot of the developing conflict in the rest of the story... As my heroine struggles to come to terms with the fact that she is pregnant with this man's child, while he pressures her into agreeing to marry him... 

So, why is it that he is so outraged that the heroine might not have told him about her pregnancy? Basically, he had been born illegitimate himself - the son of a Vegas showgirl and a British Lord (well this is a Mills and Boon book, folks!) - who was grudgingly 'taken in' by his father after his mother's death when he was still a child because he was the man's only biological child. He had been made to feel ever since by his father, that the circumstances of his birth and his illegitimacy made him less than. That he was essentially unworthy and unloveable because of it, treated with distain by his father and ensconced in a series of British boarding schools until he came of age. As a result of that lonely and emotionally barren upbringing, he had never wanted to have children, but when he thinks the heroine is pregnant, he is determined that no child of his will be born illegitimate, that they will always be acknowledged by him. What he doesn't realise of course, until later in the book - and with a lot of help from my smart and reckless and compassionate heroine – is that acknowledgement is not enough, that having your father's name is not the same as having your father's love. In short, at the start of the book, the hero is convinced he has none of the tools to love this child, and TBH he really doesn't want them, because to open himself up to those kind of emotions will leave him as vulnerable as he was when he was a child after his mother's death... Luckily for him, the heroine – once she has accepted she is pregnant with this man's child and decides she wants to have it, and that she can love it, despite the fact she thinks its father is an overbearing jerk! – does have the tools not just to love this child, but to show its father that she will accept nothing less from him than love too if he wants to marry her. Of course, after that rather contentious beginning, they both have a long way to go before they can get to like, let alone love... But luckily a skinny dipping scene and a few weeks at his manor house in Wiltshire helps with that!! 

So, anyway, that's the book's essential conflict: the hero insisting on marriage – because he wants to find a way to do the right thing by his child without actually engaging emotions he thinks he is not capable of showing –  and the heroine refusing to marry him – until he proves to her that he has the capacity for love, not just for the child, but also for her...

And rather neatly, that conflict perfectly illustrates what makes the accidental pregnancy trope so compelling as it cleverly combines external and internal conflicts in the hook... Because what is essentially an external conflict - ie: the accidental pregnancy itself – immediately creates lots of delicious internal conflicts while also raising the stakes exponentially in a relationship by introducing the prospect of unplanned parenthood... 

Instantly you have so many delicious questions to ask your characters. How do they feel about having children? What were their own childhoods like? Have they been given the tools to deal with this shocking accident (hopefully not!!)? Or will they need to embark on a journey of huge emotional growth to deal with this situation (hopefully yes)? How will that conflict play out?And what of the ongoing relationship? If it's a one-night stand pregnancy - which I particularly prefer, because the less the couple know each other, the more the stakes are raised! - those questions will become more urgent but also potentially more contentious as the couple struggle to align on what to do next, not just about the pregnancy but also about their relationship... And we hope will have to dig deep into their own psyches and confront difficult questions about themselves and that relationship before they can even consider becoming parents...

So, what are the weaknesses/potential problems for a writer when using the accidental pregnancy trope? 

Well, while this will very much depend on the type of romance you're writing - ie, is it high romantic fantasy, or more gritty and realistic, is it a historical romance or a contemporary one, etc. For me, one of the biggest difficulties, even when writing high romantic fantasy, is making an accidental pregnancy entirely believable in this day and age, given all the possible avenues your couple will have to sort the problem out without ever having to answer any of those questions... Not gonna lie, the very low failure rate on most forms of contraception these days has caused me no end of problems when it comes to making this trope fly!! And don't even get me started on the morning after pill...

Finally there is also the question of termination... I always include a conversation in my narrative which indicates that a conscious choice has been made to have the baby. Although this question too can lead to lots of interesting conflicts... I once came up with the idea for one of my longer novels - So Now You're Back - based on one simple question: how does a man deal with an accidental pregnancy if he does not have the right to chose whether or not to become a father? 

Of course there have been some terrific romance books written where the choice was made not to have the baby, and I applaud those writers for tackling what was once a taboo subject in romance and really shouldn't be IMHO - not because everyone has to agree with a woman's right to choose, but simply because it is an experience that many women go through, and I don't think it should be taboo in romance for that reason. Abortion is an extremely polarising and also emotive subject and how we react to it as readers as well as writers will most likely come from our own believe systems as much as those of the characters we create, but I feel it's important that romance novels reflect the full gamut of human experience. That said, when employing the accidental pregnancy trope, of course one of the main aspects of the trope that makes it appealing to readers is that it introduces the prospect of parenthood to your couple. So can it work, if the decision is made not to have the child? Or does it become a different trope entirely?

Obviously these are all just my opinions, about the trope and the choices I make when using it in a novel, but I'd love to hear from other writers (and readers).... Do you love the trope, too? If so, why do you? Do you find it problematic? Are there elements of it that you struggle with, etc.


BTW if you're an aspiring romance author and want to learn more about romance writing from a USA Today bestselling author, I tutor a 7-week online course for the Professional Writing Academy in which we learn about subjects such as Creating Convincing Protagonists, Plotting a Romance, Crafting Effective Dialogue and Writing Compelling Scenes of Intimacy. My next run of the course kicks off on 22nd February 2021 and the early bird offer is available until 21st January.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Enter my Christmas 2020 Prize Draw!




Having just sent my latest book to my editor – after a ton of revisions (don't ask!) – I spent yesterday putting together my Christmas newsletter.

Now I know it's probably WAY TOO EARLY to be talking about Christmas already but after the year we've all had – and the distinct possibility that we may be doing lots more reading this year – I'm already looking forward to it. And I hope you are too.

With all that extra reading in mind, this year my annual Christmas Prize Draw is a book-only affair and includes the chance to win two signed Christmas book goodies, plus a signed print copy of my next Presents release - which isn't due out until February 2021.

Innocent's Desert Wedding Contract features a sexy sheikh, an innocent Irish heroine, a fake engagement, a marriage of convenience AND enough drama and passion to justify that super hot cover, honest!!

If you're not signed up for my newsletter already here's the link http://bit.ly/2w9qlFF. If you are signed up already, thank you! But don't forget to click on the link in the newsletter to enter before 30th November and good luck!

So, does anyone have plans for the holidays yet this year? I'm hoping we'll be out of lockdown in the UK and I'll be able to spend some time with my wider family!