Monday, June 08, 2009

June Author Post - Donna Alward

This month marks the release of my sixth book with Harlequin Romance, Hired: The Italian's Bride. I loved writing it, I was thrilled when it was accepted and when I received my author copies and read it (I always read them in book form, because somehow they read differently in print), I fell in love with Mari and Luca all over again.

Mariella Ross is beautiful, efficient, and a bit reserved. It's not much wonder - she's got a dark past that makes her wary of most people. But she loves her job - working at a high class hotel in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She does a fantastic job of catering to others' needs without having to get too personally involved with anyone.

But when the hotel changes hands and becomes the Fiori Cascade, it comes complete with new owner, Luca Fiori. Italian, young, energetic and oh-so-sexy, Luca is determined to break Mari out of her shell.

Along the way, Mari somehow regains her confidence and Luca realizes what he really wants out of life, and it was a wonderful thing, seeing them fall in love. I'll admit, there is a pivotal scene where Mari just GETS it, and writing it I shed a few tears even as I felt really proud of her.

Ok, so I know it sounds silly to talk about her like she is a real person, but as I'm writing, my characters DO become real and most of the time they end up guiding me through the book, telling me what they want most, what they are afraid of, and hopefully in the end, gathering the strength to go after it.

Here's a small excerpt:

“I can’t sleep with you Luca.” It came out on a rush of breath.

A smile teased his mouth. “Perhaps a kiss.”

He was close enough now that she had to tip her chin up to meet his eyes. It was a struggle to keep them open as his fingertips moved through her hair. “Kiss.”

“Surely you’ve kissed before?”

Mari’s insides trembled. She had, but not for a very long time. Not without utter fear.

“A time or two.”

His face was so close his breath warmed her cheeks. Her fingers tightened around the edges of his jacket. Surely, if she could make it through a first kiss, it would all be fine. “Kiss me, Mariella.”

Their gazes held for a second. He was waiting for her, she realized. He understood she’d been hurt and he was letting her make the first move. It was unexpected. She was used to him bossing her around. Now he was giving her the power and it made him even more difficult to resist.

She leaned into his hand, tilted up her face, and with her heart in her throat, touched her lips to his.

For a split second she let them rest there, testing. Their eyes were open, and the connection between them was so strong it rocked her core. His lips were warm, soft, waiting. She let go of the jacket and rested a hand against his heart and she felt the thunder beneath her palm.
The simple movement changed everything. Her breath came out in a rush as Luca’s hand commanded her head, tilting it gently to the side and he opened his lips. Her lashes fluttered shut. The kiss was deliberate but soft, easing into the passion slowly, building the fire with teasing nips.

For the first time since leaving her old life behind, she threw caution to the wind, wrapping her arms around his torso and pulling him closer.

The moment she did it, everything changed. His hand swept from beneath her hair and dragged her close. His tongue swept into her mouth and she wilted against him. The jacket fell from her shoulders to the floor of the terrace and his hands warmed her skin as they roamed over the bare flesh of her arms.

Hired: The Italian's Bride is out in stores on June 9 and available online from booksellers including eharlequin and Mills and Boon.

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