Wednesday, April 30, 2008


BOOKSHOP owner Andrew Ball was struck by figures that showed only 18% of Australians would ever venture into a shop such as his, so he devised a way to take such shops to the remaining 82%.

The prototype of his idea sits in front of the Federation Square staircase that links the square’s open space to Flinders Street. Like a market stall it unfolds in the morning and refolds at night. Read more here

This is such a brilliant idea that I hope it takes off in a seriously big way so that Andrew can stock his pop-ups with new books and hopefully he'll discover that women who love Jane Austen and Mrs Gaskell also love to put their feet up with a contemporary romance. If you see him in Federation Square, do say hello and well done. And put in a word for romance!

Oh, and before I introduce this week's special guest, you can now read an excerpt from my latest sheikh novella, Chosen As the Sheikh's Wife at my website. The Sheikh himself will drop by later in the month to tell you more!

Now for this week's special guest.

Lucy Gordon is a star. No question. She's been shortlisted for the RNA's Romance Prize twice, won two RITAs and a host of other awards, too. And her fabulous Italian heroes have earned her Harlequin Romance novels fans across the world. Of course she does have an advantage over the rest of us there. Her own whirlwind romance with a gorgeous Venetian is the stuff of legend. You can read about it on her website.

This month, however, Lucy's first Mills & Boon Modern/Harlequin Presents THE ITALIAN'S PASSIONATE REVENGE is published in the UK and US and I'm delighted that she's take time out of her busy life to tell us about it.

Over to Lucy...

First a big congratulation to Liz for receiving the Romantic Times award for Career Achievement for Love & Laughter. It comes right on top of the celebrations for her 50th Harlequin Romance, The Bride’s Baby, so the timing couldn’t be better.

Way to go, Liz! Keep ‘em coming!!

I’ve recently been reading the blog by Lawrence Roibal with great interest. Like many writers I’m indebted to him for the beautiful covers he’s done for my books, including all six of the Rinucci series.

One that stands out is The Mediterranean Rebel’s Bride, which made the finals in the Romance Prize given by the Romantic Novelist’s Association, in February. It didn’t win but I’ve just heard that it’s also in the finals of the National Readers Choice Award. The presentation will be made in July, at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Francisco. So I’m crossing my fingers.

I’ve been looking forward to May for a long time, because this month sees the publication of my first Harlequin Presents, THE ITALIAN’S PASSIONATE REVENGE.

Being Italian by marriage, I set a lot of my books in Italy, many of them in my two favorite cities, Venice and Rome. This one is set in the heart of Rome and I’ve had a wonderful time mentally revisiting my favourite places, the Via Vittorio Veneto, where the wealthy live, the Trevi fountain, where you go to toss a coin and wish to come back to Rome.

My heroine, Elise, made a wish to return to Rome, and eventually she does, but not under the circumstances she would have chosen. Now the man she loved is dead, and she’s taken back by another man, Vincente, the hero, who lures her with promises of passion and luxury. He’ll say and do anything to get her into his lair, because he hates her – although they have never met.

So, from the start, he’s one step ahead of her, but his advantage fades because, as well as being beautiful and sexy, she’s also shrewd, feisty, and brave – all of them things he hadn’t expected. He’s caught off-guard. It becomes a power struggle, with the combatants evenly matched until – well, it's all there in the book.

Finally Elise confronts Vincente:

“Oh, I’ve really got to hand it to you,” she said softly. “As a shrewd manipulator you’re the tops. But of course you have no conscience, which is a big help. You plotted for eight years without let-up. How could you do that? You told me not to judge you too easily, but you’ve judged me every moment. You never thought that there might be something to be said on my side.”

“No, I didn’t, and I’ve blamed myself for that ever since you told me what really happened.”

“But it came too late, didn’t it? I was already in the net by then. How you must have enjoyed closing it around me! Every word you said to me was a lie. Even when – ”
She checked herself as a wave of anguish washed over her. She fought it with every fibre of her being. She couldn’t afford it.

Vincente, watching, drew a tense breath, but stayed still before the rage in her eyes.

“Even when you seemed most sincere, it was a lie,” she said. “That takes some doing. I congratulate you. It was a good act, but it’s over. You served your purpose.”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means you’re not the only one concealing their real thoughts. I hadn’t slept with a man for years. I was ready for – shall we say? – a new experience. No ties. No conditions. You fitted the bill perfectly.”

That struck home, she was glad to notice. He paled, his mouth tightened and his face had a withered look.

“What are you saying?” he asked quietly.

“You know exactly what I’m saying,” she said, challenging him with her look. “I said you were shrewd and calculating, but you’re good in another way – just the way I needed. Do you want me to elaborate?”

“I don’t think you need to,” he said quietly.

“I didn’t know a man could be that skilled in bed,” she went on, disregarding him. “It’s something I won’t forget, because it gives me a touchstone to measure the others by.”


“In the future. And there are going to be others, make no mistake. You did fine job, now I’m going to discover just how fine. I remember everything, you see. Are your special little touches yours alone, or do other men know them? And if not, how quickly can they be taught? Never mind. I’ll have fun finding out.”

“Don’t talk like that,” he almost shouted.

“I’ll talk as I like. If you don’t like it, tough. Remember, I’m partly your creation. I’ve learned a lot from you, not just about sex but about cruelty and ruthlessness, deception with a straight face. I’m glad of it. Your lessons are going to come in very useful.”

His mouth twisted cynically.

“Well done, Elise. You turned out to be everything I thought you. I knew you’d show your true colours in the end.”

“Yes you did, didn’t you? And now I have. So have you. So we can toss each other on the scrap heap and go our ways without regret.”

“And admirable idea,” he snapped. “I’m glad you feel you learned something from me.”

“Ruthlessness, manipulation – ”

“I’m commonly held to be a master. You’ve been learning from the best.”

“Every word you ever said to me – ”

“Pretence, all of them. Every word, every caress, every moment of passion – all done for a purpose.”

“All those times we made love - ?”

“You don’t really think I could love you, do you?” he demanded coldly. “To me you’re little better than a murderess.”

* * *

From The Italian's Passionate Revenge, Harlequin Presents, May 2008 -- available from Mills & Boon in the UK and Harlequin in both print and ebook formats. Or from Amazon, UK

Thanks so much for that thrilling excerpt, Lucy. I know that, like me, your many fans can't wait to lap up the glamour and passion of a new romance set in Rome.
And since we've now all heard about Bertie, here's a picture of him perched on top of Lucy's computer so that we can all know what he looks like!

And finally, for a chance to win a signed copy of this book, Lucy wants to know --

What country does the hero have to come from to make you think -- "I've got to meet him!"?

Tell us the nationality of your own secret fantasy hero and Lucy will draw the winner on Monday.

Oh, and just to reassure Lucy's many Harlequin Romance fans, The Italian's Cinderella Bride-- a Heart to Heart -- is coming soon!


robynl said...

the nationality of my own secret fantasy hero is Scandinavian; love them Swedes. My grandpa used to say 'yam' and 'yelly' for jam and jelly. LOL. They are strong fighters and great lovers.

Jane said...

I'm all for a Scottish hero. Bonus points if he looks like Gerard Butler and have a sexy brogue.

Estella said...

I love an Irish hero!

anne said...

My hero would definitely be Italian. It has this romance, history and sense of wonderful atmosphere that I am totally enamoured with.

Anonymous said...

I would love to meet an Argentina cowboy or a guy from the outbackk in Australia

ruth said...

For me it has to be a Spanish hero from Spain. Lovely.

Carol said...

I love any of those Mediterranean guys, Italy. Spain, Greece, and the Sheiks. I also love thos Outback Australians. They're all hot, hot, hot!!! I ann't pick just one.

jenna said...

The absolute ultimate hero of my dreams would be Italian. A dream trip of mine too.

Virginia said...

My fantasy hero would be a highlander from Scottland. I just love the accent, what can I say. I love to read books set in the highland of Scottland.

Liz Fielding said...

No one up for one those cool, elegant Englishmen? Bond? Ice on the surface, lava beneath the skin. I promise you :)

Liz Fielding said...

Estella, have you read Anne McAllister's One Night Love Child?

Natasha Oakley said...

Quite right, Liz. I'll have to fly the flag for an English hero. Think Richard Armitage, Rupert Penry-Jones, Jude Law, Toby Stephens, Clive Owen, Rufus Sewell, James Purefoy, Jeremy Northam, Orlando Bloom, Colin Firth, Nathaniel Park, Sean Bean, Matthew Macfayden, Damian Lewis, Daniel Craig, Joseph Fiennes, Jamie Bamber... (That last one is for Donna Alward! Still cannot believe she had to go and have her photo taken in 'Hammersmith'. vbg)

Anonymous said...

I can't resist the sexy dark Sicilian hero, but then I adore my Sheikhs.

Michelle Styles said...

I don't care what nationality he is, I just want to be able to fall in love with him. And I do know that Lucy writes wonderful Italian heroes.
I am really looking forward to reading her book. It sounds fantastic!

Dina said...

Scotish & British men are my favs: Gerard Butler, James McAvoy and Matthew MacFadyen! :)

Liz, I just finished Anne McAllister's One Night Love Child last night, loved it!!!!

Linda Goodnight said...

Oh my, what a fabulous exerpt, Lucy! And congrats on your first Presents. It's sure to be a winner.

Nationality of dream hero, eh? Anyone with an accent works for me but those Latin lovers are sure yummy!

Donna Alward said...

Natasha! I'm shocked. You're dissing my Hammersmith pic when you...well, I won't go there. LOL

But yeah, I'm a brit lover. It's the accent a lot of the time. And Liz...your ice on the surface, lava beneath the skin thing is just it.

If you mix that with intelligence (Natasha teases me about JB but the guy has a First Class Honours degree from Cambridge in Languages) I'm a goner.

ellie said...

A Brazilian hero would be tops on my list. Exotic and fun.

Lois said...

Congrats on your first Presents! :) Hope I will be able to pick it up! :)

For me. . . I'm an equal opportunity must meet the hero, so if he's from a country on the planet Earth, I'll meet and read him! :)

But if I must name something, I am a sucker for all things English, so British is nice :)


michelle Douglas said...

Lucy, what an excerpt! I can't wait to read the rest of the book.

I have to admit... I'm a sucker for a British accent. Nathaniel Parker has a lot to answer for - I'd love to meet a hero who's a British lord (and preferably one who had an amazing house in Berkley Square, Mayfair!)

Barb said...

Lucy, Congrats on your first Presents. I'm sure it will be a very good match for your writing, although I hope we don't lose you from Romance.
And a story set in Rome -- what a fabulous choice. Love that city.
As for heroes, I think I'd have to agree that nationality doesn't matter for me, as long as he's madly in love with the heroine and just a little tortured. (grin) Although I do love writing about Outback guys.

Dena said...

A Scottish hero, Irish and English tie for second then Italian and Australian. Great excerpt Lucy, I think your covers are beautiful too. Thanks for visiting.

Bertie said...

I'm thrilled that so many people have posted comments on my blog. I do agree with some of the hero suggestions made, James McAvoy, Richard Armitage, Daniel Craig. Mmmmm!
And it's true that none of them are Italian, or even Continental, but I believe in being broad-minded. (Besides, if I want the perfect Italian I just have to look across the breakfast table.)
When I'm chosing an actor to 'cast' in the book I'm writing I'll sometimes use Charlton Heston, as he was when he was younger. This is partly because he was so gorgeous, and partly because I used to be a journalist, and my magazine once sent me to interview him.
He was a lovely man, sweet tempered and full of gentle charm. I was so sorry to hear that he'd died.

Lucy Gordon said...

My last post doesn't seem to have got through. This is just to let you know that 'Bertie' is Lucy Gordon.

I don't know how I managed to muddle that up, but then, some of us can muddle ANYTHING up!!!

Lucy Gordon

Liz Fielding said...

Good job, Lucy! And tell Bertie that cats are always welcome. If you've got a picture you can send to me I'll post it so that we can all get to know him!

Lucy Gordon said...

My cat, Bertie, has now achieved his own moment of glory by getting his pic into the blog. He's so vain, I should have known I couldn't keep him out. As you can see he sits on top of my computer, to keep an eye on me and make sure I'm earning enough to buy cat food.

He's actually the second Bertie. If you'd like to know more about the dynasty you can find it on my website,
Lucy Gordon

Liz Fielding said...

Bertie is gorgeous, Lucy. I so miss having a cat.

Natasha, your selection of British men is outstanding.

I feel I should put in a word for all those muscular, outback men from down under, here. And my own particular fav -- Sam Neill. :)

Lucy Gordon said...

Liz, I like Sam Neill too, but 'muscular'? I've always seen him as the more sensitive type, which is what I go for.

If you want a really sexy Australian - I give you Hugh Jackman.

Well no, actually I would give him, I'd keep him for myself. But you know what I mean.

I've just finished writing a book (out in December) that's going to be called The Italian's Miracle Family in the States and The Italian's Christmas Miracle in the UK. The hero and heroine are united by the fact that his wife and her boyfriend ran off together, and died in an accident. Lots of anguish and emotion, and the hero is 'played' by Daniel Craig.

Lucy Gordon said...

When I said, "Well no, actually I would give him," I meant of course that I WOULDN'T give him.

Michele L. said...

Hands down, Australian men have got my vote! One day at work a man came in, dressed in jeans, black tailored shirt, belt with silver buckle, cowboy boots, and a black cowboy hat. Oh was he ever drop-dead sexy! He was a cross between Matthew Machnouhey and Hugh Jackman all rolled into one! I live in Indiana so it was like a movie star had just walked into my store! He sure made my day!

Oh, I have been watching the Bachelor this season. That guy is hot and he is from England! O.k. I forgot all about the British romeos. I love their accent, their manners, the words they use, and are they ever buff! Ok make that two fantasy heros that I love to read about! Actually I love them all! (giggle!)

Michele L.

Michele L.

Kate Hardy said...

Italian all the way, for me. (With the exception of Mr Banderas, of course.) I've always enjoyed Lucy's heroes and am looking forward to her new one, which is on my TBR pile right now :o)

Liz Fielding said...

Mmm, Sam is thoughtful, but I have seen him in movies with his boyd -- rather beautifully -- on display. He does not disappoint :)