Friday, February 01, 2008

The Joy of Surprises - Annie West

‘Surprise!’ Who wouldn’t be thrilled to see dear friends leaping into view to give them a surprise party? It's great to realise someone has gone to the trouble of organising a special treat just for you, that so many family and friends have rallied around and kept the knowledge to themselves. The sight of so many smiling faces. Surprise parties have to be among my favorite unexpected treats. I’ve organised a couple and walked unknowing into one of my own. It was fantastic.

Nice surprises are, I believe, one of the great joys of life. Like receiving an unexpected hug or breakfast in bed. Or a bunch of flowers that make your day seem so much brighter. I have fond memories of a bunch of vivid purple/blue irises and orange/red tulips delivered to me when I worked in a busy office building years ago. It was the middle of winter, I was engulfed in a huge and difficult task and I was missing my husband who was away. Outside it was grey, cold and wet. Then came the call to visit the front desk as something had been delivered for me. I expected another bundle of paperwork and instead I found a radiant bouquet that transformed my office and made me feel so special.

Then there are letters from friends or postcards from exotic places you’ve never seen yourself that come out of the blue. It’s wonderful to know your friends are thinking of you and have taken the time to share their news. Or getting thanked for something when you least expect it. Surprise packages are another favorite of mine. These days some of those packages contain copies of my books in foreign languages – so exciting! Or maybe it’s my latest book and opening it is like opening a birthday gift, waiting with bated breath to see what’s inside. (I love seeing my new book covers for the first time.)

Nice surprises come in all shapes. Recently a friend told me that one of my books from last year, The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride, had been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. I hadn’t even realised there was such an award. What a thrill!

What got me thinking about surprises? It was the release of my current story, The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife. Tessa’s arrival at Stavros’s waterfront mansion comes completely out of the blue. A nice surprise? Well, in the long run yes, for together they find the sort of love and commitment that we romance readers revel in. But at first? Definitely not. This is one surprise that Stavros, a man who has every aspect of his life under control, does NOT appreciate. And who can blame him? As he says to Tessa,

‘You surely don’t think I’d have celebrated my betrothal quite so publicly tonight if I’d known I still had a wife?’

Tessa, the wife he thought he no longer had, arrives at his villa on the very night he has several hundred guests gathered to celebrate his engagement to a gorgeous woman. A woman Stavros believes will make his life comfortable. Now his life is turned upside down by a wife who stands up for herself and gets under his skin in ways he’d never expected. What a surprise!

What surprises do you like? Which ones stand out in your memory as being special? Something momentous or something small and sweet?

I’d love to hear about the unexpected joys other people have experienced. And to encourage you, I’m offering a copy of The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife to someone whose comment catches my eye. This is a good chance to get an early copy – it’s on sale now in Australia and New Zealand but doesn’t appear as a Presents in North America until the second half of May! If you want to read an excerpt, check it out on my website:


Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Annie, this story sounds like a corker! And Stavros is just my sort of Presents hero - and I so look forward to seeing him bamboozled by love. Congratulations on your new release. What a lovely post. You're right - nice surprises are wonderful. Great photo of Lucy, by the way!

Annie West said...


You like the picture of Lucy? I couldn't resist it when I found it, even though she doesn't necessarily look like she's enjoying herself. It does make me wonder what her surprise was!


Pat Cochran said...

For me, the unexpected flowers from
Honey, a call from my grandchildren
or my children telling me about something special to them, these
are the most special things in my
life. Then there was the surprise
party, hosted by my family, for my
70th birthday! It was attended by
family, friends from church and
friends from days gone by. It was
truly a grand surprise!!

Pat Cochran

Annie West said...

Pat, they all sound like wonderful surprises. Isn't it great when children want to share some special news? It's one of the special things in life for me. And I know from seeing my parents and parents in law that those out-of-the-blue phone calls from grandchildren are some of the best surprises.

Your 70th birthday celebration sounds just fantastic. And congratulations! Birthdays with an 0 in them always seem like great achievements (G)!


Michelle said...

Annie, I so loved your post. I bought Stavros and Tessa's story through the week and can't wait to curl up with it!

Favourite surprises... hmmm... in all honesty I think it's the little ones that count. I love orange lollies (I know, it's just one of those weird things). And I'd just finished a BIG work week yesterday and my dh came home with a bag of orange lollies - he'd picked them out individually from the shop near where he works. That was pretty sweet (in more ways than one!)


Annie West said...

Hi Michelle,

I hope you enjoy Stavros and Tessa's story! Maybe you can have a few orange lollies while you read.

Your husband sounds like a real sweetie (and no, that's not a pun). Not just to remember the lollies, but to take the time to pick through the selection to find the ones you like best. Now, that's lovely.

Enjoy those sweets, and the book too of course! Thanks for popping in to say hi.


Anonymous said...

Annie, See you’re the lucky one, a surprise of two, a gathering and you are over the moon. I loathe surprises (and I do know how ungrateful that must sound). Picture someone who doesn’t find comfort from crowding and who loves to know what is round the corner.

Walking in the front door to escape the world and finding wall-to-wall people.

Still there‘s always a silver lining; Romance literature. A journey through the pages can be fun. A trip into the unknown where research isn’t desirable no timetable necessary and anxiety pleasurable. A few hours journeying on a well maintained rollercoaster where the destination can be relied upon as a nice place to arrive.

Thankyou Annie, for all your lovely surprises.

Annie West said...

Eric, how sweet of you. Glad you like the surprised in my stories on the way to those happy endings.

One of the great joys of reading is the sense of anticipation, of not knowing exactly what's coming next and then living the characters' journey on the way.

Yep, books are full of surprises. Thanks, Eric!


Nathalie said...

Hi Annie,

I love the sweet, little gifts... that you can receive any day :) Those gestures make you feel appreciated... usually I am quite content when my family tells me they care.

I remember once I told my french friend that I loved Nougats in a conversation. And one year later, after she returns from a trip there, I go to my class and find next to her a box of Nougats... that was so sweet of her and I loved it, especially that I had forgotten all about those treats!!

Authorness said...

Hi, Annie! I love surprises. As long as they're good ones, of course, like marriage proposals and the like!

x Vanessa

Lily said...

I remember this very nice surprise, it happened last year... it was one week after my 21st birthday, I had already received gifts from my family and was extremely happy with them. I came back from college, exhausted and my mom tells me to go upstairs torelax before supper. As I go down to eat an hour later, I see on the last step a huge box. I was utterly shocked... my family said I could not talk. Like a little kid, I tear the paper and discover a big box from a fancy Canadian store and inside, there was a beautiful Burberry bag, the one I was admiring all winter everytime I went downtown... and that my big brother bought for me to celebrate my official entry in the world of adults!

That was such a great gift, stylish and practical, but the way all my family plotted that huge scene and knew exactly what I wanted was really heart-warming :) They are the best!!

Annie West said...


Yes, I can relate to sweet little gifts that let you know someone cares. Your French friend must be very special to have remembered the nougats and then gone to the trouble of bringing some back for you.


Annie West said...


I'm wondering just how many marriage proposals you receive! You really do believe in special surprises (G).


Annie West said...


It sounds like you've got such a nice family, planning such a surprise for you at the time it would make the most impact. That's so sweet.

Does that mean you'll be looking for opportunities now to give them nice surprises too?


Virginia said...

I'll tell you one of my biggest surprise in my life. My hubby never buys me gifts he wants me to pick them out. That sucks! One Valentines day I came home from work and on the table set a heart shaped balloon and in it was a pair of ear rings attached to a rose. He had went to town and bought a pair of ear rings and had them placed on the rose and put in the balloon. I have never been more suprised in my life. Those ear rings stayed in the balloon until it started going down I would just look at it and admire it everyday. I think I was in total shock!

Annie West said...

Virginia, my little mind is boggling at how on earth anyone fitted earrings and a rose inside a balloon. I'd never have thought of it! How special that your hubby arranged it all himself instead of taking the easy option.


Lily said...

Hi Annie,

I am planning a major surprise for my older brother... he won't know what hit him! However, to plan something that is a total surprise is very hard, because you are usuully so excited that you give hints you don't want to give! and my brother and I team up each year to surprise my mom with an unexpected gift, which makes it even harder to surprise him :)

Lois said...

Well, getting to see Phantom of the Opera, on Broadway, was a pretty big surprise. . . :) And I love Lucy! :) It just looks so strange in color though. . . LOL I've seen them zillions of times (couple more today - going to Europe now, they are LOL) and I just can't imagine them in color. I've wondered what some of the stuff looks like in color, but could never look at it for a long period of time. . . I'm babbling, aren't I? LOL


Annie West said...


I hope the surprise you're planning for your brother works out. It's hard to keep the secret, isn't it?


Annie West said...


I just missed out on seeing The Phantom of the Opera recently - end of the season and the tickets were all sold. Glad you got to see it.

You know, I haven't seen Lucy in years? It was nice finding her for this blog, even if, as you say, she does look a little unusual in colour!


Annie West said...


I've just randomly picked one of the contributors today to win a copy of THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE. The name turned out to be VIRGINIA.

Virginia, could you email me at with details of your home address and I'll pop a copy in the mail to you.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and chatting. I've really enjoyed hearing about your special surprises.

Here's hoping we all have plenty more wonderful surprises coming up soon!


Gigi said...

Hi Annie,
It has got to be the small surprises that mean more to me.
From the unexpected phone call to just an unexpected little gift of a single flower or a smal amount of the chocolate I love.
Those are the things I love that touch my heart.