Monday, November 03, 2014

Rebel's Bargain - Sizzling Romance and...Gardens!

It's release month for my latest Harlequin Presents: REBEL'S BARGAIN. It's a sizzling reunion story full of passion and emotion and, yes sensuality.

Five years ago, Poppy Graham married Orsino Chatsfield beneath a confetti of paparazzi flashbulbs. But Orsino spent more time chasing the rush of adrenaline than with his wife and, in her darkest hour, he let her down. Their split was bitter and Poppy’s striven for independence ever since. But now her arrogant husband is back…

Injured in a climbing accident, there’s only one person Orsino can turn to…his deceitful wife! They have unfinished business and he’ll face it before he walks away for ever. But the blazing passion between them reignites in an instant, leaving Orsino to wonder whether it will kill or cure!

Debbie from Romantic Times gave REBEL'S BARGAIN a 4 1/2 star review, concluding: “…West’s second-chance romance is an imaginative and intensely thrilling brainteaser, ripe with shrouded misconceptions. Her silver-spoon hero and wounded heroine are passionate and convincing.” You can find it at Harlequin, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository.

Annie researching at Chateau Chenonceau
What you might not know is that this book was in part inspired by an amazing place I visited a couple of years ago. Chateau Chenonceau in France's Loire Valley is famous as that picturesque chateau built across arches that span the river. Most of REBEL'S BARGAIN is set in a gorgeously romantic tower that sits just in front of the entrance to the main chateau. That's where Poppy and Orsino play out the drama and passion of their reunion, discovering long-hidden truths about each other and falling in love all over again.

For me, having a particular place in mind as I write is a real bonus, as I can picture my couple there, making the scenes even more real in my mind. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the raw passion of it, the characters' deep feelings, hurt and lust and hope and love. Those are played out mainly within the confines of the round tower where they're staying but also on the riverbank, and the chateau itself.

One of the secret things that particularly appealed to me is the fact that this story, which is one of the most tempestuous and sizzling I've written, is set in a place surrounded by picture perfect formal French gardens. I enjoyed the counterpoint between the delightful precision of the surroundings and all the turmoil and drama going on within. For there's nothing quite as calmly composed and carefully beautiful as a formal garden. Here's a taste:
Lots of symmetrical paths and plantings.
Even the geraniums seem to grow more neatly than mine at home, but then perhaps they receive far more attention!
No rambling rose bushes here.
Of course there was a maze too. What would a formal garden be without a little topiary?
Even the vegetable gardens in the old chateau farm were incredibly neat. Neater than any garden I've ever owned. On the other hand, there is a little wilderness surrounding the formal gardens. There's a wood, complete with wild, soft pink cyclamen, so maybe some of that wildness helped inspire me as I wrote.
Are you a gardener - with green thumbs or just enough to enjoy someone else's gardening efforts? Do you like formal gardens or are you more a rambling garden sort of person?
I'll give a copy of one of my titles  to someone who leaves a comment today (drawn at random and open internationally).


franca poli said...

I really love gardening and flowers, but unfortunately I do not have a green thumb so I prefer to enjoy the efforts of talented gardeners.

vanessabarneveld said...

Annie, congratulations on the release of Rebel's Bargain and that fantastic RT review! Those gardens are just bloomin' beautiful and very inspiring. My garden at the moment is nothing like the ones in your pics. It's rambling, but productive — we're growing kale, three kinds of tomatoes, beans and passionfruit. Not bad for a tiny inner-city patch!

Anna Campbell said...

Congratulations on the release of REBEL'S BARGAIN, Annie! It's a great story. Wow, what gorgeous photos. I just want to dive into them and stay. How lucky you are to have been to so many beautiful places. How lucky we are that you use those places to inspire your wonderful stories!

Annie West said...

Franca, that sounds a little like me. I love gardens and I do have a little success with my garden, but mainly I'm an expert at growing weeds. I love seeing someone else's hard work though!

Annie West said...

Wow, Vanessa, that does sound productive. We've just been harvesting our broad beans and planting tomatoes for the Australian summer. Thanks for the congratulations. It was great reading that RT review.

Sharon Archer said...

Annie, it's great to see the setting that inspired Orsino and Poppy's story.

Isn't that garden divine! Everything about it is sooooo far from my very haphazard approach to gardening. I love a nice garden and I feel as though I should have a genetic predisposition to be a good gardener because my grandmother grew gladioli to sell at market apparently and my dad grew the most amazing vegetables! Sadly, that useful green-thumb trait seems to have bypassed me! Though we are harvesting a bit of asparagus and spinach at the moment. The slugs here are doing very well on everything else. I can't seem to keep ahead of them!

Annie West said...

Anna, it was a real treat visiting the Loire. Yes, I agree, so lucky. And even better, we got to stay a few days and explore. Still so much though that there wasn't enough time to see.

Thanks so much for the congratulations. It's great to have this book out at last. It's been a long time coming but worth it!

Annie West said...

Hi Sharon, yes, the garden was amazing.

Oh, I'm so impressed with you harvesting asparagus. I've never grown that. You must be doing something right to grow that! Good on you. See, the gene hasn't passed you by at all.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Annie, what a lovely post. I've been to Chenonceau, it was utterly beautiful and your photos bring back lovely memories. Congratulations on the wonderful review for REBEL'S BARGAIN. I am going to enjoy reading it even more knowing your inspiration for the setting!

Fabiola said...

Very nice picture. Love the plot and would love to have a copy :)

Annie West said...

Hi Kandy, so glad my photos brought back some good memories for you. Isn't it an amazing place?

Hope you enjoy the book!

Annie West said...

Fabiola, it was a great day. Maybe that shows in the picture. I'm pleased you like the sound of the story.

Laurie G said...

woman who has beautiful gardens befriended me. My husband and I walk past her house all the time and we have commented to her about her lovely plants. She is downsizing and has blessed me with numerous plants. I'm hoping with some luck and some Miracle Grow the plants will do well next season.

I'm all for random plantings.

Best wishes Annie!

Annie West said...

Laurie, I love a random-looking garden too. Formal ones are lovely to visit but at home I prefer something more relaxed. How terrific of your neighbour to share her plants. I hope you have success with them.

erin said...

I completely enjoy other people's effort :) I don't have space, time, or knowledge to have my own, so my appreciation is vast! Thanks for sharing!

Annie West said...

Hi Erin, some people do it so well, too, don't they? There's definitely art to it as well as science.

Annie West said...

It's getting to the end of the day so I've drawn a winner for a copy of REBEL'S BARGAIN. Congratulations, Erin! You're today's winner. If you contact me at annie (at) annie-west (dot) com and give me your address, I'll get the book on its way to you.

Thanks, everyone, it's been lovely chatting about gardens and Rebel!