When opposites attract!
Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.
But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.
Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!Read an Excerpt Behind the Book
“West’s page-turner set in colorful Brazil is impressively perfect, starring her well-matched, rags-to-riches hero and her unjustly scandal-ridden royal heroine. Her illuminating, expert narrative brings the breathtaking story and the explosive lovemaking to life.” ~ 4 1/2 stars TOP PICK, Debbie Haupt from Romantic Times
“A fantastic read about Scandal, passion, jealousy, love and the right to be happy.” ~ 5 stars, Deserè from Romance Book Haven
“This is a story that once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop – a good sign of a great read.” ~ Erica, Good Reads
“Bestselling author Annie West captivates her readers with a deliciously handsome hero, a strong independent heroine and an exotic setting in DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR. Readers can always count on brilliant Annie West to deliver passionate sigh-worthy stories that beckon us to escape the ordinary. In DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR, a torrid chance encounter results in the beginnings of a lasting love. Kick your shoes off, snuggle into your comfy chair, grab the chocolates and treat yourself …” ~ 5 stars, Donna, CataRomance
“Highly recommend for lovers of classic HQ romances.” ~ 3 stars, Virginia, Coffee Time Romance
WINNER – Romantic Book of the Year, Romance Writers of Australia
Her head swung round at the sound of a fathoms-deep voice she’d never expected to hear again. Her fingers clenched around delicate bone china as her pulse catapulted.
It really was him, Damaso Pires, filling the doorway to her suite. He looked big and bold, his features drawn in hard sharp lines that looked like they’d been honed in bronze. Glossy black hair flopped down across his brow and flirted with his collar, but did nothing to soften that remarkable face.
‘What are you doing here?’ She put the cup down with a clatter, her hand nerveless. ‘How did you get in?’
‘I knocked but there was no answer.’
Marisa lifted her chin, remembering the way he’d dumped her. ‘That usually means the person inside wants privacy.’
‘Don’t get up.’ He stepped onto the terrace, raising his hand as if to prevent her moving.
She pushed the rug aside and stood, hoping he didn’t see her sway before finding her balance. The nausea really had knocked the stuffing out of her.
‘I repeat, Senhor Pires, why are you here?’ Marisa folded her arms. He might top her by more than a head but she knew how to stand up to encroaching men.
‘Senhor Pires?’ His brows drew together in a frown that made her think of some angry Inca god. ‘It’s a little late for formalities, don’t you think?’
‘I know,’ she stepped forward, surging anger getting the better of her, ‘that I’ve a right to privacy.’
Her stomach churned horribly as she remembered how he’d made her feel: an inch tall and cheap. You’d think she’d be used to it after a lifetime of not measuring up. But this man had wounded her more deeply because she’d been foolhardy enough to believe he was different.
He digested her words in silence, his expression unperturbed.
‘Well?’ Marisa tapped her foot, furious that her indignation was mixed with an unhealthy dollop of excitement. No matter how annoyed she was there was no denying Damaso Pires was one fantastic looking man. And as a lover…
‘Let me guess. You discovered I was here and thought you’d look me up for old times’ sake.’ She drew a quick breath that lodged halfway to her lungs. ‘I’m afraid I’m not interested in a trip down memory lane. Or in continuing where we left off.’
She had more self-respect than to go back to a man who’d treated her as he had.
She stepped forward. ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to be alone.’
Her steps petered out when she came up against his impassable form. His spread legs and wide shoulders didn’t allow space for her to pass.
Dark eyes bored into hers and something tugged tight in her belly. If only she could put it down to a queasy stomach but to her shame Marisa knew she responded to his overt male sexuality. A frisson of awareness made her nape tingle and her breasts tighten.
Surely a pregnant woman wouldn’t respond so wantonly?
The thought sideswiped her and her gaze flickered from his. Today’s news had upended her world, leaving her feeling adrift and frail. What did she know about pregnancy?
‘Marisa.’ His voice held a tentative edge she didn’t remember. ‘Are you all right?’
Her head snapped up. ‘I will be when I’m allowed the freedom of my own suite, alone.’
He stepped back and she moved away, into the sitting room, conscious with every cell in her body of him looming nearby. Even his scent, that warm ocean tang, invaded her space, till she had to focus on walking past and not stopping to inhale.
She was halfway across the room, heading for the entrance when he spoke again. ‘We need to talk.’
Marisa kept walking. ‘As I recall, you made it clear last time I saw you that our…connection was at an end.’ Valiantly she kept her voice even, though humiliation at how she’d left herself open to his insulting treatment twisted a searing blade through her insides.
‘Are you trying to tell me you thought otherwise?’
Her steps faltered to a halt. If she’d truly been unaffected by his abrupt desertion, she wouldn’t be upset at his return, would she? She certainly wouldn’t show it. But it was beyond even Marisa’s acting powers to pretend to insouciance. The best she could manage was haughty distance.
She needed him out of the way so she could concentrate on the news she still had trouble processing. That she was probably pregnant – with his child.
Marisa squeezed her eyes shut, trying to gather her strength. She’d face him later if she had too. Now she needed to be alone.
‘I didn’t think anything, Damaso.’ She lingered over his name with dripping saccharine emphasis. ‘What we shared is over and done with.’
Her fingers closed around the door handle, but before she could tug it open, one long arm shot over her shoulder. A large hand slammed palm down onto the door before her, keeping it forcibly closed. The heat of Damaso’s body encompassed her, his breath riffling her hair as if he was breathing as hard as she.
‘What about the fact you’re carrying my child?’
She gasped. How did he know?
I was daydreaming (as writers often do) and wondering about writing another royal story. I’d so enjoyed writing my linked royal books: PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE and PRINCE OF SCANDAL that it wasn’t at all hard to imagine another fabulous European kingdom where behind the royal scenes, things weren’t quite as they seemed. I’m fascinated by the idea of people who put on one face to meet the world, often hiding a wealth of emotion in private. Then there’s the fact that a royal life, while enormously privileged, is still full of the emotions, needs and desires we all experience, but most often played out in private.
Instead of following the fates of two male cousins, my daydreaming came up with some sisters, each with their own problems, flaws and hopes for the future. Three sisters, in fact, but when I’d finished jotting down my thoughts it became obvious that one stood out as a loner and her story would work far better if, instead of having a couple of devoted sisters, poor Marisa was now alone in the world.
You see Marisa is a twin, and in my imaginings she’s just lost her twin brother. Yes, I know, writers have a habit of doing dreadful things to their characters, like depriving them of family and friends! Imagine how much harder it would be for Marisa if she’d only had one sibling, one true friend in a world where she didn’t fit. As soon as I realised that, I decided the other sisters just had to go. Don’t worry, they haven’t gone too far and I hope one day to write their stories too. They just won’t be Marisa’s siblings, though it’s just possible there may be a connection with her, which I’m rather excited about. That connection is over six feet tall, charismatic and handsome, but that’s literally another story…
So there was Marisa, lost and alone, disapproved of by her extended family and even the public. Why, you ask? It’s easiest if you pick up a copy of DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR and all will be revealed. Marisa is an expert at hiding her true self from the world, especially the pain of her disillusionment, and we find her first on an expensive, exclusive adventure vacation for the uber-wealthy in South America, where she hides her grief and despair behind smiles and a penchant for extreme sports.
Enter Damaso, a man with a past, a man who’s built his wealth and power from sheer hard work after a childhood of deprivation. He’s never learned to love and he’s not interested in anything so nebulous. But he is interested in Marisa, and being the man he is, he reaches out for what he wants. For one glorious night they let down their guards, sharing a passion that stuns them both with its intensity, till things go wrong. Why? Well, Damaso has his own demons and they drive him away from anything that makes him feel too much. The only trouble is that Marisa discovers she’s pregnant and Damaso refuses to let her and their baby walk out of his life.
So how do two almost-strangers, each hiding their vulnerabilities and hopes, each with problems trusting, deal with this most momentous change in their lives?
This story sizzles with the crackling intensity of Damaso and Marisa’s attraction and their rich personalities. It’s full of passion and desire but it doesn’t shirk from the other issues that have marked their lives. I felt such enormous satisfaction when they finally overcame their difficulties and found their happy ever after together. I hope you feel that too!