Dear Reader,

Thanks for taking time to read about Imprisoned By a Vow, my latest Harlequin Presents romance - in stores now.

Signed, sealed...forever!

Being sold into marriage by her stepfather is Leila’s one chance to escape. But instead of freedom, Leila finds herself bound by deep passions ignited by her inscrutable new husband.

Australian billionaire Joss Carmody knows the rules of this game— he’ll shower his new wife with diamonds and in return he’ll use her land to expand his business. That’s all he ever wanted from this exchange, but he hadn’t banked on the attraction Leila awakens.
Then the one night that was supposed to slake their desire binds them beyond the signatures on their marriage contract.…

Both Joss and Leila get far more than they expected when they signed their marriage contract. This is a story about new beginnings, about a marriage of convenience in which passion and unexpected love triumph over the shadows of the past. Just yesterday CataRomance gave the book a 5 star review saying: “Brilliant author Annie West always delivers swooning romances with drop-dead gorgeous men and smart feisty women...A truly delightful book...”

I hope you enjoy Joss and Leila’s story.

Happy Reading!

Annie West



Excerpt from Imprisoned by a Vow

by Annie West, USA Today Bestselling Author

Cover art copyright © by Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and TM are trademarks of the publisher

‘You want me to change?’

‘Got it in one.’ His laconic words sounded patronising to her sensitive ears, stiffening her spine. ‘Something with colour. Something eye-catching.’

Leila doubted there was anything like that in her vast walk-in robe. She’d had no say in the clothes bought for her trousseau. Whoever had ordered the new wardrobe had chosen clothes a size too large.

‘Some time soon would be good.’

Leila jerked her head up to find Joss, arms crossed, looking the picture of masculine impatience. The fact that he looked gorgeous - if you liked bold, powerful features and raw testosterone - didn’t help.

Her hackles rose. She was not his servant to be ordered around. She’d spent too long dancing to her stepfather’s tune to do it again. Indignation was a welcome change from anxiety and the self doubt that dogged her.

‘You’re so persuasive when you ask nicely, Joss.’ She purred his name coolly, putting one hand on her hip in a show of easy confidence. ‘I bet women just queue up to get a taste of that charm.’

He didn’t move an inch yet suddenly loomed larger than ever. His long fingers twitched then curled at his sides. His midnight eyes glittered and a sizzle shot down her spine that she felt all the way to her toes.

She refused to be cowed.

Leila had grown up around men in formal clothes. She’d been a diplomat’s daughter. Yet she couldn’t remember one to match Joss for sheer impact. Magnificent tailoring complemented what she guessed was an equally magnificent body. But it was his potent power, the sense of barely restrained masculinity that had shackled her attention from the moment he entered the room.

That and his anger.

Strange how it didn’t scare her the way Gamil’s cold fury had. But then her stepfather’s emotions had been sickly distorted.
By comparison there was something almost reassuringly healthy about the simmering heat in her husband’s expression.
Was that why she enjoyed provoking him?

‘I’ll go and change.’ She swung towards the door, appalled at her thoughts.

Nevertheless she rather enjoyed the undulating sway her high heels gave her. It made her feel feminine and…powerful. Something she hadn’t felt in a long time.

Heat seared her. It should be impossible yet she was sure it was from the impact of his eyes on her. Leila felt his gaze as if he reached out and touched her. The sway of her hips grew a touch more pronounced. She half turned her head. ‘Formal, you said?’
‘Formal,’ he reiterated. ‘I want you to look spectacular.’

Spectacular!

Leila’s footsteps faltered. She hadn’t a hope of achieving spectacular.

Nevertheless Leila held her shoulders straight, determined not to let Joss see her doubts.

‘I’ll be back soon.’

Two minutes later Leila surveyed the racks of exquisitely made clothes her stepfather had ordered. Apart from a couple of casual dresses and a pair of black trousers that, miraculously, fit like a glove, the rest was a disaster.

Beige, navy, drab olive and a mustard that made her look jaundiced. The worst colours for her. Leila flicked through the clothes, spirits plummeting.

There was nothing spectacular. The best she could hope for was neat and not over-sized.

With one fluid movement she unzipped the navy dress, stepped out and hung it up. Then, hands on hips, stood pondering, hoping for inspiration. None came.

‘Can’t decide?’

The deep drawl from the doorway made her spin round, her heart thudding high in her throat.

‘You can’t come in here!’ Frantically she searched for a wrap to throw round herself but everything was stowed away.
She raised her hands to cover herself, till she saw the quizzical tilt of one straight eyebrow and read the glint in his eye. Heat shimmered under her skin. Her mouth dried and she was sure the blush covered her whole body. Yet she forced her hands to her sides.

Instinct told her revealing her nerves at being half naked would give Joss a weapon to use against her later. That was how dominating men operated.

He’d see more on a beach any day, she assured herself. Her cream panties and bra were conservatively cut, plus she wore sheer stay up stockings and stilettos.

Yet she felt vulnerable. Whether from baring so much flesh or from the fact it was Joss who saw her? She didn’t want to investigate.

Insouciance was beyond her. She settled for keeping her hands at her sides though it strained every muscle to breaking point.

‘I can’t come in?’ He shook his head. ‘But I just did.’ He paced further into the room she’d once thought enormous. His presence filled it, drawing out all the air and leaving in its place prickling, static electricity. His subtle scent surrounded her.

And his eyes never left her. Surely she imagined heat flaring in those dark irises?

Finally, thankfully, he turned to the clothes on the hangers. Leila put a hand to her chest as she gulped in air and her blood started to pump again. 

He rifled through the first few outfits.

‘Tell me you didn’t choose this stuff.’ Disbelief dripped from each word.

‘I didn’t.’

He didn’t turn to face her. ‘Then who-?’

‘My stepfather. It’s complicated.’

Joss paused, and then began shoving his way through the hangers again. Clearly he had no interest in the reasons for her sombre wardrobe. All he cared about was her appearance as a fitting companion. She had a precise function in his life and that was all that concerned him.

It should be a relief to remember that, but she was too agitated to feel anything like relief.

‘What about this?’ He held up a pair of trousers in some fluid, black fabric. ‘Do they fit?’

‘Yes, but you said formal. They’re not-’

‘At this point I’ll settle for anything vaguely acceptable.’ He tossed the trousers to her, already turning to the large bank of drawers.

Leila opened her mouth to protest the invasion of privacy, but he’d already opened and closed a drawer full of panties and bras and was yanking open another one. His hand plunged into silk.

Disturbingly, as he sifted through camisoles and nightwear, Leila imagined the feel of his hand on her, his long fingers stroking then moving on.

 She staggered back a pace, horrified and a little scared at the weird sensations bombarding her. She shot out a hand to brace herself against a cupboard. Her pulse thudded too fast and there was a curious stirring in her lower body as she watched him trawl through her things.

‘How about this?’ He turned, a camisole of sea green silk in his hand.

‘What about it?’ Her brain was slow to chug into gear.

His brows lowered. ‘How about wearing it with the black pants?’

She took the proffered camisole. The silk was so fine she’d be wearing the barest whisper of covering. Did she want to dress like that when she was with Joss - a man whose gaze already evoked the strangest reactions?

She had no choice. Besides, all day she’d fretted and worried about the challenge of merely leaving the apartment. What she wore would soon pale into insignificance beside that.

‘I’ll try them together.’ She paused, taking in his waiting stance. ‘When you’ve left.’

With one last, impenetrable stare Joss turned and walked out. ‘I’ll meet you in the foyer.’


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Contest!


To celebrate her new release, Annie is giving away prizes in a contest exclusive to Newswire readers.

To enter the draw, visit Annie's website: www.annie-west.com and find the answer to this question:

In what city is ‘Imprisoned By a Vow’ set?

Email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answers before midnight on August 9th, 2013. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and mark the subject as 'ImprisonedByAVow'. Winners will be contacted via email shortly thereafter.

One winner will receive a $25 gift certificate from Amazon and a copy of Imprisoned By A Vow. Four more winners will each receive a signed copy of one of Annie’s books.

Good luck!

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