Dear Reader,

My newest Harlequin release (a Presents Extra) is out now in North America.

I have a soft spot for Protected by the Prince for so many reasons.

I got to research the quaint alpine setting in person some time ago when I spent a European Christmas scoping out locations for the story. When I tell you this included a sleigh ride through fresh powder snow to the sounds of sleds swishing and bells jingling, a night in a castle perched high above a river and visits to traditional Christmas markets, you’ll be able to imagine what a wonderful time I had. (A photo from that sleigh ride is included further below.)

Both Tamsin and Alaric have to face the demons of their pasts and learn to question their long-held certainties. Even Tamsin’s profession, caring for old books and losing herself in libraries full of tomes to be cared for, was a treat for me as a fellow book lover. As for Alaric, well, as you can see I definitely had fun writing about him:

“He could have been Prince Charming, standing there in his elaborate hussar’s uniform, her discarded shoe in one large, capable hand. A bigger, tougher Prince Charming than she remembered from her childhood reading. His dark eyebrows slashed across a tanned face that wasn’t so much handsome as magnetic, charismatic, potently sexy.
Like Prince Charming’s far more experienced and infinitely more dangerous older brother.”


Romantic Times gave this book a 4.5 star review: “…this modern-day fairy tale delights from start to finish”.  Romance Junkies in its 5 star review summed it up as ‘…nothing short of delightful”.

If you want to find out more about Protected By The Prince drop by my website at http://www.annie-west.com

Warmest wishes and happy reading,

Annie West



Excerpt from Protected By The Prince

by Annie West

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

Piercing indigo eyes met Tamsin’s and heat sizzled through her, making the hairs on her arms stand up as if he’d brushed fingertips along her bare skin.

She searched for the shadows she’d seen in his gaze once before, the shadows Peter had hinted at, but there was nothing wounded about this man. If anything there was a hint of steel in his stare, a tautness about his mouth. Alaric was commanding, assured, supremely confident.

He bowed. The epitome of royal hauteur from his severely combed hair to his mirror polished shoes.

‘Tamsin, I believe this is our dance.’

She tried to tell herself she didn’t care that he’d come to her at last, but her heart gave a little jump.

‘I’ll be in contact later, Tamsin.’ Her companion smiled and took her wineglass, urging her forward. She had no excuse but to go with Alaric.

A strong hand closed around hers and her heart hammered. Ridiculous! She’d danced with the prince earlier. But then he’d barely looked at her, his formality quenching her excitement.

Now his gaze pinioned her, so intent it smouldered.

‘You’ve made a new friend,’ he murmured as he curled long fingers around her waist. His touch evoked a tremor of primitive anxiety. As if she’d stepped too close to a slumbering predator.

Taking a deep breath Tamsin placed an arm on his shoulder, let him clasp her other hand and fixed her gaze on his collar. This was just a dance. For show.

‘Yes, several. Everyone’s been very pleasant.’ Despite the heat flooding her veins as Alaric guided her onto the floor, something in his tone had chilled her.

‘So I saw. You’ve flitted from man to man all evening.’ His voice was harsh and she raised surprised eyes to his. Blue fire flashed like lightning in an approaching storm.

‘Your instructions were just that I attend the ball.’ Her breasts rose in indignation, straining at the taut fabric of her bodice. ‘I hadn’t realised I wasn’t allowed to mingle.’ After ignoring her most of the night, how dare he complain she’d socialised with the other guests!

‘Is that what you call it?’ He spun her faster till the room whirled around them. Yet in his firm hold Tamsin felt only a heady rush of excitement. As if she were on the edge of something dangerous that nevertheless called to her.

‘Do you have a problem, Alaric?’ She told herself she was breathless because of the speed with which they circled the room. Her skirts belled out around her and her breath shallowed but she didn’t feel nervous. She felt…exhilarated.

‘Of course not. Why should I?’ He kept his gaze fixed over her shoulder. ‘Though I’d be sorry to see you hurt.’

‘Hurt?’ The music ended and they spun to a halt, yet Alaric didn’t let her go. They stood in the centre of the dance floor, his grip holding her still. ‘We Ruvingians are hospitable to guests. I wouldn’t want you to misunderstand and interpret friendliness for something more.’

Tamsin’s breath hissed between her teeth as pain lanced her. ‘What are you insinuating? That no one would normally want to spend time with a woman like me? That I’m too uninteresting? Or perhaps I’m too plain?’

All the pleasure she’d felt in the evening shattered in that moment, like fragile crystal smashed underfoot. She told herself she didn’t believe him, but suddenly the brilliant glare of the antique chandeliers seemed to flicker and dim. The heady excitement of the evening faded to something tawdry and shallow.

She stepped back to break his hold but his grip tightened.

‘Of course not. You’re misinterpreting my words.’

The music struck up again and around them couples took to the floor, a throng of glittering, designer clad, beautiful people.

She didn’t belong here.

‘You can let me go, your highness. You’ve done your duty dance.’ She primmed her lips rather than say any more.

He didn’t move, though she saw his chest rise as he took a huge breath.

‘I said-’

He muttered something savage under his breath in the local dialect. Something she had no hope of understanding. A second later he pulled her close and twirled her round into the dancing crowd.

This time there was nothing prim or proper about the way they moved. Gone was the staid distance between them. Instead Tamsin was plastered to Alaric’s torso. His arm at her waist didn’t steady her, it welded her to him. His breath feathered her forehead. His hard thighs cradled her then shifted provocatively between her legs as they danced, evoking a strange hollow ache in her womb.

This close she felt his every movement, partly because her hands were trapped against his chest. His heart pounded fast and strong beneath her palm and despite her anger and hurt, spiralling excitement rose.

‘I’ve had enough dancing,’ she gasped as he swung her round and back down the long ballroom. This was too much, too dangerous.

‘Nonsense. You love to dance. I’ve seen the smile on your face all night.’

All night? That implied he’d watched her which he hadn’t. He’d been too busy squiring so many socialites onto the floor or engaging them in close conversation.

‘You may find it hard to believe, Your Highness, but not all women long to dance with you.’ The room flashed by and her heart pounded faster and faster. ‘I want to stop.’

‘I told you to call me Alaric.’

His body moved against hers and she bit her lip at the surge of pleasure she felt. At the powerful throb building inside. She was pathetic. This was just a dance and with a man she assured herself she didn’t like. Though as his arm dropped low on her back, pulling her even tighter, it felt like something altogether different.

‘Alaric.’ The word was barely audible. Whether from the pulse pounding in her ears or because she couldn’t seem to catch her breath, she didn’t know.

‘That’s better.’ His voice was rough as his lips moved against her hair. ‘I like it when you say my name.’

With one final turn he spun them off the dance floor. Before Tamsin could catch her breath he’d shoved aside a hanging tapestry and hustled her through a door into a narrow passage. A few steps on and another arched door opened on their left. They were through it and in a dimly lit chamber before Tamsin could get her bearings.

A key scraped in the lock, loud as the thrum of her heartbeat. Then she felt a solid wall behind her and Alaric’s powerful body trapping her against it.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ It was meant to sound outraged. Instead Tamsin’s voice was uneven, weak with the force of conflicting emotions.

She should abhor this forced intimacy, the press of his body. Yet a secret thrill of pleasure ripped through her.

‘Getting you to myself.’ Alaric cupped her face in warm palms and lifted her chin so she looked deep into eyes the colour of a stormy night sky. ‘I spoiled your evening. I didn’t mean to.’

He leaned forward, touching his forehead to hers, hands tunnelling her hair, sending threads of shivery sensation down her spine and across her shoulders. Suddenly it wasn’t him holding her prisoner, but her body’s response.

‘Why?’ she croaked, her mouth too dry for speech. How had they come to this?

She should move but she made no resistance as he caressed her scalp and rubbed his nose against hers.

Where was her anger? A deep shuddering sigh rose and she strove to stifle it.

‘Because I was jealous.’ Shock slammed into her. Yet she felt the words as well as heard them as his lips caressed her eyelids. He really did say it. ‘From the moment you appeared tonight I wanted you with me. Only me.’

Excerpt from the title: Protected by the Prince by Annie West
ISBN: 9780373528011 Copyright ©: 2010 by Annie West
First North American publication 2011
The excerpt is posted by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.


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Contest!


To celebrate the release of her February Harlequin Presents Extra title, Protected by the Prince, Annie is giving away great prizes in a contest exclusive to Newswire readers.

To enter the draw, just answer these two questions:

What is the name of Annie's next royal-themed book (linked to "Protected by the Prince")?
What does Alaric take out of his pocket and give Tamsin when they first meet?


You’ll find the answers on Annie’s website.

Email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answers before midnight on February 14th, 2011. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and mark the subject as 'Protected By The Prince'. Winners will be contacted via email shortly thereafter.

One winner will receive a $25 gift certificate for Amazon and one of Annie’s books. Two more winners will each receive a signed book from Annie’s backlist. That’s three lucky winners.

Good luck!


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