Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway ~ HIS DESERT BRIDE BY DEMAND by Lela May Wight

His Desert Bride by Demand
by: Lela May Wight
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 26, 2022
Publisher: Harlequin Presents

The desert prince will finally make her his bride in this dramatic reunion romance by debut author Lela May Wight!

He asked for a night
Now he requires her hand!

Newly orphaned Charlotte Hegarty is ready to start living her life. She’s determined a reckless encounter with her first love, Prince Akeem, will free her from the past. Maybe then she’ll be able to forget him…

Akeem wants to show Charlotte what she gave up when she turned her back on him. So he sweeps her away to his desert kingdom, intent on seduction. Yet when their secret tryst threatens to become a scandal, duty-bound Akeem makes an outrageous demand: Charlotte will be his queen!

From Harlequin Presents: Escape to exotic locations where passion knows no bounds.

Hi Lela May. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Hi Kim! I’m so excited to be on Read Your Writes Book Reviews! Thank you for having me. I’ve been filled with an excited nervous energy ever since I got ‘The call.’ I’m still pinching myself, but I’m very well, thank you. How are you?

I’m good. Thank you for asking. Congratulations on your first Harlequin Presents release, His Desert Bride by Demand. What can readers expect from it?
Thank You! Akeem and Charlotte’s story, described in three words, would be dramatic, passionate, and intense. It’s a second-chance romance, with first-loves and unfinished business they are both determined to resolve.

It’s a tasty tale of revenge and confronting past-mistakes, all tied up in a scrumptious marriage of convenience.

That’s a lot to take in. Tell me about Charlotte Hegarty and Prince Akeem.

Akeem and Charlotte met when they were teenagers, both thrust into the care-system where they found solace and friendship with each other.

They are both gloriously emotionally messy. (Aren’t we all?)

Charlotte is beyond loyal to those she loves at the cost of her own happiness. Her relationship with her father is complicated. He raised her after her mother’s death, and it was hard for them both, but she loves him deeply.

After her dad’s death, she has many emotions to navigate and I think my favourite character trait of Charlotte’s is her ability to find the light even in the darkest of places. It was a joy to watch her guide Akeem to see the light in the darkest parts of himself.

Akeem is very guarded and keeps his emotions in check for fear of people thinking he’s weak after a complicated relationship with his own dad, but he is also fiercely loyal to those he loves and it was a revelation to watch him realise he was allowed (thanks to Charlotte!) to love himself too.

Charlotte definitely guided Akeem. I liked that she did so in this loving way. I personally was ready to just rip the bandaid off and make him see himself. I’m always curious how authors decide to name their characters. How did you come up with the characters’ names?
Akeem and Charlotte came to me already named! I can’t remember an instance of trying to figure out what name would suit them. They were just always Akeem and Charlotte! Charlotte and Akeem!

What was your favorite part of His Desert Bride by Demand to write and why?
The bleak moment scene. I know those hard-hitting scenes are not for everyone, but I love them.

The moment the world stands still and Akeem and Charlotte are looking at each other, with their hearts on their sleeve, but one’s too scared to let the other hold it. Their heart. And it all comes tumbling down, so they can grow. And it’s the road to growth explored in Charlotte and Akeem’s dark moment that had me typing faster, because one wall at a time, they broke them down, and out of the rubble came a beautiful (in my opinion) HEA.

Can you tell me about one of your favorite scenes from the book, and why is it is a favorite?
Oh, brilliant question! I loved writing so many moments and scenes in Akeem and Charlotte’s story. But one of my favourites is the end of act one.

There is such a raw vulnerability when the past is exposed and truths are revealed.

It’s explosion after explosion of honest, unguarded sincerity, and the only way they can survive it is with a kiss. They find refuge in each other. A place to hide… I loved writing this scene so very much.

I’ve been vague, haven’t I? Sorry! But if I go any deeper, I’d be giving away a plot thrust I shouldn’t. But know when you read it, this was one of my favourites!

I’m pretty sure I know the exact scene you talking about. Just my opinion…Getting notified that you’re going to be a Harlequin author has to be beyond amazing. When you got that phone call or email, what was the first thing you did?
Beyond amazing! I’d spoken to my now fabulous editor a few times on the phone before and when she arranged this call, I was absolutely positive it was going to be a “not this time, but send me your next project” call.

When my editor said she’d like to offer me a contract, my first words were, “Are you saying those words to me?” And she was!

I ran through the house, telling all who would listen. It was the call and not a call. Now, when something exciting happens in my house, my children say it was the *insert exciting thing* not a *insert exciting thing. *

What can readers look forward to from you next?
Hopefully, lots more love stories of emotionally messy people, finding their light in the darkest of places and realising they are worthy of loving another human being, but are allowed to love themselves too.

Lela May, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me.
Thank you so much for having me and for the fantastic questions! I’ve had a great time chatting with you.

Letting out a harsh breath, Charlotte uncurled her hands and scrubbed them across her face.

It was time to end this.

‘What do you want?’

He closed in, removing the space she’d created between them. ‘It’s not what I want that matters. It’s what I have that you need, Lottie.’

‘What is it that I need, Akeem?’ she echoed back at him. His use of the name he’d used to call her by was doing things to her insides she didn’t want to recognise.

‘You need me.’

You?’ she whispered, disgusted that her body was having such a visceral reaction to his statement.

‘Yes.’ He smiled, his brown eyes burning black. ‘Me. Akeem Abd al-Uzza.’ His voice, deep and proud, oozed masculinity. Power.

‘Not Akeem Ali?’ she asked.

Forcing herself to chuckle, she tilted her head. ‘I don’t want you here, and I certainly don’t need you.’

‘Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. What better way to start that new life than with a night of pleasure in my arms, surrounded by opulence?’

‘You want to take me to bed?’ she spluttered.

‘Yes. You will spend one night in my bed—one night of extreme pleasure.’


‘Call it what you will—closure…’ he stretched the word.

‘Closure?’ Her heart hammered. ‘You came here uninvited because you thought I’d sleep with you one last time for closure?’ Her eyes widened, and she hooked a brow. ‘How very arrogant of you.’

‘Does my arrogance surprise you when I can see your pulse pounding wildly beside the hollow of your throat?’

‘Yes.’ She nodded. ‘The boy I knew would ask—never demand.’

Unbidden, memory claimed her. The swipe of tentative fingers across her naked hipbone. The press of his mouth behind her ear as he asked if she liked his hand there…did she want him to bring her pleasure with his fingers?

She shuddered. Her Akeem had been gentle, caring—never demanding. The Akeem she had known was not this man standing in front of her.

‘I am not the boy you remember.’ His voice was silk. Seductive. ‘The pleasure you will experience in my arms will be unlike any you’ve known before or after me.’

He raised his hand and applied pressure to the frantic beating at her throat. It took everything she had in her arsenal not to react to his touch and to remain indifferent. But she wasn’t indifferent. She’d only ever known him. All she could do was watch—feel all the things she shouldn’t be feeling.

She hated him, didn’t she?

‘Should I put my mouth here, so you may understand the power of attraction still between us?’

No!’ she shrieked, unable to breathe or to think about anything but her disloyal body. It tingled from the intensity of his gaze—his touch. And she wanted to step into his embrace.

What was wrong with her? It was the day of her father’s funeral. She was on the edge. And here was Akeem, magnifying her overwrought emotions to fever-pitch. She couldn’t stand it. His ability to still affect her. He would not trick her into forgetting what he’d done. How he’d abandoned her.

‘No,’ she said again, ‘my bed is off-limits to you.’

‘It’s not your bed I want you in,’ he corrected. ‘It’s mine.’

‘Whatever bed,’ she huffed, knowing he’d purposely missed her point. ‘I won’t be in it with you,’ she declared, and hoped she meant it. ‘You’re the one that needs this.’ She waved her hands. ‘Not me. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.’

‘You need to close the door on the past as much as I do,’ Akeem concluded, and moved his thumb up the taut lines of her throat. With his forefinger beneath her chin, he tilted her head. ‘Take a chance and come to bed with me.’

Temptation teased through her, and the knot in her abdomen was an acknowledgment of the desire she felt. She didn’t need his mouth on her skin to understand that whatever was still between them was powerful—more than it had been nine years ago. But it was different—stronger. An older kind of yearning… It was lust, she recognised. Desire.

She was a fool.

‘No,’ she whispered, and his hands fell away to his side. ‘I can’t.’

‘Fear stopped you when you were a girl, and now you are a woman—’ his eyes swept over her ‘—you’re still scared.’

‘How so?’ she asked, because he’d been the one to run away. He’d been the one who was afraid.

‘What do you have to lose?’ he asked, and she bit back the immediate response clinging to the inside of her mouth.


‘You have no job, no family, no money, and soon you’ll be homeless. Do you wish to remain exactly where you have always been until they forcibly evict you from everything you know? Your house? Your home?’

‘How do you know that?’

‘It is easy to imagine the life you have led.’ His lips thinned, and silently he held her gaze.

Of course he knew everything. He was a man of means now. She recognised it in every stitch of his handmade suit. He knew she hadn’t moved forward. To him, she was still the same girl he’d known. Scared, and alone, and thrust into a system she had been frightened would take her away from her dad.

She’d always kept her mouth shut. As her dad had taught her. Outsiders didn’t matter. Outsiders didn’t count. And she had told no one anything—not even the police who’d hammered on the door because the school hadn’t been able to contact her dad for three days and they’d had concerns for her welfare. They’d found her dad barely conscious. The social services team had delivered her to a children’s home, and still she’d remained silent. But she had told Akeem.

Eight weeks, they’d told her. An interim care order. If in eight weeks her dad could prove he was well enough to take care of her, she could go home. For those eight weeks it had been her and him. Akeem and Charlotte.

He’d been her first and only friend. She’d opened up for the first time in her life—because he’d offered her something she’d never had. Friendship.

But she wasn’t that girl any more. She didn’t want to be. Because that girl had given everything to her father until there had been nothing left for her.

A recklessness she’d never known before pulsated through her. Urging her to throw caution to the wind and admit that his touch on her body was welcome and she wanted more. Much more. Because when had she ever been selfish? Or allowed herself to behave any way rather than steadfastly, working out the pros and cons first?

Once was the simple answer. Once when she’d packed her suitcase, ready to run away with Akeem, and he’d gone without her…

She had nothing to lose by spending the night with him.

Only pleasure—however fleeting.

Every muscle in her body strained as she moved towards him and stood on tiptoe.

‘One night?’ she hissed and waited, nose to nose, eye to eye, for him to respond—like a boxer squaring off against an opponent before a fight, just as her dad had done in his youth.

The only time her father had fought for anything it had been for those few trophies on the mantelpiece at home. He’d never fought for her. For their family. The only things he’d taken pride in had been his boxing achievements. And what did she have to be proud of? A few awards for her portraits from secondary school? An unconditional place to study for a diploma at college she’d never taken up because she’d had to get a job instead? She’d had to take care of her dad…

‘Yes.’ Akeem agreed, his eyes hungry, his breathing shallow. ‘One night.’

It was desire. That was all. Right now, she needed to connect, and she was reacting to the havoc of the day and to the storm of emotions he was evoking inside her. The indulgence of being impulsive was equally as exciting as it was frightening, but she was surrendering to it. To a spontaneity she’d never been allowed to have.

Until now.

Her hands had made their way to the solid wall of his chest. The fabric of his shirt was cushioning her fingers. She pushed away and stepped out of his embrace.

‘Let’s get it over with,’ she said, trying on for size the indifference she wanted to project. But she wasn’t indifferent. She was excited. Scared. Slick in places she shouldn’t be.

His eyes narrowed. ‘As you wish. But we will not “get it over with”. It will be long and gratifying.’

Tingles shot through her. ‘One night and one night only. Then we part ways. Nothing changes. We’ll be the same as we are now. A distant memory in each other’s life.’

‘Yes,’ he agreed, his beautiful face carved in granite.

Charlotte hesitated. He was lying. Again. Or was she? Because it would change everything. It would change her. But wasn’t that what she wanted? To be completely brand-new and forging forward into a shiny future, not beholden to the past?

‘No more thinking, Charlotte,’ he said, his voice gruff, and he extended his arm. ‘Take my hand.’

With bated breath, she did…

Purchase His Desert Bride by Demand from:

Lela May Wight grew up with seven brothers and sisters. Yes, it was noisy, and she often found escape in romance books. She now hopes she can offer readers the same escapism when the world is a little too loud.

Places to find Lela May Wight:

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  1. I always love Harlequin Presents and this one sounds really good. I love the exotic locations and the passion between the characters.

  2. I love the tension in the excerpt.


  3. The description and the stunning cover! Can't wait to read this! ❤


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