The series I write for: Harlequin Presents in North America, or Mills and Boon Modern/Sexy in the UK and Australia/New Zealand is characterised by a number of things, most especially the intense, high octane drama and passion between the alpha hero and his feisty heroine. Another key ingredient in these books is the touch of glamour and the exotic. This is the home of the billionaire tycoon rather than the boy next door, and the settings often reflect this, whether the story is in a bustling city or a private mountain or island retreat.
So how do you add a touch of glamour to your story? What is it adds that additional glamorous sparkle?
Firstly I'd have to say setting. A 5 star coastal resort with servants on tap to provide every luxury has to count as glamorous. Perhaps a city penthouse with million dollar views. If you're not keen on crowds there's a private retreat - perhaps a heritage-listed estate in the UK, or a sprawling outback cattle station in Australia, or a privately-owned vineyard complete with luxury accommodation, of course. But even a tent can be glamorous. Maybe it's a sheikh's tent complete with hand woven rugs and silk cushions, or a tent on a luxury safari.
Put your characters in a castle or palace and that taste of glamour is just about guaranteed. What is more glamorous that a royal story, with that rich vein of royal pomp and ceremony you can tap into? You don't need to mention all the details - just a hint is usually enough. After all, readers have great imaginations and we all like to fill in some of the details for ourselves.
|Queue outside Louis Vuitton, Paris|
Then there are the extras. How do your characters travel? In a chauffeur driven limousine? In a private helicopter? Their own horse-drawn sleigh? (One of my heroes did - while travelling to a small, private lodge in the mountains). On a pure bred Arabian horse? Perhaps he (or she) owns a boat. It could be a massive, brand-spanking new cruiser that's like a floating luxury hotel. Definitely glam. But so too is an old, graceful yacht, beautifully fitted, that's been restored to the refined style of yesteryear. Saying something is expensive tells us something about your characters and the lifestyle they're used to (or want to be used to) but there's more to it than simply throwing money around. You can tell a lot about your characters by the choices they make.
Speaking of transport choices, I had to throw in this photo of a royal coach from a recent visit to Buckingham Palace. Having a vehicle like that in your story would bring a whole extra level of glam to it.
There is glamour in clothes and the way they are worn. Jewellery too. Is it a single, modern piece that stands out from everything else or an heirloom piece picked out from a hoard of riches? Or maybe its something wonderful, made especially for the heroine - not necessarily made from the most expensive gems, but ordered with care and given with feeling.
|Red carpet, Berlin|
Personally, I find adding glamour most successful when it reveals something about the characters involved. Whether they take the luxury or attention or obsequiousness for granted. How they treat the staff waiting on them. Whether they value the pampering or freedom or whether they long to escape it. There can be a special glamour in the way a character moves, the nonchalance with which they wear their clothes (or not) and their attitude to their surroundings.
Have you read a book with a touch of glamour? What did you like about it? What would be your favourite luxury location or event?
Annie's latest release IMPRISONED BY A VOW features glamorous settings and people. They include a lavish wedding ceremony complete with golden goblets and silken canopies, exclusive charity events attended by billionaires and power brokers, and an ultra-modern penthouse in London with views to die for.
But it's not all about glamour. This is an intense, passionate love story between two people who find themselves locked in a marriage of convenience that breaks all the rules. It's a sexy, emotional roller coaster ride.
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All photographs in this post are copyright to Annie West.