Clare Connelly on writing alpha heroes and romances with revenge plotlines

Clare Connelly on writing alpha heroes and romances with revenge plotlines

We hear from contemporary author, Clare Connelly about the inspiration behind her new romance, The Secret She Must Tell The Spaniard.


As a reader, I naturally gravitate to multi-book arcs. I love a good duet, trilogy or series, for the simple reason that it allows you to really sink into a whole fictional world. I adore getting glimpses of the characters I’ve fallen in love with in subsequent books, so whenever I have the opportunity to write a duet, I jump at it!

Actually, so much of who I am as a writer is informed by my preferences as a reader. I grew up reading the angst-filled Mills & Boons of the eighties and nineties (which is probably why my heroes tend to fall to one end of the alpha-spectrum!) and I particularly love revenge and bitter reunion plot lines. There’s just so much scope for drama and emotion when there’s a couple with seriously unfinished business and years-old tension.

I’m not actually a huge plotter. I find that I like to tell myself the story as I write, so apart from a few key details, such as characters, location and the crux of my couple’s conflict, I try not to be too specific about where the story will go. For me, allowing the characters the space to develop organically makes them feel much more ‘real’.

I knew, going into writing The Long Lost Cortéz Brothers duet, that I wanted the first book to start with a real bang. My hero is a swarthy, wrong-side-of-the-tracks, self-made success story—as handsome as he is ruthlessly controlled. But like the very best of these heroes, there’s a very good reason for his inability to connect emotionally—and he blames my heroine for her heart-breaking rejection ten years earlier.

He’s not completely wrong. After all, Alicia did break up with the teenage Graciano at her strict father’s insistence, but a whole lot happened behind the scenes, of which Graciano wasn’t aware. He couldn’t have been—having been unceremoniously thrown out of Alicia’s life, he never again takes her call or gives her a chance to speak to him, even when it transpires she was calling to tell him that their relationship had resulted in a baby!

This is a book thick with mystery, suspense and secrets, and overarching Alicia and Graciano’s passionate story is the mystery of Graciano’s parentage. He knows his parents died in a terrible car accident when he was just a boy, but that his younger brother survived. Having promised his parents that he would always care for his younger sibling, he continues to devote his life to finding out what happened to the only other survivor of that awful accident. He could never have guessed the truth though, nor the depth of deception involved! Book two finally brings answers to Graciano, and all I’ll say for now is that a whole kingdom’s order of succession rests on the secret Graciano discovers!

I loved writing these books for so many reasons. My favourite tropes, my favourite types of heroes and sensual, escapist locations that were such a breath of fresh air to lose myself in each day. By the end of writing THE SECRET SHE MUST TELL THE SPANIARD, I was desperate to close my eyes and wake up on Graciano’s island, with its rich history and stunning sunsets. The first book in the duet, Graciano and Alicia’s story, is also my fortieth Harlequin/Mills & Boon, so it’s fitting that it should be one of my favourites!

Overall, these are stories of love, passion but also forgiveness and families, with a rich tapestry of characters that I hope you adore (or in the case of Alicia’s father, despise!) as much as I do. Happy reading! X


The Secret She Must Tell The Spaniard by Clare Connelly

Back in Graciano’s orbit, Alicia knows she must face his questions over the past. But each sultry night transforms their fiery tension. She gathers her courage to admit the truth: that after she was forced to abandon Graciano she had his daughter!

Read now in eBook or in paperback which also features, The Prince’s Forbidden Cinderella by Kim Lawrence.