THE SHEIKH’S GUARDED HEART
September is going to be a very special month. Both Harlequin “Romance” and Mills & Boon “Romance” have a new look and I’m thrilled to have a book in the launch month.
I’ll blog about the new line next week. Right now, because as regulars will know September books are available online in the US and UK at the eHarlequin and Mills & Boon websites a month in advance (that’s NOW! -- there are links on the sidebar), I want to tell you about THE SHEIKH'S GUARDED HEART. (Read, mark and inwardly digest. I will be asking questions!)
Some authors specialize in “sheikh” books, my friends Alexandra Sellers and Penny Jordan among them. Despite the fact that I spent more than five years living in the deserts of Arabia, this is only my second. But what a story! Danger, betrayal, tragedy with, as always, a touch of laughter to leaven the mix.
There’s the traditional horseback snatch of the heroine. A palace surrounded by a hidden garden. There’s a grieving man, a lonely child, a betrayed woman who has never felt the tenderness of a loving heart. Stock up on the tissues. You are going to cry.
This is what my editor put on the back on the book:
Saved from certain death in the unforgiving desert of Ramal Hamrah, Lucy Forrester is transported to a world of luxury by her rescuer, Sheikh Hanif. The tender care he offers her is more than Lucy has ever experienced in her loveless life, and she finds herself drawn to the proud Arabian Prince, despite his tortured soul. And, as he helps Lucy recover from her injuries, she wonders if she can help heal his own wounds, break down the barriers that guard his heart...”
Mmmm… Cover blurbs never truly satisfy the author, but here’s a taste of the real thing.
Ignoring Lucy’s protestations Hanif laid her on the sofa, propping her up with pillows at her back before kneeling beside her to unfasten and discard the ankle splint and its soggy lining. Then, having eased off her ruined sandals, he unwound his keffiyeh and carefully wiped the worst of the mud from her feet, her ankles, before tossing that, too, aside.
Only then did he sit back on his haunches, look at her and on the point of scolding him for ruining the cushions, she held her tongue. Without the sun at his back, she could see how gaunt and hollow-eyed he looked, as if he hadn’t slept or eaten in days.
Her fault, she knew and, without thinking, she reached out, wanting to comfort him, tell him how sorry she was, as he would have comforted her. For everything.
He caught her wrist before she could touch his face, held it in a grip of steel.
“For what seemed like a year he held her there, an inch away from him. It was not enough. Heat fried the air between them, sucked Lucy’s breath from her body, licked along her limbs, reducing to ash all the hellfire lectures she’d been read about what happened to girls who succumbed to their wanton desires.
There was no defence against the power of such feelings, no barrier made that was strong enough to withstand this yearning to be held, kissed, possessed.
She felt her mouth soften, her lips part as his hand loosened its grip on her wrist, slid down the length of her arm until his fingers reached her hair, pulled loose the pin that held it back from her face, slid his hand beneath her neck to hold her, his willing prisoner.
The moment stretched endlessly as he lowered his mouth to hers then, as he brushed his lips against hers, she felt something deep inside her dissolve, melt.
All pain was forgotten as he leaned into the kiss, deepening it as a thirsty man might drink at a well and Lucy, blown away, matched his need with a passion that was a revelation to her, a desperate need beyond her wildest imaginings and she rose to meet him, wanting to feel the heat, the strength of his body against hers.
As if he knew, felt it too, he caught her at the waist, lifting her, holding her to him as if she were the last woman on earth, while his mouth, hard, almost desperate, obliterated everything but the sensory seduction of his body; the silky sweep of his hair against her cheek, the touch of his fingers at her nape, the salty, dusty taste of his skin.
And, finally, she understood the force that drove men and women to cross continents, conquer nations, give up their lives.
So here’s the competition.
I’m not offering signed books, because I want you to rush out and buy a copy (in the UK they’re at a special offer price of £1.99) and make me look good with my publishers! What I’m going to do is put the name of everyone who leaves a comment on this post in a draw – you have until the end of August -- and the winner will have an Amazon token ($US25 or equivalent) to spend just as she likes. (What? Oh, you expected a question? Gotcha!