Wednesday, February 02, 2011


When I was asked to write a novella for 100 Arabian Nights, to be published as part of the Mills and Boon Centenary Celebrations, I brain-stormed ideas with the best beloved, who has not only lived and worked in the Middle East, but speaks Arabic.  He is hopeless at plots, but he does know about "stuff" and it was the bb who suggested the khanjar.

It's what Alfred Hitchcock would call a "McGuffin".  A catalyst.  An object about which a story will spin.

I introduce my "McGuffin" - 

"That it was old was not in doubt. The handle had the patina of hard-use and, inset in the top was a large, smoothly polished red stone the size of a pigeon’s egg. The sheath wasn’t straight, but sharply curved and adorned with fancy silver and gold-coloured filigree work into which were set three similar, tear-shaped red stones, decreasing in size as they reached the curved point and looking for all the world as if the stone on the handle was bleeding along its length."

That it had been touched by the fabled Lawrence and controlled the fate of nation, was just an added bonus.  Hidden for three generations and found by chance, it unleashes a series of events that Violet Hamilton could never have envisaged when her foot went through a dodgy floorboard.  Here's how Sheikh Fayad received the news: -

‘I’m sorry to disturb you, Fayad,’ the Ambassador said, but the press attaché has just received a call from the news desk of the London Chronicle about a story they’re running tomorrow. It’s something I thought you might want to know about.’

Sheikh Fayad al Kuwani, grandson to the ruler of Ras al Kawi, looked up from his laptop. His cousin would not have disturbed him unless it had been something important.

‘What scandal has my father visited upon us now?’ he asked, sitting back, prepared for the worse.

‘No… No, it’s nothing like that, in sh’Allah,’ Hamad, was quick to reassure him. ‘It seems that a young woman took a spectacular khanjar for expert valuation to some television programme that was being recorded this afternoon.’

'That makes the national news in this country?’

‘There were rubies,’ he replied. ‘Very large rubies. And a story about a runaway Arabian princess and stolen jewels, which apparently makes it…’ He hesitated, then with distaste, said, ‘Sexy.’

Fayad stilled. ‘Go on.’

‘The local paper picked up the story and passed it along and having done some research the Chronicle has, inevitably, come up with the mystery of the long-lost “Blood of Tariq”. They’re running the story, using the photograph of your great-great-grandfather with Lawrence , along with the original 1917 despatch from the front line in tomorrow’s first edition.  They were hoping for a comment from the Embassy.’

Here are the back cover blurbs for all three books

Hired by her Husband

Back in her husband’s bed!
Once Sophy and George Savas were happily married . . . Then Sophy woke up and realized that her blissful marriage was a sham. She’s never looked back — until the day she learns her husband has been critically injured and her world is shaken.

Now though he’s stubborn and proud, George wants Sophy’s help. He knows she won’t come willingly, so he hires her to be his wife for as long as he needs her! But playing happy families is dangerous, and soon George realizes that his need for Sophy runs deep and strong . . .

The Proud Wife

Her husband wants her back!

Marina thought her dreams had come true when her husband placed a wedding band on her finger. But their marriage was not the fairytale she’d hoped for, and eventually Marina walked away, her heart broken.

Two years on Pietro DInzeo no longer haunts Marinas dreams. She knows the time has come to move on, and even a summons to join him in Sicily won’t deter her. However, with his wife standing before him, about to sign on the dotted line of their divorce papers, Pietro wonders why he ever let her go?

Chosen as the Sheikh’s Wife

Becoming the Tycoon's Bride After a beautiful stranger discovers his long-lost heirloom under a floorboard, Sheikh Fayad al Kuwani swoops in to protect innocent Violet Hamilton. Now, with greedy enemiesgathering, the only way he can keep her safe is to put her on his private jet, take her to his desert kingdom and … marry her!

To win this and the other books in the competition, all you have to do is answer three simple questions, which you’ll find in the excerpts on our websites. And here they are -

Anne's Question: What is George's occupation and where does he live?
Kate's Question: What has Marina received from Pietro at the opening of the story?
Liz's Question: Who was Violet's great-great-grandmother

The competition runs from 1st February – 14 February and you’ll need to send an email to each of us with our answers.

Email links on our websites -Kate Walker, Anne McAllister Liz Fielding

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