Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Ordinary Girl and a Sheikh

It's always a pleasure to see a book getting a second outing, especially when it's in such good company - a treble treat with Barbara McMahon and Nicola Marsh

THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE was my 50th Mills and Boon romance and we had an enormous amount of fun when it was published. I left its heroine, Diana, in charge of the year-long party and to introduce the guests who dropped by to make it so special. She was convinced that the only reason most of them came was to ogle the photograph of Zahir, her sheikh and I've had to prise it out of her "treasure" box for this blog because, this September it's being reissued as a 3-in-1 By Request (there will be a eBook version, too).

Here's a taster.

A precious Venetian snow globe has been smashed and Diana takes the sheikh shopping for a replacement. He anticipated Harrods but time is short and she opts for ToysRUs:

‘The Princess and the Frog, Metcalfe?’ he asked, holding out the globe for an explanation.

He had beautiful hands. Not pampered or soft. There was an old scar running across his knuckles and although his fingers were long, thin even, it was the slenderness of tensile steel.

‘I am not familiar with this fairytale,’ he said.

‘I’m surprised you know any of them,’ she said, forcing herself to focus on the globe. It contained a scene in which a girl, wearing a small crown, and a frog were sitting on the edge of a well.

‘Disney has reached Ramal Hamrah.’

‘Has it?’ Of course it had. ‘Oh, right. Well, I suppose this must be one he decided to give a miss.’ She thought about it. ‘Actually, he was probably right. I’d stick with one of the others,’ she advised.

‘But this girl is a princess. Ameerah will like that.’

Just like the assistant, who’d faded away with no more than an envious glance in her direction, Diana recognised the imperative. He didn’t need words to issue an order. He could do it with a look from those dark eyes.

‘It’s not good,’ she warned him. ‘Cinderella is, admittedly, a bit wet, but at least she’s kind. And while Snow White is not exactly a female role model...’

‘I don’t have all day,’ he warned.

‘No, sir.’ She took the globe, gave it a little shake to start the snow storm. ‘Okay, this is how it goes. Spoilt princess drops her precious golden ball in the well. The frog offers her a deal. If she takes him home with her, lets him eat from her plate, sleep on her pillow, kisses him goodnight...’ She hesitated as, distracted by the sensuous curve of his lower lip, she lost the thread of the story.

‘He’s a talking frog?’

She shrugged. ‘It’s a fairy tale. If you want reality you’re in the wrong place.’

He acknowledged the point with the slightest movement of his head. Then, ‘Kisses him goodnight,’ he prompted,

‘Mmmm. If she promises all that,’ she said, ‘he’ll fetch her golden ball from the bottom of the well.’

‘A gentleman frog would have done it without strings attached.’

‘A girl with any gumption would have got it herself.’

‘You would have climbed down the well, Metcalfe?’

‘I wouldn’t have kissed the damn frog!’

'You disapprove?’

‘There’s no such thing as a free golden ball,’ she said.

‘No, indeed.’ He did something with his eyes and without warning, beneath the dark red uniform Diana suddenly felt very warm.

‘Anyway,’ she said, quickly, running a finger under her collar to let in some cool air. ‘She, um, agrees. Actually, she’d have promised him the moon -- she loved that ball – and the ungentlemanly frog dives into the well, gets the ball and hands it over at which point the princess shows her gratitude by legging it.’

‘Legging it?’

‘Has it away on her toes. Scarpers. Runs back to the palace without him.’

He laid one of those beautiful hands against his heart. ‘I’m shocked.’

She’d been quite wrong about the irony. He “got” it, all right. He might not be laughing on the outside, but his eyes gleamed with amusement.

‘I imagine the frog doesn’t take that lying down?’

‘As you said. The frog is no gentleman. He hops all the way to the palace, rats on the princess to the King who tells her that a princess must always keep her word.’

‘A princess shouldn’t have to be told.’

‘It might surprise you to know that holds good for common folk, too.’ Then, ‘She isn’t happy about it, but she doesn’t have much choice, so she lets him eat off her plate, but then she flounces off to bed without him.’

‘She learns her lesson hard, this princess. Does the frog quit?’

‘What do you think?’

‘I think she’s going to be sharing her pillow with the frog.’

‘Right. It takes him hours to hop all the way up the stairs, find her room, but he gets there in the end and once more reminds her of her promise. Finally, accepting that she’s beaten, the princess puts him on her pillow and even forces herself to kiss him goodnight.’

‘I can relate to this frog, but can this story have a happy ending?’

‘That rather depends on your point of view. When the princess wakes up next morning the frog has turned into a handsome prince.’

His brows rose a fraction. ‘That might take a bit of explaining.’

Diana, whose view of the scene had been fixed in childhood by a picture book image of said handsome prince, fully clothed in princely trappings, standing beside the princess’s bed as she woke, suddenly saw a very different reality and, quite stupidly, blushed.

‘Yes, well,’ she said, quickly, ‘it’s that whole wicked-witch-cursing-the-handsome-prince thing. The princess had to have her arm twisted to breaking point, but she did what was needed to break the spell. Da-da-de-da,’ she sang to the wedding march. ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’

‘You mean that now he’s not a warty frog, but her equal, she marries him?’

‘I did warn you. The girl is as shallow as an August puddle. It’s why the prince married her that beats me.’

‘Maybe the King didn’t buy the “spell” story and produced a shot-gun?’ he offered.

‘It’s a nice theory, but the fact is that in fairy stories the girl always gets the prince. It’s that love-at-first-sight, happy-ever-after thing.’

Here's what a few people said about it when it was first published.

...oodles of sizzle...Pure magic from beginning to end." 4.5 stars from Romantic Times

"Sublimely entertaining." Romance Readers at Heart

"Fielding writes characters that matter." Coffee Time Romance

"Sparkling, enchanting, feel-good and wonderfully romantic, The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride is sheer perfection!" at Cataromance

Oh, and on the subject of eBooks - did you know that you can have your Kindle editions signed? It's taking me a while to get all my books on Kindlegraph - for some reason it won't let me do the American editions - but there are a few titles I can sign for you. Just click on Kindlegraph

And if you're in the UK, I'll be BBC Radio Wales on Monday morning - Jamie and Louise - at about 11 o'clock, talking about NEW VOICES.


Becky Black said...

The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride was the first of your books I read. I remember really liking Diane a lot. I'd defniitely recommend it to people!

Marlena Cassidy said...

I would read this book just based on this excerpt! I'm going to have to go check it out!

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks, Becky!

Liz Fielding said...

Hi Marlena - thanks so much. I hope it lives up to the excerpt!

Alexandra said...

Love a sheikh story and this one sounds fabulous. I've imposed an "I-shall-not-buy-anymore-books" ban on myself as my TBR pile is humongous! I have no willpower. I shall be breaking the ban. And who is the hot guy in the photograph?

Lilian Darcy said...

What a keeper of a collection, Liz! And I love your cover for Wild Justice!