February sees the publication of my latest Harlequin Romance, The Sheikh’s Convenient Princess – and here’s the fabulous cover!
Here’s a sneak peak…
Qa’lat al Mina’a, perched high on its rocky promontory, shimmered like a mirage in the soft pink haze of the setting sun.
Far below, beyond a perfect curve of white sand, a dhow was drifting slowly along the coast under a dark red sail and for a brief moment Ruby felt as if she might have been transported back to some Arabian Nights fantasy, flying in on a magic carpet rather than a gleaming black helicopter.
The illusion was swiftly shattered as they circled to land.
The fortress might appear, at first glance, to be a picturesque ruin, a reminder of a bygone age but behind the mass of purple bougainvillaea billowing against its walls was a satellite dish, antennae — all the trappings of the communications age powered by an impressive range of solar panels facing south where the jebel fell away to the desert.
And the tower did not stand alone. Below it Ruby glimpsed courtyards, arches, gardens surrounding an extensive complex that spread down to the shore where a very twenty-first century gunmetal grey military style launch was sheltered in a harbour hewn from the rock. And they were descending to a purpose built helipad. This was not some romantically crumbling stronghold out of a fantasy; the exterior might be battered by weather and time but it contained the headquarters of a very modern man.
As they touched down, a middle-aged man in a grey robe and skullcap approached the helicopter at a crouching run. He opened the door, glanced at her with astonishment and then shouted something she couldn’t hear to the pilot.
He returned a don’t-ask-me shrug from his seat. Sensing a problem, Ruby didn’t wait but unclipped her safety belt, swung open the door and jumped down.
‘As-salaam ‘aleykum. Ismee, Ruby Dance,’ she said, raising her voice above the noise of the engine. ‘Sheikh Ibrahim is expecting me.’
She didn’t wait for a response but shouldered the neat satchel that contained everything she needed for work, nodded her thanks to the pilot and leaving the man to follow with her wheelie she crossed to steps that led down to the shelter of the courtyard below.
The air coming off the sea was soft and moist — bliss after hours cooped up in the dry air of even the most luxurious private jet — while below her were tantalising glimpses of terraces cut into the hill, each shaded by ancient walls and vine covered pergolas. There was a glint of water running through rills and at her feet, clove-scented dianthus and thyme billowed over onto the steps.
It was beautiful, exotic, unexpected. Not so far from the fantasy after all.
Behind her the pilot, keen to get home was already winding up the engine and she lifted her head to watch it take off, bracing herself against buffeting from the down force of the blades. As it wheeled away back towards the capital of Ras al Kawi leaving her cut off from the outside world she half lifted a hand as if to snatch it back.
Despite her confident assertion that she was expected it was clear that her arrival had come as a surprise but before she could respond to the agitated man who was following her down the steps a disembodied voice rang out from below, calling out something she did not understand.
Before she could move, think, the owner of the voice was at the foot of the steps, looking up at her and she forgot to breath.
Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ansari was no longer the golden prince, heir to the throne of Umm al Basr, society magazine cover favourite; a carefree young man with nothing on his mind but celebrating his sporting triumphs in some fashionable nightclub.
Disgraced, disinherited and exiled from his father’s court when his arrest for a naked romp in a London fountain had made front page news, his face was harder, the bones more defined, the natural lines cut a little deeper. And not just lines. Running through the edge of his left brow, slicing through his cheekbone before disappearing into a short-clipped beard was a thin scar — the kind left by the slash of a razor sharp knife — and dragging at the corner of his eye, his lip so that his face was not quite in balance. The effect was brutal, chilling, mesmerizing.
The Sheikh’s Convenient Princess is available for pre-order in paper or as an ebook now at Amazon!