Welcome to a new #SampleSunday series. The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction goes on sale March 1st, but I wanted to offer you some sneak peeks over the next several weeks.
You'll note the Presents cover says this story is part of the Seven Sexy Sins multi-author series. I'll save myself some typing and just post this, from the Harlequin Reader Catalogue:
Yes. I got lust. And I loved writing this book! I'll introduce you to Fern and Zafir in a moment. You'll also want to be sure to scroll down to the giveaways. I should have at least one giveaway always live over the next few months. I can't wait to receive my author copies for The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction so I can set up a Goodreads Giveaway for that one. Soon, Dear Reader.
I also have some events piling up: I'm not only going to the Romantic Times conference in Dallas and the RWA conference in New York, but I'll be doing a reading here at Christina Lake's Living Arts Center February 13th and talking to my RWA chapter, the Greater Vancouver Chapter, March 28th. Oh, and I have a Facebook party coming up on February 12th.
The March event will be posted in my next newsletter along with some details on my 2015 line up of new books. If you'd like to receive it, join Dani's newsletter here. Don't forget, I always draw from my subscriber list for a signed copy of my newest print release, too. The newsletter comes out when I have a new book and this is what it looks like:
Ready to start sinning?
Here's the blurb for The Sheikh's Sinful Seduciton and the opening pages follow.
Ruled by duty…
A king among men, Sheikh Zafir cannot allow emotion or feelings to color his judgment. His carnal desires must be curbed for the sake of peace in his kingdom. But his control is tested by the feisty Fern Davenport; Zafir must have her.
Driven by desire…
Innocent Fern Davenport tries to resist the sheikh's skillful seduction—she knows that he could never marry her. But under the blistering sun an incendiary thirst awakes, and one incredible night results in a very lasting consequence.
Now this sheikh must claim his heir and his bride!
Seven Sexy Sins—The true taste of temptation!
~ * ~
ARRIVING AT THE oasis brought Fern Davenport back to life in a way she’d never experienced. The two-day camel trek through the dunes that she had anticipated with such excitement had been exactly what her employer and friend, Amineh, had warned it would be: a test of endurance.
But worth it. Exactly as promised.
After nothing but shades of blinding white and bleached yellow and dull red, the glimpse of greenery had Fern sitting taller, bringing her nose up the same way her camel did, searching for the scent of water. As they entered the farthest reach of the underground spring, where the palms were stunted and the grass sparse, she felt like a giant looking down on the tops of trees. The sun was already behind the canyon wall and blessedly cool air began to slither beneath the flapping edges of her abaya to caress her bare legs.
The tension of fearing for her survival began to ease. She wanted to release a laugh of relieved joy.
Outbursts of any kind weren’t her thing, though. She preferred to be as invisible as possible. Fern considered herself an observer of life, not so much a participant, but for the first time she experienced something like what a frisky lamb or a cocky adolescent must feel. It was a strange awareness of being alive. Her blood cells took on new energy and her pulse returned to vigorous beats. She wanted to throw off the weight of her clothes, expose her hot skin to the verdant air, kick up her heels and soak life through her pores. She wanted to be one with nature.
Awash in this state of renewal, she looked ahead to the clearing where the caravan would unload and saw him.
Just a man in a thobe and gutra. He could have been one of the camel keepers for all she knew, but a deep, feminine part of her recognized the kind of male that called to any woman. A leader. One whom other men looked to for direction and approval. Confident. A man of strength whose muscles strained the white tunic that draped his shoulders. He wore sandals and his feet were dusty, but he planted them firmly. With ownership.
She forced herself to lift her gaze to his face, barely able to withstand the impact of such handsomeness. How could a man be so beautiful yet so rugged? He was a product of the desert, she supposed, cheeks hollow and roughened by stubble, skin deeply tanned by the sun, mouth somber yet sculpted and…how did she even sense this? Sexual. A hawkish nose and brows as straight and firm as the horizon and then…
Green eyes. As startling and revitalizing as this oasis.
His sheer magnificence took her breath.
“Uncle!” the girls cried and the man’s severe expression flashed with a smile that made wistfulness bloom in Fern’s chest.
Men were such puzzling creatures to her, having mostly been passing ships in her life. She’d attended an all-girls school where even the principal was female. The library trustees, her mother’s doctor and the few teenaged boys she’d occasionally met through Miss Ivy’s club were the only males she really knew. She often found herself watching men like birders watched finches, studying their behavior and trying to make sense of them. She was always startled to discover they were quite human. The ones that were able to be tender with a child were especially fascinating to her. They made her wonder what it would be like to be close enough to truly understand one.
Not that she expected to get close to this one!
She had worked out that he was Zafir, Amineh’s brother. Amineh’s husband, Ra’id, hupped at his camel so it would drop to its knees. He dismounted and the men clasped hands and bent their heads together as they embraced with easy warmth.
Definitely not a camel keeper, Fern chided herself. Her students’ Uncle Zafir was formally known as Sheikh abu Tariq Zafir ibn Ahmad al-Rakin Iram. He was leader of Q’Amara, the country bordering Ra’id’s.
She must have sensed who he was and his stature impacted her, she reasoned. That’s why she was suffering this flare of heightened interest. The significance of arriving and meeting such an important man was turning her inside out in a way that was both familiar yet amplified. She was not only shy by nature, but also a redhead with the overactive blushing response that often came with it. She had flushed uncontrollably the first time Ra’id had spoken to her—she’d been so self-conscious under the attention of such a strong personality. A domineering, angry mother had made her sensitive to all authority figures. Anxious to please. It was completely understandable that she’d have an attack of nerves when faced with meeting another sheikh.
She’d never felt blistered from the inside like this, though. Never electrified yet stimulated. It was very disconcerting.
Other men came forward. These ones were camel keepers and camp attendants, but she was aware of only one man now. Not that he noticed her, which was a relief. And why would he? She was buried under a niqab and sunglasses, well-protected against the harsh glare of the sun and the bite of blowing sand. He was busy carrying on two separate conversations with his nieces as they occupied each of his arms.
The girls wriggled to the ground when a boy arrived, crying the name Fern had heard several times since this caravan into the desert had been proposed. “Tariq!”
Their cousin, ten years old, she’d been informed with great awe by her much younger students, wore a long tunic like his father’s and challenged the girls to race him up the path to the colorful tents being erected upstream, offering them a head start.
Ra’id helped his wife once her camel was down. Amineh threw off her niqab to hug her brother with all the affection she radiated when talking about him. They all spoke in Arabic, a beautiful language Fern wasn’t even close to mastering—
“Oh!” Fern cried as her camel pitched forward.
Remember to lean back, Amineh had cautioned her a million times, but Fern had been so caught up in watching Zafir smile at his sister she hadn’t noticed her camel was dropping to its knees. She scrambled to hang on, but was already sliding off by the time the animal hit the ground with a jarring thump.
Her dismount became the clumsiest in Arab history. She barely caught herself from crumpling into a heap. It was witnessed by everyone. So mortifying.
“Are you all right, Fern?” Amineh called. “You seemed to have the trick of it at the last stop. I should have asked Ra’id to help you.”
“I’m fine. Just distracted. It’s so pretty here,” she babbled, trying to cover up her interest in Zafir. A giant magnifying glass might as well be narrowing its beam on her, she was in such a searing, uncomfortable spotlight. She overheard Ra’id say something in Arabic that she did understand, calling her “The English teacher.”
“She is,” Amineh confirmed. “Come over and meet Fern. Oh, thank you, Nudara,” she added as her maid came forward with a canvas bag. Amineh peeled off her abaya and threw it into the bag then motioned for Fern to discard her dusty robe into it as well. “She’ll shake the sand out of them so they’re ready when the nomads arrive.”
Before taking this job, the closest Fern had come to having servants was watching the Downton Abbey collection on her laptop. All her life, her mother had been too tired from cleaning other people’s houses to do much of it at home, but she’d liked things shipshape. Fern had kept their small flat neat as a pin. In the final months, Fern had provided all-out hospice care, doing everything from bathing her mother to mounting the assistance bar next to the toilet. She still hadn’t adjusted to leaving tasks like laundry and cooking to others. It felt presumptuous, even though Nudara took no offense.
Maybe if Fern had been on Amineh’s level, making requests of servants wouldn’t have bothered her, but she was in that strange limbo between being a servant and being one of the family.
Honestly, she thought with a wry, inward sigh, when had she not been the odd duck set apart from the rest of the group?
This moment was no better. Despite only having adopted the head coverings since taking her position as English tutor to Bashira and Jumanah, Fern felt terribly bold as she removed her dark glasses, unpinned her veil and tugged away both scarf and under cap in one go. It was the hair. Her abundant corkscrews of carrot-orange made everyone in this country do a double take.
She kept her hair long because it was that or resemble a pot scrubber. It probably looked like it had been run through the food processor as it was. She’d been two days without more than a damp facecloth for a bath, but the enormous relief of cool air hitting her sweat-dampened scalp made her prickle with delight. Stripping her abaya, she revealed her sleeveless shirt with its forget-me-not print and lace collar then shook her cornflower-blue skirt from clinging to her legs, self-conscious that it only went to her shins.
“Is this too racy?” she asked Amineh in an undertone. “I didn’t know we’d be taking off our abayas in the open like this.”
“No, it’s fine here,” Amineh assured her absently as she stepped away to speak to a servant.
Fern looked to the sheikh for confirmation.
His aqua gaze was traveling over her like tropical seawater, leaving tickling trails down her limbs and making her toes curl in reaction.
Men never looked at her for longer than it took to ask the time or directions. People in general failed to notice her. She dressed conservatively and was fairly plain, didn’t wear makeup and spoke softly. Skinny, freckled ginger-haired girls were as common as milk in the village she’d grown up in near the Scottish border.
In this part of the world she stood out, though. Few of the servants back at Ra’id’s palace were white and no one was as white as she was. Not that she ran around showing off her arms and legs there. No, the wearing of coverings worked for her. She liked being invisible.
Fat chance right now, though. The sheikh seemed to see through the damp cotton adhered to her skin, cataloguing her every flaw and projecting what she sensed was disapproval. Her heart sank. She hated making missteps, hated being judged and hated it even more when not given a chance to prove herself first.
“Welcome to the oasis,” he said.
His husky baritone wafted over her like a hot breeze, spreading a ripple of disconcerting awareness through her. Similar to Amineh’s English, his accent held an intriguing mix of exotic Middle East and cool, upper-class Brit. Zafir was all man.
A widower, according to Amineh. His wife had died of cancer three years ago. It hit him hard. He doesn’t talk about her much. When he does, it’s always with great admiration, Amineh had said.
That meant she ought to be feeling sympathy toward him, Fern thought, but experienced a rush of defensive animosity. She didn’t like it. For the most part, she avoided conflict of any kind. If she was cornered, she was perfectly capable of lashing out with vicious sarcasm, but she hated being that person so she tried not to let it happen.
But he was looking at her as though he knew something about her. Like whatever assumption he reached made him cynical and dismayed.
His continued study made her hyperaware of herself. Reflexively, she started doing Miss Ivy’s bolstering exercises, reminding herself of all her good qualities. She was smart and kind, good at crafts if she had a pattern to follow…
Distantly, she realized this was a hugely protective reaction. He was a stranger and Miss Ivy always urged patience and not leaping to conclusions about what a new acquaintance might think.
But along with an irrational, panicked certainty that he had taken an instant dislike to her, she felt his rebuff in a way that was surprisingly devastating. She wasn’t a snob, not even an intellectual one, didn’t put on airs despite knowing the Dewey decimal system inside and out… Why on earth would she feel a near irresistible urge to tell him that? She wasn’t here to impress him and wouldn’t with statements like that.
But she was intimidated by the kind of man he was. So imperious. When had she ever come into the sphere of anyone like him? The natural instincts of the weak wanted someone this powerful to be on her side. She recognized that, but there was something else going on inside her, something she’d never really experienced before. She feared it might be attraction. Not a passing “oh, he’s nice-looking,” but something far more elemental. Please consider me.
That involuntary yearning was deeply confusing and beyond inappropriate.
A blush began to climb from her tight chest into her closing throat and across her face until her ears felt like they were on fire. She hated herself then. Hated her body and its over-the-top reaction. She was embarrassed by her own embarrassment and wanted to die.
~ * ~
Fern is very inexperienced. You can pre-order The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction here.
Also, please remember that Hustled To The Altar is on sale for 99c through January. ($1.15 Cdn / 99p UK)
Here are the quick links:
This one for Hustled To The Altar is live until the end of January:
If you act fast, you can also get in on my 10th Book celebration on Facebook. Just comment to be entered. Here's the link to the post: 10th Book Flash Giveaway. Closes Sunday, January 18th.
Please watch for a special cover reveal on Tule Publishing's Coming Soon Page. It will be the full line-up for the Bachelor Auction series. Mine is Book Three, The Bachelor's Baby and I cannot wait to share it with you. I really, really enjoyed telling Meg and Linc's story.
If you haven't read my first two books in this series, they're here:
Hometown Hero tells the story of Chase Goodwin, professional baseball player and school secretary, Skye Wolcott.
- Sept 22 - Sing Me Back Home by Eve Gaddy
- Sept 25 - Finding Home by Roxanne Snopek
- Sept 29 - Hometown Hero by Dani Collins
- Oct 02 - Long Way Home by Kathleen O’Brien
- Oct 06 - Home For Good by Terri Reed
You can even order it in print here: Montana Homecoming.
Or read the #SampleSunday - Hometown Hero
My second Montana Born story, Blame The Mistletoe, tells the story of Liz Flowers, California girl, housesitting for her ex-mother-in-law in Marietta. She runs into Blake Canon, once married to her ex-husband's sister.
Blake's sister Meg is the heroine for The Bachelor's Baby and I'm currently writing Liz's brother's story. Bastian rolls into town for Liz's wedding to Blake and gets it on with Skye's friend, the high school music teacher, Piper Tierney.
- Oct 13 - Blame The Mistletoe by Dani Collins
- Oct 16 - Mistletoe Wedding by Melissa McClone
- Oct 20 - Her Mistletoe Cowboy by Alissa Callen
- Nov 7 - Cowboy It's Cold Outside by Katherine Garbera
Print anthology for this one is here: Christmas in Montana.
The excerpts for this one were posted as #TeaserTuesday - Blame The Mistletoe here
And I'm always happy to send a signed bookmark. Just ask! The latest ones look like this:
I've ordered new ones for The Bachelor's Baby, but I can't show you because there's going to be a cover reveal over at the Tule site. Soon as that's up, I'll post the bookmarks here.
Want to buy some of my books? Find them here:
If you'd like to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...etc, Click here for Dani's Social Media links.
As stated, I'm working on a wedding-theme book for Montana Born. My goal is to finish by the end of January as I have a duet to write for Presents which I am so excited to get back to. It's very mysteriously labeled #SecretBS project. The BS doesn't stand for what you think. More details coming soon.
Have a great weekend.