Marc leaned in the open doorway, his body thrumming with anticipatory tension. “Why the face? It’s your wedding night, not an execution.” He tried to keep his tone light but it was hard when temptation sat right in front of him.
Hira occupied the middle of a canopied Arabian bed that screamed decadence. Hung with rich velvet curtains in a warm gold and made up with sheets of silken white, it invited sin and seduction. The luxurious hangings whispered softly in the heavy heat of the desert breeze wafting in through the open balcony doors, full of murmurs of welcome.
It was as if Zulheil itself was urging him to indulge his hunger for his wife. To complete the invitation, her slender feet rested on pale pink rose petals, petals which echoed the delicate pink of her wedding garments.
She should’ve looked like a dream. His dream.
But instead of welcome, there was only cool distance in her eyes. The woman who’d captivated him with a single smile was subsumed under the crystal hardness of icy sophistication.
One aristocratic eyebrow rose. “What did my father promise you in the deal? Tell me and I’ll deliver.” That cultured voice with its exotic accent swept along his bloodstream, inciting him without intent. Her voice flared at the end, a stab of heat that was quickly smothered by the ice, leaving him uncertain that it had ever appeared.
He clenched the fists he’d shoved into the pockets of his tuxedo pants, a feeling of dread infiltrating the joy with which he’d begun this night. “You agreed to this marriage, princess.” What could’ve been an endearment came out as a taunt, her coldness stoking his temper. “I never wanted a wife who wasn’t happy to be mine.”
He’d starved for this moment since he’d first seen her on the balcony of her family home in Abraz, Zulheil’s biggest city. Her face had been upturned to gaze at the stars, a wistful and somehow hungry smile gracing that lovely face.
“Your father refused to let me date you,” he pointed out. “You must know how old-fashioned he is. It was marriage or nothing and you were asked your choice.” He’d been startled by Kerim Dazirah’s decree that no man was going to be allowed near his daughter without the ties of marriage, but had made his choice in an instant.
Driven by feelings he barely understood, he’d agreed to a marriage without courtship, chanced forever on the strength of one shared smiled, one instant of pure happiness. No woman had ever made him react with such impetuousness. No woman but Hira.
This book began with Hira. Those of you who have read the original English version of Desert Warrior know that Hira appeared as a minor character in that book. She was the impossibly beautiful woman and that was all.
However I was immediately intrigued by her. I wanted to know who that woman was under the mask of beauty. Was she kind or selfish, happy or sad? Was she someone I’d like as a friend or would I not like her at all? And so I began talking to Hira. What I discovered was an extraordinary woman, one who deserved a hero strong enough to take her on and love her like she deserved.
Marc…well, he just kind of walked into the book and took over. ” Cher , I know what I’m doing,” that’s what he told me.
The original cover for this book blew me away. I have a detailed jpeg which even shows the etching on the bangles circling the heroine’s hands. It’s the most evocative of my Desire covers to date, the one that says a hundred things without saying anything at all. I adore it.
Though I ended up deleting most of the CF words originally used in the book, I did in fact do considerable research on this topic. The best help I got was from a Louisiana native who happened to be a fluent speaker of ‘normal’ French, but could also speak Cajun French. The really interesting part is where we met–in Japan. He was a teacher on the same program as me and when I found out that he was from Louisiana (while I was writing Craving Beauty ), it just seemed like serendipity.
Craving Beauty hit #1 on a list in Japan, while I was resident there, which absolutely rocked my world. The in-store advertising even had my picture up beside an interview I did!
Craving Beauty also made the Waldenbooks bestseller list.
I’ve written a piece about how Zulheil came to be for the Desert Warrior page if you’d like to read it.
Craving Beauty by Nalini Singh
Silhouette Desire July 2005
Copyright © 2005 by Nalini Singh
Original cover art copyright © 2005 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
¨ and ª are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com
A Silhouette Desire release
Marc was dangerous to her in the way that only a strong, sexy male could be to a woman.
Even knowing that, she’d agreed to marry him. Hope blossomed in Hira’s heart. Perhaps she’d married a man with whom it might just be worth building a life. Her mother had worried that he was scarred, but the lines on his face did nothing to lessen his raw masculine appeal. If anything, they gave him an even more dangerous male air, enticing the feminine core of her to thoughts that shocked her.
What did a man’s face matter anyway? She had no use for handsome men.
But for a man with a heart?
For such a man…she might risk everything.