Tag Archive | Victoria Vane

AUDIO REVIEW: Treacherous Temptations by Victoria Vane, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman

Treacherous Temptations audoi
This audiobook may be purchased from Audible via Amazon

A reluctant heiress resigned to her fate…

Mary Elizabeth Edwardes possesses one of the largest fortune’s in England, but has no desire to leave her quiet country existence… and even less to acquire a husband she cannot choose for herself.

A dissolute nobleman bent on retribution…

Trapped in a duplicitous existence since scandal destroyed his fortune and family name, Lord Hadley Blanchard has spent the better part of a decade posing as a disaffected exile while spying and seducing in the service of the English Crown.

A dangerous game of seduction, and intrigue…

By employing the full measure of his seductive charm, he woos the ward of the man who destroyed his life, little knowing that winning Mary’s fortune will mean risking his own treacherous heart.

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Publisher and Release Date: Victoria Vane, January 2016

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Georgian London 1728
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars for content, 3.5 stars for narration

Review by Wendy

This enjoyable, well-written, wickedly sexy Georgian romance has a sweetly innocent heroine and a charming, dissolute rogue at its centre and – to add some extra intrigue – a malevolent, conniving stepmother.

Miss Mary Elizabeth Edwards finds herself an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game. She is a country girl, and though gently raised and very rich, she is no sophisticate and therefore ripe for manipulation. Lord Hadley Blanchard, the son of a disgraced earl, has been living a hand-to-mouth existence on the continent since his father’s suicide seven years previously. Whoring his way through life and also spying for the crown, he is decadent, charming and dependent on his step-mother, Barbara, Countess of Blanchard, for pin money in order to be able to continue his dissipated life style. She summons him back to England with a proposal that will make them both rich; he is to seduce and marry the unworldly Mary, the idea being that he and Barbara will carry on their torrid and incestuous affair while they live off Mary’s money. Hadley has grown tired of his uncertain, Tom-cat lifestyle, and wishes to cut his ties with Barbara and see his father’s name cleared, the Blanchard estates returned and his title re-instated.

Hadley’s puppet master, Sir Richard, was also the instrument of his father’s downfall and now a spymaster with his finger in many pies, he holds Hadley’s life in the palm of his hand and constantly tweaks the reins. He is also Mary’s guardian and in control of both her fortune and marriage prospects, with no intention whatsoever of allowing the disgraced earl’s son access to his ward. As well as controlling both Mary and Hadley he is also lover to the devious and depraved Barbara, Countess of Blanchard.

In this way, Victoria Vane has cleverly intertwined the main characters into a clever and plausible plot in this rather witty and risqué romp.

To begin with, Hadley’s charming exterior is artfully manufactured for the sole purpose of catching and ensnaring the innocent Mary, but soon he becomes enchanted with her innocence. His ennui and cynical attitude begin to drop away and the kind and generous young man who existed before his father’s disgrace and his own exile starts to re-emerge. Mary, although no fool, is nonetheless dazzled by the handsome and debonair nobleman.

The story takes a dark twist and suddenly Mary’s very life is in danger. Always having an eye to the main chance, her guardian has a list of influential men drawn up as possible candidates for her hand with no care for how sexually deviant or elderly they may be. All he cares about is that they will further his own political career, so Mary will go to the highest bidder.

With the developing – but secret – romance between Mary and Hadley kept under wraps, they tread a dangerous path while Hadley attempts to keep Mary safe. Certain revelations about Hadley’s past throw her into a dilemma, and she has nowhere to turn; no one to trust. Hadley has been hoist by his own petard. Now that he has found and recognised his love, and realises he wants nothing from her other than herself… but she does not believe him.

The narration by Stevie Zimmerman is really quite well done. She handles the large cast with confidence, portraying the devious and dastardly Barbara and the oily, corrupt Sir Richard particularly well. While Hadley is masquerading as a primped, powdered and pomaded Italian nobleman, she effects drawling, bored aristocratic tones, but as Hadley returns to his more honourable self, she effects a subtle change and adopts a pleasant, manly voice with just the right amount of inflection to render him more likeable. I didn’t really connect with her portrayal of Mary, however, who at times comes over as whinny and a bit pathetic, although Ms. Vane has written her as a strong, sensible character. My main complaint though, is with the production quality. There is a tinny, slightly echoey background, as if Ms. Zimmerman was recording in a tunnel and I found it quite disconcerting. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I rarely come across this problem.

On the whole, I enjoyed this audio version of Treacherous Temptations. it has a well thought out, plausible plot line and expertly captures the outrageously decadent and opulence of the Georgian era to a tee with sumptuous descriptions of the fashions, wigs, powders and patches of the times.

SPOTLIGHT ON… ONCE UPON A TRUE LOVE’S KISS

Once Upon A True Love's Kiss Final box1200x721 - Copy

USA Today Best-selling author, Julie Johnstone, joins best-selling, award-winning authors, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, and Victoria Vane in this delightful limited edition, containing eight tantalizing kiss-and-tell stories. Meet dashing, wildly charming rogues, spies, pirates, rakes and their extraordinary, intrepid heroines as they whisk you along on sweet to sizzling romantic romps in these wickedly entertaining historical romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon * ~ * ~ * B&N * ~ * ~ * iTunes * ~ * ~ * Kobo

AFTER FOREVER by JULIE JOHNSTONE

Widowed Lady Julianna Barrows never wants to fall in love again. But when the notorious former boxer Nash Overton hires her to transform him into a gentleman, Julianna quickly becomes the student, learning more about passion than she’s ever known, and more importantly, learning how to love again…

 

THE PIRATE’S DUCHESS by KATHERINE BONE

Duty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back.

Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear.

Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife has become…

 

HER SCANDALOUS WISH by COLLETTE CAMERON

A marriage offer obligated by duty . . . an acceptance compelled by desperation.

Philomena Pomfrett is resigned to spinsterhood, but to ease her dying brother’s fretting, she reluctantly agrees to attend a London Season with one purpose—to acquire a husband. Stumbling upon her hiding in a secluded garden arbor during a ball, Bradford, Viscount Kingsley doesn’t recognize his first love, yet something about the mysterious woman enthralls him, and he steals a passionate, moonlit kiss.

Caught in the act by Philomena’s brother, Bradford is issued an ultimatum—a duel or marry Philomena. He offers marriage, but even impoverished and with no other decent prospects, she rejects his half-hearted proposal until her brother collapses. Now, Philomena’s faced with marrying a man who deserted her once already.

 

MILADY AND HER SPY by JILLIAN CHANTEL

A lady, a spy, a traitor… a battle of wills.

Raised in the country after her mother’s death with only the company of three unruly brothers, Lady Augusta Covington is more proficient at fencing, riding and playing cards than being prim and proper. Myles Cuthbert, a spy in His Majesty’s service on a mission to find and expose a traitor, crosses paths with Lady Augusta when she rides to the aid of her brother, believing him to be injured. With the assignment at risk, Cuthbert agrees to accept the assistance of the troublesome lady eager for intrigue. As they move forward, his sense of obligation to her and the danger involved stir his soul.

 

KISSED BY A SCOTTISH ROUGE by SAMANTHA GRACE

His Mother Insists He Needs a Wife.

Fergus McTaggart, Aldmist Fell’s land steward, has no time for wife hunting. Any day his employer’s sisters will be arriving at the Scottish castle for a long overdue reunion. Fergus is determined to make their stay memorable, but all anyone is likely to recall are the loud rows between him and his employer’s cheeky paid companion.

She Insists He Needs a Good Knock to the Head.

Edith Gallagher has been charged with watching over her employer’s youngest sister while the family winters in Scotland, but the stubborn land steward interferes at every turn. Eventually, she and the Scot call a truce for the sisters’ sakes only to discover their passionate battles are masking hidden desires.

 

STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT by ALANNA LUCAS

Desperate times call for drastic measures as Miss Aveline Redgrave enters her third season. Fearful of fortune hunters, she attempts to stay clear of Lord Leybourne, a rogue who is not to be trusted. But his seductive smile and enticing kisses awaken a passion that threatens her common sense. No stranger to scandal, Leybourne is determined to save his family from ruin whatever the cost, even marrying an heiress he doesn’t love. But an unexpected desire and need to protect threatens his plans. Will past heartaches and a devastating wager destroy their future or will true love’s kiss triumph?

 

TEMPTED BY A ROGUE by LAUREN SMITH

Gemma never planned on falling in love with her childhood sweetheart’s best friend, Jasper, when he returns home, but she can’t resist the naval officer’s brooding charm.

Gemma plans to marry James, her childhood sweetheart. With every letter written between them while he’s been off at sea, their love has grown. Now they will be reunited with his return to England. But the man whose words she’d fallen in love with isn’t James…

Jasper, a gentleman rogue of the first order, is trapped. Talked into a scheme by his friend, he pretended to be James for eleven years while writing to Gemma. He’s promised James he’d break it off. But when he returns home, his secret will come out – and he’ll lose the one woman he can’t live without.

 

THE REDEMPTION OF JULIAN PRICE by VICTORIA VANE

She gave him a chance to bury his past… but the price would be his heart…

Burdened by the past…Orphaned at a young age and left to run wild, at eighteen Julian Price joins the fight against Napoleon in the hope of attaining honor. Devastated when his best friend, Thomas, is killed in battle, Julian returns home burdened with guilt, only to find his wastrel uncle has squandered his inheritance.

Desperate to live her own life… Facing a future of drudgery caring for her aging mother and raising her brother’s children, Henrietta Houghton believes her chance at a real life died with Thomas, the only man who ever wanted her. But Henrietta is still full of dreams. When her wealthy aunt, offers her a gift of ten thousand pounds, Henrietta finally has the chance to choose her own destiny.

Everything has a price…With a fortune at her command, Henrietta offers Julian a marriage of convenience, unaware that she really offers Julian a means of salvation—not just his fortune, but his very soul.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JULIE JOHNSTONE is a USA TODAY best-selling author of edgy Regency Romance. She feels she’s living the dream by working with her passion of creating worlds from her imagination. When not writing, she’s chasing her precocious children around, cooking, reading or exercising. Julie loves to hear from her readers. To connect with Julie or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook, or Twitter

KATHERINE BONE is an Amazon #1 best-selling Historical Romance Author passionate about history since she had the opportunity to travel to various Army bases, castles, battlegrounds, and cathedrals as an Army brat-turned-Officer’s-Wife. Now she lives in the south where she writes about Rogues, Rebels and Rakes, aka Pirates, Lords, Captains, Duty, Honor, and Country and the happily-ever-afters every alpha male and damsel deserve. To connect with Katherine or learn more about her books, visit her website, Twitter, or Facebook,

JILLIAN CHANTAL is a 2015 RONE Finalist and lives on the beautiful coast of Florida, and even though she loves her little slice of paradise, she’s an Anglophile at heart. Writing in a variety of romance genres makes her happy, but she has a particular fondness for the Georgian/Regency era as it was the age she adored as a teen and as her introduction to the world of happily-ever-afters. Living on the gulf coast also reminds Jillian, daily, that even though she loves the past, she needs the present. Air conditioning is vital for her survival. To connect with Jillian or learn more about her books, visit: Facebook, Twitter, her website,

COLLETTE CAMERON is an Amazon #1 best-selling and award-winning Historical Romance Author of more than ten Scottish and Regency Romances featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three and self-proclaimed Cadbury chocoholic, she makes her home in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. You’ll always find animals, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. To connect with Collette or learn more about her books, visit: her website Facebook, Twitter

SAMANTHA GRACE is an Amazon best-Selling, RITA-nominated Historical Romance Author who discovered the appeal of a great love story at the age of four, thanks to Disney’s “Robin Hood”. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience, and she wanted the warm fuzzies to go on forever. Now that Samantha is grown, she enjoys creating happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever. To connect with Samantha or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook,  Twitter

ALANNA LUCAS is an Amazon best-selling author and grew up in Southern California, but always dreamed of distant lands and bygone eras. From an early age she took interest in art, history, and travel, and enjoys incorporating those diversions into her writing. However, she believes that true love is the greatest source of inspiration and is always an adventure. Alanna makes her home in California where she spends her time writing historical romances, dreaming of her next travel destination, spending time with family, and staying up too late indulging in her favorite past time, reading. To connect with Alanna or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook, Twitter

LAUREN SMITH an attorney by day, is an Amazon best-selling, award winning author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat, and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being a New England Reader’s Choice Winner, Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best Award Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. To connect with Lauren or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook, Twitter

VICTORIA VANE is an Amazon #1 bestselling author of smart and sexy romance. Her works range from comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance and have received over twenty awards and nominations to include: a 2015 Red Carpet Finalist for Best Contemporary romance (SLOW HAND), 2014 RONE Winner for Best Historical Post Medieval Romance (Treacherous Temptations), and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 (The Devil DeVere series). Victoria also writes romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee. She currently resides in Palm Coast, Florida with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse. To connect with Vicki or learn more about her books, visit: her website,  Facebook, Twitter

 

Breton Wolfe (novella) by Victoria Vane

BRETON WOLFE
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She vowed to defy him to her dying breath… but passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, Adele’s only desire is to retire to the peace and solitude of a cloister—until coerced to wed a savage Norseman. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her avowed enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?

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Publisher and Release Date: Kindle Worlds, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 907-911 A.D., France
Genre: Historical romance novella
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Warning: this novella contains one rape scene.

Victoria Vane breaks out of her usual refined Georgian period romance into the untamed era of medieval Brittany in this historical romance novella, part of the World of de Wolfe Pack set and the first in Ms. Vane’s The Wolves of Brittany series.

In a primitive world where men conquer and rule the world, women either accept their often misogynistic and animalistic behavior or suffer in silence. Adele of Vannes, daughter of a duke and granddaughter to a king, is a lady to her core. She submits with grace and heart-breaking resignation to a brutal and dangerous husband who treats her with contempt.

“The men of this world may do as they please…It is the indulgence we must grant them for our provision and protection.”

Adele has already lost a brother and father to the Norse and the last thing she wants to do is marry the enemy; but she has no choice for the alternative is much worse for her people. So she makes plans to thwart Valdrik’s intentions and this causes a rift between them. Both are headstrong and devoted to their people. But both Adele and Valdrik also have honor and kind hearts.

When Valdrik shows her kindness and passion, two things completely absent in her first marriage, Adele eventually softens toward him. And Valdrik comes to see Adele’s compassion and past pain.

The best thing about Ms. Vane’s stories is the impeccable and impressive research. The reader learns about the healing properties and power of herbs in Adele’s stillroom sanctuary, the complex diplomacy in the political maneuvering of Brittany, and the customs and etiquette of medieval culture, however barbaric, sexist, and outrageous to our modern sensibilities! For example, when Adele’s husband is slain, she can be claimed by the victor; in this case, the strong and honorable warrior, Valdrik Vargr.

Some of the prose in the love scenes veers into the purple at times but overall, this does not detract from the story’s flow. The novella is action-packed from start to finish, with equal time given to both the romance and the fight for Brittany. Future stories will focus on Valdrik’s half-brothers, Bjorn the Bastard and Ivar the Red.

This is an exciting and fast-paced story, with likable protagonists and honor amid brutality.

KATHRYN LEVEQUE’S DE WOLFE PACK Kindle World!

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Hi everyone! I am dropping by today on behalf of the fifteen fabulous authors involved in launching  KATHYRN LEVEQUE’S DE WOLFE PACK SERIES, Amazon’s very first historical KINDLE WORLD. I am particularly excited because it also marks the release of BRETON WOLFE, my first historical romance in almost two years and the start of a whole new series! (Look for IVAR THE RED and THE BASTARD OF BRITTANY in 2016!)

BRETON WOLFE BY VICTORIA VANE

BRETON WOLFE

She swore to defy him to her dying breath…But passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, she is coerced to wed again in order to protect her home and her people. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her mortal enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?  

Only $1.99 on Amazon

Introduction to the De Wolfe Pack Kindle World

Kathryn Le Veque’s World of De Wolfe Pack  is an absolutely amazing multi-author series with 14 new novels all based on THE WOLFE , the book that launched a huge bestselling medieval romance series (THE WOLFE, SERPENT, WALLS OF BABYLON, SCORPION, THE LION OF THE NORTH).  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this group of tremendously talented authors all lending their skills to William and the gang. We’ve got books set in the Wild West, Scotland, dragon shape-shifters, contemporary times… so many new stories!

Enter the Medieval World of England’s greatest knight, the man known as The Wolfe of the Border. Sir William de Wolfe is a man of honor and skill, but beneath that professional exterior beats a heart of passion and tenderness. Worlds collide and revolve around William de Wolfe, his Scottish wife Jordan, and his stable of legendary knights as a great Medieval universe of pageantry and passion bleeds out into past, present, and future. What de Wolfe ancestors or descendants will establish their own great worlds within the de Wolfe realm?

BOOKS IN THE DE WOLFE PACK Kindle World

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Please join us from 8 am PST to 8 pm PST for The World of de Wolfe Pack Spotlight Event with lots of fun and prizes. It’s an all-day, drop-in event and we hope to see you there!

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Treacherous Temptations by Victoria Vane

Blurb and Excerpt: http://tinyurl.com/pro5sxn

Purchase Now from Amazon * ~ * ~ * Barnes & Noble.

A reluctant heiress resigned to her fate…Mary Elizabeth Edwardes has one of the largest fortunes in England, but has no desire to leave her quiet country existence…and even less to acquire a husband she cannot choose for herself.

A dissolute nobleman bent on retribution…Trapped in a duplicitous existence since scandal destroyed his fortune and family name, Lord Hadley Blanchard has spent the better part of a decade posing as a disaffected exile while spying and seducing in the service of the English Crown.

A dangerous game of seduction, and intrigue…When summoned from abroad by a former lover, Lord Hadley perceives an opportunity for vengeance at last. By employing the full measure of his seductive charm, he woos the ward of the man who destroyed his life, little knowing that winning Mary’s fortune will mean risking his own treacherous heart.

READ OUR 4.5 STAR REVIEW HERE.

EXCERPT

While Jenny packed up the remains of the picnic basket, she and Hadley strolled along the water’s edge, tossing leftover crumbs to the swans. Gazing at the graceful birds who barely stirred the shimmering waters, Mary felt as if she had stepped into a dream. Yet the afternoon had passed all too quickly and the thought of what awaited her upon her return—Sir Richard and further discussion of her marriage filled her with dismay. She tossed out the last of her breadcrumbs with a sigh, and found her wistful gaze lingering on Lord Hadley.

In the past couple of hours, she had begun to relax, to be herself. She no longer felt so tongue tied and shy, but she still couldn’t quite puzzle him out. It was almost as if he was two different men inhabiting one body. At times he was the most noble Conte di Caserta, a model of urbanity, but then in unguarded moments, he revealed with a suggestive word, a wicked look, or an intimate touch, a playful, teasing side, as if he forgot his noble mask.
He caught her staring and Mary swiftly averted her gaze.

“You are distressed?” he asked softly. “Why?”

“It’s nothing,” she answered.

“Your sigh betrays you, Miss Edwardes.”

“Was it really aloud?” She hadn’t realized she’d given away her thoughts.

“Sweet and sad, it was. I have failed to divert you. Perhaps I should have thought of something else.”

“It’s not that—” she turned to protest but stopped when he brushed the corner of her mouth with his thumb. Her gaze widened as he inspected it with a half-smile.

“A vestige of jam tart, I believe. But alas,” he gave a helpless shrug. “I have no napkin.” Before she realized what he was about, he brushed her lips in a feathery kiss, lingering at the corner of her mouth, where his tongue flicked out to taste her. The unexpectedness of it stunned her. “Lord Hadley! Wh-what are you doing?”

“If you have to ask, I must be losing my touch. Perhaps I should try again?”

Still too dazed to formulate a response, he took advantage to steal another kiss, this one as soft as the sigh that escaped her lungs. He increased the pressure then, slanting his heavenly mouth and lightly nibbling her lower lip. His kiss was warm and soft and wonderful, making her forget she was supposed to protest.

“You are deliciously sweet, Mary, like ripe strawberries, but now I have taken a taste of you, I only want more.”

“Please,” escaped her lips.

Was it a protest or a plea? She wasn’t sure. If the former, it was feeble even to her own ears. How easily… how eagerly… she had capitulated to him…and far worse…how desperately she wanted more.

“Please?” he repeated. “Please stop, or please kiss you again?”

“No.” She averted her head with what he surely knew was a toothless protest. His manner was far too familiar, far too intimate. She knew she shouldn’t permit him any more liberties, but good heavens!

“Come now, Mary.” He turned her bodily back to him, his warm gaze seeking hers, his honeyed voice cajoling. “It’s only a kiss, after all.”

Only a kiss?

Perhaps he had no idea how devastating a kiss could be…or mayhap he knew exactly what it did to her. “Perhaps this is normal for you, my lord, but I am an unsophisticated girl and unaccustomed to casual kisses.”

“No? Then perhaps it’s past time you became accustomed. Shall I really kiss you, sweet Molly? Truly and thoroughly?”

Was this the course of a seduction? Is this what he had planned all along? She searched his face for the answer only to lose herself in his blue eyes. Fear gripped her. Not of him, but of her weakening will. “Don’t,” she whispered.

He muted her protest with his mouth, catching her breath and replacing it with his own. This kiss was different, paradoxically soft and firm, it demanded a response that she was helpless to deny. Mary closed her eyes, responding and melting into him as he nipped, and licked, and suckled her lips. Like a vortex, he pulled her into the kiss, stealing the air from her lungs, along with any remaining will. His warm slick tongue teased, gently urging her to open. When she parted, just a fraction, he took command. He entered her mouth deeply, seeking, exploring with his smooth, wet tongue, the contact of which instantly sent a flood of warm moisture between her thighs.

Only a kiss?

It was staggering.

Her mind was lost to time and place, as if nothing existed beyond his divine mouth. He discarded her bonnet and tangled his fingers in her hair. She whimpered, clutching at his lapels, yet he refused to relent. Mercilessly, he intensified the kiss, pulling her so far in; submerging her in so much sensation that Mary thought she would drown in the pleasure of it.

RONE Award

WINNER OF THE 2014 RONE AWARD FOR BEST HISTORICAL POST-MEDIEVAL ROMANCE

TO CELEBRATE HER RONE AWARD, VICTORIA IS GIVING AWAY AN EBOOK COPY OF ANY OF HER BOOKS – SEE THE LIST HERE AND ENTER AT RAFFLECOPTER

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About the Author

Victoria1Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction have received more than twenty reviewer awards and nominations to include the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series. Her works range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Look for her hot new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in Fall of 2014.

Praise for Victoria Vane’s erotic romance:

“Erotic and sexy…absolutely marvelous.” –Library Journal on the Devil DeVere series, a Top Ebook Romance of 2012
“The Mistress of Sensuality does it again!” –Swept Away By Romance
“With Ms Vane’s trademark prose and touches of humor-this is once again a brilliant story by a gifted writer.” –Romantic Historical Lovers Reviews

AUDIO REVIEW: The Sheik Retold by Victoria Vane and E.M Hull, narrated by Dawn Hyde

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A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground… A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…When pride and passion vie for supremacy, blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…

“There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay dearly for what you have done.”

“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French have no jurisdiction over me. There is no law here above my own.”

My trepidation was growing by the minute. “Why have you done this? Why have you brought me here?”
“Why?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”

Pride and passion vie for supremacy in this fresh new telling of E.M. Hull’s romance classic.

Publisher and Release Date: Vane Publishing LLC, January 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Algiers, French Algeria 1920
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 3
Reviewer rating: 5 stars

Review by Vikki

Diana Mayo, an English heiress traveling with her much older brother, is now free to cast off the bindings of her brother’s tight control now that she’s come of age. She wants adventure and sets out with a camel caravan to experience the Sahara Desert.

Her guide leads her through the desert and toward the oasis that will serve as a resting place for the night. A band of mounted Arab men race toward them, cutting Diana off from her escort, and she watches as her guide is cut down before her eyes. Diana tries to evade capture, but when her horse is shot out from under her by the leader of the group, she realizes her wilful arrogance has led to her downfall.

Once they reach an encampment, she finds out she’s been captured by Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan and he tells her he’s bought her from her guide who had been paid by her brother to leave her for dead in the desert. At first she doesn’t believe him, but soon she realizes it is the truth. Now a captive of the powerful sheik, the struggle between them begins. Will the sheik subdue Diana, bending her to his will, or will she bring the walls around his heart crumbling down?

This is a story that needs to be savored and read one chapter at a time. Ms. Vane’s writing style is dynamic and thoroughly enchanting from the first page to the last. Her vivid description of the sheik’s tent and his traveling entourage is superior and beyond compare. While I don’t normally enjoy books about sheiks and the desert, this one engaged me, and I’m glad I accepted it for review.

Dawn Hyde does an excellent job in bringing this story to life. She differentiates well between characters by use of a variety of accents, and her performance of the Sheik himself was very good. She transitions easily between the different characters, and the secondary characters are all immediately recognisable. The emotion in her voice had me on the edge of my seat during the scenes filled with a lot of action and danger, making my heart pound and my pulse race as I felt the terror the heroine was experiencing. I could almost feel the heat from the blazing sun and the scorching, hot desert sand beneath my feet.

The Sheik Retold is a vivid re-telling of a classic given a modern twist. I recommend listening to the audio while reading the book to enrich your reading pleasure.

Jewel of the East by Victoria Vane

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Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from the war with the colonies a shambles of a man. Now free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by irrational fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.

Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, Salime fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from the man who once saved her life, Salime accepts a proposition to repay her debt to him by becoming a companion to his war-scarred friend.

Circumstance brings these two damaged souls together; but fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.

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Publisher and Review date: Vane Publishing LLC, January 2014
RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Georgian era London, England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat level: 2.5
Reviewer rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

This is the ninth novella in the consistently entertaining Georgian era Ludovic “Devil” DeVere series by Victoria Vane. It can be read as a standalone but is much more enjoyable and meaningful if you’re familiar with the previous books in the series.

I really liked Simon Singleton, known as “Sin” by his two best friends, DeVere and Ned. Emotionally and physically scarred by his horrible experiences as a prisoner of war in the Colonies, he returned to England a broken man. He can no longer concentrate enough to focus on his love of poetry writing and, once a jovial and enthusiastic ladies’ man, he finds it difficult to be touched.

The exotic and mysterious Salime is a survivor of abuse and is also physically scarred. Saved by Ludovic “Devil” DeVere when she was a young girl, she is eternally devoted to him. He had helped her begin a new life in England before and, after her latest humiliating experience in the King’s Place brothel, helps her once again while also assisting his friend to heal. He brings Simon and Salime together; she helps Sin overcome his wartime nightmares and he turns out to be the sincere and very romantic man she had always been seeking.

Though not the main love story in the series – nor my favorite, which was Diana and DeVere’s story – Simon and Salime’s love story was very tenderly portrayed, with infinite patience and perseverance on Salime’s side, remorse and forgiveness on Simon’s. Their time together in DeVere’s London townhouse was sweet and loving. I did find it a little surprising how quickly Simon seemed to overcome his aversion to touch but, in a novella, there isn’t much time to get to the happy ending. The conversations between the couple were beautifully crafted and realistically conveyed as they came to know each other.

The steadfast friendship between DeVere, Ned, and Simon shines through once again, as it has throughout the entire series with their quick and sometimes raunchy (and hilarious) repartee; Ned and DeVere never gave up on their good friend and worked to help him recover from his nightmarish experiences.

One of the best things about this book (and, indeed, the entire series) is its sense of place and time in history. There were wonderfully detailed descriptions of fashions and of the King’s Place brothel. As always, Ms Vane provides references for her works that are just as interesting and fun to read as the stories themselves, something this librarian just loves.

I cannot say enough good things about this series. It has everything: friendship, sexy romance, emotion, laugh out loud humor, fascinating history, excitement and adventure. The language and writing are lively, spirited, and poignant. It’s also unique that all the books in the series are novellas so they are quick and delightful reads guaranteed to make you smile.

Jewel of the East is another winning installment in a great series. I am very happy to hear that Victoria Vane has promised that there are even more stories to come.

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Jewel of the East by Victoria Vane

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(Jewel of the East is book #5 in the award-winning Devil DeVere Series but may be read as a standalone)

Maimed by misfortune… healed by love…

His wounds run deep…Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from war a shambles of a man. Although free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.

Her scars are well-hidden…Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, she fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from one who once saved her life, she accepts a proposition to become a companion to his war-scarred friend.

But love is the eternal cure…When circumstance brings these two damaged souls together, fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.

 

Excerpt (in which the stage is set)

         Medford Abbey, Kent- 1785 

A sharp rap soon sounded on the door. Ludovic, Viscount DeVere glanced up from his periodical to the entrance of a liveried footman. “A message for you, my lord.”

The servant offered the wax-sealed missive on a silver salver. “It was delivered by a most…unusual…courier.” The footman gave a sniff of disdain.

“Indeed? What do you mean?” Ludovic asked in a bored drawl.

“‘Tis a behemoth blackamoor, my lord.”

“Mustafa?” Ludovic threw down his periodical and snatched up the missive. “What the devil?”

“He awaits in the kitchen. Insufferable rude creature he be. Just stands all akimbo. Refuses to speak or to depart without an answer from your lordship.”

“The man cannot speak. He has no tongue. They took it when they castrated the poor devil.”

The footman’s eyes bulged. He involuntarily crossed his legs. Ludovic broke the seal and scanned the contents with a deepening frown.

Most honored Efendi,

It is with the greatest humility that I appeal to he who once safeguarded my life. It is with exceeding distress that I must entreat you once more, being much in need of a friend and protector.

Your most devoted and obedient servant,

Salime

Ludovic read the cryptic note once more. Salime in want of a protector? What a sticky situation that created. At first he wondered why she’d appealed to him, but then again, there were few people she trusted. Given their shared history, he would never deny her aid. Moreover, Salime had been instrumental in helping him to achieve his present state of connubial bliss. For that alone he owed her his undying gratitude.

“Tell him I shall be in touch with his mistress shortly…and that she should notify me at once should her circumstances become any more…distressed.”

“Aye, my lord.” The much-chagrinned footman departed.

Ludovic glowered after the departing servant. Salime had never been in want since coming to London. He wondered what could be behind her request, but then abandoned both letter and the dilemma the moment another surprise came bursting into his library. “Ned?” Ludovic leaped up to greet his best friend. “What the devil has brought you all the way from Yorkshire to Kent?”

“I have most portentous news, DeVere,” Ned sputtered with excitement. “News I could hardly relay by messenger. So I came down myself.”

“What kind of news? Out with it, Chambers,” Ludovic commanded.

“Mayhap you should pour us a drink first.”

Ludovic lifted a sardonic brow. “A drink? Not so urgent after all?”

“‘Tis fortification you’ll need for the shock you’re about to receive.”

“Shock? Me? You know I am not easily shocked, Ned.” Ludovic paused with his hand on the brandy decanter and a slight frown marring his face. “Come to think of it, I’m damned if I can recall a single occasion that has wrought from me such a profound reaction as shock.”

Ned flung himself into Ludovic’s favorite chair. “There’s a first for everything, DeVere. Now that drink?”

Ludovic sloshed amber liquid into two glasses, handing one to the would-be herald, who downed it in one draught. Ludovic quirked a brow.

“It was a devilish long ride,” Ned explained.

“All to deliver this shocking report of yours?” Ludovic perched a hip on the corner of his mahogany desk.

“Yes! It’s Lazarus all over again!”

“Lazarus? Am I to surmise that someone has been miraculously raised from the dead?”

“Actually, he might as well have been,” Ned declared. “I can hardly countenance it after all this time.”

“You are trying my patience, Ned.”

“It’s Simon. He’s returned.”

“Good God!” The glass slipped from his hand to shatter at Ludovic’s feet. “You can’t mean Sin is alive after all this time? He was pronounced killed in action six years ago.”

“I mean exactly that!” Ned exclaimed. “He is indeed alive and may even be in London as we speak. I have the news straight from Baron Singleton. His ship was expected to arrive several days ago.”

“Why am I only hearing of this now? I see the bloody Singleton regularly at Parliament.”

“Probably because the good baron doesn’t like you, DeVere. He believes you were an abominable influence on his son.”

“Then he would be right.” Ludovic smirked and then stared at the shattered glass at his feet.

“Looking a bit white there, my friend. This is known as shock.”

“Admittedly, I am incredulous. How can this be? Where the devil has he been?”

“Interned as a prisoner of war for the greater part of six years.”

Six years? In all that time there were no exchanges?”

“Very few. The colonials refused to give up ours when they claimed their men were only released on the point of starvation and death. I daresay ’tis no exaggeration. I’ve seen a number of reports on the deplorably inhumane conditions of our prison hulks. Indeed it’s said that the colonial prisoners set fire to the Whitby, choosing to go down in flames, rather than die of starvation and disease.” Ned shook his head. “What a hellish business war is.”

“But if Sin was a prisoner, he should have been released nigh on a year ago when the treaty was signed.”

“Apparently he was too ill to travel. Only made it as far as Bermuda before he was struck with the bloody flux or some such and required months of convalescence…poor sod.”

“We must go to him, Ned. At once.”

“He’ll not be the same man,” Ned voiced what they were both thinking.

“No,” Ludovic shook his head. “Likely never again.”

TO WIN A COPY OF A DEVIL NAMED DEVERE ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY AT RAFFLECOPTER

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 The Devil DeVere Series by Victoria Vane

Library Journal Best E-book romance 2012

Review links

A Wild Night’s Bride

The Virgin Huntress

The Devil You Know

The Devil’s Match

A Devil’s Touch

Devil in the Making

The Trouble with Sin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria1

Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her biggest writing influences are Georgette Heyer, Robin Schone, and Sylvia Day. Victoria is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for her sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in 2014.

 CONTACT:

victoria.vane@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.victoriavane.com
Blog: http://victoriavane.wordpress.com
Twitter: @authorvictoriav

The Evolution of a Bodice-Ripper

A Guest Blog by Victoria Vane

Labeled as “poisonously salacious” by the Literary Review of 1921, E.M. Hull’s The Sheik, was one of the most scandalous books of it’s time. It was also a runaway best-seller with fifty printings, and later sky-rocketed silent film star Rudolph Valentino to superstardom. In the 1920’s even the word “sheik,” originally a Muslim title of respect, entered the slang vernacular to describe irresistible, ruthless, masterful, and over-sexualized masculinity.

Although defamed by many critics as “pornographic literature, there is absolutely no explicit sexual content in E.M. Hull’s The Sheik. The greatest cause of outrage over the work was not so much the “prurience” or “obscenity” of the story, but the suggestion that a woman could pursue sexual pleasure without being punished for it. On the contrary, this quintessential desert romance portrays a woman’s sexual awakening. Because a woman in 1919 could never confess to actually desiring or enjoying sex, the author employs the “forced seduction scenario.” Later imitated by a number of romance novelists of the 1970’s and 1980’s, this trope involves the heroine’s submission to rape, and inevitably ends in her falling in love with her brutal ravisher.

Excerpt from E.M. Hull’s The Sheik (1919)

Terror, agonising, soul-shaking terror such as she had never imagined, took hold of her. The flaming light of desire burning in his eyes turned her sick and faint. Her body throbbed with the consciousness of a knowledge that appalled her. She understood his purpose with a horror that made each separate nerve in her system shrink against the understanding that had come to her under the consuming fire of his ardent gaze, and in the fierce embrace that was drawing her shaking limbs closer and closer against the man’s own pulsating body. She writhed in his arms as he crushed her to him in a sudden access of possessive passion. His head bent slowly down to her, his eyes burned deeper, and, held immovable, she endured the first kiss she had ever received. And the touch of his scorching lips, the clasp of his arms, the close union with his warm, strong body robbed her of all strength, of all power of resistance…

It was not true! It was not true! It could not be—this awful thing that had happened to her—not to her, Diana Mayo! It was a dream, a ghastly dream that would pass and free her from this agony…   Her courage, that had faced dangers and even death without flinching, broke down before the horror that awaited her. It was inevitable; there was no help to be expected, no mercy to be hoped for. She had felt the crushing strength against which she was helpless. She would struggle, but it would be useless; she would fight, but it would make no difference…

The certainty of the accomplishment of what she dreaded crushed her with its surety. All power of action was gone. She could only wait and suffer in the complete moral collapse that overwhelmed her, and that was rendered greater by her peculiar temperament. Her body was aching with the grip of his powerful arms, her mouth was bruised with his savage kisses. She clenched her hands in anguish. “Oh, God!” she sobbed, with scalding tears that scorched her cheeks. “Curse him! Curse him!” (End Excerpt)

Thankfully, times have changed in the ninety-four years since The Sheik took over the Western world like a Sahara sand storm.

In my endeavor to adapt this story to 21st century sensibilities, rather than “rape-to redemption” as portrayed in the original work, my sheik is no brutal ravisher. Although Diana is indeed his captive, he employs an entirely different approach to get what he wants —a methodical, deliberate, and utterly delicious seduction. 

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Excerpt from The Sheik Retold

“I will let you go when I have tired of you,” he answered in a bored drawl.

His gaze then slid from my eyes to my mouth and then to my breasts, bound by the Symington Side Lacer that I wore to achieve a fashionably girlish bosom. “What is this?” he asked with a look of disgust, followed by a clean slice of the jambiya through the laces. “Do you abhor your womanhood so very much?”

His question rang a peal in my brain. It was true. I despised being a woman to the depths of my being. “Yes!” I cried. “And never more than in this very moment!”

With my arms pinned behind my back, I could do nothing but endure his lazy inspection of my nakedness. He replaced the dagger and jerked my blouse from my shoulders, releasing my wrists long enough to remove it completely. Although my hands were free, I tamped down the instinct to cover myself. Instead, I met him stare for stare.

He raised a hand to my face, brushing the strong fingers down my cheek, but I still refused to look away. His caress continued, a lazy finger down my throat, his thumb circling the indentation between my collarbones, the backs of his fingers descending to the valley between my breasts. He grazed his long, strong fingers underneath and then along the outsides of my breasts, inciting from me an involuntary shiver. A smug smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. His gentle touch was a new torture—invoking equal parts revulsion…and pleasure.

I knew that escape was no option and resolved to endure his touch with stony stoicism. He might take his pleasure from me, but I would offer nothing in return. I rationalized that if I would be as cold and lifeless as a corpse, he would quickly become tired of me and either kill me or let me go. I would rather the latter, but in that moment, even death seemed preferable to my enslavement as his mistress.

“Take off the boots and breeches,” he commanded.

Only hours ago I would have balked, but now I woodenly obeyed him. He watched with a half-smile as I sat on the edge of the bed struggling with the boots.

“So I am to be relegated to valet after all.” The sheik knelt and gave one solid yank on the heel, freeing one foot from the tight leather, and then the other. He then stood me up and unbuttoned my breeches, peeling them slowly over my hips, nuzzling my belly with his lightly bristled face as he worked down the length of my legs. “So soft…so white,” he murmured hotly against my skin.

Beneath the breeches, I wore French knickers. It was a secret indulgence of mine. They were surprisingly comfortable, and I liked the feeling of the silk against my bare skin. He slid his hands up my thighs and reached his fingers easily beneath the silk. I suppressed a shiver at his touch. Willing myself to remain steady and stiff, I said nothing, but his words had both appalled and excited me. He skirted both hands up the backs of my thighs, and under the knickers to graze over my bottom, while he gripped the waistband of my knickers…with his teeth.

I was breathless. Nothing about this was what I had expected. It was hardly the brutal ravishment I had prepared myself for. His actions were inexplicable and bewildering, making me feel like a helpless mouse under the paw of a great lion who wished to play with it.

“Please!” I cried. “Will you stop toying with me and just get the business over with!”

He laughed and ran his tongue across my belly. “But that is not my wish, ma chère. No indeed. It is my desire to make you bask in what you most despise. You wished to be a boy, but I intend to teach you the untold delights of being a woman.”

(End Excerpt)

***

This title is available in both print and E-book  for Kindle and NOOK.
 
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ABOUT VICTORIA VANE:

Rakes and Sheiks and Cowboys… Oh My!Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist, cowboy addict and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for Victoria’s sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in summer 2014.

Website: http://www.victoriavane.com

Blog: http://victoriavane.wordpress.com

Facebook: Author Victoria Vane

Twitter: @authorvictoriav

The Sheik Retold – Victoria Vane & E.M. Hull

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THE DESERT WAS NEVER HOTTER!

Pride and passion vie for supremacy between a haughty young heiress and a savage son of the Sahara in this steamy retelling of E.M. Hull’s romance classic.

A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground… A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…

“There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay dearly for what you have done.”

“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French have no jurisdiction over me. There is no law here above my own.”

My trepidation was growing by the minute. “Why have you done this? Why have you brought me here?”

“Why?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”

When pride and passion vie for supremacy, blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…

Publisher and Release Date: Vane Publishing, September 2013
RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1920s French Algiers and the Sahara
Heat Level: 3
Genre: Historical Romance/Desert Fantasy
Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars

Review by Maggi

I’m a fan of Victoria Vane’s stories because they bring something different to the romance genre. The Sheik Retold is no exception. This desert fantasy is set in French Algiers in 1920, where men are rugged alpha males and women adore and obey them. This story scooped me up and transplanted me into the sweeping desert sands of the Sahara, where the perfumed breeze is uplifting and the tents have enough modern conveniences for supreme comfort: opulent decor, valuable artifacts, silk curtains and carpets, exotic food, deep low Turkish divans and rich coffee. And of course, the Sheik himself.

E.M. Hull wrote The Sheik, a haunting desert romance in 1919. The book caused women to swoon in droves. A movie was then made which launched actor Rudolph Valentino’s career as a great romantic hero. Some women committed suicide when he passed away.

Victoria Vane has modernized and vastly improved on Hull’s book. She builds on the characters, showing more of their thoughts and feelings, and takes readers through the veiled curtain into the bedroom where we begin to understand what drives Ahmed Ben Hassan. We witness the pride and the fierce passion: Ahmed’s struggle to control Diana, and Diana’s refusal to be bowed. Her fight for freedom drives them on to ever more danger, until I thought that death could be the only release from so complex a relationship. Fortunately, this is a romance.

The golden-haired heroine, Diana Mayo, is a restless globetrotter. Traveling with her massive steamer trunks, she sees the world as her playground. She appears at first to be rather unlikeable. She is spoilt, heartless and wilful, believing no one would dare cross her and at times stubborn to the point of childishness. She has recently come into her inheritance, a vast fortune, and is finally her own woman. Her stepbrother Aubrey can no longer tell her what to do. With a disciplined body, she prefers to dress in jodhpurs and boots and is a fearless rider. She intends to enjoy the same freedoms a man enjoys and never to marry. The French authorities warn her not to travel into the desert with just a guide and a few of his men, but she ignores them. As she comes to note, her stubborn pride and wilful arrogance become her downfall.

No man has ever stirred Diana’s heart. In her opinion, she has no heart. Her redeeming feature at this point, is her honesty; with herself and with others. She is not pretentious, and when we learn of her past life with Aubrey, it does in some way help us understand why she is the way she is. Beyond her acceptance of her beauty, she exhibits little interest in her appearance.

The handsome sheik, Ahmed Ben Hassan, is a law unto himself…the French have no jurisdiction over him. He answers to no one. He is a ruthless, but fair ruler of his people and they are fiercely loyal. There are harsh rules in this world, which must be obeyed. Death is never far away.

When Ahmed sees Diana, he decides to take her to his bed.

“I wanted you from the moment I saw you, my golden one…And now,” the backs of his long brown fingers brushed my hair, “you are mine.”

She will remain with him until he tires of her. If she tries to escape there will be violent repercussions. Do we hate him for his belief that as a brutal ruler of his world, he can take whomever he wants? He proves too fascinating to hate. But he is a man you do not cross:

His expression grew grim. His eyes shone cold, hard, and black as onyx. He came close behind me, placing his hands on my shoulders and then slowly slid them up to rest around my neck, where his thumbs caressed my pulse. His voice was low and soft. “Were you a man, I would slice your throat for such calumny. Do not ever disparage my character again.”

Diana discovers he is capable of exquisite gentleness, while he refuses to love any woman. He is an angry and complex man with a sad past. As we get to know him and understand him as Diana does, there are quite a few surprises.

And more than a few surprises for Ahmed too, for Diana grows and changes and proves to be his equal: clever, resourceful and brave, refusing to cower and become subservient, while he awakens her to passion with his skilled lovemaking. And she discovers she does indeed have a heart.

Ms. Vane has done a wonderful job of turning Hull’s novel, The Sheik (which could be viewed in a modern world as a violent and rather distasteful story), into a stirring love story.

I enjoyed The Sheik Retold very much.