Authors: Susan Squires
Tags: #Regency, #Erotica, #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction
Praise for the novels of Susan Squires
“All of the elements that made Squires’ previous sci-fi romantic suspense novel,
, such an eye-popping read manifest themselves here—a feverish romance, a pervasive sense of danger, and an exhilarating chase full of adrenaline-fueled encounters . . . few romantic suspense authors know how to write a chase sequence as thrillingly as Squires.”
No More Lies
“Squires’ fast-paced conspiracy novel gives readers a run for their money, and then some.”
No More Lies
“Readers of such historical titles as Claudia Dain’s
will enjoy Squires’ epic style and unforgettable characters.”
“Electrifying and sensual sci-fi romance . . . Squires’ deft plotting and full-bodied characters make this whirlwind adventure worthwhile.”
“Wow! Susan Squires gives her readers a breathless hardcore ride in her latest,
Top Pick on
is dynamite. It keeps you on the edge of your seat even while it makes you think—and it does it with great characters and a zing of sensuality. This book is a ripping good read. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Catherine Asaro, on
“Susan Squires has a fascinating, unique voice; she is a rare talent. An absolute must-read.”
—Christine Feehan on
“A taut, daring, edge-of-your-seat read,
will leave you gasping for more. Gifted new author Susan Squires blends romance and cyber-thriller in a masterful work that advances the genre as much as it entertains . . . and logs on as one of the promising new stars in 21st-century romantic fiction.”
—Susan Grant on
“[The writing of Susan Squires] is not for the faint of heart.”
“An outstanding debut novel that takes some risks and succeeds. Susan Squires gives us a gritty, complex love story that is as engrossing as it is endearing.”
The Romance Reader
“Bravo, Susan Squires! If we let this wonderful, original book fall by the wayside, we will be stuck with cookie-cutter books and will have only ourselves to blame.”
All About Romance
“A competent and well-thought-out historical novel, with just a bit of magic thrown in for delicious spice. Brava, Ms. Squires!”
Old Book Barn Gazette
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
Copyright © 2004 by Susan Squires.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
Printed in the United States of America
St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / May 2005
St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
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To my editor, Jennifer Enderlin, for taking a chance on me; to the staff of St. Martin’s Press for their hard work, especially Barbara Wild, my copy editor; and to Harry, a writer in his own right, for getting me into this in the first place and for his continuing support, my sincere gratitude
EL GOLEA, SAHARA DESERT, AUGUST
Fear drained away as he watched her from underneath his lashes. One long gold-painted nail beckoned to him. She lay draped across the chaise. The blood-red silks that hung from her shoulders were fastened only with a girdle of twined gold at her waist. Outside, the wind began to wail. Sand shushed against the walls of the tent. The scent of cinnamon and something else he could not name suffused the hot, dry air inside. In the dim light her skin glowed with perspiration and the very air vibrated with her vitality. Under the almost transparent fabric her nipples were clearly visible. He did not want to respond to her. But his swelling need surged over him
“Come,” she said. He could lose himself in those black eyes, lined with kohl
He staggered to his feet. His naked body was still damp from bathing in the muddy pool of the oasis. His shoulder bled, as well as his thigh. She would like that
She pointed to a place at her side. He dropped to his knees again. He knew what she wanted, and suddenly he wanted to give it to her more than he had ever wanted anything in his life. He lifted his mouth as she bent her head. Her breasts hung forward, tantalizing. Her lips were soft against his. He kissed her hungrily. Some part of him knew his danger, but the throbbing in his loins cycled up until he was lost
As she reached for him her eyes began to glow red, blood-red like her silks
Whispering and low moaning woke him from the nightmare. His veins and arteries carried pain to every fiber of his body. The moaning was his own. “Do it now,” someone whispered in Arabic. He cracked one eye. Light stabbed him. A cluster of men in burnooses hovered over him. The open door silhouetted them in excruciating radiance. Light gleamed on a raised sword. He was too weak, too dispirited, to resist death. He could only clench his eyes shut.
Chaos! Shouting! “What are you doing, man?” someone yelled. “Jenks! Kiley!”
He cowered away from the light, trembling.
“Let him finish it,” an Arab hissed, in English now. “This one is bad. He has the scars.”
“No one will be killed here. This soil is England!” the Englishman roared.
Boot heels clattered. He chanced opening his eyelids a crack. The light was cut by a crowd of bodies in the door. They wore uniforms.
“Escort these men from the compound.” The sword clattered to the ground. The Arabs were hustled out. The Englishman came to stand over him as the door swung mercifully shut. “Why do they bother? He’ll die soon anyway.”
“Pray to your God he does die, Excellency,” the single remaining Arab whispered. The voices were growing indistinct. “And I will pray to Allah.”
The room wavered.
, he thought.
Is that even possible for one such as I?
The Englishman reached forward. “What’s this?”
The leather pouch at his neck jerked. The thong gave way. Darkness ate at the edges of his vision. He heard the gasp as they saw the contents of the pouch.
you, my friend?”
He could not answer. The darkness was winning. The room dimmed.
“Post a guard. Make sure he’s English.” He heard it from a distance.
Elizabeth Rochewell gazed around the tiny room: whitewashed walls, a dark wood dresser carved in the native style she found clumsy and dear at once, the bed covered with her own counterpane. How many rooms in how many towns strewn across the Levant and North Africa just like this had she seen since she joined her father on his expeditions? Fifty? Blended together, they represented the only home she had known, the only place she felt comfortable.
She leaned over to draw the black lace mantilla off the bed by one corner. She had never thought to use this souvenir of Barcelona in such a manner. Indeed, she had expected none of this. The pillar that had crumbled after forty-five hundred years, give or take, tore her father from her so suddenly, so unfairly, she was stunned. It could not be an act of God, for what God could be cruel enough to kill a man at forty-eight, still a very healthy specimen?
The spotted mirror above the dresser showed eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep as she placed the mantilla. That she couldn’t help. She had not slept for more than a few minutes at a time since the awful event. She couldn’t help the face, either. She got it from her Egyptian mother. Her wide-set eyes were neither gold nor green but something in between. Her mouth was too wide for beauty, and her complexion could only be considered brown. Her dark hair was braided and coiled around her head, the only way she could manage it without crimping irons to tame its curls. Even so, escaping tendrils frothed about her face. Then there was her figure. She might be well formed enough, but she was short. There were just no two ways about it. Her father said her mother
was the most beautiful woman he had ever met and that Beth looked very like her. He must have been blinded by love. She would never be attractive to anyone in England or Africa. There she was too Egyptian; here she was too British.
At least she was useful. Beth had spent all her adult life helping her father catalog the history of mankind in the physical traces of ancient times left behind. After a disastrous experience at Crofts School for Girls, she had escaped to join her father. It was she who organized her father’s expeditions, she who translated from the ancient texts the clues that guided them on their quest for the lost sister city of Petra. She studied the aging of stones to date their finds. She had found a place at her father’s side. In Africa, people thought of her as some strange creature, not quite woman. She existed beyond conventions.
But that existence might have disappeared with her father’s death. She pulled the mantilla over her braids. She did not own a black dress, but a round-necked gray cambric gown with a single black ribbon at the throat would do. She could hardly believe she was getting ready for her father’s funeral. He may have been an unconventional parent, but he had loved her as much as she loved him. He was her best friend, her confidant, her professional mentor, and the sole support of a life she loved. What would she do without him?