Jan 25, 2015

Sunday Smooch - The Sultan's Harem Bride

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Annie West but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Tammy Yenalavitch.

Can you please contact any(at)amyandrews(dot)com to receive your copy of 'The Hero'.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Annie West's THE SULTAN'S HAREM BRIDE.

WANTED: Desert princess to join harem 

Sultan Asim of Jazeer has hundreds of women at his beck and call. So why does he want the only one who threatens to reveal his family’s shameful secrets?

Journalist Jacqui Fletcher jumped at the chance to write a history of the harem—not to become a sultan’s plaything! But it’s hard to remember her assignment when the sultan’s sensuous caresses spark a fire she’s never experienced before…

Asim is looking for a pliable princess for a marriage of duty. Brave, beautiful Jacqui couldn’t be more wrong for him. So why does holding her feel so right?

UK Cover

North American Cover
Scene set-up

Ex-journalist Jacqui is living in Asim's royal palace, researching a book on the lives of women who once lived in the royal harem. Distrustful of journalists given the way they've treated his family and the current scandal surrounding his sister, Asim viewed her arrival with mistrust. But circumstances are such that he's had to accept her presence. He's been careful to keep a close eye on her. The trouble is he's begun to be far to attracted to this outsider. She's argumentative, stubborn and not at all like the charming, quiet, well-bred women he's interviewing as a possible bride. Now he's found her swimming half naked in his private courtyard. For weeks they've kept a careful distance, but now he's made the mistake of hauling her out of the pool, holding her close, insisting she call him by name, and his resolve falters.


His gaze fixed on her lips, pink and inviting.

‘Asim,’ she said finally in a throaty murmur that sounded more like invitation than capitulation and made his blood rush hot and hard.

‘That’s better.’ His voice was a low growl and he heard her gasp.

He wanted to hear her gasp like that while she lay beneath him and he took them both to Paradise.

Jacqueline Fletcher invaded his peace. Every day she visited his office to report progress. She was businesslike and brisk but those stunning slanted eyes would flare amber fire when something fascinated her. Then she’d forget her formality and her whole being would come alive with an enthusiasm Asim wanted to capture and taste.

Each day it grew harder to concentrate on her words or remember the need to be suspicious. He wanted to strip away her shapeless trousers and loose shirts and touch the pearly skin he remembered. His body tightened as he imagined her writhing in pleasure against him.   
Except he was in the process of selecting a bride. He had no time for sexual diversions. Besides, honour dictated he shouldn’t seek a mistress and a wife at the same time.

His brain said that. His body refused to listen. It told him a few hours diversion was exactly what he needed.

Her teeth snagged on her bottom lip and he lifted one hand, pressing his thumb there, feeling her swift intake of breath.

‘Don’t. You’ll draw blood.’

‘Then let me go. I don’t want this.’


Asim was tempted to demonstrate how much she wanted precisely this. It would be easy to kiss her till she surrendered. He’d carry her to a bed and relieve them both of the pressure that had built inexorably since the night he found her naked in the harem.

‘Please, Asim.’

Whether it was the fact she pleaded, this prickly, opinionated woman, or the way she said his name, in a voice barely concealing distress, Asim felt a fist lodge in his chest. Reluctantly he opened his hands and stepped back.

She looked up, those feline eyes gleaming with a slumberous heat that made a mockery of her protest and his caution. Then he read the tension in her mouth. She’d paled, the tiny smattering of freckles across her creamy skin standing out like blood on parchment.

‘I’m sorry I intruded.’ She ducked her head and spun away. ‘I should have realised you might want the pool.’

The fist in his chest twisted.


Alarmed, she stared back over her shoulder.

‘Don’t apologise.’ He breathed deep, filling the void in his lungs. ‘I don’t like it when you’re…meek.’ The words surprised him as much as her. He felt the shock of that admission reverberate through him, even as he saw it ripple across her face.
He didn’t approve of the way she argued with him, refusing to be silenced after he’d made a decision. It happened daily when she tried to wheedle access to records or palace staff or ancient pavilions that had been locked up as unsafe generations ago. Yet seeing her hesitant and downcast was like watching a bright light dim.

For long seconds their eyes locked. Long enough for him to notice that in the syrupy late afternoon light her eyes flashed with shards of old gold.

Slowly her mouth eased into a crooked smile.

‘In that case, Asim,’ she paused over his name as if savouring it, ‘I promise not to be meek with you again.’

She scooped up her towel and wrapped it around herself, hurrying towards her room. But her chin was up and her shoulders back and, despite his body's howl of protest at her departure, Asim found himself smiling.

I spent my time writing this book, immersed (mentally) in a glorious old palace full of courtyard gardens, pools, colonnaded walkways, mosaic walls and secret rooms. There was a treasury full of precious things, royal archives, enormous kitchens so the chefs could produce enticing tidbits and amazing banquets and of course, wonderful private apartments with wide, canopied beds and sunken baths.

What do you think would be the best part about living in a royal palace?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Louisa George will be posted.

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver


  1. No laundry, only cook when I want to, no dusting/vacuuming, no painting/papering. Basically no upkeep. I could live with that!

    1. Hi Laney, wouldn't it be utterly fabulous not to have to do housekeeping or maintenance where you live? Definitely works for me.

  2. Hi Annie

    I loved this book it is so good :)

    I have to agree with you about the reasons for living in a palace getting waited on have the chance for privacy so may places to explore and think in peace :) it would be a dream

    Have Fun

    1. Hi Helen, I'm smiling here. I'm so pleased you had fun with Asim and Jacqui!

      Asim's palace definitely has places to explore and think in peace - it's ancient and sprawling but has a modern wing for up to date luxury.

  3. Glorious smooch, Annie! I can't wait to read Asim and Jacqui's story. :-)

    I'm with Laney and Helen on the being waited on -- how nice would that be? And how much fun would it be to explore a gloriously sprawling palace? I'm thinking walled gardens and ancient fountains and beautiful mosaics...with lots of shady hidden corners for stolen kisses. ;-)

  4. Fab Smooch, Annie! I adored Asim and Jacqui - especially Jacqui. She's an appealing mixture on so many levels and it was lovely to see her win the love of Asim. (happy sigh)

    Mmmm, I think I'm with everyone else - not having to worry about the endless round of housework - what bliss! And with the added bonus of all those gorgeous rooms and gardens to explore. I'm sure there are some stumbling blocks in there somewhere but why worry about that when I'm enjoying a tiny bit of escapism on a Sunday morning!

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  6. The best part would probably be not having to do the things you currently do every day. But if that's something you're used to, I would think not having to do it would get old awfully fast. After a while I would think you would start to get bored and then wish you could go back and do the stuff that you took for granted in the first place.

  7. Not having to do housework chores. I could get used to someone taking care of all of my needs. And more time to read!

  8. Ann, congratulations on the release of the Sultan's Harem Bride. I really think it's one of your best - I just love that breathtakingly romantic relationship between Jacqui and Asim. And he's a va-va-voom hero! Love the almost- smooch! I think there would be lots of nice things about living in a palace, not least the chance to live closely with priceless works of art.

  9. I would not be cooking or cleaning - at all. It never ends around here.

  10. Wow, great smooch, Annie!

    Ah, living in a palace. How wonderful would that be. Wonderful to never, ever have to cook again!

  11. Wonderful smooch, Annie!! As always :)

    I agree the lack of housework would be a definite benefit. I think being surrounded by all that history and beauty would be very inspiring too, perfect place for an author.

  12. Definitely someone to do the housework for me. Love the smooch, Annie.