Sunday, August 30, 2009


...And no I don’t ‘research’ all the sex scenes I write. Sadly!

So yesterday I talked about sheikhs, those men of the shifting sands and desert kingdoms that are so true to the alpha stereotype, but who with the guidance of a good woman, will always find love.
I think in sheikh stories the setting plays a strong part in the love stakes. I remember as a youngster (and no I’m not going to say how young) I was at the movies watching Elvis in some movie set in an Arabic palace. It was wonderful as the theatre had a glittery ceiling like stars and stone statues of lions with lights shining for their eyes. It set the scene perfectly for the movie.
So how do you create a world for a sheikh – if the story is not set in say London or New York. You have to create a world most of us have never been to, or in fact doesn’t exist. In The Sheikh’s Proposal his home is an imaginary island set off the west coast of North Africa/near the Mediterranean. I had to create a history his people – I mean they had ruled their for nearly 800 years – I got this idea from the Grimaldi family who have ruled Monaco for a similar length of time. I wanted to create a paradise, and chose flowers as a theme. That his ancestors had brought a flower/essence industry with them, and that had continued into a profitable perfume industry today.
Also, so that he wasn’t too restricted by the mores of his culture, I had it that his mother had been English and that his homeland had been inhabited at times by the Moors and the Spanish, so there was this tremendous mix of culture, and more importantly, understanding of cultures so that they lived in harmony – wouldn’t that be nice today!
One of the things the reviewer from Fallen Angels said she liked was the world I had created. It was such fun. I wanted it to be about perfume and flowers and so chose names in Arabic that represented that. I googled Arabic names and chose from there.
For example, Zuhair, the name of the island means bright, while the main city on the island, Azhar means flowers and blossoms. So you see there is a theme going on here. Tariq's daughter is Yasmin - after flowering jasmine and his dead wife Nawar's name also means flower. I hoped by doing this - at least in my mind, that it would create lots of setting and go someway to create the ‘mood for love’!
Just as a teaser I’ll post a short excerpt when the hero guides the heroine through the flower market, and how I used it as a prelude to first touch.

“Zuhair is distinctive. We live in harmony, which is something I am determined to preserve and have a natural climate for flowers. It's something we've become famous for.”
“You produce nectar for the Gods, so the travel brochures say.”
He steered her towards a trellised archway entwined with a mass of sweet scented roses. Nose twitching with the heavy fragrance, Callie reached out and trailed a finger over a velvet-soft pink petal, inhaling the delicious fragrance.
“This is the Fragrance Market. Traders for centuries have come with their produce. Our soil is rich and produces an abundance of flowers. Ancestors brought with them the artistry of perfume.”
“Frankincense and myrrh?” Callie questioned.
“Yes, though frankincense is a resin.”
With his hand cupping her elbow, he led her into the market. Basket after basket of flower heads, some dried, some fresh, lined the cobbled street. The fragrance was intoxicating, seductive with its lingering scent.
“They wanted something to remind them of where they came from and what they left behind, so brought their craft with them. Come.” His hand moved to her back, igniting a scorching heat radiating from his touch through her dress to her very sensitive skin. As he guided her along the market walk, acknowledging vendors and purchasers alike, Callie remained silent. This was Tariq's territory and she the interloper. Yet, as they made their way past innumerable stalls, the buyers haggling with the vendors for the best price for the flowers, fragrant oils and unguents, she was transported to days gone by. But it was Tariq who impressed her most, something she was uncomfortable admitting.
Although their king, he was one of them, conversing in all three of languages, listening intently to their problems, offering advice. That he cared was visibly evident.
And it disturbed her.
It distorted her preconceived opinion of Sheikh Tariq al Sulamein. Gambler. Womanizer. All the things she detested. However, his actions today didn't fit the jigsaw.

And just before I go, here’s another short excerpt. This is still using setting as a way to build sensuality. Can you imagine standing on a balcony overlooking the rippling ocean with a blanket of stars above? Definitely a wonderful place for love.

Excerpt 2

Out under a star-studded night sky they were alone, surrounded by a soft breeze scented with the lingering essence of flowering jasmine.
“Do you like art, Callie?”
“It depends,” she prevaricated.
How many times had she dreamt of facing this man, telling him what she thought of him, his kind, what she thought of his actions, yet now, when she had the opportunity, not one sensible syllable crossed her lips.
And he wants to talk art!
A soft chuckle echoed around their secluded domain. “I never thought I'd see you short for words.”
“I'm not used to idle chatter.”
“That surprises me, given it’s your job,” he said, deliberately derisive. “Your job relishes idle chit-chat.”
Callie bristled, yanked her arm from his hold, and wrapped both arms across her waist as if trying to protect herself. Anger unfurled in her chest. “My job has a purpose,” she defended.
“It does? What would that be precisely? So far, all I see is you commenting on my life, or what you perceive it to be and without the slightest knowledge.”
The hairs on the back of Callie's neck rose. “I know you. I know people like you. You give graciously, or so it seems, then suck people dry.”
“Vicious words, Callie. I'd be careful.”
“Or what?”
“Or...” His hawk-like eyes immobilized Callie and her breath became shallow, struggling for release as he held her without touching.
“Or this.” Tariq’s mouth came down hard, devouring hers with one surge of heated need. It rivaled an unforgiving and unrepentant desire of her own. For what could have been an eternity, but was only a mere few seconds, his lips lingered on hers. Then it was over. Callie stumbled backwards, stunned by what had transpired.
Oh, she knew she'd been kissed.
But what was the rest? Heat? Temptation? Lust?
Shamed by the flagrant desire coursing through her veins, Callie turned from him and wiped the back of her hand against her still burning mouth. She desperately wished she could douse the flames burning within. Eradicate the taste of him.
Blast the man!
With one kiss Sheikh Tariq al Sulamein had stormed her defenses and now the wall of stone she'd built was under threat. Callie wished with her all her heart it hadn't happened, prayed it wasn't too late to rebuild her defenses. She would need them where this man was concerned.

Happy reading
Jane Beckenham
Love, honor and romance at the turning of a page.


Lindsay Townsend said...

What a beautiful island your Zuhair is! I love the way you have built the world, with all its cultural and sensual detail. A perfect setting for romance. I really enjoyed your excerpt set in the Fragrance Market and loved what it showed about Tariq.

Your second excerpt is very powerful, yet teasing: two people who are fiercely attracted to each other.

I would love to live in a place like Zuhair - do you think you will use the island again in your romances?

Thank you so much for a thrilling weekend, Jane!

JaneB said...

That's a great question Lindsay. Yes i would like to use Zuhair again, perhaps for a cousin of the Sheikh's, or a princess. I really fancy writing a series about 3 princesses.


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Jane and Lindsay,
Jane, I love the way you used your settings and surroundings as a sensual tool. Plus the idea of perfumes and flowers brings exotic thoughts to the forefront to begin with. Great story. Best wishes for continued success.

J Hali said...

I'll give my age away but who cares, right? Rudolph Valentino comes to my mind. I think what makes Sheikhs and their stories so romantic are the exotic settings - sand, horses, lavish tents, the magical smells...and those sexy eyes peering from beneath burnooses. Ahh! I could go on, but you've done SO much better. Your excerpt about the market, its flowers and aromas, was so enticing and sensual, it pulled me into the world you created and made me want more.

Jane, thanks for another great Sheikh story to look forward to - I can't wait to get it!

What a great post.

JaneB said...

Rebecca, thanks for the lovely comments. I think (IMHO LOL) that becasue these sheikhs are particularly something we really don't know, we can go to 'town' on the creation of the setting, with the romance of the desert or island setting, or place them slap bang in the middle of there's a thought!


JaneB said...

So you get it J Hali! Great. It is all about the mood we set, the sun, the heat, the lushness. Mood and setting are just like the ocean changes its moods and we can see this from its color to the frotthing tips of the waves. So much fun to play with!


Savanna Kougar said...

Jane, you've created the fiercely romantic way of the Sheikh beautifully in your excerpts.
Yep, I remember Rudolph Valentino. Who could forget those eyes? And that lavish setting.
The idea of flower essences and a perfumery is perfect. Plus, cultures living in harmony is always my thing.
Love the explicit heat and tension of your kiss excerpt.

Being a paranormal romance author, I created a Djinn world, which is, in part, Arabic and also Mediterranean. There's just something so enticing and exotically passionate about that type of culture and lifestyle.

JaneB said...

I think I chose flowers/perfume because sometimes it is really hard to bring in the five senses into a book, and smell for me the hardest, so this way it really tested my skill and besides for a woman perfume is always sensual.


JaneB said...

Thaks to Lindsay for having me here, everyone has been so nice, and said such lovely things. Makes me glow! Writing can be such a lonely job at times and so when u meet people who offer praise, it's so lovely....and now to announce my competition winner
Rebecca Vickery - you're the lucky gal.
I'll email you directly re the download.

Many thanks to everyone

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks for being with us, Jane! Hope you can join us again sometime.

Congratulations, Rebecca!

Savanna - your story with djinns sounds fantastic - shieks and genies - what a combo!