Thursday, December 01, 2016

Gifts of Love - 'The Desert King's Secret Heir' by Annie West
Hi everyone! I'm thrilled to be sharing news of my current release THE DESERT KING'S SECRET HEIR, and to muse a little on one of the themes that found its way into the story - love tokens.

I was talking with one of my children recently about how special it is when someone prepares a meal for you, not because you paid for one but because they care for you. That led to a discussion about the many ways we show love, with gifts or favours, with actions as well as words. And that led me straight back to my desert king! Hey, I'm an author - of course I spend my time thinking about my characters.

This is a reunion story about a couple who were lovers for a brief time years before but were parted in difficult circumstances. When they meet again, under the scrutiny of the world's press, Idris is now a royal sheikh. He demands Arden marry him for the sake of the son she'd had and who Idris hadn't known about. They embark on a marriage of convenience, each believing the other couldn't possibly love them. 

I don't think I'm giving away secrets if I tell you they're both wrong! Along the way the reader sees the various ways they begin to reveal their love in actions if not words.

But one of the tokens of affection that becomes a real theme in the book is flowers. Arden is a florist. On her way to Idris's royal palace, passing through streets lined with silent people paying homage to their prince and his soon-to-be-bride, she sees one person with a gift for her. It's the first evidence of affection Arden receives in her new country. Here's a snippet. Idris is on horseback while Arden and their son Dawud are behind him in a limo:

‘Highness. The car. It’s stopped.’
Instantly alert, Idris whipped around, pulling his horse to a halt.
There was no sign of a problem yet his heartbeat quickened, his body tense, ready for action as he scanned the street for signs of an ambush. Security was a necessity these days, yet in his homeland Idris had always felt his bodyguard was more to satisfy tradition than because of any threat.
But if anyone were to threaten Dawud and Arden—
The rear door of the limousine opened and she emerged, the afternoon sun turning her hair to spun rose gold. The quiet crowd seemed to still completely. The silence grew complete so that the thud of his horse’s hooves as it pranced towards the car filled the void. That and the rough pulse of blood in his ears.
What was she doing? No stop had been scheduled. Was she ill? Was his son ill?
Idris vaulted from his horse, thrusting the reins into the hand of a nearby guard, then slammed to a halt.
That’s why the cavalcade had stopped?
Arden crossed to the side of the street where the onlookers crowded in the shade of an ancient shop awning. Near the front of the packed group one single person had ignored tradition. A girl, no more than six or seven by the look of her skinny frame. She sat in a wheelchair, gripping a straggly bouquet of flowers, her eyes huge as Arden approached.
In her slim-fitting, straw-coloured suit that gleamed subtly under the fierce sun, Arden probably looked like a creature from another world to the girl.
The sight of Arden, cool and sophisticated with her high heels and her hair up, unadorned yet lovely, had stolen his breath when he’d seen her. The air had punched from his lungs as desire surged, as fresh and strong as it had been years ago. Desire and admiration and something else, some emotion that was tangled up in the fact she’d borne his child. His responsibility to protect. His.
His visceral reaction had been possessiveness. The desire to claim her, and with far more than words, had sent him into retreat. He’d taken a separate vehicle to the airport and then on the plane had immersed himself in work. Keeping his distance meant keeping control.
Arden stopped before the girl and crouched down, saying something he couldn’t make out. He strode across, his steps decisive on the ancient cobbles.
The girl whispered something, shyly smiling, and held out the flowers which, he saw now, were no more than a collection of wildflowers such as grew in the rare fertile areas near the city. One of them, yellow as the sun, looked like a dandelion.
But Arden held them carefully, as if they were the most precious bouquet.

When Idris's people see Arden's response to the bouquet word soon gets out that she loves flowers. Soon the palace is bombarded with floral gifts, but not quite in the way you would expect (you'll have to read the book to discover why). And if you want to read it, here are a couple of links to buy it:
Barnes and Noble

I love receiving flowers and I've included here a photo of one of my favorites: tulips. There's something about them that always makes me feel good.

I'd love to hear what gifts you've given or received with love - the ones that stand out to you!
Don't forget, if you want to know more about any of my books, head to my website where you can sign up for my exclusive newsletter and read excerpts, news and behind the scenes details.


dstoutholcomb said...

I love tulips, too!


Annie West said...

Hi Denise, aren't they gorgeous blooms? They always make me feel happier for some reason. I think because when I was young they seemed so exotic and special, plus the shape is rather unique from most other flowers. :)