Posted in Book Blast, contest, Giveaway, romance on September 17, 2013

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First published in 1919, E.M. Hull’s The Sheik, was the most scandalous book of it’s time. Labeled as salacious and pornographic, it was also a runaway best-seller with fifty printings by 1921, and appeared on the bestseller list for two consecutive years. Following the film release starring Rudolph Valentino, “sheik fever” took over the western world with over 125,000 people viewing The Sheik within weeks of the film’s opening. The film screened for six months in Sydney, Australia, and ran for a record forty-two weeks in France. The word “sheik,” originally a Muslim title of respect, took on a whole new connotation. Entering the slang vernacular, it came to describe irresistible, ruthless, masterful, and over-sexualized masculinity. By 1931, it had also become a brand of condoms!

Why all the hype? At the heart of this quintessential desert romance is the story of a woman’s sexual awakening. Labeled as “poisonously salacious” by the Literary Review of 1921, the greatest cause of outrage was not so much the “prurience” or “obscenity,” but that it championed the idea that women can pursue pleasure without being punished for it. The story was defamed as “pornographic literature, manufactured by female writers for the consumption of a sex-starved mass female audience, but surprisingly, given all the controversy, there is absolutely no explicit sexual content in the novel.

In my endeavor to adapt this story to 21st century sensibilities, rather than “rape-to redemption” as portrayed in the original work, my sheik employs a methodical and deliberate seduction of his captive.

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“Doucement, doucement,” he repeated in the same soothing tones he had used on his fretful horse. “It is not what you think, ma chère.”

I could not think at all. I trembled. I raged. I wept. But rational thought was far beyond me. My brain was completely numb, but my senses seemed only to sharpen. I was tense, drawn taut, every nerve thrumming on full alert, keenly aware of him—the soft tread of his feet, the rustling of his movements.

With my vision hampered, I was more acutely attuned to every scent—the smoky smell of burning lamp oil and the hints of nighttime in the Sahara, accompanied by the sweet pungency of desert flowers. Most taunting of all to my nostrils was his unique, musky bouquet—a distinctly mysterious and masculine essence hinting of ambergris, sweet incense, and tobacco that combined to simultaneously attract and repel me.

I also felt everything more intensely—the vibrations in the air at his approach even before his weight sank into the mattress. The gentle touch of his hands on my feet. The pads of his thumbs massaging the ball of one foot and then the other. A sharp scraping sensation on the arch of my foot that the moist fan of hot breath confirmed as his teeth. The smooth sweep of his fingers over my calves, followed by the light abrasion of his beard bristle. The sensation of his hot, wet tongue lapping the hollow place behind my knees.

I was no longer afraid, but drank in every sensation. My body was on fire. I could not help myself given my voluptuary nature. I had lived my entire life indulging my senses with all things beautiful—art, music, food, wine, perfumes. I had never refrained from handling anything or feeling whatever I chose. Nothing had been out of bounds to me. My wealth allowed me these singular privileges, but I had never before indulged my receptors to another’s touch. I had long ago shunned the need for such physical contact as a contemptuous feminine weakness, but he had forced my submission to it.

I told myself I was only too weary to fight him, but the truth was that his all-out sensual assault had made me a victim of my own senses—of my own suppressed nature. And now awakened, I was starving for more. I relaxed by degrees as he moved up my body. My anticipation had become impatience fired with an eagerness I fought to hide while I drank it all in—secretly reveling in the fluttery feeling of his fingertips, the moist heat of his open mouth, the scoring sensation of his teeth across my skin. I burned. I ached. A haze of helpless need settled over me, causing me to throb deep inside.

I was not ignorant of the mechanics of coitus, but I had never before experienced even an inkling of sexual desire. I had believed it nonexistent in me. But now it grew in response to him, blooming inside, making me breathless, blurring my mind of all but the ceaseless ache in my loins.

He nuzzled deeper, and a whimper emerged from my throat. “Is this your revulsion that cries out, ma chère?” I could visualize the mocking twist of his mouth. He plied that same mouth to my flesh. My body quivered. He raised his head from me. “Shall I desist all this nasty unpleasantness now?”

My skin was damp with perspiration, but my mouth was parched. When I tried to respond, a soft, strangled noise emerged. He had sworn to make me revel in that which I most despised, and once more, the power of his will had proven superior to mine. Yet I still swore to deny him the satisfaction of this knowledge. I set my teeth and stiffened my limbs, but my body betrayed me.

He chuckled lowly, a smug and self-satisfied sound. “Say it, ma chère,” he softly demanded. “Tell me you want this above all things. Tell me you want me.” I did. Desperately, but it was only the fleeting lust of the flesh that I craved—not him. Never him. “You have forced this upon me,” I hissed in a rage of frustration. “This means nothing—proves nothing.”

“As you will…I can be a patient man—when I choose to be.”


About the Author:

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.

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