Gwynneth, the child of a promiscuous father, has vowed she will never become a slave to passion! But one hot night in the kingdom of Zuran has left her fevered and unsure: did she really share a night of unbridled lovemaking with a stranger from the desert?
But Gwynneth doesn't realize she shared a bed with Sheikh Tariq bin Salud — and he is determined to claim her virginity....
About the Author
After reading a serialized Mills & Boon book in a magazine, Penny Jordan quickly became an avid fan! Her goal, when writing romance fiction, is to provide readers with an enjoyment and involvement similar to that she experienced from her early reading – Penny believes in the importance of love, including the benefits and happiness it brings. She works from home, in her kitchen, surrounded by four dogs and two cats, and welcomes interruptions from her friends and family.
Read an Excerpt
GWYNNETH exhaled with exhaustion as she paid off the taxi driver and stood looking up at the building in front of her — the building that contained her father's apartment. No, not her father's apartment any more, she reminded herself bleakly, but her own. Her father was dead, and in his will he had left all his assets to her.
And his responsibilities? He might not have willed those to her, but she nonetheless felt morally obliged to make them her own. Her slender shoulders bowed slightly. The last few weeks had taken their toll on her. Her father's fatal heart attack had been shockingly unexpected. It might be true that they had never shared a traditional father and daughter relationship. How could they have? But that didn't mean she hadn't cared about him. He was — had been — her father, after all.
Yes, it was true that after her parents'divorce her father had virtually abandoned her into the unloving care of her mother and stepfather. It was true that he had been absent from her life for most of the time she had been growing up, whilst he pursued his own hedonistic lifestyle and travelled the world.And it was also true that his absence had only been punctuated by sporadic visits to the small private boarding school where she had been left and virtually brought up by its kindly elderly headmistress. But of the two of them it was her mother who had hurt her the most. When a person had wealth and power, that person could break the rules and then remake them. And her stepfather was both very wealthy and very powerful.
Unlike her father, whose main assets had been his charismatic personality and his persuasive tongue. A rueful smile curved her lips as she remembered how he had boasted to her that it was via that latter asset that he had acquired this apartment in the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Zuran.
"The block it's in is right in the middle of a new marina development. I'm telling you, Gwynneth, I could have sold it ten times — no, a hundred times over, for double what I paid for it," he had told her excitedly.
Gwynneth hadn't known very much about the desert kingdom of Zuran then — but she did now. Which was why she was here.
She shivered a little in the almost disturbingly sensual warmth of the Arabian Gulf night. It wrapped round her like silken gauze, teasing her skin with its subtle caress, cloaking the intimacy of its effect on her with its darkness, like a mystery lover whose face was hidden from her, his touch all the more erotic for being unknown. A deep shudder gripped her body as she tried to pull down the defensive inner blinds she always used to block out such sensual thoughts. She had fought all her adult female life to separate herself from the dangers of the deep, dark core of sexuality she had inherited from her father, which she tried so hard to deny and ignore.
So why, knowing that, had she reacted so emotionally to his recent claim that she was devoid of sexuality, and thus deprived of the pleasure of enjoying that sexuality? That was what she wanted, what she had chosen for herself, and so his words should have brought her pleasure instead of making her searingly conscious of what she was missing.
It was the stress of the last few weeks that was weakening those defences, somehow allowing an unfamiliar hunger and need to well up so forcefully inside her, she assured herself wearily. It was gone midnight here in Zuran, even though it was still only early evening at home.
She lifted her hand to push the slightly 'boho' tangle of long red-gold curls back off her face as she closed the sometimes too eloquent green eyes that, even at twenty-six, she could still not always control, and which could so easily betray what she was feeling. Like her dark eyelashes and her creamy skin, they were her heritage from her Irish mother, just as the delicacy of her bone structure and her supple, slender figure had come down from her paternal grandmother — at least according to her father. He had certainly once been a very handsome man. Once
The familiar pain-cum-anger-cum-anguish knotted the muscles of her stomach. Her eyes opened, shadowed by hurtful memories. As a child she had often wondered what exactly she had done to deserve parents who did not love her. As an adult she had learned to tell herself that it was their inability to love one another that was responsible for their inability to love her, the child they had accidentally produced but never wanted.
Her mother had remarried within a year of the divorce, departing for Australia with her new husband to make a new life for herself. Her father, freed from a marriage he'd claimed he had never wanted, had roamed the world drinking, gambling, and on rare occasions turning up in England to see her — invariably when he was stoned, broke or drunk, and sometimes all three. A member of the hippy generation, her father had still in middle age embraced drugs and drink and the 'free love' culture. Had done. But no longer did — no longer could. Despite his lifestyle she had still been shocked by his death. A heart attack, the hospital had informed her, his daughter and next of kin.
His daughter, but not his only child. How could a man who had abandoned one child because he hadn't wanted her have so carelessly fathered a second?
She had had no idea of what was to happen when he'd telephoned out of the blue and told her that he was in London and staying at one of its most exclusive hotels. She had gone straight from the City bank where she worked as an analyst to the hotel where, to her surprise, she had discovered he was staying in not merely a room but a suite. Then had come the discovery that he had not come to London on his own, but had brought with him his Filipina girlfriend, Teresa, and their baby son.
"Teresa looks so young," Gwynneth had protested, unable to conceal her distaste at the thought of such a young and pretty girl with a man as life-worn and jaded as her father.
"She's twenty-two," he had told her carelessly.
Four years younger than she was herself. Her expression had obviously given her away, because he had shrugged his shoulders and told her unashamedly, "You can look like that all you want. So I enjoy sex. So what's wrong with that? I never thought any kid of mine would turn out to be a sexless prude. Sex is a natural, normal, adult human appetite that should be a source of pleasure, not hang-ups. You don't know what you're missing. If I were you — " 'I don't want to know," she had answered him sharply. "And you aren't me."
She had always known the danger of her inherited sensuality — just as she had always fought to repress it. But now, without her father here to remind her of why she was so determined to flatline her own sexuality, disturbing weaknesses had begun to appear in what she had believed to be the impregnable wall of her immunity to physical desire.
She looked up at the building in front of her again, and double-checked to make sure she had the right address before exhaling in relief. She had half expected to find her father had been exaggerating when he'd boasted to her about the luxury apartment he owned in what he had described as the most exclusive apartment block in Zuran.
Now, though, she could see that the development was every bit as exclusive as he had claimed. She could see the gleaming white hulls of luxury yachts bobbing gently on the protected waters of the marina in the moonlight. In the distance, at the end of a curved breakwater, she could see what looked like an all-glass restaurant, floodlit from beneath. Immaculate gardens surrounded the apartment block, which was one of several all linked together by glass walkways and gardens to an elegant hotel, and all set on the same spit of land, with the marina on one side of it and a private beach on the other. A true millionaire's paradise. But her father had not been a millionaire. He had been a wheeler-dealer, a chancer. Sometimes making money but more often than not losing it.
She had been dubious at first when she had taken the deeds of the apartment to have them checked out, but she had been assured by the Zurani Embassy in London that they were genuine.
Unfortunately, though, as they had explained politely, for legal reasons, in order to re-register the apartment in her name she would either have to go out to Zuran itself or appoint someone within Zuran to act for her.
Since she had not been happy with the idea of handing over the documentation relating to her father's ownership of the apartment to someone else, she had decided that she would have to come out to Zuran herself.
Removing her father's pass key from her handbag, Gwynneth walked determinedly towards the entrance, half expecting to be stopped or at least challenged, but to her relief the glass doors opened as swiftly and silently as though she had commanded Open Sesame. Of course the pass key was the modern equivalent to those magical words.
A lift — also activated by the pass key — took her up to the penthouse suite floor. She had no idea how much the apartment was worth, but surely it had to be a reasonably large sum? She wanted to get it sold as quickly as she could. The pressure on her bank account was increasing every day. She earned a reasonable salary, but she had her mortgage to cover, and other outgoings. Her father's bank accounts had been virtually empty, which meant that she had had to pay for his funeral as well as his hotel bill. At least with her here in Zuran there would be more room in her small flat for Teresa and baby Anthony, whom she had felt honour-bound to do all she could to help. Her stomach churned with nausea.
One thing at a time, she reminded herself firmly. One thing at a time. She slid the pass key into the lock, and exhaled slowly in relief as the light flashed green.
Double doors opened from the hallway into a corridor. Immediately facing her was another pair of double doors.
When she opened them she found that they led into a huge living room, elegantly furnished with a mix of modern and reproduction antique furniture, including a low divan heaped with cushions and covered with richly coloured silk and damask fabrics.
Her father had told her that he had not as yet stayed in the apartment himself. He had bought it off plan, fully furnished and ready to move into, right down to the bedlinen and towels, all chosen by a top-flight interior designer. This room certainly had an immaculate 'show house' air about it — right down to the subtle scent of sandalwood. This was a room designed to embrace each one of the five senses.
Off the living room she found an immaculate galley kitchen, complete with a fridge that dispensed iced water, and a terraced balcony with table and chairs. But right now it wasn't either food or drink she craved so much as sleep.
She found the bedroom at the other end of the corridor, and pushed open the door. She came to an abrupt halt. Its decor was so sensually opulent that just looking at it made her skin prickle with sensory overload. It was decorated in a blend of creams and beiges dramatically highlighted with black, and with the lavish use of rich fabrics and gilt-framed mirrors.
She went back to the corridor and opened the remaining door. Maybe originally the room had been intended to be used as a bedroom, but right now it was furnished as a home office.
She had left her case in the hallway and she went back to get it. She frowned a little to see that the main door did not have any kind of security chain, and then shrugged mentally as she reassured herself that it was impossible to get into the building without a pass key.
It was almost one o'clock, and she had an appointment with the government agency dealing with the ownership of Zurani property by foreign nationals in the morning, she reminded herself. And she undressed and stepped into the shower of the marble en suite bathroom.
Fifteen minutes later she was in bed and fast asleep.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Overly emotional and lacking in common sense. In the beginng she feels like her fathers side of her is coming out and she's all about being sensuous, even though she doesn't want to be and is fighting her nature in a foreign muslim country. Then she wakes up in this muslim country and foreign apartment with a naked stranger in the doorway, does she scream or fight? Nope. She just starts to caress him and they have massive heavy petting before falling asleep. The next day she doesn't worry about his name just wonders if he'll want her again or if she shouldn't want him. Really? I'm extremely familiar with harlequin books and almost all romance books and this one really annoyed with her lack of ????? Everthing. The story of the hanging gardens was nice, but overall.. one star for the pathetic woman.
So good i could not put it down untill i finished the book.
Really liked this story. Alot of passion and alot of love.