27 April 2008

Release Party: The Scorpion & the Seducer

This week we welcome our long-time contributor Bonnie Vanak as she celebrates the release of her latest Dorchester novel, The Scorpion & the Seducer. And we're doing a little something different for the Q&A...


The Scorpion and the Seducer by Bonnie Vanak
Jasmine Tristan was no stranger to the upper crust of English society. And yet, though adopted by a viscount, she was called the "Brown Scorpion" and knew the cruel sting of isolation. When her anger won out, her mother voiced fears. Was Jasmine truly bad at her core, like her sultan father from whom they'd fled? How could she be, when with Lord Thomas Claradon she'd known a moment of pure beauty? Their kiss had been scorching as a desert sun. But like a sandstorm, it was misdirecting: Thomas's mother's disdain and his loyalty to family and duty put him forever out of reach. Only a return to her birthplace, a quest to find her roots, would bring Jasmine the answer--and it would prove that true love could triumph over ignorance, passion over prejudice.

Hi, readers! Rather than talking about my latest Egyptian historical, The Scorpion & the Seducer, I thought I'd interview Lord Thomas Claradon, the book's hero, and let him say a few words Egypt, prejudice and the love of his life.

Bonnie: Hi Thomas. I thought we could chat about some items in the book and...

Thomas: Excuse me, but before I do this, I must lodge one complaint, Bonnie. Are you aware that you left me, shall we say, SUSPENDED, during a crucial love scene while you were writing The Scorpion & the Seducer? Do you have any idea of what that does to a fellow?

Bonnie: Well, life happens when you're a writer. The dog needed to be fed and...

Thomas: Right in the middle of the love scene? You abandoned us at the height of passion for your canine? Thank you very much.

Bonnie: Cut the sarcasm. Look, you have several love scenes in the book and that was only one, and...

Thomas: A dog. She interrupted me to feed her dog.

Bonnie: Ok, sorry! Let's move on, starting with Egypt. In the last half of the book, you visit Egypt with Jasmine, the heroine. You visit the al-Hajid camp in the desert to buy Arabian horses, you sail the Nile to a few ancient ruins, and end up visiting the Theodore Davis's 1908 excavation at the Valley of Kings. All this is happening while an assassin is chasing Jasmine, and makes several attempts on her life. What was the most thrilling moment for you in Egypt?

Thomas: When I indulging my lady love's passion for the very first time and you left me SUSPENDED there, unable to proceed, because of your dog.

Bonnie: You have a one-track mind, you know? Is that all you think about--sex?

Thomas: It is when a fellow is abandoned when he's with the love of his life and he desires to bring her pleasure. I wanted to be so gentle and tender with her. It was her first time, after all, and she was slightly afraid. I had to woo away her fears and arouse her passion. It was a union of souls and spirit, very special for both of us and at that critical moment you abandoned us for your dog.

Bonnie: Moving along! Tell me what attracted you to Jasmine.

Thomas: Ever since I was a child, I secretly admired Jasmine, after she punched me in the face when I called her an ugly old mare.

Bonnie: That was in The Panther & the Pyramid.

Thomas: Yes. I admired her for her spirit, her individuality, and her courage.

Bonnie: And your father punished you severely for letting her punch you. He whipped you.

Thomas: I shall never forget that. He wanted to teach me a lesson that Egyptians like Jasmine are my inferiors and I should never let an inferior best me. But love overcomes even the harshest punishment. I’d suffer a hundred lashes to be with my beautiful Jasmine.

Bonnie: Aww, that's so romantic! Your family and your friends are snobs, you know. They're upper class aristocrats and they view Jasmine as a dark-skinned Egyptian who is "mentally and morally deficient."

Thomas, sighing: Yes, that's why my mother called her the Brown Scorpion. It was extraordinarily difficult, trying to make them see reason and beyond her skin color. It did keep us apart.

Bonnie: I did love how you yelled at your friends for mocking her after she fled the ballroom and you stood up to them. That took guts. Was that one of the biggest challenges for you in The Scorpion & the Seducer?

Thomas: It was a challenge, but far greater was trying to convince Jasmine I was not among those who discriminated against her. I tracked her down to the park to apologize for my mother's abhorrent behavior at the ball.

Bonnie: Oh, I do like that scene. That's when you tell Jasmine: "What a rare, beautiful flower you are, Jas. Such lovely skin, like rich honey. When I see you I think of exotic lands and hot desert sun, not the coldness of England."

Thomas, quietly: Because she is exactly that to me. No matter what others shall call her or mock her, I shall defend and love her to my dying breath.

Bonnie: I knew you would. That's why I set you up with Jasmine. She needed someone very special. You proved it in the desert when you saved her from the scorpions. I am curious about how you liked living in Egypt at the al-Hajid camp, when you visited to purchase their Arabians. At the camp, Jasmine discovers her true heritage and she seems to fit in. But you're very English. Did you have a problem with adjusting to living in the desert and forsaking tea every day?

Thomas: I rather like the strong Arabic coffee. Egypt fascinates me and her people have a wealth of culture and history. But I must admit, my favorite thing about Egypt was Jasmine. I rather enjoyed it when she belly danced for me. She is simply exquisite.

Bonnie: You really are in love, you know that? Ok, I have just one more questions…what? Jasmine? What are you doing here?

:::Jasmine appears. Thomas's eyes light up::::

Thomas: My love... :::They kiss passionately::::

Bonnie: Excuse me, Thomas, but hey--I am NOT done here!

Jasmine: You interrupted us during a critical moment when you were writing us, Bonnie, so it's only fair we interrupt you.

Bonnie: But, what I have one question, Thomas? Thomas?

Thomas, kissing Jasmine: Mmmmmmm.

Bonnie: Sigh. Sorry readers. Romance characters. Always, they have a mind of their own!

Bonnie Vanak's THE SCORPION AND THE SEDUCER is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, and in bookstores everywhere on April 29. Leave a comment and you'll be eligible to win a rare copy of Bonnie's first Egyptian historical, THE FALCON AND THE DOVE, signed by the author and cover model John DeSalvo. John was the cover model for Falcon. Just leave a comment or ask a question for your chance to win.