03 February 2011

Excerpt Thursday: Beth Elliott

This week on Excerpt Thursday, we're welcoming Robert Hale author Beth Elliott, whose latest Regency romance, APRIL AND MAY, is set in Constantinople. Join us Sunday when Beth will be here to talk about this fascinating setting, and give away a copy. Join us then! Here's the blurb:

In Constantinople, 1804 Rose Charteris comes face to face with Tom Hawkesleigh, who broke her heart four years earlier. And now she is forced to work with him on a secret mission for the Ottoman Sultan.

The tension rises further when Kerim Pasha, the Sultan's chief and very handsome minister, falls for Rose's English beauty. A spirited heroine, two handsome suitors, danger everywhere...

Rose draped the white silk shawl over her shoulders to cover the low neckline of her flimsy tunic. She grimaced as she ran a hand over her hair, pulled back in a long, thick plait. But no, she was not going to cover her head. That would give the messenger the wrong impression and cause alarm at the embassy. Feeling weary and cross, she followed Fatma down two floors to the reception room. She padded silently over the soft rugs that were spread everywhere. The elderly maidservant led her across a wide central hallway and pushed open the double doors at the far side.

'Salon,' she said, giving Rose's bare head a disapproving look as she stood aside for her to go in first.

A tall figure Rose recognised at once was pacing back and forth in the opulent room. His hands were clasped behind his back. His face seen in profile was rigid. Sudden alarm made Rose forgot all the awkwardness of confronting Tom again.

'H-have you had bad news from Cairo?'

At the sound of her voice he whirled round and stood as if turned to stone. For a long moment he simply stared. At least it gave her time to find her composure. Her unruly heart was beating at a terrible rate. It must be due to her bitter anger at having to see him.

There were subtle changes in him from the eager young man he had been. This was a man who had faced danger many times and triumphed, a man who carved his own path through life's hazards. And the years had made him even more handsome, his face so chiseled, his hair bleached blonder by the hot Mediterranean sun. His dark eyes, always expressive, were scorching her as he looked her up and down and down and up. His face darkened.

'So they have put you in the harem!' he growled at last.

She raised her brows. 'If you are referring to my garments, our kind hostess has given us fresh clothes while our own are laundered.'

'Yes but...' he opened his hands in an impatient gesture. He glanced around and seemed to listen. His gaze came back to her. Rose understood. Of course, someone was listening to their conversation.