20 July 2013

Guest Blog: Marie Laval

This week, we're welcoming author Marie Laval, whose novel THE LION'S EMBRACE is set in North Africa. The author will offer a free copy of the book to a lucky blog visitor; please, leave your email address along with a comment. Here's the blurb:

Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb? Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive? Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.

Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace?

**Q&A with Marie Laval**

Your second historical romance, The Lion's Embrace, is set in North-Africa. Why did you choose this setting?

I was always fascinated by Algeria and the Sahara desert. My French-Italian mother was born and brought up near Algiers. Although she left when Algeria became independent in the 1960s, she told us so many stories about the place and showed us so many photos that my sisters and I grew up dreaming of going there one day.

I was always particularly attracted to the Sahara desert and the Hoggar mountains in the far South, which are not only breathtakingly beautiful, but have a rich history too. The Sahara wasn’t always a desert, as testify the thousands of rock art paintings and engravings that can be found there.

Did you do a lot of research for the novel?

I did, and I loved every minute of it! I was very lucky to find a 'Guide Bleu' travel guide of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco dating from 1923. Although my novel takes place in 1845, the guide provided me with invaluable information about travel times between towns and provinces, maps, lists of hotels or facilities, prices even, as well as an overview of past local customs and traditions.

I surrounded myself with photos and paintings by Delacroix, Dinet or Gérôme. I completely fell in love with the Tuaregs’ poetry and legends, with their music and the ‘imzad’ - the monochord violin which women play and which produces poignant, haunting melodies.

What kind of hero is Lucas Saintclair?

I am tempted to answer 'the best!' but then I am biased! He seems totally cold, cynical and callous, and appears not to care about anyone but himself. The truth, of course, is quite different...

What attracted you to Harriet Montague as a heroine?

I loved Harriet's determination and poise, and her total commitment to her father which pushes her to brave the dangers and discomfort of a journey across Algeria in order to rescue him from the gang of Tuareg who abducted him...or so she believes. She is a scholarly young woman, who was brought up by her archaeologist father and dreams of carrying on in his footsteps.

Is The Lion’s Embrace part of a series?

Although the novel is stand alone, it is kind of a sequel to my first historical romance Angel Heart, also published by MuseitUp Publishing. Angel Heart is the story of Lucas Saintclair’s parents, Hugo and Marie-Ange and mostly takes place in France, and the Lyon area where I come from.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my third historical romance, Dancing for the Devil, which is the story of Rose Saintclair, Lucas’ sister, as she sails to the North of Scotland to be reunited with the man she married in Algiers a few weeks before. As she sails around Cape Wrath, Rose's ship is caught in a violent storm and she is rescued by Bruce McGunn, Wrath's local laird and her husband's mortal enemy.

'Dancing for the Devil' is darker than my two previous novels and I hope to finish the first draft this summer. 

Where can we buy  The Lion's Embrace?

The Lion's Embrace is available from



Where can we find you?

I have a blog, and a Facebook page. Please visit and leave comments!