Desert Rake

She had wanted to discover exotic lands – now she was exploring her own sensuality.

Desperate to escape the respectability of English high society, wealthy widow Lady Morvall runs away to Constantinople – and find herself with the decidedly improper Andrew Fenton – an enigmatic man who is very keen to teach her all the sensual secrets of the East…

A short novella originally in Hot Desert Nights


He was going to speak to her. Caroline’s hands closed together in an agonising grip, as though the pain might punish her for her wanton thoughts, and as a reward this man would vanish. It did not work. He kept coming.

He lifted the wide-brimmed straw hat he was wearing to reveal black hair and a tanned face. He was still smiling that devastating smile, half gentle mockery, half unblushing recognition that she was a woman and he was a man and that there could be consequences of that fact.

‘Sir-‘ Her voice quavered and she shut her lips tightly before she could add squeaking like an idiot to her tally of embarrassments.

‘Madam,’ he rejoined gravely, replacing his hat. Even shadowed, the grey eyes sparkled with emotions she did not dare contemplate. ‘Might I make a suggestion?’ His voice was deep, easy, like warm honey running over her skin, with beneath it the hint of strength he was keeping tightly under control. His accent told her he was English – and yet something about him had convinced her he was not. She gave herself a little inward shake. What on earth did it matter what nationality he was?

‘Mmm?’ she managed. Oh, heavens, what is he going to say? Is he going to proposition me? He hardly needs to, does he? I must have been looking at him as though I wanted to tear his clothes off. I do want to tear his clothes off, here and now. Shameless… I wished for this, and now I do not know what to do…

‘If you move to the rail on the other side you will get the best view of the city. We are approaching the Sarayburnu, the Seraglio Point. You can see the Topkapi Sarayi clearly now. This is your first visit to Constantinople?’

What? Mmm! I mean…yes. Thank you…’

‘Enjoy,’ the tall man said, with a smile that seemed to touch her mouth. He raised his hat again and strolled off across the deck, to where a man in robes stood guard over a trunk and a pile of portmanteaux.

Enjoy, indeed! Caroline made her shaking legs take her to the spot he had indicated. Mercifully, she found herself screened from the rest of the main deck by a stack of casks. He did not mean Enjoy the sights or Enjoy the food or even Enjoy the shopping. He meant Enjoy doing what you were dreaming about. I wish I could! He must think I have a lover on board, or a husband, or I am travelling to meet one or the other. Could that possibly have been any more embarrassing and awful?

Well, yes it could, she realised ruefully as the hectic colour began to ebb from her face and her thoughts became a little more coherent. He could have come across and made a very crude proposition—-or even a tactfully worded one, come to that-and she would not have had the slightest justification for resenting it.