The fabled desert kingdom of Zulheina was Tariq's birthright, and he was a man who held tightly what belonged to him. And that meant he had to reclaim a very special woman—the woman who had broken his heart years before in New Zealand. And once he had lured her to this distant land, he meant to keep his new bride here forever…
But Jasmine Coleridge was not as easily tamed as he had imagined. Her beguiling blend of untouched innocence and dazzling sensuality threatened, once again, to bring the haughty sheikh to his knees—and made him wonder who was the true prisoner…
"I will keep you, my Jasmine." It was a statement, not a question.
"And if I don't wish to be…" She paused, unable to think of the right word.
"Owned?" Tariq suggested in a silky whisper.
Jasmine swallowed. A part of her was terrified of the dark fury she saw swirling in his eyes, but she'd come too far to fall victim to her fears now. "Like a slave?" Her voice was husky, her lips parched. However, she didn't dare moisten them with her tongue, afraid of how Tariq would react.
He narrowed his eyes. "You think I am such a barbarian?"
"I think you're going out of your way to give me that impression," she retorted, before she could caution herself not to bait the panther.
The corners of his lips tilted upward in a slight curve. "Ah, I had forgotten."
"What?" She lifted a hand to his wrist and tried to break his hold on her jaw. It proved impossible. Under her touch, his pulse beat in a slow, seductive rhythm that promised her both exotic pleasures and darkest fury.
"That the fire of your hair does not lie." He moved his thumb over her lower lip and frowned. "Your lips are dry. Moisten them."
Jasmine scowled at the command. "And if I don't?"
He lifted one brow in response to the defiance in her tone. "Then I shall do it for you."
Betraying color stained her cheeks at the erotic image of Tariq moistening her lips. His intent gaze made her feel like a tasty morsel he'd be only too happy to devour. Breathing in shallow gasps, she flicked out her tongue and wet her lips.
This was my very first published book and I don't think anything can ever replace it in my heart. I wrote DW while working full-time at a demanding legal position. I used to write late into the night, on the bus and in my lunch hour if I could grab a few spare minutes. I was, you could say, obsessed with Tariq and his Jasmine.
People often ask me how I came up with Zulheil, a desert kingdom with a touch of fairytale magic. The answer is actually in the question - I wanted to write a story that was a modern fairytale, and for that, the kingdom had to be extraordinarily beautiful.
So I filled my thoughts with all the tales I'd read or heard that conjured up the right images - the Arabian Nights, Byron's poetry set in the mysterious East and a thousand childhood stories. After a while, Zulheil appeared out of a mist. It was a delicately beautiful place full of jewels, color and laughter. And it was exactly what I wanted for Jasmine. Because every fairytale needs a princess.
The idea of an exotic desert land continues to fascinate me. In fact, I loved Zulheil so much that I went back to it in Craving Beauty.
A few years ago, I gave in to the urge to visit a real desert and spent several days in the Tenegger Desert and surrounding areas. It was the experience of a lifetime. Watching a huge, glimmering moon come down over the endless dunes is an image burned into my soul, something that may one day, urge me to return to Zulheil just one more time.
Desert Warrior began life as a manuscript titled Coaxing the Sheik . That manuscript won the Reader's Choice Award in the Clendon Award. However it wasn't picked up for publication as a result and was, in fact, rejected twice more before it found a home at Silhouette Desire.
For the writers among you, here's something not many people realize - when I sold, I did so out of the slush pile, through a simple old-fashioned, non-agented submission. So if you're going into the slush pile right now, don't lose hope. People do sell that way. I'm living proof.
First, Desert Warrior made it to the Waldenbooks bestseller list. Then, it sold out on eharlequin.com. Both things delighted me, as did the letters that started coming in from readers. I love you guys - you make my day every time you tell me you loved something I wrote.
DW was also one of the finalists in the "Best Debut Novel" section of the RIO Awards (Reviewers International Organization).
Where can we find copies of Desert Warrior?
I'm often asked this question but I'm afraid to say that new copies of DW have become almost impossible to get hold of. The UK edition came out in 2005 and is the most recent English-language edition, so you may be able to track down some of these.
In this case, second hand copies may be your only option. They're available online and in brick and mortar bookstores. Of course, feel free to write to my publisher and let them know you'd like DW to be reprinted!
Desert Warrior by Nalini Singh