The Lion's Embrace by Marie Laval
Publication Date: February 2013
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?
“Oh, my God,” Harriet breathed out. She glanced around, but nobody was paying the two men the slightest notice. There was no time to think, a man’s life was at stake. With a muffled cry she hurled herself at the tall stranger, jumped on his back, and hooked her arms around his neck.
He let out a roar of anger and swirled round to shake her off, but she wrapped
her legs more tightly around his waist.
“Bon sang! Qu’est-ce que...”
He dropped the dagger, twisted his body, and managed to grab her waist to slide her to the front so she was now against his chest. Aware she was losing her grip she lunged forward and sank her teeth into his shoulder.
He growled, held her at arm’s length, and threw her off. She fell on the cobbles. The turban softened the impact to the back of her head, but a vicious pain at the bottom of her spine made her cry out. The man swore in French. Although she only caught a few words, she understood he was angry. Very angry. His victim had escaped.
She let out a sigh of relief. She had done it. She saved a man’s life. Her joy, however, was short-lived. The Frenchman leaned over, picked her up by the collar of her tunic, and lifted her as if she was no heavier than a bundle of cloth. The savage glint in his eyes dried her throat; her heart hammered against her ribs.
“Please, don’t hurt me,” she pleaded, breathless.
His eyes opened wide in shock.
Since when did Tuareg fighters speak fluent English? Come to think of it, since when did they smell of Damascus rose soap?
He peered more closely at the face in front of him and saw two large, grey eyes bordered with long, dark eyelashes and the tip of a small nose above the dark blue scarf. He recalled the odd sensations when the soft, curvy body had thrust against him earlier. This wasn’t a Tuareg fighter at all, it was a … He ripped the headdress off and a mass of thick, honey blonde hair tumbled out.
“A woman? I thought as much. Who are you?” he asked in English. “What the
hell did you think you were doing just then?” He shook her a little, not to hurt her, but enough to give her a fright.
The woman didn’t answer.
“You’re not so bold now, are you?” He narrowed his eyes, smiled his meanest
smile, and was satisfied to hear her helpless cry. She had cost him days of patient stakeout. Now, because of her, Rachid was free to sell the map to the highest bidder. And he knew exactly who that would be.
“Maybe you want to take another bite?” he snarled, pointing to his shoulder.
“No,” she whispered.
“Actually, maybe I’ll be the one to take a bite. You look appetizing enough.”
He lifted her closer, until his mouth almost touched hers, and he felt her warm
breath on his skin.