Sunday, January 26, 2014

*Tour Spotlight & Excerpt*
"The Lion's Embrace" by Marie Laval!

~Published: February 1st, 2013

~Genres: New Adult, Adult Fiction, Historical Romance

Algiers, 1845

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?

I was born in France and grew up in the beautiful city of Lyon. I moved to England several years ago, and now live in the lovely Rossendale Valley in Lancashire where I am still trying to get used to the damp and cold weather. Writing was always my passion. I particularly enjoy writing historical fiction and romance. 'Angel Heart' is my first published novel. My second historical romance 'The Lion's Embrace' was released as an ebook in February 2013 by MuseitUp Publishing.

“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 patientstakeout. 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.

I was able to get an interview with Marie, and I'd like to share that with you today!  Here's what we talked about...

~Rose: How did you come up with the idea for this story?

~Marie: I was always fascinated by the landscapes and culture - or should I say, cultures - of North Africa, and always enjoyed reading stories set there, like for example those by Isabelle Eberhardt, a very unusual woman writer from the late nineteenth century. When I stumbled on photos of rock art in the Sahara, ideas for a novel started flowing. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had a plot outline, and my characters - dark and cynical Lucas Saintclair and heroin Harriet Montague - came to life. 

~Rose: Who designed the cover?

~Marie: The talented Charlotte Volnek, one of MuseitUp Publishing's cover artists, designed the cover. I couldn't have dreamt of a more beautiful one. It perfectly represents the story and the atmosphere in the novel.

~Rose: Is there a lot of romance in The Lion's Embrace, or is it more action and adventure? 

~Marie: I hope I achieved a good balance between romance, adventure and historical mystery, but it is above all a romance.

~Rose: Is this a stand-alone book, or will there be a sequel/series?

~Marie: Although it is stand-alone novel, the story follows on from my debut historical romance Angel Heart, also published by MuseitUp Publishing, and Lucas Saintclair's sister Rose is the heroin of the historical romance I am working on at the moment.

~Rose: Are you writing anything new?

~Marie: Yes, I have just completed the first draft of a contemporary romantic suspense set in Provence in the South of France. I am also writing the final chapters of a historical romance set in Scotland of which Rose Saintclair is the heroin. I love this Saintclair family so much I cannot leave them alone! 

~Rose: What makes your writing environment the most comfortable and productive?

~Marie: Solitude...Unfortunately I don't often enjoy it because I can only write in the evenings or at weekends when I have a house full of lovely, but loud, children and teenagers!

~Rose: What does your family think of your writing?

~Marie: They are all very supportive and encouraging, even if the boys are a little embarrassed that their mother should write romance.

~Rose: What do you do in your spare time, besides writing?

~Marie: I have a full-time teaching job in a secondary school, so I don't have much spare time but I do enjoy walking and jogging. I always find I get the best ideas when I'm on my own in the countryside.

~Rose: What are your plans for the next five years?

~Marie: I would love to complete all of my writing projects. I have so many ideas for plots and characters, and so little time...

~Rose: Anything else you would like to tell us?

~Marie: At random, three favourites of mine!

My favourite tipple of the moment is a glass of cool rosé wine with a dash of pink grapefruit cordial or syrup. It sounds a little odd but it's delicious.

I love yellow roses. We have wonderful ones in our garden and their scent is a delight.

There is nothing I like more than sit at the terrace of a café in old district of Lyon, the town I was brought up, and watch the world go by. In England, however, my favourite holiday places are Ambleside in the Lake District and Lyme Regis in the South.

~Check out the rest of the blogs on the schedule, and follow the tour here!