Jeweled veil weighing heavily on her head, Zoe Martin waits for her sheikh husband-to-be. The shame of her adoptive family, orphan Zoe has endured six years of being kept a slave–now she’s being sold into marriage… to a man known as The Beast!
The stakes couldn’t be higher… or more sinfully pleasurable!
Being discarded to the sheikh has one bonus–this could mean freedom! Zoe must play along with the three-day–and three-night–ceremony, but she isn’t expecting the blazing attraction from just one stolen glance at playboy sheikh Nadir….
Sara: Tell us a few things about yourself.
Susanna: I have been a romance reader ever since I read a Harlequin Presents when I was ten years old. I’ve written sexy contemporary romance for several publishers and I’m currently writing for Harlequin Blaze and Harlequin Presents. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my family.
Sara: What inspired you to write your first book?
Susanna: My first print book, The Wrong Bride, was written ten years ago and it’s about a woman switching places with her twin sister on her wedding day. I like writing about twins because I am one and I think it really has influenced how I see the world.
Sara: Is this your first Presents Novel? What was your experience like writing for the Presents Line? Susanna: The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar is my first Presents and writing for the line is a dream come true. Working for Presents is intense but I’m lucky to work with incredibly supportive editors. I’m in awe with the other writers. Not only have I read their books for years, but they are also remarkable, creative and professional women
Sara: Which heroine from your books is most like you?
Susanna: There is one trait that I share with all my heroines: perseverance. You need it when you’re chasing a dream.
Sara: If you were stranded on an island…
Susanna: I would need sunblock, my Kindle, and a Navy SEAL.
Let’s talk about your new release “The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar”
Sara: If you had to sum up “The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar”, what would you say?
Susanna: It’s a marriage of convenience story about a woman who needs to escape and a man who needs her to behave.
Sara: What sparked the idea for your novel “The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar”?
Susanna: This story was inspired by an Indian fairy tale I read many years ago. It’s about a woman who is sold into a marriage with a monster prince. I thought about this fairy tale when I decided to write a marriage of convenience story.
Sara: How did you come up with the characters for this book?
Susanna: I had the idea of Zoe. She’s an outcast and determined to escape a difficult life. She’s treated as a slave in a desert tribe and doesn’t meet the requirements of their idea for a perfect woman. She has a secret that could place her in great danger and she has tried to run away only to get caught. The only way to escape is to get married.
So then it was a matter of deciding what kind of husband I should find for Zoe. He had to be her biggest obstacle and her greatest challenge. I came up with Nadir, a sheikh who is also something of an outsider. He needs a suitable bride. Someone who is quiet, feminine and obedient. Everything that Zoe is not.
Sara: What were the challenges you faced in bringing this book to life?
Susanna: One of the challenges was going through a few sets of revisions. Each set forced me to rethink the story and make it stronger.
Sara: Are there any other books to be released in 2012? Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Susanna: My Harlequin Blaze, Suddenly Sexy, was released in June and readers can buy a print or eBook edition online. My next Presents, Her Shameful Secret, will be released January 2013.
“Come, Zoe.” One of her cousins unceremoniously pulled her from her chair and her female relatives surrounded her. “It’s time to prepare you for your wedding night.”
Her wedding night. Her stomach twisted sharply and she battled back nausea. Her aunts smiled and giggled as they swept her out of the courtyard and up to the honeymoon suite. She hunched her shoulders as corroding fear, thick and searing hot, bled through her body. It pooled under her skin, pressing harder and harder, threatening to burst through.
It suddenly sank into her. She belonged to the sheikh. A man they called The Beast. She was married to him. Married.
Her married cousins were offering words of advice, telling her how to please her husband, but Zoe didn’t hear a word of it. There was a desperate energy among the women. Their laughter was a little shrill, their advice raw and uncoated.
Zoe didn’t resist as the women settled her in the center of the bed. She knelt on the mattress, her hands folded in front of her, her head bent down. She wanted to jump out of bed and run, but she knew all these women would bring her back and guard the bedroom.
She closed her eyes and took a deep, jagged breath. She heard the women leaving the room, the laughter harsh and they tossed her more marital advice. She had always thought her wedding day would be different. In her daydreams it had been full of laughter and joy, not to mention love.
The reality was much bleaker. Zoe slowly opened her eyes. She was marrying because she was out of options and running out of luck. She was taking a leap of faith, believing she could use this marriage to her advantage. But she might have given up more than her freedom to a man who was a dangerous stranger.
What had she done?