Spring, 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish young writer abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to be reunited with her long-estranged family. Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are riven by seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucía, all of which are alien to Alexandra. Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets the man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions. What does Alexandra’s destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured on to the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed dancers hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?
Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, the granddaughter of Esther Fanous, a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s. Upon graduating with a BA in French literature from Alexandria University she traveled extensively throughout Europe and lived in Switzerland, France, and England. After marrying her English husband, she settled in Kent and subsequently had little time for writing while bringing up two children, looking after dogs and horses, and running her own business renovating rundown cottages. Hannah now divides her time between her homes in England, Ireland and the South of France. She has written four novels, Indiscretion and Masquerade (the first two titles in the Andalucían Nights Trilogy), Burning Embers, and The Echoes of Love. Hannah’s books have won various awards including, Gold Medal for romance at the Independent Publisher Book Awards (The Echoes of Love), and Gold and Silver Medals for romance at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards (Indiscretion and Masquerade). Indiscretion has also won Best Romance at the USA Best Book Awards.
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Excerpt from Indiscretion
By Hannah Fielding
Suddenly she felt an arm pulling her into the crowd. She looked up, startled, to see Salvador’s face close to hers, his arm now tightly around her waist.
‘Dance the flamenco with me, Alexandra.’ It was a whisper, no more, in her ear – a command, not an invitation – and he drew her in one fluid movement hard against his length. Salvador’s eyes, shining almost cobalt blue in his tanned face, bored into hers. She could feel his heart thundering against her breast, echoing the insistent rhythm of the music and driving the drumming beat through her already electrified body.
‘What are you doing? Let me go,’ she murmured, her emerald eyes flashing in a mixture of anger and desire. Her hands pushed against his chest in a half-hearted attempt to free herself.
He jerked her waist even tighter against him, his gaze even more burning. She could feel the contours of his body in such a way that made her throat so dry she had to lick her bottom lip.
‘I said, dance the flamenco with me,’ he growled, his eyes on her mouth.
People were moving around them, skirts swirling, hands and feet clapping and stomping.
‘I can’t Salvador. I don’t know how to …’
Alexandra looked at him ablaze, though she was confused and light-headed, her pulse racing; his eyes held her mesmerised, and she caught her breath as he drew her swiftly among the dancers. He turned her in his arms, holding her against his warm strength, sweeping her away into his wild world of frenzied excitement, a world that had been waiting for her all her life.
With one arm still around her waist, he took her other hand and raised it up above their heads. ‘Yes you can. Follow me, and your instincts.’
Her instincts were telling her that nothing felt so natural and perfect than his body so close to her.
‘Look at me, niña, sólo me. This is a subtle dance, Alexandra … sensuous, passionate but strictly controlled.’ His eyes seemed to burn even brighter. ‘First, lift your arms, like an eagle …’
He stepped away from her slightly and she began to mirror his movements, her arms arched above her, head held high to one side.
‘Sólo me, niña.’ Salvador swooped back close to her and his hand moved down the side of her body, making her shudder as an almost angry desire flashed between them, electric and heated.
She could see the surprise and pleasure reflected on Salvador’s face when she began to move in perfect accord with him. With proud stamping steps they surrendered themselves to the mounting urgency of the rhythm and the precise evolution of the dance that were like a thin veil suspended above smouldering fires, threatening to erupt into flames at any moment. The same feeling of intoxication that had gripped Alexandra at the restaurant in Séville was now taking over her whole body as she flung herself wholeheartedly into the passionate canto hondo and canto grande, the traditional dances of Andalucia. Salvador’s dexterous long fingers spun Alexandra away from him and pulled her back, curving her arm high over her head.
From time to time, a sudden drawn-out cry of wild, pure notes filled the atmosphere, and a thrill went through Alexandra from head to toe. It was an indescribable sensation, enhanced by Salvador’s intense blue gaze that never left her face; urging her on, faster and faster. She was acutely aware of his nearness, of his superb physique, of his magnetism. From time to time, his eyes flickered with an odd expression – it was as much arrogance as desire, this innate part of his proud people, which Salvador personified more than ever when he danced, and which seemed all at once to add to his powerful allure.
And then his expression changed. One minute, he was spinning her round; the next, he held her to him for a moment, searching her face, as if struggling to say something. Then he was gone, swift and silent, swallowed up by the crowd of shouting, stamping dancers around them.
Alexandra stared ahead of her, disorientated. What had happened? She thought about going after him but at that moment was caught by the arm.
‘I lost you in the dancing, Doña Alexandra. Where did you get to?’ It was Don Felipe. He was studying her face keenly with a look of concern. His hand still gripped her arm firmly. Something that made her uncomfortable gleamed in his eyes, making her want to pull away, and then it vanished. He released his grip and stepped back.
‘I’m sorry, Don Felipe … As you say, I got lost in the dancing,’ Alexandra managed to stammer, still breathless from her unexpected sensual interlude with Salvador.
‘Flamenco can have an overpowering effect on the uninitiated.’ He regarded her pensively.
She added hurriedly, ‘Shall we watch the rest of show? I’m rather hot now and could do with a rest.’
His attentive warmth returned. ‘Of course, Doña Alexandra. You must get your breath back. We cannot have Aphrodite wilting before the evening is through.’
She flashed what she hoped was a winning smile and let Don Felipe guide her back to the front of the audience.
Soon, amongst the jubilant shouts and stamping of the crowd, a third dancer stirred herself languidly from the shadows. Suddenly springing into life, she took up her position in the centre of the dancefloor. She looked noble, proud and insolent as she strutted around the stage, just like an exotic bird showing off its plumage. The cascading flounces of her dress moulded the shapely line of her body to perfection and emphasised the curving flow of the dance. Every muscle of her young limbs throbbed, vibrating to the hypnotic magnetism of the rhythm. She kept her eyes closed, and in the wan moonlight, her skin, usually a golden copper, seemed to have turned the colour of alabaster. Her movements were composed of sudden transitions, of spasmodic and syncopated gestures. Now and then, she would punctuate them with a long, plaintive cry that cut in piercingly and then continued in a yet more poignant tone.
The dancer’s face was not yet in full view, but Alexandra had already guessed that she was the gypsy, Marujita. Instinctively, she looked for Salvador again, but he was still nowhere to be seen.
‘Is anything the matter?’ enquired Don Felipe, sensing the sudden change that had come over her.
‘No, not at all.’ She was trying to relax and concentrate on the show, but the spell was broken. Her head was spinning in confusion. She didn’t know what to think any more. Preoccupied with the predatory Marquesa, she had forgotten the equally threatening presence of the gypsy girl in this complicated situation with Salvador. Right now she felt drained, and suddenly wanted to go home.
Marujita ended her dance to the enthusiastic cheers of the audience, and, with great relief, Alexandra saw Ramón reappear.
‘Wonderful party, eh mi permita?’ From the twinkle in his eye as he grinned at a couple of young women, who were giggling and waving goodbye, Alexandra could see that Ramón had clearly enjoyed his evening.
After they had thanked their hosts and bid them goodnight, Don Felipe accompanied his guests to their car.
‘Will I have the honour of seeing you again?’ he asked as he folded Alexandra’s hands in his, scanning her face intently through his thick lashes.
She turned to her cousin. ‘I think we’re returning to Jerez tomorrow, are we not, Ramón?’ she said quickly. Where the intensity of the torero’s attentions had enchanted her before, now it made her uneasy. She suddenly felt pressured.
‘Yes, we leave tomorrow at first light.’
‘Then may I call on you at El Pavón, one day next week? Perhaps you’d be interested in visiting our bodegas.’ She ignored his insistence and simply smiled demurely as he put her hand to his lips. ‘Thank you for this marvellous evening, beautiful goddess,’ Don Felipe whispered, helping her into the car and shutting the door after her. ‘I look forward to seeing you soon,’ he called out as they drove off.
|I am very busy these days with the ever-growing stack of books I need to read for reviews. But, there are so many good books out there waiting to be read that I decided to occasionally feature books without a review on my site. I have done a little research on each book featured (meaning I have read a sample) and found it worthy of being included in this new feature on my blog (worthy according to “Lucy” – meaning I would review the book if my pile were not so high.) The authors are anxiously awaiting reviews, so if you see a book that captures your fancy, please feel free to contact the author and let them know that you would like to review their book.|