I met my surfer husband, Ty Gurney, when I was in Hawaii eleven years ago, holed up in the gorgeous Halekulani Hotel on Oahu, trying to finish The Sheikh’s Disobedient Bride for Harlequin Presents. The hotel is five stars and all about discrete attention and VIP service...and romance.
But I was there in the early stages of my divorce, and alone, and certainly not enjoying Hawaii, or romance. And then I met Ty, and he changed my trip, my outlook, and even my career, giving me an idea for a story (Flirting with Forty) that would become my most popular novel ever.
What did I know that April morning in 2004? I knew that Ty was young, tan, muscular, sexy and dangerous. He was a risk taker and embraced all things physical. I was—am—a classic book girl. I read and imagine things (including romance and hot sex) but I don’t actually do all those things I write about.
Well, Ty changed that. And inspired a book. The book became a movie. And then his zest for life (and motorcycles) inspired Odd Mom Out. We continued to date, and then bought a house in Waikiki, and after three years of trying, had a baby when I was 45, and then when Mac was 2, we finally got married. We’ve done everything out of order but it has worked, and now each September we celebrate our Las Vegas Elvis style wedding, with an anniversary trip to somewhere on our bucket list of places we must see.
Morocco has been a dream destination for years...back before I wrote my first Harlequin Presents. I’ve written dozens of sheikhs for Harlequin (including my newest, His Defiant Desert Queen, March ’15 and the second book in my Copeland mini-series) and Morocco has featured prominently in all of them, so this past September Ty and I flew to Heathrow, then connected from Galway into Marrakesh, flying over part of the 2,400 kilometers of the Atlas Mountains located in the northwestern corner of Africa. These beautiful rugged red mountains stretch through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and are a forty-five minute drive outside Marrakesh.
Our first three nights were spent in Marrakesh, at a former private villa, giving us plenty of time to tour museums and gardens and the crowded shopping medina. I’ve written about the medina in my Presents, and I’d heard that the shopping bazaars in the old town centers are loud and crowded, but it was even more overwhelming than I imagined.
It turns out I don’t like haggling (at all), and I didn’t enjoy the constant shouts to stop and look and buy. The introvert in me emerged so I grabbed Ty’s arm and stayed close to him as we wandered through the hot medina, passing through souvenir stalls, goatskin tanneries, chicken sellers, and carts of hot grilled meats.
I am glad to have experienced Marrakesh, but was really happy to set off for our next stop: Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot in the mountain village of Asni, an area inhabited by Berbers for the past thousand years.
I confess, being in the Kasbah was a bit like being Cinderella at the ball. It was gorgeous, and luxurious and lots of A-list stars and jet-set celebrities stay at the Kasbah, so for three nights I pretended to be one, too.
It wasn’t hard, either, with all the pampering. We ate our dinners on the Kasbah’s rooftop garden, and lounged by the pool during the hottest part of the day. In the mornings I wrote in the library while Ty hiked in the mountains.
I left Morocco relaxed, and spoiled, hopeful that I captured the exotic beauty of the real Morocco in my newest Presents. If you haven’t yet read His Defiant Desert Queen, you can find a long excerpt (http://janeporter.com/bookshelf/defiant.php#excerpt) on my website. The blurb is below!
I always love hearing from readers so if you pick up a copy of His Defiant Desert Queen, do write and let me know what you think, and in the meantime, I’ve a little Morocco Magic Giveaway for one of you!
To enter, tell me about a place on your bucket list. Where are you dreaming of going one day? Contest closes....XY...
Jane's newest Harlequin Presents novel, His Defiant Desert Queen is available now:
When Sheikh Mikael catches notorious model Jemma Copeland flaunting Saidia’s laws—and her body—in his desert, he knows one thing: revenge against his family’s destruction is within his reach! To achieve it he makes Jemma an offer: imprisonment or marriage.
With her life shattered by the scandal that rocked her family, Jemma needed that modeling job. She didn’t know that she was breaking the law! But Mikael’s outrageous proposal pushes her beyond shock…to utter fury. If he expects her to be a meek, pliable bride, this arrogant sheikh has another think coming!