With: J. Arlene Culiner
Armchair travel? Nothing like it. No last-minute panic while getting out to the airport; no check-in or security check lines; no obnoxious seat partner on the plane; no screaming babies; no lost baggage; no lousy exchange rate; no pickpockets; no struggle, fuss or stress.
But, snuggled into your favorite chair or propped against your pillows, you open your book (or reader) and are immediately transported into another world. Not only that: unlike a real tourist, you get to see what’s happening behind the scenes.
In my latest romance, The Turkish Affair, the setting is an archaeological site in Turkey. My heroine, Anne, is a former American journalist who, after a scandalous affair with the wrong man, lost her job and her reputation. For the last ten years, she’s been living in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator. She’s not interested in romance, an affair, or a partner: falling in love is just too painful. Besides, in any relationship, you have to reveal who you are — and that’s something she’ll never do.
My hero, Renaud Townsend is an archaeologist. He’s passionate about his work, about ancient history, about discovery, and about keeping his independence. The last thing he’s ever wanted is a permanent relationship: after the first excitement and immediate desire, he knows that any love story becomes humdrum, and that’s what he’s determined to avoid.
But what happens when there’s instant attraction? When caring slips into the picture? When trust becomes important? Throw in some artifact theft, a difficult climate, corrupt police, an empty beige plain surrounded by dark mountains, and your journey to another world has begun.
Danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu
A top notch Washington journalist before a liaison with the wrong man implicated her in scandal, Anne Pierson has been hiding in backwoods Turkey and working as a translator. She’s determined to keep her past a secret, to avoid personal relationships. But after meeting Renaud Townsend, her discrete little world is turned upside down.
Archaeologist Renaud Townsend is troubled by Anne Pierson’s refusal to talk about her past, but instinct tells him he can rely on her. Or is it only desire speaking? A lusty love affair for the duration of the summer dig is a very appealing idea.
When Anne’s bad reputation links her to stolen artefacts and murder, the budding romance with Renaud comes to a halt. If they learn to trust one another, her name can be cleared. But is there still enough intensity to give love a second chance?
Anne and Asim led their group along the outer city’s ramparts. When the crowds were far behind, they turned down an arched passage, arrived in a broad space of tumbled pillars and cool, dry air.
“We’re now in the inner city, Karakuyu’s real heart.” Anne couldn’t keep the enthusiasm out of her voice. Enthusiasm? Love. Guiding might sometimes be stressful, but the surroundings were magnificent. Her eyes swept over the shattered stone, the vestiges of past glory. “And this was a bustling main square.”
“Rocks,” stocky Mr. Topp muttered. “All I can see is rocks and more rocks.”
Anne smiled. “Now, yes. But, three thousand years ago, Karakuyu was the most
important city in the Hittite Empire, so just close your eyes and try to picture the chariots, the costumed traders, the warriors who once thronged here.”
Near-perfect silence seemed to mock her words.
“What happened to them?”
“No superpower lasts forever. The Hittites were attacked by Assyrians who took over
some of their lands, by Aegean Sea Peoples who cut off trade routes. In the second century BC, written records ceased, and Hittites became ghosts on the historical scene. They were forgotten for thousands of years.”
Anne took a deep breath of the dry air. There weren’t many places left on earth as tranquil as this. Karakuyu was a paradise of sorts. One that knocked life’s tedious banalities right back into proportion and—
“You shouldn’t be in this area.”
The voice—clipped, imperative—came from somewhere on the left. She saw a figure detach itself from the shade of a vaulted doorway. A man. Skirting the strewn rocks and smashed pillars, he approached languidly, as if all the time in the world was his for the taking. Did she know him? No, she’d never seen him before—if she had, she wouldn’t have forgotten him so easily. Tall, broad-shouldered, with long, muscular legs encased in faded jeans. A blue T-shirt stretched, pinch tight, over his strong chest. Yet, despite his unhurried advance, he carried himself with authority. He stopped when he was directly in front of her.
Anne curved her mouth into a polite smile, an attempt at courtesy that collapsed in the face of the man’s unrelenting expression. He looked like he was about to make trouble. She needed trouble as much as a pair of furry hands.
“What are you doing here?”
“I beg your pardon?” she asked slowly, almost insolently. Then noticed his golden, sun-bleached hair, bronzed skin, unwavering blue eyes, chiseled explorer’s face.
About the author
Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to public dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She works as an actress, a photographer, a contemporary artist, a musician, writes mysteries, history books and perfectly believable romances. Her heroines are funny and gutsy; her heroes, dashingly lovable; and all are (proudly) over the age of forty.