The Power of Setting by Victoria Vane

by Victoria Vane

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Aside from a solid plot and compelling characters, what makes a great story? What is the magical ingredient that brings it all to life? That transports the reader to another time and place? My answer is the setting—one that doesn’t just serve as a backdrop for the characters, but plays an equal role. Each of the following excerpts from The Sheik Retold sets a different tone and exemplifies how powerful setting can be in creating atmosphere and mood for the story.


I exited the tent, drawing a long breath and reveling in the scenery that was nothing short of enchanting in the twilight. The camp was spread out over the oasis—the clustering palm trees and the desert itself stretching outward in undulating sweeps as far as the eye could see, eventually leveling into the distant hills like a dark smudge against the horizon.

I was here at last—the place I had longed for all of my life, yet I never knew until that moment how intense my longing had been. I felt strangely at home, as if the great, silent emptiness had been waiting for me, just as I had been waiting for it. It spoke to me softly with the faint rustle of the whispering sand, with the mysterious charm of its billowy, shifting surface that beckoned me to penetrate deep into its unknown obscurities.


That night was unusually hot, and the atmosphere in the tent increasingly oppressive as the hours wore on… The stillness of the desert seemed almost sinister tonight—and the silence so intense that the squeal of a stallion in the distance made me start with a madly racing heart. Earlier in the evening a drum had been going persistently, and later a native pipe had shrilled in monotonous cadence, but I had grown accustomed to these. They were of nightly occurrence and soothed rather than irritated me. When they stopped the stillness was so unnerving that I would have welcomed any sound. I was restless and excited. I longed for him passionately and at the same time, dreaded his return…

The heat was intense, and every moment the tent seemed to grow more airless. The Persian hound in the next room whined from time to time, until he pushed his way past the curtain and stalked across the thick rugs to nuzzle his shaggy head against my knee, whimpering and gazing plaintively up at me. When I finally took notice of him, he reared up, thrusting his wet nose into my face. I caught his head in my hands and rubbed my cheek against his rough hair, crooning over him softly. Even the dog was comfort in my loneliness as we waited together for the master.

Excerpt #3

I looked out across the desert beyond the last palms of the oasis where a haze hung over the sand, shimmering in the heat and blurring the outline of the distant hills. A tiny breeze brought the acrid smell of camels closer, and the creaking whine of the tackling over the well sounded not very far away. I gave a little sigh. It had all become so strangely familiar now.

The beauties and attractions of the desert had multiplied a hundred times. The wild tribesmen, with their primitive ways, had ceased to disgust me, and the free life with its constant exercise and simple routine was becoming indefinitely dear… I was alive at last. The heart that I once doubted existed, burned and throbbed with a consuming passion. It was only here in the desert, and in Ahmed Ben Hassan’s arms, that I had come to know life and death, happiness and sorrow. As my gaze swept over his camp, I was suddenly awakened to the full force of nature that was Ahmed Ben Hassan. Everything I saw was connected with and bound up in the man who was lord of it all.

Cover_The SheikTHE SHEIK RETOLD by Victoria Vane and E.M. Hull

The Desert Was Never Hotter!

A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground… A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own… When pride and passion vie for supremacy… Blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…

“There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay for what you have done.”

“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French have no jurisdiction over me. There is no authority here above my own.”

My trepidation was growing by the minute. “Why have you done this? Why have you brought me here?”

“Why?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”

Pride and passion vie for supremacy in this steamy retelling of E.M. Hull’s romance classic.

Available now in e-book and trade paperback
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Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist, cowboy addict and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

Look for Victoria’s Contemporary Cowboy Series coming summer 2014 from Sourcebooks

Twitter: @authorvictoriav
Facebook: Author Victoria Vane


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