Release date: September 5, 2016
Anne Pierson was a top-notch Washington journalist until a liaison with the wrong man implicated her in scandal. Years later, she’s hiding out in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator near the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu, determined to keep her past a secret and avoiding personal relationships. But her quiet little world is turned upside down when she meets American archaeologist Renaud Townsend.
Renaud knows little about this foreign country or the project he’s been sent to manage after the former boss disappeared. Anne’s refusal to be his translator troubles him, but instinct tells him he can rely on her. Or is that only desire speaking? A lusty love affair for the duration of the summer dig would definitely help him adjust.
When Anne’s reputation links her to stolen artifacts and murder at the site, their budding romance comes skidding to a halt. To clear her name, she must sacrifice her safety and reach out to trust Renaud. But is there enough time to give love a second chance?
Sensuality Level: Sensual
J. Arlene Culiner, who was born in New York and raised in Toronto, has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Holland, Turkey, France, Greece, Hungary, and the Sahara. She now resides in a 300-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone’s dismay, she protects all living creatures—especially spiders—and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve. She can be found at www.j-arleneculiner.com.
An excerpt from The Turkish Affair:
Anne watched whirlpools of dust rise, shimmer briefly, and vanish. Like phantoms. Ghosts of a forgotten world. Four thousand years ago, this stubborn earth felt the weight of Hittite warriors, of merchant convoys with cargoes of fragrant spice. But those days were long gone. Now, no armies clanged over the plain; there was no tang of cardamom in the burning air.
The mocking voice sliced into her reverie, snapping her back to the present. Turning abruptly, she saw archaeologist Nick Carlson coming up the passage leading out of Karakuyu. He was right, too: where were the American tourists she was translating for? Gone. Asim, their Turkish guide, must have led them into the ancient city while she’d been standing here, dreaming. That didn’t make her look very competent. Even worse, Nick, a man who didn’t like her much, although she had no idea why, had caught her out.
She managed a nonchalant shrug. “Not lost, Nick. Just temporarily misplaced.” Then sauntering past him, she headed down the sloping walkway into a forecourt lined with the booths of souvenir sellers. And there they were, clumped around site’s entry. Not ghosts, but her group of tourists, frazzled-looking in their heat-wilted shorts, gaudy shirts, and shapeless sunhats.
“What a strange place,” someone was muttering disconsolately. “So empty feeling.”
“Sinister, that’s the word for it,” added an even more negative voice.
Sinister? Ridiculous. Anne loved this archaeological site and its unique atmosphere. She forced a breezy note into her voice as she joined them. “Call it desolate, if you want. But not sinister.” Keeping a lighthearted atmosphere and maintaining cohesive calm were important when tour guiding. Unfamiliar surroundings and a difficult climate could change nervous folks into rebellious tyrants in a few, shattering seconds. When—and if—that happened, the Turkish Tourist Board would hear about it; in this part of the world, jobs weren’t easy to come by, particularly for foreigners.
“There’s an ancient Hittite legend about Karakuyu’s decline,” she began. Faces turned toward her, waiting for words to highlight what was of interest. “One day, right here in this city, the storm god and the great serpent went into mortal combat with one another. Another god, Teleinou, watched the battle, and when he saw the destruction they were wreaking, he was disgusted. So disgusted he abandoned the city and took all that was good along with him.”
“Leaving only dust, emptiness, and terrible heat.” Mrs. Bland, the Connecticut dowager, mopped at her sweating face with a much-used, very limp tissue.
“And definitely no Tastee Freez,” quipped Mr. Forster, who passed himself off as the group wit. A few snickers were heard from those not too hot to react.
At a wooden hut where an armed guard sat, Asim pushed a wad of money through the opening under the glass window and dourly mumbled, “Merhaba.”
“Merhaba,” the guard, habitually unfriendly, mumbled back before shoving the money into a drawer and glaring. Ignoring his hostility, Anne and Asim led their group along the outer city’s ramparts, bypassing throngs of tourists, circumventing strewn rocks. When the crowds were far behind, they turned down an arched passage, arrived in a broad space of tumbled pillars and cool, dry air. Here, there was evidence of the ongoing archaeological dig: heaped stones, deep gouges.
“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.”
“A main square?” Mrs. Bland stared at the crumbled remains, shook her head slowly. “Pretty hard to imagine.”
“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. The Hittites are mentioned in the Old Testament and in Egyptian inscriptions, 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, then 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.