I came into the family of Decadent Publishing authors through their 1Night Stand line, back in 2012. Unbelievable as it sounds, it’s been 2 years of me being with them and about 8 books published...but none of them stays close to my heart as my second story with them, again a 1NS offering.
For, you see, this story reveals a facet of me I was a bit wary of showing the world, because so much ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ is associated with this identity... Psst – reveal time... I’m a Muslim.
And yes, I wear a scarf... and yes, too – I do write romance.
That’s when the idea struck that there hasn’t been many romances with Muslim characters or even on the backdrop of the Muslim faith. In my own way, I wanted to demystify this aspect of so many people’s lives; Muslims who don’t get to show what the real life is like for them day to day. I didn’t set out with huge aspirations to change the world or whatever, but hey, they say ‘write what you know’, and I know this world, so this is how the plot for Once Upon A Second Chance came to be.
Another thing about me – I’m a huge soap opera fan. The craziest/most skewed/more ludicrous plot twists and revelations, the better. No wonder, then, that this facet of me also made it into the story when I started plotting.
That’s how I ‘met’ Leila Hassan Al-Nadir. She’s a Muslim woman with a rather strange/hefty backstory – at seventeen, she was sold as a virgin bride to a much older man in the United Arab Emirates, her life a complete hell for the next decade when she failed to produce an heir for her husband.
And then something happens – her husband divorces her...but another man is waiting in the sidelines to marry her. His name is Khalid Al-Nadir, and for a perfect night, he appears to Leila as the true knight in shining armour galloping in on his white horse.
Then reality strikes the next morning...when she awakens in a foreign country, in a stranger’s house, Khalid nowhere to be found. He’s dumped her in this place and left.
Soapie-esque, right? You bet! But we’re not done yet, because Madame Eve from 1Nigh Stand is about to meddle in there, and set this estranged couple up for a blind date on the island of Mauritius.
Khalid has a lot of explaining to do. Try as she wants to despise him, Leila cannot help but see him as the man who saved her from hell, the light that came in the darkness. Can she ever forgive him...especially when she learns of the true reasons behind Khalid’s involvement in her life?
The song that inspired me for this story was Laserlight by David Guetta and Jessie J. Focus on the lyrics to this one – I had what Leila felt for Khalid, the reason that kept her from hating him for what he’d done to her.
Take a listen!
When someone has touched your world in this way, how do you let go? Will Leila turn over a new leaf after this night...or will Khalid come through to grant them the hope of a second chance?
Leila Hassan Al-Nadir spent ten years in a forced, abusive marriage in the United Arab Emirates, before her husband divorced her...and another man stepped into his place to make her his wife. But before she can look at a future with this new man, he abandons her, dropping her off on the island of Mauritius in the care of his stepmother.
Khalid Al-Nadir wants nothing more than to be with Leila, his wife. But he hides a deep, dark secret—his intentions when he made her his weren’t noble. Despite falling in love with her in the end, he knows she will be better off without him.
Leila craves answers; Khalid desires salvation. Fate, in the form of Khalid’s stepmother, intervenes and sets this estranged couple up for a one night stand date with Madame Eve’s agency.
Can Leila and Khalid have a second chance, once they both face the truth that brought them together?
Once Upon A Second Chance excerpt:
A snort escaped her. Her home. More like her prison, the place she went after her father had sold her off to be a fifty-five-year-old man’s broodmare. Thank goodness she’d been barren and the old bastard never got what he sought from her—a male heir. She’d suffered beatings every month when she failed to get pregnant, his almost-nightly visits to her bed just one step short of rape…. Ten years and her “husband” hadn’t accepted the fact she would never give him a child, male or female. He’d made sure to buy her from her father as a virgin, assured of her being untainted by any other before him, unlike his two other wives who’d been married previously. The women who should have given him his heir, since they’d born offspring for their previous husbands.
“Chérie? What’s the matter?”
Leila tore her thoughts from the dark memories and stared at the woman who had welcomed her into her home three months earlier. Before meeting Carole, she had never believed compassion existed, or peace thrived on a small island called Mauritius in the southern Indian Ocean. She’d known a life of fear and paranoia in her Arab father’s house in London, and then the United Arab Emirates household of Bashir Al-Arif, the man who had bought her virginity.
A sliver of remembrance sliced through her. She did recall something else. Tenderness, caring, gentleness—all of which she’d found one magical night with the man who saved her from her painful existence, when her first husband divorced her out of the blue.
The man who made her his wife…then drugged her before morning came and transported her all the way from Abu Dhabi to Mauritius, where he dropped her, still unconscious, into Carole’s care, before he vanished.
Don’t think of him. If she did, the tears would threaten to fall, the anguish would come back, as well as the desperation of knowing he’d saved her only to leave her even more alone than before.
“Ma chérie?” Carole raised a dainty porcelain cup in her direction.
Tea. The solution to all woes. The British thought so, and on their former colony of Mauritius, even French-origin natives needed their three o’clock fix.
Leila sighed and dumped her tote on a sofa before she stepped out onto the wide terrace facing the clear blue waters of the Grand Baie lagoon. In what was dubbed the Côte d’Azur of the island, on the northwest coastal tip, she didn’t stand out with her fair skin and flaxen hair. She passed for a tourist or even a member of the white descendants of French rulers who’d stayed despite the British seizing power over two centuries earlier. She shouldn’t feel like the odd one out here, like the pale foreigner she’d been in the UAE, but she did.
Leila was on temporary reprieve before the questions came. Carole poured her a cuppa.
No sooner was the drink in front of her than the inquisition began.
From Mauritius with love,