And Down She Lay…

By Sharon Kendrick, author of Shamed in the Sands

One of my favourite poems is The Lady Of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  I love the way it tells such a bittersweet story with its haunting, beautifully-written lines.  A copy of the famous painting by Waterhouse hung on my bedroom wall during my teenage years.  It captures the doomed aristocrat in the moment just before “she loosed the chain and down she lay…”


The poem also provided the inspiration for my latest book: SHAMED IN THE SANDS.


Leila is a desert princess and, a bit like the Lady of Shalott – she is completely cut off from the real world.  Leila isn’t exactly locked up in a tower and only able to see life through the reflections in a mirror, but she might as well be.  Isolated in her lavish Qurhahian palace, she has been strictly brought up by her autocratic brother Murat, the all-powerful Sultan.  Murat is determined to protect his little sister and consequently, she has very little personal freedom.  She sees the world through the images which are filtered to her from the West.  She loves watching romantic-comedies and reading the love-stories which get past the palace censors.  These innocent pastimes have become both her escape and her reality.

But Leila is also a talented photographer and she is getting bored and increasingly frustrated with her restrictive lifestyle.  When billionaire advertising guru Gabe Steel arrives in Qurhah to advise her brother – Leila decides to ask him for a job.

Disguising herself as a man, she sneaks up to Gabe’s luxury hotel suite and begs him to hide her from the Sultan’s bodyguards, who are following her.  Reluctantly, Gabe agrees.  He is bewitched by the stunning young princess and he isn’t really thinking straight.  He has his own baggage, and that day it is feeling particularly heavy.

Neither of them are prepared for the sexual chemistry which overwhelms them – and yet neither can stop themselves from acting on it….  Until they are left with a consequence which could blow both their worlds apart.

And that is when Leila discovers that steely Gabe is nothing like the soft-hearted heroes of the films she so adores….

About Shamed in the Sands:

A princess in disguise

Bound to a life of restrictions and rules, Princess Leila of Qurhah feels like a puppet dancing to the sultan’s strings. She’s desperate for her freedom, and only one man holds the key….

When notorious advertising mogul Gabe Steel arrives in the desert kingdom of Qurhah, the last thing he expects is an alluring stranger in his hotel room, demanding a job.

Enthralled by the innocent beauty and her intoxicating touch, Gabe is unaware of her royal connection or the lengths he will have to go to prevent her from shame!

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Comments ( 18 )
  1. Caitlin Crews
    January 31, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Sharon, that’s one of my favorite poems too!

    I love stories where the heroine–either figuratively or, in this case, in fact–and it’s down to the hero to set her free. Yum.

    Can’t wait to read this!


  2. Jennifer Hayward
    January 31, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Ooh Sharon you had me at that last line. Actually you had me all the way through 🙂 Can’t wait to read this one. And that painting is gorgeous!!

  3. Sharon Kendrick
    January 31, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Caitlin, the poem paints such an evocative picture – I get sucked right into the terrible heartache of unrequited love, every time! 🙂

    Thanks, Jen – it IS a gorgeous painting, isn’t it? In fact, now I’m inspired to go and see the real thing in London! 🙂

  4. Rachael Thomas
    January 31, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Sharon if I hadn’t bought this yesterday I’d be rushing out to buy it!

  5. Sharon Kendrick
    January 31, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Rachael, you do say the nicest things!
    Really hope you enjoy it.


  6. Fiona Marsden
    January 31, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I can never read that poem without thinking of Anne of Green Gables sinking when she was enacting the poem.

  7. Abby Green
    January 31, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Loved this book Sharon and love that poem and the painting. 🙂
    x Abby

  8. Sharon Kendrick
    January 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Fiona – shocking admission coming up….I’ve never actually read Anne Of Green Gables! But it’s just gone straight to the top of my “to do” list for 2014. 🙂

    Thanks, Abby – I hope you enjoy naughty Murat’s story, which is called SEDUCED BY THE SULTAN 🙂

  9. Pippa Roscoe
    January 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Sharon, I just love hearing about author’s inspiration, especially when it leads to such a great book!

    And I have always loved both the poem and the painting.

    (Clearly great minds think alike!)

  10. Sharon Kendrick
    January 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks Pippa!
    Times may change, but human nature remains constant – which is I guess, one of the reasons why people love reading romance so much. 🙂

    Visit my blog to discover what I REALLY think about this poem!

  11. Ruth
    January 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Yeah, another brilliant winner, Sharon! Really enjoyed it. Interesting to hear your inspiration behind the storyline. Always loved the pre-Raphaelite paintings myself and used to spend hours as a teenager visiting galleries to gaze wistfully at them. So romantic…

  12. Ruth Winocour
    January 31, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Oops! Forgot my last name. Yes, it’s that Ruth.x

  13. Ruth Winocour
    January 31, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Sorry. Late night muddlehead. Meant to say:

    Yeah, another brilliant winner, Sharon. Really enjoyed it. Lovely to hear about your inspiration behind the storyline. I’ve always been a huge fan of the pre-Raphaelites too. Used to spend hours as a teenager visiting art galleries gazing wistfully at them. So romantic….

  14. Marie Dry
    February 1, 2014 at 1:51 am

    We get the books a little later in South Africa (sigh) so I will have to wait a month to read it. Love the whole idea and can’t wait. I am looking up the poem to read.

  15. Sharon Kendrick
    February 1, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Thanks, Ruth – so glad you enjoyed it. The story of the Sultan Murat (the Magnificent) is coming out in April… Now HE is a naughty hero 🙂

  16. Sharon Kendrick
    February 1, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Enjoy the poem, Marie. And let me know what you think of Leila and Gabe’s story when it reaches you in SA 🙂

  17. Sonia Likhari
    February 1, 2014 at 10:33 am

    love heroine in disguise stories and can’t wait to lose myself in this one on a suitably rainy Sunday afternoon. Wonder when we’ll have one if those!

  18. Sharon Kendrick
    February 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    A rainy afternoon, Sonia?
    I think I could write about one of those in my sleep!
    Hope you enjoy Gabe and Leila’s story. 🙂