The huge imposing castle and the barren terrain of Merkazad are a far cry from the modest farm and the emerald fields that horsewoman Iseult calls home. Or used to, until Sheikh Nadim bought her family's stud farm. As part of the deal, she must work at his royal stables....
Nadim enrages Iseult...but he also inspires a more unwelcome, unfamiliar feeling: desire. Drawn into Nadim's sensual world, Iseult feels like a beautiful, confident woman for the first time.
But she must remember the sheikh's cast-iron rule....
Sheikh Nadim Bin Kalid al Saqr's dark eyes followed the horse and rider as they exercised on the gallops. He was blinded not only by the sheer magnificence of the colt, which had quickened his pulse and sent a thrill of triumph through him as soon as he'd seen its exquisite lines, but also by the intense green of everything as far as the eye could see. Softly falling rain covered everything in a fine mist, even though it was an unseasonably warm September day.
For a man who considered himself hewn from the uncompromising aridity of mountains and desert, he hadn't expected to feel a kinship with this inclement part of the world, but strangely, standing here now, he felt its lushness pull on his soul in a way he hadn't anticipated.
Up until now he'd been content to confine his interest in thoroughbred racing and breeding to his home on the Arabian peninsula, trusting his aides to buy in Europe and transport the horses to him. But now it was time to set up a European base, and he'd chosen Kildare, the Irish capital of thoroughbred breeding and training.
Ireland's reputation as home to the world's best horses, breeders and trainers was not in doubt. The man beside him, despite his florid appearance, which more than hinted at a drinking problem, had reputedly been one of the best trainers in the world, but until very recently had all but disappeared from the racing world.
The silence grew taut but he didn't speak for a few moments longer, unperturbed, studying the two-year-old.
His eyes drifted up from the horse to the rider. He could see that not only was the horse perhaps one of the most magnificent he'd seen in a long time, the rider too was one of the most accomplished he'd seen—and that included his own carefully handpicked staff back home. He looked to be about eighteen, slim build, definitely young. Yet he exuded an effortless way of handling the horse which Nadim knew only came from true talent, sheer courage and experience. And the animal was spirited.
The man moved restlessly beside him and Nadim took pity, saying finally, 'He's a stunning colt.'
'Yes,' Paddy O'Sullivan said with more than a hint of relief in his voice. 'I was sure you'd see it straight away.'
The horse they observed and spoke of was one of the main reasons for Nadim's visit to Ireland, and the reason why he was about to buy Paddy O'Sullivan out of his failing modest-sized training grounds and stud farm.
'It'd be hard not to see it,' Nadim murmured, his eyes once again mesmerised by the sleek move of powerful muscles under the thoroughbred's glossy coat. Already he was imagining the lineage that such a stallion and his brood mares could produce one day.
He'd sent his most senior equestrian aide to research this part of the world for him, and had instantly seen the potential; the stud was about two miles down the road from the house and training grounds. Perfect for his European base.
His mouth firmed when he recalled how his aide had been all but run off the beleaguered property by some angry woman with a rabid dog—hence his advice to steer well clear. But Nadim had made sure that his people had approached Paddy O'Sullivan directly and made an offer that no drowning man hoping for a life-raft could refuse...
The O'Sullivan stud had once been very successful, breeding numerous winners. It was that pure bloodline which had produced this colt, who was already making a name for itself, having won two of Ireland's highest-profile flat races in recent months. Excitement kicked low in Nadim's belly—a sensation he hadn't felt in a long time—making him aware of how rarely spontaneous emotion impacted on his day-to-day life. Just the way he liked it.