Author Veronica Scott is stopping by as part of a blog tour for her newest book Priestess of the Nile. Though this stop is part of the Bewitching Book Tour - Veronica has graciously offered to write a guest post to go along with ROMANCE WEEK!
So happy to be here, talking about romance and my new book Priestess of the Nile, set in 1500 BC. The Ancient Egyptians didn’t have any specific celebration of love but the goddess Hathor personified love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She wrapped all the good things up in one package! The Egyptians were a lusty, sensual people, who also wrote beautiful love poems, fragments of which have come down through time to us.
Here’s what the book is about:
Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile God is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.
Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.
Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. When he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?
Being a god himself, Sobek doesn’t need to call upon the goddess Hathor to help him with his romance with Merys, the way a human man might have, nor does he recite any poetry. (At least not during the book, maybe later he got around to it! LOL) In the Egyptian mythology, Sobek had been the lover of at least four other goddesses in his time, so falling in love with a human woman was a new and different experience for him, however. Here’s an excerpt from a poem of the same time period the novel is set in:
With graceful step she treads the ground,
Captures my heart by her movements.
She causes all men's necks
To turn about to see her;
Joy has he whom she embraces,
He is like the first of men!
When she steps outside she seems
Like that the Sun!
(from the Chester Beatty Papyrus, Ancient Egyptian Literature—A Book of Readings, Volume II: The New Kingdom, translated by Miriam Lichtheim)
The poems were often written as if the man and the woman were alternating in proclaiming their love and longing for each other, and praising the beloved. It is believed many of the poems found on fragments of papyrus or written on the walls of tombs were actually passed down for hundreds of years previously in an oral tradition, before the scribes of the New Kingdom started transcribing them into hieroglyphics. Fortunate for us that they did, so that 3000 years later we can still enjoy the beautiful, timeless words.
Chapter OneThe old abandoned temple remained one of his favorite spots along the Nile, overlooking the river from a small bluff, with a deserted beach below. Bek stood gazing across the sparkling water at bronze- and black-spotted crocodiles sunbathing in the final rays of the setting sun. A breathtaking mix of colors stained the sky as the Goddess Nuit spread her cloak across the heavens, sprinkling the black velvet with stars.A beautiful soprano voice rose from the beach below the bluff. Bek recognized the words of a familiar old song, given new meaning by the hypnotizing, alluring voice. I must see this songbird. She’s cast some kind of spell over me.He strolled along the path from the ruins toward the beach. Taking the last turn on the trail, he walked out on the sand and found the woman. She waded in the water, casting a small fishing net and retrieving it, every once in a while picking out a wriggling silver fish and throwing it into a waiting basket on the beach.Her ample breasts flashed into view when she leaned over. She had kilted her skirt to her thighs, revealing shapely legs. Long ebony hair was caught behind her ears with combs in the shape of seashells.Wouldn’t I like to take those combs out and see her hair tumble down—she’s as beautiful as her voice. He must have made some sound. She stopped singing and wheeled, taking an involuntary step deeper into the river at the sight of him, a stranger. Her face paled under her tan and her eyes opened wide as she staggered, caught by an eddy of the current.“Don’t be frightened, please. I mean you no harm.” He held his hands up, palms out, and smiled. “I heard your singing and it drew me here. I only wanted to give my thanks for the concert.”She laid one hand on her graceful throat, toying with an amulet on a thong. “You startled me.” Poised to bolt, the girl appeared wary, probably planning an attempt to run past him.“I apologize.” He kicked off his sandals and waded into the water at an angle from her. The net drifted lazily in a whirlpool; he reached out and caught it, lifting the tangled strands from the river.“Oh, don’t! You’ll ruin your fine kilt, sir.” She came to him hastily and took the net from his hands. “The river runs muddy at this time of the year. Your servants will labor in vain to get the stains out.”He glanced at his waist. Oh yes, I did choose to wear the pleated white kilt of a nobleman. He followed her to the shore as she splashed through tiny waves with her net. “Fortunately, I have no servants to worry with such things.”While putting his sandals on, Bek frowned at the Nile crocodiles lying deceptively immobile on the opposite bank, then glanced at her. “You take great risks, walking into the river with those beasts nearby.”One of the animals twitched. Bek glared at it. The creature met his eyes for a second, then settled onto the sand.“Oh, I’m not afraid. I’m protected.” She was busy folding the net and packing it into a compartment in the lid of her fish creel. She didn’t even spare a moment to consider the predators across the water.He coughed to cover his instinctive laugh. “Protected? And exactly how are you warded against attack?”She stood briskly, raised her chin and tugged an amulet free of her dress to show him. It was a small green stone crocodile hanging on a frayed black leather thong. “My great-grandmother was the last priestess of the temple on the bluff above.”He indicated the amulet. “May I see it?”The girl unlooped the cord from her neck and handed the necklace over. “Great-Grandmother told me the amulet was blessed by the Crocodile God himself and would protect me from his creatures.” Bek chuckled, holding the tiny figurine in his large meaty hand. “Mighty protection indeed.” He momentarily closed the pendant in his fist, then tossed it to her with a slight bow.“Nonetheless, you shouldn’t take such chances. Crocodiles are crafty and fierce.”When she refastened the amulet the stone pendant fell between her shapely breasts. She unkilted her skirts and the simple dress fell to her ankles. As she bent to lift her basket of fish Bek put his hand atop hers on the handle. She gave him a wide-eyed glance but stepped aside to let him lift her burden.“Thank you, sir. I’m going to sit in the shade and eat my dinner now.” She pointed at the nearby grove of palms. “Would you care to join me?”“I’m not hungry, but I’ll sit if you don’t object. An hour of good conversation is a pleasant way to end the day.”She peeked sideways at him while she walked. Eventually she smiled shyly. “I’m grateful for the company. My name is Merys.” She stood nearly as tall as him, unusual in a woman, but he found it distinctly attractive. Her face was lovely, oval and browned by the sun, which set off her sparkling black eyes. She was all lush curves and smooth skin—his cock stirred with lust but he restrained his arousal.She seems to be an innocent maiden, of good family by her educated speech, not a woman to be lightly trifled with for an afternoon. He realized he was standing rooted to one spot, lost in admiration of her beauty. Shaking his head, he started walking again. “Call me Bek.”“A propitious name for this place, if your naming was in tribute to the Crocodile God.” Merys slanted a look at him sideways and chuckled. “Are you a merchant? Is your ship anchored somewhere nearby?” Not waiting for an answer, she sank bonelessly under the tallest palm. Lifting a shawl that lay draped there across some wicker hampers, she pulled out a hard roll filled with dried meat.Bek set the stinking fish creel on the sand well away from where he planned to sit, but safely in the shade. He lowered himself into a cross-legged position and leaned against the tree, hands clasped behind his neck. “I travel along the Nile quite often, yes.”She blinked and raised her eyebrows. He hadn’t precisely answered either of her questions but she didn’t press the matter. “Did you come to see the temple ruins?”He nodded. The truth, as far as it goes.
Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library full of books as its heart, and when she ran out of things to read, she started writing her own stories. Married young to her high school sweetheart then widowed, Veronica has two grown daughters, one young grandson and cats.
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Veronica’s life has taken many twists and turns, but she always makes time to keep reading and writing. Everything is good source material for the next novel or the one after that anyway, right? She’s been through earthquakes, tornadoes and near death experiences, although nothing is as stressful as meeting a book deadline. Always more stories to tell, new adventures to experience—Veronica’s personal motto is, “Never boring.”