VINTAGE JANE: Desert Romances and Exotic Desserts

Long before I ever sold to Harlequin, I was an avid reader of Harlequin romances.  I grew up reading Harlequins, although when I first discovered them I was thirteen and living in Europe and they were called Mills & Boon romances.  My favorite stories were always with foreign settings, the more exotic the better.

Today I write for Harlequin and my favorite settings are still exotic.  I’ve lived all over the world, and traveled extensively, but still have several places I’m dying to visit.  Those places include the Middle East and its magical desert kingdoms of Egypt, Morocco, and Dubai.   In some of my books I’ve made up my own desert kingdoms (i.e. Baraka instead of Morocco), while in others I’ve explored the fascinating history and culture of real countries like Egypt (King of the Desert, Captive Bride) and Dubai (The Sheikh’s Chosen Queen ).   Though very different, the historical and natural wonders of Egypt and the modern, man-made luxury of Dubai both translate beautifully to the world of the romance novel, giving my Harlequin Presents a classic, sensual setting for love, conflict, seduction, and passion.

If you love to travel, or just enjoy being an armchair traveler, check out my Travel Spotlights on Egypt and Dubai for some of the attractions and sights not to be missed, along with some amazing recipes (like fragrant, flaky Egyptian Bread & Butter Pudding and M’hanncha , an indulgent Middle Eastern dessert) to give you a state of these far off kingdoms.

I hope you’ll enjoy the recipes and do let me know if you try them yourself!  In the meantime, I’m sharing my love of sheikh stories by giving away to one reader a signed copy of The Sheikh’s Chosen Queen and King of the Desert, Captive Bride.  I’ll draw the winner’s name from those that comment.  Contest closes Saturday night midnight and winner’s name will be announced Sunday morning.   If you’ve never read one of my Harlequin Presents, here’s your chance!


  1. Really? I will have to go find those books! I dont read harlequin much, but I like your voice so I will be hunting those down!

  2. I didn’t know that about you.

    I haven’t read any in a long, long time. But I used to and I know that is why I dream of places like Greece and all the places that were in Harlequin novels. There seemed to be a lot of Greek men in the ones I read. LOL

    And then I started reading books by Mary Stewart and Dorothy Eden. Never Call It Loving is still in my bookcase…tattered and all…but man, I loved that book.

    I am going to find some Porter Harlequins!

  3. Hey Jane: Those recipe’s certainly sound delicious. But I must ask and no laughing please but what is filo dough and filo pastry. Also what is orange blossom water and rose water? Can they be found in a regular grocery store? Guess you can tell I am not much of a baker – but my daughter is so I think I will forward to her and ask her to give it a whirl.

    Thanks and how is Baby Boy Mac doing these days?

  4. Hi Jane

    I have read all your Harlequin books, and you are the master of the exotic. You’re writing will always give the reader a flavour of the spices and aromas we can imagine experiencing in the Middle East.

    I have been to Tunisia. It’s such a beautiful country, and if you haven’t been to an arab country, it is quite difficult to explain what they are like.
    If you can just imagine the complete opposite of your own country, then that is what you will experience. How women are placed in society, how the women dress compared to us in the west. The souk’s, the spice stalls, it is just amazing.

    Oh and Patricia, filo pastry, is very thin and almost transparent pastry, that we use quite a lot here in the UK. It’s used quite a lot in sweet dessert recipe’s. You have to handle it gently, because it’s so thin. I’ve used it in a strudle, you have to place each sheet between damp towels, and then as you’re assembling whatever you’re using it in, you have to brush it with melted butter, simply because it doesn’t have any fat in it.
    Hope that helps.

    Looking forward to your next Harlequin Jane.

    xx Karen

  5. I used to travel so much and must admit, your blog has made me think about those wonderful carefree days (before children) where everything was so new and different and amazing. The food, the music, the people…all so exciting. I married my Greek/Cypriot prince and as a note to Patricia…I tried early on to make him a recipe with filo dough. It came out like burnt newspaper flakes flying around the kitchen. We still laugh about it. Karen’s post above sounds like it has some good suggestions. I didn’t do any of that. Good luck!

  6. Hello Karen and thank you so much for the description of filo pastry. And nice to meet you as well.

    Jane – I am on a hunt this weekend for your Harlequin novels. I have never seen one on the shelf and I look but now it is a must. I love this stuff a good scavenger hunt if you will!!

  7. Sadly, I am an armchair traveler, married to my highschool sweetheart who happens to be a homebody. I live vicariously through others who do travel, and I have gobbled up most (if not all) of your Harlequin novels just so I could pretend I was somewhere else! Books transport me to anyplace I want to go. Someday, I WILL take the kids and hubby to another country!

    Baklava is a delicious, nut, cinnammon, allspice, nutmeg and syrup filled dessert that is fairly common in the Middle East – very predominant in the Central Valley of CA with Armenians and Greeks. Phillo dough is what is used to make this yummy dessert.

  8. I can’t wait to read these Harlequin books as I’ve loved your books for 5 Spot! And a book set in an exotic location sounds perfect for summer reading! Thanks!

  9. Egypt is a family goal. My son loves all the history of mummies, pharoahs, etc. It’s going to be awhile before we can go as we have to save up. But to remind us of our goal, my husband, son and I each have a little scarab on a leather strand. We bought the necklaces at Denver’s Nature and Science museum as reminders of what we want to do. Now, I just ordered King of the Dessert, Captive Bride, but I’d be happy to win the signed copy too! Have a great day.

  10. Dear Stacy: How funny and that is probably what I would do besides not having the patience to work with dough so fine but I am sure I could produce burnt newspaper flakes. Now that sounds easy – but having a daughter who is a baker by trade seems to me the route I should go. Nice talking with you.

  11. I’ve never read on of your Harlequins Jane, but we’re heading to the library today to sign the kids up for the summer reading program. Perhaps I can check one out.

    I have a knack for reading any JP book I get my hands on in a couple of days! I already have “Easy on the Eyes” pre-ordered from Amazon. I hope they ship ahead so I can have it on release day. Hmmmmm….

    I hope you and Mac are better and by now Surfer Ty is back in Washington for a bit. School is probably out for your boys (mine finished yesterday). Will you head to Hawaii this summer?

    Miss hearing your current posts, but am enjoying the guests and vintage for sure!!

    Take care,
    Shannon in Tustin

  12. What a treat to win those, have never read your books. Hope all is good in your life..come back to us soon, miss the good stuff!

  13. I have always dreamed of traveling to Dubai! I am not a Harlequin type girl (is there a type?) but I am willing to try! Heck if I could go to Dubai in a book, perhaps I’d be willing to move there with my hubby when he asks.

    I hope all is well with you, the boys and Ty!

  14. Love the sheikh genre; in fact just posted your releases on Romancing The Desert – Sheikh Books today!

    The desert seems to draw me, the mystery and it’s people and hopefully one day I can travel to that part of the world.

  15. I have not read any of the Harlequins before. I have never been dissapointed with any of your books, so I will have to put those on my list!
    Have a good weekend!

  16. Hi everyone,

    I’m back to announce the winner of the prize. Thanks so much to all who posted. It’s wonderful to have such great readers and friends here. And because I love writing for Presents, and love my exotic Harlequins I’ve chosen one overall winner…but everyone else still gets a book, too!

    That’s right. Everyone who posted wins a book and goodies, and #15, Kari Noel, wins both books and goodies.

    Kari Noel and everyone who posted, please email me with your address ASAP since I’m leaving for Hawaii this week and I want to mail you your prize pronto.

    So congrats to all and thanks to all and email me soon with your name and address so I can start putting your book and goodies in the next mail!


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