Feb 18 2011 9:00am

Reliving “You Are My Egypt” from Connie Brockway’s As You Desire

Sunset Over the Nile and Giza PyramidsYou know those moments. You're reading a romance and it's good. But then you read a scene that is so indescribably, deliciously, breath-robbingly romantic that it stops you dead in your reading tracks. You are powerless to move on. The book must be put down—preferably held against your heart—while you sit there, sighing and wallowing in the perfection of it all. These moments are incredibly rare—and so they should be. If reading put you in such a state every day, you'd be useless. One of my absolute favorite moments of this type occurs in Connie Brockway's As You Desire.

The story takes place in 1890s Egypt. Cairo is an eclectic, international mix of scholars and scoundrels looking to make their name—and their fortune—in the antiquities trade. Desdemona Carlisle and her grandfather are on the scholarly side of things. Desdemona is, in fact, a genius, fluent in 12 languages. As a child, she was paraded around Europe as a prodigy when all she ever longed for was to be a “normal” English girl.

Harry Braxton has a secret.

He has dyslexia and thus cannot read. Despite efforts to hide his great shame, Harry is treated as an imbecile and sent down from Oxford. But Harry is a brilliant man who thrives in Egypt while definitely skirting on the scoundrel side of the population. Harry is also madly in love with Desdemona, whom he calls “Dizzy.” Dizzy is not indifferent to Harry, but both have sublimated their passion into a bickering give-and-take friendship that all comes to a head when Harry's cousin arrives in Cairo. The brooding—and perfectly named—Blake, Lord Ravenscroft, is every girl's dream hero, and Dizzy's heart melts when he calls her an “English rose.” Harry scoffs at the unoriginality and when challenged by Dizzy to do better, launches into a description of Desdemona that steals her breath (and mine too). He says, in part:

'. . . how can one single image describe you? You are a country, a country of unexplored sensation and whim, veiled in dawn, shining, shedding light. See how the long fluid line of your throat flows to your breasts?' If he heard the intake of her breath, he ignored it. 'Or how their blue-shadowed curves ripen above the smooth plain of your belly?'
'Your mouth.' He paused, and her lips felt suddenly sensitized, tingling as his gaze fixed on them. 'Your mouth is a sweet well sealed against me, keeping me thirsting for the clarity of your kiss. Your flesh is like the desert sand, warmth and shifting strength beneath its golden color. Your palms open, fingers flexed, are minarets, delicate and elegant. And your body . . . it is the Nile itself—the camber of your back slipping so easily by the narrows of your waist and jettied hips to the lush delta below.'
He stopped. She heard the intake of his breath. 'You are my country, Desdemona.' Yearning, harsh and poignant and she felt herself swaying toward him. 'My Egypt. My hot, harrowing desert and my cool, verdant Nile, infinitely lovely and unfathomable and sustaining.'

Whew! Give me a moment . . .

OK. Back.

From that point on, things change. Desdemona has to look at Harry differently. His words awaken the latent desire she has always had for him and colors every subsequent encounter. And Harry has let the cat out of the bag. He can—and does—joke about it, but once his true feelings have been put into words, he knows he cannot simply be friends with Dizzy any longer; he cannot let Blake—or any other man—steal her away from him. There are adventures and fights and misunderstandings and crises to overcome before Harry and Dizzy find their HEA, but this moment is a turning point in their relationship.

I've been asked before, “What is your favorite romantic scene?” and I unhesitatingly say, “You are my Egypt.” Thank you, Harry, and thank you, Connie Brockway. Let me go see if I can get my toes to uncurl.

Cheryl Sneed reviews for

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Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
yes. I might have to break my 'I never re-read' rule for that book. Read it so long ago, and loved it.
Aliza Mann
3. AlizaMann
I believe that was one of the most sensual paragraphs that I've ever read. Don't you love it when the words reach in and pull tears from your eyes??
I heart romance!
Charli Mac
4. CharliMac
I feel like a cartoon whose mouth drops to the floor, tongue rolling out like a red carpet, and the heart pounding out of its chest.


SWOON! I wanna be someone's country!

My hubby says things like, "Babes, you boobs are awesome. You should put them in a boob contest cause you'd win. " Or my morning favorite getting dressed, "I like big butts and I cannot lie." And lastly the seducing come on standard, "Come get some."

Yes, he's my high school sweetheart and he never graduated to adult romance talk but I find him utterly adorable. I may never be his "country" but I am certainly his big bootylicous boob queen. I'll take that.

But I still soooo wanna read this!
Stephanie Treanor
5. Streanor
@CharliMac I adore you. This is at least the third time I've cracked up at my computer reading one of your comments.

keep them coming!
Charli Mac
6. CharliMac
@Streanor, I'm here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitress. Clown horn-*Honk-honk* Drum beat-*Ba-da-bump-bump*
Cheryl Sneed
7. CherylSneed
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I hope those of you who haven't read it, will. And, a reread is always in order for those who have. Speaking of which...

@MFrampton - you never reread?! Do you keep books? Have a Keeper Shelf? If so, why, if you don't reread? You continue to amaze. ;-)
Keira Soleore
8. KeiraSoleore
@CherylSneed: Lovely post! I'm a huge fan of all things Connie Brockway, so I'm in completely agreement with you about this book.

@MFrampton: I had the same reaction as @CherylSneed. You never re-read? I re-read all the time and save most of my books. I've only recently started weeding out books to give away to Half-Price books. I have especially read and re-read my JoBevs, Kinsales and Brockways.
Megan Frampton
9. MFrampton
@CherylSneed and @KeiraSoleore:

Nope, don't reread. Not for lack of wanting to, but there are always books looming on the TBR pile, and I never find time to go back and reread. And YES, I have a keeper shelf. Which is filled with Brockway, Chase, Kelly, Balogh, Stuart, Ward, etc.

I amaze myself, actually. In a 'I'm lame' way.
A.J. Wilson
10. A.J. Wilson
I'm with Charli, I want to be someone's country, no forget that, a continent. Ye crack me up lassie! And the excerpt, bloody amazing!
A.J. Wilson
11. Janet W
That is truly swoonworthy -- but what is especially swoon inducing is having your blogs to read. As you know, I've always liked your reviews: blogs too is total icing.
A.J. Wilson
12. njoireading
I read this blog, juiced up the nook, bought the ebook and sat down to read it. It has moved to one of my all-time favorites, right up there with Not Quite A Husband---my absolute favorite. I read it and then re-read the parts I really enjoyed. The poem on the back of the mirror was too much! Thanks for talking abou this made my weekend.
Cheryl Sneed
13. CherylSneed
@JanetW - thanks so much, so nice to see you here!

@njoireading - oooh, the mirror poem, that's a killer, too. I'm so glad you found a new book to add to your list of favorites. It's something special, isn't it?
A.J. Wilson
14. santasmbslt
@Cheryl - thanks for bringing that incredible scene back to me. Le sigh. That's why Brockway is on my keeper shelf. She brings you into the moment and you become the heroine and her sighs are your sighs and you find yourself dog earing the page, something you never, ever do to books.
Flora Segura-Buchler
15. fsbuchler
I love Connie Brockway! I do not know how this one escaped me! I'm buying it tomorrow.
A.J. Wilson
16. Karen H
I loved that passage, too! And, yes, it's on my Keeper shelf. And I have actually 5 very full, crammed really, bookcases of shelves of Keepers that I do not re-read. There's always something new to read! I keep a lot of them for the cover art as I am verrry fond of good looking men with muscles, long hair, and no shirts. I admit, though, that I occasionally re-read a portion of a book if I'm reading a subsequent book in the series and want to see how the current protagonists were portrayed in the prior book(s), but other than that, nope, don't do it. In fact, I don't read excerpts before the book is published because I have a very good memory and I found when I read excerpts and then picked up the book in the bookstore, that I thought I had already read it and didn't buy it. Back cover blurb is as far as I'll go and I use those to make up a "to buy" list.
Louise Partain
17. Louise321
How amazing! And of course, loving all things Egypt (yes there's the current unrest but Egypt's history is filled with unrest which is part of what makes it so romantic) I have read adventures and romances from Amelia Peabody and family to Ms. Chase's Mr. Impossible. Somehow this one escaped me. As You Desire, here I come!

@CharliMac, you crack me up! I long ago gave up on being romanced with words by my accountant husband and settled for being well loved. Don't regret my choice, either. Having my sagging boobs grabbed as I walk by or lay beside him is charming enough.
Linda Franklin
18. eniale
Some books are too good for one read. This is a definite favorite.
Louise Partain
19. Louise321
Found this one finally in the stacks of my secondhand bookstore. More than matches the hype. Delicious hero. Also picked up two more of her earlier ones -- The Bridal Season and My Surrender. I am definitely a fan!
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