Guest blogger: Victoria Vane
EM Hull’s The Sheik, first published in 1919, was a hugely popular novel in its time, with over fifty printings before 1921 alone. This classic romance had been on my radar for years, but it was only upon stumbling across a free download at Amazon that I decided to finally read it. My reaction when I finished the book was mixed and conflicted. There were some aspects of the story that I loved. EM Hull’s descriptive prose was nothing short of enthralling, but there were so many other things I found appalling—such as the heroine’s repeated rape by the sheik. What bothered me most about The Sheik was EM Hull’s inconsistent portrayal of Diana. She begins as such a strong and independent woman but by the third chapter seems like a completely different person—whiny and whimpering. I could not respect her.
I felt the book had so much potential to be more than what it was. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to tell a different version of the story—my vision of it—so I did! I knew when I took on such a well-known and controversial novel that I would face some controversy myself, but it was still something I was compelled to do.
The Sheik Retold is a fresh retelling from the heroine, Diana May’s POV. In my version of the story, I have kept everything I loved about the original but with a number of plot twists. While EM Hull’s sheik is portrayed as a ruthless ravisher, my vision of the sheik is much more evolved, employing methodical seduction rather than brute force to get what he wants. My second biggest change is in the character of Diana. My Diana Mayo is cool and pragmatic and stays much truer to her nature than in the original story. She knows she has no choice in submitting to the sheik, but still manages to do so largely on her terms!
I had tempted him in the same way just this afternoon, defiantly daring him, taunting him to kill me. He had only laughed. For the moment my protestations and rebellious antics amused him, but should he begin to grow weary of it…of me… I shuddered.
So, it was all back to the matter of my inevitable submission, for it was inevitable. I’d already accepted that fact, and in truth, had only continued fighting to delay the actualization of it. Perhaps even the loss of my virginity was also a matter of perception, or misperception, as it were.
I had never understood why the act of losing one’s virginity was referred to as being taken, an expression that seemed ridiculous to me. When considering the mechanics of it, the act involved a great deal more giving from the male perspective and receiving on the woman’s part.
In truth, my decision was not whether to give him anything, but merely to receive what he desired to give me. I could enjoy it or not, but I would be no weaker for it. I fingered the necklace, the cool jade pressed against my breast. I had not wanted to receive this either. It had pleased him far more to give it to me than it had for me to accept it.
Indeed, in the great scheme of things, I suddenly saw power rather than weakness in being the object of a man’s desire. Although it was not in my nature to manipulate—I was too honest and forthright for that—I was also not fool enough to pass over the opportunity to play the cards I was dealt to my best advantage. I could either let him have me in the deferent and submissive manner of a lowly servant or meet him on equal footing, allowing myself also to take from him.
I laughed aloud on this absurdly liberating thought.
Yes, I decided. I would take him as my lover—for as long as it suited me to do so.
The Desert Was Never Hotter!
A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground…
A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…
When pride and passion vie for supremacy…
Blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…
“There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay for what you have done.”
“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French Government has no jurisdiction over me. There is no authority here above my own.”
My trepidation was growing every passing minute. “Why have you done this? Why brought me here?”
“Why?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”
Pride and passion vie for supremacy in this steamy retelling of EM Hull’s romance classic.
The Sheik Retold is available in ebook and trade paperback. You can find it at Amazon.
Look for another Eastern-inspired romance, Jewel of the East, (Book #5 in the award winning Devil DeVere series) coming 20 January 2014.
Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her biggest writing influences are Georgette Heyer, Robin Schone and Sylvia Day. Victoria is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for her sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in 2014.