Feature book: Taken by the Sheikh
As the name suggests, this is a trio of stories of three sons of a Sheikh abducting, seducing and manhandling their future wives. They are new adult stories where the women are all just-twenty-or-so-year-old virgins. None of them are interested in the men of their fathers’ countries or their ancient ideas of marriage or how women should behave. Each story is roughly a hundred or so pages.
Hostage to the Sheikh by Mel Teshco
Lexi Galvin, living-in-the-moment girl, turns twenty-one and wants ‘fairytale first time sex’. Unbeknownst to her, she finds her father is an Arab sheikh. Shahzad Salah al Din is the ruler of Omana (his parents’ murder forms a story arc that continues through the three books) with near black eyes, a hawkish nose, dark hair pulled back in a leather clasp, and white teeth contrasting with a smooth tanned face. He is arrogant, ruthless, barbaric and influential.
Their abductor–abductee relationship is best described with direct quotes: ‘And it drew her to him like a buzzard to road kill.’ His first sight of her was sexually charged: ‘your hair in a beanie and a red jacket belted to your body.’ There is a lot of contradiction in the relationship. Shahzad abducts her but wants her to rule at his side. He knows she’s sexually ‘clean’ but not that she’s a virgin. Shahzad researches Lexi and redecorates their private wing of the palace to suit her tastes. He organises picnics on sand dunes under the stars yet forgets to telephone a flunky to ensure his previous ex-lover has been removed from the palace. There’s also the dichotomy that Shahzad’s previous lovers are ‘traditional’ women, which contrasts to Lexi, who is a modern Western woman in her thinking.
There were several elements that jolted me out of the narrative: Lexi is passive-aggressive and not very bright sometimes. She trusts Shahzad’s ex-lover to help her ‘safely’ escape home to England. Lexi falling off a (small) cliff, knocking herself out and endangering her just-discovered pregnancy was distracting. The contradictions in Shahzad’s behaviour pulled me out of the story. He is thoughtful about a picnic but glaringly not so about his ex-lover. If you enjoy abduction by Sheikh stories, this could be your cup of tea.
The Sheikh’s Mistaken Bride by Christina Phillips
Sanura Jones is a talented painter preparing her first show and is best friend to May (full name Maysarah), who has been ‘married’ to Khalid Salah al Din (half-brother to Shahzad from the previous book), via bride price according to Qtara law. Sanura and May live together with Sanura’s aunt—her only known relative. Sanura is a virgin (almost twenty-one) who becomes weak-kneed at the sight and evocative scent of (unbeknownst to her) Khalid.
Khalid has given his name as Andre to Sanura. He believes that Sanura is May and she’ll get to know him better if she doesn’t know who he really is. He’s tall, dark and has a dangerous aura of sexuality. Khalid has a French mother and has that je ne sais quoi of European men. He’s also gorgeous and he knows it.
Sanura and Khalid’s relationship is defined by the mistaken identity trope. Khalid thinks Sanura is May and Sanura does not realise ‘Andre’ is Khalid. Khalid eventually realises Sanura is not May but plans to wed them both (allowable in his country) as he enjoys (loves but doesn’t really admit it) Sanura. He sees it as an advantage that Sanura and May know each other and are already best friends. Sanura won’t countenance putting either her friend May or herself in that situation and leaves Khalid even though she loves him. There’s an added complication to their relationship where Khalid needs to maintain diplomatic ties with May’s father, and if Khalid marries Sanura soon after marrying May, it will be considered a slight to May and her father, so Rafi (the third brother) volunteers to wed May in Khalid’s place.
This is a contemporary new adult story with a touch of Pride and Prejudice; he’s prideful and she’s prejudiced against ‘traditional’ values. It’s a seduction story (with a willing Sanura) and quite a different narrative to the first and third stories, and likely it has a broader appeal.
Sold to the Sheikh by Cathleen Ross
May (Princess Maysarah El Habib, Australian mother, royal Arab father) has fled to the Gold Coast in Australia from London, escaping Khalid on her Australian passport. She knows that Khalid has married Sanura, that her father is livid and that if his secret police find her, she will be dragged home and ‘stripped and whipped in front of the court just as he had done to her mother when she’d tried to leave him’.
Rafi is the third Salah al Din brother. He is the security chief to his brother Shahzad and very experienced at covert operations and various types of fighting. He’s also gorgeous and he is extremely fit with hard, well-defined muscles.
The relationship between Rafi and May is short, explosive and best described with a brief synopsis of the narrative. Rafi breaks into the apartment that May is hiding in, frightens her and leers at her naked body. He then threatens her and claims her father has sold her to him to do as he will. This is followed with manhandling, binding her wrists, sticking his fingers in her hoo-ha and oral sex all while she’s lying on her bound hands. Following that, Rafi gets her to his waiting yacht by threatening her with a needle full of something to knock her out if she doesn’t put on the burka and leave with him quietly. May, within about an hour, falls in lust/love with Rafi as he tells her of his love from afar and friendship with her beloved brother, who was recently murdered. Rafi talks about duty until May agrees that she has been totally unreasonable in wanting to live ‘a free life’ and will give that idea up to fulfil a life of duty and service by Rafi’s side. The relationship is duly consummated in the hot tub.
There were too many elements pulling me out of this contemporary story to enjoy it. The ‘Australian law can’t touch me’ attitude of Rafi didn’t appeal. The WTF ‘dubious consent’ oral sex at the start of the story was even more unappealing. Rafi’s love from afar is equivalent to being another woman’s stalker. The deflowering sex (ouch) in the hot tub (double ouch) with Rafi whose penis is as large as the diameter of her wrist (triple ouch)! Those who enjoy pain with their sex and men ‘hung like a horse’ may find this story appealing.
Reviewed by Gina
A review copy of this book was provided by the authors.