Our female lead protagonist is a fierce advocate for equal rights for women. So she’s strong, intelligent and opinionated. Our male lead is a sheikh who also cares about women’s rights. So he’s modern, intelligent, steely willed and ruler of all he surveys. Ooh, sparks will fly!
Sheikhs in romantic novels tend to be very much of a type. Of course, they’re gorgeous, sensuous, smoldering, foreign, exotic hunks of beefcake, in or out of robes. They are also used to being obeyed and can be unscrupulous in getting what they want. The fact that Sheikh Rahim Al-Hadi is usually in the right when he’s dealing with CEO Allegra Di Sione after she steals a valuable Fabergé box from him doesn’t do much to offset the fact that he can be an absolute jerk.
But he’s a real hottie, one that has her panting just from hearing his voice on the phone. It doesn’t hurt that she used to read romantic novels that transported her to “hot Arabian nights and tall figures in flowing white robes. To whispered promises in the dark and soulful brown eyes that promised forever.” She might be a smart cookie but inside she’s just a lumpy ball of dough.
Time and again, Allegra tries to broach the subject of getting the box from him. Time and again, he stonewalls her. Admittedly, he’s operating under a false assumption about her presence. But her frustration over her inability to communicate with him properly is an irritant that affected this reader to the point where I wanted to yell at her to get on with it. Then she finally gets around to saying what she wants and he’s furious, refusing to hear what it is she has to say.
So they get into a fiery clinch and, when he falls asleep, she steals the box she came for and slips away in the night. Uh oh. Then she finds out she’s pregnant. Double uh oh!
Abortion never seems to be an option in these stories. If a woman loses a baby, it’s through a natural miscarriage or tragic accident. But when she gets pregnant, even if a child isn’t originally in her plans, somehow she always winds up keeping it. So when Sheikh Al-Hadi finds out about it, what does he do? Does he try to woo or persuade her to marry him? Oh no, he threatens to have her arrested for stealing a national treasure!
Naturally she caves and winds up wedding and bedding the sheikh. This is just another replay of “The Secret that Shocked De Santis” and “The Sheikh’s Pregnant Prisoner” with the threat of incarceration thrown in for added flavor. This is romance Arabian Nights style, with masculine strong-arming and royal dictatorship as all-too-common factors.
No thanks. Romance like this no one needs. If you hear thudding from where you are, it’s not a headboard hitting the wall; it’s my head banging on the desk.
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