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The Sheik (The Sheik Saga #1)

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  966 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
Diana Mayo is young, beautiful, wealthy--and independent. Bored by the eligible bachelors and endless parties of the English aristocracy, she arranges for a horseback trek through the Algerian desert. Two days into her adventure, Diana is kidnapped by the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who forces her into submission. Diana tries desperately to resist but finds herself fa ...more
Paperback, 166 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1919)
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Ah yes, the book that launched a million Harlequins. Imagine, there'd have been no The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl if not for Edith Maude Hull's 1918 bodice ripper, which turned sheiks into literary catnip forever, for all time, and - I'm pretty confident - into infinity and beyond.

This is the original "virgin ravished by sheik" romance, with all the required alpha male swagger and conceit, as well as the shamed heroine's vows of eternal hatred eventually blossoming into consuming love.
1 Melodramatic and Very Disturbing Stars

I don't know where to start with this very disturbing, highly repetitive, and very melodramatic book. Oh, the melodrama! A previous reviewer stated that she kept thinking of a silent movie while reading the reactions and internal dialogue of the heroine. I couldn't agree more! All I kept seeing in my mind's eye was this picture.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The Sheik, written in 1919, both horrified and intrigued me at the same time. I truly HATED the storyline—the racism, animal cr
Nov 11, 2011 Dorothea rated it did not like it
Shelves: romance
Serious trigger warning for sexual violence, abusive relationship, animal harm.

There are all kinds of observations I could make about this book. Diana's perceptions of Arab women were especially interesting to me. I didn't even mention the godawful racism below, but that could be another post just as long. This post is about rape. Discussing other things in the comments is fine and welcomed, though.

Setting aside the issue of assigning a potentially triggering text, I would totally assign The She
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
One of my GR groups has been reading Trade Wind and having an in-depth discussion about whether a relationship (spoiler for Trade Wind here) (view spoiler) One of our readers mentioned The Sheik in connection with this discussion, and curiosity + free on Gutenberg sucked me in.<-----I'm kind of bad that way.

I think the best way to think of this book is that it was our grandmothers' and great-grandmothers' Fifty Shades of G
EDITED: 7/20/13

I decided that this book deserves a 5 star after never leaving my mind since I read it in 2011.

Whew, Ahmed Monseigneur! I have never feared a couple not ending up together as I did with Diane and Ahmed! Up until the last page you are left in agonizing suspense. When Diane loves or hate it is with such a passion that defies all reasoning. In the beginning I was amazed by the hatred she had for the hero and couldn’t see the way out of such blatant malevolence. The animosity she had
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
Where to begin? Well first off this book drew me right in from the beginning to the end! When I first started it I was expecting it to be hard to get into considering the date/time it was written in by this author.But not at all! It was very modern,and very easy to follow and connect with all the characters.So lets get to the characters. Diana: What an independent,obstinate,spirated,plain spoken woman.Raised as boy,with no affection from her guardian brother,no genteel upbringing,she knew little ...more
Nov 20, 2011 Mayra rated it liked it
Shelves: what-a-letdown
Stockholm Syndrome much?
Wow, I have finally found a character as contemptible as Bella Swan. Diana Mayo is an insult to women everywhere. How could anyone, on principle, love a rapist?
I couldn't find one single attribute in her I could relate to. Honestly, if it were me, I would have killed him as soon as he gave her that gun and said he trusted her.
How can a woman, in her right mind, see the bruises on her arm and think: "It's not his fault, he doesn't know his own strength. If he killed me I'd
My last recorded reading of this all-time-favorite was in 2003 but the first time was when I was a pre-teen sneaking the book out of my grandmother's bookcase to sample "forbidden fruit" (well over 50 years ago!). I was so taken by the romance and thrill of the story that I have never forgotten the feelings and this is my go-to book when I need mental comfort food or to recapture the sense of being young and embarking on an adventure.

I collect copies of this book. I still have my grandmother's
A.J. (Lacy Literacy)
✦ Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers New Years 2017 Reading Challenge for a Sheikh/Harem Romance

The Sheik is garbage in the form of a novel that was published back in 1919 when people still used slurs to refer to people of color. It has everything you don't want: racism, rape, every man ever falling in love with the heroine, and the heroine almost killing herself because the Sheik wants to send her away. Also, I'm pretty sure all the characters have lung cancer from smoking so much.
Dec 14, 2013 Sellaphane rated it did not like it
Stephen King, Clive Barker--hell, even H.P. Lovecraft have all been dethroned by E.M. Hull. Seriously, in addition to being one of the most disgusting "romance novels" ever published, it's also downright horrifying and offensive as hell.

There's not a whole lot to the plot. Diana Mayo is a headstrong, fiercely independent young woman who pretty much gives societal conventions of the female gender the middle finger. In short, she's a boss-ass bitch (bitch bitch bitch...) and for the first 20 page
Aug 20, 2013 KatLynne marked it as to-read-historical-romance  ·  review of another edition
I want to read the original AFTER reading Victoria Vane's retelling of this story in The Sheik Retold.
5 ++ Stars Original 1919 Landmark Historical Romance
The Arrogant and Mesmerizing Blue Eyed Sheik
This is the original and first Sheik story and still the best! I encourage you to download and read this Classic for FREE from Amazon or Guttenberg.

Given the time of publication in 1919, almost 100 years ago during the shocking destruction and loss of life of The Great War (WWI)and the renewed interest in the Arab World due to the British fighting the Ottoman Empire there in Arab lands, and in the co
Mar 03, 2012 10lees rated it it was ok
Full disclosure: I only read this because it was referenced as the first official novel of the romance genre in an article. It was very interesting, but I can't in good conscious recommend it because it is precisely what I hate in a novel – the author tells you, constantly and incessantly, exactly what the main protagonist is thinking and why it makes sense in the context of her life. Part of the writing style is probably due to the time period, the book originally being published in the 1920s ( ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Misfit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just picked up a hardcover copy at the UBS. Publishers A.L. Burt Company, inscription inside "To Albert. Xmas 1923."
Janet Juengling-Snell
When I stated my love affair with reading, Barbara Cartland was the BOMB!! As a 12 year old young girl, I couldn't get enough of her books.

So when I read a story about The Sheik being the Book that scandalized the world in the 1920's when it was released ( was even BANNED in certain areas). I so had to take a trip down memory land and read it

Now, 36 years later, I can honestly say that I'm still in love with Barbara Cartland. The Sheik was a wonderful, sweet and exciting story.

And yes, by today
Dec 30, 2009 Jennefer rated it it was amazing
I can't honestly say this is the best book I have ever read or anything. Yet at the same time I just don't know how I could possibly rate this any less that 5 stars! I enjoyed this so much! It has everything you could possibly want from a cheesy romance novel! Heroine raised as a boy and unaware of her womanly charms, kidnapping, rape (off page of course! this was written in 1918), brutal hero, attempted escape, another kidnapping, an attempted rape, murder, murder, attempted murder, hero near d ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Christine rated it did not like it
What a horrible piece of tripe. Good Lord. This was simply the most painfully bad book I have ever read. True love equals rape, physical and emotional abuse and codependent martyrdom of the most depraved sort. And of course the whole time the "sheik" is secretly white because no white woman could be attracted to a real Middle Eastern. I feel ill.
I'd really, really like to think that this book was supposed to be a stealthy deconstruction of abusive relationships, shuffled into exotic parts because it would have been easier to present a "barbarian" than an Englishman as an abuser (view spoiler); a look into what pushes a woman to persuade herself into caring for the abuser and consequently a very fine presentation of how ...more
Jan 03, 2017 Gisele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leí "El Árabe" por Florencia Bonelli. En su biografía habla de como este libro despertó su curiosidad literaria. Seré honesta, me salté algunas páginas de la novela. En parte por la forma que esta escrito, es de hace +/- 90 años y las autoras en aquellos tiempos eran más descriptivas en sus novelas en lugar de las páginas llenas de diálogos que estamos acostumbradas hoy en día y otro por la actitud arrogante y elevada de la prota Diana Mayo y la actitud cavernícola de Ahmed, ambos complicados
Aug 29, 2008 Amanda rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2013 Nona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
The Sheik. It's rumor to be the godfather of bodice rippers, the book women whispered about in the days it was published and finally I got my grubby little hands on it! Ok it was the ebook version but hey I got it and that's what counts.
Coming into the book I knew it was rumored to have horrible violence , rape and of course a simmer hatred that turns to love. The heroine, Diane Mayo is haughty unconventional and a bit of a naive adventurist. She's traveled the world unknowingly think man and wo
Nov 15, 2010 MAP rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, classics
This is a remarkably offensive book by modern standards. Racism, sexism, you name it. I think, ironically, the most offensive part is the revelation at the end somehow supposed to make everything that has happened more palatable? Just the fact that Hull thought it would is obscenely offensive.

...That said, there's a reason this is a classic. It's got remarkably good writing, lots of adventure, and a story and passion romance novelists have been trying -- and failing -- to emulate ever
JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2016 Tom rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, english, england
What starts off as a seemingly feminist tale of morals, quickly descends into pulpy, semi-romantic fantasies of submission and exoticism. Diane Mayo is quite uninteresting as a main character, and her romantic liaison with an Arab sheik who kidnapped and raped her never quite comes across as plausible or even interesting.

This used to be a Fifty Shades of Grey-kind of thing in the twenties. Now it's just racist and anti-feminist. Sad story.
Oct 16, 2009 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romances
I huge hit with women during the 1920's, I read (now own) my grandma's copy of this (to be honest) boring book. I guess I'm jaded in my romance novel experiences (I devoured them in the 70's as an impressionable teen), but what once must have been risque and titillating in the 20's is really very quaint today. I give it 3 stars in honor of my grandma, and because it is a classic of it's genre.
I haven't forgotten this review. Really. I'm just too damn sleepy every time I sit down to write it. >___< Hopefully tomorrow.
Theobald Mary
May 10, 2014 Theobald Mary rated it it was amazing
To entertain myself on a long train trip this week, I brought a copy of E. M. Hull’s THE SHEIK to read. This is the shockingly steamy and famous romance novel by the British author, Mrs. Edith M. Hull (who probably needed to use initials to disguise the fact that she was a woman), published in 1919 in Britain and in 1921 in the U.S. It was a huge seller, but became even more so when it was made into a movie starring Rudolph Valentino in 1921, catapulting him to international fame. Because the se ...more
Muriel Schwenck
Apr 02, 2014 Muriel Schwenck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read modern pulp romances, either naughty stuff, Harlequins or that genre. Or Danielle Steele, or whoever is popular now.
The Sheik is one of the rare potboiler romances I've ever read. I first read it when I was in highschool in the 70's. I've re-read it a few times since and it holds up. I've bought copies for friends too.
And boy is it fun! It's the original flagship of melodramatic desert romances.

It has aristocrats, Sahara desert in the moonlight, stars that shine, palm studded oases,
Mar 06, 2014 Deljah rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014-reads
A textbook example of Stockholm syndrome. She suddenly and secretly falls in love after months of captivity and rape. More drama ensues. When her captor finally decides to release her, she begs to stay. He is determined that she should leave, but now she can't live without him. She puts a gun to her head and pulls the trigger. He deflects it at the last second. They decide she will stay forever.

I didn't believe in their love. I did not find the hero sexy. Was not cheering for their romance. The
Amy Hsiao
Oct 05, 2013 Amy Hsiao rated it really liked it
It's actually better than I imagined. I first downloaded this book because there's an allusion of Kashmir Love Song, and I simply admire the song having read about it in M. M. Kaye's autobiography. From what I read about this book on Wikipedia, it's pretty much the same as romance novels, of which I'm not exactly the biggest fan in the world. However, it preceded my expectation, and I finished it within two days.

It's not a great book, of course, but it's much more entertaining than most of the
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Edith Maude Henderson was born on 16 August 1880 in the Borough of Hampstead, London, England, UK, the daughter of Katie Thorne, of New Brunswick, Canada and James Henderson, a shipowner from Liverpool. As a child she traveled widely with her parents, even visiting Algeriathe setting of her novels. In 1899, she married Percy Winstanley Hull (b. 1869) in London and the couple moved to Derbyshire in ...more
More about E.M. Hull...

Other Books in the Series

The Sheik Saga (2 books)
  • The Sons of the Sheik

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“It is very easy to dance if you have a musical ear,and if you have been in the habit of making your body do what you want. So few people seem to be trained to make their limbs obey them. Mine have had to do as they were told since I was a child," she answered calmly.” 3 likes
“Because I wanted you. Because one day in Biskra, four weeks ago, I saw you for a few moments, long enough to know that I wanted you. And what I want I take.” 1 likes
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