I received a free copy of this book from Harlequin Books through the Goodreads Giveaway program.
As a small paperback tale of passion, this is mostly w...moreI received a free copy of this book from Harlequin Books through the Goodreads Giveaway program.
As a small paperback tale of passion, this is mostly what one might expect. The dialogue is tolerable, as there are some advancing complexities between the characters as they get to know each other, and there is no such thing as mediocre sex.
The back of the paperback says that "Sheikh Sayed of Zeena Sarha [sic] and his harem of beautiful women are staying at the exclusive opulent Chatsfield Hotel, London..." It is not immediately noticeable that the name of the country is spelled wrong on the back of the book, since it is a fictional country anyway. What is more noticeable is that there is not actually a "harem of beautiful women" in this story. On page 9, it's stated that the entire concierge floor of the hotel has to be reserved for these women; on page 22, it is clarified that these women are "different female staff members of the prince's entourage" and "the emir's fiancée and her mostly female traveling companions." This is a little confusing: Are the women attending the prince and/or his fiancée? What does it mean to be "mostly female"? Do all the women stay on the concierge-turned-harem floor, regardless of whether they primarily associate with the prince or with his fiancée, thus banding by their gender rather than by their professional or social role? Does the Zeena Sahran culture find that gender segregation (the word harem meaning "forbidden") is adequately achieved by simply staying on a different hotel floor? Why is the future emira allowed to have some traveling companions who are non-female? Where are the eunuch guards? All of these questions are easily sidelined, however, since none of these women actually appear in the story, despite supposedly taking up an entire floor of the hotel.
This is because the two main characters are too busy bedding each other for there to be any time to worry about other characters who might be doing things other than having really great semi-protected sex. Their tryst is sparked when the emir's fiancée (who we never meet) inexplicably runs off and elopes with another man. The 36-year-old emir has been celibate for three years as a matter of personal honor in anticipation of his marriage, and suddenly there is no marriage to be had, so his three years of "sexual desert" on behalf of someone he was never excited about anyway are proven to have been wasted. Without a moment's delay, he is immediately filled with lust for the chambermaid, and apparently there is no personal honor lost in restraining that impulse. The chambermaid, for her part, is invested in proving that she is the equivalent of an American princess--the illegitimate child of a tycoon--a piece of information which, if true, now carries the added benefit of making it slightly less likely that her royal lover will drop her like an old bath towel after he scratches his three-year itch.
The brief discussion of the medical workings and ethical meaning of "emergency birth control" (page 100) is muddled, but since it is contained within the dialogue of two characters in crisis, and they are permitted not to know what they're talking about, it's OK.
What is nice about this book is that the chambermaid heroine is independent-minded enough to talk back to the prince and tell him when he sounds like an elitist ass -- which is pretty much every time he opens his mouth, except when he's telling her that she's hot -- so he gets taken down a notch a lot.
This 1907 American book is on my "to-read" list after James Calvin Davis in In Defense of Civility said it "outsold every other religious text for a t...moreThis 1907 American book is on my "to-read" list after James Calvin Davis in In Defense of Civility said it "outsold every other religious text for a three-year period."(less)