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The Sheik

(The Sheik Saga #1)

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,568 ratings  ·  270 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, 304 pages
Published May 8th 2001 by Pine Street Books (first published 1919)
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Average rating 3.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,568 ratings  ·  270 reviews

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Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, bodice-ripper
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.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
One of my GR groups was 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.

This book was pretty much our grandmothers' and great-grandmothers' Fifty Shades of Grey. It really has no redeeming qualitie
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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In my review of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, I said that Woodiwiss is often credited with writing the first bodice ripper. While she was certainly one of the first mainstream authors to publish a widely read romance with an open bedroom door *wink*, THE SHEIK has a shockingly similar formula to the "modern" bodice ripper, and it was published in 1919. The only difference is a deliberate omission of sex scenes, but it's clear that they're ha
1 ½ 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.
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The Sheik, written in 1919, both horrified and intrigued me at the same time. I truly HATED the storyline—the racism, anima
Merry Jewelhound
This review is going to be rather choppy as I have so many mixed feelings. When I read a book I try to take into account when it was written rather than use todays mores. The Sheik was written in 1919, WWI has just ended, woman have just gained the right to vote, and many countries were still colonies. This book needs every trigger warning available. Nothing is on the written page its all inferred. The plot of the book was Diana...I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU till I Love you and I am nothi ...more
Nov 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: harem-sheikhs
Re-read, and loved it even more the second time!
A total Bodice-Ripper romance classic!

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 as well to connect with all the characters.
So lets get to the characters.
What an independent, obstinate, spirited, plain spoken woma
LuvBug (*Formerly Luvgirl)
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
Wendy,  Lady Evelyn Quince
The Sheik by Edith M. Hull, published in 1919, is as influential to the modern romance genre as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps, even more so.

It was a blockbuster of a success, despite its many detractors. While some modern readers may cringe at its depiction of women, sexual roles, and racial attitudes, The Sheik remains a compelling read one hundred years after its publication.

“What I have I keep, until I tire of it–and I have not tired of you yet.”

This year, 2022, is the 50th annive
Charlotte (Romansdegare)
I read this atrocity as part of a project with some friends, reading through a list of books that are supposed to have shaped the romance genre. This was our first book: it's apparently considered one of the earliest bodice-rippers, and had a significant influence on the genre. I went into this expecting it to be bad, and it was worse than I thought. This book is a violently racist bunch of rape-apologism, no two ways about it. I considered not reviewing it at all, because no more eyes are neede ...more
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
4/17 Guilty Pleasures module

If you think 'Beauty and the Beast' has Stockholm Syndrome, this takes it to a whole new level.
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sarah Mac
So, I never reviewed this back when I read it. Oops.

This is THE original bodice ripper.

Despite being (correctly) labeled as jazz age chick-lit, it's very well-written...which amuses me, given the level of repetitive trash that passes for 'independent publishing' these days.** This was the 1920s version of 50 Shades -- but unlike Ana & Christian, Diana & her Sheik really grabbed my attention & kept me eager for a HEA. Hull imprints a good depth of character in the leads, which more people might
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
Leigh Kramer
CW: rape

I read this so you don’t have to. A few friends and I decided to embark on a romance history project, tracing where the genre began and how it evolved. This book comes up a lot when looking into the origins of romance and so we decided it had to be included on our list, even though none of us wanted to read it due to its racist and rapey contents. There’s value in reading source material and not just taking everyone else’s word for it so we did our best to just get through it. I really h
Apr 17, 2011 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." ...more
Aug 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I can understand that this novel, published when it was (1919), was described in the press with such as 'shocking' and 'poisonously salacious' because the views of people in the immediate post-Edwardian/early George V era were such that a tale told like this would perhaps shock many folk! Of course, today it does not do so but then I can imagine it definitely raised a few eyebrows!

But whatever the views were of the novel, it did not prevent massive sales; the edition I have just read is fro
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
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
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
Jul 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
4/17 Guilty Pleasure module.

I was genuinely disgusted reading this book, and if I didn't have to read it for university you can guarantee I would never have touched it in a million years. Just so problematic. So problematic.
Aug 16, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I blame myself for reading an old book titled the sheik.
Can't even be mad about the racism in it.
So many prejudices and false misrepresentations, but nothing new 😖
And expecting a book written in 1917 to have a good presentation of Arab culture is stupid.
Especially when books written this past year are still fetishizing Arabs.
Hannah Hearts Romance
I read this for science. Science is apparently painful. Negative stars. It’s a terrible book full of racism, misogyny, violence, and the most unhealthy relationship dynamics you can imagine. If this is the book modern romance wants to trace its foundations back to, no wonder we have so many problems with racism, misogyny, and unhealthy relationship dynamics.

Overall rating: burn it with fire
Hannah Angst Scale™️ rating: n/a - the only angst I experienced is the angst of putting myself through that
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
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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 travelled widely with her parents, even visiting Algeria, the setting of her novels. In 1899, she married Percy Winstanley Hull (b. 1869) in London and the couple moved to Derbyshire

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.” 5 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.” 4 likes
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