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The Merchant's Pearl (The Merchant's Pearl Saga #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  89 ratings  ·  36 reviews
He was born to rule an empire. But she's the one who rules his heart…

Stripped of her Christian name and freedom, Leila tries to evade the lustful gaze of her masters. Even in a sprawling Turkish palace, there’s no room to hide from the handsome Prince Emre. On her dreaded first night as the prince’s concubine, instead of his bed, Leila receives a gift more precious than al
Kindle Edition, 452 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Amazon Digital Services LLC (first published July 24th 2016)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  89 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whew, what a story. First off, it's just fantastic writing. Even if the plot sucked, you would be like; "man, that story sucked, but boy was it beautifully written". There is talent here and it shows. Fantastic world building. It is obvious that the author put in the time and effort to present the reader with a well-researched story and nothing makes me happier than that. There are not many books that entertain while teaching you something about a different country, a different culture, and a di ...more
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: June 23rd 2017

“I just wish I understood what it all means sometimes—why one person rises while the other falls? Why one set of feet must be kissed while the other’s gets stepped upon?”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

(view spoiler)
Karen Dowdall
“The Merchant’s Pearl,” by author, Amie O’brien, is a beautifully written historical romance about life in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, especially life as a harem slave. The main characters, Prince Emre and his concubine, Leila, one of several of his concubines and wives, begin to fall deeply in love amidst the turbulent times of change, from the old-world-order to the new-world-order, regarding the Industrial Revolution of Europe. The Merchant’s Pearl is an intriguing and intimate loo ...more
Eleanor Small
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a Turkish harem in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, this novel explores how love can succeed against the odds, amongst themes of trust, sex and politics – the latter of the harem, royal court and the wider world. Leila, a slave harem girl, battles with her new station in life, dreaming of when she was free and trying to reconcile herself to the fact that she will probably never be free again. Told from Leila’s point of view, we watch how she battles harem politics and expectations, d ...more
Regan Walker
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: exotic-locale
4 and ½ Stars - Love in a Harem in the Late 19th Century Ottoman Empire

A great debut novel, this is a well-told tale that will sweep you away to an exotic locale drawing you into harem life. You will not forget the well-developed characters.

Set in the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century (beginning in Istanbul in 1875), this is the story of Sarai, the daughter of missionaries. She was very close to her father who called her his “Pearl”. When she is eleven, her parents were killed and she was
Stephanie Collins
I am a self-admitted historical romance junkie. I've read hundreds, if not thousands. That being said, this is - without a doubt - the most memorable historical romance I have (or likely ever will) read. I must admit that I was slightly hesitant to pick it up; it's a Turkish harem story, and (in all honesty) my tastes tend to be more European in nature. I am SO incredibly thankful that I took a chance and branched out for a new reading experience; it would have been such a loss if I had passed t ...more
Carole P. Roman
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously detailed story about Leila, a young girl living in a harem in 19th century Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was teetering, it's bloated aristocracy and royal family feuding over the throne. No one was safe, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian. The daughter of murdered missionaries, Leila finds herself placed in a harem and reluctantly trained in the arts of pleasing a man. Her defiance catches the eye of young prince Emre, who finds both her intellect and independent spirit refreshing. She ...more
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not really a fan of history, so I don't typically read historical fiction, but I read The Merchant's Pearl because the premise seemed so interesting. It did not disappoint! It has everything I look for in a novel- relatable characters firmly planted in a plausible world, suspense, and forward momentum. The inner workings of the palace during the Ottoman Empire was fascinating. Definitely a page turner! I can't wait for the next book! ...more
Sarina McDougal
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved this book. The characters wriggled their way into my heart. I appreciated that the author gave many of the characters a back story, so we could sympathize with them even if we didn't like them. I also enjoyed learning so much about a culture that I knew so little about. This was a beautiful story, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
In a world of Christian missionaries, Turkish harems, Napoleon and the Suez Canal, a Christian girl is being trained to please a Muslim prince. But things are not quite as they seem. Her prince’s privilege of riches is as surely a prison as the home of wives and concubines; the luxury of choice carries cruel responsibilities; and the art of saying no might be the most seductive gift of all.

Both prince and virgin concubine hide secrets. Both are faithful to the God of their different belief. And
Karen Ingalls
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written love story between a Prince and his concubine. Their genuine and unconditional love is beautifully described. I could not put the book down and was "disappointed" that it is part of a saga. Anxious to read the next book in this series.
There is history, culture, and intimacy.
Stephanie (Bookfever)
I almost don't know where to start expressing my love for this book. It took me a couple of chapters to really get into the story but once I did I quickly fell in love with it. It ended up being my favorite historical romance of the year so far.

To keep it short, this story is set in the Ottoman Empire where the main character, Leila, gets chosen to be part of Prince Emre's harem. Emre turns out to be very kind and compassionate towards Leila and the end up falling madly in love.

Leila was quite
The Irregular Reader
Leila (formerly Sarai) is a missionary’s daughter sold into slavery after the death of her parents. Living in the cosseted and catty world of the Turkish Sultan’s harem, her main goal has been to remain unnoticed by the Sultan and his princes until she can make a claim for her freedom. When Prince Emre, the Sultan’s second son, claims her as his newest concubine, all her hopes seem to have been dashed. But Emre has been in love with Leila for years, ever since a disastrous attempt by his father ...more
Cat Imb || The Reading Cat ||
I received an ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Amie O'Brien.

Wow. I have to say that when I opened my kindle and saw how many pages this book was, I was a little concerned it would be a book that dragged on without purpose, that could have been more concise. Boy, was I proven dead wrong. This book was meticulously and perfectly paced. There was never a dull moment, or a moment when I just wanted the book to be over. In fact, I wanted the book to NOT end.

It is abu
Up until I reached the end of the book, I would have given it 4 stars. The writing is beautiful. The characters are believable, though not always likable. The setting is exotic and the romance tender and emotional. The history was intriguing. The book was very well-edited; I found only a few wrong words.

The only nitpick I had with the story was that sometimes, the dialogue seemed too modern for the time and place. For example, the lovers often greet each other with "Hey." To me, this is somethi
Kelly  The Sassy Book Lover
*I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

This is very different from what I usually read and I really liked it! I loved the different setting, culture, and POV that is in this book. It's not your typical romance and there is a lot more going on then their story. There is a journey for both of them in finding themselves and their way in everything. It's a book that you want to take your time and read. The ending was good and it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it
Cindy Woods
May 04, 2018 rated it did not like it

What a very long, repetitious, dull book! The story is monotonous and characters one dimensional, colorless....especially Leila. The creation of life in the harem is very poorly constructed and not believable. The dialogue is juvenile and modern while we are led to understand the story takes place in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire.
The main character Leila is a self-righteous Christian woman who was sold by traders to the palace as a child after her parents are brutally murdered, yet I
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Merchant's Pearl by Amie O'Brien
The Merchant's Pearl Saga Book One
Imagine an eleven-year-old who not only became an orphan after her parents were murdered, but was then sold to the traders. Being handled and touched as merchandise instead of a human.

Imagine having to hide the way you were raised—having to pretend to worship a foreign god instead of your God. Having to hide your true heritage and language.

And imagine being given to a sultan's son. Living with other concubines. Living amidst h
Coy Lee Stroud
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing for any author's first published book. The setting, the characters, and the drama were believable. All the action is behind the scenes but is no less suspenseful. Most of the characters, like most people anywhere, are trying to be the best they can be within the confines of a very rigid society. I really loved this book. I only ever give 5 stars to books I liked so much I knew I would read it again. This is just such a book.
Granny Coy
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Merchant's Pearl is a memorable novel that provides a fascinating look into Turkish history. Well-researched, with an intriguing plot, compelling themes, and believable characters who stay with you long after you finish. Can't wait for the next instalment!
Nina Mannes
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate a book that keeps your interest from beginning to end. Can't wait for the next book! ...more
3.5 Stars

For a self-published work, this novel has a lot going for it. The author put in the effort to research her timeframe and society setting, not an effort many put in with a harem setting. I also loved the slow build for our main relationship for most of the book. Yet, there are some issues that keep this from true stardom.

1870s Ottoman Empire is a world in flux, the modern world and European powers encroaching on a traditional Muslim world. Told through the eyes of a captive Ottoman princ
Píaras Cíonnaoíth
Whatever flaws we might identify or frustrations we might feel are trivial in comparison to a reader’s pure joy in losing himself/herself in a narrative. When all the elements come together: an intriguing plot, thoughtful, profound themes, complex, troubling, characters, and language that make us shudder for its honesty, clarity, and confidence; we gratefully set all analysis aside and give ourselves up to the sheer magic of a great book. And for me, The Merchant’s Pearl (The Merchant’s Pearl Sa ...more
Candy Briggs
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a beautiful Love story. It has been set in the Ottoman Empire, during Napolean III's time(1875). Emre Is the fourth son to the throne and lives in the palace. He feels he lives in a cage, he goes virtually nowhere. Leila was a daughter of a vicar and British, but she could tell no one or it would be her death. She became a concubine to Emre and lived in his harem.
This was a comprehensive delight with the descriptions of the palace, their rooms and the views out of their windows. The chara
J.T. Riggen
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start by saying this genre of novel is not in my direct wheelhouse. There were some great reviews floating around of this title, and the author website was enough to entice me to give it a read. Great writing, is great writing, is great writing. There's no substitute for it. And Amie O'Brien is a phenomenal writer. I need to be transported right away when I read. Bring me into the world, paint it vividly, let me get lost in your words paragraphs and descriptions. O'Brien does just that th ...more
Anna Goodman
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-reading
Besides Anne of Green Gables and Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels I am usually not keen on series, but can't wait for the sequel of The Merchant's Pearl. The writing style is so absorbing and engaging and not for a minute I thought the book was too long. The love story of Leila, a harem slave stripped of her previous identity and Emre, a cadet son of the Sultan, is set at the end of the 19th century while the once mighty Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The details of the historical context are r ...more
J. Marie
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Amie O’Briens The Merchant’s Pearl is an unforgettable, heavily researched, and highly believable love story about the 19th century Turkish Harem of the Ottoman Empire. It is very clear that O’Brien spent timeless hours and dedication to making this story real and believable. You will live and breathe the 19th century and fall in love like you never knew you could.

Leila, the daughter of Christian missionaries, has found herself living in a Turkish palace after the gruesome death of her parents.
Paloma Hdez
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books of the year!

I was rooting for Leila and Emre’s relationship, even though they are fictional characters, their feelings were so real, sometimes I shipped them and other times I wanted to throw the book out of the window. I loved the vivid descriptions of the Ottoman Empire, I’ve never read a book set in that era or place. Thank God, there will be a sequel because the ending was quite abrupt.
Susan Waters
Story concept is good but....

Ponderous is the word that came to me as I read this book. It was too wordy with no depth to it. The book could have been half the size with nothing missing from the story. Also the book is set in an earlier time period, but the conversation in many parts was modern. I don't enjoy writing negative reviews but I just couldn't help this one. The author seemed very sincere but needs more practice.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read

I enjoyed reading this book. It was a very interesting look inside a harem, and life in the palace during the Ottoman Empire. It is the story of a love that builds between a Prince and the servant girl he chooses for his next concubine. It is the first in a series and I look forward to reading the next installment.
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