Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Taken by the Sheikh by Mel Teshco, Christina Phillips and Cathleen Ross

Book coverTaken by the Sheikh by Mel Teshco, Christina Phillips and Cathleen Ross
Purchase link: Amazon

My rating: star star star star

Heat rating: Flame  Flame  Flame

Three desert Sheikhs. Three captive brides…

Bound by duty to honor their father’s dying wish, three royal brothers must marry their destined brides… by whatever means necessary…

Book 1: Hostage to the Sheikh ~ Mel Teshco

Sheikh Shahzad Salah al Din doesn’t have time for hearts and flowers, not when his parents’ bodies are barely even cold in their graves and his country, Omana, is on the brink of revolt. He has to secure peace by honoring a long ago arrangement to make English rose, Lexi Galvin, his wife. The trouble is strong-willed Lexi isn’t aware of her royal Arab lineage let alone her destiny. There is only one way Shahzad can guarantee she will be his queen … and he isn’t above using force to get it.

Book 2: The Sheikh’s Mistaken Bride ~ Christina Phillips

In order to secure a powerful alliance for his country, Khalid has no choice but to marry a neighboring princess. It’s not what he wants, but duty must come before pleasure. Yet when he meets the beautiful Sanura he changes his mind… only to discover the virgin in his bed is not his destined bride.

Book 3: Sold to the Sheikh ~ Cathleen Ross

He’d paid a fortune for his bride and he was determined to collect, whether she liked it or not. Rafi Salah al Din doesn’t trust easily. In charge of security for his country Omana, he devotes his life to duty. With his parents murdered it is his duty to stabilize his country by finding his parents’ assassin, marry and produce a son to ensure the Salah al Din line lives on. So why does the wife he bought disagree?

I want to start this review by saying that I was attracted to reading this series of books due to a hilarious review on Goodreads which pointed out that the premise of all the stories were improbable and the heroes were all alphaholes. I love the word "alphahole". It's a new word for me and I was most curious to find out what it meant when describing a hero. Might start a whole new trend of heroes!

In reading these books, I also needed to set aside some pretty ingrained personal prejudices against Arab men after a rather harrowing experience while living in the Middle East, which I'm fairly certain has scarred the landscape of my soul.

Taking all that into consideration, here's what I think of the books ...

Warning: this review is going to be long, kick back with a cup of coffee ... and there may be SPOILERS. Don't read the individual book reviews if you don't want to find out the basic plots of the stories.

Book 1: Hostage to the Sheikh ~ Mel Teshco
Right off the bat, I want to say this story ticks all the boxes for me and I want to congratulate Ms Teshco on writing a short story that is satisfying to read and complete in and of itself. I did not feel as though I was left hanging and the ending was rushed, although let's face it, what can you fit into 70 pages when it comes to character, relationship and plot development? You've only got so many words to get there fast, but I'm okay with that. Ms Tescho was able to squeeze into a short story all the elements of a crazy, fantasy romance that I love - virgin, dominating alpha male, pregnancy and marriage, and she even threw in a jealous ex to thwart the path of the happy ever after.

So let's address the alphahole question, shall we? Shahzad did not come across as an alphahole to me if I were to take it to mean alpha male + a$$hole. Yes, he was dominating and forceful (and I love that in a hero) but he was also oddly vulnerable in his grief for his parents and honorable in wanting to do what was right for his country. Yes, he did kidnap Lexi against her will and was rather autocratic about how it was for her own good and he knew her better than she knew herself, but again, I like a little highhandedness in a man. It's what the alpha male is all about. He wasn't unkind, he didn't treat her poorly, and he showed an emotional side of himself to her which I liked. Who doesn't like the big, tough alpha male with a soft, vulnerable side?

As for Lexi, fortunately, she didn't annoy me. That's the number one thing I look for in a heroine. Does she tick the annoyance box? I liked that she was sassy and a little horny, it made her rapid leg spreading for Shahzad a little more graspable, along with a small doze of Stockhold Syndrome. I also liked that she questioned herself, her feelings and her choices. I hate that she ran. Drives me crazy when a character runs and needs to be chased. Stay and communicate, fight, for goodness sakes! But baby on first poke, well done! Loved that. Ms Tehsco even managed to throw is a risk to the baby scene. Glorious! Makes my old skool Historical Mills & Boons from the 1980s heart glad!

On to book 2. No alphahole yet. :-)

Book 2: The Sheikh’s Mistaken Bride ~ Christina Phillips
Oooo ... mistaken identity, another virgin and unintentional, unprotected sex. If you haven't realised by now, I love a good romance trope. I love lots of them actually, but not all, just sayin'. And brothers ... I didn't realise this box set had three stories centered around three brothers (I hadn't read the blurb. Just dove right in!). Color my series whore little heart happy!

Tropes aside, what we really want to know is if Khalid is an alphahole. Well ... a little bit. Not in the beginning. He was the perfect gentleman in the beginning and he asked (you'll have to read the book to find out what he asked!). Then duty and his feelings got involved, and he thought he could have his cake and eat it too. Isn't that just typical of a guy? That was when he got to becoming a little bit of an alphahole, but really not enough to put me off him. I was sad right along with him when he realised he couldn't have Sanura and he had to do his duty. And he was only a little bit of an alphahole, not a total douche canoe. And hell, in the end he swallowed his pride and was willing to beg. Gotta love a guy who will do that. :-)

Sanura was delightful. She was so cute, all those innocent blushes. I liked she was upfront right from the beginning even through the case of mistaken identity. It was also great that Khalid realised it was he who jumped to all the conclusions, which fortunately, he realised was his fault. I liked that Sanura stood up for herself and what she wanted, that even before Khalid made the decision to follow his duty, she had decided on what she was willing to accept in a relationship and marriage. Way to go, Sanura! Groveling was very becoming on Khalid.

Oh and this installment? HAWT! The sex scene rocked!

On to book 3. Maybe Rafi will be the real alphahole? He has the potential for it, given the little glimpse I got of him from this story. ;-)

Book 3: Sold to the Sheikh ~ Cathleen Ross
Huzzah! We have found our alphahole ... although not entirely and it's forgivable since May was such a brat to begin with. A virgin brat, but still a brat.

Rafi starts off all scary and foreboding when be busts into May's room to claim her and his language was all alphahole. Seriously, I thought this is it, we have found our alphahole and his name is Rafi. Then you find out that Rafi is an honorable man and he's been in love with May since forever ago and he's been carrying this torch for her all this time, and you melt into a puddle of goo. I loved his protective side too. I mean, what woman doesn't like being protected? Hmm, don't answer that. There are probably women who don't want to be protected because they are strong, independent women, but I am not one of them. I love being protected. Rafi can protect me anytime!

It took me a little while to warm up to May. She comes across as a complete brat at the beginning, rebelling against her culture and rebelling against her responsibilities. Then they get attacked and she's brave. She's got fight and spirit in her, and she wants a better country for her people, with more freedom for the women. Rafi helps her to see her responsibilities are not a burden, with him by her side, she can achieve anything.

Awww ... all finished. *sad face*

Overall, I think there was a lot less alphahole-liness going on than I was led to believe from the review I read. I think the measure of an alphahole is subjective. Some readers may tolerate more than other. Perhaps I am one of those who have a higher level of tolerance?

I liked there was a thread of mystery throughout the story, trying to find out who murdered the three princes' parents and start a war between two neighbouring countries. Of course, it gets resolved at the end and the good guys win. Hooray!

It tickles me crazy that after one white hot sexy time, these girls all fall madly in love with their guys, but these are short stories and I've suspended my disbelief, so I'm happy they're in love. Happy for now drive me batty, so the fact that they all got married and there were babies on the way made my silly, romantic heart happy. And have I mentioned how much I enjoy a good virgin story yet? I got three of them in this box set! Happy dance!

I enjoyed this box set. It's everything about the romance fantasy I love with all the tropes that make me go a little silly inside. Great for when you're short on time but want something satisfying and  well written to read.

Quite possibly the most fun I've had reading a book in a while and definitely the most fun I've had writing a review. :-)

One last thing I would like to see though, a table of contents. Bouncing between books or looking up a book was difficult without a table of contents. That's easily fixed in the eBook formatting though and in no way takes away from the reading experience. It's a small thing and it is an easy fix.

View all my reviews

About the authors

auMel Teshco grew up in Australia, where her seemingly gypsy dad and ever patient mother saw her living in many areas of the East Coast, along with her sister and two brothers.

Each new home stimulated an already over-active imagination, where she spent as much time dreaming about fantasy worlds as the real world - the fantasy sometimes being much better.
Now living on a small rural property with three horses and a handful or two of cats, she is happily married with three children of wide-spread ages and a stepson.

Not only does she adore writing darker-style paranormals, she also enjoys writing paranormal erotica and has some published works with Ellora's Cave.

Author links: Website - FacebookGoodreads

auChristina Phillips is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her high school sweetheart and their family. She enjoys writing paranormal, historical and contemporary romance but whether the hero is a fallen angel, tough warrior or sexy mortal, the romance will be sizzling and the heroine will bring her hero to his knees.

Christina is addicted to good coffee, expensive chocolate and bad boy heroes. She is also owned by three gorgeous cats who are convinced the universe revolves around their needs. They are not wrong.

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Author links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

auCathleen Ross likes to write about the quirky side of life. She thought she was a "Sweet" writer until she was asked to write her first erotic story, sold it immediately and never looked back. Her first novel, Man Hunt sold to Black Lace/Random House. Man Hunt became the number one best selling erotic novel on the Publisher's website in 2006 and has been translated into German. She loves writing erotic short stories. Highlander is the second in her Forbidden Fantasy series along with Take Me and The Lover. Highlander is special to her because she dreamed the story - about a dispossessed Scottish noble named James, who had to fight to get his land back. She followed this up with Highlander in her bed and is currently working on her Highlander series.

She has also sold Psychic Sex and Shift into Pleasure to Harlequin Spice Briefs. Psychic Sex was included in the Naughty Bits Anthology. Finally, she thought she'd better write something her mother could read. Her romantic paranormal mystery, Tempting Trouble, a novel set in a waxing parlor was re-released as an indie, quickly followed by her September 2013 sale of Love, Lust and Lies to Harlequin. Her Demon Prince, an erotic paranormal romance is an August 2013 release.

Author links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

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  1. Loved this review. Made me laugh. Thanks so much Deanna.

    1. Very welcome. I enjoyed the challenge of finding an alphahole.