Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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

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

Taken by the Desert Sheikh by Mel Teshco, Christina Phillips and Cathleen Ross
Purchase link: Amazon

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Taken by the Desert Sheikh by Mel Teshco, Cathleen Ross and Christina Phillips blurb

Taken by the Desert Sheikh is a great collection of short stories about primal alpha males and the strong, sassy heroines who bring them to their knees and reveal a softer side to them. I love the premise of these stories. Three brothers and their virgin brides. The romantic in me who grew up reading Mills and Boon loves the alpha hero and virgin bride although I have to laugh a bit at the improbability of these sheikhs with their western educations and open-minded ways. They are nothing like real sheikhs I've encountered while living in the Middle East. These sheikhs are more like an alternate version of a European prince. Rich, cultured, well mannered but also alpha, primitive and dominating. Still, it makes for an enjoyable read and an afternoon of distraction.

Stolen by the Sheikh by Cathleen Ross
Stolen by the Sheikh is fascinating because it brings together a traditional, almost barbaric practice of arranged marriages (there's mention of kidnapping the bride!) with a man who's educated and modern but tied to the conservative customs of his country and a woman who is every bit the modern, capable, independent person.

Jamal needs to marry for his country's safety and stability, and he needs to marry a woman from a certain bloodline. I really felt for Jamal. It seems like he is backed into an impossible situation with his own free will and desires taken from him. Yet, he's honorable and cares for the well being of his people so he agrees to the arranged marriage. I liked that he took the time to get to know Lilly even if he deceived her in the beginning. I have to admit, I'm surprised I was rather forgiving of his deception towards her but perhaps that had to do with the fact that I knew the position he was coming from. Interestingly, even with his western education, Jamal is quite primitive in his views of owning and claiming his princess. The combination of primitive possessiveness and gentleness he showed with Lilly is a heady combination for a girl who likes a strong alpha male.

Lilly is delightful. I loved her joie de vivre and her loyal heart. It's not everyday that a young woman is willing to care for an elderly relative the way she does, and that speaks to the kindness and compassion in her. But on top of that, she's also strong willed and spirited. It's that spirit that shines through most of all. Even in the face of a lot of responsibility and change, and later on danger, she remains strong and capable.

Jamal and Lilly make a lovely couple. Two strong people brought together by difficult circumstances but finding love in the midst of it. I hope they make lots of babies, because alpha hero, virgin bride and making babies makes my traditional romantic heart happy.

The Sheikh’s Rebel by Mel Teshco
This is the second book in the box set and I must say, there is a similarity to the brothers that is striking. So far they are both alpha males, dominant, commanding and just a tad more than a little primitive.

I liked Zafar. Beneath his dominance and primitive behaviour there is an honorable man who is fighting for peace in his country and working at doing what's best for it - even to the extent of orchestrating the kidnapping of a neighbouring princess in order to marry her for peace's sake. And for all his bluster and sternness, there's a kindness and generosity to him. Aside from that. Ms Teshco knows how to write a seriously hot sheikh. I think Zafar melted my Kindle a little.

Amber, on the other hand, I did not like at all. Her original intentions towards Zafar were not honorable though driven by a need to save and protect her people and country. And when I started to like her a bit more something happens (seriously, I was so annoyed with her at that point, I was ready to throw in the towel!) which causes her to turn on Zafar. Given that she had already married him, I find it petty and immature of her to not give her husband the benefit of the doubt even when the information comes from a so-called trusted source. The lack of communication between her and Zafar really bothered me and since it was she who decided to do a runner, I felt it behooved her to make the first move to bring understanding between them. Even though she got a happy ending and all the things she wanted, I kind of begrudged her her happiness. I didn't think she deserved it. Poor Zafar had to do all the work. I sincerely hope Amber keeps Zafar extremely happy for the rest of his days because he deserves it after what she's put him through.

The Sheikh's Reluctant Princess by Christina Phillips
I admit I had a rocky start with this particular story. Sofia simply rubbed me the wrong way and it took me a while to grow to like her and in the end, I'm not entirely certain she had won me over. It wasn't that she objected to the loss of her freedom and the drastic way her life was going to change once married to Tariq. I understood that. It was simply the way she behaved and the way she said things or rather flung words are Tariq which I objected to. And even though her very Westernised sensibilities have been infringed upon with an arranged marriage, I did not like the way she handled the situation. First by vehemently objecting to it, lying to Tariq about something important, then deciding perhaps if she can't get him to change his mind, then seducing him to have him do her bidding. And for the most part, even as she adjusts to her new status, she's quick to jump to conclusions and cast accusations around rather than hearing Tariq out and finding out his reasons for the way he is behaving. I realised a bit further into the story how young Sofia was. She was only twenty, so perhaps I should be a bit more forgiving towards her impulsiveness and her lack of maturity. She did redeem herself in my eyes though towards the end when she realised she was not always in the right and was willing to meet Tariq halfway.

As for Tariq, he's a bit of a devil, isn't he? But at the same time, I have a soft spot for him because he's so wounded from a loss early in life. He's also a bit of a contradiction, on the one hand being open-minded and progressive but at the same time being a bit of a tyrant towards Sofia. I confess, I tend to be more forgiving towards heroes in general, so even though Tariq was a bit of a jerk at times, I forgave him. Also, I understood his reactions with his concerns towards Sofia's safety and wanting to know where she was.

It probably frustrated me more than anything that the two of them had so much unsaid between them because they were too busy indulging in each other physically rather than working out their issues, but then Tariq's only twenty four and Sofia's only twenty, so ... hormones! I'm glad they sorted it out in the end and they got their happy ending.

I'm undecided about how I feel towards these stories. On the one hand, I love the alpha male and virgin combination. On the other, I had a hard time with how vehemently the women objected to their situation and I hated seeing them feeling trapped and without choices. Fortunately, this is a romance and they all found love with their respective partners. Would I read books by these authors again? Yes, definitely! Would I want to read another sheikh-based story of a similar ilk? ... It depends. I admit to being somewhat uncomfortable with how the women felt forced into their situations and being treated like property. Having lived in the Middle East and having experienced what it means to be a woman in such an environment, I assure you, it is not a pleasant feeling. Do I love the dominant, alpha male sheikhs? Yes, to an extent. I think my biggest thing was reconciling the culture as I had lived it, understanding what it's like, and marrying it with my modern sensibilities. The submissive and traditionalist in me was at odds with the modern, independent woman I think I am. :-p

View all my reviews

The previous Sheikh anthology:

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

About the author

Mel Teshco

Mel Teshco: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon

Christina Phillips

Christina Phillips: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon

Cathleen Ross

Cathleen Ross: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon

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  1. Deanna thanks for your comprehensive review. Sorry I've just seen this. Don't know why it took me so long to find it. All the best

    1. You're welcome. I enjoyed your story the most.

  2. I was just saying I need to read more sheikhs. Sounds pretty good but I can understand that mixed feeling, too.

    1. I love Liz Fielding's sheikhs. They are such a romanticized version of them. But yeah, these ones I had mixed feelings about.

  3. I really enjoyed these stories :) love me a strong alpha

    Have Fun

    1. They were certainly very strong alpha men.