25 October 2015

Midnight in the Harem by Lucy Monroe, Carol Marinelli and Susanna Carr

Hey everyone,

I have been known to delve into the world of Mills and Boon on occasion and when I saw this collection at my local library I thought why not. As the title would suggest Midnight in the Harem is three short stories that all revolve around the idea of Harems.

The book:
Angele’s dreams of a love match with Crown Prince Zahir have been dashed – she must release him from his promise. But on one condition: that the proud sheikh gives her the wedding night she has dreamed of! 

Playboy Sheikh Rakhal Alzirz’ reckless fling with Natasha Winters appears to have consequences. Now Rakhal whisks her to the desert. If she is pregnant, they’ll be married. If not? Then there’s room for her in his harem! 

Zoe Martin has endured six years as a slave – now she’s been sold into marriage! Being given to the Sheikh could mean freedom! But she doesn’t expect the sizzling heat a single glance from Sheikh Nadir can cause...

My thoughts:

As this is three stories I thought I’d do a mini review of each to give a better overview of the whole collection. Firstly comes For Duty’s Sake by Lucy Monroe, which was possibly my favourite of the three. I really liked the character development of both Angele and Zahir. Engaged since childhood Angele has always admired and loved the man she was arranged to marry. Yet when she discovers that Zahir isn’t the pinnacle of manhood she had believed, Angele feels she has no choice but to let him go.

She wanted to call him a chauvinist. Tell him he was arrogant beyond belief. But most of all, she wanted to ask what he meant.

In contrast Zahir had continued to view Angele as the child he been originally engaged to. He respected her but kept her at a distance. It isn’t until Angele leaves him that he realised he actually wants her. Initially I felt this was more to do with pride and the reputation of the country. Yet as the chase continued Zahir clearly developed feelings for Angele. I felt these two were a good match for each other because Angele wouldn’t put up with any of Zahir’s high-handedness without a fight.

“You are a manipulator.
“I preger master of circumstances.
“Call it what you like, I won’t be tricked that way again.” 

In my opinion the power dynamics between Rakhal and Natasha in Banished To The Harem by Carol Marinelli weren’t equal for the majority of the story. Natasha after one night of passion is whisked unwillingly into a foreign world. Forced to obey traditions that make little sense to her western upbringing Natasha takes her anger out on the only person she does know, Rakhal.

It was an almost impossible task, for never had she been so aware - not just of him, but of her own body; the sound of her boots as she clipped past him, the relief in her nostrils as they once again detected him, the burn of his eyes as they unashamedly followed her progress.

Yet this was a true meeting of minds because through the course of the story Rakhal and Natasha both come to understand each other better. Rakhal sees some his countries traditions through fresh eyes, particularly the use of his Harem. Similarly Natasha starts to appreciate and accept some of Rachel’s ways, the importance of these traditions to the local people. Also the end scene of this story was pretty magical.

“You can’t do this.” She attempted to reason with him. “You can’t just take me!
“You let me with no choice but to do so.” Rakhal was completely unmoved by her dramatics.

Without a doubt The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar by Susanna Carr had the most tragic back-story; with Zoe being abused by her family after the death of her parents for many years. Her marriage to Nadir rescued her but for obvious reasons Zoe doesn’t want to spend another day in Jazaar. Instead she convinces Nadir to take her with him on his various business trips all in the hope of someday escaping back to America.

“Do you know anything about the bride?” Rashid whispered into Nadir’s ear. “What if she’s unsuitable?
“It’s not important,” Nadir quietly informed his brother. “I have no plans to live as husband and wife.

Despite that tragedy the romance between Zoe and Nadir was really sweet as they both slowly learnt to trust the other. I liked how protective Nadir was but how Zoe would stand her ground to stop him being over-protective. Throughout the course of the story we watch as Nadir goes from being ashamed of his bride to explicitly trusting her opinion.

Zoe didn’t trust men in general, but she didn’t think Nadir was violent. His actions last night alone told her that. He hadn’t forced her into bed, but instead had allowed her to set the pace. A beast would take and take without consideration.

Overall I’ve given Midnight in the Harem three stars because although I’d enjoyed reading these three stories I felt all of them lacked depth. I’d have loved to have more character development and perhaps longer time for the couples to develop organically. Unfortunately these are common problems for me across Mills and Boon’s shorter stories.

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!