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A passionate encounter in a desert kingdom changes the course of a young girls life in this newest novel by veteran novelist Marguerite Kaye Filled with adventure and romance it is sure to delight her many fans My full review can be seen at In this, her first book of her new Hot Arabian Nights series, Marguerite Kaye combines an emotive, romantic and passionate love story with the appeal of an exotic setting Sheikh al Farid, Crown Prince Azhar of Qaryma The last ten years had changed him for ever, shaped him into the man he was now, living the life he wanted to live. Azhar has always accepted his position as heir to the Kingdom of Qaryma but, before having to eventually take on that role, he wants a taste of freedom to live his own life for a while This brought him into direct conflict with his father who wanted to control every aspect of Azhar s life At the age of twenty one, realising that his father will never change his mind, he leaves Qaryma for good In the intervening 10 years of exile, Azhar has built a successful business empire as an international trader, a job he really loves However, he is compelled to return to Qaryma when his father dies, declaring Azhar to be his heir He only intends to stay for a month before abdicating in favour of his brother, Kamal, and returning to running his business A month should allow him time to ascertain the current state of the kingdom and ensure that Kamal will be a capable ruler However, Azhar finds he must make some soul searching decisions.Azhar is everything a hero should be honourable with a strong sense of duty It is these very qualities that cause him such a dilemma when he makes some disturbing discoveries and must choose between freedom or duty Despite his desire never to return to Qaryma, it is easy to see that he cares deeply for the kingdom and its people and wants them to haveonly the king they deserved, a king who wanted to reign, and who was fit to reign. Julia Trevelyan Papa and Daniel both assumed my time theirs, their wishes mine It never occurred to either of them that I might have wishes of my own. Julia s life has always been controlled either by her father or her late husband, Daniel She describes her father as a benevolent autocrat , a man who was kind and caring but totally selfish Her husband, an ambitious scientist, believed himself superior to her in every way and never valued her opinions Even on his deathbed, he made her promise to finish his book, a comprehensive guide to rare and exotic species, and have it published and even persuade the president of the Horticultural Society of London to grant Daniel membership Once she has fulfilled this promise, she intends to enjoy her new found freedom.Julia is an intelligent woman, a botanist and an artist, whose abilities were never acknowledged by her father or her husband I don t blame her wanting to grab her freedom with both hands and live the life she wants I also admire her courage venturing into the desert might seem improbable but, in a recent interview, Ms Kaye made mention of four such pioneering women and the fortitude she shows after discovering she has been drugged and robbedNo point in imagining the worst, she told herself firmly Time to take stock, not give way to a fit of the vapours The spark of attraction between Azhar and Julia is there from the beginning but I like how their relationship is able to develop before anything physical happens It is a mutually beneficial relationship Azhar is able to discuss issues with Julia because he finds her judgement sound and she is honest with him regardless of the consequences The fact that Azhar finds Julia attractive gives her a confidence she has never had before and a desire to explore her own sexuality, something denied to her by her husband.In the hot desert nights Azhar and Julia are bound to succumb to their feelings and Ms Kaye writes vivid, sensual and passionate love scenes but also full of tenderness too Her eyes fixed on his, she lifted the tunic over her head and dropped it to the floor Her arms fluttered up to cover her breasts, but she stilled them, standing proudly naked under his gaze Julia, was all he could manage His whole body ached with desire He could not resist touching her Taking her long braid of hair in his hands, he undid the ribbon and began to untangle it, running his fingers through the fiery river of red, letting it ripple out over her shoulders, down her back, over the creamy mounds of her breasts.Oh and I will certainly never look at ice cubes in the same way again Julia knows that whatever choice Azhar makes, she can never be part of his life and their parting is inevitable The scenes where I was privy to their thoughts were so emotional that I felt my heart would break for them even though I knew that somehow they would be together The ending is romantic but I like that Azhar is realistic enough to admit that it won t be easy for them.Ms Kaye s vivid imagery creates a real sense of mood and atmosphere I could see the changing colours of the desert sky Julia watched, fascinated, as the vivid orange and gold streaked sky gave way to a pale, soft night blue, as if the sun, on its rapid descent to the horizon, dragged a stage backdrop behind it The sparse puffy clouds segued from dark grey to pewter then white as the sky darkened to indigo and the stars made their appearance, a blanket of silvery jewels hung so low in the sky that she felt she could almost touch them. taste the dark, bittersweet coffee smell the heady scents of the desert feel the sway of the camel.Whether it is her reference to the Horticultural Society of London, the flora of Arabia or the dress, customs and politics, Ms Kaye s meticulous historical research is evident throughout the story.MY VERDICT If you enjoy a well written, passionate love story, compelling characters, wonderful imagery and fascinating history, then I can definitely recommend this book.REVIEW RATING 5 5 STARS Hot Arabian Nights series to date1 The Widow and the Sheikh2 The Sheikh s Mail Order Bride3 The Harlot and the Sheikh4 Claiming His Desert PrincessI received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in return for an honest reviewThis review is also posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog I liked this book quite a lot I didn t really know what to expect going in the story of an Englishwoman and an Arab sheik sounded like such a cliched romance novel storyline I d never read a category romance before, either, and maybe had some snobbish presumptions about them This was a really enjoyable and nicely written story, though.The heroine, Julia Trevelyan, is a widow who is in the desert to keep a deathbed promise made to her botanist husband, that she would finish his book and ensure his scholarly reputation She d been in her husband s shadow all through their marriage, and all she wants now is to keep her promise so she can finally be free and independent.The hero, Azhar, is the crown prince of an Arab kingdom, on his way home after a decade s exile His father disowned him when he refused to be hemmed in by the borders of his homeland and set out to see the outside world Now that his father is dead, he has returned to turn the crown over to his younger brother, so that he can finally wash his hands of his unwanted responsibilities and return to his life as a world traveling trader and businessman.Azhar finds Julia after she s been drugged and robbed by her local guides, and promises to help her finish her mission He feels a kinship with her because she too is looking to gain her freedom, and he s fascinated by her willingness to give him her honest opinions and treat him like an equal.Their friendship grows to love once they return to his kingdom, as they spend time together and he begins to uncover what has happened there in his absence Before long he realizes that letting go of his birthright isn t going to be the simple thing he thought it was, since his younger brother is unethical and not fit to reign Not only will Azhar have to sacrifice his own freedom in order to take the crown, he ll also be forced to give up the relationship he s developed with Julia, since she will never be accepted as queen and besides, she doesn t want to marry again.What made this book a good one for me was the character development, and the relationship between Julia and Azhar The love and trust that grows between them is believable, and when they re parted by his duty to his country, it s genuinely touching Both Julia and Azhar are good people with issues to overcome, and I liked rooting for them both to succeed and wind up together.If the plot itself seems less complex than it could be, I suppose it s a result of the kind of story it is a short novel focused mostly on the romance and on getting to happily ever after In a different kind of historical romance I could see there being manycomplications in terms of the cultural differences between the hero and heroine, the angst caused by their emotional and psychological baggage, and the political machinations of the kingdom.As it is, the cultural differences between Julia and Azhar aren t really even an issue and the political situation is fairly easily resolved, and with no bloodshed It feels much too easy, because even from reading The Dream Hunter by Laura Kinsale, it certainly seems like Middle Eastern attitudes and beliefs of the 19th century would ve been a pretty big thing to overcome, and at least a few people would ve ended up with their heads chopped off P This story is a fantasy, in other words, but a well written and enjoyable one as long as you don t go into it expecting total realism Nice reading for a lazy weekend afternoon 3.5 stars. This strikes me as a YMMV type book It was nicely written the characters were likable The setting was vivid beautifully described, complete with gardens sand architecture the landscape visuals were quite impressive, given the page count I also liked the widow heroine s unashamed eagerness to experience sexy times without demanding a commitment, or even I Love Yous free wheelin widowhood is an inexplicably under utilized trope in historicals Which brings me to the downside, because SO MUCH time was spent on the characters feels the setting itself, leaving little time for a significant plot Likable MCs alone aren t a huge draw for me I want them to actually, y know, do stuff besides each other There was simply no conflict to be had Romance requires emotions, yes, but even a 60 40 ratio would ve helpedas opposed to the 80 20 ratio in this, a veritable orgy of rational discussion point by point psychology.Recommended for those who like slower, sedate romances with lots of quiet contemplation honorable people Not my thing, but againYMMV That said, I liked the cameo from one of the future heroes a Regency era Indiana Jones so I ll read his book when it s released. I enjoyed this story a great deal The characters of Julia and Azhar were fantastic and I quickly liked them both, and enjoyed being caught up in their romance The setting was wonderful and I fell in love with the desert and the way it was described by the author I enjoyed the complications that kept these two lovers apart and was moved many times by the writing and the emotion This is the first book in a series of Hot Arabian Nights, and I ll happily devour the others Wonderful romantic escapism and a great choice for sultry summer nights. WOW The Widow and the Sheikh is Book 1 in Marguerite Kaye s Hot Arabian Nights , hot, and steamy, Harlequin Historical series This story is the story of, widow and aventurous, Julia Trevelyan, who finds herself abandoned and at the mercy of Azhar The exiled, Prince and rightful heir of Azhar, the Qaryma throne heir, who has returned to claim his inheritance Fast paced, well written tale of an Adventuress and an exiled Prince Ms Kaye does an excellent job of telling this story with passion, and vivid descriptions The reader can almost feel the Desert sun, beating down on them, as well as the characters emotions and desires.An emotional romantic tale, packed full of adventure, passion, forbidden love, duty, obligations, trust, respect and the power of true love Would you choose love over duty This and their forbidden relationship, is some of the choices, Azhar and Julia must face.This is an emotional, passionate and compelling tale, with hot, steamy scenes and vivid scenery descriptions, readers of Arabian Night tales, will enjoy this story Ms Kaye has written another tale that is unique, interesting and WOW worthy I am looking forward to the next grand adventure of this series A must read for fans of Historical Romance, Arabian tales, and passionate love Received for an honest review from Net Galley Rating 4.5Heat rating Hot Reviewed by AprilR I really enjoyed this book and would thoroughly recommend it The author paints evocative scenes of both the desert, oasis and the heroine and hero Think David Lean s Lawrence of Arabia The hero, Azhar, is returning to his Kingdon having had problems with his father but also having had a successful life as a self made trader The heroine, Julia, is following through on duties dictated by her husband s final wishes and using her considerable botany and artistic talents I liked the fact that she was independant in both her actions and her thinkingBoth characters have issues with imposed responsibility and their own person freedoms In this I see similarities with the authors other novel The Soldier s Rebel Lover I liked how the author layered the characters and built up the romance throughout the book The romantic scenes sizzle You can really get a feel for both characters motivations and dilemnas Azhar s brother and Julia s maid have small parts to play that add to the tension There s a small walk on part of one of the other heros in the series and I would recommend people look at the Author s pinterest account for further imagery I like how the author researches the historical elements and it encourages me to look up the antics of Lady Jane Digby I was sent an advance copy of the book for an honest review and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did What s great about a Marguerite Kaye book is that as you read it, you are transported into the story itself Her vivid descriptions of the era and the clothing are mind blowing.I thoroughly enjoyed Julia and Azah s romance mainly because Julia is most definitely not a run of the mill Regency heroine She is strong, gutsy and academic As for Azah, with his many hidden layers, each revelation is a delight to discover.Add into the storyline sensual and sexy love scenes causing this reader to turn down the central heating and stick her head in the freezer, this is regency romance at its very finest Top notch. 4.5 stars, rounded upAnyone who regularly peruses the romance sections of bookshops or the romance listings atwill know that sheikhs are popular romantic heroes in many contemporary love stories But there aren t all that many to be found in historical romances, so I was intrigued when I saw that one of my favourite authors was writing a series set in the early nineteenth century in which the heroes were to be sheikhs Marguerite Kaye has already written a couple of books which feature such characters Innocent in the Sheikh s Harem and The Governess and the Sheikh but now comes her Hot Arabian Nights series, the first of which, The Widow and the Sheikh tells the story of a young Englishwoman and a desert prince, who find themselves trapped by circumstances and faced with difficult choices.Julia Trevelyan awakens alone in her tent in the desert, drugged, robbed and abandoned by the guides she had hired for her journey The widow of an eminent botanist, she is bound by her deathbed promise to her late husband to complete his final book and then see it published But all her samples have been stolen along with her money and possessions and she is going to have to find a way to regroup so that she can begin her work again in order to complete the task Fortunately, a fellow traveller who introduces himself as Azhar finds her and offers his help, explaining that he is a businessman and trader on his way to the kingdom of Qaryma He offers to escort her to the capital where, he says, she will find everything she needs.Julia gratefully accepts his proposal, but getsthan she had bargained for when, upon arrival at the Al Qaryma, Azhar reveals that he is in fact the Crown Prince, returning there for the first time in ten years What he doesn t immediately disclose is that his real purpose in returning is to assess the state of the kingdom and after a month, abdicate in favour of his brother, who has been ruling as regent since the death of their father.Azhar is a deeply honourable man, but does not wish to be trapped by the demands of his position He and his father never really saw eye to eye which, a decade earlier, led to Azhar s leaving Qaryma determined never to return He has made his own way in the world, growing a successful business empire that he enjoys running and is eager to get back to To start with, all his focus is so strongly bent upon handing the kingdom over to his brother that he fails or refuses to acknowledge that all is not as it should be But he cannot remain blind for long, and, realising that an outsider can offer a unique perspective, asks Julia to remain for one month, during which he will help her to catalogue the various and rare plants of his kingdom in return for her promising to tell him the truth about the things she sees around her in his kingdom and at the court And, of course, this extended period of time together will also allow them to further explore their strong mutual attraction Both Julia and Azhar are well drawn and engaging characters, but their determination to do the right thing means that making a life together looks to be an impossibility Having experienced marriage to a man who, though not physically cruel, did not value her or see her as a person in her own right, Julia is now intent on retaining her independence To this end, she decides to allow herself a month out of time a month in which to explore her sexuality and desires with her attractive, fascinating rescuer but after that, she will return to England and make a new life for herself there.The romance between these two people from different worlds is beautifully written and extremely well developed Their relationship is mutually beneficial on many levels, and I liked that Azhar trusted Julia enough to be able to share his concerns with her She is able to provide valuable insight, while he shows her that her husband s lack of response to her was farof a reflection of the man s own insecurities and fears than any fault of Julia s The attraction between the couple is so strong it leaps off the page, and they are not shy of acting upon it when the time is right Ms Kaye is one of those authors who can write an intensely sensual love scene in just a few paragraphs, a talent she employs to great effect here the scene in which the couple finally make love is one of the most deliciously romantic and sexy I ve read in quite some time.It s evident that Ms Kaye knows her stuff and that her research is extensive The idea of a western woman and a sheikh as a couple might seem outlandish, but truth really is stranger than fiction as the author reminds readers in her note at the end of the book, recalling the life of Lady Jane Digby who was married to a sheikh And this is one of the many things I always enjoy about her books not only do I get to read a superbly developed romance with strong, well drawn characters who pull me into the story, but she knows her history, too Added to that, her descriptions of the desert landscapes, the exotic flora and opulence palace and grounds are so evocative as to put the reader right there among the shifting sands or the scented gardens.If I have a complaint, it s one that is engendered by the fact that the author has done such a great job in setting up her story Azhar s dilemma being torn between his desire to live his own life and his innate sense of duty is so vividly written and so incredibly well explored, that the resolution, when it comes, seems somewhat anti climactic That s not to say that it s implausible because it most definitely isn t and of course, it s wonderfully romantic It just feels a little too easy given what has gone before But it works and I liked that Ms Kaye has left readers with the sense that while love has triumphed, both characters are well aware that the path they have chosen will not be an easy one.Even allowing for that minor reservation, The Widow and the Sheikh is such a strongly written, beautifully romantic story that I m rating it highly It s one of the most moving books I ve read recently, and one I have no hesitation in recommending Ms Kaye wrote a fascinating blog post for All About Romance this week if you pop over quickly, the giveaway for the book might still be open `READ BOOK ☛ The Widow and the Sheikh ⇩ Rescued By The Sheikh Abandoned In The Desert, Julia Trevelyan Finds Herself At The Mercy Of Azhar, An Imposing Yet Impossibly Handsome Arabian Merchant Determined Not To Be Intimidated By Her Rescuer Or Their Sizzling Attraction She Asks For His Help But Prince Azhar Is In Fact The Rightful Heir To The Qaryma Throne, Returned From Exile To Take Back His Inheritance He Knows A Dalliance With The Enticing English Adventuress Is Out Of The Question, Yet He Can T Deny The Temptation To Claim Both His Throne And Julia