THE SHEIK RETOLD is an excellent re-telling of E.M. Hulls’ THE SHEIK, which was originally published in 1919. The SHEIK was an overnight bestseller with more than fifty printings within the first two years of release. I have never read the original book though I have certainly heard of it. The original book inspired the famous 1922 movie starring Rudolph Valentino which I have seen and thoroughly enjoyed. Once I started THE SHEIK RETOLD, I couldn’t put it down. I read it well into the morning to finish it as I found it to be an utterly captivating romantic read.
THE SHEIK RETOLD is the story of Diana Mayo, a woman of fine English descent, and Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan. Diana is a beautiful, rich and willful young woman who has been raised by her brother. She has no aspirations to have a relationship with the opposite sex except for as friends. As the story opens, Diana is determined to venture into the vast, beautiful Sahara desert fulfilling a life-long dream of hers despite multiple warnings about the peril to her safety inherent in her plans. As was predicted, Diana is kidnapped by a band of Arabs on horseback led by Ahmed shortly after her ill-fated trip begins.
While I’ve read a lot of historical romances, only a few have featured a Sheik. Ahmed, our hero, is an arrogant and possessive Arabian Sheik. He is powerful and commanding and is used to taking what he wants, when he wants:
“My heart stood still. “But why me?” I choked out.
He dipped his head to murmur in my ear. “It was fated. I saw you once before—in Paris. You were surrounded by your panting lapdogs and would have none of them. It was then I knew that I alone would have you. The rest was Allah’s will,” he continued matter-of-factly. “You came to Biskra. You arranged a tour in the desert. You were bored and wanted adventure. I have granted that wish.” He flashed a feral smile. “And now you will grant mine.”
He’s also totally handsome eye candy!
He toys with her but we know what the end result will be. In his culture, woman fall over themselves to bow to his every wish and he fully intends that Diana will bow to his. There is no alternative:
“Cherie,” he said softly, “I have tired of this game of charades. The time for defiance is at an end.”
He held both of my wrists in the iron grip of one hand and removed his dagger from the folds of his waistcloth with the other. I recognized the ivory handled blade as a jambiya, a small, curved, double-bladed, and extremely lethal weapon.
I squeezed my eyes shut; driving my teeth into my lower lip to keep back the hysterical sob that rose in my throat. I only hoped he would do it quickly. But instead of the slash of his blade across my throat, I felt the sudden and steady pop of the buttons from my blouse. Bewildered, I opened my eyes into his. He lifted a brow over his mocking gaze.
“You thought I would kill you, cherie?” He chuckled. “No. I would not waste such beauty as yours—unless you forced my hand. You comprehend me?”
One of my favorite scenes in this book is when the author allows Diana to hear Ahmed’s true feelings and affection for her when Ahmed is ranting in an unconscious state. That was quite an emotional scene and one that I won’t forget.
The chemistry between the characters is extremely steamy and erotic. It was HOT, HOT, HOT! To state that Diana is stubborn and that Ahmed is adamant, is a major understatement. However, both were extremely passionate when they moved from their staked adverse positions.
I admit to struggling at first with my rating. The author’s writing was top-notch. The characters were well-defined, realistic and I emotionally connected with both of them. The plot was bold, daring and intensely gripping. I was taken aback by some of the elements but, within the context of the story and within the culture in which the characters were set, the forced seduction and rape-to-love scenarios that I found appalling would not have been regarded that way at that time and in that place. Therefore, I’m not going to downgrade this book by lowering the rating.
THE SHEIK RETOLD is the first novel I’ve ever read by Victoria Vane, though I’ve had other books by her on my to-read list for a while. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing and will be reading more by her soon. There’s seduction, angst, intrigue, murderous plots as well as hidden secrets and action that will have you gripping your seat! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical bodice-ripper romances with long, slow seductions and a bit of BDSM. A two-minute book trailer can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky4_cEWZxsQ#t=91
-Reviewed by Linda