I've been waiting for what I like to call, a sheikh romance, for quite some time now. I've read a few, but none of them I could consider a good read.
Let me start by saying that I was born and raised in the Middle East, so I know the culture, customs and cultural mannerisms. It rare that an author not familiar with it, or researched it extensively "gets it."
I think Sarah Morgan gets it. Or as close to getting it as I found so far.
This story has it all, one (or more?) brutal villain, a bruised and brooding male lead, sweet moments, angst and nice fade to black hot sex. Oh, and a strong female character.
Layla was great. I really like her driven and protective personality. I think that in some respect, ms. Morgan was able to show a facet of the women Arab culture that is mostly ignored. Women are what ties families together, they're the voice of reason and are many times very smart. But they are more often than not overlooked and disregarded even in their own home.
Layla, the daughter of a harsh, power hungry ruler of Tazkhan has on,y her younger sister. Her father never pays either of his daughters any attention, saw them only a few times during their lives and is only using me for political gain. He even lets his cousin abuse them (can't say how, just read). She is, however, very smart, spends her days in the library reading, is very logical and practical and believes herself to be otherwise uninteresting.
When her father dies Layla takes Jasmin, her sister, and runs from the palace and into the desert. If she stays, within hours she'll be married to her father's brutal cousin who wants to be the king in his stead and her sister shipped to America. Layla would rather be at the mercy of the rightful heir to the throne, her father's enemy, Raz Al Zahki. She escapes on horseback with her sister, carrying only two books. Both books are for particular reasons. Layla faces some tricky challenges throughout the story but doesn't back down and through those challenges her true character comes to show.
Raz lost his family in an attempted assassination on his life. He cares nothing for Layla or her sister, believing them to have been living a life of luxury while he was mourning his family and biding his time until he can take back what is rightfully his.
Raz is fantastic. He's handsome, fearless, broody (and we all love those), logical and compassionate. He's also weary to trust people and doesn't trust Layla. But she makes some solid arguments that kickstarter the story.
Since this is an unedited copy that I've read I will only tease with one quote, because it had tension, teasing hint and gave insight into bith Layla and Raz's characters:
"I will send Salem to find your sister and instruct him to bring her here. I agree that there is no time to lose, so you and I will be married within the hour. I will send someone to help you prepare. Oh, and princess..." He paused by the entrance to the tent, his eyes a wicked shade if black. "You have no need of that book. When the time comes I will teach you what you need to know."
The book is well written, the story flows, and I felt sucked in to a world of sands, Arabian horses and blooming love. The natural progression of their relationship was seamless.
My only comments are the westernization of their behavior. At points it felt almost as if they're are both a little too casual about themselves and the circumstances. I would have preferred to get some more Arabic throughout the story, not just at the end (which was swoony beyond belief, btw).
Lost To The Desert Warrior is a great beach read, quick, somewhat predictable yet unique, well written and filled with swoons. What else do we need?
This advanced copy was provided by Harlequin and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.