The Playboy Sheikh’s Virgin Stable-Girl

Title: The Playboy Sheik’s Virgin Stable-Girl
Author:  Sharon Kendrick
Harlequin Presents
Published: August 2009
Reasons I might actually remember this one: I cannot possibly afford the therapy it would take to forget it.

Where do I even START with this? The Smart Bitches review of this thing already covered the most amusing points.

I couldn’t even figure out how to rank it over on Goodreads. I mean, the story was ridiculous, and I HATED the hero, so…that should be one star, right? Except it was also terribly amusing and I could NOT stop reading it. I’m not even willing to give it away; my copy is going on the keeper shelf, at least for a while.

One thing I hated was the fake “people of the desert” dialect. It isn’t a case of “appropriation” (I’m not prone to denouncing things as appropriative, and “Calista” is a made up place anyway, so you can hardly appropriate from it). It has that stilted, pseudo-Araby thing going on. I’ll blame The Sheik, because I like to blame that for a lot of elements I hate in romances. I just found it annoying to read.

There was no reason why a scorpion shouldn’t be lying dead on the ground–but not when Eleni had only just swept the yard. She stared down at its curved black shape and a certainty which defied logic whispered its way in a cold chill over her skin. It was an omen, surely. an evil portent–coming moments before her father’s mysterious guest arrived. She swallowed. For wasn’t desert legend full of signs as ominous as this?

That’s the opening paragraph, and it’s got everything I loved and loathed: stilted and inverted language, check; superstitious, painfully naive heroine, check; overbearing father, soon to be replaced by even more overbearing hero, check; and yet…strangely compelling story.

The cod-Arab metaphors provide some amusement:

Kaliq hadn’t moved; he hadn’t dared to–for the arrow of desire had made a a stiff rod to lie aching at his groin. (p.60)

And a face so inherently beautiful that it was as if  all the desert flowers had bloomed at once. (p. 10)

That’s his face, by the way, not hers.

Oddly, her internal thoughts are half in fake dialect, and half jarringly modern. So when she’s not muttering “by the hawks!” or whatever, she’s thinking about how people always let you down, or wondering if she’s being over-sensitive.

The hero is horrible:

A mocking smile curved at his lips but the chauvinist within him silently applauded her entirely predictable reaction and the fact that she made no attempt to hide her rather prudish disapproval. How rare it was to find an unsophisticated woman–particularly for a man who moved within such rarefied social circles and globe-trotted as often as Kaliq did. (p. 62)

He’s got an awfully good opinion of his prowess, although given how much the narrative dwells on Eleni’s complete jawdropping innocence, some of his internal boasting comes off a little…hollow. It’s not as if she has anyone to compare him to. Nevertheless, he is the best! Take his word for it.

For the greatest experience of all awaited her later in his arms. (p. 99)

Okay then. And yet, it doesn’t much sound like an experience I’d like to have:

Parting her firm thighs, he thrust into her with one long stroke as he heard her stifle the cry as her innocence was taken from her forever. How hot and tight she felt. Kaliq moaned. He could have spilled his seed into her right there and then–and why not? For it was the right of the sheikh to take his pleasure where he found it. (p. 119)

Ow, and also LOL.

Active Ingredients:
A Very Jasmine Princess Commoner
British-educated Sheikh
Imaginary Country/Kingdom
Desperately Poor Heroine
Neglectful Family/Stepfamily
Seething Class Tension
Affinity for Animals


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