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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And the Desert Blooms

*** And the Desert Blooms by Iris Johansen. Contemporary romance.

Another 20ยข flea-market find. Not as impressive as the last (In Their Footsteps), but it was worth what I paid for it. And the Desert Blooms is a book that you really have to suspend all disbelief for. If you don't, the fact that our sheikh hero isn't remotely Arabic will make you want to throw the book against the wall. There's also a bit of a Sleeping Beauty mythos to it--the heroine disappears from the hero's world from the time she's 15 until she's 21--just like Sleeping Beauty, she's out of touch until she's grown up. Ah, I knew that fairy tale seminar I took in college would come in handy some day.

Pandora grew up under the protection of shiekh Philip El Kabbar and fell in love with him. But she knew he would never see her in a romantic way, so she ran away from home at the age of 15... and became a world-famous rockstar. Now, six years later, she's back, and offering him a deal: she wants to be his Khadim--his mistress--for three months, in exchange for the usual financial rewards he gives his various mistresses.

Of course, Pandora is gambling that she can convince Phillip he can't live without her, despite the fact that he's famous for never keeping a mistress for more than a few months. And of course it works.

Then comes the doubt and mistrust--they're both upset because they think the other one doesn't want a commitment, and only wants sex, but their solution is just to have more sex, and then to avoid rejection by being the first to push the other away.

Despite the parts that are hard to swallow--the complete absence of any sort of cultural authenticity, the transition from destitute runaway to international rockstar in 4 years, and the transformation of Mr. Promiscuity into Mr. Monogamy--it is a readable story. I did find myself enjoying the characters' predicaments, and the subplot of Pandora's problems with her father.

And it's a nice object lesson in the hazards of substituting sex for verbal communication.


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