Title: The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed
Series: Dreamspun Desires 46
Author: Felicitas Ivey
Length: Novel (212 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (15th November 2017)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖 3 Hearts
Blurb: A billionaire and a Bedouin girl – each with a shocking secret.
Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal – to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before.
Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.
When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with?
Review: First, I have to admit, that while I liked this book, it was a little bit difficult to really get into the story, mostly because of the impossibility of it all. I spent a lot of the book struggling to suspend my disbelief. I actually enjoyed the audio of this book than I did the ebook, but part of me has been left wondering if I had clouded by the fact that I had had bronchitis when I heard the audio. However, the one thing that I was relieved about was that I couldn’t hear the sometimes terrible accents that I had heard in the audio.
Felicitas Ivey is a relatively new author to me. I’ve read one other book by the same author, yet I am struggling to remember details of what I liked or disliked about it that book.
I didn’t know what to expect when I read the blurb but fond reminiscence of the time before I got into MM romances to when I used to love romances of hot desert Sheikhs and their damsels in distress drew me in. To be perfectly honest, it was everything that I expected from one of those types of stories. In fact, it was almost as though in the writing process it started as a hot Sheikh and a young Bedouin woman and somewhere along the line the woman became a man disguised as a girl for his entire life. The latter being what had me troubled throughout the book despite enjoying the basics of the plot. Then again, there is a whole cultural system that that I don’t have enough understanding of to wonder just how something so outlandish the scenario.
The titular Sheikh is gorgeous billionaire Fathi al-Murzim, a relatively guy who adores his twin brother and grandfather, yet at the same time doesn’t have a lot of time for a life outside of work. The reason for being a workaholic is that he had made the choice, after getting his business degree in the US where he was free to be himself, was that Fathi decided his family (his grandfather) were more important than for him to have a chance with another man. That excuse makes it easy for Fathi to stay firmly inside the closet. When his grandfather wants Fathi to honor an old marriage agreement, Fathi agrees and despite his reservations and with the help of his beloved twin, resigns himself to what could be an advantageous marriage.
Fathi’s betrothed is Ikraam din Abdel. Ikraam was raised as a woman, he hadn’t even known he was a boy until he is six or so. Ikraam’s father was the old tribal leader, who had taken Ikraam’s mother as a second wife in his old age. He was the only boy with six other older sisters. I don’t want to go into the entire explanation as to how this happened but suffice to say from a young age he was an orphan at the mercy of his power-hungry older sister who couldn’t lose the leadership of the tribe to a baby. It’s really convoluted but it somehow works.
As I said, I struggled throughout despite the fact that I also enjoyed it. I think it honestly comes down to that time where I loved reading MF romances with rich Shiekhs and feisty women who didn’t want to be damsels in distress. I don’t like MF anymore for a number of reasons but it was kind of fun to see my this trope translated to an MM story.