Cover Image: Dangerous


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Fantastic debut! This is a smart, sexy story that kept me up turning pages late into the night. Adam is hubba-hubba hot and Mia is clever and funny.

Was this review helpful?

What and amazing debut! Seriously sensual, evocative and a delight to read. Loved the heroine and hero, and their chemistry was sizzling. Highly recommend this book!

Was this review helpful?

Euphemia Marlington considered poisoning the Duke of Carlisle!

Great start to a new serious with a seriously dangerous, uncanny hero and a wonderfully outrageous heroine. But what can you expect from a woman whose spent seventeen years in a harem just surviving.
Euphemia Marlington's return to the bosom of her family was uncomfortable for all. Mia's father, the Duke of Carlisle cannot wait to have her taken off his hands. Marriage to anyone, even a rumored wife murderer such as Adam de Courtney, the Marquess of Exley, was an option.
Mia has her own objectives that the idea of marriage will fit into. What she didn't expect was to find her husband all that she could want. Likewise, Adam did not expect to become enamored with a fascinating wife, freed from the shackles of polite society by her experiences. Steamy moments ensue.
There are faint echoes of Léonie and Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, from Heyer's 'These Old Shades' resonating in places. Particularly when opponents underestimate the whiplike strength and disdainful airs of Adam. Or the way Mia entrances Adam, her ability to curl up into his heart.
Spencer has a wonderful turn of phrase. I particularly liked her description of when Mia first sees Adam entering the ballroom, "The man merely raised his quizzing glass and surveyed the room as a hawk might sweep a field for rodents."

A Kensington ARC via NetGalley

Was this review helpful?

Minerva Spencer brings smart and engaging writing to this historical romance. It was a pleasure to read a debut novel with such well-developed characters, an exciting story, and a romance to swoon over. Looking forward to reading Barbarous!

Was this review helpful?

Wow, THIS is how you write a debut book. Minerva Spencer just made her way to my auto-buy list.

Dangerous was refreshing. In a sea of romances featuring virginal women, I loved Dangerous's sensual, sexy female MC. Mia was smart, powerful, and in her thirties. Oh happy day!

I loved Mia's relationship with the wealthy and secretive Adam de Courtney. In fact, Adam stole the show for me. He was exactly the type of hero I end up loving, and I wanted to know more about him. It was his intrigue and the chemistry between the two MCs that kept me wanting to read just one more page.

I wish the ending of the book was as strong as the start. I hated how Mia went from smart to TSTL (I mean, please), and how outlandish the plot became near the end, but the book was so satisfying as a whole that I had to give it 4-stars. Minerva Spencer is an author to watch.

*Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

Was this review helpful?

While Mia was born a lady, she is an outcast in society now. She was abducted when she was a teenager and was sold to a sultan to be part of his harem. The sultan died and Mia managed to escape the palace. After many years she's finally back in London. Her father wants her to find a husband as quickly as possible, but there aren't many appealing matches. The only man Mia likes the sight of is Adam. However, he has a reputation and many members of the ton call him the Murderous Marquess. Will Mia take her chances and marry the handsome man she instantly feels attracted to or will she listen to the stories and go for a safer option?

Adam was married twice, but still doesn't have an heir. He needs to marry again to secure the future of his estate. Because of his reputation it isn't easy to find a wife. He also isn't looking for a love match. His heart was broken and he isn't looking for a repeat experience. Mia seems to be the exact right candidate to become his wife. He knows she has a hidden agenda and this intrigues him. Their match would be mutually beneficial and he decides to give it a shot. While spending time with Mia he discovers the situation isn't as simple as he thought. When feelings become part of the equation they are facing plenty of trouble. Will Adam and Mia be able to make their arrangement work?

Dangerous is a fantastic sexy romantic story. I was immediately intrigued by the enigmatic Mia. She's confident, bold and smart. Marriage means a solution to a problem for her and that is why she likes the idea of becoming Adam's wife, which is a fabulous idea for a riveting story. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen when the gruff, but sweet and alluring, Adam would discover her secrets. They are evenly matched and their strong personalities either clash or attract like a magnet. Their relationship is a real challenge from the start and I loved how well suited they are. I liked that they have a hidden agenda and are both keeping secrets, finding out what they were kept me on the edge of my seat. Mia and Adam are brilliant main characters with many mysterious personality traits that mesmerized me from beginning to end.

Minerva Spencer has a wonderful warm writing style. She makes her story come to life in a terrific dynamic way. There's plenty of action, there are many surprising twists and turns and the story is filled with unexpected adventures. She combines this with amazing sparkling chemistry that works really well. It's easy to see why Mia and Adam can't stay away from each other. I loved their original backgrounds and their fascinating pasts are giving them a nice layer of depth. Dangerous is a delightful enchanting story that put a big smile on my face.

Was this review helpful?

Dangerous is the debut novel and the first in The Outcasts series by Minerva Spencer.

Lady Euphemia Marlington (Mia) has recently returned to England after having spent 17 years a captive in a Sultan's harem abroad. When she escaped she couldn't convince her son to leave with her, he felt he needed to stay in order to fight for his rightful place in the palace after the sultan died. It broke her heart to leave without him but she is determined to go back for him somehow. Her father despairs of her future and is aiming to marry her off to the first man who will take her off his hands. She doesn't want to marry anybody, especially the type of men her father is setting her up with. She is pleasantly surprised when one of the men he introduces her to is only 5 years her senior and absolutely gorgeous.

That man is Adam de Courtney, unfortunately, known as the Murderous Marquess after his first two wives died under suspicious circumstances. He has three daughters living in the country, and he needs a son and heir. With most of the aristocracy giving him a wide birth, he despairs of finding a wife even one for convenience. When he is invited to a dinner party by Mia's father where he meets her, it doesn't take long before they both realise a marriage of convenience to each other wouldn't be too difficult a chore.

From that moment the story really takes off, there are pirates, ship journeys, sword fighting, dangerous plans which can easily turn bad, insanity, jealousy, and most importantly for the romance lovers there was a perfect romance developing between Mia and Adam. Their lust for each other was palpable, and that was even before they realised that they could be falling in love with each other. Having spent years in a harem Mia has no hangups with being naked, she introduces sensuality to the very steamy intimate moments between our couple.

I really enjoyed this story because it ticked all the boxes for me, an exciting story, a beautiful sensual love story, a very strong heroine, and a hero that is willing to listen to the women in his life. A hero who would do anything for the people he cares about, and such an expert with the rapier too. From the cover of the story which you have to admit is HOT, to the very last words, this book was fabulous. It's hard to believe it's the author's debut! I will definitely be reading the rest of the series without a doubt.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?

Minerva Spencer will definitely be on my must read list! This book has everything. The chemistry between Mia and Adam flies off the page and is so steamy you think you will be burned just turning the page. From wild romance and steamy lovemaking, to the adventure and surprise that awaits these two. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!

Was this review helpful?

This is a great book. If you love this series you should read this book. The only thing about this book that was disappointing was that it was no enough. I wish we had more time to develop this love story and time for to see these two characters fall in love. But it is a must read if you love Minerva Spencer! :)

Was this review helpful?

I cut my historical teeth on Catherine Coulter, Jude Deveraux, and Julie Garwood. Bold overblown covers opened to outrageous conflicts, arrogant heroes and scheming heroines who were a joy to watch as they banter, demand, placate, and politely argued their way to their happily ever after. Dangerous is a novel that reminded me of why I love historical novels. Witty and full of life, adventure, intrigue, danger, and yummy love scenes, Spencer has built a winner with her hero and heroine. Mia and Adam are so wonderfully different yet they are perfectly matched. An intricate storyline and dynamic characters add to the overall appeal. Also…I HEART THIS COVER SO MUCH!!

Mia is a delightful heroine with a delicious sense of humor, a very strong will, and some extremely forward thoughts towards sex. An older woman who has not had to navigate the tricky waters of the ton, her time spent in the harem taught her how to get what she wants and she absolutely drives those around her insane. Very intelligent, astute, vivacious, and quite stubborn, she listens to those who have authority over her, nodding as if in agreement, and then goes off and does what she wants.

Adam de Courtney is a widower who has suffered multiple betrayals and has a few secrets of his own. Saddled with the moniker The Murderous Marquess, Adam walks on the fringes on society, maintaining an aloof and icy nature as a shield. Watching Adam deal with his attraction to Mia is quite emtional when you realize the reasons he is doing it. His past has left him cold and unable to completely trust anyone.

Their physical attraction is apparent from the beginning-lots of erotically sensual and funny scenes that leaves no doubt these two are sexually attracted to one another. I loved that Mia embraces her sexuality and Adam embraces her free spirit (at least in the bedroom).

Her expert touch sent him into an almost dreamlike state. She skillfully massaged his aching testicles while she stroked, the combination of sensations clearing any residual rational thoughts from his head. And then the wet softness of her mouth closed over him.

A groan tore out of his throat and he had to fight the urge to fist his hands in her hair and ram himself into her. But she didn’t need any assistance from him. She worked him ruthlessly, taking him deeper than he thought possible and bringing him all too quickly to the brink of a shattering orgasm before abruptly stopping. He stared at the canopy with unfocused eyes as a low, sensual laugh rippled from her wicked mouth through his taut body. And then she nipped the sensitive skin of his head and released him, crawling up his body until her head poked out from under the sheet. Adam lifted his head to look at her. She had an insufferably smug look on her face.

“You are so impatient,” she gently chided him, the words a mockery of his own from last night. She wiggled around under the sheet until she’d adjusted herself to her satisfaction, straddling him and sitting up, looming over him.

“Now then, my lord. Have you been wicked?”

Numerous subplots elevate this story too much more than a simple romance. Mia has survived the unimaginable and not only survived but triumphed. She knows she can’t avoid her father’s plans to marry her off but she can manipulate the outcome. She has plans in place and isn’t simply marrying just to escape her father’s heavy hand. She left her son in Africa, fighting his brother for control of their father’s kingdom, and she wants to get back to him and the world she understands and more importantly, understands her.

Adam’s first two wives played him false and he has children whom he is unable to connect with. Rumors concerning the death of his wives have caused the ton to reject him. He has surrendered against their viciousness and can’t help but feel Mia and her father are setting him up for yet another crushing blow. Though Adam comes off as a jerk at times, with is cold arrogance and cutting dialogue, there is a vulnerability there that pinches your heart. He knows his actions are wrong. He learns his lesson when dealing with his bride and repents in ways that leave no doubts to his feelings for her.

“What did I ever do to deserve you, Mia?”

“I don’t know. But I think you should make an effort to show some gratitude.”

“Is that all you think about?”


“Me too.”

Vivacious secondary characters keep the story fresh and moving along at a steady pace. I can’t wait to read their stories. I have a fondness for “privateers” and Spencer has given us two whose charm, nosiness and hint of narcissism will leave you laughing and waiting for their much-needed comeuppance. Mia’s dad cares more for his social standing then over what the Mia endured, however, she does have an older brother who despite his autocratic ways, does love her and it shows. His attempts to “save her” from marrying Adam are hilarious.

“Mia!” a voice hissed behind her, making her jump. She turned to find her brother, partly hidden by a giant potted palm.

“What the devil are you doing back there, Cian?”

His eyes fixed on something over her shoulder. “Hurry, Mia, before he returns.” He held out his hand, as if she might take it and leap over the settee. “Come away with me now.”

Mia scowled. “Cian—”

“Hurry, he is coming back.”

Mia turned her back on his foolishness. The marquess was walking toward her with two glasses. She raised her fan to her face. “You should leave now, Cian.”

“I am trying to protect you.”

“I don’t need protection. Now, please go.”

The palm fronds rustled. “Mia, dammit.”

Exley stopped in front of her and held out a glass of champagne.

Mia lowered her fan and took the glass. “Thank you, my lord.”

“My pleasure.” He cast a lazy glance over her shoulder. “Are you comfortable behind the sofa, wedged beside that plant, Abermarle, or would you like to sit on the settee? Perhaps between me and your sister?”

I adored Mia’s son even though we don’t truly meet him till the end. Standing on the cusp of manhood, he fluctuates between love and exasperation for his mother and her actions. Their bond is obviously strong and the clues to his story promises much fun.

Plenty of humor intertwines within the story, balancing nicely with the emotional journey of our couple. Spencer’s talents are apparent as she takes two social outcasts and helps them navigate society and their own lives without cheapening the journey or the characters themselves. A powerful voice and a clear cut knowledge of her craft left this reader enchanted from beginning to end. I had a few issues but nothing that ruined the story. Mia becomes a bit obnoxious towards the end and I honestly had the fleeting thought that a valium would do her some good. I also found the conclusion to the issue concerning Adam’s daughters anti-climatic.

As with most romances, our hero and heroine have to run a pretty rough gauntlet in order to overcome their own objections to their being together. Their lack of trust and communication in one is a large part of their problem but time, honesty and love repairs even the most damaged souls. I enjoyed watching this older couple shed all their inhibitions and fears in order to go on the most powerful journey they’ve embarked on…falling in love.

Spencer’s debut makes her an author well worth watching in the future.

Grade: B+

Was this review helpful?

Disclaimer: I am shockingly new to the romance genre in general, and seemed to have randomly stumbled into a historical romance binge during my much larger historical obsession.

Pros: Hilarious narration (particularly by the heroine), a charming hero and heroine, the subplots.

Cons: the last bit of plot was kind of on the annoying and contrived side—but it redeemed itself.

Bonus note: There is awesome series potential.

Was this review helpful?

I have been in a historical romance kick lately and this one caught my attention. I love the cover and the story was very good.
I found this one to grab my attention right away and just got so into the story that I didn’t want to put it down.

I do highly recommend.

I am giving this 4 out of 5.

Was this review helpful?

Mia’s secrets are really scandalous for a regency lady. She has been in a sultan’s harem for the past 17 years. Now after being rescued she is home and her father wants her married before scandalous gossip ruins the family. As it is, just her returning has caused all kinds of gossip and that’s before anyone knows of the harem. Adam needs to marry to produce an heir to carry on the family name. His reputation has been shredded by gossip so a marriage of convenience with Mia is really his only option. But both have deep secrets that could ruin their budding romance.

I really liked the romance that was the main focus of this book but then the book took a fabulous turn and became an action/adventure romance. Very well written. Highly recommend!

Was this review helpful?

Tales of Barbary pirates, concubines, harems, and visions of disobedient concubines stuffed into cloth bags and dropped into the golden horn fired my imagination when I visited the Topkapi palace in Istanbul. Ms. Spencer's debut novel does a masterful job of blending the rigid expectations of a woman in regency England with the bright, colorful, and sometime dangerous life of a concubine in a sultan's harem.
I would urge readers to check out the author's website. I loved the picture of the regency ball that is her home page.

Seventeen years ago, Mia was kidnapped and sold into slavery to a sultan with a penchant for young girls. Now so many years later, she's returned to the bosom of her blue-blooded English family who are not exactly happy to have her back, since she's somewhat of an embarrassment that is hard to explain to the ton. Adam De Courtney, aka the murdering marquess, is persona non grata with the ton, but an acceptable alternative for Mia's father.
Adam is fascinated not only with Mia's beauty but also her embroidered tales to explain her seventeen-year absence from society. Poor Mia is losing a lot of enamel as she grinds her teeth when Adam starts to unravel her carefully told tale. For Mia, who is dealing with old and lecherous suitors, Adam is like a breath of fresh air who sets all her lady parts quivering.
Mia is completely unselfconscious, particularly with her body and sexuality, which is a refreshing change to Adam. Their off-the-charts chemistry certainly seems to be a positive indicator for the future, but, as it turns out, they're both keeping secrets. And in Mia's case it's a sixteen-year-old son, heir to the sultanate. I enjoyed the touch of adventure and the wonderful cast of characters that I look forward to seeing more of in the next book.

Was this review helpful?

A woman trapped in a harem for years has come home, only to marry a man believed to have killed not one, but two wives, well count me in since that isn’t something I see in historical romance ever. I’m not one to be really caught up on how true to the time something is as long as I like the story so this whole trope worked for me.

Mia sighed, unwillingly recalling the hundreds of crying episodes she’d been forced to tolerate during her time in the harem. At least there would be no danger of poison or knives this time. She put an arm around the weeping woman and uttered soothing words while patting her back.

Mia is used to playing games. Stuck in a harem with numerous other women, she has watched her back all her life, so it should be easier to guard it against one allegedly murderous Marquess instead of many women. If her father intends to marry her off to any that will have her, with a mysterious past she supposes Adam will do. But the more Mia gets to know Adam, the more she thinks everything the rumors say about this man can’t be true. Too bad she plans to run off first chance she gets.

"You must cultivate acceptance and learn to accept minor, er, shortcomings in your suitors.”
Shortcomings. The word caused an almost hysterical bubble of mirth to rise in her throat. What the duke really meant was the only men willing to take an older woman with a dubious past were senile, hideous, brainless, diseased, or some combination thereof.

I really enjoyed most of this story. For one, Mia is a woman who thinks, she has a plan to get back to her son and no one and nothing will stop her. That is until unexpectedly she starts falling for the man she thought would be pleasurable enough to bed but easy enough to leave.

Adam, on the other hand, is a man on the fringes of society and one with many secrets. With rumors of two dead wives, it is hard to get invited to a single party, let alone have a potential bride practically shoved into his lap. Adam needs an heir though and the beautiful and mysterious Mia might just be exactly what he requires, since she wants nothing to do with him after she conceives. Too bad the more time her spends with her, the worse that deal sounds.

There are plenty of missteps and mishaps along the way for Mia and Adam to go through and make it to their ending. The romantic journey and different backstory of the heroine is what made this for me. There are some great side characters and I’m very interested in seeing where Barbarous, the sequel to Dangerous goes.

Was this review helpful?

I'll admit that I requested this book solely because of the 'escaped the harem' plotline. I had hoped to discover a book not unlike THE DUKE OF SHADOWS by Duran that explored non-English elements of historical romance but was maybe a little less dramatic and angsty. The fact that DANGEROUS had a true blue Fabio-esque bodice ripper cover was also entertaining as hell and I had hopes that same kind of fun would translate into the story. And, spoiler, it did.

Lady Euphemia Marlington is thirty two and finally having her debut. Recently returned to London under mysterious circumstances, her father is hoping to marry her off before tales of her misadventures for the last seventeen years become any wilder than they already are. It's bad enough that her age makes her unsuitable but the scandal that surrounds her reappearance means the only real options left to her for a husband include deviants or men twice her age. Ultimately, however, Mia is less concerned over who she marries because she knows she'll be escaping England at the first opportunity. She left something behind when she left the harem, something dear to her, and she has no problem ditching an unwanted husband in order to retrieve it.

That is until she meets Adam de Courtney, Lord Exley. Why this handsome, and age-appropriate, man is interested in her, she doesn't know. But he needs an heir, she needs a husband to grant her independence from her father, and so they get married. But the more she spends time with the complex Lord Exley, the longer she delays her plans to leave. Soon she is caught up in a romance when all she wanted was a marriage of convenience.

As for Adam, infamously known as The Murderess Marquess, he has resigned himself to never again marrying, never having an heir, for who would trust their daughter to a man who had lost his two prior wives under suspicious circumstances? But then he meets Mia and is both intrigued by her father's desperation to marry her off to him and intrigued by the woman herself -- not the least for the fact that the story about her absence doesn't seem to be truthful. But it doesn’t take long for his intrigue to turn into obsession, not just for her body but for her company, as she works her way under his skin. He doesn't want to care for her, doesn't want to long for her, and yet she consumes every thought in his head, his body burns for her, and soon they are sharing confidences, playing cards, falling in love, when all he wanted was to wed her, bed her, and then go about their separate ways.

For the first fifty percent or so of this story, I honestly couldn't believe Spencer's DANGEROUS was a debut. This book is fun, witty, sexy as hell, and has just enough mystery surrounding Adam's backstory to make him a legitimately broody, hard to read, and hard to open up, hero. Mia, on the other hand, has endured life in a harem, snatched up at the tender age of fourteen, and yet lives her life to the fullest. She is full of joy, delight, and ridiculously sensual for a woman who has been trained to please others while never experiencing her own pleasure. The chemistry between these two is fantastic and watching them spark off, and against, each other is great fun.

Where the story fell apart for me, though, was near the climax. Circumstances arise where we have Adam and Mia traveling to Oran, where the harem is located, in a civil war-like setting and.. I just felt the story had too much happening and the characters became reactionary and stupid. Mia specifically, I'm sad to say, had a few TSTL moments that made me shake my head because throughout DANGEROUS she's.. well, dangerous. Dangerously clever, dangerously smart, dangerously calculating. I suppose the argument could be made that she lost her head because of the high stress situation, and I think perhaps the author tried to backtrack that into the narrative by way of a certain comment that shows how overwhelmed Mia is after everything settles down, but it felt a little too late by that point. There also might have been one too many sex scenes, especially near the big build-up; though I might be criticizing that because sex was deliberately used to avoid talking about a certain issue which happened to be right around the time I thought the book was the weakest. Personally I’m not a fan of the sex-sleight-of-hand distraction tactic but if you're a reader who loves it steamy, I think you'll be very satisfied.

That being said, I enjoyed the lighthearted, fun, and -- on the surface -- perhaps ridiculous nature of this book; which, side note, appears to be less ridiculous and more grounded in fact than I initially thought it to be. I feel the strength of the unexpected romance to be really strong, and believable, and appreciate that even though Adam helped to 'rescue' Mia and assist in a dangerous situation, Mia rescues him right back by offering insight into his past and insight into his present. As far as the wrap-up, I really enjoyed the epilogue, which seems to be hinting at a future romance for later in <i>The Outcasts</i> series that I would be very interested in reading. Jibril and Eva for book three? Please?

If you're wondering which debut author to take a risk on, or looking to try something different for your next historical romance, I would definitely suggest giving this one a go. I, for one, am definitely going to read more from her.

3.75 stars

Was this review helpful?

This wasn't your typical historical romance, as most don't start with a Duke's daughter who spent 17 years in captivity in a harem trying to reenter society to please her father and gain some independence in marriage. The book had a unique flavor and humorous side characters that enhanced the overall story. I liked the two main characters, Mia (Lady Euphemia Marlington) and Adam (Adam de Courtney - The Murdering Marquess) and the two were exactly what the other needed, as they both faced large struggles in their lives. The only thing I that bothered me was the fact that Mia, for being as clever as she is, sometimes puts no thought into her actions which was frustrating and at times unbelievable. I'm interested to see where the next book in the series will take the reader.

I received an advanced copy from NetGalley for a fair and honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this! A grumpy, brooding hero and a lovely, interesting heroine make for a great match up. And I’m even more impressed that this is a debut novel for this author! Minerva Spencer is an author I will continue to read for sure.

Thank you Kensington and NetGalley for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

A double sided tale. This book covers a love story and a tale of the love of a mother for her child. Well done with just enough suspense in the final quarter to keep me reading. The characters were well developed and not overly likeable (to me) in some aspects, but understandable with the histories woven for them. The love story takes up just over the first half of the book...and then the duplicity and partial betrayal showing what a mother will do to help her child. I didn't agree with her; but understood her motives completely.

Overall, a well told story that keeps the reader involved. I wasn't totally immersed with either lead character, but the story was what kept my interest to the very last.

Was this review helpful?

I found this book to be a mixed bag. It has a promising start, and the first third of it was engaging and charming. Mia and Adam are both considered outcasts, though London society only suspects they have dirty little secrets in their past. Nevertheless, rumors and innuendo are powerful forces. To hide her history of having spent the last fifteen years living in a harem after having been abducted by pirates, Mia agrees to promote her father's mostly unbelievable tale of having just returned from life in a European convent. Her aristocratic father is desperate to marry his now 30+ aged daughter and get her off his hands. Adam has developed the reputation as a wealthy and handsome urban Bluebeard - suspected of having murdered his two wives - leaving him eligible to remarry once again. Given his situation as an undesirable bachelor still in need of a male heir, Mia's father bumps him up to the top of his list of prospects for the desperate Mia. I was pleasantly surprised by Mia and Adam's first encounter given the burden both characters carry around with them. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, they size each other up and like what they see. The physical attraction to each other is apparent from the first moment they set eyes on each other, and it remains an appealing part of their relationship. It is refreshing too that both toss out rumors and are able to share some of their truthful histories pretty quickly into their marriage.

After the courtship and wedding, the book started to slide downhill for me, alas. Both Mia and Adam have secrets they are unwilling to share, and as a result, they cannot really talk to each other above more than a superficial level. The steamy sex scenes pile on and I frankly got a bit bored with them since they were not really accompanied with emotional development.

Also, I had initially hoped that Mia's sharp critique of the repressed world of sexual politics in England would connect to the oppressive world of life in the Islamic world for women. Instead, life in Oran is portrayed in fairly one-dimensional villainous terms, whereas life for women in England is more complex and even promising of some opportunities of equality for women. Islamic pirates desire white slaves to grow their empire, and while this is historically accurate, the catastrophe to Africa and the Middle East as a result of European colonialism is not mentioned once. The book creates a world where white people are preyed upon by a heartless and corrupt Islamic world. Mia's experiences in a harem are horrible. She was beaten and raped and kept prisoner until she managed to escape. But while British men viewed women as objects and broodmares as well, there are a number of decent white men in the book with somewhat modern sensibilities toward women, including the hero. There really was not a single sympathetic Islamic character in the book. Jibril, Mia's teenage son seemed a promising prospect for more than a stereotype of Islam, but all of his positive characteristics are attributed to Mia and all of his negative traits, such as his arrogance and his high-handed attitude toward his mother are attributed to the Sheik who raped Mia. Even more ridiculous is that Jibril when we finally meet him is fair-skinned with red hair, and well-spoken with the countenance of an "English gentleman."

I'm not fond of books that devolve into stereotypes, but I am especially put off by books that use stereotypes of people of color so that white people can be uplifted and history can be white-washed. Whatever good feelings I was having about the book almost entirely dissipated by the end. My feelings of annoyance at some of Mia's silly actions that put her repeatedly in danger and required the rescue from her husband had me annoyed more than I probably would have been under different circumstances.

Artists have the freedom to construct any story they want, of course. I just wish for more historical accuracy. And, truth be told, I wish more than ever today that writers would be sensitive to the stories they tell about people who are already demonized and stereotyped too often in reality.

Was this review helpful?