So I recently discovered e-books. Whether you are for or against them I doubt you can dispute what they have done for the romance genre. Particularly Harlequin Mills & Boon. Titles that were long forgotten in sad piles going for twenty cents each at garage sales or local markets are now back, beautiful, and ready to be loved forever. Books I would never have managed to buy and read in time before they were whisked off the shelves are now at my fingertips. Excitingly so.
That’s where I found Annie West. I had come across one of her books years ago. It was part of a series I refused to finish because the blurb on her book just didn’t do it for me. I came across the book again recently and was excited to see it was part of that same series. Thinking it was a different book I read the blurb again. I realised it was the same book but thought I’d give it a chance by reading its reviews. There were none, not even a star rating. So I left it.
Yeah, I’m that person. I will refuse to read a book upon reading its blurb. I will very rarely read a book with a prologue (most of the time they should just be titled ‘Chapter One’ – particularly in Presents/Sexy etc.), and I rarely read an e-book that has less than a 4 star rating. I’m a mum and I’m a teacher and I’m all things in between. So when I want to read a book I need it to be wonderful from the get go. I’ve been reading Harlequin Mills & Boon for 18 years. I know exactly what I want.
Well, I thought I did. Until Annie West taught me a lesson. Always trust Annie West.
A week ago I was going through one of my usual, “Oh no, I can’t find a good book to read. Is it me? Is it the books? Woe is me,” moments. I’d re-read a few old titles on my bookshelf. I was about to turn to my idols Patricia Wilson and Jennie Lucas. Then, in a moment of “There HAS to more,” I typed ‘Sheikh’ into the e-book search and found ‘The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride’ by Annie West. The rest is history.
I could end it there but I won’t.
After reading one after the other of Annie West’s books I began to see and understand what Annie West has done to and for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Not only has she delivered gem after gem but she’s managed to do it with original story lines and with original characters.
On the way home from visiting the doctor this morning with an incredibly sick toddler and my husband sitting next to him on the back seat of the car I had to let it all out. So when I said in the title I had a discussion with my husband, it was more like me gushing wonderment and my husband nodding a smiling. Also, him telling me to keep my hands on the wheel. When I’m passionate about something I flail a little bit. You’ve been warned.
If you’ve read a few romance novels you know about Sheikhs. If you’ve been reading Harlequin Mills & Boon for a few years you might know about the evolution of the different series from their beginnings until now. That essay is for another day. I suppose what we need to know here is how Sheikhs have been portrayed in romance novels over time and how Annie West has turned the tables.
I feel like I’ve read them all, and in the majority of them the Sheikh is tall dark and handsome and completely arrogant. Some have created Sheikhs so arrogant and mean I’ve struggled to finish the book. Some Sheikhs have gone the other way and have somehow found their way into metrosexual territory with not a grain of sand in sight. I suppose all I wanted was the tall dark and handsome with traditional values but with modern ties. Someone who is strong and capable but can show vulnerability and need. I first had a glimpse of that when I read ‘Tamed: The Barbarian King’ by Jennie Lucas. Perfect.
Annie West manages to do all this. All of it. With all of her Sheikhs. All of them. While still creating completely different characters with completely different motivations. She also writes a great sex scene but that’s also for another essay. I was going to try to slip it in here but that might just tip me over from ‘short’ to ‘long’ review.
So after devouring the majority of Annie West’s catalogue in a week I came back across that book with the uninspiring blurb and non-existent reviews. Why was I still cautious? Somebody go back in time and slap me.
Trust Annie West.
‘Scandal: His Majesty’s Love Child’ is brilliant. The end.
Tahir is a man desperate to feel. Living on the peripheries of life. Never connecting. His feet never touch the ground. He welcomes the opportunity of death and finds relief in the blackness. Annalisa is a woman stuck between two cultures. Never belonging. Never knowing her true self. Her true potential. Less so now that her father – her one guiding light – has passed away. They meet in a situation that leaves Tahir completely vulnerable. A situation in which Annalisa is saying goodbye to the world she knows and Tahir must choose between death and a life filled with new opportunity.
And that’s just in the first few pages people.
Our hero and heroine each answer a need in the other. With a complete role reversal Annalise is the protector. She is the rock. She pushes Tahir to feel. To live in the light. To take chances. It’s Tahir’s journey more than it is Annalisa’s journey, and that’s okay by me. It’s wonderful to read stories about women who are not only virgins but strong and capable – not shrinking violets who need protection and cosseting.
Not only is this book a wonderful part to a series, but it is able to stand alone. Not many achieve this. If you would like to read the other books in this series look up ‘Dark Hearted Desert Men’. It is the follow on series from ‘The Royal House of Karedes’.
‘Scandal: His Majesty’s Love-Child’ was a 2010 ARRA Awards Finalist, a USA Today Bestseller, and a Borders Best Seller.
So why is it important to review this book? A book that was released in 2010? Because Annie West is wonderful and her creations need to be read. If that takes reviewing all of her titles so people like me who choose reading material on reviews will read her work, then so be it. Did that sentence make sense? Thought not.
Annie West not only writes about wonderful Sheikhs. Her current title, ‘Undone By His Touch’ was a May 2012 release in Australia/NZ (Mills & Boon Sexy); an April 2012 release in the UK (Mills & Boon Modern Romance); and a June 2012 release in the USA (Presents). For more information, you can find Annie West here: http://www.annie-west.com/.