REVIEW: Taken by the Sheikh by Kris PearsonSunday, October 7, 2012 1:00
One of my guilty pleasures is sheikh books, so when I saw this one I decided to give it a whirl. It’s self-published, and I’m afraid that shows in some ways, but it is readable and I did finish it, which are both good things, especially these days, when I’m DNF’ing more books than I used to.
Laurel is captured in error, when terrorists want her companion, and she is rescued from the singularly inept band by Sheikh Rafiq, who is the heir to a kingdom but prefers to work rescuing hostages from terrorists and generally fighting the terrorist threats to his land.
Pearson sidesteps the obvious political problems involved, of getting heavily involved with the problems of the Middle east by making her terrorists more like mercenaries, taking people for a straight ransom payment. There are only three of them, and one of them is our hero, who has infiltrated the group, and they seem more like the Three Stooges of terrorists, as it’s laughably easy to escape them. Rafiq takes her to his secret but luxurious lair, and the inevitable happens.
The book takes a long time to start. A good editor would have made her cut a lot of things out and combined some characters and scenes. The complication at the beginning, that Laurel is taken in error, leads nowhere, and seems an unnecessary complication. Elements that occur later could have been more effectively incorporated into the plot, making it tighter and more focused, but Pearson uses a smorgasbord of a plot, dropping things in when they suited and instead of developing, abandoning the thread and adding something else. It makes for a fuzzier read, and dissipates the interest in what could have been a strong plot.
The sex scenes are described in detail at first, then fade to black, which gives the story, despite the sometimes frank language, an old-fashioned feel. Not to say frustrating. It is definitely not hot. Although she describes the sex scenes, she does carry through to a conclusion adequately.
The heroine is a pure Mary Sue. Beautiful, resourceful, brave, sexy, and sweet as aluminum foil on teeth. She’s just adorable and I wanted to strangle her for not being more – well, human and normal, really. I’ve rarely read a more typical to type (i.e., Mary Sue), and if she had a fault, everybody forgave her for it, because to meet her was to love her. I’m sure she could have charmed the terrorists who kidnapped her into releasing her, if she’d had a bit more time. They’d have run away screaming at the perfection.
The hero is brave, resourceful, honorable, etc., and a sheikh type rather than a real person. He doesn’t ever put a foot wrong, and he’s just perfect. He wants Laurel from the minute he sees her, and, of course, he gets her.
One of the biggest problems with this book is the lack of internal conflict. All the conflict comes from the outside, and it’s all his, since Laurel is the passive kind of heroine. His job is too dangerous for her to share, she has a life elsewhere that he is determined she should have, but he loves her. All the time. And he knows he does all the time, which makes for a pretty one-note internal plot. Nothing makes him doubt her, and nothing makes her doubt him, except the “does he really love me?” thing. Of course he does, you dork. So they love each other practically from the minute they meet and nothing changes that. Yawn. They have random conversations, which we get to share, though often we don’t get to share the sex that comes first, conversations that are often of the “As you know, Bob” variety, or push the plot on without developing character or leaving room for tension.
There’s even a cute housekeeper who scuttles around being perfect, attending to their every need, and naturally, she’s his old nanny. Doesn’t matter if she’s on the firing line, though, because she’d be saaad to be away from him.
Laurel falls for Rafiq during her time in captivity, when she’s not sure if he’s a goodie or a baddie. He’s just sooo hot! That was so pronounced, that the inevitable conclusion is pretty much unavoidable. She has Stockholm syndrome as she falls for him while in captivity. It doesn’t matter that she has time away from him at the end and a chance to reflect on her decision, as she doesn’t have the therapy that in real life would inevitably follow such a kidnapping. Yes, the whole thing remains secret, but her loving family might have wanted to make sure she was okay. Nope. She goes and floats around her family’s place in Australia, being brilliant at gardening and adorably inept at cooking and horse riding. But she’s a good learner.
And did I forget to mention that she was a virgin before she decided to have sex with the gorgeous terrorist?
This book would have made a perfectly adequate Desire or Modern eventually, but it would have needed a lot of work to tighten the storyline, remove the shadow of Stockholm syndrome, and make the characters less stock and more interesting. It could have been done. But publishers are no longer nurturing talent like they used to. They want a book that is more or less ready to go. Therefore, a lot of these nearly-but -not-quite books are appearing on the self-published lists. This book has been line and copy edited well. If it was content edited, the editor should have picked up the faults I outlined above. Perhaps he/she did and the author decided against taking the advice or perhaps the book wasn’t content edited at all, which is one reason I’m grateful to have editors who care about what I write as well as how I write it.
BTW, after I’d written the review, I checked the Amazon site. The reviews there are 4 or 5 star and mostly a couple of sentences. When you check the “other reviews,” they are mostly for self-published work, with one or two others thrown in. One has reviewed only one fiction work – this one. I really don’t know the rationale behind them, but I can’t imagine that someone picking the book up wouldn’t notice at least some of the things I did.
Would I read another? I might, but with the flat characters and lack of internal conflict, I’m not sure.
Abducted. Seduced. Purring.
Laurel de Courcey is captured by terrorists, chained up in a disgusting bunker, and videoed for a ransom demand which is shown worldwide.
Ooops – wrong hostage! Who’d expect a shy Kiwi nanny to be worth anything?
Laurel’s soon tied up in Sheikh Rafiq’s bed instead, because he rescues her and appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Very personal. But she has good reason to distrust men.
Imprisoned in his old royal hunting lodge deep in the desert ‘for her own protection’, Laurel rebels. Spectacular fireworks, dangerous escape attempts, and an impossible love affair follow.
No excerpt available.