Sarah Morgan never fails to deliver. Her slick, deceptively simple writing style and engaging characters lead the reader on from one scene to the next. And out of all the authors in the Presents/Modern line, Morgan is the one you read for the heroines. Not that her heroes are lacking in pure male alpha goodness, but the heroines lead them a merry dance before they get their happy ever after.
In this one, which uses characters introduced in previous books, the heroine, Avery Scott, is an events planner. She is still bruised by her affair with Malik, Sheikh of Zubran, which ended painfully. They are still in love, but neither will admit it, and they are both strong personalities.
Malik, or Mal, is engaged to marry a sweet virgin princess, and he’s asked Avery to arrange the engagement party. She thinks it’s incredibly insensitive, but she’s thrown herself into her business and this party will have all the movers and shakers she could ever hope to meet attending. Avery is one of the most successful events planners in London and she has an office worthy of an alpha male and the staff to match. She’s a driven woman and she loves her job. So even if she and Mal ever reconciled, their affair would seem impossible. Because he’s a prince, which is a full time job, and he needs a woman who can support him.
But they still love each other.
It’s painful when they meet, but Avery is strong, and she doesn’t let on. She behaves like a trouper. Except that, before they meet, she does everything she can to avoid him and refuses to take his calls. So much, that he’s obliged to fly in and use the helipad on the top of her building. Very dramatic. He explains to Avery that his intended has disappeared, and he and Avery are off to the desert to rescue her.
This, of course, is painful for them both. It’s clear that Mal still has feelings for Avery, but she’s the last person to agree to second best, so she goes along with saving the bride, because it will save her business. The first half of the book is a road trip. Avery loves the desert and she’s missed it, and the descriptions are lovely. Almost makes me want to brave the heat to go and see it!
Zubran is your typical middle-eastern, wealthy sheikhdom so beloved of Mills and Boon writers and, I have to confess, of me. Desert, handsome men, robes, off-road vehicles – I am so there.
Up to a certain part in the story, it feels like Mal is either a jerk or an insensitive pig, but when the reader is allowed into Mal’s mind, we find him as conflicted and confused as Avery, but he has strong principles and a duty to his country that he’s determined to fulfill. Once his affair with Avery ended, he knew he had to marry, so he settled for someone his counselors and father chose for him, a young princess he could visualize making babies with, but not loving.
Two strong people with fulfilling lives who can’t work out how to live together. Lovely. I settled down and read it through.
In the hands of a less skilled author, Avery could come across as obnoxious and controlling, but to Morgan’s credit, she never does. Where another author might make the secretary or the assistant the sympathetic heroine, Sarah Morgan chooses the boss and a woman very much in control of her life. But she cares about her job and about the people around her and goes the extra mile to make her events the successes they are, which is why I can believe in her as the success she is. She doesn’t yearn and pine either, she just knows she’s lost the love of her life and gets on with the rest of it.
With one obstacle dealt with, Mal determines he won’t let her go this time, and the second half of the book we see him persuading her to give them another chance. However, Mal is working under pressure. What the pressure is would be a spoiler, but it is a usual Modern/Presents trope and the regular reader won’t have to work too hard to figure out what it is. It doesn’t matter, because it just adds an extra element to the story. And when she finds out, Avery will freak.
The end of the book is a bit rushed, and the reconciliation of all the problems somewhat glib, but the restrictive length of the Presents/Modern line sometimes leaves the author with ten pages to wrap up or to skip one of the love scenes. I vote for the rush, but I wish it wasn’t there, and I’d love to see what Morgan does with a longer contemporary. Or a vampire book. What would she do with the ultimate alpha male? I doubt we’ll ever find out, but it’s fun to speculate.
With a client list hotter than the Zubran desert, wedding planner Avery Scott shouldn’t be surprised that her latest client is Crown Prince Malik of Zubran—the man who once lit her body on fire…before steamrollering over her heart.Determined to ignore Malik’s lethal charm, Avery makes a very personal not-to-do list:
1. Not being Malik’s intended, our relationship must remain 100 percent professional.
2. His arranged bride might have run away, but I mustn’t distract him—for the kings of Zubran, duty always comes first.
3. However luxurious the Bedouin tent—and smoldering the tension—pride dictates the touch I crave stays strictly forbidden.
Read an excerpt.