Title: The Merchant’s Pearl (The Merchant’s Pearl Saga, book #1)
Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian
Author: Amie O’Brien
Publisher: Book Baby, July 2016
Source: Free for review from the author
Sexy Rating: 5 not explicit
Violence Rating: 0
Description from Amazon.com:
The opinionated, only daughter of a missionary, is enslaved and gifted to an Ottoman prince who has an inner vow to win her affection. Sarai was led to believe that the whole world could exchange their beliefs for hers. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world never stops for just one person. The world takes, forgets, and swiftly moves on. By 1875, she isn’t even Sarai anymore. She had spent her teenage years repackaged as Leila, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the overly indulgent, Ottoman Sultan, Abdul’Aziz. Leila does her best to stay out of the eye of ‘Aziz as well as his son, Prince Emre. But when young and thoughtful Emre claims Leila for his own harem, she is forced out of her shell and thrown into a ring of competitive women. Here, she cannot hide from the attention her young master wishes to lavish upon her. Nor can she can avoid the ruthless retaliations of his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s the unexpected gift of sexual sanctuary and an inside look into his family’s struggles that really collides with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart becoming increasingly tied to him. But can she submit her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future where to be loved means settling for the fact that she can only ever be his favorite? Will she be able to take turns sharing him among the four beautiful girls he had received before her, one being a jealous rival and another a closest friend? And what will happen to their love if Emre’s father can’t hold together his fragile kingdom, an empire that has grave threats encroaching from every side…including within?
I have mixed feelings about this book. The writing, while good, left me wondering too often about setting. I really wanted to know more about the physical attributes of the palace. We are forced, along with Leila, to confine ourselves to her room or Prince Emre’s rooms. We are only briefly any other place in the entire 466 pages. Written in the first person (I confess up-front that this is not my favorite style), the book is told almost entirely in dialog. An info dump at the end should have been given earlier so that the reader could understand what was going on politically. When at the ball we are told she is wearing a blue gown, but what is the style, is it like a Victorian English Ball? Is she wearing some harem garb? Told that the prince and his brothers are wearing black jackets, but what style? The heroine was often truculent with her “master” even though he was a paragon of patience would a prince in these surroundings have tolerated her disrespect?
The language was often too modern for the Victorian and Turkish setting.
In acknowledgements the author thanks her several editors. If these were professional editors then they could have done a better job of pointing the author in the right direction.
I conclude that there is some real talent with this author which is not fully realized in this book.