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Recent Release Review- The Sheik Retold by Victoria Vane and E.M. Hull

Title:  The Sheik Retold

The Sheik Retold book

Genre:  Historical Romance/Early 20th Century

Author: Victoria Vane and E.M. Hull

Publisher: Vane Publishing LLC, August 2013

Source: Free for review from V. Vane

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com

Pride and passion vie for supremacy between a haughty young heiress and a savage son of the Sahara in this fresh new telling of E.M. Hull’s romance classic.

A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground… A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own… “There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay dearly for what you have done. “Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French have no jurisdiction over me. There is no law here above my own.” My trepidation was growing by the minute. “Why have you done this? Why have you brought me here?” “Why?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”

When pride and passion vie for supremacy, blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…

**

Edith Maude Hull wrote the wildly successful novel THE SHEIK in 1919.  It was published through 50 printings and made into a famous silent movie with Rudolph Valentino.  I have read the original THE SHEIK and thought to do a side by side review with Victoria Vanes reimagining of the story.  But Victoria rightfully gave co-authorship credit to Edith .  The beginning few chapters follows the original Sheik quite closely, it is only after Diana is kidnapped by Sheik Ahmed that more of Victoria’s take on the story is revealed.  This is a truly interesting novel.  Although Victoria gives a disclaimer concerning how she eliminated rape and animal cruelty, just eliminating these forms of abuse does not negate the rampant abuse present in the novel.  This is a story of a woman with “Stockholm Syndrome”.  She falls in love with her captor and she excuses his abusive nature.  E.M. Hull didn’t know to call it a “syndrome” but that is what it is whether in 1919 or 2013.

I did enjoy Victoria’s rendition of the book and I applaud the way she adhered to the storyline only digressing to make the book better.  There has been care taken to show that a bad man is not all bad, that he is a complex individual.  This is a historical romance set in the early 20th century in Algeria and the Sahara Desert..  Diana is a wealthy, spoiled , naïve and willful young woman.  Ahmed is a totalitarian ruler of his hoard. Well written by both authors with well drawn and complex characters I highly recommend it.

**

The following is an edited explanation of Stockholm Syndrome from www.counsellingresources.com :

It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:

  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
  • The perceived inability to escape the situation

“Cognitive Dissonance” explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable.

The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed “all their eggs in one basket”. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

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Filed under Book review, Books, E-Book, Historical Romance, Kindle

Review- The Devil’s Thief by Samantha Kane

Title:  The Devil’s Thief (The Saint’s Devils series, book #1)

the devil's thief

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Samantha Kane

Publisher: Loveswept, Nov 2012

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating:  3

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

The daughter of a reformed jewel thief, Julianna Harte knows a thing or two about stealth. When the foundling home she provides for finds itself in dire financial straits, Julianna is forced to do the unthinkable. In a bit of misguided Robin Hood derring-do, she slips through the window of a wealthy rake to search for a treasure she knows is there: an invaluable pearl. But when the towering and very naked occupant of the moonlit bedroom ambushes her with a bargain—a night in his bed in exchange for the pearl—Julianna doesn’t know if it’s masculine heat or sheer desperation that makes his terms so tempting.

Alasdair Sharpe had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain. Planning to offer his little cat burglar carte blanche instead, he promptly loses himself in the delights of unexpected pleasure. But when he awakes the next morning to find his family heirloom gone, fury quickly replaces sensual languor. Of course, Alasdair is more than willing to use seduction to reclaim his stolen pearl—and find the key to Julianna’s heart.

**

Not mentioned in the description blurb are the other members of The Saint’s Devils.

“The Saint’s Devils are a group of rakes that have been friends since their school days. Their unofficial leader is Sir Hilary St John, a brilliant, hedonistic Sherlock Holmes character who helps his friends solve mysteries surrounding their heroine in each book…” from Samantha Kane.US the author’s website.

The other member besides Alisdair and Hilary is Roger Templeton.    Because Julianna causes them so much trouble by stealing the pearl they band together to help Alisdair recover the pearl.  At times it does seem that Hilary St. John is the only member of the team that has a brain.  Roger is usually drunk and Alisdair is really dim witted.  Julianna is naïve, not so innocent since handing over her virginity to Alisdair, and routinely makes dangerous forays into the underbelly of London.  Wiley, a charismatic minor criminal offers most of the sanity in the story of the pearl’s recovery.

This book is a rather lighthearted read, very sexy, at times laugh out loud funny and at times silly.  I recommend it to those who want a light, easy going read with some steamy sex scenes.

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Recent Release Review- The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Title:  The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister Series)

The Heiress Effect

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Author: Courtney Milan

Publisher: Courtney Milan, July 15, 2013

Source: Free for review from the author

Rating: 5+

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com: Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When in company, she always says the wrong thing–and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances–and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

The Heiress Effect is the second full-length book in the Brothers Sinister series. It is preceded by The Governess Affair, a prequel novella, and The Duchess War, the first book in the series. Each book stands alone, but those who prefer to read in order might want to start at the beginning.

**

I’m a huge Courtney Milan fan.  She does not ever disappoint in her novels and The Heiress Effect is another example of a superbly constructed and executed story.  This book starts off by bringing forth the heroine with terrific wit; Jane’s over-the-top shenanigans at a society dinner had me in stitches.  But beneath the laughs are the very real problems that plague her sister and herself.  The hero has his own problems to deal with but he is the only one at the dinner that can see through Jane’s ploy to the person beneath the disguise.

Ms Milan can breathe life into characters that resonate with purpose and she gives the reader the sense of being thrust into the Victorian era along with them.  She captures the societal concerns of the day from women’s rights to working men’s rights.  She has fashioned two outcast protagonists who are more alike than they think they are.  They both fight against their growing attraction knowing in their hearts that a union would be futile.  The romance is slow to develop and wonderfully realized. The side characters of Jane’s uncle and her sister are full of personality. There is a surprise that you won’t see coming. We are given brief looks at Robert and Sebastian from the first full length book in this series, The Duchess Wars. (Sebastian will be the hero in the next book of the series.)

This book is going on my list of best books of 2013.  I highly recommend!

The Brother Sinister Series:

1/2. The Governess affair (prequel novella)

1. The Duchess Wars (Robert and Minnie)

1 1/2. A Kiss For Midwinter (Lydia and Dr. Grantham, novella)

2. The Heiress Effect (Jane and Oliver)

3. The Countess Conspiracy(Sebastian)

4. The Mistress Rebellion (Free Marshall)

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