Marguerite Kaye’s Claiming His Desert Princess is fourth in the Hot Arabian Nights series. Miss Bates read it and read it and read it and felt as if it would never end: this had more to do with how the day-job has a stranglehold on MissB than any flaws in Kaye’s romance novel. Nevertheless, her experience of it was disjointed and truncated. It’s a romance novel that Miss Bates feels she never quite grasped, never felt it pulled her in, but never lapsed so much, she’d abandon it. Suffice to say this is an interesting romance novel, and its flaw is that it is more so in concept than execution.
Certainly, its premise is an intriguing one: in 1815 Arabian mythical kingdom Nessarah, surveyor/archaeologist Christopher Fordyce searches for the origin of an amulet he recently inherited from his father. He hopes that Nessarah’s turquoise mine will lead him to the tomb that may house revelations of the amulet’s origins. Christopher isn’t merely searching his roots, or if he is, his roots have caused him pain. He recently discovered the loving family he believed his own was adoptive and his true parentage in a man he neither likes nor respects; his birth mother, a tragic young loss at his birth. Digging in the mine to purge himself of the amulet and what it stands for, Christopher encounters a beautiful young woman, with an equal passion for archaeology, Tahiri.
Following from this initial encounter, Claiming His Desert Princess unfolds in a series of meetings between Christopher and Tahiri as they search for the source of Christopher’s amulet. They are joined by a mutual love for the past and curiosity. They also share a powerful attraction and it isn’t long, during their excavating desert nights, that their relationship takes a romantic cast. What joins Christopher and Tahiri, however, isn’t as strong, at least initially, as the things that make their attraction and care for the other doomed to remain in a few illicitly shared nights.
Christopher and Tahiri, whatever joy they share together, are isolated, tormented souls. Christopher’s struggles to come to terms with his newly-revealed parentage, with a sense of betrayal directed towards the people he believed his parents, with the vile man his biological father is, and with his biological mother’s tragic back-story. But Tahiri is no less troubled. She is the eldest princess of Nessarah’s realm and subject to the wishes of the king’s, her brother’s, whim. Prince Ghutrif’s plans for Tahiri are, of course, an advantageous marriage. In the meanwhile, Tahiri yearns only for her excavating studies and Christopher.
There are a few things undeniable about Kaye’s books: first and foremost is her elegant style and ability to paint a scene. Her descriptions of the desert, palace, and excavation site are superb. And her character creations, Christopher and Tahiri, are well-drawn and interesting. Miss Bates’s problem was that, while she could and did admire the well-turned phrases, and while she sympathized with Christopher’s and Tahiri’s plights, she never bought into the romance. Tahiri and Christopher, despite the love scenes, are two lovely friends-with-benefits, who drew sympathy and affection from the other at a time in their lives when they had neither. With her reading companion, Miss Austen, Miss Bates says of Marguerite Kaye’s Claiming His Desert Princess, “almost pretty,” Northanger Abbey.
Kaye’s Claiming His Desert Princess is published by Harlequin. It was released in April of 2017 and may be found at your preferred vendors. Miss Bates received a e-copy from the author.