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Monday, October 31, 2011

Heart of the Desert by Carol Marinelli

Heart of the Desert by Carol Marinelli
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (186 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Sheikh Prince Ibrahim refuses to bow to the duty that has destroyed his family, by locking away his emotions and shunning his royal responsibility.

Georgie is just the kind of woman duty demands he should avoid—streetwise, troubled and not interested in being queen—exactly the challenge Ibrahim seeks.

Trapped among the swirling sands, in the burning heart of the desert, Georgie finally surrenders to the brooding rebel prince—yet the law of his land decrees that she can never really be his...

If a reader is looking for a solid character driven romance filled with exotic locales and bittersweet emotions that tug the heart, then Heart of the Desert can deliver that and more.

What a complicated romance Ms. Marinelli wove. Not only is there miscommunication but cultural hurdles need to be navigated, old emotional hurts need to be addressed and the past needs to be hauled out into the light in order for the truth to be revealed. The truth basically is about being so stuck in tradition and believed perceptions from others that characters can’t see any other way to be, to act or to live. It took the weakest member to show what it means to be strong – in heart, in forgiveness and in love.

Georgie is a woman growing. The author lets a reader know how far she’s come and in this tale, I was able to see the finishing touches, the final life experiences that hone the woman she’s always wanted to be and ends up becoming. It’s quite the emotional ride. I liked her spunk and her love of family. I liked watching how she learned to love herself as she was and how she refused to settle for second best. Because she demanded more for herself, she ended up bringing out the best and worst in the hero.

Ibrahim is a fighter. Sometimes I got the idea that even he didn’t know exactly what he was fighting for because he had so many demons tormenting him. At times I sensed his frustration, his yearning and his aggressive need to argue his point of view. He was bound by so many restrictions and demands, both culturally and personally. He too loved his family but it brought pain and sorrow, not joy. It wasn’t until Georgie came into his life that he had an inkling of what was missing, but even that was tainted from the demands of tradition. It was very frustrating for the hero and me alike. How in the world could he reconcile the impossible? How can he want to embrace tradition when it would cost him the very thing that would make it all worthwhile? It was a wonderful conflict and very poignant and I enjoyed how the author handled it.

Another aspect I liked in this book was the sensual build-up, the tension between two people who acknowledged the power of attraction but knew that they should not succumb to it. I enjoyed the hint that the power of the desert wasn’t just words but something more tangible and effective; something that worked with the heart and bypassed the brain. Georgie and Ibrahim were seduced by fate and ensnared by what was truly in their hearts but as yet unrecognized. It was like the desert chose what was best for its children because at times they were their own worst enemies. The author used nature to good effect.

I liked the dialogue-mostly. When Georgie’s sister acted so emotionally out of whack, I wanted to jump to Georgie’s defense. How dare she say what she did! Then again, it was another great example of people wearing blinders…only seeing the person from the past, not the person they became. It reminded me of parents and their kids – to them they’ll always be kids who need their guidance, even when they have kids and jobs and lives of their own. It’s like they never grow up in their eyes and their roles remain stagnant. Sometimes something has to happen to make them see, really see, who they are. I think that happens in this book between the sisters and even between Ibrahim and his dad.

Karim didn’t come across as being a supportive secondary character unless I attribute his constant intrusion as a means of stirring the plot. In that I guess he was successful, but I didn’t like his attitude. In fact both he and Felicity acted more as obstacles than loving family. I didn’t like them.

What I did like was the declaration of love. Now that was romantic! That was great drama, with the kind of ultimate grand gesture that would make a woman swoon and melt into a puddle of goo. That whole interaction between Ibrahim and his dad was powerful and well done. The outcome was a terrific happily ever after that made the whole journey worth it.

Heart of the Desert is complete entertainment. I really enjoyed it and was so happy with how Ibrahim and Georgie arrived at their happy ever after. It wasn’t easy because it was full of strong and heartfelt emotions that got bruised and battered along the way. What came out of the ashes was a relationship that will stand the test of time and the blast of desert winds. It was a fun read.