Hey guys! So I’ve actually posted a review for this book before about 2.5 years ago, but since it’s Romance Month here, I think it bears mentioning again. Because this book is just incredible. And I also wanted to give something to those of you who are maybe more drawn to contemporary stories than historical fictions.
In this book, Marie Archer is a young CEO at her family’s company. She’s a person of power, but also of integrity. So she’s absolutely shocked when her brother returns from a trip to the Middle East with a contract for a new office, a royal fiancée, and a wedding in four days. Marie’s not sure what the rush is, but she wants to support her brother–so she travels halfway across the world to be there for him. The language barrier and the different traditions make it difficult for Marie to understand what’s going on, but it seems like she’s crucial to the wedding ceremonies because she’s the groom’s family. Since Crown Prince Mazen Alfaidy, the bride’s brother, is taking an equally large role in things, Marie doesn’t see an issue. What Marie never expected was to be betrayed by her brother and traded in an arrange marriage to Prince Mazen. Confined to a palace she’s unfamiliar with, where they speak a language she doesn’t understand and follow customs she doesn’t know, with a husband she knows nothing about, Marie is trapped in every sense of the word. But there’s intrigue afoot, and if Marie wants to find a way out, she might just have to learn to trust her new husband.
This is the kind of book I had kind of low expectations for. I got it free on Amazon one day when the deal popped up. I thought it looked different and interesting, but I wasn’t holding out for a wow. Needless to say, I was surprised.
What I liked most about this story was the diversity. That might sound like a weird thing to be drawn to, but I loved it. Marie is your average American girl, so it’s a major culture clash when she ends up in the Middle East trying to learn their culture. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember off the top of my head what country exactly they’re in. I want to say Saudi Arabia, but I’m not positive enough to go with that.) But this isn’t a story of “Oh, Western culture is better than foreign cultures.” Marie, who has a personal connection to the events of 9/11, harbors a lot of prejudice against those around her. Like, she hates them personally for no reason but then easily proclaims that she’s not a racist…even though she kind of is at that point. And her new in-laws harbor a lot of prejudice against her for being Western. It’s a two-way street and I liked that so much of the story revolved around understanding different cultures and religions. (Marie is Catholic, Mazen is Muslim.)
I thought the characters were fantastic. I’ll fess up and admit that one of my favorite story tropes is arranged marriages because I love the clash of two personalities meeting. It’s kind of like watching chemistry in action–are you going to get a massive explosion or are you going to get something new and different and exciting as the chemicals work together? And don’t get me wrong, Marie and Mazen both have stubborn personalities, which means this leans dangerously toward “explosion” territory for a long time. But that means the character development is even better throughout the story than you might initially expect.
It’s a very dramatic story. Over the top, even, at times. But like, it’s the kind of drama I’d expect from a TV show on something like this, so I didn’t mind it. Perhaps it’s not 100% realistic, but that was fine with me.
If you don’t mind a little darkness in your romance, I highly recommend checking into this.