20 April 2011

The Sultan's Bought Bride


Harlequin Presents #2418; The Princess Brides.

Publisher's Synopsis: Princess Nicolette Ducasse refused to let her sister marry Sultan Malik Roman Nuri of Baraka. So she traveled to his faraway kingdom to tell him the wedding was off, never expecting that Malik would be one seriously sexy sultan! Resisting him would be hard. 

But Malik made it clear that if they shared a bed the wedding was on. He was a modern monarch in many ways -- except when it came to his bride!

As much as I enjoy Harlequins, some of the titles just make me cringe. Like this one. And frankly, this is one I probably would never have bothered to pick up, except for the fact that it's by Jane Porter and I love her contemporary books. So I've been collecting her Harlequins. And I really, really liked this one.

Princess Nicolette is determined to never fall in love again and never marry. Never let a man rule her. Sultan/King Malik Nuri has never felt the desire to marry and start a family, until an assassination attempt is made on his life. Then he realizes he needs an heir.

Nicolette's sister had a horrible first marriage, but for the good of their poor country, and her young daughter, she has agreed to an arranged marriage with Malik. Except Nicolette is determined to prevent her sister from another arranged and loveless marriage, while at the same time formulating a plan to use King Malik to get her sister's young daughter away from her deceased father's family, who won't allow her out of their country.  So she dyes her hair brown and travels to Baraka to meet Malik, pretending to be her sister. Her plan is to pretend to go along with wedding planning, convince Malik to hold the wedding in her mother's home town of Louisiana, and once her sister and niece are safely in the US and can be hidden away by family there, she'll break off the engagement, leaving Malik at the alter. 

Malik has not met Nicolette's sister in person, but even so it's harder to pretend to be her sister than she anticipated. As Princesses, they are well known, and while Malik has a reputation as a playboy, Nicolette has her own reputation. So it doesn't help when Malik makes disparaging comments to her about her "sister" Nic. Of course, Malik has his own secret, as we learn long before Nic does. Nicolette is a strong heroine, who is used to being in control of her own life, and the author does a really good job portraying her fear and frustration as she realizes that she is very quickly losing control of everything to Malik.

As with any Harlequin, you know there will be a HEA. But Ms. Porter provides a twist at the end, that almost threatens that HEA, and that I was not expecting. Porter's heroines are always strong, intelligent, likeable women, and her books are quick and easy to read, with  a little humor thrown in.

(I received this book through Book Mooch.)

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