This is the first book in Jackson’s sprawling Westmoreland series and, even though it debuted in 2002, be warned it has some extremely dated and problematic elements. Namely… the sheikh thing.
I do think Jackson handles the sheikh element somewhat deftly. The titular sheikh is of mixed ethnicity from a fictional Arabic and African country that he strongly identifies with. Romance author Suleikah Snyder has a blog post that goes in deep on exactly why the sheikh is problematic.
Fresh out of medical school, Delaney Westmoreland plans to spend her three-week vacation catching up on sleep in an isolated North Carolia cabin. But the cabin’s been double booked by Jamal Ari Yassir–the prince of Tahran. Neither is willing to give up their vacation so they share the cabin and the prince awakens desires in Delaney didn’t know she had.
I kind of loved Delaney, she took pride in herself and her accomplishments. She didn’t care what anyone thought of her, she literally just peaces out and sleeps for three whole days when she gets o the cabin.
Jamal and Delaney are constantly at odds because Jamal’s country has outdated ideas about a woman’s place in society. This feels like a really bad stereotype of Muslim men but we learn Delaney’s six older brothers have the same beliefs. I think a lot of these early Westmoreland books are about traditionalist men and the “outspoken, sassy, rebellious” women who challenge them.
At the time this was published I’m sure it was empowering for heroines to assert their rights to the hero but it’s kind of exhausting that they have to educate these men who have seemingly never encountered the idea that women might want more than to be a housewife.
This book is narrated by Sean Crisden and, unpopular opinion, I’ve never been a fan of his. His female voices just don’t work for me and he always sounds like he’s talking out the side of his mouth. I do have to give him credit in this one though because he does a pretty decent accent for Jamal. It felt subtle and grounded and not like an impersonation.
This book is kind of wild but, all things considered, I kind of liked it better than some of the modern Westmoreland stuff I’ve read.
I guess at this rate I’m going to have read all the Westmoreland books by the time this pandemic is over. 4 down, 30 to go !
The book : “His bone structure. His nose. His ebony eyes. His dark skin.”
The OG cover: