Fire & Desire

One Special Moment

Secret Love

True Love

Delaney’s Desert Sheikh
by Brenda Jackson
(Silh. Desire #1473, $4.25, R ) ISBN 0-373-76473-1
Delaney’s Desert Sheikh is Brenda Jackson’s first romance under the Silhouette Desire imprint. It is the story of an irresistible force and an immovable object. According to physicists and philosophers, the two cannot peacefully coexist. But romance novelists like Brenda Jackson know better.

In this story, Delaney Westmoreland has just arrived in North Carolina to spend a month in her cousin’s cabin in the North Carolina woods. She has just completed med school exams and needs some down time away from the books and her five (yes, five) overprotective brothers. When she arrives, she finds that the cabin is already occupied.

Jamal Ari Yassir is in the United States to negotiate a business deal on behalf of his father, the amir of Tahran and the heads of neighboring countries. He also recently attended the wedding of his former Harvard roommate. (Is it my imagination or do all romance novel sheikhs attend Harvard?) His former roommate co-owns the cabin and has offered it to Jamal for a month. Same cabin, same month.

Delaney’s arrival breaks into Jamal’s solitude and catches him unawares. At first glance he finds her irresistible. At first glance, she finds him immovable. After exams and a seven-hour drive Delaney is annoyed to discover him at the cabin. She offers him a “democratic way” of settling the problem.

“Which do you prefer, flipping a coin or pulling straws?”
“Neither. I suggest you let me put your luggage back in the car.”

Neither is willing to give up the cabin. She, on economic grounds, he on principle. So their shared accommodations give a whole new meaning to the term “time share.” The cabin - with three bedrooms and with individual connecting baths - is large enough for Jamal and Delaney (or a family of six for that matter.)

After her failed attempt at diplomacy and a call to her cousin, Delaney decides to stay. Jamal helps her with her luggage and puts his cards on the table. He finds her attractive and warns her that it is only a matter of time before he acts on it. Delaney realizes she has no reason to fear him. She begins her month-long respite at the cabin with several days of much needed sleep.

As the time progresses and their mutual attraction intensifies, the cabin begins to get smaller. The experienced Jamal teaches the would-be doctor things she never learned in anatomy class. The chemistry between the two characters is well developed. Jamal may have problems with American idioms, but he has no problem interpreting Delaney’s body language. Because a good portion of the novel deals with Delaney and Jamal’s shared accommodations, the main characters do a good job of holding the action together without supporting cast.

However, when Delaney’s brothers do make an appearance, their role is more to set up the Westmoreland stories that will follow and to provide a bit of comic relief. In addition, there are a couple of gaps in the story that I expect to be filled in the subsequent stories.

Delaney’s Desert Sheikh is a pretty straightforward shared accommodations story. The clash of cultures aspects of the story, while predictable, cast a different look at the some of the cultures in the ubiquitous Middle East region. It’s worth a look.

Brenda Jackson has developed a large and loyal following with the ten stories in the Madaris family and friends series. Her work with the Desire line will expose new readers to her writing. For them, I would also recommend Eternally Yours. Although it is the fourth story, I consider it a primer to the Madaris series. My other favorites in the series are Secret Love and One Special Moment.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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