"Fortune's Children"

Come Near Me

Escapade

A Funny Thing Happened on
the Way to the Delivery Room

The Homecoming

Indiscreet

The Promise

The Untamed

 
The Sheikh’s Secret Son
by Kasey Michaels
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65036-1
***
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Had this book not been part of the “Fortunes of Texas” series and had I not felt an obligation to continue my role as TRR’s official Fortune reviewer, I would never have picked up any tome entitled, The Sheikh’s Secret Son, even though I am usually a fan of Kasey Michaels’ books. But duty called, and the fact that I didn’t actually hate the book is reflected in its rating.

I am not wild about secret baby books and I’ve never been all that fond of sheikhs. And here we have the two combined.

Eden Fortune has appeared in a number of the previous stories. We know that she is a lawyer; we know that she has a son; we know she has never been married; and we know she always seems to be sad beneath the surface. Now we find out why.

The story begins with Eden arriving at her office building on the day one of the firm’s clients is to sign a most lucrative oil deal with the Middle Eastern country of Kharmistan. When Eden steps out of the elevator, she is in for a shock. The sheikh himself has come to finalize the negotiations. But the man the world knows as Sheikh Barakah Karif Ramir is none other than Ben Ramsey, the man Eden had met in Paris six years ago, had fallen in love with almost at first sight, had waited hopefully for when he was called away on business and had never heard from again. He is also the father of her son Sawyer.

Ben -- as I suppose we should call him for simplicity’s sake -- is not surprised. Indeed, he had known that Eden worked for this firm and had planned to confront her once again. He is convinced that she fled Paris when she learned from the letters he sent her of his true identity. He had dutifully stayed home, taken control of his country, and married his cousin in a dynastic arrangement. Now widowed, he has never forgotten the girl he loved in Paris. So he has chosen this way of becoming reacquainted, knowing that Eden will have to cooperate with him for professional reasons.

Of course, Ben soon discovers that Eden never knew who he was, that his trusted advisor had never forwarded his letters. Eden thus learns that Ben had not truly abandoned her as she thought. But Eden cannot imagine that they can have a future, despite the feelings that have never died. And she is deathly afraid that if and when Ben discovers Sawyer’s existence, he will try to take her son from her.

Of course, Ben does learn about Sawyer and the tension mounts. Can Eden abandon her life in Texas to become the sheikh-ess of a Middle Eastern country? Can she keep Sawyer if his father wants his heir? How will it all work out?

Michaels enriches her story with a bit of palace intrigue that ultimately peters out but adds some interest to the tale. She also provides an interesting picture of the constraints as well as the privileges of royal status.

What keeps me from recommending The Sheikh’s Secret Son is the portrayal of Ben. Despite the fact that he supposedly was educated in England and at Yale where he fit in very well, Michaels has him speaking with a strangely foreign cadence and usage. It seems to me that, had that been the case, six years earlier Eden would not have believed that Ben Ramsey was just another American in Paris. Frankly, I found his supposed accent annoying. Also, Ben is the ultimate alpha male, but what else would one expect of an Arab sheikh.

Also, Eden’s reluctance to accept Ben’s offer of marriage, given the way she supposedly feels about him, didn’t ring completely true. After all, she is a Fortune of Texas, not a mere ordinary person. Her misgivings are not completely credible.

Still, given my original resistance to the whole idea of the story, I found it rather enjoyable. And it does add to the mystery of Baby Bryan’s disappearance as we discover which Fortune male fathered the child who was left in Bryan’s place. Now, there is a shocker.

Clearly, those readers who have been following the “Fortunes of Texas” series will want to read The Sheikh’s Secret Son. Others will have to decide for themselves.

--Jean Mason


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