The Desert Sheikh's Captive Wife (Harlequin Presents)

The Desert Sheikh's Captive Wife (The Rich, the Ruthless and the Really Handsome, #1) - Lynne Graham Heroine has to go see her ex-boyfriend Hero who dumped her suddenly 5 years ago in order to ask for some grace period in repaying the huge loan she just found out her mother took from him 5 years ago. Hero wants the loan repaid now or else his mother & her siblings will lose their home & be much more money-strapped than they already were. The only other option he gives her is to be his mistress until he’s done with her. She reluctantly agrees & he takes her to his small island kingdom to keep her from cheating on him like he believed she did before. Heroine’s protestations of her innocence is met by his mockery & calling her a liar. But things get out of hand when his father the king & the people of his kingdom think that he’s there to marry heroine. Hero doesn’t stop the wedding from happening no matter heroine’s reluctance but does keeps his hands off her for a month until the wedding. How will their wedding night impact their future?

The heroine martyrs herself to save her family. This trope is so common in romance books I have to be convinced that her self-sacrifice is the only option & is worth it. Graham was able to do that in this book. Heroine proposed other ways of repaying her mother’s debt but vengeful Hero had a certain agenda & would take nothing else from her except full payment of the loan or temporary use of her body. We know coming in to their first meeting the Big Misunderstanding they had that prompted their breakup 5 years ago. They were both in love with each other then but incriminating evidence against heroine made Hero abandon her. They both never discussed what exactly happened & they don’t do so until the end b/c Hero didn’t want to talk about it. So the whole time b/w their initial meeting & their wedding we see both Hero & heroine struggle with their hidden feelings for each other. It was poignant yet maddening due to Hero’s reluctance to openly discuss what happened. The buildup towards their wedding night where we know that Hero will realize the truth of heroine’s innocence made it an exciting read.

Heroine wasn’t a doormat who easily submitted to Hero’s demands & criticisms. She fought him, defended herself, & repeatedly demanded he show her his proof of her cheating & lying to him 5 years ago. I liked how she took charge at the end & looked for the file he had on herself after he told her about it but still wouldn’t show it to her. Hero was a prideful man who was gravely hurt when he made himself vulnerable to heroine in the past & believed he was deceived by her. He should’ve confronted her about what he found but doing so would’ve made him even more vulnerable to her hurting him & the source of his information was from somebody he fully trusted. I understood this even though I disagreed with it. His shock, disbelief, & apology when he found the truth about heroine were sincere. He has a lot of makeup for & I think he will.