Married to The Sheik
by Carol Grace
(Silh. Rom. #1391, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-19391-2
***
Married to The Sheik takes a fairy tale approach to romance. Where else could a woman who sees herself as a Plain Jane end up married to a gorgeous, debonair, bonafide sheik?

Emily Claybourne has been Sheik Ben Ali's assistant for the last three years, and for those three years she's loved him deeply but silently. She's seen this oil tycoon in action but his latest request frustrates her. At thirty-four, Ben has finally acceded to his father's urging and is acknowledging that it's time to take a wife. He requests that Emily draw up a list of the women he's dated. He needs a master list of candidates.

What he doesn't tell his father but shares with Emily is that he only plans on being married for a year. After that he and his bride will go their separate ways, with Ben having tried marriage for his father's sake and his soon-to-be-ex-wife all the richer.

Ben, the foolish man, doesn't realize that the perfect wife is right under his nose. Emily adores him. Finally, he recognizes Emily's suitability. He proposes a marriage of convenience, knowing that it's only going to last a year. He'll tell his father that his marriage isn't working and that he and his wife are divorcing. He's rationalizing that he'll be able to return to his carefree lifestyle.

Emily grudgingly agrees but is unhappy with the whole marriage offer. She knows that she's not the type who usually attracts Ben. Her pride is such that she refuses to let Ben know how she feels about him.

The differences that sometimes occur in culturally diverse unions are neatly circumvented here. Ben is Americanized, and there's a sense that he'll be here for good. There's no mention of Emily having to adapt to his culture.

His dad approves of Emily, knowing and accepting that his son is now more Western in his thinking. Emily's family is slightly out of focus. She tells Ben that she's the odd man out. Her family is talented, theatrical, flamboyant and attractive. She doesn't see herself as possessing any of those traits. She doesn't even invite her family to the wedding. That way, she won't be subjected to their pitying, surprised looks when they see her marrying this larger than life man.

There aren't too many surprises on the honeymoon. They're forced to share the same bed, each taking a turn with the obligatory chair. Ben kicks himself for ever mentioning abstinence. The new Emily, with her snazzy, updated wardrobe, is rapidly becoming a fascinating woman, one Ben is finally noticing. He becomes aware of her facets, her vulnerability and how she's beginning to seem lovely, fresh and important in his eyes.

Married to the Sheik is one of the ‘Virgin Brides' stories and offers a charming but slightly clueless hero and a heroine who does become a swan, but not without some pain and acceptance of who she really is. Those of you who like light stories where Exotic boy meets Ordinary girl, with both being transformed, then this is it.

--Linda Mowery


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