Desert Warrior by Nalini Singh
(Silh. Desire #1529, $4.25, R) ISBN 0-373-76529-0
***
Four years ago, the heir to the sheikdom of Zulheina, Tariq al-Huzzein Donovan Zamanat was traveling. He met and fell in love with New Zealander Jasmine Coleridge. But she chose her family over him, which left him broken hearted.

Now, his parents dead from a car crash, Tariq has assumed the role of Sheik. Jasmine, knowing that she loves him, has rejected her family and come to be by his side. She knows that Tariq must learn to trust her love and she hopes to make him understand why she chose as she did four years ago. Tariq had been waiting for Jasmine to grow up before he went to claim her again. Now that she is here, he marries her, but he is guarding his heart.

Their story is one of a dominant male learning to trust and love a deserving woman and the woman who loves him, but refuses to be subservient. It is a passionate story. Most of their communicating occurs in bed and the lovemaking is hot and explicit.

Both Tariq and Jasmine carry secrets and as they learn to trust, they slowly reveal the truth. The story is almost entirely centered on their relationship. There is no intrigue, there is no mystery – it is just the two of them as they learn to love and trust and live together.

Debut author Nalini Singh has developed two characters with depth. They love, they hate, and they feel desperation, need, betrayal and remorse. Tariq feels possessive and is slow to realize this is tied to his love of Jasmine. Jasmine fears the rejection she has suffered at the hands of her family and yet reacts in ways that may lead to that very rejection she fears.

The weakness of the story parallels the strength. Because the plot is not well developed beyond their relationship, there is only their relationship. This leads to rounds of hot sex, followed by some misunderstanding or hurt that they must work through. The cycle continues throughout the story. This left me feeling adrift, and impatient that Tariq and Jasmine did not just cut to the chase and admit their love. The last final misunderstanding just seemed contrived and overkill.

Desert Warrior is a treat for those who enjoy strictly character-based romances full of feelings and talking and making love. For those who want a little more, look elsewhere, but remember Singh’s name. I think you will see more from her in the future.

--Shirley Lyons


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