Title: The Sheikh’s Reluctant Bride
Original Story by: Teresa Southwick
Manga by: Ayumu Aso
Available at eManga
Venturing off to an exotic desert location, let’s take a look at the The Sheikh’s Reluctant Bride. I have been dodging this one because the cover isn’t very appealing. With Kardahl’s long, flowing locks, head band, and frilly clothing, this looks more like a fantasy romance, which, by the way, I probably would have liked better if it actually had been. There are crashing waves surrounding our couple, and a blob in the background that I originally thought was an oil rig. Silly me, it is supposed to be a luxurious palace, though with all of that water threatening it, I hope the royal family has flood insurance.
Jessica is an orphan, but she’s discovered that she has family living on the other side of the planet, in a small Middle Eastern kingdom. Flying out to meet them, she learns that her mother was best friends with the Queen, and that the royal family has been trying to find her mother since she fled the county in disgrace. Jessica also learns the hazards of not knowing what you are signing, and discovers that she has agreed to be Prince Kardahl’s bride. Protesting this turn of events, Kardahl coerces her into pretending to be his bride until they can have the marriage annulled and he can send her back home. As these things work in Harlequins, Jessica begins having second thoughts and falls in love with her fake husband. Can they find happiness despite their deception?
This is a very forgettable read, and the plot is so predictable. I didn’t even get my usual warm fuzzies when the happy couple decides that they are in love and will cherish each other until the day they die. The whole fascination with sheikhs and fictitious Middle Eastern counties mystifies me, given the reality of women’s social standing in those cultures. I do, however, understand the desire to be filthy rich and live in a monstrous palace that has bathrooms bigger than my house. Now, that is a dream that I can relate to.
Jessica, despite having been raised in an orphanage, is naive and has lived a pretty sheltered life. Her personality is so saccharine that it made my teeth hurt. She is thrilled to learn that she has living relatives, and that people were looking for her mother for years. It even takes away the sting of watching her mother’s downward spiral into drinking and her own upbringing in the orphanage after her mother’s death.
Kardahl is one of those moody, enigmatic heroes. He keeps his feelings tightly in check, and he is amazed that he feels instantly at ease around Jessica. She’s like valium to him, and he even forgets about his Tragic Past when he’s with her. The Tragic Past keeps spoiling his mood when they are apart, and he decides, for Jessica’s safety, that it’s best to keep some distance from her. Jessica doesn’t understand his yo-yo personality, and begins to feel insecure. This conflict didn’t have much emotional impact because it is so clichéd. I just wanted Kardahl to get over himself and stop thinking that he was a magnet for doom and gloom. I just didn’t have much patience for him.
This story is very forgettable. It has an uninspired romance, and two characters who I never really cared about. The art moved the plot along, but I didn’t find it engaging. This is probably worth a rent if you get snowed in for the weekend, but the protagonists and the story soon fade from memory.