Romances might be the best-selling fiction in the world, but what makes a sheikh romance such a popular trope? Cathleen Ross, Mel Teshco and Christina Phillips wrote the Amazon bestselling box set, Taken by the Sheikh and have gotten together once again to write another sheikh romance box set, Taken by the Desert Sheikh.
Mel: Readers love sheikhs, and we love writing them. It’s a win-win.
Cathleen: I love the darkness I can reach into. My sheikhs look sexy on the outside but there is also a lethal side. These made up countries are wild, where it’s survival of the fittest. It’s that element I like to tap in to. I also enjoy writing about a man who rules and has to make hard decisions, like marrying the right woman for the good of his country, then watch them falling in love.
Christina: I love writing the fantasy of the arrogant alpha prince falling hard for his sassy virginal heroine 🙂
So why do readers love sheikhs? Let’s explore the reasons!
Readers can’t get enough of alpha males, and a sheikh has more latitude than most heroes to get away with his inner alpha.
I think for readers, they have favorite Sheikh authors and they like to see the different takes of these writers. The stories are purely escapist, which everyone needs to get away from the monotony of real life.
There is something enthralling about being transported to a foreign country with its diverse culture and people. Not to mention the stark landscape of rolling sand dunes and relentless heat, versus the sheer opulence of a sheikh palace with its fountains and pools and priceless furnishings. In these environments, there is also the element of surprise. Anything can and does happen. One moment there is peace and the next danger. In real life this would be terrible, but from the safe confines of a novel, it’s exciting to read.
Imagine being in the heroine’s shoes, taking in the unfamiliar sights, hearing all those new sounds, and coping with the fierceness of a world that is so unlike our own. It’s escapism at its finest. Reading it from the comfort of our armchairs can only be a bonus.
Hot sex. We’re reading about an alpha male here, so the imagined sex is always good. It’s in the love scenes we see the vulnerability of both hero and heroine. The story can’t be all savagery and excitement. There has to be still moments.
And did we mention the hot sex?
Thanks so much Delilah for having us on your blog, it’s been a lot of fun 🙂
You can find us here:
We’ve also written a naughty stepbrother romance in our Taken series, Taken by the Billionaire.
Three Sheikh brothers, three virgin brides…
The Grand Vizier has a plan to save Qutum…
To prevent a war…three royal brothers must wed
First Chapter of Stolen by the Sheikh, by Cathleen Ross…
Sheikh Jamal El-Amin of Qutum welcomed his Grand Vizier, Ahmet Khan. After the man prostrated himself, his forehead touching the cool patterned tiles as was fitting, Jamal rose from his throne, climbed down from the steps, bent and helped the man to rise.
Several gasps echoed around the palace’s waiting chamber.
Jamal narrowed his eyes and glared. “Do not let it be said I treat my people with disdain.” His servants and awaiting dignitaries dropped their gazes. No one dared offend the new ruling prince of Qutum.
“You are too old to continue using such formality, Grand Vizier. A simple bow will suffice.” He took the man under the arm, noting how frail he had become. With the recent death of his father, Sheikh Rafir El-Amin, the services of the Grand Vizier were essential to him and his two brothers if the country was to survive. The Grand Vizier had a network that spread across the country, so complex it resembled a spider’s web. Not even he, Jamal, would attempt to unravel it.
“It was fitting for my ancestors to greet yours in such a manner,” the Grand Vizier replied with dignity. “While I have limbs in my body that continue to bend, I will greet you so, Your Highness.”
Jamal ushered the man to a seat in an adjacent chamber where he could have privacy. “Come, we have much to discuss. What news of the border?”
His Grand Vizier sat and both men were silent as a servant served them spiced tea. With his province bordering Zimbia, which was in upheaval, Jamal could not afford to take the chance of being overheard. Not even by a servant who had worked for his family for many years.
The Grand Vizier leaned forward, concern drawing his ragged eyebrows together, his black eyes glinting. “The insurgents are threatening your province of Nazaar on the border. If we supply arms and money, they will not invade.”
“We will not betray the Sheikh of Zimbia and the rebels would be foolish to bring their fight into the hills of Nazaar.” Still the threat was not lost on him. “And the mood of my people?”
His Grand Vizier averted his gaze for a moment, but gradually he returned to stare at Jamal. “Please excuse my words, Your Highness, for it pains me to utter them.”
“What is it?”
“The border hilltribes are unhappy. They complain of the modern ways enforced by you and your brothers. The tribesmen are resisting your order that their women attend school until sixteen. They want their women married by fourteen.”
“No! Remember what happened to my mother.”
“They think you are too influenced by western ways, especially as…”
Jamal’s hand clenched around the ornate gold-patterned glass because he knew what was to come. “I am not married.”
“And nor are your brothers, Highness. When your blessed father wed your esteemed mother, he was twenty and she fourteen. Three healthy male heirs she produced in six years.”
“Which killed her,” Jamal added, his voice flat. He barely remembered his mother’s face or the caress of her hand. Brought up in a military-style English boys’ boarding school, it wasn’t until he insisted on going to university in England that he had found some anonymity in his life. He’d just finished his extreme military service in the deserts of Qutum. He didn’t intend to give his limited freedom up.
“Every man and woman respected her contribution to the stability of Qutum. A ruler must have heirs.”
“I’m twenty-eight. I have given my people free schools and hospitals. I have fought alongside my brothers to keep Qutum safe. Is that not enough?” Agitated, Jamal scratched at a scar on his arm where a bullet had grazed him.
The Grand Vizier put the delicate, gold-rimmed teacup down. “It is time to marry, Your Highness.”
Jamal scowled. He had no heart for marriage and while he would never admit it, the tribal women with their dark hair and black eyes, their bodies shrouded in black like crows, left him cold. He knew who had ruined him for his own women. Long, leggy, blonde, Araminta York. It wasn’t until sitting next to her at a university lecture in London that he’d learned the hard way that Araminta, with her posh speaking voice and landed gentry background, would not consider dating him. Him. A prince! Yet, over the years, as he worked his way through his engineering degree, she had teased the formality out of him, refused to be impressed by his wealth and eventually allowed him to call on her. He hadn’t cared about anything. Despite all opposition, he’d wanted to marry her, except Araminta was reluctant.
Jamal stood and looked out the window of his palace. In the distance he could see the spires of his mosque and admire the beauty of the old town where the capital city resided, but this could all fall if their border tribes did not remain strong and guard against insurrection.
“I wish to choose my own wife.” Even as he said it he knew his words were folly.
“Highness that cannot be done. Your choice must be a princess of royal blood. ”
“Cannot?” He turned and anger gripped his throat.
His Grand Vizier bowed his head. “I do not wish to displease you, but you have ordered me to tell you the truth when others fear to do so. Your brothers may have more choice if they detest who I have found for them, but it is not so for the eldest son. We have been through this before.”
“So you wish to foist a hilltribe princess on me? I’m surprised there is one after what happened there.” He didn’t want to talk about the massacre that had happened there in the past.
“It is the hilltribes which are the most unruly. A marriage with one of their women would ensure loyalty, just as your mother’s marriage did for your father. If you are seen to follow in the old ways, if your princess is seen to love and obey you and does her duty to produce many sons, then this will appease your people. There is no greater gift than the birth of a male heir.”
“So which princess will have the honor of marrying me?” Jamal glared at the Grand Vizier as he thought of Araminta, now married to a stodgy Englishman, and he was godfather, despite his different faith, to their son.
Jamal’s heart sank. What he wouldn’t give for the right to select his own wife and marry for love. Although he had brought a great many changes to his own country, his hilltribe people stubbornly resisted modernity as much as he enjoyed it. Perhaps the next generation would accept change once they were educated, but they would have no chance if their elders rebelled.
“There is one that may suit you, Your Highness. Her blood is not pure, but she is from the same bloodline as your mother, though distant enough to breed.”
Jamal raised his eyebrows. Trapped, his hand formed a fist. A highly trained soldier, he knew how to fight his way out of situations, but this was not a situation that could be challenged. The Grand Vizier came from a long line of loyal Grand Viziers. While other countries around theirs had suffered insurrections, his had not thanks to this man. It would not be wise to disrespect him. “Who?”
“My mother’s older half-sister went by something like that name. I know you’re not suggesting her.” He scowled. He’d never met the woman but he’d been raised on the legend of her warrior-like behavior, the way she had saved the hilltribe people and her devastating betrayal. Her wild and unfitting character had imprinted itself in Qutum folklore. The country had been in an uproar when she’d fled for England and married an eccentric English archeologist.
“That is the infamous Lilliantha Jones who was born from the hilltribe sheikh’s first marriage and much older than your beloved mother. This Lilly Jones is her granddaughter, so although she has some royal blood it is not so close to affect the strength of your lineage. She is twenty-two years old, lives in London and remarkably still a virgin.”
“I will not even ask how you know she is a virgin. Do you keep tabs on all the women in this family?”
“Virginal stock is low since you decided to allow your female cousins to be educated elsewhere. Most of them are already matched since you also permitted them to choose their own partners.”
“I suppose you’re blaming my western values?”
The Grand Vizier fluttered his hands in a helpless gesture but Jamal wasn’t fooled. Still the man had ably run the country while he and his younger brothers were pursuing their educations. But after finishing his undergraduate engineering degree and his Masters in finance two years ago, he had returned to complete his military service and learn to run his country. With his father ailing from kidney disease for five years, he’d had no choice. His death three months ago in a freak helicopter accident had been a shock. Too young at forty-eight. The country was still observing mourning.
“Just how am I to propose to this unknown distant relative?” He motioned to his servant who approached him immediately. “Bring me a whiskey.”
“I could have your secret police bring her here.”
Jamal blinked. “You mean kidnap her?”
“It would mean we risk upsetting the British government when they find out. Lilly’s English grandfather was well connected. He has passed away but the first Lilliantha Jones still lives, though I believe she is incapacitated.” The Grand Vizier took out a tissue and wiped his eyes.
The servant brought Jamal his whiskey and his Grand Vizier looked at it longingly. Damn him. The man could do without. Drinking was a modern vice, and though not outlawed, many did not approve.
He took a long draught, enjoying the burn going down his throat. “I will go to England and inspect this young Lilly Jones. See if I can tolerate her enough to breed with her.”
“There may be a problem. I do not think young Lilly Jones will wish to live in Qutum, Your Highness. Her grandmother raised her since the time she was ten years old after her parents passed away. We know Lilliantha does not respect our beliefs that women should obey the will of their father and their husband.”
Jamal curled his lip at the thought of what lay ahead for him. “I doubt any progeny of the first wild Lilliantha Jones would be obedient. Even now our school children learn about how she saved the Nazaar fort hilltribe from an invading Zimbian sheikh for her ailing father. She was a heroine.”
The Grand Vizier gave a polite cough. “Then turned on him when he tried to make a match with the sheikh in order to bring about peace.”
“Most ungrateful of her,” Jamal said with a grin, knowing if he argued that he admired Lilliantha, the elderly man who was all about duty, would blow a fuse. “Why choose the granddaughter?”
“I think the wildness has bred out. Plus she has some assets Your Highness will appreciate.”
“What do you mean?” Somehow he didn’t think his Grand Vizier was talking about the size of her breasts.
“She is intelligent. Lively. Extremely sporty if one likes such a skill in a wife.” The Grand Vizier sniffed.
“What do you mean sporty?” For a moment, Jamal imagined the muscles of a weight lifter.
“She won awards in gymnastics at school and was president of the rock climbing and canyoning clubs at university. She also rides horses, plays tennis and enjoys a high level of fitness.”
Jamal’s mind boggled. “At least she isn’t a sumo wrestler.”
“There isn’t a sport she cannot do so perhaps that will please you seeing as you are so active. I think you will find her attractive by your standards.”
Jamal narrowed his eyes. He suspected his Grand Vizier knew all about his love for Araminta. There was probably a file somewhere from when his father ruled. “Continue.”
“She has a degree in design and is working for a well-established design company in London. I have ensured that some of her briefs have included doing properties on our island of Mahaba.”
Jamal closed his eyes and rubbed his temple. Although his Grand Vizier’s plan might sound convoluted, it never was. “This is to get her used to dealing with Arabs?”
“She is used to travelling to Mahaba. If she were to be kidnapped from there it would raise less of an issue with the British government seeing as it would not be done on their territory.”
“I will not upset the governor I have placed there with a scandal. Besides, I want to inspect her first.”
“As you wish. You will be aware that your brother Prince Zafar is concerned the insurrection in his neighboring country may spill over into his province. Your youngest brother, Prince Tariq, has the smallest province, which will only remain safe if all three of you stand together, marry and rule as one. The marriages should take place the moment we are out of mourning.” The Grand Vizier fluttered his hands again, clearly knowing he had upset Jamal.
“You want me to force a woman to marry me, who I do not want and who does not want me, to live in a country she does not like. That is a great recipe for happiness.”
“Happiness is not a requirement for a royal match. However, if she is not to your taste, perhaps you could inspect suitable hilltribe women of lesser birth status. I think however, you will enjoy this Lilly Jones.” The Grand Vizier took a dossier out of his briefcase and handed it to him.
Jamal opened the dossier to see a photo of a young woman with a thick fringe of blonde hair cut just above her eyelids and long locks which finished at her waist. Her face was heart-shaped with high cheekbones and she had big expressive blue eyes. What captured him most was her smile and the light in her eyes as if she were sharing a joke with a friend. If there was any Arab ancestry, it didn’t show in her face, though he noticed she had nice breasts on a small but fit-looking frame and long, shapely legs. The type of body a man could really hold on and ram himself in to. His cock stirred under his robes. His Grand Vizier knew his taste all right. She was more delicate than the robust, horse-riding Araminta, but she was definitely his type.
He sat back in his seat. He’d enjoy this challenge. His cock certainly would. “Why alienate the hilltribes on Qutum’s border further at a time when we need to ensure their safety. I will marry someone from their line. I will go to England, entice this girl, bring her here and get a son on her.”
“And if you cannot?”
His lips curved upward in a slow smile. “She will do my bidding one way or the other.”
“The display of strength will satisfy the people. Heal wounds.”
Jamal took a sip of his whiskey. “I am aware of the hilltribe people’s pain. I’m sure they will enjoy the tale of how the granddaughter of the wild Lilliantha Jones was brought to heel.”
“There is one more thing, Your Highness.”
“Of course there is.”
“There is the question of the bridal price. Lilly Jones is somewhat expensive.” The Grand Vizier mentioned the price.
Jamal raised his eyebrows and put down his whiskey glass with a clunk. “I am expected to pay for the privilege of marrying this woman when she has not been trained to our ways nor schooled to obedience? Not to mention she is not a citizen.”
“The marriage cannot be legal if you do not pay. The hilltribe people must be satisfied. The papers must be signed by her tribal head. The marriage will be recognized in Qutum and that is all that matters.”
And no doubt the Grand Vizier would get a cut for arranging the deal. He was, after all, one of the wealthiest citizens after the royal family. “I will pay and sign the papers with the stipulation if Lilly does not produce a royal heir within a year, I will insist on being reimbursed.”
His Grand Vizier stood and bowed. “I am sure you are more than capable of producing an heir, Your Highness, though as to whether Lilly Jones will be compliant I cannot be sure.”
“Once I have an heir, I will set her free.” He hoped this Lilly Jones was obedient and not wild like her grandmother.
He did not want to have to tie her to the bed, though his cock stirred at the thought.