We Do Love Those Sheiks
This time we go old school romance with Jane Feather's 1991 romance novel, The Eagle and The Dove. This is the story of Abul, Lord Hassan, the caliph of Grenada in 1492, and a Christian girl name Sarita, who is a gypsy living in Spain. Abul has a main wife and four other wives, who all come along with children, but when he sees Sarita on a mountain road in Spain outside her camp, he is struck by her beauty and strength. Even before she speaks to him, he is mesmerized by her and must have her. When her gypsy lover is killed by her group's leader, Tariq, who plans to force Sarita to marry him, she flees her camp and is picked up on the road to Cordova by Abul and his guards. He takes her back to his land and instead of imprisoning her, as Sarita thinks he will, he provides her a home in a tower and handmaidens to see to her wishes. She will not be held against her will, and despite the fact that he promises never to force himself on her, she cannot abide by staying in his land, where she is a second class citizen and merely a member of his harem.
Abul is patient with her, living up to his word not to force her to give in to him, and he charms her with his care and presence. He falls madly in love with her, so much so that it begins to affect his relationship with his first wife and the son they have together, a boy who will one day take over as caliph, and begins to endanger the political well-being of Grenada, the last of the Moorish kingdoms holding out against the Catholic Spanish rulers.
Abul is a strong male character and very appealing. Feather writes him as a powerful hero, but one with a side that yearns for someone to share more than his bed with. Sarita is a very spirited character, but quite submissive, overall. This book is a guilty pleasure type of book for me as a female living in the 21st century. I better be careful; they're going to take my bitch card from me if I keep liking this type of story. But I'll just remind the ladies at the monthly Independent Women of the 21st Century meeting that the book is historical romantic fiction since it's set in the waning days of the fifteenth century, right before Isabella and Ferdinand (of Christopher Columbus fame) united Spain and drove out the last of the Moors.
One very interesting feature of this story is the author's use of vocabulary. I don't think I've read another romance novel that has such an advanced vocabulary. I was impressed by this since the lack of any words above the basic high school level is a common feature of the romance books that have been published recently. However, the use of more advanced words is a double edged sword if it's not done correctly.
There are only two negative things about this book. First, the dialogue doesn't always match the characters or the time period in which the story is set. A 15th century gypsy girl wouldn't be claiming things are spurious. So while the vocabulary used by the writer is impressive, it's misplaced at times. Second, the sex is barely there in this book, and when it's there, it's vague. One minute he's rising above her, and the next minute she's shuddering. But it must keep in mind that when this book was written, romance novels didn't contain steamy sex scenes as they do now. However, if Christine Feehan (who writes one hell of a sex scene) could write some sexy lovemaking scenes for Abul and Sarita, this book would be one of the best romance novels out there.
The story of The Eagle and The Dove does everything that The Cobra and The Concubine's doesn't: it stays consistent throughout, with characters developing far more naturally and pleasingly. If you like the sheik theme in romance novels and want a good story wrapped around it, then The Eagle and The Dove is a book you should try.
My Kingdom for Your Love......
When Gypsy girl, Sarita, flees her tribe and the protection they offer, she is taken into the world of Moorish Grenada in the late 1400's. The Caliph of Alhambra, her captor, entranced by her beauty and captivated by her fiery Gypsy ways borders on obsession with possessing his young prisoner. But enemies abound in the world of the seraglio, and Sarita must learn that seclusion and power are not mutually exclusive. As Sarita acquiesces to the Lord Caliph, he in turn falls desperately in love with his Christian captive, which sets in motion a diabolical plan to usurp his authority, weaken his hold on Grenada before the Catholic Spaniards, and doom his love to burn as a heretic at the hands of ruthless Inquisitioners.
Jane Feather's The Eagle and the Dove is very well written. A well crafted romance with substantial storyline is delightful to read amongst a sea of flimsy stories and weak characters. Feather develops both her male and female characters, adding a depth to them which moved this book from a dime store romance to a romantic novel. Feather also shines in her use of vocabulary and dialogue within the story.
Both Sarita and Muley Abul Hassan have wisdom to offer the other as well as humility and compromise to learn in themselves, which Feather accomplishes without writing overly dramatic scenes or dialogue. (The key word here being "overly") One of the most interesting aspects of Feather's novel is that she requires her hero to make a choice between love and duty. Many writers do the same ; where Feather stands out is in her decision to make his action carry a real consequence.
Recommendation: ***** The Eagle and the Dove is a great romance novel. Jane Feather's story earns my highest rating. Romance readers ....Read it and Rejoice!