An Arabian Courtship by Lynne Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I suppose I have read this, but I don't remember. That's fine, because I liked experiencing it without any preconceived notions. I liked this quite a bit. Polly is young, but she's doesn't act addle-brained as some of Graham's more recent heroines. Don't get me wrong, I love LG's books, but sometimes I wish she didn't seem to make them so silly (especially over the hero because he's so good-looking). Polly in a difficult situation, having essentially been sold into marriage by her greedy father (who has gotten his family into dire financial straits, with four younger children and a wife of delicate constitution). Polly believes she has no chance for love, since her true love doesn't see her as anything but a friend. When she meets her future husband, Raschid, she might be impressed by his good looks, but his personality leaves a lot to ask for. Plus, he makes it seem like she'll be living in a modern version of purdah. But she can't really say no. Polly is nervous and drinks a bit too much at the wedding, so she doesn't make the best example of herself at the wedding. So far their marriage is off to a very bad start. It's pretty certain that Polly won't have to worry about losing her heart to her husband. Or so it seems.
I will always like arranged marriage and marriage of convenience books. It's a great way to put two people into very close proximity and where they are forced to build a relationship without any expectations of insta-love or sex. Raschid was far from likable at first, but he wasn't trying to be. It turns out that he's a very good man. Deeply honorable and with a core of kindness that over time Polly gets a chance to see. Like many of Graham's heroines, Raschid doesn't know what hits him. His silly English bride who he at first thinks the worst of, steals his heart in a big way, and with him determined never to fall in love. His first marriage, also arranged, went very badly, and he still has some very deep wounds that haven't healed. Polly is haunted by the spectre of his so-called perfect first wife (traditional and culturally appropriate to Raschid), and she thinks that Raschid's rejection is out of his enduring love for his wife. I felt sympathetic to Polly and for her in this tough situation. I couldn't imagine how tough it was to have so much of a change in culture she was experiencing, plus with a husband who can't seem to stand her. Over time, her viewpoint shows that things aren't as black and white.
I liked that this was a bit more serious than some of her newer books, with a more mature-seeming hero who isn't a womanizer or playboy. At first, I didn't like the way he was treating Polly, but there was a good explanation for that. I think it's more than evident before the book ends how much he loves Polly. I almost always like Lynne Graham's heroines, and I did like Polly quite a bit.
It's a good one worth tracking down for Lynne Graham fans.
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