With Prince William now married to Kate Middleton and off the market, what’s a gal to do to get her princely fix?
There’s always Prince Harry. He would certainly do, don’t you think? He’s a very cute fellow. On the other hand it might be hard to get his attention. How about a man who’s a little more accessible, someone you can find at your local Big Box Store? There’s always a Prince waiting for you there.
You got me. No. Not a Prince Ken Doll. As great as it is to have Ken and Barbie back together having dream weddings and sharing dream homes again, what I really meant was a Prince you can find anywhere they sell romance books. I’m talking about a sheikh, of course.
Not that sheikh exactly, as he’s a real person and probably just as inaccessible as Prince Harry. I had to throw him in the post though, because he’s so yummy. Hard to believe someone so cute exists right? His name is Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and he’s the Crown Prince of Dubai. (Check out the sheikh's official webpage for more about him). No doubt he’s inspiring authors to write sheikh romances as we speak. I certainly find him inspiring…nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
And speaking of sheikh romances…
The sheikh is a modern prince in an age when there aren’t enough eligible princes to go around. His home is the glorious sun-drenched deserts of faraway exotic locales. He’s gentlemanly, well educated, disciplined, principled, and honorable.
As a romance hero, the sheikh is powerful, the ruler of his kingdom and a fine physical specimen. He’s proud, dangerous, and very masculine. You could of course apply several of the same attributes to any alpha hero, but a sheikh is special.
He’s the ultimate romantic hypergamy as a woman could marry up no higher than royalty, even though a romance heroine would never give him the satisfaction. She could care less that he’s a sheikh, a royal Arabian prince, and ruler of his people. Perhaps that’s what makes her so desirable, because a Sheikh is used to his authority and having his subjects ask ‘How high?’ when he says “Jump.” Having someone say “Not on your life, mister,” and you throw him for a loop.
You probably recognize the byplay above as a classic move in Regency pairings, especially when the hero is an earl or a duke. It’s just as common in sheikh romances to pair a sheikh with a heroine who has never taken orders from anyone in her life. In fact, usually, his heroine is a Western white woman about as suitable to royal life in his Arabic kingdom as she would be for a life with modern-day Prince William.
Let me show you what I mean. Here’s Sheikh Zafiq Al-Rashid, from Bella and the Merciless Sheikh by Sarah Morgan, demanding answers from Bella, the heroine, on her behavior and bad girl society princess reputation in Britain. He gets more aggressive, snide, and autocratic as the scene plays out, a far cry from his usual composed and controlled behavior:
‘I want to know why you lied to me.’
‘I didn’t lie. I just didn’t tell the truth.’
‘Stop acting like a spoiled child,’ he thundered, ‘and answer my question!’
‘Why did you tell me you were called Kate?’
‘Because for five minutes of my life I didn’t want to be Bella Balfour, OK?’
‘You are on the front page of every British newspaper,’ he growled. ‘You are “Bad Bella.” You’re the “terrible twin.”’
Bella flinched—each ghastly headline felt as though he were throwing a brick at her. ‘So why are you asking me? It should be obvious to a man of your intelligence why I didn’t tell you who I was.’
‘Why were you at the Retreat?’
She gave a hollow laugh. ‘You obviously weren’t concentrating when you read the newspapers.’
‘There were rather a lot of them.’
‘My father sent me away to think about my life.’
‘A task at which you were clearly a spectacular failure.’
It’s the new Cinderella. As such, nobody reading sheikh romances care for how plausible the plot is…if she stumbles upon him in the middle of the desert in the midst of the word sandstorm ever, or is a trainer for his unique and superbly equipped world famous horse stables, or is there for planning his sibling’s wedding to a highly eligible Arabian princess (how does a girl get that job, exactly?). We just want to see a normal average girl with somebody as desirable and fearless as a sheikh. We want a new fairytale to fall in love with over and over again and sheikh romances do just that. Who wouldn’t want this happy ending with Sheikh Zageo bin Sultan Al Farrahn from Emma Darcy’s Traded to the Sheikh:
‘Here we are the Cape of Good Hope and you are looking down at where two great oceans meet, Emily,’ he murmured, his head lowered to rub his cheek against her hair, his soft breath making her ear tingle.
‘There should be some sign of it,’ she mused. ‘Waves clashing or different water colours mingling.’
‘Instead there is a harmonious flow, a union that does not break because of coming from different places. This is how nature ordains it. It is only people who make demarcations.’
‘Are you brave enough to merge your life with mine, Emily?’
‘I’m brave enough to do anything with you, Zageo,’ she answered, her stomach fluttering nervously over whether this was what he wanted to hear. She had the frightening sense that something critical was coming.
His arms tightened around her, pulling her body back into full contact with his. He kiss the lobe of her ear and whispered, ‘Regardless of the difference that have shaped our lives, we have that natural flow, Emily. So I ask… will you marry me and be the mother of my children? Stand with me, no matter what we face in the future? Stand together as we are now.’
With a love declaration like that, how could Prince Charming ever compete? A sheikh is a man of action and passion, while Prince Charming is a vague fairytale character who sent his people to find Cinderella and bring her to the castle for future wedded bliss. When does he ever declare his love? Never! I don’t know about you, but I think it's time to kiss Charming goodbye and say hello to a sexy sheikh.
Keira Gillett reviews romance of all genres at Love Romance Passion. She loves marriage of convenience plots and angst ridden breakups that ultimately end up in gooey happily ever afters. You can also find her on Twitter.