Heir to a Desert Legacy
Harlequin / March 19, 2013 / $4.99 print, $3.82 digital
Thrust reluctantly to the throne, Sheikh Sayid is shocked to discover a child who is his country's true heir, and he'll do anything to protect him, even if it means taking on the child's aunt!
Chloe James might behave like a tigress protecting her cub, but this trained soldier can see her weak spot. Taking Chloe as his bride would appease the people of his kingdom, and provide the perfect outlet for the blistering chemistry between them….
Just looking at what elements Heir to a Desert Legacy includes, it's hard to see how the disparate elements might all fit together. Take a look at what author Maisey Yates tweeted about the book: “Physicist heroine. Surrogacy! Lost heirs and a sheikh who likes to be tied up. Why...it's #superbadsheikh!”
Sayid al Kadar and American Chloe James are two very different people with a lot in common. Until Kadar discovered that his dead older brother left behind an heir, he had been about to step into a role—being his country's ruler—for which he was not trained. Out of compassion and love, Portland Ph.D. student Chloe James had agreed to be a surrogate mother for her infertile half-sister, married to the ruler of Attar, but her life’s focus was to become a physicist. She certainly did not bargain on her sister dying when she gave birth to her biological nephew, suddenly becoming a full-time mother to a newborn. Sayid also misses his former life, as a soldier in the desert, thinking to himself as he searches for his nephew in Portland that “now that his duties kept him close to the palace, it felt nearly as cold as this cold, damp place.”
What is so great about Maisey Yates’s authorial voice is that she marries the improbable (a sheik in Portland) with the concrete. Sayid is standing in front of an apartment door:
He paused at the door that had a thirteen bolted to it and knocked. He could not remember the last time he’d knocked.
“Just a second.” There was a crashing noise, a loud curse and the wail of a baby, then footsteps.
Places, sounds, and movement; Heir to a Desert Legacy is anchored in the physical realm, not a fairytale fantasy. Sayid al Kadar is less than impressed with his nephew’s living arrangements. Even though he can see the logic to how Chloe James has integrated a baby into her graduate student existence, it gives him a “feeling of barely organized chaos.” And here, we learn more about Sayid than Chloe—chaos, even on a limited scale, reminds him that he is no longer living a life of “military precision.”
Chloe is not that much happier with her life, “studying for midterms with a baby that wouldn’t let her sleep, living in fear of the moment she was currently standing in. For one brief, dark second she hated her life.” No prize for guessing what happens when Uncle Sayid and Aunt Chloe finally meet—Sayid offers to take his nephew Aden, the new ruler of a far off desert realm, off her hands—and it’s to Yates’s credit that James is briefly tempted. She has spent years laboring in a world where she analyzes “mysteries of the universe that had a hope of actually being solved,” but Chloe has fallen in love with baby Aden—he has “pierced her heart.”
Sayid is not a sentimentalist. He informs Chloe, a somewhat frazzled nursing mother, full of love for her nephew, “I must do what is best for Attar. I am not here to disrupt your little game of house. But Aden is not your son, and he does not belong here.” Chloe quickly rejoinders, “Then let me go there.” And of course she does, even though her life has been shaken up like a kaleidoscope, and she has the opportunity to close the door on this bittersweet passage of her life.
The romance of a stern military man, unexpectedly forced to become the regent of his country for the next sixteen years and a thoughtful, questioning, occasionally brittle woman, is not without its ups and downs but there is so much humor to lighten the stormy passages. When Sadir and Chloe are talking about her academic journey and she describes a sojourn at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland as a “brilliant opportunity” he quips that most women he’s known “would consider a sale on a designer handbag a brilliant opportunity.” Now Chloe knows that Sadir is quite probably trying to make her angry but she thinks and speaks with such clarity that her answer disarms him, “I like a good handbag as much as the next woman. But if you really want to watch my eyes light up talk string theory to me.”
The expectation is that Chloe will stay in Attar for three months, long enough to transition baby Aden to a new life, so she could feel when she returned to Portland that she had left him happy in his rightful place. But of course, sultry desert nights and a growing respect and affection on both sides soon start to change that equation. Chloe knows, “There was no simple answer. There was just the reality of being caught between two different worlds. Two different desires.” The population of Attar takes Chloe to their heart and it’s not just Sadir who will miss her if she returns to the United States. He proposes marriage and naturally, these two intelligent, rather solitary, somewhat rigid people set to negotiating the parameters (honestly, it’s their foreplay!):
“You’re so arrogant.”
He shrugged, “As are you in the right setting. You have complete confidence in your abilities as a scientist, in your thought process and problem solving skills, I imagine.”
“Of course I do.”
“Then I fail to see why I should have anything less than complete confidence in my own domain.”
“It’s because it seems nothing falls outside of your domain,” she said drily.
“I already told you I’m sure you could outtalk me on string theory.”
“Then I’ll stay in my science corner where I reign supreme.” The words gave her some comfort. It really might not be so bad being married to him. She could spend time with Aden and spend time in the gorgeous study he’d put together for her.
Let us leave them on their wedding night, following a starkly simple ceremony on the sand beside an exquisite sea. Chloe’s girlhood has been punctuated by episodic bouts of tension and violence in her home life and she has tried to lose herself in “science and logic,” to escape into a book-filled sanctuary. Sadir, knowing her fears about intimacy and the loss of her independence, gives her the one gift that opens the door to a life full of excitement and passion—he gives himself into her care, allowing her to
“… tie his hands, and spend the night with him completely at her mercy. Hers to touch. Hers to explore.
“Think of it as a science experiment,” he said, his voice husky, his eyes dark.
“I’m a theoretical physicist. I don’t actually…do experiments.”
But this is one course where the student definitely earns a hands-on A+! Heir to a Desert Legacy plays against conventions and is an enjoyable, passionate tale with deeper overtones that inform the story and make it linger in the mind.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Maisey Yates's Heir to a Desert Legacy (out March 19):