Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: This One is Unusual

BJ is looking for an older romance, the description of which is totally unusual:

In high school, I remember reading a romance (if it wan’t the first one I read, it was pretty close….) that I’d like to track down. Would love it for my sake (to see if it was a decent as I remember….), but also to help a friend who is working on a thesis about the portrayal of Arabs in romances, so is looking for something other than the standard sheikh, which she has in abundance……

What I remember:

Published no later than 1984, when I graduated from high school, but may well have been several years old at the time. I’d guess it was actually published mid to late 1970s—my vague memory is that it had a white-ish cover with artwork in the style typical of the era for this type of romance. I don’t think it was issued by one of the series publishers……definitely not a standard Harlequin size; it was definitely somewhat thicker (more like the usual stand-alone).

Basic plot outline:

American Jewish woman (adult, professional, IIRC) travels to Israel (maybe planning to live there for a while?) and falls for a Palestinian man (possibly displacing a Jewish boyfriend or at least a potential boyfriend—I think she met one or both of the men on the plane from NY). They have the usual various and sundry difficulties but end up together at the end. Wish I could make the summary as amusing as many of them have been, but that’s all I remember :-(

Preliminary/introductory comment on the date of the story was that it took place in the not-too-distant future, when ‘the situation is less tense than it is now’ or some such wording.

Many, many thanks……I’ve been looking for this for a while but haven’t seen it in any of the multitude of used book stores I’ve looked at, and my friend’s research is bumping it back to the top of the want-to-find list.

Whoa. Anyone remember this one? I’d totally want to read that!


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  1. 1
    Jemma says:

    I don’t have the answer, but tell your field if she is studying Arabs in romance she definitely should read the biography of Jane Digby, A Scandalous Life by Mary Lovell.

    When I read the book all I could think was that her story must be where sheik romances come from.

  2. 2
    Jemma says:

    frick. I can’t type. Your FRIEND.

  3. 3
    Josie says:

    in the not-too-distant future, when ‘the situation is less tense than it is now’

    One of the best HEAs ever!

  4. 4
    Rebecca says:

    Can’t help out, but the plot of the book sounds a little like the Spanish movie Seres Queridos (2004, Teresa Pelegri).  It’s a cute, funny little movie, which your friend might like also.

  5. 5
    ashley says:

    I LOVE that idea for a thesis what program is that for?

  6. 6
    Sarah Frantz says:

    I have no idea what the book is, but I do have to say that there are (at least) three very clever scholars working on the sheikh in romances: Hsu-Ming Teo, professor of history at Macquarie University in Australia, Emily Haddad, professor of English at University of South Dakota, and Amy Burge, a grad student at York University. They had an amazing panel at Popular Culture Association conference this year. I know Dr. Teo has a book coming out on the Sheikh in popular culture from U-Texas soon (and an article on Bertrice Small’s The Kadin in our book, New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction. I know at least Dr Teo and Dr Haddad have published on this, so make sure your friend knows these scholars are out there! :)

    Good luck finding the book, though.

  7. 7

    I think this may have been made into a film starring Julie Haggerty. Not entirely sure.

  8. 8
    Anony Miss says:

    I never know a HABO!

    … Okay, I still don’t know this one. But I read a similar one, with an Israeli secret agent (Mossad, I’d guess) on a mission outside of Israel, falls in love with an Arab woman. The HEA is them married on a ‘mixed’ kibbutz, with him being handed the newborn. If I recall correctly, the hero had all these sexual repression issues as a result of very specific, very depraved torture by the Nazis involving forced relations and such (which I don’t know if was historically accurate or a sick, sick author – or, sadly, perhaps both). I had trouble finishing that one.

    Will try to Google to find the name.

  9. 9
    Jen B. says:

    It’s HABOs like this that make me wish there was a super database of romance novels somewhere.  I would love to know the name of this one.

  10. 10
    MissFiFi says:

    Jemma – I have to get my hands on that Jane Digby book as the write up sucked me right in. Fascinating intrigues indeed.

  11. 11
    Literary Slut Kilian says:

    @ Jemma, I agree that the Digby life must have been the model for the romantic sheik. He actually threw himself on top of her to protect her from the bullets of the bandits! How much more romantic can you get than that! If you enjoyed that book, I recommend the bio of Sir Richard Burton. I’m convinced he was the model for the Indiana Jones type of explorer/adventurer. Mary S. Lovell is the best biographer I’ve ever read. I’m rereading her book about Bess of Hardwick, contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I and the richest woman in England at the time of her death.

    problem59 – my problem is finding time to read the 59+ titles on my TBR list.

  12. 12
    boogenhagen says:

    The only book I recall that comes close to this is What Dinah Thought by Deena Metzger it is about a Jewish American filmaker who falls in love with a Palestinian but it was published in 1989 and I don’t remember the cover.

  13. 13
    Crystal says:

    Wow, a Jewish American and a Palestinian? Even if the situation is less tense, that is a very interesting match. I almost want to read the story just to see how the interactions pan out.

  14. 14
    cleo says:

    @Jen B. – I know, I want a super database too.  I’d like to read this too.  Tried using the romance wiki with NO LUCK (  I tried searching Jewish Palestinian and got nothing.  I searched “Palestinian” and got one hit (Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani about a Palestinian American woman).

  15. 15
    Marleen says:

    Not the answer to the HaBo, but when looking for a (somewhat) less stereotypical portrayal of an Arab male in a romantic novel, your friend could read “The Gulf between us” from British author Geraldine Bedell (who lives or has lived in one of the Emirates as expat) – really nice, and feels very realistic.

  16. 16
    Mary Jo Finch says:

    Could the book be With Gall and Honey by Leslie Gourse (1961)? From a NYT review:

    It has been a long time since anyone managed to write a good love story with Israel as its setting…It is the summer of 1956, a few months before the Sinai campaign. Andrea is a young American, deviled by a sense of failure in life, a kind of spiritual refugee who comes experimentally and doubtfully to Israel. On her ship, she meets a returning Israeli with whom she falls in love and through whom, eventually and tragically, she is forced to decide on Israel’s real meaning to her…

    You can read the full review if your library has access to NYT online (June 4, 1961 book review). There is a photo of the cover (and five copies for sale) at Amazon.

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