Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable Girl
Author: Sharon Kendrick
Publication Info: Harlequin August 2009
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I read this book because not one but two different people emailed me and said, to wit, “OMG you have to read this it is HILARIOUS. Like Pregnesia Hilarious.”
One reader said,
“I just had to draw your attention to a stunning read. It’s so bad, it transcends the line between bad and good and becomes rather excellent….
I can highly recommend Kendrick’s latest. Honestly, she’s usually one of the authors that I like - I kind of enjoy the hyper-realism of her stories, and I know what I’m getting. But, for me, this tipped over from presents into parody. It’s truly an experience.”
Then, she quoted The Line, the one line in this book that makes it a Must Read. The money quote that is so ridiculous, you can’t even believe it, and you have to read it over again to make sure you didn’t hallucinate. And THEN, it gets better from there!
How could I not read it?
Eleni Lakis is a young woman living as a virtual servant in her father’s home. Her father is known for his prized horses. Eleni is the secret to his success, as she’s the veiled horse whisperer - or horse whiner, maybe. When the Prince of Calista arrives one evening to play cards and gamble with Eleni’s father, she knows it won’t end well. Her father’s life of wealth is a masquerade; the only thing he has of worth is his horses - and his daughter, not that he treats her as such. And Prince Kaliq Al’Farisi is like the John Shaft of the desert. Witness his arrival:
Robes of pure silk clung to the hard sinews of his body and as he approached Eleni could see a face so forbidding that some deep-rooted fear made her wonder if he had the power to turn to dust all those who stood before him.
And a face so inherently beautiful that it was as if all the desert flowers had bloomed at once.
It was then that Eleni understood the full and daunting truth. Her father’s bragging had been true for riding towards their humble abode was indeed Prince Kaliq Al’Farisi. Kaliq the daredevil, the lover of women, the playboy, the gambler and irresponsible twin son of Prince Ashraf. The man, it was said, could make women moan with pleasure simply by looking at them.
You’d think that would be enough, what with the breathless descriptions of unparalleled masculine beauty and sexual prowess. But no. It’s time for The Line, the one sentence that is so majestic, it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s real.
It’s found within the first 20 pages, but if you take this book in your hands to enjoy it, you shouldn’t stop there. It’s hilariously ridiculous and too much fun to stop. But the rule is, much like this review, you cannot take the book too seriously. If you do, you’ll hurt yourself or an inanimate object. Really.
Here it is, the reason I had to read this book:
Kaliq dismounted with the same speed and grace as he would remove himself from the body of a woman he had just made love to.
OH, my GOSH, it’s a revelation! It’s just… delicious crazy!
But wait, there’s more! This entire book is so freaking crazy, it speaks for itself.
Kaliq sees Eleni for the first time:
Kaliq glanced over at her, his antennae automatically alerted by the sound of a woman’s voice. It was soft and soothing, he thought—like cool, running water running through this oppressive and stuffy room. And it was curiously fluent for a servant. His eyes narrowed, but he could not see whether she was plain or beautiful.
Antennae? Like, he’s a hemi-pene? Wouldn’t it be just the one antenna?
Also, I love when cool running water is running. Run, water, run! Run like the wind! Run like the bosoms in Kaliq’s frustrated imagination!
Her head was covered with a veil and the clothes she wore were drab and concealing—and while they were entirely appropriate for a woman of her class and status, he would have preferred to feast his eyes on something attractive. Some buxom young thing with her breasts half spilling out, who would pleasure him with the yearning in her eyes!
It’s just like what they always say: if wishes were bosoms, sheikhs would ride.
But it’s not just wishes for bosoms and peen-antennae between them. He and Eleni have something… in common!
‘My father was displeased with his dinner,’ Eleni began, vaguely recalling the noise and the drunken shouts and the mess of lentils splattered all over the floor. ‘He sent my mother to market to buy a chicken and on the way back she stumbled, and fell.’ Eleni swallowed. ‘They think that she was bitten by a snake—but by the time they found her, she was dead and the vultures had long taken away the chicken.’
By the muscular shafts of his thighs, Kaliq’s hands clenched into two tight fists. He had been accused by women of having not a shred of compassion in his hard body but for once he found himself touched by this urchin’s plight. ‘And how old were you?’ he demanded.
Ten? Almost the same age as he had been when his mother died in childbirth. Kaliq turned away from her troubled and trembling face, unwilling to acknowledge another fierce spear of recognition which burned through him—because some things were better buried away, deep in the dark recesses of memory. Royal and commoner—united by a strange bond. Each and every one of them had their burdens, he recognised bitterly—it was just that some were darker than others.
Oh, the humanity.
Kaliq wins Eleni’s prized horse, and she surprises him by telling him she should be taken with the horse to make sure the horse is happy. And there begins the best nickname ever for a heroine:
Would he not perform better if she were taken along, too? Would not it be infinitely more preferable to spare his stable staff the trouble of having to break in a highly strung horse who might still sulk and refuse to race properly?
He turned back—seeing that this time she had not dropped her gaze, but was meeting his with a steady question in her eyes. The little lizard grew brave for the love of her horse!
It’s romance time, dare I say, BUSINESS Time, when little lizards are brought out, is all I’m sayin’. And he calls her that through most of the book, too. Rwor.
One moment she was modestly looking at the ground—and yet now she was telling her prince about washing out her most intimate garments! Kaliq felt a slow rage begin to simmer in his blood—and not simply because she had been insubordinate.
No, because that flush of pink to her cheeks had made her eyes look as green as pistachios and as bright as new leaves—and, unwittingly and inappropriately, he could feel the sudden hot stir of lust at his groin.
Uh, oh. That doesn’t sound good.
It was a familiar ache. An appetite which demanded to be fed. Desire could sometimes be all the more powerful when it was indiscriminate—and Kaliq was a highly sexed man.
Part of him wanted to throw her down onto the straw and have done with it. For there was no surer way of losing desire for a woman than to take your fill of her. But he sensed that Eleni might be slow to realise that her duty was to please her sheikh in every aspect that he demanded. His mouth curved into a smile. She would soon learn.
NOW WAIT JUST A GODDAM MINUTE HERE MR SHIEKHY PANTS.
Wait, I’m sorry, I take this too seriously. He’s a highly sexed man… and no one understands him like his woman. Except he doesn’t have one. Gosh, the poor prince must go off and jizz randomly at inopportune moments. You know, because desire is all the more powerful when it was indiscriminate, and when you just spontaneously jizz on the wall indiscriminately, then it’s extra more hot.
And he is a highly sexed man. To quote a wise sage, “It is a romance novel rule that any man named Kaliq MUST be highly sexed.”
The rough clothes favoured by her people had been replaced by a fine silk which accentuated the fine curves of her fit and youthful body. Why, his little lizard looked almost beautiful!
He shifted his position so that the ache at his groin grew slightly more bearable.
‘I believe that this is what they would call the “makeover”,’ he observed.
Yup, sure is. And when we get to the part where it’s what they call “the buttmonkey assface hero groveling for six to ten pages because he’s a complete tool,” let me know because I’m so looking forward to it.
Sadly the following is lacking from this book: “The plot.” “The character development.” “The conflict.” “The empathy for either party on the part of the reader.”
“The frustration,” “the wooden dialogue” and “the overwrought descriptions” are here in plentiful supply, though.
She was turning out to be much cleverer than he had ever anticipated—with a native cunning which could spell trouble if he was not careful. She was here simply to help him decide on a horse and to warm his bed at night—and neither of them should forget that. So whose fault was it that they now seemed to be steering towards an inappropriate debate on the openings available for women in Calista? His!
‘Make yourself ready—for we are about to land. It can be a startling experience—but there is nothing for you to fear,’ he said coolly, and began to flick through an English newspaper, knowing that his words weren’t quite true. But what purpose would there be in telling her that take-off and landing were the two most dangerous moments during a flight?
He’s all heart, that Kaliq. Well, except for the antennae and the highly sexed parts. No word yet on which parts those are.
Eleni has flown to England, where it’s very green and very odd, and the women don’t wear traditional garb. She’s taking care of the stallion (the actual horse, not Kaliq), who will race at one point or another, and she’s resisting Kaliq as much as possible, even though they’ve been (*GASP*) put into adjoining rooms.
Because THAT’S not obvious or anything. So of course - SPOILER ALERT - they end up in bed.
What, like that’s a shock? It was to me, actually. It was almost a presumptuous plot device: “This is a romance. We’ve had The Makeover. Now it is time for The Sex Relations.”
He almost lit the lamp to watch her very first orgasm but he did not want to destroy the mood. As it was, the half-light caught her joy and illuminated the tear which trickled slowly down over her cheek and he lowered his head to lick it away.
‘Do not cry,’ he said softly and then, inexplicably, he felt a sudden lurching of his heart. ‘Are you sad that I took your purity away?’
‘No, but I’m sad that you didn’t buy me a pony.’
Wait, sorry. That was me.
Somehow, her first orgasm is her purity, leaving him to dispense of her actual virginity with minimal prep work.
Parting her firm thighs, he thrust into her with one long stroke as he heard her stifle the cry as her innocence was taken from her for ever. How hot and tight she felt. Kaliq moaned. He could have spilled his seed into her right there and then—and why not? For it was the right of the sheikh to take his pleasure where he found it.
You know, with random women, on the wall, on the floor, whatever. Desire is more powerful when it’s indiscriminate. And when desire prefers the wall hangings or livestock to humans and whatnot, it’s just off the hook.
Yet strangely he found himself wanting this eager, unexpected beauty to have the time of her life. To gasp her pleasure once more beneath the onslaught of his sexual prowess. So he held back. He tantalised her with the thrust of his body and then retreated, over and over again until the body of his no-longer-a-virgin began to adjust and to acclimatise to the new sensations which were sweeping over her. How quickly she learnt, he thought in admiration as he sensed her pleasure building once more.
What a man, that Kaliq. He is highly sexed after all.
‘It’s…it’s…Oh! That thing…that thing…it’s going to happen all over again!’
‘Your orgasm,’ he purred—but this time as she convulsed around his aching flesh he joined her, letting go completely, losing himself in a sea of delight, his body juddering as it was racked with spasms which seemed to go on and on, leaving him completely dry and gasping.
The use of the word “juddering” caused a lively discussion on Twitter while I was reading this on my commute home. I was informed that it’s common in UK, Aussie and Kiwi categories. Anne Douglas told me me that instead of rumble strips or speed humps, in New Zealand they have “judder bars.” I proposed a new Olympic sport: speed humps in the judder bar. Anne says she’ll help me judge on execution, originality, and showmanship.
Truly, she was no longer a girl - she had been made into a woman by her sheikh.
I have one thing to say. And that one thing is 0.o
Let’s move on, now that we’ve all been made into women by our sheikhs.
Her eyes fluttered open to find that the early morning sun was creeping in through the muslin drapes and that Kaliq was looking down at her. Anxiously, she searched his face for a sign of what last night had meant to him. Did he still respect her?
‘So what did you think of your sexual awakening, lizard?’
She felt the colour stealing into her cheeks. What was she expected to say? ‘It was very…agreeable.’
‘Agreeable?’ He laughed softly, thinking how ironic it was that his little stable girl should give him such a cool response—he, who had been praised to the heavens by society beauties the world over.
If you’ve been praised to the heavens by society beauties the world over, do you respect yourself in the morning?
Pausing in the act of knotting the belt of his robe, he flicked her an impenetrable look. ‘Just two things,’ he drawled. ‘When you prepare for bed tonight, don’t braid your hair like a governess—I wish to see it spread loose over my pillow.’
Her fingers playing with one of the ribbons, Eleni looked at him, unable to deny the small spring of hope in her heart. ‘And the other?’
His smile was cruel. ‘Make sure you don’t ever call me Kaliq in public.’
I have a few ideas of what she can call him in public! Pick your favorite:
- Complete tool
- Disgusting wanker
I could keep going but there’s more fun with Kaliq who shall be nameless in public and Eleni, lady of the horsey doormats.
Eleni, it seems, is not only giving Kaliq a dose of his own brusque medicine, but she likes the sex. Likes it a LOT. After all, she has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to compete with Kaliq, who is a highly sexed man.
...she found herself moaning her impatience—lifting her bottom to help him pull them down as if she had been born to be seduced in the cramped and confined space of a sports car.
And then the gear shift penetrat- sorry, what now?
The polo field was absolutely packed with spectators—including some of the most beautiful and outrageously dressed women she had ever seen.
And every single one of them seemed to be staring at Kaliq.
‘All the women are looking at you,’ she blurted out, before she could stop herself.
He gave the flicker of an arrogant smile. ‘But of course they are,’ he said, with a careless shrug. ‘I excite the attention of women wherever I go—they are naturally drawn to my power and virility.’
Do you think his own ego gets in the way of everyday things, like taking a crap or shaving? Can you reach around your own inflated sense of self when you are that awesome in your own mind? Or does the razor shave him and the paper wipe his backside because they are naturally drawn to his power and virility?
The book continues on that vein for another few dozen pages. The arrival at Deeper and Inconvenient Feelings occurs earlier for Eleni than it does for Kaliq, and Kaliq’s descent in the fiery, sticky pits of love is preceded by wooden dialogue and danger that of course erase all the remaining conflict that wasn’t really all that conflicted, except maybe it was wondering how it got there and why it was wearing two different shoes.
This book is high entertainment. It’s so ridiculous, you can’t put it down. It is its own drinking game.
If you’re looking for a middle-eastern set romance with subtext that undermine stereotypes of monarchy in Arabic countries, or debates that raise questions about gender roles in different countries, well, this is not that book. But if you want some descriptions of a hero who is so virile, so gorgeous, so highly sexed that women flock to him and men lose the ability to sustain an erection for miles upon miles, this is the book for you. Kaliq is everything you didn’t know you wanted in a Harlequin Presents hero.
Which, of course, begs the question: Kaliq vs. Chuck Norris. Who wins?