RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Surgeon Sheik’s Rescue by Loreth Anne White

C+

Title: Surgeon Sheik's Rescue
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373277919
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Surgeon Sheik's Rescue This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Susan. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Short Contemporary Series Romance category.

The summary:     

How far would he go to keep a secret?

Off the cliffs of Brittany, danger awaits. To Bella DiCaprio, the windswept island offers hope. The story that cost her a prestigious reporting job has brought her here, where a mysterious recluse holds the key to a horrific bombing….

For Sheik Tariq Al Arif, the grief is still fresh. That tragedy took not only his career as a lifesaving surgeon but also his fiancee. Only here, walking the windswept cliffs by the haunted abbey, does he begin to feel alive again.

And when the American beauty shows up on the storm-ravaged island off the coast of France, he knows their passion is dangerous.

To desire is to dare: can either take the risk to love again?

And here is Susan's review:

This is not a book I would have picked up on my own but it needed a review and I wanted to try my hand at writing one so there we were.  My Sheik-romance-reading period was definitely a decade or two in the past so I came to this book with more than a couple of prejudices.  I did my best to try and honestly read this book with an open mind so I set a couple of ground rules. 

Rule #1 Suspend disbelief all ye who enter here. 

It’s not like the title is something like “Rescue”, the title of the book is “Surgeon Sheik’s Rescue” so it is certainly not pretending to be something it’s not.

Rule #2 There must be something great about this book – find it!

This kind of book might not be my cup of tea, but clearly this sub-genre has its fans.  Why?  This book was nominated for an award so there must be something special about it.

With these two rules firmly in mind I read the book.

Right off the bat, the author seriously charmed me with her dedication:

“For Pasty Adkins and all other readers like her -
  you make it all worthwhile “

Very sweet.  I love that she dedicated it a specific reader.

First off, here is what I really liked about this book.

The author’s writing is very vivid.  I felt in some cases like I was watching a movie rather than reading a book.  She clearly understands the “show don’t tell” rule of writing.  And as someone who writes pretty much in straight lines it was lovely to read someone who knows how to put the curlicues in the right place to make it all shine. 

The hero, Tariq Al Arif/Tahar du Val, doesn’t come across as too terribly sheik-y.  Not once did he refer to the heroine as “my little lizard.”  I took this as a good sign.  Of course he is incredibly wealthy, enormously talented (neurosurgeon and cellist), but not devastatingly gorgeous.  I really appreciated that the author was very straightforward about his disfigurement. It leant some realism to a storyline that badly needed it.

Our hero also wasn’t a macho idiot.  He also wasn’t completely stupid about the threat the heroine could be to his family’s security.  In a lot of books with a very strong alpha male lead, the hero while supposedly very intelligent is completely surprised by what the heroine is up to. Not in this case. Tariq is smart enough to realize that  while he is very attracted to her, she might very well be worming her way into his house under false pretenses as of course she is.

His reactions to her and her reactions to him come across as genuine and except for the not small issue of pacing, their relationship is quite lovely.  The author managed to fit more nuance into their relationship that I thought was possible given the constraints of a category-length book and the enormous amount of sheer plot.  I especially love that when the issue of previous lovers comes up she clearly has more than him and he really couldn’t care less.  Nice to see.

The plot certainly was entertaining, fast-paced and somewhat crazy (in a good way).  I was terribly relieved to read that I didn’t need to summarize the plot. I’m not sure I could in a document much shorter than the  length of the book itself.  You could not describe the pacing as slow by any stretch of the imagination and I was on the edge of my seat by the final climactic scene.

Now for what I was not so crazy about.

First the descriptions of all Arabs in the first couple of chapters as “dark” “dark-skinned” or my favorite “Mediterranean.”  They are in France after all, wouldn’t you expected some Mediterranean-colored people?  It would have been one thing if anyone else’s complexion had been noted or commented on at all but they weren’t.  Arab bodyguards – yes, French shopkeepers – no.  At least this dropped off quickly after the first couple of chapters.  I feel I have to say that at least this book avoids the “all Arabs are evil” problem by having two groups of Arabs, one good and one bad.  And there are certainly a good sprinkling of evil Americans as well. 

The plot.  There was an appetizer of plot with a double-helping of plot with a plot chaser.  This was both bad and good.  On the good side the book moved.  No one sat around and navel gazed, took a nap or even showered.  They were too darn busy moving on to the next plot point.  Part of the problem is that this is book three in a four book series so we had a couple of quick explanations of previous books which sound just as heavily plot-tastic as this one to muddy our main plot.  Our main plot had subplots of course, ghost subplots, secret fake Norwegian sub plots, and so on and so forth.   It is a testament to the author’s skill that she didn’t completely lose me.  I did have to read the first chapter twice to get myself straightened out, but it did get better.

The timeline for this whole story from start to finish was seven maybe eight days. I double checked.   While I bought into their relationship I didn’t really buy that they go from suspicious strangers to happily ever after in a week.  Especially since it involves his family also getting on board as well.  I just didn’t buy it.  I wanted to though.

It took me awhile to warm to our heroine, Bella DiCaprio/Amelie Chenard. Partly it was the name.  I don’t know any other DiCaprios so I was stuck with this as my image of her. This made it very, very difficult to hold onto Rule #1.

A lot of my criticism of this book is that it is too much – too much plot, too much backstory, etc.  The heroine is also equally over endowed with reasons to track down the hero.  She is a reporter and he is the heir to an kingdom who faked his own death.  But no, we need more so she also lost her job, her boyfriend (to the boss’ daughter), and was abandoned as an infant and put up for adoption.  Now she was adopted by a loving family but we don’t learn that for some strange reason until much later.  It does make her a good match for the hero who is hiding on this French island because he was almost killed in an assassination attempt that killed his fiancee, and he failed to save said fiancee, and is horribly grief-stricken by this, and he was horribly disfigured, and lost the ability to work as a surgeon or play the cello, and he faked his own death because his family is being hunted.  Whew.

I surprised myself by enjoying it and I can see why it was nominated.  It really is well written with an engrossing if very complicated plot.  I’m not sure I’ll read the other Sahara Kings books, but I might check to see if she has written a longer length book.  With more time and space to fill in the details this would have been an excellent book rather than just a good book.


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