The Desert King's Secret Heir

The Desert King's Secret Heir  - Annie West 3 stars

This book irritated me at first. Arden is a single mother, skimping to provide the best for her 3 year-old son. Her world is turned on end when she is reunited with Idris, her holiday lover and Dawud's father. Only now she learns his true identity is Idris, Sheikh of Zahrat. Discovering that he lied to her, and then abandoned her, breaks her heart all over again.

Idris is furious to learn that he has a son, and that Arden has kept him from Dawud for years. Oh, dude, you left her in Greece, after lying about your name, and not leaving her any way to contact you. Duh. I thought that Idris was a conceited jerk, and I would have thrown him out of my apartment. He seduced the young, naive Arden, never once considered that he might have gotten her pregnant after their week long affair, and then has the nerve to be upset with her for her inability to contact him? Really, I was angry with him and upset with her for not putting him promptly and firmly in his place.

Now that he knows he has an heir, and after causing a scandal of epic proportions, Idris convinces Arden to come to Zahrat and marry him. I was all set to hate this book, but found it quite pleasant, if ultimately forgettable. Idris turns out to be a decent guy, with the usual hero hangups - he'll never fall in love and be faithful because it's just not in his DNA. Never mind that DNA has nothing to do with it, and ethics and morality are all that's needed for a happy, contented marriage. He finally figures it out, but because he's too stubborn to admit his feelings, he almost loses Arden, who is fearful of Idris parading his lovers in front of her and their son (not that were any lovers).

Arden grew on me, and was very relatable. She's just your typical single mom working hard for a better life for herself and her son. When she's given the opportunity to become an honest to goodness queen, she initially turns it down. She has no experience with politics, appeasing diplomats, or high-fashion clothes, and she really doesn't want to learn. She's content with who she is and comfortable with her apartment, job, and life. When Idris convinces her that it will be best for Dawud to know the people he will eventually rule, and that he will be accepted only if they get to know him, she reluctantly agrees. Her journey from shop help to queen was engaging, as she tries not to step on any toes, or to offend anybody.

Overall, a solid weekend read, despite massive irritations at the beginning.