Book Reviews

The Secret of the Sheikhs Betrothed (Dreamspun Desires) by Felicitas Ivey at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 16-November-2017

Book Blurb

A billionaire and a Bedouin girl—each with a shocking secret.


Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before.


Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.


When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with?


Book Review

Ahh – sheikhs! Their secret lives, unimaginable riches and billionaire status, and the (for me) exotic places they live make for stories that are among my favorites. I loved the fairy tales from 1001 Night, and I even enjoyed some of the Harlequin romances with the sheikh trope – but how the heck to pull off a credible male/male sheikh love story? That alone would have made me curious enough to read this book! But then to have the “Bedouin girl” turn out to be an abused man forced to live as a woman by his despicable older sister and to watch him grow into his own when he is freed from this yoke was an extra-special treat. All in all, this novel is a great take on the age-old Harlequin trope of "sheikhs" and their unexpected brides" - in a totally new interpretation.

Fahti is a sheikh and, on the surface, leads an enchanted life. He has everything he could possibly want – or so it seems. He had my sympathies from the start because he is being forced into a marriage he does not want with a person of the wrong gender for his sexuality. But as difficult as it would have been for him to come out, living in a Muslim country and his powerful grandfather being old-fashioned, I couldn't help but think he was a bit of a coward. After all, Fahti has a twin brother who can produce heirs... But as the story develops, his actions show that he is a good man who is concerned with Ikraam's welfare. He is also pretty selfless, and even manages to grow a set by the end and be honest about his sexual orientation.

Ikraam broke my heart. He has been emotionally and physically abused by his oldest half sister basically from birth, lost his mother when he was nine, and is forbidden to show his real gender. I loved that he is a good weaver and has got something he likes to do. I ached for him to finally be free, and could see why he was relieved to be able to get out from under his sister's terror regime any way he could. Not even his fear of being murdered when his husband finds out his gender could stop him, and his acceptance of possible death (since he had practically no life anyway) was heart-wrenching. And he still wants to protect his niece from a known abuser she is supposed to marry! What a guy!

The colorful set of secondary characters added to my enjoyment. And all the shenanigans around keeping Ikraam’s true gender a secret until it was “too late” and he was already married increased the suspense as well as the entertainment factor. But what really makes this novel stand out for me is the developing relationship between Fahti and Ikraam. They really get to know each other and develop respect and friendship before anything more happens. I’d expect that with an arranged marriage, but the added “spice” of Fahti’s mystification about why he is attracted to a woman (or so he thinks), and Ikraam’s switching from fear to hope and back again makes for a riveting tale!

If you like sheikh’s and their exotic lifestyle, if you want to see an abused man gain his freedom in a totally unexpected way, and if you’re looking for a read that is entertaining, suspenseful, and has a very sweet romance at its heart, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 212 pages/54246 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-November-2017
Price $4.99 ebook, $9.99 paperback, $9.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
Buy Link