A sheikh without a country. A woman without fear. A love hotter than the Sahara.
In his heart, Viscount Blakeney will always be Sheikh Altair Mazir, but a deathbed oath to his English grandfather forces him to divide his time between Britain and his beautiful Sahara. A victim of prejudice from both cultures, he has learned a bitter lesson. Trust no one.
Yet when he witnesses firsthand the British Museum’s rejection of Alexandra Talbot’s request for assistance in finding the lost city of Ramesses II, he finds himself not only compelled to help, but donning his desert robes to hide his identity.
Alexandra is all too familiar with men who equate her sex with a lack of intelligence. But the mysterious Altair isn’t like other men. He never questions her ability to find the lost city, only her resistance to the sinful pleasure of his touch.
Bound by a Pharaoh’s prophecy, desire flares between them under the desert stars. But murder and betrayal turn their quest into a deadly game, pushing their fragile trust to the breaking point. A trust that must be reforged if they are to survive.
Publisher and Release Date: Samhain, July 2015
Time and Setting: London and Egypt 1880
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Wendy
I can’t explain why this novel struck such a chord with me but it did. I’m not normally a lover of romantic stories involving sheikhs and the desert, but this story went straight to my heart and I absolutely loved it!
Altair Sheikh Mazir/Lord Blakeney is the most gorgeous tortured hero with the added little-boy-lost quality that will make most women want to mother him in lieu of being able to do anything else! He has been reared in two completely different worlds and cultures, being both the grandson of an English Viscount (on his father’s side) and a Prince of the desert (as descended from his maternal grandfather). Not fully at home in either role, but more comfortable with his Bedouin tribe, there he transforms from the suavely handsome Lord Blakeney to the gorgeous and dangerous Sheikh Altair Mazir who, complete with tribal robes, henna face markings and his hair loose to his shoulders sounds good enough to eat.
Alexandra, too, is a likeable and attractive character. Innocent but liberated, strong-minded, confident and brave, she survives a number of threats to her life without falling apart. She has been treated as an equal by her father, a renowned American Egyptologist who has taught her everything he knows. Sadly Alex’s father dies before he can realise his dream of finding the tomb of Nourbese, beloved wife of Ramesses II.
Alex first encounters Altair at the British Museum. Even though he is dressed as a proper English Lord, Alex knows something is different about this stunning man and is very attracted to him. Altair knows all about Alex’s father, having had years of correspondence with him, although his failing to reveal this fact proves to be a big mistake in their burgeoning love affair.
The pair travels to Egypt, with Altair acting as Alex’s escort and protector. She continues to be unaware that Altair is half Bedouin and an honorary Sheikh to boot. The attraction that began in London continues to grow, making the lie-by-omission harder to reveal. The sizzling sensuality between the two of them fairly jumps off the page and simmers throughout.
Monica Burns’ descriptions are so thoroughly evocative of life in Egypt, I felt as though I could smell, feel and see the warm, soft sand of Cairo, and hear the cacophony of sounds, noise and bustle of life there. Having visited the area myself, I consider her depiction of the Pyramids of Giza to be stunning, eloquent, vivid and just as I remember. In fact it took me right back – I want to visit again. This is undoubtedly the sign of an excellent writer, one that paints such beautiful pictures that we, the reader can see what she sees.
This story really does have everything: murder, mystery, intrigue, history and the most sensual, steamy romance. The characters are incredibly well crafted; I loved Altair, admired Alex and adored the little mongoose – Zada – presented to Alex by Altair as an added protection against snakes. Even in this Ms. Burns does not pull back on the imagination – this sweet, chattering little creature is funny, loveable and endearing. The caravan of the Bedouin tribe escorting Alex is brought brilliantly to life, silk cushions, camels, and dancing with that background danger ever lurking, sinister and menacing. If I have one criticism – and it’s minute when put against the myriad of pluses – it is that Altair has a brother by the same Bedouin Mother, which makes them half-brothers and not step-brothers as is constantly asserted.
Even so, Mirage is an historical romance of the highest calibre. A definite keeper.