the sheik

Classic Romance Review: The Sheik by Edith M. Hull

 classic romance
The Sheik by Edith Maude Hull
Rating: five-stars
Published: November 10, 1919
Illustrator: N/A
Book Series: Sheik Duo #1
Genres: Classic Romance, Contemporary Romance, Bodice Ripper, Harem Romance, Forced Seduction
Pages: 296
Format: eBook, Hardcover, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Classic Romance Review: The Sheik by Edith M. Hull


The Book

The Sheik by Edith M. Hull, published in 1919, is as influential to the modern romance genre as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps, more so.

The salacious book was a blockbuster of a success, despite its many detractors. While some modern readers may cringe at its depiction of women, sexual roles, and racial attitudes, The Sheik remains a compelling read one hundred years after its publication.

the sheik

The Sheik: The Grandmother of Bodice Rippers

“Shall I make you care? Shall I make you love me? I can make women love me when I choose.”

This year, 2022, is the 50th anniversary of Kathleen E. Woodwiss’ the Flame and the Flower, the first “modern romance novel.” The roots of modern romance go back further than 1972, however.

Although Pride and Prejudice and other works by Jane Austen were critiques of manners and social mores, the love stories were at the heart and center. For that reason, her books are considered both as literature and among the first romance novels.

As far as I’m concerned, Jane Austen and all her imitators–Georgette Heyer included–didn’t influence the modern historical genre as The Sheik did.

Oh, I liked the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy just fine. I don’t obsess over it as many do. Charlotte Bronte’s tale of Jane Eyre was far more to my liking, anyway. Jane Eyre, however, is more of an ancestor to Gothic romance.

the sheik grandmother of the bodice ripper.

The First Modern Romance Novel?

“What I have I keep, until I tire of it–and I have not tired of you yet.”

For the kind of romances I enjoy, their roots lie with Edith Maude Hull’s masterpiece, The Sheik. It is the grandmother of the bodice ripper. If not for the closed-door bedroom scenes, this book would have fit right in with the romances penned in the 1970s.

In 1921, the silent film adaptation of the novel starring Agnes Ayres came out. It catapulted Rudolph Valentino’s career into movie stardom. I recall watching the film as a teen and practically swooning over the fantastic tale.

Decades later, I finally got around to reading the novel.

the sheik

The Characters and the Plot

He had seen her, had wished for her, and had taken her, and once in his power it had amused him to break her to his hand.

British-born Diana Mayo has it all: fashionable looks, wealth, and a multitude of male admirers. She’s young, thoroughly modern, and fiercely independent. If someone tells her not to do something, she considers it a dare.

Filled with boredom, the wild Diana travels to Algeria to seek adventure.

And she finds it in the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who kidnaps her and whisks her off to his desert oasis.

Between the two will be fierce, passion-filled clashes filled. Diana is a contemporary-minded woman who demands equality from her peers. Even so, she cannot resist the allure of the savage, almost primitive male who seeks to dominate her.

When first published, there was nothing like this book.

the sheik

Intriguing Gender Dynamics

Some historians have noted that during “conservative” eras, the idealized feminine form becomes more “traditional.” Typically, in times of social transformation, she is perceived to be more fluid.

In the 1960’s natural hair, short skirts, and slim figures, a la model Twiggy or Mia Farrow, reigned.

In the 1980s, the style was big hair, full lips, and 36-24-36 figures like Kelly LeBrock and Cindy Crawford.

The 1920s was a post War society with women in politics and the popularization of the motion picture. Ideas of sex, gender, and sexual mores were radically changed from the rigid Victorian/Edwardian and Gilded Age Eras on both sides of the Atlantic. Hair was bobbed, hemlines were raised, and large breasts were out-of-fashion.

The Sheik is a product of its time, with Hassan noting:

But the emotion that this girl’s uncommon beauty and slender boyishness had aroused in him had not diminished during the months she had been living in his camp.

The omniscient narrator constantly refers to Diana’s boyish figure and her as a splendid example of a “garcon manque,” a French term for tomboy. That was the old-fashioned term for girls who “behave” like and hang around boys.

It made for a fascinating sexual dynamic that was only flirted with and never really delved deeply into.

the sheik

The Sheik, A Controversial Novel

To say this is a controversial book is an understatement. Because it was such a phenomenal hit, critics could not ignore it, and they were divided in their opinions. Unlike, say, Fifty Shades of GreyThe Sheik cannot be dismissed for lack of quality.

The New York Times labeled the book as “shocking” but written with “a high degree of literary skill.” It was considered “salacious” and “tawdry.”

“What do you expect of a savage? When an Arab sees a woman that he wants he takes her. I only follow the customs of my people.”

If there was contention about this book 123 years ago, it’s practically obscene today and viewed as problematic. It has been accused of promoting part of rape culture, and it reeks of colonial attitudes.

There may be merit to discussing those arguments, as nothing exists in a vacuum. Nevertheless, I say, “Yes. And?” Fiction demands the freedom to write from any perspective. If it is a story worth telling, the story will be told.

the sheik

My Opinion

“If he killed me he could not kill my love!”

From its initial publication continuing to this day, The Sheik remains scandalous. It was an immediate bestseller, yet it received no respect from critics. The novel was labeled “poisonously salacious” by the Literary Review. It was even banned from some communities.

And it was a huge sensation, launching a subgenre of desert romances, several sequels, film adaptations, and Rudolph Valentino’s career.

The influence of The Sheik on romance is undeniable. For many readers, it still strikes a chord today. Despite Diana’s position as a kidnapping victim, there is a strong theme of female power and independence.

Even so, The Sheik gives a picture of the social order of its time. It captured the contemporary attitudes toward colonialism. Perhaps worse, The Sheik portrayed sexual dominance as a means to love.

the sheik

Final Analysis of The Sheik

E. M. Hull’s desert epic made me feel like a 12-year-old young girl discovering romance. For me, The Sheik was a thrilling experience! It’s pure entertainment, a rush from start to finish. I loved the film; the book was even better.

Without this romance, I don’t know if bodice-rippers or Mills & Boon romances, or the Harlequin Presents line would have ever existed. As stated, The Sheik is grandmother of the bodice ripper.

As for the naysayers?

Perhaps it’s good advice not to take fiction so seriously.

The Sheik is unreality. A dark fantasy. An erotic nightmare. Perhaps a little of both.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.7


Diana Mayo is young, beautiful, wealthy–and independent. Bored by the eligible bachelors and endless parties of the English aristocracy, she arranges for a horseback trek through the Algerian desert. Two days into her adventure, Diana is kidnapped by the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who forces her into submission. Diana tries desperately to resist but finds herself falling in love with this dark and handsome stranger.

Only when a rival chieftain steals Diana away does the Sheik realize that what he feels for her is more than mere passion. He has been conquered–and risks everything to get her back. The power of love reaches across the desert sands, leading to the thrilling and unexpected conclusion.

Skye O'Malley bertrice small

Historical Romance Review: Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

historical romance review
Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Glenn Madison
Book Series: The O'Malley Saga #1
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Erotic Romance, Harem Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Tudor Era Romance
Pages: 480
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

Spoiler Alert ⚠

Skye O’Malley: The Most Perfect Heroine Ever?

Oh, never, ever was there a lass as lovely as Bertrice Small‘s Skye O’Malley.

With raven locks, eyes as blue-green as the Kerry sea, tiny waist, impossibly long legs for such a wee girl, pert boobies, and a fantastical elastic vagina that bounces back to its teen glory no matter how many kids she births (she must’ve done her Kegels), Skye is the most beautiful, most desirable, most enchanting, the “bestest ever!”

The Plot

Any man who looks upon her nubile beauty will be inflicted with priapism.

The sole cure is a ticket of the old in and out of Skye’s mossy cavern of passion. Her weeping honey-oven. Her juicy love-grotto, as it were. Yup, only the cringiest, the purplest of euphemisms are here.

The vintage “Queen of Erotic Romance,” Bertrice Small takes us across the seas and nations to experience the highs and lows–but mostly orgasmic highs–of Skye’s life.

Women, be they the female pirate Grace O’Malley or the Queen of England herself, Queen Bee, are intimidated by her beauty and her fiery, passionate nature!

And men… Well, they all want to delve their pulsing lances into her moist, dewy petaled sheath.

But though Skye had learned the womanly arts she had not become a biddable female. Not Skye O’Malley!

Hero #1

Not one hero will do for our eponymous goddess of a heroine, Skye O’Malley. She’s too hot and needs a lot of thick hose to put out her fires!

The daughter of an Irish laird/pirate named Dubhdara, Skye is secretly in love with Niall, a powerful lord’s son. Alas, she is too saucy a wench and will never do for Niall. So the powers that be connive to wed Skye to their son, dumb Dom.

Then our hero does something that shocks everyone. On Skye’s wedding night, Niall stuns the revelers when he interrupts the festivities, points his finger at Skye, and says, “I claim droit de seigneur of this woman!” Which is so goofy, and like the film “Braveheart,” ahistorical, but just go with it.

Afterward, Skye is left to live with Dom, who’s got a giant wang, but only teases Skye with it, as he never lasts long. Besides, it’s incestuous hook-ups with his sister, Claire, he prefers.

Occasionally, Dom brings Skye into their little dalliances, although Skye is unwilling. She bares Dom’s 2 sons before he’s paralyzed and then eventually dies.

Niall, in the meantime, was married off to frigid, crazed Darragh, whom he eventually casts aside. She enters a nunnery, and now he and Skye are free to marry.

Hero #2

Uh-uh-uh, not so fast.

Our independent Skye demands to expand her father’s shipping business, and wouldn’t you know it, she gets shipwrecked and loses her memory.

Skye ends up in Algiers to have yet another true love affair, this time with the Grand Whoremaster of Algiers, Khaled-El-Bey. In Bertrice Small’s corner of Romancelandia, Irish-Welsh-Scottish-English women from the Middle Ages to post-Enlightenment were drawn to harems like sharp nails to magnets (ouch, bad metaphor).

Skye becomes one of his earthly houris, but strictly for his personal use, and not only that but his top bitch, her poon so fine, even the biggest pimp in all of pimpdom has to put a ring on it.

Niall is this time married off to a Spanish girl. The sweet, innocent virgin Niall seduces and then marries turns out to be the opposite of wife #1. She’s an insatiable nympho who becomes a clandestine whore because even with Niall giving it to her three times a night, it’s not enough.

Yada, yada, yada, Skye O’Malley gives Khaled El-Bey a daughter, but he croaks due to harem machinations and jealousy.

Skye, who’s so awesome she can always depend on the kindness of strangers to help her out, leaves for England, even though she still has amnesia.

Hero #3

There she is pursued by yet another true love, Geoffrey.

The blond, green-eyed arrogant Lord Southwood bets that he can seduce the mysterious Skye, who spurns him, then entices him, and makes him fall for her until… she’s his!

Oh, and he’s married. Skye doesn’t care.

His wife dies and eventually, Skye marries Geoffrey and is blissfully happy. Until that is, her memory returns when she sees Niall almost killed and screams out his name. But again, they’re married to different people, so they can’t be together.

I hated Geoffrey and was glad when he kicked the bucket.

He blamed his first wife for being unable to bear sons and threw it in her face that’s why he abandoned her. His perfect Skye would have no trouble giving him sons, though. Her vag is pH balanced to accept only the most macho of y-alleles (and only a rare x-swimmer).

She bears Geoffrey two boys, one who dies with his father during the pox.

The Villain & the Honestly Nice Guy

After Geoffrey dies, Skye is left unprotected, as the wicked Queen Bess forces Skye to be her beloved Earl of Lessessester, er–any-who, Lord Robert Dudley’s plaything.

A little bestiality is hinted at as the awful Robert uses his servants as sex slaves to be used by his friends.

But not Skye. Skye, he will abuse her for his own purposes and not in a fun way. Dudley rapes Skye until he’s had his use of her, and she’s left traumatized.

After her awful arrangement with Dudley, Skye shies away from men–no, not really.

She gets involved in some smuggling and shipping with another Lord, Adam De Marisco, an Englishman.

For some reason, my favorite of Skye’s men was Adam, a nice, laughing guy with a beard who made sex pleasurable for Skye again (which, to be fair, wasn’t that difficult of a task). He was like a big teddy bear, with no arrogance, no baggage, just pure fun. Adam soothes Skye’s hurts and gives her passion without entanglements.

Why she didn’t end up with him in this book is beyond me. But he’ll make a return in the series, and I like what happened with him in All the Sweet Tomorrows.

Back to #1

Remember that lusty wife Niall had? Well, now, she’s near-death because she’s suffering from the pox (not the pox that killed Geoffrey, the other pox). 

Not Niall, though. He’s STD-free because that lucky guy gets to be this book’s hero. Due to that, having sex with a woman who’s had sex with hundreds of men doesn’t even make it hurt when he pees. Not even a weird itching!

All things fall into place, so Niall and Skye find their way back into each other’s arms. The dull, boring hero, Niall, gets his beautiful, perfect, sexual, rich, fecund, brilliant (yeah, that last one was a stretch) Skye O’Malley.

Final Analysis of Skye O’Malley

After bearing her assorted lovers and husbands (6 if you’re counting; it seems like more only because, to be fair, Skye does engage in a lot of sex) 5 children (with more kids to come), her figure–and her moist cavern of love–remain tiny and petite, unchanging despite age, births or time.

This book is a romp. Not meant to be taken deeply because if you do, you might experience heartbreak.

I am so glad I read Skye O’Malley when I was well into my twenties. If I had read this as a teen, my poor little heart wouldn’t have been able to take it.

One woman having that many men she all truly loved and in such a short amount of time (relatively), in a romance novel!

Thankfully, with maturity comes the ability to relax and not take everything so seriously, and Skye O’Malley is not a book to be taken seriously.

It’s so bad, yet so good, yet so bad… which is the best of qualities in an old bodice ripper.

I didn’t love Bertrice Small’s magnum opus Skye O’Malley, but I had a ball reading it. And that’s all that matters.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.3


There has never been a woman like luscious, raven-haired, hot-tempered Skye O’Malley. She is the courageous seafaring captain of her own mighty fleet, and intelligent enough to win a battle of wits with Queen Elizabeth herself. Follow along as Skye O’Malley is swept up in a journey filled with romance and passion that takes her from glittering Ireland, to lush Algeria, to the heart of London in pursuit of a unique and eternal love…

desert slave miranda north

Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

book review historical romance
Desert Slave by Miranda North
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Harem Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North


The Book and Characters

This review is of Desert Slave, a standalone historical romance novel by Miranda North. (Zebra Heartfire, May 1989).

Heroine: Juliette Hawkins, copper red hair, blue eyes. No occupation.

Hero: Deric Raleigh. Dark brown hair, green eyes. Caravan trader.

The Plot

Part I

As the book begins, Juliette Hawkins, 19, the book’s heroine, is excited. Her guardian and uncle, Lionel Hawkins, has accepted a diplomatic assignment in Malta and is taking Juliette with him. On the trip, however, Juliette is kidnapped by Bedouin pirates. She is later given to Deric Raleigh, the hero of the book.

As they travel in the desert, Juliette and Deric become lovers. Soon after, however, Deric becomes distant, so Juliette decides to leave him. Big mistake, as she ends up in trouble that he has to save her from.

Later, they part company. They reunite in Malta when Deric asks Juliette to join him on a dangerous mission.

Part II

Juliette and Deric engage in their mission, which is mostly successful.

Deric is shot and wounded. Juliette nurses him back to health. During this time, Juliette and Deric come to their senses and realize they love each other. They get engaged and have their Happily Ever After.


Juliette and Deric are a well-matched couple. Ms. North writes their love as genuine and real.


Riddle me this: What do Desert Slave’s character development, depth, storyline, and what “Juliette” is wearing on the book’s cover have in common?

Answer: There’s not a whole lot to any of them. Like way too many romance novels, Juliette and Deric could have saved themselves a lot of time and pain had they actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!


Juliette and Deric share a few love scenes. There is an emphasis on the emotions of the love scene rather than the esoterics of the act.


Assault, battery, a knifing, and shooting all take place in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Desert Slave

A good book is like a building. First, a foundation is laid down. Then, hopefully, the author/builder will put something on the foundation that is attractive/interesting/useful.

In Desert Slave, Miranda North got the first part right.

Locations: England. Africa.

Tropes: Africa. Historical romance. Zebra Heartfire.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3.5


Proud Juliette Hawkins was terrified when Barbary brigands overran her Mediterranean-bound ship. For safekeeping, they handed her over to Deric Raleigh, an Englishman turned desert trader, and the redhead’s terror turned to fury. How dare this arrogant mercenary — her own countryman — continue to hold her captive! But as they traveled deeper into the Sahara, the independent beauty came to rely on Deric’s expertise more and more. Soon admiration became desire … and Juliette yearned to love the very man she as supposed to hate!

Caravan leader Deric Raleigh never wanted to get mixed up in holding Juliette Hawkins prisoner. But in order to gain his best friend’s freedom, he had to bow to the pirates’ demands. The cynical nomad had no use for a gently bred innocent in the hard, adventurous life he had chosen. But as they traversed the dunes beneath the starlit sky, Deric couldn’t help wanting to bed his alluring hostage, teach her how to please a man, and make her his…

desert hostage gignilliat

Historical Romance Review: Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway

historical romance review
Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Elaine Gignilliat
Published by: Dell
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Harem Romance
Pages: 474
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway


The Book

Other than E. M. Hull’s masterpiece, The Sheik, or Johanna Lindsey‘s Captive Bride, the Dell-published Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway would qualify as my most-liked sheik romance.

Harems and desert sheiks romances aren’t usually my cup of tea, as I prefer historical heroes to be swordsmen, cowboys, or knights. Nevertheless, a man like Karim, who is passionately devoted to his heroine, makes for a great hero, and a romance with such a male protagonist will certainly catch my interest.

The Plot

Desert Hostage is another book where the half-European, half-Arab sheik carries off his object of desire into the sandy dunes and makes her his.

The story starts with a bang, where we read about Karim’s mother and her desert abduction at the hands of a ruthless sheik. She plots and manipulates to have her son be taken to Europe, where he will be educated and ”civilized.”

In England, Karim then meets and falls for Juliette, a lovely and genteel young British woman. He pursues her with restrained fervor. Karim does his gallant best to woo Juliette. But Juliette is so dumb that she can’t make up her mind about what she wants in life.

There is a love triangle where Juliette can’t decide which man she wants. The other man is nothing compared to Karim, and it’s obvious who she should choose!

The middle of Desert Hostage lags a bit as Juliette is incredibly annoying with her indecisiveness. She also speaks in hushed whispers, like a Barbara Cartland heroine…very…slowly…like…this…

Then Karim finds out that Juliette is the daughter of his father’s sworn enemy. She has toyed with his heart as all evil British women do to men, as Karim thinks.

She will receive her due punishment, and Karim will have his revenge! He turns from a once gentlemanly suitor into a man set upon vengeance, and Juliette will pay dearly for treating him so callously!

While there is a harem here, it’s only featured briefly, as this story is a one-man-one-woman romance. Karim is a dedicated, faithful hero who is incredibly appealing.

Final Analysis of Desert Hostage

I read Diane Dunaway’s Desert Hostage not too long ago and found it a wonderful romance, just with a few lagging moments.

The hero is strong and powerful but not viciously cruel. Juliette is not a memorable heroine; it’s Karim who really makes this one shine.

I’ve put this book in storage for the time being, as one day, I will have to dig it out to give it a reread. It’s certainly worth it.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4


The Searing Passion, The Savage Ecstasy…..

Behind her lay England and her innocent first encounter with love. Before her lay a mysterious land of forbidding majesty. Kidnapped, swept across the deserts of Araby, Juliette Clayton saw her past vanish in the endless, shifting sands.

Desperate and defiant, she sought escape only to find harrowing danger and to discover her one hope in the arms of her captor, the Sheik of El Abadan. Fearless and proud, he alone could tame her. She alone could possess his soul. Between them lay the secret that would bind her to him forever, a woman possesssed, a slave of love.

tara's song ziel

Historical Romance Review: Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson

historical romance review
Tara's Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: George Ziel
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Harem Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson


The Book

Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson is another mediocre Viking romance that disappoints.

Written in the late 1970s at the height of the down-and-dirty bodice ripper era, you’d expect this Viking romance to be rapacious and fun. Alas, I found it rather ho-hum.

The Plot

Having been betrayed by love in the past (the heroine is not a virgin, if it matters), the blonde Irish beauty Tara enters a convent. Despite what the book burb claims, Tara is not a mere novice. She is a full-fledged nun who has taken all her religious vows.

For some mysterious reason, some of her sister nuns provide Tara with Nordic runes and teach her how to cast them to foresee the future. Obviously, the elder sisters had the prescience to know a horde of ravenous Vikings would overtake their convent. So the runic readings would come in handy for Tara’s protection later.

Tara’s new life begins when Rorik captures her. He, of the long, curly, reddish-blond hair and two long mustaches that reach past his chin, but with no beard. Just like the Viking mascot on a Minnesota footballer’s helmet.

I imagined Rorik as a young metal god, like a cross between Dave Mustaine & James Hetfield, only with lots of muscles.

Sadly, even though Rorik is a marauder, he’s BORING. Like so many Viking books I’ve read, the hero is set up as a bad-ass warrior who kills and slays hundreds, but we don’t get to experience it!

We rarely see Rorik do anything exciting as the story is told in a constrictive first-person perspective.

Tara In the North

The POV is a hindrance here. Tara tells rather than shows what’s going on. There’s a lot of info-dumping and information overload.

Some of it is wildly inaccurate, like people eating potatoes in Norway in the late 900s. That reminded me of the “chocolate”-colored eyes that the wicked “other woman” from Johanna Lindsey‘s Hearts Aflame had.

Chocolate, potatoes, corn, tomatoes… None of those things are European in origin.

Research, people. It’s an essential thing!

The Vikings were portrayed as dirty and unkempt, men who never bathed, had ungroomed beards, and wore clichéd two-horned helmets into battle.

Anyway, Rorik doesn’t force himself on Tara as a pillaging Viking would. He romantically seduces her into his bed.

Meh. Give me a Viking who’s a pillager first, then learns to be romantic and civilized later on (to a certain extent).

Where’s the fun in the fantasy if the hunky Viking doesn’t take me, I mean, the heroine, over his shoulder and have his forcefully erotic way with her? Why does a Viking pirate have to charm her into his bed?

That’s for Regency rakes, not brutish Vikings.

This Viking Romance Has a Twist

At least there is a naughty twist to follow. Rorik is a polygamist, as he brings Tara home to his harem of wives.

That’s right, Rorik has not one but two wives. Tara is wifey number three.

As a pious Christian, she resents this. So she prays for the day that Rorik will cast off his other wives and divorce them as God intended. He should be with only her because that would be the honorable thing. 

For her. 

When Tara doesn’t give in to Rorik’s lust, he goes to the other wives to satisfy him. But it’s Tara he loves, not those losers!

Eventually, one of Rorik’s wives plots against them. Rorik and Tara are kidnapped and separately sold into slavery in the east.

Tara In the East

When the hero is bland in a bodice ripper, and the main characters are parted for a long time, I don’t mind. So as long as the heroine experiences some fun (read: sexy) experiences.

Regrettably, Tara’s adventures without Rorik are as entertaining as her adventures with him.

With some of the lesser-known bodice ripper authors, you were bound to get some amusing exploits. Not in this book!

Here Tara’s escapades consist of getting the flu during the worst winter ever. Or getting her first taste of eating oranges.

There was Tara in Norway shopping. Now here’s Tara in Constantinople shopping!

The most interesting character in the book is Olav, an older Viking who is also enslaved as well as castrated. He is Tara’s faithful companion.

Olav could have been a complex character. Lamentably, Ferry takes his personality, heart, and emotions away with his balls.

His devotion to Tara is that of a slavish, dog-like protector, not that of a man who can ever physically or emotionally love. It would have been intriguing to see a eunuch engage in sexy antics–just for the WTF factor (like in Bertrice Small’s Enchantress Mine).

But no, nothing special happens in Tara’s Song.

This Harem Romance Has a Twist

Actually, that’s not 100% true, as there is one mildly engaging scenario after Tara gets kidnapped.

She then gets seduced by a handsome and arrogant, overbearing Muslim slaver. Although she enjoys his lovemaking, Tara finds him so arrogant. How dare he lust after her gorgeous body!

Then, mere days later, Tara is dismayed to see a sexy, young male slave dance his way into her lover’s bed.

Guess Tara’s not as hot as she thinks!

Again, a faintly similar situation was portrayed in Enchantress Mine. However, that situation was more shocking and actually entertaining.

And I wasn’t all that crazy about Enchantress Mine because I hated the too-perfect heroine. So to me, Tara’s Song is the lesser book.

Final Analysis of Tara’s Song

O, ancient gods of the Norse! At times Tara’s Song was as dry as the turkey from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

 photo griswold_turkey.jpg


It does get good during the last few pages when Rorik once and for all displays his brutal warrior skills instead of the reader just being told about it. He viciously makes mincemeat out of his enemies. He slaughters them all, demonstrating his awesome Nordic might.

Too bad; too late. Where was that Rorik 400 pages ago?

I’d put this book in the to-sell pile, but I adore the George Ziel cover art too much.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.4


Hers is the song of all women. It cries to be heard as she sings of her love for one man. Listen! Tara’s Song.

He Was The Strongest Man of His Time–Until She Became His Weakness…

Beautiful, devout young Tara, a novice in a country abbey, finds her cloistered life suddenly destroyed when Viking invaders burn the convent and take her prisoner. Wedded against her will to the pagan chieftain Rorik, Tara slowly overcomes her fear as Rorik introduces her to the joy of passionate love.

Then a vicious abduction separates the lovers–and their search to be reunited takes them from the dramatic northern fjords to the shores of the Black Sea from Arabian domed palaces and the slave marts of Constantinople to an isolated Greek island. For the love of Tara and Rorik must survive the ravages of war, the cruel twists of treachery, and the challenge of a vast continent…