The Panther and The Pearl

| July 3, 2016

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The Panther and The Pearl

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The American Beauty: When an innocent excursion to Constantinople took an unexpected twist, Sarah Woolcott found herself a prisoner in the harem of young and virile Kalid Shah. Headstrong and courageous, Sarah was determined to resist the handsome foreigner whose arrogance outraged her– even as his tantalizing touch promised exotic nights of fiery sensuality.

The Turkish Prince: Never had he encountered a woman who inflamed his desire like the blonde Westerner with the independent spirit. Although she spurned his passionate overtures, Kalid vowed to tempt her with his masterful skills until she became a willing companion on their journey of exquisite ecstasy!

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REVIEW: by Patricia S. (edited for space)
“Oh no, not another blonde sold to a pasha story!” Well not exactly. This book is more like Katherine Hepburn meets Spencer Tracy in a harem. If you like books where there is a clash between intellectual equals, I strongly recommend this one.

Sara Wolcott is a Boston school teacher visiting her cousin James in Constantinople during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Sara is curious about life in the royal palace, and she becomes a temporary tutor for one of the princesses. Sarah accompanies the Princess Roxalena to a state dinner in honor of a local pasha, Kalid Shah. Kalid, upon seeing Sarah, is smitten and makes the corrupt Sultan an offer he can’t refuse. Sarah is sold into Kalid’s harem. She is plunged into the lavish opulence of a strange world, but Sarah is determined to resist its luxury and the charms of the man who claims to own her.

Kalid Shah is the product of a Western mother and an Ottoman father. He has a British public school and university education, is an enlightened despot. Khalid is used to getting what he wants, so when he sees Sarah, he summarily buys her. But he is determined to woo Sarah into accepting her new position as the ikbal, the favorite. Despite his best efforts and to the astonishment of Kalid and the palace staff, Sarah refuses to be won over by his charm, her envied position as the favorite, or the fabulous riches at her disposal. She feels Kalid views her only as a pretty possession instead of as an independent woman who deserves the right to determine her own life.

Sarah is forced to rely on inner strength, intelligence and an occasional right hook to hold her own in a situation unlike any she’s ever known. Her humor, guts and grit win her the admiration and respect of those in the palace as she thwarts Kalid at every turn, even while she falls in love with him.

Handsome, witty and charming, Kalid has never had to work to get any woman he wants. She is an enigma to him, a woman who demands equality. Initially attracted to her beauty, he finds himself fascinated with her mind and relishing their battle of wills even as she drives him toward the cliffs of insanity.

But it is the climactic confrontation that makes this book a keeper for me. As their marriage ceremony takes place, information that Kalid tried to suppress to keep Sarah with him is revealed and Sarah learns that maybe Kalid hasn’t changed his views on women. Did I devour this almost 400 page book in one sitting to find out? The answer is definitely yes.

The secondary characters are just as wonderful as the two leads. There is Kosem, Kalid’s 82 year old grandmother, Memtaz, Sarah’s servant, who isn’t happy unless Sarah is wearing enough finery to cover the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, Achmed, the khislar who is as baffled as his master, and a cast of thousands who have never seen any woman quite like Sarah.

In the best Hollywood style, wry one-liners fly as two determined wills spark against each other. The period detail is convincing without being distracting and the action goes to the wire before Kalid and Sarah can make admissions and compromises to achieve the “happily ever after” ending they deserve. I urge you to grab some popcorn and settle in for a wonderful time

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