She linked her hands together to stop them trembling. Prince Raschid ibn Saud al Azarin was about to arrive. She turned away from the view. Maggie was swiftly joined by twelve-year-old Joan and four-year-old Elaine, who had not a clue what the excitement was about but was determined not to be left out of it.

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He had calmly referred to the wedding night still to come. Panic reclaimed her. What had she done in marrying him? Suddenly she was waking up to the full portent of what marrying Raschid entailed. How could she go through with it? How could she actually go to bed with a stranger? She was not some medieval maiden raised to be bartered in matrimony. Environment had not conditioned Polly to submissively accept her fate without argument.

She was sitting up when Raschid reappeared from the shower-room, towelling his hair dry. Crimsoning at the amount of masculine flesh on view, Polly lost inches of recaptured poise and studied the bed. He looked totally unfamiliar in flowing robes of soft cream. The suggestion had been born of cowardly impulse. Undoubtedly it must seem to him as if she wanted to renege on the agreement after having collected the profits.

I came to your home with no idea of what reception awaited me there. I cherished no inclination to marry any woman. Nor can I accept that this news surprises you. He had not wanted to marry her. The information stung and shocked like a sudden slap on the face. A deep sense of incredulous mortification crept over her. However I might have behaved, my proposal would have been acceptable to you and your family.

But I am not one to quarrel with what cannot be altered. You are beautiful. It could have been worse. There you do not find my attentions offensive. I had no idea what you were thinking then!

We will be landing soon. Raschid was gone, and she was unutterably crushed by what he had coolly dropped on her. The black joke of the century was on them both. Prince Raschid ibn Saud al Azarin had not wanted to marry her either. Damn him to hell! If that was true, why were they here now? Why had he even come to Ladybright? Oh, she wanted to scream! Some outdated code of honour had made him come, had made him refrain from admitting his unwillingness. But now—when he told her it was too late—he had slung it at her with hauteur, as if Polly and her family had gone in pursuit of him with a shotgun.

Now she could review his grim and guarded manner at their first encounter. She had fallen hook, line and sinker for an act. The arrogant swine had actually been trying to put her off! Equating his arrival with unquestioning acceptance of the marriage, she had been too wrapped up in her own anxieties to appraise his attitude logically.

But why had he gone through with it? Her thoughts chased in concentric circles, her temper rising afresh. He had the gall to inform her bluntly that her sole saving grace was her face and figure. Suddenly she was dismissed as an individual and reduced to the level of a sexual plaything. It could have been worse—indeed?

If it crossed her mind that there was a strong hint of the biter bit in her enraged reaction, she refused to identify it. She folded her arms, wrathful at being ignored. My father is not a man of ill-judged impulse. When I married at twenty, you were still a child. She flushed to the roots of her hairline while he spoke on in the same coolly measured tone.

The means by which my father attained this conclusion might not be passed by the over-scrupulous. You are very na;auive, Polly. You cannot suppose that my father would have risked presenting me with a bride likely to shame or scandalise the family. They could not have escaped detection. Too much was bombarding Polly too quickly.

The amount of Machiavellian intrigue afoot even between father and son dismayed her. But why had coercion in the form of that promise been required to push Raschid into marriage? His position demanded that he marry and father children; that responsibility was inextricably woven into his future as a duty. Could he be so insensible to the necessity?

He truly believes that a man without a wife cannot be content. We stand at no different level now from that we stood at within that church. I made a decision. Pride made her voice the comeback, tilting her chin.

In the dragging quiet, her heart thudded loudly in her eardrums. The fierce chill of his appraisal forced colour up beneath her skin. Berah grew up knowing that she would become my wife.

Nor was she unaware of the nature of the man she was marrying. You know nothing whatsoever about me. His fingers were rigidly braced on the edge of the desk. The comparison she had dared to suggest had deeply angered him. On this subject they lead nowhere. What are we arguing about? This is not, after all, some form of attention-seeking? I employed candour with you before today. We each had our price in this marriage. Mine was peace and yours was status and money.

Now that that is established, what more can there be worthy of debate? He had gone over her like an armoured tank and the track marks of the vanquished were on her back. She had reacted emotionally to a male who did not allow emotion to cloud his reasoning. Or his judgement. He thought that she should have left her family to sink in the horrors of bankruptcy rather than sell herself into marriage. He was delicate in his sensibilities—he could afford to be.

Bitterly Polly appraised the outright luxury of her surroundings. Without money her family would have fallen apart. Neither of her parents would have had the resilience to pick themselves up and soldier on.

Yet for all his contempt now, Raschid had been remarkably tolerant about a wedding which could have made a hit disaster movie. In bed—she reddened hotly at the recollection—he had been teasing and warm. But both responses had been logically perfect for the occasion. Not unless you were stupid, and Raschid, she was learning by painful and clumsy steps, was far from stupid.

He was dauntingly clever and dismayingly complex. Abstractedly she watched him. Even in violent resentment she remained disturbingly conscious of the dark vibrancy of his potent attraction. In combination with looks and wealth that blazing physical magnetism of his must have stopped many women in their tracks. Polly had always distrusted handsome men; they were normally chockful of vanity. He was stunning, but she had the strangest suspicion that the only time he looked in the mirror was to shave.

Abruptly she denied her view of him by removing to a poorer vantage point. Even when the stewardess served her with a meal, her thoughts marched on. Raschid was beginning to obsess her even as his emotional detachment chilled her. Linked with that raw, overt masculinity of his, that coolness made him an intriguing paradox. Why had he been so reluctant to remarry?


An Arabian Courtship

Shelves: , hplandia , justsorta-huh , nice-people-i-am-sure , the-tropy-of-the-tropiest This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Re An Arabian Courtship - Lynne Graham is back with her second foray into HPlandia, a sheikhy lurve story that starts with an arranged marriage. The book opens with the h meeting the H for the first time and he epitomizes every stereotype of the Middle East by explaining that the h will never be allowed to go out without covering, he will only use her as a convenience in bed and she will not be associating with other people. Essentially the H is telling her she will be living in purdah if she marries him.







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