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The Sheik's Reluctant Bride by Teresa Southwick and Ayumu Asou

9/10 An enthralling story that has rich artwork and bold characters.

Jessica goes through life believing she has no parents to speak of, and having been an orphan from birth she feels so different from others who have the comfort and security of a good home and family, but she has a surprise in store for her - she has a mother after all.

When she goes to the town of Bha'Kar, her supposed mothers birthplace, she sees beauty she never thought possible. Her mother it seems was more than she thought too, a friend to the royal family in a Saudi type palace setting, and it becomes even more magical for Jessica the further she delves into her mother's past.

Readers will love the gentleman who greets her when she arrives, the chisel-chinned, dark-eyed and full-lipped Hourani, the second son of the King, Amaal. He catches her eye straight away and she wonders why he is being so nice. She is even more amazed at the royal family wanting to meet her. While she is a demure woman, he is by and large a playboy type who has models and stars hovering around him as though he is a star himself. The story seems too good to be true as Jessica finds out she is to be married to the prince even though she denies it - he has her handwriting on an important document agreeing to marry him.

From what I have read about the Saudi Royal family in other books, they wouldn't be likely to invite a stranger to marry their son, no matter how nice she was just as anyone non royal wouldn't let a stranger into their house on a recommendation. However, it is fantasy and fantasy doesn't reflect much on reality. The reality of this story is that Jessica started out life thinking she was an orphan until her life turns around unexpectedly.

The artwork is striking and beautiful with the usual look of big eyes and kind smiles on almost every character. I found it highly appealing and would be surprised if others didn't take to it as it is a different way to take in Harlequin romance normally reserved for those who read text based stories from Mills and Boon. Adding a Japanese manga edge to the story was a great idea. It is interesting to note the sparkling eyes and doe eyed looks on the main characters face - it brings a whole new meaning to romantic art and fiction at its best. The way the hair flows and the general detail that has been put into this manga is amazing to look at and will thrill readers who like their manga exotic and intricate.

This is an enthralling story that has rich artwork and bold characters.

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