Sheik Romance and the Passion of Arabian Nights

by Keira G on May 12, 2011 · 3 comments

in Arabia/Middle East, Defining the Genre, Kings, Princes, Sheiks, Chiefs, Sheik/Desert

genre

There are many fictional desert kingdoms in Sheik romance. In these desert romances the handsome and enigmatic sheik or prince finds love with the white woman for her sass and zeal of life. She is usually American or English. Powerful and very masculine he domineers her despite her Western background.

Did you know the term bodice-ripper comes from Sheik romance?

The very first Sheik romance/s contained a rape scene. In an article published in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune, staff writer Patrick T. Reardon, writes, “this pattern of kidnap-rape-love, rooted in a pre-1980s cultural belief that unmarried women shouldn't go looking for sex, involved ‘forcing pleasure on women.’ For their own good, apparently.” Of course in these rape fantasies the heroine never truly suffers or afterwards is traumatized. The experience is a passionate one on both ends and eventually ends in love.

Interesting Fact: The Biblical Dinah was raped – or not – and when Shechem asked for her hand in marriage, he was told only if he and all his compatriots were circumcised. While they were recovering, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, killed them all. To take a woman, then ask for her hand, was one way to ensure you could marry her, especially if the two of you were interested in each other, and the match might not otherwise be received. (Gen: 30-34).

The Sheik:

In desert romances, the male lead is darkly exotic with dark eyes, handsome features, and tawny sun-kissed bronze skin. He’s been educated at Harvard or Oxford and has learned to tolerate or prefer Western culture, ingenuity, and technology. Almost always, he is forward thinking and Westernized to some degree.

Possible Plots:

Some themes in Sheik romance include marriages of convenience, kidnapping, and rescues, similar to Highlander romance.

The Lure Behind the Desert/Harem Fantasy:

Sheik romance like Paranormal romance has risen in the last few years. In an age where chivalrous princes are nearly nonexistent, Sheik romance offers a modern prince to romance readers. He's a little bit wild, more than a little dangerous, but very much in love with his heroine. Combine this irresistible masculine force with the exotic and (most times fantastical and fictional) lands of Africa, the Middle East, and the East and it's magic in the making.

Difference between a Sheik and a Sultan:

Abstractly, the word sultan means strength and authority. A sultan is like a king. Some basic research shows that lands under or previously held under sultan rule could be found anywhere in the East or Middle East.

Lands held by a sheikdom are usually solely Arabic. A sheik in Arabic means "elder" and refers to the elder in a tribe or lord of a tribe. Also it can be in reference to Islamic study and is a title earned upon completion of studies. But in desert romances the title is used as the official title of the Bedouin tribe leader and for nobility.

*You can also spell Sheik with an ‘h’ as in Sheikh romance or sheikhdom.

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1 Sandra May 13, 2011 at 6:01 AM

Normally a book cover wouldn’t inspire me to pick it up, but from the look of the hunk on Sheik, I probably would – straight away!

I enjoyed the revealer about where the term bodice-ripper comes from. Even I didn’t know where that originated.

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2 Keira May 13, 2011 at 6:38 AM

I know right? He’s very yummy looking. :P When I found out where bodice ripper came from I knew I had to share.

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