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The opinionated, only daughter of a missionary, is enslaved and gifted to an Ottoman prince who has an inner vow to win her affection.
Sarai was led to believe that the whole world could exchange their beliefs for hers. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world never stops for just one person. The world takes, forgets, and swiftly moves on.
By 1875, she isn’t even Sarai anymore. She had spent her teenage years repackaged as Leila, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the overly indulgent, Ottoman Sultan, Abdul’Aziz. Leila does her best to stay out of the eye of ‘Aziz as well as his son, Prince Emre. But when young and thoughtful Emre claims Leila for his own harem, she is forced out of her shell and thrown into a ring of competitive women. Here, she cannot hide from the attention her young master wishes to lavish upon her. Nor can she can avoid the ruthless retaliations of his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s the unexpected gift of sexual sanctuary and an inside look into his family’s struggles that really collides with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart becoming increasingly tied to him.
But can she submit her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future where to be loved means settling for the fact that she can only ever be his favorite? Will she be able to take turns sharing him among the four beautiful girls he had received before her, one being a jealous rival and another a closest friend? And what will happen to their love if Emre’s father can’t hold together his fragile kingdom, an empire that has grave threats encroaching from every side…including within?
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an objective review by Readers Favorite.
The Merchant’s Pearl tells the story of Sarai, a young opinionated daughter of missionaries. She thought the world was her oyster, at her disposal to bend and shape at will. But tragic circumstances convene to change Sarai’s destiny as world changer to gift for a spoiled Ottoman prince. This is where Amie O’Brien’s tale really takes off and this historical romance really gets going. Sarai is no longer the girl she had been raised to be, she was now Leila, a concubine who was thrust into the world of backstabbing, seduction and pseudo-friendships. In the midst of this kind of life, is it possible that Leila could actually be happy in a life where the most she could hope for was favoritism rather than love or genuine affection?
I was wary of this book at first which was why I chose to review it, knowing it would either be a spectacular success or failure. I’m happy to say Amie O’Brien’s tale was an astonishingly surprising success. The Merchant’s Pearl is more than your basic historical romance. It is a multi-layered story of history and customs, western ideals versus eastern pragmatism, love and seduction, friends and enemies. The story is beautifully told, detail oriented so you’re transported back to the late nineteenth century beside Leila. There wasn’t one moment that I felt taken out of the story because I was so eager to read it all, find out how it all ended.
This isn’t just some lightweight romance either, O’Brien gives the reader the downside of life as a commodity and it is jarring and disturbing, but oh so real. A fantastic read from a new to me author, but I certainly look forward to her next work.