Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen

Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen

3.6 16
by Carol Marinelli
     
 

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About to lose his kingdom, Xavian is marrying for power—his wedding night will be purely for duty. As he unveils his new queen, nervous and naked, bathed in fragrant oils, he's stunned that she's as beautiful as the desert stars….

This queen deserves a royal bedding worthy of the Arabian Nights…and in her arms Xavian discovers that,

Overview

About to lose his kingdom, Xavian is marrying for power—his wedding night will be purely for duty. As he unveils his new queen, nervous and naked, bathed in fragrant oils, he's stunned that she's as beautiful as the desert stars….

This queen deserves a royal bedding worthy of the Arabian Nights…and in her arms Xavian discovers that, though he may not have a kingdom, he has the strength and power of a thousand kings.

But this untouched queen could be his undoing….

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373236725
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
04/01/2010
Series:
Harlequin Presents Series
Edition description:
Larger Print
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

King Xavian Al'Ramiz read the letter again.

It was one of many wishing him well for his wedding day.

It was from King Zakari of Calista, extending his congratulations and saying that he was looking forward to greeting him formally next week at the official reception.

It was the third letter.

The first had offered condolences on the death of his parents and invited him to stay as a guest at the Calistan palace.

Xavian had not responded. That letter he had burnt.

Then another had arrived, to thank him for the Qusay people's gift on the birth of their son, Prince Zafir.

Still Xavian had not replied, though he had kept the letter for a few days, taking it out and reading it over and over till finally it had been tossed into a fire.

And now this.

There was nothing untoward about it, Xavian told himself as he read the letter for perhaps the hundredth time. He did not know what he sought from the words.

There were hundreds such letters, offering good wishes, yet Xavian couldn't help himself reading between the lines of this one…

His bride was waiting for him, he was already unforgivably late, yet still he pondered over the page.

It was a formal letter from King Zakari of Calista and his wife Queen Stefania of Aristo. Their union had reunited the Kingdom of Adamas. So why, Xavian pondered, had Zakari, instead of using the Adamas crest, chosen instead to write on Calistan paper? Xavian stared at the coat of arms, ran a finger over the crest, and could not fathom why it troubled him, it just did.

He had been troubled since Queen Stefania's coronation, since she had looked into his eyes and he had registered shock…

No, Xavian told himself, not shock. She had been close to fainting, and he had spoken to her till her husband had realised there was a problem and gently led her away. She had been pregnant, as it turned out, which explained everything.

Except it didn't.

Because the trouble in his soul had started before Stefania had greeted him—as King Zakari had made his way down the line. The rapid beat in his heart had started…a rapid beat that woke him at night, that was here again at this very moment.

Though he could not quite accept it as such, it was fear.

All is ready, Your Highness.' Xavian didn't turn his head as Akmal, his vizier, came into his suite. 'Your bride awaits.' He could hear the slightly uneasy note in Akmal's voice—after all, his bride, Queen Layla of Haydar, had been waiting for a while now, the proceedings were ready to commence, and yet the groom so far had not made an appearance. Akmal had come yet again to the royal chamber himself, to ensure nothing untoward had occurred, only to find the groom where he had left him last time—still standing at the French windows, still holding the letter and staring broodingly out to the ocean.

'I will be there shortly.'

'Your Highness, may I suggest…?'

'Did you hear what I said?' Only then did Xavian turn, his black eyes furious at the intrusion, shooting the aide down and reminding him who was King. Dressed in the full military uniform of Qusay—superb olive cloth, his chest decorated with medals, his legs encased in long black leather boots, a sword at his side and golden thread holding on his kafeya—Xavian cut an imposing figure. But then, Xavian always did—standing six feet two, with broad shoulders and a strong, muscular frame, he did not need medals or swords or royal gold braid to command respect.

'She can wait till I am ready.'

'Your Highness.' Akmal knew better than to argue, so instead he gave a small bow and left. Alone again, Xavian carried on gazing out to the ocean.

She would wait. Xavian knew that.

She had already waited a decade for this day. Betrothed to her since childhood, he should have married her ten years ago, but he had chosen not to—he had concentrated on enjoying his freedom instead.

Only now it was over.

Xavian walked out onto the balcony and wished that it gazed to the desert, not the ocean. To the desert, where he found rare peace, to the desert, where he would take his bride tonight.

How weary he was at that thought.

Since his parents had been killed in a plane crash, his advisors had been working overtime. His playboy ways were to end—he was King now, and kings did not live as princes. Kings married and produced heirs, and it was time for Xavian to do the same. After three months of deep mourning, the wedding that he had been putting off must now occur.

It would be a subdued affair, given the circumstances—huge celebrations deemed inappropriate so soon after the country's loss. The people would be informed tomorrow that the King had married, and he would retreat with his bride to the desert before the official reception. After another suitable period of mourning the coronation would take place, and then the people would celebrate. A double celebration, perhaps? The elders had been light on discretion: nine months from the wedding, it would be nice to have a prince on the way.

Xavian had been advised by Akmal to refrain from sexual encounters for a week prior to the wedding—to ensure his seed was plentiful and potent. It was advice Xavian had absolutely chosen to ignore.

Always it was plentiful!

This was a business arrangement and no more. Haydar was struggling under a woman's rule, and Xavian's strong, albeit occasional presence would help guide the troubled country.

Of course he would take a mistress—several, perhaps.

He had no intention of sleeping alone at night.

The unease Xavian felt now wasn't down to wedding nerves, and it wasn't pride that made him deny that he was uneasy. Long before the wedding had been announced, long before his parents had been killed, there had been a deep unrest in his soul.

Trouble he could not define.

A place within that he didn't want to visit.

Sometimes as he stood and stared at a letter, as he did now, searching for clues that surely didn't exist, he actually though he was going mad.

Sometimes at night he would wake with his heart racing. He would feel the beauty in the bed beside him, feel her coil around him, yet he would shrug her off, get up and dress himself, or send her to the mistress chambers. It was not how he wanted to be seen. His heart was racing now, his breath tight in his chest as his black eyes studied the rolling ocean. He felt nausea rising as if he were out there. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead, could feel his body rolling with the waves. The thick scars on his wrists burnt and itched, as they did at times. His eyes scanned the vast ocean, searching for what he didn't know, and then he dragged his gaze away, willed his heart to slow down, for the madness to stop. He comforted himself not with the thought of a virgin bride, but with the solace of the beckoning desert.

Yes!

He would get the wedding over with, take her to the desert, consummate the marriage and then tomorrow he could wander—tomorrow he could take guidance from the heart of the land he now ruled and ask it to bring him peace.

Happier now, he walked from the balcony and through his chamber, the letter still in his hand. He paused at a thick pillar candle and stood watching the heavy cream paper curl and the Calistan crest flare as the flames licked around it. Then he tossed it into the ancient fireplace—just as he had done with the other letters—and with that ritual over he headed to his wedding.

As he opened the door Akmal practically fell inside. Xavian paused for long enough to give his vizier a withering look, and then strode confidently through the palace, past the paintings of his ancestors, down the long corridor and out to the gardens, ready now to get on with his duty.

The elders were seated, but stood when he entered, His bride did not look round. She stood in a shimmering gold robe, her head veiled, and kept her eyes down as Xavian approached.

He was not looking forward to this!

Haydar was rigid in its ways. The women were covered and robed till they were wed. But even the generous layers of fabric could not disguise her rather rotund shape.

Joy and double joy, thought Xavian wryly. A fat, inexperienced lover to impregnate. Was there no end to his duties?

In a rare concession to modern times the Haydar elders had agreed the announcement would be accompanied by photos—this was not a time for grand feasting and celebration, but it was still much needed good news for the people of Haydar and Qusay.

The judge spoke, asking Layla if she would be a loyal wife, if she would serve her husband, provide him with children, nurture him and their offspring.

Her voice was soft when she agreed.

Again the judge asked her.

Again she said yes.

For the third time it was repeated, and Xavian watched her eyes blink, though still she did not look up at him—as was right.

'I will.'

And then it was Xavian's turn.

Would he provide for her?

It was all that was asked, and only asked once.

A King did not have to repeat himself.

'Yes.'

She glanced up, and the eyes that met his were a deep violet, then long black lashes swept down again. Xavian found himself slightly appeased—they were clear and bright and really rather pretty—perhaps he could ask her to keep them open tonight!

It was over in moments. Their eyes had met for less than a second, yet that was the image that had been captured and would be beamed around the world in the morning. Sheikh King Xavian Al'Ramiz of Qusay and now of Haydar, and his bride Sheikha Queen Layla Al'Ramiz of Haydar and now Qusay.

The long-awaited union was now official.

'We will leave for the desert in an hour…' For the first time he addressed his wife. 'I trust my staff are being helpful?'

She didn't answer. Her eyes still downcast, she gave only a brief nod.

'Is there anything you need?' He attempted conversation, at least tried to put her at ease, but all he got for his efforts was either a nod or a shake of her head. She was refusing to give him even a glimpse of those pretty violet eyes, and Xavian gave a hiss of irritation.

'I will see you in an hour.'

Clearly, Xavian thought, stamping up to his suite, the clip of his boots ringing out on the polished marble floor, it was going to be an extremely uneventful night.

'I am not spending a month there!' Xavian frowned at Akmal as his dresser helped him out of his military uniform and into desert robes in preparation for his honeymoon. 'I agreed only to a week in Haydar.'

'I understand that, Sire, but our advisors are merely responding to what they have heard from the people…' He gave a slightly uncomfortable swallow. 'The Queen was checking the press release and asked that—'

'What?' Xavian's head spun round. He had been admiring himself in the mirror, but Akmal's words demanded curt response. 'Why would you worry her with such details?'

'She asked to see it.' Akmal's lips pursed tightly, so tightly it took a moment for him to release them enough to continue speaking. 'She has also asked that you stay for a month in her land…She feels that the people of Haydar will want to see their new King in residence for a while, so they can fully grasp that you are there for them too. They need this union, Sire…'

Xavian was less than impressed. A week in the desert—that he accepted was necessary. A week: with his new bride at nights, and wandering in his desert by day. After the reception, to appease the people, he had agreed to spend a week in Haydar—where he would formally greet his new people, sign essential documents, and then, apart from necessary formal appearances and the occasional night together at her fertile times, they could get on with their own jobs.

There was unrest in Haydar, though. Xavian knew that. The meek, silent woman he had just married would hardly command respect from her aides, let alone her people. But Xavian was tough. At times there was immense pressure from his elders, from Akmal—just a complete resistance to change—but Xavian was a strong ruler, assured in his role. He never doubted, never questioned that he was right. Yes, he listened to his advisers, he pondered, sought counsel from the desert at times, but always he made his decisions—and once they were made he would not be swayed.

No one would dare try.

It must, though, Xavian decided with a smirk, be hell being Queen!

'Two weeks…' Xavian made a rare compromise, but Akmal's brow knitted into a worried frown, for he had already spoken with the Queen. 'Tell her I am prepared to stay in her country for two weeks…'

'I think that a month in Haydar would be wiser…' A soft voice filled the room, and the dresser and Akmal stood aghast as Layla walked, uninvited and unannounced, into the King's chambers!

Meet the Author

The only thing a secretarial course taught Carol Marinelli was that she didn’t want to work in an office! While she was training to be a nurse, the desire to write a romance blossomed. One day, a brilliant storyline came to her and eventually, after a few rewrites, her manuscript was accepted… and hasn’t looked back since. Carol remains quietly confident that she can somehow combine family, writing, study, and nursing. After all, how hard could it be?

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Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story line could have been amazing if the main character didn't treat his wife, the queen, like dirt most of the time. Basically she remains a virgin waiting for him as he ignores her and sleeps with countless women over the years and when they do marry, he stands her up at the alter and makes her wait for over an hour in front of everyone and doesn't apologize because he is a king. She basically falls to his demands and attitude each time, even her attempts to sound tough are treated by her advisors as a joke with no respect as they seek to limit her role. He 'loves' her after being with her less then a week in bed but refuses to fight for her once he loses his crown until the last pages. Two stars for the potential and the world built around them.
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The-Ladies-Room More than 1 year ago
Author Carol Marinelli has again charmed me as well as answering my wish for this particular story to be written with Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen. It's an absolutely magnificent love story and the first book in the Dark Hearted Desert Men series.------ If you read The Royal House of Karedes in the very last book there was a stranger at the Queen of Aristo's wedding who noticed a man with eyes so like her new husbands that she was shaken. For she new that her husband and brothers as children had been kidnapped and that the youngest Al'Farisi brother, Zakari was swept out to sea and never found. The brothers never got over their loss nor did the country of Calista.------ This incredible story is about that lost brother, now known as Xavian, the ruler of Qusay, the sheikh playboy who has been promised to Layla, the Queen of Haydar. A very strong Queen, a beautiful woman who rules alone and is a virgin. A woman not to be kept waiting, a proud woman who gives as good as she gets and who almost faints at her wedding because her future husband is so handsome and powerfully built, who oozes sensuality and takes her breath away.------ Throughout reading this story one is made aware that Xavian takes his duties seriously and puts his country first. However, he is trouble by the scars on his wrists, he has bad dreams at night, and since the wedding of the Queen of Aristo, he's troubled because they keep contacting him all of a sudden and it makes him unsettled. Now he is about to marry a woman who is queen of another country and he's expected to produce an heir and possibly assist her in ruling her country, uniting both lands.------ Queen Layla was nervous, it was her wedding day to a man she had been betrothed to since childhood. A man with a reputation of a playboy, a man who would take her on their wedding night. This sheikh, her future husband kept her waiting and she was furious. She just wants the honeymoon over and wants to get back to what makes her comfortable, ruling her country. Let's just say, you won't want to miss their time in the desert because it's just as hot as the desert sun, it's a complex, beautiful and extremely passionate love story with lots of conflict.------ However, it's a rollercoaster love story because one just knows that it's going to explode in both of their faces when the King of Qusay finds out he's been living a lie and the wrong life! When the truth is revealed, it's devastating for this couple, not just for Xavian but for Layla because she loves her husband and she's torn on what to do because she also loves her country. You're happy for him because he's found his lost family but you also cry for him because he now must step down from being the ruler of his beloved country. He feels cheated for what his so called parents did to him and the son who died, the son and heir to the Qusay throne.------ Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen was as I've said a stunning love story and how author Carol Marinelli tied The Royal House of Karedes and this new series together was incredible. A personal thanks to the author as I can't wait to read the rest of the series! ------ Carol's Dear Reader http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=21169#moreabout ---------- For a chance to win the book, go to my April contest http://romancing-the-desert---sheikh-books.blogspot.com/2010/04/april-contest-wedlocked-banished-sheikh.html