Desert dreamings and sheikh-lit

Publication year

What led me to purchase (in the name of research, I emphasise) three-in-one ‘great value’ Mills & Boon collections such as Red-Hot Desert Docs (more sheikhs but also medics) is my desire to unpack the architecture of steamy romances. More specifically, I wanted to dissect how Western writers romanticise Arab men, particularly those who are affluent, and would make great Westerners if only they would drop the religious baggage and stop speaking in their language. These are men who are perfect for Westerners who like a bit of spice in their meal, but not all the time. It explains so well why our protagonists are always wealthy Arab men who must enter into sexual relationships with empowered Western women for one reason or another. Their very salvation and Westernisation depends on it. (115)

Here's another excerpt, from the penultimate paragraph:

drill down to the subgenre, the cultural pilfering if you will. Not only are the women being centred sexually, they are being taught by swarthy males who ultimately turn to mush, transformed by this liberated (even when she’s submissive) woman’s love. It’s not the woman being saved—it’s the man. From his culture. From his meanness that results from the demands of being a filthy-rich Arab prince. (118)