Bound to Love: Captivity in Harlequin Sheikh Novels

Publication year

From the Introduction to this volume (6):

While Emily A. Haddad is examining the trope of captivity specifically in Harlequin "sheikh novels,” she brings to bear many earlier analyses of captivity in romance. [...] However, in addition to shedding light on the function of captivity in romance narratives, Haddad’s chapter is also a striking example of what Chen calls the impossibility of “divorc[ing]” romance from “the cultural and political” (Chen 39). Haddad asks this key question: If Harlequins can make heterosexual women feel better about their relations with men, could they not also make white, western women (Harlequin’s primary readership) feel better about inter-cultural or inter-ethnic relations? (53-54) To answer this question, Haddad analyzes changes in the way the captivity trope is enacted in novels published since the beginning of the United States-Iraq war in March 2003. The result is a fascinating glimpse at how fantasy can collide with and be irrevocably changed by reality; it is also an unflinching look at the racial stereotypes that can so often underlie fantasies of exotic danger.