Bound by His Desert Diamond by Andie Brock: Annalina, a European princess, must do her duty and marry according to her father’s wishes to save her small Alpine country of Dorrada from financial ruin. Her first engagement ended in disaster when her groom to be attempted some pre-wedding festivities and found Annalina to be, in his words, ‘frigid’. Now being forced into another arranged marriage, this time with King Rashid of the recently reformed Kingdom of Nabatean, she desperately tries to find a way out of the match before the official announcement by impulsively kissing a man she believes to be a bodyguard of the king knowing the paparazzi are looking on. But to her dismay, the man whose arms she’s fallen into is none other than the King’s brother Prince Zahir, the real power behind the throne.
Prince Zahir had not envisioned an end to the engagement party being thrown for his brother turning out with him in the hot seat instead. But it was his idea for the match in the first place, knowing that the two kingdoms would do well to align with each other. Annalina may not have been meant for him, but she is his now, and he’ll do everything in his power to ensure the marriage goes off without a hitch. He can’t deny that he is attracted to this impulsive yet beautiful young woman. When the fires of passion burn between them, it’s clear that their marriage could be one of more than just convenience. But can Zahir let go of old fears long enough to let Annalina into his heart?
This story gives us two beautiful and unique settings, with the dry desert kingdom of Nabatean and the snowy mountainous locale of Dorrada. I loved this contrast not only in visual setting but also in the general feel of the kingdoms, with Nabatean being recently through a war and more strict in social order, where Dorrada has a distinctly European feel.
The contrast is equally evident in the characters of Zahir and Annalina. Zahir has learned that trust is a commodity rarely worth giving, after the tragic assassination of his parents on the night the country regained its independence. He has the weight of a country on his shoulders, as well as a brother showing signs of mental illness. He comes across as a stern man, but for good reason. The security of his family and Annalina are his primary concern and he has a hard time adjusting to the public’s adoration of his new bride.
Annalina comes from an impoverished European country, the reason for the marriage being one of financial necessity. The castle that is her home is falling apart, and unlike other European princesses she’s had to do many things for herself, especially after she lost her mother at a young age and lost her father in a sense to grief from that event, as he’s been cold and unfeeling with her ever since. She’s a strong young woman who knows her duty, but isn’t going to let Zahir walk all over her. She wants their marriage to work in every sense of the word, but Zahir is a hard man to get to know.
The start to Zahir and Annalina’s marriage is a rocky one, and it’s only with time that they find out their true feelings for each other. There are some sexy love scenes between them as they grow closer emotionally. There are some surprises in store too in the second half of the story, but eventually they find themselves on the road to a happy ending. At times I wanted to shake Zahir a little bit into being more open with Annalina, but that comes eventually. It’s an enjoyable read with interesting settings and characters. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
Princess Annalina would do anything to end her arranged engagement…including getting photographed in a compromising position with a handsome stranger!
Her mystery man is Prince Zahir Zahani—her betrothed’s brother—and the kiss that sparks unexpected need in them both traps Annalina and Zahir in a whole new kind of royal bind…till death do them part!
Having learned the cost of trusting others, Zahir tries to keep Annalina at a distance. But she challenges him at every turn, and suddenly, giving in to his darkest desires is all Zahir craves…