Title: As You Desire
Author: Connie Brockway
Published: 1997, Dell
Category: Historical Romance
I have been looking forward to this book for a while. It seems to be on a lot of people's favorites list. Brockway is a recent find for me, and this one's set in Egypt. Yay!
Desdemona Carlisle is a young woman living in Egypt with her grandfather. Since she was a very small child, she has been incredibly gifted with languages--so now she can translate a dozen languages, but she's never had a normal social life. She's also in love with Harry Braxton, the handsome, swaggering Englishman who has made a career of dealing in ancient antiquities. Desdemona threw herself at Harry a few years previously, but Harry rejected her (he thinks he's not worthy--he has a BIG SECRET). Now Harry's cousin, Blake Ravenscroft [wasn't there a Blake Ravenscroft in a Julia Quinn book?] has come to stay and he's tall, dark, and handsome. Desdemona's romantic sensibilities are awoken and she tries to convince herself that she could love Blake.
I really enjoyed this, but it didn't quite make "keeper" status for me. I think part of the problem is the conditions I read it under--in the twenty-minute lulls during my jury duty. Trapped for hours in a dank room with 22 strangers is not really conducive to reading, ya know? What with Smoker's Cough on my right and Chatty Cellphone on my left, it's not really surprising that I couldn't quite get into it.
I always enjoy Brockway's sense of humor. In this book, she pokes fun at melodramatic romance a bit. An example is the very first scene in which Desdemona is kidnapped by Arabs, but when Harry comes to "rescue" her, it turns out that they're paying him to get her out of their hair because she's been such a bother. Desdemona is at heart a very practical person, but at the same time she sort of yearns for drama. A lot of the book is really about her realizing that the ideas she has about men (Blake and Harry) are just romantic illusions that she's created in her own head. So much of the book is light and funny that when I came to the serious bits, I found it hard to take them seriously.
That said, it was really romantic. I loved when Harry's trying to outdo Blake's trite compliments to Desdemona. Harry comes up with something much better: "You are my country, Desdemona. . . My Egypt. My hot, harrowing desert and my cool, verdant Nile, infinitely lovely and unfathomable and sustaining." Um, yeah, that's a little better than being called an English rose. :)