His Queen by Desert Decree

By: Lynne Graham

Wife—by royal declaration!

Language teacher Molly Carlisle is furious when she is kidnapped by an impulsive young sheikh and taken to the kingdom of Djalia. Until she meets her abductor’s brother, and his commanding charisma sends a shock wave of need through her...

King Azrael fights hard to resist the temptation of Molly’s bountiful curves, especially when a sandstorm strands them overnight in the desert. To protect her reputation from scandal, Azrael declares them secretly married, only to discover his tactical announcement is legally binding—Molly is now his queen! And Azrael is determined to claim his wedding night...

‘To recap: you’re telling me,’ Azrael breathed tautly, ‘that even today in Djalia a man can marry a woman simply by declaring that she is his wife?’

‘In front of witnesses. The marriage contract is verbal and complete as long as there are witnesses—’

‘But what about the bride’s consent?’ Azrael demanded. ‘In such a situation the woman has not given her consent.’

‘In law she does not have to give consent for the union       to be binding and legal,’ the professor assured him. ‘You must appreciate that such arrangements were common hundreds of years ago, when women were viewed as property. By ancient law you are now a married man and the young lady is your legal wife. May I wish you both every happiness, Your Majesty…’

Azrael’s usual cool was fracturing fast. He was married—legally married—and there was nothing he could do about it. Because even if he was desperate enough to admit that he had lied in the first place the public declaration of marriage he had made would still stand.

He breathed in deep and slow, striving for calm. ‘That was…enlightening,’ he conceded quietly, for want of any better word. ‘I must discuss the situation with…with my wife.’

His wife. It changed everything. His wife.


KING AZRAEL AL-SHARIF OF DJALIA studied the British newspaper headline with scorchingly angry dark golden eyes, his wide sensual mouth set in a harsh line. Long, luxuriant black hair fanned round his set bronzed features as he sprang upright.

‘I do not think you should concern yourself with such trivia, Your Majesty,’ his right-hand man, Butrus, assured him. ‘What does it matter to us what other countries think? We know the truth. We are not backward. It is merely that Djalia’s infrastructure was neglected while the dictator was in power.’

What infrastructure? Azrael almost asked, because his tiny oil-rich country was suffering from a sustained half-century of neglect. Hashem had been a cruel potentate of legendary excess, as fond of torture and killing as he had been of spending. A newly enthroned monarch, painfully aware of the trusting expectations of a people who had suffered greatly under Hashem’s rule, Azrael sometimes felt weighed down by the amount of responsibility that he carried. But he was downright enraged when other countries laughed at Djalia through the offices of their media.

The newspaper showed a cart and oxen travelling down the main road of Jovan, their single city, and asked if Djalia was the most backward country in Arabia. Azrael was willing to admit that anyone looking for skyscrapers or shopping malls or fancy hotels would be disappointed because, except for a showpiece airport and an imposing motorway to the former dictator’s palace, there was nothing contemporary anywhere else in the country. But given time, Djalia would move out of the Dark Ages and into the twenty-first century.

Mercifully Djalia had the wealth to power that transformation and Djalian citizens from all over the globe, medical staff, engineers and teachers, were already flooding back home to help in that Herculean task. Azrael, whose besetting sin was a serious nature that lent him a forbidding aspect beyond his thirty years of age, thought with relief about all those people coming home to help rebuild the country that he loved more than his own life. People like him who believed in religious tolerance and female equality and who desired to live in a modern, enlightened society where all had access to education and healthcare.

‘You are right, Butrus. I will not concern myself with such nonsense,’ Azrael acknowledged briskly. ‘We must have faith in the future.’

Relieved to have lifted his monarch’s mood, Butrus departed, having decided not to mention another possible problem. According to the staff at the newly opened embassy in London, Tahir, the King’s younger half-brother, was infatuated with a sexy redhead. Another piece of trivia, Butrus decided loftily, for boys chased girls and that was life, although for Tahir, who had grown up in the much more restricted society of the neighbouring country of Quarein, it was undoubtedly a novelty to even be allowed to speak to an unmarried woman.