Author: Amie O'Brien
Series: The Merchant's Pearl Saga #1
Publication: July 24th 2016 by BookBaby
Genre: Historical Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
The opinionated, only daughter of a missionary, is enslaved and gifted to an Ottoman prince who has an inner vow to win her affection.
Sarai was led to believe that the whole world could exchange their beliefs for hers. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world never stops for just one person. The world takes, forgets, and swiftly moves on.
By 1875, she isn’t even Sarai anymore. She had spent her teenage years repackaged as Leila, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the overly indulgent, Ottoman Sultan, Abdul’Aziz. Leila does her best to stay out of the eye of ‘Aziz as well as his son, Prince Emre. But when young and thoughtful Emre claims Leila for his own harem, she is forced out of her shell and thrown into a ring of competitive women. Here, she cannot hide from the attention her young master wishes to lavish upon her. Nor can she can avoid the ruthless retaliations of his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s the unexpected gift of sexual sanctuary and an inside look into his family’s struggles that really collides with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart becoming increasingly tied to him.
But can she submit her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future where to be loved means settling for the fact that she can only ever be his favorite? Will she be able to take turns sharing him among the four beautiful girls he had received before her, one being a jealous rival and another a closest friend? And what will happen to their love if Emre’s father can’t hold together his fragile kingdom, an empire that has grave threats encroaching from every side…including within?
To keep it short, this story is set in the Ottoman Empire where the main character, Leila, gets chosen to be part of Prince Emre's harem. Emre turns out to be very kind and compassionate towards Leila and the end up falling madly in love.
Leila was quite a character. I totally loved her sass and how opinionated she was. However, she acted very impulsively a lot of the times which led to her being in trouble a lot. But then again it was kind of fun as well. Emre just stole my heart, it's as simple as that. Hello new book boyfriend.
I've got to admit I hadn't expected to be so captivated by Leila and Emre's relationship as much as I was. I absolutely loved reading about them falling in love. It was such a delicious slow burn. They even made my cry. And I don't cry often with books so this was surprising even to me.
The secondary characters were really great to read about as well. I loved the friendship between Leila and Dariya (one of Emre's other concubines). Dariya was just so kind to Leila. You can't help but like her. Hell, I even liked Aster even though she was quite horrible at times because she brought some drama, which I kinda liked at times.
But my favorite thing about this book probably was all the love for Jane Austen's books. They actually play a pretty important role in the growing love between Leila and Emre. I just loved it!
Overall, The Merchant's Pearl by Amie O'Brien was beautifully written, detailed and just exquisite. This is certainly a book that will stay with me for a very long time and I can't wait for the next one. I already know this author is going to be one of my favorites, just like Leila and Emre ended up being one of my favorite fictional couples.