After the utter grossness of My Dark Prince, I needed a proper romance to rinse my brain out. I picked up The Cobra and The Concubine at Half Price Books one day and it’s atypical cover (plus the title, let’s be honest) attracted me. Just a dude on a horse. No embrace. No lady in sight. No rippling pecs or glossy wind-blown hair. These things can either end up being really different and interesting or total failures…entertaining, in any case.
The Cobra and the Concubine gets off to a good start – the Cobra is the adopted son of an Egyptian sheik (and also a British lord, but I don’t think he knows that yet) and the Concubine is a former horrifically abused sex slave that he’s sworn to protect. He’s also MEGA hot for her (of course) and just got permission from the sheik to pursue her (5 years after they rescued her from the evil guy). BUT he doesn’t know she’s been horrifically abused and he’s all gung-ho to make babies but she’s convinced sex is terrible and he’ll end up killing her. Sad. So it’s a different plot than normal in some ways, but intriguing. At least we’re back firmly in ROMANCE territory.
But then – big developments! The Cobra found out he’s really an English duke and his family came to collect him to take him home and he didn’t want to leave the Concubine so he asked her to marry him. But she said no. So he was like, eff everybody I’m going to England! And now he’s there and he’s all moody and out of place and hates to sit in chairs or get measured for clothes or eat French food. Poor baby. MEANWHILE, the Concubine has discovered that her daughter IS ALIVE (she had a baby by the evil guy when she was, like, 14 but they told her it died…turns out he sold it to a concubine training house, the same one where the Concubine was abused before she was abused by the evil guy) and goes to see her/try to get her out. The trainer guy says no way, unless you come be my slave in her place, and she’s like no way. BUT THEN he says, take this necklace that was discovered on an archaeology dig and then stolen to England (there are two other Egyptian dudes with English wives…and two other romances by this author, so I assume their stories are explained elsewhere…anyway they’re off to England for a visit) and sell them to this guy and bring me back the money and I’ll let you have your daughter. And she agrees to that. BUT it turns out the necklace is from a dig belonging to the Cobra and when he hears it’s stolen he’s pissed but also excited because it gives him an excuse to have an adventure. Then he finds out the Concubine is coming to England and he’s totally moody about that.
So she’s in England, he’s in England, he loves her but feels betrayed and treats her like a jerk but also does sweet things sometimes, she is still scared of him but likes kissing him but can’t follow her heart because of her daughter, etc, etc. There’s also this other guy, who was also abused by the evil guy who abused her (well, not BY him, but by a guest of his…whatever), and they know each other’s secrets so they’re friends, which TOTALLY threatens the Cobra so he hates the friend guy and someone tried to kill the Cobra and he assumes it’s the friend guy, but I say it’s probably someone framing the friend guy. The Cobra also found the stolen necklace in the friend guy’s suitcase, so you can imagine he’s not his favorite. BUT (and I only know this because I couldn’t help reading the first paragraph of the next chapter) it appears that the friend guy bought or stole the necklace from the guy that the Concubine sold it to and he’s about to confront her about WTF she’s up to. OH BOY.
Well. She wanted to return the necklace to him, nbd, but didn’t want to just HAND it to him like, oh hey I found this is it yours?, so she tried to hide it in his library. But of COURSE she finds his copy of the Kama Sutra and gets all embarrassed and then he comes back (he had left the room) so she hides in by PUTTING IT UNDER HER SKIRT AND CLENCHING IT BETWEEN HER THIGHS. Oh yeah. Of course it falls and he’s all, oh I see…and then they make out and ALMOST do it but she has a flashback to being raped and FLIPS OUT at him. Later it occurs to him to wonder about her past (gee, really?) and it’s also revealed that he can’t read or write in English. Now she’s back in Egypt and he’s there too, checking up on an archaeological dig of his and also wants to go see his former tribal family. He was a TOTAL DOUCHE to them when he found out he was an English heir and was going back to England so they are, understandably, not super excited to see him. His former foster brother (the sheik) pulls a knife and then the chapter ends. OH NOES. He also has an older brother who is presumed to have been murdered by the evil Arabs who killed his parents, but I have a sneaking suspicion this guy will show up.
So… Hm. The Concubine breaks into a tomb to steal a necklace, but the Cobra catches her and she’s like, I know you’re mad but I have to go to this brothel and if you want to punish me, you’ll come and buy me. WHAT. She goes to the brothel, trades herself for her daughter, and then gets auctioned off for one month to, guess who, the Cobra. So I’m thinking, well that’s easy, just take her somewhere and don’t ever look back, why do we still have 120 pages of this? BUT she can’t leave the brothel, so he basically moves in there with her. She finally comes clean about her daughter, her abusive past, her fears, etc, so he decides to help her get over her fears by TYING HER UP and doing sexy things to her, which, I’m sorry, but it is just creepy and gross to be screwing a woman that you claim to love but you now OWN…in a BROTHEL. Ugh. So after a few attempts on his life, the Cobra and his buddies stage a dramatic rescue and immediately after she’s free she’s like, I WANT TO HAVE SEX AS A FREE WOMAN!!!! He’s got a bleeding chest wound but he’s like, totally! let’s go! And then it turns out it’s his trusted secretary who’s been betraying him and there’s a ridiculous scene where the Cobra and the Concubine are tied up together and there’s a candle! Hovering! Over the fuse to a stick of dynamite! And then the fuse lights! And then his buddies show up just in time to cut the thing and save the day. ALSO the friend guy, remember?, is his MISSING BROTHER. Which I called. AND he knew he was the missing brother for a LONG TIME before speaking up. Which is weird. Anyway, whatever. It was absolutely a ridiculous ending and I was half asleep reading it so there’s probably even more that I’m forgetting.
So, I mean, you know. It wasn’t a bad story. It sort of veered into the silly and ridiculous at times, but that can be a lot of fun. It was different. I was entertained! So, there’s that.