I have always been drawn to tales of ancient Egypt…the mystery and mysticism, the exotic people and their culture, the stark contrast between hard desert landscapes and lush oasis…it’s a period of our history I find fascinating and romantic. Sandra Heath’s Pharaoh’s Beloved is a romantic, mystical tale of forbidden love between a pharaoh who is already married, and a sacred temple priestess, who is already betrothed to the pharaoh’s cousin and challenger to the throne of Egypt.
The story was very well researched and I found that not only was it a love story, but that I learned a lot about Egyptian life and culture. Ms. Heath paid a lot of attention to detail and painted a believable portrait of Egyptian society including the internal struggles of the royalty and the role religion plays in every facet of their society.
As for the storyline itself, while there were some romantic and sexual elements, I would not classify it as “erotica,” so any potential reader should adjust their expectations in that capacity and to be quite honest, I just didn’t buy the instant “love at first sight” in this story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy tales of initial attraction, however there was never any chemistry between the two or any deeper attraction beyond the fact they both got hot and bothered when they saw each other. Some readers may be just fine with that, but I want to lose myself in the romance. The characters and the romance were not developed enough for me to drawn into the story.
Perhaps it was the awkward blend of purple prose and base erotica elements, but there were parts that left me cringing and rolling my eyes because it was so cliché, which also really interrupted the flow of the story. There were many wonderful elements I wish the author had expanded upon that could have expanded upon the relationship and the storyline. As it was, the story left me wanting more, and not really in a good way.
Temple dancer Neferet encounters Egypt’s magnetic new pharaoh, Nikare, and knows that only he can take her virginity. He awakens such sensual and unstoppable desires that she forgets she serves the Great God Amon-Re, and is also soon to marry Nikare’s menacing, ambitious cousin, Sahure. The Great God is only a golden statue, but living god Nikare tempts and allures her. Her body aches for him, her dreams are filled with erotic images of having him inside her. Her lips and tongue long to adore his divine body, and her heart and soul will always be his, no matter what.
But Nikare has a dangerous secret. He worships a heretic god. He wants to believe Neferet is his Beloved. His body yearns for her every hour of every day, and his intense desire betrays common sense. But can he trust the woman he snatched from Prince Sahure, who schemes for the throne of Egypt?
Publisher’s Note: This story was previously published elsewhere under the title Lily of the Sun and has been revised for Ellora’s Cave.