As a missionary’s daughter, Sarai was taught that love and faith conquer all. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world doesn’t stop for love or, more importantly, for one person.
As a teen, Sarai—now called Leila—is enslaved, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the Ottoman Sultan Aziz. Though she does her best to elude him, she’s forced out of her shell when his son, Prince Emre, claims her for his own. Tossed into competition with the other girls in his harem, Leila must face the lavish attention of her young master and the resulting retaliation from his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s an unexpected gift and a glimpse inside his family’s struggles that collide headfirst with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart has a mind of its own.
Can she subject her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future in which the best she can hope for is to be his favorite? How will she stand sharing him with the other girls in the harem? As the sultan’s fragile kingdom unravels around them, will it even matter?
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Looking back, I’ve always believed that story matters. Pouring over Jane Austen novels and living through the lens of an overconfident, beautiful, and desperate-to-be-corrected heroine was exactly the distraction that carried me through years of teenage captivity. My one and only sibling, a reckless brother, had rocked the parental boat so thoroughly it left me distrusted, vehicle-less, and with a ten o’clock curfew (even in college) right up until I met my own Mr. Darcy.