This is book 4 in the Black Gold series. It's been renamed and revised, and is now part of the Oil Barons series.
Jamil’s fighter jet was shot down about eleven years during the Gulf War and he’s been a POW ever since at an Iraqi oil field/prison. He’s suffered horrible torture: beatings, rapes, starvation, threats of dismemberment and castration, watching his countrymen be tortured and die, etc. This poor man has suffered through hell but his comrade and friend, Asad, was not so lucky. Leila lost her husband and was horribly disfigured during the war (she hides her face behind a hijab—a traditional Arab hair and face covering) and she blames the Kuwaitis and the Americans for killing her husband and almost killing her by dropping bombs on Baghdad where they lived. She now lives at the oil field with her deceased husband’s sister and her vicious husband, who is the lead officer and warden of the prison.
Rape is mentioned often in this book (male on male) but it’s not shown. What is shown, however, and could be construed as rape by some readers is the first time Leila and Jamil have sex. Basically, he’s tied down, she arouses and forces him, and his body betrays him to be able to perform. In my opinion, this is forced seduction—not gritty or violent like rape—and it was refreshing to see a woman in charge of the situation instead of a man initiating unwelcome contact with a woman. Anyway, emotions are involved and they quickly fall for one another even though he’s planning to escape.
This book showed the horrors of war, no matter what side you’re on, and that no one really wins. Jamil’s pain, humiliation and suffering wasn’t breezed over and Leila, who was full of hatred, found redemption in Jamil’s arms and in the freedom they soon found together.
We meet Brian in this book, his story is fifth in the series (which I unfortunately do not have and is out-of-print), and he’s an American Air Force pilot and a fellow eleven-year long POW. He was a great side character but I wish we got to learn more about him and his wife Diane.
Bear, Shana, Jake and Kate return in this book and it’s always great to revisit past couples to see how their lives have turned out.
The book was repetitive. I grew sick of hearing how beautiful Leila was before the bombing that nearly killed her and scarred up one side of her face, shoulder and upper chest. She seemed a little vain and, on the flip side, overly self-conscious of her scars. I liked her at the beginning of the book but I grew tired of her complaints by midway through. I just couldn’t connect with her or understand her pain as well as I could with Jamil.
The grammar issues in this book seemed more abundant than in books 1 and 2—commas not in the right spot, missing commas and periods which created run-on and/or fragment sentences, repetition, and excess POV shifts without scene or chapter breaks. I had to re-read various paragraphs to figure out what happened and who was talking because of the POV shifts. This is a big peep-peeve of mine.
I really enjoyed books 1 and 2, Love Slave and Forever Enslaved, respectively, and I had high hopes for this one, but I was disappointed with it. The repetition and POV shifts caused me to lose interest even though Jamil was the perfect tortured hero with a soft side and the book was darker and grittier than the other books, which I really liked.
Disclaimer – I bought this book for my own enjoyment. I am a reader. I am not paid or compensated in any way, shape or form for this honest review. I will not change or alter this review for any reason unless at my discretion.