Monday 4 September 2017


Sir Arthur's Legacy #5
by Sarah Hegger
Releasing August 29th, 2017
Lyrical Press

In Releasing Henry (Sir Arthur's Legacy #5) by Sarah Hegger, Henry will do anything for Alya. She's a beacon of light at the end of a dark tunnel for him, and the one woman that could help him believe in love again. However, unless they can overcome the things that make them as different as night and day such as religion, language and culture, their chance at happy ever after will never come to fruition. Will Henry be able to show Alya that their marriage is not one of convenience, or will their differences keep them apart?

Ms. Hegger is such a brilliant author, and this fifth book of her Sir Arthur Legacy was beguiling, fast-paced and a book that I could not put down due to the riveting main characters that are total opposites; the intense dialogue that had me sympathizing with all the heroine goes through; and the secondary characters in Henry's family that are determined to do right for Alya, as Henry adjusts to his new found freedom. Will Henry realize how much he's hurting Alya before it's too late? Will he be able to make things right, so that Alya has nothing to fear from anyone? The way this story started had me empathizing with the hero's situation, as it couldn't have been easy to be a slave. Luckily though, Alya keeps him grounded and focused on the off chance he'll ever be set free.

As for the dialogue, it was compelling and I loved every moment the hero and heroine conversed, even though I felt for the heroine at times because Henry finds it hard to share the things he's been through during the war and as a slave. Moreover, the heroine is resilient, courageous and I liked how she handled everything thrown her way. How could people be so cruel just because they think she's different? I also liked how kind and caring the heroine was, which is proven by her willingness to show mercy to those that didn't deserve it. However, what I liked most about the heroine is her determination to make the most of her new life, especially once she discovers the fate of her father. Will she leave Henry because of the way he makes her feel like she doesn't belong?

While the hero, he's been through so much and I felt sorry for him because he finds it hard to adjust to his new found freedom. Yet, in saying that, he's strong, brave and I liked what he was willing to do for Alya when it came to the way she was treated by the townspeople. Were the decisions the family made too harsh or a way to prove to Alya that Henry would do whatever it takes to protect her? I also liked the growing friendship between Henry and one of the secondary characters; a secondary character he had every reason to loathe during his time as a slave.  

Overall, Ms. Hegger has delivered a wonderfully-written read in this book where the chemistry between this couple was intense; the romance nicely-detailed and special due to the way Henry makes Alya feel when they're together; and the ending had me concerned whether Henry would be able to make things right with Alya, especially after what happens to some of the secondary characters and because of what the hero did to the heroine that makes her believe he's ashamed of her and their marriage. However, in saying that, I liked what Henry did to win back the heroine. His words to her were special and prove how much he loves her. I would recommend Releasing Henry by Sarah Hegger, if you enjoy Historical Romance, the marriage of convenience trope, the opposites attract trope, or books by authors Kathryn Le Veque, Eliza Knight, Susan Tisdale and Heather Graham.

A light in the darkness . . .

The youngest son of Anglesea, the once idealistic Henry has survived the Holy Pilgrimage, but lost all his deeply held beliefs in honor and nobility. Captured in battle, he is sold as a slave into the home of Alif Al-Rasheed, a wealthy Genovese merchant who has converted to Islam. Bereft of faith, imprisoned in a foreign land, Henry has lost hope in his ability to love again—until he lays eyes on his captor’s beguiling daughter.

A marriage of opposites . . .

To Henry, Alya is a beacon of beauty he cannot ignore. But the heart of this proud daughter of Cairo will not be won so easily. Divided by religion, language, and culture, Ayla has little in common with the disillusioned Englishman—and yet he has vowed to protect her life in exchange for his freedom. As they embark on a perilous journey to safety, their bond will grow—and be tested—in ways neither can anticipate. For their greatest challenges will arise where Henry least expects. With threats conspiring to divide them, will he find the strength to stand by Ayla—and together will they find a common ground on which to build a future?

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A mix of dust, goat, and spices of a hundred evening cook fires infused the air. Cumin, coriander, and cinnamon twined together and made English’s mouth water. Sunset splashed the sky above Cairo in burnt orange, growing brighter closer to the fiery ball sinking behind the soaring minaret. He tried to remember the name of that mosque, but his head didn’t work like it used to.

After herding a small flock of goats into their pens for the night, he ended his working day with the soft click of the latch.

From the city beyond the walls came the wail of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. “Allah is great; Allah is great.”

The inner courtyard emptied as people sought their prayer mats. “I bear witness that there is no divinity but Allah.”

English bore witness to no divinity, and he did not pray. At one time, in another land and to another god, he might have.

Drawn to the heat the stones gathered during the day, he pressed his aching back to the wall and waited.

Like him, she did not pray. The girl on the wall. He knew her name   as Alya, had heard it called often enough, but to him she remained the girl on the wall.

Curtains fluttered at the open doorway on the roof balcony. Here     she came. For certain, she remained unaware of him concealed in the deepening shadows and watching. To be caught with his eyes on her now would mean Bahir and his whip. Still he waited, would not move from this spot until he saw her.

There. A slim figure shrouded by her hijab.

The girl on the wall stopped at the parapet and faced the street. She pushed aside the niqab, which concealed all but her eyes. Then, she lifted her hijab and shook her hair free. It spilled down her back as she raised her face in a silent blessing to the day that passed. Dying sunlight rushed to pay tribute to her loveliness. Her hair dark and lustrous as the wood of the wild cherry that grew in a thicket he had once walked, her skin like crushed almonds.

Not that he could see from this distance, but her eyes above her niqab were lighter than he would have expected. A mix of green and brown that he had only glimpsed in passing before she hastily lowered her head. He wouldn’t call her beautiful in the way of other women now hazy in his mind. Her chin held too firm a jut, her nose slightly hawk-like. The strong slash of her cheekbones bore testament to her mixed blood. She had a strong face, fascinating, and in her private moment on the rooftop her elemental fire drew him like a starving man to a feast. Her very essence called to that barely living part of him that remembered life in abundance. In her evening ritual, she discarded the modesty she showed during the day. She believed the rest of the household to be at prayer and in these forbidden moments before she would be called in, or admonished by the older woman who always accompanied her, English became a man again.

* * * *

“Come in, Alya.” Nasira beckoned from beyond the curtains. The old woman knew Alya well enough to end her prayers early and drag her back inside before anyone else saw her. Creases on Nasira’s craggy features meant another lecture on the way.

As Alya reached the point on the rooftop garden where her hoarse whisper could be heard Nasira started. “You show your face like a street woman.” Nasira shook her head. “What will people think when they   see you like so?”

“Nobody sees me.” Alya pushed the gauzy curtains aside. A stiffening evening breeze sent them dancing around her. “I only do it when nobody else is about.”

“Somebody is always about.” Grabbing a brush, Nasira motioned for Alya to sit. “Especially now.”
“Why especially now?” Nasira’s tone gave Alya pause. She tried to turn and look at her.

Nasira rapped her on the head with her brush. “Stay still. Your father has called for you to attend him after prayers.”

“He did?” They always ate the evening meal together.

Huge frown creasing her brows, Nasira nodded. “There has been trouble, habibti. In the suq today.”

Trouble in the suq hardly deserved the look of doom Nasira’s face. Trouble blew perpetually through the suq. One merchant squabbled with another, buyers quibbled over prices, and the constant thieves threaded through the place like snakes, always looking for the chance to strike. “What happened?”

“I will let your father tell you, but it is bad. Bad.” Nasira lowered her head in obeisance. “Enna lillah wa enna elaihe Rajioun.”

“Did someone die?” Alya swung about on the stool, wincing as Nasira’s hold on her hair tugged at the roots

“You ask too many questions.” Nasira grabbed her shoulders and turned her about again. “Your father will tell you all you need to know.”

Her nurse should know better than to think she would leave it there. “But someone did die?”

“Come.” Nasira bustled to her clothing and grabbed a fresh tunic. “I sent the boy for water, you must wash and attend your father.”

A new tunic meant the news her father bore was weighty. She washed and dressed quickly, flinging her veil over her shoulder as she trotted out of her chamber and down the stairs to the small, inner courtyard shaded on one end, where her father and she shared their evening meals. The table lay set for their meal but her father sat beside a small pond, staring into the water.

His skin was so darkened by the sun, a stranger could never tell he had not been born in this land, but had come from somewhere beyond the sea. “Alya.” Holding his hands out, he smiled and drew her forward for a
kiss on both cheeks. “Nasira tells me you have been on the roof again.”

“The sunset was particularly beautiful today.” She could always getaround him with a bit of teasing. He smelled as he always did of silk and spices, and fruit tobacco from his hookah.

Tonight, he turned from her and went back to his study of the pool. “You need to be careful, Alya.”

“What happened in the suq?” Father dressed, ate, spoke, acted and even prayed as a son of this land, but he had raised her differently. Nasira warned his indulgence of her would come to no good, but Alya had always been encouraged to speak openly with her father.

“A merchant was killed.” Father trailed his fingers through the water. Flashes of light glimmered beneath the surface as fish darted away from him. “A foreign merchant. He was murdered.”
“Why?” Alya sank to the low stone lip of the pond. Her father acted not as himself this evening. Dread prickled across her skin and sunk deep into her belly. “What are you not telling me?”
“The tension between the local merchants and the foreigners grows worse.” With a sigh, he sat beside her and rubbed the back of his neck. “And the Sultan does nothing to aid the foreigners. What, with the same battle taking place in his palace, his hands are tied.”
“But why?”
“You know why?” Father looked up at her. She had her eyes from him, a mix of green and brown that marked them clearly as not from here.
Alya nodded, she did know why. “The army of unbelievers.”
Even now, years after the Nile had risen and forced the invaders to flee, the distrust lingered.
“You must be more careful than ever.” Father captured her hand and squeezed. “Eyes are everywhere and looking for a way to discredit us.”
When dripped with venom from the wrong tongue, her simple act of freedom on the walls at sunset could take on the worst of connotations. She nodded. “I will be more careful.”
“Let us enjoy our dinner.” Father smiled but the worry lingered. “And then I must see Bahir.”

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble. Mimicking her globetrotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother. She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

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  1. Thank you for hosting, and for such a wonderful review.

  2. This sounds great. I love Sarah Hegger's books, but haven't had a chance to read this yet.