Sheikh Kahlil al-Assad: The Meanest Sheikh in all of Fictional Arabia


In The Sheikh's Wife by Jane Porter, Bryn has been divorced from Kahlil al-Assad for three years--at least that's what she thinks. In the process of moving on with her life in the United States, she has become engaged to bald, bespectacled Stanley, in order to provide financial stability for her young son Ben. But when Kahlil suddenly appears at her doorstep, he drops the bomb that the two of them aren't actually divorced.

"You never returned the last of the paperwork, and with the documents unsigned the divorce was dropped," he tells her smugly.

So begins their re-acquaintance, and it ain't pretty. Kahlil spews out one insult after another, with such precious lines as:
  • "You are not excused...you did not ask my permission to leave the table."
  • "I'm tired of debating. The fact is your place is in Tiva, at the palace, bearing my children."
  • "If you don't want a fight, don't provoke me. I didn't travel all this way to be scorned by a woman."
While he never proves to be much of a charmer, Kahlil's cold words are nothing compared to his sour disposition once he finds out that Bryn has been keeping secret the fact that she bore him a son, Ben, soon after fleeing Zwar.

Once he lures Bryn and their son back to his country, the embittered Kahlil has his soldiers separate Bryn from Ben, relegating her to the harem quarters. As she struggles to escape the lavish prison walls, Kahlil repeatedly snarls at his wife as she attempts to explain why she left him in the first place....which, incidentally, doesn't make a great deal of sense anyway.

The Sheikh's hostility doesn't take a break until the final chapter. Finally. He explains away his wretched behaviour with, "Forgive me...we al-Assads are notoriously hard on our women."

And it's hardly a feel-good ending when Bryn responds with a meek, "There's nothing to forgive."