Being Sold for a Bride Price May Not Be as Bad as it Sounds!

In An Arabian Courtship by Lynne Graham, Polly Barrington has heard her father, Ernest, tell the story a hundred times: thirty years ago while exploring the wilds of Dharein, he saved the life of King Reija by pouncing on him when bullets began to fly from a warring tribe. In a grand gesture of gratitude to brave Ernest, the king vowed that his firstborn son would marry Ernest's firstborn daughter.

At first Ernest was taken aback by the great honor, but as the years passed, he was like, OK...whatever, and he forgot all about the silly promise. King Reija apparently forgot about it too, because his son, Raschid, ended up marrying a somewhat unstable gal named Berah.

Fast forward to the present. Ernest is clearly a squanderer of money, and now that the Barrington family is broke, he decides to ask King Reija for a loan. The king must have felt pretty guilty about the promise he made so long ago and decides he will honour it now. Raschid, whose wife died after flinging herself down a flight of stairs, will marry Ernest's eldest daughter: young, naive, bashful Polly. And to sweeten the white slavery arrangement, he throws in a huge cash settlement...or rather, the bride price. Ernest agrees and returns home to inform his bewildered daughter about the agreement.
"No pressure," her mother says, but applies the guilt about having family loyalty. Polly gives in and acquiesces to living her life in a remote desert kingdom with some strange guy. Thanks a lot, mom and dad!

Polly steels herself to meet the mysterious prince and is disappointed by the gruff troll who comes to her house claim her. He tells her things like, "If it is your desire to become my wife, you must learn that I do not expect my instructions to be questioned." So, like any unhappy bride, she gets drunk at her own wedding and tries her best to keep her distance from him. However, once they settle into his family's palace in Dharein, something magical happens. As soon as he discovers that Polly has not actually profited financially from marrying him (unlike her creepy parents), he pulls the stick out of his butt and finally begins to show her some kindness and good lovin'.

And when they resolve a couple of other misunderstandings that made him doubt her commitment to him, their life together takes on a traditional happy ending.

Footnote: It is kind of funny when Raschid laughingly reveals to Polly that the so-called assassination attempt on his father nearly thirty years ago never, in fact, happened. Apparently, Ernest (the idiot) misunderstood the incident, then spent the next three decades boasting about it to anyone who would listen...or who had no choice but to listen.