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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding stuff!
One of my favouite books of the year by miles. Beautifully paced and utterly captivating, you are quickly drawn into the heady and intoxicating atmosphere of the 19th century Arabian desert for an adventure of epic proportions. Sara Sheridan is a magnificent storyteller - as in The Secret Mandarin, this novel weaves painstakingly researched historical detail with...
Published on 30 April 2011 by Bibliophile

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice story
A little big of escape, nice story, and they all lived happily ever after . . . . . .
Published on 2 Mar. 2013 by debs4g


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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding stuff!, 30 April 2011
This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
One of my favouite books of the year by miles. Beautifully paced and utterly captivating, you are quickly drawn into the heady and intoxicating atmosphere of the 19th century Arabian desert for an adventure of epic proportions. Sara Sheridan is a magnificent storyteller - as in The Secret Mandarin, this novel weaves painstakingly researched historical detail with sympathetic characterisation and an uncanny ability to bring far-off places and times to life on the page. I was totally engrossed in Wellsted and Zena's story, and particularly liked the feisty Farida, with her quick wit and penchant for incognito excursions into the the Muscat souks. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this book snapped up for a movie or TV screenplay - it's certainly got the perfect ingredients for it.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb storytelling and adventure, 8 Mar. 2011
By 
Kathryn Eastman "Nut Press" (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
It is 1833. William Wilberforce has brought about the abolition of slavery within the British Empire, but elsewhere others are less fortunate. Zena, a beautiful and headstrong young Abyssinian girl, is captured by slave traders and brought from her home village to Muscat, where she becomes the property of Lieutenant James Wellstead, an ambitious British naval officer, who is there surveying the Arabian Peninsula. When he embarks on a mission to rescue two fellow officers, Zena is in the party which travels with him into the desert. It is a journey that will change both their lives.

Hearing that three letters, written by James Wellstead and held in the John Murray archive at the National Library of Scotland, inspired Sara Sheridan to write Secret of the Sands, piqued my interest in this book. I wanted to see how the author handled a novel which was centred around a real person and what she knew about him from his letters and journals but which was also a fictional imagining.

After reading a few pages, it became clear that James Wellstead was in extremely capable hands. Sara Sheridan is a consummate storyteller, moving from Abyssinia to London to Bombay to Muscat and into the desert or along the Arabian coast with ease. She conjures each place with its accompanying sights, sounds and smells, so that you feel as if you are right there, and then peoples it with a diverse range of characters. I admired the central characters of Wellstead and Zena, who may come from totally different backgrounds but who both find the strength to adapt to their environment and devise ways of coping with whatever trials and hardships they have to face. I practically cheered every attempt of Wellstead's to understand and learn about the country, its people and customs, which was in stark contrast to the attitude shown by his fellow British officers. I smiled and urged Zena on in her subtle shows of defiance. I also grew fond of the captive Doctor Jessop, as well as the Arabian Mr Fix-It, Mickey and his wife, Farida.

Secret of the Sands is wonderful storytelling and was such a captivating read that I felt as if someone were sitting beside me, whispering the story to me, while watching it unfold in front of us.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 5 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
Neither history nor romance are my normal choice but this historical romance novel based on slavery and the British Empire has the right balance of history and tugging of heart strings. I just had to keep turning the pages and am now so hooked that I'm looking forward to reading The Secret Mandarin and learning all about Tea and China too....
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 16 May 2011
This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
In the historical note at the back of the book, Sara Sheridan explains that Secret of the Sands belongs to the 'faction' genre. The author read the real life accounts of naval officer, especially those of Lieutenant Wellstead and then has created the story around them. In some ways I wish I had known this at the beginning as I think it would have made the book even more interesting knowing that the characters actually existed.
However, Secret of the Sands is excellent, it is quite different from what I normally read but I really enjoyed it. Sara Sheridan has written a believable and entertaining story and packed it with rich details. I loved the descriptions of the people, the food, the landscapes, the dialogue, the religion, even the smells. There is a lot to take in during the book but I felt as though I had been given a breathtaking tour of the Arabian Peninsula.
I don't want to tell you too much more about the story, the blurb says it all and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. What I will say though is that the characters in the book are extremely well created, there are a lot of characters both British and Arabic and the differences and similarities that Sara Sheridan highlights are fascinating.
Zena was probably my favourite character. She is stolen from her village by slavers but shows tremendous resolve and bravery at the fate that has befallen her. When she comes under the care of Lieutenant Wellstead she can see that he is a kind man but she had no idea of the kind of feelings he would stir in her. Zena realises that she will do anything for Wellstead and this loyalty is greatly tested on several occasions.
Secret of the Sands is a romantic adventure, the story jumps from Britain, to Muscat to the wilds of the Arabian desert. I have found myself thinking of this book long after I finished the last page so I would highly recommend that you check it out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: 'Secret of the Sands', 25 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
If you like reading historical fiction, then `Secret of the Sands' by Sara Sheridan is a book well worth seeking out. Set in the 1800's, what makes this book some what different and attractive, is that this historical adventure and romance, is actually set in the geographical region of the Arabian Peninsula.

The historical elements within this book have been very well researched by the author. The story provides the reader with a clear and vividly descriptive picture of the Arabian Peninsula during this period in history, the work of a Royal Navy survey ship in this area, the relationships found within the ship's crew, and the brutality of slavery which had been abolished, but which was still rife within this region.

It is within this very rich context, that the story of a harsh adventure and a probable socially and professionally forbidden type of romance for that period in time, is told. As a reader you can almost imagine yourself in the desert with the main characters of this story as it unfolds. The scenes are described so well within this book, that you can actually feel the atmosphere that has been created within this fascinating tale, as well as almost smell the goods that are for sale in the oriental markets of Muscat!

`Secret of the Sands' is a very enjoyable and historically accurate book that really 'drew me in', as the story developed. I think that this book may well be a possible strong contender for a historical romance book award this year. We shall have to wait and see!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book, 14 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Kindle Edition)
This is my second book by S.Sheridan and oh my, it was a really good one! The author does her research well - when I read the book I felt as if I was there too. I have now bought all her books and cannot wait to start a new adventure!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The new Jack Aubrey is born!, 23 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Kindle Edition)
This is an excellent book. If you have read and enjoyed the Patrick O'Brien Series you will certainly appreciate this novel. The main character has tremendous potential for a whole series of these books on a topic which is as equally spellbinding as it is indicative of the time it happens in. Why you've even got the Doctor!! Come on Sarah!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and involving tale by a great story teller, 8 Jun. 2013
By 
P. R. Luck (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
An involving story that will cause anyone with half a heart to be rooting for the main characters. Sara brings to life the hardships of desert travel as a major part of the backdrop to the narrative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed, 19 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a gripping fictional story with interesting references to Arabian history and geography. I'd highly recommend!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 25 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Secret of the Sands (Paperback)
received on time in good condition
a really good story that kept me interested all the way through
having been to the area about 30 years ago i could relate to what was happening
a really good read
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Secret of the Sands
Secret of the Sands by Sara Sheridan
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