Lust in the Dust

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Lucy Mannion’s troubles begin when she awakes in a dimly lit tent somewhere in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Dahman. The petite English secretary quickly realizes that she’s been drugged and kidnapped by Sheikh Hakim Bin Taimur Al Fulani, a man “so outrageously exotic and arrogantly masculine that his presence seemed to fill the tent and overpower her.”

This sizzling scene is taken from Stolen by the Sheik, one of a subset of romance novels in which Western women find love after being importuned by sexy Arab potentates. While publishers insist that the appeal of sheikh-themed romances (such as Harlequin’s The Sheik Who Loved Me, Expecting the Sheik’s Baby, and Hide-and-Sheikh) has no connection to our current entanglement in the Middle East, the popularity of the genre seems to be growing. For Erika Wittlieb, a Canadian fan who reads all 15 to 30 that are published each year, tales of seduction by oil-drenched oligarchs offer “a pleasant escape for a few hours with a guaranteed happy ending.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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