I was excited about the premise of this book. As the story began, I was intrigued by Leila's background. I would have welcomed a deeper understanding of how she lost her Christian name and found herself sold into slavery. I would have liked to have seen that element play out. I enjoyed the initial connection between Leila and Suri and thought she'd play a further role in the book. The supporting characters of Aster and Dariya and their interactions with Leila made conflicting and sometimes comical moments - some of the best parts of the book. I didn't like Prince Emre. The idea that he saved Leila by owning her seemed a nice gesture in the beginning. However, the relationship between the two of them felt cold, and while the description mentions slow-burn, I didn't feel it. Their encounters included many long, detailed conversations about history. Those conversations and all their information distanced me from the story. Most of all; Emre's claim that he must follow tradition - the reason he couldn't abandon the harem or give his love to Leila only - was debunked, for me, the moment he offered Leila the opportunity to be unlike the other girls.
THE MERCHANT'S PEARL was a well-edited, informative book that I couldn't fall in love with as a romance.