There are some details that almost made me think that this was more a fantasy tale rather than an historical. The setting is obviously historical, but not so far in time to be medieval: Shahin wears glasses and they use ink and paper, and I don't know, the relationships between Shahin and his men and people is more "modern" than a medieval kingdom. But still Noori was sold as a slave to pay his father's debt, and he was from a "northern region", he has blonde hair, blue eyes and very pale skin... some of the old Scandinavian kingdom? A place where there was still a some sort of feudalism that allows people to be sold in slavery? I think that the author purposedly chose to not be too detailed, to let the story have this "out of time" feeling. And then it's exactly the way why the Sheikh romance is so popular, the sheikhs and their way of live, out of time even when they are in the XX century, make a story fascinating and with an aurea of mystery mixed to danger. The Sheikh, in the little world that is their household, a few tends scattered around, is the one and only Master, he is both power and law, he is the only steady point for a lot of people as well for his lover, being this lover willing or not.
But Noori is more than willing. Noori is a particularly clever and cultured slave, he was not raised to be a slave and he was sold when he was old enough to have memories of his previous life. Nevertheless Noori is also a very sweet and gentle man, he is not a domineering character, he is witty and spirited, but he has not an independent streak. He doesn't like his life before Shahin, but he was accustomed to it; he dreams for a man who will save him from his sad fate, and he is willing to urge that man toward the right decision, but it's not freedom he is searching, it's a good natured man who will treat him good. Noori is used to be a slave, and also a pleasure slave, he would only like to be so for a man he likes as well.
On the other hand, Shahin is gentle and caring but he is not used to have a slave. He buys Noori since he dislikes to see a clever man like him being treated no more better than an object, but Shahin is too closed inside his protective shields to allow someone else in. And even if he was married twice, I believe that he has always had trouble to express his feelings. For sure his second marriage was an arranged one, and Shahin had not to court and woo the bride. So from a side there is Noori, who is willing to share Shahin's bed if only asked, but who was taught not to overimpose himself if not wished; from the other side there is Shahin, that has never learned how to court a lover and that is too considerate to impose himself to someone who do not make clear his wishes... not the best of situation and this is the reason why, even if they are very intimate, and shared the close proximity of a tent, Shahin and Noori behave more like two child who don't know sex, rather than a twice widower and a former sex slave.
The only thing that let me perplexed it's the change in pace toward the end. All the story has a slow pace, very coherent with the way of life of the desert people and their philosophy, there is no need to rush thing, all the world has a natural pace and you have to follow it. But at some point danger breaks the peaceful flow and from that moment on, the book takes a full swing, not all the details are full explained (see for example to man who brought the danger inside Shahin's household, what happened to him?), and almost as suddenly as it happened, all is resolved and the book ends... But maybe the author needed something to shake both men from the empasse they were stalled in.
Despite the lack of sex, I like very much this book, it was sweet and tender to see how Noori opens little by little to Shahin and his people, how he first learns how to smile again, and then how to be impulsive and happy; even if at first Noori didn't understand it, and took Shahin's refusal to bed him as consequences of something he did wrong, it comes out exactly how Shahin wished, Noori was able to be again a free man, and when it is time to share Shahin's bed, the sheikh is sure that Noori is doing in completely willingness, and not as a duty or as a way to express his gratitude.
Anyway, The Sheikh and the Servant is not maybe the naughty tale I was expecting, but it's probably even better.