Inhospitable and dangerous, the desert appealed to female Victorian travellers like Gertrude Bell and Freya Stark, who sought to push the boundaries of exploration, adventure and personal endurance. Whether on the Arab Peninsula or in Africa, the desert proved a physical and mental test for those travelling in and writing about it. Much could be said about the diary and notebook entries, images and travelogues produced by travellers like Bell and Stark, and how these women envisaged the desert as one of the most prominent tropes within exotic discourse. However, rather than on travel writing, this chapter focuses on fi ction-specifi cally popular novels. It locates the representation of the desert region in the ‘desert romances’ of the early twentieth century-that is, that particular genre of fi ction which sets its stories in the Algerian and Egyptian parts of the Sahara desert.