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Kismet's Kiss: A Fantasy Romance (Alaia Chronicles) Paperback – December 1, 2010
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"...A harem fantasy brimming with desire, enchantment and betrayal... I highly recommend Kismet's Kiss to all readers who enjoy a touch of magic with their romance."
"...Envelops the reader in a lush, exotic world of silk and sherbet, scimitars and precious stones... Kismet's Kiss delivers an exhilarating reading experience." --SciFiGuy.ca
About the Author
Cate Rowan has washed laundry in a crocodile-infested African lake, parasailed over Cabo, and swum with dolphins, but her best adventures are her story worlds. Her lush fantasy romances about magic, danger and passion in faraway realms have won more than thirty awards.
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But then, 2/3 of the way through, the hero gives the heroine a box of clothes and jewels, which she loves (of course). Her personality changes, and she just becomes so *sensuous* and she realizes she was hiding her true personality behind her dowdy clothes and pulled back hair. That irritated me, so I was not inclined to be sympathetic when the heroine spends page after page debating whether she will sleep with the hero. She decides she will. Then she changes her mind. Then she changes her mind again. Then she decides she will. Then she decides she really shouldn't. Then she thinks about how hot he is. Then she thinks about that dark secret in her past. Then she decides it doesn't matter and she will sleep with him. But then she changes her mind again.
You found all of that annoying, didn't you? Now imagine reading that for 50 pages, and you'll have some idea what the last part of the book is like. I ended up skimming most of it. Basically, I thought the majority of the book was fine (not a great, "reread" book, but it was good enough), but then it's like the author just stopped caring.
The first time they meet, Varene and Kuramos are instantly attracted to each other, whether they want to be or not. However, there are major hurdles in their way. In the beginning, Kuramos is appalled that he must rely on a infidel woman and her magic to save his family. He is chauvinistic and, along with just about everyone else in his kingdom, he treats her with arrogance and distain. Varene is used to being treated as an equal, as an intelligent woman and a gifted healer. They are constantly butting heads until she shows him the error of his ways. However there's still another teensy, weensy problem...
Kuramos has 6 wives already. Count `em, 6! That's unheard of in traditional romance publishing. The golden rule handed down from NY is the hero must be single (either a bachelor, widower, or divorced) and - heaven forbid -- he cannot even think of sleeping with someone else once he's laid eyes on the heroine. I couldn't wait to see how Rowan was going to write her way out of that one. (She does! And no, she doesn't kill off all the wives.)
Both Kuramos and Varene have them and Rowan does an excellent job of sprinkling clues throughout the story. There's also court intrigue afoot and the cause of the strange illness afflicting Kuramos's royal house. Is it a curse or something else? Usually I can figure these things out early on but the author kept me guessing until the end.
Gunjan, the talking bird, is a riot!
What makes this book standout:
This book was a 2007 and 2009 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Finalist. It is also the first Indie book I ever read. When I saw the quality of the writing and the originality of the storyline, I had to wonder how on earth this book never sold. Actually, I do know. Ms. Rowan is a rule breaker. She writes stories that don't fit into the NY box and they're all the better for it.
I did, however, like the hero's character and who he was as a person. I totally understand where he was coming from as a person and also culturally and politically.
Sadly, this book didn't work for me and I abandoned it after reading approximately 80% of the book when I realised I just really did not care what happened to them and how it ended. I tried several times to get to the end and just could not.
I think it's worse when one is totally indifferent and didn't care at all for a book, rather than just hating it. At least, if I hated it, it would have elicited some emotion from me.
Two stars, because it was a DNF and because I actually got through approx 80% of the book.
Note: Originally reviewed in 2011.