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TAKEN BY STORM (ROMANTIC REALMS COLLECTION Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Book provided by the author for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book
This is the second book I have read by M. J. Schiller and it lived up to my expectations. Ms. Schiller pulled me in from the very first page and she was able to hold my attention to the very end. While reading Taken by Storm I was transported to a fantasy time period and was caught up in a story of adventure, action, suspense and romance.
The characters were well developed. Tahj was the crown prince of Avistad who was not well liked by his father’s adviser, Lord Boltar. Tahj was young, innocent and somewhat naïve. Bashea is a sheepherder who came from a close knit family. She was kidnapped and sexually abused by Lord Boltar and his men who then left her in the prince’s room. This was meant to be gift but it was really a trap in disguise. The attraction between Bashea and Tahj was instantaneous which I found a bit puzzling in light of the fact of what Bashea had endured at the hands of the men from the palace. Inspite of Bashea’s feelings toward the prince she was not sure if she could trust Tahj as she was not certain if he was responsible for her attack. A volatile situation within the palace walls as Bashea and Tahj running for their lives. It was at this point that Bashea’s real nature was revealed. She is smart, sassy and independent. It was these traits that drew Tahj to her. The romance between these two was not without its obstacles. They had to fight for their happily ever after.
Taken by Storm is about betrayal, jealousy and murder. The story depicts the lust for power and the lengths one would go through to achieve this. It also depicted the beauty of having strong family ties.
Ms. Schiller writing style made me feel as if I were actually a part of this fantasy. The descriptions were so vivid and realistic that I felt that I was living everything through the eyes of the characters.
This was a beautiful love story and I enjoyed every moment.
This was a well-written, fast-paced romance with truly likeable characters and an interesting plot progression. Set in the desert, it ever-so-occasionally falls victim to the stereotypes one might expect (the scheming vizzier who overthrows the king), but it is, overall, a creative novel with interesting, strongly written characters who have a wonderfully believable journey towards each other. There’s a fairly interesting set of side characters, believable tensions throughout, and other than a few small concerns and quibbles (mentioned below) this was one of the better romances I’ve read.
Greater Detail (with spoilers at the beginning):
I need to start with spoilers because I think that one of the weakest parts of the book is actually the follow-through from the fairly action-packed, and perhaps a little controversial, beginning. We start with Bashea, our heroine, being kidnapped by a group of soldiers, gang raped, and then dumped in what ends up being Prince Tahj’s chambers.
It’s all part of a joke/diversion planned by our villain Lord Boltar, and if you can accept this rather violent start, it’s actually a very, very solid romance.
That’s a bit of a beginning to get through, and it inevitably colors the rest of the book. Bashea has to deal with facing a couple of her rapists at different parts of the book, and there is, of course, fallout in terms of nightmares, acceptance by her family, etc. Overall, I felt that dealing with the ramifications of the rape are probably the least well-handled part of the book (that and the villain, Boltar, sometimes feels a little predictable).
Otherwise, it’s a really well written, action-packed novel. I love that many of the more common tropes are turned on their heads — Prince Tahj is the virgin, the sensitive one, whereas Bashea is headstrong, stubborn, and in many ways the more aggressive one in their romantic relationship. They have loyal friends and family members, and feel like fully fleshed out characters who have legitimate reasons to be both attracted to one another, as well as to worry about what the possible ramifications of an ultimate relationship might look like. The pacing, details, visualization, and character development are all first rate — if you’re in the mood for a more hard-hitting, action-romance (this isn’t a light-hearted read, despite some funny moments), then this is well worth the read.
Comparisons to Other Authors:
Rape in romance is actually a fairly common trope — but it’s almost always attempted rape. Other than one Catherine Coulter romance, I can’t really think of any other novel where the heroine has been gang raped… that’s traumatic, and serious stuff that romance doesn’t usually stray towards. And though it’s not handled lightly here, I’m not sure whether or not there should have been more about that, because it’s so very serious.
Other than that, this is seriously action packed, it’s got a nicely fleshed out supporting cast (like Lisa Kleypas novels, or some of the Nora Roberts family series/novels), and some lovely settings and details.