Monday, October 25, 2010

Review! Kismet's Kiss by Cate Rowan

If someone were to combine the scenery and story structure from The King and I with the romantic struggle of Jim and Pam from The Office, and then add a little bit of magic, I think it might look somewhat like Kismet's Kiss.

Kismet's Kiss is set in a desert land closed off from the world. Its people loathe other cultures and customs, and above all they fear and hate magic. However, when a deadly and mysterious illness strikes at the very heart of the Sultan's palace, Kuramos, exalted ruler of Kad, must make the decision to bring magic within the walls of his own home to save the ones he loves.

He summons the Royal Healer of Teganne, a rival kingdom which embraces magic. When Kuramos comes face to face with Varene, a woman Healer, he is challenged not only to accept magic, but to accept a woman in a place of authority and power. In a land where a man may have many wives, the exalted ruler of Kad must learn to bend his perception of the world - and perhaps his perception of love - in order to save those closest to him, as well as himself.

Kismet's Kiss envelopes the reader in a lush, exotic world of silk and sherbert, scimitars and precious stones. The palace of Kad becomes as much a character in the story as anyone, echoing the soft sound of a padded slipper, reverberating the sounds of lovemaking within beds lined with silk and covered with down pillows. Most of the action takes place within these walls, and we see very little of the land of Kad itself, something that I hope will be explored further in the books to come.

This story is above all else a tale of two people with haunting pasts that hinder them from becoming the people that they truly want to be. The blossoming love between Kuramos and Varene is far more than physical or romantic, it is healing in and of itself. Rowan is very talented with dialogue, using it as a primary force in moving the plot along, both in character development and the action of the story. Kuramos and Varene are constantly sparring with their words, and the sparks that erupt from their encounters are a testament to the author's craft. Rowan is also talented with her words when it comes to the sensual nature of their relationship, conveying the range of emotions and sensations that accompany an attraction this strong, and this forbidden.

The aspect that I found most fascinating about Kismet's Kiss was the exploration of polygamy. Kuramos has six wives, and as the story progresses we meet every one of them, and gain new perspective on their marriage with Kuramos with each encounter. The openness the wives have with each other and the willingness they have to share one man with other women is in direct juxtaposition with the subjugation of women in their society, and it's interesting to see how the introduction of Varene into their world emboldens and enlightens both the wives and Varene herself.

As all of the conflicts within the story began to collide, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster. Between a deadly illness with a mysterious origin, the threat of a political uprising in the moment of the Sultan's greatest weakness, and the heated passion between Kuramos and Varene that seems as if it could never be, Kismet's Kiss delivers an exhilarating reading experience.

Unfortunately, this book is not yet available in print format. However, it's available in e-formats at these online stores:

* Amazon for the Kindle reader, PCs, Macs, smartphones, & iPads:
- U.S.A. & worldwide, except U.K.
- U.K.

* Barnes & Noble (nook e-reader format, worldwide
* Smashwords (all electronic formats including PDF, worldwide):

Kismet's Kiss is Cate Rowan's debut novel, and there is much more to see at her website, where you can find updates about upcoming books and all sorts of interesting information about the author and her work. Cate is definitely an author to watch, and I for one look forward to learning more about the world she has built and the characters I've become fond of.

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