|Varene na Seryn of Teganne, a magical healer, knows that the Sultanate of Kad disdains magic of any sort. But when a jencel, magical talking bird, advises her that the Sultan himself has requested the magical healer of Teganne come to Kad and quell the deadly epidemic running virulently through the palace, she is unable to turn her back on suffering patients, especially when she learns innocent children are ill.
However, Kad is different from Teganne in many more ways than its disdain of anything magical. In Kad, a man can have many wives, in Teganne it is one man to one woman. Varene tries to be open minded about the Sultan Kuramos and his six wives, but when she finds herself drawn to the courage and selfless care of the ill Kuramos displays as he assists her, she is unable to resist falling in love with the enigmatic Sultan herself. But no matter how she feels, she refuses to be with a man who will not cleave to her alone.
Kismet's Kiss is a magical fantasy set in a middle eastern culture. Varene is a high principled woman who puts others before herself. I admired her greatly both for her skill and her morals, and once I realized where her heart would lie, I knew it would be a long, difficult and sometimes painful journey for her to find true happiness. Cate Rowan takes the reader on Varene's bumpy journey with great skill and finesse. Ms. Rowan weaves a fully-realized, lush and fascinating world where women are little more than pampered slaves, yet each has her own distinct personality, wishes and dreams. Kuramos is handsome, virile and arrogant, but he truly loves his children and cares deeply for his wives, even though most of his marriages were made solely for political alliances.
The sparks fly between Varene and Kuramos from the very beginning. Her independent, defiant stance angers him at the same time it intrigues him. He is used to obedient women fawning over him, and Varene is neither obedient nor subservient. The physical attraction they feel toward each other happens quickly, but they struggle to deny their desire for each other throughout most of the book, so their love develops slowly and deeply, making it all the more poignant. The theme of fate versus choice plays throughout, making it clear that both Varene and Kuramos have made choices throughout their life that will shape their future.
As 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. In Ms. Rowan's world, the reader will find desire, deception and an intrigue-filled, surprise twist ending that is sure to please.
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