Kismet's Kiss: A Fantasy Romance (Alaia Chronicles)

Cate Rowan
Kismet's Kiss: A Fantasy Romance (Alaia Chronicles)
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Kindle Edition
Release Date
August 2010
Alternate Universe, Fantasy Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance

* * KISMET'S KISS is a two-time RWA Golden Heart Finalist and a winner of the Duel on the Delta, Molly, and Put Your Heart in a Book contests. * *

In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic strikes the palace of Sultan Kuramos. Only a magical healer from an enemy land has the skill to save his royal household, but Kuramos never imagined the healer would be a woman.

Healer Varene finds her own surprises in Kad. She expects the sultan's arrogance, but not his courage or his selfless care of the ill—or the possibility that the epidemic is the curse of a vengeful goddess.

Kuramos's culture condemns Varene's mystical talents. Her presence triggers an insurrection, yet as he and the healer toil for a cure, he loses his heart to her. She falls for him as well, but how can she relinquish her homeland and her principles—especially when he already has a harem and his family may be cursed?

Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Oct 18, 2010   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
215 people found the following review helpful
Cate Rowan charmed me with her fantastic worldbuilding about the kingdoms of Kad and Teganne, where people lived hundreds of years and where science co-existed with magic. The setting brought to mind the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, nevertheless, it is her vivid descriptions of the place and the people and their varied customs that brought the story to life, making the main characters' ultimate conflict real and palpable.

Sultan Kuramos of Kad was in despair, as a deadly plague swept through the palace. Soon, the Grand Vizir fell dead, and his son and four wives were stricken with the strange malady. When the Royal Physician died from an accident, he had no choice but to heed the Grand Vizir's words, which was to call for help from the Royal Healer of Teganne, a land renowned for magic and healing.

Royal Healer Varene didn't want to leave the life of peace she had built in Teganne at first, but what choice did she have? Even if Kad and Teganne weren't on good terms, lives were at stake and as a healer, she couldn't turn her back on anyone. She also wanted to keep busy to hold sorrow at bay, but little did she know something else awaited her in Kad, for the Grand Vizir had prophesied her coming...

Varene has a healthy respect of herself and she didn't bow to any person, even if he was sultan. Kuramos's arrogance only goaded her into speaking her mind and treating him not with subservience, but as something of an equal. This both infuriated and intrigued Kuramos, who was used to obsequiousness and to getting his way always. Especially when his seduction attempts more often than not resulted in Varene pushing him away.

As for Varene, she was attracted to Kuramos and her experience with a lover who'd died too soon taught her never to wait for the important things in life. Yet, how could she give in to the attraction when Kuramos already had six wives? Especially when she came from a culture where marriage is between one man and one woman.

As foretold by the Grand Vizir, "Will you bend, or will she? Perhaps neither."

Ms. Rowan displayed delicate skill as she navigated the treacherous waters that is the relationship between the sultan and his harem and a potential love interest. I admit to having a problem at first with Kuramos's having six wives and I have to keep reminding myself that Kad has a culture different from our own.

However, soon, I was caught up in the story because of Varene herself. I like that Varene is a good woman and healer. She genuinely cared for others, even at the expense of herself. But more than that, Varene held on to her principles. That though she may have changed in some ways, in the matter of important things, especially the things that make up the essence of who she was, she remained the same. She didn't give up who she was for the chance of a life with the man she loved, though she was tempted. Very tempted. And more than once at that. I have to admit that one factor that had me turning the pages (or pressing the next page button on my Kindle) was the resolution of Varene's dilemma. And I admit to being satisfied with the outcome.

Kuramos is certainly different from the other heroes I've encountered, primarily because he has six wives. Wooh, male fantasy here. With the spread of the plague, I thought the author was going to let all six wives die to make way for Varene, but I'm glad that didn't happen. I like that Kuramos is also an honorable man. Having six wives or more is allowed in Kad, especially for sultans who usually need to marry for political reasons such as to cement alliances. But though Kuramos desired Varene, he respected her wishes and he also didn't want to forsake his wives, because of the affection that has been nurtured between them and because they were the mother of his children. Which left him in a quandary.

I also have to mention Sulya, Kuramos's sixth wife and "sort of" a villain, certainly Varene's rival for Kuramos's affections. Even though she only has short air time, Sulya is delightfully three-dimensional and, whatever else she may be--ambitious woman, concerned mother--she has honor.

Interwoven into the romance and near tragedy in the palace is a suspense/mystery element that I didn't see coming, but which the author has provided for with clues and hints throughout the entire story. I would've wanted more sexual tension between Kuramos and Varene before the scene at the stake, but aside from that, Kismet's Kiss is a must-read for all fantasy romance lovers.
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