by Cate Rowan, fantasy (2010)
Smashwords, $3.99, ISBN N/A
A plague sweeps the kingdom of Kad - a kingdom which bears plenty of Arabian Night influences - and the Great Sultan, Kuramos is unable to do anything to stem the epidermic. When the plague begins seeping into the palace and his son fell ill, Kuramos realizes that he has no choice but to ask the neighboring land Teganne for assistance. Our heroine Varene na Seryn, the Royal Healer of Teganne, has her personal reasons for not wanting to leave Teganne, but with the lives of people at stake, she can't really turn down the request. Thus begins Varene's person The King And I adventure of sorts, where she waltzes into a court and works her magic on its people as well as the heart of the Sultan.
The romance in Kismet's Kiss is not as well set up as I'd have liked, as for the most part, Kuramos and Varene rarely interact in the first quarter of the story, and when they do, all of a sudden they are overcome by passion that is supposedly spurred by the bickering between them. But I have to admit, there is an easy chemistry between these two. The build-up to all that sexual tension may be tad weak, but when these two get busy at examining each other up close and personal, the chemistry is electrifying.
The plague for the most part does not generate much suspense in the story as it becomes clear quickly that Varene is good at her job. The story is, like The King And I, focuses on how Varene eventually comes to term with the very different culture in Kad and even appreciate the finer aspects of the culture. The setting is lush and gorgeously described, if tad predictable as the setting is a typical fantasy Arabic setting, and I love how the author actually develops her setting instead of merely using Big Fancy Words all over the place.
However, I also feel that the author overcomes the obstacles standing in the way between Kuramos and Varene with a heavy broom, and the results are not always believable. Kuramos already has six wives, while Varene has no intentions of sharing him with anyone. I am still scratching my head by the way the author has these two overcoming that particular issue between them, because I personally have a hard time imagining that a man as arrogant as Kuramos will ever stoop to such an agreement for a woman that he has come to known in only a short time. The cultural differences between our two main characters are too vast for the convenient happy ending to be believable.
Kismet's Kiss is a pleasant and interesting read at the end of the day. It's a polished story too, without any obvious errors that jar me out of my reading. I think the romance has perhaps too much of a fairytale gloss to be believable, but there is plenty of chemistry and well-done emotional bonding between those two characters to make this book an enjoyable read.
This book is also available in the Kindle store of Amazon, by the way.
This book at SmashWords
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