Monday, June 14, 2010

Recent Read

Kismet by Monica Burns

Why this one: Well (you can always tell I'm going to get 'wordy' when I start out with well) it's a funny story (oftentimes only to me). I was doing some blog hopping and was at Vamp Fan Girl's blog when I saw a book on the side, that looked kind of interesting - Assassin's Heart by Monica Burns. I used my investigative skills and checked it out at Chapters and discovered it was the second in a new series and the first book, Assassin's Heart came out June 12!! 'Hmmmmm,' I thought, 'I wonder if it's available as an ebook?'
It didn't look like it was, but Kismet was and the price was cheaper than in print and I vaguely remembered some good reviews when it first came out. The main reason I didn't get it then was shallow - the cover was just so darned orangy-yellow. But with ebooks only being in shades of black, white and gray, I knew the colour wouldn't be distracting. And wonder of wonders, I also discovered that Chapters does have Assassin's Heart as an ebook. I've discovered that they don't always advertise that fact. And of course since I'm on a roll with ordering ebooks I also picked Assassin's Honor up too.

When I read the blurb for Kisment, I was hooked (see - told you I get wordy at times!) and the moral of the whole story is I do pay attention to books I see on different blogs.

Steam Level: This takes place in a desert and not only the temperature is hot!

It was a gamble she was born to make…

Raised in a brothel at a young age, Allegra Synnford quickly learned that survival meant taking charge of her destiny. Now, a renowned courtesan skilled in the pleasures of the flesh, she chooses her lovers carefully—vowing never to be vulnerable to any one man. Until a mesmerizing Sheikh strips that control from her…

With a man who wasn’t used to losing.

Sheikh Shaheen of the Amazigh has been hiding from his past for a long time, but not enough to forget how another courtesan made him abandon his life as the Viscount Newcastle. It’s why the yearnings this dangerous temptress ignites within him are so troubling. Worse, thoughts of Allegra pervade every fantasy, threatening to undermine his cover. With old enemies circling, experience tells him he must resist her charms at all cost. In fact, he’s betting on it. That’s a risky wager when it comes to a woman of pleasure. But Allegra has her own reasons for playing games…with a man who can’t afford to lose.

What happens between them is Kismet…

My Thoughts: Everything about this book screamed unusual; the setting, the heroine's occupation, a hero in hiding, so it was a given once I got past the cover that this one would be high up on my 'gotta read it' list. And I'm ever so glad that I did as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Allegra, the heroine, had a horrid young life. She was sold to a brothel by her mother who also sold her older sister into the same kind of life. She was rescued from this life by a 'patron' when she became his mistress. And Allegra is not a 'fake' mistress. She's the real deal. After her first 'patron' died, she was determined to rule her own life and she was the one who would be choosing her protectors. She became what they needed, not only skilled in the art of seduction, but also offered her intelligence. She travelled to Marrakesh to attend a friends wedding and to delay the inevitable task of telling her young niece what she really does for a living. She first notices the hero, Shaheen when she tries to buy an extraordinary horse from him. Shaheen notices her, but when he finds out her true occupation, he leaps to conclusions about her based on a tragic experience that led to his self-imposed banishment to Morocco. But still he is drawn to her in ways he doesn't like. And he is not the only one drawn to her. Nassar, the brutal and vicious brother of the Sheik he works for, kidnaps Allegra and it is Shaheen that comes to her rescue.

Allegra is everything admirable in a heroine. She is strong and independent, yet shows flashes of vulnerability. She has had a tough life, but has become her own person and won't let anyone tell her what to do. Although deeply attracted to Shaheen, she is determined to resist him and does a pretty good job through-out much of the book, knowing that he can have power over her she's not willing to give.

Shaheen is also pretty darn yummy. An Englishman by birth, he was willing to die because of the guilt he felt over an incident in his past. But now he has made a name for himself and a new life and family in Morocco. He has brokered many a treaty between warring tribal Sheiks and united them together. When a relative shows up looking for him, he refuses to let Allegra go after rescuing her, believing that all the work he has done will be for naught. I had some issues with him for being a bit too mired in the wrong he was done by a former courtesan. While he soon realizes that Allegra is nothing like his former paramour, at times he does seem to forget and acts accordingly - treating Allegra most unfairly. Still, overall, he makes for a good alpha type hero who suffers ghosts of his own. And we do get that grovel at the end.

The way the author has written the setting is excellent. Most of the book takes place in either Marakesh or in tribal camps and the atmosphere is excellent. When reading this book, the author made me really feel like I was there. I have a CD/DVD by Loreena McKennit, Live from Alhambra and dang but I wished I thought to put it on while reading this book! I think it would have really enhanced the reading experience. But not to worry, she has some other books I plan on getting. There are fewer things finer than discovering a new author!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5


And following yesterday's post about how much fun it is sharing books with my coworkers, a couple of things happened today. Joan (we shall call her Joan), the one just starting out the In Death books, came up to me and said she just wasn't enjoying her book club book and wanted me to bring in the next couple of In Death books instead. Her wish is my command *g*.

And just after that Wendy (we shall call her Wendy) came over to me. She is the one reading Sugar Daddy and then Blue Eyed Devil. She told me she normally goes to bed around 10:00 but she stayed up to 1:00 am as she just couldn't put Sugar Daddy down.

*****Warning - there be spoilers ahead so beware*****

She said that Liberty better end up with Hardy and it better not be a sad ending or she was going to be some upset. Hmmmm (I think hmmm quite often) - dilema!! So I told her this was ME, the romance reading queen of the office. Would I give her a book that didn't have a happy ending?????

After she left, mollified, to go back to her desk, I leaned over to Megan (we will call her Megan) the girl who sits next to me and whispered, "I didn't have the heart to tell her that it doesn't end the way she's hoping"
Hopefully, the coworker I shall call Wendy will forgive me.

I'm getting them - oh yes I am!!


Wendy said...

Kismet was one of those books I really wanted to like (mostly because of the Not Fake Courtesan heroine) and just...couldn't. The complete lack of communication between hero and heroine drove me batshit after a while. But yeah, agreed that the setting was particularly well done.

Carolyn Crane said...

That is funny about your office. I think that was a great answer to offer your coworker on SD!! I wanted it to be how she wanted it, too, but was satisfied with that ending.

I remember seeing Kismet around. Wow! That sounds like an intense plot. Thanks for the review!!!

Penelope said...

You have totally intrigued me about this book....sounds very cool! Great review.

azteclady said...

After reading Wendy's review I hesitated to get Kismet, but I really want to read Assassin's Honor--the whole thing sounds sooooo good!

As for your coworkers... well, that's the most effective (albeit slow) way to take over the world: a person at a time ;-)

Laurie (BittenbyParanormalRomance) said...

I really liked Kismet. In some ways better than Assassins Honor. Great Review!

Kristie (J) said...

Laurie: First off - I LOVE your avatar!!!! That is the AWESOME. I haven't gotten very far into Assassin's Honor yet - people at work are playing with my Kobo and my place got lost, so it's too early to tell - but I think I liked the beginning of Kismet better - but it is early *g*.

AL: I enjoyed it. At times I cuda smacked Sasheen upside the head, especially in one part that led to bad stuff, but it was so refreshing to read such an unusual setting and a real honest to goodness courtesan, that I recommend it.

Penelope: *laughing* then my job is done - at least with this book :-)

I think all of us who have read SD hoped that would happen, but I also was happy with the way it did end. And then we have BeD, which is why I gave them both to her - so she wouldn't mourn for long - heh heh heh.

Wendy: I had more issues with him than I did with her. But then I'm so easy when it comes to books *g*.

Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

I loved Kismet and was very happy to see it reviewed here. The whole unusual aspect pulled me right in. Would love to see more historicals from Ms. Burns.

Li said...

LOL @ your SD dilemma - I wouldn't have known what to say!

I haven't read Kismet or any of the Assassin's series, but those covers look great.

orannia said...

Great review Kristie! Sounds like a fascinating read, although perhaps not the right book for me (which probably doesn't make sense :)

And WRT your work colleagues - LOL! Seduce them to the romance book at a time. And great reply WRT Sugar Daddy. Hmmm, sounds like someone is investing in the characters big time. And I felt the same way as Hardy!

~ames~ said...

I read Wendy's review a while back and wasn't interested. But I do have Assassin's Honor in my tbr pile. :P

That's cool about your coworkers reading romance. I should get to the In Death books - still haven't read them.

Kristie (J) said...

Anna: Another author I highly recommend who writes in this setting is Bonnie Vanak. She's written some great books!

Li: I'm still waiting to see what she thinks of it. She was off today, but last time I asked her, Gage had entered the picture *g*.

Another coworker was reading the copy of Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney I brought in for her. She stayed up until 3:00 am reading!! I have a few tired coworkers these days :-) She finished it and LOVED it. Today I brought her in To Die For and Drop Dead Gorgeous by Linda Howard. I warned her that many reader really didn't care for Blair, but I adore her.

Ames: Oh you really should give them a try!! It took me a couple of attempts before I got into them, but once I finally got hooked, I got hooked real good.

Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

Kristie, I've never tried Bonnie Vanak. Where should one start? If I read out of order, puppies die and mountains crumble.

Kristie (J) said...

Anna: The one I started with was The Cobra and the Concubine, I gave it a 4.5 although there were two ahead of this one - The Falcon and the Dove and The Tiger and the Tomb. The book that follows TCATC, is The Panther and the Pyramid and I gave this one a 5 out of 5.
So - the series starts with The Falcon and the Dove, but I didn't start until book 3 and not having read book 1 & 2 didn't lessen my enjoyment of book 3 :-)