by Cate Rowan
I’ve been doing the ‘IT’ Factor posts for over 18 months now. In the process, I’ve discovered some real gems from traditional publishers and some, well, they ended up being little more than cheap paste IMO. Now that I’m venturing down the Indie road, I feel it’s only right to take a slight detour and start reviewing some of the Indie gems out there. You know, the ones that NY in all their brilliant wisdom *cough cough* let get away. If you’re a reader of Indie books, you know by now that some are great finds while others were obviously slapped up by writers who still have quite a bit more growing to do. Even though most Indie books are much cheaper than their traditionally published cousins, it still bites to spend money on a crappy book. So from now on, I’m going to dedicate this monthly column to helping you find the diamonds in the pile of cubic zirconia.
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?
KISMET’S KISS is the sequel to THE SOURCE OF MAGIC (which is a good book too). Ms. Rowan published KISS first, so I read it first. While both books take place in the same magical realm and involve some of the same characters, they each stand on their own.
The first time they meet, Varene and Kuramos are instantly attracted to each other, whether they want to be or not. However, there are major hurdles in their way. In the beginning, Kuramos is appalled that he must rely on a infidel woman and her magic to save his family. He is chauvinistic and, along with just about everyone else in his kingdom, he treats her with arrogance and distain. Varene is used to being treated as an equal, as an intelligent woman and a gifted healer. They are constantly butting heads until she shows him the error of his ways. However there’s still another teensy, weensy problem…
Kuramos has 6 wives already. Count ‘em, 6! That’s unheard of in traditional romance publishing. The golden rule handed down from NY is the hero must be single (either a bachelor, widower, or divorced) and – heaven forbid -- he cannot even think of sleeping with someone else once he’s laid eyes on the heroine. I couldn’t wait to see how Rowan was going to write her way out of that one. (She does! And no, she doesn't kill off all the wives.)
Both Kuramos and Varene have them and Rowan does an excellent job of sprinkling clues throughout the story. There’s also court intrigue afoot and the cause of the strange illness afflicting Kuramos’s royal house. Is it a curse or something else? Usually I can figure these things out early on but the author kept me guessing until the end.
Gunjan, the talking bird, is a riot!
What makes this book standout:
This book was a 2007 and 2009 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Finalist. It is also the first Indie book I ever read. When I saw the quality of the writing and the originality of the storyline, I had to wonder how on earth this book never sold. Actually, I do know. Ms. Rowan is a rule breaker. She writes stories that don’t fit into the NY box and they’re all the better for it.
Learn more about Cate Rowan at http://caterowan.com/