This review was written for a blog tour. I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review. Stick around until the end and enter the giveaway!
Author: Kimberley Griffiths Little
Genre: Historical fiction, adventure, romance
Series: Forbidden trilogy
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In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
I’m not going to lie. It’s pretty exciting to review a book that’s been traditionally published. That aside: let’s dive into the book!
I’m convinced I volunteered to review this copy partly because of the cover and partly because of the last line in the blurb. The whole thing is a blur because when I started reading the book I was surprised that a) this book is set waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the past and b) this book is set in the Middle East. Or at least the ancient Middle East. Which made me do a double take at the cover, but we’ll get to that later. Once I got my bearings, I had hoped that the publisher would have at least provided a map because let’s face it, I know nothing about geography. It was a wonder I figured out where they were by the few cities and clues that were mentioned in the book (Damascus being one of the cities).
The beginning started out a bit slow for me. The main character, Jayden, is entering womanhood and things are starting to fall in line so she can be properly betrothed to the guy she’s been promised to for years who will become the tribal king. Belly dancing seems to be important to the culture and something the women do amongst each other for celebration and mourning. It’s so hard to write certain things like dancing and for me the dancing sections seemed a little awkward. Because the dancing is so important, someone should just turn the book/trilogy into a movie because it’s going to be visually stunning. Though the physical aspects of the dancing sequences came off a bit awkward, I liked the feeling and rush that Jayden got from it; that was certainly relatable and I kind of wished that the dancing was just about the emotions rather than a mix of both. As the book continued, the culture of the people became more apparent, from their daily lives, to the way they handle the dead, to their religion. It was utterly fascinating and kept me hooked until the story really picked up and had me up until 3AM.
The things that Jayden faces in the book are beyond what I could face. Kudos to the author; she made Jayden lose and lose and lose. What should have been a disparaging book became quite the opposite. In a time and world where women are meant to be seen and to obey every single man that tells her what to do, Jayden manages to overcome and fight. And it’s beautiful and wonderful. She’s like a fiercer Princess Jasmine. And despite everything, she still manages to hope because Kadesh, the man who steals her heart, has so much hope and faith in him, Jayden can’t help but feel a glimmer of it. Jayden is so wonderfully courageous, I couldn’t help but root for her.
I wasn’t really sure what to make of the romance at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I really liked it. It’s not the stereotypical love triangle I’ve come to expect from most YA romance titles. Jayden doesn’t think she’s the prettiest girl (stereotypical, yes, but bear with me) and Kadesh thinks she is. As for Jayden’s would-be fiance, Horeb? That’s sort of up in the air. He merely wants her because she has no interest in him. And there’s also a clear black and white between the male leads. One is obvious good and the other is obvious bad. There are no teams. Because if someone was seriously rooting for Team Horeb, I think I’d have to have a long talk with them.
There is a major plot twist at the end, one that made me go back and double check if I read the story right. It just doesn’t seem to go along with a reader’s perfect idea of a story and it threw me completely off. But it’s also a gripping end that makes me look forward to the next book to see how it all plays out. Though the writing style leaves me wanting a bit more (in the description area, anyway), the characters and the themes of the story make me anticipate the next book in the trilogy.
For people who want some diversity in their characters and stories. This is way different from most historical fiction books I’ve read and probably the first book I read where I was taken to ancient Middle East/Mesopotamia.
This is more or less me being nitpicky. But although the cover is compelling because of the colors and the title, it bothers me that the girl is turned away. She shouldn’t be turned away. I want to ask the designer why they made that decision because Jayden is such a strong character. I also really hope that the model herself is diverse and not just another white model with bronzer, as people tend to do. There’s no sense in whitewashing a cover; it’s just stupid.
The night was starkly beautiful under a canopy of jeweled stars. I savored my moments of freedom, which were marred by the realization that it was dripping away day by day.
The sizzle of coffee beans roasting in the skillet floated across the still air. Cups clinked on a tray as my father passed them around the circle. The aroma of roasted brew spiced with cardamom seeped into the night.
As I tried to slip past, Horeb’s eyes caught mine. Firelight flickered over his face, outlining his jaw and wind-tangled black hair. He was devastatingly handsome just as all the girls said, but his lips curled into a smile that sent shudders down my spine.
Horeb’s glance lingered on my body, settling not on my face, but lower, as if he was undressing me right there on the dirt path.
His eyes locking onto mine, Horeb rose from the circle of men. I jerked around, breaking off his stare. Walking faster, I turned the corner of the tent just as his arm reached out to stop me.
“So, little cousin,” Horeb said. “Have you been enjoying the betrothal ceremony? Tell me, are the women telling stories of marital relations?”
My breath caught like a thorn in my throat. The women’s ceremonies were not discussed with any male—only inside the privacy of a marriage bed.
“You shouldn’t be saying these things to me,” I said.
Running his fingers down my arm, Horeb continued to study me. “There are many things I’d like to say to you, Jayden. Do to you.”
There used to be a time when my throat pounded every time Horeb turned my direction. A time when he was growing into those big, dark eyes and that hard, muscular body. Moments when I wanted to touch his thick, black hair, or run my finger along his jaw to discover what a boy’s skin felt like with a newly growing beard. But now that I was sixteen, and he twenty, his stares made me uneasy. My heart still pounded, but not from love. And I wasn’t sure what it was or what to call it.
Author Kimberley Griffiths Little
Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.
Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.