Source: Audavoxx/Author – I received this in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Series: Alaia Chronicles
Narrator: Marie Helene
Edition: Audiobook, 13 Hours 21 Minutes
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4/5 Stars
In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic strikes the palace of Sultan Kuramos. Only a magical healer from an enemy land may have the skill to save his household.
He never imagined that healer would be a woman.
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.
Kaddite culture condemns Varene’s mystical talents and her presence triggers a plot to overthrow Kuramos. Yet as he and the healer toil for the cure, he loses his heart to her. She falls for him as well, but how can she relinquish her homeland and her principles for him–especially when he already has a harem and his family may be cursed?
Kismet’s Kiss takes the best of the romance and fantasy genres and mixes them up into one incredibly unique and entertaining story. Varene, is the royal healer of Teganne, a nation on tenuous terms with the land of Kad…where Kuramos is the Sultan…and when these two meet cultures clash while feelings begrudgingly grow.
To me the essence of a fantasy novel lies in it’s world building, a carefully constructed world is something easily recognized and appreciated. I will say I didn’t expect that from Kismet’s Kiss, and I’m currently shaming myself for writing this off as just another romance. The world building is woven into the fabric of the story itself, and I actually really loved finding out new tidbits about the countries of Kad and Teganne as well as the intricacies of their cultures. And with those cultures comes culture clashes, which play a big role in both the ruling of Kad and the relationship that Kuramos and Varene have together. Political aspects are discussed, and not brushed off as light topics, but instead become actual topics that the character think upon and discuss. I will say the timeline is a short one, oddly short actually, but the pacing of the story actually offsets it quite well and you don’t even realize it really until someone says how much time has passed.
Varene and Kuramos has a very interesting dynamic, because from the very beginning their differences are the wall between them. Kuramos has six wives, and this becomes a constant point of tension for Varene who has never entertained the idea of anything other than monogamy. But their head butting isn’t just contained to the moral ambiguity of their relationship, they frequently are forced to stop and think about their own belief systems and political differences. They challenge each other on these things, and it makes their relationship stronger but more importantly these issues don’t fall by the way side simply because they grow to love each other but stay a point of interest through out the entire novel. Now add in the amazing group of side characters, and you have a complete win. I love the six wives and how vastly different each of them are, and how each has their own seperate way of loving Kuramos. Though I think my favorite side character is Priya, who becomes the handmaiden and friend of Varene. She is unbelievably adorable.
I’m quite fond of Marie Helene’s treatment of Kismet’s Kiss. I think her voice really fit the style of writing, and I really loved the variety of voices she employed. There were a few moments where the audio seemed to change, like an edit was made, that really threw me off…but it happened rather infrequently and didn’t distract from the story too much.
Overall I’m quite pleased with Kismet’s Kiss! It managed to please both my picky fantasy sensibilities and my romance preferences.The best part is, that even though this is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone…though I personally am ready to pick up the next one as soon as I can.