Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar by Susanna Carr

The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar by Susanna Carr
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (186 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Jeweled veil weighing heavily on her head, Zoe Martin waits for her sheikh husband-to-be. The shame of her adoptive family, orphan Zoe has endured six years of being kept as a slave—now she's been sold into marriage…to a man known as The Beast!

Being discarded to the sheikh has one bonus—this could mean freedom! Zoe must play along with the three-day—and three-night—ceremony, but she isn't expecting the blazing attraction from just one stolen glance at playboy sheikh Nadir.…

The clashing of culture and customs create quite the conflict in this very emotional tale. An American woman faces the challenge of surviving a harsh and unforgiving country and grasps at any opportunity to escape. But ducking the surprising bonds of love turns out to be harder to break than the heroine thought, especially if they’re real.

Ms. Carr set up the whole vehicle for strife and distrust right from the very beginning. It was easy to accomplish because Zoe has been abused, humiliated and treated like dirt for many years and is stuck in a country that looks down upon her. What I liked about Zoe is that she wasn’t broken. Not yet at any rate. She still had hopes and dreams but she played them extremely close to her chest. She had to for self-preservation’s sake. She gambles with her life and although in the beginning it seems like she had lost, her journey was just beginning.

Nadir is a man who straddles both worlds. He understands duty and tradition but he’s also expected to bring his country into the modern age with technology and business. That’s hard to do when what he’s trying to do is a lie based on the fact that his countrymen don’t support his methods. It takes a man of extreme focus and determination pared with ruthless actions and business savvy to make it work. The author created a man that readers can root for because he doesn’t wear blinders. Sure he resorts to Neanderthal ways every now and again, that’s to be expected and makes for some hot spicy scenes with Zoe. But it’s his willingness to listen to Zoe, eventually, proved that he might not have been wearing blinders but had instead a version of rose colored glasses. It took Zoe’s impromptu intervention to show him how much her input should be valued. It’s at that point in the book that he became a true hero in my eyes.

Fortunately, the author did not go into any graphic detail regarding Zoe’s treatment by her uncle. The descriptions were heartbreaking enough. And her cousin Fatima is no Strawberry Shortcake either. I find it amazing that women can survive and rise above such treatment given half the chance. Nadir gave Zoe that chance and that made reading this story bearable. I found this book hard to read at times. I mean, I’m an American woman and I don’t have to censure what I say, what I wear or how I walk. To be expected to be less than what I am at all times would eventually break me. The thought is depressing. Putting myself in the heroine’s position was a very uncomfortable place to be and that’s a credit to the author’s writing. If her writing was any less stark or tight, my emotions would not have been affected. They were, in a big way.

The most beautiful part of the story was when I realized that both Nadir and Zoe were falling in love. What one did for the other because they wanted to, needed to, spoke volumes of how far both of them had come by the end of the story. As with most types of these books, the ploy of overhearing part of a conversation that leads to one more piece of drama before it all gets resolved and everyone gets their happily ever after was utilized effectively. I was a bit shocked as to the source. For some reason I thought he would have understood or at least respected that Nadir was actually, finally, happy. I kind of hope that he gets his own feisty heroine someday, then he’ll understand.

The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar is a book that entertains and takes a reader on a journey filled with emotions and feelings. The finale was peaceful, romantic and true to all time-loved happily ever after endings. The dialogue is insightful, the romance scenes were wonderfully done and although harsh at times, the story is compelling. It’s a quick tale but well worth taking the time to read.