Raised in a brothel, Allegra Synnford quickly learned that survival meant taking charge of her destiny. Now, as a renowned courtesan skilled in the pleasures of the flesh, she vows she will never be vulnerable to any one man...
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. When Allegra ignites his desire, his need threatens to undermine his cover.
With old enemies circling, experience tells him he must resist her charms at all costs. But Allegra has her own game to play...with a man who can't afford to lose.
It's been a long time since I'd read a sheikh romance, and knowing Monica Burns, and hearing Kati recommend this book, I was burning with curiosity. So during my January book-buying binge, I bought it.
Allegra Synnford, London's most reknowned courtesan, has arrived in Morocco by ship to attend the wedding of a close friend, when she is nearly trampled by a fierce horse. Captivated by the beautiful creature, she feels no concern for herself, until a mysterious man with compelling eyes comes to her rescue. Little does she know that their paths will cross again.
Sheikh Shaheen is intrigued by this beautiful, bold woman who radiates sensual confidence in spades. It isn't until later he learns her true identity, as that of a famed courtesan. Both aroused and disappointed, he cannot help but remember another tempting yet dangerous courtesan who ruined his life years ago. He's determined to stay away from the alluring Allegra, but she is a force to be reckoned with, and he finds he's completely drawn to her beauty, wit, and daring nature. She makes him forget himself, yet she is not one easily conquered. Allegra challenges him every step of the way.
But there are dangerous foes waiting for Shaheen to be distracted, and when Allegra is kidnapped by an old enemy not once but twice, he must be cunning, patient, and clever in getting her back. For this enemy is willing to do the most horrific things to get what he wants, and Shaheen fears for Allegra's life....
As I'd mentioned, I had not read a sheikh romance in years, and immediately I was swept away in the vivid landscape and colorful world Monica has written about in "Kismet".
Allegra was no shrinking violet, and just because she was away from the gentile and polite society of London didn't mean she hid away in the desert. She loved the stark, unforgiving yet beautiful land, the people, and even fell for the stubborn, enigmatic Shaheen, despite his distant demeanor. Allegra was beautiful and intelligent, fearless and bold. She knew how to pleasure a man and how to be the perfect courtesan, successful because she never let emotion enter into her business transactions. With Shaheen, she instinctively knows the passion she holds for him is wild and intense, and very, very dangerous to her heart. She cannot resist him for long, but she will try to protect herself as long as possible, knowing a courtesan may never have dreams of a happily ever after.
Shaheen continues to nurse old wounds that he ignored, and have now festered. Sometimes he could be so charming and enticing to Allegra, but others he was stubborn and refused to listen to reason. At times I admit I wanted to smack him upside the head because his refusal to see reason lead to Allegra being kidnapped the second time. He thought he knew best how to protect her, instead of trusting her judgment, and it almost got her killed.
This story was full of intrigue and a sensual battle of wills. I have to applaude Monica for include a naughty scene from the 1998 movie "Dangerous Beauty", a movie I'd seen and enjoyed very much. It was sexy and amusing to read Allegra getting the best of Shaheen using his lust against him.
I liked "Kismet" very much, thought it was sexy and riveting though somewhat predictable and held just enough of the threat of violence and death without being too explicit. I also liked that we don't see the typical "sheikh" phrases here, instead Monica uses foreign terms I'd not seen in other sheikh romances. I also like the henna tattoo that Allegra gets at the market, and the symbolism behind it.
So if you're looking for a steamy, fascinating, wild romance between two strong-willed people who've both suffered deeply yet open their hearts to each other, you can't go wrong with "Kismet". I will definitely be adding Monica's next book, "Assassin's Honor", to my tbb list.
Rating: **** out of *****
Labels: Monica Burns