Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feature Review: "Kismet," By Monica Burns

By Melanie Murray, RBTB Correspondent

Historicals are my romance sub-genre of choice. Big revelation, huh? I also enjoy a strong-minded heroine. This can present a bit of a challenge in my reading. If a book’s true to history, then its female characters, by virtue of when the story takes place, aren’t always in the driver’s seat of their own lives.

Nowhere is this truer than in the bedroom. And often, in romance fiction, this creates much of the conflict between the hero and heroine. How can an experienced man keep from harming an inexperienced woman?

Wouldn’t it just tickle you to read about a woman who fits the time period but is in charge when it comes to the boudoir?

That’s exactly what you get in Monica Burns’ alluring and steamy “Kismet.” Set in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Middle East, Burns’ romance pits a determined, self-sufficient lady against a man so resolute and confident and sexy that he melts her resolve. It’s great fun watching her confront the one thing she’s not used to – a challenge – and some of their scenes will linger in your memory long after you’ve closed the book.

One of the most sought-after courtesans in all London, Allegra Synnford has accrued wealth, education, and, most important, the power to pick her own lovers. In Marrakech, Morocco, for a friend’s wedding, she catches the eye of a sheikh with hypnotic eyes and a kingly bearing, a man the mere sight of whom excites her. She decides immediately to steer clear of him; if they were to spend even one night together, she knows she would be at the mercy of her own desires.

The sheikh who sets her blood on fire is known as Shaheen. An Englishman by birth, he has escaped the memories of his old life by staying among the Bedouins for fifteen years. Allegra stirs up painful thoughts; he was once burned badly by her kind. Yet he’s determined to seduce her, if only so he can get her out of his head.

The two embark on a sexually-charged game of push and pull, each overwhelmed by their attraction and burdened by their refusal to give in. Allegra is determined to not choose a man who will threaten her independence. Shaheen can’t quite get over his past long enough to contemplate a future. And complicating everything is danger of a different sort. One of Shaheen’s great enemies is ruthless, amoral, and dead-set on having Allegra for his own.

“Kismet” presents us with a classic a battle of wills between two characters unafraid to use sex as a weapon. They fight their temptation and the consequences of falling in love against an exotic, sensual background that’s beguiling and seductive. You’ll wish you were booked on the next plane to Morocco, when you

Buy the Book.

Do you like it when a heroine is as experienced in the bedroom as her male counterpart? What memorable romances can you recommend where this is part of the premise?
Please hang with us here in the pink this week, cause there's big doins with your fave RBTB teamers and authors:

Tomorrow: Ann Herendeen returns with the true story of Darcy/Bingley and "Pride/Prejudice!" Great fun to welcome her back. Feature Rev. of the read here.
Thursday: RBTB correspondents PJ and Gannon call all cyber-pals to gather as they dish Lori Wilde's "Sweetheart's Knitting Club," when you can win a cool knitting/book set.
Friday: RBTB Contrib Ed Amy Kennedy brings you the d.l. on Ann Hinnenkamp's BOB para, "Dyad Quest."


Monica Burns said...

Thank you for a lovely review, Melanie. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, and why do I have the feeling that one of the scenes linger in your memory involves bananas. It seems to be a favorite of most everyone who's read the book. Thank you again for your kind words.

Stacy~ said...

Hey Monica! I'm so looking forward to reading this book. Kati raved about it :)

I used to not like experienced women in historical romances. I never fully understood why until other readers made the comment how a lot of experienced heroines usually had "bad" history when it came to sex. Either abusive or not very pleasurable, and it left me with an unsettled feeling.

But now I've seen more books in the past few years where the sexually experienced woman is confident, bold, and more independent. She makes her own choices and she has options. Despite the fact it might not be the most accurate depiction of how things were during those times, I much prefer reading about that type of heroine. What can I say, I prefer an idealistic situation over a traumatic one :)

What else are you working on these days?

Melanie Murray said...

Monica, it's so nice to see you here! Congratulations on the book. How thrilled are you with that cover?

Stacy: Like I said in the feature, I enjoy reading about a woman who can make her own decisions. I empathize more with those kinds of characters. I've enjoyed the historicals where this is true, and I have to believe there were some women back then who had more power than society would assume. This is why Allegra in Kismet seems so authentic; you absolutely believe that a woman of her background and experience could be in charge of her own life, without a husband.

pjpuppymom said...

Can't wait to pick up Kismet!

My taste in books (and heroines) has changed as I've gotten older. Now that I'm more experienced I appreciate a heroine who is as well. I still enjoy the young, virginal heroine but I love a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and isn't ashamed of going after it.

Myrin said...

Oh, I definitely like when a heroine is experienced - even if it was indeed like that in earlier times I often think it's oh-so-embarrassing when a heroine doesn't know a thing about what's going on in the bedroom. I mean, come on, you have to have overheard something, don't you, gal?

Anna Campbell's books come to mind, or, of course, many, many contemporaries. The second book in Jacquie D'Alessandro's Mayhem in Mayfair-novels (don't know the titel atm), where there are quite some sexy scenes with the heroine seducing the hero. Beth in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie - love her (and the book!).

Okay, self-promo again, only because I think there'll be more of you online today than yesterday: I posted a link at yesterday's blog where you can see my Facharbeit-pictures.
Amy, really, this one is especially for you, and where are you now? I want your opinion!

Monica Burns said...

@Stacy I totally get the "bad" history with sex thing, but I think it depends on how its handled. Allegra's sexual experience wasn't anywhere near as bad as it was to have her mother sell her off to a brothel madam. That kind of betrayal is tough, which is why I think Allegra's character seems to have created an identifier with a lot of readers. I think there were a lot of strong, independent women in the past, history just has a way of making them obscure since historians were predominantly men. *grin*

As for what I'm working on now...it's an older courtesan story with a virgin hero. It's proving to be a challenge, but never let it be said that I shrink from those. *grin*

@Melanie as I mentioned above in my response to Stacy, I'm convinced there were more women like that too. If you want to read about one such woman, check out Rebel Heart, the biography of Jane Digby (circa 1812 woman) or Lily Langtry who was a Professional Beauty in London and King Edward's mistress. BOTH of these women were totally strong . I can highly recommend Rebel Heart. It was a fabulous book.

@PJ - That's a really interesting point. I think readers have a tendency to want to read books they can identify with, so as we age, we want something a little different than the virginal heroine. I grew up reading Barbara Cartland books, and as much as I remember the joy those books gave me, I remember picking one up 10 years ago and wondering what had made me love them so.

@LisaK ...you have to have overheard something, don't you... LOL ABSOLUTELY!!! If kids talk today without parents monitoring their talk, why wouldn't the "bad" girls tempt the "good" girls with all types of sexy information. I think a lot of times it was the staff telling the noblity what goes on in the bedroom. LOL

Melanie Murray said...

I agree, PJ. There's room for both kinds of heroines in historical romance. I just like the dynamic when the woman is more "modern." It adds an element of growth on part of the hero that you don't necessarily get in a story with a younger lady.

Great examples, LisaK. I think that second Mayfair book was Confessions at Midnight. Eloisa James' most recent book, A Duke of Her Own, features a heroine who has a very healthy attitude towards the bedroom, too.

Melanie Murray said...

Monica, I've got Rebel Heart on my shelf somewhere. Now I'll go dig it out...Love the idea of a virgin hero but I can imagine how tough that will be to write!

Monica Burns said...

Melanie, I don't know if you've read Emma Wildes latest, Lessons from a Scarlet Lady, but I suggest you try it. Emma's a good friend, and I love her voice. I've got this book of hers and Anna Campbell's Captive on my TBR pile, which continues to grow despite my best efforts to limit my book buying since my time to read is VERY limited.

And DEFINITELY read or reread Rebel Heart. It's a wonderful biography that reads almost like fiction.

Melanie Murray said...

You must make time for the Anna Campbell, Monica. It's worth it. I read Emma's previous book, An Indecent Proposition, but haven't gotten to the new one yet. Another book to add to the list of must-reads!

Sissa said...

Hi again Monica ^^
I actually haven't really read any books where a woman is just in charge in the bedroom as the man is. I can't think of any off the top of my head. lol I really don't mind it though as long as there is reason for it. It would strange to have a simpering virgin be a cougar in the bedroom for her first time. A previously married or courtesan fits the picture just fine though. ^^


Becke Davis said...

I'm finally setting aside work and other family stuff so I can read this book. It's been on my bedside table, tempting me, since it first came out. I purposely waited until I could give it the attention it deserves.

First impression: wow! I love the setting, love the descriptions, love the HERO. Monica's writing isn't just hot, it's HAWT!

Melanie Murray said...

Hi jedisakora, maybe Kismet will be your introduction to the experienced heroine!

Becke, your thoughts on Kismet are awesome.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas! Melanie, once again, grazie for a terrific feature. If I hadn't read "Kismet" already, I'd be online ordering it! Mon's long been a fave around here as a friend, and we've enjoyed watching her career blossom. It's probably not the case, but it feels like we may even be more proud than she is of her accomplishment with "Kismet!" : )

Monica Burns said...

@Becke - WOW! I am deeply flattered by that awesome comment. Hell, what am I saying, I just did a fricking cartwheel (ok,ok, it was in my head). But thank you.

@Queen Bella It seems like yesterday that I found this wonderful blog. First we were here and then I followed you to Lifetime and then back here and now I flip between here and the B&N Heart to Heart blog. I've seen you grow and achieve so much, and I'm just as proud of you and your accomplishments in promoting the romance genre. You've been a MAJOR supporter of mine from the beginning, but more importantly you've become a good friend who I LOVE talking romance with. Well that and sex too. I mean I never got to talk sex with my girlfriends grow up and here I can do that. TOTALLY COOL! Thank you.

Becke Davis said...

I gave to thank Michelle for introducing me to Monica. Well, Monica actually met outside the elevator by our hotel rooms at RWA, but I sort of met her at the Bella breakfast first.

And then Monica met my roommate/critique partner, Rosie, and that's when the earth shifted. And put Michelle in the same room with those two? BRACE YOURSELF!!

Monica Burns said...

@Becke we are a lot of fun when we're all together aren't we. *grin* And I have to thank you for intro'ing me to Rosie who I absolutely adore. It was like meeting a twin sister I never knew I had. Scary wonderful.

Monica Burns said...

as long as there is reason for it. It would strange to have a simpering virgin be a cougar in the bedroom for her first time.

Melissa, I missed this with all the stuff happening at work. It's Legislative time and it's open season on state employees! LOL

I should clarify that I no longer write simpering heroines. Haven't for quite some time, if I ever did. But I'm totally in your camp with there needing to be a reason why a virgin would be hot in the bedroom right off the bat.

Now with a hero who's a virgin, I think hot and heavy will qualify, because he's going to have had vivid descriptions from the guys, but he's still going to find it a bit awkward in terms of pleasing a woman. Maybe premature climax?? I'm still working on those details in the new book. Hell, I just got him out of a situation today where he was kissing the courtesan and he's eager to go all hot and heavy when he realizes he can't. Trust me, he has an excellent inner conflict as to why he's still a virgin at 29. She's 41 so there'll be steam there soon. *grin*

amy kennedy said...

Melanie, I had planned on reading Kismet, but, like Michelle, if I hadn't, you would have convinced me. Gorgeous piece Melanie.

I'm with PJ -- the older I get the more...ahem, experienced I like my heroines as well -- that is, unless they're a virgin, because I love them as well. It's my prerogitive to change my mind...I think.

Melanie Murray said...

A male virgin and an older woman! I love it!

Becke Davis said...

Monica, you have to read Anna Campbell's UNTOUCHED.

amy kennedy said...

Lisak -- I can't get to it. I'll try when I'm home and not at work...

amy kennedy said...


Monica Burns said...

@Becke - Been there done that...it's why I adore Anna. LOL I kept telling her, no it's the one with the GREEN cover that's the one GREEEN cover. LOL

Monica Burns said...

@Ames - It is EVERY woman's perogative to change their mind. LOL

@Melanie - I just hope I manage to pull it off as nicely as others have done with similar works. But it is all subjective.

Gabriella Edwards said...

I can't believe I missed the party! *smacking my forehead* But I'm posting anyway!

I loved Kismet for many reasons, but it just wouldn't be me if I didn't mention the interesting use of one of my favorite fruits artfully described in one of my favorite scenes. *wagging my brows*

Seriously, I'm blessed to have met some fabulous people in DC: Michelle, PJ, Gannon and Mon. Becke keeps mentioning the Earth shifting when Mon and I met. I'll admit it...talk about Kismet.

I lubs you too, Sis!

Now finish my dang darn virgin story already!

Mitzi H. said...

Typically, I prefer the heroines to be less experienced...but I also love novels where they are.

I was going to say Outlander because Jamie is a virgin that Claire (deflowers) but I don't think that counts because he doesn't have passed experience (although he is a quick learner...Hehehe).....But I think Tempt The Devil might be a better example. The (rogue) hero falls in love with a courtesan and she captures his heart. Absolutely love this book!!!

Can't wait to read Kismet!!! Congrats on I know it going to be a huge success!!!

Monica Burns said...

I lubs you too, Sis!

Now finish my dang darn virgin story already!

There you have it folks, in true sisterly style Rosie's telling me what to do again!!! LOL

Monica Burns said...

@Mitzi Tempt the Devil...not read that one. RATS, another book to add to the pile. *sigh* Maybe I should stop writing so I can just read again. *grin*

Thanks for the kudos. From your lips to God's ears on the book's success. *smile*

generic cialis said...

I enjoy more those books when the principal character is growing to be the best of best.